Craig Shakespeare has written his name into the history books after six wins from six since taking over as Leicester boss, but he faces his toughest examination to date over the course of the next week. A Champions League quarter final first leg away at Atletico Madrid beckons on Wednesday next week, but first the Foxes must travel to Everton in the Premier League.
The Toffees were a whisker away from beating Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, and would be worthy of favouritism judged on home form anyway. With the Foxes sure to have one eye on the biggest game in the club’s history, Everton are a fair bet to take advantage and grab the points at Goodison on Sunday.
The only side that looks in with a chance of reeling in Chelsea is Tottenham, and both teams are in action on our TV screens on Saturday. Spurs kick off proceedings with a home tie against Watford at lunchtime, before Chelsea finish the day’s Premier League action away at Bournemouth. Manchester United visit Sunderland on Sunday in their search for a top four spot, in a game that may be best swerved from a punting perspective, while Arsenal travel to Crystal Palace on Monday night in their own quest for Champions League football.
Everton v Leicester
Everton are -130 with Marathonbet to beat Leicester in the Sunday afternoon game.
The Foxes may have won six from six since Shakespeare took charge, but they’ve been fortunate in that five of those fixtures have been on home soil. Home wins over Sevilla and Liverpool are highly impressive results, but last season’s champions would surely expect to beat Stoke, Sunderland and Hull at the King Power, and the only away match under Shakespeare’s tenure was a 3-2 win at lacklustre West Ham. There are, however, signs that performances are back to near the level that saw them lift that trophy, so it would be foolish to knock the Foxes too much. The Champions League tie versus Atletico Madrid must be in the back of the mind though, and now that Premier League survival is as good as assured, one wonders if Leicester might rest players with that in mind.
Everton have been hit by injury woes but there was plenty to like about their performance at Old Trafford where only a late penalty prevented them from taking three points. After that game and a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool, the Toffees will be more than happy to be back at Goodison. They’ve won five on the trot at home, scoring 19 goals in the process.
Tottenham v Watford
Watford may not score many on the road but they’ve won their last two Premier League games with AC Milan’s on-loan Niang proving an astute attacking acquisition. Now tenth in the table with 37 points the Hornets are as good as safe, and can enjoy the rest of the season without the added pressure.
Spurs have won the last five Premier League games on the spin but Everton, Southampton and Swansea have all found the net in defeat. It’s win or bust for Mauricio Pochettino’s side in their pursuit of Chelsea, so they will attack Watford from the off. It was a late, late show at Swansea, where Tottenham came from one down to score three in the closing moments in an incredible 3-1 win, but the nerves shouldn’t be jangling so much as they look to record a 7th win in a row against the Hornets.
Bournemouth v Chelsea
Surprisingly Antonio Conte’s side haven’t kept a clean sheet in eight Premier League games since beating Hull 2-0 in late January. The likes of Palace, Stoke, West Ham, and Swansea have all scored against the table-topping Blues in recent weeks, so Bournemouth are good value for a goal.
The Cherries notched a late equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Liverpool in midweek, but the goals against column has haunted them this season. It’s 56 goals conceded in 31 games for Eddie Howe’s side, and they’ve let in at least two in six of their last seven at home. It comes as no great surprise then, that they’ve only won two of those seven. Chelsea won 4-1 here last April, and are strongly fancied to bag another three points on Saturday.
Crystal Palace v Arsenal
The last game of the week sees Palace host Arsenal on Monday night, and both teams to score is the call in an intriguing match at -141 with 188Bet.
Four wins in a row under Sam Allardyce helped propel the Eagles out of the bottom three, with the 2-1 win at Chelsea a brilliant result. However, the midweek defeat at Southampton leaves them just three points above the trapdoor and the fixture list does not look kind. After hosting the Gunners, Crystal Palace face Leicester, Liverpool and Spurs, with Man United and City still to come. Games in which to win points are running out for Big Sam, and as history tells us he will target home games.
His opposite number Arsene Wenger may yet be on his way out of the club, so a top four place would be the least he’d like to leave behind. They have a four point gap to close on Man City, albeit with one precious game in hand, but the margins for error are minimal. The pressure to win here will lead to an attacking game from the Gunners, but Palace are capable of hitting back.
Everton to beat Leicester
Sunday 9th April, 16:00 BST
Spurs to win & both teams to score
Saturday 8th April, 12:30 BST
Chelsea to win & both teams to score
Saturday 8th April, 17:30 BST
Crystal Palace v Arsenal – Both teams to score
Monday 10th April, 20:00 BST