The English Premier League clubs will finally have a week to rest before the next game. The hectic festive schedule certainly stretched their squads to the maximum limit but we are returning to a more standard fixture list from now on.
Matchday 22 will be played this weekend and there are certain interesting games. This post will offer an early preview and betting predictions for several matches from the upcoming round.
Sheffield United – West Ham Preview and Pick
Sheffield United will host West Ham on Friday in the opening game of matchday 22. Before the season, one could’ve easily predicted that one of those teams will be in the top half of the table while the other will be fighting against the relegation at this point off the campaign.
However, most people would expect the roles to be reversed. Sheffield United has been the pleasant surprise of the season. The club has the third-best defense in the league and is extremely tough to beat.
Sheffield United did lose two games in a row during the holidays, but they came against Manchester City and Liverpool away from. There’s no shame in that, as we all know how good those two are.
The side went back to winning ways against Fylde FC in the FA Cup and the boss Chris Wilder had the chance to rotate most of his starting lineup.
That puts Sheffield United in a great position for the upcoming match against West Ham. The home side will be rested and ready to fight for the victory.
That’s bad news from the Hammers that have recently parted ways with Manuel Pellegrini. The manager was replaced by David Moyes and the start of the new gaffer has been excellent.
Wins against Bournemouth in the league and Gillingham in the FA Cup brought some joy to the supporters. However, none of the teams can compare with Sheffield United in terms of recent form and Moyes didn’t rest as many players as Wilder on Sunday.
I expect the hosts to be fresher. If you add the home advantage, the price of 5/6 for a Sheffield United win certainly looks tempting.
Pick: Sheffield United to Win
Leicester City – Southampton Preview and Pick
Another team that was able to rotate a lot and preserve some energy in the FA Cup was Leicester. Brandon Rogers didn’t start the likes of Vardy, Maddison, and Ndidi against Wigan but that wasn’t an issue and the Foxes won by 2-0.
The easy draw allows the manager to focus on the next match against Southampton at home. Rogers will feel comfortable in his side’s chances. Leicester remains one of the best defensive teams in the league and the side can also score for fun.
The last time those two met the Foxes put nine past Southampton. This should provide some extra motivation for the resurrected Saints. The team was in a dire situation but wins against Aston Villa, Tottenham and Chelsea relieved the pressure on Ralph Hasenhüttl.
The key to success in those games were the improved discipline and defensive stability. Southampton will be eager to put up a fight against Leicester this time around and make up for the heavy defeat earlier in the campaign.
There’s a strong case that this match will be much tighter and won’t see many goals. The price of 6/5 for under 2.5 goals looks too good to miss.
Pick: Under 2.5 Goals
Manchester United – Norwich Preview and Pick
It’s really hard to predict most games of Manchester United this season. The team is capable of beating anyone but often puts lacklustre performances such as the one against Arsenal in the last round of the EPL.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be eager to win the match against Norwich and the gaffer should be optimistic about his team’s chances. The Norwegian rested plenty of key players in the 0-0 draw against Wolves for the FA Cup.
The likes of Rashford and Martial should be back and ready to go against the worst defense in the league. Norwich simply can’t protect its goal and this is the main reason why the club looks doomed to return to the Championship.
There’s no reason to believe something will change by Saturday and the struggling defense should once again fail the Canaries. Manchester United is looking better against teams from the bottom half of the table lately and this match represents another opportunity for easy three points.
The price for a straight win is too low but you can get 5/4 or so for Manchester United to clear the -1 goals European handicap.
Pick: Manchester United -1 EH