Commodore's EPL Picks

There are many harsh lessons to be learned from the gambling experience, some of which were experienced over the weekend. Lesson one: Never bet on cup football. Heed these words, for they will be your saving grace. The cup has never been forgiving to gamblers and punters alike. Picking favourites is always a risky business, but in the cup it becomes downright lunacy. There was a time, not long ago, when I looked forward to the FA Cup with giddy expectation, like an upcoming vacation. No longer – not after Man City suffered the indignity of going out to Middlesborough, at home no less. They were beaten and disgraced. I’m sticking to the good ol’ EPL from here on out. That’s where the smart money is.

Hull City 16/10 draw 21/10 Newcastle 7/4
Newcastle’s trip to Hull is hardly a high-point for those looking for some high-powered football action. Mike Ashley couldn’t be bothered to find a new manager, so he just hired the first guy that walked through the door. Poor bugger – has no idea what he’s in for. Hull’s search for a new manager will begin soon, one or two more losses should just about do it for Steve Bruce. Neither team are much good at the moment. Newcastle’s defence resembles a bunch of drunkards playing a late-night one bounce game. Luckily for them only Sunderland have scored less goals than Hull, which is saying something. This game doesn’t interest me, but if you must, back the draw at 21/10.

Crystal Palace 18/10 draw 21/10 Everton 15/10
Alan Pardew – the saviour of Crystal Palace Football Club. How long can this last? A 3-2 victory over Southampton in the cup suggests for some time yet. And with a home match against Everton on the horizon, few would argue with that. The fact is, Everton should expect to beat a club like Palace. Quite comfortably in fact. But here’s the thing – Everton are a terrible football side. Roberto Martinez has taken a dull David Moyes side and made it even duller. For that he deserves massive credit. They’re about as blunt as a side can be; hell they can’t even score penalties. Palace are pushing some good ball at the moment, and are well worth having some interest in at 18/10.

Liverpool 6/10 draw 29/10 West Ham 9/2
Daniel Sturridge is back. Praise the lord almighty. Now let’s hope for Liverpool’s sake they can keep him fit for longer than 12 minutes. A home match against Big Sam’s hatchet men might not be the ideal return match, but I don’t see Brendan Rodgers waiting any longer than he has to. West Ham gave the Reds a proper hiding when the two met earlier this season, winning 3-1 after two early goals. Simply put, Liverpool couldn’t live with them at set-piece time, and with Andy Carroll back in the mix, things aren’t about to get any easier. The Reds are in a rich vein of form, but I would be cautious about backing them for the win. Rather get on Both Teams to Score – it’s better odds and a safer bet. 

Man United 7/20 draw 39/10 Leicester City 72/10
I get the feeling that Manchester United are building toward a big win. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve been pretty awful of late – struggling past QPR before scraping a draw against Cambridge. Somehow I feel like, if they click, they’re going to put five past someone soon enough. That could well come this weekend against Leicester. Shamed like a dog urinating on itself when the two met earlier this season, United are playing for lost pride at Old Trafford on Saturday. The Foxes have slyly been going about their business in recent weeks, but I feel they’ll come up short here. Back United to win and Both Teams to Score at 7/4.

Stoke City 6/10 draw 9/2 QPR 11/4
QPR have taken “poor on the road” to a whole new level. Played 10: Lost 10. View that in whatever light you choose, it’s a shambolic effort. That they’re still in with a chance of survival is surprising given those stats. On Saturday they travel to the Britannia; a tough task for title contenders but a near impossible one for Harry’s homesick bunch. Stoke have already lost at home to fellow-strugglers Leicester, Burnley and Aston Villa and should give QPR some hope. It also helps to keep the home win at a reasonable 6/10. Stoke have won five of their last seven; QPR are without a win in six. Lump on the home win and throw it into your multiples.

