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Watford v Chelsea: Back recovering champions to win a cracker

Watford v Chelsea
Wednesday 19:45
Live on BT Sport 1

These are heady days for Watford fans. Not only did the Hornets raid Fiorentina for highly-rated and widely coveted Spanish midfielder Mario Suarez, but they hung onto their key performers. Teams like Watford and Leicester City are the vanguard in a new era for the Premier League - they have money, they are using it wisely, and they're not scared of going up against the big hitters on or off the pitch.
Opta tell us that Watford's tally of 32 points from 23 games is the best at this stage of a season by a promoted side since 2010, and the fact they are closer to the top four than the bottom three represents a remarkable achievement.
Strikers Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney have struck up a wonderfully old-fashioned partnership. The intelligent and committed Deeney has created 26 chances for his partner, six of which have been converted into goals, and it's also worth noting that Ighalo has banged in seven goals in his last seven home games. At the other end, Watford have racked up an impressive eight clean sheets.
Of course, it's not all been plain sailing, and the Hornets have hit choppy waters in recent weeks. Quique Sanchez Flores' side have lost four of their last five Premier League games, and against some of the division's more talented sides, they seem to be cornering the market inheroic failure. They blew a 1-0 lead late on at home to Manchester City and lost 2-1, and conceded last-gasp winners against Manchester United and Spurs at Vicarage Road.

A quasi-religious reformation appears to be taking place at Stamford Bridge, with the oft-worshipped pantheon crumbling before our eyes. Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard have left the building (at least in the playing sense), Jose Mourinho was brutally dispensed with after a rancorous, unedifying decline, and now the great John Terry has trailed his summer departure. There was no fanfare, just a conversation with journalists that took an unexpected turn at Stadium MK after Chelsea's 5-1 FA Cup win at MK Dons.
Love him or loathe him (you wouldn't be short of company in either camp), you can't deny that Terry has been one of the most effective and accomplished defenders of his generation but,as B.B colleague Ralph Ellis wrote on Monday, his badly-handled exit is symptomatic of a club stumbling between eras with the grace of a drunk shambling home after closing time.
Despite this chaotic backdrop, interim coach Guus Hiddink has added a dose of dignity and serenity. The Blues are unbeaten in nine games in all competitions, including a 1-0 win at Arsenal that showcased all the qualities that have made the club so successful.
Although the squad is finally playing with a bit of freedom, there is still an air of fragility.Chelsea twice blew a lead in a 2-2 draw at home to West Brom, and needed a last-gasp Terry equaliser to salvage a 3-3 draw with Everton.

Match Odds
Chelsea's odds of 2.04 to win this may seem a bit short given the season they've had, but I do think there are reasons to back them. Watford have only taken three points from the last 15 available, and that was courtesy of a win over an absurdly inconsistent Newcastle. They have lost at home to both Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Spurs, and they haven't kept a clean sheet for six games.
Chelsea are starting to look a bit more like last season's champions, and away from home they are chasing a fourth straight win in all competitions. It's also worth noting that Diego Costa has finally decided to show up - the pantomime villain has netted six goals in his last seven games.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Over 2.5 Goals is trading at 2.30, and that may be a reaction to the fact Chelsea have kept clean sheets in four of their last five Premier League away games. I still think there are gaps to be found in the Chelsea rearguard, and seven of the Blues' last ten outings in all competitions have featured at least three goals.
Watford have scored at least once in each of their last seven home games, and six of the last eight PL games at Vicarage Road have seen an overs bet land, including the last four.

To Score
Given Ighalo's red-hot form on home soil, and the fact he scored at Stamford Bridge, he has to be worth considering to find the net at 3.40. Costa is a less attractive 2.06, but he's playing well, and did score twice in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day.

