The Premier League Preview has EPL Tips for each match from Week 23, culminating in a grudge match between Liverpool and Man United at Anfield.
History: Played 49: Tottenham 31 V Watford 8 (10 Draws)
Last meeting: October 19, 2019 (EPL): 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Final Thoughts: Watford are only one point above the relegation zone but rank among the Premier League’s form teams over the past month. Heavyweights Tottenham continue to stumble along in eighth place.
Watford have picked up four wins and a draw in their past five games. After scoring just nine goals in their first 17 games, they have picked themselves up off the EPL ladder canvas with 11 goals in their last five – aided by a 3-0 thrashing of Bournemouth at Vitality Stadium last week – and recorded three clean sheets.
The Mourinho Effect is yet to take hold at Tottenham, with Spurs following up a draw at lowly Norwich with consecutive 1-0 defeats to Southampton and Liverpool. Spurs have conceded the 10th-most goals in the league, despite none of the ‘Big Six’ scoring more than two in a match against them. An under-strength team battled past Middlesbrough 2-1 midweek. Harry Kane remains sidelined.
Watford’s only victory over Tottenham in the teams’ last 17 clashes came at Vicarage Road last year. The Hornets also held Spurs to a 1-all draw on the road earlier this season.
Watford’s recent streak is simply too hot to ignore – with just two wins on the road this season, Spurs’ favouritism is purely on reputation.
History: Played 114: Arsenal 48 V Sheffield 40 (26 Draws)
Last meeting: October 21, 2019 (EPL): Sheffield 1 d Arsenal 0 at Bramall Lane
Final Thoughts: Arsenal’s season is a trainwreck. A 2-0 home win over Man United on New Year’s Day – just their second win since Week 8 – offered brief respite, but the 10th-placed Gunners drew 1-all at Crystal Palace last weekend.
Sheffield United are in sixth and determined to keep the pressure on Chelsea and Man United for a higher finish. The overachieving Blades responded to back-to-back 2-0 away losses (after going down in just one of their previous 12) to Man City and Liverpool with a 1-0 home win over West Ham. Sheffield’s unlikely success has been built on miserly defence: they have conceded just 21 goals, a record bettered only by Liverpool.
Sheffield pulled off a 1-0 win over Arsenal at Bramall Lane in Week 9. But the Blades are winless in 16 games at Arsenal dating back to 1975.
Another game where the underdogs are offering far better value than a spluttering heavyweight.
History: Played 23: Aston Villa 13 V Brighton 3 (7 Draws)
Last meeting: October 19, 2019 (EPL): Aston Villa 2 d Brighton 1 at Villa Park
Final Thoughts: Brighton sit 14th while Aston Villa are languishing in the bottom three. But Villa can join the Seagulls on 24 points with an upset on the road.
Brighton have won only one of their last seven but have picked up valuable draws along the way, including at home to Chelsea on New Year’s Day. They went down 1-0 at Everton last weekend. Aston Villa have kept their hopes of staying up alive with recent wins over Norwich and Burnley. But a 6-1 loss at the hands of Man City in Week 22 would have done little for their confidence.
Brighton are winless in their last nine encounters with Aston Villa, including a 2-1 defeat at Villa Park in Week 9.
Villa – a fairly tempting underdog option at $5 – have scored more goals than any team in the bottom half but have conceded the second-most in the league. Back the over rather than trying to pick a winner out of these two.
History: Played 62: Man City 33 V Crystal Palace 16 (13 Draws)
Last meeting: October 19, 2019 (EPL): Man City 2 d Crystal Palace 0 at Selhurst Park
Final Thoughts: With the title race all but over, motivation could have become a problem for two-time champs Manchester City. But a 6-1 demolition of Aston Villa last weekend – which saw the Citizens leapfrog Leicester into second – suggests the hunger remains. Sergio Aguero bagged a hat-trick.
City are chasing four straight wins for the first time this season. But they may have their work cut out against a Crystal Palace outfit that has lost just one of their last nine. Ninth-placed Palace is coming off three straight 1-all draws against Southampton, Norwich and Arsenal. Impressively, they have not conceded more than one goal in a match since November.
Crystal Palace boast just two wins and a draw from their last 19 clashes with Man City. But they pulled off a king-sized upset last season, prevailing 3-2 at Etihad Stadium. City got up 2-0 at Selhurst Park in Week 9.
A landslide akin to last week appears unlikely given Palace’s recent defensive heroics. The visitors are $23 outsiders and provide good value with a big head-start.
History: Played 58: Norwich 23 V Bournemouth 19 (16 Draws)
Last meeting: October 19, 2019 (EPL): 0-0 draw at Vitality Stadium
Final Thoughts: There’s an enormously valuable three points up for grabs at Carrow Road as the EPL’s bottom two teams lock horns. Norwich are six points adrift of the field and winless in their last nine. After back-to-back home draws against Tottenham and Palace, they crashed 4-0 at Old Trafford in Week 22.
AFC Bournemouth must wonder how they have ended up here after sitting seventh at the end of Week 11. The 19th-placed Cherries have plummeted into the relegation zone courtesy of just one win and one draw – remarkably enough, against Chelsea and Arsenal respectively – in their past 11 games. They have lost to nil in each of their last three against fellow also-rans Brighton, West Ham and Watford.
The teams played out a scoreless draw at Bournemouth earlier this season. The Cherries are searching for their first win at Norwich since 1960.
There’s not much to like about either side at present, but Norwich’s gritty home efforts over the past couple of months should inspire at least some confidence.
