Welcome to a new feature at The Sports Geek – picks and previews for one of the world’s most famous soccer leagues – the English Premier League. Each week we’ll focus on a featured match, along with some brief bonus selections from the bottom. Hope you enjoy reading!
To kick off Gameweek 27, we’ll focus on Stoke City as they host Middlesbrough. It has been another solid campaign for the Potters of Stoke City as they look to finish in the top-10 in 2017. They’ve been a mainstay for years in England’s top flight, with solid defensive play and excellent home form. On Saturday, they’ll be welcome a Middlesbrough squad battling to stay afloat in a tight relegation battle. Since getting promoted, it has been an up and down season for The Boro, and entering Saturday’s match they are currently tied with Crystal Palace on 22 points in third-last. This is not promising, as the bottom three teams in the league get relegated to England’s Championship League for next season. The stakes are high for Middlesbrough on Saturday. Read on below for more detailed analysis on this featured game, as well as some bonus selections for Week 27 of EPL!
Stoke City vs. Middlesbrough Betting Odds:
Stoke City (-110)
Over 2 (-130)
Under 2 (+110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Stoke City vs. Middlesbrough Pick:
While Stoke enters this match quite comfortably situated in the EPL table, they’re surely seething after last week’s tough outing at Tottenham. The Potters lost 4-0 in a result that definitely does not align with their quality. They’ll be hosting a desperate squad from Middlesbrough, but one in which that possesses a lot less talent than Mark Hughes’ Stoke side.
Middlesbrough has not won in the Premier League since December 17th and they’ve recently had some big issues in scoring goals – failing to tickle the twine in their past three contests.
Stoke will be boosted by some key returns from injury as well. Jonathan Walters and Glen Johnson should both re-enter the lineup and this should certainly boost team depth at both the attacking and defending positions. This should offset the likely loss of star forward Xherdan Shaqri.
Also, as mentioned above Stoke are currently in the midst of an excellent run on their home field. They haven’t lost in seven contests and the thinking here is last week’s defeat to the Spurs was a bit misleading. Stoke were in Dubai earlier that week, and coming back from that journey made things difficult on the Potters. Expect a much more rested and focused group to take the pitch on Saturday.
Mark Hughes has already called his group out in the lead-up to this fixture, and look for the team to respond against an inferior opponent. ‘Boro haven’t won on the road in the Premier League since August, and against a tough team with travel, look for a motivated Stoke squad to maintain their run of impressive play. With a short price currently being offered, a low-scoring Stoke City victory is the play here.
Swansea enter this match against Burnley an absolutely desperate group in a game that is very much a winnable one. The Swans enter the game right in the thick of the relegation battle, but a win over Burnley would make their finish a lot easier. A coaching change has stabilized and saved Swansea’s season most likely – and they’ve really shored up some of their defensive deficiencies. Look for Swansea to keep a clean sheet at home, and the in-form Fernando Llorente to blast home a winner for the full three points.
Bonus #2 – Tottenham (-155)
Expect a lot of goals and excitement as the Spurs welcome Everton to White Hart Lane. Tottenham is currently unbeaten in thirteen straight games at home, and though Everton boasts a solid team, the Spurs are in great form at the moment. They’ve looked at the table and realize that it’s now or never for their title push, and that securing a Champions League spot is a key goal. Look for Tottenham’s star striker Harry Kane to continue his torrid pace and push the Spurs through on Sunday.