Tuesday 2nd December
19.45 Swansea City v Queens Park Rangers
A full mid-week roster of fixtures should keep EPL junkies worldwide more than happy. First up for the bargain hunters among you sees QPR take the long trip west to Swansea. Despite managing just two wins in their last eight games (2W 3L 3D), Swansea have a formidable home record, losing there only once this season and that a one-nil loss to high-flying Southampton in October.
Manager Gary Monk claimed they were unlucky not to win against Crystal Palace at the weekend and will be expecting his charges to account for QPR tomorrow night. Speaking of the R’s, they will be brimming with confidence after an exhilarating 3-2 win over Leicester in their last match which saw them rise from the bottom of the table and leave Leicester there instead.
Charlie Austin scored again to bring his tally this season to seven goals in twelve appearances, fine form for anyone and constituting half of QPR’s goals in the league so far. He will need to be on top of his game to breach a mean home defence, Swansea having only conceded five at home this season. Form would suggest the bookies have it right with Swansea installed as favourites (3/4 from Paddypower amongst others) but the price of 9/2 for the QPR win from Bet365 is worth some consideration for the risk-takers among you.
20.00 West Bromwich Albion v West Ham
Included here due to the lovely price on offer, a struggling WBA play wobbly host to Big Sam’s revolutions. That is probably overstating things but it is no exaggeration to say that West Ham have surprised most with their successful application of style and substance this season, an approach that sees them sitting fifth in the league table. At the weekend, they put a stop to Newcastle’s rampaging run of wins with a one-nil victory, immediately righting the ‘wrong’ from their previous match, an away loss to Everton. An issue of some concern, however, relates to the loss through injury of Song, Sakho and Valencia. These absentees have necessitated a change in approach from their early blistering form (which saw the latter two up-front) with a more suitable 4-5-1 which places Andy Carroll at the head of attack.
It is likely that this will blunt their goal scoring activities to some degree but not enough that they shouldn’t have the beating of a truly awful West Brom side. The Baggies have some useful attacking threats in the shape of Berahino and Sessegnon but haven’t managed to score a goal of any kind in their last 3 matches, all of which ended in losses for them. In mitigation, these losses came against Chelsea, Arsenal and Newcastle but given that three of their four wins this season have come against teams currently sitting in the bottom four, the visit of fifth place West Ham doesn’t bode well. That being the case, the odds of 11/5 for the West Ham win from Bet365 should be jumped on and wrestled to the ground in the most unseemly fashion possible.
Wednesday 3rd December
19.45 Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur
Having contrived to ruin this column’s weekend by only managing a draw away to Sunderland, Chelsea are in the bad books. How dare they not win! Taking into account the hex Sunderland had over them last season, maybe it wasn’t too great a shock. Speaking of hexes, however, Spurs haven’t beaten Chelsea since April 2010. They have, though, managed to win four of their last five matches in all competition, a feat Chelsea could not better over the same period (W4 L1 v W3 D2 respectively). This is a very simplistic reading of recent events but it does seem to suggest that Spurs are getting their house in order. Probably not enough to come away from Stamford Bridge with a win but a draw isn’t out of the question. Everyone’s favourite thug, Diego Costa, will be absent from the match due to suspension and the lack of his bullying presence and killer instinct will be missed.
Luckily for Chelsea, the return of Drogba hasn’t turned out to be meaningless trip down memory lane as the Ivorian has proved more than able to step into the breach with some effect when required. The league leaders are rightly considered favourites here but something in the air suggests that Spurs could sneak something. If that tickles yr fancy, you can get 4/1 from Betfred for the draw.