The midweek fixtures returned a mixed bag of results, shaking up both ends of the league table. A record Premier League crowd watched silky Spurs play United off the park, whilst Conte’s Chelsea, minus a striker, were comprehensively beaten at home by Bournemouth. Man. City extended their lead to 15 points at the top, whilst Walcott seems to be adapting well to life on Merseyside.
However, if a week is a long time in politics, then three days is an eternity in football. Man. City travel to Burnley for the early game, whilst Arsenal host Everton in the evening fixture. With a total of seven games this Saturday, let’s get straight to it!
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BURNLEY 0 V 3 MAN CITY
Burnley are without a win in ten matches, and Sean Dyche’s over-achieving Clarets who remain seventh in the league, couldn’t have picked harder opponents to try to get their season back on track. One of the problems identified by Dyche is their lack of goals at home, and whilst not the most prolific of scorers, they have scored just eight at home, the fewest in the league. The two sides met in the FA Cup recently, an enthralling game that saw Burnley take the lead before conceding four… Can they tighten up enough to keep Europe’s top-scoring side at bay?
West Brom, revitalised and on a winning run arrived at the Ethihad full of beans midweek, and were dispatched back to the Hawthorns with their tail between their legs, a 3-0 spanking smarting. That was four wins on the bounce for Manchester City since they lost 4-3 to Liverpool and Pep’s side look in fine form. They’re 15 points top of the league at the moment, and know they have a chance to extend that to 18 with an early win. Beware, Burnley!
It looks like star-signing Steven Defour will miss the rest of the season through a knee injury, whilst Stephen Ward remains a way away from first-tea football, as does Tom Heaton. Leroy Sane, the victim of a horror tackle is out for six weeks, and joins Jesus, Mendy and Delph on the sidelines.
What We Sayin'?
Another tough learning curve for Burnley, who will be up against it. The lure of going 18 points clear will be motivation enough for the Citizens, who will can see winning his with relative ease.
- BTTS – No | 4/7
- City to win to nil | 9/10
- Kevin De Bruyne 1st GS | 5/1
- City to win 0-3 | 6/1
BOURNEMOUTH 2 V 1 STOKE
Bournemouth will be absolutely buzzing for this one. They chastised Chelsea at Samford Bridge, inflicting the heaviest defeat of Conte’s reign and the current champions of England, plating without a recognised striker, had little answer to the Cherries’ pace and intensity. That’s six on the bounce without defeat for Eddie Howe’s men, which also includes victories over Everton and Arsenal. Callum Wilson has had a hand in six goals in his last six Premier League matches (4 goals, 2 assists) and the frontman could be key to a Bournemouth victory.
Paul Lambert has come in and reminded Stoke of one of the game’s basic tenets: ‘If you don’t concede you can’t lose’. Back-to-back shutouts against Watford and Huddersfield is a step in the right direction, but The Potters have shipped ten goals in their last three away days (30 in total, a league high). It’ll be interesting to see how Stoke approach this one, accumulating points a must for lambert’s team, but with the form of Wilson a worry, they may decide to settle for a point.
Jermain Defoe is a couple of weeks away from returning from an ankle injury, though Tyrone Mings remains injured. New signing Badou Ndiaye should feature, whilst Jese Rodriguez may be available after taking a leave of absence.
What We Sayin'?
Bournemouth ran out 1-2 winners back in late October when the sides last met and we can see a similar result today. Bournemouth aren’t impregnable, and Stoke need the points so we can see the Potters scoring at least once.
- BTTS – Yes | 8/11
- Wilson 1st Goal | 3/1
- Bournemouth -2.5 corner handicap | 11/10
- Bournemouth to win 2-1 | 15/2
BRIGHTON 2 V 1 WEST HAM
Brighton’s Glenn Murray opened the scoring from the spot midweek, before Southampton equalised in the battle of the south coast clubs. Chris Hughton’s men have failed to win any of their last six games, but welcome former striker Leo Ulloa bacK to the Amex. The Leicester hitman will feel he’ll have a point to prove and West Ham should beware of his ability, should he start, of course!
The Hammers are unbeaten in six, though they themselves required a penalty to grab a point in the derby against Crystal Palace at the weekend. That extended their winless run to three and Moyes will be desperate to pick up some points here. We mentioned Ulloa above, and considering the fact that West Ham have the second worst defensive record away from home this season, it could be a case of safety first for Moyes’ men.
Jiri Skalak joins long-term absentees Steve Sidwell and Izzy Brown in the treatment room for The Seagulls. Mark Arnautovic is a week or two away for the Hammers, Winston Reid is 50/50, Arthur Masuaku continues his six-match ban, while Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini Pedro Obiang and Edimilson Fernandes remain sidelined.
What We Sayin'?
The Seagulls won the reverse fixture 3-0, but this could be a lot closer. I could come down to the Hammers injuries and suspensions, so we’ll side with The Seagulls, just! 2-2 appeals, but…
- BTTS | 11/10
- Ulloa anytime GS | 13/8
- Brighton and draw | 3/10
- Brighton 2-1 | 9/1
LEICESTER 1 V 2 SWANSEA
The Foxes host The Swans at the King Power after suffering a 2-1 loss to Everton midweek. That result ended their six-match unbeaten streak and Claude Puel will want to get the train back on track as soon as possible. Riyad Mahrez, in fine form before Man City’s attentions were rebuffed skipped training and it will be interesting to see if he is played. He could be the difference if he does
Swansea’s resurgence has been nothing short of Lazarus-like and Tuesday’s 3-1 bettering of Arsenal shows they are certainly not without fight. Sam Clucas scored a brace that day and the clamour for him to receive an international call-up intensifies. The Swans are now unbeaten in six, have picked up 10 points from their five matches under Carlos Carvalhal, and will arrive confident of adding a point (or three) to their season’s tally.
