Hello! Nigel here with my best bets for another exciting round of EPL action.
Brentford vs. Crystal Palace
Saturday 10:00 a.m. ET
My first pick this weekend is Brentford to beat their London rivals Crystal Palace. Brentford comes into this game in 8th place in the EPL and unbeaten in their last six EPL fixtures with four wins and two draws. I see that reading five wins and two draws by Saturday evening as Crystal Palace arrives here in wretched form with no wins in their last six with three draws and three defeats.
After a strong start to the season Patrick Vieira’s Palace sits in 12th and will be anxiously looking at the relegation battle. Only seven points separate them from the bottom three, so they may join that fight unless they start putting some good results together. It’s fair to say since the EPL resumed after the World Cup, Crystal Palace has really struggled as they’ve yet to win in 2023. Vieira has not been helped by the recent loss of his star player and chief attacking threat Wilfried Zaha who is out with a hamstring injury and the club report could be ruled out until March!
Thomas Frank’s Brentford will look to build on their unbeaten run of 10 games, a feat only achieved by themselves, Arsenal and Newcastle this season! Frank has made them strong at the back with no less than eight clean sheets—the fourth-best clean sheet record in the EPL. They went to Arsenal with a strong gameplan and came away with a draw, which shows they fear nobody in this league home or away.
In Ivan Toney, they posses a real goal threat. He sits third in the goalscoring table with 14 goals—only Harry Kane and the goal machine Haaland have scored more. Without Zaha, Palace will struggle to break down this Brentford defense. Though this fixture has ended in a draw the last two times, I strongly expect Brentford to beat Palace on Saturday. The two clubs are heading in different trajectories, and Brentford will be dreaming of a top-six finish while Patrick Vieira may see his Palace side embroiled in a relegation battle.
Pick: Brentford to Beat Crystal Palace -115
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Bournemouth
Saturday 10:00 a.m. ET
Wolves have been nothing short of sensational since the arrival of new boss Julen Lopetegui. If they beat Bournemouth on Saturday, they will have 26 points and remarkably be looking at reaching the top half of the EPL.
Wolves humbled the mighty Liverpool 3-0 at home and beat fellow strugglers West Ham. Despite going down to 10 men, they battled to victory at Southampton and are looking like a completely different team to the negative dull Wolves of the early season. Full of newfound confidence and with real momentum, they will be looking to win and win well on Saturday.
Gary O’Neil’s Bournemouth arrives here in second-bottom position and looks doomed to relegation unless they can find their own Wolves-type resurgence, but it looks unlikely. The Cherries have lost their last seven away games, and in six of those defeats, they have failed to score. Bournemouth supporters will be heartened by their battling draw against high-flying Newcastle and their old manager Eddie Howe last Saturday. They did squander a 1-0 lead though, and it takes their winless run to seven games in the EPL with five defeats and two draws. Even in February, form like that makes them look doomed to Championship football next season.
O’Neil himself will be desperate for an upturn in his team's fortunes because a man who many felt would be out of his depth at this level is now the clear favorite in the sack race betting market. It could be that a heavy defeat at the hands of Wolves is enough for that to cash, and the play here is on the Asian Handicap with Wolves at 0.75 at -130. Bournemouth lacks a goal threat and with Wolves scoring three against Liverpool here recently, it seems that under Lopetegui they are much more offensively minded. Combine that with Bournemouth’s awful run of away defeats, and it all points to a comfortable Wolves win.
Pick: Wolves -0.75 Goals Asian Handicap at -130
Nottingham Forest vs. Manchester City
Saturday 10:00 a.m. ET
Manchester City visits Nottingham Forest on Saturday sitting in first place in the EPL after reminding Arsenal who the Champions are by beating them 3-1 at Arsenal.
This is traditionally the time when Pep Guardiola puts his foot on the Manchester City pedal and goes on a huge winning run. The beating of Arsenal was a hugely significant result, and even though Arsenal has a game in hand, the momentum has swung back behind the Champions City.
A visit to Robin Hood country is the perfect way to follow up because when Nottingham Forest takes on teams in the top four of the Premier League, it tends to end in heavy defeat! Steve Cooper’s Forest has played top four sides in all competitions six times this season, and they have lost all six. In those games, they have failed to score and have conceded 21. Now that stat itself is enough to evaporate any confidence from Forest fans, but when you add the next stat, they will feel like not attending and hiding under the bed instead.
Against teams in the bottom seven away from home, Manchester City wins and wins comfortably. They beat Leeds 3-1 and Wolves 3-0, covering the -1.5 goal Asian handicap. They also covered it in a 2-0 win at West Ham. Pep will have one eye on their upcoming Champions League game with Leipzig next Wednesday, but he has such an embarrassment of riches, any team he picks will surely have way too much for Forest. It is amazing that less than a month ago, “experts” were saying City were a team on the slide, and yet they’ve now won five of their last six in all competitions including the humbling of title rivals Arsenal. Guardiola will be keen to keep the player’s minds off any off-field difficulties the club face with financial fair play enquiries and will look to turn up the heat on stuttering Arsenal with a good victory here. City gave Forest a humiliating 6-0 drubbing in the corresponding fixture at the Etihad, which will have left some scar tissue on Forest’s defenders.
After a poor start to the year, Steve Cooper was given the backing of the Chairman, and since that, he has steered Forest to a position outside the relegation places and into 14th. It has been their home record that has been the foundation of their move up the table, and they are unbeaten in seven at the City Ground. However, this is a much sterner task, as the Champions are coming to town, and Cooper’s chances are not helped with defensive injuries to his two centerbacks, Willy Boly and Scott McKenna. Their absence makes an already difficult situation look far worse. If you are going to stop goal machine Haaland, you really need your best players. But that didn’t prevent Haaland from scoring a hat trick against them in the 6-0 win in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
I take City to end a fantastic week in style with another big winning performance, and I see them covering the 1.5 handicap comfortably.
Pick: Manchester City Asian Handicap -1.5 goals at -110