Recommended Bets
Back Over 2.5 Goals at 2.30
Back Chelsea to win at 2.04

Juventus v Genoa: The Old Lady will keep on having fun

Juventus v Genoa
Wednesday February 03, 19:45
Live on BT Sport ESPN

Dungannon Swifts lost 6-0 last night, and we're moving swiftly on.
We're cheering ourselves up with a touch of Italian glamour now, as Juventus take on Genoa in Serie A.
Champions Juve made their worst start to a season in over a hundred years, but they have recovered in extraordinary fashion. Max Allegri's men have reeled off a club-record equalling 12 wins on the spin in the league, and in all competitions they have won 15 of their last 16 games.
This surge has left the Bianconeri just two points off top spot. Paul Pogba has been finding some of his best form (he scored and hit the bar in the weekend's 4-0 win at Chievo), Argentinian attacking dynamo Paulo Dybala is having a wonderful debut season (12 league goals) and a teak-tough defensive unit has conceded a league-low 15 goals.
Genoa are just five points above the dropzone, but they have recovered somewhat recently, collecting eight points from their last four games. One problem the Rossoblu have is that they simply don't score against the top sides. In six matches against the current top five this season, they have scored the grand total of zero goals. Zilch, zip, null.
In Juventus' last five games in all competitions, they have kept five clean sheets, and overall they have managed 11 shut-outs in their last 15 outings.
Given these stats, you could play this in two different ways. You could argue that if Juventus aren't likely to concede, there's a good chance they'll beat a modest Genoa side by two clear goals, just as they did when they won the reverse fixture 2-0. This might lead you to back Juventus -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at [2.01].
You could also just back Juve to win to nil at 1.90, as they have done in seven of their last nine home games in all competitions. If you go for this option instead, you're effectively guarding against Juve winning 1-0, which they have done four times this season, including in two of the last five games.
I'm going for the slightly bigger price, but both options have evidence to support them.

Recommended Bet
Back Juventus -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at [2.01]

Everton v Newcastle: Oppose unreliable hosts as they continue to flatter to deceive

Everton v Newcastle
Wednesday February 3, 19:45
Lately, much has been made of Roberto Martinez's ability to avoid criticism in light of some pretty bad results at Everton, and there is a feeling that the tide is turning against him a little in the media. Regardless of how many good players he has at his disposal and how good they look at times going forward, the facts are that the Toffees have won just one Premier League game in their last ten (against Newcastle, strangely enough) and they draw too many games they should be winning.
All this points towards a team hugely underachieving in the Premier League, and this is something Martinez needs to address after a particularly disappointing season last year. It is impossible to seriously suggest that this is a squad that should be sat in 12th. Martinez needs his team to sharpen up, and quickly.
Tim Howard is a doubt in goal, but that won't trouble Everton fans given the form Joel Robles has been in when featuring in the cup competitions. Mo Besic and Kevin Mirallas also miss out, and new signing Oumar Niasse wasn't registered in time to be eligible.

Steve McClaren's men have added an array of signings to their squad in January and although they sit in the relegation zone two points behind Norwich, there are reasons to be positive with 15 games left. Jonjo Shelvey has hit the ground running and looks to have slotted into the midfield nicely, Andros Townsend will add pace on the flanks and Seydou Doumbia adds genuine European and international pedigree up front.
McClaren will be telling his team to not fear this out-of-form side - the Magpies only narrowly lost out on Boxing Day to a last-minute Tom Cleverley goal and Newcastle now hold the weapons to hurt a vulnerable Everton where it hurts. Provided they can keep a vibrant attacking unit at bay, there is no reason they can't get at least a point of out the game.
The aforementioned Doumbia is hopeful of receiving his work permit in time, but is rated 50/50 for Wednesday night. Papiss Cisse, Cheick Tiote, Vurnon Anita, Gabriel Obertan and Siem De Jong all miss out, while Jack Colback is expected to undergo a late fitness test.

Match Odds
Everton are short-priced favourites for this game at 1.71, and although they rate eight points better than their opponents in the Premier League table, Newcastle are actually the side in better form. In their last ten outings, the home side have notched up a fairly pitiful nine points, whereas McClaren's men can claim a slightly better 11.
While I'm happy to stop short of tipping up a Newcastle win as they're not exactly a reliable proposition themselves, at the price I have to oppose Martinez's team. There is simply nothing to suggest they should be a 5/7 shot on their current form.
The away side currently trade at 5.50, with The Draw available at 4.20.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Opta tell us that the average amount of goals in Premier League games between these two is 2.79, well above the 2.5 threshold. However, as noted, the last affair between them both was on Boxing Day and resulted in a 0-1 win for Everton thanks to a Tom Cleverley goal late on. But, that said, we know neither of these teams can defend very well - they've conceded 75 goals between them in the league so far this season - and up front they are fairly well stocked.
Although I think there's a good chance we'll see goals here, I'm not in the slightest bit tempted by the 1.69 on offer, and so I'll leave this market alone.

Shown a Card?
There is a man that stands out a mile in this market, and that man is Newcastle midfielder Jack Colback. The Ginger Geordie has been shown the yellow card on no less than nine occasions so far this season (no-one has been booked more) and, if he shakes off that knock and plays, he is a must-back when we consider the amount of attacking, tricky players that will be lining up for Everton in that area.
Anything at around 3.20 or better should do the trick. And if he doesn't play at all, we'll get our stake back.

