A strong weekend on the FA Cup but can Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) keep us his good form this midweek in the Premier League?
Arsenal v Southampton | Tuesday 19:45
A really intriguing match this and a stiff test of Arsenal’s title credentials as they welcome Southampton to the Emirates. One month ago this fixture would have looked a lot easier but Saints have been on a good run and arrive here in good heart.
After losing eight matches out of 10 between the end of November and early January Southampton have fought back well with three wins in a row over Watford, West Brom and of course Manchester United. Arsenal though will be a harder task.
Of course, Southampton crushed them 4-0 at St Mary’s during their poor run of form but sometimes you just have to shrug your shoulders with Arsenal and expect horrendous, inexplicable results. It’s their trademark after all.
The positives for Arsenal. Alexis Sanchez looked sharp on Saturday against Burnley in the FA Cup, he should start here. Francis Coquelin is also coming back into the fold after injury and this should give the team more energy and bulk.
On home soil this season they’ve been superb with the disappointing (but explainable) defeat to Chelsea their first domestic loss at home since the West Ham game on opening weekend.
The Manchester clubs have both been beaten in North London along with the likes of Stoke and Everton. Southampton should provide a similar test to those latter two and I think Arsenal will just have enough in the tank.
This is Southampton’s fourth season back in the Premier League and in the three previous campaigns they lost at the Emirates (6-1, 2-0, 1-0). Expect a similar scoreline to the latter two here. Indeed, I’ll back Arsenal to win to nil at 9/5 with Netbet.
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth | Tuesday 20:00
I backed Crystal Palace in the reverse fixture here on Boxing Day and got stung as they drew 0-0. I’m going in again though as the price looks big and I’m hoping they’re moving back in the right direction again.
Yes, it’s been a tough few weeks for the South London club and they haven’t won in the league since before Christmas. To see them in the bottom half of the table comes as a bit of shock. But I’m confident things are turning.
Their 3-1 home defeat to Spurs a week and a half ago was a step forward despite the result and said as much about the progress Tottenham have made rather than Palace’s ineptitude. That performance made me think they were a bet against Stoke at the weekend and indeed they won 1-0.
Manager Alan Pardew has stated that new signing Emmanuel Adebayor should start on Tuesday night and I expect him to be a real thorn in Bournemouth’s side.
The Togolese player is perfect for a short-term hit and he should be able to impress Pardew and the Palace faithful (despite his ignorance of the club) in the remaining three and a half months this season.
Bournemouth are doing better than I expected but it’s one win in six in the league and they haven’t won away in the Premier League since Christmas.
I just think 6/4 is a big price for Palace at home. I do think they are superior to Bournemouth and have no doubt that will reflected in the table come May.
With Adebayor no doubt shaking things up it could be an interesting few weeks for Palace. I’m happy to take a chance on them at a decent price.
Manchester United v Stoke | Tuesday 20:00
Not sure what I’m doing here but I’m having a bet on Manchester United. While the club are ridden in gloom at the moment (not helped by the Guardiola Man City news) it’s worth remembering they’re in the Top 5, FA Cup Fifth Round and have lost just one of their last seven matches.
Their home form has been mocked and derided by the media and fans but again take a look and you’ll find they’ve only lost two matches there the whole season.
If Stoke was a person, you’d probably give them a ring and see how they are. Knocked out the Capital One Cup last Tuesday on penalties to Liverpool, they were then dumped out the FA Cup four days later by Crystal Palace.
It will be a real test for Mark Hughes to keep his troops motivated and focussed in the remaining three and a half months. Things could potentially tail off.
While the Potters have beaten up the big boys at the Britannia, away from home it’s been a different matter. Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea are still to host them but they’ve lost 3-0 at Leicester, 2-0 at Arsenal and even succumbed at Sunderland and West Brom.
Their record at Old Trafford is very poor. Since they were promoted in 2008 they’ve lost every season in Manchester. P7 W0 D0 L7 F6 A22 is the low down and it stinks. I make it 1976 the last time they won at Old Trafford.
After their win over Derby on Friday night United come into this game on a positive note and I can see them forcing out a victory here. Just don’t expect it to be pretty.
I’ll back them to win in a match involving fewer than three goals. Stoke have scored just 24 goals this season (the lowest amongst the top half) while this has paid out in four of Man Utd’s last seven wins.
Arsenal v Southampton – Arsenal to win to nil (9/5 Netbet)
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth – Crystal Palace to win (6/4 Netbet)
Manchester United v Stoke – Manchester United to win and Under 2.5 Goals (21/10 Netbet)
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