By Antony Jordan
It has come to that stage of the season where a number of the teams are attempting to make up games due to their European or domestic cup obligations throughout the season. There are some massive matches being made up this mid-week with the Manchester Derby at The Etihad Stadium seeing a place in the top four available for the victor. Will it be Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho that secures the points this Thursday night?
We preview this massive match between local sides along with the three games playing this Wednesday evening with online sportsbook Bet365.com to provide our best EPL picks.
With City and United sitting two and three points behind third placed Liverpool in the EPL and knowing that victory in this final Manchester Derby of the season will see them either secure their place in the Champions League spots or barge into the top four at the expense of their local rivals respectively. Both teams have already tasted victory over the other this season as City claimed a 2-1 win at Old Trafford in the league earlier during this campaign before suffering a loss on the same ground in the EFL Cup that saw the side clad in red move forwards in that competition on their way to lifting the title.
A title is something that City do not have, and will not have this season following their weekend exit to Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley in extra time whereas United have already lifted one title at Wembley and are now within two legs against Celta Vigo of playing for a European title too with them favoured by the bookmakers to lift the Europa League trophy too. In addition to this United are unbeaten in nine games before this Thursday night clash with their neighbours, while City have won just two of their last seven in all competitions.
Despite their poor form lately, City still have enough to hurt their guests with their expensively assembled squad and they have certainly impressed on home soil this season as only league leaders Chelsea have won here in 21 matches. United have lost just two of their last 17 away games on the road, and both of these came in cup competitions, so despite City impressing on the blue half of the city we can see this match being much closer than the odds suggest it’ll be. Overall, United have the momentum and the form coming into this match so we can see them following up last season’s 1-0 win here with at least a point to boost their chances of making the top four in the league this campaign.
This match between the FA Cup Finalists and defending EPL champions is a big one for both teams as the home side have slumped in the league lately and come into this make-up game sitting seventh in the table behind Everton and The Foxes know that they’ll all but put an awful season behind them with victory to move nine points clear of the drop zone. Victory for the away side could also move them back into the top half of the league, but Arsenal know that they must rediscover their form if they’re to push themselves back into the top four of the league for a 21st successive season.
Luckily for the home side, who will be boosted by their 2-1 win over Man City to make the FA Cup Final at the weekend, they face a Leicester side that has not beaten them since 1994 and even when the Midlanders secured the EPL title last time around they were beaten 2-1 on this ground after losing 5-2 at home. The sides drew 0-0 earlier this season, but all of the last three visits to this ground for Leicester have seen 2-1 losses and with Arsenal losing just one home EPL game since September while The Foxes have won just three away matches from their 24 road trips all season we are in agreement with Bet365 in making the home win a big odds-on favourite. Both sides are scoring goals of late so we see at least three goals in this one too, just like the last three matches between the teams in this part of North London, and we’re combining the two bets together.
Our money is on Arsenal to beat Leicester and Over 2.5 goals to be scored at odds of 2.05 in the Bet365 Sportsbook!
This clash between sides from the south and north of the English capital city sees a meeting of two of the most in-form sides in the EPL as Palace have taken 13 points from their last six matches to leave them fourth in the form table behind only Leicester, Man United and top of the table Tottenham, who have 15 points in these six clashes. These two sides have been sharing victories in recent clashes between them with the last five meetings seeing three Tottenham wins and two for Palace, including one in the FA Cup last season as they made the final, and the last four matches at Selhurst Park have seen the sides share the wins equally too.
Tottenham will be the more motivated of the two sides to win this match as they aim to keep within four points of Chelsea at the top of the league following their 4-2 win over Southampton on Tuesday evening and after some struggles away from home earlier this season they have now won four and drawn two of their last seven away EPL clashes. The Eagles have lost just one of their last nine games, and that came away at Southampton, to see them having moved from within the bottom three to seven points clear and within a victory of ninth place in the league.
Both will feel that they can win this match, and we’re in agreement with Bet365 that Tottenham deserve to be favourites, but with Christian Benteke in fine goal scoring form there will be plenty of opportunity for the home side to upset the odds. They may or may not do so but we certainly see goals – and plenty of them – from both teams in this match and we’ve found value on this thought.
We are backing Both Teams to Score – Yes AND Over 2.5 goals to be scored @ 2.00 in this Crystal Palace v Tottenham match.
While this match does not have names as big as the other three games we’ve looked at, but this is a vital clash for both Middlesbrough and Sunderland who start this game 19th and 20th with them nine and 12 points from safety. Both teams know that this match is one of the final rolls of the dice and they must win if they’re to have any chance at staying in the league, but they question is “is it too late for these teams?”
Sunderland were beaten 2-1 on home soil by ‘Boro earlier this season and with them coming into this second meeting of the season they have lost nine of their last ten away games and failed to score in five of the last six on their travels. Middlesbrough are not any better as they have failed to win in nine, losing seven of these, and only beating non-EPL sides in 2017 in cup competitions. If we could have a pick that would select both of these teams to lose then with their forms we’d pick it, but as that it is not possible we are backing few goals to be scored at The Riverside with both of these teams failing to get on the scoresheet.