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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 2:17 PM (72 days ago)               #1
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Premier League: Saints Out to Derail Red Devils’ Title Dreams

Manchester United vs Southampton

Manchester United’s hopes of reclaiming the Premier League title are suddenly in serious danger of falling apart. After failing to win each of their last two games, they are now three points adrift of rivals Manchester City, who still have one game in hand.

The Red Devils will have a great opportunity to revive their fading title challenge as they host struggling Southampton at Old Trafford in midweek. The Saints have now lost three games on the trot, which has seen them drop to the bottom half of the table.

But while the Premier League 2021 betting odds are heavily against Southampton, they have given the Red Devils some problems in recent meetings and will be ready to cause them more headaches.

Talking Points

Man United missing Bruno magic

Manchester United’s luck finally appears to be running out. After going on an impressive run of 13 matches unbeaten (10 wins, 3 draws), they have now gone winless in their last two after they followed up their shock 2-1 defeat to bottom-club Sheffield United with a goalless draw away at Arsenal.

Despite dominating possession, 57-43, United were still outshot 17-14 and only had 3 shots on target at the Emirates.

Bruno Fernandes, who has been so instrumental to their success since his arrival last year, again could not make a decisive impact. The Portuguese playmaker has now failed to record a goal or an assist in his last five Premier League matches.

That is obviously a concerning trend for the Red Devils and is perhaps a sign that Bruno is finally feeling the physical toll of playing every single match during this congested season.

Midfielder Scott McTominay was subbed off after just 37 minutes against Arsenal due to a stomach cramp, and it remains to be seen whether he will be ready to play against Southampton.

If not, Paul Pogba is likely to move into midfield with either Anthony Martial – who came on for McTominay – or Mason Greenwood starting on the wing.

Martial has been a major disappointment for United this season. The French forward has scored just two league goals in 17 appearances.

Southampton struggling to score

Southampton’s slide down the standings continued as they suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa over the weekend.

Saints’ recent Premier League 2021 results have been disastrous. They have now lost three straight games and have won just once in their last eight matches. Curiously, that lone victory came against champions Liverpool.

Ralph Hasenhuttl gears up ahead of Southampton's tough Premier League match against Manchester United

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl instructs his players during a Premier League clash against Arsenal

Despite dominating possession, 60-40, and having a 20-8 advantage in total shots, Saints just couldn’t find a way through Villa’s resolute defence.

Goalscoring has been a major issue for them during their recent skid; they’ve scored just 3 goals in their last eight games. Top striker Danny Ings (7 goals this season) hasn’t been quite at his best since returning from his Covid absence and has now scored just one goal in his last seven appearances.

Meanwhile, manager Ralph Hasenuttl still has a number of injuries to contend with. Midfielder Oriol Romeu finally made his return after a month-long injury layoff, but Jannik Vestergaard, Michael Obafemi, and Moussa Djenepo are all still out.

Captain James Ward-Prowse also had to fill in at right-back with Kyle Walker-Peters out and Yan Valery out of favour.

Hasenhuttl will have few options to change up his side as a result, but Saints should still offer United some problems. Southampton have lost just twice in 9 away matches this season, with 3 wins and 4 draws.

History

Manchester United have a significant 8-2 edge in league wins over Southampton over the last few years, with 7 draws.

United also extended their unbeaten run against Saints to nine matches after beating them 3-2 in their first meeting this season. Saints went 2-0 up after just over half an hour, but the Red Devils stormed back with three goals in the last half hour, including the winning goal by Edinson Cavani in stoppage time.

But despite that loss, Southampton showed once again that they can cause United some problems. Saints have scored two goals against United in four of their last five games. They also held the Red Devils to two draws last season and have drawn with a total of five times in their last nine meetings.

Betting Tip

??
Manchester United vs Southampton Southampton Asian Handicap +1.00 @ 2.05
February 3, 04:15 (GMT+8)

Despite their recent hiccups, SBOTOP odds have United installed as massive 1.51 favourites at home, with Southampton priced at 6.60 to pull off the upset. Meanwhile, a draw is 3.90.

United’s dip in form will have to end at some point, but even with Southampton struggling, getting the win isn’t as secure as the odds might indicate. The United attack seems to be slowing down, and their record at home has been shaky all season.

Recent history suggests there’s decent value in Southampton taking at least a point out of their trip to Old Trafford. And even if they lose by a single goal, you still get your stake back.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 03-Feb-2021 at 2:18 PM


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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 3:38 PM (72 days ago)            #2
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Premier League: Bamford Shines As Leeds End Leicester Run

Leicester City 1-3 Leeds United

As the midway point of the second half was reached in this Premier League encounter, a reporter commented along the lines of:

‘Leicester have been the better side but this is becoming a bit frustrating for Brendan Rodgers’ side.’

Whether that was the commentators’ curse I do not know but what duly followed was probably as predictable as it must have been irritating for those of a Foxes persuasion.

Yes, he was right – they had been the better side. But with one kick of a football, Raphinha split open the home defence and Patrick Bamford did the rest.

Leicester City 1-2 Leeds United.

It was a scoreline from which the home side would not recover as Leeds avenged an early-season hammering.

Highlights of the game

The high-flying Foxes had firmly burst the Yorkshire club’s early season bubble with a convincing 4-1 win at Elland Road in early November and were favourites to complete a league double over their opponents.

Indeed, this SBOTOP observer felt the suggestion Leeds could capitalise on Leicester’s current injury problems was optimistic in the extreme.

The Whites had endured a miserable and embarrassing start to the year in both league and cup, even if, after three consecutive losses, they had got back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory at Newcastle in midweek.

The main team news was known about beforehand as Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi missed out with a hamstring injury, as did top scorer Jamie Vardy as he continues to recuperate after hernia surgery.

For Leeds, defender Diego Llorente was missing after also injuring his hamstring.

Both clubs lost more players to injury before the half was over as club-record signing Rodrigo had to leave the field early on for Leeds, while impressive full-back Timothy Castagne couldn’t continue and departed shortly before the break.

By then we had seen two goals and a further two disallowed as an opening 15 minutes of Premier League highlights set the tone for an entertaining half.

Harvey Barnes opened the scoring after 13 minutes, driving forward and continuing his fine form after a super link-up with James Maddison before shooting low past Illan Meslier.

Yet there was no time to reflect as just 127 seconds later, Leeds were level.

Luke Ayling found Bamford and his pass was swept home confidently by Stuart Dallas.

The frenetic pace showed no let-up and within four minutes Leicester thought they had regained the lead only for Ayoze Perez to be adjudged offside.

Then it was Leeds’ turn to have a goal disallowed for offside after Kasper Schmeichel brilliantly kept out a Bamford header before the rebound was prodded in.

Both Schmeichel and Meslier stood out as the sides ended the half level pegging.

Into the second period and Leicester were doing most of the probing. At that point the Premier League betting odds would have fancied them to go on and win, certainly draw.

Of course, then Raphinha and Bamford teamed up and, after Jonny Evans came within a whisker of equalising, Leeds scored a breakaway third to seal the points and inflict a first defeat in eight games for the hosts.

Jonny Evans failed to produce Premier League 2021 highlights in Leicester City's match against Leeds United

Leicester City’s Jonny Evans in action during their match against Leeds United

Mateusz Klich played Bamford through and he selflessly squared the ball to Jack Harrison for the easiest of tap-ins.

Two away wins in the space of five days and suddenly the world seems a lot rosier for Leeds United.

Key statistics

This was only Leeds’ third win in 17 matches against Leicester in all competitions (drawn six, lost eight).

Bamford is Leeds’ top scorer with 11 league goals. Eight of those have come in away games.

Barnes has been involved in five goals in his six most recent league appearances, scoring three and setting up two. He has also scored seven goals in 20 Premier League games this season – more than he managed in 36 appearances last term (six).

Maddison has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last 11 games for Leicester in all competitions, as many as his previous 43 appearances for the Foxes.

The Whites have conceded 36 league goals in 20 matches this season, having let in 35 goals in total in 46 Championship fixtures in 2019-20.

This was the first time this season that Leicester had dropped points from a winning position, becoming the final Premier League side to do so.

They had won all 12 of their previous league matches this season when leading.

What’s next?

There’s no let-up for either side, particularly Leicester over the next few weeks. They travel to Fulham on Wednesday evening (February 3) and are then at Wolves for a Midlands’ derby a week today.

Leeds host Everton on Wednesday night and then welcome Crystal Palace to Elland Road a week on Monday (February 8).

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 03-Feb-2021 at 3:38 PM


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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 3:46 PM (72 days ago)            #3
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Premier League: Super Salah Fires Liverpool To Victory

West Ham United 1-3 Liverpool

Liverpool are back on track. After a poor run of results since the turn of the year, Jurgen Klopp’s champions have responded with back to back wins.

The Reds followed up an impressive victory over Spurs by handing out more capital punishment to another London side, the in-form West Ham. Mo Salah scored his first goals in seven Premier League games to end the Hammers’ run of six consecutive victories and to lift his team up to third, and just a point behind second-placed Manchester United.

Gini Wijnaldum made it a resounding win for the Reds when a home victory would have taken West Ham above the champions but, in the end, all the Hammers had to celebrate was a Craig Dawson consolation.

Highlights of the game

In the first half with few real chances Liverpool dominated possession but had little to show for it, and West Ham threatened first when Aaron Cresswell crossed for Pablo Fornals and his shot was deflected wide. At the other end, Salah fed Xherdan Shaqiri and he had his shot thwarted by a brilliant block by Dawson.

Premier League: Craig Dawson scored in the 87th minute of West Ham United's 1-3 defeat against Liverpool

West Ham United’s Craig Dawson in action against Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino

Michail Antonio’s header, easily collected by Alisson on 42 minutes, was the first effort on target, and Salah just about brought Hammers’ keeper Lukasz Fabianski into action as the half limped to a goalless conclusion.

Sadio Mane was unplayable in Liverpool’s victory over Spurs last Thursday but he pulled out of this game with a muscle strain. After a goalless first half in which the Reds defended well and controlled the midfield but lacked spark up front, he was badly missed.

Tomas Soucek has been in superb form for the Hammers but he struggled to make an impact on the game, and his frustration boiled over when he was late on Thiago to earn a yellow card. And then Michail Antonio had a superb opportunity when he was put through on goal but he hammered his shot wide. It was a big chance for Antonio and the hosts were made to pay.

Curtis Jones, having just come on to replace James Milner got an assist with his first touch, passing to Salah who turned inside Aaron Cresswell and curled the ball into the far corner, giving Fabianski no chance.

And the Egyptian doubled his tally and Liverpool’s lead, midway through the second half, with a breathtaking counter-attack and finish. West Ham had a corner that was cleared and Jones spread the ball out wide to Xherdan Shaqiri on the left flank, and he lobbed a beautiful pass into the path of Salah, who brought the ball down with a brilliant touch and flicked it past the advancing Fabianski.

Wijnaldum rounded off a slick passing move the make it 3-0 before Dawson grabbed a late consolation for the Hammers.

Key statistics

David Moyes’ team have been big Premier League 2021 news recently as they threatened to gatecrash the top four, but they finished the game in fifth place after being dominated by the champions in the second half.

Liverpool had 67 percent possession and 14 shots to eight, and they are now unbeaten in all five trips to the London Stadium, winning four and drawing one.

Mo Salah is the first Liverpool player to score 20 goals, in all competitions, in four successive seasons since the legendary Ian Rush did so in six consecutive campaigns in the 1980s.

What’s next?

With Manchester United drawing a blank in a goalless draw with Arsenal, making it one point from six for the Red Devils this week, this was a chance for Liverpool to make up lost ground and they accepted it gleefully.

Klopp’s side now has two home games to come and they could hardly be different challenges. On Wednesday they host Brighton. Graham Potter’s team escaped relegation last season, but they are in the thick of the struggle again, one place above the drop zone where both Fulham and West Brom are showing signs of improvement. Then, next Sunday there’s a blockbuster clash at Anfield when league leaders Manchester City rock up.

Of course we’ll be previewing and reporting on that game here at SBOTOP, and it could be a huge moment in the 2020/21 title race. The Premier League 2021 betting odds back Pep Guardiola’s to win the league, but if Liverpool can get a result then the odds will shift slightly the other way.

The Hammers have two away games to come; first they visit fellow Clarets Aston Villa, another side with European aspirations, before heading back to London to play Fulham who are desperate for points.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 03-Feb-2021 at 3:46 PM


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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 3:50 PM (72 days ago)            #4
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Premier League: The Strongest Fortress

A late penalty converted by Burnley’s Ashley Barnes ended Liverpool’s 68 match unbeaten run last week but, believe it or not, the Reds’ achievement is not a Premier League record.

The four year domination that Liverpool enjoyed at Anfield was some run, but which club in the competition’s history can better that? Well read on. The SBOTOP team has put together a list of the top five…and we’ve discovered who has built the strongest fortress of all time.

Five

Manchester United: 35 

1994-1996

Sir Alex Ferguson had been head coach at Manchester United for six seasons before he eventually won the first of 13 league titles at Old Trafford. In fact, legend has it that he was one match away from the sack in 1989. After a winless streak of seven games his team headed to Nottingham Forest for an FA Cup tie they were expected to lose. But a Mark Robins goal gave the Red Devils a victory; and the rest is history.

By 1994, Sir Alex already had two league titles under his belt and his ‘Class of 92’ players including David Beckham, Gary and Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt were already blossoming into superstars. They went through the whole of the 1995/6 season unbeaten at home, and their sequence was only ended when Chelsea won 2-1 at Old Trafford in November 1996.

Four

Manchester United: 36

1998-2000

After losing the league title to Arsenal in 1998, United looked to be struggling the following season when they lost at home to Middlesbrough. But that defeat turned out to be just a blip as the Red Devils went on to achieve a historic treble of League, FA Cup and Champions League in 1999. They remained unbeaten at home until Liverpool grabbed a win Old Trafford in December of that year.

Current United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a key part of the Red Devils 1999 treble winning side, scoring the crucial goal in the Champions League final, and he has called on his current crop of players to draw on that inspiration. His team’s Premier League 2021 results don’t yet match up to the stars of yesteryear but they are showing promise.

Three

Manchester City: 37

2010 – 2012

From the moment the Abu Dhabi United Group took over Manchester City in 2008, life in the Sky Blue half of Manchester changed forever. United’s legendary boss Sir Alex Ferguson called them the ‘noisy neighbours’ but he new what was coming as Sheik Mansour elevated his rivals to be the best and most powerful club in the Premier League within four short years.

And 11 years after Manchester United’s treble winning team set the league’s unbeaten home record, the Sky Blues broke it. They went 37 games unbeaten at the Etihad, including the dramatic title winning match against QPR in 2012, when City went into injury time 2-1 down; but goals from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero wrote head coach Roberto Mancini’s name into Manchester City folklore.

Fergie had the last laugh though, when his side grabbed a 93rd minute winner to end City’s run the following December.

Two

Liverpool: 68

2017-2021

A Champions League title and a 2018/19 Premier League runners up prize signalled that Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were ready to challenge the Sky Blues’ dominance; and Anfield, for so long in the 70s and 80s a feared destination for visitors, once again became a fortress.

In their 2019/20 title winning season, the Reds won their first 17 matches at home, until Burnley earned a 1-1 draw at Anfield in July. And the pesky Clarets were at it again last week, being the first team to win in the league away to Liverpool for almost four years.

The defeat to Sean Dyche’s men also signalled the first time a Jurgen Klopp side had failed to score for four consecutive games since his Mainz team did just that in the 2006/7 Bundesliga season. The latest Premier League 2021 betting odds pitch the Reds as second favourites, at around 6.00, to win the title and the champions seem to be back on track, with wins over Spurs and West Ham lifting them to third place. But it will be an uphill task to keep pace with Manchester City, particularly now the Anfield fortress has been breached.

One

Chelsea: 86

2004-2008

During his time at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho guided the club to back-to-back Premier League titles

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho during a training session at Stamford Bridge in November 2004

2004 was the year of the great Arsenal Invincibles side, which had gone an entire Premier League season undefeated, but when Arsene Wenger’s brilliant team won 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in February I bet they didn’t think they’d be the last team to emerge from the Bridge victorious for almost five years. Jose Mourinho arrived at the club the following summer and made them almost impossible to beat, indeed they were unbeaten at home as they won back-to-back titles.

The Blues have recently appointed Thomas Tuchel to replace the sacked Frank Lampard in the hope of recapturing former glories. He’s started okay with a home draw with Wolves and then a victory over Burnley…just 84 to go!

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 03-Feb-2021 at 3:50 PM


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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 3:52 PM (72 days ago)            #5
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Premier League: Another 5-0 for Manchester City

Burnley vs Manchester City

Ask any Clarets fan and they’ll tell you that Premier League: Burnley vs Manchester City is the one game in the season in which they can graciously accept defeat, and a big one at that!

The Sky Blues have won their last seven meetings with Burnley, four of those by a 5-0 score-line, and the way Pep Guardiola’s side is playing at the moment you wouldn’t rule out another five-star performance. Sean Dyche’s team is usually so hard to break down but Manchester City just have the extra bit of quality to breach the Clarets’ granite-like defence, seemingly at will.

The hosts come into this game on the back of a 2-0 loss to Chelsea while City have won 12 on the bounce. The Burnley vs Manchester City betting odds are leaning towards a narrower victory this time, something around 0-2; but then they always do!

Talking Points

Takeover won’t change Burnley’s character

Burnley has been a peculiar member of England’s football elite in that, until late in December, the club was owned by local businessmen, each with a relatively small investment. Dyche has worked miracles to keep his side in the top flight, with two top-ten finishes in the last three campaigns, and spending just £1m in the summer transfer window.

So a takeover by US-based investment group, ALK, raised eyebrows in the league; as there may be more money for Dyche to spend, though not necessarily straight away. Incoming chairman Alan Pace has gone on a media charm offensive, saying that the New Yorkers bought into Burnley because they were impressed by the passion and community spirit at the club, and plan to increase revenues while making the Clarets ‘everybody’s favourite underdog.’

Following a difficult start to the season, when Dyche’s injury-ravaged squad won just a single point from the opening six games, key players have returned to fitness and the Clarets have picked up 21 points from the following 14 games and are looking upwards again, having built an eight-point cushion above the drop zone. A victory over Liverpool at Anfield two weeks ago was followed by a convincing FA Cup win away to Fulham and then a brutal second-half fight-back to see off Aston Villa.

Sean Dyche's men are on for a challenge as they face Premier League leaders Manchester City

Burnley coach Sean Dyche during their match against Chelsea

The link-up down the left flank between fullback Charlie Taylor and wing wizard Dwight McNeil provides ammunition for Burnley’s strikers, but Taylor is struggling to shake off a hamstring injury and, without him; Sean Dyche watched his side surrender to a 2-0 loss at Chelsea on Sunday. The boss has problems up front too, where Chris Wood limped off to join his long time partner Ashley Barnes in the physio’s room, so there may be a start for Matej Vydra and Jay Rodriguez.

But all eyes will be on Burnley’s much-admired defensive trio of goalie Nick Pope and centre-backs Ben Mee and James Tarkowski.

Sky Blues sensational squad

The absence of players like Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero would weaken most teams but Pep Guardiola has such an array of riches to call upon his team still keeps on winning. City had a tough battle to beat bottom club Sheffield United on Saturday, Gabriel Jesus’ ninth-minute strike separating the two teams, and the boss praised his team’s fighting qualities, which will come in handy at Turf Moor.

De Bruyne is likely to be out for a month, though Aguero is back in training, and with the likes of Bernardo Silva, top scorer Ilkay Gundogan (seven goals), and Phil Foden all in form City have plenty of firepower; while at the back the recruitment of Portuguese centre-back Ruben Diaz from Benfica looks to have solved the club’s defensive problems. They have conceded just one goal in the last eight league games.

Liverpool’s victory over West Ham on Sunday will keep City on their toes and they won’t be taking Burnley for granted, despite their track record against the Clarets.

History

The recent Burnley vs Manchester City results have a depressingly familiar ring for Burnley fans who have seen their team earn a solitary win over the Sky Blues this century, while losing 14 and drawing just three.

The last meeting between the two sides at Turf Moor resulted in; you’ve guessed it… a 5-0 victory for the Sky Blues, as Riyad Mahrez helped himself to a hat-trick.

The Clarets are in decent form, with three wins from the last six, but Manchester City’s 12 match winning sequence in all competitions, and 19 game unbeaten run, rather overshadow Burnley’s battling achievements.

Betting Tip

??
Burnley vs Manchester City Correct Score 0-2 @ 5.60
February 4, 2:00 (GMT+8)

The hosts are way out at SBOTOP odds of 11.10 to derail the Sky Blues, while Pep Guardiola’s team is at 1.20 to continue their impressive run. The draw is at 6.00 and surely that is the best the hosts can realistically hope for.

The 5-0 trend surely can’t go on forever…can it? Well on their last away trip City walloped West Brom by that score-line, but I don’t expect Burnley to concede so freely again.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 03-Feb-2021 at 3:52 PM


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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 3:55 PM (72 days ago)            #6
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Premier League: Can Leeds Make The Toffees Come Unstuck Again?

Leeds United vs Everton

What a difference a week makes!

This time seven days ago Leeds United were without a win in 2021 and had not even scored a goal.

Fast forward a few days and fans (and players) of the Yorkshire club are much happier following back-to-back away Premier League triumphs.

The first, at struggling Newcastle, was partly greeted with relief.

The second, an emphatic showing at high-flying Leicester City, saw Marcelo Bielsa mastermind a victory which moved them into the relative comfort of mid-table.

Now Everton come to town looking to avenge an earlier season defeat and make sure they do not become victims again to the home side’s ever-increasing Premier League highlights reel.

Talking Points

Patrick Bamford managed to score in Leeds United's last Premier League match

Patrick Bamford celebrates with Leeds United teammates after scoring against Leicester City

Despite a surprise reverse at home to Newcastle on Saturday, Carlo Ancelotti’s men have collected 17 points from a possible 27 since the loss to Leeds and, while they are six points behind the top four, the Toffees do have two games in hand.

Of their regular starters, they will be again without Allan and Fabian Delph (both nearing fitness) but, after a spell out with injury, James Rodriguez is easing back into action and could well be their dangerman alongside Dominic Calvert-Lewin – clearly one of the league’s most improved players under Ancelotti’s tutelage and someone whose tally of 11 league goals is only two short of what he produced in the whole of last season.

Ancelotti may mix things up a bit following the weekend defeat with Andre Gomes, Mason Holgate and Ben Godfrey all options to return to the starting line-up.

Certainly, a trip to Elland Road will be no cause for concern for a side which is unbeaten in its last five away league matches, with four wins during that period and nine goals.

As for the home side, the hero in the win at Leicester was undoubtedly Patrick Bamford. He sustained a dead leg in that game but is expected to be fit and available.

In-form winger Raphinha is doubtful with a knock, as is club-record signing Rodrigo, so Helder Costa and Mateusz Klich may be handed starts.

Injured duo, defenders Diego Llorente and Robin Koch, will definitely play no part.

Whoever does play a part, I expect this to be a tight affair with no shortage of goalmouth action. With Ancelotti and Bielsa on opposing sides, that probably goes without saying!

History

I was quite surprised when I read that Leeds held the upper hand in meetings between these two clubs, the first of which was back in 1924.

Since then, the Yorkshire club have triumphed on 52 occasions, including their most recent meeting – a 1-0 success at Goodison Park in late November.

Everton, who have won 33 of their clashes, with another 32 matches ending level.

Their last meeting in the top flight was in April 2004. A 1-1 draw at Elland Road, a match in which two young guns by the names of Wayne Rooney and James Milner scored the goals. Leeds were relegated a few weeks later.

Earlier that season, the Toffees had handed out a 4-0 tonking, courtesy of a Steve Watson hat-trick and a Duncan Ferguson goal.

Everton last won at Leeds in November 2002 when a certain Rooney netted the only goal, five minutes after coming on as a substitute.

The last time Leeds completed a league double over Everton was in 1990 when then newly-promoted side won 3-2 at Goodison Park before winning the return match 2-0.

Betting Tip

??
Leeds United vs Everton Total Goals 2-3 @ 2.05
February 4, 03:30 (GMT+8)

Much to my surprise, the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds make Leeds slight favourites for this one.

The hosts are available to back 1X2 @ 2.40 and Asian Handicap -0.50, also @ 2.40.

Everton can be tipped 1X2 @ 2.89 and with Asian Handicap odds 0.00 @ 2.13.

Another 1-0 Leeds success will payout @ 10.00 with the correct score bet, while a re-run of their last top flight meeting at Elland Road – Correct Score 1-1 – is on offer @ 6.40.

For that matter, the 1X2 draw @ 3.25 has a distinct appeal.

Goals are expected in this encounter, but how many you ask.

Well Total Goals 2-3 @ 2.05, Total Goals 4-6 @ 2.85 and Over 3.00 goals @ 2.07.

If you go for no goals – I don’t know if Bielsa teams can do goalless draws – then you will earn a payday of @ 15.00.

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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 4:01 PM (72 days ago)            #7
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Premier League: 5 Players Who Shattered Expectations in 2020/21

The Premier League is such an unpredictable place. Teams can go on surprising runs, and players would suddenly pop up out of nowhere and have spectacular seasons.

This 2020/21 campaign is no different as a number of players have significantly surpassed what most people thought they were going to do this year.

SBOTOP turns the spotlight on the five players who absolutely shattered expectations with their outstanding performances halfway through the Premier League season.

Luke Shaw, Manchester United

Manchester United have been massively exceeding expectations this season by staying right in the thick of the title race. The likes of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford have obviously been key to their robust Premier League 2021 odds to win the title, but left-back Luke Shaw also deserves a ton of credit as one of their top performers thus far.

It’s hard to believe Shaw has now been at Old Trafford for seven years. He came to United as a much-hyped teenager with a huge price tag, which he failed to live up to early on. Jose Mourinho clearly was not much of a fan.

But seven years in and United are finally seeing the best of Shaw. He has been one of United’s most consistent players this season with his contributions on both ends of the pitch. It took a while, but he has now blossomed into the player many tipped him to become when he was a promising teen.

Shaw’s fine form now puts him in strong contention to be part of Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad, which would have been highly improbable a year ago.

John Stones, Manchester City

Similarly, John Stones is suddenly looking like a potential starting centre-back for England at the Euros after reviving his career at Manchester City this season.

Stones looked so shaky at City and his consistent errors led to a loss of confidence in him by Pep Guardiola. Fernandinho played at centre-back over Stones for most of last season, and the arrivals of Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake in the summer seemed to signal the end for Stones at the Etihad.

But surprisingly, Stones has become a regular starter alongside Dias, with Aymeric Laporte now taking Stones’ place on the subs’ bench. Guardiola turned to Stones amid his change in system, and the 26-year-old has repaid the faith placed in him by producing consistently strong performances week in, week out.

The likes of Joao Cancelo and Ilkay Gundogan also deserve recognition for their suddenly key roles in City’s title challenge this season. But considering his lowly status last year, Stones’ resurrection at City is clearly the more surprising turn of events.

Bukayo Saka, Arsenal

Bukayo Saka’s breakout was one of the bright spots for Arsenal last season. At just 18, he got the chance to play regularly at left-back amid injuries to Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney, and he even scored 4 goals in 38 appearances.

But despite that promising season, few could have anticipated that the 19-year-old Saka would suddenly go on and become one of the Gunners’ most important players just a few months later.

Bukayo Saka’s Premier League performance for Arsenal has hailed him as a bona fide star by Gunners fans

Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring Arsenal’s second goal against Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium

Now playing in his more preferred advanced role these days, Saka has been arguably Arsenal’s Player of the Season thus far. He already has 5 goals with 2 assists in 18 Premier League appearances, with his pace and energy creating so many of the Gunners’ Premier League 2021 highlights.

His fine form and remarkable versatility have also earned him four England caps and is now a strong contender for a spot in the Euros squad.

Without Saka’s emergence, Arsenal would likely be in even worse shape in the league. The teenager has turned in a bona fide star, which has caught many Gunners fans and everyone else completely off-guard.

Tomas Soucek, West Ham United

West Ham have been the surprise team of the Premier League thus far — they are currently up in 5th place — and Tomas Soucek has been their surprise player of the season.

The 25-year-old came over from Slavia Prague last winter and had a decent return of 3 goals in 13 games. Soucek scored a couple of goals for Slavia in the Champions League that year, but no one could have expected the Czech midfielder to suddenly be an integral part of David Moyes’ system as the Hammers challenge for Champions League place this season.

Soucek is playing the role Marouane Fellaine made famous under Moyes years before at Everton as he makes late runs from midfield into the box and scores some crucial goals.

Needless to say, the Czech midfielder is a perfect fit for that role. He is currently the Hammers’ leading scorer with 7 goals and has just under half a season to score even more goals than anyone expected.

Patrick Bamford, Leeds United

After years of languishing in the lower leagues and struggling to live up to his early promise, Patrick Bamford finally found a home at Leeds as Marcelo Bielsa got the best out of him for the past two seasons. 

That was in the Championship, though. There were still serious doubts that Bamford would cut it in the Premier League, where he had failed to score even a single goal prior to this season.

But lo and behold, Bamford has been banging in the goals for Leeds. The 27-year-old now has 11 goals, tied for fourth in the league along with the likes of Jamie Vardy, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Bruno Fernandes. 

Bamford went on a bit of a barren spell to start 2021, but he broke out of that slump with a terrific performance in Leeds’ 3-1 win over Leicester where he scored a goal and assisted the other two.

Bamford has already blown away even the most optimistic expectations many had of him heading into the year, and he’s got half the season to exceed them even more.

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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 4:05 PM (72 days ago)            #8
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Premier League: Will the Hammers Continue to Exceed Expectations?

Aston Villa vs West Ham United

West Ham United plan to shrug off their last Premier League defeat against Liverpool when they visit Villa Park to face Aston Villa on Wednesday night.

The Hammers saw their four-game winning streak snapped by the defending champions and they will be eager to bounce back against the Villans, who have been inconsistent in their form for this past month.

Prior to last week’s loss, West Ham United have emerged as a nice surprise package as they have exceeded expectations in the 2020/21 season.

Normally placed around the top seven to top 10, David Moyes’ side moved up to the fifth spot with 35 points, which is two points over bigger clubs in Tottenham, Chelsea, and Everton.

As for Aston Villa, they were once on top of the table after their hot start this term. However, they had a rough patch and now they’ve fallen to the ninth spot with 32 points.

Dean Smith’s side will surely remember what happened when they locked horns against their visitors last December, but the question is whether they are capable of avenging their loss.

The SBOTOP betting odds point to a fun, close encounter ahead, so read on below as we present to you this match preview.

Talking Points

Is an European qualification within reach for Aston Villa?

The Villans may have fallen off of the top five but there is still enough time for them to make a run at it.

However, if they are going to do so, Aston Villa need to fix their act quickly to gather more favourable Premier League 2021 results and points.

Dean Smith is a renowned tactician and he has the credentials to instill a winning mentality to his men that are capable of outplaying their counterparts.

Jack Grealish, Ross Barkley, and Ollie Watkins have accounted for 20 goals and 12 assists so far, while the wing combination of Anwar El Ghazi and Bertrand Traore have already punched in 11 goals and two assists.

Last weekend, they were winners against Southampton in what was a tight affair.

Ross Barkley was the star of the night as he scored his first goal since returning from a hamstring injury which he suffered in late November.

Moreover, Smith believes that Barkley’s best is yet to come as he is still working towards reaching peak fitness levels.

Indeed, he will be a key part of a Villa team that is vying for an European qualification at the end of the season.

Ross Barkley's goal is enough to give Aston Villa all three points during their Premier League clash with Southampton

Aston Villa’s Ross Barkley celebrates scoring their first goal vs Southampton with Jack Grealish


 

West Ham to prove they are no fluke

Despite a roller coaster campaign, West Ham United remain as one of the best clubs in the 2020/21 season.

The Hammers are on a roll with four wins out of their last five, and their superb form has carried them over to the fifth place in the standings.

Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice have been integral cogs for David Moyes as their guile and control make them one of the best midfield pairings in the league.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Haller, Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio, and Pablo Fornals add toughness and firepower to their attacking front.

They’ve also added longtime Manchester United man Jesse Lingard via loan during the transfer window and his high work rate and pace would surely come in handy.

However, for them to seal their European qualification, the Hammers need to have more consistency at the backline as Crystal Palace and Liverpool exposed their shortcomings from that end in their last few fixtures.

History

The Hammers and the Villans have played for a total of 113 games prior to this upcoming contest.

West Ham United have the edge in the overall head-to-heads with 41 wins, while Aston Villa have won 34 times along with 38 draws.

The previous meeting between the two sides ended in a 2-1 victory for West Ham United last December 1.

Angelo Ogbonna and Jack Grealish exchanged goals in the first half. However, an early second half score by Jarrod Bowen propelled the Hammers to a victory.

Betting Tip

??
Aston Villa vs West Ham United 1X2 Draw @ 3.35
February 04, 04:15 (GMT+8)

The Premier League 2021 odds point to a close victory for Aston Villa since they are slightly favoured in the 1X2 market.

Aston Villa are priced at 2.23, while West Ham United are pegged at 3.10. But for this game, I am expecting for these two clubs to share the spoils at 3.35.

While West Ham United have the better overall record against Aston Villa, the home side can somehow even things up since they’ve built a fairly strong squad this season.

On paper, both are evenly matched and we can expect a low-scoring affair this Wednesday.

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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 4:07 PM (72 days ago)            #9
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Premier League: Spurs and Chelsea Battle for London Pride

Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea

This week’s round of Premier League fixtures finishes up with an intriguing clash on Thursday night when two London giants meet with work to do to appease their fans.

Premier League: Spurs vs Chelsea brings together two teams in a state of flux. They sit sixth and seventh in the league table, locked on 33 points (Spurs have a game in hand), after starts to the campaign which had their supporters dreaming of Champions League qualification or better. But changes at both clubs, a new head coach for Chelsea and an injury to Spurs’ best player, have dominated the news over the past week, and both need to overcome disruption and get back in the hunt for a top-four finish.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho faces the club he led to back-to-back league titles in his first stint as head coach at Stamford Bridge, while his opposite number Thomas Tuchel is about to take charge of his third match in the English league.

Talking Points

Spurs must find a way without Kane

Tottenham were spoken about as a potential league winner after they made a blistering start to the campaign, with the signing of old favourite Gareth Bale adding excitement in North London. Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son formed the most lethal partnership in Europe and they have reached 12 goals each. But the momentum gained has been lost in recent weeks.

An away trip to Brighton at the weekend should have been a game for Spurs to win, but the South coast strugglers shocked Mourinho’s team with a 1-0 victory, and that came quickly on the back of a humbling at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the hands of a resurgent Liverpool. But worse news for Mourinho was that Harry Kane injured his ankle against the Reds and Spurs were toothless when they faced the Seagulls three days later.

