It is the sixth season since UEFA rebranded the UEFA Cup to the Europa League. While there have been long conversations between Spurs and Liverpool fans about whether qualifying for the competition is a good idea, the prize for either Sevilla or Dnipro this Wednesday night is a place in next season’s Champions League.
The Spanish team are looking to retain the trophy as they did in 2007 but will face tough competition from the Ukrainian outfit who will take their place in the 2015/16 Champions League with a win in Warsaw. Keep reading for our 2015 Europa League Final preview.
With half an hour of the La Liga season to go last weekend, it looked as if Sevilla would secure their place in next season’s Champions League by finishing fourth in their domestic league. Only a very late comeback from Valencia denied them a top four finish but all that will be immaterial if they can win Europe’s second-tier competition for the fourth time in ten seasons and benefit from UEFA’s new reward for the competition winners.
While the competition may be much derided, Sevilla’s captain is looking forward to his fourth Europa League final in six years. Ex-Arsenal striker Jose Antonio Reyes has won three times – with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla – and the 31 year old says “It is not every day you reach a European final. We should feel proud to be where we are.”
It has certainly been an impressive run from Unai Emery’s side who have beaten the likes of Feyenoord, Borussia Monchengladbach, Villareal and Zenit St Petersburg on their way to Warsaw. In the semi-final they overcame Fiorentina, comfortably beating Italy’s fifth best side 5-0 on aggregate.
Los Rojiblancos have lost just one of their last 21 games in all competitions and are just 3/5 to retain their trophy.
Back in 2009, Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk became the last team to win this tournament in its old guise as the UEFA Cup. Dnipro are rank outsiders to emulate their more famous compatriots this week but have proved this season that they are capable of beating more esteemed rivals.
Sitting third in their domestic league, few had heard of the team from Dnipropetrovsk before this season and reaching this final is by some distance their most impressive achievement. They haven’t actually won a trophy since lifting the Soviet Cup in 1989 and they qualified for the Europa League on account of finishing second in the Ukrainian league, their best finish in over twenty years.
After scraping qualification from their group – they ended up with just 7 points from 6 matches – their road to the final has been impressive. They beat Olympiacos, Club Brugge and the Dutch champions Ajax on their way to the semi-finals where they caused a huge upset by eliminating Rafa Benitez’s Napoli side 2-1 on aggregate, Yevhen Seleznyov scoring the winner in the home leg.
Another Premier League season comes to a close this Sunday and with most of the major issues resolved the one remaining questions is who will join QPR and Burnley in being relegated to the Championship.
Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
Premier League bets of the weekend
The big match of the day is at the KC Stadium where only a win will be good enough to save Hull City‘s Premier League status. Steve Bruce’s side need three points to stay up and even then will be relying on results elsewhere to preserve their top flight status for another season.
They face a difficult task as the visitors are Manchester United. With Arsenal having won in midweek Louis van Gaal’s side are guaranteed to finish fourth and so there’s nothing left for them to play for. Add in the fact that they have only taken four points from the last five games and many people will be tempted to back the home side at 11/5.
However, Hull are third bottom for a reason and have been pretty poor in recent weeks. A United reserve side went to Hull on the final day of the 2008/9 season and won and van Gaal will send a stronger side this time around. The 6/5 on an away win looks too good to ignore.
The battle to avoid the drop
A win for Hull on Sunday would leave Newcastle United in danger of the drop. The Magpies can preserve their top flight status irrespective of results elsewhere, however, if they can overcome West Ham United at St James Park.
With one point from the last 30 available it’s been a terrible couple of months for the home side. It promises to be a tense afternoon on Tyneside with fans planning to ‘occupy’ the pitch at the final whistle irrespective of the outcome.
West Ham have long been safe and Sam Allardyce seems to have found it hard to motivate his team for the last three months of the season. Still, the manager would like to go out with a win as well as getting one over on his former side. If you bet with your head and not your heart the 7/2 on an away win looks the value.
All Sunday’s other matches
Sunderland guaranteed their survival with their draw at Arsenal on Wednesday which is probably just as well as they go to champions Chelsea. We tipped the Blues to come a cropper at West Brom last week but it should be a party atmosphere at Stamford Bridge and I fully expect the home side to win at 1/3.
Leicester City‘s escape has been nothing short of miraculous and Nigel Pearson’s side could finish the season in the lofty position of 14th if they can conclude their terrific run with another home win. Their opponents are QPR who are already relegated and I fancy the Foxes to pick up another three points at 4/7. Aston Villa are also safe and I expect them to bounce back from their thrashing at St Marys last week with a win over Burnley at 11/10.
Manchester City will finish in second place if they beat Southampton at 1/2 while Arsenal can end their season on a high ahead of the FA Cup Final with a win over West Bromwich Albion at 4/11.
