You know the festive season is approaching when the big guns are rolled out in midweek, and it is these tricky fixture pile-ups that generally separate the wheat from the chaff come the end of the season.
There’s some intriguing match-ups on Wednesday this week, so where does the pick of the Premier League betting value lie?
Chelsea vs Swansea (Wednesday, 7:45pm)
Antonio Conte stole a playbook from his predecessor at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, at Anfield on Saturday: pitching into battle eight defence-minded players as he sought to stifle Liverpool’s brilliant attacking play.
And it worked: the 1-1 draw is a decent return from the home of the Reds.
But the Italian will let his players off the leash against a Swansea side that is okay defensively but hasn’t found the net in more than 270 minutes of action.
The Swans really do have their work cut out in avoiding relegation in their present state, and a return of seven goals in thirteen games is the perfect explanation of their problems. It would be a surprise if they found the net at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea to Win to Nil (4/5 with Betfred)
Everton vs West Ham (Wednesday, 8pm)
These two great clubs really are in the doldrums at the moment, and you suspect that they might have to try and attack their way out of trouble.
Everton’s defending has been Championship-level at best this season, and in their 1-4 defeat to Southampton it really did take a turn for the abysmal. But, having spent more than £150 million on attacking players, caretaker David Unsworth has no choice but to try and play on the front foot.
The Toffees have conceded two or more goals in each of their last five Premier League outings – and that run extends further if you add Europa League ties into the mix.
David Moyes is rather more pragmatic in his approach, but he must sense a golden opportunity to claim three points against his former employer. To do so, the Hammers must attack with abandon….if they do, this could be a goal-fest.
Over 2.5 Goals (11/10 with Paddy Power)
Stoke City vs Liverpool (Wednesday, 8pm)
We’re also anticipating goals here, with Both Teams to Score landing in six of Stoke’s last seven outings as well as five of Liverpool’s last six on the road.
That’s due in part to Jurgen Klopp’s pursuit of total football – a thoroughly decent philosophy to have, although it’s one that can come unstuck from time to time against sides willing to go toe-to-toe.
Stoke have scored in 11/13 this term, which suggests they’re not afraid of playing on the front foot, and despite their obvious faults they can still give a serious examination of the big boys on home soil; a win over Arsenal and draw with Manchester United at the bet365 Stadium this term is testament to that.
But it’s hard to imagine Liverpool not winning this match, which lends itself to the below selection perfectly.
Liverpool to Win & Both Teams to Score (2/1 with William Hill)