After the manic midweek action comes the calm after the storm; well, that’s what the teams involved in Saturday’s Premier League fixtures will be hoping.
The reality is that, for some, this will be a season-defining weekend. Chelsea can end Arsenal’s title hopes while placing one hand on the trophy, Tottenham and Liverpool can strengthen their Champions League claims with both Manchester clubs not in action until Sunday, while the likes of Watford and Bournemouth will be looking to pick up points to keep the gap between them and the relegation zone nice and wide.
Here is the pick of Saturday’s Premier League betting tips:
Chelsea vs Arsenal (12:30pm)
What a titanic encounter this could be, and it’s not much of a leap of faith to suggest that Chelsea go into it in better heart than their London counterparts.
Since October 1, the Blues have gone W15 D1 L1, and – whisper it – they are cruising to the Premier League title. The Gunners, meanwhile, have taken 13 points from a possible 24 since December 1, and the 1-2 loss to Watford on Tuesday was symptomatic of their defensive problems. The right flank in particular, with the bone-idle Mesut Ozil asked to protect converted centre half Gabriel, looks vulnerable.
There really is no need to bet on anything other than a Chelsea win here; they’ve beaten Arsenal in each of their last four meetings at Stamford Bridge too. The Gunners have scored in every game since October 22 however, so add the Both Teams to Score caveat as well.
Chelsea to Win & Both Teams to Score (3/1 with William Hill)
Everton vs Bournemouth (3pm)
Bournemouth have conceded 13 goals in their last five games, and no matter the platitudes that Eddie Howe uses to describe his side’s performances in post-match press duties that simply isn’t good enough; with Callum Wilson out for the season injured in attack, it might just lead them into a relegation battle.
Everton have improved immensely since switching to a 5-3-2 formation; 10 points from a possible 12 taken and brilliant 3-0 and 4-0 wins over Southampton and Manchester City at Goodison Park. The Toffees will certainly give the Cherries something to chew on here.
Their main outlet is Romelu Lukaku of course, and the Belgian is in excellent form having bagged six in his last eight. Don’t bet against him extending that record here.
Romelu Lukaku Anytime Goalscorer (Evens with Betfred)
Southampton vs West Ham (3pm)
These are tough times for Southampton: don’t be fooled by their EFL Cup heroics, they are in dire trouble at the moment.
They’ve lost five of their last six matches, with their sole success against an awful Leicester side, and they now have the further setback of an injury to captain Virgil van Dijk to contend with. The superb defender will miss at least two months. That, allied with the departure of Jose Fonte to West Ham, ironically, is bad news for the Saints.
The Hammers were hammered by Manchester City on Wednesday but we’re not too worried by that; Mark Noble will return in midfield here alongside Cheikh Kouyate, and the Londoners will improve as a result.
Since Dimitri Payet left West Ham have beaten Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough 3-0 and 3-1. A repeat of that kind of scoreline would not be a surprise here.
West Ham Double Chance (23/20 with bet365)
Hull City vs Liverpool (3pm)
The Tigers keep on scrapping, and the point at Old Trafford in midweek was just reward for their efforts. But on home soil they will be expected to press forward more, and that will play into the hands of Liverpool.
The Reds will be bolstered by the return of Sadio Mane from African Cup of Nations in duty, and Joel Matip being restored to the heart of the defence. In recent times the Reds have taken points at Old Trafford and against champions-elect Chelsea, as well as defeating Manchester City. Rumours of their demise are rather premature.
Liverpool -1 Handicap (5/4 with Betfair)
Tottenham vs Middlesbrough (5:30pm)
Tottenham are likely to be without the injured defensive duo of Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose here, but it won’t harm their chances of a straightforward victory.
In will come Eric Dier and Ben Davies, more than able deputies, and at White Hart Lane defensive woes haven’t been an issue: they’ve kept clean sheets inn four of their last five on home soil.
Middlesbrough just don’t score goals – they have failed to net in 5/9 and three of their last four on their travels, and instead will focus on ‘not losing’ here, rather than the dark art of actually trying to win.
Tottenham to Win to Nil (37/40 with BetVictor)