Arsenal v Watford

Wednesday February 1, 6:00am AEST

Arsenal went about things the hard way against Burnley as Alexis Sanchez netted a 98th minute winner from the penalty spot after the Gunners were reduced to 10 men after 65 minutes and Bunley had scored an injury-time penalty of their own. After all that, the Gunners remain 2nd, eight points off Chelsea, whom they play at the weekend. Watford, meanwhile, let a 2-0 lead slip at Bournemouth as they had to settle for a draw and so remain in 14th, eight points clear of the drop.

Arsenal have now won their last five at the Emirates, where they’re unbeaten since the 3-4 thriller with Liverpool on the opening day of the season. They’ve won all five of their home games against middle-third teams, but kept just one clean sheet in these games and were level at the break in all five.

Watford are now winless in seven and have lost five of their last six on the road. Indeed, they’ve lost all 11 of their trips to top-eight teams since the start of last season and have failed to score in six of their eight visits to top-four teams in that time. While they were level at the break in four of their six defeats against these sides last term, they’ve been behind at the half in their last four visits to top-half teams and so we expect the Gunners to be much more comfortable in victory than they have in recent home wins over middle-third teams. We’re backing Wenger’s men to be ahead at half time and full time and win to nil.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Arsenal/Arsenal HT/FT at 1.75

BACK – Arsenal to win to nil at 2.1

Middlesbrough v West Brom

Wednesday February 1, 7:00am AEDT

Boro were beaten 1-3 at home by West Ham as they’re now without a win in five and have failed to score in five of their last eight. Karanka’s men are now down to 16th, just four points clear of the relegation zone. West Brom, meanwhile, got back to winning ways after a harrowing defeat at Spurs as they eased past Sunderland at home and so remain in 8th, within four points of Everton.

Boro have picked up 11 points from their 11 home games, but seven of those have come against fellow bottom-six teams and they’ve lost six of their last seven at home to the rest of the division. With a record like that and given their poor form in general at the moment, not to mention Karanka’s criticism of the Riverside faithful, we’re looking to take on the hosts here at 2.62, which looks too short.

Whilst West Brom have lost all seven of their games against the sides above them this term, they’re W9-D4-L1 against the rest of the division. Indeed, they’ve won four of 10 trips to bottom-six sides since the start of last term, losing only two of these, and so we’d have them shorter than the 3.15 available. The draw is a tempting 3.25 shot in what should be a cagey encounter, but given the Baggies’ impressive form with three wins in their last four, we’re siding with them on the Asian Handicap.

Betting Strategy

BACK – West Brom +0.25 Asian Handicap at 1.79

Swansea v Southampton

Wednesday February 1, 7:00am AEDT

Paul Clement’s had an excellent start to his tenure at Swansea as he watched his side beat Palace and won at Anfield in only his second game officially in charge. As a result, the Swans are already up to 17th, a couple of points clear of Palace in 18th. After a run of four straight defeats, Southampton got back to winning ways with a 3-0 win at home to Leicester, whilst they also dumped Liverpool out of the League Cup in midweek to give their fans a trip to Wembley to look forward to.

Swansea lost their opening home game under Clement, but that was against Arsenal and they’ll hope to pick up their third win in four against slightly easier opposition here. Fernando Llorente and Gylfi Sigurdsson were in excellent form at Anfield, scoring Swansea’s three goals between them and we think they can cause Saints plenty of problems, particularly as they’ve sold Fonte to West Ham and van Dijk is out injured.

Southampton have lost four of their last six away, including defeats at Palace and Hull, and for a side that has won only twice on the road all season, they look too short at 2.46. Saints have in fact lost five of their nine trips to bottom-six sides since the start of last season, whilst they’ve also failed to score in four of their last five on the road. We’re siding with Swansea on the Asian Handicap.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Swansea +0.25 Asian Handicap at 1.86

Bournemouth v Crystal Palace

Wednesday February 1, 7:00am AEDT

Bournemouth came from 0-2 down against Watford to rescue a point after their disappointing defeat at Hull. Their games continue to be full of goal as nine of the last 10 have seen more than two goals, while seven had more than three as they kept only two clean sheets in this time. Palace, meanwhile, slumped to their fourth defeat on the bounce as they were beaten at home by Everton and are now down to 18th, 10 points off Bournemouth in 12th.

Bournemouth have lost only three times at the Vitality Stadium this term, but have won only two of their last seven there, including a defeat against Sunderland and that draw with Watford. Indeed, they’ve conceded 13 goals in their last six at home and we’re reluctant to back such an inconsistent side at 2.16, for all that Palace are struggling at the moment.

