EPL Match Preview: 2 Jan – 4 Jan Posted on December 31, 2015January 4, 2016 | Posted by Clint Vojdinoski West Ham United v Liverpool Saturday January 2, 8.45pm, Boleyn Ground West Ham United and Liverpool is the match to welcome us to the new year in the Premier League. Andy Carroll was the matchwinner as West Ham United came from a goal down to record a 2-1 victory over Southampton. Trailing through Carl Jenkinson’s own goal, Slaven Bilic made a double substitution at halftime and the Hammers immediately hauled themselves into the contest. In the 69th minute Michail Antonio bundled the ball home after being struck by Victor Wanyama’s clearance. The turnaround was completed with 11 minutes left when Carroll nodded in the winner. Liverpool had Christian Benteke to thank again as he bagged the winning goal for the second time in five days. The Belgium international, who scored the only goal against Leicester on Boxing Day, did it again away at Sunderland when he took advantage of some flat-footed defending 22 seconds into the second half to clinch a 1-0 victory. Prediction The contrasting styles will make this clash interesting. West Ham will defend deep and hit teams on the counter while Liverpool look to defend from the front and press higher up the pitch. West Ham are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League home games while Liverpool have shown flashes of brilliance yet they have not hit their stride under Jurgen Klopp. Suggested Bets Match Result – Draw Under 2.5 Goals Anytime Goalscorer – Christian Benteke Sunderland v Aston Villa Saturday January 2, 11pm, Stadium of Light It is the battle of the basement when Sunderland hosts Aston Villa. Sunderland were plunged deeper into relegation trouble when they crashed to a 1-0 defeat at home to Liverpool. The Black Cats offered very little in attack with Liverpool’s centre-back pairing of Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren easily keeping their forwards at bay. The result means Sam Allardyce’s men are seven points shy of safety at the halfway stage of the season. Aston Villa were condemned to a 13th league defeat of the season as they were easily defeated 2-0 away to Norwich. In a must win game, Villa started brightly but were hit by a first half suckerpunch from Norwich’s Jonny Howson which deflated Remi Garde’s men. The loss meant Villa are without a win in 18 matches extending their longest ever winless run in their league history. Prediction The plight of both clubs is desperate, as they are both cut adrift in the relegation zone. Villa, though, have not won in the league since the opening day of the season and, with just eight points taken at the halfway stage, staving off relegation is becoming an increasingly daunting task. This will be an ugly encounter as a draw for both clubs is a bad result. Suggested Bets Match Result – Sunderland Under 2.5 Goals Anytime Goalscorer – Jermain Defoe Leicester City v AFC Bournemouth Saturday January 2, 11pm, King Power Stadium Leicester City continues their unexpected push for the title at home to Bournemouth. Leicester remarkably finished 2015 level on points with Arsenal at the top of the Premier League after a goalless draw with fellow title chasers Manchester City. After defeat at Liverpool on Boxing Day, some questioned whether the Foxes can maintain their stunning form but they silenced their critics with a solid performance as they more than held their own against the favourites for the league title. While Bournemouth went down 2-0 as they had no answers to a Mesut Ozil inspired Arsenal. This was not an awful performance from Bournemouth, they were especially up for the contest in the second half, but the failure to contain Ozil led to their downfall and resulted in their first defeat in seven Premier League games. Prediction Bournemouth will maintain their open and expansive football but that will leave them prone to leaving too much space for a team that can hit them with explosive counterattacks. Bournemouth’s style will play too much into Leicester’s hands. Suggested Bets Match Result – Leicester City Over 2.5 Goals Anytime Goalscorer – Riyad Mahrez Arsenal v Newcastle United Saturday January 2, 11pm, Emirates Stadium Ending 2015 as league leaders is Arsenal and they host 18th placed Newcastle. Before the new year, the Gunners saw off Bournemouth 2-0 to bounce back from their 4-0 Boxing Day thrashing at Southampton. On 27 minutes, Gabriel Paulista powerfully headed home from Mesut Ozil’s corner, giving the German