Premier League Tips | 7th February 2015

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CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) returns with three Saturday bets from the Premier League.

Aston Villa v Chelsea | Saturday 15:00

You know when you look at yourself in the mirror and think, “I need a makeover”. You don’t? Okay, maybe just me then amongst the betting community, but I’ve felt of late my selections have been pretty Plain Jane. So I explored a few new betting markets and come up with this…

As many of you will know, I’ve stood against Aston Villa throughout this season. It’s still a bit of a head scratcher that a side with just 11 goals aren’t in the relegation zone but that’s how it is.

Last Sunday’s 5-0 mutilation at Arsenal was their heaviest defeat of the season and their approach to the game baffled many. Villa played a brand of open, attacking football against a team who are famed for exploiting that approach. It backfired spectacular.

Manager Paul Lambert has surely set alight those tactics sheets and told his family and friends never to utter another word on the subject. A more pragmatic approach awaits on Saturday against Chelsea.

Aston Villa have usually been reasonably resolute against the top sides under Lambert. This season they’ve beaten Liverpool and held Manchester United, while last campaign beat Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal.

On Saturday they face Chelsea for the second time this season and I’m expecting them to be ultra-cautious after the wounds they suffered six days previously. The London club may be held at bay in the opening periods of the match.

The bet I like is Chelsea to score first after the 28th minute of the match at 6/4. Hopefully Villa can keep it tight till that point. Since Boxing Day, Chelsea have won five times and on four of those five occasions they opened the scoring after the 28th minute. Let’s hope it goes five out of six against cautious Aston Villa on Saturday.

Leicester v Crystal Palace | Saturday 15:00

I had both these sides in my Premier League picks last weekend with mixed results. While Leicester scored a goal against Manchester United at a tidy price, Crystal Palace lost to Everton.

I’ve still got mucho love for both these sides so I’m finding a way of luring them both into my good books this weekend.

Despite being bottom of the table, there’s a spirit about Leicester and Nigel Pearson. Whether that’s enough to keep them up I’m not so sure. Four wins in their last seven fixtures gives heart, as does the fact that they’ve notched in seven of their last eight fixtures.

After four wins out of four in the Alan Pardew era, things came crashing down to earth last weekend in that 1-0 defeat to Everton. You can imagine Pards won’t allow heads to go down though and I expect them to come out rampaging in this fixture.

Who wins? I’m not sure. Will we see goals? Yeah, I reckon so. I’ll be backing Both Teams To Score in this fixture at 10/11. That’s paid out in three of Pardew’s five Palace matches while Leicester have leaked in nine of their last 11 Premier League matches.

Swansea v Sunderland | Saturday 15:00

I’m keeping this bet very simple and backing Swansea to win. Why? Because quite simply they’re a much better side than Sunderland.

It’s only now, people like me are beginning to admire the job Garry Monk has done at Swansea. In the past I’ve never been able to admit to myself that he was excelling. This was probably due to the fact he replaced Michael Laudrup. It was like eating at The Ritz one day to spending an afternoon picking through the food at The Red Lion the next.

But that was massively unfair on Monk to judge him on those terms. While the Ritz food kept fans titillated for a short period of time, Red Lion grub kept everyone nice and full and glowing at the cheeks.

I doubt many Sunderland fans have been glowing at the cheeks this season. Four wins out of 23 in the league is a poor return for a side with bigger ambitions after last season’s late heroics. They’ve scored just 21 times, only West Brom, Hull and (yup, you guessed it) Aston Villa have notched fewer.

They’ve also been hugely insipid and uninspiring. An 8-0 loss to Southampton? A 3-1 slip up at Hull? A goalless home draw against Championship side Fulham two weeks ago? Yeah, pass me the coffee man. I’m drifting off here.

The arrival of Jermaine Defoe might just kick them into action, and I’m not willing to discount that but I think Swansea are a level above them.

The Swans looked lost in January without the services of departed Wilfried Bony, but kicked off February with a stunning opening day win against Southampton at St Mary’s. Crisis? What crisis?

Remember Swansea have also beaten Arsenal and Manchester United this season, and at home with only defeats against the Top 6 to their name, I think they’ll be too strong for Sunderland at generous odds of 10/11.

Best Bets

Aston Villa v Chelsea – Chelsea to score first after the 28th minute (6/4 Paddy Power)

Leicester v Crystal Palace – Both Teams To Score (10/11 Coral)

Swansea v Sunderland – Swansea to win (10/11 Ladbrokes)

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Chris first got interested in betting back in 2000 when he began working in betting shops throughout Scotland. He has remained in the industry ever since, specialising in marketing and PR roles. Outside of betting, his interests are listening to Blur and following Queen Of The South.

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