CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraam79) takes a look at the weekend Premier League card and gives us his three best bets.
West Brom v Manchester United | Sunday 16:00 | Sky Sports 1
Manchester United? Level on points with the side in fourth place? You’re having a laugh right? Umm no, I’ve just checked and it’s all true.
That kind of tells you all you need to know about the quality of the division this season that Louis Van Gaal’s side are in contention for a Champions League berth.
United have failed to win more than half their games this season in the Premier League and just two weeks ago were at a lower ebb than I can ever recall since the 1980’s when losing to 19th place Sunderland and FC Midtjylland in the Europa League.
Things can turn quickly in this game though as it’s now four wins in a row for United and they’ve unearthed a new exciting talent in the form of Marcus Rashford.
On Sunday they look to win their fifth consecutive game and that has proved beyond them until now this season. I’m happy to bank that it proves to be one hurdle too much this time round again.
I’m not really up for backing this side at 21/20 away from home to a side who’ve found their own wee burst of form and I’m happy to oppose United on Sunday.
Opponents West Brom are fresh from winning at Goodison, beating Crystal Palace 3-2 and taking two points off the league leaders on Tuesday night. They’re scoring goals again too.
On top of this the Baggies are unbeaten at home since before Christmas and have lost just one of their last 10 games at The Hawthorns. I’m with them here.
West Brom manager Tony Pulis will do all he can to frustrate Manchester United and I think he’ll succeed. It’s a price thing innit? The Baggies are just a shade of odds on to avoid defeat and that’s good enough for me. After all let’s not forget this is still a poor United team with just three away wins in their last 11.
Chelsea v Stoke | Saturday 15:00
One of the key storylines in this best ever Premier League season was Chelsea’s collapse in the first half of the season. The fact they’re unbeaten in 12 league matches and still miles off the Top 4 pace shows just how ghastly they were under Jose Mourinho this season.
Fair play to Guus Hiddink though, he really has steadied the ship since he took over the week before Christmas. As I mentioned the team are now unbeaten in 12 in the league and 15 domestically and I can’t see that record snapping here.
It’s three consecutive wins in the league for Chelsea now and they look in good shape to triumph again here against an admittedly in-form Stoke side.
I have a theory with Stoke and it (sort of) applies to this game. They tend to go on excellent winning runs or poor losing spells and tend to come out of these runs when we least expect it. From a betting point of view it can be lucrative to find the right moment to oppose them at short odds or back them at chunky prices.
I appreciate this game doesn’t fall into that category as Chelsea are strong favourites but the fact they come into this game on the back of three consecutive wins doesn’t make me reconsider taking them on.
Just to back up what I’m saying, here are a few examples of Stoke’s form taking an unexpected jolt in the league this season. Back in October they’d won three on the bounce and all of a sudden lost at home to Watford. In November, fresh from outstanding wins over Chelsea and Southampton they dropped the baby at Sunderland.
On the flip side they suffered bad defeats against Manchester United and Everton in February and came back to convincingly win at Bournemouth at odds of over 3/1.
I’d be all over Chelsea to win to nil today and Under 2.5 Goals but John Terry and Kurt Zouma’s absences remains a concern. Indeed clean sheets are something of a rare commodity for the West London club and they’ve leaked in their last six games.
Chelsea to win and Both Teams To Score looks enticing at 12/5 but it’s worth stating that Stoke lie in the bottom six for goals scored this season with 30 to their name.
Adding all this to the mix I can see Chelsea notching a couple times on Saturday with Stoke possibly coming to the party. I’l back 2-3 goals in the Total Goals market at 11/10 with Netbet.
Swansea v Norwich | Saturday 15:00
It’s not often you can oppose a side away from home who’ve lost eight of their last nine matches at odds against eh? That’s exactly what’s on offer on Saturday as Swansea host a Norwich side in freefall.
I hope I’m wrong as as regular readers will know I’m a huge Alex Neil fan but I simply have to expect more woe for his side at the weekend sadly.
Norwich have picked up just one point from 24 available and Neil looks more and more desperate as he tries to stem the losing tide. Just now he’s not succeeding.
To be fair to his side they’ve been hugely unlucky at various points during this run. The 5-4 loss to Liverpool in January was as cruel as it gets, the 2-0 lead that was surrendered to West Ham must have hurt and the late loss at Leicester last Saturday must have meant Neil missed Match Of The Day last Saturday.
Francesco Guidolin has had a positive effect on Swansea since he took over in January. I make it P7 W3 D2 L2. That, my friends, is not relegation form.
The two defeats mentioned were narrow one goals losses to two in-form sides in Southampton and Tottenham respectively so there ‘s nothing to be ashamed of there.
So since the ill Guidolin came to South Wales they’ve picked up 11 points while in the same period Norwich have accrued one. Swansea are at home on Saturday and they’re odds against. Of course I’m backing them!
Chelsea v Stoke – Exactly 2-3 Goals (11/10 Netbet)
Swansea v Norwich – (21/20 Netbet)
West Brom v Manchester United – West Brom Double Chance (10/11 Netbet)
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