The Scout: EPL Week 35

West Ham United v Liverpool

Hopes of a fairytale farewell for Jurgen Klopp are fading, and nothing less than three points will do for Liverpool against West Ham United.

Liverpool’s midweek loss to city rivals Everton handed the initiative to Premier League leaders Arsenal, who are now three points clear of the Reds, and four ahead of Manchester City, who have two games in hand.

All is not lost for Liverpool, whose manager Klopp will leave the club at the end of the season, but title hopes will be gone if the Reds don’t beat West Ham.

Defeat to Everton came after Liverpool had dropped points against Manchester United in a 2-2 draw, lost to Crystal Palace (1-0) before a 3-1 win over Fulham, thanks to goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ryan Gravenberch and Diogo Jota, seemed to signal that Klopp’s men were back on track.

West Ham have also gone off the boil with just one win in their last seven Premier League games. Even the win over Wolves came with an element of good fortune with a Lucas Paqueta penalty and James Ward-Prowse’s winner direct from a corner.

Their last outing was a painful 5-2 defeat away to Crystal Palace in which Michail Antonio’s first-half goal was one of few highlights.

The Hammers have kept five clean sheets this season, conceding goals at an average rate of 1.85 per game. They’ve scored an average 1.59 goals per match with Jarrod Bowen’s 15-goal contribution the most significant, some way ahead of Mohammed Kudus (seven goals), Tomas Soucek (six) and Ward-Prowse (six).

Liverpool’s attacking threat is clear and obvious. Mo Salah leads the way with 17 goals this season, ahead of Darwin Nunez (11), Diogo Jota (10) and Luis Diaz (8).

Recent midfield changes have been disruptive to the Reds but Klopp has talent-a-plenty at his disposal to get the result he needs against West Ham.

Suggested Bet: Liverpool to win + Total Goals Under 3.5 + Both teams to score – NO (Same Game Multi) @ $3.90*

Manchester United v Burnley

Burnley boss Vincent Kompany will fancy his side’s chances of springing a surprise against old rival Manchester United.

Any result against the Red Devils at Old Trafford will be welcomed by Kompany, although three points will be the ultimate aim as the Clarets fight for Premier League survival.

Second bottom on the table, and three points behind fourth bottom Nottingham Forest, Burnley are on a cliff edge. But last weekend’s 4-1 win over rock bottom Sheffield United, which came via goals from Jacob Bruun Larsen, Lorenz Assignon, Lyle Foster and Johann Gudmundsson, has given them a lift.

As far as good form goes, Burnley have never had it better this season. With just one loss in their past seven games (defeat to Everton sits alongside victories over the Blades and Brentford, as well as draws against West Ham, Chelsea, Wolves and Brighton) there is good reason for Kompany to feel that all is not lost.

Defending has been a problem all season for Burnley, who have conceded an average of 2.03 goals per game and have kept just two clean sheets.

But they have a decent return on the opportunities they’ve created, scoring 1.09 goals per match from 1.15 chances. Bruun Larsen and Foster lead the scoring with five goals each.

It hasn’t exactly been a glorious season for Manchester United, although an FA Cup semi-final win over second-tier Coventry City, albeit on penalties, has set up a season finale against Manchester City.

Their midweek performance against Sheffield United was far from five-star, but they eventually got the job done with a 4-2 win over the Premier League’s bottom team.

Goals from Harry Maguire, Rasmus Hojlund and two from Bruno Fernandes sealed United’s first win in five Premier League outings. They had drawn against Brentford, Liverpool and Bournemouth, and lost to Chelsea, before beating the Blades.

You never really know what you will get from United this season, and Burnley will be hoping to capitalise.

Suggested Bet: Half Time/Full Time – Draw/Manchester United @ $4.90*

Aston Villa v Chelsea

Chelsea looked like boys against men in their midweek defeat to Arsenal and they can expect to face similar problems against Aston Villa.

Shell-shocked Chelsea, who had beaten Everton 6-0 before a narrow FA Cup defeat to Manchester City, were bullied from start to finish against the Gunners whose 5-0 win extended their lead at the top of the table.

The old roles of Villa plodding through a midtable season and Chelsea pushing for Europe have been flipped. These days Villa are up to fourth and are very much in UEFA Champions League contention, while Chelsea are ninth and well off the Premier League pace.

Manager Unai Emery has been key to Villa’s transformation, and on this season’s evidence he has the tactical knowledge to tie Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino in knots.

Villa have lost only one of their past six Premier League games, a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City, the only blot on a schedule also consisting of wins over Arsenal, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Bournemouth, and draws against Brentford and West Ham.

It’s impossible to mention Villa without also referencing Ollie Watkins, who is key to Villa’s attacking threat with most assists (12) and goals (19).

But while Villa are no one-man band – immense contributions have also come from the likes of Emi Martinez, John McGinn, Leon Bailey and Moussa Diaby – Chelsea have come to rely on a single figure.

Cole Palmer has quickly become a Chelsea favourite since his switch from Manchester City. With 20 goals and nine assists his contribution has kept Chelsea on the fringes of a Europa League place.

His importance to the Blues was underlined when they were brushed aside by Arsenal in his absence through illness, although he should be fit for the Villa clash.

Without Palmer, Chelsea lack a cutting edge, although Nicolas Jackson has contributed 10 of Chelsea’s 61 goals, and Raheem Sterling has six.

Suggested Bet: Aston Villa to win + Total Goals under 3.5 + Both teams to score – YES (Same Game Multi) @ $8*

*Odds correct as at 11am, 25th April 2024.

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