We’re getting to a point of the English Premier League season where the squad depth of each side will be stretched to the maximum.
This week, we will see a third game in around a week’s time, and some teams looked tired on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The managers will have the tough challenge of figuring out a starting lineup that is fresh and capable of doing the job this weekend. Some have enough players to do it rather easily, while others don’t have the luxury of rotating too much.
Naturally, I will share my free EPL betting picks for the weekend. The most exciting game of this round will see Chelsea host the unbeaten Manchester City. I feel that a win for the reigning champions will be enough to dump Sarri and his men from the title hunt.
Of course, there are plenty of other games that have some potential as well. I intend to check the odds offered by the best EPL betting sites and start from there.
Here we go.
Featured Game: Chelsea vs. Manchester City
First things first, so let’s take a closer look at the odds for the main markets for the top EPL clash of the weekend.
Chelsea to Win3.70
Manchester City to Win1.91
Over 3 Goals2.00
Under 3 Goals1.83
After a strong start, Chelsea is struggling, and it looks like the team will be involved in the battle for the top four, not in the title hunt. Of course, the Blues have a chance to change that by beating Manchester City at home this weekend.
The odds for that to happen are rather slim, and I can see why. Chelsea is not looking as fresh as it did at the start of the season, and a lot of teams have figured out how to stop Sarri and his men, but more about that later.
At the same time, Manchester City keeps winning. If you add the unbelievable depth at Pep Guardiola’s disposal, it’s easy to understand why this is the team to beat in the EPL once again.
The reigning champions are expected to have an advantage, and rightfully so. In fact, I feel that the odds might be a bit higher than they should be.
I also see some potential in the over/under goals market, as the line of 3 goals is a bit high if you consider how bad Chelsea is doing up front recently.
But still, let’s take a look at both teams before I share my final pick.
I’ve mentioned it a couple of times in the past couple of weeks, but Chelsea is not the same team as at the start of the season. This is now quite obvious, as the Blues have won only four points from the last possible 12 in the English Premier League.
There are multiple reasons for the downtrend, and to be fair, I can’t see a way for them to be solved right now. First of all, Chelsea relies too much on Eden Hazard up front. Players like Giroud, Morata, Pedro, and Willian are all more than decent, but they are not contributing enough.
If Hazard is isolated, the team doesn’t create enough chances, and when you don’t have a clinical striker, you simply can’t afford that at the top level. Giroud was never that guy, while Morata is too inconsistent.
The Spaniard is always a miss or two away from losing his confidence and becoming average for large periods. It seems he is in such a state right now, and the fans are not exactly happy about it.
The other big problem that manager Maurizio Sarri faces is the fact that most teams now have enough information for his system. It relies heavily on Jorginho and his playmaking abilities from deep.
At the start of the season, this was working wonders, but the opponents are now closing him down. This disrupts Chelsea’s rhythm, and it’s obvious that there are not enough alternatives at this point.
If I have to sum it up, each team goes out there to stop Hazard and Jorginho. This works often enough, which means that Sarri has to find some alternatives. He does have enough quality players to keep winning most games, but not nearly enough to battle for the title.
The lack of goals up front is certainly affecting Chelsea’s defense. The confidence of the whole team is down, and the opponents are getting more chances to score.
Despite their obvious talent, players like Marcos Alonso and David Luiz can be a liability at the back, and this is now clear to see.
On top of everything else, it seems that the Blues simply don’t have enough strength in depth. I don’t think Sarri has enough options to rotate and keep his players fresh in most positions. The manager tried to change things a bit against Wolves but got punished.
All things considered, now is possibly one of the worst times to play against Manchester City. The leaders will push Chelsea hard and not give them enough room to breathe.
I think that Sarri must start Giroud here, as this will give his side the chance to play long balls and relieve the pressure. If he goes for Morata from the start, this would be a dreadful mistake.
