Premier League Preview – Mid-Winter Break Weekend 1
This weekend sees just four games in the Premier League as we are now in the middle of the staggered mid-season break in the Premier League, with 12 teams enjoying their break this week and the teams in action on Saturday, getting their break in the week that follows. This is the first season that the break has been implemented into the season and it is going to be interesting to see how it all pans out.
This essentially means that Matchday 26 of the season takes place over two weekend, the first of which sees four games taking place on Saturday and Sunday this week, with the remaining six games spread out from Friday Night through to Monday evening next weekend.
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Let us now take a look ahead to the four matches that are scheduled to take place across Saturday and Sunday this weekend, starting with the big game kicking off the action at Goodison Park.
Saturday 8th February
Everton v Crystal Palace (12.30pm)
Everton fans will probably feel that they haven’t had the best season so far, yet they are just eight points behind Chelses in fourth and just four off Tottenham in fifth. Their improved form since Marco Silva left the club under first Duncan Ferguson and then Carlo Ancelotti has seen the Toffees move away from the bottom of the table and up into comfortable mid-table.
They face a Crystal Palace team that have ostensibly been going in the opposite direction having picked up just three draws in their last five games and just one win in their last ten. Goals have been the Eagles biggest problem with the team having scored a Premier League low of just 22 goals this season, one fewer than Watford.
Defensively, Palace are strong with just 29 goals conceded, comfortably the lowest of any teams outside the top seven, but even so, that lack of goals is what is making this season such a tough one for them. I can’t see Palace having enough to pick up something from their trip north and I am backing Everton to land the win. Prediction – Everton 2-0 Crystal Palace – 13/2 at bet365.
Brighton v Watford (5.30pm)
Brighton’s recent form isn’t that great and they are without a win in five, although they have picked up three draws in those games. Graham Potters men are playing some nice football, but elementary mistakes in defence and a lack of chances being created are causing them issues at different times in different games.
Watford had been flying under Nigel Pearson, winning four and drawing one in a five game sequence, but since then they have lost their last two games and dropped back into the relegation zone last weekend on the back of a disappointing 3-2 defeat at home to Everton, a game in which they had led 2-0.
That said, I think the Hornets are playing much better football and looking a much stronger side under Pearson than they have at any other time this season and I feel they have the quality to go to Brighton and put in a good display. That may not be enough for them to secure a victory, but I do feel that they should do enough to take a point. Prediction – Brighton 2-2 Watford – 16/1.
Sunday 9th February
Sheffield United v Bournemouth (2pm)
For me, no team has performed more above expectation than Sheffield United this season, and that is saying something given how Liverpool have dropped just two points over the course of the season, The Blades were most pundits tip for a quick return to the Championship but instead they have thrived to lie in 6th place in the table, built on the back of a rock solid defence that has the second best record in the entire division.
Bournemouth though have hit some form coming into this game after a nightmare spell of draws and defeats saw them plummet into the relegation zone. Eddie Howe’s team though picked up six points from the last six available to move out of the relegation places last weekend and they’ll be keen to pick up something here.
Southampton are one of just a small number of teams to win at Sheff Utd and Bournemouth will be hoping the south coast can score another win here. However that United defence just looks too strong for me and while I can see this being close and Bournemouth pushing them hard, I still feel the home side will take the win. Prediction – Sheffield United 1-0 Bournemouth – 11/2.
Manchester City v West Ham United (4.30pm)
Manchester City come into this game in the rare position of having lost their last two games and their fans will be expecting the home side to put on a good display and win the three points against a team that City have won all of the last nine encounters against, scoring over 30 goals in the process and conceding just four.
That record tells you that even in good form, West Ham would be up against it here, but the truth is that the Hammers are in a real poor run of form and after dropping into the relegation zone last week, there is huge pressure now added to that, especially with the club expressly stating that relegation was not possible for the club financially to sustain.
The problem is, the Hammers players just don’t look like they are gelling as an effective unit under Moyes and even though City’s form heading into this game isn’t the greatest, I am backing them to end up with he points and a very comfortable win. Prediction – Manchester City 4-0 West Ham – 17/2.
*All odds shown were correct as of 10.45am on Thursday 6th February 2020 with bet365.