Hello! Nigel Seeley here with my best three picks on what looks like a massive and pivotal weekend at the top and the bottom of the English Premier League.
Aston Villa vs. Nottingham Forest
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET
Aston Villa is the in-form team in the Premier League, and since former Arsenal manager Unai Emery took over at Villa Park, they have become totally transformed from a team in mid-table obscurity to an outside bet for European places.
Emery has brought a fresh, exciting and flamboyant style of play to this Villa team that already has me marking them down as a side to break the top six for next season. Before we get too carried away with the future, let’s look at the task in hand this weekend.
Villa entertains strugglers Nottingham Forest as a heavy -175 favorite, which although I won’t be betting as a single will certainly play a part in my weekend parlay.
Villa is unbeaten in their last six matches, winning five and drawing the other. In every match that Emery has been in charge, they have scored at least one goal, and it’s that extra goal threat that makes them appeal to me.
Striker Ollie Watkins is in tremendous form scoring in eight of his last 10 starts, and he looks a nice play at +130 to score at any time, but the official play in this one is Aston Villa -1 on the Asian handicap which is +105 with a lot of books. Nottingham Forest has the worst road record in the EPL with just one win and only five goals scored from 14 matches. The 34 goals conceded (an average of 2.42 per game) highlight the problem. Up against a free-scoring Villa and with no goal threat in their attack I like Villa to win by more than one goal, with the insurance of a push if the home team wins by a single-goal margin.
Pick: Aston Villa -1 on the Asian handicap at +105 v Nottingham Forest
Wolves vs. Chelsea
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET
It’s been a busy day for Chelsea who reappointed their former player/manager Frank Lampard as caretaker boss, and he starts his second reign in charge at Stamford Bridge with a trip to relegation-threatened Wolves on Saturday.
It’s been a disaster of a season for Chelsea languishing in the bottom half of the EPL which ultimately cost Graham Potter his job last week. The only thing that Chelsea has to play for this season is pride, and next week’s Champions League quarterfinal with Real Madrid has to be a priority over a trip to Wolves.
Wolves will fancy their chances of getting a much-needed win here, but they are a very inconsistent outfit and I really wouldn’t have any confidence in taking them to get three points, even at the +300 being offered. The one thing that these two sides have been consistent with this season is the number of times that they have been drawing at half-time.
No team in the EPL has been drawing at the halftime whistle more than Chelsea this campaign with 16 of their 29 matches drawing at halftime—a 55 percent chance or -125. Wolves are next with 15 draws at halftime in their 29 matches—a 52 percent or -110 probability. You can see why I like the +115 on this match being a draw at halftime, a bet that has cashed in four of the last five meetings between the two sides.
I fully expect Chelsea to be focused on Real Madrid, and Wolves might look at a draw as a good result in this one, with other teams in the relegation shake-up playing each other this weekend.
Pick: Wolves v Chelsea draw at halftime at +115
Leeds vs. Crystal Palace
Sunday, 9:00 a.m. ET
My final pick this weekend is another huge match at the bottom of the table where I like Leeds at +110 to beat Crystal Palace.
Leeds rested all their strikers last weekend when they visited the Emirates to face league leaders Arsenal, and they prioritized the two matches against Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace as must-win games, keeping their better players fit for these clashes.
They got the midweek win over Forest 2-1, and I like them to follow that up with another three points against Palace on Sunday.
Leeds has started to play well at home with just two defeats against top opponents in Manchester City and Manchester United in their last eight, and the one thing that they are doing at home is beating teams in or around them at the bottom of the table.
They have faced six sides at home that are in the relegation shake-up— winning four and drawing two, and I expect them to get another win in front of the Elland Road faithful.
Palace is another club that sacked their manager and brought back a former boss with Roy Hodgson returning to the dugout at Selhurst Park. The former Liverpool and England manager got a response from his players with a 2-1 win over Leicester with 31 shots and 9 on target— an incredible turnaround in form for a team that had zero shots on target in their two previous matches. That was at home though, where on their day, Palace is a match for anyone. On the road, they’re not to be trusted, and with a Leeds side that has all its big players returning from either injury or suspension, I expect the home support to lift Leeds to another valuable three points.
Pick: Leeds to beat Crystal Palace at +110