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Thursday, February 23

Premier League betting tips: Saturday preview

Our match-by-match betting preview of Saturday's Premier League games with Bournemouth fancied for an upset win.

Recommended bets: Premier League

Click here for our transparent tipping record.
All matches previewed by David John

Chelsea v Swansea (1500 GMT)

Chelsea will be looking for a 12th straight home win at Stamford Bridge and punters won’t get much bigger than 1/4 for them to bring up the dozen. 
They have only conceded five times during that spell (two came in the same game against Stoke on New Year’s Eve) and you would have to agree with Eden Hazard’s sentiments this week that “some teams are beaten before the kick-off”.
Arsenal seemed to flourish in the early stages at the start of the month but once Chelsea nosed ahead thanks to Marcos Alonso’s header then there really was only going to be one outcome and they seem to be marching towards a first Premier League title under Antonio Conte.
Next up are a vastly improved Swansea side, who have won three of their last four under the savvy Paul Clement and also almost nicked something at Manchester City after a valiant display when they were more than a match for that rival in the second period.
This will be a landmark fixture for Clement after two spells working at the Bridge – one as assistant to Carlo Ancelotti – and it will be a chance to gauge how far his side has come in a relatively short space of time as they try to retain their place in the top flight. 
Clement’s tweaks to the team in terms of organisation and switching to three at the back has sparked a real turnaround in both confidence and providing an attacking threat at the other end of the pitch so those dark mid-winter days under Bob Bradley continue to fade from the memory.
There is a real edge to their play at the moment and although 16 points shy of the magical mark of 40, they surely look one of the likelier candidates to survive from those in the bottom quarter of the standings.
A win at Liverpool and the display at the Etihad shows they are more than capable of mixing it with the elite and I don’t believe for one moment they will head to London with any fear of failure although the hosts are clearly and currently another step up in grade. 
They ended a bit of a hoodoo with victory at Anfield and the last time they won at Stamford Bridge in the top flight was 1925 but Clement has had a fortnight to get the grey matter whirring in terms of a game plan. 
I can’t see them being given a serious run-around so a two-goal start on the handicap is definitely in play at odds-against.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Swansea 
Opta facts:
  • After winning six of their first eight Premier League meetings with Swansea (D2), Chelsea are winless in their last three against them (D2 L1).  
  • Swansea’s 2-2 draw on the opening day of the 2015-16 season was their first Premier League point earned at Stamford Bridge. 
  • The Swans have netted four goals in their last two league visits to Stamford Bridge, the same number they’d scored in their previous 10 games there combined. 
  • Gylfi Sigurdsson has scored four Premier League goals against Chelsea, more than he has against any other side (two for Swansea, two for Tottenham). 

Crystal Palace v Middlesbrough (1500 GMT)

It is just one Premier League victory in 11 for Palace now so perhaps survival guru Sam Allardyce has finally lost his touch when it comes to the great escape. 
Their abject 4-0 home defeat to Sunderland at the beginning of the month led to chairman Steve Parrish marching into the dressing room for a rant and it seemed to get a positive response with a much more spirited effort despite the 1-0 scoreline in Stoke’s favour the following week. 
“It is not nice having someone scream at you,” said midfielder James McArthur after Parrish’s 'pep talk' but the whole incident seems a little strange to me when it requires a member of the boardroom to get the players motivated rather than a manager of Allardyce’s stature. 
Various interviews with the Palace players seem to suggest they have the wherewithal to get out of trouble but they still have a huge amount to prove in my book where it counts, on the pitch, and a defeat here to an equally ropey Boro could prove terminal.
The visitors have not tasted success in eight top-flight outings either but manager Aitor Karanka reports his players are dealing with their dwindling season well and not feeling too much pressure.
His approach is to re-iterate there will be other chances despite this being an important game against a direct relegation rival but they did come across – in another discipline to be fair – as a bit powder-puff after they let Oxford back into the game in their FA Cup showdown. 
There is not much between the pair and I would be inclined to take on Palace until they show some signs of serious improvement but this remains a tricky one to call and probably best watched.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-1 Middlesbrough 
Opta facts:
  • The Eagles won the reverse fixture 2-1 back in September – they’ve not done a league double over Middlesbrough since the first ever Premier League campaign in 1992-93. 
  • Middlesbrough won their last Premier League game at Selhurst Park; 1-0 in April 2005 thanks to a Franck Queudrue goal.  
  • None of the last 15 league meetings between these sides at Selhurst Park has ended in a draw, with Crystal Palace winning 10 of these.  
  • Middlesbrough are on the current longest winless run in the Premier League, failing to win any of their last eight games (W0 D4 L4). 
  • Crystal Palace have failed to score in four of their last five Premier League games, the exception being the 2-0 win over Bournemouth at the end of January. 
  • Middlesbrough have conceded just 13 times on the road this season in the Premier League in 12 games (1.1 goals per game). Only Chelsea (11) and Manchester United have conceded fewer away goals. 

