The Premier League’s top five are all on live TV this weekend, which is a great prospect for the armchair pundits out there. It’s also good news for us as we can watch the cream of English football while making a profit from the matches!
The highlight of the weekend is surely the Saturday evening game at Anfield between Liverpool and Spurs, with both in need of points to boost faltering title and Champions League challenges. Earlier in the season Liverpool were looking like credible challengers to Chelsea, but while the Blues have continued to win with ruthless efficiency, the Reds have endured a disastrous start to 2017. Just one win in ten games since the turn of the year has seen them drop from 2nd to 5th in the table, and get knocked out of both domestic cup competitions. Since losing 1-0 to Manchester United in early December, Spurs have embarked on a run of 9 wins and 2 draws from 11 games – a sequence which has seen them trade places with Liverpool, going from 5th to 2nd.
It seems that every time Arsenal lose a game there are calls for Arsene Wenger’s head, and the Gunners are undergoing another mini-blip. Back-to-back defeats in the Premier League have come surprisingly at home to Watford, and not so surprisingly away at Chelsea. An Emirates match against a team in the bottom three should be just the tonic, but Hull have shown improved spirit under new manager Marco Silva, evident in last week’s 2-0 win over Liverpool.
Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premier League has stretched to nine points, and the title gets closer with each passing week. While the chasing pack have been scrabbling around for points, the Blues just keep on winning week in week out. Their credentials will be put to the test in Sunday lunchtime’s game though, when they travel to a Burnley side which has won 9 of its last 10 home games.
Liverpool v Spurs
Despite the Reds inconsistent form of the last month, they’ve only lost once in the last 14 meetings with Spurs at Anfield, and few teams leave the famous ground with three points. The one fixture in the last five that Liverpool didn’t lose was the home match against Chelsea in which they held out for a 1-1 draw. The fact that recent defeats in league and cup have come against the likes of Swansea, Wolves and Hull has seen some level the accusation that Liverpool only get up for the ‘big games’. The Reds have also managed a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford during this lean January, so it’s a criticism that Jurgen Klopp will have to fight off. In terms of this match, one suspects there will be no need for motivation, and with Sadio Mane back from Africa Nations duty, the German manager has a full complement of players to choose from.
Spurs have injury problems at the back with Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen probably out, but in Ben Davies and Eric Dier there are ready-made replacements. Tottenham’s excellent recent run has largely been built on home victories, with only two of the nine wins coming on the road. In fact, the 4-1 wins at Watford and Southampton over the New Year are Spurs’ only away victories in the last 12 on the road. Their most recent away fixtures have both ended all square – at Sunderland and Manchester City – and a draw would arguably be a better result for Spurs than it would for Liverpool. Mario Pochettino’s side are four points ahead of the Reds in the Premier League standings, and a draw will maintain that gap. In Wanyama and Dembele, Spurs have a formidable defensive midfield pairing, and one suspects they will be hard for a mis-firing Liverpool side to break down.
Arsenal v Hull
Arsenal are fancied to come out all guns blazing in the early Saturday kick off and the -115 on offer with Coral about a half time/full time result is worth taking.
You’d have to expect Gunners’ players to walk out through the tunnel with Arsene Wenger’s words ringing in their ears, and there should be no repeat of the lacklustre start against Watford. Prior to that defeat by the Hornets, Arsenal had won the previous four at the Emirates – beating Stoke, West Brom, Crystal Palace and Burnley. 4th in the league and three points behind arch rivals Spurs, Arsenal should be fully fired up.
Hull’s turnaround has featured a 2-1 second-leg EFL Cup win over Manchester United (although it wasn’t enough to progress to the final). A 0-0 draw at Old Trafford against the Red Devils in the Premier League is an impressive result, as is the 2-0 win against Liverpool last week. However, the draw at United was their first result away from home in a long time. The Tigers, had lost the previous nine in a row on the road, scoring just two goals in the process.
Burnley v Chelsea
Burnley have won nine of the last ten at Turf Moor and sit third in the Premier League ‘home’ table. Only Spurs and Sunday’s visitors Chelsea have better records on their own grounds, so this is by no means a given for Antonio Conte. The Clarets are 12th in the table with a comfortable nine point gap over the relegation zone. That means Sean Dyche and his players can approach these kinds of games without the pressure of needing points. Burnley have scored in each of their last ten home games, and are capable of getting on the scoresheet on Sunday.
Chelsea’s only three blips in the last 21 matches since the start of October have come on the road, so there is a glimmer of hope for the Clarets. West Ham (EFL Cup) and Spurs have beaten the Blues, while Liverpool held them to that draw last week. It’s a 100% record other than that though, and it’s very difficult to see past another Chelsea win here.
Liverpool and Tottenham to Draw
Saturday 11th February, 17:30 GMT
Arsenal HT/FT Double Result
Saturday 11th February, 12:30 GMT
Chelsea to Win and Both Teams to Score
Sunday 12th February, 13:30 GMT