West Ham can continue their upturn when they face Arsenal on TV on Wednesday. We've previewed the night's seven Premier League matches.
West Ham v Arsenal (2000 GMT, BT Sport 1)
David Moyes will certainly be hoping Saturday’s hard-fought 1-0 victory over Chelsea proves to be a turning point in the Hammers’ season.
It definitely has potential to have a galvanising effect on his much-criticised squad and in a way this is a good fixture for them to follow up with, despite Arsenal’s presence among the top five.
That position has been achieved largely due to the Gunners’ home form, though. On the road, they’ve won just two of eight games, losing four. Of the two wins, the first came against an Everton side which had hit rock-bottom under Ronald Koeman (he was sacked the next day) and the second in the last minute against Burnley.
On Sunday it took another late goal to salvage a point at Southampton and from that line-up they lose Aaron Ramsey for this one. He joins Shkodran Mustafi on the sidelines.
OK, Arsenal do have a strong record against West Ham (more on that in the stats below) but there’s sure to be another fervent atmosphere inside the London Stadium and, with their tails up, I think West Ham are worth a poke at a best price of 9/2.
In saying that, another bet has caught the eye from an Arsenal perspective, namely Mesut Ozil to score at any time at 13/4.
The German has found the net in his last three games against West Ham and has strong stats when it comes to scoring away from home.
In the last four seasons (including this one), 11 of his 20 Premier League goals have come in away games.
Ozil has netted in two of his last seven, including the win at Everton, and with form having picked up and Ramsey missing here, Arsenal will look to him to provide runs into the box from midfield.
Prediction: West Ham 2-1 Arsenal (AS) - Sky Bet odds: 16/1
- West Ham have won just one of their last 18 Premier League meetings with Arsenal (W1 D3 L14), with this win coming at the Emirates in August 2015.
- Against no side have Arsenal won more away Premier League games than they have against West Ham (12, same as Everton and Aston Villa).
- Indeed, the Gunners are unbeaten in their last nine top-flight away games against West Ham (W7 D2), since a 0-1 loss in November 2006.
- This will be West Ham’s 100th home London derby in the Premier League. They’ve won 36 of their previous 99 (D22 L41), including Saturday’s 1-0 victory against Chelsea.
- Despite beating reigning champions Chelsea on Saturday, this will be the 42nd consecutive Premier League matchday in which David Moyes has started in charge of a team in the relegation zone – a competition record.
- Arsenal have conceded 32 Premier League goals away from home in 2017. Only West Ham (35) & Stoke & Watford (33 each) have shipped more.
- No player has scored more substitute goals for a single Premier League team than Olivier Giroud – level with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Man Utd (17).
- Alexis Sanchez was involved in four of Arsenal’s goals in their 5-1 win in this fixture last season (three goals, one assist). Indeed, all four of his Premier League goals against the Hammers have come in away games.
- Mesut Ozil has scored in each of his last three Premier League games against West Ham, while also providing an assist in the last two.
- In their 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday, Mesut Özil failed to create a single goalscoring chance for a teammate in a Premier League game after playing the full 90 minutes for just the fourth time in his career.
Newcastle v Everton (1945 GMT)
Tyneside stages a match with two teams heading in opposite directions - indeed they have passed one another like ships in the night recently in the Premier League standings.
Everton are obviously talk of the town after holding neighbours Liverpool to a draw at Anfield on Sunday and this represents another big showdown for Sam Allardyce as he takes his new team to one of his former haunts.
He did not last a year at St James’ Park and I don’t doubt for a moment he will have been scheming furiously to get one over Toon with all the hype over the Merseyside derby finished for the time being.
His side obviously put a lot of effort and more importantly, emotion, into the latter fixture so it will be down to Allardyce to pick them up once again in a bid to keep his unbeaten start at Goodison Park going with the Toffees in the region of 23/10 to collect all three points.
Big Sam’s opposite number Rafa Benitez can’t catch a break currently and his side have managed to gain just one point from their last seven games after they were sunk by an unfortunate last-gasp own goal against Leicester.