Kane shouldn’t be out for too long but, even if his absence is just a couple of games, Mourinho needs to find a way to win without him. Gareth Bale made a start against Brighton but was ineffective while Son looks lost without his mate.

Premier League: Harry Kane is currently suffering ankle injury

Harry Kane picks up an injury during Tottenham Hotspur’s match against Liverpool

The Spurs skipper has been out injured all too often and Mourinho can’t count on his fitness to hold his side up. Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura could both stake a claim with Dele Alli out of favour.

Can Tuchel get a tune out of Chelsea’s stars?

Former Blues’ head coach Frank Lampard fell on his sword having watched his expensively assembled team struggle to gel, particularly Bundesliga recruits Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, who started brightly but seem to have lost confidence.

Could Tuchel be the answer for Chelsea? Well the Blues certainly looked the part when they swept Burnley aside last Sunday, and the new boss has gained top-flight experience with Borussia Dortmund as well as handling the big egos at Paris Saint-Germain. He has a richly talented young squad at his disposal. Winger Hakim Ziyech also arrived in the summer and he has shown plenty of potential while, of the existing crop at the Bridge, Christian Pulisic should be able to recover his form of his debut season. Tammy Abraham is top-scoring with six goals and Ben Chilwell has made four assists.

Tuchel can call on the experience of Olivier Giroud, and if he can get the best out of young midfield star Mason Mount he will be halfway there.

The Spurs vs Chelsea betting odds give the Blues a clear edge, at odds of 2.18 to win, and seven points from three games would represent a very good start for the new man.

History

Chelsea have dominated the head to heads between these two teams, since the start of the Premier League, winning 34 of 64 meetings while Spurs have won just ten and there have been 20 draws.

Last season the Blues did the double over their London rivals, with a 2-1 win at home and 2-0 away. Spurs have had more success this season though, playing out a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge in November and, back in September, Mourinho sent his old club packing in the EFL cup. At that stage of the season Werner was in more confident form and he scored, before Erik Lamela grabbed a late equaliser for the Whites.

Mount missed the decisive spot-kick as Spurs won 5-4 on penalties.

Form over the past five league games is identical, with each side registering two victories, two defeats and a draw. Seven points from five games is upper-mid table form, and while Spurs and Chelsea currently sit in sixth and seventh, Everton too are on 33 points and with two games in hand on Tuchel’s Blues.

Betting Tip

??

Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea Chelsea Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 1.93
February 5, 04:00 (GMT+8)

We’ll be back again on Thursday night (UK time) with all the Spurs vs Chelsea updates in a game which should have plenty of action. 

With Spurs at SBOTOP odds of 3.21 and the draw at 3.06 all three outcomes are well in play, but I’m backing both teams to continue their form of the last week and Chelsea to come out on top.

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03-Feb 2021 Wednesday 4:09 PM (72 days ago)            #10
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Premier League: Red Devils Roll to Record Win Over Nine-Man Saints

Manchester United 9-0 Southampton

Manchester United have made more Premier League history as they smashed struggling Southampton 9-0, which tied the record they share for the largest win ever in the Premier League.

The win sees United jump back into second place, tied on 44 points with rivals Man City, who still have two more games in hand.

Saints’ Swiss teenager Alex Jankewitz was sent off just two minutes into his first career Premier League start, and United took full advantage by scoring four goals inside the first 40 minutes.

The Red Devils then added five more goals in the last 20-plus minutes to condemn Southampton to their fourth-straight league defeat and their second 9-0 humiliation in as many seasons.

Highlights of the game

Anthony Martial scored twice during the Premier League match against Southampton

Anthony Martial scores his second goal against Southampton during a Premier League game at Old Trafford

Southampton came into Old Trafford on a disappointing run of form, winning just once in their last eight games. And their Premier League 2021 odds of picking up a victory over United dropped significantly as 19-year-old Alex Jankewitz was shown a red card just two minutes into the match for his horrible tackle on Scott McTominay.

It was a disastrous start for the Saints and their Swiss teen, who will not remember his first career Premier League start fondly.

It took some time, but United eventually broke through and took the lead on 18 minutes through Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The right-back made a great run into the six-yard box to get on the end of left-back Luke Shaw’s dangerous cross.

United would double their advantage seven minutes later. After receiving a clever pass from Shaw down the left, Mason Greenwood cut the ball back to Marcus Rashford, who slotted past Alex McCarthy.

Southampton had a good chance to pull one back right away through a trademark James Ward-Prowse free kick, but David de Gea was able to react quickly and punched the shot over the bar.

But United sealed the win with their third goal on 34 minutes as Saints defender Jan Bednarek inadvertently redirected a Rashford cross into his own net.

Edinson Cavani added the finishing touches to the flurry of first-half scoring with United’s fourth on 40 minutes. The Uruguayan, who missed a couple of great chances in their goalless draw against Arsenal, made no mistake this time as he headed home another good cross from Shaw.

Southampton thought they had scored a consolation goal through Che Adams nine minutes into the second half. But just like in their loss to Aston Villa, Saints had another goal chalked off by VAR due to the most fractional of offside calls.

United would restart the scoring on 69 minutes as Anthony Martial, who came on at half-time, got a much-needed goal to boost his waning confidence. McTominay then added a sixth three minutes later with a beautiful long-range strike.

Martial missed a great chance to get his second after shooting wide in a one-on-one situation. But he would play a big part in United’s seventh goal four minutes from time.

Bednarek was adjudged to have brought the Frenchman down in the box despite seemingly minimal contact. But after a long look at the monitor, Mike Dean upheld his penalty call and also sent the Saints defender off for his trouble. Bruno Fernandes stepped up to score from the spot yet again.

Saints’ suffering wasn’t quite done, though. Martial added more insult to injury by scoring his second in the 90th minute. And fellow sub Daniel James joined the scoring party by tapping in United’s ninth with virtually the last touch of the game.

Key statistics

It was a remarkable match from a historical perspective. For United, they now have two of the three biggest wins in Premier League history. They initially set the record with their 9-0 victory against Ipswich in 1995, which was also at Old Trafford.

Leicester are the other Premier League team to win by nine goals and the only one to do so away from home. And they achieved that feat against Southampton last season.

After going five straight Premier League games without a goal or an assist, Bruno Fernandes got back on track with a goal and two assists. The Portuguese penalty expert has now scored in 16 of his 17 spot kicks for United.

Meanwhile, Martial finally created some Premier League 2021 highlights by ending his eight-match scoring drought in all competitions. Luke Shaw, who has greatly exceeded expectations this season, also had a brilliant match with two assists against his old club.

What’s next?

Man United have a couple more matches at Old Trafford over the next week. They will look to continue their title challenge when they take on Everton this weekend. Then they host West Ham in their fifth-round FA Cup tie in midweek.

SBOTOP odds currently have United at 5.50 to win the cup, but David Moyes’ Hammers figure to be quite a dangerous foe.

As for Southampton, they will look to bounce back from this latest embarrassment when they face Newcastle this weekend. After that, they have back-to-back matches coming up against Wolves, first in the FA Cup at Molineux, then in the league at St. Mary’s.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
 

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08-Feb 2021 Monday 2:35 PM (67 days ago)            #11
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Premier League: Ancelotti’s Aces Upwardly Mobile

Leeds United 1-2 Everton

Up to sixth in the Premier League, the Carlo Ancelotti effect at Everton is clear for all to see.

Yes, there have been ups and downs, peaks and troughs, but nearly 14 months in, there is clear evidence of progress for the Toffees who can move up into fourth spot if they win their two games in hand.

Two first-half Premier League 2021 highlights at Elland Road were enough to seal a 2-1 success in this one and avenge their loss in the reverse fixture against the Yorkshire club earlier in the season.

Highlights of the game

Raphinha scores for Leeds United in the 48th minute during a Premier League match versus Everton

Leeds United’s Raphinha in action with Everton’s Mason Holgate and Gylfi Sigurdsson during a recent match at Elland Road

Leeds United, playing at home for only the second time in seven matches in all competitions, made just one change from the side that defeated Leicester 3-1 on Sunday as Mateusz Klich came in and Spanish international Rodrigo missed out altogether.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was absent for Everton after sustaining a rib injury in the 2-0 home loss to Newcastle on Saturday so Robin Olsen, on loan from Roma, was selected for only his third appearance in the Premier League.

There was surprise for this SBOTOP observer elsewhere as Seamus Coleman, Michael Keane and James Rodriguez dropped to the bench, — perhaps with a weekend trip to Old Trafford in mind — as Mason Holgate, Ben Godfrey and Andre Gomes all started.

Fabian Delph returned for the first time in two months to take a place on the bench where he was joined by striker Joshua King, signed on a deal until the end of the season from Bournemouth on transfer deadline day.

The Premier League betting 2021 odds saw these two sides as evenly matched.

Leeds were looking to complete a league double over Everton for the first time since 1990-91, when they were a newly-promoted side. The visitors, meanwhile, were looking to win here for the first time since 2002 when a young teenager by the name of Wayne Rooney netted the only goal just five minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Indeed, after winning just one of their past 37 top-flight trips to Elland Road, they must have been delighted by their start as they led just nine minutes in.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was left unmarked and the Icelandic international steered in the opener from Lucas Digne’s pinpoint low cross.

Ezgjan Alioski volleyed against the post and Olsen had to acrobatically tip over a Pascal Struijk header as the home side chased an immediate response but it was Everton who struck again just before the break.

One of the most improved players in the top-flight this year, Dominic Calvert-Lewin grabbed his 12th Premier League goal of the campaign with a close-range diving header after Godfrey had flicked on Sigurdsson’s left-wing corner.

To their credit, the home side remained determined and were rewarded within three minutes of the restart as Raphinha – who scored the winner at Goodison Park in November – finished coolly from a Patrick Bamford pass.

After that, Olsen took centre stage as the Swedish international saved from Klich and Struijk and then breathed a sigh of relief as a long-range volley from Alioski struck the post.

Not that it was all one way as Illan Meslier had to be alert to prevent Calvert-Lewin from adding his second of the night after a quick counter-attack. For Leeds then some plaudits; for Everton, far more importantly, the points.

Key statistics

This was the 100th top-flight fixture between the sides. The Toffees have now won four consecutive away league games for the first time since December 1985. In total, Everton have recorded seven victories from 10 away fixtures in the league so far this term.

Calvert-Lewin has scored nine headed goals in the Premier League since the start of last season; the only player in Europe’s top five leagues with more over this period is Robert Lewandowski (12).

Digne has six assists in the Premier League this term, the most of any defender. Leeds have conceded 17 goals via set-pieces in the Premier League this season (including penalties), the most of any side.

They have also lost five of their 10 league matches at Elland Road this season (won three, drew two) – a Marcelo Bielsa side last lost more home league matches in a single campaign in 2012-13 with Athletic Bilbao in La Liga (eight).

Despite that, the Whites have already surpassed their total of eight victories in their previous Premier League season in 2003-04.

What’s next?

Leeds are next in action at home to Crystal Palace on Monday (Feb 8) before a trip to Arsenal on February 14.

Meanwhile, a visit to Old Trafford awaits the Merseysiders on Saturday night (February 6) who then host Spurs in the fifth round of the FA Cup a week tonight.

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08-Feb 2021 Monday 2:40 PM (67 days ago)            #12
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Premier League: 13 is Lucky for Super City!

Burnley 0-2 Manchester City

Manchester City went three points clear at the top of the Premier League tonight with a comfortable victory over Burnley at Turf Moor, a 13th consecutive win in all competitions.

An early goal from Gabriel Jesus put the Sky Blues in charge and Raheem Sterling doubled the lead before half time as Pep Guardiola’s side collected another three points. In recent years this fixture has been a nightmare for Burnley, with a sequence of 5-0 defeats lowering their fans’ expectations. The Clarets have recovered from an injury-ravaged start to the season, but they started this game without five first-string players, including strike duo Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, so it was always going to be an uphill battle for Sean Dyche’s men.

Here at SBOTOP, we predicted a narrower win for the Sky Blues and 2-0 fit the bill, but it could have been a few more and for that Burnley will be grateful.

Highlights of the game

With the absence of Kevin de Bruyne suffering from a hamstring injury, City didn’t find it easy to break down Chelmsford, Aston Villa and Sheffield United in recent games, and tonight they were facing a tough defence. But it only took them three minutes to breach the Clarets rearguard when Gabriel Jesus headed the Sky Blues into the lead. Raheem Sterling skipped past Matt Lowton and crossed for Bernardo Silva and his shot was parried away into the path of Jesus who nodded home.

Burnley keeper Nick Pope has a strong case to be England’s number one at Euro 2020 this summer, but he will have been disappointed with his effort there.

Raheem Sterling sealed the win for the Premier League table leaders

Raheem Sterling scores Manchester City’s second goal of the match

The Clarets slowly worked their way into the game and contained the hungry City attack, but they were undone again just before half time when Mahrez fed Ilkay Gundogan, and he fired a ball into the danger area where Sterling was on hand to slot home.

The league leaders were coasting. They had cut the Burnley defence open twice and converted twice, and they almost went 3-0 up early in the second half when Sterling was clean through on goal, but Pope made himself big and saved. Mahrez had the ball in the net but was flagged offside, and then Burnley had a rare attempt on goal when Matej Vydra collected a cross from Ashley Westwood and cleverly brought the ball down before smashing a volley just wide.

City should have had a penalty when James Tarkowski clipped Jesus’ heels but VAR was unimpressed, and the Sky Blues…and the Clarets settled for two.

Key statistics

Manchester City enjoy playing against Burnley; they have won this fixture by an aggregate of 28 to 1 over the last eight meetings, and the best news for the Clarets is that they only have to play the Sky Blues twice a year!

Take a look at the latest Premier League 2021 betting odds and they are backing Pep Guardiola’s side to win the 2020/21 title for a number of reasons:

  • City have won 13 games on the bounce
  • They have conceded just one goal in the last nine games, and have kept six consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League
  • The Sky Blues are unbeaten in 20 games
  • They are on this incredible run of form without De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.

What’s next?

The midweek Premier League fixtures conclude tomorrow night when Spurs host Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea, and then we head into the weekend with another full set of matches to enjoy and we’ll be back with the big Premier League 2021 news and updates as the games approach.

Sunday’s match of the day pits Manchester City against the resurgent Liverpool at Anfield, in a clash which could see the Sky Blues pull away from the chasing pack. Then the Pep’s side heads off to South Wales to face Swansea City in the FA Cup.

Burnley have a big home game against Brighton on Saturday when a victory would put further distance between them and the relegation zone, and then they have an FA Cup 5th Round clash against Championship high flyer Bournemouth.

City were superb tonight, and Burnley will be glad to move forward to games they have a good chance of winning!

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08-Feb 2021 Monday 2:43 PM (67 days ago)            #13
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Premier League: West Ham Ready to Do Derby Double over Fulham

Fulham vs West Ham United

The top London club in the Premier League table will take on the capital’s lowest-placed side when West Ham United and Fulham clash for a London derby at Craven Cottage.

The Hammers are still flying high in fifth place after another impressive win at Aston Villa in midweek. Meanwhile, 18th-placed Fulham fell to Leicester City as they remain eight points from safety.

David Moyes’ side has been playing with more attacking potency in recent weeks, and the Premier League 2021 odds will have them favoured against a Fulham side that is still finding it tough to score goals.

Talking Points

Fulham momentum fading

Fulham’s survival bid took another hit as they fell 2-0 at home to Leicester City in midweek. First-half goals from Kelechi Iheanacho and James Justin condemned the Cottagers to their third defeat in their last five matches and extended their winless drought to 11 league matches (7 draws, 4 defeats).

Scott Parker’s side was suddenly looking more competitive after a change to a more conservative formation saw them go on a run of five straight draws.

But over the last few games, Parker has opted for a more attacking 3-4-3 formation in a bid to add goals and attacking production to his side. The Cottagers controlled 57 per cent of possession against Leicester but were still outshot, 9-8.

Fulham are winless in their last nineteen Premier League London derbies

Aleksandar Mitrovic during the warm up before their match against West Bromwich Albion

Aleksandar Mitrovic contributed three of their shots but was again unable to provide a goal. The Serbian striker has had a disappointing season, scoring just 2 goals in his 17 Premier League appearances.

Fulham have signed striker Josh Maja on loan from Bordeaux to try and bolster their attacking options, but it seems unlikely the 22-year-old can make much of a difference. He had also scored just 2 goals in 17 appearances in France’s Ligue 1 this season.

With Mitrovic misfiring, Parker could choose to shake things up by bringing Ivan Cavaleiro and Bobby De Cordova-Reid back in the starting line-up. The two scored in their 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion.

Hammers’ attack coming alive

West Ham’s terrific run of Premier League 2021 results continues. They bounced back from their 3-1 home defeat to Liverpool by grabbing a 3-1 away win at Aston Villa in midweek.

Tomas Soucek, who has shattered expectations this season with his brilliant performances, gave the Hammers the lead. Then, on-loan Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard bagged a brace in a brilliant debut.

The Hammers have now won seven of their eight matches this calendar year, including five of six in the league.

David Moyes has his side playing with so much confidence at the moment. It’s particularly encouraging to West Ham fans that Moyes now has the team playing with more attacking intent. The Hammers have scored three goals in two of their last three league games while attempting 17 or more shots on both occasions.

Soucek has been in sensational scoring form this season with a team-leading 8 goals, while Michail Antonio has also been a significant contributor (2 goals, 3 assists in his last 5 games).

Said Benrahma has quickly established himself as a regular starter thanks to a string of fine performances, and Lingard’s arrival now figures to add more depth in the attacking midfield places along with Jarrod Bowen and Pablo Fornals.

Defender Ryan Fredricks got the surprise start on the right against Aston Villa, presumably to provide added defensive cover for Jack Grealish. But Bowen is likely to return to the right wing against Fulham.

History

West Ham have dominated Fulham in their recent derby meetings. The Hammers have a significant 10-3 advantage in terms of wins, with 3 draws.

West Ham won their first meeting this season at London Stadium 1-0 thanks to a stoppage-time winner from Soucek. The Hammers also did the double over Fulham the last time they were in the Premier League in 2018-19. They won 2-0 in their last visit to Craven Cottage, with Michail Antonio getting on the scoresheet.

Betting Tip

??
Fulham vs West Ham United 1X2 West Ham United @ 2.13
February 7, 01:30 (GMT+8)

SBOTOP odds have West Ham installed as 2.13 favourites to beat Fulham, who are priced at 3.40 to pull off the upset win at Craven Cottage. A draw is 3.15.

It’s hard to go against West Ham in the form they’re currently in. Their attack is firing on all cylinders with Moyes giving his side the license to turn on the style.

The fact that Fulham have started to open themselves up more in recent games to score goals also bodes well for the Hammers, who should find it easier to break the Cottagers down. Look for West Ham to add another win to their growing collection in 2021.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:41 PM (66 days ago)            #14
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Premier League: Red Devils and Toffees Ready to Rumble

Manchester United vs Everton

This weekend pitches the Big Four of the North West together, as Manchester United host Everton, while Manchester City head to Anfield to face Liverpool.

The Saturday night offering is United vs the Toffees and it’s a game both will fancy.

The Red Devils have genuine hopes of winning a first Premier League since 2013 and they will greet Everton on the back of a 9-0 hammering of Southampton. The Toffees worked harder for a win away to Leeds United, but they have been impressive on the road recently.

So when managers Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Carlo Ancelotti bump elbows at the start of the game we can expect a hard fought 90 minutes.

Talking Points

United must protect Fernandes

The Red Devils put on a show of attacking prowess and clinical finishing against the nine men of Southampton, who suffered their second 9-0 drubbing in consecutive seasons, having been put to the sword by Leicester City in the 2019/20 campaign. United were already sharing the Premier League record with the Foxes, having first posted a 9-0 in 1995 when they thrashed Ipswich.

Bruno Fernandes increased his tally to 12 goals with a second half penalty against the Saints, while Edinson Cavani was also on the score sheet, making it five goals in the league for the Red Devils. Fernandes has spectacular stats at Old Trafford since he arrived in January 2020, and he has also added nine assists this campaign. But he looked a little jaded in the recent games against Burnley and Sheffield United so his team-mates need to take some of the weight off his shoulders.

Paul Pogba has looked more interested in recent weeks and has added some steel to his game, and the Red Devils are finally seeing the best of wing-back Luke Shaw, who is having his best campaign yet since his arrival at Old Trafford, seven years ago.

Following Liverpool’s shock defeat to Brighton on Wednesday night, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team has been installed as second favourites to win the league; but the Premier League 2021 betting odds are stacked heavily in favour of Manchester City.

So United fans have a tricky dilemma in terms of who to support when the Sky Blues head to Anfield in Sunday!

Don’t rule out Everton for a top four place

Carlo Ancelotti has had a big impact on Everton since his arrival, and while their Premier League 2021 results have been a little inconsistent in recent weeks, a fast start to the campaign has ensured the Toffees stay in the mix. They currently sit in sixth position on 36 points, and just four behind neighbours Liverpool with two games in hand. Victory over United and a win for Manchester City on Sunday will leave Ancelotti’s men breathing down the necks of their local rivals and that’s a huge incentive.

After a spectacular start to the campaign Dominic Calvert-Lewin has struggled to keep up with his early season pace but he was on target with a close range header in the win over Leeds to make it 12 for the season, and he will hope to receive the service he thrives on when he comes up against Harry Maguire in the United defence.

Everton aim to get closer to the Premier League top four place when they face Manchester United

Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates with Lucas Digne after scoring their first goal against Leeds United

The return of wing-back Lucas Digne from injury is a major boost for Everton. He made his sixth assist of the season against Leeds, setting up Gylfi Sigurdsson for Everton’s opener.

History

Both teams are Premier League ever-presents and have played 60 matches since 1993, with the Red Devils well in charge, winning 39 to Everton’s nine, and there have been 12 draws.

Manchester United won the recent EFL Cup quarter final clash when an 88th minute screamer from Cavani broke the deadlock, before Anthony Martial scored in the 96th minute. Solskjaer’s men also won, 3-1, at Goodison Park earlier in the campaign. Both games were drawn last season, but in the 2018/19 league the Toffees stunned United with a 4-0 hammering.

When playing at home, Manchester United have not lost to Everton in seven encounters, while the Toffees are on a winning streak of four matches away from home.

Betting Tip

??
Manchester United vs Everton Everton Asian Handicap +1.00 @ 2.00
February 7, 04:00 (GMT+8)

With United at 1.53 to win and the draw at SBOTOP odds of 3.88, an Everton victory is the outside bet at odds of 5.41. But, while the Toffees stuttered last week against Newcastle they responded well against Leeds and they will be up for this match.

And while United beat the Saints 9-0, they picked up just one point from their previous two games and I expect a tight encounter here.

1-0 is the most likely score-line at odds of 7.12; with a 1-1 draw at 7.52.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:44 PM (66 days ago)            #15
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Premier League: Leeds and Palace Aim for Top Ten

Leeds United vs Crystal Palace

Two of the top flight’s upwardly mobile teams are set to meet on Monday night as the Premier League Leeds United vs Crystal Palace is the treat on offer to round off the weekend’s football.

Both teams have put plenty of distance between themselves and the drop zone and, with the two locked together on 29 points in 11th and 13th place, the winner can climb into the top ten, should Arsenal and Southampton both falter at the weekend.

Leeds come into the game in good form, but on the back of a narrow defeat to high-flying Everton, while the Eagles have picked up six points from their last two games.

Here at SBOTOP we’re backing the Whites to edge a tight contest, but all three results are in the game and it should be a fascinating, and definitely entertaining tussle.

Talking Points

Bamford is the real deal

Leeds have been playing an attractive brand of football in their first season back in England’s top division and striker Patrick Bamford has been the main beneficiary, scoring 11 goals.

Bamford has certainly confounded his critics this season. He spent four seasons plying his trade in the Championship with sporadic loan spells at Premier League clubs, where he didn’t get much of a chance.

But Bielsa has shown great faith in the former Chelsea academy player and Bamford has responded with a sequence of confident and clinical displays, scoring some brilliant goals which have put him up amongst the Premier League’s best strikers.

He’s currently joint-sixth alongside last season’s Golden Boot winner, Jamie Vardy, and a single goal behind the group of players in second, which includes Harry Kane, while Mo Salah leads the pack.

Bielsa has revolutionised the club since his arrival in 2018, taking it from a stodgy mid-table Championship team to an expansive and free-flowing attacking side in the Premier League.

The 65-year-old Argentinian is keen to share the credit for the club’s success with his players. Alongside Bamford, defenders Liam Cooper and Luke Ayling have stepped up superbly to life in the top flight, and the new recruits are contributing too.

Jack Harrison, on loan from Manchester City, has five goals and is growing into one of the league’s most skilful players while Raphinha showed his class with a lovely finish against Everton.

Zaha so important for Crystal Palace

Back-to-back victories against Wolves and Newcastle United have eased any lingering worries that the Eagles would be dragged into a relegation battle. But while Leeds have a plethora of creative players, Palace rely heavily on one man.

Crystal Palace rely heavily on Wilfried Zaha as the forward contributed nine goals this season in Premier League

Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha walks off after sustaining an injury during their clash against Newcastle United

Much of the pre-match Leeds vs Crystal Palace news surrounds the fitness of the Eagles’ talisman, Wilfried Zaha. He has nine goals so far this season and his team has a much higher win ratio when he is in the starting 11. But he limped off during Palace’s victory over Newcastle and is in a race to be fit for the clash with Leeds.

Of course, Crystal Palace isn’t a one-man team; winger Andros Townsend has proven Premier League quality, while summer recruit Eberechi Eze is an exciting prospect. The attacking midfielder is a fearless runner at defences and he has already weighed in with three goals and three assists.

Meanwhile, centre-back Gary Cahill has added experience and stability to the Eagles backline alongside Scott Dann, and he scored his first goal since 2018 in the victory away to Newcastle, converting a cross from Eze.

History

Leeds are a tough team to beat at Elland Road, particularly when their passionate fans are raising the roof. They have a good record against their opponents, winning ten matches to Crystal Palace’s five, while there have been two draws in all meetings since 1994.

The Whites are unbeaten at home to the Eagles in five games and they will be looking for revenge. Palace thumped Leeds at 4-1 in November as Eze put in a man-of-the match performance, teeing up Dann for a goal and then scoring his first of the season with a brilliant free-kick.

Betting Tip

??
Leeds United vs Crystal Palace Total Goals 2-3 @ 2.05
February 9, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The latest Leeds vs Crystal Palace betting odds back the hosts to win, at odds of 1.74, while the Eagles are at 3.84 with the draw at 3.44.

Bielsa’s team was unlucky to lose to Everton, but Roy Hodgson is a fine coach and his Palace team is hitting form, though much depends on the fitness of Zaha. I can see a 1-1 draw or a victory for someone by the odd goal in three; and that could mean a top ten place.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:50 PM (66 days ago)            #16
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Premier League: Tuchel’s Chelsea are Too Good For Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Chelsea

Chelsea climbed up to sixth place in the Premier League table and back into European contention tonight after beating Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Jorginho gave the Blues a first-half lead from the penalty spot after Eric Dier had fouled Timo Werner. And while Chelsea continued to dominate, that was all it took to beat a lacklustre Spurs.

Tuchel’s task is to get the best out of Chelsea’s talented stars and they looked good tonight – smart on the ball and quick on the press. But Jose Mourinho has some thinking to do after Tottenham simply weren’t able to compete.

Highlights of the game

Chelsea almost scored straight from the kick-off when Cesar Azpilicueta chipped a searching ball forward which Timo Werner met and glanced his header just over the bar.

That set the tone for the half as Callum Hudson-Odoi caused plenty of problems down the right flank and the Blues took control.

They made it count midway through the first 45 when Azpilicueta found Werner again and this time the German striker got the better of Eric Dier who went to ground and felled the Chelsea man, giving referee Andre Marriner an easy decision to award a spot-kick.

Chelsea grab the Premier League win over Tottenham

Jorginho gives Chelsea their lone goal of the match from the penalty spot

Jorginho stepped up and slammed the ball low into the left corner beyond the reach of Hugo Lloris who had guessed the right way. It was the Italian’s fourth goal of the Premier League season all from the penalty spot.

The Blues continued to dominate but Mason Mount fired wide when his chance came.

Chelsea were playing the game just how they wanted to – passing the ball at ease and running rings around Spurs who must have been happy to go into the break just a single goal down.

Hudson-Odoi had a chance early in the second half but he fired wide, while Mount continued to control the game in the middle of the park. And he gave Mateo Kovacic an opening, but this time Dier made an excellent block.

Tuchel made a change with a quarter of the game to play by bringing on Christian Pulisic for the third time in his three games in charge. And when the American tried to get on the end of a Mount cross, Lloris had to be alert to punch clear.

Then Mount combined well with Werner before unleashing a drive which Lloris had to get down to smartly to save.

Edouard Mendy finally had some work to do with 10 minutes remaining when Erik Lamela tried to curl a shot into the bottom corner but the Chelsea keeper saved well.

And that sparked a little flurry from Spurs, as Serge Aurier tested Mendy with a cross and Lucas Moura firing a shot over the bar before Vinicius headed an effort wide.

But it takes more than 10 minutes effort to beat Tuchel’s Chelsea.

Key statistics

The pre-match SBOTOP gave Blues a clear edge at odds of 2.18 to win and they controlled the game with ease until Spurs awoke very late in the game.

Chelsea had 60-per cent possession and won the shot count by 17 to six.

Of course, Mourinho was manager of Chelsea when they won back-to-back Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006, but he hasn’t won as a manager against the Blues in his last seven attempts.

This was the first time in his career that he has lost back-to-back home league matches, following a loss to Liverpool last week.

Spurs have a real problem when Harry Kane isn’t playing. They have won just three of their last 14 games without their skipper and they were poor for the first 80 minutes tonight.

It was a fine win for Chelsea, having lost four of their previous five away games in the Premier League.

What’s next?

Spurs’ next appointment is another home fixture, but this time against struggling West Brom.

Sam Allardyce has been called into the Hawthorns to attempt an escape act, and true to form, he has been spending.

He brought in Robert Snodgrass and Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but the Baggies have lost five from the last seven games and are in deep trouble.

The Blues have a tough test on Sunday when they head up to Yorkshire to meet Chris Wilders’ Sheffield United.

The Blades have spent the entire season in the drop zone with the vast majority of it rock bottom.

But they are still fighting with dramatically improved Premier League 2021 resultsbywinning three from five, including a 2-1 victory over West Brom which has lifted them to within a point of the 19th placed Baggies.

The latest Premier League 2021 betting odds back both the Blades and the Baggies to take the drop, but while there’s hope they will battle on.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:53 PM (66 days ago)            #17
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Premier League: Will the Wolves Outfox the Foxes at Home?

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Leicester City

A fun Premier League fixture awaits us as Leicester City visit the Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux this weekend.

Leicester City, who are currently in the third spot at the table with 42 points, will be aiming to inch closer to the top by picking up three points. However, the Wolves are in their way trying to do the same thing as well.

It wasn’t too long ago when these two sides are neck-and-neck at the standings, but a lot has changed since last term.

The Foxes have made an unlikely run to the championship because of their favourable Premier League 2021 results and some luck, while the Wolves have been sliding down because of their players’ drop in form.

Leicester City were impressive in their midweek triumph versus Fulham and they’ll be optimistic for a similar result here.

Meanwhile, the Wolves picked up a much-needed victory against Arsenal and Nuno Espirito Santo will be hoping that it can reignite their 2020/21 campaign.

Recent matches between the Wolves and the Foxes are normally close affairs, so this Sunday clash is considered a must-see on TV.

Without further ado, this is the match preview courtesy of SBOTOP.

Talking Points

Can the Wolverhampton Wanderers turn things around?

Joao Moutinho celebrates with his Wolves teammates after scoring a Premier League goal

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Joao Moutinho celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates

Injuries and fatigue took a toll on the Wolves as they have been playing a subpar style of football.

The Wolverhampton Wanderers have only won once in their last five league games and they have yet to establish their identity this season.

The absence of Raul Jimenez hurts big time as he was their one of their best attacking threats with four goals and four assists. Meanwhile, the likes of Adama Traore, Joao Moutinho, and summer signing Fabio Silva aren’t playing up to their potential.

Nuno Espirito Santo can’t seem to figure out the proper playstyle suited for his men as of the moment.

On some days, they would score goals in bunches while conceding some. But in most cases, they appear to be gun-shy as the shots on target are hard to come by.

Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, and Ruben Neves have been trying to hold it down by tallying 10 goals and seven assists. But it’s clear that they will need more support to improve their campaign.

A win over Arsenal should somehow give them a confidence boost. However, I’m not sure that will be enough when the cheeky Foxes visit town.

Leicester City welcome back key players

It’s commendable that Leicester City are in the position they’re in right now considering the injury woes that they’ve went through.

Top striker Jamie Vardy was out for several weeks due to an hernia injury, while defencive midfielder Wilfred Ndidi had a minor tear in his hamstring that sidelined him for a couple of fixtures.

Having those two back is definitely good news for Leicester City especially since they have been playing well even without them.

They have only lost once in their last five and several players have stepped up to fill in the void.

Kelechi Iheanacho scored his first Premier League goal of the season during their victory over Fulham, while the midfield duo of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans has been the fulcrum of their offence.

With Vardy and Ndidi likely available, Rodgers will have the luxury of tinkering his lineup since they will be bombarded by fixtures in the next couple of weeks.

History

The overall head-to-head matchup is pretty much even between the Wolves and the Foxes.

In their 22 games together, both have won six games each along with 10 draws.

For the last five games, the Wolves and the Foxes have split for one win apiece along with three straight draws.

Four out of those five games only saw one goal from Leicester City, and the only high-scoring affair came last January 2019 in what was a seven-goal thriller.

Betting Tip

??
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Leicester City Under 2.50 @ 1.68
February 07, 10:00 (GMT+8)

Seeing the trend of their recent meetings, the Premier League 2021 odds point to another close tiff.

Leicester City are pegged at 2.27 to win, while the Wolverhampton Wanderers are closely priced at 3.25 and chances for a draw are at 3.20 in the 1X2 market.

However, the real value for this game comes from their possible goal count. And since both have engaged in a couple of grinded-out contests recently, I am expecting the same by going for Under 2.50 @ 1.97.

With Jamie Vardy and Wilfred Ndidi both upgraded as probable, Leicester City look to have more options at the attack that would help them secure the victory.

But facing the hosts on the road won’t be a walk in the park, and the Foxes should have no room for complacency in order to avoid any slip-ups.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 4:06 PM (66 days ago)            #18
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Premier League: Title Race Pressure Gets to Klopp Ahead of Anfield Showdown

Liverpool vs Manchester City

The top two teams in the Premier League for the past two and a half years are preparing to do battle again.

Both sides will be missing key men, both sides will again not be cheered on (or heckled) by fans.

