GameWeek 16 is upon us…and its a double! Well, I say that with some form of enthusiasm, but in reality it is only Reading and Sunderland getting two bites at it. Let’s get into my first article from the frosty depths of London!
Arsenal v West Brom
Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Wilshere, Arteta, Cazorla; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud, Gervinho.
Arsenal are in all sorts of injury trouble. Koscielny, Sagna, Walcott and Podolski missing out. That means Gervinho will be afforded a role on the flank, while Ox and Ramsey will slog it out for the RW.
Myhill, Jones, Olsson, McAuley, Ridgewell; Yacob, Mulumbu; Odemwingie, Morrison, Brunt; Long.
Morrison was rested apparently last weekend, so should set off in his preferred role in the hole. Elsewhere a clean bill of health for the Baggies.
Hard to pick this one. I think Arsenal have too much pace down the flanks, but having said that, their lack of finishing prowess may also hurt them. West Brom are no where near as formidable away as they are at home, and could struggle against a tight Arsenal side. I’m tipping a low scorer, with a 1-1 or Maybe a 2-1 to Arsenal on the cards.
Under 3.5 goals – $1.47
Aston Villa v Stoke City
Guzan; Herd, Baker, Clark; Lowton, Westwood, Bannan, Lichaj; Holman; Benteke, Agbonlahor.
An interesting 3-4-1-2 was adopted by Lambert v QPR, and given the injuries at the back to Vlaar and Bennett, it could be set to continue. Bent is as good as gone, and I’d be surprised if he played at all before January.
Begovic; Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron; Jerome, N’Zonzi, Whelan, Etherington; Walters; Crouch.
Jerome will start as Adam is injured- Kightly could also deputise. Crouch will wear a face mask, keeping Jones on the bench.
It’s always a tight one where Stoke are concerned. Villa haven’t been prolific at all this year, so a 1-1 or a 1-0 to Stoke is definitely on the cards. Benteke is a poacher, and is always a threat, while Crouch will fancy himself against an undersized, undermanned Villa back line.
Stoke DRAW NO BET – $2.10
Southampton v Reading
Gazzaniga; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Shaw; Schneiderlin, Davis; Lallana, Ramirez, Puncheon; Lambert.
Cork didn’t have a great game v Liverpool, and I reckon Davis might feature for the home clash. Elsewhere, Southampton will probably go in unchanged.
Federici; Cummings, Mariappa, Morrison, Shorey; Robson-Kanu, Tabb, Leigertwood, McAnuff; Le Fondre, Roberts.
Gunter is still out, so Cummings is handed another chance to impress. Mariappa has started over Gorkss in recent weeks, while Kebe is still injured so Robson-Kanu is afforded another start on the right. Guthrie is apparently available but who knows what McDermott has in store.
It’s games like this that end up being a 2-2 or a 3-2. Two lowly sides who have condeded the most goals in the premier league… Cha Ching! I’m liking Ramirez here, as I am Lallana and Lambert. For Reading, Le Fondre has been in great knick while McAnuff is always a handful down the left- the inexperienced Cummings may have trouble dealing with him.
Both Teams to Score
Over 3.5 Goals – $2.75
Sunderland v Chelsea
Mignolet; Bardsley, O’Shea, Cuellar, Rose; Johnson, Larsson, Gardner, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher.
Cattermole is out with a knee injury so Gardner and Larsson will pair up while McClean may get a rare start.
Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole; Romeu, Ramires; Hazard, Oscar, Mata; Torres.
This is CFC’s first game before heading off for the Club World Cup, and boy do they need a win. I’m therefore tipping them to play their big three Matcazar behind Torres. Mikel has been suspended for verbal abuse after the Man United game so will be unavailable.
Chelsea will throw everything at this game, as they really need a win to stay in touch with the top three. I reckon they SURELY can break their duck, as anything other than a win here will be catastrophic for the Blues given their blank in GW17. Sunderland have struggled to create chances, but with Sessegnon most effective on the counter, perhaps they will thrive sitting back and waiting for Chelsea to make a mistake. I can’t see it though, and am going 2-0 to Chelsea.
Chelsea to win to nil – $2.98
Swansea v Norwich
Tremmel; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; Britton, Ki, Michu; Dyer, Shechter, De Guzman.
Hernandez and Routledge are both doubts, so De Guzman is the only other wing option.
Bunn; Whittaker, Bassong, Bennett, Garrido; Johnson, Tettey; Snodgrass, Hoolahan, Pilkington; Holt.
Ruddy is still out so Bunn gets the nod, while Whittaker warms Martin’s RB slot. Elsewhere, nothing changes.
Who knows really. Norwich have been so stoic down back, but Swansea’s tikka takka game style at home is really starting to gel. I’m tipping yet another Michu masterclass, with Hoolahan likely to cause Swansea some trouble. I’ll go a 2-0 or 2-1 to the Swans.
