By Antony Jordan
Round 36 of the 2016/17 EPL season comes to a close this Sunday and Monday with three matches featuring must win games for sides at the top and, in the Monday Night Football clash, at the bottom too. The biggest match sees Arsenal welcome Manchester United to The Emirates, while the final game of this round of football may see us lose Middlesbrough to the Championship for next season if they cannot defeat league leaders Chelsea.
We preview all of the remaining trio of clashes with online sportsbook Bet365.com to bring you our biggest and best EPL picks.
The biggest game of the weekend comes from North London as the sides sitting sixth and fifth in the EPL table respectively do battle for all three points. The Special One who is now the Manchester United manager has never lost any of his 12 clashes in the league with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, but with his United side taking a big step towards the Europa League Final on Thursday night with a 1-0 win in Spain against Celta Vigo will Jose Mourinho rest players for this weekend’s game with the second leg happening on Thursday?
If Mourinho does rest players it will give Wenger his best chance at ending his winless record against Mourinho and with The Gunners having lost just once at home in the league since their first match of the season we can see why Bet365 have made them the odds on favourites to win in this match. However, even with a number of injuries and suspensions having plagued them at times this season United are unbeaten in 11 away EPL matches since losing to Chelsea in October and you can be sure that Jose does not want to see this run, as well as his record against Arsene Wenger, come to an end.
Even with United playing on Thursday night and likely to rest players for this weekend clash, we can still see them pushing their hosts all the way. Even though we can see why Arsenal are favourites we can also see United perhaps getting a point or three from this match too and we’re not confident on the outright market as a result of this. However, five of the last six meetings between the teams have seen both sides on the scoresheet and we believe that there will be goals in North London this Sunday too.
As the Bet365 match odds suggest, this match at Stamford Bridge is likely to be a straightforward victory for the home side and table toppers on Monday night. The side from West London have won seven clashes in a row against Middlesbrough and they have not conceded a single goal in this time. The first meeting of these sides this season saw just a single goal victory for Chelsea in their first visit to The Riverside in almost four years and with them welcoming a ‘Boro side that has not won away since August and has failed to find the net in six of their last seven away games we can see why the home win is so heavily favoured.
Chelsea have triumphed in 15 of their last 16 home games in all competitions and have a total record of 18 wins in 20 at Stamford Bridge in all competition this season, so they certainly are the far better side. Their 16 home EPL clashes have seen 14 have at least three goals and three of the last five have seen four or more goals scored over the 90 minutes. With Middlesbrough not scoring well and faring poorly against everyone on the road this season we can see this match being a comfortable home win with plenty of goals to keep everyone entertained throughout too.
Another home win is favoured by Bet365 this weekend as they make Liverpool the odds on favourites to continue their charge to secure a place in the Champions League in Sunday’s first match by ending their four match winless streak against The Saints. The sides have clashed on three occasions already this season with the league meeting in November on the south coast seeing a goalless draw before Southampton booked their place in the EFL Cup final with 1-0 home and away wins against Liverpool at the final four stage, but can the home side now live up to their favourites billing and find their first goal against The Saints in more than 4.5 hours of football this season?
They have certainly impressed at home in 2017 with wins over Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton as well as a draw with Chelsea, although they were caught out late in their last two matches as they drew with Bournemouth and were beaten by Crystal Palace. Still, they have netted 13 goals in their last six at Anfield and with Man City and Man United breathing hard down their necks for places in the top four for next season’s Champions League they know that they must keep winning games.
Since their 1-0 win at Anfield in the EFL Cup Semi Final The Saints have been hit and miss on the road with four losses and three wins. Their recent form against Liverpool may do them good and see them take another three points this Sunday, but we feel that there is value on goals in this match instead. All of the last five at home for Liverpool and five of the last seven away for Southampton have seen both sides on the scoresheet and at least three goals in the match. We see this pattern continuing despite the lack of goals in the meetings earlier in this campaign as there is generally goals between these sides outside of this season’s clashes.