A lot of people praise Guardiola, and I can see why. However, I feel that Pep has had the strongest 25-man squad in the history of English soccer ever since joining Manchester City.
The manager deserves praise for his achievements, but no other club can compete with the Blues in terms of both quality and quantity. Man City should be winning every year, in my opinion, so what’s going on is hardly a surprise.
The team sits on top of the table with 13 wins and 2 draws so far. The goal difference of +38 pretty much tells you the whole story.
Manchester City is cruising, and if it wasn’t for the heroics of Liverpool, this year’s title could’ve been basically won before the New Year started.
And yet, the team is not invincible. There were a couple of games in which the opponents had their chance, including the last one against Watford. On top of that, Manchester City is facing an investigation related to the UEFA Financial Fair Play.
Pep Guardiola has welcomed that, although I think this is a move that is meant to calm the atmosphere around the club. We all know that City (as well as some other clubs) is at the very least bending rules, but we also know there are unlikely to be any consequences.
I think that the current injuries of Aguero and De Bruyne are a bigger concern right now, as well as the lack of goals displayed by Gabriel Jesus. The thing is, even with those three out or not at their best, Guardiola can rely on the likes of Sterling, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Mahrez, and Leroy Sane.
Just let that sink in and try to argue my earlier statement about the strength of this squad. It’s simply ridiculous, and I’m not sure how anyone would expect anything but the title from this team.
I expect Manchester City to turn up at its best against Chelsea, as I think the motivation might’ve been a bit of a problem in the last two games against Watford and Bournemouth.
Guardiola will certainly rely on his traditional high pressing style against Chelsea. His men will pressure the opponent, and I don’t think the hosts will be able to create a lot.
As I already mentioned, if Morata is the leading striker of the home side, Manchester City should be able to almost completely shut down the opposition.
Getting out of such a high pressing team is a huge challenge, and Chelsea’s lack of squad depth could be exposed badly by the reigning champions.
Betting Pick and Prediction
You probably know where this is going, based on my analysis so far. Manchester City is strong despite some injury doubts, while Chelsea is struggling right now. Under these circumstances, the price of 1.91 that BetOnline offers for the visitors is more than tempting.
The other option that looks solid is to go for under 3 goals, as I feel that City will come out of this one with a clean sheet. However, with so much attacking talent on the pitch, this one is always going to be risky.
My final decision is to back Manchester City, and the price of 1.91 is high enough. I expect the visitors to win with a scoreline like 2-0 or similar.
West Ham – Crystal Palace
Let’s take a look at the top betting markets for this one.
West Ham to Win2.33
Crystal Palace to Win3.15
Over 2.5 Goals1.99
Under 2.5 Goals1.84
West Ham and Crystal Palace are two of the most inconsistent sides in the English Premier League. Both teams have a lot of potential and have shown glimpses of what they could do, but both struggle to achieve their ceiling on a regular basis.
This is why the game between them looks extremely unpredictable as far as finding a winner goes. I think the odds reflect that, so I’m not exactly surprised by the match result market.
What I find a bit odd is the price for over 2.5 goals. It certainly seems a bit high for multiple reasons that I intend to reveal in my analysis below.
West Ham was finding it hard to score often enough at the start of the season, but the team is looking much better in this regard recently.
Six goals in the last two English Premier League games are a good testimony to the fact that West Ham is now way more dangerous than they were at the beginning of the campaign.
All the dangerous moments used to come from Marko Arnautovic, but other players have stepped up since. This will be quite important in the forthcoming weeks, as the Austrian forward is out until 2019 with a hamstring injury.
This looks like a big hit for Manuel Pellegrini and his boys, but I think that the likes of Lucas Perez, Javier Hernandez, and Michail Antonio will feel this is their chance to prove their worth. The attacking trio is full of confidence right now, and the shaky Crystal Palace defense will probably struggle to contain them.
The problem for West Ham is that the defense is not really working.
This is a team giving up too many chances, and that’s why it’s conceded so many goals since the start of the season.
