Premier League betting preview and tips

Our David John fancies Liverpool to take care of West Ham in Sunday's Premier League clash.

All previews of this weekend's matches by David John.

Recommended bets: Sunday Premier League

1pt Hull to beat Crystal Palace at 14/5 - could have the edge in term of mental approach and worth supporting despite dreadful away record

1pt Liverpool to win to nil v West Ham at 2/1 - could be some let down for the hosts and Liverpool just about trusted to take advantage

Crystal Palace v Hull (1200 BST, Sky Sports 1)

We have a situation once again on Sunday where the outcome of Swansea’s trip to Sunderland 24 hours earlier will have a huge effect on the mentality and game dynamic of the two other teams fighting for their lives at the bottom.

If Swansea have won and Hull lose, then the Tigers are down while a point for Palace will ensure they are clear of trouble and not still involved in the scrap on the final day of the season.

I like the chances of a Hull victory as it seems the most pivotal part of the equation and has the biggest knock-on effect for the following weekend as all options will remain open.

They can be backed at almost 3/1 but the rub is obviously supporting a side that last won a Premier League game on the road on August 20 and have managed a weary three draws since away from the KCOM Stadium.  

Manager Marco Silva has done more than enough to secure a job to keep him in the top flight whichever way the cards fall but is fully focused on doing his very best for his current club and rising to a testing challenge could be easier for them than Palace.

The shock of the stumble last week at home to the Black Cats will be out of their system and this has been a team able to shake off a reverse and keep fighting in and around the foot of the table since Silva’s arrival.

As mentioned, all of their best stuff has come exclusively on their own patch in 2017 – five of their victories against teams of similar ilk to Palace and now it is a case of at last switching the mentality to a fixture which involves some travelling.

Easier said than done of course but the way Palace are sinking at the moment makes them extremely vulnerable. 

It was all pats on the back a few weeks ago after an excellent spell of form was capped by a 2-1 success at Liverpool to put them on 38 points but a defensive crisis since has led to three straight defeats and confidence disappearing down the drain fast.

James Tomkins, Scott Dann and most importantly Mamadou Sakho have all been missing along the way but I wonder whether a little bit of complacency started to creep in and now makes rallying from the brink so much harder. 

The Eagles still possess tremendous quality in the attacking third to cause problems even for the best around but the mindset of a point being enough is a very dangerous game to play.

For that reason, I want to take Hull with their win-at-all-cost mentality at the prices in the belief it should carry them a long way in south London. 

Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Hull

Opta facts:   

o Since winning their first two Premier League meetings with Hull in 2013/14, Palace have failed to win any of their last three (D1 L2).

o The last Premier League meeting between the two in December was a 3-3 draw, seeing as many goals (6) as in the previous four combined.

o The Eagles’ 2-0 defeat against Hull in their most recent home league meeting is their only defeat in their last 11 at Selhurst Park (W5 D5); the Tigers last won back to back away games at Palace in October 1985 (a run of three).

o Hull have the worst away record in the Premier League this season, picking up six points and winning just one of their 18 games (D3 L14).

o Crystal Palace have lost all three of their previous home games this season against opposition who started the day in the relegation zone, including a 0-4 hammering in their last such game against Sunderland.

o The Tigers have failed to score in seven of their last eight Premier League visits to London (W1 L7), with the only exception being a 2-0 victory against Palace in April 2015.

o However, five of Hull’s 12 all-time Premier League away wins have been in London (42%).

o Just 21% of Christian Benteke’s Premier League goals this season have come at Selhurst Park (3/14), the lowest percentage of home goals in the division (min. 10 goals).

West Ham v Liverpool (1415, Sky Sports 1)

The Hammers did their part the previous Friday night with an energetic display to save their own skins and place a large banana-shaped one under the title hopes of arch-rivals Tottenham.

All concerned can now breathe a sigh of relief with one eye on making some improvements for next season ahead of their two final games.

How motivated players will be in their quest to climb from 12th place to the giddy heights of eighth after such a monumental effort has to be questioned as manager Slaven Bilic makes all the tried and tested noises at this time of year about pushing on and climbing as high as possible.