History: Played 66: Southampton 27 V Wolverhampton 22 (17 Draws)
Last meeting: October 19, 2019 (EPL): 1-1 draw at Molineux Stadium
Final Thoughts: Southampton are staging a revival every bit as remarkable as Watford’s. In the bottom three for almost two months, the Saints have surged to 12th with four wins and a draw from their last five games. They have stunned Tottenham (1-0) at home and Leicester (2-1) away in the past two rounds, while Week 19 also produced an upset of Chelsea.
Wolverhampton’s compelling bid for a Champions League or Europa League finish has hit a couple of banana skins in recent weeks, courtesy of back-to-back losses to Liverpool and Watford, and a draw at home to Newcastle. They are still seventh, however, and only three points behind fifth-placed Man U.
After four straight losses to Wolves, Southampton banked a 3-1 home win late last season and held them to a 1-all draw in Wolverhampton in Week 9 of this campaign.
It would have seemed incongruous a few week ago that Southampton could have started warm favourites against Wolves – even at home. But as impressive as the Saints’ turnaround has been, the draw is standing out as the head-to-head pick, particularly when Wanderers have a league-high 10 of them to their name.
History: Played 141: Everton 71 V West Ham 40 (30 Draws)
Last meeting: October 19, 2019 (EPL): Everton 2 d West Ham 0 at Goodison Park
Final Thoughts: Precariously placed just one point above the bottom three, West Ham will be hell-bent on making this home game count. Hammers – who do have a game in hand, albeit against Liverpool – came back to earth after the 4-0 rout of Bournemouth in Week 21, going down 1-0 at Sheffield. They deserve some credit for winning three of their last eight through an especially tough section of their draw.
Everton were languishing in 18th in early-December. But they have experienced a stunning turnaround since, losing just one (2-1 away to Man City) of their last seven games. They responded to that defeat with a 1-0 home win over Brighton, with Richarlison scoring their lone goal for the second week in a row.
Everton have held West Ham scoreless in five of the teams’ last seven meetings. The Toffees won 2-0 at London Stadium last season and prevailed by the same scoreline at home in Week 9 of this season.
Everton have won just twice on the road this season but look the goods here courtesy of their rich vein of form.
History: Played 166: Chelsea 74 V Newcastle 53 (39 Draws)
Last meeting: October 19, 2019 (EPL): Chelsea 1 d Newcastle 0 at Stamford Bridge
Final Thoughts: Newcastle United are in 13th spot but will find themselves in the relegation battle if they can’t snap their current winless streak. After three straight losses to Man United (4-1), Everton (2-1) and Leicester (3-0), a draw at Wolverhampton last week could be looked upon as a step forward, however. Unsurprisingly, a lack of attacking strike is their Achilles heel again – their 21 goals is the third-lowest tally in the league.
Chelsea sit fourth and appear to be emerging from a disastrous seven game stretch that garnered five losses – including to unfancied West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton. They have bookended a draw at Brighton with wins over Arsenal and Burnley in their last three outings.
Newcastle have won only one of their last nine against Chelsea. The Blues got the result last season at St James’ Park 2-1, while they banked a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge in October.
These are the types of games Chelsea have been bottling of late. Tread carefully in this one.
History: Played 113: Burnley 45 V Leicester 37 (31 Draws)
Last meeting: October 19, 2019 (EPL): Leicester 2 d Burnley 1 at King Power Stadium
Final Thoughts: Burnley are on a four-match losing streak that has left them teetering just two points above the relegation zone. The Clarets have been held to nil three times in those four defeats, including in a 3-0 loss at Chelsea last week.
The holiday period is threatening to derail Leicester’s stellar campaign. After going on an eight-match winning run, the Foxes have lost three of their last five games – including a 2-1 defeat at home to Southampton last week. It was their first loss to a team other than Liverpool, Man City and Man United this season. Jamie Vardy leads the EPL’s goalscoring race with 17 but is currently on a four-game drought.
Leicester have won 10 and drawn four of their last 16 against Burnley. The Foxes snared a 2-1 victory at Turf Moor last season and won by the same scoreline earlier this season.
Expect Leicester to take this gift-wrapped opportunity to bounce back, with Vardy at the forefront.
History: Played 231: Man United 88 V Liverpool 76 (67 Draws)
Last meeting: October 20, 2019 (EPL): 1-1 draw at Old Trafford
Final Thoughts: Week 23 concludes with an out-and-out blockbuster, though there is far more riding on it for Manchester United given Liverpool boasts a 14-point lead at the top of the table and a game in hand. They do have a bit of unfinished business to take care of, however.
Man United are the only team to take points off Liverpool this season, with the heavyweights playing out an eventful 1-all draw at Old Trafford in Week 9. Six of the teams’ last eight clashes have finished in a 1-1 or 0-0 stalemate. Liverpool powered to a 3-1 win at Anfield last season, however.
Liverpool have won all 12 of their games since visiting Manchester. They have kept a staggering six straight clean sheets leading into this game, including a 1-0 win at Tottenham last weekend. The Reds are conceding just 0.7 goals per game this season.
Fifth-placed United have been wildly inconsistent this season, losing to four teams in the bottom half and drawing with another three. But they recovered from a dismal 2-0 loss at Arsenal with a 4-0 rout of Norwich in Week 22. Marcus Rashford scored the opening two goals, taking his tally to nine in Man U’s last 11 games.
But a 3W-3D-5L away record does not bode well for United – $8 outsiders in this match.