By Brad Smith
Chelsea have a chance to put light between them and Newcastle, as well as gaining on rivals Tottenham, as the latter two wait until Sunday to fulfil their fixtures for this week.
Chelsea travel to the midlands to play a struggling Aston Villa side, but who beat them before the turn of the year.
Arsenal are away at Queens Park Rangers, but being 8 points clear with 8 games left, it would seem that the Blues will not be able to catch them.
On Sunday, Newcastle entertain a Liverpool side void of any form, whilst Spurs welcome the resistance of Swansea to White Hart Lane.
First, we look at Chelseas trip to Villa Park.
Aston Villa vs Chelsea (1500 GMT)
Looking at this game, most people would pitch straight for a Chelsea win, until you look at the stats. Bogey team has never been more appropriate, with the Londoners only picking up 3 wins in the last 12 encounters, despite the difference in league position.
However, this form means Chelsea have faded out to nearly 1/1 at most places for the win, which is excellent value considering the form of both sides.
Just 4 points from 7 games for the home side, while the visitors have won 5 out of 7 games under their new caretaker boss Di Matteo.
You can get them to win to nil at 15/8, and win both halves at 4/1. I fancy Chelsea to come out attacking, especially with Aston Villas renowned defensive record, and their well-documented injury problems.
I broke even in midweek, having under 2.5 goals, and the draw, which was bettered by a Chelsea win.
Off the back of that important win, I’ve selected the following for my bets this weekend:
Chelsea to win – 5/6 – 6 points
Chelsea win to nil – 15/8 – 4 points
David Luiz FGS – 22/1 – 1 point
Prediction – Aston Villa 0 – 2 Chelsea
Newcastle vs Liverpool (Sunday 1330 GMT)
This has become a famous fixture over the years, but few would have expected these clubs to be 6th and 7th going into the last two months of the season.
Newcastle have it all to play for, Champions League qualification is not out of the realms of possibility, just 5 points from 4th, whilst their visitors sit just 6 points from 14th place.
Liverpool come off the back of a defeat to Wigan, and will fret on the fitness of Johnson, Kelly and Agger, who missed that game, whilst Andy Carroll faces his former club.
Im not fancying it to be a happy return, with Newcastle in great form, and they are a huge 15/8 to win the game. Ive gone for the following bets this Sunday.
Newcastle to win – 15/8 – 8 points
Papiss Cisse to score at any time – 2/1 – 5 points
Prediction: Newcastle 2 – 1 Liverpool
Tottenham vs Swansea (Sunday 1600 GMT)
With Swansea more than safe in their opening season, few would suggest they have nothing to play for. Tell that to Brendan Rodgers, and he may well laugh. His side sit 10th, just 3 points off Liverpool in 7th, and 3 points ahead of 14th.
Spurs have not won in the league in March, but their midweek win at Bolton in the FA Cup went some way to repairing their form.
The bookies are fancying Spurs for the win, but at 2/5 there is little value. Lennon is back, whom they have sorely missed, but Adebayor needs to find his shooting boots again.
The Swans had won three on the trot, until they we’re dismantled by Everton in Wales last week. Rodgers will hope that is just a blip as they look to end the season strongly.
I fancy the Welsh side to keep it tight, and possibly force a draw, with their stopper Vorm having a great season. My bets for this game are as followed.
No Goal (either team not to score) – 8/11 – 5.5 points
Draw – 7/2 – 4 points
Prediction: Tottenham 1 – 1 Swansea
This week’s games look a lot easier on paper than they will be, with bogey teams, out of form teams, and solid defences. Chelsea can stake a claim for fourth place early and put their rivals under pressure.