The Eagles have now lost 12 of their last 15 but they have drawn two of their last four on the road and should welcome Wilfried Zaha back for this one after Ivory Coast were dumped out at the group stages of the African Cup of Nations. Palace have managed just one goal in their last four, but Form Lab Black Players shows that they’ve scored in 10 of the last 12 Zaha has started.

The exceptions were against Arsenal and Chelsea and if we exclude those then nine of these 10 saw more than two goals, while five had more than three. With that in mind, Over 2.5 looks a big price at 2.02, whilst we wouldn’t put anyone off back laying Bournemouth at 2.2.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Over 2.5 Goals at 2.02

Sunderland v Tottenham

Wednesday Febraury 1, 7:00am AEDT

Sunderland slumped to their fourth defeat in five games as they were beaten 2-0 at West Brom and so have dropped back down to the foot of the table, though they’re only three points from safety. Spurs, meanwhile, managed a point at the Etihad despite being outplayed for most of the game and so they remain in 3rd, nine points off Chelsea but just a point behind their North London rivals.

The Black Cats have lost only three of their last eight at home and two of those defeats came against Chelsea and Arsenal. They’ve netted in all but one of their last nine at the Stadium Light, where they’ve managed some decent results against the top teams in recent times. They beat Man Utd and drew against Arsenal last term, whilst they drew with Liverpool not long ago. Though they’ve lost their other six home games against top-six teams since the start of last term, five of these defeats were either 0-1 or 0-2 losses, so we expect this to be tougher than odds of 1.4 about Pochettino’s men suggest.

Part of the reason they’re that short is because Sunderland are missing a number of players at the moment, though Joleon Lescott has been brought in to ease some of their defensive concerns. Didier N’Dong could return after Gabon were knocked out of their home African Cup of Nations and since Spurs have won only two of their last eight on the road, we’re not going to be backing them at a short price here. Spurs have kept just two clean sheets in their last 13 on the road and Sunderland have a decent home scoring record so we’re backing both teams to net here and we’re also going to back Sunderland +1.5 on the Asian Handicap.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Both Teams to Score at 2.08

BACK – Sunderland +1.5 Asian Handicap at 1.81

Burnley v Leicester

Wednesday February 1, 1:00am AEST 

Burnley were beaten 2-1 at the Emirates last time out but that doesn’t tell the whole story as they were undone by a 98thminute penalty that was awarded for a foul on Koscielny, who was in fact in an offside position. As a result, Sean Dyche’s men drop down to 13th, but they’re five points clear of their visitors here, Leicester, who are down in 15th after they were thumped 3-0 at Southampton.

Burnley have won their last four at home and indeed eight of 12 games at Turf Moor all season, with two of their three defeats coming against Arsenal and Man City. They’ve scored eight goals in their last three at home to bottom-six sides and as such we’re somewhat surprised to see them as outsiders here.

Leicester have managed just one goal in their last five and have shipped six goals in their last two, whilst they’ve lost eight of 11 winless road games this term. They may well welcome back Mahrez and Slimani after Algeria were knocked out at the group stages of the African Cup of Nations, but that duo haven’t really fired this term and will no doubt be weary after their fruitless trip to Gabon. The Foxes have lost five of their six trips to bottom-half sides this term and so we’re siding with the Clarets.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Burnley 0 Asian Handicap at 2.09

Liverpool v Chelsea

Wednesday February 1, 6:30am AEDT

This fixture may have been considered crucial in determining the destination of this season’s Premier League title a few weeks ago, but Liverpool have stumbled in recent weeks, picking up only two points from their last three after suffering a shock defeat at home to Swansea last time out. As a result, they’ve dropped down to 4th, 10 points behind Chelsea, who look to be back on track with wins without conceding against Leicester and Hull.

The defeat against Swansea was Liverpool’s first of the season at Anfield and the Reds are generally pretty strong when hosting the top sides. They’ve lost only one of eight at home to top-six sides since the start of last season (W3-D4-L1) in games that have generally been pretty tight as six of these saw fewer than three goals, while there has been juts one goal in their two home games against the Manchester clubs this term.

Chelsea have travelled to Arsenal, Man City and Spurs of the top-six this term and could easily have ended up without a point from these as they took advantage of Man City’s profligacy in goal to beat them in a game in which they were largely second best. As a result, we’d be keen to take Chelsea on at the top teams, but Liverpool’s current form means that we’d need slightly bigger than the 2.58 on offer.

