OUR Saturday 3pm man, Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79), is back with his three best bets from the Premier League card.
Hull v Watford | Saturday 15:00
I might as well say this now, but it’s hard to feel any confidence with regard to this weekend’s Premier League card. The games are tricky, prices unappealing and the nothing-to-play-for factor part of the mix.
I’ll start with Hull who are a shade of odds on to beat Watford. It’s not a price that hugely appeals to me but on home form they have every right to win this match.
Since Marco Silva’s arrival they have been transformed at the KCOM and in 2017 their figures read P8 W7 D1 L0. Whilst the bulk of these wins have come against bottom half sides, they have beaten Liverpool in the league and Manchester United in the League Cup.
Their opponents on Saturday are Watford. Hugely uninspiring Watford. The Hornets sit 10th, slap bang in the middle of the table and in a way that suits them. Not amidst the adrenaline-fuelled relegation zone, nor with any aspiration to break the Top 8, this side have just been drifting all campaign. Soothing for the fans, shit for the neutrals like me. Yawn.
Anyway, Watford have hit some form in recent weeks with three wins in their last four matches and have hit the 40 point mark. There’s really not a lot to play for now.
I think you can only look at the nothing-to-play-for factor on a case by case basis and that’s what I’m doing here. If Watford had pressing issues to contend with I’d still be tempted to side with Hull.
Bar a bizarre 2-1 win at the Emirates at the end of January, Watford have been poor on their travels. Since November they have lost nine of their 11 away matches with the likes of Millwall, Sunderland and Stoke outshining them.
With this level of away form hanging over them, it’s seems a reasonable thought to expect Hull to win this game on Saturday. The price might not stand out but their form does.
Swansea v Stoke | Saturday 15:00
The shape of this game is exactly the same as the one above. A relegation threatened side host a mid-table team all but safe from relegation.
In the first game I’m keen on Hull getting the business done to get their survival hopes alive, but I’m somewhat less sweet on Swansea’s chances.
Paul Clement’s side have been chalked up at 5/4 to take all three points, but when you consider they’ve lost five of their last six matches it’s hard to have loads of faith in that price.
The Swansea form is a peculiar one. When the ex-Derby boss came in he inspired them to win five wins out of eight and it looked like they were pulling out the drop zone.
Since a defeat in Hull on the 11th March, the Welsh side have picked up just one point (a poor 0-0 home draw with Middlesbrough) and are now back in the bottom three with five games to go.
I’m not sure what you can put this slump down to but perhaps the short sharp shock of Clement’s arrival has been just that. Short and sharp.
With Manchester United and Everton coming up next for the Swans, this looks a match they really need to get something from.
I was really sweet on Stoke last week and they got the business done with a 3-1 win against Hull. Now on 39 points they look safe and will be looking upwards as they aim to finish in the Top 10 for the fourth straight season.
Stoke have been pretty poor away from home this season to be honest. They’ve lost seven of their last nine away league games, although five of those matches have been against Top 6 sides.
Of the other four, they were up against resurgent Leicester, stoic West Brom, brilliant at home Burnley and Sunderland (who they beat 3-1). So, there is reason to suggest that this away game will be one of their easiest for a number of weeks.
Stoke are 13/5 to win this game that feels just a tad too big. I’ll play it safe and back them to avoid defeat at +0.5 on the Asian Handicap.
West Ham v Everton | Saturday 15:00
While the home side here are probably desperate for the season to end, visitors Everton just keep getting better and better as the season comes to it’s conclusion.
Hosts West Ham lie on 37 points and if they lose here and see both Hull and Swansea win then they’ll certainly be back in the relegation mix.
It’s just been a disappointing season for the Hammers but with the move to the new stadium it can certainly be forgiven. I feel it will be harsh on Slaven Bilic if he loses his job after such a great campaign in 2015/16.
I put my faith in them last week in Sunderland and they failed to pay that back as they succumbed to a late equaliser at the Stadium Of Light. Goals once again though were at the heart of their games and I’m expecting that to continue here.
West Ham are the ninth highest scorers this season (above the likes of Leicester, West Brom and Southampton) and in terms of goals conceded only three sides fare worse. Bilic’s side have leaked 59 times in the league.
Both Teams To Score has paid out in eight of West Ham’s last 10 games and Over 2.5 Goals has landed in 12 of their last 14 match-ups. Strong figures.
As for Everton, they are sheathed in positivity. Since the turn of the year they’ve gone P14 W9 D3 L2 in the league and are still in the mix for a Top 6 place.
Spearheaded by the league’s top scorer Romelu Lukaku, the Goodison club have smashed in Over 1.5 Team Goals in 13 of their last 19 league matches. Their recent figures read 2-3-4-1-1-4-3.
A replication of this kind of scoring prowess for Everton mixed with West Ham’s blend of fervent attack and weak defence makes goals feel an inevitability. It has to be Over 2.5 Goals here.