Yet when the clubs with the best two squads in the country have clashed in recent seasons, Premier League highlights have largely been the norm.

That should be no different this time, despite what may well be a surreal atmosphere.

Talking Points

Certainly, in this most unusual of campaigns, the frustrations of one of the managers has been clear in the build-up.

No doubt the fact that Manchester City are currently seven points clear of defending champions Liverpool, with a game in hand, had something to do with comments by Jurgen Klopp earlier today – remarks which his counterpart Pep Guardiola described as disingenuous mind games.

Indeed, so baffled was the City coach that he plans to bring the subject up on Sunday when these two meet on the touchline.

It was an unnecessary barb from the German who, not for the first time this season, has shown an obtuse side to his nature when things are not going as he wishes (he’s far from alone in that, of course).

Klopp had claimed that City had a “two-week break” just over a month ago following a coronavirus outbreak at the club.

Yes, City closed their training ground for two days around the postponement of their Premier League meeting at Everton on December 28 but the Premier League leaders returned to action against Chelsea less than a week later, with six first-team players absent as a result of the outbreak.

Klopp then outlined why he believed fatigue was playing a part in Liverpool’s indifferent form which has undermined their title defence.

While his frustration is understandable given his own side is hampered by major injuries in the centre of defence, he would do well to remember that, unlike their visitors on Sunday, his own side had a much longer pre-season and were able to rest players from late July, unlike City whose last competitive game was in mid- August before they returned to league action little over a month later.

A disappointed Guardiola joked the apparent break was a key factor behind his side’s 13-game winning run in all competitions, which began with victory at Southampton on December 19.

‘I’m surprised, I thought Jurgen was not that type,’ and it will be an interesting dynamic when they meet this weekend.

On the pitch, of course, is where the match will be won and Liverpool will monitor injury doubts Sadio Mane and Fabinho in the hope they are passed fit.

Goalkeeper Alisson, who missed the midweek defeat to Brighton, may also return following illness, while new signing Ozan Kabak is available, though he is unlikely to start so soon after joining on loan.

Guardiola has reported no new injuries, although remains without his two best attacking talents in Sergio Aguero and footballer of the year, Kevin de Bruyne.

So that is the backdrop; now for the football.

History

When they met three months ago it was honours even, on a day when the usually reliable Kevin de Bruyne and City were to rue a missed penalty in a 1-1 draw.

Both last season’s matches were compelling for different reasons – even if only one really mattered.

Can Kevin De Bruyne redeem himself and score against Liverpool in their upcoming Premier League clash?

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne failed to score against Liverpool last reverse fixture this season

Liverpool’s 3-1 success at Anfield effectively ended the title race as the Merseysiders opened up a nine-point gap that only increased as the campaign progressed.

In the return fixture, the first since Liverpool were confirmed as champions, City thrashed them 4-0 with a display which was all too lacking when it mattered in 2019/20.

The fixture may not have been pivotal last season but it was in early January during the previous campaign when a goal from now Bayern Munich man Leroy Sane won a thrilling encounter and, ultimately, proving crucial in the outcome of the 2018/19 title race.

In fact, if you include last season’s curtain raiser at Wembley, City have had the edge over Liverpool winning three and drawing two of their last six encounters.

Overall, Liverpool have won 105 of their clashes with 57 City successes and 54 draws. Liverpool also hold a 17-game unbeaten run at Anfield in the Premier League against City, stretching back to 2003 when Nicholas Anelka came back to haunt one of his former teams.

Betting Tip

??
Liverpool vs Manchester City 1X2 Draw @ 3.30
February 8, 00:30 (GMT+8)

After the midweek results, Man City are very much favourites for many onlookers, as well as with the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds.

Pep Guardiola’s leaders are available to back 1X2 @ 2.15 and Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.25. Liverpool, with problems in the centre of defence, are out @ 3.20 as far as 1X2 odds are concerned and restricted to Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.61.

If there is to be a repeat of last year’s 3-1 win, when it was City who had key absentees in their rearguard, the correct score odds will pay out @ 30.00.

A re-run of their meeting from three months ago – correct score 1-1 – is available @ 6.40.

Although there was a stalemate two seasons ago, goalless draws are rare between these sides and that is reflected in over 3.00 goals which is on offer @ 2.16, total goal 2-3 @ 2.02 and total goals 4-6 @ 3.10.

To me, this has the capacity to be tight and could end in a draw.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 4:09 PM (66 days ago)            #19
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Premier League: Calvert-Lewin Strike Denies United at the Death

Manchester United 3-3 Everton

Manchester United’s fading hopes of winning the Premier League title took another significant hit as Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a dramatic equaliser late in stoppage time to earn Everton a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford.

Fresh off their 9-0 dismantling of Southampton in midweek, United made a fantastic start and went 2-0 up in the first half. But the Toffees fought back to tie it up with two quick second-half goals.

The home side regained the lead through Scott McTominay and were seconds away from victory, but Calvert-Lewin struck with virtually the last kick of the game to deny the Red Devils the win they needed to stay in the title race.

Highlights of the game

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made just one change from the side that smashed nine goals past Southampton, with Paul Pogba coming in for Fred in midfield.

Pogba had United’s most notable chance in what was an uneventful opening 20 minutes with a header off a corner that was cleared by Abdoulaye Doucoure.

But the United attack came to life soon thereafter. Two minutes later, Mason Greenwood made a great run from the right wing only to pull his right-footed shot well wide.

Two minutes later, though, United would take the lead through Edinson Cavani. Marcus Rashford drifted over to the right and delivered a pinpoint cross to the Uruguayan, who was not going to miss an unmarked header from point-blank range.

David de Gea is upset after Dominic Calvert-Lewin hit an equaliser in Manchester United-Everton match in Premier League

Manchester United players look dejected after Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s last-minute equaliser

Everton’s best chance to equalise in the first half came after great pressing from Lucas Digne caused Victor Lindelof to turn the ball over while David de Gea was well off his line. But Richarlison was unable to capitalise on the opportunity as his shot was just off the mark.

Pogba had to be subbed off just six minutes before half-time due to a groin injury, with Fred coming on. But despite the injury blow, United still went into the break with a two-goal lead.

Bruno Fernandes produced a sublime piece of individual magic as he perfectly curled his shot from the edge of the box over the outstretched arm of Robin Olsen.

Everton had a great chance to immediately pull a goal back in first-half stoppage time after Calvert-Lewin got in behind the United defence, but the Everton star failed to convert as his shot went agonisingly wide.

However, Calvert-Lewin would make up for that miss just four minutes into the second half. He again got behind the United backline and forced a save from de Gea. But the Spaniard could only push the ball onto the path of Doucoure, who was on hand to pounce on the rebound.

And Everton would tie it all up just three minutes later. Doucoure found James Rodriguez with acres of space inside the United penalty area, and the Colombian lasered in a left-footed shot right into the bottom corner.

United came close to reclaiming the lead on 63 minutes. Rashford had a one-on-one opportunity against Olsen, but the Swede stood up well to deny the United striker.

United would eventually nudge ahead once more on 70 minutes. Shaw’s free kick found the head of Scott McTominay, who placed his header perfectly into the corner.

United had their chances to extend their lead, but Fernandes and Rashford were both unable to hit the target. On the other end, Richarlison also missed a decent chance to equalise in the 88th minute.

Time had seemingly run out for Everton, but they still got the equaliser with virtually the last kick of the game. Former United player Michael Keane flicked a long Digne free kick onto the path of Calvert-Lewin, who slotted the ball past the onrushing de Gea to hand the Toffees a dramatic draw.

Key statistics

United controlled a good deal of possession (62-38) and had a decent edge on shots (14-6), but Everton were simply more clinical in front of goal as they scored with all three of their shots on target.

Rodriguez and Calvert-Lewin are back creating Premier League 2021 highlights after their lengthy scoring droughts, which must please Carlo Ancelotti. James has two goals in his last three games, while Calvert-Lewin has scored in back-to-back games after going scoreless in seven in the league.

Calvert-Lewin is in second place in the goal charts with 13 league goals this season, just two behind leader Mohamed Salah.

Bruno Fernandes also reached 13 goals on the season with back-to-back strikes after going five PL games without a goal or an assist.

What’s next?

Manchester United will be watching the upcoming Liverpool-Manchester City clash with some interest. A City win would give them a five-point lead over United with a game in hand, further denting the Red Devils’ SBOTOP Premier League 2021 odds of winning the title.

After that, United must focus on their fifth-round FA Cup tie against West Ham United in midweek. Then they face struggling West Brom at the Hawthorns on the weekend.

As for Everton, they will also be busy with midweek FA Cup action as they host Tottenham. And they will stay at Goodison Park to face another London club in Fulham this weekend.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 4:19 PM (66 days ago)            #20
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Premier League: City Show True Title Pedigree – With A Helping Hand From Alisson

Liverpool 1-4 Manchester City

As Premier League statements of intent go, this was as emphatic as it comes.

Yes, Manchester City were indebted to the errors of an opposing goalkeeper; yes, they were also helped by the absence of their opponents’ first-choice central defenders; but as scorelines go, this was as one-sided as the title race now threatens to be.

What’s more, it’s easy to forget City were also without their most talented midfielder and attacker in footballer of the year Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.

Amidst plenty of Premier League highlights for Pep Guardiola’s men, they could even afford to miss a first-half penalty – just as they did in this fixture three months ago in a 1-1 draw.

Unlike then, this time it barely mattered.

Highlights of the game

Before kick-off, there was evidence the pressure was getting to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Indeed, after expressing disappointment at his pre-match comments, it would have been interesting to know if Guardiola had said anything to his counterpart.

Perhaps he didn’t need to as the comments were attributed as excuses for a faltering title defence – a quote which now appears particularly accurate.

If the opening 45 minutes were anything to go by, the home side still had a title to fight for. Chances were few but their work rate could not be questioned and they went in at the break level-pegging – Ilkay Gundogan blazing his spot-kick high after Raheem Sterling was fouled by Fabinho.

It would not stay that way for long as the in-form Gundogan redeemed himself four minutes after the restart, pouncing after Allison pushed away a shot from young England starlet Phil Foden.

The SBOTOP Premier League betting odds were stacked firmly in City’s favour at this point but, to their credit, the reigning champions were level shortly after the hour as Mohamed Salah converted a penalty after being brought down by Ruben Dias.

Then came two gifts in quick succession from Allisson.

First, he kicked the ball straight at Foden who classily dribbled into the area, drew the keeper out and placed it on a plate for Gundogan to grab his second.

Just three minutes later, the Brazilian shot-stopper made an even bigger error, passing straight to Bernardo Silva who chipped the ball to the unmarked Sterling to head home.

How Sterling, frustrated in this fixture last season, would have loved scoring against his former club.

How Allison, after a comedy of errors, must have been deflated.

The best player on the pitch though was still to find the net.

Found by substitute Gabriel Jesus, Foden simply cut inside Andrew Robertson and blasted the ball emphatically past a dumbfounded Allisson.

The scoreline may have slightly flattered City, but there was no disputing they were superior.

They say very good sides win league titles, but excellent ones retain them and fight for them back once relinquished.

It would take a brave or foolish man to bet against City doing just that in 2021!

Key statistics

Phil Foden made an assist and scored a goal in Manchester City's 1-4 away win against Liverpool in Premier League

Phil Foden in action during Manchester City’s match against Liverpool

City have now won 14 consecutive games, equalling the all-time winning run by an English top-flight side across all competitions – the same number as Preston (ending in 1892) and Arsenal (ending in 1987).

City have conceded just twice in the 12 league matches Dias and John Stones have started together (won 11, drawn one).

Foden is the youngest player to score and assist in a Premier League game against Liverpool at Anfield.

The last time Liverpool lost three successive top-flight home matches was in 1963.

After 23 games this season, Liverpool (40) now have 27 fewer points than they did at the same stage last season (67), the biggest drop by any reigning champion at this stage of a campaign in English top-flight history.

This was the first time Liverpool had conceded four goals in a Premier League home match since April 2009, when they drew 4-4 against Arsenal under Rafael Benitez.

This was City’s first win at Anfield since May 2003 – their 17-match winless streak at Liverpool had been their longest in the Premier League away to any opponent.

This was only the second away win in the past 25 league meetings between these sides.

Klopp’s team have lost five of their 23 league fixtures this season, more than in the previous two campaigns combined.

What’s next?

After complaining of fixture congestion, Klopp may be pleased to know his side now have nearly a week off before facing Leicester in the Premier League next Saturday lunchtime. They then face RB Leipzig in the last 16 of the Champions League on February 16 (a match which will be played in Hungary).

City are next in league action at home to Spurs on Saturday but have an FA Cup fifth-round trip to Swansea on Wednesday to navigate first.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 4:24 PM (66 days ago)            #21
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Premier League: Leeds March On All Over the Eagles!

Leeds United 2-0 Crystal Palace

Leeds United climbed into the top half of the Premier League table tonight, thanks to a confident win over Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace.

When the fixture list threw upLeeds vs Crystal Palace to finish this round of top-flight games, we expected to see off the weekend with an attack-minded clash, and we got it from the off when Leeds winger Jack Harrsion scored inside three minutes.

Top scorer Patrick Bamford doubled the lead just after the break and the sorry Eagles had no reply.

Both sides have been in good form recently and have pretty much erased any lingering fears of a relegation struggle. There is still a little work to be done, not least to climb the table and finish as high as they possibly can. A top ten finish is the aim, and Leeds have that position now in their possession. After back-to-back victories, this setback leaves Palace in 13th.

The Premier League 2021 betting odds had the hosts at 1.74 and Marcelo Bielsa’s side were full value for their victory.

Highlights of the game

Jack Harrison, in his third consecutive year on loan to Leeds from Manchester City, is having quite a season. When he drifted infield to collect a ball in an early Leeds attack, he had time and space to shoot and score his sixth goal of the campaign. He had some help from a wicked deflection to beat Vicente Guaita, but he had done all he needed to cause panic in the Palace defence.

The big pre-match Leeds vs Crystal Palace news was that the Eagles’ talisman, Wilfried Zaha, was injured again. So, now they had the chance to prove they are not a one-man team, but they passed it up. Keeper Guaita had the opportunity to show what he can do when Patrick Bamford met a cross from Ezgjan Alioski and directed his header down towards the bottom corner, which the Spanish stopper saved brilliantly. And then Palace gave the ball away cheaply to send Bamford clean through on goal, but he chipped his effort way over the bar.

Leeds continued to dominate and should have doubled their lead just before the break when Kalvin Phillips crossed for Pascal Struijk, but the Dutch defender got his header all wrong and directed it well wide with the goal at his mercy.

It had been one-way traffic in the first half and Palace came out much the brighter in the second, but any thoughts of a rapid comeback were quickly crushed as Bamford scored his 12th goal of the campaign and the 100th in his career. Raphinha collected a ball from Mateusz Klich and fired a snapshot which Guaita parried into the path of Bamford who stroked the ball home.

Palace had a great chance to get back into the game, midway through the second half when Michy Batshuayi chased a lost cause and then left Luke Ayling for dead before pulling the ball back for Eberechi Eze, but he fired his effort well over.

It could have got worse for Palace when Nathanial Clyne needlessly gave the ball away and Gary Cahill left Harrison enough room to shoot, but this time he was denied by the crossbar.

Key statistics

Leeds were unlucky to lose last week to Everton, and they made up for it tonight with a convincing display to see off the Eagles. They dominated possession and won the shot count by 17 to seven, with seven on target to the visitors’ two.

Palace lost the opportunity to make it three wins on the bounce and they are also winless in their last nine Monday night games, losing seven and drawing two.

The Whites are unbeaten at home to the Eagles in six games and Jack Harrison’s strike, clocked at 2 minutes and 35 seconds, was Leeds’ fastest Premier League goal since 2004.

What’s next?

The great games keep on coming for Bielsa’s Leeds and they are involved in a classic on Sunday when they visit the Emirates to play Arsenal, a game we’ll be previewing and then covering here at SBOTOPbefore the Whites head to the West Midlands to face Wolves the following week.

Meanwhile, Palace host Burnley next weekend. They lost the return fixture at Turf Moo

Patrick Bamford scored his 12th goal of the Premier League season and the 100th of his career

Patrick Bamford celebrates after scoring Leeds United’s second goal of the match

r earlier in the season when Zaha was out injured and Hodgson will hope his main man will return to fitness sooner rather than later. After the visit of the Clarets, Palace have a meeting with their old rivals Brighton on another Monday, the 22nd.

Could it be tenth time lucky for Roy’s boys?

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 4:49 PM (66 days ago)            #22
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FA Cup: Foxes Can Sniff the Scent of Success

Leicester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion

Leicester City host Brighton at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday, with a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals up for grabs.

This is one of four all-Premier League ties in the fifth round, and it promises to be a fascinating clash between two teams which like to attack and are on a good run of form.

The Foxes come into the game third in the Premier League and with high hopes of a top-four finish, while Brighton have eased their relegation worries having picked up 11 points from their last five league games.

The Foxes have recently beaten Brighton at the King Power, and with the extra quality in the ranks I’m backing them to see of the Seagulls again.

Talking Points

Foxes hungry for goals

Brendan Rodgers’ team is one of the most attacking in the league, spearheaded by the artful fox Jamie Vardy, who just seems to get better with age, and backed by some of the best young talent in the game, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes. But they have struggled a little in recent weeks, scoring just four goals in the last four games.

An away match at Wolves was a good warm-up for this clash. Coming up against a determined defence in icy conditions, the Foxes were frustrated by the stubborn Wolves rearguard; both Maddison and Barnes were denied by heroic defending.

And in their last game at home, Leicester were frustrated by Leeds United, dominating for long periods and then losing to a late Leeds flurry of attacks to go down 3-1.

But only three teams have scored more than Leicester’s 39 goals in the Premier League and someone is in for a hiding.

Brighton add steel to their style

FA Cup: Lewis Dunk will give his best to lead Brighton to a win against Leicester City

Brighton & Hove Albion captain Lewis Dunk celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal against Burnley

It may not be Brighton, though. 

Graham Potter’s Seagulls are in a rich vein of form, winning four and drawing two of the last six games. Three of their victories have come by a 1-0 score line, one notably against champions Liverpool, and that shows a shift in mentality at the club.

Brighton played expansive football last season and were embroiled in a relegation battle and Potter doesn’t want another scrap in this campaign.

His team showed a lot of resilience in a 1-1 draw at Burnley last Saturday, withstanding a wave of Clarets attacks to grab a well-earned point. Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez was outstanding, making a series of brave saves to deny Burnley while his defence did their best to protect him.

The team is led by inspirational captain Lewis Dunk; he marshals his defence with supreme authority and is a goal threat at set pieces, scoring his ninth top flight goal (since Brighton were promoted in 2017) with a brilliant header against Burnley. Only three current defenders have scored more: Marco Alonso, Patrick van Aanholt and Virgil van Dijk.

Midfielder Yves Bissouma is a player to watch. He provides some real quality in support of Brighton’s attack and he scored in Brighton’s fourth-round victory over Blackpool.

History

The FA Cup 2021 betting odds here at SBOTOP are offering 13.00 on the Foxes to win the famous trophy and 51.00 for Brighton. Manchester City are hot favourites at 2.75 as they pursue an historic quadruple.

Neither side has won the FA Cup; Leicester came close in the 1960s as beaten finalists on three occasions while Brighton were agonisingly near to lifting the trophy in 1983. In their only appearance in the final so far, they were level at 2-2 with Manchester United deep into extra time when striker Gordon Smith missed a sitter.

They lost the replay 4-0 to add to the pain of relegation from the top flight that year.

Leicester have won ten of the 21 meetings between these two teams this century, while drawing six, and the Seagulls have come out on top just five times.

In the run up to Christmas, the Foxes swept Brighton aside in a 3-0 victory with three first-half goals, a brace for Maddison and a goal for Jamie Vardy, and they have not lost at home to Brighton in the last four encounters.

Betting Tip

??

Leicester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion 1X2 Leicester City @ 1.87
February 11, 03:30 (GMT+8)

The Foxes are odds-on to win this tie in 90 minutes, with Brighton at 3.78 and the draw at 3.35, but I think it will be a tight affair if Brighton can continue their impressive defensive form.

If that’s the case then under 2.50 goals at 1.91 is an interesting alternative, with a 1-0 Foxes win at odds of at 6.18.

By the time this round of FA Cup 2021 results is in we’ll be down to eight clubs, and any Premier League team which reaches this stage can dream of a Wembley date, unless they draw Manchester City of course!

I reckon the Foxes can make it at least that far, and possibly reach the final again.

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09-Feb 2021 Tuesday 4:51 PM (66 days ago)            #23
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FA Cup: Moyes’ Hammers Out to Crush United’s Cup Dreams

Manchester United vs West Ham United

With Manchester United’s dreams of reclaiming the Premier League crown quickly fading away, they must now turn their attention to the FA Cup for a chance at domestic silverware this season.

The Red Devils will face a tricky fifth-round test as they host former manager David Moyes and his overachieving West Ham side.

Moyes has done a magnificent job in his second spell with West Ham. However, the FA Cup 2021 betting odds won’t be in the Hammers’ favour, as they could be without two of their top goalscorers for their trip to Old Trafford.

Talking Points

United possess plenty of options

Manchester United will face a tricky FA Cup fifth-round test as they host former manager David Moyes

Edinson Cavani celebrates scoring their first goal with Bruno Fernandes

It has been a roller-coaster last two weeks for Manchester United. After a shock loss to bottom side Sheffield United and a goalless draw at Arsenal, the Red Devils produced a record 9-0 win against Southampton and were seconds away from a second-straight victory against Everton.

But Dominic Calvert-Lewin struck at the death to hold United to a 3-3 draw, which dented their title hopes even more, especially after Manchester City comfortably beat Liverpool, 4-1.

The good news for United is that both Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani are in fine form after scoring in back-to-back games, while Marcus Rashford is also capable of producing FA Cup 2021 highlights.

With only West Brom coming up in the league, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could choose to play most of his stars against the Hammers before giving them a rest on the weekend.

However, United will likely be without midfielder Paul Pogba, who came off in the first half against Everton after picking up a muscle injury.

Donny van de Beek has made five starts in domestic cup competitions this season, including each of their first two FA Cup rounds, so he is likely to get another run out against West Ham with Pogba ailing.

Likewise, Dean Henderson looks set to take over from David de Gea in goal, and Anthony Martial could also get a start over Mason Greenwood.

West Ham have question marks in attack

West Ham United were surprisingly held to a goalless draw by Fulham over the weekend. The Hammers, who had looked so impressive in attack in recent games, were outshot 20-8 and had only one shot on target.

To make matters worse, Tomas Soucek was controversially sent off deep into stoppage time for an elbow on Aleksandar Mitrovic. The Czech midfielder now faces a three-match ban which would see him miss out on the trip to Old Trafford, although West Ham are hoping the red card decision gets overturned on appeal.

Soucek has been one of the surprise players in the Premier League this season and leads West Ham with eight league goals.

Meanwhile, striker Michail Antonio – the Hammers’ second-leading scorer with five goals – did not make much of an impact and came off with 20 minutes left, leading to some speculation that he had picked up another hamstring issue. Although, Moyes claims he took off Antonio due to fatigue.

West Ham are short on strikers after selling and not replacing Sebastien Haller during the transfer window, so Andriy Yarmolenko will have to fill in for Antonio in case he can’t play.

Yarmolenko started in the previous FA Cup round against Doncaster and scored in a 4-0 West Ham win. He has three goals in five domestic cup appearances this season.

West Ham will also be without Jesse Lingard, who scored two goals in his debut against Aston Villa, since he is on-loan from Manchester United.

History

Man United and West Ham have been drawn together twice in the FA Cup over the last decade. West Ham forced United to replays on both occasions, but the Red Devils subsequently won them both.

The Hammers have also been quite competitive in recent Premier League encounters with United. Over their last six meetings, Man United and West Ham each have two wins, with two draws.

Although, United got the upper hand in their first matchup this season in December. Soucek had put West Ham in front, but United fought back with second-half goals from Pogba, Greenwood, and Rashford to record a 3-1 win at London Stadium.

Betting Tip

??
Manchester United vs West Ham United Under 3.00 @ 2.04
February 10, 03:30 (GMT+8)

SBOTOP odds have Manchester United as massive 1.55 favourites over West Ham, who are only 5.20 to knock the Red Devils out. Meanwhile, a draw is 4.10.

Obviously, the Hammers stand a much better chance at Old Trafford if Soucek’s red card is overturned. But even with Soucek available, I don’t expect this match to have all that many goals.

With a place in the quarter-finals on the line, I anticipate a cagey match at Old Trafford, with the odd goal likely to decide the tie.

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11-Feb 2021 Thursday 1:18 PM (65 days ago)            #24
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Premier League: Can Foxes Smell Liverpool Blood

Leicester City vs Liverpool

Third meets fourth in the Premier League opener this weekend when Jurgen Klopp takes his beleaguered Liverpool to face Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester at the King Power Stadium.

Premier League: Leicester vs Liverpool is the match of the round, and there is much at stake for the two clubs, their players and head coaches. The defending champions are ten points behind current leaders Manchester City and the Sky Blues have a game in hand, while Leicester will be desperate to stay in a top four place, having surrendered one on the final day of last season.

Here at SBOTOP we reckon Liverpool and Leicester will both make a top-four place, Jurgen Klopp’s team is third favourite to win the title at odds of 27.00, with the Foxes are at 51.00 in fourth place. But, with the recently arrived Thomas Tuchel seemingly having an immediate impact on fifth-placed Chelsea, a defeat for either could be a serious blow.

Talking Points

Foxes on the run

The pre-match Leicester vs Liverpool news features an FA Cup tie that the Foxes have with Brighton on Wednesday night, while the Reds can take a breather, having exited the competition in the fourth round.

Former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says he will not rest key players, including the recently returned Jamie Vardy, as he sets his sight on some silverware. His team is in decent shape, led by inspirational keeper Kasper Schmeichel while attacking midfielders Harvey Barnes, with seven goals, and James Maddison with six, are enjoying their best season yet at the King Power. They have also contributed eight assists between them (Maddison five and Barnes three) and are both hoping to earn a place in England’s Euro 2020 squad.

Liverpool are currently sitting on the fourth spot of the Premier League table

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp during their match against Manchester City

Liverpool looking drained

The inescapable conclusion that long term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have seriously damaged Liverpool’s title hopes is not the only reason the champions look in some disarray. They have lost games they wouldn’t expect to, even with a severely weakened team.

Following defeats to Burnley and a cup exit at the hands of fierce rivals Manchester United, Klopp’s team looked back to their old selves with 3- 1 away victories over Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham. But, last week, the anguish returned with a defeat to Brighton and a humbling 1-4 lesson from hot favourites Manchester City.

TV pundit and former Manchester United star Gary Neville said the Reds looked drained while the Sky Blues looked like champions, and he likes neither of them!

Last season Liverpool’s wing backs Andy Roberson and Trent Alexander-Arnold provided bucket loads of assists, 25 between them and only beaten by Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne, but they have toiled rather more this term, making five and three.

Vardy vs Salah

The 2020 Premier League Golden Boot winner comes up against the fifth-placed finisher when Leicester’s Jamie Vardy will meet Mo Salah in their own personal shootout. Vardy headed the list on 23 goals with Salah finishing on 19 last term. But this season the Egyptian has stolen a march, leading the 2021 race with 16 goals while Vardy has 11. Leicester’s artful Fox has been out for a while with a hernia injury but he’s back and firing.

Last season Salah was in a threesome of prolific scorers, but Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino haven’t been so productive this term, contributing 13 between them, which makes Vardy’s supporting colleagues just as dangerous.

History

The head to heads won’t inform our Leicester vs Liverpool betting odds but, since 1994, Liverpool have won more than twice as many of these meetings as the Foxes, at 17 to eight, and Leicester haven’t won any of their last three games against Liverpool.

In November the champions crushed Leicester 3-0 at Anfield when Liverpool established a new club record of 64 home league games unbeaten as Jonny Evans scored an own goal before Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino gave the Reds a comfortable win to take them joint top of the league table with Spurs.

At that point Manchester City were down in 13th place and eight points behind!

Last season, this fixture resulted in a 4-0 mauling for the Foxes as Firmino scored twice to take the Reds 13 points clear in the 2020 title race.

But recent form makes horrifying reading for Reds fans with their team losing four of the last six in all competitions, while Leicester have lost just once, winning three and drawing two.

Betting Tip

??
Leicester City vs Liverpool 1X2 Draw @ 3.35
February 13, 20:30 (GMT+8)

The Foxes are at 3.25 to win this game with the Reds at 2.09 and you can make a good case for either. The hosts look in better shape at the moment but Liverpool have proven quality.

While these two teams have become renowned for their attacking prowess, goal returns over the past five league games have been modest, with seven for the Reds and six for the Foxes… so 1-1, at odds of 6.18, is the most likely outcome

And Leicester, Draw no Bet, could be an alternative choice at odds of 2.42.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 11-Feb-2021 at 1:18 PM


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17-Feb 2021 Wednesday 1:38 PM (59 days ago)            #25
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Premier League: Record-Breaking City Set Sights on Spurs

Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur

When Manchester City returned from North London in mid-November following defeat to then Premier League leaders Spurs, Pep Guardiola’s side found themselves down in 11th place.
Yes, they had a game in hand on most of the teams above them as a result of their late start to the season, but there was an unconvincing look about whether or not they were ready to mount a title challenge – particularly in the increased absence of Sergio Aguero.

Fast forward two and a half months and, since then, they have played 21 games in all competitions and not lost once.

Having established themselves as firm title favourites with a rout at the home of reigning champions Liverpool last Sunday, they now take on Spurs again seemingly perfectly placed to avenge that defeat.

Talking Points

As well as the form book, the congested schedule appears to have fallen in City’s favour this weekend too.

They were able to rest a number of key players in midweek as they won 3-1 at Swansea in the fifth round of the FA Cup, their 15th successive victory in all competitions.

The triumph also meant City set a new record for successive domestic wins by an English top-flight club, surpassing the previous best of 14 achieved by the Preston team of 1891-92 and the 1987-88 Arsenal side.

Just a few hours later, Spurs were not in a position to rest players and even had to bring the England captain Harry Kane off the bench.

It still wasn’t enough as, while Kane scored, Spurs were beaten in a nine-goal thriller at Everton which went to extra-time – another factor in City’s favour less than 72 hours before the two sides renew hostilities in the league.

Of course, as long as Spurs have Kane they have a chance. He has now scored 209 goals in 318 appearances in all competitions for the club, making him the second highest scorer in the club’s history behind only the great Jimmy Greaves (266 goals in 379 apps).

If this game is half as exciting as that FA Cup tie, we can expect Premier League highlights galore.

Realistically, though, don’t expect a repeat. In what was the 981st match of his managerial career, that was the first time a Jose Mourinho side had both scored and conceded at least four goals in a single game.

I expect this to be a much tighter affair as Mourinho allows the home side to have plenty of possession.

Given the backdrop, if he can pull off a league double against old foe Pep Guardiola, it will be one of his finest achievements yet.

History

Historically, this rivalry could barely be closer.

City have won 63 of their meetings and Spurs 63 (a further 36 matches have been drawn) which shows you how well matched they have been over the years with both clubs enjoying their own periods of glory.

Tottenham Hotspur aim to continue building momentum when they take on Premier League leaders Manchester City

Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min celebrates after scoring an early goal against Manchester City in Premier League last November

Earlier this season, it was Vintage Mourinho as Spurs ran out 2-0 winners in a game City dominated for long spells, yet it didn’t matter because of a Mourinho managerial masterclass.

Last season Spurs got the better of City too.

In London, İlkay Gundogan’s saw a 40th minute penalty saved by Hugo Lloris before Oleksandr Zinchenko was dismissed for a second yellow card on the hour – becoming the second Ukrainian player to be sent off in the English top flight.

It proved a key turning point as Steven Bergwijn became the youngest debutant to score on their debut for Spurs (since Eric Dier six years earlier) before Son Heung-Min duly added a second and Spurs ran out 2-0 winners.

The earlier fixture was one which City dominated but only managed to get a point as Spurs earned a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium in which Raheem Sterling and Aguero goals were cancelled out by Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.

The game was also notable for an early Premier League look at VAR which ruled out a last minute City winner.

City have won 12 of the last 20 meetings with Spurs in the Premier League mind.

Arguably the best game I have reported on in recent years involved these clubs 22 months ago – an epic encounter with which words struggled to do justice, so barely credible were the events which unfolded.

Betting Tip

??
Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur Total Goals 2-3 @ 2.13
February 14, 01:30 (GMT+8)

The SBOTOP Premier League betting odds favour City but even I am amazed by how much, especially given Mourinho has thwarted Guardiola on many occasions in the past.

While City are priced 1X2 @ 1.33 and Asian Handicap -1.75 @ 2.28, Spurs are backed 1X2 at a staggering @ 8.00 and Asian Handicap +1.25 @ 2.23.

For a re-run of last season’s 2-2 draw, correct score will pay out @ 23.00. For City to exactly avenge November’s 2-0 loss, you can receive odds of @ 6.80.

It’s rare you will see a goalless draw between these two. In fact, the last time was a goalless draw at White Hart Lane in the opening day of the 2010-11 season (the only survivor in either squad from that day, incidentally, is Gareth Bale).

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17-Feb 2021 Wednesday 1:56 PM (59 days ago)            #26
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Premier League: Goals, Goals, Goals Are All But Guaranteed!

Arsenal vs Leeds United

Two of English football’s big names, Arsenal and Leeds United have been involved in some unforgettable clashes over many a decade.

And on the occasions when their respective heydays have crossed over, those matches have had extra spice.

Of course, both clubs are now at very different stages of their development but, in what will be their first Premier League meeting in North London for nearly 17 years, the intensity should remain unrelenting.

Talking Points

Given that the sides are currently midtable and given that Leeds have scored 11 more goals and conceded an entertainingly high 15 more than the Gunners, this should also provide Premier League highlights for the neutrals.

Leeds have already shown they can give the leading sides a good game – most recently in a 3-1 success at high-flying Leicester City.

On others, they have been thumped good and proper.

The question is, which Leeds will turn up at the Emirates?

They will monitor midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who came off in Monday’s win over Crystal Palace with a calf injury.

Marcelo Bielsa doesn’t expect any other injured members of his squad to return.

FA Cup holders Arsenal will be without Thomas Partey, who strained a hamstring during last weekend’s defeat at Aston Villa.

Kieran Tierney remains sidelined with a leg injury but goalkeeper Bernd Leno and centre-back David Luiz are available after serving one-match bans.

It’s also likely captain Pierre Emerick Aubameyang will return to the starting line-up.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored only 5 goals in 19 Premier League matches

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores their first goal against Newcastle United

A substitute last weekend, he missed a number of recent games as he cared for his ill mother, a period which boss Mikel Arteta said had ‘drained’ his star striker.

