English Premier League Season 2016/17 – Week 17
Saturday December 17, 11:30pm AEDT
These sides are in contrasting form at the moment as Crystal Palace’s home defeat against United was their seventh in their last nine games, while Chelsea made it 10 wins on the bounce with a hard-fought 1-0 triumph at the Stadium of Light. The defence continues to be the issue for Palace as they’ve managed just one clean sheet in their last 21, whilst Chelsea have only conceded two goals during their current winning run.
Poor starts have also cost Palace in recent times as they’ve trailed at the break in nine of their last 11. They’ve lost four of their last five at home as they’ve had a tough run of fixtures, hosting both Manchester clubs and Liverpool within that time and it doesn’t get any easier here. Indeed, they’ve lost all six of their home games against top-four teams since the start of last season, trailing at the break in the last three of these defeats.
Chelsea have won their last five away, leading at the break in three of these last four victories and with Eden Hazard set to return to the team after missing the visit to Sunderland with a knock, we’re backing Conte’s men to be ahead at half-time and full-time. For all their struggles last term, Chelsea still managed to win 3-0 at Selhurst Park and with Costa and Hazard in red-hot form, we think a repeat could well be on the cards.
BACK – Chelsea/Chelsea HT/FT at 2.5
Sunday December 18, 2:00am AEDT
Boro suffered their heaviest defeat of the season as they were beaten 3-0 at home by Liverpool and since they also lost 1-0 at Southampton prior to that, they’ve dropped down to 17th, just three points clear of Swansea in 18th. Swansea were unable to follow up their 3-0 home win over Sunderland as they were beaten 3-1 at West Brom and they’ve now shipped 12 goals in their last four.
However, Boro are struggling for goals themselves as they’ve managed just 13 in their 16 games, the fewest in the division. They in fact have a better record on the road than at home so far as they’ve lost five of eight at the Riverside Stadium and only managed to score more than once against Bournemouth.
After their opening day defeat of Burnley, Swansea have since lost six of their last seven on the road, though they haven’t travelled to anyone lower than champions Leicester in 14th during that run. They’ve lost only three of their seven trips to bottom-six sides since the start of last season and as such Boro look too short at 2.18, given their poor home form. Swansea have certainly showed signs of improvement under Bob Bradley, with two wins in their last four, and so we’re backing them to pick up at least a point.
LAY – Middlesbrough at 2.2
Sunday December 18, 2:00am AEST
Despite having Marko Arnautovic sent off after 23 minutes against Southampton, Stoke managed to hold on for a goalless draw, meaning they’ve lost only two of their last 11 after that disastrous start to the season that saw them lose four of their first five. Leicester, meanwhile, continue to struggle on the road as their 1-0 defeat at Bournemouth was their seventh in eight away matches this term. Ranieri’s men remain in 14th, four points behind Stoke and just four points clear of the relegation zone.
Stoke have won three of their last five at home, but two of those wins came over bottom-three sides Swansea and Sunderland, whilst the other was against Burnley, who have picked up just one point on the road so far. Arnautovic is of course suspended for this one and the Potters have lost four of the six games the Austrian has missed since the start of last season. What’s more, after the exertion of having to repel waves of Southampton attacks with 10 men for the majority of the match, we’re keen to take Stoke on, particularly as the Foxes have had an extra day to prepare for this one.
After managing a point at White Hart Lane, the Foxes have gone down narrowly in their last three away, with each of these defeats by a single goal. They’ve failed to score more than once in any of their away games so far and since Stoke have failed to score in two of their last three at home, we expect this to be a low-scoring encounter, particularly without the creativity of Arnautovic for the hosts. We’re backing Under 2.5 Goals at 1.92 and we’re also going to back the draw at 3.45.
