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19-Apr 2022 Tuesday 12:12 PM (75 days ago)               #1
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Premier League: Liverpool Look to Complete Massive Manchester Double

Liverpool vs Manchester United

Liverpool kept their quadruple bid alive as they saw off Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals on the weekend. And now, the Reds will look to remain in the Premier League title race when they face fierce rivals Manchester United in midweek.

United are suddenly back in the top-four race after they beat bottom side Norwich thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick and both north London clubs – Tottenham and Arsenal – suffered shock defeats.

However, the Premier League 2022 betting odds will still have the Red Devils as heavy underdogs against Liverpool, who have been unbeatable at Anfield this season.

Talking Points

Liverpool coming off confidence-boosting City win

Liverpool will head into their big clash against rivals Manchester United with a lot of confidence. After sealing their spot in the semi-finals of the Champions League, they saw off another Manchester club – Man City – 3-2 in the semi-finals of the FA Cup over the weekend.

The Reds were slightly second-best in their 2-2 draw with City in their recent Premier League matchup, but Jurgen Klopp’s side blitzed the Citizens at Wembley, going up 3-0 by half-time and successfully saw off the match.

Sadio Mane scored a brace as he continued his fantastic end-of-season form. The Senegalese striker has now scored four goals in his last four games.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah’s struggles in front of goal are still ongoing. The Egyptian has now gone scoreless in his last six appearances in all competitions, although he is still the Premier League’s top scorer with 20 goals.

Salah will look to produce more Premier League 2022 highlights against United, against whom he has scored seven goals in his last five games. That includes his sensational hat-trick at Old Trafford in their first meeting of the season.

Elsewhere, Diogo Jota could rejoin the starting XI after only coming on late against City in the cup. The same goes for captain Jordan Henderson.

And at the back, Joel Matip is expected to return to partner Virgil van Dijk in the centre of the defence despite Ibrahima Konate scoring in three consecutive appearances.

Liverpool have been absolutely immense at Anfield this season. They are the only club in the Premier League unbeaten at home (12 wins, 3 draws), scoring 39 goals and conceding just seven. Moreover, they have won their last 10 league home games in a row, conceding just two goals during that time.

Man United dealing with midfield dilemma

Manchester United finally snapped a disappointing run of three games in all competitions without a win by beating bottom side Norwich City 3-2 at home.

Cristiano Ronaldo is motivated to seal another Premier League victory for Manchester United
Manchester United superstar Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring a hat-trick during Premier League clash against Norwich City

Cristiano Ronaldo once again came to the Red Devils’ rescue with a hat-trick, the 50th of is remarkable club career. They were the first goals Ronaldo had scored since United’s last win – a 3-2 win over Tottenham – in which he also scored a hat-trick.

Thanks to the win, coupled with both Tottenham and Arsenal losing, United are now just three points back of Spurs for fourth place with six games to go.

United were missing both first-choice midfielders in Fred and Scott McTominay against Norwich, so coach Ralf Rangnick went with a midfield three of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, and Bruno Fernandes. That left them exposed defensively, as Norwich were able to produce 15 shots against them.

Fred and McTominay are both likely to miss out once again in midweek, which could leave the United midfield overmatched against Liverpool.

United are also expected to be without centre-back Raphael Varane, so Victor Lindelof is likely to partner Harry Maguire in defence.

History

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Liverpool have dominated Manchester United in the Premier League in recent years. The Reds have gone unbeaten in their last seven league meetings, winning on four occasions. That includes their back-to-back 4-2 and 5-0 thrashings of United at Old Trafford.

Man United’s last win over Liverpool came in 2018, a 2-1 win at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, their last win at Anfield came back in 2016, when a lone Wayne Rooney goal gave the Red Devils a 1-0 win.

Betting Tip

SBOTOP odds have Liverpool installed as massive 1.40 favourites to beat Manchester United at Anfield. The Red Devils are priced at 7.20 to pull off an unlikely upset, while a draw is 4.60.

In the form they are in at the moment, it’s hard to see Liverpool slipping up at home, especially against a United side that has been playing subpar football in recent weeks.

Even with Salah not at his absolute best, the Reds just have too many attacking weapons to get the better of the Red Devils. Look for them to get the win they need to keep the Premier League title race alive.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 19-Apr-2022 at 12:13 PM





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19-Apr 2022 Tuesday 12:15 PM (75 days ago)            #2
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Premier League: Top Four Race Is Back On

Another topsy turvy weekend of Premier League football saw Cristiano Ronaldo score a hat-trick in Manchester United’s 3-2 win over bottom club Norwich City. 

And that was enough for the Red Devils to steal a march on their rivals who all slipped up. The Premier League 2022 betting odds make it a three horse race for the final Champions League place, with Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United all in the frame. Fourth placed Spurs messed up a great chance to extend their lead over their rivals when they lost 1-0 at home to Brighton, while Arsenal went down to Southampton by the same margin. That means United draw level with the Gunners and three points behind Tottenham, while outsiders West Ham failed to make up ground, drawing at home to manager-less Burnley.

Ronaldo is carrying the Red Devils

Yet another man-of-the-match performance from CR7 handed three points to an unimpressive Manchester United and not for the first time this season. The 37 year old legend has become the Red Devil’s talisman again, and that’s a poor reflection on some of his highly rated team-mates. His 99th league goal was a much needed winner after his team had squandered a two goal lead to the Canaries who have little to play for but their pride. And that’s a quality Ralf Rangnick’s players need to rediscover even if their form is under par.

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VALENCIA
1X2 Draw @ 4.20
Under 2.50 @ 2.00
First Half Over 1.00 @ 1.94
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

It was a second hat-trick in five games for Ronaldo who also saved his team in a five goal thriller against fellow top four hopefuls Spurs, and without his goals United would have been a mid-table team. While he may upset the balance of the side Ronaldo is undoubtedly a leader and the Red Devils need more of the same if they are to sustain a Champions League challenge.

Have the wheels fallen off at Arsenal?

It turned out to be a super Saturday for Manchester United as both Spurs and Arsenal failed to pick up a point in their games. The Gunners went down to a Jan Bednarek goal at St Mary’s and that made it three losses on the bounce for Mikel Arteta’s Gunners. With 75 per cent possession and 23 shots Arsenal fans expected more, and their frustration mounted knowing that a victory would draw them level with fourth placed Spurs.

The Saints have been on a slump in recent weeks, losing five of their last six games including a 6-0 thumping at the hands of Chelsea, but Veteran keeper Fraser Forster kept them in front with a series of fine saves. The Gunners were in pole position for the Champions League spot three games ago, but losses to Brighton and Crystal Palace and now this defeat to Southampton have left them a lot to do. And it doesn’t get any easier for Arteta’s men with a trip to Chelsea on Wednesday, followed by a clash with Manchester United at the Emirates next Saturday.

Burnley show signs of life after Dyche 

Premier League: Thomas Soucek scored on the 74th minute of West Ham United's 1-1 draw against Burnley
West Ham United’s Thomas Soucek scored against Burnley at London Stadium

The big Premier League 2022 news in the run up to this weekend was the shock sacking of Burnley boss Sean Dyche by American owners ALK. It’s hard to tell whether this was a knee-jerk reaction from Chairman Alan Pace or a considered move to try to plan for the future, whichever division the Clarets are in next term. With seven games to go Burnley are now three points from safety, so they are not dead and buried, but while a 1-1 draw away to West Ham was a good result, they need to find some wins in the coming weeks.

With both Watford and Norwich City losing and Everton and Leeds not playing this weekend, the Clarets were never going to lose ground when they travelled to the London Stadium and the SBOTOP odds backed a home win. But the Clarets played some nice football under the guidance of U23 coach Mike Jackson, and went ahead on the half hour when Jay Rodriguez hit the crossbar and Wout Weghorst nodded in the rebound. The visitors had to make a change when midfield man Ashley Westwood suffered a horror injury and was replaced by Jack Cork. But they had a golden opportunity to double their lead when Lukasz Fabianski brought down Maxwell Cornet and the referee pointed to the spot. The Ivorian climbed to his feet but rolled his penalty wide and was made to pay when Tomas Soucek levelled with his shoulder from a Manuel Lanzini free-kick. Burnley keeper Nick Pope then saved a point for the Clarets with a brilliant late save to deny Michail Antonio.


 

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 19-Apr-2022 at 12:15 PM





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19-Apr 2022 Tuesday 12:17 PM (75 days ago)            #3
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Premier League: The Capital Clash with Contrasting Form

Chelsea vs Arsenal

After a rocky spell, no doubt triggered by off the pitch uncertainty, Chelsea are back on it again.

After hitting six at Southampton, they almost pulled off a sensational comeback at Real Madrid and then returned to form to reach next month’s FA Cup Final.

Now they prepare to host old foes in the Premier League and a side who, after promising something tangible, suddenly can’t buy a win and who are causing their manager genuine concern.

It’s Chelsea versus Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

Talking Points

When I previewed the corresponding fixture last season – 11 months ago – I billed it as a meeting of two London giants heading in different directions.

Since then, little on the pitch has changed, although Arsenal had a spell that hinted at improvement under Mikel Arteta.

However, in recent weeks, defeats at Crystal Palace and Brighton have damaged that optimism. And on Easter Saturday, the Gunners went down to a third successive defeat, failing to take advantage of Tottenham’s slip-up at home to Brighton and dropping to sixth after Manchester United overcame Norwich.

Although the Gunners dominated possession for long spells against Southampton, they lacked the tempo to create too many openings against a resolute and defensively organised Saints side.

Against that backdrop, a trip to Chelsea would not exactly been high on their wish list this week.

For this is a Chelsea team which, despite the uncertainty hanging over Stamford Bridge – caused by sanctions taken against owner Roman Abramovich for alleged links to Russian president Vladimir Putin which threatens to wreak financial havoc on the club – possesses a core of steely professionalism and an ability to get the job done.

In their FA Cup semi-final victory over Crystal Palace, Chelsea lost midfielder Mateo Kovacic to an ankle injury and manager Thomas Tuchel admitted that it appears serious.

Chelsea are currently sitting on the third spot of the Premier League table
Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger and Edouard Mendy celebrates after reaching the FA Cup final

Chelsea are already without long-term absentees Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi, while Ross Barkley missed the Palace win after a recent bout of sickness.

So, it seems N’Golo Kante will slot straight back into the engine room in Kovacic’s likely absence and, given how much he terrorized the Arsenal backline at the Emirates earlier this season, it would not be a surprise to see Tuchel consider handing Romelu Lukaku a start.

Meanwhile, Arsenal right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu is due to return to training before Wednesday’s game and could be in with a shot at returning, but Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney are both still out.

Captain Alexandre Lacazette’s participation is also up in the air after he tested positive for Covid-19 before the Southampton game, so Eddie Nketiah could once again be tasked with leading the line at Stamford Bridge.

Perhaps there will also be a recall for Emile Smith Rowe, the match-winner in this fixture last season, on the left-hand side.

One thing is certain, this is a fixture that has regularly produced Premier League 2022 highlights and I expect no different in midweek with the home side clear favourites.

History

Over the years, Arsenal have won 80 of their meetings with 66 Chelsea victories and 59 draws.

When these sides met in the second weekend of the season, Chelsea were dominant and ran out 2-0 winners thanks to first-half goals from Lukaku and Reece James.

That was only Chelsea’s fourth victory in their last 15 meetings in all competitions in this long-established rivalry.

