This week sees the start of the winter break for 12 of the Premier League’s 20 teams, with the remaining 8 set to go on their break from next week as they are already in action this weekend in one of four matches taking place across Saturday and Sunday.
Although runaway leaders Liverpool are not involved, there is still plenty of top-quality action to enjoy across the quartet of matches. We begin with Everton taking on Crystal Palace in a mid-table clash that could see the winners thrust up the table, with the losers starting to think about those drop zone places again. Brighton and Watford round off the action on Saturday night with both teams desperate for points to avoid the drop.
Then on Sunday we have the surprise package of the season Sheffield United taking on Bournemouth in a crucial game at Bramall Lane before we round things off at the Etihad Stadium with Manchester City hoping to close the gap on Liverpool with their home game against relegation-threatened and out of form West Ham United.
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Let’s now take a look at the four Premier League games this weekend and we will bring you our top tips for each of these games on some very common and popular betting markets.
Saturday 8th February
Everton v Crystal Palace (12.30pm)
These teams have met 50 times in total with Everton winning 20 games, Palace 13 with 17 fixtures finishing in a draw. Indeed, six of the last nine games between the teams have finished all square, with Everton winning the other three games in that sequence. Palace’s last win over Everton came back in September 2014, but that was a 3-2 win at Goodison Park.
In terms of their form, Everton have not lost a Premier League game for four matches and they have picked up eight points in that time to amass 34 points from 25 games. Palace though have picked up just three points from the last 15 available, a run which has seen them drop down to 14th in the table with 30 points, albeit four points ahead of rivals Brighton in the place below.
Goalscoring has been a problem for both teams with Everton scoring just 31, but Palace have had even greater problems netting a Premier League low of 22 goals this season, although their defensive record of 29 goals conceded matches that of Manchester City and Manchester United and is the joint fourth best in the division.
Everton’s home form this season has been erratic, but the signs are that under Carlo Ancelotti, things are improving in that regard. Palace have been a model of inconsistency for several seasons now and they could spring a surprise here, but the form and stats suggest an Everton win on Saturday and I am going to go along with that.
- Match Result – Everton to win – 8/13
- Correct Score – Everton 2-0 Crystal Palace – 13/2
- Anytime Goalscorer – Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) – 6/4
Brighton v Watford (5.30pm)
These teams have been regular competitors over the years meeting 115 times in total with 36 wins for Watford eclipsed by the 45 wins Brighton have managed in the contest alongside 34 draws. The last six games between the teams have been shared equally with two wins apiece as well as two draws. In their most recent clash, Brighton were 3-0 winners over Watford at Vicarage Road in August.
Both sides have suffered a bit of a slip in form of late. Brighton have picked up just three points from the last 15 available in the Premier League, while Watford, after a fine run of form, have lost their last two games, last week in disappointing fashion as they let a 2-0 lead slip at home to Everton to end up on the wrong end of a 3-2 defeat.
That said, I can see how the Hornets have improved under Nigel Pearson and I think he will have worked his team hard defensively this week and against a Brighton side that don’t score many goals, that means I feel they will always be in with a chance in this game, especially with Deulefeu’s pace, which I think will cause Brighton plenty of problems.
This weill be a closely fought game and although the bookies favour Brighton, I am backing Watford to find some semblance of better form here to emerge with a draw.
- Match Result – Draw – 13/5
- Correct Score – Brighton 1-1 Watford – 6/1
- Anytime Goalscorer – Gerard Deulefeu (Watford) – 11/4
Sunday 9th February
Sheffield United v Bournemouth (2pm)
It is fair to say that Sheffield United are having a stunning season. Favourites to be relegated this year, they lie in 6th place above the likes of Wolves, Everton, Man Utd and Arsenal and there is no doubting that Chris Wilder’s team fully deserve their lofty league place, which has been built on the second best defensive record in the division.
Bournemouth, in contrast, have had a miserable time over the last few months, with only two wins in their last two EPL games offering Eddie Howe’s men some comfort. Those vital six points have lifted Bournemouth out of the drop zone and into 16th, but they are still in a precarious position and with just 25 goals scored this season, it is going to be tough for them against this United defence.
Sheffield United’s attack has managed just one more goal than Bournemouth with 26, but I think with. Home advantage and some astute signings in the transfer window, they are well equipped to maintain this position in the league and who knows, maybe even clinch a Europa League spot for next season.
I am backing the Blades to come out with their now customary 1-0 win here.
- Match Result – Sheff Utd to win – 4/6
- Correct Score – Sheffield United 1-0 Bournemouth – 11/2
- Anytime Goalscorer – John Fleck (Sheff Utd) – 10/3
Manchester City v West Ham (4.30pm)
These teams have met 111 times in total, Manchester City claiming 57 wins, to West Ham’s 37 and there have been just 17 draws between the teams. If that sounds bad for Hammers fans, then their recent record makes for even worse reading. City have won all of the last 9 between the two teams since August 2016, scoring 32 goals in those games and conceding just four.
Indeed out of the last eight matches between the teams, City have won 5-0 twice, 4-1 twice, 4-0 twice, as well as recording wins by 2-1 and 1-0 scorelines. Whatever way you look at it, this looks a tough ask for West Ham.
Add to that the fact that City come into this game on the back of two rare back to back defeats, and West Ham are in the run of a poor run of form, and at the start of a nightmare run of fixtures against teams mostly in the upper echelons of the table and I think you have the recipe for a very long evening for West Ham fans.
City beat the Hammers 5-0 in the London Stadium on the opening day of the season and in truth, I can see exactly the same thing happening again here.
- Match Result – Man City to win – 1/12
- Correct Score – Manchester City 5-0 West Ham – 12/1
- Anytime Goalscorer – Riyad Mahrez (Man City) – 5/6