Sunderland 11/10 draw 22/10 Burnley 26/10
Sunderland and Burnley will play out a relegation six-pointer at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. Don’t go expecting a classic, though. The Black Cats could well be the most boring team in the history of the Premier League at the moment. They’ve managed just four goals in 11 home matches this season. One can’t help but pity the metal-workers who have spent the best part of their salaries on a season ticket. Poor sods. As for Burnley; well they’ve been hellishly exciting recently. Their last five matches have seen 26 goals, so there is hope yet. Unfortunately, inconsistencies like these make this too tough to call. If you simply must have a bet, then you could do worse than a draw at 22/10; it’s always a good bet when Sunderland are involved.

West Brom 19/10 draw 22/10 Tottenham 29/20
Tony Pulis has turned West Brom’s leaky defence into one of the most watertight in the league. Four matches into his reign and the Baggies have conceded just once. Spurs will visit the Hawthorns this weekend as they look to maintain their push for Champions League football. Mauricio Pochettino made nine changes ahead of their cup defeat to Leicester, but the likes of Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen are likely to return for this one. A James Morrison goal gave West Brom a rare win at White Hart Lane earlier this season, and games between these two are generally tight affairs. The Baggies, with their new-found defensive solidity, are tipped to pick up the three points here.

Chelsea 9/10 draw 26/10 Man City 28/10
Saturday’s final match could prove pivotal in the context of the title race. A Chelsea victory will hand them an eight-point gap at the top of the standings, and an almost unassailable lead. City, after all the work done over the festive season, have let things slip in recent weeks, following up their draw against Everton with a home loss to Arsenal. Throw in a loss to Middlesborough and City look in a downward spiral. Chelsea haven’t fared much better but, in Jose Mourinho, they have a manger that knows how to win the matches that matter. It could well come down to which striker fires on the day, and with Sergio Aguero still making his way back to match sharpness, Chelsea have a distinct advantage in this regard. Chelsea look good value at 9/10 to extend their lead and move one step closer to the title.

Arsenal 2/9 draw 47/10 Aston Villa 11/1
Since going down to Southampton on New Years Day, Arsenal have rattled off four consecutive victories, scoring 10 goals. The swagger and cocksuredness of their play has returned as Tomas Rosicky shaken himself from his customary winter hibernation to provide us with some sumptuous touches. Even Theo Walcott is back among the goals. Oh what a time to be a Gooner. Consider yourselves forewarned – beware the Ides of March. Aston Villa is next on the agenda in what looks to be an easy encounter. Arsenal banged in three goals in four minutes to put Villa away in September, back when Danny Welbeck was being touted as a “great signing”. Hardly. Either way, with Alexis Sanchez showing that he actually is a great signing and Santi Cazorla involved in pretty much every aspect of Arsenal’s play (including team selection), I can only see one winner. Back the Gunners to win by two or more.

Southampton 11/20 draw 11/4 Swansea 5/1
Two teams that suffered disappointing cup exit’s will close out the weekend’s action at St Mary’s. Southampton went down in a goal-fest against Palace, while Gary Monk’s team talk got his side too riled up, resulting in two red cards (the first after just six minutes) and a 3-1 defeat to Blackburn. The Swans have fallen away in recent weeks, while Southampton remain, clinging desperately to third place. Their record against Swansea makes for some good reading, where they’ve won each of the last three meetings. Couple this with Swansea’s below par away record (they’ve won just twice on the road this season) and Ronald Koeman’s side look a solid bet. If the 11/20 available on a home win seems a bit short for you, then why not try the under’s markets. None of the last five meetings have seen over 2.5 goals.

Let’s hope sanity prevails this weekend, I don’t know how much more I can take. January hasn’t been particularly good to me. Bring on February and the end-of-season melee. Sides scrapping for their lives are easier to predict. They’ll do whatever’s necessary to win. That’s the sort of desperation that can be twisted; used to your advantage. Until then, though, enjoy the footy. Mahalo.

Written by Commodore Vegas
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Commodore’s Picks
Hull City DRAW 21/10
Crystal Palace WIN 18/10
Liverpool BTTS 15/20
Man United WIN + BTTS 7/4
Stoke City WIN 6/10
Sunderland DRAW 22/10
West Brom WIN 19/10
Chelsea WIN 9/10
Arsenal WIN 2/9
Southampton WIN 11/20