The corresponding fixture last season actually saw exciting youngster Smith Rowe score the only goal in an Arsenal victory at Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal also beat them in the 2020 FA Cup Final when talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang worked his magic as the Gunners came from behind to win the FA Cup for a record 14th time.

That gained revenge for a clash 15 months earlier – a 4-1 Chelsea success in the Europa League Final.

Betting Tip

The SBOTOP Premier League 2022 betting odds for Chelsea include 1X2 @ 1.90 and Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 2.21.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are available to back 1X2 @ 3.40 and Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.35.

The Draw, which could well be expected given the visitors need the points and Chelsea are comfortable in third place, is on offer @ 3.40.

If the Gunners can repeat last season’s scoreline, then Correct Score 0-1 will bring a payday of @ 10.50, while another 2-0 Chelsea win will provide joy @ 8.25.

Two bets which have an appeal are a tight, cagey contest with total goal 0-1 on offer @ 3.00 or Over 2.75 goals @ 2.40. I do think this will be close, but I expect Chelsea to complete a league double over Arsenal and will take the Blues on the Asian Handicap market.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 19-Apr-2022 at 12:17 PM





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19-Apr 2022 Tuesday 12:18 PM (75 days ago)            #4
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Premier League: Now Let’s See What the Sky Blues Are Made Of!

Manchester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion

After a tough weekend of cup football, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are back on the Premier League trail on Wednesday, when Graham Potter’s Brighton are the visitors to the Etihad.

While City crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of arch-rivals Liverpool, the Seagulls pulled off a shock 1-0 win away to Spurs to put a serious dent in the Whites’ top-four hopes. And the Sky Blues must, at all costs, avoid the same fate…otherwise they could see their domestic season rapidly disappear down the toilet!

By the time Manchester City kick off on Wednesday night they could be second in the table should Liverpool, as expected, beat Manchester United on Tuesday.

The momentum is currently with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, who have already won the Carabao Cup and have an historic quadruple in sight. City’s quest is to win the Premier League and the Champions League, nothing less, and they face a tricky test against the Seagulls in pursuit of this double goal.

Talking Points

City at full strength

No wins in three is something of an oddity in the life of a Manchester City fan and the Etihad faithful will expect that to be put right on Wednesday. Despite their recent trials, the latest Premier League 2022 betting odds still back the Sky Blues as hot favourites with an SBOTOP price of 1.38 to lift a fourth league title in five seasons. 

Guardiola has a fully fit squad to face Brighton and he will be reluctant to rest his big names with three points the imperative. The return from injury of Ruben Dias has added quality to the defence and, after Zack Steffen’s difficult day in the FA Cup, there will doubtless be a return for Ederson between the posts. 

It is in attack midfield and attack where the selection dilemmas appear. The club has operated without a striker this season, and the Sky Blues are in talks with Borussia Dortmund hitman Erling Braut Haaland with a view to a summer swoop.

In the meantime, they will go with what they have, and there are plenty of players wanting to make a claim for a shirt in the front six. Top scorer Kevin de Bruyne is sure to start while one of City’s four captains, Ilkay Gundogan is in line for a place, with Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva also in the frame. Guardiola is yet to see the best of Jack Grealish and this could be the type of game where he can shine.

Add Haaland to that lot and the Sky Blues could be unbeatable next season, but for now they have a tough battle on their hands.

Seagulls back on song 

Brighton & Hove Albion's Lewis Dunk aims to score against Manchester City in the Premier League
Lewis Dunk celebrates after Brighton & Hove Albion’s match against Tottenham Hotspur

Graham Potter’s Brighton have played good football again this season and have progressed from being a club usually on the fringe of the relegation battle to one in midtable comfort.

Brighton’s win over Spurs was not such a surprise as it came in a run of strong Premier League 2022 results which have seen the Seagulls climb into the top half of the league table. But it was particularly impressive in the way Potter’s men frustrated Spurs all-star attack, and then struck when they had the chance.

Leandro Trossard scored a brilliant 90th-minute winner after Brighton had frustrated Spurs throughout the game, and this was Brighton’s first win away to Spurs since 1981. It also meant the Seagulls completed a North London double, having beaten Arsenal at the Emirates last week.

Tottenham had scored at least twice in their last seven games, but they couldn’t get past a defence marshalled by the excellent Lewis Dunk as Trossard and Joel Veltman made brave blocks to twice deny Heung-Min Son. 

Neal Maupay is the Seagulls’ top scorer with eight goals, but he was an unused substitute in the victory over Spurs. If Potter thinks he can frustrate City as he did Spurs, then Maupay could be the man to apply the sting.

History

Brighton have failed to win in any of their 11 meetings with the Sky Blues, losing nine and drawing two. City won 4-1 when they visited Brighton for a league date in October as Phil Foden scored a brace.

In terms of recent form, the two clubs have been going in opposite directions and this throws up a surprising statistic. While Brighton have followed up a run of three losses with a draw and two wins, the Sky Blues have followed up three wins with two draws and a defeat.

Betting Tip

If you fancy a bet on the Seagulls to peck away at the Sky Blues’ title hopes you can get 16.36 on an away win or 5.22 on a draw. And Brighton are at 2.06 with the 1.75 goals start.

But this is do or die for the Sky Blues and I can’t see the champions slipping up again.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 19-Apr-2022 at 12:18 PM





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19-Apr 2022 Tuesday 8:13 PM (74 days ago)            #5
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Premier League: The North West Action Reaches Fever Pitch

With apologies to fans in London, the Midlands, the South Coast, and even the North East, the North West of England is where it’s at if you want excitement, drama, and the very best Premier League football.

The dust on Liverpool’s amazing 3-2 FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester City has only just settled and on Tuesday night one of the biggest rivalries in world football plays out another chapter when Manchester United head to Anfield to take on Jurgen Klopp’s Reds.

A win for Liverpool will take them top of the Premier League table, for at least one day as Manchester City prepare to play Brighton on Wednesday – a game we have previewed here at SBOTOP. Meanwhile, the Red Devils have just breathed life into their top four challenge with a 3-2 victory over Norwich City, while Tottenham and Arsenal both lost.

Liverpool’s Merseyside neighbours Everton have an entirely different problem as they are currently sitting precariously in 17th place and just three points clear of the drop zone. The Premier League 2022 betting odds reckon Frank Lampard’s side should squeeze home but they have a devilish run-in and the nerves are shredding at Goodison Park.

Manchester City are eying Haaland 

Following their failure to lure Harry Kane to the Etihad in the summer of 2021, Pep Guardiola said he was happy to go with the squad he had and, while the Sky Blues undoubtedly have some of the best players in the world in their ranks, they have missed former striker Sergio Aguero.

With the Carabao Cup and FA Cup already gone, I suspect Guardiola may be ruing the lack of a goal scorer. And while he has a plethora of attacking midfielders registering double figures, he is looking for a trained hitman to bag 20 plus goals.

The club is upping its interest in Borussia Dortmund star Erling Braut Haaland and are ready to meet the release clause of 75-M Euros, which is way below the Norwegian’s valuation, though they may have to break the bank to meet the player’s wage expectations.

Real Madrid are also interested. But if Los Blancos can secure the signature of PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, that will leave the Sky Blues as the hot favourites for Haaland’s services.

Red Devils are counting on Ten Hag

Premier League: Manchester United hope Erik Ten Hag can bring the good times back to Old Trafford
Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag photographed at the ArenA stadium in Amsterdam

Across the road at Old Trafford, the owners are looking for a change at the helm to follow the tenure of interim boss Ralf Rangnick and Ajax head coach Erik Ten Hag is said to be close to signing a deal.

The contract is yet to be signed and Ajax sanction agreed, but Manchester United are hoping the 52-year-old will be their man by the end of the season. The Dutch supremo is expected to sign a three-year deal and he will need at least that length of time to restore United to the top of the league and challenging Manchester City and Liverpool.

Ten Hag had a close relationship with Ajax director of football Marc Overmars and he will need some close allies at Manchester United if he is to succeed.

Old Trafford is not the place to plough on by yourself as Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal discovered. No one can replace Sir Alex Ferguson and the club and its new man must now evolve into something different with the scent of success that the long-suffering Red Devils fans yearn for.

Can Michael Jackson start something at Burnley? 

The big Premier League 2022 news last week concerned the smallest club in the league as Burnley sacked their manager of nine and a half years Sean Dyche, the man who had led the Clarets to two promotions and six consecutive seasons in the top-flight.

But the wheels have fallen off at Turf Moor this year and, with eight games to play, the club’s owners potted their man, leaving Under-23 head coach Mike Jackson in temporary charge.

Injured skipper Ben Mee was at Jackson’s side as Burnley earned a battling point away to West Ham on Sunday. The Clarets led through a Wout Weghorst goal and had a chance to double their lead when Maxwell Cornet earned a penalty, but the Ivorian missed from 12 yards.

Tomas Soucek levelled for the Hammers and the game ended 1-1 as Burnley keeper Nick Pope made two great saves.

With two home games against Southampton and Wolves to come this week, three, four, or six points could lift the Clarets out of the bottom three and that would tee up more drama at the bottom end of the table.


 

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 19-Apr-2022 at 8:13 PM





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20-Apr 2022 Wednesday 12:20 PM (74 days ago)            #6
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Premier League: Tussles At The Top And Bottom And The Key Absentees

The Premier League run-in has begun and there are few certainties.

Realistically, it is very difficult to see either Norwich City – spirited but ultimately pointless at Old Trafford at the weekend – or Watford surviving and they seem certain to head straight back to the Championship over the next few weeks.

Equally, only reigning champions Manchester City or Liverpool are going to win the title and Chelsea will almost definitely finish third.

That means the most intriguing permutations surround the race for the fourth and final Champions League berth and Burnley’s bid to overtake Everton and move out of the drop zone.

As far as this SBOTOP writer is concerned – and the Premier League betting odds will largely agree – the Clarets will probably fall short, not helped by the ill-timed dismissal of Sean Dyche last week, while Spurs should claim that fourth spot, if nothing else because they have slightly more consistency than their North London rivals Arsenal and Manchester United.

At the bottom, Burnley (who have badly missed captain Ben Mee over the past six matches) deserve much credit for earning a point at West Ham on Easter Day, just 48 hours after the shock of Dyche’s departure.

Yet even that result does not mask the fact that they need to turn draws into victories quickly and that is something they have only managed on four occasions all season.

La Liga
REAL SOCIEDAD
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1X2 Draw @ 3.55
Under 2.50 @ 2.08
First Half Over 1.25 @ 2.33
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

The absence of their captain and Burnley’s decision to remove their long-serving manager has been portrayed in some quarters as a boost to Everton’s chances of avoiding relegation, given Dyche’s experience and the timing of his removal.

I certainly concur with that stance even if Everton boss Frank Lampard insists only his team, not events at Turf Moor, can determine the club’s top-flight status.

The Toffees, who host Leicester on Wednesday, are three points above their relegation rivals with a game in hand.

My view will only change if the Foxes manage to take something from the contest at Goodison Park on Wednesday and Burnley follow that up with back-to-back home wins against Southampton and Wolves – a feat they have only managed twice in the past 15 months.

At the other end, a pivotal few days await for Arsenal who have a meeting with old foes Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, quickly followed by a Saturday lunchtime clash at home to United.

While half of United already look like they are mentally ‘on the beach’ and can’t wait for the season to finish, Arsenal had a spell that hinted at improvement under Mikel Arteta.

However, in recent weeks, defeats at Crystal Palace and Brighton have damaged that optimism. And on Easter Saturday, the Gunners went down to a third successive defeat, failing to take advantage of Tottenham’s slip-up at home to Brighton.

