CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) returns with his best bets from this weekend’s Premier League fixtures.
Tottenham v Sunderland | Saturday 12:45 | BT Sport 1
After stubbornly sticking with Sunderland throughout December it was frustrating that I didn’t put them in my midweek best bets column for their match against Swansea. I fancied them, honest! 4/1 was a huge price and it was no surprise to me that they won.
Here they’ve been completely and utterly dismissed by the bookmakers as they face Sunderland in North London in the Saturday opener. 9/1 is a total insult in my opinion.
I’m convinced this side won’t go down. Why? Their manager Sam Allardyce. The veteran is a master of the English game and I think he’ll guide them to safety.
Sunderland had a rough December with five losses out of five and hope was beginning to wane but those defeats came against Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, an in-form Watford and post-Mourinho Chelsea.
The fixture list has eased up in the New Year with Aston Villa and Swansea standing in their way. The Black Cats beat them both by two clear goals scoring seven in the process.
Now on all known form Tottenham should win this game but I think Sunderland can give them a test. Those two wins will have spread confidence in the club and when you’re getting big odds like this it’s worth looking at the handicap odds.
It will be fascinating to see how Spurs respond to that devastating defeat on Wednesday night to Leicester. That probably hurt more than any other loss this season as it came a fellow Top 4 rival that they probably thought they were superior to.
At White Hart Lane this season Spurs have lost against Newcastle and Leicester and drawn with Stoke, Everton, Chelsea and Liverpool. That’s three sides from six in the bottom half that Spurs have dropped points too. Whose to say it won’t happen again on Saturday?
Summing up, 9/1 is just too big a price for me on the Black Cats and with that in mind I’ll back them with a +1.5 goal start at Netbet. A one goal loss returns a full profit.
Newcastle v West Ham | Saturday 15:00
I’m going against the North East side here as I revel in West Ham’s excellent form. I think this is the first time the Hammers have made my weekend Premier League column and after backing them for relegation I’ve probably been too embarrassed to include them.
When I priced up this game I had West Ham as very slight favourites, so to see them half a point bigger than their hosts has got me licking my lips.
I think it will be a rough, stressful few months for Newcastle fans and I can see their top-flight fate going all the way to the last day of the season like last year.
They just seem to be move two steps forward and then two back almost as quickly. The 6-2 win over Norwich in October was followed by a 3-0 humping in the Tyne/Wear derby.
Bournemouth were beaten in November and eight goals were spilled in their next two league games. While the Liverpool/Tottenham back to back wins has been followed by five winless matches. They look incredibly fragile.
West Ham are 14 places higher than them in the table and have 17 more points than the Magpies. They rank third best amongst the away sides in the Premier League this season with just two defeats in 11.
Although the Hammers went eight games without a win between late-October and late-December, it’s important to remember they only lost two of those matches.
They followed up their closing 2015 fixture win over Southampton with three more wins and have accounted for Liverpool and Bournemouth so far this year.
Their talisman Dimitri Payet continues to wreak havoc for the club and their Points Per Game is 1.9 with him and without his services dip to 1.1. He’ll be in the line up on Saturday.
West Ham have won at Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool and Crystal Palace this season and they’ll seriously fancy their chances at St James Park on Saturday. I’ll back them Draw No Bet at 23/20 with Netbet.
Stoke v Arsenal | Sunday 16:15 | Sky Sports 1
Sunday looks sexy eh? Liverpool v Man Utd followed by this brutal, stiff test for Arsenal. Chelsea and Stoke seem to have the Indian Sign (I don’t know what that means either, sorry) over the North London club and it will be fascinating to see if title challengers Arsenal can banish it here.
Time and time again Arsenal have went to Stoke and left badly bruised. They’ve been beaten up, humiliated and kicked out of town with vim and vigour by the Potters.
Since Stoke were promoted to the top-flight in 2008 they’ve met Arsenal eight times and lost just once (2010). Five victories have come in those games with the last two both Potters wins.
If Arsenal are a stronger side this season then surely Stoke are too? Mark Hughes’ men sit seventh in the table just four points off the Champions League spots.
Its three wins out of four for Stoke and an impressive four wins out of five at the Britannia. Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea have all been squashed there this season and this looks a massive test for the Gunners.
While Arsenal have hugely improved their record against the fellow top sides over the last 12 months they’re still prone to some stunning WTF results.
Boxing Day was a brutal day for the club with them losing 4-0 to a woefully out of form Southampton. This came just five days after they beat Manchester City and it remains a scab on their season. Things like that just shouldn’t happen!
Arsenal are odds on across the board and for me that is the wrong price. It’s too short and allows me to get with the value and side with Stoke here.
If the Gunners do win I think it will be a significant marker in their progress this season and push them closer to that much-craved title. For me though, I’m not a believer at odds on. Not at all. I’ll side with Stoke with a half goal start at 19/20 with Netbet.
Tottenham v Sunderland – Sunderland +1.5 (8/9 Netbet)
Newcastle v West Ham – West Ham Draw No Bet (23/20 Netbet)
Stoke v Arsenal – Stoke +0.5 (19/20 Netbet)
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