Crystal Palace [1.97] v West Brom [4.6]; The Draw [3.5]
Tony Pulis was named Premier League Manager of the Season in 2013/14 for guiding Crystal Palace to an 11th place finish in the Premier League. From his 29 games in charge he won 13 in total, a win ratio of just under 45%.
Since taking over the Eagles at the beginning of January Alan Pardew has guided Crystal Palace from the relegation zone to 11th place in the table. His win ratio from 15 games in charge is an incredible 66%. That will edge closer to 70% with a victory over West Brom on Saturday and Palace could climb to ninth in the table. Manager of the Season anyone?
The job Pardew is doing is nothing short of sensational. The Eagles have won seven of their last eight on the road, another incredible achievement, while at Selhurst Park they’ve defeated the likes of Tottenham and Manchester City under their new boss.
All things considered, and given Palace are full of confidence following four successive victories, another home win looks a great price against a West Brom side that have lost three on the bounce.
The surprising aspect of the Baggies’ last three defeats is that they’ve conceded 10 goals – surprising because they are managed by Pulis, the former Palace manager, and a man who normally has his teams so well organised.
West Brom have also failed to win any of their last five away games, they’ve scored just a single goal in their last four, and it’s now five defeats in six games both home and away. There’s only one team going into this game with any confidence, and it’s the one who have a manager performing miracles. Only this time, it’s not Tony Pulis.
Back Crystal Palace to Win @ [1.97] (best bet)
Everton [1.74] v Burnley [5.8]; The Draw [4.0]
People will constantly tell us that there are no easy games at this stage of the season, but offer Burnley a run-in against the top six clubs in the Premier League, or a run-in that includes games against Everton, Leicester, West Ham, Hull, Aston Villa, and Stoke, and I know exactly what they’d opt for.
The latter set of fixtures is what the Clarets have and you’d have to say that it’s a kind run-in that gives them an opportunity to survive.
Burnley’s first obstacle though is their poor away form – they haven’t won a single game on their travels since beating Stoke 1-2 in November, that being their only away victory all season. The second obstacle for Sean Dyche‘s men is Everton, a side that, now with nothing to play for, is starting to find a bit of form.
The Toffess have lost just one of their last six in all competitions and at Goodison Park they’ve won four on the bounce, including a victory to nil against highflying Southampton. It maybe that Burnley’s run to survival will have to start after this game because on current form a home victory looks very reasonably priced.
Back Everton to Win @ [1.74]
Leicester [2.22] v Swansea [3.65]; The Draw [3.5]
Leicester have done us proud in the last two weeks, winning both times at a decent price when being one of our recommended bets. Can they make it three on the spin? It’s going to be extremely hard that’s for sure, but I don’t want to be backing against them.
Nigel Pearson’s men are showing tremendous belief and passion, and that’s one of the reasons why I’ve wanted to be with them in recent weeks – sometimes attributes like that can count a lot more than raw ability when you’re scrapping to avoid relegation.
What the Foxes have done with those two victories is given themselves a great chance to survive, so much so that they’re no longer drinking at the last chance saloon, for a few games at least.
Whether that changes how Pearson’s men approach this game remains to be seen but you can rest assured that Swansea won’t lie down lightly. The Swans have been fantastic under Garry Monk this term, and with four wins from their last seven matches they’re in decent form and currently sit eighth in the table, a terrific achievement.
So I can see this game being extremely tight, and probably quite low-scoring. Leicester have a favourable run-in with five of their last seven games on home soil, and they have to play the likes of Burnley, QPR, and Sunderland so effectively survival is in their own hands.
I suspect a draw would be a decent result here for both clubs and that’s how I’ll be wagering.
Back The Draw @ [3.5]
Stoke [3.6] v Southampton [2.34]; The Draw [3.3]
It’s no surprise at all to see that Under 2.5 Goals is trading as short as [1.66] when Southampton are involved, but unfortunately you have to say that price is absolutely fair.
Amazingly, not one of the Saints’ last 10 games has gone over the 2.5 goals mark and the average goals scored per game in those 10 matches is just 1.3. Only one of those 10 games ended with both teams getting on the scoresheet – a 1-1 draw with Chelsea.
What Southampton’s recent results suggest is that they remain very well organised at the back and continue to have one of the best defences in the Premier League, but at the other end the goals have dried up somewhat – just one league goal from his last 15 appearance for leading scorer Graziano Pelle is evident of that.
Stoke’s recent games haven’t been quite as low scoring, but four of their last six have gone Under 2.5 Goals, and with Southampton in town I’m envisaging a really close encounter between two sides who don’t score many but who are hard to break down at the other end.
Unless something unexpected happens – an early sending off, a wonder goal etc – that will open up the game then don’t expect this tussle to be one of the most entertaining of the season. We simply have to stick with the recent trends and back a low-scoring affair.
Back Under 1.5 Goals @ [2.92]
You can follow me on Twitter – @MikkyMo73
Premier League 2014/15 Season P/L
Staked: 177 pts
Returned: 204.68 pts
P/L: + 27.68 pts
*based on 1pt each bet, 2pts best bet