The English Premier League title race may be as good as over if first-placed Chelsea beats second-placed Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, thereby extending its lead to eight points with 15 championship rounds remaining.
And one thinks that Chelsea, even though the Blues played 120 minutes against Liverpool on Tuesday and the English Football Association has banned Diego Costa for three games following his midweek stamp on Emre Can, is a decent bet to defeat Manchester City at odds of +110 with BetVictor and PaddyPower in the English Premier League blockbuster.
Both Chelsea and Manchester City are going to line up at Stamford Bridge without regular starters for the English Premier League match of the season: it is just that one thinks that the Blues have better understudies than the Citizens, whose boss, Manuel Pellegrini, must be absolutely hating watching the CAF Africa Cup of Nations unfold.
Cote d’Ivoire has qualified for the knockout stage of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and that means that new signing Wilfried Bony and star midfielder Yaya Toure are not going to take part in Manchester City’s crunch English Premier League game at Chelsea. Bony is yet to play for Manchester City so it is difficult to quantify his importance to the English Premier League champion but Toure is a different matter entirely. One thinks that it is no coincidence that Manchester City’s form has slumped since Toure linked up with Cote d’Ivoire for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea. It is Toure who makes Manchester City and the Citizens have drawn 1-1 at Everton, lost 0-2 at home to Arsenal and lost 0-2 at home to Middlesbrough since he left.
Chelsea has won each of its 10 English Premier League home matches and, from a purist’s perspective, it is a shame that Saturday’s game will not feature the best 11 players of both teams. But at least one can back Chelsea at odds against to beat a Manchester City side shorn of its pivotal performer, Toure. Costa has missed three of Chelsea’s 22 English Premier League matches and they have resulted in a 3-0 home win over Tottenham, a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace and a 1-1 draw at Manchester United in which the Blues led going into stoppage time before a moment of madness cost them victory.
Whereas Chelsea is perfect at home in the English Premier League, Queens Park Rangers is imperfect on the road having lost each of its 10 away games. Queens Park Rangers travels to Stoke on Saturday and the Potters, who were the better team in their 2-2 draw at Loftus Road in September, are interesting at odds of -149 with several bookmakers, including Boylesports and Ladbrokes.
One thinks that playing on the road has become a mental issue for Queens Park Rangers, which has the worst defensive record in the English Premier League and, incredibly, it has not scored a goal in the first 15 minutes of any of its 22 matches. Statistically, Stoke is one of the English Premier League’s fastest starting sides and, therefore, the Potters have to feature on one’s short list of weekend plays.
Crystal Palace is making light of the absence of two of its best players, Yannick Bolasie and Mile Jedinak, on national team duty with DR Congo and Australia respectively, winning four games on the spin since Alan Pardew’s appointment as manager. One cannot understand why bookmakers have posted Crystal Palace at longer odds for its English Premier League match versus Everton than the Toffees, not least because the Eagles triumphed 3-2 at Goodison Park four months ago.
To label Everton as out of form would be an understatement because the Toffees have beaten only Queens Park Rangers in their last 13 games across all competitions and that win was over a Hoops side away from its Loftus Road comfort zone.
BetVictor and WilliamHill are offering odds of +190 that Crystal Palace maintains its 100 per cent record under Pardew and leapfrogs Everton on the English Premier League ladder, thereby increasing the pressure on Toffees boss Roberto Martinez, who needs a win – any win – quickly.
With regards to English Premier League exotics, Newcastle to have more corner kicks than Hull is worth a look. Newcastle is averaging 6.00 corner kicks for and 4.82 corner kicks against in the English Premier League, whereas Hull’s numbers are 3.86 and 6.45 respectively. That means that Newcastle’s corner-kick ratio is the fourth most positive in the English Premier League and Hull’s ratio is the worst.
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