Despite winning the last two games in the league with a combined scoreline of 6-1, the Hammers were lucky.
Both Newcastle and Cardiff City had plenty of opportunities to find the net, but the lack of quality up front saved West Ham.
I think that Crystal Palace is one of the weirdest teams in the English Premier League. The side has some solid players but lacks identity. If you look at the results of Crystal Palace so far, you will see a strange trend.
The nature of each match depends on the opponent. If Palace faces a more conservative team, the games are usually tight. If the other side is more adventurous, there are plenty of goals and chances.
This tells me that Crystal Palace currently doesn’t have a clear style and identity. The club is struggling to control the tempo of the games but somehow manages to win points every now and then.
I don’t see a reason why this trend shouldn’t continue against West Ham. The midfield of Palace is not good enough to set the tone, so I feel this match will be direct, and there will be chances for both teams to score.
Betting Pick and Prediction
I still believe that this game has the potential for some goals, so the price of 1.99 for the over is too high to miss. The absence of Marko Arnautovic is obviously a concern, but the other offensive players of West Ham seem to be in good shape right now.
I think that the host might snatch the win, but the safer route seems to be over 2.5 goals. I expect both teams to find the net, so my correct score prediction would be 2-1 for West Ham.
PICKOver 2.5 Goals1.99
Burnley – Brighton
Here’s what the main betting options are for this EPL game.
>Burnley to Win2.82
Brighton to Win2.63
Over 2 Goals1.83
Under 2 Goals2.00
I think a lot of people expected the roles of those two sides to be reversed at the start of the season. Burnley should’ve been closer to a mid-table finish, while Brighton was supposed to be in a fight against relegation.
As it stands, Sean Dyche and his boys are in the danger zone, while Chris Hughton’s side is sitting comfortably in the tenth position of the EPL table. This is why the odds suggest a close battle despite Burnley’s home advantage.
I think that’s a somewhat fair assessment, and I can see the logic behind the goals market, too. The home team is not exactly great at finding the net, but it is showing some signs of improvement recently.
Let’s take a closer look at both sides.
I picked Burnley to beat Liverpool in my big-priced bet section for the EPL’s last round of games, as the odds of 19.00 were way too high. I must admit, I’m quite happy with the bet because the side did go 1-0 up in the second half.
Unfortunately, once Jurgen Klopp sent the big guns out on the pitch, the home team collapsed and lost 1-3 at the end. There’s no shame in that, as most opponents of the Reds suffer a similar destiny. And yet, Burnley had a lot of positives to take from the game against Liverpool.
Despite the defeat, Sean Dyche’s men put up a fight against one of the best teams in the English Premier League. The manager himself showed a lot of passion in a clash with Klopp, so at least it now looks as if the club cares what happens this year.
I think the new-found anger and desire to push hard will help Burnley against lesser opposition.
With all due respect to Brighton, the visitors can compare to Liverpool, so a similar display should be enough for Burnley to take something from this game.
The main reasons I feel this way are the signs of strong organization and work rate that were behind the strong performance of Burnley in the past couple of seasons. If the team replicates that often enough, it might get out of the relegation zone sooner or later.
Brighton is on a roll, as the team has now won two games in a row in the English Premier League. There is another more interesting trend, though, and it’s related to the fact that the last four games of the side have seen a red card for some of the teams.
I’m not sure if I should dig deeper here, but obviously, Brighton’s games are quite passionate. The interesting thing is that the side was a man down from early on against Crystal Palace but still managed to win comfortably.
The defense is doing a rather decent job, while Brighton has shown some consistency up front. Glenn Murray is leading the line with eight EPL goals already, while flashes of talent from other players are providing enough variety.
A good example of that is this solo goal by Florin Andone, who completely tore apart the Crystal Palace defense on his own.
The thing is, Brighton’s style might actually struggle against a team like Burnley. Glenn Murray mostly feeds on crosses and mistakes by the opposition.