At any other time of the season – and with something to play for – the remaining three fixtures look like interesting games. Stoke City look terrific value at 5/2 to see off struggling Liverpool in Steven Gerrard’s last game for the Reds while Crystal Palace could end the season in the top ten if they can beat Swansea City at Selhurst Park at 5/4 and other results go their way.
Everton have struggled this season but can end on a high and they are 7/5 to beat Tottenham at Goodison Park.
Six teams will head to Wembley this Bank Holiday weekend for the three Football League play-off finals. With all the rewards of a season in a higher division dependent on one match it promises to be a nerve-shredding weekend for both fans and players.
Keep reading for our 2015 Football League play-off finals preview.
There is no single sporting event in the world more valuable to the winners than the Championship play-off final. Neither of this year’s finalists have ever won this match in the Premier League era and both teams boast young managers looking to guide their teams into the top flight.
Aitor Karanka featured in a Champions League final but never played at Wembley. The Boro boss believes his team ‘deserve’ a place in the top flight after their 5-1 aggregate win over Brentford although also acknowledged the financial implications of promotion.
“The first thing is the money, but these players deserve to play in the Premier League,” Karanka said. “It’s the biggest step for everybody. We have to prepare for that game and do the best.”
Boro have spent six seasons in the second tier and are 9/5 to win in 90 minutes.
A few eyebrows were raised when Alex Neil was appointed manager of Norwich City in January but the 33 year old has lost just three of his 24 matches as the Canaries boss. His side overcame old rivals Ipswich 4-2 to reach the final and could bounce back into the Premier League at the first attempt.
Neil believes his team deserve credit for how they have coped with the hype surrounding a promotion push. “I’m delighted for the players, everybody reminds us after every game that the pressure is on us and how good a squad we’ve got,” he said.
The young Scotsman has crafted an excellent side and I fancy Norwich to win at 6/4.
The play-offs occasionally produce some exciting and thrilling matches but there can be few that have been quite as crazy as Swindon Town’s second-leg tie against Sheffield United. Coming into the match with a 2-1 advantage, Swindon twice threw away a two goal lead to draw 5-5, scraping through to the final 7-6 on aggregate.
“It was torture,” Mark Cooper, the Swindon manager, said. “I can’t really put into words what I’ve just seen. It was just a freak of a game. I don’t think there’ll ever be another [play-off] game like that. It was like two heavyweight boxers trying to punch each other out.”
Swindon’s reward for their win is a match against Preston North End. Having missed out on automatic promotion on the final day of the season thanks to their defeat at Colchester, Preston had a smoother ride into the final, beating Chesterfield 4-0 on aggregate.
Simon Grayson’s side have reached Wembley for the first time since 1994 but have a dreadful record in the play-offs. They have failed to gain promotion on 9 previous occasions through the post-season contest although are the favourites this time.
It could be a great game and Swindon look excellent value at 12/5.
It’s been a great 12 months for fans of Wycombe Wanderers. A year ago they only secured their League status on the final day of the season, staying up on goal difference after a last day win over Torquay. Now, Gareth Ainsworth’s side are heading to Wembley after a 5-3 aggregate win over Plymouth Argyle in the League Two play-off semi final.
Ainsworth is delighted to be taking his team to the final. “I’m a really lucky guy. I was stuck by when things were going really bad,” he told the BBC. “Things just seem to have happened the right way this season – Andrew Howard coming in as chairman, the signings gelling so quick and with injuries, we’ve been lucky.
“I’m so lucky to just be a proud Wycombe Wanderers manager. I hope the emotion’s coming across because I am so proud to be able to take my team to Wembley, lead them out and hopefully we can do the job there.”
Wycombe will face Southend United for a place in League One after Phil Brown’s side beat Stevenage 3-1. The Shrimpers ended the season as the division’s form side, winning seven of their last eight league matches and keeping an astonishing eight consecutive clean sheets.
This should be a close game but I fancy Southend to edge it at 11/8.
Chelsea wrapped up the Premier League title last weekend and so the focus for the rest of the season turns to who will survive in the Premier League.
Depending on results QPR and Burnley can both be relegated this weekend while Newcastle could drop into the bottom three if the teams below them get good results. Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
It’s been a rocky season for Hull City. They have struggled near the foot of the table for most of the campaign and just when it looks as if a couple of good results may drag them out of trouble, they lose again and are suddenly back in the bottom four.
Steve Bruce’s side face a vital match on Saturday as they take on bottom of the table Burnley. Now eight points adrift, anything other than a win for Sean Dyche’s side would see them relegated to the Championship after just one season in the top flight.
While Burnley may have more to play for the fact remains that they haven’t scored in any of their last six Premier League matches and they have only picked up one point from the last 18 available, losing their last four matches 1-0.
