The EPL returns with tasty fixtures as Arsenal take on Manchester city and Liverpool battle Everton
Our favourite weekend pastime, the EPL, will return this weekend with some exciting and tantalizing fixtures. The International break didn’t cause a lot of casualties, in terms of injuries, and we should have an almost full complement of super stars when hostilities resume this weekend in the EPL. There will be a very feisty Merseyside derby, a London derby and a clash of similar football ideologies amongst other games happening this weekend. Arsene Wenger will confront Pep Guardiola in what promises to be an entertaining battle of two football purists. That is the marquee fixture for this weekend and as usual, I will preview that game and all nine other fixtures with betting tips to use on www.nairabet.com and help you get some weekend cash in your pocket.
LIVERPOOL vs. EVERTON
The first game of this weekend will be happening at Anfield when Liverpool will host Everton. The Reds seem to have gotten their mojo back after a poor start to the year as they are unbeaten in their last three league matches with two wins (against Arsenal and Totenham) and a draw against Manchester City. They currently sit fourth on the log, a point behind Manchester City and three behind second placed Tottenham. The Reds will have to prosecute this game without the tricky Adam Llallna, who picked up a knock during the International break and also their Brazilian duo of Phillipe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino will have to pass late fitness tests to certify if they can be a part of today’s game. Everton, on the other hand, will hope to resume league football from where they stopped before the International break. They trashed Hull City and West Brom in consecutive home matches and they have lost just once in the league this year. Romelu lukaku has been firing on all cylinders today and the Toffees will need him at his best today. They will be without one of their most astounding players of this season so far, in the form of Seamus Coleman, who suffered a horrible leg break while on International duty. James McCarthy and Morgan Schneiderlin will be assessed ahead of Saturday’s lunchtime kick off, while Ramiro Funes Mori is sidelined after being stretchered off in Argentina’s 2-0 loss to Bolivia. Liverpool have the upper hand at home against Everton, winning three of the last five Merseyside Derbies at Anfield. Another factor that will make me lean towards the Reds is the fact that they always seem to raise their performance in big games and for Liverpool, it arguably doesn’t get any bigger than the Merseyside derby. My betting tips for this game will be a double chance bet on Liverpool and both teams to score.
MANCHESTER UNITED vs. WEST BROM
Jose Mourinho’s men will get a chance to solidify their position on the table and make a move for the top four, when they host West Brom at Old Trafford today. Manchester United are on an eighteen match unbeaten run in the league and they would love to extend that run with a win at home, which hasn’t happened as frequently as they would have liked this season. The Red Devils will be without a number of key players for today’s game. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera are serving suspensions, while Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have joined Pogba in the injury list along. Wayne Rooney, Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini are carrying minor knocks, but might still available for selection. The Baggies will enter into this fixture high on confidence after dismantling Arsenal in their last fixture before the International break. They are currently sitting pretty in eighth position on the log although that position is mostly down to their impressive home record. Away from home, they’ve been very poor with fourteen points from fourteen games. They might want to take advantage of the fact that Manchester United have not been able to kill off games at home this season and their resolute defensive approach to games might just frustrate the Red Devils if they don’t get the goals early enough in this game. It is also important to note that the Baggies have a very excellent record at Old Trafford in recent times, with two wins from their last three visits there. The latest stats at Old Trafford are not good for Manchester United either, as they have won just once in the last four matches there and were held to draws in three, two of which came against extremely poor away sides Hull City and Bournemouth. I will advise on a double chance bet on Manchester United and over 1.5 goals for this match.
CHELSEA vs. CRYSTAL PALACE
The league leaders will be involved in a London derby when they host Crystal Palace this afternoon at the Stamford Bridge. The Blues seem to be on a procession to being crowned as this season’s Champions as they have been very impressive this season and have a very healthy ten point gap over the second placed team. Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois are both expected to be fit in time today’s game after picking up minor injuries during the international break, while Victor Moses is also an injury concern for Antonio Conte’s side after he withdrew from the Nigeria squad and Diego Costa picked up a foot injury on duty for Spain only for scan results to clear him of any damage. Crystal Palace have found their form at the right time as the battle for survival intensifies in the EPL. The Eagles are currently on a three game winning streak and the most impressive part of that is the fact they managed to keep clean sheets in all those wins. They are currently sixteenth in the league table, four points above the bottom three teams. Patrick van Aanholt should make a return to the team, while James McArthur might be a doubt. They have lost to Chelsea in their last four visits to the Bridge and a point in today’s fixture will be massive for them, although that will seem like a tall order as there have been no draws in the nine previous EPL meetings between these sides. My betting tips for this game will be a double chance bet on Chelsea and over 1.5 goals.
