The Scout: EPL Week 17 Preview

Burnley v Everton – Sunday, December 17 (Kick-off 1.30am WA time) 

Sean Dyche returns to his former club with a surprising spring in his step. Just a few weeks ago, a 10-point deduction for breaching financial regulations threatened to derail Everton’s season.

But ex-Burnley manager Dyche rolled up his sleeves, cracked the whip and the Toffees appear to have made light work of what could have been a sticky situation.

After defeat to Manchester United, Dwight McNeil’s goal sealed a win over Nottingham Forest before two more impressive victories. Newcastle were swept aside 3-0, with McNeil on target again, as well as Abdoulaye Doucoure and Beto with his first for the club, before Chelsea were beaten 2-0 thanks to goals from Doucoure and youngster Lewis Dobbin, who celebrated scoring his first Everton goal.

Dyche, and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, will be as pleased with the three successive clean sheets as the number of chances Everton have been creating recently. Only Aston Villa and Manchester United have scored more than two goals in a game against Everton, who have conceded an average 1.25 goals per match, the same rate at which they have scored goals this season.

Burnley have struggled in the Premier League since former Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany steered them to promotion.

With just four points from their first 13 games – a draw against Forest and win over struggling Luton – Burnley finally showed signs of life with a recent 5-0 defeat of Sheffield United. Goals from Jay Rodriguez, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Zeki Amdouni, Luca Koleosho and Josh Brownhill sealed an emphatic win.

Normal service appeared to have been resumed with defeat to Wolves before Wilson Odobert’s goal earned an encouraging point against Brighton. Averaging just a goal per game and conceding 2.13 goals per match says all you need to know about Burnley’s woes.

Kompany’s men are second bottom, five points behind Everton, who would be sitting comfortably in 10th if not for the points penalty.

Suggested Bet: Everton to win + Both teams to score – NO (Same Game Multi) @ $3.35*

Arsenal v Brighton – Sunday, December 17 (Kick-off 10pm WA time) 

Arsenal will be desperate to get back on the winning trail after their loss to Aston Villa sent them tumbling from the top of the Premier League. 

But bouncing back won’t be easy against a Brighton side that has advanced to the Europa League knockout rounds in their debut European season. 

Brighton’s progress under Roberto De Zerbi has been even more remarkable given the tricky job of balancing European action with domestic football. 

After winning five of their first six Premier League games, victories have been harder to come by although Brighton have lost only one of their past seven matches. 

Defeat to Chelsea came after a win over Nottingham Forest and three successive 1-1 draws against Fulham, Everton and Sheffield United. Since the loss to the Blues, Brighton have beaten Brentford and drawn against Burnley. 

With the likes of Evan Ferguson (six goals), Joao Pedro (five) and Simon Adingra (four) in the side, Brighton score freely (2.06 goals per game), while captain Lewis Dunk is key figure in a defence that has conceded at a rate of 1.75 goals per game. Arsenal have scored 2.06 goals per game and conceded just 0.94 per match. 

Manager Mikel Arteta has continued to build on last season’s success when the Gunners finished second. Progress includes qualifying for the knockout phase of the Champions League as group winners, and just two defeats in 16 games (to Newcastle and Villa). 

The recent loss to Villa would have stung given that Arsenal had the advantage in almost every statistic apart from the one that mattered. The defeat came on the back of conceding three goals to Luton, albeit in a 4-3 Arsenal win with goals from Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, Kai Havertz and Declan Rice sealing a win. 

When you add Martin Odegaard and Bukaya Sako to the attacking threat within the Gunners, its difficult to see how Brighton will be able to resist. 

But they do know how to beat Arsenal having done so late last season. Since Brighton’s 3-0 away win in May, the Gunners are unbeaten in nine games at the Emirates Stadium. 

Suggested Bet: Arsenal win + Both teams to score – YES (Same Game Multi) @ $2.80*

Liverpool v Manchester United – Monday, December 18 (Kick-off 12.30am WA time) 

Manchester United’s exit from Europe this week makes big games like this even more important to manager Erik ten Hag. A win over Liverpool won’t change their season but it would give the United boss something to hang on to as the Premier League enters its busy Christmas period. 

Defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday left United bottom of their Champions League group with just a single win from six games. They had been performing slightly better in the Premier League with only one defeat in five games before last weekend’s shock 3-0 home loss to Bournemouth. That defeat was made worse when captain Bruno Fernandes received a late yellow card for dissent that rules him out of the trip to Liverpool. 

United’s old red rivals, who didn’t do enough last season to even reach the Champions League, are a far better team this campaign. 

Top of the table after losing just one of their 16 Premier League games, Liverpool are 10 points clear of sixth-placed United. While the likes of defending champions Manchester City and contenders Arsenal have suffered five defeats between them, Liverpool have kept up the pace with their only loss a 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has made a habit of making late changes that produce results, such as last weekend when Harvey Elliott scored a stoppage time winner against Crystal Palace after replacing Darwin Nunez with 15 minutes to play. He has also pushed Trent Alexander-Arnold into midfield where his attacking qualities have been of more use. 

If Ten Hag needed reminding of the size of this task, he need only look back to last season when his team lost 7-0 at Anfield. Nunez, Mohamed Salah and Cody Gakpo all scored twice and will be hungry for more. 

Suggested Bet: Liverpool to win + Over 3.5 total goals + Both teams to score – YES (Same Game Multi) @ $2.70*

*Odds correct as at 10am, 14th December 2023.

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