Leicester v Stoke

Saturday Feburary 24, 10:30pm AEDST

Leicester were the latest side to feel the wrath of Man City in the league, but the Foxes have since advanced to the last eight in the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory over Sheffield Utd and with Mahrez seemingly now back in favour – for the rest of the season at least – we fancy them to get the job done against a struggling Stoke. Indeed, the visitors have failed to convince during Paul Lambert’s first four games in charge and this is their toughest assignment to date. They failed to beat Watford and Brighton most recently on home soil whilst they also lost their sole away match at Bournemouth.

Leicester are one of the stronger sides in the division in front of their own fans and if we exclude fixtures against the ‘Big Six’ then they’ve won 68% of their matches at the King Power since 2015/16. The hosts look value at current prices, even more so with the Potters’ woeful away record. They’ve lost six of seven road games and nine of 13 overall this season, only avoiding defeat against bottom-half clubs.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Leicester Win at 1.74

Bournemouth v Newcastle

Sunday Feburary 25, 2:00am AEDST

It was contrasting fortunes when these sides were last seen as an in-form Bournemouth were humbled at Huddersfield while Newcastle claimed the scalp of Man Utd. That defeat for the Cherries was their first in eight and it will be interesting to see how much wind will have been taken out of their sails as a result. At home, they’ve won their last three but the latest was a less than convincing victory over a struggling Stoke and success over the Potters is their only one versus a current bottom-half club in their last eight as they drew the previous six.

Since Christmas, Rafa Benitez has got his troops playing like a Rafa Benitez side – well-organised, committed and grinding out results. The two losses in their last nine in the league have both come against Man City and of their last eight only that trip to the Etihad saw them concede more than one goal. In the last eight on the road the Magpies have only been defeated by the ‘Big Six’ and they certainly have the capabilities to blunt a usually free-scoring Bournemouth attack.

Betting Strategy

 LAY- Bournemouth at 2.24

Brighton v Swansea

Sunday February 25, 2.00am AEDST

Just a point separates these two in the standings as Brighton have witnessed a much-needed upturn in form, picking up five points from their last three as well as advancing the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Swansea earned a replay against Sheffield Wednesday in the Cup to remain unbeaten in 10 in all competitions, but Carlos Carvalhal is clearly prioritising the league as he made six changes in the trip to his former club.

The Seagulls have only lost to Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City at the Amex this term but given they’ve won just two of their last 10 there (W2-L2-L6) they look a little short at the prices, especially with the improvements Swansea have made since Carvalhal came in. Having looked clueless in front of goal for much of the season the Swans suddenly have options with Jordan Ayew and Tammy Abraham both performing well. On the road they’ve remained cautious though as despite being unbeaten in six in all competitions their last five have all been stalemates with three 1-1 draws and two goalless encounters with Championship sides. In what we expect to be a low-scoring affair the draw looks the most likely match outcome.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Draw at 3.09

Burnley v Southampton

Sunday February 25, 2.00am AEDST

Burnley are winless in 10 as their injury crisis is starting to hurt them. Currently, half of their first choice XI remain sidelined resulting in an alarming lack of firepower up front. They’ve scored just five times in this winless streak though only four of these were at Turf Moor, hosting a ‘Big Six’ club in each. Sean Dyche will therefore view this as an opportunity for a positive result against a Southampton side that slipped back into the relegation zone following their defeat to Liverpool.

The market can barely separate these two but given the Saints are on the road, trail Burnley by 10 points and their only victory in their last 14 in the league was against the bottom-placed, West Brom they look a little skinny. However, the Clarets are hardly backable at the moment, so our interest lies in the goals market with two cautious managers in the dugouts.

This season, Burnley’s home games have featured the fewest amount of goals of any in the division with just 19 from 13 matches so far. 11 have had fewer than three strikes with eight featuring no more than one including six of their eight versus bottom-half clubs. Southampton have improved going forward recently but matches are rarely open at Turf Moor so we’re backing Under 1.5 Goals as has been the case in their last two trips here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Under 1.5 Goals at 2.65

Liverpool v West Ham

Sunday February 25, 2.00am AEDST

The prices suggest Liverpool are banker material but there is always the worry that they could throw in a below par performance. They’re unbeaten in the league at Anfield this season but have drawn six of the 13 games as West Brom, Everton and Burnley have all left with a point. West Ham, meanwhile, won for the first time in four and it was no coincidence that Marko Arnautovic was back in the line-up. The Austrian makes such a difference to their attack as they score 29% fewer goals when he’s missing, and the Hammers have gone W5-D3-L1 the last nine he’s started – still scoring twice in the defeat – but failed to win any of the last six without him.