There are goals in the team with Dwight Gayle looking sharp on a regular basis having set up one and scored another against the Foxes but getting caught at the back remains a serious issue until calming influence and club captain Jamaal Lascelles gets back to take a grip of the situation.
There will be worse odds-on chances around than both teams to score but I will go for a stalemate at a bigger price with a goal each for those who like a punt on the correct score.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Everton (DJ) - Sky Bet odds: 9/2
- Newcastle have lost six of their last seven league games against Everton (W1), including the last three in a row. They’ve not lost four consecutively against them since a run of five in January 1920.
- Everton have won three of their last four league visits to St James’ Park (L1), as many as they had in their previous 20 top-flight games there.
- Newcastle have won just a single point in their last seven Premier League matches (W0 D1 L6).
- Rafael Benitez has never lost a Premier League home game against Everton, winning five and drawing two.
- Benitez has lost his last three Premier League home games as a manager – the first time that he’s ever suffered a run this long at home in the competition.
- Sam Allardyce has won three of his 11 Premier League games at St James’ Park as visiting manager, with each win coming in charge of a different club (Bolton, October 2006; Blackburn, November 2010; West Ham, November 2012).
- Wayne Rooney has scored 14 Premier League goals against Newcastle – against no opponent has he scored more goals in the competition (also 14 v West Ham).
- Rooney has scored six goals and assisted one more in his last seven Premier League appearances for Everton – this after receiving more yellow cards (3) than goals & assists (2) in his first seven league apps this season for the club.
- In his six Premier League appearances for Everton since the start of November, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored two goals, assisted two goals and won two penalties for his side in 427 minutes on the pitch.
Southampton v Leicester (1945 GMT)
St Mary’s could be the place for entertainment with two teams in good nick, playing some decent football and a nice additional edge to proceedings as Claude Puel makes his return to the south coast.
Getting to a major cup final and finishing eighth in the Premier League was not enough for some as the Saints severed ties with the Frenchman, worried his brand of relatively uninspiring football was going to be a continual turn-off for the supporters.
Puel was probably only trying to play to their strengths and could not afford to get into any wild shootouts but having Riyad Mahrez, Demarai Gray and Jamie Vardy at your disposal encourages a more open, attacking approach with first-named pair on the scoresheet once again in the 3-2 success at Newcastle.
One of the reasons why Puel struggled for goals at Southampton was down to a lack of game-time for striker Charlie Austin and he has certainly made a big impact for Mauricio Pellegrino over the last few weeks.
He has scored four in his last three starts and is thriving on both excellent service from down the flanks and quality through the middle provided by Dusan Tadic and James Ward-Prowse. He heads the betting at 15/8 to add another at some stage in proceedings.
The Saints were very good value for their point at home to Arsenal over the weekend after Arsene Wenger threw virtually his whole armoury available at the situation to come up with a late leveller via Olivier Giroud.
There is an abundance of pace in both sides here and the necessary firepower to finish it off as well so goals are very much on the agenda with over 3.5 in total a tempting bet at almost 3/1.
Prediction: Southampton 2-2 Leicester (DJ) - Sky Bet odds: 14/1
- Southampton have lost just one of their 11 Premier League home games against Leicester (W5 D5), with that loss coming at the Dell in April 2000 (1-2).
- Leicester’s only win at St Mary’s in any competition was in a Championship game in January 2012 (2-0).
- Southampton’s 17-point tally after 16 games is their lowest at this stage of a season in five years and four points less than Claude Puel led them to after 16 games last season (21) – they last won fewer at this stage in 2012-13 (15 points).
- Mauricio Pellegrino has a lower points per game (1.12) and win ratio (25%) in the Premier League as Southampton manager than Claude Puel managed last season at the club (1.21 points per game and 31.6% win ratio).
- Claude Puel is looking to win four successive league games as a manager for the first time since October 2015 while in charge of Nice in the French Ligue 1.
- Charlie Austin has scored eight goals in his last 11 Premier League starts for Southampton, including four in his last three games.
- Dusan Tadic provided his 26th Premier League assist for Southampton in their 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Sunday – only Matt Le Tissier (64) has more for the club in the competition.