His reputation as a fans’ favourite was evident again this week as he surprised a fan celebrating his 70th birthday with a heartwarming letter.

The Gabon international’s return could well be a catalyst for Arsenal who may have lost successive league games but are unbeaten in five at home and have not conceded in any of the last three.

Indeed, they could keep five successive home clean sheets in all competitions for the first time since a run of seven from December 2013 to February 2014.

However, with Leeds dangerous in attack and generous in defence, I wouldn’t put my money on any clean sheets!

History

It is quite a history and, for the most part of their league meetings in the modern day, it’s been one-sided.

In fact, Leeds have not beaten Arsenal since May 2003 but that was a mightily important game as it was a shock win which ensured Leeds survived in the Premier League, while ending Arsenal’s title hopes at the expense of Manchester United.

It remains their only success against the Gunners in the last 11 league meetings in league and cup.

They drew 0-0 at Elland Road earlier this season which was their best result for some time.

Until then, their most recent top flight match had been in 2004 when Arsenal were on the verge of reclaiming the championship and Leeds were within weeks of being relegated. That night Thierry Henry was unstoppable, netting four in a 5-0 win at Highbury.

Since then, they have met four times in the third round of the FA Cup with Arsenal winning all three ties (one following a replay).

In 2011, Arsenal needed a last gasp Cesc Fabregas penalty to earn a 1-1 draw before winning the replay 3-1 at Elland Road when Samir Nasri, Bakary Sagna and Robin van Persie scored the goals.

The following season, Arsenal won 1-0 with a goal from the returning Henry who was on loan at the club.

They then repeated that scoreline in the competition last year with Reiss Nelson the matchwinner.

Historically, the rivalry has been a much closer one with 47 Arsenal wins, 41 Leeds triumphs and 33 draws.

They have never met in the league outside of the top flight.

Betting Tip

Arsenal are firm favourites with the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds, despite back-to-back league defeats.

Leeds, meanwhile, may fancy their chances of upsetting the home side given they are a point ahead of them in the table.

If you do fancy Marcelo Bielsa’s side, look no further than Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.42 or 1X2 @ 4.20.

A draw will earn a decent pay day too @ 3.55.

A repeat of the goalless draw from November with correct score odds also offers attractive odds of @ 14.00.

As for the Gunners, they can be backed to bounce back either 1X2 @ 1.82 or Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 2.13After an encouraging start to the new year, Arsenal have lost their way a little and need to win.

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17-Feb 2021 Wednesday 2:05 PM (59 days ago)            #27
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Premier League: Chelsea to Give Newcastle the Blues

Chelsea vs Newcastle United

Chelsea will try to extend their win streak to four Premier League matches when they host Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge next Monday.

It has been so far so good for Thomas Tuchel as he has guided the Blues to a much better place compared to where Frank Lampard has left them before.

The Blues are sitting at the fifth spot with 39 points and they are well within reach for an European qualification for the next term.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United are trying to hang on for as long as they can in order to stay away from the dreaded relegation zone.

The Magpies are at the 16th spot and are level with Brighton at 25 points, and they are looking to make a late push by grabbing more favourable Premier League 2021 results.

The SBOTOP betting odds point for the home side to emerge victorious on this one, but can the visitors give them a run for their money?

As we wait for Monday night, first let us take a look on how these teams match up here in our latest preview.

Talking Points

Chelsea are trending at the right direction

Despite having growing pains, Chelsea have made big strides since bringing over Thomas Tuchel as their new manager.

They are undefeated in their last four league matches as they’ve rediscovered their successful brand of football.

Compared to the free-flowing style that he was used to in Paris Saint-Germain, Thomas Tuchel is instilling a whole new approach in Stamford Bridge to try and get a tune out of their stars.

With their big guns Timo Werner and Kai Havertz struggling, Tuchel has leaned on to Jorginho, Reece James, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, and Cezar Azpilicueta to provide physicality and toughness that would stifle opposing attacks.

Add along an astute goalkeeper in Edouard Mendy, and suddenly Chelsea are a nightmare to deal with at the back.

Speaking of Timo Werner, the former RB Leipzig standout should be fit enough on Monday after recovering from a minor leg injury. Kai Havertz, on the other hand, remains questionable to play.

Werner has yet to regain his old dangerous form, but he should remain a potent threat alongside Mason Mount, Olivier Giroud, and Tammy Abraham.

Callum Hudson-Odoi was rested against the Blades last week and he should be given consideration to start since he has been killing it on the wings lately.

Newcastle United are severely undermanned

The Magpies cannot afford going into a shootout against Chelsea since they don’t have enough personnel to offset their firepower.

Miguel Almiron's brace fires Newcastle past Southampton in the Premier League

Newcastle United’s Miguel Almiron celebrates scoring their third goal with teammate Allan Saint-Maximin vs Southampton

Top striker Callum Wilson is out for at least two months due to a hamstring tear, while Fabian Schar and Javier Manquillo face a similar spell on the sidelines.

Jeff Hendrick will serve his one-match ban after being sent off in their last tiff against Southampton, which is again another headache for Steve Bruce.

With these men out, Bruce will have to dig deeper into his rotation.

Miguel Almiron, Joelinton, and Allan Saint-Maximin are tasked to carry the load, while newly-acquired midfielder Joe Willock will be relied upon after scoring the opener against the Saints.

History

This will be the 150th league meeting between Chelsea and Newcastle United since 1907.

The Blues have been utterly dominant at Stamford Bridge versus the Magpies as they’ve only lost once in their last 25 home games (W18, D6). Their last home defeat dates back to May 2012.

If Chelsea win again versus Newcastle United at home, it will be their eighth straight against an opponent for the first time since winning nine in a row against West Brom between 1984 to 2013.

Chelsea have won their last three league games, which is as many as they had in their previous 11 (W3, D3, L5). They also have conceded only one goal so far under Thomas Tuchel.

Betting Tip

??
Chelsea vs Newcastle United Chelsea Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 1.76
February 16, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The updated Premier League 2021 odds are backing the home side to win on Monday night.

Chelsea are priced at 1.25 to win, while Newcastle are pegged low at 9.75 and chances for a draw are at 6.00 in the 1X2 market.

Chelsea have been on an upward trajectory since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel, and meeting an inconsistent lower-tier side gives them a chance to re-assert themselves as one of the elite clubs in English top-flight football.

Newcastle United can definitely give the hosts headaches. However, their accumulation of injuries might be too much to handle for team manager Steve Bruce.

Thomas Tuchel will surely have memories back when Newcastle decided to reject his job application six years ago, and he will be eager to show the Magpies what they are missing.

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17-Feb 2021 Wednesday 2:08 PM (59 days ago)            #28
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Premier League: Foxes Feast on Liverpool’s Woes!

Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool

Leicester climbed to second in the table as the final quarter of this curtain-raiser exploded into life, and into the faces of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

When we had Premier League: Leicester vs Liverpool opening the weekend’s top flight football, we expected an entertaining bash, third versus fourth and two of the most attacking sides in the league. Liverpool have been looking a little drained in recent weeks, but when Mo Salah gave them a 67th minute lead it looked like the Reds were about to win a crucial three points. But they imploded within the next 18 minutes as Leicester ran riot.

This was a big win for former Reds boss Brendan Rodgers as his hungry Foxes showed an appetite to stay in the race.

Highlights of the game

The two teams went in to the half time break goalless. Liverpool looked sharper than they did against Manchester City last week, though Jamie Vardy had the best chance of the half, clean through on goal but he fired inches over the bar.

And the Reds started the second half the brighter, pressing for the opening goal and Andy Robertson fired one over after a quick break. They came agonisingly close to opening the scoring, on 57 minutes, when Trent Alexander-Arnold sized up a free-kick and smashed it against the crossbar as a slight deflection left keeper Kasper Schmeichel rooted to the spot. Then Roberto Firmino came close but his header was deflected wide.

Here at SBOTOP we offered the hosts at 3.25 to win and when Salah gave the visitors a lead, with just a quarter of the game remaining that looked a long way away. Alexander-Arnold was involved again, crossing for Firmino and the Brazilian brilliantly teed up Salah who slid the ball into the corner of the net for his 17th league goal of the season. The Egyptian leads the race for the Golden Boot but that will be little consolation for him or his team-mates.

Mohamed Salah scores his 17th goal this season in Premier League

Mohamed Salah scores the opening goal during Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Leicester City

The visitors’ lead lasted just over ten minutes and it was Liverpool defender Thiago who opened the door by fouling on the edge of the penalty area. Up stepped James Maddsion and he clipped the free-kick into the corner for his seventh goal of the season.

All square with 10 minutes to play but, within two, another howler from keeper Alisson, who had a nightmare against City last week, handed the initiative to the hosts. A long ball forward was being shepherded back by on-loan defender Ozan Kabak; but out came Alisson and he clattered his own man to leave Vardy the easiest of tasks to tap home his 12th goal of the campaign.

The Brazilian keeper partly made amends with a fantastic double save to deny Harvey Barnes and then Vardy, but there was nothing he could do, on 85 minutes when Salah gave away the ball on the half way line. Leicester broke and Barnes raced through to fire past Alisson for his eighth goal of the season.

Game over and more misery for Liverpool; Klopp said, in his after match interview, that the Foxes were lucky. But you make your own luck and if you have help from the opposition keeper then why not make the most of it?

Key statistics

The pre-match Leicester vs Liverpool betting odds gave Liverpool the edge, but while they had 65 per cent possession, their hosts were more clinical, having six shots on target to the Reds’ four.

Liverpool have lost three Premier League games for the first time since 2014, when Brendan Rodgers was their manager, but the defeat leaves the 2020 champions ten points behind Manchester City and the leaders have two games in hand.

That’s five defeats in seven for Liverpool in all competitions; and it’s starting to look like more than a blip.

What’s next?

The other teams around the top end of the Premier League have been watching the Leicester vs Liverpool updates with interest, particularly Manchester United and Chelsea who’s fans will demand a top four place. The Red Devils have a very winnable game away to West Brom on Sunday while the Blues face Newcastle in a Monday night clash.

Liverpool were on the end of a mighty thumping at the hands of Manchester City last week and Pep Guardiola’s title favourites are at home to Spurs in the late Saturday kick-off.

The big games keep on coming for Jurgen Klopp’s team. On Tuesday Liverpool head to the Puskas Arena in Budapest, where they will face Red Bull Leipzig in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg. And next week it’s one of the North West’s sport highlights of the year when the Reds welcome Everton for the Mersey derby.

Meanwhile Leicester have a Europa League date away to Slavia Prague before they take on Aston Villa as East meets West in the Midlands derby.

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17-Feb 2021 Wednesday 2:18 PM (58 days ago)            #29
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Premier League: Sweet 16 for City as Gundogan Does it Again!

Manchester City 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur

If there is a more in-form player anywhere in Europe right now than Ilkay Gundogan, I have yet to see him.

After scoring twice as City ran riot at Liverpool last weekend, here were another two from the German midfielder as he took his tally to 11 goals in his last 12 Premier League appearances – all this after netting 10 in his previous 82!

The player of the month for January may soon become a contender for player of the season if he can maintain this form but, more importantly, he has helped Pep Guardiola’s team move seven points clear at the summit with a 16th straight win in all competitions.

For the opposition, it would be easy to be harsh on Spurs and Jose Mourinho after this comprehensive scoreline but I will refrain from that.

After all, for all their dominance, Spurs only allowed City three efforts on target during the first 70 minutes.

Problem for the North Londoners was that every effort found the net beyond a far from convincing Hugo Lloris.

Highlights of the game

City were out to avenge a 2-0 reverse in November, the last time they lost a match, when Mourinho was at his vintage best.

They welcomed back Sergio Aguero to the bench after he missed 11 games for coronavirus-related reasons.

There were two other changes with Gabriel Jesus and Aymeric Laporte replacing Ruben Dias and Riyad Mahrez who joined Aguero on the bench.

Interestingly it meant City did have a recognised frontman after sometimes playing without an out and out striker yet managing to retain a fluid movement and attacking threat.

Gareth Bale was back on the Tottenham bench as Mourinho made three changes to the side that started the compelling 5-4 FA Cup defeat at Everton in midweek.

Harry Kane, Eric Dier and former England youth defender Japhet Tanganga all returned, the latter for his first Premier League appearance of the season, at the expense of Toby Alderweireld, Matt Doherty and Steven Bergwijn.

The record-breaking hosts had their sights set on Spurs and were intent on creating Premier League highlights from the outset.

However, after City controlled possession for the opening 10 minutes, a fine free-kick from Kane had Ederson beaten only to bounce off the post.

It was the closest they would come to scoring.

Hugo Lloris dusted at the near post as Ilkay Gundogan scores for City to beat Spurs in the Premier League

Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring Manchester City’s third goal as Spur’s Japhet Tanganga and Hugo Lloris look dejected

As the halfway point of the half approached, Gundogan was touched in the box by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and went down. A penalty was inevitable and Rodri struck the ball hard and low and, while Lloris got a touch, the ball flew into the roof of the net.

Gundogan was involved again just before the break with an effort blocked before a Joao Cancelo cutback was met by Jesus who clipped the top of the bar.

The man of the moment got the goal he deserved two minutes after the break, poking the ball past a hapless Lloris after the Raheem Sterling teamed up with young talent Phil Foden.

The game was up just over the hour as Gundogan held off Davinson Sanchez from an Ederson punt and rifled home the third.

Game over. Title race over?

Key statistics

Gundogan is the Premier League’s leading scorer in 2021 with nine goals in as many appearances.

He has 11 so far this season – the only German players to score more in a single season in the competition are Jurgen Klinsmann (20 – Spurs) and Uwe Rosler (15 – City), both in the 1994-95 campaign.

City have now equalled the club record of seven successive home clean sheets in all competitions, set from December 1946 to March 1947.

They are on a 16-match winning run in all competitions, a record for an English top-flight side, and are unbeaten in 23 since their 2-0 defeat by Tottenham in November. They have also only conceded three goals in their past 15 league games.

Only Leicester (10) have been awarded more penalties in the PL this season than City (7 – level with Man Utd and Chelsea)

Only West Ham (15) and Leeds (14) have hit the woodwork more times in the Premier League this season than Spurs (12).

Spurs have won just one of their past seven top-flight away fixtures (drawn three, lost three). They are winless in 25 away fixtures against the team starting the day top of the table since beating Blackburn in November 1992 (draw three, lost 22).

What’s next?

City have their league game in hand in midweek as they travel to Everton – a fixture initially postponed during the festive period due to a Covid outbreak in the camp. The SBOTOP Premier League betting odds will be in their favour to make it 17 wins in a row.

They then have another tough away match with a trip to Arsenal next Sunday (February 21).

It’s back to Europe for Spurs next as they face Austrians Wolfsberg (not to be confused with the Bundesliga club Wolfsburg) in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie which will be plated in Budapest.

A London derby then awaits very quickly with a short turnaround time before a Sunday lunchtime trip to face old foes West Ham.

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17-Feb 2021 Wednesday 2:20 PM (58 days ago)            #30
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Premier League: Auba is Arsenal’s Ace

Arsenal 4-2 Leeds United

I said Premier League goals were all but guaranteed.

Certainly, few envisaged a second goalless draw in three months between the sides.

In the end, we were treated to six goals, a welcome return for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a contest which has summed up the seasons of both clubs thus far.

For Arsenal, a move back into the top half of the table after successive league defeats; for Leeds, another display of high-tempo attacking and kamikaze defending (although in fairness Arsenal scored all bar one of their five efforts on target); for the neutral, an afternoon of Premier League highlights.

Highlights of the game

As well as the return of Aubameyang to the starting XI, Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard made his first start for the Gunners with David Luiz and Bernd Leno back after suspensions, along with Dani Ceballos.

Leeds suffered a blow with Kalvin Phillips missing with a calf injury which meant a place in the line-up for Jamie Shackleton – the only change from the team that beat Crystal Palace last time out.

Head coach Marcelo Bielsa did at least have Patrick Bamford to lead the line, a player netting regularly after a career spent on the move and battling misconceptions about his background.

It was the main threat at the other end of the pitch who was going to be the star of the day, however, with Aubameyang taking just 13 minutes to bamboozle Luke Ayling before rifling the ball past Illan Meslier.

To their credit, Leeds did not let their heads drop and were very much in the game until two self-inflicted errors just before the break ended the match as a contest.

First Meslier hesitated from a back-pass and brought down young talent Bukayo Saka with Aubameyang converting the resultant penalty.

Then Saka and Aubameyang lined up and full-back Hector Bellerin beat Meslier at his near post –the visiting goalkeeper probably should have done better.

Arsenal won 5-0 the last time they hosted Leeds in the league back in 2004 and there were thoughts of a repeat when Aubameyang completed his hat-trick two minutes after the restart.

Again, the visitors did not cover themselves in glory, losing possession and allowing Emile Smith Rowe to cross for Aubameyang to head home.

I’d love to have seen the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds on a Leeds win at that point.

Of course, it did not happen but they did restore some pride with two goals of their own to end Arsenal’s bid to keep five successive home clean sheets for the first time since February 2014.

Pascal Struijk planted a header firmly past Leno and 11 minutes later substitute Helder Costa bravely slid in to further reduce the arrears.

Despite the two goas, Leeds never looked like securing a third consecutive Premier League away victory and Aubameyang rattled the bar as Arsenal were close to a fifth.

Once a rivalry with a history and a few incendiary encounters, most recently in the late 1990s and early 2000s, this never got heated with only two bookings all game.

It did sum up perfectly, though, much of what we need to know about their respective classes of 2021.

Leeds United are now on 11th place in the Premier League table after losing to Arsenal

Patrick Bamford looking dejected after Leeds United concede the opening goal against Arsenal


 

Key statistics

Since the start of the 2009-10 season, Aubameyang is one of only three players to score a hat-trick in three of the top five European leagues, along with Alexis Sánchez and Salomon Kalou.

He is the third player in Premier League history to score a hat-trick on Valentine’s Day after Matt Le Tissier v Liverpool in 1994 and Michael Owen v Sheffield Wednesday in 1998.

Aubameyang has scored in consecutive starts in the Premier League within a single season for the first time since last February (v Newcastle and Everton).

The Gunners are unbeaten against Leeds in the past nine meetings in all competitions (won seven, drawn two).

They are also unbeaten in their past 28 home league fixtures against promoted sides (won 24, drawn four).

Leeds have lost their last seven Premier League fixtures in London by an aggregate score of 22-4.

Leeds have both scored (40) and conceded (42) 40+ goals in just 23 Premier League games this season; only Tottenham in 2007-08 hit 40 goals for and against after fewer matches in the competition’s history (22 games).

Leeds have conceded 3+ first-half goals four times this season (also versus Man Utd, Liverpool and Palace), twice as many times as any other side.

Bielsa’s side have scored 24 and conceded 26 goals away from home in the top flight.

What’s next?

Arsenal have a doubleheader with perennial Portuguese favourites Benfica next in the Europa League with a home league match against leaders Man City thrown in the middle for good measure.

Leeds are at Wolves domestically on Friday night before welcoming Southampton to Elland Road the following Tuesday (February 23).

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17-Feb 2021 Wednesday 2:30 PM (58 days ago)            #31
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Premier League: Manchester City Set For A Toffee Treate

Everton vs Manchester City

Manchester City’s march to the 2020/21 Premier League title is gathering pace and the bandwagon heads to Merseyside on Wednesday where the Sky Blues take on Everton.

Pep Guardiola’s team is on a 16 match winning run, a sequence which has taken them seven points clear of the chasing pack, and with this game in hand they could have a double-figure lead before the weekend.

They meet Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton who are well in the hunt for a Champions League spot, three points behind fourth placed Liverpool and with two games in hand, but they have been inconsistent of late and will be disappointed not to be higher than their current seventh place. 16 points separate these two North West giants, and we’re backing City to keep their run going and extend that gap to 19.

Talking Points

No home comfort for Everton

Defeats at Goodison Park to struggling sides Newcastle United and, on Sunday, Fulham have really put a dent in Everton’s top-four hopes, though their destiny remains in their own hands if they can win their games in hand. The Toffees wouldn’t have chosen Manchester City for the first chance though!

Everton put in an abject performance against relegation-threatened Fulham as Josh Maja scored his first Premier League goals. The Cottagers weren’t flattered by the score-line as they won the shot count by 12 to seven and three to two on target. To register just seven shots against a bottom three side is not the form of a Champions League hopeful and Ancelotti will hope for better against the league leaders. If they don’t improve massively then there will only be one outcome.

Wing-back Seamus Coleman hit the post in the first half but it took Everton over 75 minutes to register their first shot on target. Brazil striker Richarlison was strangely off the pace, while Everton’s midfield was over-run by Fulham’s energetic pressing.

Premier League: Dominic Calvert-Lewin picked up an injury in Everton's 5-4 win against Tottenham Hotspur

Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin celebrates after scoring against Manchester United

There is some good news for Everton fans though, as top scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin could be in line for a comeback against the Sky Blues. He suffered a hamstring injury in the Toffees’ FA Cup victory over Spurs last week, but the injury is not as serious as first feared and he looks certain to play some part on Wednesday night.

Manchester City stars step up

Long term injuries to Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne gave Manchester City’s title rivals a notion that the Sky Blues might miss their two best players, but any hopes of a downturn in results have disappeared without a trace as City’s other stars have been in superb form. The Sky Blues’ Premier League 2021 results have been a little short of sensational and, as they beat Spurs 3-0 on Saturday, the number of different goal scorers over the 16 match winning run reached 14.

Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has been fantastic in recent weeks, while midfielder Phil Foden has stepped up and made himself difficult to drop. Gundogan has scored 11 goals in his last 12 Premier League appearances while Foden has five goals and three assists in this campaign.

The September signing of Portuguese centre back Ruben Diaz was a masterstroke as the former Benfica man slotted seamlessly into the back four, and Guardiola said yesterday that he would not swap his players for any in the world.

As the Sky Blues continue their winning run the chasers have been faltering. As well as the Toffees’ stunning defeat at home to Fulham, Leicester City’s victory over Liverpool left the champions in the driving seat and with a clear road ahead.

The Premier League 2021 betting odds on the title returning to the Etihad for the third time in four seasons have dropped quickly in recent weeks, and it’s hard to see anyone challenging Manchester City, who have their eyes on an unprecedented quadruple of Champions League and a domestic treble.

History

Despite their current domination, the Sky Blues have a wafer-thin advantage in the head to heads, winning 19 to Everton’s 18 in the Premier League era.

The Toffees haven’t won in the last five against Manchester City and the 2019/20 clash at Goodison Park ended in a 1-3 victory for Pep Guardiola’s team.

As well as winning 16 domestic games in a row, the Sky Blues are unbeaten in 12 matches away for home, and are unbeaten in 23.

Betting Tip

??
Everton vs Manchester City Manchester City Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.19
February 18, 04:15 (GMT+8)

Here at SBOTOP Manchester City are at 1.37 to win, with the draw at 4.60 and Everton at 7.80

Everton need to improve dramatically, while the Sky Blues have an off day, for this game to be anything other than another City triumph; and I just can’t see that happening.

0-2 is the most likely scoreline at odds of 6.60

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17-Feb 2021 Wednesday 2:34 PM (58 days ago)            #32
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Premier League: Chelsea are Back In Business

Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle United

Chelsea are officially back in the top four of the Premier League table with their latest victory over Newcastle United last night at Stamford Bridge.

They now have 42 points after the win while overtaking West Ham United due to a superior goal difference in the process – which is only four points adrift Leicester City and Manchester United.

The Blues were buoyed by goals from Olivier Giroud and Timo Werner and the honeymoon period continues for Thomas Tuchel. 

They are indeed trending in the right direction as they have already won four of their last five with the former PSG gaffer in charge as he continues to endear himself not only to the fans, but to the top management as well.

Meanwhile for Newcastle United, their woes continue to pile up after such a disappointing showing.

It’s hard to blame the Magpies for their lack of key personnel, although they had chances in certain parts of the second half.

But they weren’t able to capitalise and now they have sinked to the 17th place at the table, with one foot drawing closer to the dreaded drop zone.

Here at SBOTOP, let us look back at last night’s set of Premier League 2021 highlights.

Highlights of the game

Is Thomas Tuchel the answer for Chelsea? By the looks of it, he is especially after this strong performance from his boys.

The admirable thing about Tuchel is that he continues to stick with what works, although he made some changes in his lineup.

Oft-maligned goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was assigned to man between the sticks to give Edouard Mendy the evening off, while Marcos Alonso and Callum Hudson-Odoi were given the start ahead of Reece James and Ben Chilwell.

Newcastle United woes pile up after Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea pull out a 2-0 Premier League spectacle

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel reacts during match against Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge

On the other hand, Newcastle United welcomed back defender Jamaal Lascelles after being sidelined by injuries and COVID-19, while Jonjo Shelvey was brought over to fill in for the suspended Jeff Hendrick.

Marcos Alonso was the first Chelsea player to have a viable attempt when he fired a low shot during the third minute. However, it was a routine save from Karl Darlow.

In the 14th minute, Chelsea had to hold their breath when Tammy Abraham was downed due to a strong challenge by Jamaal Lascelles. But fortunately, Abraham was able to walk out of his own power and he would be given the rest of the night off.

Olivier Giroud was subbed in for Tammy Abraham, and the veteran striker made instant impact for the Blues.

Chelsea’s breakthrough moment would come during the 31st minute when Timo Werner’s cross found its way to Olivier Giroud for the first goal of the fixture.

Timo Werner had his own chance one minute after. However, his shot looked rushed and it floated over the crossbar. 

But the German would break his drought during the 39th minute when he had the alertness the tap the ball in after a loose ball from a corner kick.

In the second half, Newcastle tried to fight back with a couple of chances of their own. However, their efforts were simply not enough.

A free-kick from Jonjo Shelvey in the 48th minute and a header by Joe Willock in the 75th minute tested Kepa Arrizabalaga, but to no avail.

Key statistics

It has been a long time coming for Timo Werner to have a performance like this for Chelsea and he is indeed the Man of the Match.

Prior to last night, the former RB Leipzig forward had a personal drought that lasted for 1,000 minutes and 14 games total.

The same goes for Kepa Arrizabalaga as it had been a while since he secured a clean sheet. 

The last time that he did so was against Norwich in July 2020. Last night also marked the Spaniard’s first start since October 17 against Southampton.

The Blues have now picked up 13 points since Thomas Tuchel was hired, winning four consecutive league fixtures for the first time since November 2019.

Olivier Giroud has made his 100th Premier League appearance as a sub, scoring his 21st goal off the bench with only Jermain Defoe scoring more (24). 

Newcastle United have lost six of their last seven road league games after losing just one of the six before that. 

What’s next?

The Blues will stake their unbeaten streak in the Premier League when they face Southampton on the road this Saturday.

After that, they will fly over to Bucharest, Romania to face Atletico Madrid for the first leg of the Round of 16 in the Champions League.

As for Newcastle United, they will visit Old Trafford for a clash against Manchester United on Sunday night in hopes of increasing their Premier League 2021 odds of staying in top-flight with a win.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 2:54 PM (52 days ago)            #33
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Premier League: The Whites Plot Their Revenge on the Wounded Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Leeds United

Leeds United travel to the Molineux this weekend as they take on the Wolverhampton Wanderers for the second time this season.

The Wolves beat the Whites in the reverse fixture over at Elland Road, so both teams will come in here searching for that psychological edge.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side raised eyebrows from the moment they made their return to the Premier League as they’ve had strong performances against their first four opponents in Liverpool, Fulham, Sheffield United, and current leaders Manchester City.

But when they faced the Wolves in early October, Nuno Espirito Santo’s group put the brakes to the Whites’ hype train and the SBOTOP-sponsored club had a rollercoaster campaign ever since.

Even with everything they had been through this term, the Wolves and the Whites aren’t far behind from each other in the standings. Leeds United are sitting at the 11th spot with 32 points, which is only two points clear ahead of the 12th-seeded hosts.

Will the Wolves achieve a double over the Whites? Or will Leeds United exact their revenge on the road this weekend?

Read on below as we present to you today’s match preview.

Talking Points

Wolverhampton Wanderers are slowly building momentum

After battling inconsistency to start the year, the Wolves have been trending in a much better direction lately.

They started February with a bang since they’re undefeated in their last four games, with wins over Arsenal and Southampton along with a draw against Leicester City.

Despite being haunted by injuries and fatigue, the Wolves continue to bring the fight as they aim to move up into the table.

Pedro Neto and Ruben Neves have been receiving plaudits since they have been providing us some top-notch Premier League 2021 highlights. The duo will continue to be relied upon on if they are going to turn their season around.

Unfortunately for the Wolves, they will be undermanned out front as Raul Jimenez and Daniel Podence remain sidelined, while centre-back Willy Boly is nursing a hamstring injury.

Leeds United need to be firm on the defensive end

Scoring goals may not be a problem for Leeds United, but conceding those from their opponents paints quite a different story.

The Whites are coming off of a defeat against Arsenal last weekend as the Gunners simply outpowered them at the Emirates Stadium.

Furthermore, Leeds United’s defensive shortcomings are highlighted since they are the worst team in terms of goals conceded with 42 – which is a far cry from their output last season.

Last year in the Championship, Leeds United have only surrendered 35 goals in 46 matches.

The prolonged absence of Kalvin Phillips, Robin Koch, and Diego Llorente has been unfortunate for the club. And since they haven’t done much to address their deficiencies during the transfer window, they have no choice but to dig deeper from within.

Kalvin Phillips will miss the Premier League game vs Wolves through injury

Marcelo Bielsa reveals Kalvin Phillips’ return is subject to his evolution from his injury

Granted that they’re playing in a stronger tournament, Leeds United’s backline can definitely improve as soon as their injured players return. However, with the tools that they have now, it is apparent that Marcelo Bielsa may need to alter his tactics for the meantime.

History

Prior to this weekend, the Wolves and the Whites have faced off 20 times.

The Wolves have the advantage in the head-to-heads with 10 wins, whereas Leeds United won in seven games along with three draws.

Moreover, the Wolves have won their last four games against Leeds United. The Whites’ last win dates back to 2016 when both teams were plying their trade in the Championship.

In their first meeting this season, the hosts won 1-0 as Raul Jimenez scored the game winner during the 70th minute.

However, his absence will continue to hurt the Wolves given that he’s still recovering from a head injury that he suffered few months ago.

Betting Tip

??
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Leeds United Leeds United Asian Handicap -0.00 @ 2.03
February 20, 04:00 (GMT+8)

The Premier League 2021 odds suggest that this will be a close and tense affair similar to their last encounter.

Wolverhampton Wanderers have the slight advantage at 2.58, while Leeds United are backed at 2.76 to win and a draw is at 3.10 in the 1X2 market.

While Leeds United are priced a bit lower to win, they have a more complete squad than the Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, that doesn’t mean that this will be a walk in the park.

The Wolves certainly pack quite a bite in them and they can cause headaches, but their lack of attacking depth might be too much to handle for Nuno Espirito Santo.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 2:56 PM (52 days ago)            #34
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Premier League: Unstoppable City Go Ten Clear!

Everton 1-3 Manchester City

Take a look at the Premier League 2021 betting odds for the very top of the table, and you can find the odds on Manchester City disappearing from sight after they made it 17 wins on the bounce with a 3-1 victory at Goodison Park.

The Sky Blues’ lead at the summit of the Premier League table is now ten points and they look unstoppable. There’s plenty to play for in terms of European places and survival, but the title race is City’s to lose.

Super strikes from Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva were punctuated by a freaky Richarlison goal as Manchester City put on a performance of champions.

Highlights of the game

The in-form Ilkay Gundogan scored his 11th goal in 12 Premier League games in City’s 3-0 victory over Spurs last week, but he was missing from the line-up having suffered a groin injury at the weekend.

But the league leaders have a deep and talented squad and Gundogan’s absence made a space available for Mahrez, who was in the game immediately, raiding down the left. When his cross was half-cleared by Mason Holgate, Silva tested Jordan Pickford with a low drive.

Gabriel Jesus has scored in his last five appearances against Everton he was sent through on goal by Rodri, but he swept his effort over under pressure from Michael Keane.

Everton played a pressing game in an attempt to stifle the Sky Blues, but they only held the visitors at bay for half an hour. Mahrez was again the Toffees’ tormentor as he swung a beautiful ball into the penalty area that was half-cleared to Phil Foden, who drilled it home with the help of a deflection off Seamus Coleman.

But Everton hit back quickly with a bit of good fortune. Coleman chipped a ball over to the far post which Lucas Digne hit first time, and when his shot bounced back off the post, it hit Richarlison and rebounded into the net.

Despite Richarlison's goal, Everton lost to Manchester City in their recent Premier League encounter

Everton’s Richarlison fires home an equaliser against Manchester City during a Premier League match at Goodison Park

City came back at the Toffees and Pickford had to get down quickly to stop a Foden effort to keep the scores level at the break.

The Everton keeper was in action again at the start of the second half getting a strong hand to Silva’s shot. The Toffees seemed to have a foothold in the game, until Mahrez took a pass from Silva and hit a beautiful shot which curled in off the far post giving Pickford no chance at all.

Everton matched the Sky Blues for effort but they couldn’t live with them otherwise and on 77 minutes it was all over. Again it was fantastic football and Mahrez was involved, feeding Jesus who in turn found Silva and he sidestepped Keane before smashing the ball home.

The Sky Blues brought Kevin de Bruyne on for the last ten minutes and he looked sharp. And that was just about the last thing the chasing pack wanted to see!

Key statistics

The pre-match SBOTOP odds had Manchester City at 1.37 to win, and it was never really in doubt. The Sky Blues have won six on the run against the Toffees, netting at least twice each time.

City have not been behind since Spurs beat them in November and as well as winning 17 domestic games in a row, the Sky Blues are unbeaten in 13 matches away for home, and are unbeaten in 24.

And now the Sky Blues have become the first top-flight team to win their opening ten league games in a calendar year, breaking the record of Bolton Wanderers in 1906 and Manchester United in 2009.

This is some team.

What’s next?

Everton were hoping to have top scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin fit again for tonight’s game, but he failed a fitness test and will hope his hamstring injury clears up in time for the Merseyside Derby on Saturday.

Liverpool’s recent Premier League 2021 results have yielded three consecutive defeats, but the Reds had a major boost last night when they beat Leipzig 2-0 in the first leg of their Round of 16 Champions League tie.

On Sunday, Pep Guardiola takes his troops to the Emirates to meet his old protégé Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. The Gunners have been misfiring this season and are currently stranded in mid-table.

The Sky Blues are back in Champions League action when they face Borussia Monchengladbach at the Puskas Arena in Budapest next week.

Die Fohlen have been inconsistent of late, dropping to seventh in the Bundesliga table having won just two of the last six, and they are set to lose their head coach Marco Rose, who has triggered a clause in his contract to enable a move to Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 2:59 PM (52 days ago)            #35
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Premier League: When Red Meets Blue on Merseyside!

