We’ve finally reached the halfway mark for the 2020/21 English Premier League season and what a season it’s turning out to be! Only four points separate Everton in fifth place from Manchester United, who are top of the log in the New Year for the first time since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson. It’s the most congested top five of the Premier League that we’ve seen in years.
Matchday 19 is set to be an absolute cracker, with Aston Villa taking on Everton, Leicester City hosting Southampton, as west London Derby between Fulham and Chelsea, and of course the blockbuster match with Manchester United travelling to Anfield three points ahead of the Reds.
We’re going dive into a preview of this week’s biggest matches and the EPL betting odds to keep an eye on.
Friday 15th January
Fulham vs. Chelsea
Betting Odds: Fulham: +575 Tie: +333 Chelsea: -200
Chelsea go to Craven Cottage on Friday night in a must-win game for Frank Lampard’s expensively-assembled team. West London derbies between Fulham and Chelsea are always an exciting affair and this is one game that could be incredibly important for the Blues. Chelsea have had a woeful month since they beat West Ham at Stamford Bridge — losing to Man City and Arsenal and dropping points in a draw to Aston Villa.
The Cottagers find themselves within the relegation zone, albeit with a couple of games in hand, and will be looking to cause another upset similar to their draw against Tottenham in their last game. Failure to take all three points and Lampard will surely begin to feel like his job is under threat.
At this stage, the odds are heavily in Chelsea’s favor for a win, but if this Premier League season has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.
Saturday 16th January
Aston Villa vs. Everton
Aston Villa are having their best season yet and Jack Grealish is an absolute powerhouse in their midfield. Villa are sitting six points behind Everton, but they still have two games in hand. They host The Toffees at Villa Park in what is set to be a mouthwatering clash between two teams that are trying their utmost to prove that they aren’t just mid-table clubs.
Everton, of course, sit in fifth, one point below Liverpool in second and four below Man Utd in top spot. A win here could catapult them into the top two or three depending on what happens in the blockbuster match between Man Utd and The Reds on Sunday.
Both Carlo Ancelotti and Dean Smith will be hoping that their team can pull something out of the bag in a game that could really shake up the top five spots.
Leicester City vs. Southampton
Betting odds: Leicester: -115 Tie: +275 Southampton: +300
The Foxes find themselves positioned quite sweetly for a top-four finish as we reach the season’s halfway mark. Having missed out on Champions League soccer on the last day of last season, Brendan Rogers will want his team to keep up the moment when they host Southampton this weekend.
Ralph Hasenhuttl's team have already got 29 points from 17 games and are fresh off the back of beating Liverpool 1-0. They will be looking to take the fight to Leicester City this weekend at the King Power Stadium.
The betting odds predict that Brendan Rogers’ side will take all three points, but don’t expect Southampton to lie down and hand it to them. This is going to be a close game.
Sunday 17th January
Liverpool vs. Manchester United
Betting odds: Liverpool: +100 Tie: +280 Manchester United: +250
We haven’t seen this match hyped up to such an extent since Fergie was at the helm in Manchester; fans and neutrals alike are salivating over the prospect of this age-old rivalry being reignited. For the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson left United, there is genuine hope that the title could come back to the red half of Manchester.
Jürgen Klopp is not used to being below Manchester United and will be willing his under-performing Reds to take all three points at home. Liverpool are in the midst of an inconsistent spell in the league, and while they have been hit with injuries, most won’t feel like this is a good enough excuse — given that they still have the best on-paper team in the league without their injured players.
There is a race for fitness for Joel Matip, but other than that, it’s expected that Klopp will call on familiar names such as Fabhino, Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and Thiago Alcantara. The forward line up is enough to strike fear into the hearts of any team with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane. However, this young and bullish United team might be so full of confidence at the moment that they won’t be too intimidated.
This is an opportunity for Ole Gunnar Solskjær and United, not just to go six points ahead of their fiercest rivals at the top of the table, but also to silence their critics. Both the young manager and his team receive relentless criticism after every slip-up, but while others were busy focusing on their downfall, United quietly snuck into the race for the top spot.
They go into this game with the best away form in the league, while Liverpool have the best home form. United have picked up more points than any other team in the EPL since the arrival of Bruno Fernandes a year ago. Fernandes has undoubtedly taken this team to new heights, but the recent return to form of French World Cup winner Paul Pogba, has made United’s midfield a force to be reckoned with.
Liverpool will have to do well to handle the blistering pace of Martial, Rashford, and Greenwood up front, while sticking tight to an in-form midfield, and a defensive line that is finally finding their feet.
This is undoubtedly Solskjær’s biggest game of his managerial career and he’ll be hoping to outwit Klopp at Anfield to pull six points ahead of second place. The betting odds for this game, however, are slightly in Liverpool’s favor. This is a scintillating game of soccer to get excited for.
What’s happening in the rest of the league?
- Wolves vs. West Brom: Wolves: -190 Tie: +280 West Brom: +650
- West Ham vs. Burnley: West Ham: -125 Tie: +260 Burnley: +360
- Leeds United vs. Brighton: Leeds United: +105 Tie: +250 Brighton: +260
- Sheffield United vs. Tottenham: Sheffield United: +550 Tie: +280 Tottenham: -175
- Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace: Manchester City: -600 Tie: +675 Crystal Palace: +1350
- Arsenal vs. Newcastle: Arsenal: -225 Tie: +360 Newcastle: +600
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