- Demarai Gray has netted three goals in seven Premier League appearances since Claude Puel took charge, after scoring just once in his first 50 games in the competition.
Swansea v Manchester City (1945 GMT)
A certain analyst and decent judge has labelled Manchester City "the best team in world" so they should have little problem at 2/9 beating an outfit that might not even be the best side in Wales.
It is back down to earth again for Pep Guardiola’s superstars after putting moody Jose Mourinho and Manchester United in their place on Sunday and it is a case now of keeping the foot to the floor having opened up such a huge gap at the top of the table over some floundering rivals.
Results over the weekend could not have gone a great deal better for those involved at the Etihad Stadium with only a distant Tottenham in the top six managing three points and City may not need many points at this rate to have the title sewn up once European hostilities reconvene in mid-February.
There will be plenty of punters expecting a cricket score in favour of the visitors against the team sat second bottom but this might not be a bad time for Paul Clement's side to take on the champions-elect.
While Guardiola keeps on chipping away successfully, the landslide victories have certainly dried up and it has required his team to dig extremely deep – to their eternal credit, I hasten to add – against Huddersfield, Southampton and West Ham.
Swansea tackle this one on the back of a much-needed success over a ropey West Brom but the nuts and bolts of their performance were much more encouraging while Man City flop Wilfried Bony will no doubt have some sort of point to prove as he enjoys a promising little spell that has seen him score two in two.
A loftier position in the table for Clement would allow him to treat this as a bit of a free hit but he has no such luxury in their current plight - up to their necks in a relegation scrap.
I fancy them to come up with a strong effort and will take the hosts with a two-goal start at odds-against in what could well finish a lot closer than many first expected.
Prediction: Swansea 1-2 Manchester City (DJ) - Sky Bet odds: 8/1
- Swansea have won just one of their last 15 games in all competitions against Man City (D2 L12), beating them 1-0 in March 2012.
- Manchester City have won 75% of their Premier League games against Swansea (9/12), their best win rate against a specific opponent they’ve faced more than five times in the competition.
- The first two Premier League meetings between these sides at the Liberty Stadium produced just one goal – the subsequent four have seen both sides score each time, producing a total of 17 goals (4.3 per game).
- Manchester City have won their last 14 Premier League games in a row. This is the English top-flight record within a single season.
- City’s next aim is to win their 15th successive top-flight league game in a row, which would be the most ever in England, beating Arsenal’s 14-game run between February and August 2002.
- Manchester City have won 46 points after 16 games this season – that points tally would have been enough to secure eighth position in the Premier League at the end of 2016-17.
- Swansea have the exact same record after 16 games this season as they did in 2016-17 – W3 D3 L10, winning 12 points. However, at this stage last season 54 goals had been scored in their matches while they have only seen 27 this season – half the tally.
- Kevin De Bruyne has assisted 17 goals in the Premier League in 2017 – the only players with more within a single Premier League calendar year are Mesut Ozil (20 in 2015) and Thierry Henry (19 in 2003).
- Wilfried Bony has scored in his last two Premier League games & will be looking to score in three in a row for the first time since October 2014. The Ivorian scored just six goals in 36 Premier League appearances for Manchester City before re-joining Swansea in August.
- Yaya Toure has been involved in more Premier League goals against Swansea than he has versus any other opponent in the competition (seven; four goals, three assists).
Liverpool v West Brom (2000 GMT)
There will be no hiding place anywhere on Merseyside for Jurgen Klopp if Liverpool don’t pick up three points in convincing fashion here but the damage has already been done regardless of the outcome.
The German’s bizarre decision to bench Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino (Emre Can and Gini Wijnaldum AWOL too) for the derby backfired in embarrassing fashion so while Dejan Lovren will be pilloried for the penalty he gave away, the fact they are now 16 points behind Manchester City rests squarely at the feet of Klopp.
It is a busy time for all the top clubs, but resting players for a title push this season that now has no hope of materialising? Misjudged at best and closer to reckless with the club’s fortunes.
