EPL Picks: Will today see the end of Van Gaal era?

EPL Picks

A 2-0 defeat at the Britannia Stadium to Stoke on Boxing Day saw Manchester United slip to a fourth straight Premier League defeat for the first time in more than two decades and with rumours of Jose Mourinho standing in the wings ready to take the job of United manager it appears that Louis van Gaal is skating on very thin ice this festive season.

This Bank Holiday Monday sees eight EPL matches as teams do not have the chance to catch their breath after the Boxing Day action, but will this be a help for hindrance for Louis van Gaal’s men as they welcome Jose Mourinho’s former side Chelsea to Old Trafford this Monday evening? We preview all eight games today with online bookmaker Bet365.com and provide our best EPL picks.

Man United v Chelsea: 2.60 – 3.30 – 3.00

After the home side at Old Trafford were beaten 2-1 at home to Norwich prior to the festive the rumours surrounding the security of Louis van Gaal’s job was that the Dutchman had two games to save his job and after a poor performance on Boxing Day saw them beaten by Stoke he will have to beat the defending champions Chelsea to save his job. This is, of course, if he still wants to stay at Old Trafford after saying that he may resign before being fired after the defeat on Saturday.

Chelsea will be confident about securing the end of van Gaal’s reign this Monday as they have not been defeated by the 20 time top flight champions since 2012 as they have won four and drawn four of the last eight meetings. Since Chelsea fired Mourinho from his role at the club the side improved with a 3-1 win over Sunderland a 2-2 draw with Watford to see them add four points to the 15 collected from the 16 previous matches. However, both of these games were on home soil and Chelsea have beaten just West Brom on the road this season, and with United seeing Bastian Schweinsteiger return from suspension, Matteo Darmian back from injury and Wayne Rooney likely to be started for this match after he posed the biggest threat v Stoke after coming on while Diego Costa, who scored both goals versus Watford suspended the home win could very well come true this Bank Holiday Monday.

We, however, are not that confident in victory for United due to their lack of belief recently and poor record against Chelsea in recent times but with their squad improved for this match we do expect them to score. Even though Costa will be missing for this match we can still see goals from the Londoners and, as such, we are backing goals in this biggest game on Monday.

Our best Man United v Chelsea bet is Both Teams to Score – Yes @ 1.83 with Bet365.com.

Watford v Tottenham: 3.80 – 3.50 – 2.10

A home win for The Hornets at Vicarage Road will see the newly promoted side move level on points with their guests, who currently sit fourth in the Premier League table just six points behind league leaders Leicester. The hosts of this Monday afternoon football match had a four match winning run ended on Boxing Day as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge but they have not been defeated in more than a month and they have been most impressive on home soil this season. They have recorded six clean sheets in nine games while only Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Manchester United have won here. They will be confident for this game, but with Harry Kane scoring his tenth and 11th goals of the season 48 hours ago Watford will need to be at their best to remain unbeaten in this match.

After suffering a late defeat to Newcastle on home soil two weeks ago Mauricio Pochettino has had his side working hard and 2-0 and 3-0 wins over Southampton and Norwich since then have seen them move into the top four of the table and, after loses for the top two in the league on Saturday, close on topping the table. They have doubts over Mousa Dembele and Ryan Mason, while Clinton Njie is the only player certain to miss this match, and with Watford at full strength we can see this being even closer than the odds suggest. We also see goals being scored in this match as Kane and Watford’s Odion Ighalo have 24 goals netted between them this season and the former has three in his last two while the latter has six in his last five.

Our top Watford v Spurs tip is back over 2.5 goals to be scored at odds of 2.00 at Bet365.

Crystal Palace v Swansea: 2.10 – 3.40 – 4.00

Looking at the EPL table you would think that fifth place Crystal Palace will have no problems in seeing off 16th placed Swansea in this Monday afternoon match at Selhurst Park, but with The Swans having shown signs of marked improvement since letting Garry Monk go as the manager this game may be closer than the Bet365 odds suggest that it will be.

Swansea have Alan Curtis in charge of the side since Monk departed from The Liberty Stadium and the caretaker boss has overseen a 2-1 loss away at Man City – and that was an undeserved defeat – a 0-0 draw at home to West Ham before ending a seven game winless run with a 1-0 home win over West Brom on Boxing Day. Curtis states that there are some aches and strains in the squad for this match so he’s likely to make some changes, with Angel Rangel and Leon Britton most likely to be switched out for Kyle Naughton and Jonjo Shelvey.