Although the Gunners dominated possession for long spells against Southampton, they lacked the tempo to create too many openings against a resolute and defensively organised Saints side.

Realistically, you would think they need at least three points from these two games to keep their top four ambitions alive.

That would allow them to move level on points, or above Spurs, before Antonio Conte’s team visit Brentford.

As inconsistent as they have been, it seems that the clubs which do miss out on fourth place will secure fifth and sixth place finishes, leaving West Ham and Wolves to battle it out for seventh spot, which earns a place in the third tier of European football in the case of the Europa Conference League.

Thomas Partey already missed two games in the Premier League after suffering thigh injury
Arsenal’s Thomas Partey in action during their Premier League match against Leicester City

One interesting stat I read relates to Arsenal and midfielder Thomas Partey who will be a big miss in the run-in.

Amazingly, their win ratio drops from 65% to 25% when the Ghanian – who picked up a calf injury in the 3-0 defeat at Palace – does not start.

In fact, without him in the middle of the park, Arsenal appear to have lost their driving force from deep in Arteta’s favoured 4-2-3-1 system and this has a damaging effect on the team as a whole. The number of goals they score decreases (from 1.83 to just 0.38 per 90 minutes) and the number of goals they concede rises (from 1.09 to 1.50 per game).

Partey makes them tick. He has a better dribble success rate (81.4%) than any of the 158 players who have attempted 25 or more dribbles in the Premier League this season and, when he is not in the side, Arsenal struggle to create chances through the middle of the park. He is also a reliable option in midfield who can receive the ball from his centre-backs under pressure, shake off opponents and drive the team forward.

Whether that ends up being crucial over the next few weeks remains unclear.

With or without Partey, I expect Arsenal to miss out on fourth place and without Dyche, I expect Burnley’s six-year stint in the top flight to come to an end. There’ll be plenty more Premier League highlights at top and bottom over the next month before we know for sure.


 

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20-Apr 2022 Wednesday 7:50 PM (74 days ago)            #7
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Premier League: Old Rivalry Has a New Meaning in 2022

Arsenal vs Manchester United

In days gone by, the clash between Arsenal and Manchester United was THE date in the English football calendar, when Arsene Wengers’ Gunners pushed Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils during a glorious decade of North/South rivalry. 

While the Manchester club won more Premier League titles, Arsenal had the season to remember when they became the unbeaten Invincibles in the 2003/04 campaign.

But times have changed.

Here and now, Arsenal vs Manchester United brings together two teams with top-four ambitions at best; both have taken a slap over the past few days and it will be fascinating to see how they react. 

Ralf Rangnick has a four-day rebuilding job to do after his Manchester United team was humiliated by Liverpool in a 4-0 thrashing at Anfield on Tuesday, while Arsenal’s Champions League hopes took a hefty blow when they lost away to out-of-form Southampton last week.

The Gunners also have a London derby with Chelsea to contend with before the visit of Manchester United, so this is a huge week for Mikel Arteta’s team.

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Talking Points

Arteta relying on his young guns

trip to Chelsea on Wednesday night is a big enough test for Arteta’s young players, but to follow that up with a fierce battle for Europe will really show how good they can be. Having lost three games on the bounce, Arsenal would have drifted out of contention were it not for Spurs’ shock home defeat to Brighton on Saturday.

The Premier League 2022 betting odds back a Gunners win in this clash but without some key senior players, it will be difficult. Striker Alexandre Lacazette missed the defeat to the Saints after he tested positive for COVID, and he is likely to be unavailable, along with long-term absentees Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey.

While Partey is a big miss in front of the defence, it is the loss of Tierney which hurts the Gunners the most. The Scottish wing-back has leadership skills to add to his defensive nous and dangerous attacking instinct.

In the absence of these three players, midfield general Granit Xhaka must lead the team and keep his cool. Meanwhile Arteta can rely on the youngsters Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka, who have nine goals each, to stretch the Manchester United defence. We have also seen some glimpses of just how good attacking midfielder Gabriel Martinelli can be, with his electric turn of speed and quick feet.

Red Devils looked completely lost at Anfield

This time last year, under the guidance of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Red Devils were second in the league table with 67 points, 13 more than they have this time around. And that is a terrible statistic for United fans who were hoping to see some continued progress.

With the appointment of Erik Ten Hag inching ever closer, there may be some stability returning to Old Trafford, but he is inheriting a squad of players which has suffered some poor Premier League 2022 results and looked totally bereft of any spark or purpose as the Reds dismantled them at will.

The loss of defensive leader Raphael Varane has left a big gap in the Red Devils’ defence and Liverpool cut through with ease. With five at the back and four in midfield, the lack of solidity was bewildering, while it was virtually impossible to see how United could score, with Marcus Rashford hopelessly out of form.

Premier League: Can Manchester United defeat Arsenal in their upcoming clash?
Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes in action with Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara during their recent Premier League encounter at Anfield

Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes, the most productive Manchester player on the pitch with nine goals and six assists this season, lost his cool late in the game and picked up a yellow card for a late challenge.

Meanwhile, Paul Pogba limped off early in the match so, like Arsenal, the Red Devils are short of experience for this huge game. Nemanja Matic is set to leave the club in the Summer and he owes the team a big performance which he is well capable of producing.

Red Devils legend Gary Neville said the 9-0 aggregate loss to Liverpool was the low point in his 42-year association with the club he loves, and now Neville and whole of the Red half of Manchester, deserve a reaction.

History

With 32 victories to 20, the Red Devils have had the better of the head to head results in the Premier League era, and they won the return fixture 3-2 in December as Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace. CR7’s tragic family news kept him out of the Liverpool game and he is unlikely to feature against Arsenal.

Manchester United have failed to win on their last three visits to the Emirates, taking home a 0-0 draw last season and two 2-0 defeats before that.

Betting Tip

With The Red Devils available at SBOTOP odds of 2.74 and Arsenal at 2.25 all three results are well in play, which makes this a difficult match to call.

For an alternative bet, Over 2.75 goals is priced at 2.12, but I’m going for a draw, which will be little use for either team, unless Spurs implode in the coming weeks.

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23-Apr 2022 Saturday 4:57 PM (71 days ago)            #8
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Premier League: Leeds Want to Guarantee Their Top-Flight Safety

Crystal Palace vs Leeds United

Leeds United have been hitting their stride and they’re keen on closing out this term with yet another guaranteed spot at the Premier League for next season.

Since Jesse Marsch replaced Marcelo Bielsa in late February, the Whites have been getting positive Premier League 2022 results, so they’re super close of achieving survival once again.

On Monday, they’ll take on a struggling Crystal Palace squad at Selhurst Park. The Eagles are currently above them in the standings at 14th place with 37 points while Leeds are at 16th with 33 points.

Jesse Marsch and Patrick Vieira will be crossing paths for the first time here in England after sharing numerous battles at the MLS. In fact, Marsch recently admitted that he used to hate Vieira during their time in New York.

Given their history, we expect another tough battle between these two tacticians. So continue to read our SBOTOP preview for this match.

Talking Points

Crystal Palace look to recover from a slump

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira will be looking to pressure Leeds United in their upcoming Premier League fixture
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira during the Premier League match against Newcastle United

Patrick Vieira has done a superb job in his debut season with the Eagles considering the low expectations placed on his shoulders before their campaign began.

Under his tutelage, Crystal Palace have went to as far as the FA Cup semi-finals only to lose to Chelsea, and they’re likely to stay in the Premier League once again.

They’re currently on a slump of three consecutive losses in all competitions because they’ve had a harder time in finding the back of the net with several key players sidelined due to injuries.

Michael Olise’s services are sorely missed by the squad since he is their top creative outlet with eight assists so far. The 20-year-old Frenchman remains a doubt for Monday and they aren’t rushing him back. Another key absence is Nathan Ferguson, who remains a long-term absentee since he is dealing with a strained hamstring.

Central midfielder Luka Milivojevic, meanwhile, is in starting XI contention after being out against Newcastle United. However, he has struggled for regular game time under Vieira this season.

The trio of Wilfried Zaha, Conor Gallagher, and Odsonne Edouard should continue to lead their attack while Jean-Philippe Mateta will play an ancillary role.

Zaha has 12 goals and two assists, Gallagher has eight goals and five assists, while Edouard and Mateta both have six goals apiece and four assists combined.

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Jesse Marsch has hit the ground running with Leeds United

Leeds United’s confidence are high following their 3-0 victory over Watford last Saturday where Raphinha, Rodrigo Moreno, and Jack Harrison all found the back of the net.

It was a solid bounce back performance from them after being held to a draw by Southampton the week before after squandering a one-goal lead.

The Whites have been bothered by injuries all season long, which is why they’re happy whenever they’d get some warm bodies back.

Jesse Marsch revealed that Patrick Bamford has taken part in first-team training recently, giving fresh hope that he’ll be fit against the Eagles. Bamford suffered a foot injury during their 3-2 win over Wolves last March.

His return couldn’t come soon enough as he is their top attacking threat as Dan James and Tyler Roberts don’t exactly fit in their starting striker role.

History

Leeds United have beaten Crystal Palace in their reverse fixture at Elland Road last December as Raphinha scored the lone goal via a penalty kick during added time.

At Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace are undefeated in their last five league games against Leeds United (W3, D2), winning this exact fixture last term with a 4-1 scoreline.

But prior to their 3-0 win against Arsenal earlier this April, the Eagles were winless in their last five league games at home (D2, L3). They haven’t won consecutive home league matches since March 2020.

In their last 10 games against each other, Leeds United hold the major edge with six wins, whereas Crystal Palace have won twice and drawn twice.

Betting Tip

Despite hitting a rough patch, Crystal Palace are favoured to win by the Premier League 2022 odds. They are installed at 2.05, while Leeds United are pegged at 3.40 and a draw is at 3.50 in the 1X2 market.

Their previous fixture might have been a low scoring affair, but we think that it would be the opposite this time around – making Over 2.25 @ 1.61 a strong betting option.

With valuable points up for grabs, the Eagles and the Whites are going to bring their A-game for this contest. So whatever the result is on Monday, the biggest winners in the end are the fans who will be watching at Selhurst Park.

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26-Apr 2022 Tuesday 1:42 PM (68 days ago)            #9
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Premier League: Can Eriksen’s Bees Deal Spurs Another Big Setback?

Brentford vs Tottenham Hotspur

Brentford are having a brilliant end to their debut season in the Premier League. The Bees, inspired by the reborn Christian Eriksen, have reeled off three wins on the bounce, including two in London derbies against Chelsea and West Ham.

Eriksen will look to inspire Brentford to their fourth win in a row when they take on his former side Tottenham Hotspur, who are still hoping to secure a top-four spot.

Spurs were handed a big setback in their quest for Champions League qualification as they lost at home to Brighton. But while the Premier League 2022 betting odds have them favoured away to Brentford, they must be careful not to get stung by Eriksen and the in-form Bees.

Talking Points

Eriksen making a big difference at Brentford

What a difference Christian Eriksen has made to Brentford. The Bees had gone on a disastrous run of Premier League 2022 results that saw them dragged into the relegation battle. But they are no longer in danger of the drop as they’ve won five of the six Premier League matches Eriksen has appeared in since arriving at the Brentford Community Stadium.

 The Dane has contributed a goal and two assists, including one for Pontus Jansson’s late winning goal against Watford last weekend.