Liverpool vs Everton

The Premier League has witnessed some memorable Merseyside derbies over the years.

Only problem is, if you are an Everton fan, they have been mainly been memorable for those of a red persuasion.

Particularly over the past decade as you have to go back to 2010 for the last time the Toffees defeated their city rivals.

More Liverpool Premier League highlights are expected on Saturday too or can the visitors spring a surprise and move level on points with the reigning champions?

Talking Points

Following three successive league defeats, Jurgen Klopp’s side bounced back in midweek with a success which puts them on the brink of a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

It was a match which pleased the German boss who praised his team’s mentality after being beaten by Brighton, Manchester City and Leicester in quick succession.

Mohamed Salah leads the race for the Golden Boot, scoring 17 goals this season

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their first goal against RB Leipzig in Champions League

Twenty-four hours after that, Everton were facing the side which is overwhelming favourites to wrestle back the Premier League crown this term.

In fact, Manchester City are disappearing from sight at the summit after their seventh straight win in all competitions.

Post-match, Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti said it was almost impossible for his team to compete with the quality of the league leaders so why would he expect a visit to the title winners to be any different?

Certainly, after their surprise defeat at home to lowly Fulham three days earlier, another setback would complete a miserable seven days for the blue half of Merseyside.

If they are to end their awful run at Anfield, they will likely need Dominic Calvert-Lewin to return from a hamstring injury (a big ask given he only sustained the injury a week ago) and James Rodriguez, who came off the bench in midweek.

Both were key players in the drawn derby at Goodison Park earlier this term.

Liverpool felt aggrieved after being denied a late winner in that game in October and were already unhappy at what was a reckless – although totally accidental challenge – which caused a likely season-ending injury to Virgil van Dijk.

I suspect that will mean they are extra determined to win this return fixture as a result.

They will also be keen to avenge a home record which was brilliant until recently, yet it is now more than two months since they won a game on home turf. You have to go back to 1923 for the only previous time Liverpool lost four consecutive home league games in any division.

Everton themselves were the last reigning top-flight champion to suffer that fate way back in 1928-29, which gives a stark illustration of just how poor Liverpool’s recent home form has been.

With one win in six in the league, few will fancy Everton to take points off their neighbours for the second time four months.

But there again, Everton have amassed 17 points from a possible 21 in a seven-game run that stretches back to the beginning of November and this is a derby!

History

It is a rich and illustrious history which captures the imagination whether you’re a ‘blue’ or a ‘red’.

Liverpool have traditionally held the upper hand with 120 wins to Everton’s 82. There have also been 85 draws.

You have to go back to October 2010 for the last time Everton won the Merseyside derby. That afternoon, goals from fans’ favourite Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta sealed a 2-0 success at a raucous Goodison Park.

The only survivors from that afternoon all belong to Everton with Seamus Coleman expected to be involved this weekend.

Since then, they have met on 22 occasions (16 in the league and twice in the FA Cup) with Liverpool winning 10 times and 12 meetings ending all square.

The meeting earlier this season was a thrilling 2-2 draw as Everton twice fought back to earn a point.

Betting Tip

??
Liverpool vs Everton Double Chance Everton or Draw @ 2.54
February 21, 01:30 (GMT+8)

Liverpool are overwhelming favourites with the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds.

You can back the hosts 1X2 @ 1.48 and Asian Handicap – 1.50 @ 2.40. For another draw, the odds 1X2 are @ 4.10 with Everton available to back 1X2 @ 6.80 and Asian Handicap +1.00 @ 2.19.

That is far adrift and Ancelotti’s men would love nothing more than to prove the doubters wrong.

For goals, over 3.25 goals will pay out @ 2.38, total goal 2-3 @ 2.05 and total goal 4-6 @ 2.87.

I doubt Everton will have enough to end their hoodoo, but they may claim a point.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:01 PM (52 days ago)            #36
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Premier League: The Hammers are Ready to Smash the Rusty Spurs

West Ham United vs Tottenham Hotspur

West Ham United aim to maintain their strong form when they host Tottenham in their upcoming London derby.

David Moyes’ Hammers have been exceeding expectations as they are in contention for a European qualification, which is putting the whole Premier League on notice.

West Ham United are currently fifth in the standings with 42 points and a victory at home would push them back into the top four assuming Chelsea loses their next match.

On the other hand, Tottenham have lost four of their last five and they have sunk to the ninth spot with 36 points.

The reverse fixture of this said matchup wasn’t short of goals and drama.

The Spurs had a seemingly insurmountable lead at the time and it looked that they had the victory in the bag. However, the Hammers rallied back to share the spoils.

Can Tottenham avenge their late-game collapse last time? Or will West Ham United’s momentum carry them over to another triumph?

Talking Points

West Ham United look invincible

The Hammers were on the edge of relegation before, but they are enjoying a drastic transformation as they have already eclipsed their points tally from last term.

David Moyes should be credited for instilling a winning mentality to his club as the favourable Premier League 2021 results kept on adding up as the weeks go by.

After being held to a goalless draw by Fulham in their last league game, West Ham dropped the hammer against Sheffield United with a 3-0 tally.

Declan Rice continues his fantastic campaign by adding a goal to his total, while his partner in Tomas Soucek remains an influential force in the middle.

Jesse Lingard, who was brought on over from Manchester United via loan, is enjoying a new lease in life as he is playing well in the winger spot.

In fact, Lingard has been so good that several reports indicate that he is being eyed by Gareth Southgate to possibly join the England national team very soon.

Moreover, top striker Michail Antonio and centre-back Fabian Balbuena are expected to play this weekend, while Andriy Yarmolenko and Angelo Ogbonna are both recovering from their respective injuries.

David Moyes surely has enough at his disposal to pull out another win.

Tottenham need a win badly

The Spurs need a shot in the arm if they have plans on reviving their once-promising campaign.

It wasn’t too long ago when they were on top of the Premier League standings, but now they find themselves languishing outside the European qualification spots.

Like most teams, Tottenham weren’t spared by the injury bug as their top hitman in Harry Kane suffered knocks which affected his overall performance.

Tottenham are hoping to have their talisman this Premier League weekend

Harry Kane warming up before Tottenham’s match against West Bromwich Albion

As shown in their brutal loss against Manchester City on Valentine’s Day, the Spurs couldn’t keep up with City’s overwhelming firepower as their usual suspects in Kane and Son failed to find the back of the net.

Their recent win in the Europa League somehow alleviates their pain after seeing their top stars return into the scoring column.

Fresh from their outstanding performance, Jose Mourinho is optimistic that they can bounce back this weekend as they come in with more reinforcements.

Only Serge Aurier and Giovanni Lo Celso will remain sidelined, while Sergio Reguillon could return at left-back.

History

This London derby has a rich history as West Ham United and Tottenham have faced off in so many matches.

In 215 games total, Tottenham have the significant advantage with 98 wins, whereas West Ham United have won in 64 along with 53 draws.

When these two sides last met on October, it was basically a tale of two halves.

Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son scored three quick goals in just a span of 16 minutes, but the wheels fell off for them in the last 10 minutes.

Fabian Balbuena scored West Ham’s first goal in the 82nd minute, and then an own goal from Davinson Sanchez and a Manuel Lanzini equaliser put the final tally to 3-3.

Betting Tip

??
West Ham United vs Tottenham Hotspur West Ham United Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.20
February 21, 20:00 (GMT+8)

After a quick glance at the latest Premier League 2021 odds here at SBOTOP, this looks to be a similar result like in their previous encounter.

West Ham United are priced at 2.65 to win, while Tottenham are close at 2.72 and chances for a draw are at 3.10 in the 1X2 market.

The Hammers’ confidence is sky high coming into this game, which is something we haven’t seen for a long time and they will look to secure another win at home.

Although the Spurs are also coming in with confidence after a morale-boosting win versus Wolfsberg in the Europa League, the accumulated fatigue might be too much for Jose Mourinho to handle.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:04 PM (52 days ago)            #37
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Premier League: Seagulls and Eagles are Flying to Safety

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Crystal Palace

One of the bright young English head coaches takes on the oldest boss in the Premier League in the Monday night clash, when Graham Potter’s Brighton welcome Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace in the M23 derby. 

The Seagulls and Eagles are not exactly near neighbours because Palace will travel over 60 miles from South London to reach Brighton on the coast. But there is a serious rivalry between the two clubs who were both founding members of the Football League Third Division in 1920. 

The fixture became spicy when the teams met in the opening fixture of the 1974/75 season. Crystal Palace had just been relegated and were managed by the outspoken Malcolm Allison and extra police were drafted in to control the fans as 26,000 turned up and fights broke out inside and outside the ground. 

And so the M23 Derby was born.

There will be no supporters at the Amex Stadium on Monday but the stakes remain high. With just over a third of the season to play, neither team is safe as they’re in 14th and 16th place in the table but with a nice cushion above Fulham, who are long time occupiers of the dreaded 18th position. 

The Premier League 2021 betting oddsare pretty comforting for both teams. But while Palace are currently ahead in the league table, they are at 11.00 to get relegated while the Seagulls are out at 26.00. 

Talking Points

Can Brighton bring their good form home? 

After a difficult run towards the end of 2020, the Seagulls’ Premier League 2021 results have been impressive. 

A run of six matches unbeaten has taken Potter’s side seven points clear of the drop zone and just three behind the Eagles. The standout results were back-to-back league 1-0 victories over Spurs and Liverpool.

But Brighton have won just once at home all season, which is a problem they have had before. And if they can solve that issue then they will pull well clear of danger.

The addition of experienced campaigners Danny Welbeck and Adam Lallana has given the Seagulls more bite up front, though they still struggle for goals. 

Centre-back and Captain Lewis Dunk remains Brighton’s most important player. He’s a rock at the heart of his team’s defence and a threat from set pieces, as he showed when he headed the crucial goal in a 1-1 draw with Burnley.

Roy will get it right at Palace 

Crystal Palace fans have been expressing their anger at the club’s inability to move out of the bottom half of the league table following back-to-back losses over the past two weeks. 

The Eagles followed a 2-0 defeat away to Leeds with a 3-0 home reversal to Burnley. And in an open letter to the club, one fan group criticised the manager’s “spineless, defensive tactics.”

Fans hung a banner outside the club’s training ground which read: “Palace pandemic of apathy. Change the mentality. Restore the pride, ambition and vision.”

Roy Hodgson is hopeful for his squad to return to the winning form ahead of their Premier League match against Brighton

Crystal Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha will be absent in the upcoming M23 derby due to injury over the past two games

They have short memories these guys.

Roy was drafted in to save them in the 2017/18 season in which they lost their first seven games and looked doomed, but he guided them to 11th place and he was quick to defend his players.

“Our fans have been very good through the years so for them to do something like this is not something that one can be happy about,” said Hodgson.

“When you give a couple of performances like the last two, you expect the fans to react. But I see every day here on the training field how hard people work and how much they do want to do well,” he added.

He does need to solve the problem of Wilfried Zaha though. His talisman has nine goals but he’s been absent with injury over the past two games.

The Eagles have lost 18 of the last 20 matches when Zaha has been missing and the manager says he’s been working hard to get fit for the Brighton game but is still doubtful. 

Eberechi Eze has become the Eagles’ most exciting player in the absence of Zaha. But if the main man can make an appearance, that will be a huge boost.

History

Palace have won seven of the 18 meetings with Brighton since 2002, while the Seagulls have won five and there have been six draws.

The two teams drew 1-1 at Selhurst Park in the Premier League clash in October, while the Eagles snatched a 1-0 win here in the 2019/20 season.

Brighton have drawn seven of their 12 games at the Amex this season — winning one and losing four — and they are unbeaten in five at home. 

Both teams have won two from the last six games in all competitions, but Palace have lost the other four while Brighton have drawn three and lost one. 

In their six games, Brighton neither scored nor conceded more than one goal and there were just five goals in thesaid games.

Betting Tip

??
Brighton vs Crystal Palace 1×2 Draw @ 3.35
February 22, 20:00(GMT+8)

Brighton are odds on to win this one at SBOTOP priced at 1.82. 

Recent form justifies that confidence in the Seagulls, but they have only won once at home all season and 4.27 looks a long price for the Eagles.

Under 2.25 goals @ 1.86 could be interesting, particularly if Zaha doesn’t make it. However, I am backing a draw. 

And for an outside bet, 1-1 is available at odds of 5.99.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:09 PM (52 days ago)            #38
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Premier League: Gunners Need a True Aim to Take Down the Sky Blues

Arsenal vs Manchester City

This Premier League match brings together the master and apprentice as Pep Guardiola’s former number 2 in Mikel Arteta welcomes his old boss to the Emirates.

Arsenal and City are two the top flight’s elite but there is a million miles between them at the moment. So if Arteta can mastermind a victory over his mentor, it will count as a genuine shock.

The Sky Blues have plunged to odds of 1.02 here at SBOTOP to take back the title after a breathtaking run of 17 wins in all competitions that has taken them 10 points clear at the top.

Meanwhile, the Gunners have shown promise throughout the campaign but have struggled to find consistency and they currently sit in 10th place – eight points behind a Champions League spot.

Arsenal need to shoot straight and hit the bullseye if they are to take the Sky Blues down on Sunday.

Talking Points

Are the Gunners really beginning to fire?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang aims to replicate his hat-trick when they face Man City in Premier League

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates with the match ball after scoring a hat-trick

It hasn’t been an easy watch for Arsenal fans this season as their heroes have drifted further away from the top of the Premier League, but at least their main man seems to be hitting some form.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brilliant hat-trick as the Gunners beat Leeds 4-2 last week and both he and strike partner Alexandre Lacazette have now hit eight goals for the season from 20 games.

That’s not a bad return for a Premier League forward but Aubameyang is one of the very best and he will expect more.

He should have scored in Arsenal’s Europa League match against Benfica on Thursday night but he missed a 1v1, and it was left to Bukayo Saka to equalise and earn the Gunners a 1-1 draw.

The away goal makes it a good result and Arteta will hope his team can take their form into the weekend.

But they have been in this position before. Their last little run of positive results with wins over Southampton and Newcastle were followed by defeats to Wolves and Aston Villa and this Sunday’s game raises the spectre that another loss may be just around the corner.

Young forward Emile Smith-Row has received rave reviews as he has emerged as a potential star of the future.

He’s already made four assists and has been compared with Gunners legend Robert Pires, but he faces competition for his place from new recruit Martin Odegaard who is on loan from Real Madrid until the summer.

Wing-back Kieran Tierney and midfield star Thomas Partey are injured and they are both big misses, particularly in a game against the runaway leaders.

Aguero and De Bruyne back in contention for Sky Blues

The most harrowing aspect for the chasing pack of Manchester City’s amazing winning run is that they have done it without their two biggest stars in Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne. But now they are both back in the squad and are ready to go.

In Aguero’s absence, the Sky Blues’ midfielders have stepped up to plug the scoring gap as Ilkay Gundogan (11), Riyad Mahrez (6), and Phil Foden (6) shared 23 goals.

Mahrez was in sensational form in City’s 3-1 victory over Everton on Wednesday night and he is sure to play some part at the Emirates.

Incidentally, Manchester City have just told the British press that they are yet to make an approach for Lionel Messi as the Argentine genius enters the closing stages of his contract at Barcelona.

Read into that what you want!

History

The Gunners have had the better of the Arsenal vs Manchester City results in the Premier League era, winning 27 to City’s 19 and there have been 10 draws.

But Manchester City have been clawing back the deficit recently, winning five of the last six.

The Sky Blues have already beaten Arsenal twice this season – 1-0 in the league back in October, and 4-1 in the EFL Cup quarterfinal in December.

Lacazette equalised Gabriel Jesus’ opener, but City ran riot in the second half with goals from Mahrez, Foden, and Aymeric Laporte.

City’s recent form has been out of this world and it’s no surprise that the Arsenal vs Manchester City betting odds are pointing squarely at an away victory.

As well as embarking on a record breaking 17-match winning run, the Sky Blues are unbeaten in 24 and have won their last 10 on the road.

Betting Tip

??
Arsenal vs Manchester City First Half 1X2 Manchester City @ 2.13
February 22, 00:30 (GMT+8)

I am basically looking for the value in this match. And with City in such devastating form along with an extra day over Arsenal to recover from their midweek exploits, I’m backing them to catch the Gunners cold.

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23-Feb 2021 Tuesday 3:12 PM (52 days ago)            #39
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Premier League: Breaks of the Game Favour the Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 Leeds United

The Whites were left disappointed in their latest visit at the Molineux, as the hosts eked out a 1-0 victory last Friday night.

The Wolverhampton Wanderers gained the lead after an own goal from Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier, and that was enough for them to come away with the three points and claim back-to-back victories for the first time this term after experiencing a dip in form prior.

At the same time, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side has moved past Marcelo Bielsa’s group for the 11th spot at the Premier League table.

The final score didn’t exactly illustrate the kind of night that these two squads had.

Chances came in bunches from both sides. However, the Whites got the shorter end of the stick in terms of the breaks of the game.

After Illan Meslier’s unlucky own goal, Leeds United top striker Patrick Bamford found the back of the net late but it was deemed offside by the referees.

That crucial decision drew bad reactions from Marcelo Bielsa and Patrick Bamford, and the latter didn’t mince his words in his latest social media post.

“Gutted for the lads tonight, robbed of a point. But at least it’s ‘making the game better’. We go again Tuesday,” tweeted Patrick Bamford.

Here at SBOTOP, we look at last night’s set of Premier League 2021 highlights here in our recap. 

Highlights of the game

With both teams missing several key players, it is clear that the others had to step up big.

For the Wolves, the combo of Ruben Neves and Pedro Neto has filled in admirably well for the injured Raul Jimenez, while Jamie Shackleton was given the auxiliary midfield role since Kalvin Phillips remains sidelined.

After 11 minutes of back-and-forth action, the Wolves generated their first chance of the night as Pedro Neto launched a 27-yard strike only for Illan Meslier to block it away.

Leeds United’s press was relentless and it gave them an early chance as well. Raphinha’s cheeky pass allowed Mateusz Klich to hit the post with a shot, and Pascal Struijk almost slammed the ball in only if it weren’t for Rui Patricio’s heroics.

Pedro Neto continued his exemplary performance when he teed up Nelson Semedo in one of his overlapping runs, but Illan Meslier flew to block the shot. The Leeds goalkeeper stopped Semedo in his tracks once again in the 35th minute.

Patrick Bamford’s counterattack against Wolverhampton Wanderers for a Premier League chance was flagged offside

Leeds United’s Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling appeal to referee during match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux Stadium.

In the middle of the second half, the Whites saw themselves having another viable opportunity.

Raphinha’s free-kick found Liam Cooper, and the latter’s powerful header was saved by Rui Patricio. Patrick Bamford tried a follow-up but Conor Coady headed it away.

The Wolves eventually broke the deadlock as Adama Traore toyed with Leeds United’s defence.

The winger stormed down to the left flank and spun around Luke Ayling, and then he shrugged off Pascal Struijk’s challenge to let the ball fly from 25 yards. The ball hit the right crossbar hard, and the ball bounced off of the back of Illan Meslier for the score.

Leeds United tried to mount a rally but it simply wasn’t meant to be.

Patrick Bamford scored off of a counterattack late after a misplaced pass by the Wolves. However, the referees waved it off since it was flagged offside.

Leeds’ last chance came when Raphinha’s looping pass found Helder Costa inside the penalty box, but Rui Patricio was there for another routine save.

Key statistics

Illan Meslier became the youngest goalkeeper to score an own goal in the Premier League (20 years, 354 days).

Meanwhile, his counterpart in Rui Patricio made seven saves to secure the clean sheet for the Wolverhampton Wanderers – which was the most since Marcus Hahnemann against Everton in March 2010 (9).

The Wolves have won seven of their last nine Premier League fixtures against Leeds United and they remain undefeated in nine such meetings at the Molineux since a 2-0 defeat in 1973 (W6, D3).

Moreover, Nuno Espirito Santo became the first-ever coach to complete a league double over Marcelo Bielsa in top-flight since Montpellier and Paris Saint-Germain back in 2015, when Bielsa was at the helm for Marseille.

What’s next?

With back-to-back defeats against Arsenal and the Wolves, Leeds United aim to arrest their skid when they host a slumping Southampton squad next Tuesday at Elland Road. 

On the other hand, the Wolves are going to like their Premier League 2021 odds to win as they pay a visit to the relegation-threatened Newcastle United next Saturday at St. James Park.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 3:30 PM (43 days ago)            #40
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Premier League: Unbridled Joy as Everton End Derby Drought

Liverpool 0-2 Everton

For Evertonians, the half-time omens were good.

Not only was it the first time in 21 Premier League Merseyside derbies that they had scored the opening goal (the previous time was in their last win over Liverpool in 2010) but it was also only the second time the Toffees had led at the break in a Premier League game at Anfield (the other occasion was September 1999 – their last league win away at Liverpool).

And so it proved as Everton produced one of their best showings of the season to seal a fine win against the reigning but soon to be deposed champions.

This was a triumph for Carlo Ancelotti who has instilled organisation and belief into his team. A triumph for the club’s long-suffering fans. A triumph for their determined players, none more so than goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Castigated (and some) following a reckless challenge in the early season derby, the England number one was first-class here. Displaying his talent with a series of excellent stops and impeccable handling throughout.

For Liverpool, injuries in the centre of their defence and tiredness are both valid reasons which explain much, although not all, of their recent downturn in form.

Highlights of the game

Only a month ago Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp harboured hopes of retaining the title, while Ancelotti had games in hand to reach the top four. Since then though, both managers may have lowered their sights following a damaging run of three defeats in their past five Premier League games,

That meant, realistically, the last thing either side wanted in this one was a draw.

clash of red and blue on Merseyside was always likely to provide compelling fare and Premier League highlights but the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds initially seemed stacked against the visitors.

They had already lost twice this week and this test arrived less than 72 hours after Manchester City turned on the style at Goodison Park.

Despite playing down talk of revenge before kick-off, Liverpool players were clearly angry with what happened in the derby last time when challenges from Pickford and Richarlison led to serious injuries for Virgil van Dijk and new signing Thiago Alcântara respectively.

The only disgrace though wasn’t the challenges – Pickford was wild but not malicious and Richarlison was late and duly sent-off – but the fact the goalkeeper received death threats fans in the days that followed.

Injuries are part and parcel of the game and are rarely caused deliberately.

Unchanged from the side that beat RB Leipzig in the Champions League in midweek, the hosts gave new loan signing Ozan Kabaka second Premier League start, while Everton made three changes to the side that lost 3-1 to City with James Rodríguez, Andre Gomes, Seamus Coleman all handed starting berths.

The former played a key role as Everton made a dream start.

When Kabak’s header went to Abdoulaye Doucoure who moved it onto Rodriguez, there was still much to do. However, the Colombian playmaker slipped a classy ball through to Richarlison and the Brazilian made no mistake with a clinical finish against his countryman Alisson into the bottom corner.

Liverpool came straight back at them and Pickford superbly tipped away a volley from Jordan Henderson before an even better stop to tip over a long-range Trent Alexander-Arnold effort.

Liverpool’s bad luck with central defensive injuries hit a new low when Henderson had to leave the fray following an accidental collision with Doucoure which meant the unfamiliar pairing of Kabak and Nathaniel Phillips – both centre backs but both highly inexperienced.

But for home shot-stopper Alisson it would have been two before the break as Coleman was denied at close range.

Klopp had his players on the pitch in a huddle at the start of the second period and his words must have sparked their strong start to the half as Sadio Mane was twice kept out what looked like equalisers by excellent challenges from Mason Holgate and Michael Keane.

It was further evidence of Everton’s collectiveness under Ancelotti.

That was mirrored in Pickford’sreaction to block a shot and then pounce on the loose ballas Mohamed Salah raced through.

If the outcome remained in the balance, it didn’t for much longer.

Substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin was too quick for the home defence and, while his initial shot was saved by Alisson, he was brought down by Alexander-Arnold as he went to pounce on the rebound.

Up stepped substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson to calmly convert the penalty and Everton had a day to savour.

Key statistics

Liverpool have lost four consecutive league matches. Only twice before have they endured four Premier League defeats in a row: September 1993 and November to December 2002.

They have also now lost four home league matches in succession for only the second time in their history, having done so in 1923-24. No reigning top-flight champion has suffered four home league defeats in a row since Everton in 1928-29.

The only reigning champions to lose more than three successive Premier League fixtures are Leicester City, who lost five in a row from January to February 2017.

Liverpool have lost six of their nine Premier League games in 2021, more than in 72 matches in 2019 and 2020 combined.

Everton are unbeaten in eight Premier League away matches (won six, drawn two) and have equalled the club record of eight without defeat, achieved in 2010 and again in 2016.

Richarlison celebrates after sending the ball past Alisson to give Everton an early lead in the Premier League

Everton’s Richarlison celebrates scoring their first goal vs Liverpool

Richarlison’s goal in the third minute was Everton’s second fastest Premier League goal against Liverpool at Anfield since Olivier Dacourt scored in the first minute in April 1999.

Rodriguez has provided more assists than any other Everton player in all competitions this season (eight).

Sigurdsson has scored five away goals against Liverpool in all competitions – more than he has away at any other opponent during his career in England.

What’s next?

After highlighting ‘fatigue’ in the ranks, Klopp will be pleased his side has a week off before its next game, against bottom club Sheffield United next Sunday night (February 28). That is followed four days later by a home clash with Chelsea.

Likewise, Everton are now not in action until March 1 when they welcome Southampton to Goodison Park, followed three days later by a trip to West Brom and former boss Sam Allardyce.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 3:34 PM (43 days ago)            #41
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Premier League: Southampton Seek Much-Needed Win at Leeds

Leeds United vs Southampton

Leeds United and Southampton will both be looking to make it back toward the top half of the Premier League table when the two sides collide at Elland Road this midweek.

Neither side has been doing much winning of late. Leeds are in 12th place after suffering three defeats in their last four, while Southampton – just one place and two points behind – haven’t won in the league since early January.

Saints successfully ended their extended losing skid this past weekend with a draw against Chelsea. But can they finally get back to winning ways against Leeds, who have had their issues at home this season?

Talking Points

Leeds shaking things up

Leeds United are not loving the month of February. They have now lost three of their first four matches this month after going down 1-0 to Wolves due to an unlucky Illan Meslier own goal.

Once again, Leeds created their fair share of chances (18) and had seven shots on target. Mateusz Klich also came close when he hit the woodwork. But the Whites were unsuccessful in breaking past the Wolves backline as they were held without a goal for the first time in their last six matches.

Leeds’ depth in midfield has been tested of late with injuries to Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo. Tyler Roberts was handed a rare start against Wolves as manager Marcelo Bielsa looked for an attacking spark, but the 22-year-old still has yet to score a single goal this season.

Pablo Hernandez also came on as a substitute, which was just his second appearance over the last month. It remains to be seen whether Bielsa will make further changes to his starting line-up against Southampton given his limited options.

Leeds continue to rely heavily on the likes of Patrick Bamford (12 goals) and Raphinha for their goals. The Brazilian was the team’s best player against Wolves with four shots. Both of them should fancy creating more chances against a Southampton side that will not be quite as defensive as Wolves were.

Southampton still searching for win

Can Danny Ings score goals and lead Southampton to a victory against Leeds in the Premier League?

Southampton forward Danny Ings in action with Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger at St Mary’s Stadium

Southampton defied the Premier League 2021 odds by holding Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea to a 1-1 draw, which finally ended their disastrous run of six straight league defeats.

It was a spirited defensive performance from the Saints, who limited Chelsea to only seven shots even though the Blues controlled 70 per cent of possession.

But despite having so little of the ball, Southampton still took the lead through Takumi Minamino. The Japanese international has made an immediate impact since his arrival on loan from Liverpool and has two goals in three matches.

Southampton are still dealing with a number of injury concerns, including Kyle Walker-Peters, Theo Walcott, Michael Obafemi and Stuart Armstrong.

Meanwhile, Ralph Hasenhuttl has replaced Che Adams with Nathan Redmond as Danny Ings’ strike partner over the last few games. Hasenhuttl may be forced to make a few more changes to his side due to the relatively quick turnaround in matches.

Ings was limited to only one shot on goal amid Chelsea’s dominance of possession. But the Saints striker should get more opportunities against Leeds given their open style of play.

After a prolonged dry spell, Ings got back to making Premier League 2021 highlights by scoring in back-to-back games against Wolves, first in the FA Cup then in the league.

History

This will be Southampton and Leeds’ first meeting of the season after their clash originally scheduled for January 20th was postponed in order for Saints to play their FA Cup tie against Shrewsbury Town.

The two sides last met in the Premier League back in 2004. Southampton beat the Whites 2-1 at St. Mary’s and drew the reverse fixture 0-0 at Elland Road.

The two clubs have also met a few times in the lower leagues over the years. Southampton have the slight upper hand in terms of wins (5-4) but Leeds did win their most recent matchup in the League Cup back in 2012.

Betting Tip

??
Leeds United vs Southampton 1X2 Leeds United @ 2.21
February 24, 02:00 (GMT+8)

The SBOTOP odds for this battle between two midtable clubs are quite close. Leeds are slight favourites at 2.21 while Saints are priced at 3.25. A draw is 3.25.

Leeds’ form at home this season as been quite patchy. They have only won four of 11 at Elland Road, with five defeats.

But to their credit, they don’t seem to go on extended rough patches. They have yet to lose three matches on the bounce this season, and I don’t expect them to start against Saints.

Despite Southampton’s fine result against Chelsea, they still have some issues that Leeds can exploit with their aggressive attacking style.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 3:37 PM (43 days ago)            #42
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Premier League: Jesse Piles Pressure On Former Boss As Hammers Reach Giddy Heights

West Ham United 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

As I reflected on this scoreline, it dawned on me that Jesse Lingard actually scored the very first and final goals of Jose Mourinho’s reign as manager of Manchester United.

There’s no chance Lingard’s winner in this contest will have similar consequences but the on-loan United player has certainly piled on the pressure for his former boss.

As David Moyes finally had won a match against Mourinho – at the 16th attempt – Spurs were slipping to a fifth defeat in six Premier League games.

Highlights of the game

West Ham boss Moyes made two changes from the 3-0 win over Sheffield United last weekend with Pablo Fornals and Michail Antonio returning to the side in place of Ben Johnson and Manuel Lanzini.

Meanwhile, Mourinho switched things around from their Europa League success against Wolfsberger with Sergio Reguilon, Davinson Sanchez, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Kane among seven changes.

Gareth Bale, Harry Winks, Dele Alli and Moussa Sissoko were among those to drop to the bench.

Based on their most recent clash, a match which seemed set for a comprehensive Spurs win in October until a remarkable late, late show. we anticipated Premier League highlights.

What we didn’t necessarily expect was a goal inside the opening five minutes.

Jarrod Bowen’s inviting inswinging cross from the right was met by Antonio and, while Hugo Lloris kept out his close-range volley, Antonio was alert to fire the rebound into the roof of the net.

For the first of five fixtures branded decisive in West Ham’s unlikely bid for European qualification, this was a dream start.

For a potentially rusty Spurs, who have certainly had an unforgiving schedule which has led to some unforgiving results of late, it was the opening they must have dreaded.

A poor start to one half is bad enough, to begin the second period by conceding an even earlier goal must really have grated.

This time it was Lingard who made the decisive intervention, crashing a left-footed shot past Lloris, initially disallowed before VAR intervened and ruled Fornals, who was offside, had not touched the ball.

West Ham were suddenly 2-0 up and moving nine points above Tottenham.

The insipid visitors then woke up. Half-time substitute Gareth Bale set up fellow sub Lucas Moura to flick in a header off the inside of the post.

Bale then struck the top of the crossbar with a sweet strike.

An equaliser seemed likely and as the pressure built, there was also time for an attempted clearance to hit Son Heung-min and bounce off the post in stoppage time.

It was too late though and Moyes finally had a win to cherish over Mourinho.

West Ham are up to fourth, a position the Premier League betting odds nor this SBOTOP writer would have predicted at the start of the campaign.

The key question is, can they stay there? And can Mourinho defy his critics who believe his time in North London is nearing an end?

Key statistics

West Ham United won 2-1 against Tottenham Hotspur in Premier League

David Moyes and Jose Mourinho during West Ham United’s match against Manchester United

Antonio has scored more Premier League goals against Tottenham than any other side (five). All 42 of his top-flight goals have come from inside the box – in the competition’s history, only Tim Cahill (56), Javier Hernandez (53) and Gabriel Jesus (45) have scored more with all of them coming from inside the box.

West Ham have lost just once in 11 Premier League matches, winning seven and drawing three.

The Hammers have already earned six more points in 2020-21 than they did in the entirety of last season. They are in the top four after at least 25 matches for the first time since 1985-86 when they finished third.

Tottenham have failed to beat West Ham in a league season for the first time since 2013-14.

Spurs have won just once in eight top-flight away fixtures (drawn three, lost four).

This was the first time a Mourinho side had conceded in the opening five minutes of both halves of a Premier League match.

This was Mourinho’s 50th Premier League game in charge of Spurs. The 81 points they have picked up under the Portuguese is 14 fewer than he’s managed with any other side throughout his first 50 league games in charge (Man Utd, 95).

What’s next?

A true test of West Ham’s recent progress comes with a trip to leaders Manchester City next Saturday before hosting Leeds United on March 8.

Spurs have a much more congested programme.

After meeting Wolfsberg on Wednesday in the second leg of a Europa League tie they lead 4-1, Burnley are the visitors to North London next weekend quickly followed by a visit to face Fulham in west London.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 3:39 PM (43 days ago)            #43
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Premier League: City Slickers Stroll to Victory Over Arsenal

Arsenal 0-1 Manchester City

Manchester City stay top of the Premier League by ten points thanks to a Raheem Sterling header, which was enough to beat Arsenal at the Emirates.

Pep Guardiola’s league leaders have now won their last 18 games, in all competitions, and while this wasn’t the most convincing of wins it was a performance of champions. The Premier League 2021 betting odds have been forecasting a Sky Blue march to the title for some time and tonight the visitors rarely got out of second gear.

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal deserve credit for staying in the game but they never really threatened City’s water-tight back four, led by man-of-the-match Ruben Dias.

Highlights of the game

Two minutes was all it took for City to get ahead, and it was a goal of great simplicity which was brilliantly executed. Riyad Mahrez beat his full-back on the right-wing and chipped a ball onto the head of a leaping Sterling who directed it into the corner of the net.

The pre-match odds here at SBOTOP had the Sky Blues at 1.50 to win and that offer already looked generous!

Premier League: Raheem Sterling has scored the only goal of the match between Arsenal and Manchester City

Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling celebrates with his teammates after scoring their opening goal against Arsenal

If Arsenal began the game with a tough task, now they had a mountain to climb and the first half looked rather like a training session for the league leaders as they passed the ball around at ease. Kevin de Bruyne’s recovery from injury meant he made a start and he settled seamlessly back into the side, slotting a pass-through to Sterling, but this time the striker was less clinical and allowed Bernd Leno to smother the ball.

