West Brom vs Newcastle
Christ on a bike, two deeply unreliable sides come together in a bid to explore the absolute limits of football as entertainment and you want me to figure out the result? Is this some kind of sick joke?
Actually, as unimpressive as West Brom have been, Newcastle are in a world of hurt now, with in-house arguments between Steve Bruce and substitute Matt Ritchie making headlines in the last week, and the club losing three of their most influential players to injury, Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin all expected to be out until April.
Will Bruce be able to use these setbacks to fire up his side and claim triumph from adversity? Erm, the West Brom win is available at 7/5.
If you still can’t quite trust Sam Allardyce’s side at the moment, though, how about this – in the Total Cards market, over 3.5 cards is available at 29/20.
When these two sides met in December, there were five yellow cards shown; during an FA Cup encounter last season three yellows appeared, while back in April 2018, a league game between these two sides saw a total of four yellow cards.
It tends to get a little rambunctious when the Baggies and the Magpies go head to head, it seems. Looking beyond games against Newcastle, two of West Brom’s last three home games in the Prem have seen four or more yellows shown, too. The possibility that the referee could brandish multiple cards on Sunday seems reasonable.
Liverpool vs Fulham
Fulham are 8/1 to win this game. You may be saying it’ll never happen – but you might have said the same of Brighton, and Burnley, and even Everton, all of whom have won at Anfield in 2021.
Add Chelsea to that list too – Thomas Tuchel’s side took all three points on Thursday night at the former Liverpool fortress. It’s no disgrace to lose to a Chelsea side that are unbeaten under Tuchel, but it is pretty befuddling that Liverpool’s home form can be quite so catastrophic, with five defeats on the bounce (they also lost to Man City last month).
On paper, the visit from Fulham should offer another much-needed chance for a reset for Jurgen Klopp – but the Cottagers are actually unbeaten on the road in their last seven matches.
Okay, six of those results were draws, and Fulham were turned over by Tottenham midweek. But Scott Parker’s side might still be able to thwart a Liverpool side that mustered one shot on target against Chelsea earlier this week.
Presumably Liverpool’s strike force will get more opportunity on Sunday – but with just four goals scored in their last six league games, one of the most potent attacks in football has deteriorated in perplexing fashion in the last month.
You figure that at some point, things have to get better for Liverpool – but who knows if it will happen here. In the meantime, as we said, Fulham are 8/1 to win. If that’s too optimistic for you, the draw is a 4/1 shot – or you can cover both bases with Fulham or the Draw in the Double Chance market, at 11/5.
Man City vs Man Utd
It might be first vs second in this Manchester derby, but the gap both literally and figuratively between these two sides is a mighty one. City are 14 points clear of their nearest rivals in the Prem, while the side’s current run stands at 21 consecutive wins.
In contrast, each of United’s last three games have ended in goalless draws. In fairness to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, they’ve only lost one league game this year – but they’ve only won twice in their last eight outings, too.
Still, United fans will point to the fact that they are unbeaten against City in their last three meetings – two wins, and most recently a draw back in December at Old Trafford.
For all that, United have also earned a reputation for boring the living daylights out of viewers during encounters with fellow big six sides this season.
Maybe it’s a little unfair to complain about entertainment value; football managers are more concerned with substance than style, after all – but United have been involved in six nil-nils in the Prem this campaign, against Chelsea (twice), Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Crystal Palace.
Will the pickings be similarly slim on Sunday? Well, City have a reputation to uphold, and a winning run to extend; I might be being hopelessly naïve, but the hosts can afford to go for it, no? Man City to win and over 2.5 goals can be combined for a 57/50 shot in our Bet Builder section.
Spurs vs Crystal Palace
Spurs might have the reputation under Mourinho for following an ill-advised less-is-more approach to goal scoring, but Tottenham have at least been scoring recently. Crystal Palace have scored just two goals in their last five league games, and haven’t won a league match in Spurs back yard since 1997.
The last two meetings between these sides ended in 1-1 draws, and that might be the height of Roy Hodgson’s ambition again these week. Still, Spurs won 4-0 when these sides last visited the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (top imaginative work on naming the stadium by the way chaps), and Spurs’ last five home games against Palace have all ended in victory for Tottenham, with Palace failing to score a single goal.
History hasn’t always been a useful guide to the here-and-now in this campaign, but Palace have looked so limp lately – zero shots on target against Fulham last weekend, for instance – that in anything approximating a just world, Tottenham must surely take the spoils here. Given Palace’s dismal rate of goalscoring at the moment, Spurs to win to nil at 27/20 looks a decent proposition.
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