Eriksen’s presence in the centre of midfield has provided the team with a much-needed spark of quality and creativity in attack. He has also helped energise their two strikers, Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo, who have been in brilliant form of late. Toney has six goals and two assists in his last six outings, while Mbeumo has a goal and four assists in his last four.

Coach Thomas Frank has switched to a 4-3-3 formation in recent matches, with super sub Yoane Wissa coming in to from a front three with Mbeumo and Toney.

Although, Frank has played with a back three for most of the season and could potentially return to that formation in order to match up better with Antonio Conte’s preferred 3-4-3 system.

Conte could make changes after Seagulls setback

Tottenham’s top-four hopes took a hit after a shock 1-0 defeat at home to Brighton. Spurs’ front three of Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, and Dejan Kulusevski, who were in such fine form heading into the match, were completely unable to create any Premier League 2022 highlights as the team failed to get a single shot on target against the Seagulls.

Antonio Conte eyes for a comeback from recent Premier League defeat when Tottenham meet Brentford
Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte looks upset during their Premier League match against Brighton & Hove Albion

Arsenal’s shock 4-2 win at Chelsea has seen them go level with Spurs on 57 points, which puts the pressure back on Conte’s side.

Conte remarked after the Brighton defeat that it was a “good opportunity” for his side to learn how to cope with pressure, and he will certainly get a chance to see how they react against Brentford.

Conte has stuck with a mostly settled starting XI over the last few weeks, with only the wing-backs getting rotated. Although, Matt Doherty’s season-ending knee injury has limited Conte’s options at that position.

The loss to Brighton could potentially serve as a wake-up call for Conte to make some more changes to his side with the hope of giving them a spark.

The likes of Lucas Moura, who hasn’t started a Premier League match since mid-February, and Harry Winks both came on as substitutes against Brighton and could get a chance to start at Brentford.

History

This will be the 44th meeting all time between Brentford and Tottenham. Unsurprisingly, Spurs have a massive 24-6 edge in wins over their less renowned London rivals, with 13 draws.

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Spurs ran out comfortable 2-0 winners in their first meeting of the season at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in December.

A Sergi Canos own goal gave Spurs an early lead, and Heung-Min Son struck in the second half to seal the win.

Betting Tip

SBOTOP odds have Tottenham pegged at 1.92 to beat Brentford away. The Bees are 3.85 to extend their winning streak, while a draw is similarly priced at 3.45.

This is quite a tough match to call since Brentford are in such fine form and Spurs, despite their setback against Brighton, are still a strong side.

But I’m leaning toward the Bees finding a way to hold Spurs at home. The trio of Toney, Mbeumo, and Eriksen has the potential to trouble Tottenham’s backline. Meanwhile, their ability to play a back three/five can nullify Spurs’ dangerous front three.

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26-Apr 2022 Tuesday 1:44 PM (68 days ago)            #10
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Premier League: This Mersey Derby Could Get Messy!

Liverpool vs Everton

One of the Premier League’s most watched fixtures is the headline act on Sunday, when title chasers Liverpool welcome Everton to Anfield for the Mersey Derby.

Apart from the local bragging rights there is a huge amount at stake in this game for both clubs. And the so called ‘Friendly Derby’ will be anything but when the two teams walk out in front of a capacity crowd; and there is sure to be an electric atmosphere. Liverpool are one point behind Manchester City in the race for the league title and, with just a single defeat in 2022, Jurgen Klopp’s side is still in the hunt for an historic quadruple. 

Meanwhile, Frank Lampard’s Everton are in a precarious position and, dependant on results elsewhere, an expected defeat could see the Toffees drop into the relegation zone with just six games to play.

Talking Points

The huge gulf on Merseyside

The latest Premier League 2022 betting odds shine a light on just how far apart Liverpool and Everton really are. While the Reds are in a two horse race for the title, tracking Manchester City at every turn, the Toffees are nervously looking over their shoulders, hoping and praying that Burnley don’t put a run together.

At 1.18 to win, it would be the shock of the season were Liverpool to slip up in the Mersey Derby. But if you fancy the Toffees to pull off the unimaginable then you can get odds of 6.37 on a draw and 12.04 on an away win.

Is there a case for Frank Lampard’s men?

Well a look at the Premier League table would suggest not. 

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With 76 points and a goal difference of +61, Jurgen Klopp’s Reds couldn’t be much further apart from Everton on 29 points and with a goal difference of -19. And while Liverpool brushed aside Manchester United with an outstanding display in midweek, Mo Salah scoring twice, Everton needed an injury time deflection to creep over the line to earn a point against Leicester. And the Reds win over Ralf Rangnick’s team made it a Manchester Double for the Merseysiders after beating City in a five goal thriller to reach the FA Cup final.

They live just a few hundred metres apart but there is a world of difference between these two clubs at this moment in time.

Spotlight on the Defenders

We know all about Liverpool’s attacking prowess, with Luis Diaz fitting beautifully into a rotating front three alongside Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino who are all established as Premier League and world stars. The Premier League 2022 highlightsare jam packed with action from those five; while Everton’s reliance on Brazilian forward Richarlison is all too obvious to Toffee fans.

So let’s take a look at the back-lines of each team.

Liverpool

With just 16 goals conceded in the last 25 games, and 19 clean sheets in the Premier League season Liverpool’s defence is just as impressive as its attack. Goalkeeper Alisson is level with Manchester City’s Ederson on 18 clean sheets and he’ll be gutted if he doesn’t make it 19 on Sunday.

The central defensive unit of Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip is rock solid and it plays high up the pitch with confidence, as the front six men play a high energy press. With defensive midfielder Fabinho just in front of the back line, they have the protection needed to allow wingbacks Trent-Alexander Arnold and Andrew Roberson to make forward raids. These two have made 12 and ten assists so far this season and remain the most productive wingback pairing in European football.

Everton

Michael Keane aims to produce Premier League 2022 highlights as Everton clash against Liverpool
Michael Keane in action during Everton’s match against West Ham United at London Stadium

The Toffees have had plenty of sticky afternoons in defence this season, conceding 53 goals in 31 games and, combined with a toothless attack, that is a dangerous combination. They struggle when attacked down the wings, particularly after the sale of Lucas Digne to Aston Villa, and Everton fans could have nightmares when they think of the damage Robertson and Trent could inflict. With a midfield weakened by the absence of Tom Davies and Donny Van De Beek, there is little protection for a centre back pairing of Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate which gets caught out of position too often.

The return from injury of the experienced Michael Keane might strengthen the Toffees’ back line, but they will all need to be on their game and ride their luck at times if they are to have any hope of staying in the game.

History

Everton have won ten of the 62 Mersey Derbies in the Premier League era and drawn 25, more that we might have expected, while Liverpool have registered 27 victories.

The neighbours met at Goodison Park in December when Liverpool ran out 4-1 winners as Salah helped himself to a double.

Liverpool’s home record of 13 wins, three draws and no defeats is almost symmetrical with Everton’s away record of one win three draws and 11 defeats.

Betting Tip

The only score line with a lower price than 3-0 at SBOTOP odds of 6.56, is 2-0 at a price of 5.80 and, while Everton are desperate for points, this is not a game they will expect to get much out of and Lampard will be keen to avoid a morale-sapping thrashing.

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26-Apr 2022 Tuesday 1:51 PM (68 days ago)            #11
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Premier League: West Meets East In Capital Clash

Chelsea vs West Ham United

Well, it was a Premier League result I was not expecting.

For Chelsea to lose at home to a weakened Arsenal side which had just lost three on the bounce was one thing; for them to ship four goals in the process was very much another.

In fact, it got all too much for one home fan who confronted captain Cesar Azpilicueta after he both scored and conceded a penalty in the 4-2 defeat – even manager Thomas Tuchel admitted he empathised with the Chelsea supporter.

So can Chelsea, who remain third, bounce back or are they in the midst of a wobble after conceding 11 goals in their last three home games?

West Ham are in town as West London hosts East London.

Talking Points

Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge was almost as if Chelsea had never seen Arsenal before and the alarming thing for Tuchel is that this performance did not come out of the blue.

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The clumsiness, typified by Azpilicueta dragging down Bukayo Saka to concede a needless penalty when Chelsea still had time to score a third equaliser, did not appear out of nowhere; it was there when Brentford and Real Madrid ran riot at Stamford Bridge in recent weeks.

The laxness has infuriated Tuchel who did not want to pin the collapse against Arsenal on Antonio Rudiger’s absence. For the German boss knows defensive vulnerabilities, uncharacteristic until recently, cost them in their Champions League quarter-final and there is a danger of being dragged into the top-four race with Arsenal and Tottenham unless they quickly respond.

Undoubtedly off the field events have naturally impacted on some on-field performances over the past two months.

The Blues are operating under a special licence from the UK Government after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned and the fact the club is up for sale triggers uncertainty. – the Broughton consortium is reportedly one of three groups in the running to purchase the Premier League club for £2.5 billion.

Perhaps it will help them this weekend that West Ham will probably have their mind on an upcoming Europa League semi-final.

The Hammers have produced super showings to see off Sevilla and Lyon so far and, with Eintracht Frankfurt awaiting in the semi-finals, manager David Moyes may well have pinpointed European success as a priority, even if they are not certain of finishing in the top seven – and a guaranteed European berth – in the top flight.

There have been plenty of Premier League highlights between these two in recent years and this could be no exception.

Arthur Masuaku's finisher wins West Ham United's last Premier League match against Chelsea
Arthur Masuaku scores West Ham United’s third goal against Chelsea in 2021

The onus, however, is on Chelsea who remain – for a month anyway – the reigning European and world champions and also have next month’s FA Cup Final to look forward to. Certainly, it would not surprise me one bit if they end the season with more silverware.

First though, they will want to cement third place and a return to next season’s Champions League.

Victory in this will edge them closer,

History

The Hammers have actually lost only two of their last seven league matches at Stamford Bridge.

One of those games was last season when Thiago Silva gave Chelsea a first half lead before a late double from Tammy Abraham put a one-sided slant on the scoreline.

The return fixture saw Timo Werner net the only goal.

Earlier this season, Chelsea travelled to West Ham top of the table and led twice through Silva and Mason Mount in East London.

However, a Manuel Lanzini penalty, Jarrod Bowen equaliser and a fortuitous late Arthur Masuaku goal sealed a thrilling 3-2 home victory.

Overall, the record stands at 52 Chelsea successes, 43 West Ham victories and 22 draws.

Betting Tip

The SBOTOP Premier League betting odds favour the hosts, including odds 1X2 @ 1.54, Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 1.73 and -1.25 @ 2.25.

West Ham are priced 1X2 @ 6.00 and Asian Handicap +0.75 @ 2.25.

For goals, it’s worth considering Over 2.75 @ 2.17, Total Goal 0-1 @ 3.35, 2-3 @ 1.91 and 4-6 @ 3.45.

A re-run of last season’s fixture is available @ 11.50 with Correct Score 3-0, whereas if West Ham are going to seal a league double with an identical win, how about Correct Score 2-3 at a massive @ 95.00.

The 1X2 Draw @ 3.95 will earn a decent pay day but I am plumping for Chelsea to win this one and lead both at the break and at the end.

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26-Apr 2022 Tuesday 1:53 PM (68 days ago)            #12
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Premier League: Leeds Want to Guarantee Their Top-Flight Safety

Crystal Palace vs Leeds United

Leeds United have been hitting their stride and they’re keen on closing out this term with yet another guaranteed spot at the Premier League for next season.

