As mid-week fixtures arrive, particularly in England, now is the time to try and latch on to some gems that can potentially give us some good profit.
Manchester City travel away to struggling Sunderland who have won games against sides blow them in the table only to keep them in the hunt. Sergio Aguero was well rested for the weekends FA Cup fixtures, so he will be absolutely fresh to deliver a strong performance tonight. With KDB missing, David Silva should look to slot in along with Navas and Sterling on the wings while Toure and Fernandinho hold it tight at the back. City have just lost 1 game in their last 8 in January which was a narrow 2-1 loss in the Capital One Cup, but since then they have won 5 and drawn 2 of the 7 they have played.
Sunderland have tried to grab points however they can, but have faced a tough barrage of opponents including Arsenal and Tottenham, to whom they both lost. They drew a well fought game with Bournemouth and have had a good 10 days to prepare for this fixture against a team who has cleaned them up in 4 out of their last 5 matches together. Sunderland have been struggling defensively all season, conceding a league high 46 goals in 23 games. They need to step up defensively against a team that has beaten them by a score of 4-1 in 3 out of their last 4 games.
Man City will know with Liverpool taking on Leicester a solid victory against Sunderland will push potentially to the top of the table, and I expect them to cover the Asian Handicap while doing so.
Tottenham come into this game as the form team in Premier League losing just 3 games all campaign and that includes just 1 narrow loss in the month of January against Leicester City. Tottenham have started firing all cylinders with Harry Kane, Chadli, Eriksen & Ali all turning in top performances in the last few games including on the weekend in the FA Cup which will build their confidence coming through. Tottenham’s solitary problem has been defensively where they have leaked goals in 7 out of their last 8 appearances in all competitions and the absence of Vertonghen is not going to help matters further. Tottenham will need to ensure that they keep things tight at the back if they want to ensure a positive result, and the foil of Dier and Dembele might need to work overtime to give cover to the back 4.
Norwich City have made some new signings to their squad to boost themselves especially on the offensive end signing Patrick Bamford and Steven Naismith to help their cause. Both players haven’t had much playing time for the clubs they were with before the transfer window, so it might take them a couple of weeks to get into their full stride. Norwich have lost 4 straight games in all competitions including against poor sides like Stoke and Bournemouth which would be worrying for them. Defensively they have had some major struggles letting in 43 goals in 23 games, which is really a cause for concern for them.
Tottenham look in good form and I truly believe they will continue their strong performances and winning run to push on another victory.
England Premier League
Arsenal to beat Southampton @ 1.83 (888Sport) – 2.5 points
Arsenal v Southampton – Over 15.5 corners @ 2.00 (Bet365) – 2 points (#INPLAYMAGIC)
Arsenal will come into this game against Southampton with only one thing on their mind – revenge. Revenge from that poor loss to Southampton on Boxing Day by a score of 4-0 away from home. That is the only reason this game is priced too high because they are expecting Southampton to turn up once again while facings the Gunners. Arsenal since that game have lost one game only which was due to an unfortunate red card against Chelsea, but still held their own for just a 1-0 loss. Arsenal will be looking to having almost a full strength side tonight with Giroud, Alexis, Ozil and Walcott up front and Ramsey and Coquelin providing protection in the middle. Santi Cazorla is their only noticeable absence in the starting lineup. Defensively the partnership of Mertersacker and Koscielny should get back to playing with each other after the former’s suspension.
Southampton will be buoyed by the late win against Manchester United 10 days ago, but facing a team who are considered favourites for the title in February is a completely different matter. While Graziano Pelle recovers from injury for Southampton, Charlie Austin should take his place after joining his new club with a goal to seal that winner. For Southampton their biggest threat comes from the wings in Tadic and Mane; which will mean extra defensive efforts needing to be made by Walcott and Alexis to protect their full backs. Southampton have struggled away from home generally this season with just 3 wins all campaign, while winning only 1 out of their last 5 games; so it will be a tough test as they travel to London
Arsenal and Wenger know that March is his most difficult month where he always tends to drop points, so he needs to make the most of it during February against all teams especially at home, and I expect him to deliver a strong performance to make the fans proud.
West Ham have been playing well recently except for that poor loss to Newcastle, which they came back and fought well but couldn’t take a point from there. West Ham showed on the weekend against Liverpool that they are extremely sound defensively while the previous weekend they showed they can hang it up with the best after a 2-2 draw with Man City (where they were 10 minutes away from taking 3 points). With Dmitri Payet coming back to the team, its given them an extra spark of life as he is stringing the midfield along while is a danger man on set pieces as well as making runs into the box. Up front is where they need a lot of support from Valencia, Jelavic, Sakho and new signing Emenike, where they definitely need to start banging in the goals if the Hammers want to be challenging for that final Champions League spot.
Aston Villa couldn’t be further from Europe and maybe by next season further from the Premier League as they continue to struggle. Despite having a good January grabbing 5 points from a maximum of 12 on offer, they still sit 10 points behind Norwich who occupy the last safety spot in the league. Villa have struggled to keep it tight at the back and conceding 4 goals against a changed Man City lineup and a young striker who has yet to make his mark showcases all the poor form you need to know about the Villains.
West Ham will look to impact from their home form where they haven’t lost since September, which is 9 games in a row, while Villa have 8 losses from 12 games away. I back West Ham to also put in a good performance and turn around that poor 1-1 draw they had at Villa Park in December.