It promises to be a nervy affair but I fancy Hull City to ease their relegation worries and condemn Burnley to the drop. Hull are evens to win and it is 11/2 that Burnley go down 1-0 for the fifth game in a row.
A month ago it looked as if Manchester United may be surging into a late title challenge with Chelsea. Now, having lost three Premier League games in a row for the first time since December 2001, Louis van Gaal’s side are suddenly back in a battle for Champions League qualification.
United face a tricky away tie at resurgent Crystal Palace in Saturday’s late kick-off having failed to score in three successive matches (the first time since 2007). Palace have been great in recent weeks and look terrific value at 7/2 to inflict an unprecedented fourth straight league defeat on United.
Sunderland remain in the bottom three despite their win over Southampton this week and face a difficult away tie at Everton. The last couple of weeks have been symptomatic of Roberto Martinez’s side this season; a comfortable win over Manchester United and then defeat to relegation threatened Aston Villa. They should have too much for the Black Cats at Goodison Park though and can win at 5/6.
Aston Villa grabbed a vital win last Saturday and can make it two wins out of two as they face West Ham United at Villa Park. Three points should be just about enough to save Tim Sherwood’s side and they can beat a Hammers side with nothing to play for at 19/20.
Leicester City‘s great escape continued with victory over Newcastle last weekend and it is now five wins in six for the Foxes. They welcome Southampton whose season is petering out after a strong start and, with home advantage, I fancy Leicester to win again at 13/8.
Stoke City are 9/5 to beat Tottenham at the Britannia while West Bromwich Albion look terrific value to follow up their win at Manchester United by condemning Newcastle United to an eighth successive defeat. The home side are in disarray and will have a makeshift defence for the visit of the Baggies who can capitalise with a win at 7/4.
Manchester City and Arsenal‘s remaining matches will determine which of them finishes runners-up to Chelsea in this season’s Premier League with Arsenal in pole position. City should grab an easy three points on Sunday by beating struggling QPR at 2/9 while Arsenal are just 1/3 to beat Swansea City at the Emirates in Monday night’s live match.
Chelsea secured the title with their win over Palace last weekend and they can celebrate their achievements by throwing off the shackles to beat Liverpool on Sunday. Liverpool have been poor in recent weeks and the home side look absolutely terrific value at 11/10 to win.
After their win in midweek Chelsea can secure the Premier League title this weekend and it promises to be a party atmosphere at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Elsewhere there are some intriguing matches featuring sides fighting to avoid relegation while Sunday’s late kick-off is an attractive looking tie between Spurs and Manchester City.
Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
Premier League bet of the weekend
Leicester City‘s recent excellent run of wins was halted by Chelsea in midweek but the Foxes can take another huge step towards survival this Saturday with a win over struggling Newcastle United.
Four wins in a row helped to lift the Foxes out of the relegation zone and with the majority of their remaining matches at the King Power stadium, an unlikely escape act is on the cards.
Newcastle have now lost seven in a row and a win for the home side would actually take them to within one point of John Carver’s struggling side. Defeat would mean Newcastle were in the thick of the relegation dogfight but Leicester can drag themselves further clear of the drop zone at 19/20.
All Saturday’s matches
Aston Villa were unlucky to come away from the Etihad empty handed last week but the FA Cup finalists still have work to do at the wrong end of the table. They host Everton on Saturday in what may be a trickier game that Tim Sherwood would have wanted.
Everton have improved immeasurably in recent weeks and were impressive in their 3-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday. Villa are 17/10 but on current form the away side look good value, also at 17/10.
Liverpool‘s season has rather petered out after their Cup elimination but they are just 4/11 to beat struggling QPR at Anfield. Manchester United should now comfortably finish above them in the table and Louis van Gaal’s side are the same price to beat West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford in Saturday’s late kick-off.
Burnley haven’t scored in their last five Premier League matches and it looks like time is running out for Sean Dyche’s plucky but limited side. They travel to West Ham United on Saturday and while the Hammers have little to play for they look good value at 6/5 to see off the struggling visitors.
Sunderland desperately need a win and look a terrific price at 3/1 to beat Southampton at the Stadium of Light while there is a battle of the safe mid-table sides at the Liberty Stadium as Swansea City take on Stoke City. It is essentially a battle for 8th place and the home side can take it at 5/4.
The rest of the weekend’s action
After their win at Leicester in midweek it could be a carnival atmosphere at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as Chelsea will win the league title if they beat Crystal Palace.
Jose Mourinho’s side have clearly been the best team in the league this season and are worthy champions. While Palace have been in decent form of late I can’t see them stopping Chelsea’s inexorable march to the title and the home side can seal the title with three games to spare by winning at 4/11.
