Soccer Preview

Barclays Premier League December 12-15

Clint Vojdinoski

Norwich City v Everton

Saturday December 12, 8.45pm, Carrow Road

Week 16 of the Premier League kicks off with the clash between Norwich City and Everton.

Last time out for Norwich, they were easily seen off 2-0 by fellow promoted club Watford. A failure to contain forwards Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo saw their downfall. The loss meant the Canaries have only won once in their previous nine matches in the league.

Romelu Lukaku tapped in his 50th goal in his 100th Everton appearance to secure the Toffees a 1-1 draw at home to Crystal Palace. Lukaku met a cross from Gerard Deulofeu in the 81st minute to give his side a point in a match which they deserved some reward. The Belgium international had hit the woodwork twice prior to Scott Dann’s 76th minute header giving the visitors the lead.


Norwich have won only twice at home against clubs in the thick of a relegation battle. The Canaries defence is going to have trouble handling the in form Lukaku who is in a rich vein of goalscoring form and receiving strong support from Arouna Kone, Ross Barkley and Deulofeu. Everton at $2.50 to win is worth a look.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Everton

Over 2.5 Goals

1st Goalscorer – Romelu Lukaku

Crystal Palace v Southampton

Saturday December 12, 11pm, Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace host an out of form Southampton at Selhurst Park.

In an evenly poised contest, Crystal Palace had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Everton. Palace striker Connor Wickham forced Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard into a point-blank save while Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey pulled off a fabulous save to deny Tom Cleverley. Scott Dann’s 76th minute header had given Alan Pardew’s side the lead before Romelu Lukaku grabbed the goal his performance deserved just five minutes later.

While Southampton dropped two points at home to Aston Villa. The Saints created numerous chances but conceded a sloppy goal, against the run of play, when Joleon Lescott tapped home from Jordan Veretout’s corner. Southampton drew level on 73 minutes when former Barcelona and Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu stole in at the back post to stab home a James Ward-Prowse corner.


A vibrant Crystal Palace are still difficult for opposing teams to break down while Southampton’s troubles up front is beginning to show with striker Graziano Pelle slipping out of form. Palace are keenly priced at $2.50 to win against a Saints team that is going through a troubled month.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Crystal Palace

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Yannick Bolasie

West Ham United v Stoke City

Saturday December 12, 11pm, Boleyn Ground

Winless in five matches, West Ham United faces a difficult task at home to Stoke City.

Injury-hit West Ham left Old Trafford with a point after a 0-0 draw and could have taken all three in a very decent away performance. In the first half, Manchester United keeper David De Gea made a fine stop to deny Victor Moses before Mauro Zarate and Winston Reid both hit the post. Zarate then passed up a glorious second half chance. The result meant the Hammers kept their first clean sheet since September in the Premier League, ending a nine game run without one.

Stoke City put in a majestic performance in their 2-0 triumph over Manchester City. The only disappointment for the Potters is that they did not bag four or five goals. Marko Arnautovic opened the scoring on seven minutes following an excellent run from Xherdan Shaqiri. Arnautovic got his second on 15 minutes, with Shaqiri producing a wonderful pass to set him up. Arnautovic came close to completing his hat trick on several occasions and was denied by the woodwork.


Both sides blend technical skill and rigidity. Stoke are well organised and boast an attack that is Champions League quality while the Hammers hit teams on the counter. West Ham’s form has wobbled in the last month while Stoke have been decent travellers this season. Putting that all together, both sides to play out a draw.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Draw

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Bojan Krkic

Manchester City v Swansea City

Saturday December 12, 11pm, Etihad Stadium

Manchester City will look to forget about their comprehensive flogging from Stoke City when they host struggling Swansea.

City were horrendous in their most inept display of the season when they down 2-0 at Stoke. Their backline, in particular Martin Demichelis, were completely ran ragged by Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic. There were problems all over for Manuel Pellegrini’s men, with Wilfried Bony having a disastrous day up front and the returning David Silva having no impact. It was as comprehensive of a thrashing that City will likely receive all season.

Swansea manager Garry Monk has been sacked following his side’s 3-0 defeat by Leicester City. One win in their last 13 games has seen the Swans plunged into relegation trouble. In his last match in charge, a Riyad Mahrez hat-trick for the table-topping visitors easily accounted for a dispirited Swansea.


Swansea’s alarming drop off in form had started up front with their forwards. Prior to his sacking, Monk saw his side held to a clean sheet in four of their last five matches. While City are missing the core of their squad through injury but will have enough to maintain their good record over the crisis ridden Swans.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Manchester City

Over 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Raheem Sterling

Sunderland v Watford

Saturday December 12, 11pm, Stadium of Light

Sunderland meet in form Watford for the first time in a decade as they look to pull out of the relegation zone.

Despite going down 3-1 at Arsenal, Sunderland gave the Gunners a stern test. The Black Cats were the better team in the first half, with Fabio Borini passing up a golden chance, but fell behind on 33 minutes through Joel Campbell. Sunderland were level just before half-time when Olivier Giroud deflected a Yann M’Vila free kick past Petr Cech. As Sunderland pushed for a second, they were stung by Giroud’s header and a late goal from Aaron Ramsey.

Watford rose into the top half of the league with an impressive 2-0 victory over Norwich City. It was Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo doing the damage yet again for the Hornets as Deeney gave Watford the lead from the penalty spot after Alex Tettey brought down Ighalo and the impressive Ighalo sealed the points in the 91st minute.