As City tormented their hosts Mahrez and De Bruyne both had efforts wide of the mark and the half-hour passed before the Gunners had their first meaningful attempt, Kieran Tierney catching his shot well but straight at Ederson.

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has started to look like his old self in recent weeks, scoring a hat-trick against Leeds United last week, but he was anonymous in the first half, and the Gunners were happy to be still in the game at the break.

The hosts began with more energy at the restart but it was Leno in action again to palm away a fierce drive from Ilkay Gundogan. But then, as the half wore on the game settled into the same pattern as the first period, City controlling possession but with a little bite. Joao Cancelo tried a shot from a tight angle which was blocked by Tierney, but then at the other end of the pitch the Portuguese wing-back gifted Arsenal a chance with a sloppy pass but Mohamed Elneny’s first-time drive skidded wide. Cancelo was back on his game in attack, taking a pass from Gabriel Jesus and curling an effort with the outside of his right boot just beyond the far post.

Key statistics

This was a professional rather than spectacular victory which Guardiola will be delighted with. His side have shown they can win when they are not at their best.

While the Sky Blues registered 14 shots to seven on target, they only managed three on target to Arsenal’s one.

As well as winning 18 consecutive matches in all competitions the Sky Blues are unbeaten in 24, and have won their last 11 on the road.

Manchester City have the most exciting front six in the league, but the back four aren’t bad either. They have conceded just four goals in 17 games!

What’s next?

Yesterday’s Premier League 2021 results threw up another headline as Everton beat Liverpool in the Mersey derby and that must mean Jurgen Klopp’s champions are now out of the title race.

The Sky Blues still have Leicester City and Manchester United to shake off, and are back in league action with a home game against David Moyes’ high flying West Ham next week. Before that they have a Champions League tie away to Borussia Monchengladbach. Die Fohlen are labouring in their domestic campaign and lost at home to struggling Mainz on Saturday, a result which left them in eighth place in the Bundesliga table.

Next up, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have a Europa League Round of 32-second leg match at home to Benfica, with the tie in the balance at 1-1. And then they have another tough Premier League game when they head to the Midlands to face Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester. The Foxes climbed into second place on Sunday with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, with Manchester United still to play.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 3:49 PM (43 days ago)            #44
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Premier League: Stubborn Eagles Stun Toothless Brighton

Brighton & Hove Albion 1-2 Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace earned a remarkable win away to Brighton tonight, thanks to a brave rearguard action, the Seagulls’ blunt attack and an inspired substitution by Roy Hodgson.

The hosts dominated from start to finish, but Joel Veltman’s equaliser to Jean-Philippe Mateta’s opener was all they had to show before super-sub Christian Benteke fired a last gasp winner for the visitors. Premier League: Brighton vs Crystal Palace was a chance for both sides to pull further away from the relegation zone and Palace took their chance with both hands as they move on to 32 points and ten clear of the drop zone.

The pre-match Brighton vs Crystal Palace betting odds had the hosts odds on to win, and they had a hatful of chances but it was a familiar story as they failed to convert.

Highlights of the game

Brighton like to play football which is easy on the eye, and they began the game within that vein. But the problem they often have is that they struggle to turn possession into goals. In fact, Graham Potter’s side only mustered two shots in the opening half-hour despite having over 70 per cent possession.

And then the visitors showed them how to do it.

The Eagles were toothless in a recent 2-0 defeat at the hands of Leeds United but they went ahead tonight with their first real attack on the Brighton goal and it was a beauty. After a period of Seagulls’ possession, Palace broke quickly; Jordan Ayew sprinted down the right-wing before delivering a low cross which Jean-Philippe Mateta cleverly back-heeled for his first Palace goal on his second start for the club.

Check out the Brighton vs Crystal Palace highlights, it was cheeky but brilliant by the Frenchman.

Palace only had three touches in the Brighton Penalty area in the first half and scored from one of them, while Brighton huffed and puffed and achieved nothing.

Potter made a change at the break, bringing on Danny Welbeck to replace Steven Alzate and the ex-Manchester United striker almost made an immediate impact, meeting a low driven cross from Leandro Trossard, but he diverted his effort just wide.

We always expect some spice in the M23 derby and it came when Dan Burn chopped down Ayew to pick up a yellow card. But Brighton frustration turned to joy when they levelled as Joel Veltman seized on a loose ball and fired a beauty inside the near post to equalise.

Premier League: Brighton's Joel Veltman scored a 55th-minute goal to cancel out Crystal Palace's opening goal

Joel Veltman celebrates after scoring an equaliser for Brighton & Hove Albion against Crystal Palace

Brighton had their tails up, and there was an almighty scramble in the Palace box as the Eagles defence threw themselves in the line of fire to deny Trossard and Welbeck. Potter threw Adam Lallana on and he came close to putting the Seagulls ahead when he met a low cross from Burn but his first-time effort flew just over the bar. And then Lallana had a glorious chance when Veltman squared to him with all the space and time he needed, but this time he skied his effort. Palace were hanging on and Roy Hodgson sent Christian Benteke on to try and shift the balance, which he did momentarily, bursting through the Brighton defence before blazing his shot over.

The Seagulls came back at the Eagles for the last ten minutes but then, with 94 minutes on the clock, the sucker punch was landed. Andros Townsend looped over a cross which Benteke met the first time and drilled his volley low into the far corner.

Key statistics

Brighton’s run of six matches unbeaten was the biggest in the club’s Premier League history and they will hardly believe they lost it tonight, having 25 shots to the Eagles’ three.

Brighton have won just once at home all season, and this was the seventh time they have gone behind in the campaign and they have failed to come back and win any.

The Eagles had lost 18 of the last 20 matches when Wilfried Zaha has been missing so this was a huge result for Roy Hodgson and a great confidence booster for the rest of the season.

What’s next?

Next Saturday Brighton take a trip to the West Midlands where they will meet Sam Allardyce’s West Brom. The Baggies are in 19th place and 11 points from safety. Here at SBOTOP, we’re backing the Seagulls to win at odds of around 1.99 but, while West Brom look doomed they have been battling hard in recent weeks to earn a point against both Manchester United and Burnley. The following week, Brighton entertain Leicester City as the Foxes continue their push to stay in the title race.

The Eagles have two home games to come, the first against Fulham. The Cottagers are in 18th place but they too are putting up a fight and have climbed to within three points of Newcastle United in 17th. Then Palace have a midweek date with Manchester United, an entirely different challenge and one which they would like to face with Zaha in the team.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 3:51 PM (43 days ago)            #45
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Premier League: Leeds Too Strong for Slumping Saints

Leeds United 3-0 Southampton

Leeds United are back in the top half of the Premier League table after a convincing 3-0 win over struggling Southampton at Elland Road.

Patrick Bamford, Stuart Dallas, and Raphinha all scored in a sensational second-half performance by the Whites, who snapped their two-game losing skid.

As for the Saints, their steady march down the standings continues. They are now 14th after their seventh loss in eight games, with the pressure on manager Ralph Hasenhuttl growing more and more.

Highlights of the game

As speculated in the SBOTOP preview of this match, Leeds shook up their starting line-up after getting shut out by Wolves in their previous match. Marcelo Bielsa went with a 3-3-3-1 formation in a bid to jumpstart his team’s attack.

However, it was the visitors who started brighter and had two big chances on goal within the first 10 minutes despite having top scorer Danny Ings on the bench. First, Jannik Vestergaard got free for a header, but he sent it wide of Illan Meslier’s goal. Then, young Nathan Tella made a good run and forced a fine save from Meslier.

It took Leeds until the 25th minute to create their first clear chance on goal. Raphinha’s fine run set up Tyler Roberts for a shot, but the Welshman skied it well off-target. Captain Liam Cooper then came close to stabbing the ball in off a free-kick, but Saints keeper Alex McCarthy did brilliantly to tip it over the bar.

Saints thought their prayers had been answered when referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot after Diego Llorente tackled Tella. But after taking a look at the replay monitor, the referee reversed his decision.

It would be Leeds’ turn to plead for a penalty on 39 minutes after Raphinha went through on goal after a lightning-quick counterattack. But the Brazilian was denied by a brilliant last-ditch tackle by Oriol Romeu, which Marriner did not award a penalty for.

And Marriner would make one more controversial call just before half-time. Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse caught Leeds off-guard with a quickly taken a free-kick and found Che Adams, who slid the ball into the net. But Marriner decided the free-kick was taken too early and waived the goal off, to the Saints’ dismay.

Patrick Bamford jumpstarts Leeds United’s Premier League win against Southampton

Patrick Bamford celebrates with his Leeds United teammates after scoring their first goal

Things would only go from bad to worse for Saints as they would go down just two minutes into the second half. Tyler Roberts supplied an inch-perfect through ball to Patrick Bamford, who threaded the needle himself with a pinpoint left-footed finish right into the corner.

Saints almost hit back right away through Stuart Armstrong, but Meslier did well to get down and make a save on his near post.

Leeds looked threatening with Raphinha causing so much trouble down the left wing, but Saints also had their chances as Bamford needed to clear a Vestergaard header off the line.

But Leeds finally got the second goal they were looking for on 78 minutes. Stuart Dallas, who had played so well operating in a midfield role, produced a spectacular shot with the outside of his left boot to give McCarthy no chance.

And Leeds would put Saints out of their misery on 84 minutes. Raphinha got the goal he thoroughly deserved as he blasted a free-kick right into the bottom corner.

Key statistics

Rodrigo may have been Leeds’ record signing, but Raphinha has been by far Leeds’ best signing this season. Not only did the Brazilian score his fifth goal of the season, but he also created four of Leeds’ 11 shots against Saints.

And with his trademark Brazilian free-kick – one of the top Premier League 2021 highlights thus far – Raphinha became the first Leeds player to score from a direct free-kick in the Premier League since Stephen McPhail in March 2004.

Patrick Bamford isn’t having such a bad season himself. The Leeds No. 9 scored his 13th goal of the season, which puts him in a four-way tie for third in the league.

Stuart Dallas also deserves plaudits for his fine performances. Despite playing a good deal of the season in defence, the 29-year-old has still scored five goals this season, which is tied for third on the team.

What’s next?

After climbing up to 10th in the table, Leeds now have a chance to leapfrog eight-placed Aston Villa, whom they host this weekend. Bamford had a hat-trick in a 3-0 win in their first meeting, and the Premier League 2021 betting odds could be even more in Leeds’ favour if Villa captain Jack Grealish’s injury keeps him out once again.

Meanwhile, Southampton’s quest to end their disastrous winless drought will resume when they face Everton on the 1st of March. Saints won their first meeting of the season 2-0 at home, but that was back in October.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 3:53 PM (43 days ago)            #46
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Premier League: Leeds Too Strong for Slumping Saints

Leeds United 3-0 Southampton

Leeds United are back in the top half of the Premier League table after a convincing 3-0 win over struggling Southampton at Elland Road.

Patrick Bamford, Stuart Dallas, and Raphinha all scored in a sensational second-half performance by the Whites, who snapped their two-game losing skid.

As for the Saints, their steady march down the standings continues. They are now 14th after their seventh loss in eight games, with the pressure on manager Ralph Hasenhuttl growing more and more.

Highlights of the game

As speculated in the SBOTOP preview of this match, Leeds shook up their starting line-up after getting shut out by Wolves in their previous match. Marcelo Bielsa went with a 3-3-3-1 formation in a bid to jumpstart his team’s attack.

However, it was the visitors who started brighter and had two big chances on goal within the first 10 minutes despite having top scorer Danny Ings on the bench. First, Jannik Vestergaard got free for a header, but he sent it wide of Illan Meslier’s goal. Then, young Nathan Tella made a good run and forced a fine save from Meslier.

It took Leeds until the 25th minute to create their first clear chance on goal. Raphinha’s fine run set up Tyler Roberts for a shot, but the Welshman skied it well off-target. Captain Liam Cooper then came close to stabbing the ball in off a free-kick, but Saints keeper Alex McCarthy did brilliantly to tip it over the bar.

Saints thought their prayers had been answered when referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot after Diego Llorente tackled Tella. But after taking a look at the replay monitor, the referee reversed his decision.

It would be Leeds’ turn to plead for a penalty on 39 minutes after Raphinha went through on goal after a lightning-quick counterattack. But the Brazilian was denied by a brilliant last-ditch tackle by Oriol Romeu, which Marriner did not award a penalty for.

And Marriner would make one more controversial call just before half-time. Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse caught Leeds off-guard with a quickly taken a free-kick and found Che Adams, who slid the ball into the net. But Marriner decided the free-kick was taken too early and waived the goal off, to the Saints’ dismay.

Patrick Bamford jumpstarts Leeds United’s Premier League win against Southampton

Patrick Bamford celebrates with his Leeds United teammates after scoring their first goal

Things would only go from bad to worse for Saints as they would go down just two minutes into the second half. Tyler Roberts supplied an inch-perfect through ball to Patrick Bamford, who threaded the needle himself with a pinpoint left-footed finish right into the corner.

Saints almost hit back right away through Stuart Armstrong, but Meslier did well to get down and make a save on his near post.

Leeds looked threatening with Raphinha causing so much trouble down the left wing, but Saints also had their chances as Bamford needed to clear a Vestergaard header off the line.

But Leeds finally got the second goal they were looking for on 78 minutes. Stuart Dallas, who had played so well operating in a midfield role, produced a spectacular shot with the outside of his left boot to give McCarthy no chance.

And Leeds would put Saints out of their misery on 84 minutes. Raphinha got the goal he thoroughly deserved as he blasted a free-kick right into the bottom corner.

Key statistics

Rodrigo may have been Leeds’ record signing, but Raphinha has been by far Leeds’ best signing this season. Not only did the Brazilian score his fifth goal of the season, but he also created four of Leeds’ 11 shots against Saints.

And with his trademark Brazilian free-kick – one of the top Premier League 2021 highlights thus far – Raphinha became the first Leeds player to score from a direct free-kick in the Premier League since Stephen McPhail in March 2004.

Patrick Bamford isn’t having such a bad season himself. The Leeds No. 9 scored his 13th goal of the season, which puts him in a four-way tie for third in the league.

Stuart Dallas also deserves plaudits for his fine performances. Despite playing a good deal of the season in defence, the 29-year-old has still scored five goals this season, which is tied for third on the team.

What’s next?

After climbing up to 10th in the table, Leeds now have a chance to leapfrog eight-placed Aston Villa, whom they host this weekend. Bamford had a hat-trick in a 3-0 win in their first meeting, and the Premier League 2021 betting odds could be even more in Leeds’ favour if Villa captain Jack Grealish’s injury keeps him out once again.

Meanwhile, Southampton’s quest to end their disastrous winless drought will resume when they face Everton on the 1st of March. Saints won their first meeting of the season 2-0 at home, but that was back in October.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 3:56 PM (43 days ago)            #47
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Premier League: Leeds Too Strong for Slumping Saints

Manchester City vs West Ham United

Saturday lunchtime in the Premier League, just two days after the runaway league leaders have flown back from European exertions in Germany, may give opponents of Manchester City hope they are there for the taking.

Perhaps against most clubs that lack recovery time would be an advantage.

But such is the strength of squad and player at Eastlands that Pep Guardiola’s men are favourites in virtually every match they play on planet football.

You only had to look at the calibre of player on their bench in midweek – Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne, John Stones, Fernandinho and Riyad Mahrez among them – to see why they so often have players fresh and rested for their next line of duty.

West Ham – who didn’t have a midweek match – come to town in fine form, but are they really ready to upset the odds?

Talking Points

David Moyes’s men have created their own Premier League highlights of late.

The Hammers produced a statement of intent in the way they not only took a two-goal lead against Spurs last Sunday but held out when the visitors hit back.

Not quite the wingless wonders as the world champions were once described but certainly strikerless wonders with loan signing Jesse Lingard making a fine start to his spell in East London.

However, as a lad used to life in Manchester, Lingard and his new team-mates will know this game represents another test altogether.

Manchester City are ten points clear at the top of the Premier League table

Manchester City players celebrate after scoring a goal against Chelsea

Aside from Lingard and Said Benrahma, whose loan move was turned into a £25 million permanent deal last month to make room for Lingard’s arrival, it is arguably the first loan deal of the season who has impressed most of all this term.

When Craig Dawson arrived from newly relegated Watford on a season-long deal, there was little fanfare and it took Moyes two months to hand the centre back his debut.

Since then, the 30-year-old has missed only one match, an FA Cup tie against League One outfit Doncaster Rovers, and has played 10 league matches – half of which have resulted in clean sheets and just one defeat as West Ham have climbed into the fourth spot.

Now he prepares to possibly come up against the toughest opponent he has ever faced, Aguero.

To have any kind of chance of getting a positive result, West Ham will have to keep Michail Antonio fit. His pace and skill has meant he has developed into the club’s first choice and most dangerous forward by far. A player who, on his day, can trouble any backline in the league.

 

Realistically, no-one expects the ‘east enders’ to return home with anything on Saturday.

The league leaders were on a run of 18 consecutive wins in all competitions before their midweek Champions League duties.

City are also the only team above West Ham in the 2021 form table. The Hammers have taken 21 points so far this year with Guardiola’s team way out ahead with a maximum 30 out of 30.

Given that backdrop, West Ham have nothing to lose. It’s possible (though unlikely) that could just help them.

History

City have scored in 19 consecutive matches against West Ham in all competitions, dating back to November 2012.

They won the corresponding fixture last season with Rodri and Kevin de Bruyne scoring the goals in each half in a 2-0 success.

City have actually won nine of the last 10 meetings with West Ham in all competitions – the exception being the draw earlier this term – scoring 31 goals and conceding just four.

Overall, West Ham have won on 37 occasions with 58 City triumphs and 18 draws.

Betting Tip

??

Manchester City vs West Ham United Specials – Manchester City to Kick-Off @ 2.21
February 27, 20:30 (GMT+8)

Considering one side is first and the other is fourth, the gap in the Sbotop Premier League betting odds is far wider.

Man City are priced 1X2 @ 1.26 and Asian Handicap -2.00 @ 2.33.

For the Hammers to upset the odds and shock the rest of the league, a 1X2 payday of @ 11.00 awaits, with the alternative Asian Handicap +1.50 @ 2.13.

A re-run of the 1-1 draw from earlier this term will pay out on correct score @ 11.50.

Goals are commonplace in City games. Indeed, not since a defeat at Spurs in mid-November have they failed to score in a contest.

Just to make things a bit more interesting, I’m going to opt for a bet of Specials Man City to kick off @ 2.21.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 3:58 PM (43 days ago)            #48
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Premier League: Leeds and Villa are Loving Life In the Top-Flight!

Leeds United vs Aston Villa

When Dean Smith’s Aston Villa head to Elland Road for the Saturday teatime match against Leeds we can expect a tasty clash between two of the grand old names in English football.

This Premier League tiff brings together two teams which can be delighted with their work in the 2020/21 league season.

Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites have entertained neutrals right from the very first whistle and they have been rewarded with a comfortable top-10 position in their first season with the elite crowd since 2004.

Entertainment has always been on the agenda at Leeds. And while they have suffered 12 defeats from their 25 games, Marcelo Bielsa’s side are a threat to any team they meet with 11 victories and they might already have enough points (35) to reserve their place in the Premier League again next term.

Aston Villa too have had a great campaign as they’re currently in eighth, and that’s some turnaround from the players who escaped by the skin of their teeth on the last day of the 2019/20 season.

Talking Points

Leeds bounce back against the Saints

February wasn’t shaping out to be the best of months for Leeds after losing three of their first four games, but they recovered on Monday with a good win over Southampton.

Marcelo Bielsa has kept faith with the players who have done him proud all season and striker Patrick Bamford has paid him back with 13 goals as leading scorer.

Attacking midfielder Raphinha is in fine form too and he gave the Southampton defence the run-around, scoring the third in Leeds’ 3-0 victory over the struggling Saints.

Leeds United's Raphinha celebrates after scoring his third Premier League goal from outside the box this season

Leeds United’s Raphinha celebrates scoring their third goal vs Southampton

That made it five goals and five assists for the Brazilian and he has made more chances and completed more dribbles than any of his teammates.

At 24, this is the third European league he has played in and he has plenty of time to keep improving.

On-loan winger Jack Harrison has also caught the eye on many occasions. And with a relentless scoring philosophy which sometimes looks a little gung-ho though great to watch, defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips has been a key player though he may have a late fitness test to see if he can make the Villa game.

Will Grealish be fit?

The visitors have an injury headache of their own and their fans would argue it’s even more significant.

Captain Jack Grealish was out injured when Villa went down to Leicester City last week, but boss Dean Smith has not ruled out a return for the Villains’ talisman when they meet Leeds on Saturday.

The boss was annoyed that the news of Grealish’s minor leg injury had leaked out on social media before the match, but there was little his side could do to stop James Maddison and Harvey Barnes earning the Foxes a third league win in a row.

Grealish had experienced discomfort in training and the club feared he may be out for up to a month but Smith is now more hopeful.

Anwar El Ghazi replaced the skipper against Leicester and he has been a little hit-and-miss. But despite Grealish’s 10 assists, Villa aren’t a one-man team.

Ross Barkley and John McGinn both have the ability to unlock a defence and another striker in his Premier League debut season has impressed.

Ollie Watkins has 10 goals already, and he will fancy his chances against a sometimes generous Leeds defence.

History

The head-to-head Leeds vs Aston Villa results couldn’t be much closer. The Yorkshire men have won 10 of the meetings since 1994, while Villa have won nine and there have been 10 draws.

Back in October, Leeds stunned Villa with a 3-0 win on the Midlanders’ turf and it’s a game Leeds’ Belgian centre-back Pascal Struijk won’t forget in a hurry.

In only his third Premier League start, he was hooked after just 21 minutes after receiving a yellow card and then treading close to the line when he committed a foul minutes later.

It was an example of Bielsa’s tactical nous and ability to make the quick decision as his side went on to win comfortably.

Leeds haven’t lost at home to Aston Villa in six encounters, and the Villains’ last victory at Elland Road came back in 2000.

Betting Tip

??
Leeds United vs Aston Villa 1X2 Draw @ 3.30
February 28, 01:30 (GMT+8)

The Leeds vs Aston Villa betting odds here at SBOTOP say that all three options are right in play, and when 10th plays against eighth then why not?

Leeds are at 2.16 and Villa at 3.02, but I think this could be Leeds’ third draw of the season.

Either way, it will be well worth a watch!

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 4:07 PM (43 days ago)            #49
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Premier League: Crystal Palace and Fulham Search For Consistency

Crystal Palace vs Fulham

Crystal Palace and Fulham will lock horns at Selhurst Park as they try to build consistency here in the Premier League.

The Eagles and the Cottagers are coming off of victories in the last time out, and both are eager to pile up good Premier League 2021 results in order to get out of the situations they’re in as of the moment.

The hosts are more than eager to move up in the table as they are only at the 13th spot with 32 points, which is making the fans grow impatient as the season wears on.

Meanwhile, Fulham are in the relegation zone with 22 points good for the 18th spot. But compared to Sheffield United and West Brom, there’s still enough time to dig themselves out of their predicament.

The reverse fixture of this matchup saw these two clubs go at it hard in what was a hard-fought game.

Crystal Palace may have gotten the best out of Fulham in Craven Cottage, but aiming for double will be easier said than done.

Talking Points

A healthy Wilfried Zaha is key to Crystal Palace’s aspirations

The Eagles outscored the toothless Seagulls 2-1 last weekend thanks to goals from Christian Benteke and Jean-Philippe Mateta in what was an inspired collective effort.

But even if they are fresh from a win, Fulham gaffer Roy Hodgson would prefer having Wilfried Zaha back at full strength for this upcoming contest.

“That was mentioned in the dressing room about winning without Zaha. But I must also add that it would be very, very nice to get him back,” said Hodgson in a recent press conference.

Hodgson knows too well that their team doesn’t look the same without his Ivory Coast-based hitman as Crystal Palace have lost 18 of their last 21 top-flight games without Zaha.

Zaha suffered a hamstring injury during their previous encounter against Newcastle United, and the 28-year-old hasn’t featured in the starting XI since the start of February.

Can Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha score a goal against Fulham in their upcoming Premier League clash?

Wilfried Zaha controls the ball during Crystal Palace’s 2-1 win over Newcastle United

The good news is that Zaha is already seen practicing with his teammates recently, and Roy Hodgson might consider maintaining his previous starting XI while making Wilfried Zaha available off the bench.

Making such move might be met with raised eyebrows, but a cautious approach for a player returning from injury is always the right thing to do.

Can Fulham turn the corner?

The big “if” for Fulham is whether they can maintain their top-flight status at the end of this season.

The Cottagers haven’t been in their best form in quite a while, but their recent performances offer a sliver of hope.

Team manager Scott Parker has done all he can to lead his boys to better heights. And slowly but surely, his work has been bearing fruit as they are now unbeaten in their last four league games.

But for them to continue their momentum, their top scorers need to bring their A-game night in and night out.

Bobby Reid, who is Fulham’s top scorer with seven goals, has yet to add on to his total since the end of January and I am looking for him to re-assert himself alongside his attacking partner in Ademola Lookman.

History

Prior to this game, Crystal Palace and Fulham have faced off in 12 matches since the turn of the century.

In the head-to-heads, Fulham own the slight edge with six wins, whereas Crystal Palace have won four times along with two draws.

The Eagles achieved a double against Fulham last season and they won against them in their first meeting of the season last October.

In the said game, Wilfried Zaha was the Man of the Match while midfielder Jairo Riedewald scored his first-ever Premier League goal after 33 appearances for the Eagles. Fulham were even reduced to 10 men at the 88th minute.

Betting Tip

??
Crystal Palace vs Fulham Crystal Palace Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.38
February 28, 20:00 (GMT+8)

The Premier League 2021 odds here at SBOTOP may be backing the visitors to win this weekend, but I will beg to differ.

Fulham are priced to win at 2.29, while Crystal Palace are pegged at 3.25 and a draw is at 3.10 in the 1X2 market.

But what the odds failed to account for is the impact Wilfried Zaha will bring to the Eagles if ever he will play this Sunday. .

The athletic centre-forward is considered probable for this fixture and his return should make Crystal Palace an stronger attacking team that would give Fulham major headaches.

Fulham may have been undefeated in their last four games, but it is very likely that Crystal Palace will be the team that will stop them on their tracks.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 4:10 PM (43 days ago)            #50
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Premier League: Tuchel Will Face His Biggest Test So Far

Chelsea vs Manchester United

An old Premier League rivalry resumes on Sunday when Manchester United head to Chelsea for the top-flight match of the weekend, but it will be a new experience for the Londoners’ head coach Thomas Tuchel.

The unceremonious sacking of club legend Frank Lampard annoyed some Blues’ fans. But since his arrival at Stamford Bridge, Tuchel has charmed the media and impressed the club’s supporters.

Away from the pitch, he has become the big Premier League 2021 news over the last few weeks. With five wins and a draw in February, the former Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund boss has reignited Chelsea’s season and they are now in a healthy position to qualify for next season’s Champions League while thriving in this year’s European campaign.

The visit of second-placed Manchester United poses Tuchel his biggest Premier League test so far, though arguably his team overcame even better opposition when they beat Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is having his best period yet as Manchester United manager and his team has won four and drawn two this month, so we can look forward to a fascinating 90 minutes when these two giants clash on Sunday.

Talking Points

New boss lifts the pressure off Chelsea new boys

Tuchel inherited an expensively assembled squad when he arrived at Stamford Bridge, and one which Lampard struggled to blend in the opening half of the season.

Big money signings Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, and Kai Havertz all arrived with a fanfare in the summer alongside wing-back Ben Chilwell, but the attacking trio have struggled to make the impact hoped for with heavy price tags weighing heavily on their shoulders.

Each have shown glimpses of their undoubted talent, particularly Ziyech and latterly Werner. But after a strong start to the campaign, any hopes they would combine with Christian Pulisic to dominate the league this season have long gone.

Werner seems to have regained some confidence while Tuchel has shown faith in some of the old guard to great effect.

France striker Olivier Giroud scored one of his specials in Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid, and he along with top scorer Tammy Abraham gives his boss a high quality option.

That victory was some result against Los Rojiblancos’, who were leaders and favourites to win the La Liga title this term and it shows that Chelsea’s all-round game is taking shape.

The Blues climbed back into the top four of the Premier League recently with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United, though the outstanding form of West Ham has pushed them back into fifth.

But with a squad virtually at full strength with only Thiago Silva sidelined, the Blues should move back into the top four before too long, particularly as the Hammers face Manchester City in the Saturday curtain-raiser.

Manchester United fans believes Bruno Fernandes is currently the best midfielder in the Premier League

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes during the warm up before the match vs Newcastle United

United must protect Fernandes

Here in the SBOTOP football team we can’t see beyond Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues for the Premier League title this year, though my colleagues in James and Jordan might be holding on to their dreams that the Red Devils can win their first league trophy since 2013 at odds of 34.00.

The Red Devils have a minor distraction of a Europa League second leg tie against Real Sociedad on Thursday night. But while this competition is a high priority for Solskjaer, the boss will be able to rest his key players after racing away with a 4-0 first leg lead.

This means that teenagers Amad Diallo and Shola Shoretire could make their full first-team debuts.

Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay are receiving treatment, so OGS is unlikely to risk his other big players.

With 15 goals and 10 assists, Bruno Fernandes is still massively relied on by the Red Devils and I’d be amazed if he was sent out to face the Spaniards.

The Manchester United boss must take great care of his prized asset.

History

The Premier League head-to-heads between these two teams are really close at 26 victories to 24 in favour of Chelsea and there have been 23 draws.

The last meeting was a goalless stalemate at Old Trafford in October, and I’m sure there won’t be much in it this time.

Both teams are banging in form as Chelsea won five from six and United four from six, while the Red Devils are unbeaten in eight games away from home.

Betting Tip

??
Chelsea vs Manchester United Total Goals 2-3 @ 1.93
March 01, 00:30 (GMT+8)

The Premier League 2021 betting odds favour the hosts at odds of 2.13 and they should have the edge over Manchester United at 3.06, while the draw is at 3.16.

The Blues have an extra two days of preparation for this match, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will rest many of his first team for the clash against Real Sociedad and his best available players should make the action at Stamford Bridge.

I can see a 1-1 draw or Chelsea winning by the odd goal, so I’m hedging my bets on 2-3 goals.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 4:12 PM (43 days ago)            #51
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Premier League: Foxes Aiming to ‘Gun’ Down Arsenal Again

Leicester City vs Arsenal

If you had been asked at the start of the Premier League season to guess which of these sides would be in joint second and who would lie in 11th place going into the final weekend in February, the vast majority would have placed Arsenal above Leicester City in their estimates.

And why wouldn’t you?

Yes, Leicester had finished in fifth position, six points and three places above the Gunners last term, but that didn’t tell the full story.

For the Foxes had tailed off somewhat as the 2019/20 campaign reached its conclusion, being hauled back and pipped by Manchester United and Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification (at one stage in February they held a 14 point advantage over United).

At the same time, Arsenal were showing signs of improvement under new boss Mikel Arteta which culminated in memorable FA Cup and later Community Shields triumphs.

Granted, Leicester do not have the resources of any of those clubs but that was another reason why Arsenal were expected to finish above the East Midlanders this term.

That it has not happened – Leicester currently are 15 points in front of their opponents this Sunday – is testament to the work of the squad and coaching staff, headed by manager Brendan Rodgers.

This Sunday lunchtime clash has all the ingredients for Premier League highlights, less than 72 hours after both are involved in Europa League last 32 ties –just reward for their efforts last season.

Talking Points

An indication of the momentum in recent seasons is that Leicester have actually won four and drawn one of their last six top-flight matches against the Gunners – that’s one more than in their previous 36 top-flight league meetings.

They also have a secret weapon who just loves scoring against Arsenal – a side which tried to buy him in 2016/17.

For Jamie Vardy has scored 11 Premier League goals against Arsenal in 12 appearances – only Wayne Rooney (12) has netted more against them.

Aided and abetted by James Maddison (eight) and Harvey Barnes (nine) who are enjoying their best goalscoring season for the Foxes – between them, they’ve been involved in 19 of Leicester’s last 26 Premier League goals – and there should be no shortage of confidence in the home ranks.

Maddison missed out in their midweek Europa League tie with a hip injury, while Barnes was rested but both should be back for this. James Justin, Wesley Fofana, Ayoze Perez, Dennis Praet and Wes Morgan remain sidelined with injuries.

It’s clear that an important transfer window lies ahead for Arteta as he continues to make progress this summer.

With Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey easing back to fitness, the former scored in midweek, the visitors should be at near full strength.

Arteta has also this week had to shrug off claims that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ‘past his best’ and has ‘lost his superpower’.

The manager is adamant his captain still has an important role to play at the club.

He reminded doubters of his talents in thrilling fashion in midweek and would love to do so again.

Arsenal are on eleventh place in the Premier League table

Arsenal players celebrates after winning against Benfica in the Europa League round of 32

History

When Leicester won on Arsenal turf in October, it not only sent shockwaves around the Premier League but was their first triumph against them in North London since 1973.

Arsenal have won 67 of their clashes since the very first meeting in 1895 in the old League Division Two when Leicester Fosse defeated Woolwich Arsenal 3-1.

Overall, Leicester have 33 successes and a further 45 meetings have ended all square.

The matches last season saw Leicester win 2-0 at home with Vardy and Maddison the scorers followed by a 1-1 draw at the Emirates as Vardy’s equaliser cancelled out Aubameyang’s opener.

The sides have already met in the East Midlands this season, of course, when Arsenal won 2-0 in the third round of the League Cup courtesy of an own goal and Eddie Nketiah.

Betting Tip

??
Leicester City vs Arsenal Over 2.75 @ 2.29
February 28, 20:00 (GMT+8)

The SBOTOP Premier League betting odds make Leicester slight favourites and that won’t have happened very often in top-flight meetings with Arsenal.

You can back the Foxes 1X2 @ 2.50 and Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.19, whereas Arsenal are tipped 1X2 @ 2.79 and -0.25 @ 2.47.

If Leicester are to repeat their 1-0 success from October then the correct score betting will payout @ 8.25.

If you expect goals, then look no further than over 2.75 goals @ 2.29, total goal 2-3 @ 1.90 and 4-6 @ 3.60.

Over 2.75 goals @ 2.29 is my *** prediction.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 4:15 PM (43 days ago)            #52
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Premier League: Villa Hang on for Win Despite Leeds Dominance

Leeds United 0-1 Aston Villa

Aston Villa came out on top in this evening’s Premier League clash at Elland Road thanks to an early goal from Anwar El Ghazi.

Without talisman Jack Grealish, Dean Smith’s Villa still showed plenty of attacking flair in a game in which both teams had plenty of chances. Leeds’ star man was, once again, Raphinha who showed sparks of brilliance throughout, but Smith will be delighted by the way all 11 of his men stepped up in the absence of their captain.