There will be some opportunities for fresh faces with captain Mark Noble (hernia) and Cheik Kouyate (wrist) both booked in for surgery now they are safe while West Ham’s propensity to swing wildly from one game to the next in terms of performance, I have to be against them on this occasion.    

It is up to Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool side then to take advantage when it comes to any lack of focus from the hosts and they are probably justified being chalked up as odds-on favourites.

I make that statement even on the back of a dire 0-0 draw at home to Southampton last week where they looked utterly devoid of ideas as they attempted to break down a resilient Saints backline.  

“We have always found solutions,” said Klopp as he takes on a team that has improved drastically in defence and can boast four straight clean sheets. 

The German’s problem-solving better liven up quickly though as a familiar late Arsenal rally has them all of a sudden back in contention for the top four at the time of writing and both Manchester clubs involved, though City more so than United. 

They could be under further pressure come kick-off if earlier results over the weekend don’t go in their favour and while they seem stuck in a bit of a rut at Anfield, three victories on the trot at Stoke, West Brom and Watford clearly bodes well. 

It is probably time to give up on ex-Red Andy Carroll for the season as he remains injured and although Jonathan Calleri delivered his best display by some way against Spurs in a West Ham shirt, the home side hardly scream torrents of goals at the moment.

There is an element of risk backing Liverpool if they fail to snap out of the funk but it is now or never and a small investment on them to prevail to nil has some appeal. 

Prediction: West Ham 0-2 Liverpool

Opta facts:

o None of the last 11 Premier League meetings between these sides at West Ham have ended as a draw, with the Hammers winning four and Liverpool seven since a 1-1 draw in December 2001.

o In all competitions, the Reds are winless in their last five games against West Ham, their worst run since February 1965 (also five without a win); they've never gone six without a win against them.

o If Liverpool win at the London Stadium, it will be the 52nd different ground at which they���ve won a Premier League game, more than any other side (Arsenal and Manchester United next on 50).

o The Reds have won their last three away games in the Premier League – they last had a longer run in April 2014 (six games).

o  The Hammers have kept three consecutive Premier League clean sheets at the London Stadium for the first time – they last kept four in a row at home in February 2010.

o Six of West Ham’s seven Premier League home wins this season have been against sides currently in the bottom half of the table – the only exception was their last home game against Spurs (1-0).

o Liverpool have won three of their four Premier League games in London this season, drawing the other. The last time they remained unbeaten in the capital across an entire league season was in 1988-89.

Tottenham v Manchester United (1630, Sky Sports 1)

The final chapter at White Hart Lane is played out on Sunday evening with a host of former greats along with Chas and Dave ready to bid a fond farewell. 

Situations like this are always tough for players and coaching staff as the game becomes entwined in all the razzmatazz and come kick-off, Chelsea could even be two days into celebrating winning the Premier League title.

That could add another layer of emotion and if Chelsea have done the businsess by picking up three points at West Brom on Friday night, then it will be very much a case of looking to the future for this dashing Spurs side who have thrilled on so many occasions this season.

It was a shame all their chickens came home to roost on the same night as a rather flat display against an inspired West Ham last time opened the door for Chelsea to finish the job before Tottenham had another chance to kick a ball.

A reaction save in the first half by Adrian from a Harry Kane shot changed the course of the game and to be fair to Spurs, they did not do a great deal wrong despite eventually going down to Manuel Lanzini’s close-range effort.

For the second straight season, United are present as the curtain comes down at a venerable old stadium (Upton Park 12 months ago) and Jose Mourinho will tinker with his line-up once more with their place now confirmed in the final of the Europa League. 

They are not eliminated just yet from the race for the top four and keeping going on the domestic front as an insurance policy just in case they can’t get the better of Ajax in Stockholm in a couple of weeks will still be prominent in Mourinho’s thoughts.

There are few doubts though he is going to tackle that front with a weakened team from here on in and will need a surprise result of sorts in north London to maintain the chase.

This is a marquee fixture in the calendar but there are just too many unknowns at the moment to suggest a reasonable bet – an historic time for the hosts and what team the visitors are likely to deploy foremost so the best I can offer in terms of an outcome is a possible stalemate.