While the home side is far from convincing at the back, it has shown signs of improvement, and a disciplined display on Saturday might be enough to shut Brighton down.
Betting Pick and Prediction
I still believe Burnley is not doomed, and the team can rediscover its form to stay in the English Premier League. This has to happen soon, though, and the game against Liverpool gives me enough evidence to believe that the side can start winning points.
A similar level of performance should be enough to beat Brighton, but you don’t necessarily have to back the home win. The safer choice would be to pick Burnley 0 AH, which will bring your stake back if the game is tied.
PICKBurnley 0 AH1.97
This Week’s Other EPL Games
Here’s what the rest of the EPL schedule offers this weekend.
Bournemouth vs. Liverpool
Bournemouth to Win4.80
Liverpool to Win1.64
After picking Liverpool’s opponents for two rounds in a row, I decided to abstain this time around. According to Murphy’s law, this means Bournemouth will probably win this one.
Jokes aside, I was very close to including the home side as one of my main picks. If there is value here, it certainly lies in the odds for Bournemouth. The team is strong and performs well against top opponents.
Liverpool is certainly the favorite here, but the Reds have been lucky a couple of times already this season, so I won’t be surprised if they slip up here.
Cardiff City vs. Southampton
Cardiff City to Win2.84
Southampton to Win2.56
After a terrible start of the season, Southampton now has a new manager. Ralph Hasenhuttl was appointed this week, which makes this match unpredictable.
Normally, Cardiff’s progress in the past couple of weeks would’ve been enough for me to back the side, but I’m not so sure.
Southampton certainly has better potential, and the motivation of the players to prove themselves to the new manager might give the team an additional boost.
If I absolutely had to pick something here, I would’ve gone for the draw.
Arsenal vs. Huddersfield
Arsenal to Win1.28
Huddersfield to Win10.50
I think every Arsenal supporter would’ve taken four points from the last two games in the league if you asked him a week ago. And yet, the draw against Manchester United seems a bit disappointing.
Still, the Gunners are on the rise and should be able to beat a team like Huddersfield at home. The price of 1.28 reflects that, and I don’t think it has enough value.
Leicester vs. Tottenham
Leicester to Win3.65
Tottenham to Win1.97
Spurs are the much better side, and there is no doubt in that. And yet, the frantic schedule in the past couple of weeks and the forthcoming game against Barcelona in the Champions League certainly will affect the side.
The big question is if Tottenham has the depth to push hard enough in this match. I don’t think I have an answer to this one, so I wouldn’t want to touch this match.
Newcastle vs. Wolves
Newcastle to Win2.81
Wolves to Win2.63
Both sides rely a lot on their defense to grind results, so I don’t expect an attractive game with many chances here.
We will probably see just a few goals, and I think that the draw is quite likely. If I had to pick a winner, though, I feel that the hosts might have the upper hand.
Everton vs. Watford
Everton to Win1.78
Watford to Win4.50
I expected Everton to win against Newcastle, but the resilience of the hosts was enough for a draw on Wednesday. This will be a completely different challenge for the Toffees, as Watford is an aggressive team but one that struggles at the back.
I can see some goals here, and the team that is more clinical should win it. I think the home team could do the job, but Watford is certainly not doomed.
Big-Priced Bet of the Week – Manchester United vs. Fulham
I still think Fulham has much better potential than the results so far this season suggest. The appointment of Claudio Ranieri has brought some inspiration to this team. This could very well lead to a surprise against a Manchester United team that seems clueless.
A draw against Arsenal is by no means a bad result, but the inability of the Red Devils to dispatch lesser opponents this season is obvious. I feel this could be the case once again, so I will go for the draw here.
I would love to see if Chelsea can actually put Manchester City under some real pressure on Saturday, but I doubt it.
What do you think will happen, and do you agree with my other picks? Don’t hesitate to share your opinion in the comment section below.
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