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.
The first major silverware of the English season will be decided on Sunday as Chelsea take on Tottenham in the 2015 Capital One Cup final.
Chelsea are the favourites to lift the trophy but Spurs beat their opponents in the league in early 2015 and saw off the Blues to win the 2008 League Cup. Keep reading for our preview of the 2015 Capital One Cup final.
Before Christmas it looked like Chelsea would win the league at a canter and there was even talk of a historic quadruple of trophies. Fast forward a couple of months and things haven’t gone entirely to plan for Jose Mourinho’s side although they are still going strong on three fronts.
Defeat to Bradford City in the FA Cup ended their quadruple dreams and while they sit five points clear at the top of the league their form has stuttered with just two wins and three draws in their last five matches.
Nemanja Matic will be suspended for this tie after his red card against Burnley and with John Obi Mikel also unavailable Mourinho is likely to partner Cesc Fabregas and Ramires in the Chelsea engine room. The Chelsea boss also has to decide between Gary Cahill and youngster Kurt Zouma in defence and between Willian and new signing Juan Cuadrado in a wide attacking position.
The Blues beat Spurs 3-0 at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season and are just 7/10 to win in 90 minutes.
While Chelsea can take a break after their draw with Burnley last weekend, Spurs’ preparation for the Cup final has been hampered by their involvement in the Europa League this week. A match in Florence three days before the final is not ideal preparation and Mauricio Pochettino has had some tough decisions to make this week.
Spurs have gradually improved over the course of the season after some poor early results and showed their newfound mettle when coming back from 2-0 down to grab a 2-2 draw with West Ham recently. It is also worth remembering that they beat Chelsea 5-3 at the beginning of the year and so have the recent upper hand against their opponents.
Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen are two of the most in-form players in English football and, as Jose Mourinho pointed out this week, Spurs have quality throughout the side and in reserve.
Spurs’ last trophy win was in this tournament in 2008 when they came from behind to beat Chelsea in extra time and they are 15/4 to win in 90 minutes on Sunday.
Chelsea are the worthy favourites for the Cup bearing in mind their form, strength of squad and the tactical nous of boss Jose Mourinho in big matches. Spurs may have beaten them in January but they have the handicap of their Europa League fixture to consider and it is worth bearing in mind that the Blues have lost to Tottenham just once in their last 11 meetings with five victories.
Plenty of neutrals would like to see a Tottenham victory but all the signs point to a Chelsea win. It may go the distance, however, and so backing the draw at 14/5 and Chelsea to win in extra time at 13/2 could be the call.
Sixteen teams remain in this year’s Champions League and there is a familiar look to the line-up. Many of the big names are there including Spanish, Italian and English giants and as there’s no one outstanding team the competition is wide open.
Keep reading for our Champions League preview.
Bayern Munich have lost just one league match this season and sit eight points clear at the top of the Bundesliga. Having drawn 0-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their last 16 tie the 2013 European champions are clear favourites to progress and could make their third final in four seasons.
Pep Guardiola’s side have arguably been Europe’s top side for several seasons and only Real Madrid and Milan have won Europe’s premier trophy more times. Bayern are the worthy 11/4 joint favourites to win this year’s tournament on German soil.
Real Madrid are the defending champions and are another side who sit top of their domestic league. However, their progress this season hasn’t been quite as smooth as last year and defensive injuries and suspensions have taken their toll.
A good 2-0 win at Schalke should see them into the last eight and on their day they can see off any team in the world but I worry that they may not be quite as invincible as they were last season. The 11/4 looks too short.
Spanish rivals Barcelona have been improving in recent weeks and could be an excellent bet to reach their first final since 2011. The front three of Suarez, Neymar and Messi are beginning to click and coach Luis Enrique looks to have found a system to suit his star names. They face a tricky last 16 tie against Manchester City but if they come through that unscathed then the 5/1 currently available could be a great price.