With back to back clean sheets and confidence returning to the squad Swansea will be confident for this match, especially with Palace missing attacking players Yannick Bolasie and Connor Wickham through injury and Lee Chung-yong via personal leave after becoming a father. They are short on attacking players, but Patrick Bamford could return from injury to boost their forward options for this game as they aim to go a sixth game without defeat. We feel that this lack of striking options will cause problems for the home side and we can see this being a tight and cagey game between these two sides in a similar style to their previous four EPL meetings that have produced just seven goals.

Back Both Teams to Score – No at odds of 1.80 in this Crystal Palace v Swansea match.

Everton v Stoke: 1.95 – 3.60 – 4.20

Only goal difference separates these two sides in the Premier League table as they occupy ninth and 11th places in the league respectively, but they have gone about very different ways of getting to 26 points. Everton have had Romelu Lukaku firing in goals, with 13 so far this season, as they have scored 32 and conceded 24 while Stoke have kept things tighter with 16 scored and conceded. With Everton having netted two goals for every one bagged by their guests this Monday as well as having home advantage it is not a surprise to see them as the favourites to win this match.

However, with Stoke having lost just two of their last ten matches in all competitions and having kept seven clean sheets in this time they will not be as easily defeated at Bet365 make out. They have doubts over Xherdan Shaqiri, Geoff Cameron and Glenn Whelan for this match after picking up minor knocks in the 2-0 win over Man United two days ago but as Newcastle managed to hold Everton for 93 minutes and ended Lukaku’s seven game scoring streak they will believe that their defensive qualities will see them win this match.

Everton are boosted by the return Phil Jagielka, Steven Pienaar, James McCarthy, Steven Naismith and Bryan Oviedo for this match while they have scored 13 goals in their last four home games they will believe that they too can secure all three points. However, Stoke have conceded just two goals in their last six away EPL games – and those came when they were reduced to ten men against Sunderland – and this match will be another that is sure to be closer than the match odds suggest, and we see the visitors and their excellent defence bringing something back down south.

Our money is on Stoke/Draw Double Chance @ 1.85 in the Bet365 Sportsbook!

Norwich v Aston Villa: 2.05 – 3.60 – 3.80

Carrow Road hosts a must win match for both of these sides as Norwich sit outside of the bottom three on goal difference alone and Villa are bottom of the table nine points behind their hosts this Bank Holiday Monday. Norwich suffered a 3-0 defeat away Tottenham 48 hours ago, but their home form belies their current position in the table as they come into this clash unbeaten in three games at Carrow Road having defeated Swansea and drawn 1-1 with high fliers Arsenal and Everton as they have not lost in front of their own fans since October.

With them now facing the side bottom of the table and boosted by the probable return of Wes Hoolahan and Gary O’Neil after being rested on Boxing Day they will fancy their chances of taking all three points for the second time in just over a week following their 2-1 win at Old Trafford. Villa are making progress under Remi Garde as they have drawn both of their last two matches against Newcastle and West Ham and have picked up three points from their last four games. However, they are still without an EPL win since the opening weekend and they have conceded 19 goals in the nine away games since that win over Bournemouth. With Norwich having scored at least one goal in eight of their last nine home league games we see the home side outscoring their guests this Monday to take all three points.

Back Norwich to beat Aston Villa at odds of 2.05 with Bet365.com.

West Brom v Newcastle: 2.15 – 3.40 – 3.80

After losing 1-0 to Everton late on Boxing Day thanks to a 93rd minute Tom Cleverley goal Newcastle find themselves travelling to The Hawthorns this Monday afternoon inside the bottom three of the league on goal difference and needing to win to move their way out and into safety. However, away from home has not been the best place to get results for The Magpies as they picked up just one point and scored just a single goal in their first five road trips but with two wins in their last three away games they will be a little more confident. They have edged Bournemouth 1-0 and came back late against Tottenham to win 2-1 either side of a 5-1 thumping at Crystal Palace, and with them still having major injury issues we could see either a winning or losing Newcastle side appear in the Midlands.

