The Scout: EPL Week 21

Burnley v Luton Town 

A brewing battle at the bottom will come to the boil early on Saturday when two of this season’s promoted sides lock horns.

Burnley, promoted from the second tier as champions, will take on Luton Town, whose passage into the Premier League came via the play-off route. Both are in desperate need of a win to give them hope of staying in the top division next season.

Recent form, and current league positions, tip the scales in Luton’s favour. They are four points and one place above second-bottom Burnley.

The Hatters have won three of their last seven games, seeing off Crystal Palace (2-1), Newcastle United (1-0) and Sheffield United (3-2). They also showed resilience in coming back from a three-goal deficit against Chelsea – with goals from Ross Barkley and Elijah Adebayo – only to lose 3-2 in their most recent Premier League game.

Burnley manager Vincent Kompany has found the going tough in the Premier League but at least he can point to a win over Luton in October, as well as a victory and draw against the Hatters last season, as evidence of his side’s superiority.

These games are usually close. Jacob Bruun Larsen scored a Premier League winner against Luton just a minute after Adebayo thought he had earned the Hatters a point with a goal that cancelled out Lyle Foster’s opener for Burnley.

Last season, an Ashley Barnes penalty edged Burnley to a 1-0 win, while at Turfmoor the points were shared when Josh Brownhill scored Burnley’s equaliser after Dan Potts had scored early for Luton.

In the here and now, Burnley have won two (against Fulham and Sheffield United) and drawn one (against Brighton) of their last seven Premier League games.

Victory is essential to both side’s survival chances.

Suggested Bet: Draw @ $3.60*

Everton v Aston Villa

Admiration for Unai Emery and the job he has done at Aston Villa continues to grow as his side heads to Merseyside to take on Sean Dyche’s Everton.

Emery has performed near miracles at Villa Park, dramatically transforming the team into title contenders. Villa are second on the table, three points behind leaders Liverpool, although Manchester City are two points behind Emery’s men with a game in hand.

With a midfield of Jacob Ramsey, Boubacar Kamara, John McGinn and Douglas Luiz as the supporting cast to Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins, Villa have been organised, difficult to break down and expansive in their attacks.

The saving grace for Everton is that Aston Villa aren’t quite as good on their travels as they have been at home under Emery. Nine wins and a draw at home compared to four wins and two draws on the road this season.

If only Everton’s home form was better. They have lost six, won three and drawn one at Goodison Park, while five wins and a draw from 10 games gives them the fifth best away record in the Premier League.

After a storming run of four successive victories (against Forest, Newcastle, Chelsea and Burnley), Everton have lost their next three (against Tottenham, Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Their top scorer, Abdoulaye Doucoure, who has six goals, has missed the past three Premier League games due to injury. Everton will also be without Dominic Calvert-Lewin unless the club is successful in its appeal against his red card in an FA Cup draw against Crystal Palace. And influential midfielder Dwight McNeil has an ankle injury that could rule him out.

It could be a case of backs-to-the-wall for Everton, who have produced six clean sheets this season and conceded an average of 1.4 goals per game.

Suggested Bet: Villa to win and Total goals over 2.5 (Same Game Multi) @ $3.30*

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur

You win some, you lose some, appears to be something of a blueprint for Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.

United have won two of their past six matches, a run of form that sums up their entire season. A recent win over high-flying Aston Villa was followed by defeat to Nottingham Forest, and a victory over Chelsea came ahead of a first ever home loss to Bournemouth (3-0). In the midst of their recent run is also a goalless draw with Liverpool at Anfield.

United are eighth, eight points adrift of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who have won four of their past five games with victories over Bournemouth, Everton, Nottingham Forest and Newcastle United.

But the picture is about to change for both teams with United to be without erratic goalkeeper Andre Onana, who will compete at the African Cup of Nations for Cameroon. Either Altay Bayindir, who is yet to play a minute for United, or Tom Heaton will take his place.

Tottenham had already been hit hard with injuries – James Madisson and Cristian Romero among the most significant – and they will now be without Son Heung-min (South Korea), Yves Bissouma (Mali) and Pape Sarr (Senegal) due to international commitments.

Spurs have lost only twice away from home, while United have lost four of 10 at Old Trafford with no draws. It’s usually a case of win or bust for the Red Devils at home.

United have found it difficult to score goals and just 13 from 10 home games has not thrilled fans. Ange Postecoglou’s Spurs have scored freely on the road with 22, although seven of them have come from the now absent Son.

The latest round of absentees will make this tough for Spurs.

Suggested Bet: Both teams to score – NO and Total goals under 2.5 (Same Game Multi) @ $3.55*

*Odds correct as at 10am, 11th January 2024.

Market Market