The Blues’ dust-up with Bournemouth is perhaps the highlight of a full set of Premier League fixtures this weekend, with intriguing contests at both ends of the table also serving up plenty of potential for punters.
Here’s the pick of the weekend’s betting tips:
Manchester City vs Hull City (Saturday, 3pm)
Manchester City’s 1-2 defeat to Chelsea on Wednesday night confirmed two things we perhaps already knew prior to the game: firstly, the Citizens are a million miles away from being ready to reclaim the Premier League title, and secondly they have made little or no improvement under Pep Guardiola.
Their voracious appetite for attacking football should be applauded really, although that unfortunately won’t win you silverware on its own. An inability to defend is a much larger problem, and Guardiola’s side have now lost five high-profile away games in the league this term.
They are better at home, although we do think that Hull will cause them occasional problems here. The Tigers are showing their teeth at this late juncture in the season, with Marco Silva taking to playing two strikers through the middle and a pair of attacking wingers in tandem.
He has been rewarded with six goals netted in their last pair of starts, and such enterprising play here will surely break the resolve of a weak Manchester City backline.
Manchester City to Win & Both Teams to Score (9/5 with Betfair)
West Brom vs Southampton (Saturday, 3pm)
Two sides with very little to play for meet on Saturday, but don’t expect either to give an inch.
You know exactly how a Tony Pulis side is going to play, and he won’t accept anything less than 100% commitment from his players here. They have only scored once in their last five outings, but back at the Hawthorns where they feel right at home (W9 D2 L4) we expect that drought to end.
The Saints have netted in seven of their last eight Premier League outings, including twelve in their last five. Against a West Brom outfit unusually fragile at the back (one clean sheet in seven), that could provide an intriguing cocktail.
Both Teams to Score (Evens with Betfair)
West Ham vs Swansea (Saturday, 3pm)
Five defeats on the bounce, thirteen goals conceded. Something has gone drastically wrong at West Ham, and in truth it is probably a mixture of things: injuries to key personnel haven’t helped, but then neither has the ongoing speculation regarding Slaven Bilic’s future at the club.
Swansea will head east to London with victory on their mind then, and this isn’t a side that has taken many backward steps under Paul Clement.
If they can get Fernando Llorente fit they stand a real chance here, and even if they don’t the Swans are never far from a goal or two with the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson in their side.
Over 2.5 Goals (4/5 with Betfred)
Bournemouth vs Chelsea (Saturday, 5:30pm)
Have Chelsea secured the Premier League title already? Most probably, and while the efficiency of their performance against Manchester City was that of a ‘champions-elect’ outfit, it is potential banana-skins like this match that could derail them as the final station approaches.
Because it would be foolish to write off Bournemouth at present. They are unbeaten in five with two wins and a trio of draws; two excellent efforts at Anfield and Old Trafford, and a third against Southampton in which they played the visitors off the park, hitting the post and missing a penalty.
There’s a vibrancy to the Cherries’ play afforded to them by the freedom of knowing that they won’t be getting relegated this season, and with Chelsea conceding in each of their last eight league appearances they should not be underestimated by punters here.
Bournemouth +1.00 Asian Handicap (11/13 with BetVictor)
Sunderland vs Manchester United (Sunday, 1:30pm)
Poor old Sunderland. Having slogged it out with Manchester City and resurgent Leicester in the past couple of weeks, now they welcome Manchester United to the Stadium of Light at a time when points are at a premium.
The only consolation is that United have drawn three of their last four starts, and aren’t quite as all-conquering as they were just prior to and after Christmas.
So can the Mackems pull off another unlikely survival mission? It’s highly unlikely, and if they are to get anything out of this game they are going to have to bore the pants off Jose Mourinho’s men.
Pleasingly for them, United have scored just five goals in their last 360 minutes of football. If they have been reduced to clutching at straws, there is a decent one to grasp.
Under 2.5 Goals (43/40 with bet365)
Everton vs Leicester City (Sunday, 4:00pm)
The Foxes are flying at the moment; it’s amazing what a new manager can do. Actually, they are playing like Premier League champions, ironically, and they should be respected as such by punters here.
Everton will be without three key defenders in Ashley Williams (suspended), Seamus Coleman and Bruno Funes-Mori (both injured), and the cupboard looks pretty bare in terms of potential replacements.
The Toffees boast some attacking verve but the absence of Coleman has really hindered that, and now their hopes rest with Romelu Lukaku – if he fancies it, that is.
We were tempted to tip the Leicester win here at 5/1, but our selection straddles the risk and reward continuum rather nicely.
Leicester +0.25 Asian Handicap (6/4 with Paddy Power)