There is an attractive looking match on Sunday afternoon as Tottenham take on Manchester City at White Hart Lane. Having been Chelsea’s main rivals for much of the season City are now trying to avoid finishing outside the top three while Spurs are all but out of the Champions League race.
City are 21/20 but I like the home side’s chances at a standout 13/5.
Two wins in a week for Hull City have eased their relegation fears although they face a difficult run-in starting with the visit of Arsenal on Monday night.
The Tigers are four points above the drop zone after wins over Crystal Palace and Liverpool but will face a Gunners side still trying to secure a top three finish so as to avoid a perilous Champions League qualification tie. Hull are available at 9/2 while Arsenal are 4/6.
With just half a dozen matches to go there’s still plenty to play for in this season’s Premier League, particularly at the wrong end of the table. Just six points separate bottom club Burnley with 15th placed Aston Villa and with Newcastle also in terrible form it could be a seven-way battle to avoid the drop.
At the other end of the table the top two face each other in a huge game at the Emirates. Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
Premier League bet of the weekend
Although their run of five straight Premier League wins was ended by Chelsea on Sunday, Manchester United can take plenty of heart from the way they dominated possession against the champions-elect.
Louis van Gaal claimed it was his side’s best performance of the season and, considering they were without key players Michael Carrick and Danny Blind, United showed that they should be title challengers next campaign.
United travel to Everton on Sunday. The home side beat Burnley last weekend and could still finish in the top half of the league having won four of their last five league matches. In addition, Roberto Martinez’s side haven’t lost at Goodison Park since Boxing Day.
While it hasn’t been United’s happiest ground in recent years, on current form it is a match they should win at 6/5.
All Saturday’s matches
There will be some tense fans of teams at the wrong end of the table this weekend; not least at bottom club Burnley who welcome in-form Leicester City to Turf Moor.
Leicester lifted themselves off the foot of the table with their third straight victory last weekend while Burnley have only won one of their last 12 league fixtures. It will be a long way back for the team that loses and on form Leicester look the value at 9/5.
QPR remain in the bottom three but have an eminently winnable home match on Saturday against West Ham United. Sam Allardyce’s side have only won 7 points in 2015 so far and are drifting towards the end of the season with nothing to play for.
QPR have been better of late but have lost their last seven matches at Loftus Road in all competitions. Something has to give and Chris Ramsey’s team can gain a vital three points at 7/5.
Sunderland face a tough away trip to Stoke City and are 16/5 to win while Hull City are the same price to beat the league’s form team, Crystal Palace, at Selhurst Park.
Newcastle United have now lost six Premier League matches in a row and must be thankful for the points they picked up under Alan Pardew earlier in the season. They probably have just enough in the bank to see them to the end of the season but things will get very nervy if they lose at home to Swansea City on Saturday.
The Swans have won at struggling clubs in recent matches – they beat Burnley and Aston Villa – and there could be all-out mutiny at St James Park if Garry Monk’s side can prevail at 21/10.
West Bromwich Albion look absolutely terrific value to follow up their win over Palace with a home victory over struggling Liverpool at a standout 14/5 while Tottenham can end Southampton‘s Champions League ambitions by winning at St Mary’s in Saturday’s early kick off. Mauricio Pochettino’s side are 5/2 to get one over on his former club.
Saturday’s late kick-off sees Manchester City face Aston Villa at the Etihad. City still need points to secure a Champions League spot while Villa are still not safe from the drop despite some good recent form. The home side should win at 2/7 but there will be a few punters tempted by the 9/1 available on Villa.
The rest of the weekend’s action
If there is going to be any excitement at the top of the league between now and the end of the season it will need Arsenal to overcome Chelsea in Sunday’s late kick-off. A win for the home side would close the gap to seven points and increase Arsenals grip on second place but this could be a tall order, even with the Gunners’ excellent form.
Arsenal have won eight consecutive matches in the Premier League but haven’t beaten their London rivals at the Emirates since 2010. Chelsea are likely to play as they did against Manchester United last week, soaking up the home side’s possession and hitting them on the counter attack.
It should be a good game and I like Chelsea’s chances at 7/4 with a 1-0 away win available at 8/1.
After last week’s matches just four points now separate the bottom five in the Premier League. With other teams looking nervously over their shoulder – West Brom and Newcastle are also in poor form – the battle to avoid the drop hots up again this weekend.
At the top of the table there’s also an important clash as Chelsea host the in-form Manchester United. Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
Premier League bet of the weekend
A couple of weeks ago it looked as if Leicester City were doomed to an immediate return to the Championship. However, late winners against West Ham and West Brom have given the Foxes hope and another win on Saturday could lift them out of the relegation zone.
