The games are coming thick and fast in the Premier League, and with the formality of Liverpool finally returning to their perch after 30 long years out of the way, it’s time to sink our teeth into the relegation battle – and it’s one that could prove the best in years with several teams conspiring to lose week after week.
Bournemouth come into the game versus Newcastle in absolute dire straits, winless in 6 matches. It is looking ever more likely that Eddie Howe’s fairytale is going to come to an end. In fairness to Bournemouth, they have done a stellar job since their promotion in 2015 to be comfortable year-in and year-out that no-one should fault anyone at the club for the slide that has finally begun.
They are an average 9.75 points worse off than any of their previous seasons’ total at this stage, and it could just be a case of players becoming complacent to the same instructions… or the ludicrous huge outlays on players like Dominic Solanke! It doesn’t help Bournemouth that one of the most influential players in recent seasons, Ryan Fraser, has decided to down tools. He contributed 7 goals and a whopping 14 assists last season compared to 1 goal and 4 assists this season.
It all points towards time finally running out for Bournemouth.
Wednesday’s visitors have been equally pants for much of the season – the two teams have actually scored the same amount of goals, but Newcastle have managed to ship 8 less than the Cherries. You can thank a 5-man defence and a stellar goalkeeper for that.
On the head-to-head front, there have been 2 wins for Bournemouth, 2 draws and 3 Newcastle wins. BTTS has landed in 5 of 7 EPL meetings and Over 2.5 Goals in each match where both teams scored. One team is safe while the other is desperate for 3 points. I am always a fan of the old phrase in punting “Must Win Won’t Win” and the market has Bournemouth a little short for my liking.
It is true that motivation levels may be a factor but with no home crowd to b*llock the Bournemouth players, I’m going to side with a bet that would have landed in the last 4 meetings, BTTS & Over 2.5 goals.
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The other game I’m tasked with previewing is a total contrast. We have Everton who could easily be on the beach after the Merseyside derby playing a Leicester team who are winless on their return to EPL action and were dumped out of the FA Cup at the weekend.
It seems the break has completely disrupted the Foxes’ momentum. They were average against Watford, poor in the first half versus Brighton and should have gone into the break a goal down, and then against Chelsea Brendan Rodgers’ changes had little effect.
Unfortunately for Leicester’s players and fans any thoughts of being on the beach in June need to be dumped quickly. They are just one point ahead of Chelsea, 3 ahead of Wolves and even Man Utd are building some momentum. They need to get wins and fast.
Carlo Ancelotti has proven to be a shrewd piece of manager business since taking the reins back in December. Everton played well against Liverpool in what was a must-not-lose scenario and were mightily close to achieving that first win against Liverpool in ten years!
They have a good team, but have underperformed for many seasons and it’s not clear why. They are the definition of a bag of Revels. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has looked impressive all season and in an Everton team playing with no pressure until the end of the season, the quality in the squad should continue to create chances for him. He is their leading scorer with 13 and averages an expected goals figure of 0.63 which is very strong.
So, in a game that is tough to call I’m going to side with Calvert-Lewin to score anytime, and if you want the bigger price of him to be the first goalscorer I wouldn’t be averse to that either.
Bournemouth v Newcastle: BTTS & Over 2.5 goals
Everton v Leicester: Dominic Calvert Lewin to score anytime
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