Matchday 23 was a big one in the English Premier League, with Manchester City extending their lead at the top of the table after embarrassing Liverpool at Anfield. Manchester United handed a draw to Everton at Old Trafford, Leicester couldn’t get on the scoresheet in a 0-0 draw against Wolves, and Chelsea’s ship seems to be stabilizing under the guidance of Tuchel.
Manchester City is undoubtedly looking like the team to beat at the moment, but there are still 15 games left of the season, and, don’t forget, we’re in the midst of the most unpredictable EPL season yet.
Let’s take a look at the matches that are going to have an impact at the top of the League on Matchday 24 and the EPL betting odds to keep an eye out for this week.
Saturday, February 13
Leicester City vs. Liverpool
Betting Odds: Leicester: +260 Tie: +250 Liverpool: +105
This is a game that both of these teams desperately need to win to stay within touching distance of the top two spots in the League. Leicester City is sitting in 3rd place, just three points ahead of Saturday’s opponent, Liverpool. Brendan Roger’s men have been off the pace for some time and inconsistency seems to be their biggest problem. Every time it seems like the Foxes are back on track, like when they beat Chelsea 2-0, they follow it up with poor performances. After the Chelsea win, they managed a draw against Everton and a loss to Leeds United. They then won 2-0 against Fulham, but drew 0-0 to a struggling Wolves side. Talismanic goalscorer Jamie Vardy has been out for a couple of weeks and Leicester City fans will hope that he can kick on after getting in 30 minutes on the pitch against Wolves.
Liverpool looks bereft of confidence and ideas at this stage of the game and the assuredness of invincibility we saw last season is nowhere to be found. Yes, the Reds are struggling with injuries in their defense, but, with a forward line that was so devastating last season, they really shouldn’t be struggling to score goals.
Thiago Alcantara’s first season in Premier League football has not gone according to plan and the midfield maestro seems to be struggling to adapt to the tempo and physicality of the League. Jürgen Klopp bemoaned the shocking mistakes made by Alisson Becker to hand Manchester City two goals, but it was plain to see in this game that the Reds were outplayed and outclassed on every single part of the pitch against the Citizens. The result means they have now lost three consecutive League games at Anfield for the first time since 1963 and have dropped the most points by a reigning champion at this stage of the campaign in English top-flight history.
The odds are putting Liverpool as the winners of this game, and they certainly need to bounce back. However, don’t put it past Leicester to find their gears against a side that is looking nothing like the defending champions that they are.
Manchester City vs. Tottenham
Betting Odds: Man City: -300 Tie: +450 Tottenham: +775
If there’s one team that no one in the League will be looking forward to facing right now, it’s Manchester City. After an initial inconsistent spell at the beginning of the year, the Citizens have looked absolutely lethal. In fact, they have now won ten games on the trot, and after they demolished Liverpool at Anfield, they sit five points above Manchester United at the top of the table, with a game in hand.
Now, it’s too early in the season to guarantee that the cup is going to the Blue half of Manchester, but it is certainly City’s to lose. Pep Guardiola has proven once again that he is a tactical genius and he has his side playing attractive, attacking soccer. Despite the obvious goal-scoring threat of this team, they are also undoubtedly the strongest defensively too—with only 14 goals against them—8 less than the next best defense. İlkay Gündoğan has proved to be an inspired signing and the superstar players around him just seem to be getting better with such a strong, trusted midfielder in their midst.
Tottenham have not had the best run of form over the last couple of weeks, losing three out of their last five games. However, the return of Harry Kane seems to have galvanized the team and Mourinho will surely hope that they can start to put a run of wins together now. For a team that was top of the table just a couple of months ago, the fall to 8th place is quite a shocking one. After their 6-1 embarrassment of Manchester United, it looked like the Spurs could be genuine title contenders, however, it looks like they’ve had to shift their focus to simply making it into the Champions League spots. Tottenham has a host of talented playmakers and when they play well, they do so exceptionally, but there seems to be a lack of ideas when Harry Kane isn’t in the team. If he can stay fit, the Spurs will undoubtedly score goals, but relying on one player is always a dangerous game.
