The Scout: EPL Week 22

Arsenal v Crystal Palace 

Mikel Arteta must get his side back on track against Crystal Palace after a rough trot that threatens to derail the Gunners’ season. 

After leading the way at the top of the Premier League, a disappointing spell has left them fourth, five points behind leaders Liverpool. 

They have lost to Fulham (2-1), West Ham (2-0) and Aston Villa (1-0) in their past five games with a draw against the Reds (1-1) and win over Brighton (2-0) amongst the December bright spots. 

The recent defeat to the Hammers is their only home loss this season. Arteta has hinted he may be able to call on Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fabio Vieira for the Palace clash after their recent injuries. 

Arsenal have won the last three games between these teams with Palace’s last victory over the Gunners at the back end of the 2021-22 season when they won 3-0. 

There wasn’t much between the sides when they last met, Martin Odegaard’s penalty settling the August encounter. 

Palace have slid to 14th, although they are still five points clear of the relegation zone, so it’s not exactly panic stations for manager Roy Hodgson just yet. 

The Eagles have been beaten four times on their travels, although they finished 2023 on a league high with a 3-1 home win over Brentford. That was their first win in nine Premier League games. 

In a blow to Palace, midfielder Michael Olise is unlikely to play again this month after picking up a hamstring injury after scoring twice in the win against Brentford. Eberechi Eze also scored in the win. 

In some good news for Palace, the club’s top scorer Odsonne Edouard, who has six goals this season, returned from injury and may start against the Gunners. 

But without Olise’s presence, and at the Emirates Stadium, this is unlikely to be a memorable night for Palace. 

Suggested Bet: Arsenal win + Total goals over 2.5 + Bukayo Saka to score – YES (Same Game Multi) @ $3.75*

Sheffield United v West Ham United 

An unexpected FA Cup exit to second-tier Bristol City could have ramifications for West Ham United as they prepare to take on Sheffield United. 

David Moyes’ side were surprisingly beaten 1-0 by City in a Cup replay on Tuesday after a 1-1 draw on Sunday. West Ham’s league form has been much better with just one defeat in the past nine games, which has taken them to sixth on the Premier League table. 

Amongst their recent impressive run have been victories over Spurs, Manchester United, Arsenal and Wolves, although a 5-0 defeat to Fulham was out of character, as was the defeat to Bristol City. 

But the Hammers could be without their top scorer for their return to Premier League action. Jarrod Bowen, who has scored 11 goals this season including one in a 2-0 win over the Blades in September, is battling to overcome injury. 

Sheffield United will be thankful for any advantage after slumping to the bottom of the Premier League, eight points adrift of safety. 

Bramall Lane has been the scene of two victories and a draw this season, reaping seven points, which is the Blades’ entire points haul this season. 

The sacking of Paul Heckingbottom last month paved the way for Chris Wilder to make his managerial return to the club he left in 2021. 

In six league games, he has overseen a 1-0 win over Brentford, a 1-1 draw with Villa and losses to Liverpool, Chelsea, Luton and Manchester City. 

Sheffield United’s joint-leading scorer Oli McBurnie, whose three goals are matched by Cameron Archer, has fond memories of the last time the Blades beat the Hammers. 

McBurnie scored the winner in a 1-0 win in January 2020 that lifted the Blades to fifth place in the Premier League. The win took them above the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal. 

Back then, Wilder was in his first stint as manager of the Yorkshire club. How times have changed. 

Suggested Bet: West Ham to win + Total goals under 2.5 (Same Game Multi) @ $4.50*

Bournemouth v Liverpool 

The main question here is how well Liverpool fair without the talismanic Mo Salah. The Reds’ top scorer (14 goals) and chief provider (8 assists) will not be playing for his club for a while due to African Cup of Nations duties with Egypt. 

With Salah in their ranks, Liverpool have climbed to the top of the table where they sit two points clear of Manchester City. We’re about to find out how they perform without him. 

Jurgen Klopp usually finds a way and has plenty of attacking options with the likes of Diogo Jota, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz to call on. Liverpool have no shortage of impressive midfielders either with Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Harvey Elliott and Ryan Gravenberch among the many options. 

The Premier League’s best defence, which has conceded just 18 goals in 20 games, is marshalled by Virgil van Dijk, given an edge by Trent Alexander-Arnold and backed up by impressive goalkeeper Alisson. 

Liverpool have lost just once all season – an away defeat to Spurs – and have five wins and four draws on their travels. 

It sounds like trouble for Bournemouth despite their recent improvements. 

The Cherries are a respectable 12th place and have won six of their last eight league games, although they suffered a 3-1 loss to Spurs in their most recent match. 

Under manager Andoni Iraola, the Cherries have been revitalised, the former Rayo Vallecano boss having an impact seven months into the job. 

Dominic Solanke has been a man on fire with 12 goals this season. He has scored five in the past four league games – including a hat-trick against Nottingham Forest and the opener in a 3-0 win over Manchester United, in which Philip Billing and Marcos Senesi were also on target. 

A victory over Liverpool would be particularly sweet for Solanke, who spent 20 months at Anfield before signing for Bournemouth in 2019. But he’s unlikely to be celebrating. 

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

*Odds correct as at 9am, 18th January 2024.

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