Recommended Bets

Lay Everton at 1.71
Back Jack Colback to be shown a card at 3.20 or better

Ligue 1 Betting: New-look Bordeaux to prove problematic for Lyon

Lyon v Bordeaux (11th v 8th)
Wed, 20:00 GMT
Live on BT Sport 2
This is a clash between two of Ligue 1's most unpredictable sides.
Lyon keep threatening to put together a run of results but it's yet to happen. Their 1-0 defeat at struggling Bastia at the weekend saw them slide into the bottom-half of the table. Their team is full of talent but the players have yet to gel under new coach Bruno Genesio.
Bordeaux are even more baffling. They lost 5-1 at Lille in the League Cup semi-final last Tuesday but their injury-hit side thrashed Rennes 4-0 four days later.
On the back of that win Bordeaux arrive in confident mood. A flurry of deadline-day transfer activity should also ensure maximum motivation.
Four new signings - goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni, Arsenal full-back Mathieu Debuchy, midfielder Mauro Arambarri and striker Malcom - are all included in the squad for this game. Their presence will keep incumbents on their toes and give coach Willy Sagnol good options.
Based on recent form and league position Bordeaux's odds are too big, so they're the selection.
For an Asian handicap betting guide, click here.
Recommended Bet
Bordeaux +0.5&+1.0 Asian handicap @ 2.00

Nice v Toulouse (4th v 19th)
Wed, 20:00 GMT
Nice are a good bet to win as Toulouse look absolutely shattered.
Toulouse have had a hectic start to 2016: they played no fewer than eight times in January. As well as four Ligue 1 fixtures they had two games in each of France's two domestic cup competitions (French Cup and League Cup), with one of those games going to extra-time.
Coach Dominique Arribage works with a fairly restricted squad so there has been relatively little rotation. And morale will be low - Toulouse have lost their last five matches in all competitions.
Nice played only five times in January so will be a lot fresher than the visitors. The hosts also have solid home form against sides currently below them in the standings (W5-D1-L2).
Recommended Bet
Back Nice @ 2.10

Guingamp v Troyes (14th v 20th)
Wed, 20:00 GMT
Troyes are bottom of Ligue 1 and were hit harder than most clubs in the final day of the transfer window.
'ESTAC', as they're known, lost highly promising France U19 international goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni to Bordeaux and mobile striker Jimmy Cabot (strangely under-used this season) to Lorient.
Without those two Troyes are weaker at both ends of the field. Their defensive problems are made worse here by the absence of centre-back Matthieu Saunier.
Troyes have won only once all season and their chances of getting something from this trip appear slim.
Guingamp won 2-1 at Toulouse last Saturday. That was an important victory against relegation rivals.
After that triumph they will go into this game in confident mood. Guingamp have good team news, too, with no automatic starters missing. They look a decent bet to claim a convincing win.
Recommended Bet
Guingamp -1.0 Asian handicap @ 2.00

Tuesday Premier League Tipsheet: City's improving away form to be trusted at Sunderland

Arsenal 1.86 v Southampton 5.20; The Draw 3.70

Southampton have turned their form right around and have now won three straight league games without conceding a single goal, and of course, on Boxing Day they thrashed Arsenal 4-0 when they were actually in the middle of a poor run of form.
But Ronald Koeman's men will do well to take anything from the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Gunners appear to be doing their utmost to throw away a golden title-winning opportunity having won just two of their last six Premier League fixtures, but they were sufferinghorrendous injury problems at the time and they've came through it just three points behind league leaders Leicester, and level with main title rivals Man City.
Arsene Wenger's men can certainly be excused their defeat to Chelsea recently when they had Per Mertesacker sent off early in the game, and generally Arsenal have been solid on home soil.
And with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez back fit again I believe the Gunners are a decent price to avenge their Christmas loss to Southampton on Tuesday night.
Recommended Bet
Back Arsenal to Win @ 1.86

Leicester 2.70 v Liverpool 2.94; The Draw 3.40

The remarkable story of Leicester continues. They arguably put in one of their best performances of the season when seeing off a decent Stoke side in style last time, and with a three point lead at the top of the table they are genuine title contenders without a shadow of a doubt.
The Foxes host Liverpool on Tuesday night before away games at Man City and Arsenal, so the feeling is that if they can come through this trio of games with three or four points they'll still be in a superb position ahead of an eight or nine game stretch that looks very inviting on paper.
Claudio Ranieri's men could well kick off this tough three-game run with a victory at the King Power Stadium against a Liverpool side who have been far from impressive recently.
Jurgen Klopp's men conceded four at Norwich in their last away game. Consider also the two they conceded at Exeter (admittedly with a second-string side), the two at West Ham, the three at Watford, and the two at Newcastle, and this Liverpool side isn't exactly watertight away from home.
So you have to fancy Leicester to get on the scoresheet at least once, and the way Ranieri's men have been defending recently - four clean sheets in their last five league games - that might just be good enough to take another valuable three points.
Recommended Bet
Back Leicester to Win @ 2.70