Since Jesse Marsch replaced Marcelo Bielsa in late February, the Whites have been getting positive Premier League 2022 results, so they’re super close of achieving survival once again.

On Monday, they’ll take on a struggling Crystal Palace squad at Selhurst Park. The Eagles are currently above them in the standings at 14th place with 37 points while Leeds are at 16th with 33 points.

Jesse Marsch and Patrick Vieira will be crossing paths for the first time here in England after sharing numerous battles at the MLS. In fact, Marsch recently admitted that he used to hate Vieira during their time in New York.

Given their history, we expect another tough battle between these two tacticians. So continue to read our SBOTOP preview for this match.

Talking Points

Crystal Palace look to recover from a slump

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira will be looking to pressure Leeds United in their upcoming Premier League fixture
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira during the Premier League match against Newcastle United

Patrick Vieira has done a superb job in his debut season with the Eagles considering the low expectations placed on his shoulders before their campaign began.

Under his tutelage, Crystal Palace have went to as far as the FA Cup semi-finals only to lose to Chelsea, and they’re likely to stay in the Premier League once again.

They’re currently on a slump of three consecutive losses in all competitions because they’ve had a harder time in finding the back of the net with several key players sidelined due to injuries.

Michael Olise’s services are sorely missed by the squad since he is their top creative outlet with eight assists so far. The 20-year-old Frenchman remains a doubt for Monday and they aren’t rushing him back. Another key absence is Nathan Ferguson, who remains a long-term absentee since he is dealing with a strained hamstring.

Central midfielder Luka Milivojevic, meanwhile, is in starting XI contention after being out against Newcastle United. However, he has struggled for regular game time under Vieira this season.

The trio of Wilfried Zaha, Conor Gallagher, and Odsonne Edouard should continue to lead their attack while Jean-Philippe Mateta will play an ancillary role.

Zaha has 12 goals and two assists, Gallagher has eight goals and five assists, while Edouard and Mateta both have six goals apiece and four assists combined.

Premier League
MANCHESTER CITY
WATFORD
TO SEE UPDATED ODDS

Jesse Marsch has hit the ground running with Leeds United

Leeds United’s confidence are high following their 3-0 victory over Watford last Saturday where Raphinha, Rodrigo Moreno, and Jack Harrison all found the back of the net.

It was a solid bounce back performance from them after being held to a draw by Southampton the week before after squandering a one-goal lead.

The Whites have been bothered by injuries all season long, which is why they’re happy whenever they’d get some warm bodies back.

Jesse Marsch revealed that Patrick Bamford has taken part in first-team training recently, giving fresh hope that he’ll be fit against the Eagles. Bamford suffered a foot injury during their 3-2 win over Wolves last March.

His return couldn’t come soon enough as he is their top attacking threat as Dan James and Tyler Roberts don’t exactly fit in their starting striker role.

History

Leeds United have beaten Crystal Palace in their reverse fixture at Elland Road last December as Raphinha scored the lone goal via a penalty kick during added time.

At Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace are undefeated in their last five league games against Leeds United (W3, D2), winning this exact fixture last term with a 4-1 scoreline.

But prior to their 3-0 win against Arsenal earlier this April, the Eagles were winless in their last five league games at home (D2, L3). They haven’t won consecutive home league matches since March 2020.

In their last 10 games against each other, Leeds United hold the major edge with six wins, whereas Crystal Palace have won twice and drawn twice.

Betting Tip

Despite hitting a rough patch, Crystal Palace are favoured to win by the Premier League 2022 odds. They are installed at 2.05, while Leeds United are pegged at 3.40 and a draw is at 3.50 in the 1X2 market.

Their previous fixture might have been a low scoring affair, but we think that it would be the opposite this time around – making Over 2.25 @ 1.61 a strong betting option.

With valuable points up for grabs, the Eagles and the Whites are going to bring their A-game for this contest. So whatever the result is on Monday, the biggest winners in the end are the fans who will be watching at Selhurst Park.

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26-Apr 2022 Tuesday 2:02 PM (68 days ago)            #13
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Premier League: Fulham are Back with a Bang!

Marco Silva has led Fulham back to the Premier League with plenty to spare as they stormed to the top of the table to win promotion with five games remaining.

The Cottagers secured their return to the top flight, at the first attempt, with a resounding 3-0 victory over Preston North End and they are determined to have an extended stay among the elite, having been a yo-yo club over the past four campaigns. Head coach Silva has plenty of Premier League experience having managed Hull City, Watford and Everton, and it’s possible that all three of those clubs will be playing Championship football next term.

Fulham will be welcomed back by almost all the top flight fans and clubs; Craven Cottage is the most picturesque stadium in the league, on the banks of the River Thames, and the Cottagers are renowned for an attractive brand of football.

But now they want success. 

What do Fulham need to stay up?

Relegation in 2019 and 2021 came unexpectedly for Shahid Khan, the owner of Fulham, who has not been slow to open the purse strings and backed his managers generously. This time around Khan will hope that his coach’s Premier League experience will make his team harder to beat, as previous managers Slavisa Jokanovic and Scott Parker were newcomers to top flight leadership.

Mitrovic and Co. clinched promotion back to the Premier League on Tuesday.
Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates after being promoted to the Premier League

With 99 goals from 43 games this is a team with real attacking menace. Centre forward Aleksandar Mitrovic has ripped up the Championship this term, scoring an incredible 41 league goals so far and he’ll hope he can replicate this form in the Premier League, having previously struggled at the top level. He has thrived under Silva who adopts a brave attacking style which gives the red hot Serb all the supply he needs…and he delivers. Mitrovic has blown Ivan Toney’s Championship record of 32 out of the water and the Brentford man has continued to do well after taking the step up.

Another player who is sure to make somePremier League 2022 news is attacking midfielder Harry Wilson who has already weighed in with ten goals and 15 assists. The 25 year old, on loan from Liverpool, has played in the top flight before with Bournemouth and he has matured under the Fulham boss. In 2013, at the age of 16, Wilson became the youngest ever player to be capped by Wales and now he is ready to mix it with the big boys, with Fulham if his move is made permanent.

Fulham spent heavily last time around but this time Silva and Khan will take a more measured approach and make fewer, shrewder signings. The Cottagers need to be hard to beat and Silva will target men who know how to keep the world’s best players at bay. England keeper Nick Pope has been on Fulham’s radar and, if Burnley are relegated then the England man will surely be snapped up by a Premier League club, though his sights may be set higher. The same could be said for Jordan Pickford, should Everton perish.  

Watford are as good as down; and Fulham could do worse than targeting midfield general Tom Cleverly; the 32 year old has plenty of top flight experience with Everton and Aston Villa and is a calm operator with a good reading of the game.

Who will join the Cottagers? 

Silva can start preparing for life in the top flight again and now the fans of the Championship’s ‘best of the rest’ are hoping their team can claim a place in the Promised Land. But who is likely to join Fulham?

Premier League
LIVERPOOL
EVERTON
1X2 Draw @ 7.00
Everton Asian Handicap +1.75 @ 2.26
Over 3.50 @ 2.21
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

Bournemouth

Former Fulham boss Scott Parker looks to be heading back to the top flight with the Cherries who have been the closest to Fulham in terms of quality. The two teams played out a 1-1 draw on Saturday as Dominic Solanke scored a late equaliser after Mitrovic had given Fulham the lead. With 27 goals and six assists he has been a revelation this season and Solanke will look forward to playing in the top flight again if Bournemouth can make it over the line. The former Liverpool striker has made 63 appearances in the Premier League and he is ready for another crack.

Nottingham Forest

The Cherries have four games to play while the chasing pack have only two, apart from fourth placed Nottingham Forest who also have four and are five points behind Silva’s men. Steve Cooper is one of the most promising coaches in football and he has brought Forest to the brink, but with an away game to Fulham on the cards he may have to take his chance in the play-offs.

In terms of the top flight trapdoor, the latest Premier League 2022 betting oddssay it will be Norwich City, Watford and one of Burnley or Everton; though Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Leeds United need a win or two to avoid being dragged into a last minute panic. Keep an eye on the SBOTOP odds as the results roll in at the bottom end of the Premier League.

There are sure to be twists and turns to come and some shredded nerves by the end of the drama; but not in West London where Fulham can relax and look forward to next season.

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26-Apr 2022 Tuesday 2:05 PM (68 days ago)            #14
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Premier League: Bid to Beat the Drop is Breathless

It was a Premier League weekend which began with Arsenal cementing their top four aspirations at the expense of careless Manchester United and ended at Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace and Leeds battling out a Monday evening stalemate.

But the main story was not played out in north or south London but in Lancashire and on Merseyside.

And that means we are in for a frantic finish at the foot of the table, as well in the title race.

As far as I was concerned, and probably the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds backed up my stance, the chances of Burnley staying up all but disappeared on Good Friday when they parted company with long-serving manager Sean Dyche.

He had helped the Clarets became the neutral’s favourite underdogs as they confounded the odds week after week and season after season, playing a more pragmatic style of football with never-say-die defence and the sting of a cobra in attack – including steering the club to European football for the first time since the 1960s, following a seventh placed finish in 2018.

The decision to dismiss Dyche, then, smacked of desperation.

Premier League
MANCHESTER UNITED
CHELSEA
1X2 Manchester United @ 3.25
Chelsea Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 1.97
Over 3.00 @ 2.40
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

Yet two home wins in four days, coupled with a draw and a defeat for Everton, have moved Burney out of the drop zone with just under a month of the campaign remaining,

Among joyous scenes after the final whistle against Wolves, with the home fans chanting ‘We are staying up!’, owner Alan Pace allowed himself a smile of satisfaction in the stands.

Caretaker boss Mike Jackson hugged injured Clarets skipper Ben Mee, who is part of the new-look coaching team, on the touchline before the Burnley players were roared off the pitch to a standing ovation.

The last two games, home successes against Southampton and Wolves, will certainly be considered Premier League highlights for those at Turf Moor if survival is assured.

In a far cry from their win against Merseyside neighbours Liverpool last term, Everton slipped in the bottom three after a 2-0 loss at Anfield.

With a game in hand though, they still have their fate in their own hands but there is a reason Everton are third-bottom in the league: they’ve been the league’s third-worst team. With just six games remaining, they are in serious danger of breaking the English game’s second-longest run of top-flight football – only Arsenal have stuck it out longer than their 68 years.

Despite a difficult run-in, manager Frank Lampard can take heart from how his team played at city rivals Liverpool on Sunday: organised and doughty in defence, enterprising and swift in attack – a spirit encapsulated by a contretemps towards the end of the first half when, after Abdoulaye Doucouré committed a foul to get play stopped so team-mate Richarlison could receive treatment, almost the entire team piled into the kerfuffle, including goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Everton are currently at the 18th spot in the Premier League table with 29 points
Everton boss Frank Lampard looking worried from the touchline during their match against Liverpool

Obviously, there is more to football than aggression and if, over the course of the season, Everton had shown as much as they did on Sunday, they’d not be in the mess they are. But similarly, if they can maintain it, they might yet save themselves.

Lampard’s big problem is a lack of goal threat, not helped by the constant injury problems suffered by England striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Given their size and means, the £561 million spent in transfer fees since Farhad Moshiri’s takeover, an Everton relegation would surely be one of the most spectacular fiascos in the modern history of football.

It is going to be fascinating to see how it plays out over the next four weeks.

As for the side directly above Burnley and Everton, it got a bit niggly in the Leeds United’s clash at Palace.

Perhaps they realised that, while five points clear of the relegation zone, their next three matches are against reigning champions Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea.

