The Premier League Preview has EPL Tips for each match from Week 27, getting underway with a blockbuster between top-four hopefuls Chelsea and Tottenham.
History: Played 165: Chelsea 71 V Tottenham 54 (40 Draws)
Last meeting: December 22, 2019 (EPL): Chelsea 2 d Tottenham 0 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Final Thoughts: Fourth spot goes on the line as struggling Chelsea look to stave off resurgent Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
Both teams are on a tight turnaround from disappointing losses. Chelsea went down 2-0 at home to Man United on Tuesday – their seventh loss in 14 games and extending their winless run to four matches. Tottenham went down 1-0 to RB Leipzig in their midweek Champions League fixture, but they have won their last three EPL games.
Son Heung-min’s stoppage-time goal – his second of the match – gave Spurs a 3-2 victory at Villa Park last weekend.
Chelsea are on a three-match winning streak against Tottenham, including a 2-0 away win just before Christmas. The Blues won by the same scoreline when Spurs visited Stamford Bridge last season.
With both teams leg-weary and likely to be cautious rather than adventurous, expect a low-scorer. But Tottenham’s value as a $4.50 outsider is impossible to ignore here.
History: Played 46: Newcastle 27 V Crystal Palace 10 (9 Draws)
Last meeting: December 21, 2019 (EPL): Newcastle 1 d Crystal Palace 0 at St James’ Park
Final Thoughts: Newcastle and Crystal Palace have both spent a few weeks out of the winner’s circle, but both are relatively safe relegation-wise at this stage.
Palace have tumbled out of the top half to 14th after following up three consecutive draws with three straight losses to Southampton, Sheffield and Everton. One point in front, Newcastle have won just one of their last eight and backed up a scoreless draw at home to Norwich with a dismal 4-0 loss at Arsenal last weekend.
The teams’ last two encounters at Selhurst Park finished in draws. Their last six clashes produced two goals or less (including five with a total of zero or one goals scored), with Newcastle grabbing a 1-0 home win in December.
The pattern of Selhurst stalemates looks a strong chance of continuing with both teams battling to find their best form.
History: Played 31: Burnley 14 V Bournemouth 6 (11 Draws)
Last meeting: December 21, 2019 (EPL): Burnley 1 d Bournemouth 0 at Vitality Stadium
Final Thoughts: Burnley are in form and making a beeline for the top half. AFC Bournemouth are striving to keep their heads above water in the battle to avoid relegation.
Burnley are 11th and equal with Arsenal after chalking up three wins and a draw (with Arsenal) over the past month. They left Southampton with a 2-1 victory last weekend, their 10th of the season.
Bournemouth are 16th but only two points above the bottom-three. After crucial back-to-back wins over Brighton and Aston Villa, the Cherries went down 2-1 at Sheffield in Week 26. Importantly, though, their attack has been on song in their last three outings after being held scoreless in seven of their previous nine games.
Burnley have won eight and drawn three of their last 13 against Bournemouth. The Clarets won both encounters last season by a combined 7-1 and took a 1-0 victory away from Vitality Stadium in December.
Bournemouth have lost seven of their last eight on the road, which puts Burnley in a very strong position this weekend.
History: Played 28: Sheffield 13 V Brighton 9 (6 Draws)
Last meeting: December 21, 2019 (EPL): Sheffield 1 d Brighton 0 at Amex Stadium
Final Thoughts: Just two points shy of Chelsea, sixth-placed are still a red-hot Champions League chance – phenomenal for a promoted club. Brighton, meanwhile, are still a relegation contender in 15th.
The Blades – who have only lost seven of 26 games – followed up the 1-0 loss to Man City with back-to-back wins over Palace (1-0) and Bournemouth (2-1). They’re not going to blow teams off the park, but their tally of just 24 goals conceded is second only to Liverpool.
Brighton have scored three more goals than Sheffield this season but have won only one of their last 11 games. Crucially, they have managed to secure six draws in that time – including in their last two games against bottom-three sides West Ham and Watford.
Sheffield downed Brighton 1-0 on the road in Week 18 – the clubs’ first meeting in almost 14 years.
Curiously, five of Sheffield’s seven losses have come at home. But Brighton’s two-win road record should give punters enough confidence to follow the formguide in this one.
History: Played 77: Aston Villa 28 V Southampton 26 (23 Draws)
Last meeting: December 21, 2019 (EPL): Southampton 3 d Aston Villa 1 at Villa Park
Final Thoughts: Southampton were knocking on the door of the top half but have now lost two on the trot – as have Aston Villa, who are only one point ahead of the bottom-three.
The 12th-placed Saints surged up the standings with seven wins from 11 games (including the scalps of Chelsea and Tottenham) but went down to Liverpool (4-0) and Burnley (2-1) in a disappointing start to February.
Villa’s position is very precarious given they played three of the current top six in the next three weeks. They are coming off back-to-back losses to Bournemouth (2-1) and Spurs (3-2), desperately unlucky not to emerge from the latter with a point after conceding in the 94th minute.
Southampton are unbeaten in their last seven against Aston Villa, including a 3-1 away drubbing of the promoted outfit two months ago.
The Saints are prohibitively short as $1.62 favourites – particularly after winning just one of their last five at home – but they should put away out-of-form Villa, who have conceded a league-high 50 goals.