Prediction: Tottenham 1-1 Manchester United  

Opta facts: 

o Spurs’ only win in their last 15 home Premier League games against Manchester United came in last season’s 3-0 victory (D6 L8).

o That 3-0 defeat for the Red Devils is the only time they’ve conceded in their last five Premier League games against Spurs, keeping four clean sheets.

o Jose Mourinho has failed to win on his last four Premier League visits to White Hart Lane (D2 L2) and hasn’t won a league game there since August 2005, when his Chelsea side defeated Spurs 2-0. 

o Spurs have lost more Premier League games against Manchester United than against any other opponent (32) – indeed, in their top-flight history Spurs have lost 77 games against the Red Devils, eight more than they have against anyone else.

o Manchester United have failed to score in their last two away league trips to White Hart Lane – in the Premier League era, they’ve only failed to score in three consecutive away games against an opponent twice – Everton (three games between August 2012 and April 2015) and Chelsea (four games between November 2003 and May 2007).

Recommended bets: Saturday Premier League

1pt Leicester/Draw Double Chance v Manchester City at 13/4 – finishing well and no fear against this rival as unbeaten in three against them and scored seven in the last two

1pt over 3.5 goals in Bournemouth v Burnley at 39/19 – both safe from the drop and another lively encounter on the cards at the Vitality

1pt Aaron Ramsey to score anytime v Stoke at 5/2 – eyecatching display in midweek and can build on that with a goal

Manchester City v Leicester (1230, Sky Sports 1) 

The last time this pair met was a rare highlight for the departed Claudio Ranieri and massive low-point for Pep Guardiola as Leicester ran riot at the King Power Stadium in mid-December in a 4-2 victory, leading 4-0 before a couple of late goals saved the visitors from utter humiliation.

Guardiola and the hosts are long odds-on for the rematch in the knowledge that three victories to close out the season will ensure immediate entry into the Champions League group stage while it is mission accomplished for Leicester after they guaranteed Premier League survival last week by beating Watford.  

It is advantage to the hosts then in terms of having something still to aim for and the market seems to have been formed very much around the assumption they can make it count with in-form Leicester rather overlooked.

The feeling among the bookmaking fraternity is the visitors will now be on easy street having ensured they will be in the top flight next season.

The remaining fixtures however are still an audition for interim boss Craig Shakespeare to get the job on a full-time basis and I don’t expect to see any easing off from his players considering the way he has executed a plan to turn the season around.

He will not have Danny Drinkwater over the closing stretch with the midfielder sidelined due a thigh issue but other key perfomers like Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Kaspar Schmeichel have sparkled lately while Marc Albrighton feels he is playing the best football of his career.

It all adds to up a potentially potent force taking the field at the Etihad Stadium – perhaps even one nearing the sort of form that swept aside the hosts in stunning fashion 3-1 last season on the way to the title.

Manchester City blew away Crystal Palace last week but have not managed to win four Premier League games in a row since September in what has been a mixed first season in charge for the Spaniard.

While still electrifying at times in attack, the time can’t come quick enough for Guardiola to overhaul the defence although Vincent Kompany’s recent return has at last added some much-needed stability.

I just wonder whether his presence will be enough though as Leicester look dangerous. More speculative players might want to consider the 11/1 available but I will play it a little cagier in the expectation of them forcing a result of some sort.

Prediction: Manchester City 2-2 Leicester

Opta facts:

o Man City have won only two of their last seven Premier League meetings with the Foxes (D2 L3).

o Leicester have won their last two league games against the Citizens, scoring at least three goals each time (3-1 in February 2016 and 4-2 in December 2016) – the Foxes haven’t won three in a row against City for 50 years (March 1967).

o The Foxes have won five of their last six top-flight visits to Manchester City (L1), their only defeat in this run a 0-2 reverse in March 2015 under Nigel Pearson.

o Manchester City have won their last four home Premier League games against reigning champions – each of the last two were by a three-goal margin (4-1 v Manchester United in September 2013 and 3-0 v Chelsea in August 2015).

o Pep Guardiola’s side have lost just once at home this season in the Premier League, though have drawn seven times (W9 D7 L1).

o Jamie Vardy has scored seven times in his last 10 Premier League games, after just five in his first 22 this campaign.

o Vardy's only Premier League hat-trick came in the reverse fixture against Manchester City in December.

