The Scout: EPL Week 14 Preview

Nottingham Forest v Everton – Sunday, December 3 (Kick-off 1.30am WA time)    

If not for their 10-point deduction, Everton would be heading into this fixture a point clear of fourteenth-placed Nottingham Forest. As it stands, the penalty for breaching financial rules leaves them second bottom on the Premier League table and nine points behind Steve Cooper’s men.   

The Sean Dyche effect on the Toffees had taken them clear of the relegation zone only to be kicked in the teeth by the off-field penalty.   

Hopes of an immediate positive reaction were dashed in a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United last weekend, although it wasn’t a fair reflection of Everton’s endeavour. The home side created more chances, had more shots on target and an equal share of possession.   

Prior to the loss to United, Everton had lost only one of their previous five league games when Liverpool edged the Merseyside derby 2-0.   

Dyche’s side create plenty of chances (1.92 per game to Forest’s 1.38) with Aboulaye Doucoure the club’s leading scorer on four goals, one ahead of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Jack Harrison’s three assists in just seven appearances is the most of any Toffees player.   

Forest go into this game on the back of successive 3-2 defeats to Brighton and West Ham, which came after their surprise 2-0 victory over high-flying Aston Villa. The win over Villa came courtesy of goals from Ola Aina and Orel Mangala. Anthony Elanga has been in good form, scoring in each of his last two appearances.   

Forest know how to find the back of the net and have been kept scoreless only twice this season – by Manchester City and Liverpool. Taiwo Awoniyi (four goals), Chris Wood (three) and Elanga (three) have led the goalscoring charge.   

Cooper’s side have been difficult to beat at the City Ground – last weekend’s loss to Brighton was their first home defeat of the season – and they will be keen to get back on track for the visit of the Toffees.   

Suggested Bet: Forest to win @ $2.85*

Newcastle United v Manchester United – Sunday, December 3 (Kick-off 4am WA time)   

Are you old enough to remember the big ones? The Kevin Keegan versus Sir Alex Ferguson rants? Would you love it if it came back? 

The rivalry between Newcastle United and Manchester United has not yet returned to those frantic days of the 1990s, although things are moving in the right direction.  

A League Cup final defeat to the Red Devils last season was a smack in the face for Newcastle, who were on the up thanks to coach Eddie Howe and new owners. Revenge was swift – although not as sweet – as Newcastle scored a 3-0 League Cup fourth round win just four weeks ago.  

Howe’s men can also reflect on last season’s 2-0 league win, when second half goals from Joe Willock and Callum Wilson sealed a 2-0 win, as evidence of a closing of the gap on their rivals.  

Newcastle are seventh, a point and a place behind Erik ten Hag’s side, who continue to get results despite their ragged performances.  

Despite having lost nine of their 20 games in all competitions this season, they have lost only one of their past six Premier League games. 

Narrow victories over Brentford (2-1) and Sheffield United (2-1) preceded a 3-0 defeat to City in the Manchester derby, which has been followed by successive victories over Fulham (1-0), Luton (1-0) and Everton (3-0). Until last weekend’s win over the Toffees, in which Alejandro Garnacho’s goal-of-the-season contender drew comparisons with Wayne Rooney, ten Hag’s side had not managed to beat any team by more than a single goal.  

United fans can only dream of those glorious Rooney days, and further back to the David Beckham and Eric Cantona era. This is not a vintage side producing scintillating football, as they showed in throwing away a two-goal lead to draw with Galatasaray in Europe this week. 

Newcastle are still seething over their midweek Champions League draw – when Paris Saint-Germain earned a point with a controversial stoppage-time penalty – and there could be a stinging response.  

Suggested Bet: Newcastle to win + Total goals over 2.5 + Almiron more than 0.5 shots on target (Same Game Multi) @ $3.85*

Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur – Monday, December 4 (Kick-off 12.30am WA time)  

Manchester City’s response to dropping points against Liverpool last weekend was not immediately obvious in their midweek Champions League match against Leipzig. But after conceding twice in the first half, order was restored after the break with goals from Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez.  

It was quite the way to spring back into action, and it doesn’t bode well for Tottenham.  

The draw with Liverpool, in which Haaland had opened the scoring, was the first time City had dropped points at the Etihad Stadium this season and only the second time since a draw with Everton in December last year.  

Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou can’t exactly be looking forward to this one given his side has turned a 10-match unbeaten start to the league season into three successive defeats.  

After a 10-man Spurs lost 4-1 to Chelsea there has been a 2-1 defeat to Wolves and last weekend’s 2-1 loss to Aston Villa. The Villa game was one Tottenham could have won given – it’s not every week that captain and top scorer Son Heung-min has a hat-trick of goals ruled out for offside.  

But what now for Spurs under Ange? Week after week he has pushed for goals, urging his team forward regardless of the consequences.  

Assuming Postecoglou sticks to his principles against the most potent attack in the league and with players of the calibre of James Maddison, Ivan Perisic, Micky van de Ven and Rodrigo Bentancur sidelined, this could get ugly.  

City, who are second on the table, just a point behind Arsenal, have scored 33 goals in 13 league games this season against teams that often sit back and defend. That’s 2.54 goals per game. Despite their woes Spurs are up there, with an average of 1.92 goals per match.  

Tottenham’s stunning start to the season has also kept them at the pointy end of the table – they’re fifth – and an upset victory would take them level on points with City.  

Strap yourself in for this one.  

Suggested Bet: City to win + Total goals over 3.5 + Both teams to score – YES (Same Game Multi) @ $3.10*

*Odds correct as at 9am, 30th November 2023.

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