The Premier League campaign continues this evening, with five more games to whet the betting appetite.
First up sees Brighton take on Arsenal at the Amex Stadium. The Gunners surprised many, including us here at Lap of the Odds Towers, with their comprehensive 3-1 victory over Chelsea on Boxing Day, ending a seven match winless run in the league. They should be buoyed by that result, but cracks remain and let’s not forget they have failed to score from open play in their last five away league fixtures.
Brighton are this season’s draw specialists with seven so far, and four of them have come in their past six games. They have played some pretty football, but have scored enough goals when they have been on top. We think this could be another draw, with both sides struggling to find the net with any regularity.
We’re going to leave the Burnley/Sheffield United game alone, if only to prevent us from falling asleep, and concentrate next on the clash between Southampton and West Ham at St. Mary’s Stadium.
The Saints looked a little off the pace in their draw with Fulham last time out, but they have a good start to the season and are surely favourites to win this match. West Ham also drew last time out, luckily against Brighton, and they have been disappointing over the last few weeks – going six games without a clean sheet.
James Ward-Prowse has been one of the main driving forces behind Southampton this season, with his free-kicks having already yielded three goals from outside the area this season. SkyBet offers 11/1 that he does so again tonight, but we prefer the 7/2 that he scores anytime given he is the designated penalty-taker while Danny Ings is out injured.
Another early evening game sees West Brom host Leeds, fresh off a surprise point at Anfield. The Baggies were outstanding in defying Liverpool last time out, but they may find it difficult to put two such committed performances together back to back. Maybe the value is with the home team, but we find it difficult to back a side that has won only once this season.
With West Brom likely to sit deep again, Leeds may be forced to taking shots from outside the penalty area. Raphinha has already shown a liking to shooting, and his one goal this season was from outside the box against Everton. It’s a punt, but we’ll take the 18/1 that he scores from outside the area tonight.
The late game tonight sees Manchester United host Wolves at Old Trafford, trying to close the gap to Liverpool at the top of the tale to just two points.
United have been heavily criticised at times this season, but their unbeaten league run currently stands at eight games, including six wins, and they are firmly in the Premier League title race. Wolves have struggled badly with injuries this season, with the loss of key striker Raul Jimenez, in particular, blunting their attacking threat. However, they still managed to shackle Kane and Son pretty successfully last time out.
One area where United could cause trouble is at set pieces. Injuries to Willy Boly and Leander Dendoncker have left Wolves defensively stretched – they have already conceded six Premier League goals via dead-ball situations this season. Harry Maguire will provide a genuine threat. Only twice this season has he failed to have an attempt at goal, and thus we’ll think SkyBet’s 3/1 that he has at least one headed shot on target offers value.
Brighton/Arsenal: A draw at 12/5
Southampton/West Ham: Ward-Prowse to score anytime at 7/2
West Brom/Leeds: Raphinha to score from outside the area at 18/1
Man Utd/Wolves: Maguire to have 1+ headed shots on target at 3/1
A Yankee (odds from SkyBet)