Chelsea finally became European champions in 2012 and you can’t help thinking that the one thing missing from Jose Mourinho’s CV is a Champions League trophy with the Blues. He has won the trophy before of course – with Porto and Inter – and so knows how to progress far in the tournament.
They had a good result at PSG in the last 16 and with a good draw I can see Chelsea reaching the semi-finals at least. They could even go all the way at 6/1.
Last year’s surprise package was Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone’s side came within a minute or so of winning their first European Cup. Atletico haven’t been as irresistible this campaign as they were last time around but the Spanish champions are a great side with some terrific players.
I fancy them to overcome Bayer Leverkusen over two legs and with a bit of luck they could easily emulate last season’s achievements and reach their third European Cup final.
Perennial Champions League participants Arsenal are once again in the knockout stages but Arsene Wenger’s side look set to fall short again. They are 16/1 to win the tournament and while the last 16 draw was kind to them – they should see off Monaco – I don’t think they are good enough to beat one of the top sides.
For a small side FC Basel punch way above their weight on the European stage. The Swiss side went all the way to the semi-finals of the Europa League in 2013 and, over recent years, have beaten Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United.
On their day they are a match for anyone and if they can eliminate FC Porto in the last 16 – not easy after a home 1-1 draw – they could achieve great things. I think it is only a matter of time before they reach the quarters or semis in this competition and Paolo Sousa’s side are 200/1 to go all the way this year.
The Premier League returns this week after taking a break for the FA Cup. There are a couple of six pointers at the foot of the table while the battle for European places intensifies as Liverpool travel to Southampton in Sunday’s late kick-off.
Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
It’s been a terrible few weeks for Aston Villa and the Midlands club dropped into the bottom three after their defeat at Hull City last week. Manager Paul Lambert was sacked after ten league games without a win and Tim Sherwood has been charged with improving the fortunes of a side who have scored just one goal in their last eight Premier League matches.
Villa welcome Midlands rivals Stoke City on Saturday and it could be a difficult afternoon for the new Villa boss. Stoke sit comfortably in mid table and have enjoyed some good results in recent matches against the likes of Everton, Manchester City, Arsenal and Newcastle.
Villa look like a team destined for the drop and the visitors can grab an away win at 7/4.
After beating another of their relegation rivals last time out Hull City will be looking for another valuable three points when they welcome QPR on Saturday.
Rangers won their first away match of the season at Sunderland before the Cup break and now sit above the bottom three. A win for either side would be massive but I fancy the home team to prevail at 21/20.
Chelsea now have a seven point lead at the top of the Premier League table and can continue their march towards the title with a home win over Burnley at 1/5. I also fancy Manchester City to grab a vital three points at home to Newcastle United in Saturday’s late kick-off.
Just five points separate five sides challenging for a Champions League spot and this could finally be the season when Arsenal drop out of the top four. After their defeat at Spurs last weekend and a nervy win over bottom club Leicester last time out Arsenal face a tricky away tie at Crystal Palace who have improved under new boss Alan Pardew.
Palace have only lost once match in 2015 and are on a good run of form. They look great value at 10/3.
Just a point separates Sunderland and West Brom towards the foot of the table and a defeat for either side would plunge them further into trouble. Gus Poyet’s side have drawn almost half of their league matches this season while Tony Pulis would settle for a point at the Stadium of Light. Back the draw at 21/10 and 0-0 at 6/1.
Swansea City beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on the opening match of the season and they get the chance to do the double this weekend. The home side have a decent record at the Liberty Stadium while United have huffed and puffed a little in recent games, especially away from home.
Garry Monk’s side look good value at 11/4 while you can back United at evens.
Tottenham have been in great form over recent weeks and have dragged themselves into the thick of the battle for Champions League qualification. Harry Kane is arguably the form player in English football and the striker can help his team to another three points on Sunday as they welcome West Ham.
The Hammers were unlucky not to beat Manchester United in their last league game but tend to struggle away from home. They haven’t won away since early December and haven’t kept a clean sheet on their travels for almost a year. Back Spurs to win at 4/5.
