Nigel Seeley here, looking forward to another round of EPL fixtures and selecting for you my top 3 picks of the weekend’s action.
Brighton vs. Chelsea (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)
A fascinating clash on Saturday is the first of our three games covered. Chelsea boss Graham Potter returns to his old club Brighton in a fixture that will cause him mixed emotions, I am sure. It is fair to say he knows more about the club than the current boss Roberto de Zerbi.
The two bosses have certainly had contrasting starts to their times in office with Potter hitting the ground running with an impressive nine games unbeaten, including six wins and three draws. De Zerbi by contrast is yet to win in five games in charge at the Amex Stadium.
Potter and his Chelsea team will be hugely relieved and happy that they have already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League, and in that important top spot. That means they can put everything into their EPL fixtures and give 100% effort into beating Brighton. Before the World Cup begins in under a month, they will want to have earned as many points as possible and I really feel that + 150 is too big and the wrong price in this matchup.
Brighton has something of an inferiority complex when it faces Chelsea and has never beaten them in the top league of English football. Their last victory was in the FA Cup in 1933 when a certain Bill Crosby was No. 1 in the Billboard Charts. That was a very long time ago and on Saturday I won’t be dreaming of a white Christmas but rather a Chelsea victory at + 150. The EPL is a tough business and though Potter has a big place in his heart for Brighton, he will want to leave with three points for his current employer, Chelsea.
Pick: Chelsea to beat Brighton + 150
Crystal Palace vs. Southampton (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)
Of these two teams, Crystal Palace is the one I think will do better in the rest of the season and pose the greater attacking threat. They possess a genuine goal threat in Eze and Zaha who worryingly for Southampton come into this game in great form.
My overriding view about this Palace team is that they are what is called “flat track bullies.” That means they are strong against similar or weaker teams but seem to always come up short against the big boys. To back up this theory, last season they had the best record at home outside of the top 4 with just four defeats at Selhurst Park.
This season they have continued in that style by losing to two teams they would have expected to lose to, Arsenal and Chelsea. To balance that out, they have beaten Aston Villa, Wolves and Leeds. I place Southampton firmly in the group of teams I expect Palace to beat!
Southampton arrives here looking short of confidence and ideas and with just one win in their last seven games. That was against a poor Bournemouth side, and they will need a big improvement to beat or even draw with Palace. They have looked flat in recent weeks, and this is not a ground to visit when you lack confidence and are out of form.
I take Palace to win this game in front of their fanatical fans and begin the final third of the EPL in a more positive mood than Southampton and their fans!
Pick: Crystal Palace to beat Southampton -110
Fulham vs. Everton (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET)
Of all the teams in the EPL this year I believe Fulham is the most underrated by the bookmakers and this is something we can exploit this weekend by picking them to beat Everton. They are at home at Craven Cottage and + 135 certainly looks like good value to me.
Fulham certainly poses an attacking threat at home and has scored in every one of its six home matches this season. Indeed, they have scored at least two goals in five of those six games.
Fulham has cashed Over 2.5 goals in 11 of 12 games this season and that bet has been one of my go-to picks in the EPL this season. The problem here, though, is Everton possesses very little attacking threat here in this game. Everton’s strength recently under Frank Lampard has been in defense and their ability to make themselves tough to beat and compact in their setup.
Lampard will not arrive at Craven Cottage with any plans to make this an open and attacking game, however, that being said, I still just favour the home side Fulham on the money line.
Last year, Everton was on the brink of relegation because of its terrible road record with just two wins and 13 defeats, the joint worst record in the entire league. Despite Lampard steadying the ship and strengthening Everton at the back, it has been a disappointing year away from home with only one win in six games. Free flowing attacking Fulham may well make that one from seven.
To add extra spice to this fixture, Fulham is managed by Marco Silva, who had a very unhappy spell before being fired as Everton manager. I am sure the Portuguese boss would like nothing more than to prove a point to his old club by beating them and I believe he will. Their supporters will of course not have expected them to be top of the EPL but still there will be disappointment in the air.
Pick: Fulham to beat Everton + 135