Soccer Preview

Barclays Premier League, 5 – 8 December

Clint Vojdinoski’s Tips

Stoke City v Manchester City

Saturday December 5, 8.45pm, Britannia Stadium

Opening up week 15 of the Premier League is Stoke hosting Manchester City.

Last week, Stoke were meek in defeat when they conceded two late goals to lose at Sunderland. Jonathan Walters had the best chance for the Potters but was denied by a point blank save from Sunderland keeper Costel Pantilimon. Stoke’s problems worsened when captain Ryan Shawcross was sent off at the start of the second half when he collected a second booking, and from there Sunderland were able to seize the advantage.

After a tough week, Manchester City returned to winning ways as they defeated Southampton 3-1. A loss to Juventus in the Champions League and a thrashing by Liverpool dulled City’s momentum but against the Saints, they took control of the match early when Kevin de Bruyne tapped home before Fabian Delph, making his first Premier League start, sent a deflected shot past Southampton keeper Maarten Stekelenburg. City’s two-goal cushion was sealed after De Bruyne set up Aleksandar Kolarov for a fine goal on 70 minutes.


Stoke have been uncharacteristically poor at home, and while they are difficult to beat, will not boast enough in attack to overpower City. Manchester City are boosted by the return of Spain international David Silva. City’s fine record over Stoke will continue in this fixture.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Manchester City

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Kevin de Bruyne

Southampton v Aston Villa

Saturday December 5, 11pm, St Mary’s Stadium

Southampton hosts relegation threatened Aston Villa hoping to put a stop to their two game slide.

Last week’s slow start against Manchester City cost the Saints dearly, they were 2-0 down after 20 minutes. To their credit they worked themselves back into the match, Virgil van Dijk hit the post, before Shane Long made it 2-1 with a header on 50 minutes. Dusan Tadic and Long both had chances before the hosts sealed the match through Aleksandar Kolarov’s volley.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa manager Remi Garde is still searching for his first win after a disappointing 3-2 defeat at home to Watford. Going into halftime at 1-1 thanks to Micah Richards’ header, Villa’s hapless defence always looked likely to make a mistake, which they predictably did, when Alan Hutton turned into his own net before Troy Deeney made it 3-1 late on. Jordan Ayew’s brilliant consolation goal counted for nothing as Garde’s men remain firmly rooted to the foot of the table.


Winless in 13 matches, Aston Villa’s plight keeps getting worse. They are a dreadfully put together side. Even head to head, Villa has a poor record against the Saints, with one win in the last seven matches in all competitions.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Southampton

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Graziano Pelle

Swansea City v Leicester City

Saturday December 5, 11pm, Liberty Stadium

Winless in four matches, Swansea City faces a daunting task of stopping Leicester City’s seven match unbeaten run.

Another loss for Swansea as they went down 1-0 at Liverpool. Garry Monk’s men were able to frustrate the Reds for much of the encounter but it was yet another difficult match from their forwards who failed to register a single shot on target. A run of just one win in 10 league outings means the pressure is building on Monk.

He did it! Leicester striker Jamie Vardy set a new Premier League record for scoring in 11 consecutive matches, but a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester United meant the Foxes relinquished top spot in the table after just one week. Leicester took the lead in the 24th minute when Christian Fuchs played a superbly measured ball for the onrushing Vardy, who broke the offside trap to fire home. Leicester’s fine game plan to allow United to have a lot of possession and hit them with fast counterattacks brought no more rewards.


Two peculiar statistics in this fixture, there has never been a draw between the two clubs and the home side has been victorious in every encounter. Look for both of those trends to be broken as Swansea’s reliance on forward Andre Ayew and a counterattacking plan has not been paying recent dividends. Leicester to triumph is paying $2.50.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Leicester City

Over 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Jamie Vardy

Watford v Norwich City

Saturday December 5, 11pm, Vicarage Road

Watford and Norwich clash in a battle between two of the league’s promoted clubs.

Watford returned to winning ways defeating Aston Villa 3-2 with in-form forwards Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney running the show. Ighalo got the Hornets’ first goal, the pair combined to force a mistake from Villa defender Alan Hutton for the second before Deeney headed home his side’s third to put the stamp on a third away victory for the season.

Norwich earned a well-deserved point at home to Arsenal and could have snatched all three in a resilient performance. The Canaries fell behind to Mesut Ozil’s goal before equalising when Lewis Grabban expertly turned Gabriel Paulista and rolled the ball beneath Arsenal keeper Petr Cech just before the break. In the second half, Norwich forced Arsenal onto the back foot but failed to find a goal that would have given them just a second win in eight league games.


Watford are difficult to beat and Norwich’s change in tactics and organisation in recent weeks has meant they have become a tough proposition. The Canaries’ deeper lying 4-4-2 formation has seen them yield improved results in the midst of a difficult run of matches. Both sides to cancel each other out.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Draw

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Odion Ighalo

Arsenal v Sunderland

Saturday December 5, 11pm, Emirates Stadium

Injury hit Arsenal welcomes an improved Sunderland to Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners were held to a 1-1 draw at Norwich, leaving them without a win in three Premier League matches. Arsenal went in front on 30 minutes when a poor clearance from Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy allowed Alexis Sanchez to feed Mesut Ozil, who chipped the ball home. Norwich hit back before half-time and grew in confidence while Arsenal’s started sapping away.

Sunderland secured a vital 2-0 win at home to an in form Stoke City to move out of the relegation zone. Late goals from Patrick van Aanholt and Duncan Watmore made it three wins in five games for Sam Allardyce’s resurgent side.


In a tremendous blow, Arsenal are without Laurent Koscielny and Alexis Sanchez after both succumbed to injury against Norwich. Despite their injury woes, the Gunners will be too strong for Sunderland.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Arsenal

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Olivier Giroud

West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham Hotspur

Saturday December 5, 11pm, The Hawthorns

Tottenham travels to West Brom looking to extend their unbeaten league run to 14 matches.

