THERE’S a tight coupon in the Premier League this weekend. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) nominates his three best bets.
Leicester v Stoke | Saturday 15:00
I know in this game you’re supposed to be ballsy, arrogant and show no signs of weakness but I don’t care for convention. You see, I’m going through a bad run at the moment and it’s proven incredibly frustrating. To be fair it’s only been a few days but it feels like a month.
Not sure if you’ve been through the same thing but I’m finding that you lose your confidence, start questioning your every decision and lose conviction. Anyway, that’s my wee wimpy moan over, now time to plough on for another week.
The coupon looks brutal this week to be fair and I’m not saying that just because of my current cold streak. Amazingly only three sides (the Manchester teams and Everton) are best price odds on as I type. The Old Trafford outfit are drifting so that could change.
I’ve spent ages thinking about this game at the King Power on Saturday. It’s another fascinating test for Leicester as they bid to stay in title contention.
There’s no doubt that Claudio Raineri’s side have slowed down in recent weeks and found things harder. Failing to beat Aston Villa and Bournemouth and getting knocked out the FA Cup have been their low points of 2016 so far.
They’ve scored just four goals in their last seven matches on top of that and another game midweek in the FA Cup couldn’t really have helped things.
Stoke could be in the Top 6 by Saturday night if results go their way here and that’s testament to the excellent job Mark Hughes has done this season. One thing I was certain and correct about it last weekend was that they wouldn’t lose to Arsenal.
I think they’ll make this a real test for Leicester and a low scoring affair looks on the cards. Stoke have scored just 24 goals in the league this season, that’s the lowest tally in the Top 12 and Sunderland have scored more.
Under 2.5 Goals is too short to put up here while I’m edgy about Under 1.5 as I think 1-1 could very well be a strong runner. So with that in mind I’ll back Under 2 Goals at 11/8 on NetBet’s Asian Handicap line. This means that if exactly two are scored I’ll get my stake back.
Man Utd v Southampton | Saturday 15:00
If you needed an indication as to how far Manchester United have fallen take a look at their odds for this match. As I type from a Cafe Nero in London’s trendy Upper Street they’re 37/40, giving the eyes and a stroke of the arm to that Even money quote.
Imagine suggesting three years ago under Sir Alex Ferguson that United would be close to odds-against at home to a team who’ve been one of the worst in the league over the last two months? It would be unthinkable.
I think we all agree that this match should be short of goals. The home side have scored just 28 in the league (one more than Sunderland) and have leaked just 20 which only Tottenham can trump for defensive performance.
Southampton are an odd bunch. Eight defeats in 10 between late-November and mid-January, things have picked up in the last week or so with an FA Cup exit followed by 2-0 and 3-0 wins over Watford and West Brom respectively.
It’s hardly incredible form but it does put them in a positive frame of mind for this fixture that they usually perform well in. Saints were unlucky to lose 3-2 in the reverse fixture in the autumn but did beat United here at Old Trafford last January.
I appreciate I’m being a bit of a pussy here (tough times and all that) but Southampton +0.75 appeals to me at odds of 3/4. Half my stake goes on Southampton +0.5 (to avoid defeat) and the other half on Southampton +1.0.
So even if they lose by the odd goal I’ll get half my stake back. I think it’s a fair deal at the prices. Apparently there’s little love between Louis Van Gaal and Ronald Koeman and I expect the latter’s side to play well against a side they normally square up to well.
Sunderland v Bournemouth | Saturday 15:00
Drinking coffee, eating sushi, thinking about girls, listening to David Bowie songs and backing Sunderland. Five things that are pretty much constant in my life at the moment. Deep down I know that the last one has become an unhealthy addiction. Help me!
Even after backing Sunderland +1.5 last week in their 4-1 mauling by Tottenham I can’t resist going back in again here. It’s starting to feel like that time I convinced myself I could get back with an ex and asked her back out every six months to be met with a soft refusal each time. I need to knock this on the head.
But, but…one more week please. Sunderland are 11/5 here to beat Bournemouth and it just looks too big for me. Yes, they had their pants taken down last week by Spurs but to be honest I was being a bit ambitious thinking they could compete against a side as good as that.
Their recent matches against teams lower in the table have been fairly respectable. Swansea were beaten 4-2 last week and in the league match before that Aston Vila were beaten 3-1.
Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United are next on the list for Sunderland so you really feel that they simply have to take something from this game. Just like they had to take points from Aston Villa and Swansea.
Bournemouth were too strong for a Norwich side last week and I really fear for the Canaries. Before that match the Cherries had picked up just two points from a possible 12 and were overwhelmed by West Ham at home.
They’ll have their backers on Saturday but I’m going to give Sunderland one final chance and back them +0.25 on the Asian Handicap at 4/5. Don’t let me down lads.
Leicester v Stoke – Under 2 Goals Asian Handicap Goal Line (11/8 Netbet)
Manchester United v Southampton – Southampton +0.75 (3/4 Netbet)
Sunderland v Bournemouth – Sunderland +0.25 (4/5 Netbet)
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