Premier League Predictions and Odds Week 22.
It will hardly surprise any of you who read these pages that I begin by noting that my 14/1 shot to win at Chelsea 'loyalty bet' came good as QPR 'thrashed' them 1-0 with a fine display and wonderful strike from SWP against his old club which could, just could, be the building block that Harry uses to spearhead the sequel to 'The Great Escape'. And just as I was starting to wonder if they would ever win again they produce a performance that gives hope after three defeats on the bounce and with two more London Derby fixtures back to back has Spurs the next visitors to Loftus Road before a trip to Upton Park.
Elsewhere, Reading were beaten at Spurs 3-1 but Southampton got a deserved point at home to Arsenal drawing 1-1 to dampen the Gunners powder somewhat after the goal fest against Newcastle the previous weekend. Wigan drop below the Saints into the bottom three with their 4-0 hammering by Man Utd and City beat Stoke 3-0 to remain second as Chelsea's defeat leaves them fourth behind Spurs.
Liverpool beat Sunderland for back to back 3-0 wins as Everton came from behind to win 2-1 at Newcastle to make it a Merseyside one-two against the Northeast, and a score I predicted right here in my Week 21 Premier league tips and the fourth 2-1 scoreline in a row Everton have been involved in, winning three. The Toffees are fifth just above Arsenal with that win. WBA and Liverpool make up the top eight despite WBA losing 2-1 at home to Fulham in a return to form for the Cottagers.
West Ham beat Norwich and Villa got a draw at Swansea which could have been so much more but for a very, very late leveller from the Welsh side in a 2-2 draw that at least stops the rot for Paul Lambert's side after three crushing and heavy losses, including the 8-0 drubbing by Chelsea.
So 'Arry's old team are next for the sword at QPR then, who after drawing 1-1 with WBA in the FA Cup are unbeaten in 2013. And once the distraction of the FA Cup this weekend has ruffled a few feathers and bent a few reputations out of shape and maybe enhanced a couple of others too, the Premier League returns this weekend with Week 22 of the EPL here at SBRForum.com
Saturday 12th January 2013
QPR vs. Tottenham
This game has been moved back to Saturday's early kick-off time of 12.45pm, having been first scheduled for Monday night's live TV game on the 14th January. QPR's FA Cup replay at WBA on Wednesday 16th has made this move necessary. I have written a full preview of this game which you can read by going right here at SBRForum.com
Free Football Tips: Home win for me at 10/3 with bet365
Aston Villa vs. Southampton
Aston Villa managed to stop the rot drawing 2-2 against Swansea in the league after losing three in a row and conceding a remarkable 15 goals in those games, scoring none. They also won 2-1 in the FA Cup and have a League Cup semi-final first leg at Bradford City to try to negotiate tomorrow night before turning their attention to Southampton Saturday. The Saints were beaten 5-1 in the Cup by Chelsea at the weekend but did hold Arsenal 1-1 at home, have drawn their last three league games actually but only won once, losing two, their last six Premier League matches. This one is screaming draw to me but surely one of these sides has to take this game by the scruff of the neck and the onus is not even on the home side it is on both teams for me, they are in that much trouble and in the second half of the season. A point a game will not be enough for either of these two and Villa may have an eye on the League Cup but will likely get the other blacked by the Saints in this one if fatigue or complacency becomes a factor, so the Bradford result tomorrow if positive could have a huge bearing on Villa's attitude and resolve
Free Football Tips: Away winfor me at 15/8 with William Hill.
Everton vs. Swansea
Everton have just walked off the pitch at Cheltenham Town 5-1 victors in the FA Cup and not too tired out to already focus on this upcoming game with Swansea. Everton are getting ruthless where they were once toothless, are scoring goals week in week out and have lost only three times in the league this season, having beaten Man Utd and Tottenham and drawn with Man City and Arsenal. Swansea have a League Cup semi-final 1st leg game with Chelsea this Wednesday and an FA Cup replay with Arsenal the following mid-week, as those two drew in the Cup 2-2 on Sunday. Then comes the second leg of the League Cup semi the third Wednesday with Chelsea again. So they have a fixture pile-up that could see them at Wembley and in the fourth round of the FA Cup or out of both and possibly deflated as they head towards the final weeks of the season, so they must stay focused as with Chelsea, Everton, Arsenal, Stoke and Chelsea your next five games, there is no choice in the matter.
Free Football Tips: Home win for me at 4/7 with bet365
Fulham vs. Wigan
Fulham played very well to beat Swansea in Wales 2-1 and then could only draw at home 1-1 with Blackpool in the FA Cup to add a replay to their fixture list. Wigan also drew 1-1 with a side from the coast, Bournemouth earning a replay and home advantage in Wigan. The Cup is not a great pointer though as sides rest players, try new systems maybe and also just get beat by lower sides having their day in the sun. I may just have mentioned the romance of the cup before though right, and I digress. Fulham looked good and worthy winners at Swansea in a game I saw live, with Berbatov pulling the strings and actually showing some emotion in this one, which is unlike the languid one. Wigan were thumped by Man Utd 4-0 and I think this will be a bridge too far for them this year as I keep saying, they do not have the quality that got them out of trouble last year and are one of my three to go down this season.
Free Football Tips: Home win for me at 5/6 with William Hill
Norwich vs. Newcastle
Only five points and three places separate these two but the gulf in the buzz around each club is as different as chalk and halibut. Got you there didn't I? Norwich are having a fine season, playing good football and giving a good account of themselves in all games they play as Chris Hughton for me is going about his business in fine manner and making the fans say Paul who? Newcastle have lost seven of eight, were knocked out of the FA Cup 2-0 by Brighton and are in free fall coming into this one. They for me are a really good outside bet to go down at 6/1 with William Hill as they feel the pressure and sell their prize asset at what is a ridiculous time for me, and the money they get for Ba will mean nothing if they do go down, so stupid in my book but that's player power for you! Norwich were on their best ever run of results in the Premier League til they lost four in a row but won 3-0 in the Cup comfortably and have home advantage and Newcastle's bad form to help see them through. Newcastle simply have to start winning soon and European distractions won't help but may not last much longer on this form, come February.
