The Scout: EPL Week 15 Preview

Crystal Palace v Liverpool – Saturday, December 9 (Kick-off 8.30pm, WA) 

It’s been more than six years since Crystal Palace beat Liverpool in the English Premier League. Way back in April 2017, Christian Benteke scored twice against his old club to edge Palace to a 2-1 win at Anfield. 

Since then, Liverpool have won 10 of the 12 games played between these sides, suggesting the Reds might just have Palace’s number these days. That said, Palace held Liverpool to a goalless draw at Selhurst Park last year and a 1-1 draw at Anfield. 

On this season’s form, it’s hard to see Palace getting anything out of this one, although there has been the odd moment of success in a season marked by inconsistency. 

With only four wins before Wednesday night’s clash with Bournemouth, Palace probably won’t strike fear into Jurgen Klopp’s side. But a 1-0 win over Manchester United, secured by Joachim Andersen, and a 3-2 victory over Wolves – Odsonne Edouard scored twice and Eberechi Eze was also on target – stand out as particularly good days at the office. 

On the forgettable side of the ledger, they also handed struggling Luton Town just a second victory of the season last month. Mystery over Eze’s fitness, and a long-term injury to Cheick Doucoure, make this fixture even tougher for Roy Hodgson. 

Liverpool have steadily climbed their way up the table with less of the fanfare of Manchester City, Arsenal and, until recently, Tottenham Hotspur. 

The Reds’ recent successes include a 4-3 win over Fulham, in which they conceded more than two goals in a game for the first time this season. Stunning goals from Alexis Mac Alister, Wataru Endo and Trent Alexander-Arnold got the job done. 

Whatever exertions they went through on Wednesday night at home to Sheffield United, Liverpool will be ready for the trip to London. 

Suggested Bet: Liverpool to win + Total goals under 2.5 (Same Game Multi) @ $4.70*

Aston Villa v Arsenal – Sunday, December 10 (Kick-off 1.30am, WA time) 

It almost seemed unkind to Aston Villa that just a few days after taking on Manchester City they host Arsenal. But you get the impression whatever they left out on Villa Park on Wednesday they will pick up again for the visit of the Gunners. 

Facing two of the big boys in successive matches is unlikely to faze their Spanish boss Unai Emery, who has transformed the Birmingham side in just over 12 months. 

And there is definitely something special, or spiteful, about this match for the former Arsenal boss, who was sacked by the Gunners four years ago after 18 months in charge. 

Last time they met, in February, Villa twice had the lead through Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho before two late goals sunk their ambition. An own goal from goalkeeper Emi Martinez was particularly galling for the Argentine World Cup winner. 

Martinez will need to be at his best against an Arsenal side with goalscoring threat in midfield through Martin Odegaard and Declan Rice, and up front where Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli cause plenty of problems. 

Arsenal’s centre back pairing of William Saliba and Gabriel, behind midfielder Rice, have been key factors in a defence that was unusually exposed in a 4-3 win over Luton this week. Prior to that win – sealed by Rice in stoppage time – Arsenal had conceded only 11 goals in their previous 14 games. 

They will be tested by a Villa side that had scored 33 goals before their clash with Manchester City on Wednesday. Watkins continues to lead the charge with eight Premier League goals for Villa. 

Prior to the City match, Villa’s 23 goals in six games at Villa Park was the most scored at home by any team in the Premier League. 

Suggested Bet: Aston Villa to win @ $3.25*

Fulham v West Ham United – Sunday, December 10 (Kick-off 10pm, WA time) 

After rolling his sleeves up to get Fulham promoted to the Premier League as champions in 2022, manager Marco Silva surprised most pundits by steering the Cottagers to a creditable 10th place in England’s top tier last season. 

Although he’s found it tougher to work his magic this season, it’s unlikely that Fulham will find themselves in a relegation battle. The signs have been generally positive for Silva with Fulham racking up four wins and three draws before this week’s game against Nottingham Forest. 

Despite the departure of Aleksandar Mitrovic to Saudi Arabia after just one game this season – the Serbian striker was crucial in Silva’s first two years at Fulham – the Cottagers continue to look for the advantage in wide areas. 

The likes of Willian, Bobby De Cordova-Reid and Alex Iwobi often provide the width with Raul Jimenez at the point of the attack in recent weeks. Willian and Cordova-Reid have three goals each, while Jimenez has found the net just once since his move from Wolves. 

The yo-yo nature of Fulham’s Premier League history means these teams have only played eight times in the past 10 years. 

During that time, there has been only one draw and just a single win for Fulham – back in 2014. The Hammers have won five of the past six games between the clubs including victories last season at Craven Cottage (1-0) and a 3-1 win at the London Stadium when Jarrod Bowen, Gianluca Scamacca and Michail Antonio scored to cancel out Andreas Pereira’s opener for Fulham. 

Bowen remains as important in the goalscoring stakes (he had scored eight goals before Thursday’s clash with Spurs) as he is in influencing West Ham’s momentum. And while Antonio’s progress has been slowed by injury, Thomas Soucek has picked up the slack with a run of recent goals. 

James Ward-Prowse also continues to impress with two goals, five assists and a range of passing that has created six big chances on the official stats chart. 

Suggested Bet: Total goals over 2.5 + James Ward-Prowse over 0.5 shots on target (Same Game Multi) @ $3.15*

*Odds correct as at 10am, 6th December 2023.

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