Swansea – 1.0 – $3.25
Wigan v QPR
Al Habsi; Boyce, Piscu, Golobart; Stam, McCarthy, Jones, Beausejour; Di Santo, Gomez, Kone.
Maloney misses again, so Gomez gets the go ahead up front. The first choice back three of Caldwell, Figueroa and Ramis are ALL injured, meaning that part timers Piscu, Stam and Golobart will start.
Green; Bosingwa, Nelsen, Hill, Traore; Mbia, Diakite; Wright-Phillips, Granero, Taarabt; Mackie.
Much of the same as last week for QPR, as Redknapp has shown an inclination to ply Mackie’s trade over Cisse’s.
QPR will notch their first win here. Pencil it in now. Wigan has three VERY ordinary defenders in place of their preferred 3, and Redknapp’s team should have no problem notching up their first win.
QPR (Win) – $3
Man City v Man United
Hart; Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Nastasic; Barry, Y Toure, Garcia; Silva, Tevez, Aguero.
Clichy, Kolarov are both doubts, and Nastasic has filled in at LB for the last few games so I expect that to continue. Elsewhere, I could see Nasri slipping in, in place of Barry or Garcia.
De Gea; Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Carrick, Scholes, Jones; Rooney, Van Persie, Hernandez.
Man U have clocked up the injury worries in midfield, meaning that Jones will have to start as a CDM. Rafael looks like losing his RB role to Smalling after being subbed off after just 30 minutes v Reading- he was at fault for most of the goals.
Who knows given that last time it was 6-1. I’m tipping both teams to score, but to me Man City’s squad looks slightly stronger, with their midfield especially looking slow. I’d tip Silva to cause a bit of a problem (he missed the CL clash with a hamstring) but I’m tipping him to be right for this top of the table clash.
Both teams to score – $1.50
Everton v Tottenham
Howard; Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines; Naismith, Osman, Gibson, Pienaar; Fellaini; Jelavic.
One change for Everton, with Gibson being back fit and slotting in to a CM instead of the woefully past it Neville (Sorry Bayswater Toffee). Mirallas and Coleman are both expected to miss.
Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Vertonghen; Lennon, Sandro, Dembele, Dempsey; Defoe, Adebayor.
A 4-4-2 looks likely, especially with Bale out and Gallas a doubt. Adebayor is back, so I expect him to feature alongside Defoe as an attacking pair.
I can see Everton putting a strangehold on this game down back, with Tottenham lacking Bale down the left. He had the pace to trouble the sluggish Hibbert, but Dempsey does not. A low scoring affair is on the cards here, with a 1-1 draw my tip.
Under 3.5 goals – $1.34
West Ham v Liverpool
Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, O’Brien; Diame, Noble, Nolan; Jarvis, Cole, Benayoun.
Tomkins started in place of Diame last week but the latter was simply monstrous when he came on and set up the win for the Hammers. Benayoun returns, while Cole continues in place of the injured Carroll.
Reina; Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Johnson; Gerrard, Allen, Lucas; Sterling, Shelvey, Enrique.
Although LFC played Enrique at LB last week, he was very, very advanced, and without the suspended Suarez, they’ll need all the attacking thrust they can get- he should start on the LW. Shelvey will reprise the role he played a Blackpool two years ago on loan, as a false #9, in the Uruguayan’s absence.
West Ham will strange Rogers’ men down back, and without Suarez I can’t see them troubling the scorers against a pretty solid defensive unit. Nolan will probably snatch a goal as he has a habit of doing. 1-0 to West Ham.
West Ham to keep a clean sheet – $3.26
Fulham v Newcastle
Schwarzer; Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Diarra, Kacaniklic; Rodallega, Berbatov.
Ruiz is out,so Rodallega will start up front, with Petric also an option. Baird could start in CM over Diarra at home.
Krul; Simpson, Coloccini,Williamson, Santon; Guitierrez, Tiote, Anita; Ben Arfa; Cisse, Ba.
Ba will shake off another midweek knock, while Ben Arfa is tipped to play. Williamson continues in front of S Taylor.
Fulham should be too strong. I still think they lack a Dembele type in the middle of the park, but Newcastle have been thrustless without Cabaye, and although Ben Arfa is coming back, he won’t be fully fit. Berbatov should be his silky self!
Nothing jumps out at me so Fulham (win) – $1.95
Sunderland v Reading
I can’t see too much changing with the Black Cats, rather than maybe Colback coming into the middle of the park, Gardner playing in the hole and Sessegnon being rested. A lot hinges on how they play v Chelsea though! I much prefer Johnson if you’re chasing the double. Fletcher is coming back from an ankle injury and will likely play one of the two games.
Pog will surely feature in at least one, but I wouldn’t be chasing ANY Reading players for the double. Seriously, don’t waste your time. Le Fondre is the only one that slightly jumps out at me but stay put!
Sunderland should be too strong at home against the cellar dwellars.
Sunderland WIN – $1.95
Well that does it from me, sorry for the write-up, have written this fresh off a 24 hour plane trip to London. All betting odds are as of www.sportsbet.com.au