English Premier League Season 2016/17
Wednesday January 4, 6:45pm AEDT
Bournemouth have played Arsenal three times since coming into the Premier League and three times they’ve been beaten by two clear goals. Eddie Howe’s side had a confidence boosting win at Swansea a few days ago but they’ve not won consecutive league games since March and could struggle here against a Gunners side that know they simply must keep winning to stay in the title race.
Arsenal threw away leads in their last two away games, at Everton and Man City, but since the start of last season they’ve won six of 11 trips to middle-third teams. That suggests their current price is about right but they averaged almost two goals per game in those matches as five of their six wins came by a margin of more than one. They still tend to concede more often than not though and eight of those 11 matches had at least three goals.
Bournemouth lost seven of 10 home matches against the top half last season and six of those defeats were by more than one goal, while six also came after they trailed at half-time, and seven had at least three goals in total. With Jack Wilshere unavailable against his parent club Arsenal look too strong but the Cherries are likely to still look to attack and the Gunners could punish them on the break and end up winning handily.
BACK – Arsenal at 1.85
Wednesday Januray 4, 7:00am AEDT
Watford were thrashed by Spurs at home on New Year’s Day in a result that could easily have been more embarrassing than the final 4-1 score. They’ve now lost five of their last seven matches as their form has totally deserted them, and on the road it’s four defeats in a row.
Stoke’s form is hardly anything to shout about either but they at least made life hard for Chelsea last time out and at home they’ve lost only one of their last seven. Importantly they welcome back Marko Arnautovic after a ban as in the nine games he’s been out of the starting XI since the start of last season Stoke have won only once and been beaten six times. His return should also help Shaqiri and in the 34 matches the pair have started together in this time Stoke’s win rate has been 41% – It’s been just 23% otherwise.
Watford’s record away to bottom-half teams isn’t that bad as it’s generally been against the league’s elite that they’ve struggled. However, recent performances are a huge concern and their selection problems can’t be ignored. The influential figures of Behrami, Pereyra and Janmaat are all out and Zuniga, Success and Okaka are almost certain to join them on the sidelines. Stoke have won the last two games between these sides and we expect them to make that three in a row.
BACK – Stoke at 1.85
Wednesday January 4, 7:00am AEDT
Both these sides will be glad to see the back of 2016 but their first match in 2017 could define the rest of this year. Crystal Palace offered little against Arsenal on New Year’s Day but Swansea probably produced the worst display of the last round as they were thrashed at home by Bournemouth and they’ve now lost four on the spin while conceding 13 times and scoring just twice.
On the road, it’s just one point from their last eight matches for the Swans and they’ve conceded three times in five of the last six. Of course they conceded four when these teams met in South Wales recently but still won. Those defensive failings, which stretch back well into last season, have seen 15 of their last 19 away games have at least three goals.
Palace are still the sixth highest scorers this season and seven of their nine games this season against teams currently in the bottom half have had at least three goals with six having four or more. Their home form has been poor but they’ve only hosted one side currently in the bottom eight and they won that 4-1. Swansea have a few injury concerns and look rudderless right now. We expect Palace to win and with Wilf Zaha departing to the African Cup of Nations after this he’ll be keen to give another man of the match display. Against this defence there should be goals and Over 2.5 also looks a great bet.
BACK – Crystal Palace at 1.85
Thursday January 5, 7:00am AEDT
The clash of the round sees Chelsea with the chance to equal the league record for most consecutive wins. Spurs came as close as anyone to stopping that streak when these teams met at the end of November as they took an early lead before ultimately losing 2-1. At home, they’ve lost only once against Chelsea in the last 10 years, going W4-D5-L1 in that time.
Spurs are also in excellent form, with their key creative players of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen finding their best and since their disappointing performance at Old Trafford they’ve won four in a row while scoring 13 times. They’ve lost only three of 28 home games since the start of last season and are unbeaten at White Hart Lane this term. Moreover, they’ve won seven of their 11 home matches against top-six sides since 2015/16 with just two defeats.
Chelsea have won 13 in a row including their last six on the road. Impressively, they’ve conceded just once in those six as they’ve recorded three 1-0 wins and two 2-0s. The other game was a 3-1 win at Man City, their only top-eight opponent in that stretch, in a game they were largely outplayed in. Prior to that they were thrashed at Arsenal as they’ve taken full advantage of travelling to the weaker sides in the league. It’s hard to split these teams and the markets agree, with both sides priced at 2.8 to win, so with six of the last 11 clashes between the pair finishing all-square the draw looks the best value selection.
BACK – Draw at 3.4