LEICESTER CITY vs. STOKE CITY
The Champions will hope to extend their winning streak when they welcome Stoke City to the King Power Stadium today. Since the sack of Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes have won four matches on the bounce in all competitions. They are currently fifteenth in the standings, six points above the relegation zone and another win would see them add more daylight between themselves and the bottom three. They are unbeaten in their last three encounters against Stoke City and have scored at least two goals in each of those games. Wes Morgan should be back in the team for this match after sitting out the 3-2 win at West Ham before the international break with a back problem in what might be the only change to the team. Stoke City have picked up seven points from their last five matches, but have been awful away from home, managing a win and a draw from their last seven away games. They haven’t scored in their last three matches away from home and have conceded three or more goals in four of their last seven away games. Phil Bardsley is suspended and with Glen Johnson a doubt, Geoff Cameron could start at right-back today. I will advise on bets of a Leicester win and over 1.5 goals for this fixture on www.nairabet.com
BURNLEY vs. TOTTENHAM
The Clarets will return home to face the high flying Tottenham, after four consecutive away matches in the league. Their excellent home record is the only reason they aren’t neck deep in the relegation battle so far. Burnley have failed to win in seven in all competitions, though their home form remains impressive. They have the sixth best home record in the league and have picked up twenty-nine of their overall thirty-two points this season at home. Their compact style of play at home has been one of the reasons for their success as they press quickly without possession. On the other hand, Tottenham will be involving in their first away game in all competitions since February and the first away game in the Premier League since the 2-0 defeat at Liverpool on 11th February. They are unbeaten in six competitive outings, winning five of those. Away from home, however, they have struggled this year, winning just two of six in 2017 and a grand total of just four away wins all season. Danny Rose, Erik Lamela and Harry Kane are all ruled out of this fixture with injuries, while Vincent Janssen is a doubt through illness and Mauricio Pochettino could stick with the same XI that secured a 2-1 win over Southampton before the international break. Spurs came from behind to defeat Burnley 2-1 in the reverse fixture earlier this season. However, Burnley are unbeaten at home against Tottenham since 2004. Turf Moor is fast becoming one of the toughest grounds to visit in the league and they are fresh from denying Chelsea a win here. Tottenham without Harry Kane might find it difficult to score and also might be adversely affected by the involvement their players in the recent international window. My betting tips for this match are a Tottenham win and Over 1.5 goals.
WATFORD vs. SUNDERLAND
The Hornets will be hoping for a win today when they face bottom placed Sunderland at their Vicarage Road home to get into the top half of the table. They were on a run of two consecutive defeats before the break and will need a victory to get out of that slump. Meanwhile, Sunderland are on a four-game winless run and are seven points from safety at the bottom of the table. Both teams have weaknesses especially in keeping possession of the ball which might make the game a bore fest. There will likely be few goals considering the poor finishing of Sunderland, who have failed to find the back of the net in seven of their last eight matches, and low scoring form of Hornets. Valon Behrami suffered a back injury before the international break but should have recovered in time to feature against Sunderland today, while Nordin Amrabat, who made his return from injury before the international break, should be in line for a first league start since New Year’s Day. For Sunderland, John O’Shea required stitches in his leg following a brutal tackle from Gareth Bale during the international break but should be fine to play, while Lamine Kone remains a doubt. My betting tips for this game are a double chance bet on Watford and under 2.5 goals.
HULL CITY vs. WEST HAM
The Tigers will host the Hammers at the KCOM Stadium today with the hopes of banishing the memories of their last league outing before the break when they were thrashed 4-0 at Goodison Park. They have been neck deep in the relegation battle all season, but have shown some improvement under the tutelage of Portuguese tactician Marco Silva and are eighteenth on the log, four points adrift of safety. They are unbeaten at home since the New Year picking up 5 wins and 2 draws from 7 matches in all competitions and another home win today will do their survival bid a whole world of good. West Ham have lost three league games on the bounce and are without a win in their last five, however, they are unbeaten in the last four games against Hull City with three wins and a draw. Michael Dawson is back in training for Hull, though is unlikely to feature here, while Oumar Niasse is available again after missing the 4-0 loss at Goodison Park, but Marco Silva is without the suspended Tom Huddlestone and Evandro remains a doubt. Mark Noble is a doubt for the Hammers and James Collins could start at the heart of the defense alongside Jose Fonte, while Edimilson Fernandes will likely partner Cheikhou Kouyate in the middle of the park. Robert Snodgrass is set to start against his former side. Both sides are in desperate need of a win. But Hull City seem to be the hungrier of the two and have the added advantage of playing in front of their home fans. Hull boss, Marco Silva, is unbeaten in thirty-eight home league games as a manager and that record should remain intact after today. This should be a very exciting game. I will advise on a double chance bet on Hull and over 2.5 goals.