And, a win this weekend is certainly possible as they welcome Swansea City to the King Power Stadium. While Garry Monk’s side have enjoyed an excellent season they have nothing to play for and with Leicester having gained some confidence from a couple of wins it could be another good day for the City faithful.
Back Leicester to make it three wins out of three at 6/5.
All Saturday’s matches
Last week I tipped Manchester United to win at a standout 8/5 and, apart from the opening ten minutes at Old Trafford, a victory against neighbours City was never really in doubt. Any chance that Louis van Gaal’s side have of overhauling Chelsea for the title will depend on them overcoming the league leaders at Stamford Bridge in Saturday’s late kick-off.
United have now win six Premier League matches in a row including impressive victories against Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester City. In their favour they are playing well with a settled side but an away tie at a side managed by Jose Mourinho is always a tough proposition. Chelsea have lost just one league match at home under the Portuguese manager (to Sunderland in April 2014) and so are likely to be tough to beat. While not playing particularly well at present the home side look good value at evens.
Crystal Palace are on a superb run of form under Alan Pardew and were impressive in their 4-1 win at Sunderland last week. They welcome West Bromwich Albion to Selhurst Park on Saturday and Tony Pulis’ side are still not 100% safe from the drop. Palace look great value to win at 19/20.
Everton‘s form has improved in recent weeks and they should beat Burnley at 7/10 while Stoke City look good value at 11/5 to beat Southampton at the Britannia Stadium.
The rest of the weekend’s action
Defeat in the Manchester derby all but ended Manchester City‘s bid to retain the Premier League title and their ambition now must be to finish in the top four. They can take a big step towards Champions League qualification this week as they welcome West Ham United to the Etihad.
City should see off their London rivals at 2/7 but if you fancy Sam Allardyce’s side to cause an upset you can back the Hammers at a tasty 10/1.
Both Newcastle United and Tottenham suffered defeats last weekend and the pair meet at St James’ Park in Sunday’s late kick-off. John Carver’s side have lost their last five Premier League games and another defeat could see them dragged into the relegation struggle. Spurs are now unlikely to finish in the top four but can grab another win at 13/10.
There are vital matches at both ends of the table this week with many of the strugglers facing tough tests against the Premier League’s big boys. The match of the weekend is the Manchester derby and United can go four points clear of City with a win.
Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
A couple of months ago there were rumblings of discontent at Manchester United with questions being asked about Louis van Gaal’s supposed tactical plan for the team. Fast forward to now and United have won five league matches in a row with confidence coursing through the team.
The Red Devils are playing well and could easily end up as the closest challengers to Chelsea at the end of the season, much to the concern of Sunday’s opponents Manchester City.
City’s title challenge has faltered over recent weeks and they have gone from chasing Chelsea to nervously looking over their shoulder at the teams below them.
Anything can happen in a derby but on current form United look superb value at 8/5 to win at Old Trafford.
Last week I tipped Everton to continue their good recent run of form and they duly obliged by seeing off Southampton at 13/8. It’s now three wins in a row for Roberto Martinez’s men although they will need to be at their best this Saturday to see off Swansea City.
Swansea have won their last two matches and have a decent record at home against the lower ranked teams. This could be an entertaining match and I fancy Everton to get something out of it. The draw is available at 11/5.
Southampton‘s lingering Champions League hopes may now be over but they can continue their push for a European place by beating struggling Hull City at 1/2. Tim Sherwood will return to Tottenham as the boss of opponents Aston Villa this weekend but I fancy the home team to add to Villa’s woes with a win at 4/7 while Arsenal can continue their excellent form with a win at Burnley, also at 4/7.
Leicester City gave their slim survival hopes a boost last weekend with a home win over West Ham and they travel to Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion this Saturday. The Baggies were humbled by a relegation candidate last weekend in their 4-1 defeat to QPR and this could be another tricky afternoon. The Baggies are available at 6/5 while Leicester are 12/5.
West Ham appear to be sleepwalking towards the end of the season and face Stoke City who have lost their last three league matches. With both teams safely in mid-table there’s little to play for and the 11/5 on a draw looks the call.
Sunderland got a much needed win last Sunday thanks to Jermaine Defoe’s wonder strike although they face in-form Crystal Palace this week. Palace have 22 points from their last eleven matches and are comfortably in mid-table. You can back either team at 17/10.
The rest of the weekend’s action
QPR have taken four points in two away matches this week and are now within two points of safety. An unlikely escape could still be on but they will find it hard this weekend as they welcome champions-elect Chelsea to Loftus Road.
Chelsea continue to lead the table despite not being in imperious form and they are just 4/11 to win Sunday’s early kick-off. QPR are available at a tempting 15/2.