international his 16th Premier League assist of the season. Ozil then got his name on the score sheet in the second half after playing a one-two with Olivier Giroud and then nudging the ball past goalkeeper Artur Boruc. Newcastle fell back into the relegation zone when they lost 1-0 away at West Brom. It was a poor attacking performance from the Magpies as they mustered two shots on target. Their best chance was carved out by defender Paul Dummett as he crashed a header onto the crossbar. West Brom pinned Newcastle back and deservedly grabbed the winner when Darren Fletcher was left unmarked to head home a late winner. Prediction Newcastle cannot give Ozil time and space between the lines of Arsenal’s midfield and attack. He is the Gunners’ creative fulcrum and his link up play with Olivier Giroud has helped Arsene Wenger’s side overcome Arsenal’s injury issues. Look for an easy Arsenal victory. Suggested Bets Match Result – Arsenal Under 2.5 Goals Anytime Goalscorer – Olivier Giroud Norwich City v Southampton Saturday January 2, 11pm, Carrow Road Norwich City’s push to move away from the relegation zone continues against Southampton. The Canaries ended 2015 with a much needed 2-0 win over relegation doomed Aston Villa. Jonny Howson broke the deadlock on 24 minutes with a volley at the back post after Villa failed to clear Nathan Redmond’s cross. The points were sealed by Dieumerci Mbokani, who nodded in from Wes Hoolahan’s delivery with three minutes left on the clock. Southampton followed up their 4-0 thrashing of Arsenal on Boxing Day with a 2-1 loss at West Ham. Ronald Koeman’s men dominated the Hammers and led 1-0 at halftime, with Shane Long and Dusan Tadic causing West Ham problems. Yet the Saints ran out of steam going into the second half as West Ham stretched the contest to concede twice in the final 21 minutes to throw any chance of a result away. Prediction Norwich’s inconsistency has seen them keep only two clean sheets all season, while the Saints’ thrashing of Arsenal has been their only win since November 7. Southampton have been struggling for goals and will have to rely on the hard working yet hot-and-cold Shane Long to lead the line. Suggested Bets Match Result – Draw Over 2.5 Goals Anytime Goalscorer – Shane Long West Bromwich Albion v Stoke City Saturday January 2, 11pm, The Hawthorns West Brom welcomes Stoke having won their final match of 2015. Darren Fletcher’s 78th minute header helped the Baggies to a 1-0 triumph over Newcastle United. After Paul Dummett and Victor Anichebe had hit the woodwork for both sides, West Brom finally broke the deadlock when Fletcher nodded in Claudio Yacob’s cross to give Tony Pulis’ men a deserved first league win in six matches. Stoke City took out a pulsating seven goal thriller over Everton. The Potters led twice through two sumptuous goals from Xherdan Shaqiri and Joselu’s thumping strike made it 3-3, before a dramatic injury-time winner came when Marko Arnautovic was brought down in the box by John Stones, with the Austrian scoring from the spot. Prediction Stoke are not going to be facing a defence as generous as Everton’s but with Shaqiri, Arnautovic and Bojan Krkic all in great form over the holiday period, their combination play will cause West Brom problems. Suggested Bets Match Result – Stoke City Under 2.5 Goals Anytime Goalscorer – Marko Arnautovic Manchester United v Swansea City Saturday January 2, 11pm, Old Trafford Manchester United welcomes managerless, but improving, Swansea City to Old Trafford. United closed out 2015 with a much improved display against Chelsea, but Louis van Gaal’s side had to settle for a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. United were the better of the two sides in first half with Juan Mata and Anthony Martial both hitting the woodwork. In the second half, Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois brilliantly kept out Ander Herrera’s close-range shot. The draw ended United’s four game losing streak in all competitions. While Swansea City stretched their unbeaten run to three as they held Crystal Palace to a dour 0-0 draw away. Under the guidance of caretaker manager Alan Curtis, Swansea dragged themselves out of the bottom three in recent weeks, and the point at Palace saw them move two clear of the drop zone heading into 2016. Prediction Swansea have regained some solidity but are still hopelessly out of form up front, characterised by having just three shots on target against Palace. United are equally struggling in attack and need to