Seeley: EPL Best Bets for this weekend’s critical matches

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It’s the penultimate weekend of the EPL season, and there is still all to play for at the top and the bottom of the Premier League table. Here are my three best bets on Week 37.
 

 

Nottingham Forest vs. Arsenal

Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET

Manchester City will be crowned champions on Saturday afternoon if Arsenal fails to beat Nottingham Forest, and there is a big chance of that happening.

Arsenal has been fantastic this season. They pushed Manchester City, what I consider the greatest team the EPL has ever seen, all the way in a tremendous title race, but their race looks to be done, and I believe the Gunners are vulnerable on Saturday.

Last weekend, Mikel Arteta’s young side folded under the pressure with a humiliating 0-3 defeat at the Emirates against Brighton. That defeat was in the cards as the performances were dropping while City was cranking up the pressure.

Arteta has to lift his troops for this match—a difficult task as key players are out injured.  Gabriel Martinelli and Oleksandr Zinchenko have joined William Saliba on the sidelines for the rest of the season. Bukayo Saka looks exhausted after a long season and a World Cup. To raise their match against a fired-up Nottingham Forest, who need the win to guarantee Premier League survival, looks a match too far.

Nottingham Forest is available at +450 on the moneyline. Considering that they need to win to avoid relegation and have picked up 80 percent of their points at the City Ground, that looks very generous. Forest has already beaten Liverpool at home this season and held Man City to a 1-1 draw, and they recently got the better of Brighton 3-1. The bet I like in this one is Nottingham Forest +1 on the Asian handicap at -110 with the only way that we lose on this play is if Arsenal wins by 2 or more, a wager that would’ve only lost twice in 18 home matches for City this week. I can’t see it happening for a third time with Arsenal’s current form, state of mind and injuries.

Pick: Nottingham Forest +1 on the Asian handicap at -110

 

West Ham vs. Leeds United

Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET

If results go against Leeds on Saturday, then anything but a win for them at West Ham on Sunday will see a return to the Championship for the Lilywhites.

Sam Allardyce has got Leeds playing a lot better in his two matches in charge with a gallant and plucky 2-1 defeat at champions Manchester City and a 2-2 home draw against Champions League-chasing Newcastle. I like them to win this match.

Leeds is available at +190 to get a vital win, and that looks generous. Unlike other sides in a relegation battle, Leeds can create goals, having scored in 11 successive matches. But like most at the bottom of the table, they give up goals as well. They have now conceded a goal in their last 13 matches. With their defensive frailties and the likelihood of goals, even though I believe that Leeds will win this, I am going slightly more cautious and taking Leeds on the “draw no bet” market at +105, with the bet void If the match ends in a draw.

Last night, West Ham made it through to the Euro Conference Final next month against Fiorentina. With Premier League football secured for next season, that is the priority for West Ham manager David Moyes for the remainder of the season.

The Hammers overcame Alkmaar to reach the final. After the semi-final first leg last week, they faced Brentford on Sunday and were dreadful in a 2-0 defeat, I can’t see them motivated for this match.

There are also some subplots off the pitch ahead of this one as Leeds manager Allardyce was a former West Ham boss and feels aggrieved by his sacking at The London Stadium. The MD at Leeds was also the previous MD at West Ham.

This looks like a match between two sides with totally different attitudes towards the game. This will be Leeds’ cup final, and West Ham’s actual cup final is in the European Conference Final in Prague next month.

Pick: Leeds “draw no bet” at +105 vs. West Ham.

 

Manchester City vs. Chelsea

Sunday, 11:00 a.m. ET

If Arsenal fails to beat Nottingham Forest on Saturday, Manchester City will be crowned champions ahead of their home match with Chelsea. I think Arsenal is a fade this weekend, and that’s why I am putting some pizza money on Chelsea to cause a shock at +1200 on the moneyline.

If the title race is over before this match, then this will be played like a pre-season testimonial, and I would expect City to make wholesale changes and play the match in first gear.
I know City are on a 23-match unbeaten run, I know they have won nine successive EPL home matches, and I know that they have just produced one of the greatest performances from an English side in the 4-0 thrashing of European champions Real Madrid. But I also know that in a meaningless match for both sides, +1200 Chelsea is too big, and they will start at single figures if the title race is over.

Chelsea has been dreadful this season with just one win in their last 11 matches, but I have seen big favorites turned over before when they have been crowned champions over the years as the intensity levels drop massively.

City is bidding to make history and become only the second English side to win the EPL, FA Cup and Champions League treble, and with finals against Manchester United and Inter Milan coming up, they could be distracted. They probably won’t as this City side is a totally different animal to anything we have seen before in the EPL, so again, I am playing with caution and taking Chelsea +2 goals on the Asian handicap at -133 with the only way this match a loser Is if City wins by a three-goal margin.

Pep Guardiola’s side has beaten Chelsea 1-0 in their last three clashes, and they haven’t lost to City by more than two goals in their last seven. This is the best City side and the worst Chelsea side in that time period, but if the title race is over, then the +2 handicap is very generous.

Pick: Chelsea +2 on the Asian handicap at -133 vs. Manchester City