By Dave Kelner
Last Updated: 7th February 2020
The Punt doesn’t do winter breaks. We’re back to go through the four Premier League games this weekend, and it’s an action packed show featuring our friends from the Football Writers’ Association, Robbie Savage and Sam Norris and I discussing the TV games. Below are a few notes and suggestions for the action in the top flight.
Everton v Crystal Palace – Sat 12.30pm
It’s always said that managers don’t get enough time, but the sacking of Marco Silva seemed entirely justified and that’s been borne out by the results since his departure. After losing eight of their last 11 games under Silva, they have lost just one of their last 10 under Duncan Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti. Only Liverpool have picked up more points than their Merseyside rivals in that spell.
Ancelotti has improved the organisation of the team and, almost as importantly, inspired this set of players. The Yerry Mina-inspired comeback against Watford last weekend to keep this unbeaten run intact was tremendous, and when Theo Walcott gets on the scoresheet, you know something very special is happening.
As for Palace, they are really struggling at the moment. They’ve failed to score against Sheffield United and Southampton in their last couple of games in the league at Selhurst Park and haven’t won since beating West Ham on Boxing Day.
I’ll be focusing on something pro-Everton here and I like the look of Richarlison to score in an Everton win. The Brazilian flies under the radar, but there’s no doubting his quality. He’s got two in his last three and can score in an Everton win.
Brighton v Watford – Sat 5.30pm
Brighton look skinny in the market for a team that have only won once in their last 10 games in the Premier League, especially as that win came at home to struggling Bournemouth. A shade of odds against isn’t going to attract much cash I wouldn’t anticipate, but do you really want to side with Watford in this spot?
Nigel Pearson came in and transformed their fortunes, with the help of Troy Deeney’s leadership, but the bubble might have burst now. New Manager Syndrome only lasts for a certain amount of time, and they’ve started to concede goals now, too.
Pearson certainly improved them defensively – they only conceded four goals in his first eight in charge – but they’ve conceded five in their last two.
If you’re looking for a goalscorer, Glen Murray got one in the draw against West Ham and has a just signed a one year contract extension, but I’d have to side with the draw, in a tough game to call.
BET: Draw @ 23/10
Sheffield United v Bournemouth – Sun 2pm
I’ve given up trying to predict what’s going to happen in Sheffield United matches. I was convinced that after back-to-back defeats away at Manchester City and Liverpool, teams were beginning to work out Chris Wilder’s side. Even typing that makes me sound stupid. Losses away at the two strongest sides in the league, a harbinger of things to come. Stupid.
Since then, they’ve won four of six, progressed through two rounds of the FA Cup, with their only loss coming at home to the Champions.
Sheffield United have a tremendous record against Bournemouth, having lost just one of their last 15 meetings against them, and it’s worth noting that even though Bournemouth have won their last couple of Premier League games, they haven’t won three in the same season since March 2016.
Only Liverpool have conceded fewer goals than Sheffield United in the Premier League, but the Blades haven’t scored more than once in their last eight.
Man City v West Ham – Sun 4.30pm
The fallout from Manchester City’s latest Premier League loss against Spurs has been delightful. You’ve had analysts that study the game intently, and rely on stats such as expected goals, suggesting it was a freak result and on any other day City would have thrashed Spurs. The Mourinho truthers have emerged from the woodwork, proclaiming it was a tactical masterclass and the statisticians are sucking the joy from the game.
I’d be with the analysts if I had to pick a side, but this isn’t the first time that City have dominated a game and failed to pick up three points this season, and Pep Guardiola is becoming more irksome with every passing week, and frankly his comments about the Premier League’s need to be concerned about Liverpool easing to title success is laughable. He’s had plenty of money to spend, and the fact City aren’t challenging is down to his team underperforming.
Thankfully, they have West Ham on deck. The Hammers have slipped into the relegation zone, and have an abysmal record against City. They’ve lost their last seven against City, conceding 23 and scoring just three goals in the process. I reckon there’s a City backlash here, and West Ham feel the full force.
BET: Man City -3 @ 13/8