Bournemouth v Burnley (1500)

Burnley came out on top 3-2 at Turf Moor when the pair met in December and with both arriving on the back of 2-2 draws, you have to wonder whether this is going to be another busy afternoon for the goalkeepers.

It should be a pleasant atmosphere all round on the south coast too as both are now safe from the drop - the Cherries mathematically with Burnley unlikely to be troubled due to their vastly superior goal difference over Hull City.

Burnley nudged themselves onto 40 points after an entertaining stalemate with West Brom as they showed their customary spirit to fight back from a goal down and manager Sean Dyche was full of praise for his side’s achievements this season.

He was without defensive stalwarts Ben Mee and Michael Keane against the Baggies and their absence was exposed by a physical rival but the hope is they will be able to return here with Keane looking to have the best chance of a place in the starting XI.

To that end, Dyche may well need all hands to the pump against the hosts who have a collection of forward players at the top of their game currently while one defeat in five at the Vitality Stadium (to Chelsea) highlights a good measure of confidence on home turf. 

That statement can be applied to the visitors as well after they finally got over the line away from home with a convincing display at Crystal Palace.

They are 3/1 chances to double their tally on the road in rapid-fire time and they look competitive here but I would just prefer to side with the goals flowing at regular intervals. 

Prediction: Bournemouth 3-3 Burnley  

Opta stats:

o Bournemouth have lost only one of their last five home league games against the Clarets (W2 D2), a 1-0 defeat in the third tier in February 2000; Eddie Howe featured for the Cherries in that game, and was substituted for current assistant manager Jason Tindall.

o Burnley are unbeaten in their last seven games against Bournemouth in all competitions (W4 D3) since a 5-0 defeat in November 1998.

o This will be only the second Premier League meeting between the teams, with the other being a 3-2 win for Burnley at Turf Moor last December.

o Only Romelu Lukaku (14) and Harry Kane (13) have scored more goals than Josh King in 2017 in the Premier League (12).

o Stephen Ward has found the net in his last two league matches against the Cherries, doing so for Brighton in January 2014 and Burnley in the reverse fixture this season.

o Just seven of Burnley’s 40 points this season have been collected in away fixtures, the lowest proportion by a Premier League side this season (17.5%).

o However, the Clarets could win successive Premier League away games for the second time ever (also final two away games of 2014/15).

o The Cherries have kept just two clean sheets in their last 10 Premier League games at the Vitality Stadium, conceding at least two goals in the other eight games (19 in total).

o Sam Vokes has scored three times in his last three Premier League games, after nine without finding the net.

Middlesbrough v Southampton (1500)  

The unequal struggle for Boro to stay in the top flight is now over and being totally outclassed by Chelsea on Monday night finally put them out of their misery.  

Temporary boss Steve Agnew reported the response in training since has been very positive and he believes it is important for the team to finish the season strongly before preparations being in earnest over the summer for life in the Sky Bet Championship.

We saw last weekend how Sunderland pulled a result from seemingly out of nowhere once their fate had been decided and a home fixture for Boro could certainly inspire a welcome three points.

It is unfair to judge them on the way they folded at Stamford Bridge with the grim realisation the game was up in the top flight but previous efforts beating Sunderland and a sparky draw with Manchester City at the Riverside read pretty well. 

Southampton look a far more realistic challenge and could be worth taking on at even money.

Safe from any trouble since a healthy little burst at the start of last month, the Saints are without victory in five games and were not on much of a going night against Arsenal in midweek after squandering some first-half opportunities. 

It is tough for players to try and give their all in the ‘battle’ for eighth place but this is a worrying run of form for the visitors, if you keep in mind that manager Claude Puel is no shoo-in to be back in the St Mary’s hotseat after the summer break.

I would have taken a chance on the home side at the available prices but no Gaston Ramirez or Victor Valdes makes them slightly less appealing and I will give this fixture a swerve. 

Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-1 Southampton

Opta facts:

o Middlesbrough have won only one of their last five home Premier League fixtures against the Saints (D1 L3), though this is the first meeting since March 2005.

o The Saints, 1-0 winners over Middlesbrough in the reverse fixture, are looking to do a top-flight double over their opponents for the first time since the 1996/97 campaign.

o Boro haven’t kept a clean sheet against Southampton at the Riverside in any of their last seven league meetings since Mark Schwarzer recorded one in a 3-0 win in March 1999.

o Four of Middlesbrough’s five Premier League wins this season have come at the Riverside Stadium.

o However, only Palace (17) and Sunderland (14) have won fewer points on home soil than Boro (18, W4 D6 L8).

o Southampton have won three of their last six Premier League away games, having won just two of their previous 12 on the road this season.

o Of goalkeepers to play 100 or more Premier League games, only Boaz Myhill (1.73) and Wayne Hennessey (1.71) have conceded more goals per game than Middlesbrough goalkeeper Brad Guzan (1.66, 253 in 152 games).

o The last Premier League game at the Riverside Stadium saw four goals scored in a 2-2 draw between Middlesbrough and Manchester City – there hasn’t been at least four in back to back top-flight games there since May 2007 (four in a row).

Sunderland v Swansea (1500)

Swansea were scruffy 1-0 winners over Everton last week as they moved out of the bottom three, a point clear of Hull and are odds-on chances for three points at the Stadium Of Light as a result.

Their survival bid is back in their own hands and could be resolved this weekend - a victory and then a defeat for Hull against Crystal Palace would leave the Welsh side safe with the Tigers consigned to the drop.

Everton staged a little bit of a late rally but were not really that much of a threat and manager Paul Clement has vowed to make sure preparations are spot-on for the long journey to the North East. 

The players have done their bit off the pitch as well by coughing up for tickets and refreshments for around 3,000 travelling fans as they attempt to make it three wins from four in a defiant effort to stay up.

The Black Cats play the role of spoilers for the second week in a row though having already done a number on Hull.

I honestly felt they were too far gone this season under David Moyes but delivered their best result in ages to come away from the KCOM Stadium with a 2-0 victory. 

That was probably as much down to a very twitchy effort from the hosts and Swansea will have learnt something important from the footage in their quest to carve out a victory.

It has all been a bit of a disaster for Moyes and company and they undoubtedly owe the fans a performance back on their own patch but I like the visitors although the price is short enough and one I will leave alone.

Prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Swansea 

Opta facts:

o Sunderland are winless in their last four Premier League meetings with Swansea at the Stadium of Light (D3 L1) since winning their first encounter 2-0 in January 2012.

o That victory is the Black Cats’ only home victory over the Swans since winning eight consecutively in all competitions between 1937 and 1964 (D5 L2).

o No Premier League player has more assists in 2017 than Gylfi Sigurdsson (7, level with Christian Eriksen). 

o The Icelander needs one more goal to become the first Swansea player in the Premier League to reach double figures for both goals (9) and assists (12) in the same season.

o Sunderland have won fewer points at home this season than any other Premier League team (14).

o In fact, Sunderland are on the longest winless home run in the Premier League currently (nine games, D4 L5), failing to score in six of the last seven at the Stadium of Light.

o Jermain Defoe has scored five goals in four previous Premier League appearances against Swansea for Sunderland, including a hat-trick in January 2016. 

o Defoe needs one more goal to surpass his total in the Premier League from last season (15) and have his best tally in a Premier League season since 2009/10 (18 for Spurs).

Stoke v Arsenal (1730, Sky Sports 1)

It is another classic Arsenal showing at the end of the season and after two months of doom and gloom with calls for the manager to fall on his sword, they have reached another FA Cup final and are back in the hunt for a place in the top four.

Successive 2-0 victories following a pretty humiliating afternoon in the north London derby leaves them with their sights refocused on Champions League football to a certain extent but one slip could leave them once more on the outside looking in. 

The Gunners still seem far from their fluent best despite an upturn in results but a victory in the Potteries would put some serious pressure on Liverpool, who don’t play until Sunday afternoon.

It was no surprise to see Alexis Sanchez come to the rescue once again at St Mary’s before Olivier Giroud made the points safe but it was midfielder Aaron Ramsey who caught the eye and might be worth an interest in the anytime goalscorer market.

I don’t feel the Welshman has been at his sharpest this season after a star performance at Euro 2016 with the general malaise affecting the club perhaps bothering him more than most. 