Norwich 4.60 v Tottenham 1.92; The Draw 3.75

Tottenham were excellent at Crystal Palace the last time they were in league action and they rate a decent bet to record yet another away win.
Mauricio Pochettino's men haven't lost away from home in the league since an embarrassing (he says tongue in cheek) defeat at Old Trafford on the first day of the season, and in beating Colchester 4-1 in the FA Cup on Saturday they stretched their unbeaten away run in all competitions to 10 games.
The Lilywhites are just a tad short of even money to record their fourth straight away win on Tuesday night, and if Norwich defend the way they did the last time they were at Carrow Roadthen this should be a walk in the Park for Pochettino's men.
Norwich lost 4-5 to Liverpool 10 days ago in what was a ridiculously open game. I'm not expecting a similar number of goals this time but Spurs certainly won't go there intent on defending, and with Alex Neil's men desperate for points, this could be another very entertaining affair.
The key however, is that Tottenham won't defend as woefully as Liverpool did that day but there's no guarantee that Norwich won't be just as generous at the back. A comfortable away win looks on the cards but I'll settle just for a Spurs victory.
Recommended Bet
Back Tottenham to Win @ 1.92

Sunderland 7.60 v Man City 1.51; The Draw 4.70

Manchester City appear to be getting their act together away from home, recording wins at Watford, Norwich and Aston Villa recently, and when you also include the 2-2 draw they had at West Ham it means they scored 12 goals in five away games in January.
That's a huge improvement on their five away games immediately prior to January - just one goal scored in total.
Sergio Aguero is undoubtedly the key, he's back fit and scoring goals, but you sense that there's still more to come from this Man City side as David Silva and Raheem Sterling haven't really been at their best of late.
Kevin De Bruyne's injury is a huge blow, but it should allow Sterling and Silva more game time together, and with striker Kelechi Iheanacho never letting the side down when he gets a start Manuel Pellegrini certainly isn't lacking options.
This all spells bad news for relegation-threatened Sunderland. Sam Allardyce's men really struggle against the big sides; just since December they've played five games against Arsenal (twice), Chelsea, Man City, and Tottenham, and they conceded at least three goals each time. Prior to that they conceded six to Everton!
So with City's away form improving, Aguero and Iheanacho amongst the goals, and Sunderland's dreadful record against good sides, I'm backing Man City to overcome a one goal handicap here.
Recommended Bet
Back Man City -1 @ 2.40

Crystal Palace 2.50 v Bournemouth 3.20; The Draw 3.40

I fancied both of these sides to win at the weekend and thankfully they both obliged at decent odds-against prices. But as for this match I'm finding it impossible to call.
Palace have been in really poor league form, losing four on the spin and scoring just two goals in their last six outings. They've faced some big clubs in that sequence of results however - Tottenham, Chelsea, Man City for example - so if you take those matches out of the equation then their only real disappointment was a loss to Aston Villa.
The above sequence of results also includes a 0-0 draw with Bournemouth at Dean Court so I can understand Under 2.5 Goals trading short here. But I'm going to take a chance on overs at a generous price.
Even with Palace struggling, five of their last seven games in all competitions have witnessed at least three goals, and given that Eddie Howe's men like to play attractive, attacking football we could be set for something similar on Tuesday night.
The Cherries have been in decent form of late and four of their last five games in league and cup have also witnessed at least three goals.
Recommended Bet
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.36

Man Utd 1.74 v Stoke 6.00; The Draw 3.75

Betfairians have certainly latched on to the Under 2.5 Goals theme at Old Trafford and that option now trades at the shortest it's been for a long time in a game involving Manchester United, just 1.70.
So instead it's probably worth repeating a wager that did us a good turn last time, and that's simply to lay Louis van Gaal's men when they're playing in front of their own fans.
United have won just two of their last seven games at Old Trafford, one of which was a last-gasp victory over League One outfit Sheffield United, and you sense that the pressure to perform at the Theatre of Dreams is now becoming quite a burden on the Red Devils.
Stoke, managed by former United legend Mark Hughes, will know exactly how to play on this, and just like Southampton did 10 days ago they'll set-up to frustrate United and hopefully pinch a goal or two at the other end.
The key for Van Gaal's men is to score early. If they do then you can see them scoring again and winning the match, but the problem is United just don't score early enough - remarkably, 10 of their last 11 matches in all competitions have been goalless at half-time.
Consider also Stoke's excellent record at recording away clean sheets (seven since the end of September), then a lay of the home side has to be the call.
Recommended Bet
Lay Man Utd to Win @ 1.75

