SoccerWinners - EPL Week 24 picks (part 1)

by SHR

Tottenham v Arsenal - Early kick-off for the north London derby. Tottenham have come into some good form recently. Since the beginning of December, when Chelsea beat them, they have drawn 2, lost 1, and won 6. They even managed to gain revenge over Chelsea with a stunning 5-3 win. More recently they have taken wins against Sunderland and West Brom. Their now in 6th place, just 2 points behind Arsenal in 5th. Arsenal's for has also been improving. They were very slow out of the blocks this season, but they are now racking up plenty of wins, and goals galore. They scored 10 in the last 3 games. The defence has been pretty solid too. They kept clean sheets in the last 3 games. There are some injury problems in the squad. Sanchez, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain are out, so they are not at full strength. The computer gives a small advantage to Arsenal, but I think this is a very risky match to bet on. I will only put a very small bet on a draw at 3.6.

QPR v Southampton - A sitting duck! QPR are second from bottom in the Premiership table, and they have a winless streak going back to Christmas. They also have a managerless streak going back to last Tuesday. They have been clueless all season. Despite the occasional surprise the results have generally been poor. They are much better at conceding goals than scoring them. The only thing I can say in their favour is that players often try a lot harder when they know a new manager is coming in. I'm still waiting for Southampton's bubble to burst. They went through a rough patch at the end of November/start of December, losing 4 in a row, but 3 of those were against top sides, and they quickly rediscovered winning ways. They won 5 out of the next 6 games, drawing the other. The undefeated sequence came to an end last weekend when they lost 0-1 against Swansea. Despite that set-back Southampton are clearly a much better side than QPR and should win comfortably. The computer predicts a simple away win. The odds are fair, so I will back Southampton at 1.87.

Aston Villa v Chelsea - Aston Villa haven't won a Premiership game since early December (2-1 Leicester), and they have been struggling to score goals throughout this season. The goal tally is astonishingly bad: 11-30, meaning they score an average of only 1 goal every 2 games and concede 3 times as much. Ouch! With that kind of performance it is a surprise to see them as high as 16th place. They have lost the last 3 games, without scoring of course (Leicester 1-0, Liverpool 0-2, Arsenal 5-0) The arithmetic progression suggests they will lose the next one 0-10 [goals=1+(n-1)^2], which looks entirely possible. A draw against Southampton and then defeat at Tottenham gave Chelsea a bit of a scare at the start of the year, but they have come back fighting. They beat Newcastle 2-0 and embarrassed Swansea with a 0-5 walk-over. They have no problem scoring goals, with more than 2 per game on average, and the highest tally in the Premiership: 51:19. The defence is very strong too. The computer gives a big %chance for a Chelsea away win (76%) and I will go along with that. The odds are quite low, but I'll back Chelsea at 1.39.

Everton v Liverpool - The Merseyside derby is always feisty, and often features a lot of goals. Last season the results were 3-3 at Everton and 4-0 at Liverpool. This season Everton managed a 1-1 draw at Anfield, thanks to an injury time equaliser by Phil Jagielka. It counts as a highlight for Everton. Their form has been poor and they are struggling to get into the top half of the table. In the last 6 games they have lost 4 and then drawn 2. In attack they look capable, but the defence is weak, even at home. Liverpool have had their own trials and tribulations, but recent results have been very encouraging. They are undefeated since Christmas, having won 5 and drawn 1. The opposition was relatively weak, so it remains to be seen if they can compete for a place in the top 5. They could gain an additional boost if Sturridge returns to the team. Form is definitely in Liverpool's favour. The computer gives them a small advantage, but I think they should dominate Everton. Derbies can be tricky, so I'll only make it a small bet, and back Liverpool at 2.34.

Swansea v Sunderland - Swansea have a mixed bag of results, and it is very difficult to judge their form. They have won 9, drawn 6 and lost 8 games. Their goal tally is 27-30, which is consistent with a mid-table side. Recent form is equally difficult to read. They lost 2, drew 2 and won 1. The defeats were against top sides (Chelsea and Liverpool), the draws were QPR and West, and the win was last weekend at Southamption. Sunderland are the Premier League's drawmeisters. They have 11 so far this season, so almost half of their games were draws. However, the last 4 games have yielded 3 defeats and 1 win. The losses were against top sides (ManCity, Liverpool, Spurs) and the win was against 17th place Burnley. I am sure that Sunderland will play for a draw, and that probably suits Swansea too. The computer predicts an easy home win, but I will put a small bet on a draw at 3.5.

Manchester City v Hull - Man.City choked. They had a chance to challenge Chelsea at the top of the table, but suddenly found it difficult to win. They drew against Burnley and Everton, and then lost against Arsenal. The final chance to close the gap was last weekend's visit to Chelsea, but they came away with a 1-1 draw. These are not terrible results, but Man.City needed to keep winning in order to have a decent chance of winning the Premier League title. Their chances have fallen to about 10% now. They remain a very strong side and they should have no problems with Hull today. Hull are in a death spiral. They lost 3 out of the last 4 games, and 6 out of the last 8. They have only 4 wins this season, and they are 18th with 19 points from 23 matches. The computer gives Man.City a very high 84% chance of winning. It could even be higher. I'll back Man.City at 1.23

Leicester v Crystal Palace - A winless sequence of 12 matches earlier in the season dropped Leicester right to the bottom of the table. A couple of wins (Hull and Aston Villa) plus a draw against Liverpool made it look like they could recover, but in the last 2 games they have returned to defeat (Stoke and ManU). Their basic stats are not that different to West Brom in 15th, so maybe if they can get a few more draws they could escape from the relegation zone, but they are clearly one of the weakest sides in the Premiership. Crystal Palace are not exactly high-flyers either, and they went through an 8 match winless sequence, although they picked up 5 draws in the process. Most recently they have beaten Tottenham and Burnley, and lost last weekend against Everton. They are slightly stronger than Leicester but I'm not confident enough to back them to win. The computer splits the %chance 3 ways and that makes sense to me. It is probably best to avoid this match. I'll put a very small bet on a draw at 3.35.

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