By Antony Jordan
Eight of the ten matches from round 18 of the 2016/17 Premier League season played on Boxing Day, but there are still two games to be played on the 27th and 28th and we are previewing both of these clashes with online sportsbook Bet365.com.
Will former Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino secure all three points as he returns to his former club and can Liverpool, who spent Christmas Day in second place, keep the pressure on league leaders Chelsea with another victory? Read on for our best EPL picks.
This Wednesday evening match is the final game from round 18 of the season and sees two of the top seven sides in the division clash at St. Mary’s Stadium. Although at the start of this game week there is just two places separating the sides Tottenham have a nine point advantage over The Saints and they’ll be desperate to increase that with all four sides ahead of them having winnable matches on Boxing Day and December 27th, but the biggest problem with that for the North London side is that they have failed to win away from White Hart Lane since September in a run of eight matches in all competitions. Goals from Harry Kane and Dele Alli saw them triumph against Southampton last season, but can they reverse their awful away day form in this match?
Tottenham have lost four of their last five away games as Liverpool, Chelsea and Monaco defeated them 2-1 in the EFL Cup, Premier League and Champions League while their last away game saw them beaten 1-0 at Old Trafford by Manchester United. They did draw 1-1 with local rivals Arsenal at the start of November, but they have been edged out in each of their three away matches since then. Southampton, on the other hand, are unbeaten in four clashes coming into this first game post-Christmas and their home record this season has seen them beaten only by league leaders Chelsea in 13.
However, they are missing their top striker Charlie Austin through injury for this match and even though Jay Rodriguez netted twice in the 3-1 away win at Bournemouth before Christmas they will still struggle to breakdown Tottenham in this match. Despite saying this, we do not feel that Spurs’ recent form on their travels makes them the favourites to win this match as Bet365 have made them and, as a result of this, we are backing this match to end level as matches between these sides are generally tight affairs as only one of the last eight meetings has been decided by more than a single goal.
The only match on the Tuesday following Christmas sees Liverpool look to continue their challenge for their first ever EPL title by claiming all three points at home to Mark Hughes’ Stoke City and with the visitors to Anfield having never won on this ground during the Premier League era we can see why Bet365 make the home win a massive favourite in the match odds.
Liverpool’s build up to Christmas went perfectly with away wins at Middlesbrough and local rivals Everton to see them leading the pack to chase down Chelsea at the top of the league, and with seven wins and two draws in nine matches at Anfield this season they will believe that another three points will be theirs to unwrap in this festive matchup.
Stoke have done well to move to mid-table after a start to the season that saw one point after five games and no wins until the middle of October, but with their only victories away from home coming against Hull and an out of form Watford this season they will find it difficult to get anything from this match. However, even when they were at their worst this season, Stoke have been scoring goals and have failed to find the net just once on the road this season in eight matches and we feel that with Liverpool having conceded in six of nine on home soil there will be goals in this match, so our pick of the game combines the home win with these predicted goals.