SoccerWinners - EPL Week 17 picks (part 1)

by SHR

Manchester City v Crystal Palace - ManCity have edged a little bit closer to Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table. Five wins in a row should become six with what looks like a fairly straightforward fixture today. City score around 2 goals per game on average and concede only 1. At home the record is even stronger, with almost 3 goals per game. They should have no problems with Crystal Palace, who are down in 16th place. Palace have managed only 3 wins this season. To give some credit to them, one of the wins was against Liverpool, but generally they have been looking for draws to keep the points coming in. With a goal tally of 19-24, their attack is average and their defence is weak. It will be tough for them to get a point today. The computer gives an easy Home Win prediction, and it is difficult to challenge that. The odds are very low, but I will back ManCity at 1.31, Home Win.

Aston Villa v Manchester United - It looked like Aston Villa had stopped the rot, with 3 draws and 2 wins ending a series of 6 straight defeats. However, they suffered another loss last weekend against local rivals West Brom (1-0) and I wonder how that will affect their confidence going into a really tough match against ManU. Head-to-head they lost the last 7 against United. Their stats don't look great, but they could end up a lot worse after this weekend. Although they have 5 wins this season, 3 of them were in the first 4 games, and they have struggled to build any momentum. The biggest problem, without doubt, is the lack of goals. They have scored only 10 times this season, making their attack the weakest in the Premiership. They rely heavily on a good defence, and although theirs is above average I don't think it will keep out the resurgent United strikers. ManU have risen to 3rd place, after putting in the usual pre-Christmas sequence of 6 straight wins. Their performance has been increasingly confident. The early season jitters seem to have been forgotten. Last weekend they beat Liverpool 3-0. The scoreline flatters them slightly because the match was quite even, except for goals! It could be a similar scoreline today. The computer gives a good chance for an away win, and I'll go with that. I'll back ManU at 1.61, Away Win.

Hull v Swansea - Hull are 2nd from bottom, and winless since they beat Crystal Palace in early October. The last 9 games have brought 4 draws and 5 defeats. A couple of the draws were quite good: Arsenal (2-2), Liverpool (0-0). Their defence is mediocre, not terrible, but the attack is weak and consequentky they have often lost by a single goal. Swansea are still in the top half of the table, but their form has been declining and they now need a couple of wins to restore confidence. In the last 5 games they lost against ManCity, West Ham and Spurs, all of which are decent teams. They drew with Crystal Palace and beat QPR, so they are probably only good enough for 12-15th place right now. That's still a lot better than Hull, but head-to-head Swansea have a poor record against them. The computer prediction is quite mixed, and I am equally torn between backing Swansea or a draw. It's risky, but I will put a small bet on an away win at 2.46. Away Win.

QPR v West Brom - A very weak fixture. QPR are struggling for survival, with only 14 points putting them 3rd from bottom, but unlike other strugglers they have picked up their points from wins rather than draws. 4 wins, 2 draws, 10 painful defeats. The attack is mediocre (1 goal per game), but the defence is the worst in the Premiership (2 goals per game). With such a weak defence they have no choice except to go all out for a win, and hope for the best. West Brom are only 3 points ahead of QPR, so they are not safe from relegation either. 4 wins, 5 draws, 7 defeats is better only because of the extra 3 draws. They haven't scored as many goals as QPR, but defensively they are a little bit more competent. Not that it did them any good in November, when they lost 5 games in a row. In the last couple of matches they got their act together again, drawing at Hull (0-0) and beating Aston Villa (1-0). The computer gives another mixed predition, and given the erratic performance of QPR and fragile confidence in West Brom I can't make a strong prediction either. It's another risky one, but I'll put a small bet on West Brom at 3.25, Away Win.

Southampton v Everton - Southampton are still up in 5th place, but as I told you back in November their lofty league position flatters. They gained a very strong position early in the season by beating weak and middling teams, but I figured they would struggle against the big boys. In the last 4 games they have lost against ManCity, Arsenal, ManU and the mighty Burnley! They need to rediscover their form or the second half of the season will be a nightmare for them. Their stats are still good, so we know they can score and defend. Everton are 5 points below Southampton, but I think they are of a similar quality. They score plenty of goals, but defensively they have been quite poor. Despite a mixed set of results they have enough quality in the squad to recover. They finished 5th last season and they can still compete for a Europa League place. The computer predicts a draw, and that looks reasonable to me. I'll put a small bet on a draw at 3.5, Draw.

Tottenham v Burnley - Spurs are slowly moving towards their usual Premiership position: 5th or 6th. At the moment they are 7th, but there are only 4 points between 4th and 7th. Tottenham's stats aren't particularly impressive, particularly the goal tally (20-22) which makes them look more like a mid-table side. The last 5 games have given them 3 wins, a draw (C.Palace) and a loss (Chelsea). Burnley are 17th, and just 1 point above the relegation zone. There is some evidence that their form is improving. They failed to win in the first 10 games of the season, but in the last 6 games they have won 3 (Hull, Stoke, Southampton) and drawn 2 (Aston Villa, Newcastle). Their only defeat was against QPR. The attack remains very weak, and the defence is mediocre, so it could be some time before the statsstart to look good. The computer gives Tottenham a big advantage. Spurs' lacklustre performance this season and Burnley's recent improvement makes me nervous, but I have to agree with the computer and back Tottenham at 1.48, Home Win.

West Ham v Leicester - West Ham are still up there in 4th place. I don't think it will last, but they could finish as high as 5th or 6th. Their stats are pretty good so far. Their goal tally (27-19) is comparable to ManU and Arsenal. Recent results have been good too, with only 1 defeat in the last 10 games. Leicester are right at the bottom of the table, with only 2 wins this season. Weak in attack and defence. Winless in 11 games. Actually, they lost 8 out of the last 11. Confidence must be rock bottom. The computer gives a clear advantage to West Ham, and it is impossible to disagree. I will back West Ham at 1.7, Home Win.

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