History: Played 119: Man City 60 V Leicester 30 (29 Draws)
Last meeting: December 21, 2019 (EPL): Man City 3 d Leicester 1 at Etihad Stadium
Final Thoughts: How the mighty have fallen. Manchester City’s UEFA ban has hit the club like an atomic bomb and tarnished the immense legacy they have created over the past two seasons. But the second-placed Citizens responded impressively on Thursday morning (AEDT) with a 2-0 win over West Ham.
Leicester City – four points behind in third and now virtually assured of a Champions League spot in the wake of City’s punishment – have been in ordinary form for a couple of months, winning just three of their last 10. Their eight-game winning streak now seems a distant memory. The Foxes drew their last two against Chelsea and Wolves.
Man City have won seven of their last eight against Leicester, including a 3-1 result at Etihad earlier this season. But the Foxes managed a 2-1 upset at King Power last season.
Already on a short turnaround, City are also preparing for a UCL clash with Real Marid next week. But I like their chances of channelling the emotion of recent events into a win over wobbling Leicester.
History: Played 60: Wolverhampton 31 V Norwich 29 (16 Draws)
Last meeting: December 21, 2019 (EPL): Wolverhampton 2 d Norwich 1 at Carrow Road
Final Thoughts: Wolverhampton’s penchant for drawing games may cost them a watershed Champions League berth, but they are still in the hunt. Meanwhile, Norwich City are rapidly running out of time to avoid the drop.
Wolves sit eighth with eight wins and 12 draws to their name. They have managed only one win from their last seven games, though stalemates with Man United and Leicester in their last two are hardly disastrous results. However, they need to start progressing in three-point increments to push for the top four.
Norwich are last and six points adrift of the field. They have been gritty of late – bookending a scoreless draw at Newcastle with tight losses to Spurs (2-1) and Liverpool (1-0) in their last two – but that won’t mean much when they head back to the Championship.
Norwich have picked up a win and three draws in their last five visits to Molineux Stadium. But Wolves prevailed 2-1 when the teams met at Norwich in Week 18.
This is a real banana skin game for Wolves, whose confidence must be ebbing low after failing to convert a number of winning opportunities.
History: Played 33: Man United 22 V Watford 6 (5 Draws)
Last meeting: December 22, 2019 (EPL): Watford 2 d Man United 0 at Vicarage Road
Final Thoughts: Their crosstown rivals’ misfortune has well and truly opened up a Champions League opportunity for Manchester United. But can they finally find some consistency in order to make that happen? The Red Devils recorded a solid 2-0 away win over Chelsea last week – after winning only one (against Norwich) of their last previous five. The victory at Stamford Bridge also ended over 300 minutes without a Premier League goal.
United drew 1-all away to Club Brugge in Europa League action midweek.
Second-last Watford – two points from safety – would dearly love to get out of this game with an unexpected point or three. They are winless in their last four, but managed a 1-all draw at Brighton in Week 26.
Watford pulled off a 2-0 boilover against United at Vicarage Road two months ago. But the Hornets remain on a nine-match losing streak at Old Trafford that dates back to the mid-1980s.
Man United have repeatedly burnt punters with shock defeats to also-rans this season, but expect them to go up a gear with their UCL chances revived.
History: Played 213: Arsenal 106 V Everton 61 (46 Draws)
Last meeting: December 21, 2019 (EPL): 0-0 draw at Goodison Stadium
Final Thoughts: The good news for Arsenal is they are on a five-match unbeaten run. The bad news is they have won only three of their last 18 and remain in 10th, racking up an extraordinary tally of draws. But after four straight stalemates, they whipped Newcastle 4-0 last weekend – a result that could provide a springboard for a late top-four push.
Everton, though, have their own designs on a long-awaited Champions League opportunity after a remarkable form surge over the past couple of months. Two points ahead of the Gunners in ninth, the Toffees have lost just one (to Man City) of their last 11 and won their last two against Watford (3-2) and Palace (3-1).
Everton grabbed a 1-0 home win over Arsenal late last season, while the teams played out a scoreless draw at Goodison Park two months ago. But the Toffees have lost their last six at Emirates Stadium and are winless in their last 25 on the road against Arsenal.
It’s far too early to suggest Arsenal have turned the corner, while Everton’s run deserves respect. Expect both sides to keep it tight with plenty at stake.
History: Played 140: Liverpool 75 V West Ham 28 (37 Draws)
Last meeting: January 29, 2020 (EPL): Liverpool 2 d West Ham 0 at London Stadium
Final Thoughts: West Ham’s hopes of climbing out of the bottom three are unlikely to receive much of a boost this weekend when they trek to Anfield.
Liverpool’s record reads 25 wins and a draw from 26 games. Though not overly convincing in a 1-0 win at Norwich last weekend, they have conceded just one goal in their last 11 league games. A 1-0 UCL loss to Atletico Madrid midweek should have the Reds keyed up for this game.
West Ham are winless in their last five, going down to Man City 2-0 in Week 26.
Liverpool won 2-0 at West Ham just three weeks ago in the clubs’ postponed Week 18 game. Hammers have lost their last two at Anfield by a combined 8-1.
Whichever way you pick it apart, this match inevitably equates to yet another Liverpool victory.