WITH all the heroes Leicester City have had this season, who would have thought Eden Hazard would be the man to give them the 2015-16 Premier League title?
The Chelsea star became an honorary Fox on Monday evening after his second-half equaliser ended Tottenham Hotspur’s title challenge and sent the trophy to the East Midlands.
It is without doubt the most incredible outcome in the Premier League’s 24-year history, and one that was paying as much as 5000 to 1 odds at the start of the campaign.
Now Leicester have two weeks of victory laps to enjoy, starting with a joyous homecoming at King Power Stadium this weekend, while the rest of the competition jostles for position as they look to next season.
Spurs are still second on 70 points, but the deflation of stumbling so close to the finish line could yet see them overtaken by Arsenal (third, 67 points) or even Manchester City (fourth, 64 points).
Manchester United (fifth, 60 points) and West Ham (sixth, 59 points) each have a game in hand on the top four and remain well in the hunt for Champions League qualification, but Liverpool have slid to eighth spot after their disappointing display against Swansea City last weekend.
The relegation fight is as tense as ever, with Newcastle United now one point above Sunderland and two ahead of Norwich City after their vital win over Crystal Palace.
Both the Mackems and the Canaries have a game in hand, but it’s the Geordies who have the easiest fixture on paper this weekend.
Here are the match odds and value picks from Sportsbet.com.au – one of our top-ranked online betting sites.
Norwich City vs. Manchester United
12:45pm local time on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at Carrow Road
Norwich – $4.50
Man United – $1.85
Draw – $3.50
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Norwich have lost three in a row to return to the drop zone for the first time in a month. Last week it was Arsenal, who snatched a 1-0 win, and now it’s a visit from the most successful club in the Premier League era – and one with plenty still to play for in 2015-16. Knee injuries to Timm Klose and Andre Wisdom are no help at all to Alex Neil’s already suspect defence.
United did enough to delay Leicester’s party a day or so, drawing 1-1 with the now-champions in what was an open, entertaining clash at Old Trafford. They have lost only one of their last six EPL games, with young guns Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial emerging as the key men in attack as they chase a top-four finish.
The Mancunians have won 15 of 19 top-flight clashes against Norwich since 1990, losing only three times. However, the latest of those upsets occurred earlier this season when goals from Cameron Jerome and Alex Tettey gave the Canaries a 2-1 win at the Theatre of Dreams.
– Man United to win 2-1 ($8 at Sportsbet)
– Marcus Rashford to score first goal ($5.50 at Sportsbet)
Aston Villa vs. Newcastle United
3:00pm local time on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at Villa Park
Aston Villa – $6
Newcastle – $1.57
Draw – $4
With relegation confirmed and the coach gone, the Villans are merely running down time on their worst top-flight campaign in over 100 years. They’ve now lost 11 league matches in a row, although five goals scored in two games suggests they have found a certain freedom since their fate was sealed.
For Newcastle, this is a golden opportunity to grab three points and really put the pressure on Norwich and Sunderland. They are unbeaten in their last four, which includes draws against Man City and Liverpool, and should have a big edge in belief and motive as they look to win two on the bounce for the first time this season.
Head-to-head form is firmly in the Toon’s favour. Newcastle haven’t lost to Villa in the Premier League since 2011, after the Geordies had spent a year in the second tier following their relegation in 2009.
– Half-time draw/full-time Newcastle ($4.50 at Sportsbet)
– Aleksandr Mitrovic to score first goal ($5.50 at Sportsbet)
Sunderland vs. Chelsea
3:00pm local time on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at the Stadium of Light
Sunderland – $2.87
Chelsea – $2.40
Draw – $3.50
With only one loss in eight games (and to Leicester, at that), the Black Cats have been among the hardest teams to beat over the last two months of Premier League 2015-16. They need to start bagging three-pointers, however, as six of those matches ended in draws. But Sunderland have the best goal difference of the bottom four and the deadliest forward in Jermain Defoe, who now has 14 goals for the season.
It turns out Chelsea had a vital role to play in the title race after all, as their 2-2 draw with Spurs on Monday ensured Leicester would be champions. With nothing much to play for this season, the remaining weeks for the Blues are all about players putting themselves in shop windows and striving for Euro 2016 selection. Eden Hazard has found his long-lost touch at last, backing up his brace against Bournemouth with an outstanding strike to kill Tottenham’s title hopes.
Unsurprisingly, Chelsea have all the runs on the board in this fixture from the turn of the millennium. The Pensioners have lost only once to Sunderland since 2002, winning 19 out of 22 EPL meetings. The last of those was a 3-1 result at Stamford Bridge earlier this season.
– Chelsea to win and both teams to score ($4.20 at Sportsbet)
– Willian to score first goal ($10 at Sportsbet)
Leicester City vs. Everton
5:30pm local time on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at King Power Stadium
Leicester – $1.91
Everton – $4
Draw – $3.60
It still sounds absurd to say it, but Leicester will take the field this weekend as the 2015-16 English Premier League champions. They will be without Danny Drinkwater, who was sent off late against Man United, but Jamie Vardy will be available after serving a two-match suspension. Whether or not Claudio Ranieri finally takes the opportunity to tinker with his lineup, you can bet the Foxes faithful will be treated to the kind of aggressive, fearless football that took Leicester from certain relegation to title glory in the space of a year.
Everton, like so many teams at this point of the season, have very little to play for. Roberto Martinez may disagree, however, as pressure is mounting on the manager after a horrid couple of months. The Toffees were seven league games without a win before their 2-1 result over Bournemouth last week, although a long injury list certainly hasn’t helped their fortunes.
Leicester’s 3-2 victory on Merseyside in December was their first against Everton since 1998. These two have a habit of playing out stalemates, with 13 of their 19 Premier League clashes ending in draws.
– Leicester to win 3-2 ($17 at Sportsbet)
– Jamie Vardy to score first goal ($5 at Sportsbet)
Manchester City vs. Arsenal
4:00pm local time on Sunday, May 8, 2016 at Etihad Stadium
Man City – $2.30
Arsenal – $3
Draw – $3.50
After Real Madrid dumped them out of the UEFA Champions League in midweek, the Citizens can now focus their attentions on securing a top-four finish. They were blasted off the park by Southampton, but one suspects the likes of Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne may be included in the matchday squad this time around. One likely absentee is Vincent Kompany, who went off injured in the first half at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
With Spurs despondent, Arsenal have half a chance to catch their arch-rivals and reassert their status as the top London club. They will have to pick up the pace, however, as four goals in as many games is far below the kind of output expected of such a star-studded squad. They haven’t lost in eight games, but four of those ended as draws.
Man City have failed to beat Arsenal in their last five meetings in all competitions. The Gunners have won three of those, including a 2-1 result at the Emirates just before Christmas.
– Arsenal to win and over 2.5 goals scored ($4.33 at Sportsbet)
– Aaron Ramsey to score first goal ($12 at Sportsbet)
More 2015-16 Premier League odds
Crystal Palace $2.05 – Draw $3.40 – Stoke City $3.70
Bournemouth $1.91 – Draw $3.50 – West Bromwich Albion $4.20
West Ham United $1.50 – Draw $4.20 – Swansea City $7
Tottenham Hotspur $1.91 – Draw $3.60 – Southampton $4
Liverpool $1.44 – Draw $4.50 – Watford $7.50
Odds provided by www.Sportsbet.com.au – one of Australia’s top EPL betting sites
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