Everton continue to struggle in the Premier League and it is now just one win in eleven for Roberto Martinez’s side. They welcome bottom side Leicester City on Sunday who have an even worse record than the hosts with just two wins in their last 20 Premier League matches.
Leicester need the points more but Everton should win this at 8/11.
There is an attractive match to look forward to on Sunday afternoon as Southampton welcome Liverpool. The Saints have lost just once in the league since mid December while Liverpool have lost just one Premier League match since 23 November.
The Saints can consolidate their Champions League spot with a win at 13/8 while Liverpool are available at 7/4.
The Premier League’s top two fought out an entertaining 1-1 draw in last Saturday’s big match, allowing Manchester United, Spurs and Arsenal to close ground in the race for Champions League places.
This week features two local derbies and some intriguing matches at both ends of the table. Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
Despite losing every away fixture they have played in the Premier League this season, QPR are just a point off safety in 19th place. This has been down to their excellent home form and despite the departure of boss Harry Redknapp, Rangers have a chance to record another vital three points on Saturday by beating Southampton.
The Saints have gradually been reeled in by the chasing pack in the hunt for a Champions League spot and injuries and suspensions have begun to take their toll. Ronald Koeman could only name six substitutes in their 1-0 defeat to Swansea last Sunday and the lack of strength in depth is beginning to show.
Rangers have only lost one of their last eight home matches in the league – and that to Manchester United – and so look absolutely terrific value to beat an injury ravaged Southampton at 16/5.
Saturday’s two televised matches feature two attractive looking local derbies. The lunchtime kick-off sees Tottenham face Arsenal with both sides on a good run of form. Just two points separate the two sides in fifth and sixth position and this could be a terrific match.
Spurs are unbeaten in seven league matches at White Hart Lane while Arsenal have won five in a row in all competitions, scoring fifteen goals in the process. The Gunners are the 5/4 favourites but Spurs look great value at 21/10.
Everton secured a win for the first time in nine games on Saturday, beating Crystal Palace by a Romelu Lukaku goal. They face neighbours Liverpool in Saturday’s late kick-off having secured a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Liverpool have only lost once in the league since late November and are worthy 5/4 favourites.
Aston Villa beat an unwanted club record last Sunday when they failed to score for the sixth consecutive match. They are in the middle of a relegation scrap and it gets no easier for them this week as they welcome Chelsea to Villa Park.
You can get a massive 8/1 on the home side but there won’t be many tempted, even at that price. Similarly, there won’t be many rushing to back struggling Hull City who are 11/1 to beat Manchester City at the Etihad.
Crystal Palace look good value at 2/1 to beat bottom of the table Leicester City at the King Power Stadium and while Sunderland grabbed a vital win on Saturday they will find it tough to get anything out of their trip to Swansea City.
Just two points separate Burnley and West Bromwich Albion at the wrong end of the table and the promoted side could leapfrog Tony Pulis’ team with a win at Turf Moor in Sunday’s early kick-off. Burnley have just five points from their last seven Premier League matches but can grab a vital win in front of their home fans at 8/5.
Caretaker boss John Carver got his first win as Newcastle United manager at Hull last weekend and his side welcome Stoke City on Sunday. The two sides sit comfortably in mid table and this is a tricky match to call. The home side are available at 13/10 while you can back Mark Hughes’ side at 11/5.
West Ham have already beaten Manchester City and Liverpool at home this season and so it is perhaps a surprise to see them as long as 11/4 to see off Manchester United in Sunday’s late kick-off.
United’s away results have been inconsistent this season with some good wins – at Southampton and Arsenal – punctuated by draws at West Brom, Burnley and Aston Villa. Louis van Gaal’s side are just evens to win.
After a weekend of unprecedented FA Cup upsets the Premier League returns this week with many of its major teams nursing Cup hangovers. The division’s top two were humbled in the Cup on Saturday and meet at Stamford Bridge while there are other vital matches at both ends of the table.
Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
Nobody gave much of a chance to Middlesbrough and Bradford City last week but both teams came away from Premier League title challengers with a famous FA Cup win.