BACK – Under 2.5 Goals at 1.92
BACK – Draw at 3.45
Sunday December 18, 2:00am AEDT
Sunderland made Chelsea work hard for their three points on Wednesday night as they were narrowly beaten 1-0 at the Stadium of Light, but that together with the 3-0 defeat at Swansea means that the Black Cats are back at the foot of the table, though they’re just one point off Hull and Swansea. Watford are slipping towards that end of the table after their 2-0 defeat at the Etihad, their fourth loss in their last six. Walter Mazzarri’s side is down to 11th now, having been seventh after 10 games.
After picking up just one point from their first five home games, Sunderland have since won two of their last three at the Stadium of Light, with victories over Leicester and Hull. Indeed, the Black Cats tend to fare pretty well against teams outside the top-eight as they’ve lost just four of 15 home games against such opposition since the start of last season (W7-D4-L4), with four wins in the last six of these. What’s more, they have an in-form striker in Jermaine Defoe, who has four in his last seven.
The same cannot be said for Watford, however, as the goals have dried up for Deeney and Ighalo, with neither netting in the Hornets’ last nine. The Hornets have lost their last three on the road, conceding 11 goals in the process, while they’ve found the net just three times themselves in their last six away. With that in mind, we’re siding with Sunderland and the Black Cats are a big enough price that we can take some cover on the draw.
BACK – Sunderland 0 Asian Handicap at 1.9
Sunday December 18, 2:00am AEDT
West Ham continued their slight upturn in form as they followed their point at Anfield with a 1-0 home win over Burnley to move up to 15th. The Hammers have had a tough run of fixtures as all four of their games prior to the visit of Sean Dyche’s side were against top-six teams, and after coming through that spell with a couple of points, Bilic will expect the Hammers to continue to rise up the table. Hull have shown no signs of doing the same as they were well-beaten at White Hart Lane in midweek to leave themselves in 19th.
The Hammers have shown signs of adapting to the London Stadium as they’ve lost just one of their last five there, beating Burnley and Sunderland 1-0 in that time. Indeed, all three of their home victories so far have been 1-0’s as they’ve only scored more than once at home in a 2-4 defeat against Watford.
After picking up four points from their opening two road games, Hull have lost their last six away, despite travelling to the likes of Sunderland and Boro in that time. They failed to score in both of those games and in fact in their last four away, and we’re backing that run to continue. However, since the Hammers aren’t in prolific scoring form, we’re backing the home win and Under 2.5 Goals.
BACK – West Ham and Under 2.5 Goals at 4.2
Sunday December 18, 2:00am AEDT
Man Utd line-up at the Hawthorns at an almost identical price as they were at Selhurst Park on Wednesday, when an 88th minute goal from Zlatan Ibrahimović gave them the spoils. The story of that match was one of two sides desperately short of quality as Palace seemed content to sit back and United never looked capable of breaking them down. If they struggled at Palace they’re likely to find life far harder at West Brom.
Tony Pulis’ side are flying. A Salomon Rondon hat-trick in midweek gave them a third consecutive home win, during which they’ve scored 10 times, and they’ve now scored more goals than United this season. At Chelsea last weekend Pulis lined up with a very defensive side and he might be tempted to try something similar here given that almost worked. In his 11 home games with West Brom against top-six sides they’ve had an excellent W4-D3-L4 record – returning better than a 70% ROI for Baggies backers.
United have only scored eight goals in their last nine trips to middle-third teams as they’ve gone W2-D3-L4 and six of the games had fewer than three goals. However, Chelsea are the only team to beat them in their last 11 matches as they’ve been defending well, but six draws suggests that is a result to follow, particularly in this match-up where goals look in short supply.
BACK – Draw at 4.0
Monday December 19, 12:30am AEDT
The two south coast sides are separated only by goal difference after Bournemouth beat Leicester in midweek and the Saints could only draw with 10-man Stoke. Bournemouth have generally been strong at home this season as they’ve lost just one of their last seven here whilst keeping four clean sheets. Leicester were not the toughest of opponents in midweek as they suffered a comedown from their win against Man City and the likes of Mahrez and Slimani looked disinterested. Southampton will surely put in a more committed effort but they’ve struggled for goals recently and it could be that one will be enough to win this game.
