The Scout: EPL Week 33

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur

Aussie manager Ange Postecoglou is on track to secure a place in the UEFA Champions League in just his first season at the helm of Tottenham Hotspur.

Last weekend’s 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest, in which goals came from defenders Micky van de Ven and Pedro Porro, took Spurs into fourth place on the Premier League table.

Finishing fifth might be enough to qualify for next season’s Champions League but Spurs will want to finish with a flourish.

They are on 60 points, the same as fifth-placed Aston Villa, 10 points behind third-placed Manchester City and 11 points above Manchester United (6th).

Given Postecoglou’s side face City, Arsenal and Liverpool in three of their remaining seven matches, a win over Newcastle United in Saturday’s early game could be crucial.

Postecoglou won’t be having nightmares about this fixture having watched his side cut Newcastle to ribbons earlier in the season. Spurs cruised to a 4-1 win with goals from Son Heung-min and Destiny Udogie, as well as a double from Richarlison. Joelinton, who has been injured since January, scored Newcastle’s consolation back in December.

But Newcastle are a far tougher proposition at home where they have lost just three times this season. Defeats to Liverpool  (2-1) and Nottingham Forest (3-1) did not impress manager Eddie Howe but Newcastle, who are eighth, haven’t been beaten at home since City won 3-2 in January.

In the absence of fellow Brazilian Joelinton, Bruno Guimares has continued to shine in Newcastle’s midfield from where he scored the only goal of the game against Fulham on Saturday.

But Spurs have midfield depth that includes James Maddison, Yves Bissouma, Timo Werner, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur.

Both sides have won three, drawn one and lost one of their most recent five games, while they have also scored at the same rate of 2.1 goals per game.

Suggested Bet: Both teams to score – YES + Total goals over 2.5 + Over 0.5 shots on target – Bruno Guimaraes (Same Game Multi) @ $3.80*

Brentford v Sheffield United

It’s hard to imagine that Chris Wilder’s reaction at Oli McBurnie’s late equaliser against Chelsea was anything more than an outburst of excitement, although hope springs eternal.

There’s a scrap going on at the bottom of the Premier League but the last-placed Blades need the stars to align and a whole lot else to fall in their favour if they are to avoid the drop.

This weekend’s clash with Brentford, and upcoming fixtures against relegation-threatened Burnley (April 20) and Everton (May 11), stand out as Sheffield United’s best opportunities to give the fans – and Wilder – further satisfaction in a disappointing season.

The Blades are on 16 points and are bottom of the Premier League, three points behind Burnley and nine behind Luton Town and Nottingham Forest, who occupy the final safe spot on the table.

So, if all is not lost just yet, defeat to Brentford will all but draw the curtains on the Blades’ season. And knowing that is the case might be just the thing to fire up Wilder’s men.

They know how to beat the Bees, having done so in December when James McAtee scored the only goal of the game. But the Blades’ only other victories came against Wolves (McAtee and Oliver Norwood scored in a 2-1 win) and Luton Town (McAtee, Cameron Archer and Vini Souza were on target in a 3-1 success).

Brentford are 15th, only four points above Luton, and not yet in a position of safety. A win would be a huge lift for a team that has had a serious form slump since that loss to the Blades, sliding from 11th place and winning just two of 16 games since then. Last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Aston Villa was a positive sign.

Ivan Toney’s return from suspension in January came with a lot of promise when he scored in his first game back – a 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest. But after scoring four goals in his first five games, he hasn’t scored in any of the last eight.

Suggested Bet: Both teams to score – NO + Total goals under 2.5 (Same Game Multi) @ $3.05*

Arsenal v Aston Villa

Arsenal will be quick to switch their attention to Aston Villa after their midweek UEFA Champions League distraction didn’t exactly go to plan.

Goals from Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard rescued a 2-2 draw at home to Bayern Munich, which would’ve been more rewarding had they made more of their 60% share of possession and goalscoring opportunities. They will head to Germany for the second leg next week but don’t expect them to take their eye off the ball in the Premier League.

The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 11 league games and sit on top of the table, their superior goal difference keeping Liverpool in second, while Manchester City are just a point off the pace.

The draw against Bayern came just days after Saka and Trossard were scorers in a 3-0 win over Brighton. Kai Havertz was also on target in another comfortable Arsenal win.

If Arsenal have a serious weakness, it’s not immediately obvious in the statistics. They have been scoring at a rate of 2.42 goals per game and conceding only 0.77 a match – and they might be getting Villa at the right time.

For all it’s been a remarkable season for the Villans under Unai Emery, they go into this one on the back of a 4-1 humbling by Manchester City and last weekend’s 3-3 draw against Brentford, which would’ve been worse if not for Ollie Watkins’ late equaliser. They will face Lille in the Europa Conference League early on Friday before switching their attention to Arsenal.

Villa, who are fifth, have conceded more than twice as many league goals as the Gunners, leaking at a rate of 1.53 goals per game, although they are handy in front of goal with an average 2.06 goals scored per game.

Villa can reflect on a positive outcome the last time these teams met when John McGinn scored the only goal of the game at Villa Park in December.

But there is a steeliness about Mikel Arteta’s side, who have not lost at home since a 2-0 defeat to West Ham in December.

Suggested Bet: Total goals over 3.5 + Both teams to score – YES + Over 0.5 shots on target – Bukayo Saka (Same Game Multi) @ $3.35*

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

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