Southampton v Aston Villa 12:45
Live on BT Sport 1
As the heat of the relegation battle has risen, so has the level of Aston Villa’s performances. After earning 10 points from their last five games, the Midlanders now need three more points from their remaining two fixtures to be mathematically safe. It might sound a lot, but in reality they probably won’t need that many, with Hull facing tough games against Spurs and Manchester United. So a draw here for Villa could see Tim Sherwood’s side home and hosed come Saturday evening – that’s if Hull slip-up. Throw in a home finale against Burnley still to come, and then a point here for Villa starts to look even more precious.
To go boldly into the backyard of the impressive Saints would surely be folly for Villa. A more likely scenario is that we’ll see an extremely cautious opening half here. Southampton don’t score too many, a touch above 1.66 goals per game at home. And so the chances of Villa grinding out a result at St. Mary’s look decent. Last week’s draw with Spurs was Southampton’s first high scoring home game in their last eight. So don’t expect them to bring too much attacking intent. Hence Under 2.5 goals is the call.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ [1.91]
Liverpool v Crystal Palace 17:30
Live on Sky Sports 1
Liverpool’s home form clinches the call of goals for me on this one. The Reds have been banging them in with consistency at Anfield, scoring at least two goals in all but one of their eight home fixtures this year. And now they face a Crystal Palace outfit with nothing to play for. The signs look good for Liverpool to bag a few. Especially considering they still have a faint chance of nabbing a Champions League spot. The chances are slim, but we should still expect Brendan Rodgers team to try fulfill their part of the bargain.
Having crawled over the finish line, Palace can now afford to relax, so predicting how they will perform becomes more difficult. But if they continue to play as they have, then judging by the 13 goals the Eagles scored in their last eight road games, they could easily find the net here. Whereas if Palace choose to ease off, well then they could get a pasting. Either way though, goals look highly likely.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ [1.74]
Swansea v Manchester City 13:30
Live on Sky Sports 1
It’s difficult to assess teams’ motivation at times like this. But I can’t help but feel this match has more upside than down about it. You could argue neither side has much left to play for. But City’s beleaguered boss Manuel Pellegrini is fighting for his job if media reports are to be believed. Failure to capture a Champions League place might prove the final straw. And so I expect City to go for the win here with some gusto.
If City do go for it, then we should be in for plenty of action. Their away fixtures this season have averaged more than three goals a game. And City’s defence, which has been their Achilles heel of late, could once again be exposed, with the Blues’ goal breached by seven of the eight teams to have hosted them this year. So that means Swansea should be heavy odds-on to add their names to the list. And that’s without even taking into account their impressive home record. Swansea have only lost four of 18 at the Liberty Stadium. And the more City have to force the pace looking for a win, the more goals we should see.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ [1.72]
Manchester United v Arsenal 16:00
Live on Sky Sports 1
A tasty looking morsel is served up last for us on Sunday. And while it looks delicious, it may not leave us feeling satisfied. For Arsenal have every motivation, and right, to go to Old Trafford looking for just a point. That’s really all they need to effectively thwart United’s bid to clinch the final automatic, and hugely lucrative, Champions League place. Arsene Wenger has in my eyes played the role of businessman more than any coach in Premier League history, constantly balancing the books at the expense of mounting title bids. The significance of a place at Europe’s top table will not be lost on him.
United of course need the win. But they’re unlikely to be reckless in their pursuit of it against such dangerous opponents. And there’s no guarantee they’ll even get it. The Gunners have conceded just 21 goals in 18 away matches and haven’t let-in more than one goal in their last five straight games. Defeating them won’t be easy. And even if United do win, it’s unlikely to be big.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ [2.14]
2014/15 Season P/L