Monday night’s match harks back to those classic encounters of the 1990s as Liverpool welcome Newcastle United. However, with little to play for this may lack the intensity of those 4-3 matches and the home side should easily beat a struggling Newcastle at 4/9.
After the international break the Premier League returns this weekend with vital matches at both ends of the table. There’s a North East derby to look forward to on Sunday while Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United can all take a big step towards Champions League qualification with wins.
Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
After guiding them to their highest ever Premier League points total in 2014, it’s not been the finest season for Roberto Martinez and Everton. They sit in the bottom half of the table with no cups to play for and seem to be plodding towards the end of a disappointing campaign.
They face Southampton on Saturday who are still pushing for a Champions League berth despite now being six points adrift of fourth place Manchester United. While form would suggest an away win, Everton put in arguably their best performance of the season when they won at QPR last time out and that followed a comfortable 3-0 win over Newcastle.
Whether Martinez’s side have turned a corner remains to be seen but they look good value at 13/8 to make it three league wins in a row.
After the disaster of their defeat to Manchester United a fortnight ago, Liverpool could fall out of top four reckoning this weekend if they were to lose to Arsenal at the Emirates.
Much has been made of Steven Gerrard’s ridiculous red card but the truth is that Liverpool were second best on the day and travel to a Gunners side who have won six Premier League matches in a row. I fancy the home side to prevail again at 17/20.
Manchester United were excellent at Anfield and could go second in the table this weekend if results go their way and they beat Aston Villa at Old Trafford. Louis van Gaal finally seems to have found a formation that works and the often ignored Juan Mata put in a man of the match performance against Liverpool, scoring two excellent goals. United should win at 1/3 and it’s 5/1 that the Spaniard sets them on their way.
It is certainly Chelsea‘s title to lose now and they can take another step towards winning the league by beating Stoke City at 2/7 in Saturday’s late kick-off. Swansea City look good value at 10/11 to beat struggling Hull City at the Liberty Stadium and after a run of bad results seemingly doomed QPR face another tricky away match at West Bromwich Albion. Back the home side at 3/4.
While Leicester City may be facing the prospect of Championship football next season they could keep their faint hopes alive with a rare home win this weekend. West Ham‘s season looks to have ground to a halt and Sam Allardyce’s side have won just one of their last five Premier League matches. The home side can give their fans something to cheer about with a win at 7/5.
It feels as if their decent Premier League results and performances should be enough to save Burnley from relegation but the honest truth is that they remain in the bottom three and still have plenty of work to do if they are to avoid dropping straight back into the Championship.
Sean Dyche’s side face a tricky tie this weekend as they welcome Tottenham. Spurs have won three of their last four Premier League matches although could only manage a 1-1 draw when the two teams met at Turf Moor in the FA Cup this season.
Spurs are available at 23/20 but I fancy the chances of the home side at a tempting 5/2.
Sunderland‘s win at rivals Newcastle United just before Christmas was one of the few highlights of their season so far and new boss Dick Advocaat has eight matches to save his struggling side from the drop.
They have a great chance to bag three vital points at the weekend as they welcome their North East rivals who are aimlessly drifting towards the end of the season. John Carver’s side have taken just five points from their last seven league games and could still yet be dragged into the relegation equation. With home advantage I fancy Sunderland to grab a vital win at 6/4.
Monday night’s match sees title-chasing Manchester City head to Crystal Palace. So long the nearest challengers to Chelsea, City are now in danger of being caught and overhauled by the rivals beneath them.
Palace, meanwhile, are all but safe having won three of their last four matches including an excellent win at Stoke City last time out. City are the 4/6 favourites but there will be plenty tempted by the 9/2 available on the home side.
There are some crucial matches at both ends of the table this weekend including a huge battle for Champions League qualification.
Liverpool welcome Manchester United on Sunday in a match that will go a long way to deciding which of the rivals will finish in the top four this season. Sunderland travel to West Ham under new boss Dick Advocaat while bottom club Leicester face a tricky away tie at Spurs.
Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
Much has been made of the performances of Swansea City and West Ham this season and both have received plenty of plaudits for their campaign so far. Rather less lauded are a team which currently sits above both sides in the Premier League table; Stoke City.
Stoke have made excellent progress under Mark Hughes and a top eight finish out to be achievable. They face Crystal Palace at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday who have been excellent under Alan Pardew and will almost certainly play top flight football next season.
This should be a good match and I fancy the home side to prevail at excellent odds of 6/5.
Manchester City slipped further behind Chelsea after their defeat last weekend and rather than challenging for the title are nervously looking at the teams just behind them in the Premier League. Things could get tough for Manuel Pelligrini’s side this weekend as they face West Bromwich Albion who have been stubborn and tough to beat under new boss Tony Pulis.
