Sports

EPL Match Preview: 13 – 15 February

Soccer Preview

Sunderland v Manchester United

Saturday February 13, 8.45pm, Stadium of Light

Sunderland came from two goals down to snatch a precious point away at Liverpool. Trailing 2-0 with 20 minutes to play, and in front of a dwindling Anfield crowd who walked out in protest, Adam Johnson pulled a goal back from a free kick and Jermain Defoe struck with a minute to play as Sunderland mounted an incredible comeback to stun the Reds.

Manchester United dropped two points in their chase for a top four spot after conceding a 90th minute goal at Chelsea. United played with increased energy and troubled Chelsea, especially in the first half, as the contest was played in the Blues defensive half. Jesse Lingard superbly put United ahead on 61 minutes, however, United inexplicably went into their shell for the last 15 minutes and invited pressure with Diego Costa pouncing from close range after a terrific Cesc Fabregas pass.

Prediction

Sunderland need to remain compact in defence but the team has been defensively poor all season and have now gone 11 Premier League games without a clean sheet. Up front for the Black Cats, Defoe has been the key man as he has scored six goals in his last six matches. If United stop the supply lines to him and unleash attacks at pace they will take the three points.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Manchester United
Under 2.5 Goals
Anytime Goalscorer – Wayne Rooney

Swansea City v Southampton

Saturday February 13, 11pm, Liberty Stadium

Relegation threatened Swansea City are undefeated in four matches after being held 1-1 at home to Crystal Palace. A superb free kick by in-form midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson put the Swans 1-0 up at halftime but two minutes into the second half Francesco Guidolin’s conceded a goal to Palace from a set piece.

Southampton’s climb back up the table continued in earnest with a 1-0 win over West Ham. Maya Yoshida’s ninth minute goal was enough for Ronald Koeman’s men but they had to survive a difficult second half as Victor Wanyama earned his third red card of the season in the 54th minute for a foul on Dimitri Payet. Southampton keeper Fraser Forster was again in top form as he secured his fifth clean sheet in as many appearances since returning from injury.

Prediction

Sigurdsson has scored five in six matches and Swansea’s upturn in fortunes have mirrored his impressive form but he will up against a side who have rediscovered theirs. With Forster back, Southampton have a much stronger spine. The Saints are well priced at $2.35 for the win.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Southampton
Under 2.5 Goals
Anytime Goalscorer – Charlie Austin

AFC Bournemouth v Stoke City

Saturday February 13, 11pm, Vitality Stadium

Despite playing some neat football, Bournemouth failed to trouble Arsenal in their 2-0 loss. Bournemouth shaded Arsenal in total possession, looked to pass the ball and create space but they lacked any presence up front with striker Benik Afobe having an off day. Arsenal keeper Petr Cech pulled off a fine first half save from Harry Arter’s swerving drive and then made a brilliant double save deep in stoppage time to deny Steve Cook and Arter.

Stoke City were thrashed 3-0 at home to Everton despite having 66 percent possession. In a miserable performance, the Potters looked shaky defensively with regulars Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron absent and struggled to create any meaningful chances.

Prediction

Stoke have endured a month to forget since their last league win against Norwich on January 13. Defensively Stoke have been woeful as they have gained just one point from an available 12 in the league, dropping from seventh to 11th. At $2.06, Bournemouth are decent value to triumph at home.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Bournemouth
Under 2.5 Goals
Anytime Goalscorer – Benik Afobe

Crystal Palace v Watford

Saturday February 13, 11pm, Selhurst Park

Scott Dann’s second half header helped Crystal Palace come from a goal down to draw 1-1 against Swansea City. In a poor first half, Palace created very few openings but improved after the break as the Dann’s goal lifted the team’s spirits. The draw helped break a five match losing run.

Watford were lacklustre in their 1-0 loss away at Tottenham. Defensively the Hornets were poor as Spurs constantly swarmed forward to register 26 shots. Watford had their goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to thank as he was in superb form by making eight saves. Watford were equally poor in attack as they failed to record a shot on target. Leading scorer Odion Ighalo was left far too isolated and was never given any meaningful service to make a difference.

Prediction

Palace’s winless run is due to the lack of chances being created and a menacing focal point up front. Against Swansea, Palace mustered a paltry two chances on target. Watford are similarly out of form and have been just as woeful in the attacking third. Two out of form teams, both in mid table, to cancel each other out.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Draw
Under 2.5 Goals
Anytime Goalscorer – Troy Deeney

Everton v West Bromwich Albion

Saturday February 13, 11pm, Goodison Park

Everton made it back-to-back league victories as they cruised to a 3-0 win over Stoke City. Romelu Lukaku broke the deadlock for Everton on 11 minutes, converting from the penalty spot. Seamus Coleman made it 2-0 when he headed in from Tom Cleverley’s corner. The Toffees made the points safe before halftime through Aaron Lennon.

West Brom’s poor away form continued when they put in a tepid display to go down 1-0 at Newcastle. After falling behind to Aleksandar Mitrovic’s first half strike the Baggies were never allowed to impose themselves on proceedings, rarely testing Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot.

