Premier League preview: Friday & Saturday’s action
Southampton vs Leicester
Sorry old Southampton surely just want their season to be done.
The fleeting promise of something remarkable has long given way to spirit-crushing misery for Saints fans. Now they face the prospect of another encounter with Leicester, the team responsible for that original 9-0 shellacking last season.
The Foxes seem to have steadied their own ship after a couple of defeats earlier this month; Brendan Rodgers’ side also knocked Southampton out of the FA Cup a few weeks ago. That was a more modest 1-0 win for Leicester, and presumably Hasenhuttl’s side are determined to avoid humiliation on Friday night – but it’s tough to fancy the hosts for a win.
Third in the Premier League, eyeing Champions League football next season and feeling pretty good about themselves, the Foxes clearly love to take on these sluggish Saints. Including last season’s nine-goal massacre, Leicester have won this fixture on each of their last three visits to St Mary’s.
And Kelechi Iheanacho’s outstanding form continues; he’s on 12 goals in his last nine appearances in all competitions.
Iheanacho to score at any time and Leicester to win can be backed in the Wincast market at 12/5.
Crystal Palace vs Man City
This one probably doesn’t require the most exacting research in order to call the winner; few will give Palace much of a hope here, and I’m not about to buck that trend. Particularly as a win here would land City the title, assuming Man United lose to Liverpool on Sunday.
Assuming a City victory is a foregone conclusion then, what’s the bet? Well, Palace have already lost 4-0 once to City this season, and at Selhurst Park Roy Hodgson’s side was also beaten 4-1 by Chelsea a few weeks ago – and 7-0 by Liverpool in December.
Palace are outclassed here, and this could turn into another rout. You can back City to win and Over 3.5 goals in a double at 9/4.
Brighton vs Leeds United
Leeds don’t have a great record playing away to Brighton – they last won a game in the Seagulls’ back yard in 2009! – but Brighton’s own home record during the current campaign doesn’t bear close scrutiny, with just two home wins in the league all season.
The Seagulls were beaten by Sheffield United last week, and here they face a Leeds side that have faced Man City, Liverpool and Man United in successive weeks without losing.
Marcelo Bielsa might be the hipster’s favourite, but he is also the real deal; even without the injured Raphina, this Leeds team must have a decent chance of taking all three points against a Brighton side that have scored one goal in their last four matches.
Back the Leeds win at 23/10.
Chelsea vs Fulham
Most of us love a good underdog story, but surely there is no way Fulham get anything here.
The Cottagers enjoyed a draw against Arsenal last time out – two weeks ago, so at least they should be fresh for this one. It probably won’t help. Fulham’s fighting spirit might not be in question, but they face off against a Chelsea side that have barely put a foot wrong since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival.
If the present doesn’t offer much in the way of positives for Scott Parker, taking a more historical view is unlikely to instil much confidence either. Fulham have beaten Chelsea once in the Premier League, back in 2006; that’s one victory in 29 meetings. Ulp.
Prior to their draw against Arsenal, Fulham had lost four on the bounce in the Prem; even after facing Real Madrid in the Champions League earlier this week, the Blues should have enough to put away their West London neighbours on Saturday.
Chelsea haven’t tended to score that many under Tuchel, however, so perhaps backing Chelsea to win and under 3.5 goals in a double is the way to go – you’ll get odds of 21/20.
Everton vs Aston Villa
The Toffees got the win against Arsenal last Friday but even Carlo Ancelotti admitted a draw would probably have been a fairer result.
Now Everton host a Villa side that have won just one of their last eight matches, and who were almost beaten by West Brom last week before an eleventh-hour equaliser broke the Baggies’ hearts.
Everton are in slightly better form, but their home record hardly convinces; in the Prem, the only team they’ve beaten at Goodison Park in 2021 is Southampton.
With three of Everton’s last four matches ending in stalemate, it’s easy to see this one ending up as another deadlock. The draw is a 13/5 shot.
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