West Ham have done well against the top-six under Moyes – beating Chelsea and drawing with Arsenal at home, whilst getting a point at Spurs and pushing Man City all the way at the Etihad. Liverpool are deserved favourites but given they’ve won just one of their last seven at home by more than a one goal margin, the visitors are the bet on the handicap.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – West Ham +1.5 Asian Handicap at 2.56

West Brom v Huddersfield

Sunday February 25, 2.00am AEDST

West Brom’s situation is becoming increasingly desperate as they are now five points adrift of their closest rivals and seven points from safety. However, they can take encouragement from Huddersfield’s poor away record and that three of their four defeats at the Hawthorns this season have been against top-six clubs. The problem is they rarely win with just three league victories at all venues this term as six of their nine remaining home games have finished all-square.

Huddersfield provided a bit of a shock by thumping Bournemouth at home but David Wagner’s side have remained competitive at the Kirklees this season whereas it’s been all too easy to dominate them on their travels. They’ve lost nine of their last 12 road matches, failing to score in 10 of these and they’ve been dealt a major blow with Aaron Mooy out for a couple of weeks. The Aussie is their most influential player and runs the game in midfield for the Terriers as he’s made a considerable amount more passes and key passes than any of his teammates, while he leads the assists charts and has chipped in with four goals.

Rather than back West Brom to win at odds-on, the much more appealing bet is for the Baggies to keep a clean sheet at odds-against, covering the goalless stalemate. The hosts attack is blunt as only Swansea have scored fewer but excluding those home games against ‘Big Six’ sides they’ve shut out their opponents in five of nine matches.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – West Brom Clean Sheet at 2.1

Watford v Everton

Sunday February 25, 4.30am AEDST

Watford lost for the first time under Javi Gracia at West Ham but they return to Vicarage Road where they were last seen putting four past Chelsea. To highlight their inconsistent nature though, in the four home matches prior they’d picked up just one point against bottom-six opposition Southampton, Swansea and Huddersfield but beat Leicester. Combine this with their lengthy injury list and the Hornets are not a side to back with any certainty. Rather, what’s more reliable is the high-scoring nature of their home encounters with nine of 13 this term featuring at least three goals and both teams scoring in their last seven, four of which had at least four strikes.

Everton’s W1-D5-L7 away record this season reads poorly but it’s tainted by the fact they’ve already travelled to all the ‘Big Six’. Excluding such opposition, the Toffees are a more respectable W3-D7-L4 in their last 14 away matches while at all venues they’re W5-D2-L1 under Big Sam. Five of their last eight road games have had at least three strikes and with Gylfi Sigurdsson having a greater influence with each match. Over 2.5 Goals seems a generous price.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 2.5 Goals at 2.0

Crystal Palace v Tottenham

Sunday February 25, 11.00pm AEDST

Harry Kane did it again for Spurs in a North London Derby as they maintained their push for a top-four spot after securing seven points form three clashes against rivals Arsenal, Liverpool and Man Utd. They’ll also be buoyed by a positive result in Turin and no doubt the players will relish the easier task posed by a depleted Palace side.

Indeed, Roy Hodgson is without five first-team regulars throughout the spine of his team with the absence of Wilfred Zaha the greatest blow. Without their talisman they’ve lost each of their last nine with their only goal curtesy of a Milivojevic spot-kick in their latest defeat at Everton. Furthermore, the Eagles have lost 15 of their 20 meetings with the ‘Big Six’ sides since the start of last season and this term they’ve failed to score in five of eight such encounters, but if we exclude a flailing Arsenal then they netted in only one of six.

Unlike his counterpart, Mauricio Pochettino has a fully fit squad to select from with the recent return to fitness of Toby Alderweireld a bonus. They’ve only triumphed in six of their 13 away matches this season but have won four of six unbeaten matches when we just include bottom-half clubs. It takes their record to 12 victories from 16 such trips since the start of last season with seven of these successes coming to nil.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Spurs Win to Nil at 2.55

Man Utd v Chelsea

Sunday February 25, 4.30am AEDST

Chelsea have bounced back from their successive humiliating defeats against Bournemouth and Watford with commanding back-to-back victories over West Brom and Hull and a mightily impressive showing against Barcelona in Europe. However, all three of these took place at Stamford Bridge and their form on the road is still a worry with their only two victories in their last seven coming at promoted teams.

Antonio Conte goes up against his old foe Jose Mourinho who saw his own side put in a less memorable performance in Champions League. Only Man City have registered more points at home than Man Utd this season, but they’ve been efficient rather than spectacular of late. Indeed, four of their last seven have had fewer than three strikes and given Mourinho’s past record in these type of games, we expect this to be a cagey affair. Under 2.5 Goals has landed in 11 of United’s 16 matches against fellow ‘Big Six’ sides under the Portuguese including five from five at Old Trafford when we exclude Guardiola’s free scoring City.

The same has occurred in four of Chelsea’s six meetings with the ‘Big Six’ this term and they showed how organised they can be in their 1-1 draw with Barca. Moreover, games between these two tend to be tight with six of the seven meetings since 2014/15 featuring no more than two strikes.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Under 2.5 Goals at 1.76

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