What the response will be at Anfield should make for fascinating viewing – I couldn’t hazard a guess as to who is going on the team sheet and whether Klopp will revert to a full-strength outfit after the horse has already bolted.
The whole situation makes this an extremely tricky fixture to call although if West Brom turn up in similar form to their turgid effort at Swansea then Klopp could stick out his third XI and win comfortably.
Manager Alan Pardew keeps extolling the virtues of his new team’s work-rate and dedication in post-match interviews but he must be looking at a different game to me – they were awful for the most part against Crystal Palace and at the Liberty Stadium.
They lack quality and confidence from their front players and their plight was underlined on Saturday as a counter-attack in which they completely outnumbered the hosts saw Hal Robson-Kanu unable to do anything more than hoof the ball behind the net for a goal-kick.
Pardew will set out to annoy and irritate Liverpool with a plan to play on the fact there is not a great deal of patience currently amongst the home fans.
Klopp’s team selection and whether he will swallow his pride is obviously key but I can’t even begin to consider what might happen if the German and his team blunder once more so will tentatively go for this one being a routine home triumph against a vastly inferior rival.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 West Brom (DJ) - Sky Bet odds: 5/1
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League games against West Brom (W4 D4), having lost the previous three in a row before that.
- However, having won their first nine Premier League games in a row against the Baggies, Liverpool have won just five of the subsequent 13 (D4 L4).
- West Bromwich Albion have scored at least once in their last six league visits to Anfield (W2 D1 L3), netting eight goals in total. Their previous eight goals at Liverpool came over a period of 22 games, in which they failed to score 14 times.
- Albion have their lowest points tally after 16 games of a Premier League season since 2008-09 (12); winning 13 of a possible 48 so far this season.
- Liverpool have scored 63 goals in their 25 competitive games so far in 2017-18; the most that they have ever scored after this number of competitive matches in a single season since 1986-87 (64).
- In comparison, West Brom’s last 63 competitive goals have been scored over a period of 59 matches (1.07 goals per game).
- Liverpool’s unbeaten run at Anfield now stands at 14 games in all competitions (W8 D6 L0) – their last competitive defeat there came in April 2017 v Crystal Palace.
- Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in 23 goals for Liverpool in all competitions this season (in 24 games), two more than any other player in the Premier League.
- Salah has scored 19 goals in 24 appearances for Liverpool this season (all competitions), as many as he netted for Roma last term in 41 games.
Manchester United v Bournemouth (2000 GMT)
There will be a well-spouted theory here that a home game against Bournemouth is exactly what the doctor ordered for United after their 100 per cent home record was blown out of the water by Manchester City.
With it went their title hopes too, in all likelihood, and while Jose Mourinho takes the flak over that, in particular a somewhat defensive approach, life must go on for the team.
My own view is that the current United side is somewhat inferior to City’s and that Mourinho’s tactics were understandable. In many ways they almost worked – could he really be responsible for two defensive howlers from Romelu Lukaku? Had those set-plays been defended properly, United could well have taken something out of the game. Indeed they would have done any way had it not been for a superb double save from Ederson late on.
They may well respond in this game but they remain without Paul Pogba and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make life difficult for their hosts.
They are unbeaten in their last four away league games, conceding only three goals in the process.
They’ve suffered single-goal defeats against City, Spurs and Chelsea so far this season – another here is worth considering at 3/1.
Bournemouth at odds-against on the +2 handicap line is also tempting but neither bet looks good enough for me to get involved financially.
Prediction: Man Utd 1-0 Bournemouth (AS) - Sky Bet odds: 13/2
- Manchester United have won five of their six home meetings with Bournemouth in all competitions, with the exception being a 1-1 draw in this fixture last season.
- Bournemouth have found the net at least once in each of their four Premier League meetings with Manchester United – making them the side the Red Devils have faced the most in the competition without keeping a clean sheet.
- Bournemouth are one of four clubs that Jose Mourinho has faced more than once at home in his league managerial career but not beaten (D1 L1), after Burnley (D2), Genoa (D2) and Roma (D2).
- Bournemouth are unbeaten in four successive Premier League away games (W2 D2 L0) – their longest unbeaten run away from home in the competition is five games between January and March 2016 (W2 D3 L0).
