EPL Preview: Matchday 26

Premier League logo and season dates on a matchday ball - Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images
(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

With just 13 games left in the 2020/2021 English Premier League season, we’re approaching crunch time. Manchester City are flying high, ten points clear in the top spot, and it certainly looks like they will be taking back the trophy from Liverpool this season. Let’s take a look at the matches that will impact the top of the table and the EPL betting odds for Matchday 26.

This is a week in which four of the top five will face each other in what could be a make or break round of matches.

Saturday, February 27

Manchester City vs. West Ham

Betting odds: Man City: -400 Tie: +525 West Ham: +1050

Ruben Dias of Manchester City tackles Nicolas Pépé of Arsenal - Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images
(Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

With their 1-0 win over Arsenal on the weekend, Manchester City made it an incredible 18 wins in a row. While Pep Guardiola’s team has been lauded for their attacking prowess, their strength really stems from the defensive partnership of the phenomenal Ruben Dias and unflappable John Stones. This defensive pairing has only conceded two goals in 13 Premier League starts together and they have kept 11 clean sheets. Teams are struggling to score against City and their midfield and strikers are thriving off of the security they know they have behind them. Most people will concede that Man City are taking the Premier League title this season unless their near-flawless recent record suddenly implodes. They are simply too good at the moment to be stopped.

David Moyes’ side put in another good shift over the weekend, beating Mourinho’s Tottenham team 2-1. Michail Antonio is fresh back from injury and showed his predatory instincts to score against the Spurs on the five-minute mark, while Jesse Lingard seems to be reinvigorated playing in this Hammers team. His work rate and goal-scoring threat look much more at home in Moyes’ setup than they ever did at Manchester United, and it’s clear to see this has had a massive impact on his confidence levels. The Hammers are in the top-four places in the top flight at the 25-game mark for the first time since 1985/86, and this has given fans, and the players hope that they could qualify for the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.

West Ham are a team playing with confidence and structure and they are certainly going to give Guardiola’s team a hard time. That said, it’s unlikely that Manchester City are going to slip up at this stage, and it’s expected that they will take another step towards the title with three points.

Sunday, February 28

Leicester City vs. Arsenal

Betting odds: Leicester: +145 Tie: +240 Arsenal: +185

Harvey Barnes of Leicester City celebrates after scoring a goal - Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images
(Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

The only thing keeping Leicester in third spot is Manchester United’s superior goal difference. The Foxes put in another stellar effort on the weekend to beat Aston Villa 2-1 to keep pressure on the Red Devils for second place, and their win was largely down to the incredible individual display of one player: Harvey Barnes. Barnes was the provider for James Maddison’s opener and then put the ball in the net himself for Leicester’s second. He now has 13 goals in the League this season — just one behind Jamie Vardy. Brendan Roger will be happy with his side’s mentality and performance over the last couple of weeks, and they haven’t lost in four matches now. 

Arsenal had the tough task of taking on Manchester City over the weekend and, while they put on a spirited display in the second half, the game was largely over before it began when Raheem Sterling scored in the second minute. Arsenal sit in 10th spot, a vast improvement from their position earlier in the season, but the Gunners have only won one of their last five League games and Arteta will be concerned about his team’s ability to put a good run together. Youngsters Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka have been immense for Arsenal since being promoted and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has recently returned to goalscoring form. But the Gunners tend to struggle in the big games and players like Aubameyang have a tendency to go missing for large chunks of the 90 minutes.

This is going to be a tough game for both teams, but an attractive game of soccer to watch with what is likely to be an attacking mindset from both sides. Leicester City are on a good run at the moment, while Arsenal never really seemed to get going, and the odds are on the Foxes taking all the points at the King Power Stadium.

Chelsea vs. Manchester United

Betting odds: Chelsea: +115 Tie: +230 Man United: +250

Timo Werner of Chelsea takes a penalty - Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images
(Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Chelsea have undoubtedly improved under the new guidance of Thomas Tuchel, but the Blues still needed Mason Mount to convert a penalty to get a point against struggling Southampton over the weekend. This team is yet to fully find their gears, but they are playing soccer that is much more exciting and structured than they have all season. Timo Werner, Olivier Giroud, and Mason Mount are scintillating when they link up properly, and Tuchel will be hoping that his team can kick on now and welcome the Red Devils to Stamford Bridge with a win.

United had an incredible display against Real Sociedad in the Europa League last week but followed it up with a poor first-half performance against Newcastle on the weekend. Although Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men eventually won 3-1, the game was far from straightforward and the biggest concern seems to be the shambolic defensive trio of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, and David de Gea. The three of them have been absolutely calamitous in defence and fans are calling for a change with Dean Henderson in goal and for Eric Bailly to partner up with Harry Maguire. The rest of the United team, bar Anthony Martial, seem to be up for pushing to catch up with Man City at the top of the League, but the defence will have to be on top of their game to keep the Blues out of the game. United will be tired from playing a Europa League game on Thursday, and there will need to be some sort of shuffling if Ole Gunnar Solskjær wants fresh legs for Sunday’s game.

Odds are going with Chelsea to take all three points at home, but United have an unbelievable record on the road, and this will be a game that they are going to push to take the win. It should be an exciting game of soccer between these two massive teams.

What’s happening in the rest of the League?

Everton striker Richarlison celebrates with his team after scoring a goal - Photo by ALEX LIVESEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
(Photo by ALEX LIVESEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Of course, these aren’t the only games that are happening in the EPL this weekend and online sports betting fans can also look at the following soccer betting odds for matchday 26:

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