Wednesday night has the potential to be extremely significant in the title race, says Mike Norman, with Chelsea likely to extend their advantage at the top. Our man previews all five of the night's non-televised fixtures...
"Stoke have been unpredictable, yes, but that was in the early part of the season and their form of late has been much more balanced, and pretty decent too - just one loss in nine league and cup outings."
United's draw at West Ham on Sunday meant that Louis van Gaal's men have lost just one of their last 17 league and cup games. They may not be playing well at times, but they are proving hard to beat currently.
United's defence isn't great, yet they don't concede many goals - they haven't conceded more than once in a game since the middle of October (19 matches) and they've kept eight clean sheets in that time. The surprising element of their play is that they don't score as many as they perhaps should.
Burnley have a really tough set of fixtures coming up so you have to fear for them after they let slip a 2-0 lead at home to West Brom on Sunday. It's just one win from their last 10 league and cup outings now for Sean Dyche's men, and that came against QPR who have the worst away form in the division.
What you can't help but like about the Clarets however is that they just don't lie down, and I keep saying it, but they know where the back of the net is too - 14 goals scored in their last eight matches.
I'm not interested in the Match Odds market here as I believe Burnely have a better than even money chance of getting on the scoresheet, so that's how I'll play it.
Back NO to Man Utd Clean Sheet @ 21/202.06
Southampton haven't been particularly impressive of late (two defeats and a last-gasp winner over QPR) and I don't really want to back them at 8/111.75 despite West Ham not impressing recently either.
After winning five successive Premier League fixtures at St Mary's Opta tell us that Ronald Koeman's men have now lost three of their last six home matches. Even more worrying is that from the last seven times that the Saints have conceded on home soil they've won just one of those matches.
So can we see the Hammers scoring here? The answer is probably yes. Despite not being in great form Sam Allardyce's men have only failed to find the back of the net once in their last nine league and cup outings - that being at Anfield 10 days ago.
If we can see West Ham getting on the scoresheet then the smart money should probably be on the draw given Southampton's poor win ratio when they concede, but I won't be surprised at all if this game turns into an entertaining affair with quite a few goals.
At a time when the Hammers were going well, all of their opening seven away games this season saw both teams get on the scoresheet and the match end with at least three goals scored. I'm backing the latter to happen here.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 11/102.08
It was less than seven days ago that Vincent Kompany said he was comfortable wth the five point gap between his Man City side and league leaders Chelsea. No-one believed him of course but you can understand why he has to say such things.
But the reality is, will Kompany and Co (I've been wanting to say that for ages) be comfortable with a nine or 10 point gap? My guess is no because put simply, the title - if not already - will be out of Man City's reach.
The gap will grow to 10 points should Chelsea win - they are 1/31.34 to beat Everton - and Man City lose at the Britannia Stadium, or nine points if Chelsea win and City draw. But it's the former of those two scenarios that I'm taking a chance on here.
Stoke have been unpredictable, yes, but that was in the early part of the season and their form of late has been much more balanced, and pretty decent too - just one loss in nine league and cup outings.
Manuel Pellegrini's men on ther other hand have been woeful of late, failing to win any of their last five matches and failing to beat the likes of Burnley, Middlesbrough, and Hull since the Christmas period. Yaya Toure has been a huge loss of course, but guess what, he'll be missing for this game too so I really don't see why the Citizens should be such short odds here.
All things being equal Man City are by far the most likely winners, I accept that, but Stoke have already proved that they can beat anyone on their day (they won at the Etihad earlier in the season for example) and I'm of the opinion that 9/25.7 about a home win is far too big here. Title race over?
Back Stoke to Win @ 9/25.7 (best bet)
I'm sure most neutrals would love to see Alan Pardew get one over his former employers here, and on current form it's the only option you can back in the Match Odds market - in fact the more you look at it the more a home win looks very generously priced.
The worry of course is that there are so many unreliable teams in this division and Palace - when they were managed by Neil Warnock - were top of the list.
True, the Eagles are now managed by Pardew. But just look at what they did after winning four consecutive games and many people thought they were a great price - myself included - at home to Everton 10 days ago. They put in their worst performance for the new boss and duly lost.
To their credit they bounced back with a win at Leicester at the weekend, making it five wins from their last six games, and you can rest assured Pardew will have his men pumped up to the hilt for this match.
Newcastle have won just two of their last 11 outings and they've been particularly poor on the road recently, losing five straight games (conceding 14 goals) before John Carver finally got his first win at Hull 10 days ago.
Pardew obviously has the benefit of knowing more about both sides than Carver does, and he also has the advantage of being the form team. Therefore a home win has to be the call.
Back Crystal Palace to Win @ 7/52.42
After starting his managerial reign at West Brom with three consecutive clean sheets it's been a bit of a surprise to see a Tony Pulis team concede seven goals in three games recently.
What that means however is that the Baggies are far from safe in the Premier League sitting just one point above the drop zone, and my gut feeling is that they'll give Wednesday night's home clash with Swansea a real go rather than try and get back to defending the way you'd expect a Pulis side to defend.
Albion will take some confidence from the fact that they came from two goals down to draw with Burnley on Sunday, and with Opta telling us that Swansea have found the back of the net in each of their last six Premier League away games then perhaps we ccan expect more goals than the market suggests here.
Under 2.5 Goals is trading very short at just 5/81.64, so with all of the Baggies' last three games paying out on 'Overs', and Garry Monk's men being in decent scoring form on the road, then we have to take a chance on seeing at least three goals here.
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 6/42.46
Premier League 2014/15 Season P/L
Staked: 139 pts
Returned: 142.78 pts
P/L: + 3.78 pts
*based on 1pt each bet, 2pts best bet