Manchester United v Southampton
Saturday 12th February – 12:30PM KO
United were dubiously denied by VAR at Turf Moor last weekend and look to bounce back to winning ways in the early kick off in the Premier League, as they face a Southampton side who lost 9-0 on their last visit to Old Trafford.
Southampton were excellent on Wednesday, dominating Spurs from start to finish and became the first side to win in the league at Tottenham since Conte took over. With just their 3rd win on the road this season, Saints will finally be looking to build some momentum and consistency where they have struggled all season.
After missing a penalty against Middlesbrough and being benched for the game against Burnley, star man Cristiano Ronaldo should be back in line to start today’s game. United’s top scorer is on his longest goal drought in over a decade, failing to find the net in his last 5 games, which shouldn’t last much longer.
Burnley found success against United through their physical playstyle, dominating United in the air. Southampton should struggle to find success in a similar fashion here, as they line up with more technical players in midfield than Burnley. It will be difficult for them to replicate their work rates and fast-paced football against the second big six side within a week. I expect United to return to winning ways here, relying heavily on Pogba’s quality to outclass the Saints and set up an end to Ronaldo’s drought.
Prediction: Manchester United to Win, 1.62 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐)
Brentford v Crystal Palace
Saturday 12th February – 3:00PM KO
A very out of form Brentford side host Crystal Palace as both teams look to bounce back from midweek results with victory here.
Brentford have been the surprise package this season, outperforming the other two promoted clubs, currently sitting 14th. Despite this, they are on a run of 6 straight defeats and are at risk of being dragged into a relegation battle. The reintroduction of Yoane Wissa and Bryan Mbuemo in midweek should inject a much-needed boost alongside the outside chance of Christian Eriksen’s first start.
Zaha had a rollercoaster of a return to Premier League life, scoring a screamer and taking arguably one of the worst penalties seen at this standard. Palace dominated Norwich but failed to secure three points with yet another away draw taking their tally to 5 for the season. These two teams lined up at Selhurst Park in August for a stalemate when Brentford were the form side. Now, Palace are the ones hitting form with Zaha and Olise posing a great threat in behind the wing back system Brentford operate in. This threat should allow for plenty of crossing opportunities into either of the big striker selected, allowing Palace a chance to score. As much as I want to take Palace to win on form, I can’t look past Palace’s one away win this season despite it being at City and therefore am taking double chance as they look to remain unbeaten in 2022 on the road
Prediction: Crystal Palace Double Chance, 1.44 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Everton v Leeds
Saturday 12th February – 3:00PM KO
Both Everton and Leeds had defensive fragilities exposed in their last games as Leeds battled to draw at Villa Park while Everton collapsed to defeat against relegation threatened Newcastle.
After victory in the cup against Brentford, Everton were given a reality check as they were dominated by Newcastle who had 20 shots for their 3 goals. It’s been tough viewing at Goodison Park, winning 4 of 10 games, but struggling with a rocky defence. The Toffees have kept just 2 clean sheets at home this season and desperately need to improve defensively if their form is to turn around.
Despite a bit of experience in the Prem with Chelsea, new Everton manager Frank Lampard has not set his teams up to defend. Scoring 103 goals and conceding 80 in 58 PL games and when you consider what the next Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel, has done since taking over that is a worrying sign for Everton defensively.
Leeds’ last clean sheet came in November, and they have been notoriously bad on the road this season conceding 26 goals in 11 games and keeping just one clean sheet. 73% of Leeds away games have had both teams score and 68% of PL games, the most in the league. Bielsa as a manager, has tendency to chase a game despite how difficult the fixture may be. A 7-0 loss to City this season shows how this can backfire but don’t expect Leeds to sit back for a point here.
Quite simply, neither side are defensively solid, and they have kept 6 clean sheets combined in 43 PL games this season. BTTS is my tip here which has landed in 4 of their last 5 meetings together. The attacking talent on show headlined by Richarlison and Raphinha should overrun two weak defences.
Prediction: Both Teams to Score, 1.50 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Watford v Brighton
Saturday 12th February – 3:00PM KO
Watford will seek their first goal under Roy Hodgson when they host the Seagulls on Saturday in what is a pivotal clash for differing reasons.
The Hornets appear locked in a relegation battle and another managerial change hasn’t brought a new manager bounce yet. Brighton have played 11 times on the road this season, drawing seven and only losing one. Brighton are so unpredictable on the road. In 7 PL meetings, Watford have won one and Brighton three, showing this fixture can go either way. I think Brighton are likely to take the three points here but it’s hard to bet on a side who underperform their xG more than any other side.
I will be turning to the card market, and more specifically the Watford card market in this game. Watford are a very frustrated side at the moment without a win since November and I can see that frustration building over against a patient Brighton side with much higher quality. Hodgson’s new 4-4-2 style of play has favoured 4 central midfielders, limiting opportunities going forward especially for the front 2. The short fuses of front pairing Emmanuel Dennis and Josh King should see at least one of the Watford pair lash out, as they are the two most carded Watford players this season.
I briefly mentioned Brighton’s patient style of football before which ranks them 4th in possession and passes per 90. Potter’s men have also love to upset a home crowd, drawing the second most yellows on their travels this season at 2.27 per game. Tariq Lamptey draws the 4th most fouls per 90 of any PL player this season and he will probably lineup against an aging Tom Cleverly in another good matchup for a Watford card. Watford take the majority of their yellows at home, averaging 2.09 and I can see them getting at least two in this game when Brighton dominate
Prediction: Watford Over 1.5 Cards, 1.80 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐)
Norwich v Manchester City
Saturday 12th February – 5:30PM KO
The last time Norwich hosted Manchester City they saw off the champions 3-2 with an impressive and clinical performance. Since then, they have been beaten 5-0 twice by their opponents and despite their current form, I wouldn’t bet against a similar score line here.
My tip on Wednesday was for BTTS at Carrow Road and Norwich (the more unlikely of the two teams) netted after 43 seconds through Teemu Pukki. However, that was their only shot on target as Palace dominated and only failed to win after Zaha’s poor penalty.
It was routine business for City as they eased past Brentford through Mahrez and De Bruyne. Seeing 76% of the ball that day, City barely gave Brentford a sniff, keeping yet another clean sheet in this wonderful run. In the reverse fixture in August, Norwich failed to register a Shot on Target all game and were played off the park by City. The majority of City’s chances came from out wide and without a recognised striker fit to play in this game, expect a similar trend today.
Joao Cancelo will be a key attacking threat from the wing looking to exploit Norwich weakness at full back as he looks to continue to impress. Cancelo leads the league in shots from outside the area and only trails back up Liverpool full back in crosses into the six yard box per 90.
In this game I will be looking at the corners market, given the advantage City have down the wings which is where I expect the majority of today’s game to be played. City average 8.63 corners PG including 8.25 PG away from home leading the league in both categories. Meanwhile Norwich only trail Burnley in corners conceded per game and conceded 6 to a worse Palace side in midweek. Having had 9 corners against Brentford, I expect City to have at least 8 or more here.
Prediction: Man City Over 7.5 Corners, 1.75 on Betfair (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
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