The Scout: EPL Week 34

Luton v Brentford

Last weekend’s 5-1 spanking at the hands of Manchester City might’ve been a heavier defeat than Luton Town were expecting. But it hasn’t really damaged their chances of survival, as the Premier League season heads to the wire.

Only in their wildest dreams would Andros Townsend, Ross Barkley and company have expected to beat the defending champions, although Barkley’s consolation was well deserved and a sign of his continuing appetite for the challenge.

Barkley has contributed four assists and five goals, a number bettered by only two players in Elijah Adebayo and Carlton Morris, who have nine each for the season.

A top performance from Barkley could be the difference against Brentford, who aren’t entirely out of the woods, either. Their recent 2-0 win over last-placed Sheffield United (courtesy of an own goal and Frank Onyeka’s late sealer) lifted them seven points clear of Luton, who are 18th, a point behind Nottingham Forest and two adrift of Everton.

Points deductions to Forest and Everton have given Luton a fighting chance of staying up after spending more than half the season in the drop zone.

With games still to come against Wolverhampton Wanderers (away), Everton (home), West Ham (away) and Fulham (home), manager Rob Edwards hasn’t yet given up on another season in the top tier.

And why not?

Brentford have not exactly been firing on all cylinders, although results in their last eight matches have made no difference to their league position (15th). Just two wins (against the Blades and Wolves) in their last 12 games is hardly inspiring although they have earned draws against Aston Villa, Brighton, Manchester United and Chelsea during that time.

Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa each scored their eighth goals of the season in the recent draw against Villa, which had been unexpected.

Brentford have won only three times on their travels this season, while Luton will be fixated on securing a fifth home win of the campaign.

Suggested Bet: Luton win @ $3.20*

Everton v Nottingham Forest

Two teams feeling aggrieved at the points penalties handed out for financial breaches this season are desperate for points as they teeter on the edge of relegation.

Forest have lost only one of their past five games, which includes draws against Luton Town (1-1), Crystal Palace (1-1) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (2-2), and they are in better shape than the Toffees heading into this one.

Everton have won only one of their last 15 games, but it’s their latest outing that will be difficult for players – and manager Sean Dyche – to scrub from their memories. A 6-0 mauling by Chelsea on Monday has left Everton just two points above third-last Luton Town and only a point above Forest.

Whatever Sean Dyche has been able to communicate to the players since then is hardly likely to have restored confidence before the visit of Forest.

Then again, a team that has been docked eight points (so far), and is in a dismal form slump, has also beaten the likes of West Ham (1-0), Newcastle (3-0) and Chelsea (2-0) this season.

A 1-0 win over Forest in December, when Dwight McNeil scored the only goal of the game and Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was man of the match, will give the Toffees something to hang onto at Goodison Park.

As you might expect from a Sean Dyche side, Everton are slightly better than Forest defensively and concede an average 1.5 goals per game (which includes nine clean sheets) compared to their opponent’s 1.76.

But with scoring rates of 1.5 (Everton) and 1.27 (Forest) per game, it’s not surprising that both teams find themselves at the wrong end of the table.

Chris Wood’s 12 goals this season makes up almost 30% of Forest’s season total, while a fair share of assists have come from Anthony Elanga (eight) and Morgan Gibbs-White (seven).

Suggested Bet: Draw @ $3.65*

Fulham v Liverpool

Before Liverpool try to make up for last weekend’s lost ground in the Premier League, they’ll head to Italy for a second leg Europa League match against Atalanta.

As far as preparation for a trip to Fulham goes, it’s not ideal. Liverpool were beaten 1-0 by Crystal Palace last weekend, halting the Reds’ charge at the top of the Premier League. That defeat came just a few days after a stunning 3-0 home loss to Atalanta. Jurgen Klopp’s side will tackle the second leg early on Friday (WA time) facing a dilemma.

Do they write off the Europa League as a lost cause and focus on Fulham and the Premier League? Or go for broke in both?

Last weekend’s loss to Palace has left Liverpool third in the Premier League, on the same points as second-placed Arsenal and two adrift of Manchester City.

As good as Liverpool have been at times this season, Fulham are no mugs either, especially at home. Nine of Fulham’s 12 victories have been in front of their own fans at Craven Cottage.

They’ve had a mixed bag of results in their past five games – victories over West Ham (2-0) and Spurs (3-0), alongside defeats to Newcastle (1-0) and relegation threatened Nottingham Forest (3-1), as well as a 3-3 draw against doomed Sheffield United.

The statistics are heavily in Liverpool’s favour with a scoring rate of 2.25 goals per game and the concession of just 0.97 goals per match. Fulham have averaged 1.48 goals scored per match, while they concede almost as many with an average of 1.55 every game.

Last weekend’s victory over the Hammers was the result of the Cottagers making better use of a 40% share of possession with two goals from Andreas Pereira.

Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah (17 goals this season), Darwin Nunez (11 goals) and Dioga Jota (nine), can be expected to make more of their chances than wasteful West Ham.

Suggested Bet: Liverpool win + Total goals over 2.5 (Same Game Multi) @ $1.79*

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

Market Market