TWO out of three for Chris Graham last week in the Premier League last week. Can he nail the full-house this week?
Liverpool v Chelsea | Saturday 12:45 | BT Sport 1
It’s not great times for Liverpool at the moment, and you can trace their downfall to this fixture last year. On the cusp of a first title in 24 years (they were best-price 1/5), Liverpool lost 2-0 to Chelsea at Anfield and handed Manchester City a golden opportunity to clinch the league. They didn’t disappoint.
Will it be on the players minds as they take to the field on Saturday? Usually that’s a silly statement, but in my view there’s clear evidence that Liverpool haven’t put that day to bed yet. They’re currently in 7th position with just one win in their last five all-competition fixtures. Who plays for the Reds on Saturday is another moot point after their huge reshuffle on Tuesday night.
There’s no doubt Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool have something to prove and this is the perfect platform to shove two fingers in the face of the doubters. But this is Chelsea. This is a side unbeaten in 16 all-competition matches this season. This is a side oozing with talent, understanding and class. This is a side managed by a man who will take immense pleasure in the unravelling of Liverpool. And finally, one more please, this is a team odds-against.
Liverpool have lost to Aston Villa, Newcastle and West Ham this season and dropped points against Hull at home. I just have to back unbeaten Chelsea here at the 6/5 proffered by Coral.
West Ham v Aston Villa | Saturday 15:00
As regular readers will know, I’ve made enough money to pay for Christmas finding ways to oppose Villa this season. I did so again on Sunday when they lost to Spurs, but by jove I was lucky.
Aston Villa looked a lot healthier on Sunday. Christian Benteke was proving a real handful for the Spurs defence and they looked like pulling off a superb win. But the twin factors of Harry Kane’s arrival and Benteke’s departure flipped the game and they lost 2-1.
It was hard not to feel sorry for Villa, but how do they come back from that? Paul Lambert will have to draw on all his managerial skill to get spirits up for this game.
They face a West Ham side swimming in plaudits. Another example of their toughness came last week when they came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 away at Stoke. Superb stuff! You get the feeling that they could be too strong mentally for the Midland club here on Saturday. While Villa have lost six in a row, West Ham have four wins in six to their name. Ladbrokes go 3/4, that sounds good to me.
Tottenham v Stoke | Sunday 13:30
Ah, Tottenham after a Europa League match eh? So far, this season they’re P3 W1 D0 L2 in the Premier League match directly after a Europa League tie. I think that record may get worse on Sunday when they face Stoke.
I’m not overly convinced by Spurs this season. I think they’ve regressed from the previous two seasons and that’s understandable when you look at (by their standards) their conservative transfer policy over the summer. I think a Top 6 finish would be decent for them. Spurs have won just two from their last eight Premier League games. That last win was a fortuitous one against Aston Villa last weekend.
I’m siding with Stoke for the third weekend out of four (look at me eh?). Three weeks ago they ground out a home win against Swansea, while last week they forfeited a two goal lead at home to West Ham. I think they can make things really tough for Spurs on Sunday.
Mark Hughes’s side have lost just two of their six away games this season and have improved their travel performances from last season. Stoke have beaten Top 6 sides Man City and Swansea this campaign, so Spurs will hold no fear.
Stoke are a big price in this game at 19/4 with BetVictor, but I’ll be more conservative and back them with a goal start on the Asian Handicap. That’s on offer at the absurd price of 770/1000 with Ladbrokes, which translates to a decent 1.77 in decimal money. With stakes returned if Stoke lose by the odd goal, I can’t see this bet being a loser in all honesty.