Villa remain in eighth place, but now are within a point of a European place while Leeds stay tenth for now.

Highlights of the game

The Whites had a great chance to open the scoring with just 30 seconds on the clock when top scorer Patrick Bamford made his way into the Villa penalty area and when his mis-hit shot looped up towards Raphinha at the far post he was close to converting.

But he didn’t, and Villa did just five minutes later.

This time Ollie Watkins slipped and scooped his shot up into the path of Anwar El Ghazi, and he made no mistake, taking a touch before slamming the ball home.

El Ghazi had a taste for goals and he tried his luck again minutes later, hitting a fierce drive which Illan Meslier tipped over the bar. The Dutch attacking midfielder brought another good save from Meslier and then scuffed his next effort just wide of the post.

Whenever Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds are in action there is going to be excitement at both ends of the pitch, and when Raphinha had a shot blocked it fell to Tyler Roberts who let fly and Emiliano Martinez did well to beat the ball away. Brazilian forward Raphinha ran the Southampton defence ragged last week, and he was on his game again today, showing a turn of brilliance, midway through the first half, to turn John McGinn inside out and then jinking his way into the penalty area before the Villa defence desperately cleared.

During the Premier League tie vs Villa, Raphinha gets a head to it but the ball bounces wide

Raphinha in action with Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore

Just before the break Raphinha stretched the Villa backline again and dinked a dangerous cross over, but Bamford’s run was too late. The Brazilian has been big Premier League 2021 news in recent weeks; he’s still only 24 years old and is sure improve, which is a tantalising prospect for Leeds fans.

After a breathless first half, the opening 15 minutes of the second period were quiet, and we were three quarters of the way through the game before Tyrone Mings met a cross from El Ghazi and his header was deflected just over the bar by Liam Cooper.

Bielsa brought Pablo Hernandez on and the Spanish midfielder almost made an immediate impact when his well struck shot was deflected wide for a corner. And then, with time ticking away Raphinha had a golden chance to earn a point when he met a brilliant cross from Jack Harrison but this time he got his header all wrong.

Key statistics

Coming into this game on the back of a 3-0 victory over Southampton the Leeds vs Aston Villa betting odds backed this hosts at 2.16 to win, but they had an uphill battle once El Ghazi had given the Villains a half time lead.

It was a great game to watch for the neutrals, particularly the first half, as Leeds dominated possession and won the shot count by 13 to eight, but Villa had four on target to Leeds’ three.

Any team would miss a player as influential as Jack Grealish but Ollie Watkins showed his worth today as he had his 13th involvement in a goal, making his third assist to add to his ten goals, while El Ghazi put in a man-of-the-match performance.

In terms of head to heads, Villa have drawn level with Leeds at ten victories each, and they have won at Elland Road for the first time in seven encounters dating back to 2000.

What’s next?

The top drawer action just keeps on coming for SBOTOP football fans, and Leeds’ next game will present another serious test when they come up against high flying West Ham on Monday 8th May. The Hammers have been in superb form, rising to fourth in the table and they pushed runaway leaders Manchester City all the way on Saturday, losing to the odd goal in three.

Meanwhile Villa are away to Sheffield United this Wednesday when they hope Grealish will be available. The Blades are deep in the relegation mire but, even so, they are never an easy touch.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 4:29 PM (43 days ago)            #53
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Premier League: 20 Not Out for City Slickers

Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United

It may not yet be March but the Premier League title race has long been over.

And no wonder when there is a side as consistent as Manchester City.

West Ham gave it a damn good go – in fact, the outcome remained in the balance until the final whistle at the Etihad Stadium – but they could not prevent the runaway leaders from making it 20 straight wins in all competitions.

That is the longest competitive winning streak in history by an English top-flight team with 14 of these victories in the league.

No wonder all the other leading sides are playing for second place.

Highlights of the game

On the team news front, City hotshot and record scorer Sergio Aguero made his first Premier League appearance since January 3 in one of seven changes to the side that beat Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League in midweek.

It was the Argentine maestro’s first start in the league since the earlier season fixture in East London which ended 1-1 and only his sixth of the campaign so far.

Elsewhere, John Stones and Oleksandr Zinchenko came into defence with Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne and Ferran Torres recalled.

West Ham full-back Ryan Fredericks (groin) joined Andriy Yarmolenko, Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku on the sidelines as the visitors made two additions to the team that beat London rivals Spurs last weekend.

Goalkeeper Darren Randolph was handed only his second league appearance of the season in place of Lukasz Fabianski, while Ben Johnson came in for Jarrod Bowen.

The Hammers started the day in fourth place and are doing far better than any of their fans or pundits realistically anticipated, despite the lack of an out-and-out striker.

So overwhelming were the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds in favour of the hosts that they headed north with nothing to lose and for the first half an hour were largely comfortable.

In fact, they nearly took a surprise lead when loanee Jesse Lingard’s deflected shot looped to Tomas Soucek at the back post whose header was half cleared before Lingard saw another shot blocked.

Then came City’s first effort on target as footballer of the year De Bruyne delivered a pinpoint cross which centre back Ruben Dias powerfully headed past Randolph.

When Michail Antonio struck the base of the post around 10 minutes later, following more good work by Lingard, it seemed West Ham would go into the interval behind.

West Ham United are currently at the 4th spot in the Premier League table with 45 points

West Ham United players celebrate after Michail Antonio scores their first goal

Yet they kept coming and were rewarded just before the break as Lingard steered a Vladimir Coufal cross towards Antonio who made no mistake.

It was to the visitors’ immense credit that there was little in the contest but it didn’t stop the hosts grabbing a winner.

This time it was Dias’ centre-back partner Stones who side-footed the winner past Randolph after a delivery from Mahrez.

Before this contest, David Moyes had described his opposite number Pep Guardiola as the footballing equivalent of celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal for his ‘tactical innovations that defy convention’. While the positioning of Guardiola in the pantheon of managerial greats may never be fully known – as he has always managed at clubs with the resources to swamp their rivals – Moyes’ point cannot be disputed.

This time Guardiola had been indebted to his two centre backs for their Premier League highlights. That was enough to take them 13 points clear at the summit.

Key statistics

City are now unbeaten in 27 games across all competitions (won 24, drawn three) – one match shy of their longest run without defeat under Guardiola, set in 2017.

They have not trailed at any point in their past 18 league fixtures, conceding just five goals.

West Ham are winless in 12 games against City in all competitions since a 2-1 league victory at Etihad Stadium in September 2015 (drawn two, lost 10).

City have scored in 20 successive league and cup games against West Ham.

Moyes has gone 41 Premier League away games without a victory against established top-six opposition since his Everton side beat City in December 2010 (drawn 12, lost 29).

Moyes is winless in his nine competitive fixtures as a manager versus Guardiola, losing all five away matches.

No player has more Premier League assists this season than de Bruyne (11 – level with Harry Kane).

Stones has scored three goals in his last eight Premier League games after just one in his first 170 appearances. He has scored four goals in all competitions in 2021, more than any other Premier League defender.

What’s next?

City are back in action on Tuesday night (March 2) as they host Wolves looking to extend their lead at the summit before next weekend’s Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.

West Ham have nine days before they are next in action with a home match against Leeds on March 8.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 4:31 PM (43 days ago)            #54
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Premier League: Arsenal Fight Back As Foxes’ Injuries Mount

Leicester City 1-3 Arsenal

This Premier League result should come as no surprise,

For the fact Leicester can regularly compete with, let alone finish above Arsenal, is an achievement itself in an era of big spending and when the clubs challenging the establishment nearly always end up selling their best players.

Yet the fact that, for nearly 40 minutes, Leicester were on course to gun down Arsenal again speaks volumes about how far this club from the East Midlands has come.

Ultimately though, following their first triumph against the Gunners in North London since 1973 earlier this season, there was to be no league double.

Highlights of the game

Both teams played in the Europa League midweek with contrasting outcomes but there seemed to be no initial carry-over from that.

Leicester made a number of changes from their loss to Slavia Prague with Timothy Castagne, Ricardo Pereira, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho all starting.

Premier League: Harvey Barnes sustained an injury in Leicester City's 1-3 defeat against Arsenal

Harvey Barnes receiving medical attention during Leicester City’s match against Arsenal

Meanwhile Arsenal, buoyant from a fine comeback when they looked like they were heading out of the Europa League in midweek, rang the changes to their team that saw off Benfica.

Two-goal hero in that match Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was rested with Alexandre Lacazette starting in his place up front.

Elsewhere, Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari were drafted into the defence with Nicolas Pepe and Willian also included as talented youngster Bukayo Saka and loanee Martin Odegaard joined Aubameyang on the bench.

It wasn’t long before Leicester, who had won three of the past four league meetings with the Gunners, struck first.

Youri Tielemens has scored against the north Londoners before and only six minutes had elapsed when he was allowed to run unchecked down the right before firing a low shot beyond Bernd Leno.

That was the way it stayed until six minutes before the break as Arsenal produced two quick fire Premier League highlights to turn the match around.

David Luiz brought them level as he directed in a header from a Willian free-kick for his first league goal for 16 months.

Then, on the stroke of half-time, VAR adjudged Wilfred Ndidi to have blocked a Pepe shot in the box with an outstretched arm and Lacazette converted the resulting penalty.

If the home side weren’t at their fluent best – not helped by the absence of James Maddison, the latest name on the Foxes’ injury team sheet with the recurrence of a hip problem – then they must have been pretty disconsolate seven minutes after the restart as Barnes left the field on a stretcher (with what looked like a serious looking injury) and Arsenal immediately added a third.

It was a simple goal as Ivory Coast forward Pepe tapped into a largely unguarded net after a Willian pass was deflected into his path amid more unconvincing defending.

After conceding three times in, effectively, 13 minutes, and losing another key man to injury, Leicester had nothing left in the tank.

They remain 12 points ahead of Arsenal, which is an achievement in itself, but a fairly small squad is being tested as a crucial juncture in the campaign approaches.

Key statistics

This was only Leicester’s second defeat in 12 games.

Six of their seven Premier League losses this term have come at King Power Stadium.

Brendan Rodgers’ side have won 12 of the 14 league matches in which they have scored the opening goal in 2020-21.

This was Arsenal’s first away victory against a team starting the day in the top three of the Premier League table since January 2015 – they were winless in their past 14 such games beforehand.

Pepe has already equalled his league goal tally from last season of five but in 13 fewer appearances.

Lacazette has converted all five of his penalties for Arsenal, while only Aubameyang (13) has now netted more goals for the Gunners than the France forward this term.

Tielemans has scored six league goals for Leicester this season, as many as he had in his first two campaigns at the club combined.

Luiz & Willian are just the second Arsenal duo to combine for a Premier League goal for the Gunners and another Premier League club (Chelsea), following John Hartson and Ian Wright (West Ham).

What’s next?

Leicester go to Burnley on Wednesday (March 3) and then Brighton on Saturday night (March 6) as the congested season goes on.

There’s a relentless schedule for Arsenal too although they have a midweek break before meeting Burnley themselves next Saturday lunchtime (March 6).

Check out the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds before kick-off.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 4:37 PM (43 days ago)            #55
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Premier League: Chelsea and Manchester United in Stalemate at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea 0-0 Manchester United

Chelsea missed a chance to climb back into the top four of the Premier League on Sunday, after playing out their second goalless draw against Manchester United this season.

Premier League: Chelsea vs Manchester United was billed as the match of the weekend in the English top flight, and while we were starved of goals there was plenty of action, and as far as 0-0s go it wasn’t half bad. Thomas Tuchel has made a huge impact since his arrival as head coach at Stamford Bridge and while his side had the better of this game he will be reasonably happy with a point, as will his opposite number Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Manchester City are well clear at the top of the table, making it 20 wins on the bounce with a 2-1 victory over West Ham on Saturday and now the Sky Blues are 12 points clear of the chasing pack, led by the Red Devils.

Highlights of the game

Chelsea started the match the better, passing and moving swiftly and making inroads into the United half, and had Mason Mount steadied himself quicker his early shot would not have been so easily blocked. The Red Devils had a clear sight of goal when they had a free-kick at around 25 yards. Marcus Rashford beat the wall but not the keeper as Edouard Mendy punched clear. There was a VAR penalty review as the ball brushed Callum Hudson-Odoi’s arm when it was cleared but the wing-back got away with it.

Hudson-Odoi had an opportunity to shoot, after playing a one-two with Cesar Azpilicueta, but he shot wide. And then Olivier Giroud was presented with an opportunity when David de Gea fluffed a clearance but he blasted his effort over the bar. The French striker was inches away from scoring when Hudson-Odoi swung in an early cross but Giroud’s dive was a split second too late as the ball flew to safety.

Manchester United began to work their way into the game and Bruno Fernandes almost deceived Mendy with a shot that was deflected just wide. The visitors finished the half strongly, and after a smart interchange of passes, N’Golo Kante had to be quick to stop Rashford from pulling the trigger.

De Gea made a stunning save to keep the scores level at the start of the second half after Ben Chilwell raced down the left flank and pulled the ball back for Hakim Ziyech who rifled his shot goalwards, but De Gea made the stop. Mason Greenwood had a great chance at the other end after good work from Dan James, and his shot went flew narrowly wide, and then Mendy had to be alert to keep out a Scott McTominay effort at his near post.

As the game began to get a little more stretched Mateo Kovacic tried a shot from distance but De Gea held on comfortably. With 15 minutes left on the clock Tuchel brought Timo Werner on but there was almost a slip up at the other end when Mendy took two attempts to hold on to Dan James cross.

Reece James swung in a brilliant cross for Werner but Victor Lindelof made a superb interception to save the Red Devils, and moments later Werner tested de Gea with a well-hit shot. Then as Chelsea pressed for the winner Christian Pulisic fired over when he had a clear sight of goal.

The pre-match Chelsea vs Manchester United betting odds here at SBOTOP had the draw at 3.16 and while the Blues shaded it, a point each was about right.

Premier League: David de Gea has kept a clean sheet for Manchester United

Manchester United goalkeeper David reacts during the match between Chelsea and Manchester United


 

Key statistics

Chelsea remain unbeaten under their new coach and they still lead in the head to head Chelsea vs Manchester United results, by 26 victories to 24, but the gap between these two teams remains six points in United’s favour.

The Red Devils are unbeaten in nine games away from home, while this is the first time Chelsea and Manchester United have played out two 0-0 draws in a season since 1921-22.

What’s next?

The big games keep on coming for the Blues and they can look forward to a Merseyside double next week. Tuchel’s side travel to meet Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Thursday before heading back to West London to welcome Everton on Monday 8th March.

The Red Devils too have a monumental week coming up. They are back in London on Wednesday to face Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace who are edging away from the danger zone, before facing up to Manchester City next Sunday as the Sky Blues seek to extend their lead at the top of the table.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 4:40 PM (43 days ago)            #56
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Premier League: Red Devils Hope for Capital Joy

Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

Manchester United are back in London for the second time in four days when they head to Selhurst Park for a Premier League clash with Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace.

Both teams arrive on the back of goalless draws; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer watched his side take a point away from Chelsea while the Eagles frustrated Fulham with a brave defensive display. Palace are beset by injuries and Hodgson was not amused to see this game scheduled for Wednesday, and it could be a good chance for the Red Devils to get back to winning ways.

The hosts are within touching distance of safety, in 13th place on 33 points. They have a ten-point cushion to protect them from relegation and probably only need two or three more points from the last 12 games. Hodgson won’t want to leave anything to chance though and his team is sure to defend with passion against a Manchester United side that likes to play on the break and will be keen to cement a Champions League place, with Chelsea and Liverpool ominously improving in fifth and sixth positions.

Talking Points

Decimated Eagles playing for contracts 

Crystal Palace fans are understandably worried about the current state and health of their first-team squad. Injuries to key players, including their talisman Wilfried Zaha, have hampered the Eagles’ progress, while over half the first team squad is out of contract this summer.

Players including centre back pair Gary Cahill and Scott Dann, wing-back Patrick van Aanholt and winger Andros Townsend are all free agents in the close season and head coach Roy Hodgson seems happy to keep it that way as he tries to squeeze better performances out of his players as they creep closer to the safety line. The boss is hoping that his players perform for the club and their own careers to rise as high as they can as the season comes to a close.

Hodgson could really do with the services of Zaha though. With Jeff Schlupp and Nathanial Clyne also sidelined the Eagles are short of creativity, and that was woefully evident against the Cottagers. Zaha has now missed the last four games and Palace have scored in just one of those, a win over Brighton in the M23 derby, and his boss expects him to be out for the next two, saying: “I think we have to wait. The Manchester United game that has been thrust upon us is obviously something we are pretty unhappy about.”

With contracts expiring and injuries to key players, captain Luka Milivojevic has a big role to lead his team on Wednesday, though he won’t be afraid to take the battle to United having picked up his seventh yellow card of the season against Fulham.

Are the Red Devils flat-track bullies?

If Manchester United are to become title contenders once again they need to find a way of beating their rivals. The Red Devils showed their resilient side to withstand an onslaught from Chelsea’s star-studded attack in the 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

But Solskjaer’s team has struggled to get big Premier League 2021 results against the top teams. The blank against the Blues was the sixth game in succession in which the Red Devils failed to score against one of the ‘big six’, since a 6-1 defeat to Spurs back in October. They have played out five goalless draws and suffered a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal and seem content to take a passive role against some of their rivals while collecting their wins against the lesser teams.

Bruno Fernandes was quiet against Chelsea and he has struggled to find his best form against the top sides, so maybe we can expect a strong performance against Palace from the Portuguese star.

The Premier League 2021 betting odds tell us the title is heading back to the Etihad so United’s aim is to stay in the top four and, while they continue to work out how to beat the big guns, this is the type of game they need to win.

Bruno Fernades is expected to lead Manchester United in their upcoming Premier League match against Crystal Palace

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes in action with Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech


 

History

The Red Devils have won 17 of the 24 meetings with Crystal Palace in the Premier League era, drawing four and losing just three.

Palace provided the first big shock of the season when they won 3-1 at Old Trafford in the second game of the season with Zaha scoring twice, but they will be the first team to beat Manchester United at home if they complete the double, the visitors have won eight and drawn five on the road.

Betting Tip

??
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United Under 2.50 @ 2.11
March 04, 04:15 (GMT+8)

Manchester United are at SBOTOP odds of 1.45 with Palace at 7.20 and the draw at 4.20.

I really can’t see the beleaguered Eagles springing another surprise, but they will be hard to break down and will let United have plenty of possession.

With both teams arriving on the back of 0-0 draws don’t expect a goal-fest here and OGS will settle for a 1-0 win.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 4:44 PM (43 days ago)            #57
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Premier League: Free-Scoring Spurs Seek More Goals at Fulham

Fulham vs Tottenham Hotspur

Have Tottenham Hotspur turned over a new leaf? It seems like it. Jose Mourinho is finally playing all of his attacking stars, and Spurs have been scoring a lot more goals as a result.

However, their free-scoring ways will be put to the test in their upcoming London derby against Fulham, who have been among the stingiest defences in the Premier League over the past few weeks.

The Cottagers are still fighting for survival and will be desperate to pick up a point that will help improve their Premier League 2021 odds of staying up.

Talking Points

Fulham still putting up a fight

Fulham missed a great opportunity to claim a crucial three points as they were held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace last weekend. Fulham absolutely dominated the match as they had a 16-3 edge in terms of shots, but once again, their finishing let them down.

Nevertheless, Fulham have now gone five games unbeaten with two wins and three draws and are still just three points behind both Brighton and Newcastle.

Scott Parker aims to keep Fulham in the Premier League

Fulham manager Scott Parker celebrates after the match vs Sheffield United

Scott Parker’s side have been quite formidable defensively since making changes in December. They have conceded just one goal during their recent five-game unbeaten run.

However, their main problem remains the lack of a consistent goalscorer. New striker Josh Maja bagged a brace in his first start against Everton, but he has been unable to score in the three games since.

Meanwhile, the goals have dried up for top scorer Bobby De Cordova-Reid (five goals) and Ivan Cavaleiro.

Fulham have found it especially hard to score at home; they have just eight goals in 13 games at Craven Cottage. That is a big reason why they have the second-worst points tally at home (10 points), with two wins and seven losses.

Tottenham finally bringing out the big guns

Tottenham Hotspur have made a sharp U-turn in their approach over the last few weeks. Jose Mourinho, who has been criticised for his overly cautious style, has now been playing more attacking line-ups, which have led to more goals.

Spurs have scored four or more goals in four of their last six matches, a run that began with their epic FA Cup shootout with Everton. Granted, two of those games were against Wolfsberger in the Europa League round of 32, but their 4-0 demolition of Burnley last weekend was quite impressive.

Gareth Bale, who has been getting more regular playing time over the last few weeks, was outstanding as he scored a brace and set up another goal. The Welsh star now has four goals and three assists over his last four games.

The other members of Spurs’ new front four — Son Heung-Min, Harry Kane, and Lucas Moura — also produced a host of Premier League 2021 highlights. Meanwhile, Dele Alli has finally been brought back into the fold after being in Mourinho’s doghouse for most of the season to offer another offensive weapon off the bench.

After such a fine performance against Burnley, Mourinho will be eager to keep the positive momentum going against Fulham. He is unlikely to make too many changes to the side, although Bale could be a candidate to drop to the bench to protect his fitness.

History

Tottenham have a strong record against Fulham in the Premier League. They have lost just once in their last 14 league meetings against the Cottagers, with 10 wins. Moreover, they have won in each of their last five trips to Craven Cottage.

Although, Fulham snapped Spurs’ run of four straight wins as they held them to a 1-1 draw in their first meeting this season. Harry Kane had given Spurs the lead, but Ivan Cavaleiro equalised for Fulham.

Kane has a terrific record against Fulham, with six goals in four games against them. That includes a hat-trick in a 3-0 Spurs win at Craven Cottage in a 2017 FA Cup tie.

Kane will be keen to get on target once again as he looks to help Spurs win consecutive games in the league for the first time since November.

Betting Tip

??
Fulham vs Tottenham Hotspur 1X2 Tottenham Hotspur @ 1.99
March 05, 02:00 (GMT+8)

SBOTOP odds have Tottenham installed as 1.99 favourites to pick up the away win over Fulham, who are priced at 3.70. Meanwhile, a draw is 3.35.

Fulham will be a tough nut for Tottenham to crack, but Spurs have the weapons to cause the Cottagers some problems. With Mourinho finally letting his stars play with more attacking freedom, Kane and co. should be able to find their way through Fulham’s defence eventually.

Conversely, Fulham’s forwards inspire very little confidence in their ability to score, which is why I am going with Spurs to pick up the away win.

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04-Mar 2021 Thursday 4:46 PM (43 days ago)            #58
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Premier League Giants Set Sights on Lucrative Top Four Berth

Fulham vs Tottenham Hotspur

Have Tottenham Hotspur turned over a new leaf? It seems like it. Jose Mourinho is finally playing all of his attacking stars, and Spurs have been scoring a lot more goals as a result.

However, their free-scoring ways will be put to the test in their upcoming London derby against Fulham, who have been among the stingiest defences in the Premier League over the past few weeks.

The Cottagers are still fighting for survival and will be desperate to pick up a point that will help improve their Premier League 2021 odds of staying up.

Talking Points

Fulham still putting up a fight

Fulham missed a great opportunity to claim a crucial three points as they were held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace last weekend. Fulham absolutely dominated the match as they had a 16-3 edge in terms of shots, but once again, their finishing let them down.

Nevertheless, Fulham have now gone five games unbeaten with two wins and three draws and are still just three points behind both Brighton and Newcastle.

Scott Parker aims to keep Fulham in the Premier League

Fulham manager Scott Parker celebrates after the match vs Sheffield United

Scott Parker’s side have been quite formidable defensively since making changes in December. They have conceded just one goal during their recent five-game unbeaten run.

However, their main problem remains the lack of a consistent goalscorer. New striker Josh Maja bagged a brace in his first start against Everton, but he has been unable to score in the three games since.

Meanwhile, the goals have dried up for top scorer Bobby De Cordova-Reid (five goals) and Ivan Cavaleiro.

Fulham have found it especially hard to score at home; they have just eight goals in 13 games at Craven Cottage. That is a big reason why they have the second-worst points tally at home (10 points), with two wins and seven losses.

Tottenham finally bringing out the big guns

Tottenham Hotspur have made a sharp U-turn in their approach over the last few weeks. Jose Mourinho, who has been criticised for his overly cautious style, has now been playing more attacking line-ups, which have led to more goals.

Spurs have scored four or more goals in four of their last six matches, a run that began with their epic FA Cup shootout with Everton. Granted, two of those games were against Wolfsberger in the Europa League round of 32, but their 4-0 demolition of Burnley last weekend was quite impressive.

Gareth Bale, who has been getting more regular playing time over the last few weeks, was outstanding as he scored a brace and set up another goal. The Welsh star now has four goals and three assists over his last four games.

The other members of Spurs’ new front four — Son Heung-Min, Harry Kane, and Lucas Moura — also produced a host of Premier League 2021 highlights. Meanwhile, Dele Alli has finally been brought back into the fold after being in Mourinho’s doghouse for most of the season to offer another offensive weapon off the bench.

After such a fine performance against Burnley, Mourinho will be eager to keep the positive momentum going against Fulham. He is unlikely to make too many changes to the side, although Bale could be a candidate to drop to the bench to protect his fitness.

History

Tottenham have a strong record against Fulham in the Premier League. They have lost just once in their last 14 league meetings against the Cottagers, with 10 wins. Moreover, they have won in each of their last five trips to Craven Cottage.

Although, Fulham snapped Spurs’ run of four straight wins as they held them to a 1-1 draw in their first meeting this season. Harry Kane had given Spurs the lead, but Ivan Cavaleiro equalised for Fulham.

Kane has a terrific record against Fulham, with six goals in four games against them. That includes a hat-trick in a 3-0 Spurs win at Craven Cottage in a 2017 FA Cup tie.

Kane will be keen to get on target once again as he looks to help Spurs win consecutive games in the league for the first time since November.

Betting Tip

??
Fulham vs Tottenham Hotspur 1X2 Tottenham Hotspur @ 1.99
March 05, 02:00 (GMT+8)

SBOTOP odds have Tottenham installed as 1.99 favourites to pick up the away win over Fulham, who are priced at 3.70. Meanwhile, a draw is 3.35.

Fulham will be a tough nut for Tottenham to crack, but Spurs have the weapons to cause the Cottagers some problems. With Mourinho finally letting his stars play with more attacking freedom, Kane and co. should be able to find their way through Fulham’s defence eventually.

Conversely, Fulham’s forwards inspire very little confidence in their ability to score, which is why I am going with Spurs to pick up the away win.

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08-Mar 2021 Monday 4:12 PM (39 days ago)            #59
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Premier League: Arsenal Gunning for Revenge in Burnley!

Burnley vs Arsenal

When Arsenal visit Turf Moor for a Saturday lunchtime Premier League date, they won’t be there for a friendly encounter, they will mean business and they will expect a fight.

The Gunners are currently sitting in mid-table and off the pace in the race for Europe, but they will come up against a Burnley side which, after a shocking start to the 2020/21 campaign, have still not shaken off the relegation strugglers.

And there is added spice to this game with the not too distant memory of Burnley’s win at the Emirates, when Granit Xhaka was sent off for the second time against the Clarets.

Talking Points

Is the old Burnley back?

After a couple of lacklustre performances, against West Brom and then Spurs, Sean Dyche’s Burnley came up with a response against Leicester City on Wednesday night, taking a well-earned point and denied three by the woodwork and a man-of-the-match performance from Foxes’ keeper Kasper Schmeichel.

There is no questioning Burnley’s defensive prowess, the centre back pairing of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski, in front of England keeper Nick Pope, are a formidable rearguard, but it’s at the other end of the pitch where the Clarets have struggled. All four of their strikers, Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes, Jay Rodriguez and Matej Vydra have been injured this season, as have creative wide men Dwight McNeill and Johann Berg Gudmundsson. Dyche started with Wood and Vydra against Leicester and they terrorised the Foxes’ defence as the Clarets hit seven shots on target and Schmeichel made three outstanding saves.

Burnley are on fifteenth place in the Premier League table ahead of their match against Arsenal

Matej Vydra celebrates after scoring Burnley’s opening goal versus Leicester City

The Clarets are not out of the woods yet, just six points above the drop zone, but with most of their players fit again and looking like they still have something in the tank, they should win enough to pull clear of danger.

A point is no use for Arsenal

Sitting tenth in the league table and six points behind a European place the Gunners will struggle to make the Champions League place that they are desperate to regain, particularly for their captain and talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. It could actually have been worse had Arsenal drawn more than the four games they have during this campaign. Mikel Arteta’s team has won 11 and drawn 11 this season and now is not the time to start drawing.

The Gunners boss has already been linked with a summer move to the Camp Nou to take the helm at Barcelona and that will do little to settle his team as they approach the business end of the season. They have the quality but they now need to find consistency in their Premier League 2021 results if our SBOTOP tips are to swing behind them in the coming weeks.

Arsenal were at their very best last week to come back from a goal behind to beat Leicester City 3-1, as top scorer Alexandre Lacazette claimed his ninth goal of the season from the penalty spot.

Emile Smith Rowe has made a big impact, making four assists and if, as expected, Aubameyang returns to face the Clarets, the young attacking midfielder may take his place behind a front two. The return to fitness of wing-back Kieran Tierney had been a boost to the Gunners; he provides a key outlet on the flank and has an excellent delivery.

The Londoners struggled to make inroads into Manchester City’s defence in a recent 1-0 defeat to the Champions elect and while Burnley don’t have the riches of the Sky Blues, Arteta will know his team will have to be at its best to break down the Clarets.

History

If our Burnley vs Arsenal betting tips put a lot of faith in the previous meetings we have to back the Gunners. Arsenal have had a firm grip on this fixture in Premier League times, winning 13 of the 17 meetings, drawing two and losing just two. But one of those defeats came at the Emirates earlier this season when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored at the wrong end; and when the two teams met at Turf Moor last season they played out a goalless draw.

Recent league form is in the balance; both teams have taken six points from the last five games; Arsenal have won two and lost three while Burnley have won one, drawn three and lost one.

Betting Tip

??

Burnley vs Arsenal Double Chance Burnley or Draw
March 06, 20:30 (GMT+8)

The Gunners are at odds of 1.65 to win this game while the Clarets are at 5.20 with the draw at 3.70.

Dyche’s team is a tough nut to crack, losing just three from the last ten games, against Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs, and Arsenal will be well aware they carry an attacking threat as well as a stubborn defence.

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08-Mar 2021 Monday 4:14 PM (39 days ago)            #60
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Premier League: Villa Hungry for Derby Double over Wolves

Aston Villa vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Aston Villa will be seeking to do the double over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League for the first time since 2003-04 when they collide for their second West Midlands derby of the season.

However, Dean Smith’s Villa have been struggling of late and are still awaiting the return of captain Jack Grealish from his recent injury layoff.

Meanwhile, Wolves will be keen to get back on track after their five-match unbeaten run ended at the hands of runaway leaders Manchester City in midweek.

Talking Points

Villa struggling without Grealish

Aston Villa could use Jack Grealish back in the line-up. They have clearly missed their captain and have lost two of the three games he has missed due to a leg injury.

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish could return vs Wolves in the Premier League

Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish reacts after being fouled during the Premier League game vs Brighton

They were fortunate to escape Elland Road with a 1-0 win, but their luck ran out as they lost 1-0 away to relegation strugglers Sheffield United last time out. Villa could not break the Blades down despite dominating 72 per cent of possession and having a man advantage for the last half-hour after Phil Jagielka was sent off.

The latest Premier League 2021 updates suggest Grealish has a chance to return for the big derby. But if Grealish does miss out once again, Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi will likely continue to flank Ollie Watkins in Villa’s attack.

Aside from Grealish, Villa were also missing right-back Matty Cash due to a hamstring injury and is likely to sit out as well.

Meanwhile, Villa manager Dean Smith has shaken up his midfield in recent games, with defensive midfielder David Luiz dropped for the last two games in favour of Marvelous Nakamba. Teenager Jacob Ramsey has also been handed starts in back-to-back games, and new signing Morgan Sanson has started to feature more regularly as a substitute.

But after their disappointing defeat at Sheffield United, Smith may opt to start Luiz and/or Ross Barkley for the derby.

Wolves continue to grind

Wolves were the latest victims of Manchester City’s incredible winning run, which is now at 21 straight games. They gave the league leaders a good fight and were tied at 1-1 with just 10 minutes left. But City eventually broke through and scored three late goals to make the scoreline much more flattering.

Prior to that defeat, Wolves had been one of the form teams in the league after picking up three wins and two draws in their last five games. Granted, they had a bit of good fortune in their 1-0 win over Leeds.

To Wolves’ credit, though, they have been picking up good results despite the lack of goals from their forwards. Of the seven goals they’ve scored in their last six league games, only one has come from a forward. Midfielder Ruben Neves has three of those goals, although two have come from the penalty spot.

Striker Willian Jose, who came over from Real Sociedad, has yet to score in his seven appearances this season.

In typical Wolves fashion, they just keep things very tight at the back and grind out those goals. Although, this tactic has not been too successful for them away from home this season. They have won just once in their last nine matches away from Molineux, with five defeats.

History

Villa historically have the upper hand over their Midlands neighbours. They have a 56-41 edge in wins over Wolves, with 32 draws.

Villa won their first derby against Wolves this season 1-0 at Molineux thanks to a late Anwar El Ghazi penalty. Wolves did the double over Villa last season.

Prior to last season, though, Villa had won their two previous encounters at Villa Park, first in the Championship in 2018, then in the EFL Cup in 2019.

Betting Tip

??
Aston Villa vs Wolverhampton Wanderers Under 2.50 @ 1.80
March 07, 01:30 (GMT+8)

The SBOTOP odds for this West Midlands derby are quite tight. Villa are narrow 2.44 favourites, while Wolves are priced at 3.00. A draw is 3.05.

The potential return of Grealish could push those Premier League 2021 odds more towards Villa’s favour, though, so be sure to stay updated on his situation.

But if Villa are once again without their captain, it will be quite difficult for them to break down a tough Wolves defence. And even with Grealish, they needed a late penalty to beat their rivals in their first meeting.

That is why I anticipate this West Midlands derby at Villa Park to be another tight affair with few — if any — goals.

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08-Mar 2021 Monday 4:31 PM (39 days ago)            #61
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Premier League: Spurs Can Clip the Eagles’ Wings

Tottenham Hotspur vs Crystal Palace

When Crystal Palace head to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday they will arrive in good spirits after a nice little run. But against an improving Spurs side, they might just be about to come unstuck.

Jose Mourinho and Roy Hodgson are two of the most respected managers in European football, let alone the Premier League. They use different styles with the media but they both have stacks of experience and are able to analyse data brilliantly to enable their players to nullify any opposition.