Prediction

West Brom are winless in seven matches away from home and now they face an Everton team who are playing some irresistible passing football. The Toffees have the variety of players to sweep West Brom away.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Everton
Over 2.5 Goals
Anytime Goalscorer – Romelu Lukaku

Norwich City v West Ham United

Saturday February 13, 11pm, Carrow Road

Norwich City plunged into the relegation zone after a 2-0 loss at Aston Villa. In a very poor contest, the Canaries’ fifth straight league defeat was characterised by a very blunt attack which failed to trouble last-placed Villa and a defence that fell apart for their opponents second goal.

West Ham went down 1-0 at Southampton to miss an opportunity to make any ground on fifth placed Manchester United. The Hammers will be disappointed not to take anything from the game after playing the last 36 minutes with an extra man. Manager Slaven Bilic will further rue his side’s profligacy in front of goal as they had 18 shots but only hit the target twice.

Prediction

The Canaries lack a potent goalscorer to hurt the opposition and cannot rely on a leaky defence which struggle to keep clean sheets, having kept three in 26 league matches. Take West Ham for an away win at $2.80.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – West Ham
Over 2.5 Goals
Anytime Goalscorer – Enner Valencia

Chelsea v Newcastle United

Sunday February 14, 1.30am, Stamford Bridge

Diego Costa’s injury-time equaliser helped Chelsea snatch a 1-1 draw against Manchester United and preserve their unbeaten run under interim manager Guus Hiddink. It took the Blues 75 minutes to work themselves into the match but they finished in a flourish as Branislav Ivanovic, Cesc Fabregas and Costa had late chances. Eventually their pressure on United’s defence told and for the second league home game in a row the Blues managed to grab a point in stoppage time.

Newcastle United climbed out of the relegation zone after a dominant 1-0 triumph against West Bromwich Albion. Moments after having a goal ruled out for offside, the Magpies went in front as Aleksandar Mitrovic latched on to Jonjo Shelvey’s pass. The result ended a run of nine Premier League games without a clean sheet.

Prediction

Newcastle have to come out and aggressively push Chelsea back into their own half as the Blues have been strangely passive at home. But Newcastle travel poorly away from home, so look at Chelsea to comfortably win.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Chelsea
Over 2.5 Goals
Anytime Goalscorer – Diego Costa

Arsenal v Leicester City

Sunday February 14, 8pm, Emirates Stadium

Arsenal scored twice in 88 seconds to run out comfortable 2-0 winners at Bournemouth to move into third place. The Gunners came into the game on the back of four league matches without a win but first half goals from Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was just reward for a controlled performance.

Leicester City took another step towards their title bid with an incredible 3-1 win away at Manchester City. Claudio Ranieri’s men went in front inside three minutes through Robert Huth, then doubled their advantage early in the second half through Riyad Mahrez’s brilliant solo effort. Huth grabbed his second of the game in the 60th minute when he looped a header home from a corner. The result meant the Foxes extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to five points.

Prediction

Leicester are five points ahead of Arsenal in third and you dare to think if the Foxes win this match they are favourites for the title. Leicester break quickly, look for space beyond opposition defences with diagonal passes and through balls and defend tidily. While Arsenal have added a lot more physicality to their usual flair. Overall a huge encounter but Leicester to hold their own and come away with a draw.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Draw
Under 2.5 Goals
Anytime Goalscorer – Riyad Mahrez

Aston Villa v Liverpool

Sunday February 14, 10.05pm, Villa Park

Aston Villa claimed a vital three points as they beat fellow strugglers Norwich City 2-0. Remi Garde’s side had only won twice in the league this season prior to the match, but goals from Joleon Lescott and Gabriel Agbonlahor in a six minute spell either side of halftime propelled Villa to a deserved victory.

Liverpool threw away a two goal lead as Jermain Defoe struck late for Sunderland in front of an agitated Anfield with the game ending 2-2. After a goalless first half, Roberto Firmino put Liverpool 1-0 up on 59 minutes when he nodded in James Milner’s cross. With 20 minutes remaining, Firmino then turned provider for Adam Lallana. Sunderland pulled a goal back with eight minutes left when Adam Johnson’s low free kick had the better of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and then pulled level through Defoe in the 89th minute.

Prediction

Villa are eight points adrift of safety and lack the quality to defeat teams in the top half of the league. Liverpool have been inconsistent for the last month but will not have too many problems overcoming Villa.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Liverpool
Over 2.5 Goals
Anytime Goalscorer – Roberto Firmino

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur

Monday February 15, 12.15am, Etihad Stadium

Manchester City blew a massive chance to keep the title race close as they were outplayed by league leading Leicester City 3-1. Manuel Pellegrini’s men were 3-0 down on the hour after a goal to Riyad Mahrez and a double to Robert Huth. Even though City managed a late consolation through Sergio Aguero, the story of the game was how ill at ease City were to their opponents’ pace on the counter-attack.

Tottenham Hotspur displaced City in second place after they saw off Watford 1-0 at White Hart Lane. In-form Dele Alli came off the substitutes’ bench to set up the winner, the midfielder finding Kieran Trippier at the back post with a terrific pass. Spurs plundered 26 shots and should have finished off Watford much sooner but found Watford keeper Heurelho Gomes in top form.

Prediction

Manchester City have not beaten any side currently in the top six of Premier League table this season which is a poor record for a title contender. Spurs are very much in the title race and are not as ‘soft’ as they are usually perceived. If Spurs cut off the supply to Aguero they will win this. Tottenham for an upset is paying $3.70.

Suggested Bets

Match Result – Tottenham Hotspur
Under 2.5 Goals
Anytime Goalscorer – Harry Kane

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