By Antony Jordan
Game week 19 of the 2016/17 Premier League season crosses the end of year divide with the eight matches being played on Friday and Saturday concluding the action from 2016 and the final two games playing on January 1st. We’re focusing on the first eight clashes, with the meeting of Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on Saturday taking most the attention as the biggest game of the weekend, and we provide our biggest and best EPL picks with online sportsbook Bet365.com.
The biggest match in the EPL as 2016 comes to a close happens at Anfield where the sides sitting second and third in the league do battle as they aim to close on top of the table Chelsea, who lead them by six and seven points respectively. Both of these sides had excellent Christmas fixtures as Liverpool defeated their local rivals Everton in the final match before seeing off Stoke 4-1 in their first post-Christmas game, while City took six points with a 2-1 home win against Arsenal and 3-0 victory at Hull at the start of the week and now with them welcoming back Sergio Aguero will they be able to outscore their hosts to move above them and into second?
As well as sitting one place and one point better off than their guests this weekend, Liverpool have had the better of the recent encounters with City as they have lost just one of their last seven meetings in all competitions in normal time and their record at Anfield this season has seen them win eight and draw two of ten matches in the Premier League and EFL Cup so they will believe that they can continue their unbeaten streak, no matter who they face. City come into this clash with three successive victories to their name and while they have lost just four of their 15 away games in all competitions – including only a single game in their last six on the road – they have been outplayed comprehensively in the league twice this season. They were beaten 2-0 at Tottenham and 4-2 at Leicester and this Liverpool side could certainly show them to another loss.
However, with the Bet365 match odds and the teams themselves, especially with Aguero returning for City, being so evenly matched we feel that this game could see either team take the points and we do not feel that the value is on this market. However, with just one of the last 11 meetings seeing both sides find the net and the sides keeping so few clean sheets, with three of ten at home for Liverpool as well as just three of 15 away games for City, we feel that goals are the way to go at Anfield this Saturday.
We are backing Both Teams to Score – Yes AND Over 2.5 goals to be scored in this Liverpool v Man City game @ 1.83 with Bet365.com.
The table toppers come into this Saturday afternoon clash with Stoke having won their last 12 EPL games to leave them just two behind the record set by Arsenal in 2002 and now they’re looking to secure their 13th successive victory with a first win against The Potters in two seasons following a penalty shootout exit in the League Cup last season as well as an away defeat and home draw against Mark Hughes’ men in the league. Chelsea are certainly revitalised under Antonio Conte this season, so can he guide his team to all three points on home soil this weekend?
In this 12 match run Chelsea have kept ten clean sheets and only sides in the top five – Tottenham and Man City – have recorded a goal against them, netting one each, and they bring four successive clean sheets into this clash. They have averaged three goals a game at home in their last six matches, scoring 18 times and conceding just once, so they will believe that they can triumph in this match to make it 13 in a row.
Stoke have failed to win any of their last four matches where they were beaten 3-1 and 4-1 by Arsenal and Liverpool, both of whom occupy places in the top four of the league, and their only away wins this season have come against bottom of the league Hull and tenth placed Watford. They have been carved apart by the biggest sides in the league in their last two away games and with Chelsea showing excellent ability this season we cannot see anything different for Stoke upon this visit to London either.
The defending champions take on a resurgent Hammers side at The King Power this Saturday looking to move up the table. However, they have had a troubled Christmas period as they have taken just a single point in their last three matches, losing at Bournemouth and at home to Everton as well as drawing away at Stoke. They have won just one game – a 4-2 home win against Man City – in seven in all competitions and have won just one of their last nine EPL clashes to see them hovering just three points above the drop zone at the foot of the Premier League. Jamie Vardy is still suspended for this match, so will they be able to turn their form around on home soil without their top scorer?
Four matches ago West Ham were in deep trouble with relegation as they then had the same amount of points that the bottom two sides have right now, but a draw at Liverpool followed by three wins has seen them move away from the bottom three places to 11th and on the verge of moving into the top half of the league. They ended a five match winless streak away from home on Boxing Day with a 4-1 win at Swansea and with draws at Man United and Liverpool before that they have certainly turned a corner. West Ham have kept just one clean sheet on the road this season though and with Leicester having just two at home all season we feel that the value on this game, just like the matches previously previewed, will see goals.
Our top tip on this Leicester v West Ham clash is back Over 2.5 goals to be scored @ 1.95 in the Bet365 Sportsbook!
The first match of this weekend’s action kicks off on Friday night at The KC Stadium as bottom of the league Hull look for their first point and first goal in three matches when they welcome an Everton side that has won two of their last three matches. The away side have been in very inconsistent form this season, but they are aiming to close the seven point gap between themselves and the top six in the league with their third victory in four matches but will it be more in-form The Toffees that triumph or can Hull get back to back wins against Everton after 2-0 triumph in their last meeting on New Year’s Day in 2015?
The odds suggest we’ll see an away win but before their Boxing Day win at Leicester Everton had lost four away games in a row and five of their last six had ended in defeat. Hull, however, have collected five points from their last four home games as they defeated Southampton then drew with West Brom and Crystal Palace before losing 3-0 to Manchester City on Monday. They have lost seven in a row on the road so they know that if they are to remain in the top flight they’ll need to secure as many points as possible at home, but if they can do that in this match will depend if Everton’s post-Christmas win was a once off or them starting to rediscover their feet away from home.
All we know is that while Everton offer some value to win this match, Hull’s recent form in front of their own fans could easily see them snatch something from this game so we are not confident at backing the away win. We do feel that one player in this match overshadows everyone else in ability and that man is Everton striker Romelu Lukaku and we feel that he’ll find the net on a ground that has seen Hull concede 18 goals in nine matches.
