By Antony Jordan
Week 14 of the Premier League season sees the top four of the EPL separated by just three points in one of the tightest title battles that the top flight has seen in a long time, but with two of the top three meeting on Saturday will we see the race blown apart this weekend?
The biggest game is the clash of Manchester City and Chelsea in the opening match of the weekend at The Etihad Stadium and if they finish in a stalemate will this allow Liverpool to return to the top on Sunday and Arsenal to close the gap on Saturday evening? You can be sure that both sides and their managers will be going all out to take all three points in the game of the weekend!
We’ll be going all out too as we preview this vital top of the table clash, as well as the day’s other six EPL games, with online sportsbook Bet365.com to provide you with our best EPL picks from the opening day of round 14 of the season.
Just a point separates Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Antonio Conte’s Chelsea as they go into this 14th match of the season at The Etihad looking to take all three points and either move to the top of the table or looking to extend the gap at the top of the EPL. Both sides come into this match in fine league form with City having won three and drawn three since losing at Tottenham two months ago while Chelsea have won seven in a row. Last season saw City win 3-0 home and away in the league, with Sergio Aguero scoring four of the six goals, and they come into this game as the favourites, but can they go a fifth match against Chelsea unbeaten?
While City are unbeaten in nine matches on home soil this season, they have drawn three of their last four home games 1-1 as Everton, Southampton and Middlesbrough have all left the blue half of Manchester with a point. They have just three clean sheets at The Etihad this season and with their guests this Saturday having six shut outs in their last seven clashes and just a single goal conceded in the league since the end of September they could be in for a tough time this weekend. Chelsea have bolstered that excellent defensive record with 19 goals in these seven games and have five in their last three away from home.
Both sides will be confident coming into this match and we can see this being a match that provides plenty of excitement and action, but with their excellent recent record to move top of the league we can see Chelsea being overpriced in this match and we’re backing them to get something from this game.
After 13 matches of the season these two sides from the East and North of the English capital are separated by 12 places and 16 points as Arsenal sit fourth in the league, just three points behind Chelsea at the top of the table, and West Ham are 16th just one point above the bottom three places of the relegation zone. As the league standings suggest, it is the away side in this clash at the London Stadium who are in the better form as they are unbeaten in 12 in the EPL and their defeat to Southampton during the week with a rested squad was their first loss in 20 games in all competitions.
The Hammers, on the other hand, have failed to win any of their last five and despite fielding a strong side against Manchester United in midweek also exited the cup as they were beaten 4-1. They are, however, unbeaten in four on home soil with two wins and two draws but they are yet to beat anyone in the top half of the league in their new ground in the league this season. Slaven Bilic’s side are without a home win against The Gunners in a decade too and we cannot see them getting anything against a strong Arsenal side this weekend.
Tottenham welcome The Swans to White Hart Lane this Saturday aiming to continue their winning run at home against the Welsh side as they have triumphed in all five games since Swansea were promoted to the EPL. The home side are the big favourites to take all three points with Bet365 but have managed just one win in their last ten games in all competitions, so will the away side be able to take advantage and upset the odds?
While Mauricio Pochettino’s men have been struggling to win matches of late, they have looked impressive at home in the EPL this season with four wins and two draws in six matches. Man City were the biggest side defeated on this ground this season and since then Tottenham have not performed at their best with a 1-1 draw with Leicester and needing two goals in the last two minutes to beat West Ham 3-2.
Swansea come into this clash having lost four of their last five away games, but they have failed to score just once this season away from home and they bagged five goals last weekend to beat Crystal Palace 5-4. As well as this all of the last five meetings between the sides have seen both sides find the net and we’re backing these patterns to continue this Saturday.
Sunderland had their two match winning run ended last weekend as they were beaten 2-0 at Liverpool and now they look to return to winning ways by looking for their first win against the defending champions in almost a decade. They are the outsiders to win this match as they currently sit bottom of the league having lost nine of their 13 matches played so far, while their last two home games against Leicester have seen them fail to score but can David Moyes’ men upset the odds at the Stadium of Light?
