Chelsea v Manchester City
Sunday April 17, 2:30am
Chelsea’s defeat at Swansea last weekend means they remain in tenth and since their only win in their last four came against Aston Villa, their chances of Europa League qualification are looking increasingly unlikely.
Manchester City, meanwhile, have strengthened their grip on fourth place with wins over Bournemouth and West Brom, aided by the fact that Man Utd and West Ham have dropped some points.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men will be buoyed by their performance against PSG in midweek as they nullified Laurent Blanc’s side to make it through to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in their history.
Chelsea’s defeat at Swansea was their first in the Premier League under Guus Hiddink since he took over 16 games ago as he was forced to field a number of youngsters due to injury concerns.
Their record at the Bridge this term is W5-D7-L4, with six of those draws coming in their last seven as while they’re unbeaten at home under the Dutchman their only wins have come against Newcastle and Sunderland.
The Blues have only hosted two top-five sides so far this season, drawing against United and recording their customary victory over Arsenal.
City had lost four of six games heading into the trip to Bournemouth but they’ve bounced back strongly and will hope to make it three wins on the bounce here, something they haven’t done since the start of the season when they won their opening five matches.
Their away record this term is W6-D5-L4 but they’ve only won three of their last 12 on the road and all of their wins have come against bottom-half teams.
Indeed, 15 of City’s 17 wins at home and away this term have come against bottom-half teams and their record against the top-half sides is just W2-D3-L9 and W0-D3-L4 on the road.
This, together with the fact that Chelsea are unbeaten at home under Hiddink, means that we’re siding with them here. City last won at the Bridge way back in 2009/10 and though they impressed in the Champions League against PSG, we’d need to see their league form improve, particularly on the road, before we could back them to win at Chelsea.
The form of Sergio Aguero is also a concern for City as he missed a penalty against PSG and was largely ineffective across both legs. Indeed, his only goals in his last seven Premier League games were a penalty against West Brom, the third goal against Bournemouth and a brace against Villa.
Diego Costa, Willian, Nemanja Matic and Eden Hazard are all close to returns for the Blues and with the squad out to impress incoming coach Antonio Conte and keep their places at the club next season, they could extend City’s poor form on the road and against top-half sides.
Leicester v West Ham
Sunday April 17, 10:30pm
Leicester’s march towards the Premier League title continued last weekend as they were 2-0 winners at Sunderland, their fifth win without conceding in a row. They’ve established a seven point gap at the top of the table and are now as short as 1.2 to do what was considered unthinkable at the start of the season and win the league.
West Ham, meanwhile, have stumbled in recent weeks in their bid for a top-four finish as they’ve drawn their last three matches at Chelsea and at home to Palace and Arsenal in a 3-3 thriller. As a result, they’ve moved down to sixth and are five points behind City in fourth.
Leicester’s clean sheet against Sunderland was their 11th in 15 games as they’ve evolved from the more free-flowing and open side that scored 37 goals (2.1 gpg) and conceded 25 (1.4 gpg) in their first 18 games into a more clinical and economical side that has scored 20 in their last 15 (1.3 gpg) but conceded just six 6 (0.4 gpg).
The Foxes home record this term is W10-D5-L1 as Arsenal are the only side to take three points from the King Power Stadium.
When hosting sides between fourth and eight, Leicester’s record is W2-D2-L0 as they’ve beaten Liverpool and Stoke but drew against the Manchester clubs. All four of these games had fewer than three goals as Leicester kept a clean sheet in three.
Whilst Ranieri’s Leicester have been exceptional defensively in recent times, West Ham have struggled in that regard, conceding nine goals in their last four, but finding the net 10 times themselves.
Their away record this term is W6-D6-L4 but when travelling to top-five sides it’s W2-D1-L1 as they’ve only lost at White Hart Lane.
Indeed, West Ham have performed particularly well against the top teams both home and away under Bilic as they’re W3-D3-L2 against the top-five this term, with wins at the Emirates and Etihad, as well as at Anfield and they got revenge for the defeat at White Hart Lane with a 1-0 home win over Spurs.
Having said that, this is a fixture that could really play into Leicester’s hands as while West Ham have had some success against the bigger teams, this has largely been on the counter against sides that have tend to have the majority of possession.
Leicester, on the other hand, average just 46.2% possession at home, with only WBA seeing less of the ball in their home games.
Whilst West Ham are in good scoring form, scoring at least twice in their last three road games, these were against the struggling Norwich, Everton and Chelsea, whose only clean sheet in their last eight came against Aston Villa.
Leicester have managed to keep the free-scoring Man City, Spurs and Liverpool out in recent times and since the Foxes have found the net in their last 13 games, the likes of Vardy and Mahrez could make hay against this leaky Hammers defence and so the win to nil at 3.6 and -1 on the Asian Handicap at 2.75 are worth consideration, but the best bet looks to be siding with the league leaders to win at odds-against.