Southampton v Norwich
Friday 25th February – 8:00PM KO
The Premier League weekend off football kicks off as high-flying Southampton welcome Norwich to St Mary’s, looking for revenge after the Canaries triumphed 2-1 in November.
Hassenhuttl’s men are in fine form, particularly in the final third, finding the back of the net in every game this year. Against Everton at the weekend, they racked up an XG of 2.89 while not allowing Everton a single shot on target, a complete performance. Today, they face another relegation candidate in Norwich having lost just once at St Marys all season to Wolves.
Norwich, despite their recent run with a few victories, sit bottom of the table and 5 points adrift of safety. Despite beating Southampton in November, I think they could really struggle today, especially with the form of Che Adams and Broja as a partnership. Neither scored on Saturday but their link up play was exceptional as they bullied a weak back 4, similar to today’s outfit.
Saints form leaves me with little doubt that they should get the job done today but we can bump the odds up to 1.83 with over 1.5 goals, which has landed in every Saints game since bonfire nights and 83% of Norwich away games.
Prediction: Southampton Win and Over 1.5 Goals, 1.83 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Leeds v Spurs
Saturday 26th February – 12:30PM KO
Two Out-of-form sides meet at Elland Road as Leeds host a Spurs side beaten by Burnley in midweek while Leeds capitulated at Anfield.
In typical Spurs fashion they followed a win away at City with defeat to bottom of the league Burnley. An interesting press conference from Antonio Conte followed, where he appeared to question his own ability as Spurs manager. With just 1 league win in 5, Spurs are desperately in need of victory.
Although I don’t know if it comes today, I believe in Spurs to score today. Harry Kane proved on Saturday that he was the complete number 9 and his pass for the first goal was out of this world. A Leeds side who press with constant intensity should allow for Kane to play these kind of passes in behind to Son and Kulusevski.
Leeds were embarrassed by Liverpool in a 6-0 loss leading to more questions surrounding the security of Bielsa’s position. Leeds have conceded 3 or more in their last 4 games, conceding 16. They lead the league in goals conceded and XGA (expected goals against) and need to regain some of the goal scoring form that allows them to keep up with these numbers.
BTTS has landed in 2/3 of Leeds’ home games and in the last two fixtures between these sides, including the last game at Elland Road. Despite, the big miss of Patrick Bamford again I expect both teams to score in a game where they both have a chance at 3 points.
Prediction: Both Teams to Score, 1.57 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Brighton v Aston Villa
Saturday 26th February – 3:00PM KO
Steven Gerrard is struggling to get a Villa side firing who promised so much when he first took the reins.
Just a few weeks ago, Villa came back late against United and followed it with victory at Everton, but since then they have collected a point from a possible 9, losing to both Newcastle and Watford. Villa desperately need a return to form and will look to score for the first time in three games here.
Brighton were shocked by Burnley on Saturday as they shipped 3 goals for just the second time this season only conceding more to City. Like Villa, Brighton have also not scored in their last two games but have uncharacteristically conceded 5 in that time. Both sides are showing inconsistencies, so I don’t find value in either side to win.
I will be taking under 2.5 goals in this game with 2 teams facing off who are out of form going forward. All season the Amex has not seen too many goals, with under 2.5 landing in 75% of games. It is likely both Konsa and Webster should return, boosting both defences for each side.
The last two meeting at the Amex have been a draw and with Brighton one of the most draw heavy sides I can see them settling for a point at 0-0 or 1-1. As well, 3 of the last 4 meetings between these two have gone under 2.5 and I can see that again.
Prediction: Under 2.5 Goals, 1.67 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Crystal Palace v Burnley
Saturday 26th February – 3:00PM KO
A win a piece in midweek gives both Burnley and Palace much needed momentum as they look to attack the remaining games of the season.
Burnley played out a fairly dull game with Spurs, but centre half Ben Mee nodded home to seal a vital three points in Lancashire. Still sitting in 18th, a win here takes Burnley out the bottom 3 with other results too.
Palace finally found some road form, dispatching Watford for 4 as Wilfried Zaha bagged a much needed brace. This result sees Palace just one spot away from the top half now and if they can string together form, they have a real chance at this.