Everton v Sunderland (1500 GMT)

The outlook seems rather bleak for Sunderland manager David Moyes as he makes a return to Merseyside to face his former employers at Goodison Park.
His team prop up the standings and the last time he brought a team back to his old stamping ground, it led to him vacating the Manchester United job and exiting Old Trafford. 
His side too are typical of a club in their position – devastating in the way they dismantled Crystal Palace 4-0 one week but equally deplorable the next as they fell apart with barely a whimper by the same scoreline at home to Southampton. 
Stop me if you have heard it before, but Seb Larsson feels he and his team-mates can get out of their current predicament but trying to weigh up as a punter where and when the good performances are going to be delivered has become tougher after the last couple of displays.
Moyes clearly has his personal issues to deal with in this fixture and the hosts will be more than happy to dish out another beating.
Romelu Lukaku, who bagged a hat-trick in 11 minutes on Wearside back in September, has returned to training and should be licking his lips at the prospect of filling his boots again after snagging four in his last home match against Bournemouth. 
The level of performance dropped significantly next time with a very flat 0-0 draw at Middlesbrough but being back at home - only Liverpool have won at Goodison - does seem a little bit of a key and if they are anywhere near the standard they set against Manchester City then it will be a very long afternoon for the Black Cats.
The Toffees are 2/5 and likely to be the foundation of plenty of multiples this weekend and I would fancy they are not going to slip on this particular banana skin.
Prediction: Everton 2-0 Sunderland
Opta facts:
  • After a run of 11 home Premier League games unbeaten v Sunderland (W9 D2), Everton have lost two of their last three against them, though they did win 6-2 in this fixture last season. 
  • This will be David Moyes’ second game back at Goodison Park since leaving Everton in 2013. His only previous one was a 2-0 defeat in what was to be his last game as Manchester United manager in April 2014. 
  • An Everton player has scored a hat-trick in two of the last three Premier League meetings between these sides – Arouna Kone at Goodison Park last season (6-2) and Romelu Lukaku in the reverse of this fixture in September (3-0). 
  • Romelu Lukaku is one goal away from equalling Duncan Ferguson’s record as top Premier League scorer for Everton (60). The Belgian striker has scored seven times in the Premier League against the Black Cats, his joint-favourite opponent in the competition along with West Ham.

Hull v Burnley (1500 GMT)

It is the start of three vital games for Hull in their bid to beat the drop but such is the sterling work already done by new gaffer Marco Silva on what looked a totally lost cause, they at last start a Premier League game as favourites. 
Leicester and Swansea loom large on the horizon but along with the visit of the Clarets to the KCOM Stadium comes an increased expectation following a 0-0 draw at Manchester United, an impressive three points gained against Liverpool and a noteworthy effort in defeat at Arsenal. 
The Tigers have been more convincing at the back – they were notably sloppy at times though at the Emirates - but the arrival of Oumar Niasse, Lazar Markovic and Kamil Grosicki has created a much-needed spark going forward. This gives them more of a chance over the longer term than simply relying on keeping the backdoor shut for as long as possible. 
There is no Sam Clucas to drive them on in this match from the middle of the park as he serves a suspension but there is every reason why they should fancy their chances after returning from a warm weather training camp in Portugal to face a team that remains a total and utter enigma away from Turf Moor.
It has been a wonderful season for Sean Dyche and his players but they have just two points on their travels and everyone connected with the club must be scratching their head in terms of what is going on.
I was keen on their chance of finally getting across the line last time against Watford at Vicarage Road but Jeff Hendrick’s silly red card after only six minutes scuppered that little theory in a 2-1 reverse.  
Dyche may disagree, but I thought they took Lincoln City just a little too lightly in the FA Cup last weekend so they head down the M62 with a fair bit to prove in my book and that could well elicit a very good performance. 
There seems a danger of following Burnley over a cliff a bit although I don’t believe in the law-of-averages approach that says they will finally end their away-day drought at some point with a victory.
But there will be much worse 4/5 shots this year and investment on them and the draw in the Double Chance betting should ensure a return in what looks for all money a very evenly contested affair.
Prediction: Hull 1-1 Burnley  
Opta facts: 
  • Hull have given away 11 penalties this season in the Premier League, the joint-most in a single Premier League campaign alongside Blackburn in 2006/07. 
  • Hull won their last home game against Burnley; 3-0 in a Championship game in December 2015. 
  • However, Burnley are unbeaten in their five Premier League games against Hull, winning four (D1). 
  • Indeed, Burnley’s biggest Premier League away win came at the KCOM Stadium in April 2010 (4-1). 
  • The Clarets have won just four out of 49 away games in their time in the Premier League – two of these have been against Hull (4-1 in April 2010 and 1-0 in May 2015). 
  • Eight of the 11 goals scored in Premier League meetings between these sides have come after half-time. o
  • Hull have failed to score in more Premier League games than any other side this season (12), including three of the last four.