But he got forward very well against the Saints and just needed to deliver a better final product - he has a pretty reasonable past record against Stoke and is well overdue having last found the target from an inch out in the FA Cup success over Lincoln.

The hosts have an insipid one win over Hull since the start of March and two recent draws has got them to 41 points and just across the line in the survival stakes. 

They have enjoyed some success in previous seasons against this rival too but I would very much stick with the visitors currently while they are rolling.

Prediction: Stoke 1-3 Arsenal 

Opta facts:

o Stoke have only lost one of their eight home Premier League games against Arsenal (W4 D3).

o The Gunners’ 12.5% win percentage (one win in eight) away at Stoke is their joint-second worst in the Premier League era (level with Sheffield Wednesday, one win in eight); they only have a worse win record at Manchester United (3 wins in 25, 12%).

o Arsenal have failed to score in three of their last four Premier League visits to the bet365 Stadium, with two of those games ending goalless.

o Mark Hughes is unbeaten in his last eight home Premier League meetings with Arsene Wenger (W5 D3), with that run spread across five different clubs – Blackburn (one game), Man City (two), Fulham (one), QPR (one) and Stoke (three).

o Peter Crouch has eight Premier League goals against Arsenal, his joint favourite opponent in the division (also Blackburn – 8). 

o The Potters have drawn one and lost four of their five home games against the Premier League’s top six this season – they won three of their six against the same sides in 2015-16 (D1 L2).

o Stoke have won their last Premier League home game of the season in each of the last three campaigns, scoring 12 goals and conceding three.

Posted at 1820 BST on 11/05/17. 

Recommended bet: Friday Premier League

1pt double Romelu Lukaku to score in an Everton win v Watford and Chelsea to beat WBA by a goal at 5.69/1 – Toffees can get back to winning form while a Chelsea title success to be decided by narrow margin

Everton v Watford (1945 BST)

While the title may or may not be decided down the M6, Goodison Park hosts a pretty meaningless encounter as two outfits mark time ahead of the summer holidays.

The hosts will finish in seventh place regardless and there was very much an end-of-term feel to things for the Toffees with a display that hardly set the pulse racing in last week’s 1-0 defeat at Swansea.

Even if you take into account they faced a team in a desperate fight for survival, eight shots with just two on target was the tally from a side that contains the Premier League’s top scorer in Romelu Lukaku.

It was pretty lame in anyone’s language and manager Ronald Koeman will have his fingers crossed it is not going to be a case of simply dragging themselves over the line before the inevitable off-season shake-up in preparation for European football.

The one positive is a return home where they are a considerably more potent force bar the pretty abject effort against Chelsea last time and a 4/9 quote to sweep aside the Hornets is a reasonable reflection of their chance if rousing themselves out of slumber. 

Watford are safe bar an horrific turnaround in goal difference but have all but fallen off a cliff themselves recently as Walter Mazzarri’s blood pressure goes further and further through the roof following three straight defeats and four out of five.

The Italian felt they were better than a 3-0 loss at Leicester suggests with individual errors leading to the downfall while another example of their glaring lack of quality in the final third was on view for all to see.   

The disconnect between manager and captain Troy Deeney rumbles on and they will have their work cut out again not to register a sixth straight defeat on the road with them unable to score in the five to date. 

This will be Everton’s final home game of the year and it all comes down to a willingness to put on performance for the fans with no further gains possible.

A plea in midweek from owner Bill Kenwright at an Everton awards night for Lukaku to stay may still fall on deaf ears but I fancy the Belgian to turn it on and lead the way in a comfortable home success.

Prediction: Everton 2-0 Watford 

Opta facts:

o  After winning their first four Premier League encounters with Watford between 1999 and 2007, the Toffees have failed to win any of their last three (D2 L1).

o However, the Hornets have never won at Goodison Park in the Premier League - drawing one and losing two.

o Indeed, Watford have never won away at Everton in any competition, losing nine out of 10 games. They avoided defeat in their last visit there in August 2015 however, a 2-2 draw on the opening day of last season.

o The Hornets defeated Everton at Vicarage Road earlier this season (3-2). They have only defeated a side both home and away in a single Premier League season on two occasions before - Aston Villa and Newcastle United, both in 2015-16.

o Watford (40 points) still need five points from their remaining three matches to equal their 45-point tally from last season under Quique Sanchez Flores.

o Everton have failed to score in each of their last three Premier League games – they haven’t failed in four consecutively since April 2006.

o Romelu Lukaku has scored 14 goals in his last 10 competitive appearances for Everton at Goodison Park.

o Watford (15) have only scored one goal more in the Premier League in 2017 than Romelu Lukaku has scored on his own for Everton (14).