Our money is on Lukaku to score anytime at The KC Stadium in this Friday night clash of Hull v Everton at odds of 2.05.
It is a tale of two sets of results at Old Trafford in the final match of a tumultuous 2016 for Manchester United as the home side have settled under new boss Jose Mourinho following the departure of Louis van Gaal at the end of last season and the slow start to life under the Portuguese boss. However, they have won five games in a row coming into this clash and are unbeaten in 11 matches, while their guests – who are looking for their first win at Old Trafford since 2004 – have lost three of their last four games and have not won on the road since August.
We can see why Bet365 have made the home win their overwhelming favourite result for this match and with the home side having won eight and drawn four of their last 12 on home soil in all competitions since losing the Manchester Derby – and scoring three or more goals in three of their last five – we can see why they are favoured to triumph. They are now just four points off the Champions League places and a sixth win in a row will certainly help them close that gap.
The last eight away games for ‘Boro have seen five draws – including against Arsenal and Man City – and three losses, including their last two road trips at Southampton and Burnley so while they have shown some ability away from The Riverside we feel that it will be difficult for them to triumph against such an in-form Manchester United side. However, with them not making it easy for the home side we are struggling to see value on the goals or outright markets and we are backing the man with four goals in his last three appearances (with two of these three games seeing him net the first goal) to find the net again to help his side to all three points and close out 2016 with at least 13 EPL goals.
This mid-table clash does not bode well for Tony Pulis’ side as the last five meetings between Southampton and West Bromwich Albion have seen the away team fail to find the net and their last three trips to St. Mary’s have seen them leave without finding the net. While they come into this clash just a point behind their hosts on the south coast they do not have the best of form having suffered three losses in their last four matches and they have won just one of their last nine away matches in all competitions too so they will not be filled with confidence for this clash.
However, with their three away defeats since the start of September coming against high flying Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea they may also believe that with two days extra rest following their Boxing Day loss at The Gunners while Southampton were beaten at home by Tottenham on Wednesday night that they can win this match too. Southampton had gone unbeaten in four games and had not lost in six on home soil before Wednesday’s 4-1 loss at the hands of the North Londoners so they will aim to bounce back, but we can see this being a close game. With The Saints being rushed back into action for this clash this will even up the tie and we are backing a draw at St. Mary’s as five of the last six meetings have seen draws or single goal wins.
Our money is on the draw at odds of 3.80 in the Bet365 Sportsbook this Southampton v West Brom clash!
Football can be brutal at times and the first American to manage in the Premier League has found it to be so as Bob Bradley has been fired from his position at Swansea after just 11 matches and now first team coaches Alan Curtis and Paul Williams will lead the side for their home clash against Bournemouth as they aim to end 2016 on a positive note. After Francesco Guidolin was let go at the start of October and with Bradley now gone can they deliver where two others have failed so miserably this season?
Swansea are second bottom of the league having collected just 12 points and they off the bottom on goal difference alone. They collected just eight points under the American and were the easiest team to score against in the league under his tenure with 29 goals shipped in his 11 games, but can these first team coaches stop the rot while a new manager is found and appointed?
Hopefully they can, but recent home and away matches for Swansea and Bournemouth do not look good for a low scoring and tight contest as The Swans have netted ten goals and conceded 11 in their last four at The Liberty Stadium, while Bournemouth have conceded nine and scored three in their last three away games. Both of these teams have the ability to both score and concede goals so we are backing a record that has seen three or more goals scored in the last seven meetings between these sides to continue as 2016 comes to an end.
We are backing Over 2.5 goals to be scored in this Swansea v Bournemouth clash @ 1.80 with Bet365.com.
After Chelsea, who have shared the spoils of clashes on just a single occasion this season, Burnley and Sunderland are second in line having drawn just two matches this season and with this in mind we feel that we are likely to see one of these sides take all three points at Turf Moor this New Year’s Eve. Which of these two teams will end the year in the best possible fashion though?
We favour the home side as Turf Moor has seen them collect 19 of their 20 points this season and they come into this clash having won four of their last five and lost just three games on home soil all season, with only Arsenal and Man City triumphing here after Swansea took all three points on the opening weekend. Sunderland, on the other hand, have lost seven of their nine away games this season and they have taken just four points on their travels. They drew with Southampton at the start of the season and defeated Bournemouth at the start of November but have conceded eight and scored just one since then when away from The Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats are doing well on home soil lately with three wins in four and this will see them have confidence when facing The Clarets, but we cannot see them claiming their first win here in more than a decade.
Our best bet on this Burnley v Sunderland match is back the home win at odds of 2.30.
Our Boxing Day guaranteed picks returned two winners from our three picks as Man City cruised to all three points at Hull and there were five goals in the Swansea v West Ham – with four coming for the away side and costing Bob Bradley his job – to give us 0.63 units of profit. We’re aiming to end the year one better and here are our three picks to bring you some New Year’s Eve partying funds!
- Both Teams to Score – Yes AND Over 2.5 goals in Liverpool v Man City @ 1.83 – Both of these two sides are amongst the most exciting and attacking teams in the EPL, aided in part due to some leaky defences. As a result of this we see goals, and lots of them, from both teams at Anfield.
- Romelu Lukaku to score anytime at Hull @ 2.05 – Hull are conceding goals and losing games like these things are going out of fashion, so we believe that the in-form Belgian striker will find free reign to bag goals in this KC Stadium based clash.
- Over 2.5 goals in Leicester v West Ham @ 1.95 – Both of these teams are capable of scoring and conceding goals while neither look good enough for us to be confident of backing them to win, despite West Ham’s recent upturn in form. However, their attacking qualities and the lack of these same qualities at the back sees us believe that there will be goals at the home of the champions in the final game of 2016 for this pair of EPL teams.