The Premier League campaign is more than halfway through now, and all of those key storylines and sub-plots that start to unfold at this time of year look ready to be played out in the next few weeks.
Those battling for the title – and relegation – will know that a strong January and February can help them to achieve their objectives, while the same is true for the sides in mid-table who wish to fight their way into European contention rather than a relegation battle.
There’s no time like the present of course, so let’s take a look at this week’s Premier League betting tips:
Liverpool vs Swansea (12:30pm)
After a tough mini run of fixtures, Liverpool have got some breathing space at last and will be almost at full strength here. Philippe Coutinho – such a crucial component of their early season form – is back to full fitness, and the only possible absentee will be Joel Matip, as the Reds’ disagreement with FIFA over the Cameroon ace continues.
Onlookers observed that Swansea looked rather more diligent in their defensive work against Arsenal last time out; for the first 37 minutes, anyway. At that point the Gunners took the lead, and it was plain sailing from there in a 4-0 win.
There’s much work for Paul Clement to do at the Welsh side, and this trip to Anfield to take on a fit and firing Liverpool outfit is something of a baptism of fire.
Liverpool to Win 2-0 (7-1 with bet365)
Liverpool to Win 3-0 (15/2 with BetVictor)
Bournemouth vs Watford (3pm)
Bournemouth’s 1-3 defeat at Hull may not have been the result they wanted, but without the suspended captain Simon Francis and the recently departed Nathan Ake, they could be forgiven for an off day.
But wat the Cherries did do is enhance their record of goalscoring; they have only failed to score in one of their last eleven outings, and that was at Stamford Bridge. So, they are in peak form in front of goal.
Watford scraped a draw against Middlesbrough last time out, but be under no illusions: this is a Boro side that is set up to contain, rather than attack – not so Bournemouth. The Hornets could be without Heurelho Gomes, Daryl Janmaat, Nordin Amrabat and Isaac Success; further fuel for the fire.
Walter Mazzarri’s men have conceded in 10/11 with six of those seeing his outfit ship two or more. That appears to be the play here.
Bournemouth to Score 2+ (10/11 with Coral)
Middlesbrough vs West Ham (3pm)
Middlesbrough have scored one goal or less in 17 of their 21 Premier League outings to date, and if that stat doesn’t illuminate how Aitor Karanka likes to set up his side then nothing will. Trying not to lose – rather than win – is an intriguing strategy for punters to exploit.
West Ham head north having enjoyed four wins in their last six, and if the speculation surrounding Dimitri Payet’s future was to have an unsettling effect then they certainly haven’t shown it. Their 3-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday was one of their best performances of the season.
These sorts of scenarios can have a galvanizing effect on a squad of players, and with Middlesbrough unlikely to ask too many questions of the Hammers this could well be their day.
West Ham Draw No Bet (23/20 with Betfair)
Stoke City vs Manchester United (3pm)
After a tough run of fixtures over Christmas and the New Year, Stoke City have finally got their just desserts with a couple of easier games that they have run out 2-0 (Watford) and 3-1 (Sunderland) victors in.
Here’s another tricky one for them to attempt to negotiate against rampant Manchester United, who remain unbeaten since October. The good news for the Potteries side is that they have new-found confidence; aided by the return to the side of Peter Crouch, who has been excellent of late. His form has given Stoke a focal point that the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic can feed off, and that will surely cause this United side, who still don’t look completely secure defensively, problems.
But with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in as good a form as he’s ever been and the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata looking lively, we expect Jose Mourinho’s men to breach the Stoke net too.
Both Teams to Score (19/20 with William Hill)
Manchester City vs Tottenham (5:30pm)
It’s very rare that Manchester City are available at an odds-against price at home, and the reason for that is simple: they are an absolute calamity defensively. This is time for frank talk for City supporters, and the truth is that Pep Guardiola’s bull-headedness in continuing to pick John Stones and defender Pablo Zabaleta in midfield is costing his employer dearly.
No such worries for Spurs, who have won six on the bounce with a goal difference of +16. They will be hampered slightly by the loss of Jan Vertonghen to injury, and so if Mauricio Pochettino perseveres with his preferred 3-4-2-1 formation then an unfamiliar face, probably Kevin Wimmer, will be required at centre back. That could aid City’s cause.
But it is hard to back the hosts at the moment, with Sergio Aguero a few shades under and the next defensive display just waiting to be packaged up on a DVD and sent in to You’ve Been Framed.
Tottenham Double Chance & Both Teams to Score (8/5 with Betfair)