The picture will be a little clearer after the seven games played on Saturday, with six 3pm kick-offs before Norwich entertain Liverpool at Carrow Road.
Everton v Fulham 3pm
The top six in the Premier League are ten points clear of everyone else, although it is Everton who are ‘best of the rest’ and the Toffees demonstrated their qualities last Sunday when drawing 4-4 at Old Trafford which saw David Moyes’ side score two late goals.
The Merseyside team will now be looking to remain in seventh place between now and the end of the season, with Everton strong favourites at 17/20 (Paddy Power) to claim victory on Saturday against a Fulham side that sit just below them in the table.
The home supporters will be full of appreciation for their team’s excellent performance against Manchester United and striker Nikica Jelavic will be a popular bet to score first after his two-goal salvo against the champions, with the Croat a best price 9/2 (Bet Victor free bets) to break the deadlock.
Fulham are probably overpriced with the bookies despite a poor away record this term which has seen them win just three Premier League games on the road. The bottom line is that the Cottagers have won three and drawn one of their four matches including a 3-0 triumph at Bolton and they shouldn’t be 4/1 (Betfred bookmaker) to win this contest.
Pavel Pogrebnyak (8/1 Blue Square) is likely to lead the line for the visitors although it is Clint Dempsey who is near the top of the scoring charts and he looks a spot of value to get the first goal at 8/1 (Ladbrokes).
Stoke City v Arsenal 3pm
There is little doubt that Stoke City’s Premier League position has been affected by their Europa League exploits which began as early as July and mean that Tony Pulis’ side have played several more games than most other teams in the division.
Nevertheless, it has been mission accomplished for the Potters who have avoided getting into a relegation scrap and they have a chance to go out on a high starting with the arrival of an Arsenal side looking to cement their place in next season’s Champions League.
Stoke are a 7/2 chance (Stan James £10 free bet) to claim the spoils and they have enjoyed some good results against the top teams this term, holding Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea to a draw at the Britannia, while Tottenham were beaten 2-1.
The Gunners are wobbling a little as they approach the finish line, having taken just one point from home matches against Wigan Athletic and Chelsea which has allowed the likes of Newcastle and Tottenham to dream of capturing third place and a definite place in the European Cup.
Nevertheless, their last away match saw Arsene Wenger’s side claim a 3-0 victory at Molineux and the bookies go odds-on across the board about the visitors winning this contest, with a best price of 10/11 (Bet Victor free bets) on offer that Arsenal capture a priceless win.
Based on the face that Stoke have only lost four home games all season and have such a strong track record against the top sides, it could be worth backing the Potters at 9/4 (Stan James) on the Draw No Bet market considering you get a refund if the match ends all square with this market.
Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers 3pm
Since unexpectedly drawing 3-3 at Manchester City at the end of March, goals have been rarer than hen’s teeth for Sunderland who have drawn blanks in their last four matches as the season threatens to fizzle out.
Not that the locals are complaining considering the transformation that has been brought about by Martin O’Neill since he took over midway through the campaign, with the northern Irishman likely to be planning for next season already.
Perhaps the 360 minute goal drought will end on Saturday when the Black Cats face Bolton and the best odds about the Wearside club are 23/20 (William Hill free £25 bet), with Sunderland still capable of finishing 7th in the Premier League table which would be a decent achievement.
Craig Gardner will be suspended for the game, although Nicklas Bendtner is the main point of attack for the home side and he can be backed at 6/1 (Boylesports bookmaker) to score first against a Bolton Wanderers side that are scrapping against relegation at the foot of the table.
Owen Coyle’s team did their survival hopes the power of good on Tuesday night when winning 2-1 at Aston Villa and the Scot will consider a point or better from this match as a job well done.
Wanderers are a 3/1 poke (Ladbrokes £50 free bet) to claim their second away victory in a week, something which would see them climb out of the drop zone with three games to spare. The draw is a best price 5/2 and that can’t be ruled out considering how tight the recent Sunderland matches have been.
Indeed, three of their last four games have ended goalless and Stan James offer a good value 10/1 that there are no goals scored in this game although you would think the law of averages means we will see the net bulge a few times.
Swansea City v Wolves 3pm
The Swans began life in the Premier League with a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City, although anyone who witnessed that match will have seen Brendan Rodgers’ side outpass the title chasers for long periods of the game.
Indeed, the reverse fixture saw Swansea City beat Roberto Mancini’s side and they have now accumulated enough points (43) to ensure that their place in the top flight is secure for another campaign which represents a fantastic achievement.
It means that they can play with plenty of freedom on Saturday and the bookies offer a best price 4/7 (Bet365 £200 free bets) that the Welsh side claim victory against a Wolves side that were relegated from the Premier League on Sunday.
