Friday, May 19, 2017

EPL 2016/2017 - Week 39

Arsenal v/s Everton - Home win
Burnley v/s West Ham - Home win
Chelsea v/s Sunderland - Home win
Hull v/s Tottenham - Away win
Leicester v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Liverpool v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Man Utd v/s Crystal Palace - Draw
Southampton v/s Stoke - Home win
Swansea v/s WBA - Draw
Watford v/s Man City - Away win

Curtain call for the EPL which Chelsea won in a canter. Their sequence of 13 consecutive wins in the early part of the season just broke the backbone of its pursuers. Although all the talk at the start of the season was about Guardiola, Mourinho and Klopp, it was Conte who impressed in keeping the togetherness and composure of his Blues team. By coming out a solid second again, Spurs' Pochettino proved that their runner-up spot last year was no fluke and that Tottenham are a team to be reckoned with in the next few years.

The 4th final UCL spot is what is left for grabs on the last day. Livepool will beat Middlesbrough, that is a banker. Arsenal and Man City have more difficult matches as the former entertain Everton and the Citizens are on a trip to Watford. City need a point to secure their spot and it is difficult to see them getting out of Vicarage Road without a point. Guardiola has disappointed many in his first season and it will be disastrous if he can't get his team in the UCL. I think with the help of striker Jesus, the Citizens will be firing on all cylinders on Sunday.

This is bad news for Arsenal who must win against the Toffees to have any chance of getting 4th spot. Easier said than done as Koeman's men are no push-overs by any means. Their match could very well be academic as Man City and Liverpool probably won't lose any points. It will be a tale of too little too late for Wenger's men.

Win: Liverpool, Man City

Thursday, May 11, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 38

Everton v/s Watford - Home win
WBA v/s Chelsea - Away win
Man City v/s Leicester - Home win
Bournemouth v/s Burnley - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Southampton - Away win
Sunderland v/s Swansea - Draw
Stoke v/s Arsenal - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Hull - Home win
West Ham v/s Liverpool - Draw
Tottenham v/s Man Utd - Home win

Spurs will certainly not be winning the league this year but they over-achieved again for a second year running. They go as clear favourites against visiting Man Utd on Sunday. With the Europa league final being their game of the season, Mourinho will ring the changes big-time in Man Utd's remaining 3 matches. The final is their best hope of securing UCL football next season and might very well be the Portuguese's only chance to keep his job. If Liverpool or Man City were to stumble prior to the Spurs match, Mourinho might include in a stronger team to attempt bagging the 3 points but he definitely will not be fielding his best XI. Tottenham always make it hard against Man Utd and their home form is very strong. I cannot see Pochettino's men lose this and while a draw-no-bet might be the safer option, going all-out with the home team looks a rewarding proposition.

Arsenal have garnered a glimmer of hope of securing UCL football by winning their last couple of matches and getting closer to fourth spot. They will hope for Man City or Liverpool to lose points while they win their remaining matches. Tougher said than done as they travel to Stoke's bet365 Stadium (ex-Brittania) which has so often been a graveyard for the biggest teams. Hughes' team always poses problems for the Gunners and I see this being another struggle for Wenger's team. The problem with the Gunners is managerial and mental. That double whammy means that they rarely win matches where they are not able to express their football; i.e. against teams that focus on just shutting them down. Think Mourinho's teams, Allardyce teams, and Hughes' teams. They have all relished stifling the flair and creativity of Wenger's teams for which the Frenchman has lacked proper response. Arsenal are not the force they once were and their reliance on Sanchez means that they are very exposed once the Chilean is shackled. I see value in siding with Stoke outright or as a safer draw-no-bet.

Win: Stoke, Tottenham

Friday, May 5, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 37

West Ham v/s Tottenham - Away win
Man City v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Bournemouth v/s Stoke - Home win
Burnley v/s WBA - Draw
Hull v/s Sunderland - Home win
Leicester v/s Watford - Home win
Swansea v/s Everton - Home win
Liverpool v/s Southampton - Draw
Arsenal v/s Man Utd - Home win
Chelsea v/s Middlesbrough - Home win

Hull have a great chance to bag full points as they entertain relegated Sunderland. This is a massive opportunity for the Tigers to move away from Swansea and the final relegation spot. I don't think they will squander it. Their form has been relatively good lately and they have shown strong form at home where they have shown to scrap points. They should beat Sunderland.

Arsenal are in disarray but they will benefit from circumstances as they host Man Utd. The Red Devils seem to have put all their eggs in the Europa basket to secure UCL qualification. They already have a leg in the final as they went to beat Celta Vigo yesterday. The injuries to the team will most probably prompt Mourinho not to field his best team at the Emirates in view of next week's Europa return leg. On the other hand, the Gunners need to get to the final fourth spot if they are to play in the UCL next year, however minimal their chances look. Wenger typically does not win against a Mourinho team but I cannot see him lose this encounter either. A draw might be the likelier result but Arsenal could also grab the full points by the smallest margin. So, a draw-no-bet on the hosts could be rewarding in the end.

Win: Hull
Draw-no-bet: Arsenal