Stoke are one of Wednesday's best bets in our Premier League round-up.
Arsenal v Swansea
Arsenal’s hopes of a first Premier League trophy in 12 years were dealt a major blow after they lost 3-2 to a third-string Man Utd XI on Sunday. Here, they face the team that led but lost to their title challengers and arch-rivals Spurs at the weekend. Anything other than three points for the Gunners here and you’d have to think that Wenger will never lift the title again.
Swansea’s season has been polarised by doing poorly against the better teams in the division (W1-D2-L7 against the current top-eight) and well against the others (W5-D7-L4). Swansea’s away form reads: W2-D4-L7 though they’ve only once lost by more than a goal – 3-1 at Southampton. The Swans have scored in all four matches at the current top-7. Arsenal have won four of their last six home matches when conceding and we expect them to win here even if the visitors net.
Man Utd v Watford
A couple of decent results don’t make a season. United’s kids won 3-2 against the choking Gunners on Sunday but this is no time to get excited. If anything the XI that LVG will be forced to name against Watford will be even weaker than the one he named for the Arsenal game after Marcos Rojo, starting his first game since November, came off early in the first half with a new knock. New kid on the block Marcus Rashford also suffered an injury in the first half – after scoring his brace – and he was subbed midway through the second. Despite the unlikely victory United’s defence was a shambles – unsurprisingly given the lack of familiarity – and as usual they had to be bailed out by De Gea. Sunday’s win was the first home game that Chris Smalling has missed this season. Since LVG took over he has now missed 10 home Premier League games and Man Utd have won all 10 in his absence. This is probably an, albeit pretty big, coincidence and it’s probably of more consequence that nine of the matches the England international has missed have had Over 2.5 Goals. It’s not a given that Watford will score here. They’ve failed to do so at Spurs, Swansea and Southampton in recent times but all three sides had a much stronger back four than Utd’s expected lineup. When netting on the road, six of Watford’s nine since gaining promotion have featured at least three goals.
Stoke v Newcastle
Stoke continue to be massively underrated in the market. They’ve picked up 39 points from 27 games this season and have a settled squad with a solid defence – they’ve conceded more than once in just four of their last 17 at home – with a potent attack chocked-full of entertainers. Here, they face a Newcastle side in the bottom-three that have lost their last five on the road – four of the defeats came against teams below Stoke in the table. Over the past five Premier League seasons top-half finishers have won 68% of their home matches against bottom-half teams yet Stoke are available at almost Evens to win this. The Potters have won five of their last eight at home including beating each of Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City to nil. 1.95 to beat Newcastle is an insult.
West Ham v Spurs
West Ham didn’t impress much on Saturday but they did enough as they extended their unbeaten home streak to 11 games with a 1-0 victory over Sunderland. Spurs recorded yet another win as they beat Swansea 2-1. They had to come from behind and the game marked the seventh time in the last nine that they’ve failed to shut out their opposition. Hammers’ playmaker Dmitri Payet is back to full fitness now and with him in the team they’ve scored 34 goals in the 19 he’s started this term. Spurs have kept just three clean sheets in 13 on the road this season but despite that they’ve lost just once (in their curtain-raiser at Old Trafford) and they’ve scored in every game except that one as well.