- United’s 40-game unbeaten run at Old Trafford came to an end in their 2-1 derby defeat to Manchester City on Sunday (now W29 D11 L1) - in fact, Man City are the only side to have defeated Manchester United at home since February 2016, doing so twice.
- Manchester United haven’t lost successive home matches in all competitions since January 2014 (v Spurs in the Premier League and Swansea in the FA Cup).
- Jermain Defoe has scored against Manchester United in the Premier League for both Spurs and West Ham. Only eight players have previously scored against the Red Devils for 3+ clubs in the competition – Les Ferdinand (4 clubs), Darren Bent (4), Chris Sutton (3), Brian Deane (3), Nicolas Anelka (3), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (3), Yakubu (3) and James Milner (3).
- Marcus Rashford has now been involved in 15 goals for Manchester United this season, only Romelu Lukaku has been involved in more (17). However, Rashford has averaged a goal involvement every 93 minutes on average in 2017-18, compared to Lukaku’s ratio of 122 mins per goal involvement.
- Romelu Lukaku has scored five goals in four Premier League appearances against Bournemouth, including four in his last appearance against them: a 6-3 win for Everton in February 2017.
- Lukaku has scored just one goal in his last nine Premier League appearances, despite attempting 22 shots in this run – converting just 4.5% of these.
Tottenham v Brighton (2000 GMT)
I found Spurs hard to call at the weekend, suggesting their Wembley struggles might halt their run of walloping Stoke. That turned out to be far from the case.
Like West Ham, perhaps that 5-1 win is the result Spurs needed to shrug off a recent malaise which has seen them win just two of their last seven in the Premier League.
They were much better against the Potters when they became the first top-flight side ever to beat the same team by four or more goals on four successive occasions.
Brighton have been pretty toothless on the road, being shutout in five of their eight games thus far, while they have scored just one goal in their last four matches at any venue.
Spurs did concede late in Saturday’s game to stretch their league run without a clean sheet to five. Davinson Sanchez remains suspended and with Toby Alderweireld’s hamstring now due to keep him out until February, I’m not convinced enough to be backing a home win to nil at odds-on.
One aspect I did get correct last week was my assessment of Heung-min Son’s goalscoring form – he duly added another and now has six in his last nine starts.
He’s actually a bigger price in the any time market than he was against Stoke and while Albion’s defence is statistically much tighter than Stoke’s (21 conceded to 35), I still think that 6/4 may have some juice in it.
Prediction: Spurs 2-0 Brighton (AS) - Sky Bet odds: 9/2
- Tottenham have won their last two games against Brighton in all competitions, winning 2-1 in the FA Cup third round in 2004-05, and 2-0 in a League Cup fourth round tie in 2014-15.
- Brighton won the last league meeting between these sides, 2-1 in a home match in April 1983.
- Spurs have only lost one of their eight home meetings with the Seagulls in all competitions (W4 D3), 1-0 in a league match in October 1981.
- Brighton have failed to win on their three previous trips to Wembley Stadium – losing the FA Cup final to Manchester United 4-0 in a replay after a 2-2 draw, and losing the 1991 second tier play-off final 3-1 against Notts County.
- Brighton have attempted fewer shots than any other side in the Premier League this season (135).
- Brighton have picked up just one point (W0 D1 L3) and scored just one goal in their last four Premier League matches.
- Son Heung-Min has been involved in nine goals in his last 11 competitive appearances for Tottenham Hotspur (six goals, three assists).
- Harry Kane has now scored 50 goals for Tottenham and England in 2017, netting a goal every 81 minutes on average this year.
- Kane’s Premier League goal tally in 2017 stands at 33 goals in 32 appearances – just three goals away from equalling Alan Shearer’s record in the competition of 36 goals back in the calendar year of 1995.
- Brighton could be the 27th different team that Harry Kane has played against in the Premier League. He’s scored against 25 of the previous 26 he’s faced and only failed to find the net against Cardiff (two appearances, no goals).
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Posted at 1620 GMT on 12/12/17.