The two conquered sides meet in the match of the weekend and the outcome of Chelsea v Manchester City could go a long way to determining which team wins the title in May.
Chelsea bounced back from their Cup defeat by beating Liverpool in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday and will go into this match focused and with a full strength side. City have been in faltering form over recent weeks and have won just one of their last four Premier League games.
Jose Mourinho’s side will be fired up for this one and in front of their home fans they look terrific value at evens.
Newcastle United announced this week that caretaker boss John Carver will continue to the end of the season and it could be a tough few months for the Magpies. They have failed to win any of their matches under their temporary manager so far and face a tricky away tie at Hull City on Saturday lunchtime.
Hull’s form is pretty awful – they have failed to score in six of their last eight league matches – and they sit in the bottom three. They need to pick up points at home and can start with a vital win at 13/8.
Everton have won just once in their last six Premier League matches and now sit just four points above the relegation zone. The Toffees haven’t won away in the league since late October and face a tricky trip to Crystal Palace who have won all four matches under new boss Alan Pardew. The home side look good value at 17/10.
Manchester United lost 5-3 at Leicester City earlier in the season but have improved since then while City have slipped to the foot of the table. United should win at 1/3 while Stoke City should have no trouble seeing off struggling QPR at 8/13.
Liverpool are unbeaten in six in the league and will leapfrog West Ham in the table if they win at 4/6 while Spurs can keep up their good run with a win at West Brom at 8/5. Sunderland have won just one of their last 12 league matches and Gus Poyet’s job could be under serious threat if they lose at home to Burnley on Saturday. There will be plenty of backers for the visitors at 13/5.
Arsenal have won their last three league matches without conceding a goal and have dragged themselves into Champions League qualification contention. They welcome Aston Villa in Sunday’s early kick-off and it would be a huge surprise if the Gunners didn’t win this one at 1/4.
There is an attractive looking fixture at St Mary’s on Sunday afternoon as high flying Southampton welcome Swansea City. Both sides were victims of Cup upsets at the weekend and will spend the rest of the season fighting it out for a European place.
Ronald Koeman’s side are in excellent form and can register another win at 4/7.
The FA Cup reaches the last 32 round this weekend and there are some terrific matches to look forward to. Several lower league clubs will fancy their chances of knocking out top flight opposition, not least Cambridge United who host 11-time Cup winners Manchester United.
Keep reading for a preview of all this weekend’s action.
The weekend’s FA Cup action begins on Friday night with a real David and Goliath encounter at the Abbey Stadium. Cambridge United’s reward for beating fellow League Two side Luton Town in the third round was a plum clash with Premier League giants Manchester United.
Unsurprisingly the game is a sellout and Cambridge have a good recent record in knockout competitions. The Us won both the FA Trophy and the Conference play-off final at Wembley in 2014 and took Birmingham to extra time in the Capital One Cup earlier this season.
United will need to be professional to come away with a win and are just 2/9 to progress. If you fancy one of the big Cup upsets of recent years you can back Cambridge at 11/1.
I tipped Rochdale to see off higher league opposition in the third round and they duly obliged with a 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest. Keith Hill’s side face Premier League opposition this Monday in the form of Stoke City and this is a potential banana skin for Mark Hughes’ side.
Rochdale sit fifth in League One and have won three matches in a row in all competitions. Whether they can up their game enough to trouble Stoke is another matter but there will be plenty tempted by the 4/1 available on the home side.
Brighton have improved in recent weeks under new boss Chris Hughton and the Seagulls can see how far they have come when they welcome Arsenal on Sunday. Brighton have lost just one in six matches under Hughton and were on a three match winning run before their defeat to Brentford last weekend.
Arsenal were excellent in their win over Manchester City last time out and the FA Cup holders are just 4/7 to win. You can back Brighton to cause an upset at 5/1.
If you’re looking for a potential giantkilling at decent odds then you could do worse than consider Bournemouth at Aston Villa. The Championship leaders have won their last five away matches in all competitions scoring 17 goals in the process and won’t be scared of facing a struggling Villa side.
