Crystal Palace well and truly broke the away hoodoo in the Premier League last week and they have a great opportunity to follow up this Saturday at Swansea. The Welsh club dispensed with the services of manager Paul Clement this week, Leon Britton taking temporary charge at the Liberty Stadium.
Swansea have replaced Palace at the bottom of the table after the Eagles spent much of the early part of the season cut adrift. Roy Hodgson has overseen a turnaround, culminating in the last two wins against Leicester and Watford, which has seen them climb to 14th in the league. It is still heavily congested at the wrong end of the table though, and just six points separate the bottom nine clubs.
Another two teams right in the relegation mix are West Ham and Newcastle, and those two meet at the Hammer’s London stadium on Saturday afternoon. David Moyes has also overseen a change in fortunes in East London after beating Chelsea and Stoke and drawing with Arsenal, keeping three clean sheets in the process. They’ve moved ahead of Newcastle courtesy of those results, as the Magpies have lost eight of the last nine and fallen down the standings.
At the right end of the table, Burnley are one point and one place ahead of Spurs (6th & 7th), but the Clarets are heavy underdogs at home on Saturday. The bookmakers consistently underestimate Sena Dyche’s men, and although Tottenham possess some of the finest attacking talent in the league, Burnley are a touch of value in the evening kick off.
Swansea v Crystal Palace
Palace can take advantage of a Swans’ side in disarray at odds of +140 with BetVictor.
Swansea sacked Paul Clement on Wednesday after just three wins this season. They have just 12 points on the board and risk going into Christmas as the bottom club – a heavy indicator of relegation. A 1-0 win over West Brom and a 0-0 draw with Bournemouth are their only positive results in the last eleven games – the other nine have been defeats. The Swans have only scored ten goals this term, the lowest in the division, and have only found the net three times in the last eight matches.
Those might have been Palace’s statistics in the first quarter of the season but Roy Hodgson has slowly turned their ship around. The Eagles are now unbeaten in seven – three wins and four draws – and they smashed three past Leicester away from home last week. Prior to that, Palace had battled to two 0-0 draws on the road in away matches at West Brom and Brighton, making it three clean sheets in a row on their travels. This is a huge opportunity to take advantage of a club without a manager and steal three points.
West Ham v Newcastle
David Moyes has started to get a tune out of his West Ham squad and they can be backed at odds of +120 with BetVictor to beat Newcastle at home.
Moyes’ team selection for the Carabao Cup defeat to Arsenal in midweek left no illusions as to where his priorities lie. The Hammers started that match with two 18 year-olds in midfield, but one expects a strong team to take to the pitch for this match. West Ham are unbeaten in three Premier League games and beat Stoke 3-0 away from home last week. Their previous home matches were the 0-0 draw with Arsenal and a 1-0 win over Chelsea, suggesting that the Hammers are beginning to settle into the London stadium. Those are the seedlings of a recovery as West Ham moved out of the relegation zone, but they will view this as a must-win game against a close rival.
Newcastle need their own recovery after a run of eight defeats in nine games. A single point from the 2-2 draw at West Brom is all they have for their efforts since beating Palace way back at the end of October. The Magpies lack of quality is starting to show through and Rafa Benitez is keen to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window. He may set up his Newcastle side to frustrate West Ham, but they are up against a team which has a new-found confidence and is worth backing at odds-against in this fixture.
Burnley v Spurs
Another side over the odds is Burnley, who can be backed at +163 with 888Sport to avoid defeat on home ground to Spurs.
The Clarets remarkable start to the season included a 1-1 draw at Tottenham in the third round of Premier League fixtures, and they’ve gone from strength to strength since then. Sean Dyche’s men sit proudly in 6th place in the top-flight with 32 points from 18 games – one more than this week’s visitors who are back in 7th. Burnley have only been beaten twice on their own patch this season, once by West Brom in their first home game of the year, and once by Arsenal with that controversial late penalty. Having won four of the last five at home, the Clarets shouldn’t be such outsiders on Saturday evening.
Spurs will be keen to overtake this rival as they aim to repeat last season’s top four finish, but results have been inconsistent. Draws with Watford and West Brom and defeats to Leicester and Man City litter the last eight games, and only one of those can be readily excused. They’ve also scored victories over Brighton and Stoke, but both of those were on ‘home’ ground. Spurs have only won one of the last seven on the road, although that was an impressive 2-1 win at Dortmund in the Champions League. Tottenham may well have the quality on paper but they will find it tough to break down a very well-drilled Burnley side.
Crystal Palace to beat Swansea
Saturday 23rd December, 15:00 GMT
West Ham to beat Newcastle
Saturday 23rd December, 15:00 GMT
Burnley or Draw – Double chance
Saturday 23rd December, 17:30 GMT