Anything other than a win for City will probably see an end to their title hopes but the Baggies look good value to nick a draw at 17/4. They are a tasty 8/1 to win.
Aston Villa‘s 4-0 win at Sunderland last weekend was their third in a row under Tim Sherwood and the club now have a real chance of avoiding relegation to the Championship. They have a winnable match this Saturday as they welcome Swansea City to Villa Park.
Garry Monk’s team are safe in mid-table and haven’t an awful lot to play for between now and the end of the season. I fancy the home side to take another massive step towards safety at 29/20.
Arsenal‘s disappointing Champions League campaign ended at Monaco in midweek and Arsene Wenger’s team now need to pick themselves up and ensure their qualification for next season’s competition.
Their league form has been good – five wins in a row – and they have an eminently winnable match away at Newcastle United. The Magpies probably have just about enough points to survive this season but on recent form they will be looking nervously over their shoulder between now and the end of the campaign. Arsenal should win at 4/6.
I suggested that there may be a little value in the 6/1 available on Burnley last weekend and George Boyd’s winner duly gave the Clarets a win over Manchester City. They face another tough test this weekend and are 13/2 to beat Southampton at St Mary’s.
Saints secured an excellent raw at Chelsea last weekend and are just 4/9 to continue their challenge for European football.
Tottenham are 4/7 to beat seemingly doomed Leicester City at White Hart Lane while Sunderland are 10/3 to win under new boss Dick Advocaat as they travel to West Ham United in Saturday’s teatime kick-off.
Sunday’s early kick-off will go a long way to determining which of the two fierce North West rivals will play Champions League football next season. Liverpool take on Manchester United at Anfield with three vital points at stake.
With just two points separating the sides Liverpool can leapfrog United into the top four with a win. Their form over recent weeks has been terrific and they haven’t lost in the league in 2015 – indeed, United were the last time to beat Brendan Rodgers’ side in the Premier League.
Louis van Gaal’s team looked in excellent form against Spurs on Sunday and may keep faith with Juan Mata in place of the recently disappointing Angel di Maria. It is a huge match and the home side can shade it at 23/20.
Chelsea haven’t been in great form over recent weeks but still have a commanding lead at the top the table as their challengers also falter. They can take a massive step towards the title this Sunday as they face struggling Hull City.
Hull will probably do just about enough to survive this season but I can’t see them getting anything out of this match. Back Chelsea at 1/2.
Everton got their first home win in three months as they overcame Newcastle last weekend although Roberto Martinez’s side still sit just six points above the drop zone. They face an awkward trip to QPR on Sunday and defeat for the home side could all but put an end to their survival chances.
Neither team is in great form but I fancy QPR to keep up their fight and make home advantage count at 11/5.
With just ten games of the season remaining there are three vital relegation six-pointers on Saturday afternoon. Leicester and QPR both badly need wins while there is a crunch tie at the Stadium of Light as Sunderland welcome Aston Villa.
There are also a couple of matches between sides aiming for Champions League qualification with an attractive looking tie between Man Utd and Spurs to look forward to on Sunday. Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
There is an absolutely vital battle towards the foot of the table on Saturday as Sunderland welcome fellow strugglers Aston Villa.
Gus Poyet’s side are on course to beat the record for the most draws in a Premier League season – they have drawn half their games – and they sit just four points above the drop zone. The manager has suggested that he might employ a more expansive style of play as he looks to secure Premier League survival but they may have to do this without the suspended Adam Johnson.
Villa got a much needed late win at home last time out but needed a Ben Foster howler to grab three vital points. I still don’t really rate Villa and so with home advantage Sunderland can take a massive step towards safety with a win at 13/10.
There are two more relegation six-pointers on Saturday and no match is more important than the clash between QPR and Crystal Palace.
QPR remained in the drop zone after their defeat to Spurs last weekend and desperately need a good result at their London rivals. The Eagles have been a changed side under Alan Pardew and look set to remain in the Premier League while QPR have won just one away match in the league this season. I fancy Palace to inflict more pain on the visitors by winning at 4/5.
Leicester City have been at the foot of the table for most of the season and considering they are seven points adrift of safety you would think that their home tie with Hull City would be a must-win game.
Hull have eased their relegation worries in recent weeks with some good results although they may find it tough in front of a passionate crowd. The home side are 11/10 to grab a vital win while Hull are 5/2.
In my last column I tipped West Bromwich Albion at a standout price to beat Southampton at the Hawthorns and if you took my advice you’d have made a tasty profit. The Baggies are at home again this weekend and look good value at 13/10 to see off Stoke City.
West Brom are much more defensively sound under Tony Pulis and harder to beat. While Stoke have been in good form in recent weeks I fancy the home side to ease their relegation fears further with a win.