be brave to take this contest. United to win and give an under pressure Van Gaal his first victory in all competitions since November 21. Suggested Bets Match Result – Manchester United Under 2.5 Goals Anytime Goalscorer – Anthony Martial Watford v Manchester City Sunday January 3, 1.30am, Vicarage Road After a successful 2015, Watford begins the new year hosting Manchester City. In their last fixture, 10-man Watford were undone by a final minute goal from Spurs attacker Son Heung-min. Spurs took an early lead when Erik Lamela capitalised on an error from Craig Cathcart. Watford equalised when Odion Ighalo showed fantastic strength to hold off Eric Dier to find the net for the sixth successive Premier League match before halftime. It was telling that Ighalo’s strike was the Hornet’s only shot on target all match. Manchester City played out a handy 0-0 draw at Leicester City. Tactically City did well to shackle Leicester’s star forwards Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez and were well positioned to stop the Foxes counterattacking game plan. Raheem Sterling looked lively for City as he was the most capable creative outlet but City lacked that final edge to their attack as the likes of David Silva and Sergio Aguero are still working their way into form. Prediction City have been poor travellers this season and will need to show the same tactical acumen they displayed against Leicester. Watford forwards Ighalo and Troy Deeney can match any defence in the league and they will likely be up against an inconsistent centre-back pairing of Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi. A draw is priced at $3.80. Suggested Bets Match Result – Draw Over 2.5 Goals Anytime Goalscorer – Sergio Aguero Crystal Palace v Chelsea Sunday January 3, 9.30pm, Selhurst Park In-form Crystal Palace takes on a resurgent Chelsea in the weekend’s only London derby. Crystal Palace played out a frustrating goalless draw at home to Swansea to leave Alan Pardew’s men unbeaten in their past six league matches. On-loan forward Patrick Bamford wasted a golden chance to score his first Crystal Palace goal, blasting straight at Swansea keeper Lukasz Fabianski and spurning his side’s best opportunity to secure victory. Chelsea were second best in their 0-0 stalemate against Manchester United. Guus Hiddink’s side sat deep and looked to counter but instead his tactics invited a lot of United pressure. Nemanja Matic wasted Chelsea’s best chance and United keeper David de Gea made fine saves from John Terry and Pedro but ultimately the Blues lacked any real punch in attack without the suspended Diego Costa or the injured Loic Remy. Prediction Crystal Palace have massive injury concerns going into this clash with Yannick Bolasie, Connor Wickham, Bakary Sako and Dwight Gayle all injured. With their four key forwards injured, it is difficult to think who will give Pardew’s men the attacking impetus. Chelsea to sneak an away victory. Suggested Bets Match Result – Chelsea Under 2.5 Goals Anytime Goalscorer – Diego Costa Everton v Tottenham Hotspur Monday January 4, Midnight, Goodison Park Tottenham’s chase for a Champions League spot continues away at Everton. Everton were undone by Marko Arnautovic’s injury-time penalty as Stoke City secured a thrilling 4-3 victory at Goodison Park. Romelu Lukaku twice cancelled out goals from Xherdan Shaqiri. Everton then went in front thanks to Gerard Deulofeu, who slotted in from Ross Barkley’s square pass. Stoke responded when Joselu came off the bench to make it 3-3, thumping in a loose ball after Arnautovic’s cross was not dealt with, before the Toffees fell to Arnautovic’s late penalty. A late goal from Son Heung-Min earned Tottenham a 2-1 win over 10-man Watford. Spurs led when Erik Lamela capitalised on a mistake in midfield to pounce and slip the ball beyond goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes. Before and after Odion Ighalo’s equaliser, Spurs showed a noticeable lack of spark up front until Nathan Ake was sent off for Watford on 62 minutes. The send off was the turning point as Spurs began to find a lot of space until Son’s clever backheeled goal won the match. Prediction The Watford win showed that Spurs can grind out a victory in a tough contest. But this Spurs team also has the attacking nous and tactical acumen to overcome an attacking Everton team. Spurs are priced at $2.70 to win and that is worth a look. Suggested Bets Match Result – Tottenham Hotspur Over 2.5 Goals Anytime Goalscorer – Harry Kane Bet Now!