The Scout: EPL Week 37

Fulham v Manchester City

Craven Cottage has provided plenty of excitement for Fulham fans and they will have their fingers crossed for some late-season cheer against Manchester City, all the while fearing this could get ugly.

The Cottagers have had some great results at home, such as 3-0 wins over Tottenham and Brighton in March, a 2-1 win over title-chasing Arsenal in December, a month in which they also produced two memorable 5-0 victories over Nottingham Forest and West Ham United.

Rodrigo Muniz, with nine goals, has been their most potent force with Bobby De Cordova-Reid (six), Alex Iwobi (five) and Raul Jimenez (five) contributing to Fulham’s 51 goals for the season. They’ve lost just one of their past four games with defeat to Liverpool (3-1) alongside a win over West Ham (2-0) and draws against Crystal Palace (1-1) and Brentford (0-0).

Having conceded 55 goals, 13th-placed Fulham have a goal difference of minus-four, a tally not helped by their disappointing performance against City last time out.

After Julian Alvarez had given City the lead, Tim Ream’s equaliser suggested there might be an upset on the cards. Nathan Ake corrected matters before half-time to give City an advantage that was hammered home by Erling Haaland after the break. The big Norwegian scored a second half hat-trick to wrap up a 5-1 win for City.

Of course, there’s no shame in that. Just ask Wolves, who had no answer to Haaland last weekend, as he scored four in a 5-1 win. It would be just like Haaland to score another bundle this weekend, perhaps even a hat-trick.

Second-placed City will go into this weekend’s fixtures a point behind leaders Arsenal but with an extra game up their sleeve. Since a goalless draw at home to Arsenal in March, City have won six Premier League games on the bounce.

Aston Villa (4-1), Crystal Palace (4-2), Luton (5-1), Brighton (4-0), Nottingham Forest (2-0) and Wolves last weekend, have all seen their gameplans unravel against City.

The chances are high that Fulham will become just another City victim.

Suggested Bet: Total Goals over 3.5 + Both teams to score – YES + Erling Haaland to score at least two goals (Same Game Multi) @ $3.55*

Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley

Whatever magic Spurs’ Aussie manager Ange Postecoglou was conjuring early in the season has evaporated, taking with it a lot of the good will that came with his initial success.

After four successive defeats, the mood has changed at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. And with a game against Manchester City on the near horizon, victory over Burnley is a must for Postecoglou.

Remember back in September when Son Heung-min was on fire with a hat-trick against Burnley? The Clarets would rather forget that day, as Cristian Romero and James Maddison also got in on the goalscoring act in a 5-2 thrashing at Turfmoor.

Bizarrely, Burnley had scored first, through Lyle Foster in the fourth minute, and last, when Josh Brownhill scored in stoppage time.

This was Spurs at their peak and in the middle of a 10-match unbeaten streak at the start of the season. It’s been a rollercoaster of peaks and troughs since then, although the current four-game losing streak is as bad as it has been. Even during a mid-season slump, defeats to Chelsea, Wolves and Aston Villa made way for a thrilling 3-3 draw against title-chasing Manchester City.

In a tough string of recent matches Spurs have suffered losses to Newcastle (4-0), Arsenal (3-2) and Chelsea (2-0) before last weekend’s 4-2 defeat to Liverpool, in which goals form Richarlison and Son earned some respect for Spurs.

Burnley’s window of opportunity to escape relegation from the Premier League has been closing almost since the first game of the season when Manchester City inflicted a first defeat on the newly promoted side. Twenty-two losses later, and with just five wins all season, Vincent Kompany’s side is second-bottom, five points behind Nottingham Forest, who are three points clear of the drop zone.

Burnley, who have lost only two of their past nine games with two wins and five draws, are still desperate to survive. But it would take a monumental effort, and some luck, to cause a boilover in London.

Suggested Bet: Spurs to win + Over 1.5 shots on target – Son Heung-min + Total goals under 3.5 (Same Game Multi) @ $5.30*

Manchester United v Arsenal

The Premier League has been a strange experience for Manchester United this season, which makes it difficult to know what to expect when they take on Arsenal at Old Trafford.

With a place in the FA Cup final to look forward to (or maybe not, given they’ll be taking on vastly superior Manchester City), they might also have been hoping to finish the league season with a flourish.

But a draw against relegation-threatened Burnley at the end of April turned out to be a mere entrée for a thrashing served up by Crystal Palace on Monday.

Just a handful of days ago, the opportunity to spoil Arsenal’s title challenge at Old Trafford seemed like something to look forward to, even if it would virtually hand the title to City. This week’s 4-0 defeat away to Palace has probably changed the minds of Erik ten Hag, some of the players and most of the fans of a club currently eighth on the table.

That punishing experience did come as ten Hag battles a series of injuries that has robbed him of Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez and others. Against Palace, the defensive crisis led to Casemiro playing at centre back, which turned out not to be his favourite position.

United were also without Bruno Fernandes, who missed a game through injury for the first time in his professional career, although he might be back for the Arsenal clash.

Whereas United, by their lofty standards, have been a mixed bag this season and are in danger of missing out on Europe next season, Arsenal have found another gear. They will go into this weekend’s matches at the top of the table, albeit with City just a point behind and with a game in hand.

The Gunners are the league’s highest scorers with 88 goals, have the best defence (28 goals conceded) and have lost only one of their last 16 league matches.

The goals come from various sources – Bukayo Saka (16 goals), Kai Havertz (12) and Leandro Trossard (11) have been the chief supply – but the midfield presence of Martin Odegaard and Declan Rice, who have contributed 15 goals between them, has also been key to their success.

Suggested Bet: Half Time/Full Time – Arsenal/Arsenal + Both teams to score – YES (Same Game Multi) @ $3.70*

*Odds correct as at 10am, 9th May 2024.

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