Hello, Nigel here with my three best bets of the weekend's EPL action, and this week, I write from freezing cold England. This is relevant apart from me wearing gloves to write this in that in very cold weather, EPL games usually see lower goal action and more UNDERS cashing in matches so keep that in mind when betting on the EPL this weekend.
Liverpool vs. Chelsea
Saturday, January 21, 7.30 a.m. ET
Historically, this game has been between two sides heavily involved in the battle to win the EPL. Unfortunately for both clubs, this is far removed from that scenario as Chelsea arrives in Liverpool in 10th position with Liverpool in 9th. They both have a disappointing 28 points, and their managers are under fire to varying degrees.
Last week, we cashed on Brighton to beat Klopp's underperforming reds and they did with ease. For now, most Liverpool fans seem to be blaming the club’s owners FSG for their awful season with Klopp himself being spared their anger. This is not the case with Chelsea where Manager Graham Potter is under fire and seen by many Chelsea fans as not being capable of managing a top club.
Liverpool will be happy to be back at Anfield after losing to Brentford and Brighton on the road. Liverpool won midweek in the FA Cup at lowly Wolves, and they will also take some confidence that they won their previous home game in the EPL 2-1 against Leicester. This season, Liverpool has been weak defensively which had been their strength under Klopp, and they conceded three to both Brighton and Brentford. He will be keen not to allow Chelsea the space those teams were gifted.
Chelsea Manager Potter had some relief from the tremendous pressure he was under by landing a 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace at home in midweek with Kai Havertz landing the winner. That only papers over the cracks though, and this team has now failed to win in six games away from Stamford Bridge.
I cannot see this being anything other than a tight nervous affair, and historically, this game has been low scoring. In fact, in five of the last six meetings of these two clubs in all competitions, under 2.5 goals has cashed. Add to that four of Chelsea’s last five EPL games have seen under 2.5 goals, and you can see why I am forecasting a low-scoring game.
Whilst both sides will be desperate for three points, a draw is not a disaster for them, and certainly not for Potter who it would mean four points from a possible six in his last two matches. The two met four times last season, and in each one the draw cashed. It wouldn’t surprise me to see it cash again, hopefully with a 0-0 or a 1-1 score line.
Pick: Under 2.5 Goals at +125
Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Sunday, January 22, 9:00 a.m. ET
Manchester City under Pep Guardiola is a wounded Tiger currently and sits fully eight points behind leaders Arsenal in the battle for the EPL. They lost a controversial Manchester Derby 2-1 last week, and before that game, they suffered a shock 2-0 defeat to Southampton in the EFL Cup.
History has shown us that City under Pep always bounces back, and what better team for them to face this Sunday than Wolves, the second-lowest scorers in the EPL. This fixture has been one-way traffic in recent seasons with City winning on the last five occasions. They won this corresponding fixture 3-0 and have already won at Wolves 1-0 this season.
City presents a goal threat from many players, not just star striker Erling Haaland, whereas Wolves do not. They failed to score in their midweek FA Cup defeat to struggling Liverpool at home. To be fair, Wolves have seen an improvement under new Manager Julen Lopetegui winning 1-0 against West Ham following their 2-1 victory at Everton. Those wins have seen them climb out of the relegation zone into 16th place. Lopetegui is no fool though, and he will realize those two welcome wins were against the two poorest teams in the EPL on current form, and a visit to the Etihad is a world away.
City always bounces back and has a very strong record in this fixture. They simply cannot afford any more slipups if they are to put any pressure on leaders Arsenal. The pick here is a City win to Nil and to make a statement to Arsenal that they have not relinquished their title just yet.
Pick: Manchester City to Win to Nil At -110
Arsenal vs. Manchester United
Sunday, January 22, 11:30 a.m. ET
Without a doubt, the most eagerly anticipated game of the weekend is at the Etihad where the two in-form teams of the EPL face off. Arsenal sits eight points clear at the top of the EPL and now what looked like a dream to them earlier in the season is fast becoming a reality. I expect Arsenal games to become nervy affairs from here on in.
Arsenal played like Champions in their 2-0 victory away to bitter rivals Tottenham last weekend. They never looked in any danger in what looked to be a difficult fixture, and it was evidence of the massive improvement under Mikel Arteta this season. At home, they have been in scintillating form with four victories in their last five with the other result a 0-0 draw with Champions League contenders Newcastle.
After a sticky start to his tenure as Manchester United boss, Erik ten Hag has completely turned round the team’s fortunes, and they sit in third place in a Champions League spot. The victory against Manchester rivals City, who have dominated them in recent years, was worth much more than the three points. It signified a return as a top side, and United will be looking to add Arsenal to their recent victims. It is not just at Old Trafford that United has been revitalized. In their last six away games, they have won three, lost one and drawn two. Ten Hag no longer has the Ronaldo sideshow in the background and has the team playing the way he wants. In Marcus Rashford, he has a player playing the best football of his career. He has also strengthened their defense, as they have conceded an average of just 1.06 goals per match this season. They will certainly not be overawed about facing the runaway EPL leaders and will believe they can win.
Arteta has also strengthened the defense, which had been Arsenal’s great weakness for several years. They have conceded just 0.82 goals per game this season. In Martin Odegaard, they have a Midfield leader who has scored eight goals and protected their backline. He will be a huge player for them on Sunday in what could be their toughest test of the season so far.
Manchester United was dealt two body blows ahead of this match at Crystal Palace on Wednesday night with an injury-time equalizer and a yellow card for influential midfielder Casemiro, who will miss this huge match through suspension. I still see this being a close, tense affair with two teams in great form, and it may not be as attacking as some are predicting.
Pick: Under 2.5 Goals (-136)