Leicester may have gained another three points at home to West Ham by the time Arsenal and Spurs take to the field in this weekend’s Premier League, but the North London clubs can do little else but keep winning to pile the pressure on the Foxes. The Gunners are at home to FA Cup semi-finalists Crystal Palace in the 4pm Super Sunday kick off, while Spurs face a tough trip up to Stoke on Monday night.
Many fans and pundits alike expect Claudio Ranieri’s men to go on and take the title now from what looks an unassailable position, but if there is a glimmer of hope for the chasing pack it’s that Leicester’s fixtures are less than straightforward. After playing the Hammers on Sunday they will face Swansea and Everton at home, and Manchester United and Chelsea away. The latter two games in that sequence gives Spurs and Arsenal hope that Leicester may drop points, but both North London sides know that they simply cannot afford to drop any more points of their own if they are to complete an unlikely turnaround.
Arsenal v Crystal Palace
The Gunners task is even more difficult than their neighbours due to the huge gap to the Foxes, but Champions League football still needs to be secured for next season and with that in mind, Arsenal to win to Nil against Palace at +125 with BetVictor and Paddy Power looks worth backing on Sunday afternoon.
After sauntering into a two-goal lead against West Ham Arsenal looked as if they were going to keep up the pressure on the sides above, but Andy Carroll’s hat-trick meant that they had to fight back for a point in a 3-3 draw. That may well have put any lingering hopes of a title to bed as even though Arsene Wenger’s men have a game in hand on Leicester, they are currently a whopping 13 points adrift. However, with 59 points they are just two points ahead of Man City and six ahead of Man United, so there is plenty left to play for.
There’s been a new-found optimism to Arsenal’s play since the introduction of youngster Alex Iwobi and the return of Danny Welbeck, and strong 2-0 and 4-0 wins over Everton and Watford lifted the spirits of fans. They will have long earmarked the next two home games against Palace and West Brom for maximum points and the Gunners are fancied to make short work of a Palace side that will have one eye on the FA Cup semi final next weekend.
Alan Pardew will have been delighted to see his side return to form at just the right time with a 2-2 draw with West Ham, a 1-0 win over Norwich and a 0-0 draw with Everton in the last three games. Having gone all of 2016 without a league win they’d dropped perilously close to the relegation battle, but now sit in relative comfort with 38 points. Although not mathematically safe it seems more than unlikely that two of Norwich, Newcastle and Sunderland will overtake them, and they can look forward to the Cup without too many nerves in the background. Goals are still hard to come by for the Eagles though, and one suspects that the players won’t be busting a gut in this one with next week’s all-important Wembley date on the horizon.
Arsenal rarely fail to score at the Emirates and can collect another routine victory and clean sheet here as they push for the highest possible finish.
Stoke v Spurs
Spurs have a more realistic chance of catching Leicester if the Foxes slip, and their focus on attack makes Over 2.5 Goals an appealing bet at -102 with BetVictor when they face Stoke on Monday night.
Tottenham trounced Manchester United 3-0 last Sunday with a six-minute three-goal blitz, and as things stand they are just seven points adrift of Leicester. They can do nothing other than go to Stoke in search of three points and attacking play has been a feature of their style all season as it is. They’re on a run of three wins in four and have the quality to score against any opposition.
Stoke meanwhile are no longer the resolute defenders they once were under Tony Pulis, and Mark Hughes has brought a new style and a new swagger to their play. The attacking impetus comes at the price of defensive solidarity however, and the Potters have conceded in each of their last five games. They’ve also scored in each of the last eight though, and in a similar vein to Spurs they have the quality to score against most opposition on their day. Stoke are ninth in the table and still have an outside shot at a European place, so they also have plenty of motivation to win this game.
Ultimately a draw suits neither party and that should lead to an open attacking game with both going for the win. With that in mind a bet on over 2.5 goals – which has landed in all four of Stoke’s most recent games – is worth a nibble at just short of even odds.
Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace to Nil
Sunday 17th April, 16:00 GMT
Stoke v Spurs – Over 2.5 Goals
Monday 18th April, 20:00 GMT