Commodore's EPL Picks

This is fast becoming a winter of discontent for your humble Commodore. After a midweek meltdown, the weekend compounded my woes, with Harry Kane’s strike against Burnley my sole shred of solace. Not even Martin Skrtel’s last minute header could lift the gloom. At least this time I didn’t bet against the Reds, for the Slovakian’s old 'suffer a head injury and then score the equaliser during the ensuing nine minutes of injury time’ routine worked a real charm. Perhaps Boxing Day might bring with it a change of fortunes, even if it won’t bring with it Test cricket to Kingsmead. Last year Liverpool were top when Christmas rolled around. This year they’re lucky to be in the top half. But let us not abandon hope, for there is time yet, and if the Premier League has shown us one thing, it’s that anything that can happen, will happen. Now to find out how to use that to our advantage...

Burnley 31/10 draw 5/2 Liverpool 9/10
Let’s kick things off with the Reds why don’t we? They’ve taken a savage beating in this column in recent weeks, as they have on the field, but it seems that they’ve suffered the worst of it. Sure, they still defend like twitchy meth heads who’ve gone a day or two without their fix, but at least up front the bubbly effervescence has returned. Lazar Markovic is starting to look the player he did in Portugal, while Sterling has taken well to his new striking role. Sturridge’s return is in the offing, however he won’t be available until the new year. They’ll still have enough for Burnley at Turf Moor, and are tipped to finally pick up a win at 9/10.

Crystal Palace 24/10 draw 24/10 Southampton 11/10
After five straight defeats, one even to Sheffield United, Southampton were suddenly their old selves again as they fleeced Everton 3-0 at St Mary’s over the weekend. I didn’t see it coming so it hit me like a ‘six-inch punch’ right between the eyes, leaving me disorientated and bloodied, feeling around my pockets for any loose change that might’ve been left behind. They’ll head to London for Friday’s festivities, where they’ll face a struggling Crystal Palace side. Palace aren’t as bad as their league position suggests, but they’re still short on quality up front. They shouldn’t really trouble the Saints, who I’m tipping to go back-to-back at 11/10.

Everton 8/10 draw 5/2 Stoke City 36/10
Roberto Martinez has some pondering to do over Christmas lunch. His side have managed consecutive victories just once this season, as inconsistency threatens to unravel their campaign. It also makes them a dangerous team to punt on – I learned that the hard way. They beat QPR comfortably in their last home match, but something doesn’t seem quite right at Goodison. Leighton Baines has the look of a player that passed up a big move, while Ross Barkley remains the only player that actually seems to give a damn. Stoke aren’t a team you wish to face when you aren’t feeling yourselves. However, the Toffees have made a habit of following a loss with a victory this season. You can back them to do so again at 8/10.

Leicester City 27/10 draw 5/2 Tottenham 1/1
Leicester City are the worst side in the Premier League at present. Bottom at Christmas, they now have a one in 11 shot of avoiding relegation if the history of the EPL is anything to go by (and it is). On Friday they host Tottenham, who have been grinding out victories, mainly thanks to Harry Kane. In truth, there’s not much else about this Spurs side to suggest they’ll finish anywhere higher than 7th. Their supporters will argue otherwise, but what do they know about football, they support Spurs. Not to marginalise my David Ginola loving readership, but I fancy them to go down here. I cannot back this up with stats or shot percentages, it is just a feeling I have. There will be a big upset on Boxing Day, and I fancy it to be Leicester picking up their first win in 13 matches. The bookies obviously sense it too, because Leicester are as short as 27/10.

Sunderland 1/1 draw 24/10 Hull City 11/4
Every now and again something happens in the league and you say to yourself, “I knew that was going to happen.” Sunderland’s victory over Newcastle courtesy of an Adam Johnson strike was one such instance. I should’ve had money on it. Their visitors on Friday were on the receiving end of a 1-0 scoreline, going down to a handball goal from Ki Sung-Yeung. Ho ho ho. Such is the luck of teams scrapping at the foot of the table. Steve Bruce’s team now have just one win from their last 10 matches. They may have done the double over the Black Cats last season, but they’re a team on the slide. Back Poyet’s team to take the victory at evens.

Swansea City 7/10 draw 26/10 Aston Villa 4/1
Villa gave a good account of themselves in their match against Manchester United, and may well have stolen victory at the death. Benteke was back to his marauding best, while they pushed some decent ball. Friday’s match at the Liberty should be easy on the eye, with both teams capable off some tidy football. Earlier this year a brace from Wilfried Bony and a Jonjo Shelvey wondergoal gave Swansea a comfortable 4-1 victory over Paul Lambert’s side. There’s not much between these two sides, however Villa will suffer in the absence of Gabby Abonglahor, who misses the match through suspension. I fancy another home win, but I’m going with BTTS at 19/20.

West Brom 5/1 draw 33/10 Man City 5/10
Just how City managed to put three goals past Palace at the weekend I will never know. With Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Stefan Jovetic all ruled out through injury, James Milner led the line. James Milner! Milner is many things, but a striker he is not. Luckily for Manuel Pellegrini, his cast of supporting stars showed their title-winning credentials. David Silva was sublime, as was Pablo Zabaleta, while Yaya Toure rounded things off with a powerful strike. Another plus for the Chilean manager is City’s current fixture list, which sees them face only teams in the bottom half of the table during the festive season. They’ll travel to the Hawthorns on Friday confident that they have enough talent in their midst to see off West Brom. While I expect that to be the case, they might struggle to break the Baggies down, as they did with Palace. I’m favouring the Draw-City HT-FT double here, available at 3/1.

Arsenal 1/4 draw 47/10 QPR 97/10
Arsenal may have made off with a draw against Liverpool, but they were poor. They’ve never face as many shots or given up as much possession in a Premier League match as they did on Sunday. Those are some damning statistics. Matthieu Flamini was fighting a losing battle at the heart of their midfield, while Calum Chambers has no idea how to play right back. I felt sorry for them, especially for Arsene Wenger, even the stubborn old man he’s become. They’ll beat QPR on Friday, only because the R’s are a diabolical team on the road. However, I do expect Both Teams to Score, with Charlie Austin likely to continue his impressive run. It can be found at 17/20, which is well worth the punt given Arsenal’s defensive frailties.

That will be all, folks. Sala Kahle.

Written by Commodore Vegas
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Commodore’s Picks
Liverpool WIN 9/10
Southampton WIN 11/10
Everton WIN 8/10
Leicester City WIN 27/10
Sunderland WIN 1/1
Swansea City BTTS 19/20
Man City Draw-City HT-FT DOUBLE 3/1
Arsenal BTTS 17/20