Mahrez is unlikely to feature, whilst Wes Morgan remains sidelined. On loan Renao Sanches is hamstrung, and Andre Ayew faces a late fitness test.
What We Sayin'?
A tough one to call, but Swansea at 4/1 certainly appeals. The draw is the probable outcome, but Mahrez’s (possible) absence could be a huge blow. Jordan Ayew has been involved in more PL goals for Swansea than any other player this season (five goals, two assists) and looks a sound punt t score a anytime.
- BTTS – Yes | EVS
- BTTS +2.5 goals | 8/5
- Ayew anytime GS | 14/5
- Swansea win 1-2 | 14/1
- Vardy 1st GS, Swansea win 1-2 | 60/1
MAN UNITED 2 V 0 HUDDERSFIELD
United will be smarting after the way they were totally outfought, outthought and outplayed at Spurs on Wednesday, and Jose will demand an instant response from his men. Sanchez is likely to make his Old Trafford debut for the Red Devils, and United, with four clean sheets in five at OT will be looking to continue that run. However, The Tigers beat United last time out and David Wagner’s troops will go to United with nothing to lose.
Huddersfield could become the first promoted side to complete a league double over Manchester United since 1986/87 ad no doubt David Wagner will be telling his troops the same. The Terriers were toothless in their 0-3 loss to Liverpool las time out, the hosts giving Liverpool far too much respect. The fact that they’re playing away will help the Terriers, but it should be remembered that they have won just one of their last 11 Premier League away games, whilst United have lost us one of 47 home games…
Steve Mounie should make his return for the hosts, though Billing is out with a turned ankle. Kasey Palmer is ruled out with a thigh injury, as is Michael Hefele, and the pair join long-term absentee Jon Stankovic on the sidelines. Fellaini looks a doubt for nited ater being substituted on Wednesday.
What We Sayin'?
Huddersfield will face United’s wrath, as Jose will simply not stand for a repeat of the drubbing they took against Spurs. Sanchez is a focal point and he’ll want to get his OT career off to a flyer at home.
- BTTS – No | 1/2
- Sanchez 1st GS | 14/5
- United to win to nil | 8/13
- Man United 2-0 | 9/2
WSET BROM 2 V 1 SOUTHAMPTON
A relegation six-pointer? For sure. West Brom are starting to show signs of life under Pardew but they remain bottom of the table, four points adrift of safety after their 3-0 defeat a Man City midweek. The Baggies have bought in Daniel Sturridge from Liverpool on a loan and with the world cup looming the former England hitman will want to remind everyone why he should be on the plane to Moscow. With the Baggies having the second lowest goal-scoring record in the Premier league they’ll certainly be hoping he hits the ground running.
The Saints held Spurs to a draw and looked very competent in doing so: tough, resilient, hard t break down and dangerous on the break. They then struggled at home against Brighton, earning a draw, but are unbeaten in five. Southampton’s poor away form could be their undoing and in this dogfight for points it’ll be interesting to see how much stomach they have for the fight.
The Baggies are looking at a mini injury rises. Kieran Gibbs, Jake Livermore, Jonny Evans, Grzegorz Krychowiak, and Hal Robson-Kanu all face late fitness tests, whilst Nacer Chadli and James Morrison remain ruled out until at least the end of February. Charlie Austin remains the only doubt for the Saints.
What We Sayin'?
This has all the hallmarks of a 1-1 draw (19/4), which is why we’re going to eschew that scoreline and plump for a home win. Everything thrown into the mixer and we can see West Brom wanting this one a little more. Sturridge off the bench with the winner, anyone?
- BTTS – Yes | 10/11
- BTTs +2.5 goals | 13/8
- Sturrdige last GS | 2/1
- Rodriguez 1s GS | 21/4
- 2-1 WBA win | 9/1
ARSENAL 2 V 2 EVERTON
Arsenal fell to Swansea midweek and that 3-1 defeat will have had repercussions around the Emirates. The loss of Sanchez will be a blow, as will Giroud, the supersub moving across London to Chelsea in a move that has left Gunners’ fans scratching their noodles in disbelief. They have bought proven quality in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but the former Borussia Dortmund striker may miss this one through illness. A crumb of comfort for Arsenal is that they have never lost a Premier League match at the Emirates in February (P21 W17 D4 L0), and have only lost once in the last 12 months a home.
Theo Walcott swapped life in north London for Merseyside and the former Gunner has settled in well, scoring a brace on Wednesday as Everton beat Leicester 2-1. Sam Allardyce has certainly settled the ship and he’ll be looking to do one of the ‘big boys’ on his 500th PL game. However, optimists beware: The Toffees have recorded just one league win on the road in the last year.
Santi Cazorla and Danny Wellbeck remain sidelined by long-term problems for The Gunners, whilst The Toffees are without long-term absentees McCarthy, Leighton Baines, Maarten Stekelenberg and Ramiro Funes Moni.
What We Sayin'?
It will be interesting to see how Arsenal react to the recent changes in personnel. Wenger will demand an improvement after Tuesday’s game, and to be fair the Gunners usually react positively to setbacks. The stage is set and surely the script written: Theo Walcott to return with a bang!
- BTTS – Yes | 10/11
- BTTS, Over 2.5 goals | 5/4
- Over 3.5 goals | 13/10
- Walcott 1st GS | 10/1
- Walcott anytime GS | 7/2
- 2-2 | 20/1
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