Friday, December 27, 2013

EPL Week 19

This is the part of the season where having a real squad can make a difference in winning and losing matches. With so many games in such a short span and injuries invariably mounting, managers need to get their rotations right.

West Ham v/s West Brom. This looks like a drab draw in the making. The Hammers are beset by injuries and goals look set to be hard to come by. The Baggies are still manager-less but would have been happy to snatch a point at White Hart Lane on Boxing Day. If this game is to decide a winner, it looks to be by the minimum goal but chances are that a draw is the likeliest result.

Aston Villa v/s Swansea. Another game with 2 teams with awful form. Both are playing without their star players in Benteke and Michu. Best to avoid.

Man City v/s Crystal Palace. Although the Eagles are enjoying a renewal since Pulis took over, there isn't a more difficult place to go than the Etihad. They will retain some hope to get at least something out of the game with the knowledge that they almost kept Chelsea in check at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago. After beating Liverpool, the hosts will need to retain their focus to play a weaker team and get the necessary full points. It might be easier said than done, but in the end, City have the best squad in the league and should have the necessary resources to get the win.

Norwich v/s Man Utd. I think the Red Devils are a little exposed here. They had to tough it out to win at Hull on Boxing Day and this is going to be another hard game. They will be thin at right-back with Valencia picking up a rather stupid late red card. Carrow Road is a place they have struggled over the past years. The Canaries are beset by a few injuries at the moment but they still battle hard at home. I think it might be worth to go with the hosts with a +1 handicap at current market odds.

Cardiff v/s Sunderland. Cardiff have just lost their manager and this does not bode well for the visit of Black Cats who will be invigorated after their latest away win at Everton. The momentum is clearly with Sunderland and I see them as a value draw-no-bet selection.

Newcastle v/s Arsenal. Newcastle are in flying form and I might be wrong, but I believe their current 5th position flatters them a bit. They are a Top 10 side, but definitely not Top 6. The Gunners can make them crash down to earth on any day, but they will be missing mercurial midfielder Aaron Ramsey, their best player since the start of the season. The good news for Arsenal is the return of striker Podolski after a 4-month absence. At current market odds, I like Arsenal as a draw-no-bet.

Chelsea v/s Liverpool. Can Brendan Rodgers, an old assistant to Mourinho, be the one to end the Portuguese's invincible league record at Stamford Bridge? On paper, it looks tough for that to happen since they will be missing Gerrard and Sturridge. The Kops came out enhanced in their Boxing Day defeat at the Etihad and they will have to produce another strong performance to overcome the hosts. I think a draw is the likeliest outcome and if there is to be a winner, it will probably be the hosts. Chelsea is a draw-no-bet selection.

Tottenham v/s Stoke. Still undecided on this Spurs side under Tim Sherwood, so will stay on the fence watching their next few games to come up on an opinion on which direction their season will be going.

Win: Man City
Draw-no-bet: Sunderland, Arsenal, Chelsea
+1 Goal: Norwich.

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