The Foxes are not doing particularly well at defending their title this season as they come into this weekend sitting 14th in the league and they are just two points above the drop zone. They are without a win in four matches in the league and needed two penalties, including one in injury time, last weekend to claim a point at home to newly promoted Middlesbrough. Even worse has been their away form as they have lost five of six on the road this season, drawing only at Tottenham, and we cannot back them to win this match with such a poor record away from home in the league this season.
Both teams are capable of finding the net and even more capable of conceding goals so we feel that the value in this clash comes on the goals markets and we are backing this outcome on Saturday afternoon.
Our Sunderland v Leicester top tip is back Over 2.5 goals to be scored @ 2.00 at the Stadium of Light.
Both of these sides have had good starts to their seasons as they begin the weekend sitting ninth and eighth in the top flight table respectively and they will both be aiming to push onwards and upwards this weekend. We expect to see a close match between these two sides as last season saw just a single goal over the home and away clashes as the sides followed up a 0-0 draw at Vicarage Road with The Hornets bagging a 1-0 win at The Hawthorns.
Watford are a point better off than their hosts but they have been struggling for goals on the road in recent times with just one goal against Burnley, Swansea and Middlesbrough in three of their last four games on their travels. They did also find the net against Liverpool in their last away game, but were thumped 6-1 in that game and we cannot see this kind of result happening this weekend.
The reason for this is that West Brom rarely score many goals and have just 17 goals in 13 EPL games this season – and eight of those goals came in two clashes against West Ham and Burnley with four goals scored in each game. Both of these sets of goals came on home soil and are the only home matches won this season as they drew two and lost two of the other four in front of their own fans, netting a total of two goals. With so few goals scored between the sides last season we feel that we are likely to see few goals again and our money is on a low scoring game at The Hawthorns this weekend.
It’s officially crisis time at Selhurst Park now as the home side in this clash comes into this weekend having lost six EPL games in a row and last weekend’s 5-4 loss at Swansea where they conceded two goals in injury time would have been hard to take. They are now on the verge of the relegation zone and are only out thanks to Hull’s worse goal difference as while Palace may be conceded a large number of goals they are also scoring plenty too. Their total of 21 goals scored is the fifth best record in the league, while their 26 goals conceded is joint second worst in the division and this leaves them in big trouble. Can they stop the flow of goals past their defence and goalkeeper this weekend to secure all three points for the first time since the end of September?
Southampton have won the last two meetings against The Eagles as they triumphed 4-1 at the end of last season and 2-0 in the cup this season, but both of those came at home for The Saints and it has been almost two years since they last won at Selhurst Park. They will be the more tired of the two sides as they booked their place in the cup semi-finals during the week while Palace rested but back to back wins over Everton and Arsenal will give them confidence for this match.
Add to this, that when Palace start winning or losing they tend to go on a streak of results and we cannot see them breaking it this weekend so our money is on the away win at Selhurst Park as Southampton win three in a row right now and against Crystal Palace.
The final match from Saturday we’re previewing sees the home side at the Bet365 Stadium looking for their first win against The Clarets since 2009 as they have drawn the last two meetings with Burnley at Turf Moor and were beaten 2-1 on this ground in 2014 as Danny Ings, who is now at Liverpool, netted both goals for the away team. Sean Dyche’s men are struggling for goals on the road this season and are desperate for someone like Ings as they have lost five of six away games, drawing the other, so far this campaign and their single goal came from the penalty spot. Will they be able to find the net and secure their first win away from home this season on Saturday?
Stoke come into this game in excellent form having won four and draw one of their last six clashes following a slow start to the season as they have moved from the bottom of the table to the edge of the top half of the league. They have beaten Sunderland and Swansea by two goals in two of their last three home matches, losing to Bournemouth in the last game in front of the Stoke faithful, and with Burnley being in such poor home form of late we cannot see anything but a comfortable home win in this match.