English Premier League Preview

The sacking of David Moyes has divided opinion across the footballing landscape. There are those who believe he was not given the right time, and just as many who felt his tenure was destined for failure.

Interestingly, their stock price went up by six percent yesterday, the highest it has been since the Scotsman was hired.

One thing we can all agree on, this incident has clearly illuminated the extent to which the modern information age has affected the dissemination of information, with David Moyes being amongst the last to know of his pending termination.

Liverpool really have the chance to cement their title aspirations with the visit of a domestically deflated Chelsea side.

A win here will all but seal Liverpool’s history defining Premier League title. The battle for survival has taken on Newtonian levels of complexity in the wake of Sunderland’s surprise win at Chelsea last week.

This will be yet again another fantastic advertisement for the most enduring domestic league in world football. 

Southhampton 18/10 draw 23/10 Everton 14/10
Southampton seem to have run short of steam at the business end of the season, perhaps safe in the knowledge of their mid-table status. Everton, on the other hand, still harbour Champions League hopes, but the extent of Kevin Mirallas’ injury will be a huge blow to their intentions. Southampton will look to give their supporters something to savour while Everton try to handle the pressure associated with competing for that final Champions League spot. This should be an open game of football that could put pay to Everton’s best European intentions. A score draw perhaps, the safe bet being over 2.5 goals at 7/10.

Fulham 5/4 draw 23/10 Hull 22/10
Fulham’s surge towards survival was halted somewhat by a gallant Spurs side last week, but they will look to bounce back in front of their impassioned home support. Hull have the look of a side treading water until their historic FA Cup final appearance. The likes of Huddlestone and Livermore won’t be risking innocuous injury at this point of the season with safety all but secured. Fulham will be looking to the inspirational figures of Kieron Richardson and Hugo Rodallega to come up with the goods once again. Fulham know that Sunderland have mounted a very real surge in the last week, and nothing less than a win will suffice. Fulham, buoyed by the home support, should have enough to see off Hull. Get them at 5/4.

Stoke 2/1 draw 23/10 Tottenham 13/10
Off all the sides destined for mid-table limbo, Stoke have perhaps been the most efficient and difficult to dispose of in recent weeks. Mark Hughes has done an excellent job of finding a balance between their usual brand of thuggery and some more nuanced play. Arnautovic has provided some width and has been excellent in recent weeks, while Adam and N’Zonzi have become more composed playmakers this season. Spurs have found an exciting new talent in the young Harry Kane, a fresh-faced striker who shows the value of fostering local potential over wasting exorbitant fees on fairly untested European commodities. I predict a hard fought stalemate that will underline Stoke’s ability to neutralise superior sides. Not wanting to risk too much on the draw however, under 2.5 goals at 8/10 looks about right. 

Swansea 13/20 draw 27/10 Aston Villa 42/10
Wilfried Bony helped to consign Newcastle to their fifth consecutive loss in a row last week, the striker having helped himself to over twenty goals in all competitions this season. Aston Villa have been horribly unfortunate in the injury department, always seeming to lose vital players as others are set to return. They will do well to hang on to the services of Christian Benteke in the summer window, as the powerful Belgian will surely be seduced by other clubs upon his trip to Rio with the Belgian national side. Swansea should be able to just overcome a Villa side desperately waiting for this seemingly interminable season to end. Swansea at 13/20 will have to do here. 

West Brom 9/10 draw 5/2 West Ham 3/1
West Brom are still flirting uncomfortably with the drop zone, especially with the way various teams continue to sprout unexpected results. West Ham have probably managed to secure their safety, but Hammers fans will not be overly thrilled by an extremely inconsistent season. Morgan Amalfitano and Sessegnon should propel West Brom forward on the counterattack, while Andy Carroll continues to remain a threat in the opposition penalty box. There is honestly very little to separate these two sides, so the only diplomatic solution seems to be the draw. Both sides are also inconsistent in the scoring department as well, so I’m wary of the goals markets. Back the draw at 5/2, but don’t be hinging any multiples on it. 

Man United 7/20 draw 37/10 Norwich 67/10
The Moyes debacle has opened the door for yet another intriguing pleasure, the prospect of witnessing the venerable Ryan Giggs at the helm of United. Norwich were quite unfortunate to not pinch something against Liverpool, Snodgrass and Johnson were consistently whipping brilliant balls into the area and will prove a problem to United. For me, the sacking of Moyes did not come as such a drastic surprise. With essentially the same squad that won the season at a canter last year, Moyes’ side has struggled to even create chances in some of their matches. I foresee a performance that could highlight the difficulty awaiting any manager wishing to adopt the full time post at Old Trafford. Norwich or Draw Double Chance is where I would go, available at 16/10.

Sunderland 9/10 draw 5/2 Cardiff 3/1
Sunderland’s shock win at Chelsea did not only shake the foundations of the Premier League title race, it impacted hugely on what has become an increasingly opaque relegation battle. Just when you think a side has been cut adrift from the pack, they manage to resurrect their failing survival hopes. Cardiff gave an inspirational second half performance against Stoke, but still could not find that crucial winning goal. Kenwyne Jones is just not the potent weapon a side needs to propel them at this point of the season. Sunderland looked impressive against both City and Chelsea and should finally put pay to Cardiff’s survival hopes. 9/10 is a great price, get on.

Liverpool 13/20 draw 28/10 Chelsea 41/10
Liverpool’s march towards a maiden Premier League title has been helped immeasurably by their rival’s exhaustive European commitments. Perhaps that is what Mourinho means when he refers to the log as a false one. Be that as it may, Chelsea have a hugely important European semi-final next week which will invariably see a swathe of tactical personnel limitations in the Chelsea side. Liverpool will be at full strength however, and their seemingly unstoppable sea of red should be too much for a Chelsea side daydreaming of Europe. Sterling and Suarez will terrorise a Chelsea defence that could be without the services of John Terry, while star playmaker Hazard and striker Samuel Eto’o will also likely miss out. The Reds are fairly short at 13/20, but I wouldn’t get too caught up in the exotics. 

Crystal Palace 57/10 draw 7/2 Man City 9/20
Palace secured their Premier League status last week with an ease that seemed almost unfathomable before the acquisition of Tony Pulis. Jason Puncheon has been the fulcrum around which their remarkable rejuvenation has occurred, adding dynamism to their well-established tenacity. Manchester City are the Jekyll and Hyde of English football, teetering between elegant fluidity and defensive disaster in every game. If Chelsea were to defeat Liverpool, a City win here would hand them the initiative in the title race again. Additionally, Palace have already secured their top flight status and will probably experience an understandable dip in intensity. I expect City to give an energised performance against a slightly deflated Palace side. City on the goal handicap at 11/10.

Arsenal 1/4 draw 44/10 Newcastle 95/10
Arsenal, despite all the negativity surrounding their ignominious exit from the title race, actually stand to experience their best season in ages. They brushed aside their FA Cup final competition Hull with consummate ease on the weekend, and they look likely to retain that fourth Champions League spot. The return of Aaron Ramsey has shown exactly the type of incision that they have lacked in the bigger contests this season. Newcastle lost their fifth game in a row last week, the first time in their rollercoaster ride through the travails of the Premier League. Newcastle have been diabolical in recent weeks, showing a distinct lack of enthusiasm that Arsenal will most surely thrive on. Very rarely can one anticipate a massacre, but in this case I feel bold enough to do so. Arsenal by a landslide. Go big here, over 3.5 goals at 5/4 offers value but over 4.5 goals at 11/4 may just be the best bet of the weekend.  

Written by Damien Kayat