The Scout: EPL Week 30

Newcastle United v West Ham United

Tenth-placed Newcastle have been better at home than on their travels overall this season, winning nine, drawing two and losing three of 14 games. The 29-point home haul has kept them in the top half of the table with just 11 points picked up in 14 games on the road.

The same can’t be said of West Ham, who have maintained a strange consistency that has included heavy defeats and solid victories both home and away.

West Ham, who are four points and three points above Newcastle, have won as many games on the road as they have at home with six victories. And their overall away record (20 points from 14 games) is only marginally worse than their home form (24 points from 15 games).

The goals generally come from Jarrod Bowen, who has 14 of the Hammers’ 46 this season. In good news for the Hammers, Michail Antonio, who has missed 12 games this season with a knee injury, returned to goalscoring form in a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa in their most recent game.

The last time these teams met, Alexander Isak scored twice for Newcastle after Tomas Soucek had opened the scoring for the Hammers. But Kudus scored a late equaliser to salvage a point for the home side at London Stadium.

Isak has scored 12 goals for Newcastle during a season in which he has twice been sidelined with a groin injury. His fitness is vital as Callum Wilson continues his injury struggles having played only 16 of Newcastle’s 28 games.

Injuries have hit Newcastle hard this season, although Kieran Trippier, Tino Livramento and Harvey Barnes could be in contention to return against West Ham.

While Newcastle lost to Chelsea in their most recent league fixture, West Ham are unbeaten in their last four Premier League encounters.

Suggested Bet: Draw @ $4.20*

Aston Villa v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Aston Villa are dreaming of the Champions League these days and the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers shouldn’t cause too much concern. Or should it?

Villa are up to fourth on the Premier League table and are serious contenders for a place in Europe’s top competition next season.

But Wolves, five places and 15 points behind their Midlands rivals, have steadily improved under Gary O’Neil after losing four of their first five games of the season.

A stunning 2-1 win over Manchester City, courtesy of Hwang Hee-Chan’s winner, might have been a shock back in September, but wins over Tottenham (twice), Chelsea (twice) and Brentford since then are a firm indication of improvement. 

Last time Villa won this fixture was in December 2020 when a late Anwar El Ghaz penalty settled the contest. Since then, Wolves have won three times and there have been three draws, including a 1-1 stalemate in October last year when Pau Torres cancelled out Hwang’s opener for Wolves.

If Villa are to maintain their push for a place in the UEFA Champions League next season, victories over mid-table sides such as Wolves are crucial.

A recent three-game Premier League winning run, which included the scalps of Fulham (2-1), Nottingham Forest (4-2) and Luton Town (3-2), was halted by a 4-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur before a 1-1 draw with West Ham in their last outing.

In between their last two Premier League fixtures was an impressive 4-0 win over Dutch club Ajax in the Europa Conference League.

England striker Ollie Watkins is their most potent force with 16 goals this season, while at the other end of the pitch goalkeeper Argentinian World Cup winner Emi Martinez has been a major factor behind a defence that has conceded 1.45 goals per game. This is slightly better than Wolves’ 1.57, although Villa are more effective in attack scoring 2.07 goals per game compared to this weekend’s opponent (1.5 goals scored per game).

Suggested Bet: Villa to win + Total goals over 3.5 goals + Both teams to score – YES (Same Game Multi) @ $3.95*

Manchester City v Arsenal

Will we get a lick-your-lips, mouthwatering one for the ages? Or a stale old tale of two teams cancelling out each other?

It could well be the former, despite the high stakes, as third-placed Manchester City and league-leading Arsenal aim to seize the initiative in the race for the title.

With second-placed Liverpool, who trail Arsenal on goal difference and who are a point above Manchester City, playing Brighton earlier on Sunday, the Gunners and City will know whether a win will take them clear at the top.

For all their swagger, City have had some minor stuttering moments. They’ve drawn against Liverpool (twice), Chelsea (twice), Crystal Palace and Tottenham, and have lost to Wolves and Aston Villa. Importantly, they also lost to Arsenal in their previous encounter this season.

An 86th-minute goal from Gabriel Martinelli settled that particular contest, in which the Gunners created more chances, although neither goalkeeper was overworked.

It was an unusually low-scoring affair with the four previous Premier League matches between these sides producing 17 goals. City won them all, 4-1, 3-1, 2-1 and 5-0.

Pep Guardiola’s side are now unbeaten in their past 13 games, although they have drawn two of their past four games – against Chelsea and Liverpool.

Arsenal, who have the Premier League’s best away record, have won their past eight games, which includes a 3-1 win over Liverpool, and have scored 33 goals in the process. To say they are in exceptional form is something of an understatement.

But they could go into this one without Bukayo Saka, who withdrew from England’s recent internationals due to injury. Saka’s absence would be a big blow to the Gunners, who have been the beneficiary of his 13 goals and eight assists this season.

City could also be without some star names with Kevin De Bruyne, Kyle Walker, Ederson and Jack Grealish fighting to be fit.

Suggested Bet: Arsenal win @ $4*

*Odds correct as at 9am, 28th March 2024.

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