SoccerWinners - EPL Week 26 picks (part 1)

by SHR

Aston Villa v Stoke - A quick look at Aston Villa's win/lose sequence shows that they lost the last 5 games. They haven't won since the beginning of December and they are now down in 18th place. The problem is obvious. They don't score enough goals. This season they have scored only 12 times, and conceded 34. Ouch! One small piece of good news, they had an FA Cup match against bottom of the table Leicesterlast weekend, and they won 2-1. Stoke are stuck in the middle of the table, alongside Newcastle and Swansea. They're safe from relegation, and unlikely to climb into a European place, so motivation could weaken as we get into the last quarter of the season. Their last 5 results are in line with what I would expect. They lost against Arsenal and ManCity, drew with Newcastle and beat Leicester and QPR. They are competent, both in attack and defence, and should have no problems with Aston Villa. They lost the home fixture at the start of the season (0-1), so they can get revenge today. The computer gives Stoke a small advantage, and the odds also suggest this is going to be a close match, but I'm looking for an away win. I will back Stoke at 3.1.

Chelsea v Burnley - Chelsea have a 7 point lead at the top of the table. That gives them plenty of margin, so they can focus more attention of the Champions League. They have lost only 2 matches this season, against Spurs and Newcastle, and both of those were away fixtures. At home they won 11 and drew 1 (ManCity). They have the strongest attack, and the second strongest defence, much as you would expect from the league leader. Burnley are 2nd from bottom. They have a reasonable strike force, but appear to be clueless about defence. They concede around 2 goals per game. The away form is particularly weak with only 1 win and 4 draws (plus 7 defeats). I can't see them getting anything from the game today. The computer gives a massive 85% chance that Chelsea will win. That looks right to me! The odds are of course incredibly low, but I'll back Chelsea at 1.22.

Crystal Palace v Arsenal - Palace are not yet safe from relegation. Although 13th, with 27 points, they are only 5 points ahead of Aston Villa in 18th, so they need a few more wins to stay clear. Recent results have been quite encouraging. They won 3 of the last 5, drew 1 and lost 1 (Everton). Attack and defence are mediocre, and there is little difference between the home and away form. Last weekend they lost against Liverpool in the FA Cup. Arsenal have won 7 of their last 10 games, and 4 out of the last 5. They're still down in 5th place, but they could challenge ManU for 3rd. Their goal tally (47-28) is looking pretty good now, after some big wins and clean sheets (such as 5-0 against Aston Villa). They should beat Crystal Palace, and the computer gives a 60% chance, which is quite high for an away prediction. I'll back Arsenal at 1.84.

Hull v QPR - 16th v 17th, and only 1 point between them. This is a tricky match to predict, and your should probably avoid betting on it. Both teams won their last game, but they also have a series of defeats behind them, and no consistency. The stats are equally poor. The computer predicts a home win, but I'm sitting on the sidelines. Avoid.

Sunderland v West Brom - 15th v 14th. Another tricky one to predict. Sunderland are the Premier League drawmeisters. They have 12 draws out of 25 games, but their success rate is falling. The first 3 months were better than next 3. They have one of the weakest attacks, and the defence is not good either. The home and away form is almost identical. West Brom's stats are very similar, but they have fared better in recent matches, with 2 wins and 3 draws in the last 6 games. There is a significant difference in their home and away form. It looks like they struggle to score and may play for draws in away fixtures. The computer gives a slight advantage to Sunderland, but maybe not enough for a win. They drew the reverse fixture, 2-2, back in August. I think this is set up for a draw, so I'll put a small bet on a draw at 3.2.

Swansea v Manchester United - Swansea are 9th, with 34 points from 25 games. They're safe from relegation, and unlikely to challenge for a higher place. Most of their points have come from home matches, and they have much better stats at home: 6 wins, 4 draws, 3 defeats, 17:14. Recent form has dropped off slightly. Manchester United have climbed to 3rd place, thanks to some great home results, but their away form remains mixed. They have won only 3 away fixtures, drawn 7 and lost 2. It really marks them out, compared with Chelsea and ManCity. Look at away goals: ManU 15:14, ManCity 30:13, Chelsea 29:17. I don't think you can sefely back ManU in away games. The computer gives ManU a small advantage, but I am not confident and the odds are not good enough (2.04). I will put a small bet on a draw at 3.6

Manchester City v Newcastle - ManCity need to win every match and hope that Chelsea slip up, if they are going to have any chance of winning the Premiership. They have been well below their best in the last 5 games, with 3 draws, 1 loss and only 1 win. They obviously have plenty of talent in the team. Over all they have the 2nd best attack in the Premiership, but at home it's only the 5th best. Newcastle are mid-table, and likely to stay there. They have struggled this season to build some consistency, and recent results are very mixed. They're ok in attack, but fairly weak in defence, and home results are better than away. The computer gives a pretty big 69% chance for a home win, and obviously ManCity is a much better team, but I'm not really so confident because of their recent form. With odds of only 1.31, I think it's too risky to back them, but I also can't back a draw. Avoid.

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