West Ham seem to be cruising towards the end of the season and, probably, the Sam Allardyce era. They travel to Arsenal and it would be a major surprise if the Hammers took anything from this match. It would also represent something of a turn-up if Burnley were to beat title chasing Manchester City in Saturday’s late kick-off, although there will be plenty tempted by the 6/1 on offer.
It’s been a tricky few weeks for Southampton and their unlikely Champions League qualification challenge seems to be running out of steam at precisely the wrong time. They could fall further behind their rivals this weekend as they travel to league leaders Chelsea in Sunday’s early kick-off.
Chelsea haven’t been at their best in recent weeks but have continued to grind out results. The home team look a safe bet at 8/15.
Tottenham can drag themselves level on points with fellow European hopefuls Manchester United if they can beat Louis van Gaal’s side at Old Trafford on Sunday. United have become hard to beat in the last few months but there are plenty of disgruntled murmurings from fans about the pragmatic style of play. Spurs meanwhile have improved as the season has gone on and in Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen have two of the league’s most in-form players.
This could be an entertaining affair and it is just 8/13 that both teams score. Over 2.5 goals is available at 4/6.
If Everton manage to win the Europa League but don’t improve their league form they could make history by becoming the first team to qualify for the Champions League and be relegated in the same season. With just one win in 12 Premier League games Roberto Martinez’s side have slipped perilously close to the drop zone although they have a chance to grab a vital win as they welcome Newcastle United on Sunday.
Newcastle are mired in mid-table and their form is also pretty mediocre. I fancy Everton to grab a much needed win at 5/6.
Monday night’s match sees Liverpool travel to Swansea. The Welsh side have an excellent home record – the 5-0 spanking by Chelsea notwithstanding – but Liverpool are on a terrific run themselves. Garry Monk’s team are 11/4 to win while you can back the visitors at evens.
The battle for European places intensified last weekend with Liverpool the main beneficiaries of Manchester United, Southampton and Tottenham all dropping points.
With leaders Chelsea not in league action – they face Spurs in Sunday’s Capital One Cup final – Manchester City have a chance to close the gap at the top of the table. Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
West Bromwich Albion sit five points above the relegation zone and with Tony Pulis at the helm I’d be astonished of they ended the season in the bottom three. The Baggies have only lost once in 2015 and they look terrific value to see off Southampton in front of the Hawthorns faithful on Saturday.
The Saints have slipped out of the top four and have won just one of their last five matches in all competitions. While this is a match Ronald Koeman’s side need to win, West Brom look the side to back at a massive 9/4.
In our ‘bet of the week’ last week we predicted that Aston Villa’s woes would continue – even with a new manager – and a last minute goal saw Tim Sherwood’s side lose 2-1 at home to Stoke City. It could be another tough week for Villa who face a difficult away tie at Newcastle United.
Alan Shearer described Newcastle’s performance at Manchester City last weekend ‘pathetic’ and the Magpies have only won one league game in 2015. Villa would only be 7 points behind their hosts if they were to win but they look like a team devoid of confidence and ideas and I fancy John Carver’s side to nab a much-needed three points at 10/11.
Burnley’s Ashley Barnes might not be the most popular man in West London right now but he helped his side to an impressive draw at league leaders Chelsea last weekend. Sean Dyche’s side are only in the bottom three on goal difference and face Swansea City this weekend.
Burnley need to make their remaining home matches count and are 13/8 to grab a vital win.
Hull City have beaten two of their relegation rivals in recent matches but could find things tougher this weekend as they travel to Stoke City. Mark Hughes’s side could easily finish in the top eight this season and should win in front of their home fans at 10/11.
Manchester United are just 4/11 to see off struggling Sunderland at Old Trafford while the knives seem to be out for Sam Allardyce despite West Ham’s decent campaign.
The Hammers threw away a two goal lead at Spurs last weekend but should be too good for Crystal Palace in Saturday’s early kick-off and are 21/20 to win.
The match of the weekend is at Anfield on Sunday where in-form Liverpool welcome title-chasing Manchester City.
Liverpool’s 2-0 win at rivals Southampton last weekend means that they have lost just once in the last 18 matches in all competitions and have moved right into contention for Champions League qualification. City will want to bounce back from their midweek defeat to Barcelona and keep the pressure on leaders Chelsea and this is a touch match to call. The draw is available at 5/2.
Quite where it has gone wrong for Everton this season, perhaps only Roberto Martinez knows. His side sit just six points above the drop zone and were lucky to escape from last week’s match against rock-bottom Leicester City with a point.
The Toffees have won just one of their last ten league matches and travel to Arsenal on Sunday who sit third after their win over Crystal Palace last Saturday. Arsene Wenger’s side were unexpectedly outclassed by Monaco on Wednesday night but should win this one at 8/15.