Commodore's EPL Picks

Results on Sunday may not have gone my way but, after the success of Saturday, I still walked away from the weekend with a handsome profit and a positive outlook on things. The madness that is December has passed and we can return to the more orthodox weekly viewing of the Premier League, giving us time for reflection and analysis which should lead to an increase in profits. One interesting takeaway from the weekend is the fact that Manchester United under Louis van Gaal have the same number of points that they did under David Moyes after 21 matches. Amazing what nearly £200 million and a bit of positive publicity can do – or perhaps the banner is busy being made and the plane readied for take-off. Time will tell.

Aston Villa 34/10 draw 24/10 Liverpool 17/20
It was at about this stage last season that Liverpool embarked on an exhilarating run that almost culminated in their first Premier League title, winning 15 of their final 17 matches. They’ll need a similar run of form if they’re to match their ambitions and secure a place in the Champions League next season, starting at Villa Park on Saturday. The Reds have struggled against Villa’s counter-attacking approach in recent seasons, managing just two wins in their last six meetings, while they went down 1-0 at Anfield earlier this season. Their form has picked up, but this Liverpool side don't possess the ruthlessness that made last season's version so unplayable. I’m backing a draw here, although the Liverpool-Draw, HT-FT double offers amazing value at 13/1.

Burnley 13/10 draw 9/4 Crystal Palace 2/1
Burnley lifted themselves out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 victory over QPR – with Danny Ings once again coming to the fore. It’s another relegation six-pointer for them this weekend as they host Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace, who were full value for their win over Spurs. Wilfried Zaha showed glimpses of the player that made him Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signing, while Pardew’s influence showed, especially in the defensive aspects of the game. The two played out a scoreless draw earlier this season and, given what is at stake on Saturday, a repeat could be on the cards. I’m expecting some stubborn Palace resistance, making another draw the likely outcome at 9/4.

Leicester City 31/20 draw 9/4 Stoke City 7/4
Leicester are another side that gave their survival chances a massive boost with a win on the weekend, as they extended their unbeaten run to four matches in all competitions. On Saturday they’ll play host to Stoke, who were well and truly beaten at the Emirates. Noted for their home performances, Stoke have managed wins at Manchester City, Spurs and Everton already this season, although in a strange turn of events they failed to beat QPR, Hull and Sunderland. Stoke have struggled against the lesser teams this season, and I expect them to do the same at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, with another draw tipped at 9/4.

QPR 47/10 draw 3/1 Man United 11/20
Manchester United failed to get one single shot on target against Southampton at the weekend, the first time they’d done so at Old Trafford since May 2009 and the Saints’ first win at the Theatre of Dreams since 1988. These are the sort of records that accompanied David Moyes reign and were said to be a thing of the past under Van Gaal. United aren’t playing well. In fact, they’re damn lucky to find themselves where they are. On Saturday they’ll face an old nemesis in Harry Redknapp, who was left snarling on the touchline following QPR’s defeat to Burnley. Expect a reaction against Van Gaal’s ponderous United, so much so that I’m tipping a home win at 47/10. United are there for the taking, and Redknapp knows it.

Tottenham 6/10 draw 3/1 Sunderland 42/10
Sunderland were diabolical against Liverpool, while Spurs weren’t much better against Palace. Were it not for 1980s action movie villain, Harry Kane, Pochettino would’ve gotten the sack and Spurs would be onto the ‘next big thing’ by now. There’s not much to like about either of these sides, although Gus Poyet’s team are somehow even more mind-numbingly boring than their counterparts. Against Liverpool they couldn’t have been bothered to try score a goal, despite the fact the Reds were fielding a push puppet in goal. There really is no reason to watch this match unless you have money on it, so back Spurs and proceed to drink heavily until a) the game becomes exciting or b) you pass out.

Swansea 11/2 draw 28/10 Chelsea 5/10
Swansea were lucky to emerge from their match against West Ham with a point, as Bafetimbi Gomis finally got himself off the mark in the Premier League in Wilfried Bony’s absence. The Swans will need more of the same this weekend against Chelsea, who rode their luck at times but eventually did enough to ease past Newcastle. Diego Costa is looking back to full match sharpness, while Oscar, Hazard and Fabregas continue to combine superbly behind the bustling frontman. The Blues triumphed 4-2 when these two met at Stamford Bridge earlier this season in an entertaining affair and are tipped to do so once again at the Liberty. They can be found at 5/10 – one for the multiples.

