Chelsea come into Premier League week 15 three points clear after their dominant victory over Manchester City and Liverpool’s stunning 4-3 loss to Bournemouth. Arsenal kept the heat on Chelsea by moving into second following their 5-1 demolition of West Ham. Week 15 sees some more thrilling games and also Betsafe’s Premier League boost for new and existing Betsafe customers. Check out leading football website TEAMtalk’s comprehensive preview to the weekend’s action and boost your sportsbook wallet with Betsafe.
Watford v Everton
It must be frustrating being an Everton fan at the moment. There is something just not connecting right at Goodison Park.
A run of one win in their last nine games has seen the Toffees come unstuck and slide down to ninth in the Premier League table, which is unlikely to have been what they had in mind when they appointed Ronald Koeman and sanctioned a summer of big spending.
Their cause also hasn’t been helped by the biggest of their summer acquisitions, Yannick Bolasie, sustaining a serious knee injury last time out against Manchester United.
Everton’s away form has been at the centre of their collapse, with four of their last five games resulting in defeat – three of them whilst failing to find the net themselves.
Watford have their own troubles, though. They have lost their previous two games and three of their last four. What is probably more worrying to Walter Mazzarri, though, has been the manner in which they have lost them.
The Hornets haven’t really shown any sting, and were especially poor in recent defeats at Liverpool and West Brom.
What will really get Everton fancying their chances in this one, though, is the fact that Watford have never beaten them in the Premier League era.
You have to go all the way back to 1987 to find a Watford win when these two sides have clashed.
What we are essentially looking at here is two teams that are in poor form and desperate to register a win to stop their confidence ebbing away before the traditionally tough festive schedule – and Everton have the quality and the record to suggest it’ll be them who go on and do it.
Hull City v Crystal Palace
You could almost taste Crystal Palace’s relief as they beat Southampton at Selhurst Park last week to end a run of six consecutive defeats. Granted, they needed a little help to do it, and were grateful for Fraser Forster’s uncharacteristic calamity in the Saints’ goal, but boy did they need that three points.
The truth is, that anything other than a win last week probably would have seen boss Alan Pardew out of a job and, actually, that’s probably fair enough really.
When you look at the quality in Palace’s squad, it’s undeniable that they are grossly underachieving if they are so much as looking over their shoulders to the relegation places.
With Christian Benteke, Yohan Cabaye, Wilfried Zaha, and Andros Townsend, the Eagles surely have enough in their side to lead a very comfortable Premier League existence.
You certainly couldn’t say that about Hull, though, could you?
The Tigers lacked any kind of bite in defeat at Middlesbrough on Monday and only Swansea City sit between them at the foot of the Premier League table.
After a perfect start which saw six points picked up from their first two games, Hull have managed just five more since, and it’s looked like it’s taken a remarkable effort at times to scramble that meagre total together.
The statistics certainly make for bleak reading if you’re Mike Phelan. No team have scored fewer goals in the Premier League this season. No team has a worse goal difference. Only Swansea have conceded more goals. No team have kept fewer clean sheets and only Burnley have failed to score on more occasions.
Frankly, it’s grim.
Crystal Palace must be heading into this one with confidence restored and rubbing their hands together with glee. They have to be strong favourites to win this one.
Leicester City v Manchester City
Last week, we tipped Leicester to lose at Sunderland and said that, if they did, they’d be right in the relegation mix. They did, and now they are.
The Foxes now sit a perilous two points above the bottom three having won just three Premier League games since being crowned champions in May.
The good news for Leicester fans and Claudio Ranieri, is that all of those three wins have come at the King Power Stadium. The bad news, I suppose, is that the last of them was all the way back in October.
They welcome a Manchester City side who will still be reeling from the potentially damaging home defeat to Chelsea last week.
That defeat will have obviously stung Pep Guardiola and his troops, but the fact is that, after a blistering start to the season, Man City have pretty much stuttered along since – a truth evidenced by them falling four points off the pace in the title race.
But while defeat to Chelsea in a one-off game can be taken on the chin, the loss of Sergio Aguero to a four-game ban for violent conduct, may have far wider reaching consequences.
The Argentinian’s ill-judged lunge on David Luiz turned a bad day into a disaster for Man City, and the resulting suspension will rob Guardiola of his star strikers’ services until New Year’s Eve.
That’s the kind of break that Leicester need and, together with Man City’s fairly erratic form, the Foxes may just prove cunning enough to take full advantage.
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Best Of The Rest
Is there such a thing as a relegation six-pointer in December? If there is, then we have one at the Liberty Stadium where Swansea host in-form Sunderland.
David Moyes’ Black Cats are flying right now, after picking up nine points in their last four matches – quite the upturn in fortune given their previous ten games yielded just two points.
Swansea, on the other hand, are in a bad place. The euphoria of their stunning 5-4 win over Palace was ruthlessly cut short by Spurs, who battered Bob Bradley’s men 5-0 at White Hart Lane last time out.
Those two scorelines, though, offer interesting opportunities in the betting market. Over 5.5 goals between them is available at 13/1 which, given both clubs’ defensive woes this season and the presence of Jermain Defoe, does look tempting.
Meanwhile, Liverpool will look to bounce back from their shock defeat to Bournemouth when they face West Ham at Anfield.
It’s tough to find a huge amount of value given the form book is so clearly in the hosts’ favour, but the first goalscorer market has caught the eye.
Georginio Wijnaldum was a constant threat the last time the Reds played at Anfield, with only Sunderland stopper Jordan Pickford preventing him from getting on the scoresheet. In addition, the Dutchman was renowned as a ‘homer’ during his days at Newcastle, where he did the vast majority of his best work on home soil. He can be backed at 9/1 to open the scoring on Sunday and that looks like a very generous offer.
About Michael Graham
Michael Graham is a contributor for TEAMtalk.com, one of the UK’s leading websites for football news, views, transfer rumours and features.