Crystal Palace v West Brom 15:00
Since Alan Pardew took over at Crystal Palace, not only have they avoided relegation but they’ve also become quite the entertainers. Palace have played six home games under their new manager. Four of those ended high scoring. And the average output for all six matches came to a fraction over two and a half goals. Most recently at Selhurst Park, Eagles’ fans savoured the rare thrill of beating the reigning champions, as they toppled Manchester City 2-1. So confidence in the Palace camp must be at a high.
The Baggies though are struggling. And especially on the road, where they haven’t won since September. West Brom have their own new manager in Tony Pulis. But his impact has been less dramatic than that of Pardew. Four wins in his 12 matches in charge may have pushed the team clear of the drop zone. But they could yet be sucked back in. And that brings me to my key point, which is that West Brom really do need to win this game. After this fixture, the Baggies will have just five games left. And four of those will be against teams in the top five. It’s an absolute nightmare run-in and one which could well see West Brom relegated. So the bottom line is, the Baggies have to go for broke here. A confident home team against desperate guests should mean goals. And the big price on offer makes it the perfect choice.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ [2.28]
Stoke City v Southampton 15:00
As much as I appreciate both of these teams, I’m not expecting too much from them in this game. Southampton have proven themselves to be the grinders of the Premier League, with only five of their 15 away games having ended high scoring. As a result, the Saints have by far the best away defence in the division. They’ve conceded just 12 goals on their travels. That’s five less than anyone else.
But Stoke are hardly sloppy at the back either. This is shown by the fact they’ve conceded less goals than any of the 11 teams below them in the table. Where they do struggle though, is up front. Stoke’s home tally of 20 goals is by far the lowest number of any team in the top 10. Both teams like to take the boa constrictor approach to football and squeeze the life out of their opponents. As far as I’m concerned though, it’s the match itself which could end up dying a death.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ [1.69]
Manchester City v West Ham United 13:30
Live on Sky Sports 1
Man City’s title bid has faltered. The big question now is, will they even qualify for the Champions League? Motivation will be high, you’d suspect, for them to beat a West Ham side who have nothing to play for. And while Sam Allardyce’s teams usually play with a lot of gusto, I have my doubts over the modern day footballer’s ability to get himself up for seemingly meaningless games.
City may not have been getting too many results of late, but what they have continued to do is score goals. In fact, no one in the Premier League has scored more times at home this season than the outgoing champions. City don’t put everyone to the sword. Far from it. But when the right victims come along, they know how to plunder their opportunity, as in their 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle a few games back.
As well as motivation issues, what really has me thinking City could make hay here, is West Ham’s defense, which has conceded more away goals than any other team in the top 10. The Hammers though score on average more than a goal a game on their travels. So there’s a strong chance they too will find the net, against a City side that recently conceded to the likes of Burnley and Crystal Palace.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ [1.52]
Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur 16:00
Live on Sky Sports 1
Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs have proved a reliable source of away goals this season. But now could be the time to get off the bandwagon. Their most recent journey, to Burnley, ended in a drab 0-0 draw. That could be forgiven though, if it hadn’t come off the back of a lacklustre 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa. For whatever reason, the Spurs goal machine seems to have broken just when it was needed most. And as a result, Tottenham look set to miss out on Europe.
Spurs, you’d think, will fancy their chances though against a Newcastle team that’s on a five game losing streak. But while John Carver’s side has been losing, it hasn’t been by much. Of those five defeats, only one was high scoring. Indeed, the majority of Newcastle’s home games this season have been low scoring. So the chances of a misfiring Tottenham lighting the blue touch paper wouldn’t seem great.
Spurs need a win to stay in the Euro hunt. But even if they get it, and that’s a big if, there’s little reason to think the score will get out of control. So at odds-against, the price on this going ‘under’ looks too good to ignore.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ [2.12]
2014/15 Season P/L