Paul Lambert’s side have gone 8 hours and 42 minutes without scoring in the Premier League although they did manage a solitary strike to see off Blackpool in round three. On form this should be a Bournemouth win and they look great value at 2/1.
Birmingham have been excellent under new boss Gary Rowett and are an attractive 13/5 to beat West Brom at St Andrews while Chelsea are just 1/8 to beat Bradford at Stamford Bridge.
There are plenty of mid-table Premier League teams dreaming of a decent cup run and perhaps emulating Hull City by reaching this year’s final.
The FA Cup final will take place on Steven Gerrard’s birthday and so there are plenty of incentives for Liverpool to have a good cup run. They face Bolton at Anfield this weekend and are 1/3 to reach round five. Tottenham should see off Leicester at 8/13 while Southampton can keep up their good run of form with a win over Crystal Palace at the same price.
Sunderland have won just one in 12 in the Premier League and could be susceptible to an upset at home to Fulham. Neither team are in great form although a home win could boost the Black Cats’ confidence. Kit Symons’ side look good value at 4/1, however.
Manchester City look a different side without Yaya Toure and there might be a few tempted by the 9/1 available on Championship contenders Middlesbrough to cause an upset on Saturday. Blackburn are 2/1 to knock out Premier League Swansea while League One leaders Bristol City are 3/1 to see off West Ham.
Since 1957 the African Cup of Nations has been a regular fixture in the football calendar. This year is the 30th edition of the event and sixteen teams will compete to be named Africa’s best team.
The 2013 winners Nigeria failed to qualify and so the tournament is wide open. And, with Morocco refusing to host the event after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa the teams will instead head to Equatorial Guinea who make only their second appearance in the Cup of Nations.
Keep reading for our preview of the 2015 African Cup of Nations.
On paper there are a number of teams who seem to stand out from the crowd. The continent’s big hitters Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal boast a smattering of Premier League talent while Zambia and Burkina Faso are recent finalists.
However, the tournament is actually extremely hard to call. If you take the hosts Equatorial Guinea and Algeria out of the equation the remaining 14 teams are all ranked between 22nd and 64th in the world. Any nation is capable of beating another on their day and so this could be an unpredictable tournament.
Of course, with unpredictability comes the potential for profit and it may be worth swerving the short priced favourites. Ivory Coast were clear favourites in 2013 and were knocked out in the quarter finals so the value may lie in some of the lesser fancied teams.
Three of the top six teams in the betting will face off in the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’ and so a couple of major sides will go home before the knockout stages. Ghana (9/1), Algeria (4/1) and Senegal (12/1) all feature in Group C and their chances are made no easier by the inclusion of outsiders South Africa (20/1).
Ivory Coast often go into this tournament as favourites, generally based on the pedigree of their overseas players. However, it’s worth remembering that the Elephants haven’t won the tournament since 1992 and they often flatter to deceive in this competition.
Ghana’s 2-2 draw with eventual champions Germany was one of the matches of the 2014 World Cup but the Black Stars are another team whose performances in this tournament leave much to be desired. New coach Avram Grant wasn’t a universally popular appointment and eyebrows were raised when his squad included striker Kwesi Appiah, currently playing in the fourth tier of English football.
A good outside bet could be the surprise package of the 2013 tournament. Burkina Faso were considered no-hopers when they arrived in South Africa two years ago but gained momentum throughout the tournament beating Ghana and Togo before eventually losing 1-0 in the final to Nigeria.
The Stallions looked in good form in their recent warm-up match and strikes from Jonathan Zongo, Mohamed Koffi, Alain Traore, Aristide Bance and a Maqhawe Dlamini own-goal gave them a 5-1 win over Swaziland.
Before 2013 their record at the Cup of Nations had been awful – they had lost every single match in the previous five competitions for which they qualified – but they could go well here. They have a very favourable draw – they face the lowly ranked hosts as well as Gabon and Congo – and at 20/1 offer decent each-way value.
