Chelsea have won the title, Arsenal and Liverpool are in crisis and Leicester are doomed….those are just some of the conclusions you might draw if you took the English press’s opinions seriously.
There’s a small amount of truth to each, you could rationally argue, and those kinds of reasonings will inform punters this weekend.
But, as ever, there are subplots and other storylines to investigate. Here are the pick of Saturday’s Premier League betting tips:
Arsenal vs Hull City (12:30pm)
We have been too quick to write-off Hull City, who despite a woefully thin squad and the sale of two of their best players continue to fight on. We recognise the error of our ways.
As well as two impressive EFL Cup showings against Manchester United, they kept a clean sheet at Old Trafford in a league fixture, pushed Chelsea hard in a narrow 0-2 defeat and beat Bournemouth and Liverpool; and that’s all in the past few weeks. With no midweek fixture some weary legs have had a chance to have a rest, and they will be on it from the start against Arsenal.
There has been a lot of media hysteria surround the Gunners this week – it’s never far away, let’s be honest, although a pair of defeats in the space of four days was less than ideal. Chelsea have, bar the shouting, eliminated them from the title run-in courtesy of that 1-3 scoreline last week.
Arsene Wenger will dust himself down and go again – he’s been doing it for years – but we wonder if the jitters might set in; especially against an unusually impassioned home support. They may well win here, but probably only by a single goal margin.
Hull City +1.25 Asian Handicap (13/10 with bet365)
Stoke City vs Crystal Palace (3pm)
A reaction is required from Crystal Palace after their 0-4 stuffing at the hands of Sunderland at the weekend. It was a strange result and did not reflect the flow of the game, but that’s seven defeats in nine for the Eagles now and that kind of stat cannot be overlooked.
Have they got the desire to turn this around? You would expect so, but the quality required – certainly defensively – may be lacking. They’ve kept just two clean sheets all season, after all.
Stoke will have been infuriated by their defeat at West Brom; it brought to an end a happy little run of four unbeaten. They are unbeaten in six at their home in the Potteries, with Palace’s defensive record on the road (25 conceded in 12) an arbiter of doom for Big Sam’s boys.
Stoke to Win (21/20 with Betfair)
Sunderland vs Southampton (3pm)
Here’s a remarkably priced bet considering what we have seen in recent weeks. Sunderland, who have taken points off Liverpool and Tottenham and trounced Crystal Palace last time out, are 4/5 to avoid defeat against a beleaguered Southampton.
The Saints have lost six of their last seven league outings, and in the anomaly to that rule were handed victory on a plate by the abysmal Leicester. Without Virgil van Dijk (injured) and Jose Fonte (sold), it’s hard to imagine how they can keep a clean sheet here. That makes their job of winning all the more difficult.
Sunderland Double Chance (4/5 with bet365)
West Ham vs West Brom (3pm)
Two sides in decent health clash on Saturday, and goals tend to follow the Wests around.
Forget the Hammers’ 0-4 defeat against Manchester City as they have been excellent of late; winning three of their last four and bludgeoning (and conceding six). Confidence is high in this post-Payet era, and they will be looking to bag the full set of points here once again.
The Baggies are having a great time under Tony Pulis, and a win ratio of just under 50% is unheard of for this club in the Premier League. The main factor behind that has been a more cosmopolitan style, rather than the stifling strategy previously employed by the former Stoke boss, and the Midlanders have netted in 10 of their last 14 appearances. Of their seven failures to net this term, five have come against sides in the top six.
Both Teams to Score (4/5) with Paddy Power)
Liverpool vs Tottenham (5:30pm)
Three key defenders could all miss this crunch tie through injury, and so that seems like ample reason to anticipate a goalfest.
Tottenham will miss the calming presence of Jan Vertonghen and the dashing raids of Danny Rose, and his likely replacement in Ben Davies will have his hands full against Sadio Mane.
Liverpool have been hopeless of late defensively, and their quest to turn that around will not be aided by the absence of Dejan Lovren.
We expect the Reds to bounce back soon – they simply have to in order to save their season – but this Spurs side really is outstanding under Mauricio Pochettino. Swerve the match result markets and back the goals.
Over 2.5 Goals (10/11 with William Hill)