I think Dyche and Vieira will both be heading into this game thinking they can get something out of it, especially when the reverse fixture finished 3-3. That game had 5 yellows despite Burnley averaging 1.45 cards per game at home and Palace 1.62 cards pg on the road. I’m taking Burnley over 1.5 cards in this game as Palace average 2.54 yellows against at home and Burnley average just shy of 2 per game on the road. Dyche should mention the importance of this game in building momentum and also after his outburst at Simon Hooper in the reverse fixture.
Prediction: Burnley Over 1.5 Cards, 1.44 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Man United v Watford
Saturday 26th February – 3:00PM KO
On paper this should be a routine victory for Rangnick’s men but having got Solskjaer sacked don’t be surprised if Watford spring a surprise at The Theatre of Dreams.
Watford ran United round the park in November, winning 4-1 against a United side who’s only bright spot was goal scorer Donny Van de Beek who won’t play today. The sending off of Harry Maguire allowed Watford to stick two more past a tiring 10 men in stoppage time. This Watford side, now under Roy Hodgson shouldn’t give United too much trouble on Saturday but I said that when they travelled to Villa. They’re very hit and miss but if Louza, Dennis and Sarr show up they have a chance here.
Especially as they are playing a tired Manchester United side who played in Madrid on Wednesday and had to make that long journey just 3 days ago. United are one of the most carded sides at home in the league averaging 2 cards per game at home this season. Recently they have given away 15 yellows in their past 4 and fixture congestion is drawing lazy fouls from tired players. Throw in the pace factor of the Watford front 3 and both full backs and Maguire are great candidates for cards.
Referee Kevin Friend has the highest card rate in the league at 5.5 per game and gave Arsenal 4 yellows when he took charge of Arsenal Watford earlier this season. Friend also gives out a card for every 4 fouls on average and United average over 10 per 90 so I don’t doubt United will give him opportunities to get his cards out.
Prediction: Over 1.5 Man United Cards, 1.67 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Brentford v Newcastle
Saturday 26th February – 3:00PM KO
One of the most in form teams in the league travel south to the most out of form sides in the league looking to tighten the gap between the sides.
Thomas Frank’s Brentford side look to be in a relegation battle now as teams below keep picking up points where they have just a draw from their last 5 games. They were outclassed by Arsenal last week only scoring a late consolation but need to record a win soon for the first time since the 2nd of January. Despite facing a late fitness test, they could finally welcome back star man Ivan Toney or hand a debut to Christian Eriksen, greatly benefitting a struggling attack.
Despite losing Trippier and Krafth to injury, Newcastle still picked up a point away to top 4 challengers West Ham, leaving them unbeaten since the 4-0 thumping from City. I have no doubts about them scoring today against an out of sorts Brentford side which comes in at odds of 1.33 for a low odds leg if you need.
However, I have confidence in BTTS and that’s my bet here. Aside from Dan Burn, Newcastle have defensive issues, which Brentford should be able to take advantage of. 67% of Newcastle’s games have had BTTS and I expect that number to rise here.
Prediction: Both Teams to Score, 1.8 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Everton v Man City
Saturday 26th February – 5:30PM KO
City look to bounce back from defeat at the Etihad as they make the short trip to Merseyside to face an out of sorts Everton side trying to steer away from an unexpected relegation battle.
It feels like City have held this lead at the top forever but all of a sudden, the gap is down to just 3 points with Liverpool’s form. With Liverpool’s visit to Wembley, City can extend that lead back to 6 points with a much needed victory here. With the best away record in the league by 5 points with just one defeat all year (on the opening day), I can’t see anything other than a City win. Not to mention the 3-0 victory at the Etihad in the reverse fixture, limiting Everton to just 22% possession and 1 shot on goal.
Everton have lost 8 in a row to City and have beaten just one top half side at Goodison since the first day of the season. Notoriously slow starters, Everton are often willing to sit back and invite pressure, not a tactic that will hold City off for long. Everton have scored just 8 first half goals and have the worst first half record in the league this season, while City have conceded just 4 goals in the first half all season, scoring 30.
Where City have been leading going into half time 15 times this season, Everton have led just 3 times at half time this season. I expect City to start fast, looking to return to their usual dominant selves. The relentless nature of Guardiola’s men should see City constantly looking for more goals after and I think City half time and full time should land here.
Prediction: Man City Half Time/ Man City Full Time, 1.83 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
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