West Brom 2.72 v Swansea 3.10; The Draw 3.20

West Brom are becoming the draw specialists, and even though they have a seven point cushion above the relegation zone you feel that they need to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later if they are to be considered absolutely safe in the Premier League.
Tony Pulis' men have drawn four of their last six games in all competitions, including their last three at The Hawthorns, and against a Swansea side that appears to have turned the corner the gut feeling is that another stalemate is the best they can hope for here.
The Transfer Deadline Day saga of Saido Berahino - which you feel will rumble on right up until the window shuts at 11pm on Monday night - is sure to cause a bit of disruption in the Baggies camp, and it will be a tough ask for them to come out and win this game on Tuesday night.
Swansea are up to 15th in the table thanks to back-to-back wins over Watford and Swansea and a few of the club's players have mentioned how new boss Francesco Guidolin has immediately instilled some much-needed confidence into the dressing room.
So I can certainly see the Welsh side going to West Brom and avoiding defeat, though I'm just not fully confident they can leave with all three points so I'll have a speculative wager on yet another West Brom draw.
Recommended Bet
Back The Draw @ 3.20

West Ham v Aston Villa: Hammers to extinguish Villans' flickering resurgence flame

West Ham v Aston Villa
Tuesday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 1

West Ham
West Ham have lost only one of their last 12 games in all competitions, but following the weekend draw with Liverpool it's now seven draws since the end of November and five of their last eight Premier League matches at Upton Park have ended level.
It all amounts to the Hammers being just six points off the top four, and only one behind Manchester United in fifth place. Slaven Bilic's men have become an extremely difficult side to beat, and with the quality of Enner Valencia and Dimitri Payet in the XI they always possess a potent attacking threat.
Emmanuel Emenike has been brought in to the club on loan in the past few days. Bilic and Emenike worked together at Besiktas and the Nigerian will give the Hammers another dimension up front.
At the other end of the pitch Bilic will make a late call on who starts in goal after Adrian missed the weekend game due to the birth of his first child back in Seville.

Aston Villa
Saturday's 4-0 FA Cup defeat to Manchester City was probably not a bad result for Villa. They can now fully concentrate on what would be one of the greatest Great Escapes of recent times.
The Villans went into the game against City unbeaten in five - although two of those were against League Two Wycombe - and having picked up five points from their last three Premier League games.
Remi Garde's men still remain a distant 10 points adrift of safety, but there is now a glimmer of hope where just a month ago there was none. The next five days could be definitive though, with the Villans hosting Norwich at Villa Park on Saturday.
But despite recent results going in their favour, not a great deal has changed at Villa. They still struggle to score goals - two in their last three league matches, one of which was an own goal - and any attempts to foray into the January transfer market have failed to deliver any acquisitions of note.

Match Odds
It's easy to get a little blindsided by Aston Villa's recent run of form, and there have been some half decent results in the past few weeks. But I remain steadfast in my opinion that this is anextremely poor Villa side that are destined for the Championship.
By complete contrast, I am a huge fan of what Slaven Bilic has, and still is, achieving at the Boleyn Ground. The Hammers are now one of the toughest teams in the league to beat, but in addition also have a very exciting and effective offensive set-up.
Along with Leicester, and Watford to a certain extent, West Ham have been continually underestimated by the betting markets this season. And up against a poor Villa side I'd say that is once again the case this Tuesday night. Take the 1.90 about a home win and back it with some degree of confidence.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals
The odds-against 2.30 about there being more than 2.5 goals in this match is tempting. However, it's one of those where we'd probably be reliant on Villa getting on the scoresheet for it to land, and right now, particularly against a solid defence such as West Ham's, I couldn't confidently place any money on a forward line of Libor Kozak, Jordan Ayew and Rudy Gestede.
It's a market that I won't be getting involved with, but if I were to have a bet then it would have to be on the Under 2.5 Goals selection at odds of 1.76.

Booking Odds
Finally, if you fancy a bet on one of the more peripheral markets, then there is some value in the 25pts and Under selection here.
Jonathan Moss is the man in charge this Tuesday evening and he is naturally quite a conservative referee when it comes to getting out his cards. There shouldn't be too much 'beef' between these two sides and there's no reason to think that this might be a match where tensions start to simmer. Take some of the 25pts and Under at odds of around 3.00.

Recommended Bet
3pts Back West Ham to win @ 1.90