Would there be a bigger fairytale story than a win for Cape Verde? The island nation qualified for their first ever major tournament in 2013 and were unlucky to go out in the quarter finals. They were one of the first nations to qualify for the Cup of Nations this year and are ranked 40th in the world – ahead of teams such as Cameroon, Mali and South Africa.
They have a tricky group but in an unpredictable tournament could offer superb value at 22/1.
It was a good weekend for Chelsea in the Premier League as their win over Newcastle coupled with a draw for Manchester City and defeat for Manchester United saw them open a two point gap at the top of the table.
Three of the top four have awkward away fixtures this weekend while Sunday’s late kick-off sees title-chasing City welcome Arsenal to the Etihad. Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
Burnley were my outstanding bet of last week to see off QPR at odds-against and I’m sticking with the Clarets to generate a profit again this weekend.
Sean Dyche’s side climbed out of the relegation zone with their win over Rangers last Saturday and this week they face another of the sides scrapping around towards the foot of the table. Crystal Palace are the visitors to Turf Moor and the Eagles also had a good result last weekend when they came from behind to defeat high flying Spurs.
Burnley have only lost one of their last seven home matches – and that to Liverpool – and their recent from includes good results against Palace, Manchester City, Newcastle and Spurs. Palace, meanwhile, haven’t won away from Selhurst Park in the league since mid September and so Burnley look excellent value at 7/5.
Liverpool were good value for their win over Sunderland last Saturday and Brendan Rodgers’ side are now unbeaten in seven matches. They travel to Aston Villa this weekend and will be looking to avenge their 1-0 defeat to Paul Lambert’s side earlier this season.
I still think Villa have a tough job to do to avoid relegation and if results go against them they could end the weekend in the bottom three. Back Liverpool to win at 5/6.
After a dismal run Leicester City have taken ten points from the last twelve in the league and have dragged themselves towards safety. Part of the reason for their revival has been their defensive performances and Nigel Pearson’s side have kept three clean sheets in the last four Premier League matches.
The Foxes welcome Stoke City to the King Power Stadium and look great value at 16/5 to win to nil.
All of QPR’s points this season have come at Loftus Road and there may be one or two tempted to back Harry Redknapp’s side at 5/1 to beat Manchester United on Saturday afternoon. Swansea City are the same price to beat top of the table Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium although the away side should win this at 4/7.
It’s now just one win in eleven Premier League matches for Sunderland and Gus Poyet pulled no punches when criticising his players after last week’s defeat to Liverpool. The Black Cats travel to Tottenham this weekend who were in great form before falling to a defeat at Palace last time out. Spurs have wobbled at White Hart Lane this season but should win at 8/13.
Southampton were excellent value for their win at Old Trafford on Sunday and travel to Newcastle United in Saturday’s late kick-off. The home side have won just one of their last six matches and haven’t won a home tie this season by more than a single goal. If Saints replicate their performance from last week they should win at 23/20.
West Ham’s surge into the Champions League places has come to a bit of a grinding halt over recent weeks. The Hammers are without a league win in four matches and all their games in 2015 have ended in a draw.
Hull City remain in the bottom three after their defeat to West Brom last weekend and I fancy Sam Allardyce’s side to return to winning ways by beating the Tigers at 8/13.
There’s an attractive looking match at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon as Manchester City welcome Arsenal.
City dropped a couple of points last weekend at Everton but are unbeaten in fourteen matches in all competitions. They will have to do without inspirational midfielder Yaya Toure who is on Africa Cup of Nations duty but should have enough to beat the fifth place Gunners at 4/5.
Monday night’s game sees Everton welcome West Brom to Goodison Park. Everton’s point against City last weekend was their first in five league matches while Tony Pulis’ first Premier League match in charge of the Baggies ended up in a narrow win over Hull.
Everton’s form is mediocre although they were unlucky to lose in the FA Cup at West Ham in midweek. It is 5/6 for a home win or you can back West Brom at 7/2.