Football Form Labs round up the best bets from Saturday's 3pm Premier League kick-offs.
Aston Villa v Norwich
Aston Villa were left with little chance after Jordan Ayew went for an early shower in their trip to West Ham and they now find themselves 10 points from 17th, the position occupied by Norwich. That might represent safety but with Sunderland and Newcastle both showing signs of life the Canaries might have to catch some teams above them if they are to still be here next season, so both teams should be chasing all three points in this one. Norwich have had at least three goals in 9/12 away games this season, including all three trips to bottom six teams, as have Villa in both their two home games against the current bottom-six. Moreover, since 2010/11 there have been 81 matches between two bottom-six sides between January and the end of the season and 58% have had at least three goals with both teams scoring in 63%.
Liverpool v Sunderland
Liverpool are as close to Norwich in 17th as they are to Arsenal in 4th – actually closer in terms of goal difference – and as usual they look far too short. Sunderland’s away form is dire but they put up a great fight against Man City in midweek and there’s not a lot about this Liverpool side to frighten them. The Reds have failed to score in three consecutive games and since the start of last season they’ve won just two of 15 home games against bottom-half teams by more than one goal (W7-D6-L2) as a chronic lack of attacking threat as undermined them. For Sunderland’s part, they’ve lost just two of 10 trips to middle-third teams in this time, with five draws, and have every chance of picking up points in this game with the 8/1 on an away win a decent long shot this weekend.
Newcastle v West Brom
Newcastle have had some tough games as we’ve moved into the second half of the season but they’ve lost just two of their last nine at home and have some easier matches to come at St James’ Park. The Baggies are without a win in four and the only side to score fewer away goals this season is Newcastle as Tony Pulis has adopted a particularly negative approach. Under his stewardship West Brom have travelled to bottom-half teams on 13 occasions and seven have had fewer than two goals while five have been level at both half-time and full-time, and three have finished goalless. Furthermore, their last eight games, home or away, against bottom-six sides have had a combined total of just eight goals as five have been goalless at the break and seven have settled at under 1.5 goals. A win would be a great result for the Baggies but they’ll surely take a point to keep Newcastle eight points back.
Stoke v Everton
When these teams met at the end of December they produced one of the games of the season as Stoke won 4-3 at Goodison. Stoke haven’t not done much since then though as they’ve lost three out of five league games and been knocked out of both cup competitions. Everton, meanwhile, have had respectable draws with Spurs, Man City and Stoke before a setback against Swansea was followed with a comfy win over Newcastle in midweek. Shawcross remains out for Stoke and they’ve kept just two clean sheets in the 11 games he’s missed (against Swansea and Villa respectively) compared to seven in the 13 he’s started. That should shift the advantage to Everton but more goals looks the better bet. Both teams have scored in 13 of Everton’s last 18 matches while four of their last five trips to middle-third teams have had at least three goals, as have five of Stoke’s last six games.
Swansea v Crystal Palace
Swansea were denied a third consecutive win in midweek by an injury time equaliser while Palace also led but ended up losing for the fifth match running. The same injury and suspension problems that affected Palace on Tuesday remain, though Cabaye has a chance of being fit, and even their superb away form has been dented as they’ve not scored in their last three on the road. Goals may well be at a premium for both sides as the Swans have failed to score in half their last 10 home games and with 22 of Palace’s 30 away matches since the start of last season being level at half-time we could see a quiet opening 45. Furthermore, there have been fewer than three goals in 10 of Swansea’s last 11 home games against middle-third teams with both teams scoring in just one of the last seven.