The Scout: EPL Week 12 Preview

Manchester United v Luton Town – Saturday, November 11 (11pm kick-off WA time) 

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag can’t possibly be looking forward to this fixture. Then again, which fixture does he look forward to?

He won’t have enjoyed much of last weekend’s victory over struggling Fulham when his suffering was only ended in second-half stoppage time thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ winner. And a midweek defeat to FC Copenhagen has made matters worse for Ten Hag, although a couple of goals from Rasmus Hojlund was a positive sign.

This weekend’s problem for eighth-placed Manchester United is Luton Town, who are starting to believe there may be a way to stay in the Premier League after picking up points in four of their past seven games.

Things hadn’t started well for the Hatters, who lost their first four games in the Premier League before earning a draw against Wolves.

Since then, they’ve had their first win of the season – goals from Tom Lockyer and Carlton Morris earning a 2-1 success away to Everton – and drawn with Nottingham Forest and Liverpool.

Tahith Chong thought he had earned Luton what would’ve been a shock win against the Reds last weekend before Luis Diaz’s late equaliser. The point lifted Luton out of the relegation zone, although only on goal difference.

So, what might once have looked like a straightforward runout for the Red Devils at Old Trafford has now taken on a different complexion.

Luton don’t score many but with an average of 0.91 goals per game, they aren’t too far behind the 1.09 per match scored by United. Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes have been their main Premier League goalscoring contributors with three goals each, the same number scored by Luton’s Morris this season.

It almost goes without saying that both sides can be vulnerable defensively with Luton conceding 1.91 on average and United letting in 1.45 per game.

United, and Ten Hag, cannot afford to let this one slip through their fingers and probably won’t.

Suggested Bet: Manchester United to win + Half Time/Full Time, Draw/Manchester United (Same Game Multi) @ $5.70*

Brighton v Sheffield United – Sunday, November 12 (10pm kick-off WA time)  

Last weekend’s dramatic 2-1 victory over Wolves was just what Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom needed after nine defeats and a draw in their previous 10 matches.

In the scheme of things, it hasn’t helped much with the Blades still bottom of the table on four points. But the roller-coaster nature of the win over Wolves has left them on a high.

After Cameron Archer’s excellent opening goal – the club’s eighth of the season – Wolves equalised in the 89th minute only for Ollie Norwood to lash home his first goal of the season from the penalty spot.

The win ended a seven-match losing streak, during which they conceded 22 goals and scored just three. Heavy defeats to Arsenal (5-0) and Newcastle (8-0) make the statistics look particularly bad.

So, scoring twice in a game is a big thing that could turn out to be a change in fortunes or just a lucky break. Heckingbottom’s side have no clean sheets this season, they’ve scored at a rate of just 0.82 goals per game and have conceded 2.73 goals on average.

Brighton are seventh on the table and all the statistics weigh heavily in their favour, although they have won just one of their past six Premier League games.

In full flight, Roberto De Zerbi’s side are great to watch but genuinely good form has slipped away recently. Brighton have no trouble creating opportunities with 2.45 chances per game, and they have banged in goal at a rate of 2.18 per match. Evan Ferguson and Kaoru Mitoma are their most dangerous with five and three goals respectively.

But Brighton have been defensively shaky at times – a 6-1 defeat to Aston Villa stands out as a particularly bad day at the office – and they haven’t won this fixture in six attempts since January 2005.

Suggested Bet: Brighton win + Both teams to score + Over 3.5 total goals (Same Game Multi) @ $4.96*

Chelsea v Manchester City – Monday, November 13 (12.30am kick-off WA time) 

They’ve knocked off the new contenders, now Chelsea are aiming to spring a Premier League shock against defending champions Manchester City. But can they?

They are certainly improving, as was demonstrated in their 4-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur during the week, although the result was a little flattering given Spurs had two players sent off.

A Nicolas Jackson hat-trick was at the heart of the Blues’ win, and the Senegalese striker will be hoping goalscoring becomes more frequent with only two Premier League goals before his treble against Spurs.

Just a week earlier, Chelsea’s defeat to Bournemouth seemed to suggest manager Mauricio Pochettino was still struggling to find the right formula, although that’s the Blues’ only loss in their past seven games in all competitions.

The win over Tottenham lifted Chelsea into 10th place on the table with 15 points, 12 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola’s side moved into top spot on the table with a 6-1 thrashing of Bournemouth, which did not feature a goal or assist from Erling Haaland, who was substituted at the break.

The man to watch was Belgian international Jeremy Doku, whose lightning pace and tight control produced the opening goal and four assists, with Bernado Silva (two), Manuel Akanji, Phil Foden and Nathan Ake amongst the goals.

After successive Premier League defeats to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal, City have now won their last three with Brighton (2-1), Manchester United (3-0) and Bournemouth all learning painful lessons.

It’s hard to know how or where to stop City and it’s unlikely that a suddenly rejuvenated Chelsea will be able to figure out either of these problems.

Suggest Bet: City to win + Jeremy Doku over 0.5 shots on target + Under 3.5 total goals (Same Game Multi) @ $5.15*

*Odds correct as at 9am, 9th November 2023.

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