Can a third team be drawn into this? I don’t think so.

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27-Apr 2022 Wednesday 12:19 PM (67 days ago)            #15
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Premier League: Big Hitters Go Head-to-head in Differing Circumstances

Manchester United vs Chelsea

For a match which, for a number of seasons, used to be the definitive Premier League clash, the 2021/22 version is little more than an afterthought at the top end of the table.

Realistically, Manchester United are not going to make the top four – a position their interim manager Ralf Rangnick acknowledges – while Chelsea would have to wobble to miss out on a top four finish which is surely unlikely, even with one eye on next month’s FA Cup Final.

The fact this a rare top flight game on Thursday night almost adds to the lack of allure this term.

Yet, with genuine stars on both sides, I am still expecting Premier League highlights.

There is rarely a Manchester United-Chelsea game without them.

Talking Points

Team news wise, Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, Fred and Luke Shaw remain missing for the hosts, while Chelsea will be without long-term absentees Ben Chilwell and Callum Hudson-Odoi, with Mateo Kovacic expected to absent with an ankle injury.

After securing a lousy four points from a possible 15 in April, including defeats in three of the last four, United are closer to dropping out of the European places altogether – something which actually could benefit them in their rebuilding next season.

Certainly, with Rangnick’s side now sixth in the table, six points behind Arsenal having played a game more, a Champions League berth is unlikely.

La Liga
SEVILLA FC
CADIZ
TO SEE UPDATED ODDS

Fifth or sixth position means qualification for the Europa League next term, with the side in seventh spot awarded a berth in the Europa Conference – a completely unnecessary competition for the third tier sides and barely worthy of being acknowledged as a major trophy, according to this SBOTOP writer.

The Red Devils can at least take a slice of confidence from their domestic home form as they have strung together a seven-game Premier League unbeaten run at Old Trafford – following a pattern of winning one and then drawing one on home soil. Not since the days of Louis Van Gaal in 2015 have they suffered a trio of consecutive defeats in the top flight.

Chelsea, meanwhile, could open up an eight-point gap to fourth-placed Arsenal should they win. That would certainly be a healthy buffer before fixtures against Leeds United, Everton, Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Watford as the campaign draws to a close.

There is no doubt that off-field distractions have impacted on some performances in recent months but they remain unbeaten away from home in their last nine – it takes a good side to achieve that.

Presumably something has to give on Thursday evening.

History

Earlier in the season the teams played out a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge when Jadon Sancho and Jorginho, from the penalty spot, traded second half goals.

Can Chelsea claim a vital 3 points in their upcoming Premier League match against Manchester United?
Chelsea’s Jorginho celebrates after scoring a penalty during their match against Manchester United last November

Both meetings between these sides finished goalless last season.

In 2019/20, they met four times with United winning three of those meetings.

The Red Devils enjoyed a 2-0 success at Stamford Bridge and beat them at Old Trafford when Chelsea were the better side for an hour but ended up on the receiving end of a 4-0 thrashing.

Marcus Rashford scored twice in that game and also netted both, including a brilliant winner, at Stamford Bridge as United went onto knock Chelsea out of the League Cup.

The Londoners gained revenge later that season by seeing off United 3-1 in the FA Cup semi-finals.

Overall, United have triumphed 81 times against the west Londoners who have enjoyed success on 55 occasions. The other 54 matches have been draws.

Betting Tip

Given United’s shoddy form of late, perhaps it is no surprise the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds favour the visitors.

Chelsea can be baked 1X2 @ 2.23 and Asian Handicap -0.50, also @ 2.23, to win at Old Trafford.

The hosts are an attractive 1X2 @ 3.20 and Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.33.

If there is to be a fourth successive draw then the odds are 1X2 @ 3.25, whereas a repeat of the 1-1 draw in November is on offer with Correct Score @ 5.80.

These are often tight affairs but goalless draws, apart from last season (!) are fairly rare, and that is reflected in a range of bets, including Over 2.75 goals @ 2.09, Over 3.00 goals @ 2.40 and Total Goal 4-6 @ 3.30.

I was leaning towards a draw but I am going to plump for a United win – in many ways this is a more important match for them – with a *** prediction of Asian Handicap Man Utd 0.00 @ 2.33.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 27-Apr-2022 at 12:20 PM





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28-Apr 2022 Thursday 5:53 PM (66 days ago)            #16
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Premier League: Silverware and Survival

Leeds United vs Manchester City

Manchester City head across the Pennines on Saturday to make the short trip to Leeds as Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues take on the resurgent Whites.

The bid to beat the drop is breathless, as my colleague said this week, and Leeds United are in a strong position to retain their Premier League status. But with the teams around them also starting to pick up points, Jesse Marsch’s men need to find another win or two to ensure their survival. This is not an ideal fixture against Guardiola’s title chasers, but with just five games remaining, every match counts.

The Sky Blues are heavily odds-on to win this game at a price of1.28, and they too are desperate for a win in the knowledge that second-placed Liverpool are hot on their heels.

Premier League
SOUTHAMPTON
CRYSTAL PALACE
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Talking Points

Leeds’ tough run-in

The Whites’ Premier League 2022 results have been impressive in recent weeks; they are unbeaten in five, a sequence which has lifted them five points clear of Everton in 18th place. There is still work to do, though, and a 0-0 draw away to Crystal Palace on Monday was a good result for Leeds. With Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea coming up, it was a vital point.

The Whites’ final two games are against Brighton and Brentford, both ball-playing teams with their top-flight futures secured, currently in 11th and 12th and with the ability to play with freedom. Neither of those fixtures will be easy. But Leeds are nicely clear of Everton, who have an equally tough run-in, while Burnley in 17th have hit a winning streak in recent weeks and have shown they are up for the fight.

Leeds are renowned for their attacking brand of football over the past two campaigns with flair players like Raphinha writing the headlines. But they can tough it out too, and the 0-0 draw with the Eagles was a second successive clean sheet.

There is no doubt that Jesse Marsch has done a fine job in his first two months at the club, but if he can get a win in this game, at SBOTOP odds of 9.40, then surely his work for this season will be a success. 

Guardiola vs Marsch replay

Leeds’ opponents have met their head coach already this season when Marsch faced Manchester City as boss of RB Leipzig in the Champions League. On that occasion City won 6-3, taking the Red Bulls’ defence apart but struggling to cope with the attacking threat of Christopher Nkunku, who scored all three of Leipzig’s goals.

Marsch plays with a flat back four, marshalled by the excellent Liam Cooper and with Kalvin Phillips sitting just in front, but that brings a danger of being pulled from side to side by the Sky Blues’ multiple attacking options. With a front five led by Kevin de Bruyne, Guardiola’s team attacks in numbers with quick passing movements and a fluid formation.

Premier League: Kevin de Bruyne scored twice in Man City’s 7-0 destruction of Leeds in December
Kevin de Bruyne in action against Diego Llorente during a Premier League match in December 2021

City come into the game on the back of a 5-1 thrashing of Watford, where this style of play reaped dividends. They were unlucky to follow that up with a Champions League first leg 4-3 win over Real Madrid on Tuesday, when they would not have been flattered by another 6-3 scoreline. The Sky Blues went 2-0 up and should have been out of sight before Karim Benzema halved the deficit before the break. And every time City extended their lead to two, they just couldn’t shake Los Blancos off and Benzema made it 4-3 with a late penalty.

History

It may come as a surprise to some that Leeds have the edge in the head-to-head meetings, with six wins to Manchester City’s five and there have been five draws in all competitions since 1993. But the last time they met in mid-December, Leeds were on the end of a 7-0 drubbing as Kevin de Bruyne, with a brace, was one of six Manchester City scorers on the day.

Leeds have been in good form, with victories over Norwich City, Wolves and Watford in the last five games, but they haven’t met a top-seven side in their last six games and this will be a huge test for Marsch’s men.

With an away record of 12 wins, three draws and a single defeat the Sky Blues are a good bet to take all three points on Saturday.

Betting Tip

The draw at 5.03 is tempting for a Leeds fan or a neutral who has faith in the Whites’ talented bunch. But no matter how good the opponent, if Manchester City are on their game then there is only one outcome.

The Sky Blues can’t afford to drop any points. If they do then the Premier League 2022 betting odds will swing towards Liverpool for the first time in this campaign. A 2-0 win to City is the most likely outcome at odds of 6.56 and for an alternative bet the visitors -1.50 is available at 1.87.

I’m going for a low-scoring game because Marsch is clearly looking for tight defensive displays to get his team over the line. 

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29-Apr 2022 Friday 2:10 PM (65 days ago)            #17
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Premier League: Is Everton’s Nightmare Becoming a Reality?

Everton vs Chelsea

While Liverpool battle with Manchester City for the 2022 Premier League title, the unthinkable may just be about to happen on the blue half of Merseyside.

Everton are in serious danger of dropping through the top flight trapdoor.

How can it be, for a club which has spent the thick end of half a billion pounds on players over the past six seasons and has Brazilian internationals and England’s goalkeeper in their ranks?

Quite simple, the Toffees have lost 19 of their 32 league games this season which leaves them in 18th place, and only the bottom two of Watford and Norwich have lost more. And this weekend their manager Frank Lampard faces his old club when Premier League: Everton vs Chelseais the fixture all eyes will be on. It’s a high pressure game which the London Blues also need to win to cement their Champions League place and the Everton vs Chelsea betting oddsare backing an away win.

By the time Everton play again they could be five points from safety if Burnley win away to Watford on Saturday, and that seems quite possible. The Hornets have lost their last 11 league games at home while the Clarets will head to North London with back to back wins.

Lampard’s team come into the game on the back of a Merseyside Derby defeat while Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea have a game away to Manchester United on Thursday night, but the Blues beat West Ham 1-0 last time out.

Talking Points

Home form so crucial for the Toffees

Seven of Everton’s eight wins this season have been at Goodison Park where their passionate fans will act as the 12th man if they get any encouragement from the 11 on the pitch. In recent weeks they have ground out 1-0 victories over Newcastle United and Manchester United, while routinely losing games on their travels. So while they need to pick up the odd point away from home, the Toffees must also find a way to win their remaining home games.

In the aftermath of the Merseyside Derby Everton received a lot of criticism for the way they played, wasting time at every opportunity, with keeper Jordan Pickford and striker Richarlison in particular pushing the boundaries of sporting behaviour. In the end the dark arts, which Lampard may well have learned under his old boss Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, couldn’t save the Toffees.

Frank Lampard's Everton are 18th in the Premier League
Everton’s head coach Frank Lampard applauds the fans at the end of the Premier League soccer match against Leicester

While they were after a point against Liverpool, that may not be enough this weekend and I don’t expect the Everton vs Chelsea highlightsto be a repeat of last week’s game. Of course, the Toffees will try to keep it tight to frustrate the likes of Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic and if they get a goal ahead then they will try to slow the game down.

But with Reece James and Ben Chilwell both doubtful there is less threat coming from the flanks, though centre backs Michael Keane and Mason Holgate will need to be alert to the threat of their visitors’ quick footed creative players. And Everton won’t need reminding that Chelsea’s last two away games have resulted in a 3-2 win against Real Madrid and a 6-0 thumping of Southampton at St Mary’s.

Richarlison must stay fit

One worrying aspect of Everton’s survival campaign is the heavy reliance on Brazil striker Richarlison for their goals. He hasn’t been prolific but with eight goals and three assists he is the Toffees’ main threat. Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has three goals from 13 games and is doubtful for this game so Richarlison is the player who is most likely to breach the Chelsea defence. He scored two penalties in a recent 3-2 defeat to Burnley and bagged the injury time leveller when Everton hosted Leicester City last week.