Not that Swansea have been winning too many matches recently, although they did end a four match losing run with a 3-0 triumph over Blackburn and perhaps they will be too strong for Wanderers on that basis. Gylffi Sigurdsson continues to be a revelation in the attacking midfield position and the Icelander is no bigger than 6/1 (Coral free bets) to score first here.
Terry Connor will continue to take charge of Wolves between now and the end of the season, with the caretaker manager clearly upset by his failure to keep the team in the Premier League following Mick McCarthy’s sacking.
At least the Midlands side will have nothing to lose from having a go at their opponents and odds of 11/2 (Ladbrokes) are available about the visitors winning their third away match of the season, with several players in the squad playing for their futures.
However, a smart bet could be the 11/8 about Swansea leading at half-time and full-time which could see Rodgers’ side rise several places in the table.
West Brom v Aston Villa 3pm
It has been a long time since the Baggies managed a league double against the Villans and the home supporters will be keenly looking forward to this match, especially as it could push their Midlands rivals closer to the relegation zone.
For a long time, Aston Villa have been top dogs in the west Midlands, although Alex McLeish’s side could well be joining Wolves in the Championship next term and the only tinge of disappointment for a West Brom fan would be the lack of derbies next term!
Roy Hodgson’s team come into this match off the back of a slightly fortunate 1-0 win at Liverpool and they are hot favourites at 23/20 (William Hill free £25 bet) to claim victory on Saturday which would keep them stationed in the top half of the table.
However, Villa have no hope of a top ten finish and McLeish will simply hope his charges can finish 17th or higher following Tuesday’s 2-1 home reverse against Bolton which makes things very nervy at the foot of the Premier League.
The bottom line is that the visitors have won just one game in their last fourteen and the bookies are prepared to lay odds of 14/5 (Bet Victor free bets) about an away win, although it is worth bearing in mind that Villa have avoided defeat in 12 of their 17 away games.
A point would not be a bad result for the Villans and you can get 5/2 that this game ends all square which seems reasonable when you consider that McLeish will be sending out his team to nullify the opposition and keep things tight.
Wigan Athletic v Newcastle United 3pm
Two of the in-form teams in the Premier League meet at the DW Stadium on Saturday, with Wigan having accumulated 12 points from their last 6 matches to give themselves a fighting chance of remaining in the top flight.
Indeed, Roberto Martinez’s side have three winnable games remaining, although the visit of Newcastle is the toughest of these on paper ahead of matches against Blackburn and Wolves, with odds of 19/10 (Stan James free bet) available that the Latics claim three priceless points.
Recent wins against Arsenal and Manchester United have demonstrated that Wigan won’t be showing too much respect to Newcastle, although the Magpies have been outstanding for large parts of the season and it means they are on the verge of something special.
Alan Pardew’s side are 4th in the Premier League table and they are on course for the Champions League providing that Chelsea don’t go and beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena and automatically qualify for next season’s competition as a result.
Newcastle are slight favourites at 8/5 (William Hill free bets) to win this encounter and the north-east side come into the game off the back of six straight wins which include away victories at West Brom and Swansea City.
Every single one of these games has featured a goal from Papiss Cisse who has managed an incredible total of 11 in 10 games since arriving on Tyneside, something which means he is the clear danger man in a very attacking Newcastle team.
Cisse is a 9/2 chance with Coral to score the first goal of the game, although it was Yohan Cabaye who found a scoring touch during last weekend’s 3-0 thrashing of Stoke City and the French international is 14/1 to score first.
Norwich City v Liverpool 5.30pm
Once again, punters have been served up with a tantalising opportunity to bet against Liverpool at attractive odds, with Norwich available at an incredible 31/10 (Bet Victor free £50 bet) to claim three points in this match.
Just three points separate the two teams in the Premier League table and the Canaries probably couldn’t be playing the Reds at a better time, with Kenny Dalglish’s side looking ahead to the FA Cup final against Chelsea next month.
Not that Paul Lambert’s side come into this match in the greatest of form, having shipped six at home to Manchester City before losing at Blackburn last weekend, although the Scot will want his team to serve up a winning performance or two in their remaining games against Liverpool, Arsenal and Aston Villa.
The last three games at Carrow Road have seen three or more goals scored, with odds of 8/11 (Paddy Power bookmaker) available about Over 2.5 Goals in this contest and the visitors are pretty leaky at the back right now.
Liverpool might have an FA Cup final in the pipeline, although they are struggling to keep clean sheets in all competitions and it has been eight matches since the Merseyside club last kept a clean sheet.
Two of the Reds’ last three away games have finished with a 3-2 scoreline and it is certainly better to back goals to be scored than to risk the skinny odds-on quotes about the visitors winning this match, although Paddy Power do go 21/20 about the away win.