The Scout: EPL Week 27

Everton v West Ham United

For a team that haven’t won in the league since December 17 and were sitting one place above the drop zone, Everton received a much-needed boost this week.

News that their points deduction for breaching Premier League financial rules was reduced from 10 to six moved the Toffees up to 15th and five points above the bottom three.

Not that they are out of the woods, with an ongoing takeover saga still undecided and the possibility of losing further points for a second financial penalty.

They also have a centre forward in Dominic Calvert-Lewin who has not scored since his winner against Saturday’s opponents West Ham in October.

The England international has been out of form, which is not helped by playing in an Everton side that relies on set-pieces for goals. It is no surprise Everton are rock bottom in terms of conversion rate, with just 5.5% of shots on target resulting in goals.

West Ham manager David Moyes must wonder what he might have achieved in his 11 years at Goodison had he had some of the millions spent during the early seasons of billionaire Farhad Moshiri’s chaotic reign.

West Ham fans have their issues with Moyes. But they would have enjoyed Monday’s 4-2 win over Brentford when Jarrod Bowen scored a hat-trick, a result that took the Irons to eighth.

It was a first league win in seven games for West Ham and came after successive losses to Manchester United (3-0), Arsenal 6-0) and Nottingham Forest (2-0).

Suggested Bet: Result 1-1 @ $6.50*

Tottenham v Crystal Palace

Tottenham return to action on Saturday with a great opportunity to bolster their European ambitions. A win over Crystal Palace will take Ange Postecoglou’s side six points clear in fifth place, as nearest challengers Manchester United travel to neighbours City the following day.

Spurs had last weekend off, with their game against Chelsea postponed due to the Blues’ involvement in the Carabao Cup final. The enforced break would have given Postecoglou extra time to look at the 2-1 loss to Wolves a fortnight ago, where they failed to score in the first half for a fifth straight home game.

The Australian knows they can’t afford a similar slip this weekend as they try to wrestle the fourth Champions League spot from Aston Villa.

Key full-backs Pedro Porro and Destiny Udogie could be fit for Spurs after missing the Wolves game with minor injuries, while Son Heung-min should now be fully refreshed after two appearances since his return from the Asian Cup with South Korea.

New Crystal Palace boss Oliver Glasner enjoyed a 3-0 win over Burnley in his first game in charge, and he could see the creative Eberechi Eze return this weekend.

The Englishman is a great talent and should Spurs’ first-half woes continue the introduction of Eze, who has battled recent injuries, as a second-half substitute could work in Palace’s favour.  

Four points from the two games since Roy Hodgson stood down as boss have seen Palace move up to 13th in the table, with Jordan Ayew scoring in both.

Suggested Bet: Tottenham to win + Both teams to score – YES (Same Game Multi) @ $2.63*

Manchester City v Manchester United

If the Manchester United defence was not already having sleepless nights over the prospect of facing Erling Haaland, the Norwegian superstar tuned up for Sunday’s showdown with a five-goal haul against Luton in the FA Cup.

His rampant display was a reminder of why he is the most lethal striker on the planet. And with the magnificent Kevin De Bruyne supplying the ammunition, this has the makings of another torrid afternoon for Harry Maguire and his teammates in the United backline.

Haaland scored twice against United in October, to go with a hat-trick last season when City hit their neighbours for six. He is also fresh following a month out with a foot injury and primed to spearhead the European champions’ bid to repeat their Treble of 2023.

City go into the weekend a point off top spot, although that gap might have opened by the time they kick off with leaders Liverpool at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

As for United, Sunday’s game is an opportunity to put a marker down for manager Erik ten Hag. Recent financial investment in the club has brought new speculation over the Dutchman’s future, not helped by their stoppage-time loss to Fulham last week. A late goal from Casemiro snatched a much-need FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest in midweek.

Before the Fulham defeat, United were unbeaten in 2024 and on a run of four successive league wins. But injuries to their own Scandinavian striker, Dane Rasmus Hojlund, and defender Luke Shaw have exposed the holes in ten Hag’s squad, something City are likely to exploit.

Suggested Bet: City to win + City to score over 2.5 goals + United to score – NO (Same Game Multi) @ $3.85*

*Odds correct as at 9am, 29th February 2024.

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