It’s hard to see City slowing down anytime soon and that’s why the odds are overwhelmingly in Guardiola’s team’s favor. However, both of these teams can score goals and plenty of them, should be a good match for fans and neutrals alike.
Sunday, February 14
West Brom vs. Manchester United
Betting Odds: West Brom: +750 Tie: +400 Man United: -275
Big Sam last had something to smile about on January 16 when his West Brom team saw out a hard-fought 3-2 win over Wolves. Since then, his team hasn’t won a game and a lowly draw to Fulham was the only game where they have picked up a point in their last five outings in the League. Allardyce will be concerned with his team’s lack of goals in particular and their 2-0 loss to Tottenham on Matchday 23 has only compounded their miseries. They are coming up against a team that is stronger away than at home, and they will have to be strong defensively to keep a clean sheet at the Hawthorns. The Baggies will take hope from the only team below them, Sheffield United, that beat Man United just a couple of weeks ago, however.
Manchester United can’t seem to stop shooting themselves in the foot. The most consistent thing about them this season is their inconsistency. Yes, they are sitting in 2nd behind Manchester City, and yes, they have finally started scoring more goals, but they have thrown away their position at the top of the League and look to be trying their utmost to do the same with 2nd place. Draws against Liverpool and Arsenal, a shock loss to last-place Sheffield United, then a 9-0 win against Southampton is what happened in the space of just a few weeks. United then threw away the lead twice against Everton and allowed Calvert-Lewin to score in the last kick of the game. More concerning for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side is the injury to in-form Paul Pogba, who will be out for a couple of weeks. This might be the chance for Donny van de Beek to finally shine in a red shirt, but their work is going to be cut out for them. Manchester United simply have to win this game to keep their title hopes alive.
On paper, Manchester United really should win this game easily. As we saw against Sheffield United, however, this team really can be poor on a bad day. If United don’t put in a good display at the Hawthorns, then the cracks really will have begun to show.
Monday, February 15
Chelsea vs. Newcastle
Betting Odds: Chelsea: -350 Tie: +525 Newcastle: +850
Chelsea has finally found their feet again after the sacking of Frank Lampard. New manager Thomas Tuchel seems to be getting the best out of the players at his disposal and the Blues are yet to lose under his guidance. Jorginho looks like a player with a new zest for life and other players like Mason Mount, Azpilicueta, and Alonso have certainly found their form.
However, it’s still a mystery when it comes to getting the best out of expensive new signings like Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, and Hakim Ziyech. The new recruits were meant to transform Chelsea into title winners, but Tuchel seems to be settled on using Chelsea’s old guard to get the job done. The Blues have undoubtedly improved since Tuchel’s appointment and now occupy 5th spot on the table, but they have a grueling fixture list coming up in March, this Newcastle game should be the game for them to gather more momentum going into a tough month.
Newcastle sits 16th in the League and should be safe from relegation, barring any exceptional issues, but it’s been a tough season for the Magpies. Steve Bruce will simply hope that his team can better their record of 13th last season. They have won two of their last five fixtures in the League and the hard-fought 3-2 win over 12th place Southampton will have given the team the much-needed confidence they will have to take to Stamford Bridge. With 10 goals so far in this campaign, Callum Wilson is undoubtedly their best player, but his team struggled without him during his injury in November, and he once again hobbled off in their last match against Southampton, so it’s still to be seen when he will return.
It’s unlikely that Chelsea are going to stumble in their resurgence against a Newcastle side that has struggled for goals all season. The Blues has a point to prove and Tuchel will be hoping that they do exactly that in this game.
What’s happening in the rest of the League?
- Crystal Palace vs. Burnley: Palace: +130 Tie: +220 Burnley: +230
- Brighton vs. Aston Villa: Brighton: +165 Tie: +240 Villa: +165
- Southampton vs. Wolves: Southampton: +145 Tie: +220 Wolves: +200
- Arsenal vs. Leeds United: Arsenal: -135 Tie: +300 Leeds: +333
- Everton vs. Fulham: Everton: -130 Tie: +280 Fulham: +350
- West Ham vs. Sheffield United: West Ham: -140 Tie: +275 Sheffield: +400
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