Welcome to Gameweek 28, affectionately known as the calm eye of the storm between the tragic Gameweek 27 and the potential calamity of Gameweek 29 (just look at that shitty fixture list). It behooves us all to enjoy the solid matchups afforded this weekend and rack up some points because next week is going to be u-g-l-y. Without further adieu then, let’s get on with it. (note: all lines from 5dimes.eu)
Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion (-229 / +750 / +388, O 3 – 109)
This should be fun. West Brom is without their most dangerous players as Romelu Lukaku is barred from playing against his parent club. Shane Long is also a doubt, meaning the Brommies could be impotent up front and may be tempted to park the bus and hope for a QPR-esque result. On the other side, Chelsea should dominate the game and I assume Rafa will play his best eleven. Yet, with the nonsense going down at the Bridge right now, who knows what to expect?
Verdict: Don’t see how West Brom wins, but have no feel for the game. PASS
Everton v Reading (-249 / +856 / +398, O 3 +111)
As I’ve mentioned before, Reading is terrible. Everton should dominate this game in all phases. However, this Everton team has disappointed recently and both form and fitness may be issues (Fellaini, Anichebe, Howard all doubts). This game should be 3-0, but I am not confident enough in Everton’s ability to put team’s away to lay the -249.
Verdict: Everton is clear dominant force, but form and fitness are questions. PASS
Manchester United v Norwich City (-283 / +913 / +450, O 3 -106)
A revenge game of sorts as Norwich was the last team to beat the Red Devils back in November. Hard to expect a similar outcome, but United haven’t been as dominant offensively recently and Norwich does have some talent. Plus, SAF may rest some key players heading into the Real game. I may be tempted to go at the +450 draw here.
Verdict: Possible long shot draw bet.
Southampton v Queens Park Rangers (-118 / +362 / +282, O 2.5 -114)
Southampton remain a bit undervalued IMO. I have this game at about a goal advantage for the Saints against a woeful QPR team. However, if Remy plays QPR should be a bit more threatening, giving a bit of pause to the fairly large odds here. Still, Southampton need this one and I don’t see anyone on QPR’s backline that can handle Mr. Lambert.
Verdict: Southampton and the over
Stoke City v West Ham United (+117 / +292 / +229, O 2 -145)
Who likes rugby played by footballers? That’s what this game will be. It will be ugly and physical with little skill involved. The first matchup was statistically dominated by the Hammers but I suspect they will struggle to repeat on the road. I don’t like any odds here but the under is absolutely crying to be taken, especially if you can find an under 2.5 bet out there (as I did at -140).
Verdict: Ugly game with few goals. Like the under.
Sunderland v Fulham (+140 / +235 / +228, O 2.5 +112)
Fulham sucks right now. They can’t generate any consistent attack and rely almost entirely on Berbatov finding magic at some point to score. Sunderland has been much more attack minded of late and I expect the Black Cats to be on the front foot the majority of the game. I like Sunderland here and already took them at +115 (obviously, my service provides different odds).
Verdict: Sunderland for the win.
Swansea City v Newcastle (+111 / +274 / +258, O 2.5 -128)
This should be a fun and open game. Newcastle have struggled to defend the majority of the season and Swansea’s home attack is solid. Newcastle should generate chances though as Gouffran and Sissoko have been superb. I like the over quite a bit and already took it at -130.
Verdict: Over 2.5 goals.
Wigan v Liverpool (+347 / -114 / +281, O 3 +119)
This looks like a game in which Liverpool should be in the goals, but we’ve seen the Reds stumble in fixtures like this before. However, the majority of their poor performances against lower table clubs have come at Anfield with the opposition usually playing tight and looking for a counter. I expect nothing of the sort from Wigan this week as they have been very open at home all season. Suarez should have tons of room to run although I suspect Wigan will generate some chances as well. If Sturridge doesn’t play I might be tempted to take Wigan with the odds.
Verdict: Lean towards over and maybe Wigan if Sturridge doesn’t play.
Tottenham v Arsenal (+131 / +225 / +258, O 3 +110)
Huge derby with significant European ramifications. A win by Arsenal would put a ton of pressure on the Spurs down the stretch. The remaining schedule greatly favors Arsenal; the Spurs need the three points in this one. Bale has obviously been incredible, but how many times can he pull a rabbit out of a hat? The return of Defoe would be welcome news for AVB. Tottenham is the better team but that means nothing once the whistle is blown.
Verdict: Too close to call at these odds. PASS
Aston Villa v Manchester City (+512 / -217 / +296, no total yet)
I can pretty much guarantee you that City will dominate the shot totals and Villa will have less than four shots on target. I also fully expect Villa to park the bus and invite City to break them down while looking for the counter. I do suspect Benteke and Weimann will have a chance or two on the counter but it remains to be seen if they take advantage of it. Even if they do, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which City don’t come away with the three points.
Verdict: City will win, but I never like to lay those types of odds on the road.
Rather than do full game breakdowns, I will offer a couple tidbits on a few key players. Hope they help and please don’t hold it against me if they don’t!
- Chelsea looks great on paper, but I have a fear this game will not be as open as one would like. Hazard has been out playing Mata recently so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him lead the team in points. Also, at some point Ba will score again. Is this the game? Chelsea’s defense looks like great plays against an attack without Lukaku and possibly Long.
- You have to start your Everton players, but I am beginning to lose hope. I have transferred out my last Merseyside Blue and don’t expect to see another in my lineup the remainder of the season.
- Your guess is as good as mine for Man U. Whomever starts will have a good shot at a productive day. Very probably another clean sheet in in the cards.
- I really like the Saints assets this week but could see QPR grab a goal with Remy. Lambert and Puncheon/Lallana are solid picks.
- I like Stéphane Sessègnon a ton this week if Graham and Fletcher both play.
- Michu is the forgotten superstar. He was overvalued most of the season but seems to be undervalued now. I have transferred him in this week and plan on keeping him for a good five or six games.
- I don’t understand why people are dropping Theo Walcott. The last two matches (in which Santi Cazorla supposedly outplayed him), Walcott has nine shots (eight in the box), four shots on target and six chances created. Those are superb numbers, better than any midfielder not named Gareth Bale. Cazorla has been good, but Walcott has been better. I am not moving him.
- Watch for Touré’s positioning against Wigan. If he plays out front again he will immediately become an intriguing midfield option. Up top, I still think Agüero is going to explode and am considering captaining him this week. Foolish? Possibly, but I just can’t quit the Argentine.
That’s it for this week. I will be back in a bit with my starting XI. Until then.