Southampton have scored just twice in their last five matches and are without the injured Charlie Austin. However, they’ve kept four clean sheets in that time and with Bournemouth also likely to be without their main striker after Callum Wilson suffered a head injury in midweek they will fancy their chances of another shutout here. Only twice in Bournemouth’s last 12 home matches have they scored more than once and Wilson started both of those: since the start of last season they’ve gone from averaging 1.78 goals per game in his nine home starts to just 1.22 in the 18 he missed. We expect both defences to be on top and a fifth Under 1.5 Goals match in Southampton’s last six looks on the cards.
BACK – Under 1.5 Goals
Monday December 19, 3:00am AEDT
Pep Guardiola is experiencing the toughest challenge of his managerial career. Just four wins in their last 10 matches while losing three times and scoring only two more than they’ve conceded has left them down in fourth. To make matters worse Guardiola looks unlikely to be able to call upon the services of Ilkay Gundogan for the rest of the season while Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho are still banned. Given all the question marks over City’s defence and keeper that means they can add the midfield and attack to their list of problems.
Last season Manchester City went a disastrous W1-D4-L9 against top-eight finishers – ruining any shot at the title and almost ending their top four chances. And this season they’ve picked up just two points from their three home games against teams currently in the top nine. So at about 2.2 they are far too short to beat an Arsenal side that were unbeaten on the road in all competitions this season until their late defeat at Everton in midweek. They’re also unbeaten in their last five games against City.
The one concern for Arsenal fans is in defence, as they’ve failed to keep a clean sheet in 11 matches across all competitions and the current absence of Shkodran Mustafi is a blow. Nevertheless we think they look stronger across the park than City and the Arsenal/Both Teams to Score market looks of interest, though we’ll settle for the Draw No Bet in case Arsene Wenger sets them up more defensively like they did recently at Old Trafford.
BACK – Arsenal Draw No Bet at 2.5
Monday December 19, 3:00am AEST
This is the easiest preview of the round to write. Burnley can’t score away from Turf Moor. Their only away goal this season came via a questionable penalty at Southampton while their only point was when surviving an onslaught at Old Trafford. Five of their six away defeats have been by more than one goal, five were after trailing at half-time and five were to nil. Any or all of those look good bets in a match where the gulf in class should be evident from the outset.
Spurs have won six of their eight home games this season and seven of their last eight wins here have come while keeping a clean sheet. They also particularly enjoy playing promoted teams and since 2012/13 have won 24 of 26 games against the league’s new boys. That includes a perfect 13 out of 13 at home, with nine of the last 11 wins coming to nil.
Winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson may be fit enough to return for Burnley this weekend and that should make a big difference to them but we still don’t see them troubling Hugo Lloris and it should be another long trip back from the capital.
BACK – Spurs Win to Nil at 1.9
Tuesday December 20, 7:00am AEDT
Everton displayed what they’re really capable of in midweek as they ended Arsenal’s unbeaten streak. It was the sort of night to inspire the Goodison Park faithful, with a title chasing side full of match winners coming to town, and they immediately get to prove it wasn’t a fluke as they face their biggest game of the season. It’s been more than six years since the Toffees last beat their neighbours but six of the last eight clashes between these teams have finished all-square including all the last four here.
After their recent stumble of one win in four Liverpool were back on form in midweek, winning 3-0 at Middlesbrough. They’ll certainly fancy having a go at an Everton defence that has kept just one clean sheet in 12 matches. Liverpool have scored at least twice in 11 of their last 13 games and while Coutinho is missing they still look formidable going forward with Lallana, Mane, Firmino and Origi.
However, Everton are very tough to beat at home, where they are unbeaten in 11. Furthermore, Liverpool’s away record since the start of last season, when excluding bottom-six finishers last term and the current bottom-six this, is just W5-D6-L8 and we think they can get at least a point here so we’ll lay the Reds
LAY – Liverpool at 2.00