SoccerWinners - EPL Week 27 picks (part 1)
West Ham v Crystal Palace - West Ham drew their last 3 games, against ManU, Southampton & Spurs. They are just beginning to drop away from the top 7 and into the mid-table drifters. They need a series of wins to reignite their European hopes for next season. They have a decent home record (Won 7, drew 3, lost 3) and they know how to score. Crystal Palace are looking reasonably safe from relegation, but there is almost no chance of getting into the top half of the table. They won 2, lost 2 and drew 1 of the last 5 games, and Arsenal were the only top team in that set of matches, so it's not very impressive. Their away results are slightly better than at home, thanks to 6 draws. Head to head they have a decent record against West Ham, but they lost the reverse fixture in August. The computer favours West Ham, and so do I. I will back West Ham at 2.1.
Burnley v Swansea - Burnley are 3rd last, and Swansea are in mid-table, so this should be set up for an away win. Burnley's recent results have not been good. They lost 3 of the last 5, and drew the other 2 (West Brom and Chelsea). A draw against Chelsea is a good result, but bear in mind that Chelsea had a player sent off. Defensively they are the weakest in the Premier League, and in attack they are in the bottom quarter, so it's not a good combination. Swansea won 2, lost 2 and drew 1 of their last 5. They suffered a heavy defeat against Chelsea, but managed to beat both Southampton and ManU. The stats put them firmly in the middle rank, but a long way ahead of Burnley. They won the reverse fixture in August, and should win again today. The computer gives a tiny advantage to the away team, but I think there is a bigger difference, and I will back Swansea at 3.1.
Manchester United v Sunderland - ManU have had some mixed results since the start of the year, and they lost last weekend at home against Swansea. That result allowed Arsenal to move above them, and they are now 4th closely, followed by Southampton and Liverpool. They are strong both in attack and defence, especially at home, but their top goal-scorer, van Persie, is out for 2 weeks with a foot injury. Sunderland are down in 16, just 3 points clear of the relegation zone. Reliance on draws is taking it's toll. They have 13 draws from 26 games, but only 4 wins. They are very weak in attack, but competent in defence. They drew the reverse fixture and will of course play for a draw again today, but I'm not sure they can repeat the achievement. The computer gives a big advantage to ManU, and I can't disagree with that. I will back ManU at 1.39.
Newcastle v Aston Villa - Newcastle are in mid-table, and Aston Villa are 2nd from last, so this should be another straightforward home win, BUT. Newcastle's recent form has not been great. They have lost 2, drawn 2 and won only 1 of the last 5. They lost 5-0 against ManCity last weekend. They have been getting low possession in recent games, and also relatively few shots on goal. The goal tally is 31-42, which is consistent with a team in the bottom half of the table. If the stats look unimpressive for Newcastle then wait until you see Aston Villa's. They have lost 6 games in a row, and their goal tally for this season is 13-36. The inability to score goals is astonishing. The next weakest attack is Sunderland with 22 goals. The head-to-head doesn't look good for Aston Villa. They haven't beaten Newcastle since 2011. Although they drew 0-0 in August I think Newcastle should win this time. The computer gives a clear home win prediction. I will back Newcastle at 2.04.
Stoke v Hull - This could be a tricky one. Stoke won 3 of their last 5 games, but when you see it was against Leicester, QPR and Aston Villa then it becomes a lot less impressive. They lost 1-4 against ManCity, and drew 1-1 against Newcastle, so at least they are predictable in the sense that they beat weak teams, draw against mid-table sides and lose against the top teams. Hull are down in 15th place, right on the cusp between mid-table and bottom table teams. They lost 3 in a row in January, but the form has been better in February. They drew 1-1 against Newcastle, and then beat Aston Villa and QPR. They also drew the reverse fixture, so does that put them on a par with Stoke? Not quite. Their away results this season have been fairly poor, with only 2 wins, 5 draws and 6 defeats. The computer predicts a home win. I think it's quite risky, but probably the right decision. I'll put a small bet on Stoke at 2.1.
West Brom v Southampton - West Brom have been alternating with draws since the start of the year, but this is a no-draw week. Recent draws include Everton, Burnley and Sunderland, but these were all away games. In home matches they beat Hull, lost against Spurs and beat Swansea. The way I read it is that they play for a draw in away games, and go for wins in home games but they don't have enough quality to make it work. Southampton have had an amazing season, and remain in 5th place, but there are signs that the form is beginning to drop. In February they lost 2, drew 1 and won 1. The win was against QPR. The draw was West Ham and the defeats were Swansea and Liverpool. They scored only 1 goal in those 4 games. That's a worry. Their goal tally is very good, thanks mainly to a very good defensive record (38-19). The reverse fixture was a 0-0 draw, and I wonder if we are heading for a repeat performance. The computer gives a very small advantage to Southampton. It's a tricky fixture, and I'm not sure whether to go for a draw or an away win, so I will follow the best value and put a small bet on a draw at 3.25.
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