Mourinho has more talent at his disposal in his squad and he still has hopes of a top four finish, but Hodgson has done a brilliant job at Selhurst Park to steer his team clear of relegation danger.

The pre-match Spurs vs Crystal Palace betting odds back a Tottenham victory. And as they arguably have more to play for, I’d be surprised if they don’t take all three points.

Talking Points

Bale can still rescue Spurs’ league season

Spurs have come under some criticism for their style of play during this campaign as they have struggled to break into the race for the Champions League places.

Fans and neutrals look at a team with the prolific Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son up front, and the quality of Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela in support, and wonder why they sit in eighth position.

Oh and then there’s Gareth Bale of course!

Bale has three league goals now to add to Kane’s 14 and Son’s 13. It doesn’t sound like an impressive return for such a highly rated star, but he has struggled with injury since his return to Tottenham.

However, over the past couple of weeks, he has approached his best form by starring in Spurs’ recent 4-0 annihilation of Burnley.

He was big on the Premier League 2021 news when he returned to North London in the summer but hasn’t quite met the huge expectations yet.

SBOTOP fans may still be in for a treat if Bale really hits his straps in the coming weeks, and Mourinho seems to have loosened the structure of his side to allow his flair players more freedom.

French midfielder Tanguy Ndombele is starting to look like the player Spurs hoped for when they shelled out a record 60-M Euros to bring him from Lyon. He could be a key man to help his team cut through Palace’s high energy midfield.

Gareth Bale managed two goals and an assist for Tottenham in their 4-0 win over Burnley in the Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale celebrates scoring their first goal vs Burnley

Eagles are almost safe

Crystal Palace have inched close to safety since a home reversal to Burnley three weeks ago. A win and two draws have taken Roy Hodgson’s side up to 13th in the table and 11 points clear of the drop.

The Eagles pulled off a classic win over Brighton as the Seagulls attacked for much of the game but were toothless, and they paid the price when Christian Benteke showed them how to finish to make it 2-1 in the 95th minute.

Palace followed that up with a 0-0 draw against Fulham and we didn’t expect a goal fest in their fixture with Manchester United on Wednesday, but the Red Devils were nullified on a foggy night at Selhurst Park as they shared the points in another goalless stalemate.

Star striker Wilfried Zaha has been injured and if he remains sidelined much will be on the shoulders of Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend.

But the strikers can rely on their more defensive players to shine. Goalkeeper Vicente Guaita has been in outstanding form while the experienced centre-back Gary Cahill and team captain Luka Milivojevic lead by example.

History

Tottenham have a strong record in this fixture. They are leading by 13 wins to five in the head-to-heads, with Palace also managing to earn six draws in all the meetings since the Premier League began.

The two teams played out a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park in December when Jeffrey Schlupp scored a late equaliser to cancel out Kane’s opener as Guaita frustrated the Spurs’ strikers with another fine display.

While the Eagles are unbeaten in three, Tottenham have won their last three games at home and will hope to make it four.

Betting Tip

??
Tottenham Hotspur vs Crystal Palace Under 2.50 @ 2.04
March 08, 03:15 (GMT+8)

Tottenham are at 1.43 to win this game with the draw at 3.88, and you can get 5.99 for an Eagles win.

Roy Hodgson’s side have an extra day to prepare as Spurs have a Thursday night fixture away to Fulham as a warm up, but Jose Mourinho can shuffle his squad a little with players hitting form.

The Eagles haven’t exactly been flying as they’re more just fluttering to safety. And as I believe they are pretty much safe, I expect Tottenham to bring Hodgson’s men down to earth.

1-0 at odds of 6.00 is the most likely result, and Palace will certainly make it hard for their hosts. But Bale, Kane, and Son should manage one or two goals between them.

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08-Mar 2021 Monday 4:34 PM (39 days ago)            #62
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Premier League: Mason Leaves Liverpool Climbing a Mount-in!

Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea

Despite leading the table at different stages in December, these two sides have long since resigned themselves to the realisation they will not be involved in the 2020/21 Premier League title race.

Yet there was still much at stake in this meeting at Anfield, not least with both their eyes on a lucrative top-four spot.

In the end, however, the stark reality is that, for the first time in the club’s proud history, Liverpool have lost five home games in a row.

No amount of SBOTOP Premier League betting odds would have predicted that at the start of the season.

Highlights of the game

On a night in which the home side paid tribute before kick-off to one of their favourite sons, the late footballer and broadcaster Ian St John, Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson returned along with Fabinho, who partnered Ozan Kabak at the heart of the defence.

For Chelsea, there were also two changes with Timo Werner coming in for Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho replacing Mateo Kovacic.

For the first 25 minutes, it was the Werner show.

The German striker controlled well and bent an effort just over the bar.

He then stabbed the ball tamely at Allison after meeting a Cesar Azpilicueta cross from close range.

Shortly after that, Werner reached a ball over the top, stabbed it past the onrushing goalkeeper and poked the ball home.

VAR spared the home side on this occasion and the decision seemed to lift their spirits.

They would have led had Sadio Mane, the star of this fixture earlier in the season, not mishit a volley from a Mo Salah delivery.

Three minutes before the break though and Chelsea had the half-time lead their play merited.

N’Golo Kante’s pinpoint ball found Mason Mount and he cut inside before placing an unstoppable finish into the bottom corner.

Ten minutes after the restart and the contest could have been all but over but Andy Robertson expertly cleared Hakim Ziyech’s shot off the line.

It could have been over 13 minutes from the end too as Mount played in Werner and again the frontman managed a shot on target from a tight angle which had to be blocked by Alisson.

Before kick-off, Tuchel spoke of the goalscoring struggles his team had experienced and here was a fine example of not killing the match off.

On this occasion, it didn’t matter.

Attacking Premier League highlights may have been at a premium but Chelsea seemed content on letting Liverpool enjoy spells of possession such was the general comfort in which the visitors kept them at bay.

Liverpool, bidding to win five successive league games against Chelsea for the first time since a run from 1972-74, rarely looked like scoring and mustered on effort on target all night.

At the start of season, there seemed a gulf between these sides when their west London clash resulted in a comprehensive victory for the Merseysiders, who were in control even before the hosts were reduced to 10 men in the first half.

That confident Liverpool now seems to have been replaced by a side drained of confidence. It’s Chelsea on the up under Tuchel.

Liverpool are slowly in the midst of failing to defend the Premier League trophy

Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel shake hands after the match

Key statistics

Liverpool have earned just 10 points from 11 Premier League games in 2021, with only West Brom (nine), Newcastle (seven) and Southampton (four) picking up fewer points since the turn of the year.

Liverpool’s solitary goal in five games at Anfield was a Salah penalty in last month’s 4-1 defeat by Manchester City.

Édouard Mendy has kept 12 clean sheets in 22 Premier League starts – of the 210 goalkeepers to have started at least 10 games in the competition, he is the only one to keep a clean sheet in over half.

All five of Mount’s Premier League goals this season have come away from home; he’s scored three goals in eight league games under Tuchel, compared to two in 18 under Frank Lampard this term.

Tuchel is unbeaten in his first 10 matches as Chelsea boss in all competitions, winning seven and drawing three.

This was his first victory in eight meetings against his German compatriot Jurgen Klopp.

This was only Chelsea’s second league victory in 13 meetings with Liverpool.

What’s next?

This was the first of three home matches for Liverpool who take on basement battlers Fulham on Sunday (March 7) before taking on RB Leipzig (a tie moved to Budapest) next midweek for the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie. The Merseysiders already hold a 2-0 advantage.

Chelsea are next in action on Monday night (March 8) when they welcome Everton and Carlo Ancelotti – who guided the west Londoners to a league and cup double in 2010 – to Stamford Bridge.

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08-Mar 2021 Monday 4:37 PM (39 days ago)            #63
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Premier League: Mason Leaves Liverpool Climbing a Mount-in!

Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea

Despite leading the table at different stages in December, these two sides have long since resigned themselves to the realisation they will not be involved in the 2020/21 Premier League title race.

Yet there was still much at stake in this meeting at Anfield, not least with both their eyes on a lucrative top-four spot.

In the end, however, the stark reality is that, for the first time in the club’s proud history, Liverpool have lost five home games in a row.

No amount of SBOTOP Premier League betting odds would have predicted that at the start of the season.

Highlights of the game

On a night in which the home side paid tribute before kick-off to one of their favourite sons, the late footballer and broadcaster Ian St John, Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson returned along with Fabinho, who partnered Ozan Kabak at the heart of the defence.

For Chelsea, there were also two changes with Timo Werner coming in for Callum Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho replacing Mateo Kovacic.

For the first 25 minutes, it was the Werner show.

The German striker controlled well and bent an effort just over the bar.

He then stabbed the ball tamely at Allison after meeting a Cesar Azpilicueta cross from close range.

Shortly after that, Werner reached a ball over the top, stabbed it past the onrushing goalkeeper and poked the ball home.

VAR spared the home side on this occasion and the decision seemed to lift their spirits.

They would have led had Sadio Mane, the star of this fixture earlier in the season, not mishit a volley from a Mo Salah delivery.

Three minutes before the break though and Chelsea had the half-time lead their play merited.

N’Golo Kante’s pinpoint ball found Mason Mount and he cut inside before placing an unstoppable finish into the bottom corner.

Ten minutes after the restart and the contest could have been all but over but Andy Robertson expertly cleared Hakim Ziyech’s shot off the line.

It could have been over 13 minutes from the end too as Mount played in Werner and again the frontman managed a shot on target from a tight angle which had to be blocked by Alisson.

Before kick-off, Tuchel spoke of the goalscoring struggles his team had experienced and here was a fine example of not killing the match off.

On this occasion, it didn’t matter.

Attacking Premier League highlights may have been at a premium but Chelsea seemed content on letting Liverpool enjoy spells of possession such was the general comfort in which the visitors kept them at bay.

Liverpool, bidding to win five successive league games against Chelsea for the first time since a run from 1972-74, rarely looked like scoring and mustered on effort on target all night.

At the start of season, there seemed a gulf between these sides when their west London clash resulted in a comprehensive victory for the Merseysiders, who were in control even before the hosts were reduced to 10 men in the first half.

That confident Liverpool now seems to have been replaced by a side drained of confidence. It’s Chelsea on the up under Tuchel.

Liverpool are slowly in the midst of failing to defend the Premier League trophy

Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel shake hands after the match

Key statistics

Liverpool have earned just 10 points from 11 Premier League games in 2021, with only West Brom (nine), Newcastle (seven) and Southampton (four) picking up fewer points since the turn of the year.

Liverpool’s solitary goal in five games at Anfield was a Salah penalty in last month’s 4-1 defeat by Manchester City.

Édouard Mendy has kept 12 clean sheets in 22 Premier League starts – of the 210 goalkeepers to have started at least 10 games in the competition, he is the only one to keep a clean sheet in over half.

All five of Mount’s Premier League goals this season have come away from home; he’s scored three goals in eight league games under Tuchel, compared to two in 18 under Frank Lampard this term.

Tuchel is unbeaten in his first 10 matches as Chelsea boss in all competitions, winning seven and drawing three.

This was his first victory in eight meetings against his German compatriot Jurgen Klopp.

This was only Chelsea’s second league victory in 13 meetings with Liverpool.

What’s next?

This was the first of three home matches for Liverpool who take on basement battlers Fulham on Sunday (March 7) before taking on RB Leipzig (a tie moved to Budapest) next midweek for the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie. The Merseysiders already hold a 2-0 advantage.

Chelsea are next in action on Monday night (March 8) when they welcome Everton and Carlo Ancelotti – who guided the west Londoners to a league and cup double in 2010 – to Stamford Bridge.

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08-Mar 2021 Monday 4:40 PM (39 days ago)            #64
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Premier League: Derby Day with a Difference!

Manchester City vs Manchester United

A Manchester derby; blue versus red; the ‘noisy neighbours’ against the traditionally dominant force in the Premier League would normally have the hallmarks of a potential classic.

It’s different this time, however.

This time there are actually 14 points separating them and the title is as good as won by Manchester City for the third time in four years.

This time there is also a lack of passionate spectators.

Whether those factors will lead to a let-up in the intensity remains to be seen as we await the 185th Manchester derby.

Talking Points

Despite briefly being top in January, United have never been genuine challengers for the title this season and there appears some truth in the claim they have lacked ambition at times.

Perhaps more realistically, however, is a realisation that they know they aren’t well enough equipped in key areas to mount a challenge and so will, on occasion, opt for a more cautious, unambitious approach.

That was evident at Chelsea last Sunday, while a further stalemate at Crystal Palace in midweek merely highlighted the gap between them and their rivals across the city.

The fact two of their main stars, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, are already into the mid-40s in terms of appearances (and it’s only early March) also shows just how this congested campaign must be taking its toll.

With a squad of depth and top talent, City have been less impacted than most.

Can Manchester City extend their winning streak as they face Manchester United in Premier League

Manchester City players celebrate after the winning the match against Wolverhampton Wanderers

They made it 20 wins on the spin against West Ham last weekend and then won again as they saw off Wolves in midweek.

During their 15-match winning run in the league City have also racked up 38 goals and conceded only five.

Coach Pep Guardiola has targeted eight or nine wins to regain the title and, with his side still in contention to win an unprecedented quadruple of trophies, the Spaniard says he will continue to drive his squad to become better.

The title is as good as done, they’re 2-0 up after the away leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and the final of the League Cup.

Of course, it helps enormously that City have the resources and wealth but they are making it count emphatically.

Another victory on Sunday will show just how much they are flexing their muscles on and off the pitch.

Victory over United would equal the 22 successive wins achieved by Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid in 2014-15. It would also put them just one win away from equalling Bayern Munich’s 23-game winning streak achieved last season and two behind Ajax who, under Louis van Gaal, embarked on a 25-match winning run in 1995.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can boast a decent record in the derby, winning three of his last six encounters with City, although how many risks he will be prepared to take against rampant opponents – on course to beat their own joint-record 18-match Premier League winning run – is questionable.

Derby day should certainly tell us a bit more about both sides.

History

These two have produced so many Premier League highlights over the years.

This corresponding fixture last season saw United record a victory which was as thrilling as it was unexpected – one of three victories over their city rivals last term.

Arguably the one that mattered, however, was City’s success in the League Cup semi-finals, a victory they repeated at the same stage of this season’s competition.

The earlier league season meeting just before Christmas was a derby stalemate at Old Trafford.

United have the edge historically, winning 76 of their meetings compared to City’s 54 triumphs and 53 draws.

Betting Tip

??
Manchester City vs Manchester United First Half 1X2 Draw @ 2.31
March 8, 00:30 (GMT+8)

After 21 wins on the spin, it is hardly a surprise the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds make City firm favourites.

In fact, it says so much about their dominance that United are priced 1X2 @ 5.80. City, by contrast, are priced @ 1.54 with the draw as far out as @ 4.00.

Asian Handicap odds follow a similar pattern with City -1.00 @ 1.95 and United +1.00 @ 1.95.

For goals – Over 2.75 of them – the odds are the same @ 1.95.

As for a repeat of the corresponding fixture last season, then correct score 1-2 will earn you a nice pay day of @ 20.00.

I’ve got to say, I don’t see too many goals in this one and I am struggling to select a favoured option here.

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08-Mar 2021 Monday 4:46 PM (39 days ago)            #65
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Premier League: The Whites Aim to Nail the Hammers

West Ham United vs Leeds United

Leeds United will look to move up in the Premier League table as they take on West Ham United at the London Stadium.

The last few weeks haven’t been kind to the Whites as they’ve lost three of their last four league games, which is why they will come in here hungry for a victory against the Hammers.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side is currently 11th at the table and a win here can push them up into the upper half in the English top-flight.

They are hopeful to catch the hosts off guard as West Ham United are also fresh from a defeat last weekend.

David Moyes’ men saw their unbeaten run snapped by Manchester City and they too are eager to get back to winning ways. The Hammers are at sixth place with 45 points.

The Premier League 2021 odds point to a victory by the hosts especially with what happened in their reverse fixture.

Second half goals fueled West Ham United’s earlier win over Leeds United, and the latter are hopeful for a much better showing in order to get their revenge.

Read on below as SBOTOP examines both of these clubs. 

Talking points

West Ham United have a gem in Jesse Lingard

David Moyes hit the jackpot when they brought over Jesse Lingard via loan, as the speedy winger gave the Hammers another attacking threat.

Jesse Lingard was quick to adapt to Moyes’ system by forming a lethal attacking combo alongside Pablo Fornals and Michail Antonio to create numerous Premier League 2021 highlights.

In his short tenure so far with West Ham United, Lingard has already been shortlisted to two Premier League awards for the month of February as he was nominated for the EA Sports Premier League Player of the Month and PFA Bristol Street Motors Fans’ Player of the Month awards.

Whether he wins the awards or not, it is still an encouraging sign for him and the Hammers as they to continue to exceed our expectations.

Jesse Lingard will be lethal alongside Pablo Fornals and Michail Antonio in Premier League showdown with Leeds United

Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring West Ham United’s third goal against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

West Ham United were on a roll prior to last weekend, but they were eventually humbled by a rampant Manchester City squad.

Despite the loss, the Hammers did enough to show that there is substance behind their push to a Champions League spot by the end of this term.

Jesse Lingard had an indirect effect to their only goal of the night as his powerful shot that was blocked by John Stones turned into a goal from Michail Antonio.

West Ham United will come into this match as the heavy favourites especially with Lingard on board, but can Leeds United prove us otherwise?

Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo’s returns should boost Leeds United

Marcelo Bielsa will be praying for a clean bill of health from Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo ahead of Monday night.

Phillips (calf) and Rodrigo (groin) have missed significant time due to injuries, but they have ramped up their fitness when they played for Leeds’ U-23 squad against the Wolves last Friday.

Their returns would surely help the Whites in a big way as the injury bug hasn’t spared them at all.

Leeds have already been without Adam Forshaw (hip) and Gaetano Berardi (knee) this season due to major injuries, while summer signing Robin Koch is still working his way back from a knee surgery.

Pascal Struijk was forced off in their last home loss versus Aston Villa, while Ian Poveda (ankle) and Jamie Shackleton (groin) are considered doubtful to participate in this match.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side may be undermanned for this contest, but don’t expect the Whites to fold that easily.

History

Since this is Leeds United’s first season back in the English top-flight, league fixtures between them and West Ham United have been few. Prior to this game, the Whites and the Hammers have faced off 21 times. 

Leeds United are the superior club in the overall head-to-heads with 14 wins, whereas West Ham United have won only thrice along with four draws.

In their December meeting at Elland Road, David Moyes’ side came away with a 2-1 victory after overturning an early deficit.

Mateusz Klich drew first blood via a penalty kick to which David Moyes clearly disagreed, but Tomas Soucek and Angelo Ogbonna completed the Hammers’ comeback trail. 

David Moyes-mentored clubs are undefeated in five games against Leeds United with four wins and one draw. He has faced the Whites more without suffering defeat than any other sides in the competition. 

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08-Mar 2021 Monday 4:53 PM (39 days ago)            #66
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Premier League: Monday Night at the Bridge and Carlo is Back!

Chelsea vs Everton

Aside from an FA Cup victory on penalties in 2011, you have to go back to 1994 for the last time Everton won at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.

So, if they were to end that record on Monday night, it’s fair to say it would provide some Premier League highlights to savour for the Toffees.

It’s the return to Stamford Bridge of Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti and the Italian will always have a place in the hearts of the Chelsea faithful for achieving something there that no one else has ever managed – a Premier League and FA Cup double.

However, it will arguably be an even greater achievement if the veteran Italian can guide his current club into the Champions League next season.

Win on Monday night – when the fourth placed hosts take on the fifth placed visitors – and that possibility will suddenly gain more weight.

Talking Points

Everton are certainly in fine form and have enjoyed some impressive results on the road recently, not least when they ended their Merseyside derby drought in fine style.

Yet this is very much a clash of two sides in form.

Chelsea remain unbeaten since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, at home and abroad.

and their most impressive win to date also came at the home of Everton’s city rivals Liverpool on Thursday night.

The Blues have the third-best home form in the league this season, collecting 23 points from 13 matches, while Ancelotti’s Everton have won each of their last three in the Premier League without conceding, which has seen them move to within a point of Monday night’s opponents with a game in hand.

Can Everton beat Chelsea and move to top four in the Premier League table?

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti will face his former club Chelsea on Monday

Indeed, only runaway leaders Manchester City (20) have won more matches than Everton (14) in England’s top flight this term, so a positive result at Stamford Bridge would leave the Merseyside Blues in a strong position ahead of three winnable games against Burnley, Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion.

To do so, they could do with their talisman James Rodriguez who, along with captain Seamus Coleman and Tom Davies, are all expected to feature in the squad, although may not be ready to start.

Midfielder Allan is expected to be in the starting line-up though after recovering from injury, while in-form Gylfi Sigurdsson is making it hard for Ancelotti to leave him out.

Yerry Mina and Fabian Delph are definitely missing.

Chelsea could welcome back experienced defender Thiago Silva, who has been struggling with a thigh problem, although Tuchel is unlikely to take any risks when it comes to the Brazilian.

If so, Andreas Christensen – who performed well at Liverpool on Thursday night – is likely to retain his place at the heart of the defence.

Top scorer Tammy Abraham remains a slight doubt with an ankle problem but the west Londoners are otherwise in excellent shape and with Timo Werner showing signs improvement in recent weeks, he will spearhead the home attack once more.

It’s Monday night at the Bridge and it should be an entertaining affair.

History

Paul Rideout was the matchwinner back in October 1994, the last time the Toffees won a league game on Chelsea turf.

Much has changed since then but, while Chelsea have not lost any of their subsequent meetings in the capital, they have also been frustrated by the Merseysiders.

Chelsea have won 14 with 11 draws in the last 25 meetings.

Overall, Chelsea have a total of 73 victories compared to 57 Everton wins and 53 draws.

Last season in this fixture – almost a year to the day – Chelsea ran riot with a 4-0 thrashing of the Toffees as Mason Mount, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud were on target.

Earlier this season, Ancelotti guided his current employers to a 1-0 success at Goodison Park when a Sigurdsson penalty was enough to separate the sides.

Betting Tip

??
Chelsea vs Everton Double Chance Everton or Draw @ 2.32
March 9, 02:00 (GMT+8)

Chelsea have the edge with the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds.

If you fancy a home win, then look closely at Chelsea 1X2 @ 1.58 and Asian Handicap -1.00 @ 2.06.

Everton, meanwhile, are available 1X2 @ 5.60 or Asian Handicap +1.00 @ 1.84.

It’s clear this is expected to be a tight game but whether there will be many goals or not has clearly baffled our experts too, given that Over 2.50 goals is priced @ 1.92 and Under 2.50 goals @ 1.98.

I do not expect a repeat of this fixture last season – correct score 4-0 is priced @ 29.00 – but the draw @ 3.85 has caught my eye.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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08-Mar 2021 Monday 4:59 PM (39 days ago)            #67
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Premier League: Ole Outwits Pep to Win Derby Day

Manchester City 0-2 Manchester United

The pre-match narrative had been written.

Yes, this was a Manchester derby, yes there would be passion and intensity.

Yes, this was one of the biggest rivalries in world football, one which took on a new definitive chapter once the sky blue half of Manchester was taken over by a billionaire in 2008, ushering in the most successful spell in the club’s history.

However, this was Premier League derby day with a difference.

A lack of spectators and 14 point gap between the sides at kick-off ensured that.

After all, we were told (understandably) that Manchester United were more concerned with finishing in the top four than genuinely chasing down their rivals across town.

After all, we were told (understandably) that Manchester City – who had made it 20 wins on the spin against West Ham last weekend before seeing off Wolves for number 21 in midweek – were in a league of their own.

In those 21 consecutive victories, they had scored 55 goals and conceded eight. Indeed, they were two wins from equalling the longest wining streak ever recorded in a top five European league – set by Bayern Munich (23 consecutive victories last year).

So, the Premier League betting odds were strongly in favour of the runaway league leaders against opponents who had only won once in their previous five matches.

What followed went against all of the narrative.

Highlights of the game

The earlier league meeting just before Christmas was largely forgettable as a spectacle and ended in a derby stalemate at Old Trafford, so it wasn’t going to take too much to become a more exciting contest as far as Premier League highlights were concerned.

What we didn’t know was that the drama would arrive so quickly.

The first whistle had scarcely blown and a home player had not even touched the ball when it was blown again as the lively Anthony Martial was bundled to the floor and United had a penalty kick.

The outcome was inevitable as Bruno Fernandes despatched the spot-kick with aplomb, despite the best efforts of goalkeeper Ederson.

City were clearly a little stunned at United’s quick-fire start and they needed the Brazilian again after quarter of an hour as Fred found Marcus Rashford and his shot from distance was saved.

Inevitably, City would attack and Ederson’s opposite number Dean Henderson dealt with a shot from left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko before tipping over a dangerous free-kick from Kevin de Bruyne.

United remained disciplined, although would have been relieved on the stroke of half-time when de Bruyne fed Riyad Mahrez and the Algerian’s shot flew narrowly wide of the far post with Gabriel Jesus close to converting.

The fine margins that can make all the difference in football were evident at the start of the second period.

Three minutes after the restart saw Jesus tee up Rodri only for the Spanish midfielder’s effort to cannon back off the crossbar.

Then, just two minutes later, United counter-attacked with deadly effect to double their lead.

It was a move started by goalkeeper Henderson who threw the ball out wide with pace to the marauding Luke Shaw who drove forward with his own turn of pace, exchanging passes with Rashford before taking a touch and sweeping the ball through Rodri’s legs into the far corner.

What could easily have been a home equaliser was suddenly a two-goal advantage and United had some daylight.

The importance of Ederson to City was emphasised midway through the second half as Scott McTominay and Ruben Dias collided on the edge of the box and the ball fell to Martial who was denied one-on-one by the shot-stopper.

The loss of Rashford to injury 18 minutes from time was a worrying sight for the visitors, so important is he to the United cause, even more so with Edinson Cavani among their absentees at the moment.

As he was replaced by youngster Mason Greenwood, it was another exciting young English talent who came close as City’s Phil Foden, also a substitute, ran at the United defence.

If that was fairly near to reducing the arrears, the runaway league leaders went even closer moments later as another sub, Kyle Walker, delivered a pinpoint cross only for Victor Lindelof to deflect the ball through Raheem Sterling’s legs with the forward set to pounce.

City kept probing but United kept them out to ensure their neighbours’ superb 21-match winning run was over.

Premier League: Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes and Luke Share scored against Manchester City

Manchester United players celebrate after Luke Shaw scored their second goal against Manchester City

As results go, this will not have any impact on the outcome of this season’s title. Pep Guardiola’s City are already champions-elect and we’re only in the first week of March.

But this was a real example of attitude and character and one man so often under fire, not least from this SBOTOP observer, deserves much credit.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken Manchester United to the Etihad Stadium three times in the past 15 months – he’s won the lot!

Key statistics

Solskjær is the first manager in United’s history to win each of his first three away meetings in all competitions with Manchester City.

Fernandes’ penalty was the 92nd in the top flight this term, equalling the same number from the entirety of last season.

After 101 seconds, Fernandes’ spot-kick was the earliest goal that City have ever conceded in a league match at the Etihad Stadium. It is also the first they have conceded within two minutes at home since Steed Malbranque for Fulham at Maine Road in January 2003.

Shaw has been directly involved in six Premier League goals this season (one goal, five assists) – his most in a single season in the competition.

United have won four of their past five league and cup games away to City.

Eight of the past 11 Manchester derbies in all competitions have been won by the away side.

United are the only side in one of the top five European leagues yet to lose an away league match this season.

They are unbeaten in 22 Premier League away games (won 14, drawn eight), five short of the top-flight record set by Arsenal between 2003 and 2004.

What’s next?

The relentless schedule for both Manchester clubs continues apace.

City host Southampton on Wednesday (March 10) and then go to basement battlers Fulham on Saturday night in the Premier League.

United welcome AC Milan to Old Trafford in the Europa League on Thursday (March 11) and then West Ham three days later.

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08-Mar 2021 Monday 5:03 PM (39 days ago)            #68
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Premier League: Super Spurs Shoot Down the Eagles!

Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Crystal Palace

Spurs climbed up to sixth in the table tonight after another attacking master-class gave Jose Mourinho’s team a resounding victory over Roy Hodgson’s Eagles.

Premier League: Spurs vs Crystal Palace was a great fixture to round up the weekend’s football, the Whites needed a win to stay in the race for a top-four place, while the Eagles still needed a point or so to rest easily in the run-up to the business end of the season.

Gareth Bale put Spurs in charge twice while Christian Benteke scored for the Eagles, and a brilliant strike from Harry Kane took the game away from Palace before the Spurs skipper rounded things off with his second. With 34 points at the start of the game, Crystal Palace were arguably near safety already, but this is a big result for Spurs as they move to within two points of a Champions League place.

Highlights of the game

The hosts rather strolled through the first half and expected to go into the break ahead, but a late twist gave Jose Mourinho’s men an unpleasant surprise.

Right from the off Spurs knocked ball around swiftly, and stretched a well organised Palace rearguard. Heung-Min Son had a great chance with just seven minutes on the clock when he met a chipped cross from Bale but his header went straight into the arms of Vicente Guaita.

Roy Hodgson has his team well organised and while they rarely made it out of their own half they restricted their hosts to few chances in the opening half. When the opening Spurs goal came it was a result of rare sloppy defending by the Eagles as Luka Milivojevic took too much time on the ball and was robbed by Lucas Moura, who then fed Kane down the left and he crossed for Bale to convert from close range.

Kane had a chance to double the lead with a free kick, but he hit the top of the wall and that was as close as Spurs came in the first half.

The Eagles had only one touch in the Spurs penalty area in the opening 45 minutes but their second one was lethal. The hosts had enjoyed a very comfortable first half and Palace hadn’t really been in the game, but a bullet header for Benteke drew them level on the stroke of half time.

Crystal Palace are now on the thirteenth place in the Premier League

Christian Benteke headed the ball and scored for Crystal Palace against Tottenham Hotspur

Palace had a nice interchange of passes and the ball made its way out to Milivojevic on the left flank, and he made up for his earlier mistake with a superb cross which the 6ft 4in Benteke powered home with a towering header.

The Spurs vs Crystal Palace highlights were dominated by the Whites, but Benteke’s classic goal takes its place.

Level at half time the hosts came out for the second half all guns blazing, and they had taken the game away from the Eagles within seven explosive minutes. Just after the break, Bale started an incisive move, finding Sergio Reguilon on the left flank and he crossed to Kane at the far post and the skipper’s header was perfectly timed for the advancing Bale to nod home his second.

And then Kane got in on the act with the goal of the night. Matt Doherty pushed a pass into his path some 25 yards out on the left side of the penalty area, and he swept a beauty of a shot beyond Guaita and into the top left corner.

Wilfried Zaha reminded Spurs they were in a game when he struck the post after a sweeping Palace move, but any thoughts of a nervy finish were dispelled when Spurs made it 4-1 and it was another super goal. Erik Lamela swung a cross over from the right and Son squared it on the volley for Kane to head home his second.

Simply brilliant!

Key statistics

Mourinho’s team had a narrow win over Fulham in the run-up to this game but this was emphatic.

The Spurs vs Crystal Palace betting odds had the hosts as clear favourites to win the match, and with 63 per cent possession, 12 shots to five and a killer instinct the Whites put in a complete performance.

Tottenham have now won their last four games at home, while Bale’s goals made it four in three games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and his sixth in the last six games.

And Kane has both scored and assisted in six games this season.

What’s next?

Spurs are in Europa League action on Thursday when Dinamo Zagreb head to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a first leg Round of 16 tie. Then they have the North London derby to look forward to when they head to the Emirates to face Arsenal. We’ll be covering that clash here at SBOTOP, as Mikel Arteta’s side has a battle on the stay in the race for European places after they struggled to impress in a 1-1 draw at Burnley on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Crystal Palace can get very close to confirming their place in the 2021/22 Premier League season when they host West Brom at Selhurst Park next week.

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10-Mar 2021 Wednesday 3:55 PM (37 days ago)            #69
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Premier League: The Hammers Fend Off the Gritty Whites

West Ham United 2-1 Leeds United

West Ham United pressed forward with their unlikely push for a Champions League spot next season as they beat Leeds United, 2-0, at the London Stadium last night.

The Hammers under David Moyes continue to exceed our expectations with yet another win as his side climbed to the fifth spot in the Premier League table.

Jesse Lingard and Craig Dawson conspired to score the two marginal goals in what was a meaningful back-and-forth between these two squads.

However, the main difference between these two teams was their finishing as the Hammers were the more clinical side while the Whites were left to rue on their missed opportunities.

“Disappointed is not the word. I know it is a problem that exists. I am the one in charge of finding a solution,” lamented Marcelo Bielsa postgame.

The win pushed West Ham United only two points adrift behind fourth-seeded Chelsea, who recently won 2-0 against Everton. And their Premier League 2021 odds of securing a Champions League spot look a bit better for now since they still have a game in hand.

On the other hand, Leeds United remain firm at the 11th spot at the standings despite the loss.

Without further ado, here at SBOTOP, we look at last night’s set of Premier League 2021 highlights.

Highlights of the game

Both sides came out guns ablaze as attacking opportunities were created from the get-go.

Leeds United were the first team to find the back of the net when Helder Costa drove into the box and teed up Tyler Roberts for a finish, but the referees ruled the goal out for a marginal offside.

West Ham United would strike back during the 21st minute. Jesse Lingard continued to prove that he is a gem for the Hammers as his menacing run in the penalty area drew a crucial foul from Luke Ayling.

Leeds fail to climb up the Premier League standings due to this loss

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa shouts out instructions to his squad during a match against West Ham

The pacey winger saw his initial penalty-kick parried away by Illan Meslier, but the ball went right back at Lingard and he made sure that he finished well on the rebound.

West Ham United would eventually double their lead in the 28th minute when Aaron Cresswell’s corner kick found a cutting Craig Dawson to nod the ball in for his fourth goal of the season.

The Hammers would try the same play later as Cresswell tried a left corner cross. However, Dawson’s header hit the post and Leeds United got away with another poor defensive sequence.

Marcelo Bielsa’s men almost plundered in a goal when Diego Llorente’s awesome through-ball found Patrick Bamford inside the box, but the striker’s curling shot went inches too wide on the left side.

Five minutes after the halftime break, Leeds United almost scored again when Stuart Dallas headed the ball into the penalty area after a failed clearance from West Ham United. However, Raphinha’s ambitious bicycle kick was tipped over by Lukasz Fabianski.

The Hammers tried to triple their lead late when Pablo Fornals tried a long-range screamer, but his attempt hit the crossbar.

The Whites chased a late lifeline when Luke Ayling volleyed the ball near the middle of the goal. However, Patrick Bamford’s short kick was cleared by Craig Dawson and the Hammers held firm to ea