Newcastle 5/2 draw 23/10 Southampton 11/10
Southampton’s victory at Old Trafford has people believing that they’re capable of a top four finish – god people are gullible. Southampton have as much chance of finishing fourth as Louis van Gaal and Ronald Koeman putting aside to attempt a pedal boat crossing of the English Channel during the summer – it ain’t going to happen. Graziano Pelle isn’t about to fire them into the Champions League and the truth is they haven’t got much else. They’re the Newcastle of 2011/12, or the Spurs of every year. Speaking of the Magpies, they’re still without a manager, which makes winning a football match much tougher. The Saints have struggled for goals on the road this season, while their defence has been miserly – making the under’s market worth a dabble at 15/20.

West Ham 13/20 draw 26/10 Hull City 42/10
Andy Carroll’s sublime left-footed strike against Swansea made me feel a bit uncomfortable as it sailed into the top corner of the net. Have I been wrong all these years? Is Carroll more than a lumbering centaur parading as a footballer? Probably not. He is in decent nick though, and could well add to his tally against Hull City at Upton Park on Sunday. As for the Tigers, well they’re heading for the drop. Strikers Nikica Jelavic and Abel Hernandez limped off during their 1-0 loss to West Brom spreading their already threadbare squad even thinner. With the odds so firmly stacked in the Hammers favour, 13/20 seems like a decent price on the home win. I suggest you get all over that and throw it into a couple multiples – it’s the tip of the weekend.

Man City 15/20 draw 27/10 Arsenal 34/10
Alexis Sanchez is the player Liverpool should’ve signed to replace Luis Suarez. The Chilean has all the skills necessary to become a great in the Premier League – pace, instinctiveness, vision and a tireless work ethic. Without him, Arsenal would be nowhere. They’ll need him to be at his very best against Manchester City on Sunday and, even then, it might not be enough. Goals have never been Arsenal’s problem, defending them has. Without a holding midfielder to protect Koscielny and Mertesacker at the Etihad, David Silva is going to pick them apart. With Sergio Aguero back up front for City, I can only see one outcome here. Arsenal will score, most likely though Sanchez, but City will have too much for them. Get on the overs and a home win.

Everton 8/10 draw 5/2 West Brom 34/10
Everton went and did me last weekend by getting a result against the champions. Bastards. Despite their valiant draw against City, the Toffees are still without a win in five league matches. They’ll get an opportunity to set that straight when they host West Brom at Goodison Park on Monday night. Tony Pulis brought his Palace side here last season and proceeded to wipe the floor with Everton’s Champions League dreams, as the Eagles recorded a 3-1 victory. He started his Premier League reign with a home win against Hull, although there was very little to like about that performance. This one will be a scrap on the banks of the Mersey, and I expect Everton’s desperation to give them the edge. You can get 8/10 on a home win, evens if you take them on the drift.

The coming week’s will be defined not by the action on the pitch, but the happenings off it. The January transfer window is notorious for throwing up at least one surprise and, following Wilfried Bony’s move to Man City, there’s money in the pot – expect it to be thrown around. Supply is low and demand high, so expect some ridiculous prices to be doing the rounds. And with players like Walcott and Sturridge returning from long injury lay-offs, teams will be handed the boost they need for the run-in. Keep your ear close to the ground, for there is money to be made by those with the know-how. The rest of the rubes can go on believing any old transfer rumour they read, but we know better, don’t we? Sala Kahle, folks.

Written by Commodore Vegas
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Commodore’s Picks
Aston Villa DRAW 24/10
Burnley DRAW 9/4
Leicester City DRAW 9/4
QPR WIN 47/10
Tottenham WIN 6/10
Chelsea WIN 5/10
Newcastle UNDER 2.5 GOALS 15/20
West Ham WIN 13/20
Man City WIN 15/20
Everton WIN 8/10