The fact that Everton’s midfield is weakened by the absence of Tom Davies, Andre Gomes and Donny Van de Beek puts 21 year old Anthony Gordon in the position of Richarlison’s main source of support. And, of course, the controversial Brazilian needs to avoid an unnecessary suspension as he was the main player in Everton’s rather extreme time wasting tactics in the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

History

Chelsea have won 32 of the 68 meetings with Everton in the Premier League era while the Toffees have won 14 and three have been 22 draws.

When the two teams met in December they played out a 1-1 draw as Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite equalised after Mason Mount had given the Blues a 70th minute lead.

In terms of recent form, Everton have won one in the last six games while Chelsea have won four from six.

Betting Tip

The Blues have won 11, drawn three and lost two on the road this season and so they are a good bet to take all three points against their under pressure hosts.

Everton must hope Burnley slip up and Leeds lose at home to Manchester City when they meet on Sunday, otherwise the pressure will be even greater; and a 1-0 win for Chelsea at SBOTOP odds of 5.80, would send a shiver down the spines of Toffees fans. I’m afraid, for the Merseysiders, that is how it will pan out.

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29-Apr 2022 Friday 2:12 PM (65 days ago)            #18
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Premier League: The Unlikely Grudge Match Returns To North London

Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City

We are into the final month of the 2021/22 Premier League season – at least we will be by the time this encounter kicks off.

A fixture that became an unlikely grudge match a few years back and is still showing such signs, even if the stakes on Sunday are not as high as in recent times.

Yet meetings between Spurs and Leicester City have certainly taken on another dimension with a rivalry (mainly emanating from Spurs quarters it must be said when the Foxes beat them to the title) remaining under the surface.

That is why this could easily produce plenty of Premier League highlights.

Talking Points

Let us begin with the hosts.

Since Antonio Conte was appointed in November, the Italian has been keen to play down the club’s top four hopes but, ever since his first home match, there has been significant improvement.

Their aspirations of being at top table of European next term suffered a blow last weekend when held by Brentford, just hours after North London rivals – and their main challengers in the race for fourth – saw off Manchester United.

Indeed, Conte’s team have handed back momentum to Arsenal by collecting just one point from a possible six, having failed to muster a single shot on target across 180 minutes against both Brighton and the Bees.

Serie A
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FIORENTINA
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That means this is a must-win against the 2016 Premier League champions Despite being in 10th place, Leicester are considered one of the best sides outside the top six – just ask any of the leading clubs in the top flight in recent years.

This weekend though they could have one eye on forthcoming Europa League Conference semi-final second leg against Roma, managed by Jose Mourinho who was actually in charge of Spurs for this fixture last term – 16 months ago

Furthermore, the man who has inspired so many of their successes, Jamie Vardy, has only just returned after six weeks out with a knee injury so it’s unlikely he will start in north London.

The Foxes showed against PSV in the quarter-finals and against Roma on Thursday why they cannot be written off.

But all the factors, including that this is a far more important game for Spurs, point to a home win which no doubt will come with at least one goal from England skipper Harry Kane – so often Leicester City’s nemesis.

History

Spurs have largely held the upper hand over the Foxes since the underdogs pipped them to the Premier League title in 2016.

Last season, they ended their Champions League qualification with a 4-2 win at the King Power Stadium on the final day (not for the first time either as they did something similar 12 months earlier).

On that occasion, two Vardy penalties had put them in the ascendancy and on course for a top four finish before three goals – one an own goal, two from on loan Gareth Bale – turned the match around in favour of the North Londoners.

Premier League: Jamie Vardy missed Tottenham Hotspur games due to injury
Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy during their Europa League match against AS Roma

If that seemed late, what happened at the King Power in January was the stuff of dreams – or nightmares – depending on who you support as Steven Bergwijn scored two injury-time goals (95 and 97 minutes).

The victory also set a new Premier League feat as Spurs were behind at 94 minutes, 52 seconds – the latest time a team has been behind before winning a Premier League match.

Kane was a scorer in both those games and, despite an already prolific record, seems to find an extra gear whenever he faces off against Leicester.

In fact, he has scored against them 16 times since their promotion back to the top flight in 2014.

Neither he nor his team-mates manager that in the corresponding fixture last term though as a Vardy penalty and an own goal helped Leicester to an impressive 2-0 win.

That is only one of three Leicester victories against Spurs in their last 12 meetings in all competitions.

Overall, Spurs have 59 successes to Leicester’s 37 with 21 games ending all square.

There has been only one goalless draw in the 97 league meetings between the teams. That came in the second tier at Spurs in March 1948.

Betting Tip

Spurs are big favourites with the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds.

The lilywhites can be backed 1X2 @ 1.46 and Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.38 compared to the visitors 1X2 @ 6.40 and Asian Handicap +1.00 @ 2.21.

The draw is on offer @ 4.40.

If Leicester can repeat last season’s triumph, then Correct Score 0-2 will pay out @ 50.00.

A repeat of the hosts’ 3-2 victory from January – though it can’t possibly be as dramatic – is available @ 23.00.

As for goals, which these encounters so often deliver, then how about Over 3.00 @ 2.04. Over 3.25 @ 2.28, Total Goal 2-3 @ 2.06 or 4-6 @ 2.82?

Spurs have to win and have had a week to prepare, while Leicester have been involved in European combat, and I think that combination will prove decisive.

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03-May 2022 Tuesday 4:17 PM (61 days ago)            #19
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Premier League: Gunners and Hammers Clash in Tightening Top Four Arms Race

West Ham United vs Arsenal

Arsenal’s top four bid continues as they’re flying over to the London Stadium to take on West Ham United, in what arguably is the top Premier League match on the menu this weekend.

Both sides are gunning for European places, particularly for next year’s Champions League, as we’re winding down the 2021/22 season. But as of the moment, fourth-seeded Arsenal are at an advantageous position with 60 points, whereas seventh-seeded West Ham United have 52 points.

The pre-match SBOTOP betting odds are predicting a comfortable victory for the visitors, but the hosts are not to be underestimated despite their lacklustre recent form.

We expect both the Gunners and the Hammers to go strong since valuable points are up for grabs. So without further ado, here is our preview for this highly-anticipated contest.

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Talking Points

Building consistency is key for Arsenal

After three consecutive defeats earlier in April, the Gunners have bounced back with two straight victories to put themselves in pole position for the last Champions League berth.

Arsenal are quite a confusing team really, as they have lost to weaker teams like Crystal Palace, Southampton, and Brighton, but somehow they’ve managed to win against Manchester United and Chelsea.

There are some key areas for them to improve in order to finally seal their return to the Champions League next season. Arsenal are still lacking that prolific goalscorer while their full-back and midfield depth are compromised due to injuries.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has already left the club in January and he’s enjoying life at Camp Nou, and with Alexandre Lacazzette likely to leave this summer, the Gunners need to bring in attacking reinforcements.

They are reportedly linked to the likes of Gabriel Jesus and Tammy Abraham which isn’t surprising at all. For the meantime, they’ll rely on Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe, and Eddie Nketiah to produce goals and Premier League 2022 highlights.

In other news, full-back Kieran Tierney is a long-term absentee since he just underwent knee surgery while midfielder Thomas Partey is a doubt, so Takehiro Tomiyasu and Granit Xhaka are both contending for starting spots.

West Ham United losing their mojo

Premier League: West Ham United's Craig Dawson will be serving his match ban against Arsenal
West Ham United’s Craig Dawson after the match

The Hammers were locked in a tough match against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-finals to which they lost 2-1 in the first leg.

Because of the loss, West Ham United are now winless in three straight matches and David Moyes has the unenviable task of rotating his squad in these next few weeks.

Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen, and Declan Rice were benched against Chelsea last weekend and all of them played yesterday against Eintracht Frankfurt. Considering that they’ll play them again next week for the second leg, perhaps Moyes will rest these stars against the Gunners.

West Ham United are in deep trouble at the back due to injuries and suspension, leaving an opening for Arsenal to exploit. Angelo Ogbonna, Issa Diop, and Kurt Zouma are all injured, while Craig Dawson is meted a one-game ban following a red card against the Blues.

History

West Ham United have lost more Premier League matches against Arsenal (L33) than any other side in the competition. And since achieving a league double over Arsenal in 2006/07, they’ve just won twice in their last 27 matches against them (D5, L20).

The Gunners have lost just one of their last 13 visits to West Ham United (W8, D4), with their last away loss dating back to January 2019 via a 1-0 scoreline.

On the other hand, West Ham United are undefeated in their last six Premier League home games (W4, D2), and they’ve also scored in their last 18 home league games since May 2021.

Mikel Arteta’s side won in the reverse fixture last December as Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe both scored en route to the 2-0 victory.

Betting Tip

Since Arsenal are in better form than West Ham United, they’re being favoured to win by the Premier League 2022 odds. The Gunners are priced high at 1.83, while the hosts are installed at 4.10 and a draw is at 3.55 in the 1X2 market.

With the Gunners having the luxury of rest because they haven’t played European football this midweek unlike the Hammers, they should have fresher legs heading into this contest, which should be enough to secure the three points. But West Ham United aren’t to be counted out easily since they’ll bring the fight to their visitors and they’ll make sure that Arsenal’s win is to be earned the hard way.

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03-May 2022 Tuesday 4:20 PM (61 days ago)            #20
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Premier League: Burnley Battle, Everton Excel and Son Soars

Well, that was quite the weekend in the Premier League – again!

Certainly, the drama at top and bottom continues to be breathless and too close to call.

There were, however, some stand-out moments and some stand-out men.

Battling Burnley deserve respect

It is hard to believe it is just over a fortnight since Burnley sacked long-serving manager Sean Dyche.

To both this SBOTOP writer and so many pundits, that decision seemed as daft as it was harsh.

Well, stand-in boss Mike Jackson has turned things around to such an extent, the Clarets now believe.

Since being promoted from his role as the club’s under-23 coach, he has guided the first team to a draw at West Ham, followed by victories over Southampton, Wolves and now Watford – making a run of five losses from six league games a distant memory.

If they can produce some more Premier League 2022 highlights over the next three weeks – and crucially, survive – then the Premier League 2022 betting odds will have been turned on their head in dramatic fashion.

La Liga
GETAFE
REAL BETIS
1X2 Draw @ 3.00
Over 2.00 @ 1.83
Total Goals 0-1 @ 2.51
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

Leeds struggling at the wrong time

There is never a good time to struggle but there is certainly a bad time – a very bad time.

That is the current position facing Leeds United.

It is less than a month ago that I declared them all but safe following a convincing 3-0 success at Watford.

After six defeats in a row, which led to the sacking of Marcelo Bielsa, the club seemed to have turned over a new leaf in the last month and had breathing space between them and the bottom four.

Not anymore.

Suddenly, they could well find themselves in the bottom three if Everton win their game in hand.

That is because their goal difference is significantly worse than the Toffees and the Clarets.

This season Leeds have been beaten collectively 11-0 by Manchester City, 9-0 by Liverpool and 9-3 by Manchester United.

The decision to persevere with Bielsa for so long, when it was clear there was no “plan B”, could yet come back to haunt them.

Momentum does not seem with them either.

They lost defender Stuart Dallas during Saturday’s 4-0 defeat by City. The Northern Ireland international suffered a femoral fracture and is set for a lengthy period out of action, requiring surgery on a broken leg.

