FIVE more matches to dissect on Wednesday in the Premier League. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) picks his three favourite bets.
Arsenal v Swansea | Wednesday 19:45
Is it just me? Do you feel the same? You know when Arsenal lose a big game do you hear the growls, groans and discarded rattles just that little bit louder than when it happens to other teams? Ah, you too.
National mourning kicked off on Sunday when Arsenal lost to Manchester United and remained five points behind league leaders Leicester. I swear I could hear the exasperation seeping out my mobile phone. Honest!
Anyway, onto the next Arsenal game and they’re at home to Swansea on Wednesday night. The layers make them as short as 1/3 to oblige and while the price makes no appeal anything less than a win seems unfathomable.
It’s now over three years since Arsenal lost back to back Premier League games in the space of a week and I’d be stunned if that long record was smashed on Wednesday.
The Gunners have won eight of their last 11 home matches this season in the Premier League and have lost just twice at the Emirates on league duty this season.
The first was the bizarre opening day of the season loss to West Ham while the second was the defeat to Chelsea in January where they played for most of the game with 10 men.
Three of their last five home league games have ended in clean sheets and they’ve dispatched teams of Swansea’s ilk with a degree of comfort. Sunderland were beaten 3-1, Bournemouth 2-0 and Newcastle 1-1.
Swansea lie 16th in the table but have undoubtedly improved since Francesco Guidolin took charge in January. They gave Spurs a tough game on Sunday and have lost just two of their last six games.
While things have improved the Welsh side remain one of the lowest scorers in the league with just 25 scored. Only Aston Villa have a poorer number to their name.
With that in mind I’ll back Arsenal to win to nil here at odds of 6/5 with Netbet. It could be an awkward night for the Gunners but I’d be stunned if they didn’t take minimum points.
West Ham v Tottenham | Wednesday 19:45
The Tottenham story is not quite as alluring as the Leicester one but it’s not far behind it. Often a byword for averageness they now find themselves as short as 2/1 for the title as the spring air begins to ascend.
Spurs always feel underrated at the odds. It’s almost as if the bookmakers fail to really believe in the side. Swayed by the brand rather than the here and now. That’s until this game – because for me I feel Tottenham are a wee bit short for the first time this season.
I think it stems from a deep respect of West Ham and what they’ve achieved this season. At the heart of their positive campaign lies an outstanding home record.
Incredibly the Hammers haven’t lost at home in all competitions since a clumsy loss to Bournemouth back in August. That’s over half a year now.
Chelsea have lost there, as have Liverpool, and Manchester City could only take one point. They’ve won six of their last seven matches at Upton Park (if you include the extra-time FA Cup win over Liverpool) and are certainly going out in style at the place.
But how can you oppose Tottenham Chris? Well, of course it’s the price as I mentioned (I was more 5/4, even 11/8 rather than odds on in places) but also will their heads be turned by their epic match with Arsenal on Saturday? Will they be tired after what is turning into a gruelling gut-busting campaign? All food for thought.
At the prices I’m happy to side with the Hammers at 5/6 on the Double Chance market. But then again maybe Tottenham really are the real deal this season.
Liverpool v Manchester City | Wednesday 20:00 | BT Sport 1
Even though it went to penalties I found Sunday’s Capital One Cup Final a bit disappointing. For starters, I’m still trying to figure out how it went all that way with Man City the much stronger side on show in the 90 minutes.
Their eventual win was deserved and adds a bit of glory to what’s been hitherto a drab season domestically. You get the impression all City guns are focussed on the Champions League now.
I’ve always enjoyed analysing the psychological reaction to big events or matches in later games and this match here provides another opportunity to do that.
How will the players from both sides react to Sunday’s Cup Final in this match here as the sides meet again just three days later? That is the central question.
It’s Liverpool that are favourites in most books (only just) but it’s hard to get excited about a team that currently sit in the bottom half of the table.
As has been well documented their form has been erratic in extreme. We probably saw a middle ground level on Sunday to be fair as they coped fairly well with Man City.
While it’s just two defeats in 11 at home they have dropped points to Sunderland and West Brom at Anfield and are still a nervous side to back wherever they play.
Man City’s away from has left a lot to be desired this season but in their defence it has picked up in recent weeks. No away wins in the league from late September to the end of the year was poor but since then they’ve won at Watford and Sunderland and picked up a draw at Upton Park.
I’m struggling to find too many positives for either side here to be honest and with a spirit-sapping long Capital One Cup Final fresh in their legs I’ll opt for Under 2.5 Goals in this match at 39/40 with Netbet.
This bet has paid out in seven of the last nine Liverpool games and Man City failed to score an away league goal for three months earlier in the season.
Arsenal v Swansea – Arsenal to win to nil (6/5 Netbet)
West Ham v Tottenham – West Ham Double Chance (5/6 Netbet)
Liverpool v Manchester City – Under 2.5 Goals (39/40 Netbet)
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