West Brom v Bournemouth (1500 GMT)

For those of you who like an interesting little stat or piece of coincidence then West Brom’s last three opening goals have all come in the sixth minute with two of them provided by James Morrison.
Probably all of a bit of a fluke to be fair but it is part of a profile which makes up by far the best West Brom outfit for many a year under Tony Pulis which has gone about the campaign with verve, confidence and no little skill at times. 
That spirit and determination helped them winkle out a point against an improved West Ham at the London Stadium last time with a late equaliser from a corner and their current eighth place in the Premier League is very much down to Pulis getting a collection of the right characters to consistently gel.
I am sure there will be plenty of takers this weekend with the Baggies quoted at slightly odds-against but I am going to take a little bit of a flier at the prices on the Cherries getting back on course. 
There is not really a lot to recommend Eddie Howe’s strugglers when it comes to current form after a five losses from six outings stemming back to blowing a 3-0 advantage against Arsenal at the start of January. 
It has seen them tumble down the standings to within six points of the relegation zone while six out of seven recent away trips have all ended in defeat as Howe goes through a real test of his credentials for the first time as one of the best young managers in the country.
My hunch to go with them though is based more on what should be a positive mental approach to the fixture following almost two weeks off following a home defeat to Manchester City where, by their own admission, they did not play badly and simply found key moments in the game going against them.
That should be a significant period to both clear the decks and start again while that length of time for Howe and his staff is extremely handy to get everyone singing from the same hymnsheet.
Striker Josh King probably sums up the mood in the camp ahead of the trip to The Hawthorns as well as anyone and said: “I love the tough games. It is up to us to get our form back and one win will get our confidence back.”
He and Benik Afobe should be highly motivated following the sad news main striker Callum Wilson is out for the season with another bad knee injury, while the whole club will be on a tremendous high following the arrival of Harry Arter’s baby daughter.
I expect the real Bournemouth to stand up so would not put anyone off the odds-on option of Bournemouth and a draw in the double-chance market but I will take a bolder line and support the visitors to upset the applecart by leaving with all three points. 
Prediction: West Brom 1-2 Bournemouth 
Opta facts:
  • West Brom’s loss in this fixture last season was their only previous home defeat in six league games against the Cherries (W3 D2). 
  • Bournemouth have won three of their last four meetings with the Baggies in all competitions (D1), including the reverse fixture 1-0 back in September. 
  • All four of Bournemouth’s Premier League goals against West Brom have come in the second half, with three of these coming in the 79th minute or later. 
  • Indeed, the last player to score a first-half goal for Bournemouth against West Brom in any competition was Eddie Howe – in a 1-0 FA Cup win in January 1999. 
  • West Brom have the lowest average possession in the Premier League this season (36.8%). 
  • Only Leicester (1) have collected fewer Premier League points in 2017 than the Cherries (2). 
  • The Cherries have also conceded the most goals this calendar year (18), with West Brom conceding 10 fewer than their opponents. 

Watford v West Ham (1730 GMT - BT Sport 1)

Football in the Premier League for the Hammers comes full circle this weekend as it was a notorious Saturday afternoon last September against this rival when the wheels started to come off in spectacular fashion at the London Stadium.
Having galloped into a 2-0 lead, they took on the appearance of a pub team prior to the interval as they conceded four times and left manager Slaven Bilic to answer some very tricky questions following that game and the subsequent hefty defeats to West Brom and Southampton as confidence reached a very low ebb. 
On the whole since, the ship has been righted as they sit handily in mid-table and it seems more likely than not they can finish the season in reasonably good shape with Dimitri Payet now out of the door and captain Mark Noble admitting work is now a “happy place”.
Full-back Arthur Masuaku – as culpable as any in the Watford debacle - admits they are without doubt motivated here by revenge and are keen to make amends but they tackle a Hornets side in pretty good nick themselves with two victories from their last three games following a pretty dire run through December and early January. 
They are another team which seems to have done some good business at the end of the transfer window with the arrival of Mauro Zarate, Tom Cleverley and M’Baye Niang, while a return to top form for Etienne Capoue and Troy Deeney has them looking up rather than down the table. 
They should give another good account but West Ham have won three out of four away from home in the Premier League since Boxing Day and scored 10 goals in the process and should be raring to go once more after a few days at a training camp in Dubai to get refreshed.
I would be quite keen on the visitors adding to that tally and claiming another three points but in-form striker Andy Carroll is carrying a groin injury and is a big doubt so no bet is suggested with a stalemate getting the verdict.
Prediction: Watford 1-1 West Ham   
Opta facts:    
  • After a run of just one win in 22 league games against the Hammers, Watford have won two of their last three against them – including a 4-2 win at the London Stadium back in September. 
  • West Ham United have never lost back-to-back league games against Watford in their history. 
  • The Hornets have won three of their last four Premier League meetings with West Ham, though two of those wins have been away from home. 
  • Watford’s 2-0 victory in this exact fixture last season ended a run of 11 league games without a win against West Ham at Vicarage Road. 
  • Andy Carroll has scored 49 Premier League goals in 177 appearances; with 29 of those goals coming for West Ham. He has scored five times in his last six league starts for the Hammers. 

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