West Brom v Chelsea (2000, Sky Sports 1)

Following last weekend’s favourable results, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte knows he now has three chances to win the league and the final push for glory starts on Friday night.

Their recent record at The Hawthorns is just one victory from five visits but this represents Chelsea’s best chance to put the issue to bed considering there is not much of a turnaround before they go back into bat again on Monday at home to Watford.

So sooner rather than later has to be the approach and it is pretty much impossible to crab the efficiency and professionalism with which they have gone about business since last month’s defeat at Old Trafford potentially opened the door for Tottenham.

Three straight wins in the league and 10 goals scored has put them in position to take full advantage of a very favourable run-in against some very beatable opposition and I doubt Conte and his players will have any interest in delaying things - meaning a coronation can take place in front of the faithful on Monday at Stamford Bridge.

The hosts are an awkward rival though who have vowed to try and make things as difficult as possible in their final home game of the campaign.

The Baggies have resided in eighth place since December 31 but their attempts to reach a personal Holy Grail of 50 points have stalled badly with no victories in six games.

They did manage to end a five-game goalless drought with battling 2-2 draw against a weakened Burnley backline last weekend and perhaps that could give them some much-needed momentum - they are going to need it against the second-best defence in the top flight. 

The funny thing is, the section’s most military medium of teams could actually plummet quite a few places if they don’t add to their tally and some of those below finish with a flourish despite West Brom being considerably better for 9/10ths of the season. 

It is no shock to hear manager Tony Pulis and senior player Chris Brunt insist this won’t be a case of them rolling over with some targets still to hit as a club while the traditional lap of honour to thank the fans won’t be a great deal of fun if Chelsea are on their pitch celebrating even harder. 

I still find West Brom difficult to predict – hard-working and honest for sure, but Pulis would readily admit they lack the consistent quality to trouble the best unless meeting them on a serious off-day.

West Brom have very little to lose though and I expect them to rise to the occasion to a certain extent in what should be a fantastic atmosphere. 

It is the champions elect though who can come out on top by the narrowest of margins and that looks to best way to tackle the game in terms of a bet.

Prediction: West Brom 1-2 Chelsea

Opta facts:

o West Brom have won three of their last five Premier League games against Chelsea at the Hawthorns (D1 L1) – this after losing each of their first five between 2003 and 2011.

o  The Blues have lost just one of their last eight Premier League games against the Baggies (W4 D3), a 3-0 defeat in May 2015 in a game played after Chelsea had already won the division.

o  None of the 21 Premier League meetings between these sides have ended goalless – the Baggies have only played more games without a nil-nil against Arsenal and Spurs (22) in the competition.

o Diego Costa has scored in three of his five Premier League appearances against West Brom, scoring three goals in total.

o Since winning 13 consecutive matches against West Bromwich Albion in all competitions between 1993 and 2011, Chelsea haven’t won back to back games in any of their last 10 meetings. They can achieve this with a win in this game, having won 1-0 in the reverse fixture in December.

o Chelsea have had a player sent off on their last two Premier League trips to the Hawthorns – John Terry last season and Cesc Fabregas in 2014-15.

o The Baggies have only scored a goal in two of their last nine Premier League fixtures, failing to score at all in their other seven matches since the start of March.

o Since the start of April, WBA have won only two points from six Premier League games (W0 D2 L4) – the worst record in the competition in this period.

o Should Chelsea win this match, they’ll have won 42 points away from home in the Premier League this season (the most) and it’ll be the highest tally of away points by a side in a PL season since Manchester United won 42 in 2011-12.

o If Chelsea win this match then they’ll seal their sixth top-flight league title and their fifth in the Premier League era. Only Manchester United (13) have won more Premier League titles.

Posted at 1600 BST on 12/05/17.  

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