The Baggies have their own issues with the red carded duo of James McClean and Salomon Rondon both serving their second game of a three match ban for this clash, while manager Tony Pulis states that he’ll rotate his squad for this clash so out of favour striker Saido Berahino may make his first start since October. They have not done well at home this season either as they have collected just eight of their 20 points in front of their own fans but they have scored at least one goal in seven of their nine home games so far during this campaign so with their guests having kept just two away clean sheets this season we see goals in this one.

Our best West Brom v Newcastle bet is over 2.5 goals to be scored at odds of 2.15 at Bet365.

Arsenal v Bournemouth: 1.44 – 4.75 – 8.00

The Gunners have plenty to think about coming into this Monday night match as following their 2-1 win over Man City before Christmas they were humbled at St. Mary’s on Boxing Day as Southampton hammered them 4-0 as they failed to pass Leicester at the top of the league. They have the chance to make things right as they welcome Bournemouth, who are unbeaten in six, to The Emirates but how heavily will that four goal defeat on the south coast weigh on their minds with so little time having passed?

That defeat on Saturday saw Arsenal’s six game unbeaten run both domestically and in Europe come to an abrupt end, but with them having won six and drawn one of seven on home soil since losing to Olympiakos in September Arsene Wenger’s men will be confident against the newly promoted Cherries. This seven game unbeaten run has seen 16 goals scored and just four conceded so Bournemouth will be up against it in this match. They will have to change tactics if they are to win this match as they play very similarly to Arsenal and toe-to-toe will see a comfortable win for the home side, with creative maestro Mesut Özil and striker Oliver Giroud being too good for the newly promoted side. We see Bournemouth putting in a valiant effort in North London, but the home side will be too good for them as they bounce back from Saturday’s poor effort.

Our top Arsenal v Bournemouth tip is back Arsenal to win by at least two goals (Arsenal -1) @ 2.10.

West Ham v Southampton: 3.50 – 3.40 – 2.25

The final match from this Bank Holiday Monday comes from the East of London as the winless in eight games West Ham welcomes a Southampton side that crushed Arsenal to end their six game winless streak on Boxing Day. As a result of that morale boosting win it is The Saints who are favoured to win back to back matches and bring the spoils down to the south coast at the full time whistle and with them winning on this ground 3-1 at the start of last season it would not be a surprise for us to see them move into the top half of the table at the full time whistle.

They are missing striker Graziano Pelle and defender Cedric Soares for this clash, but it is the hosts who have bigger injury issues as defenders Aaron Cresswell and James Tomkins were both withdrawn against Aston Villa through injury and may join Manuel Lanzini, Victor Moses, Dimitri Payet, Winston Reid and Diafra Sakho on the sidelines.

Couple this with the fact that West Ham drawn all of their last five matches – two 1-1 and three 0-0 – and have drawn four of their last five on home soil and they could find themselves in difficulty against a side that cut through Arsenal’s defence with ease on Saturday, especially if Cresswell and Tomkins cannot make this match. Southampton have only lost to high fliers Man City and Crystal Palace in the league away from home this season and with them boosted by that excellent win 48 hours ago we see them taking all three points in this match against their depleted hosts.

Our money is on the away win at Upton Park at odds of 2.25 in the Bet365 Sportsbook!

Best EPL Picks:

Although we only got one of the three sure fire winners on Boxing Day (thanks Leicester and Lukaku!) we are sure of turning things around this Monday. Here are our trio of bets to put your cash on:

  • Both Teams to Score – No in Crystal Palace v Swansea @ 1.80. There is good value in this pick as Palace are still missing a large portion of their attacking options and although Swansea are buoyed by some recent good results they are not scoring many goals and Palace do defend well.
  • Stoke/Draw Double Chance v Everton @ 1.85. Stoke are excellent on the road and although Everton have scored twice the amount of goals this season the almost impenetrable backline of the guests at Goodison Park this Monday will make it hard going for a side that laboured for 93 minutes against a hard working Newcastle defence.
  • Southampton to beat West Ham @ 2.25. The Hammers have drawn all of their last five games due to a massive number of injuries in the squad and the possibility of losing two defenders is sure to tip them over the edge for this match. Southampton will be raring to go in East London following their storming victory on Boxing Day and we see an away win for them.