The draw, which would represent an excellent result for Chelsea, looks to be the best value in the match outcome market and given Liverpool’s ‘unders’ tendency at home to the top teams and the fact that six of Chelsea’s last eight on the road have seen fewer than three strikes, we’re also going to back Under 2.5 Goals.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Draw at 3.45

BACK – Under 2.5 Goals at 1.96

West Ham v Manchester City

Thursday February 2, 6:45am AEDT

Despite the Dimitri Payet saga, West Ham have won their last two well, beating Palace 3-0 and Boro 1-3 so they’re up to 10th, having looked like they would be involved in a relegation battle for most of the first half of the season. Man City were held to a draw against Spurs in a game that typified their season to date as they had 17 shots to Spurs’ six, but Pochettino’s men found the net with both of their attempts that hit the target.

The Hammers have taken advantage of a somewhat lenient schedule in recent weeks as six of their last seven were against current bottom-eight teams and they managed to win five of these. Three of those victories have come in their last four home games, but they’ve struggled when hosting the top teams at the London Stadium to date, losing 1-5 against Arsenal and 0-2 against Man Utd a few weeks ago.

Man City started impressively on the road as they won six of their first seven away games, but they’ve since lost three of their last four on their travels, the latest of which was a 4-0 thumping at Goodison Park. However, crucially for the Citizens, Fernandinho returns after suspension and Form Lab Black Players shows they’ve won 13 of 16 unbeaten road games he’s started at bottom-half sides since the start of last season, but they’re winless in the four away matches he’s missed in that period, shipping eight in defeats at Leicester and Everton this term. Since West Ham’s last five home defeats were all by more than one goal while four of Man City’s seven away wins this term were by more than one goal, we’re backing City -1 on the Asian Handicap.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Man City -1 Asian Handicap at 1.96

Stoke v Everton

Thursday February 2, 7:00am AEDT

Stoke were denied three points at home to Man Utd by Wayne Rooney’s record breaking free-kick in stoppage time, but the Potters are having another impressive season in 9th and look set for another top-half finish, which looked unlikely when they were bottom of the table after six games with just two points. Everton are eight points clear of Stoke in seventh after recording four wins in five unbeaten games, keeping a clean sheet in each of these victories.

Stoke were well-beaten by Man City and Spurs in their opening two home games, but since then they’ve lost only one of their last nine in front of their own fans, though they have drawn three of the last four. Indeed, all four of their home wins have been against bottom-eight sides and they’re just W0-D3-L3 when hosting the rest of the division. However, this looks a good opportunity to improve that record against a Toffees side that haven’t been the best of travelers.

Whilst they’ve picked up seven points from their last three away, they’ve been against bottom-six sides Leicester, Hull and Palace, while they’d picked up just one point from their six away games prior to that. Indeed, if we exclude bottom-six opposition, Everton are W1-D1-L7 in their last nine away and with that in mind, we’re siding with Stoke on the Asian Handicap.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Stoke 0 Asian Handicap at 2.07

Manchester United v Hull

Thursday February 2, 7:00am AEDT

After a run of six straight wins, Manchester United have had to come from behind to draw their last two, netting late goals against both Liverpool and Stoke. As a result, they remain in 6th, five points behind Liverpool in 4th heading into this gameweek. Hull, meanwhile, were unable to follow up their win against Bournemouth as they were beaten 2-0 at Chelsea, which nonetheless is no disgrace as they were tough to break down and have certainly improved since Marco Silva took over. They managed to beat Utd in the 2nd leg of their recent League Cup tie, but Utd’s 2-0 win at Old Trafford was enough to take them through.

Utd’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool was their fifth stalemate in their last eight at home in the league as they remain vulnerable defensively, with only two clean sheets in their last 10 at Old Trafford. Their record when hosting bottom-six teams is W7-D1-L1 since the start of last season but they kept only four clean sheets in these games (none in the three this season as Boro, Sunderland and Leicester have all netted against them) and just two of their wins were by more than two goals.

However, they come up against a Hull side that has lost their last nine on the road during which time they’ve managed only three goals. Given the improvement under Silva, we think these results will start to improve and the Tigers can prove competitive here, as they were in their League Cup tie with Utd. They kept Chelsea at bay until first-half stoppage time and we think they can go slightly better against Utd, who have led at the break in only two of their last eight at home, so we’re backing the Half Time Draw.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Half Time Draw at 3.15


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