SOUTHAMPTON vs. BOURNEMOUTH
The Saints have been on a patchy form and will hope to get a victory today when they host Bournemouth in a South coast derby, the last fixture of the day. A victory today will keep them in the top half of the table and their record against the Cherries will give them some confidence to achieve that. The Saints have dominated their home games against Bournemouth, winning all three of the games played at St Mary’s Stadium and six of the seven matches against Bournemouth overall. Manolo Gabbiadini suffered a groin injury before the international break that forced him to pull out of the Italy squad and he remains a big doubt for this match and with Charlie Austin also ruled out, Shane Long may have to lead the line. Meanwhile, Martín Cáceres is still waiting to make his debut for Southampton after joining on a free transfer in February and Claude Puel may have used the international break to integrate him into his first-team plans. Bournemouth are unbeaten in three matches and seem to have put their terrible start to 2017 behind them. However, Eddie Howe will hope the international break has not disrupted their momentum too much, particularly the duo of Joshua King and Benik Afobe, who have been combining well upfront. Eddie Howe is not expected to make a lot of changes to the side that has done very well in recent weeks. Tyrone Mings is still suspended for the away side, while Callum Wilson and Adam Federici are long-term absentees. Ryan Fraser is expected to miss out here after being forced to withdraw from the Scotland squad during the international break with a knee injury and Harry Arter also missed the international break because of injury and remains a doubt here. Jack Wilshere could be recalled to the starting XI if Arter fails to recover in time. Both sides come into this match level on points and the winner will take a real step towards finishing in the top half of the table. My betting tips for this game are a double chance bet on Southampton and over 2.5 goals.
SWANSEA vs. MIDDLESBROUGH
The Swans will go into tomorrow’s game against Middlesbrough on the back of two consecutive defeats that have pushed them back into the thick of the relegation battle. However, they have won their last three home games and have beaten Boro twice in their last two visits to the Liberty Stadium. They know that a victory in this fixture will have a direct impact on their fight against the drop as this is a relegation six pointer. Middlesbrough have appointed Jonathan Woodgate as their first team coach to help keep things tight at the back, however, their main problem this season has been scoring goals and that is where they need to work on if they hope to make their way out of the relegation zone. They have failed to score in three of their last four games and if they fail to address the scoring problem, they are sure to lose this game and extend their losing streak to four games. Martin Olsson is expected to return to the Swansea starting XI, which will see Kyle Naughton pushed out to right-back and Leroy Fer moved into midfield at Ki Sung-yueng’s expense, while Jefferson Montero is a doubt for the Swans, but is close to a return to action. For Middlesbrough, they will be without Calum Chambers, while Daniel Ayala and George Friend are doubts. I will advise on a bets of a Swansea win and over 1.5 goals for this fixture.
ARSENAL vs. MANCHESTER CITY
This is unarguably the biggest fixture of this weekend and it will pit two managers with the same footballing philosophy against each other. Arsene Wenger will welcome Pep Guardiola to the Emirates with his team in dire straits as they have lost four of their last five matches in the league and can’t afford another loss tomorrow. This month will be defining for Wenger as he will need a string of positive results to boost the fans and lift the huge pressure he is currently facing. He will be facing Man City twice and will need to win both games this month. Alexis Sanchez faces a fitness test after facing a 7,000 trip following two appearances for Chile during the international break, while Petr Cech is out after picking up a calf injury against West Brom. Mesut Ozil featured for Germany off the bench during the international break, raising hopes that the midfield schemer will be fit to face Guardiola’s side. For Manchester City, Pep Guardiola hasn’t quite overseen the tactical revolution many expected when he took charge last summer, but his team is still a flexible, intelligent and cohesive side capable of starving the opposition of possession and playing brilliant passing combinations in the final third. He has generally played Fernandinho as his sole holding midfielder, but has sometimes beefed up that zone with Yaya Toure too. However, his first-choice system involves both David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne in the midfield trio. At the start of the season they both pushed forward from a 4-3-3 system, leaving Fernandinho on his own, although Guardiola has recently experimented with a 4-2-3-1 system, moving either Silva or De Bruyne deep to help control play, and pushing the other into the final third. This should be a very interesting tactical battle to watch between two great coaches. Kevin De Bruyne returned from the international break with a groin injury and will require a late fitness test. The system used will depend on whether he is fit to start and could even see Fernandinho continue at full-back. Raheem Sterling is also available, while Bacary Sagna could miss out against his former side this weekend and Pablo Zabaleta is also a doubt. My betting tips for this match are a double chance bet on Arsenal and over 1.5 goals on www.nairabet.com
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