Sunderland are appearing more resolute and organised under Sam Allardyce and there are positive signs that they can retain their Premier League status. The Black Cats are capable but the question that hangs over this match is whether their defenders can win the battle against Deeney and Ighalo.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Draw

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Odion Ighalo

AFC Bournemouth v Manchester United

Sunday December 13, 1.30am, Vitality Stadium

After incredibly seeing off Chelsea, Bournemouth have another glamour fixture, this time at home to Manchester United.

Bournemouth picked up a timely and memorable result when they went to Stamford Bridge and came away with the three points. In their best performance of the season, the Cherries outplayed Chelsea and got their reward when Glenn Murray headed the winner in the 82nd minute. It was Bournemouth’s first clean sheet away from home in the Premier League, and only their second of the season.

For the fifth time in the last nine games, Manchester United played out a 0-0 draw. Against West Ham, the Red Devils typically dominated possession, yet the visitors had the game’s best chances and deserved a point. Marouane Fellaini had United’s best chance but his point blank shot was well blocked by West Ham keeper Adrian. The greater concern is the lack of incision anywhere in the forward line with Louis van Gaal’s team having 21 shots, with only one on target.


Bournemouth are going to find United a tricky proposition to breakdown and won’t see a lot of possession. United have injury issues to compound their well known lack of a focal point in attack. For United to win, players such as Juan Mata will have to find space between Bournemouth’s defensive lines to set up chances for his forwards.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Manchester United

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Anthony Martial

Aston Villa v Arsenal

Sunday December 13, 9.30pm, Villa Park

Aston Villa welcomes Arsenal to Villa Park needing victories, and fast, as they are cut adrift at the bottom of the league.

Villa picked up a helpful 1-1 draw at Southampton. A first half goal against the run of play from Joleon Lescott put Villa on course for what would have been an unlikely victory, but conceded a goal 17 minutes from time with the result leaving Villa seven points adrift of 17th placed Bournemouth.

Arsenal were made to work hard in their 3-1 victory at home to Sunderland. The Gunners went ahead on 33 minutes when Mesut Ozil set up Joel Campbell, but Sunderland equalised through Giroud’s own goal. Bit Giroud made amends soon after halftime and in injury time Aaron Ramsey made the scoreline a little more flattering to help Arsenal to their first win in four league matches.


Despite an encouraging draw last time out, Villa are still prone in defence and against a far more attack minded and incisive Arsenal, Remi Garde’s men have their work cut out.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Arsenal

Over 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Olivier Giroud

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United

Monday December 14, Midnight, White Hart Lane

Tottenham faces Newcastle in a vital clash for both clubs.

Tottenham Hotspur played out a 1-1 draw away to West Bromwich Albion, missing their chance to keep pace with the top four. Dele Alli gave Spurs the lead on 15 minutes when he latched on to a defence-splitting long pass from Toby Alderweireld. But Tottenham paid the price for a subdued performance when West Brom equalised before half time.

An inspired Georginio Wijnaldum handed under pressure Newcastle manager Steve McClaren some relief as the Magpies shocked Liverpool. After abject performances against Leicester City and Crystal Palace, a spirited performance was rewarded when Reds defender Martin Skrtel deflected Wijnaldum’s 69th minute shot. The Netherlands international then added a second four minutes into stoppage time to hand McClaren’s men a priceless 2-0 triumph.


While Tottenham’s unbeaten record is impressive, they have not shaken the nagging feeling that they struggle to win the games they should be winning. It is a question of whether the disinterested Spurs shows up or the side that harbours ambitions to be in the title picture. Still, Spurs will be too strong at home.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Tottenham Hotspur

Over 2.5 Goals

1st Goalscorer – Harry Kane

Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion

Monday December 14, Midnight, Anfield

Liverpool will be looking to bounce back from their surprise 2-0 defeat at Newcastle when they face West Brom at Anfield. In a performance that dampened expectations surrounding the squad, Jurgen Klopp’s men deserved nothing from a game in which they were poor from start to finish. The result meant Liverpool failed to close the gap in their chase for the top four.

West Brom stretched their unbeaten run to three when they came from behind to share the points with Tottenham Hotspur. Their equaliser was fashioned after a fine move that saw Darren Fletcher whip in a cross for James McClean to level. The Baggies almost took all three points when Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris made a vital save from Jonas Olsson’s point-blank header.


Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is injured yet again which means Christian Benteke will have to provide a lot of presence up front for the Reds. West Brom’s defensive approach may play into Liverpool’s hands as Klopp’s men will try and push up high against them. The other issue for West Brom going into this match is their profligate forwards. 14 goals so far this season indicates that they do not have the firepower to win the difficult away games.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Liverpool

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Christian Benteke

Leicester City v Chelsea

Tuesday December 15, 4am, King Power Stadium

To close off round 16 of the Premier League, Leicester City will be looking to compound Chelsea’s dreadful season.

Leicester moved back to the top of the league with a 3-0 thrashing of Swansea City. The Foxes were in complete control for the entire match with Riyad Mahrez bagging a hat trick. Mahrez had two goals by halftime and his third was set up by Jamie Vardy, who missed his chance of equalling the English top-flight record of scoring in 12 consecutive matches.

While Chelsea’s awful season showed no signs of getting back on track after they were beaten 1-0 to Bournemouth. Jose Mourinho’s side, who sit 14th in the table, have now suffered eight defeats in 15 league games after they failed to break down the promoted side. Diego Costa started on the bench again, but the Spain international was introduced at halftime after a poor first 45 minutes in which Chelsea struggled to find any rhythm.


Two issues that Chelsea has is that their forwards are struggling and incredibly much of the belief that is the hallmark of Mourinho’s sides has dissipated. Yet that is the opposite at Leicester as they play with fantastic speed and freedom. While it appears to be a surprise, look for Leicester to win and they are paying $2.90.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Leicester City

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Riyad Mahrez

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