In the previous week, West Brom shared the points with West Ham United. It took a deflected strike from Rickie Lambert to haul Tony Pulis’ men into the game yet that was the spark that allowed the Baggies to grow into the contest. They looked the more likely winners with West Ham keeper Adrian making a fine save to keep out Salomon Rondon’s header.

Tottenham played out a 0-0 draw against Chelsea and blew a chance to put themselves in the thick of the title reckoning. Spurs carved out the best first half opportunities, with Harry Kane, Mousa Dembele and Son Heung-Min all forcing Blues goalkeeper Asmir Begovic into action. Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris was forced into a superb save on 68 minutes when he turned Eden Hazard’s shot around the post.


Spurs would have been disappointed with the Chelsea result as they were the far superior team on the balance of play. Make no mistake about it, they are a seriously difficult team to match up against and look for them to dominate in central midfield in this contest. A Spurs win is paying $1.90 which is good value.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Tottenham Hotspur

Over 2.5 Goals

1st Goalscorer – Harry Kane

Manchester United v West Ham United

Saturday December 5, 11pm, Old Trafford

Manchester United meets West Ham United at Old Trafford with both sides coming off 1-1 draws.

United came from behind to earn a point away at Leicester. They fell behind when Christian Fuchs split United’s defence with a perfect pass for Jamie Vardy, who expertly fired past David De Gea. United equalised in first half injury time when Bastian Schweinsteiger powerfully headed home Daley Blind’s corner. Yet again though, United had a lot of sterile possession and never did enough to win the match.

The Hammers had a frustrating afternoon where they dominated possession but never took control of their match against West Brom. West Ham took the lead thanks to Mauro Zarate’s brilliant free-kick but were forced to settle for a point when Rickie Lambert’s shot deflected in off defender Winston Reid.


Against Leicester, Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial were too static and did not give United enough movement for their midfielders to work with. It is that lack of cutting edge which is symbolic of their season. While West Ham will find United difficult to break down and they have their own defensive problems, conceding goals in nine successive Premier League games. Putting that all together, look for a Manchester United victory.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Manchester United

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Juan Mata

Chelsea v AFC Bournemouth

Sunday December 6, 1.30am, Stamford Bridge

Chelsea and Bournemouth meet for the first time ever in the early Sunday morning kick off.

In the London derby, Chelsea settled for a 0-0 result against Tottenham which lifted them to 14th in the table. Manager Jose Mourinho’s starting lineup at White Hart Lane saw Eden Hazard preferred in a false nine role, with struggling striker Diego Costa benched. The Blues were dull in attack, only threatening on the break, with Hazard fashioning his side’s best chance in the second half.

In a remarkable finish, Junior Stanislas’ 98th minute equaliser earned Bournemouth a 3-3 draw with Everton. Incredibly, Ross Barkley appeared to have given Everton all three points with a 95th minute strike after the Cherries had fought back from two goals down to make it 2-2 with three minutes of normal time remaining. But Stanislas had other ideas, as he popped up with almost the last kick of the game to snatch a point for Eddie Howe’s team.


The Blues have recorded one win in their last five Premier League matches yet are a good bet to see off relegation threatened Bournemouth who are too open in defence to cause a surprise at Stamford Bridge.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Chelsea

Over 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Eden Hazard

Newcastle United v Liverpool

Monday December 7, Midnight, St James’ Park

Newcastle United’s troubled season continues when they host Liverpool.

Newcastle’s season reached another low point, this time a 5-1 mauling by Crystal Palace has seen the Magpies slip back into the relegation zone and leaves manager Steve McClaren under pressure to retain his job. It all started well when Papiss Cisse headed Newcastle in front on 10 minutes, but from there Palace bossed the game and by halftime the Magpies were 3-1 down and would never get back into the match.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp claimed a first Premier League win at Anfield as his side saw off Garry Monk’s Swansea City to climb to sixth. After a first half with very few scoring chances, Liverpool took the lead on 62 minutes when James Milner converted from the spot after Neil Taylor was adjudged to have handballed in the box.


The confidence has drained away from Newcastle and against a side such as Liverpool who are adjusting to Klopp’s high-speed pressing game, the Reds will take the game to Newcastle and leave with three points.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Liverpool

Over 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Christian Benteke

Everton v Crystal Palace

Tuesday December 8, 4am, Goodison Park

To round off week 15 in the Premier League, it is Everton at home to Crystal Palace.

Everton threw two points away after they conceded a 98th minute equaliser away at     Bournemouth. The Toffees were cruising at 2-0 up in the 80th minute through goals from Ramiro  Funes Mori and Romelu Lukaku. Then the match turned on its head. Bournemouth hit back with goals from Adam Smith and Junior Stanislas. It should have been all over when Ross Barkley scored in 95th minute which prompted a pitch invasion from ecstatic Everton fans, however, Bournemouth still had time to level as Stanislas powered home a header to secure a crazy draw.

Crystal Palace came from behind to thrash Newcastle United 5-1 to give manager Alan Pardew a sweet victory over his former club. Falling behind to Papiss Cisse’s goal, Palace roared back into the match with first-half goals from James McArthur, Yannick Bolasie and Wilfried Zaha. Bolasie and McArthur both completed their braces in the second half to help Palace notch their third home win of the season.


The key for Pardew’s men in getting a positive result is nullifying the combinations of Lukaku, Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu who have been instrumental during Everton’s unbeaten November. But Palace are surprisingly good travellers and a draw, which is priced at $3.50, is worth a look.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Draw

Under 2.5 Goals

Anytime Goalscorer – Romelu Lukaku