Free Football Tips: Home win for me at 11/10 with Pinnacle
Reading vs. West Brom
Reading simply must be targeting every home game as a must win now, one point will not be enough any longer even with other teams getting sucked down into the relegation mire. West Brom are not one of those sides as they continue to fly pretty high though they lost three in December compared to only one in November but remain 7th and an outside bet for a European spot, probably Europa League and are 50/1 for a Champions League place. WBA have a Cup replay after this game having drawn at QPR 1-1 Saturday but Reading won 3-1 at League One Crawley Town to go into the hat for the fourth round. Reading could move out of the bottom three if results go their way and they grab all three points in this one and surely that should be incentive enough, at home, to win this one. I am not so sure though as I simply like the way WBA play, how they respond to losses and they have a great manager in Steve Clarke who will be somewhere even bigger than WBA unless he just makes them that big and stays there.
Free Football Tips: Away win for me at 11/8 with William Hill
Stoke vs. Chelsea
Hard to know if Chelsea are 'reeling' from their shock loss at home to QPR as they then thumped Southampton 5-1 in the FA Cup, the trophy they currently hold and have defended well in recent years, winning it four times. Stoke City are a tough nut to crack and they will have seen and studied just how QPR managed to defend against their formidable attack. This could be a hard game to call as Stoke are still unbeaten at home and will not easily give up that record and Chelsea will know it. Benitez is always one bad result away from the Boo Boys and 'Rafa Out' chants but he's a big boy and actually has a fabulous record since taking over, one most clubs would like, winning four straight before losing to QPR. I like Stoke in this one as Chelsea also have a League Cup game with Swansea to play Wednesday and have their re-arranged fixture with Southampton, this time in the league, the following Wednesday but then Chelsea are used to playing twice a week all the time and yet fatigue and squad rotation then become factors.
Free Football Tips: Score draw for me at 12/5 with bet365 and William Hill
Sunderland vs. West Ham
West Ham played really well in the Cup against Man Utd in a thrilling 2-2 draw and are sitting pretty in 11th and are having a great first season back in the top flight. They play without fear, are not all long ball but play tough and hard for sure, the Hammers always have done, but are not a dirty side for me and I like their camaraderie and how it translates onto the field of play most times they play. Like Newcastle, Sunderland and the buzz around their camp is completely different to that at Upton Park and their opponents, as they are one loss away from dropping right into the relegation battle again having lost three in a row. They also have an FA Cup replay to ponder and then play after this fixture, after only drawing at Bolton 2-2. An extra game I think they could well have done without though a Cup Run can always galvanise a side, it happens! West Ham are not out of the woods yet themselves and must look on this as a great opportunity to put more space between them and those below them and if they play like they did against Man Utd they will do just that, and I that is a good sports pick.
Free Football Tips: Away win for me at 21/10 with William Hill
Sunday 13th January 2013
Man Utd vs. Liverpool
The first of a great double header this Sunday as first takes on 8th though that matters not for 90 minutes in this one, believe me. Utd came back yet again this weekend in the Cup as explained above as they drew at West Ham and Liverpool won through in their Cup match albeit with a little Suarez controversy thrown in for a little added spice and entertainment. And he is the one man who could undo the shaky United defence and spring a surprise in this one. Trouble is, like the Liverpool of the 70's and 80's United are never more dangerous than when behind right now, so I am going to be very specific with this one. Suarez will score (or make one) and Liverpool will lead but ultimately United will come back and will have their best 11 on the field from the start and even without Rooney will win this one in what could well be a goal fest if I am not mistaken. Liverpool have lost six games to United's three so far this season, so a win and they are not that far off but it is the draws that are bogging them down, with seven already this season, a third of their games played. Hard to bet against United but Liverpool have been clicking in games and hit back to back 3-0 wins, banged in four at home to Fulham but still are too much reliant on Gerrard and Suarez alone but signs are the team is gelling and they will approach this like a cup tie if they want to win it. I would, nothing to lose as most people will have written them off.
Free Football Tips: Home win for me at 4/5 and Liverpool/Man Utd for Half
Time/Full Time at 20/1 both with bet365
Arsenal vs. Man City
The second of the two big clashes this weekend sees The Gunners host the Champions in this one. City beat Stoke 3-0 in the league then dumped Watford out of the FA Cup by the same score. They are 11 points ahead of their hosts who sit in sixth but like Liverpool, Arsenal have shown signs of improvement, have scored plenty of goals recently yet still suffer from that complacency and loss of concentration that has them dropping points at Southampton 1-1, for example.
City will want to keep up the pressure on their cross town rivals and hope the fixture pile up that Arsenal and United have will play into their hands as the second half of the season unfolds. Arsenal didn't help the cause by drawing 2-2 in the Cup at Swansea but as more than one manager has stated this weekend, that extra game beats losing and don't you doubt it. Chelsea and West Ham loom for the gunners after their Cup replay so at least travel costs will be down in January for the frugal Gunners, they could use the Tube! Aguero is a big loss for Mancini and City but they do have a little cover in that department, some of them courtesy of Arsenal, and I just think like United they just have that knack of winning these types of games and have plenty of weapons to do so. Arsenal can be and have been irresistible and are at home so kinda fell like sitting on the fence in this one but nope, this one will be decided not drawn, that I do know and I think City will overpower Wenger's men.
Free Football Tips: Away win for me at 8/5 with William Hill