With fixtures coming up against Arsenal and Chelsea, it is not due to get any easier any time soon.

Pickford gives Everton a pick-me-up

In Everton’s potential crucial victory over Chelsea at Goodison Park, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a string of fine saves, including two very special ones as the hosts repelled everything thrown at them with a spirit of defiance that flowed through the entire club.

Evertonians literally did whatever they could to lift their team beforehand. First, Chelsea players were disturbed in the early hours of Sunday morning by a long and loud firework display outside their hotel in Liverpool city centre.

Then, when the Everton team bus turned on to Goodison Road 90 minutes before kick‑off, it was met by thousands of fans who had congregated with banners and flares to welcome the home players.

On the pitch Pickford was immense. Among his stops was one to deny Cesar Azpilicueta, a brave point-blank range save to keep out Antonio Rudiger – a stop with his face – before tipping over Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s 25-yard drive and denying substitute Mateo Kovacic during seven minutes of stoppage time.

Such a heroic cameo can be a season-defining moment.

For Everton manager Frank Lampard – a Chelsea legend, of course, and someone sacked by the west Londoners last year – it must have been particularly sweet.

Sunday best Son is special

Tottenham Hotspur won against Leicester City in the Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min celebrates after the match

That top four-chasing Spurs beat Leicester City, themselves in between Europa Conference semi-finals, is no surprise.

That England captain Harry Kane headed in the opener from Son Heung-Min’s corner was no surprise for Kane has netted 17 times against the Foxes since their promotion back to the top flight in 2014.

That Son added the second and third before Leicester’s Kelechi Iheanacho scored a consolation with a crisp strike was no surprise either.

Let us just savour, though, the second goal from the South Korean, who curled in a sensational strike for his 19th league goal of the season.

He now has 11 goals with his left foot this term in the Premier League; the only player to score more goals in a single season in the competition with their weaker foot is Robin van Persie (12 right-footed goals in 2011-12). Son – wow!

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03-May 2022 Tuesday 4:21 PM (61 days ago)            #21
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Premier League: Liverpool’s Love Affair with Klopp

The news that Jurgen Klopp has just signed a two-year contract extension was greeted with loud cheers in the red half of Merseyside.

Liverpool fans simply adore him.

It isn’t just his gleaming white smile or his joyous and sometimes explosive touchline celebrations; it’s the fact that the German coach has lifted the Reds to the heights of which few fans under the age of 40 have seen.

There was not a dry eye at Anfield when his team won the 2020 Premier League title to become Kings of England for the first time in 30 years, breaking the seemingly unbreakable dominance of Manchester City. And now the two giants of the EPL are matching each other stride for stride and are battling for English and European glory.

That Klopp has just signed a contract extension which takes him to 2026 is the best Premier League 2022 news the Liverpool fans could hope for, and a timely boost for the club as it approaches the season’s climax.

The making of Jurgen Klopp

A fans favourite during his 11-year playing career at Mainz 05, Klopp says of himself that he had fourth-division feet and a first-division head. The 05 supporters won’t agree with him as he showed better feet than he admits to, first as a striker and then as a committed right-sided defender, finishing as the club’s top scorer with 52 goals from 325 appearances. 

He hung up his boots in 2001 with his club in Bundesliga 2 and, on the sacking of Eckhard Krautzen, he took charge of the team, winning six of his first seven games as head coach. With his coaching diploma already completed, Klopp grew in reputation as Mainz finished fourth in his first two full seasons in charge, before winning promotion at the third attempt.

Klopp kept Mainz in the top flight with mid-table finishes and a small budget, but after relegation in 2007, and a failed attempt to return in 2008, he resigned and was snapped up by Borussia Dortmund.

And it was at the Signal Iduna Stadium where he won his first major titles and his method of Gegenpressing, high-octane football with an ethos to recover possession as soon as it is lost, became admired and copied throughout Europe.

In 2012, BVB won their first-ever domestic double, beating FC Bayern 5-2 in the DFB Pokal final and it wasn’t long before other clubs were courting Klopp.

The Normal One

In 2015 Klopp signed a three-year deal to join Liverpool and announced himself as ‘The Normal One’ in a clear parody of Jose Mourinho’s claim to be ‘The Special One’ when he arrived at Chelsea just over a decade earlier. But Klopp’s reign has been anything but normal as Liverpool fans have watched their team once again conquer the English top flight and the UEFA Champions League. 

Mohamed Salah works well with Jurgen Klopp to deliver Premier League giants Liverpool to many championships
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah celebrates with Jordan Henderson after scoring a goal during Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur in 2019

Liverpool climbed back into the top four and with year on year improvements, the 2018/19 campaign was a breakout season for the Reds as they secured 97 points, the highest-ever scored by a team without winning the title, and they won the Champions League, beating Spurs 2-0 with goals from Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi. 

And, in the following year, 30 years of hurt was washed away from the Liverpool fans as their team finally won the Premier League title that had evaded them since 1989.

And what does 2022 have in store?

Well, that is the million-dollar question. Klopp had previously suggested that he would be ready to take a break when his contract expires in 2024.

But something has changed his mind.

Take a look at the Anfield trophy cabinet; take a look at the league table and the Champions League updates and take a look at the smiles on the faces of the fans on the Red side of the Mersey. They are not all as white as their head coach’s smile, but they are just as wide!

Premier League

LIVERPOOL

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

1X2 Tottenham Hotspur @ 7.60

Over 3.00 @ 1.92

First Half Over 1.25 @ 1.93

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

The latest Premier League 2022 betting oddsstill back Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City…but only just and the gap at the top of the table has been whittled down to just a single point, with four games left to play. There may be one more twist to come and, if it arrives, we’ll be all over the action right here at SBOTOP.

With the Carabao Cup already in the bag, an FA Cup final date with Chelsea on the way and a Champions League semi-final against Villarreal under control there is hushed talk of an historic quadruple.

The Champions League final could well be a Liverpool/Manchester City shootout and that would be a blockbuster clash, the likes of which the world of football has been waiting for.

Klopp’s love affair with Liverpool continues and it’s about to get even more exciting! 


 

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04-May 2022 Wednesday 1:17 PM (60 days ago)            #22
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Premier League: Is This the Best Campaign Ever?

After another brilliant round of Premier League matches, the dust is settling on a weekend of high drama and, in the most exciting season for years, nothing is settled in any of the big contests from top to bottom.

With four games to go, as many as five for some teams, and only two for Manchester United after their 3-0 win over Brentford on Monday night, the three main battles are raging and the top two are trading blow for blow.

The very latest Premier League 2022 betting odds continue to back Manchester City, currently at a price of 1.44 with the Reds at 2.80 to lift the title in three weeks time.

Liverpool’s love affair with head coach Jurgen Klopp grows stronger by the year and the Sky Blues just can’t seem to shake them off. But with a single point advantage, it is City’s title to lose.

And the two rivals are on course for a Champions League final too. Does it get any better?

The race for Europe

The scramble for the priceless Champions League places has some way to go and while Chelsea have been solidly in third place throughout the campaign they have yet to cement their top four place.

So mathematically speaking, four teams are chasing two available places. Chelsea and Arsenal occupy third and fourth, while Tottenham – who two points further back – are three ahead of Manchester United who have played two games more than their three rivals.

It seems unlikely that Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea will let a five-point lead over Tottenham disappear, so it’s increasingly looking like a North London shootout between Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal and Antonio Conte’s Tottenham.

The Gunners have that two-point advantage after an impressive win away to Europa League chasing West Ham at the weekend while Tottenham were excellent in their 3-1 home victory over Leicester City.

In their remaining fixtures, Arsenal are at home to relegation-threatened Leeds United and Everton, and away to mid-table Newcastle United so they will hope for nine points there, while Tottenham are away to title-chasers Liverpool and doomed Norwich City and at home to Burnley, who are also battling against relegation.

And the other fixture? Tottenham vs Arsenal on Thursday 12th May!

It’s not a winner-take-all clash and I’d go so far to say that a draw will probably be enough to see the Gunners home when you look at their other games.

Chelsea should get the points they need in matches against Wolves, Leeds, Leicester, and Watford and they are hoping to pick up some silverware when they meet Liverpool on the FA Cup final on 14th May.

Here at SBOTOPwe’re backing Liverpool to beat Chelsea in the final with odds of 2.10 on Klopp’s side to win within 90 minutes, while Tuchel’s men are at 3.15. But having lost the last two finals to Arsenal and Leicester City, the Blues are desperate to avoid an unwelcome hat-trick.

Manchester United are already planning for next season as even wins over Brighton and Crystal Palace won’t realistically be enough to overhaul both the North London clubs.

The battle for survival

Jordan Pickford is keen for Everton to stay in the Premier League next season
Everton’s Jordan Pickford reacts after the Premier League match against Chelsea

Everton’s hopes of avoiding the dreaded drop to the Championship took an unexpected upturn on Sunday when they beat Chelsea 1-0 thanks to a Richarlison goal, put on a plate by a bizarre piece of defending from the normally reliable Cesar Azpilicueta who dithered over his clearance.

But keeper Jordan Pickford was the hero of the day for the Toffees and he pulled off a string of world-class saves, while the woodwork also came to Everton’s rescue when Mason Mount’s effort hit both posts before rolling to safety.

It’s that kind of luck which might just save the Toffees, who climbed to within two points of safety.

Meanwhile, Burnley’s Premier League 2022 resultshave made a dramatic improvement in recent weeks as caretaker manager Mike Jackson has guided the Clarets on a run of three wins and a draw.

The Clarets followed up home victories over Southampton and Wolves with a comeback win at Watford as midfielders Jack Cork and Josh Brownhill delighted the legion of travelling Burnley fans with two late goals to win the game 2-1.

That victory took the Clarets above Leeds United on goal difference and that could be a problem for Jesse Marsh’ team, who has a -34 goal difference compared to Everton’s -20 and Burnley’s -15.

The Whites have the toughest run-in with games against Arsenal, Chelsea, and Brighton to come and a final day trip to Brentford. There may well be twists and turns to come with few fingernails left in Burnley, Liverpool, and Leeds by the 22nd May climax.


 

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05-May 2022 Thursday 11:48 AM (59 days ago)            #23
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Premier League: Big Weekend for Both Liverpool Clubs

Matchweek 36 of the Premier League will be a big one for both Liverpool clubs, who are on opposite ends of the table.

At the top, there’s Liverpool hosting top four-chasing Tottenham in what is likely the Reds’ last big test left in the league. Meanwhile, Everton will travel to Leicester to face the Foxes for the second time in the space of a couple of weeks as they continue their quest to avoid relegation.

This weekend is also a crucial one for the other clubs involved in the relegation battle, Burnley and Leeds, while all-but relegated Watford boss Roy Hodgson looks set for an emotional reunion at Selhurst Park.

So read on below as SBOTOP lists down five things to look out for in Matchweek 36 of the Premier League season.

Liverpool’s last big league test

Liverpool’s quadruple bid is still alive, although they were given a bit of a scare by Villarreal. The Reds eventually righted the ship in the second half to cruise into the Champions League final.

Liverpool will now look to avoid another scare when they take on Tottenham in what is likely to be their toughest remaining test in the Premier League.

Spurs held Liverpool to a 2-2 draw in London in their first meeting of the season and need a win to keep pace with Arsenal in the race for fourth, so this will not be an easy game by any means.

Although, Liverpool haven’t lost to Spurs at Anfield in over a decade, and with the likes of Luis Diaz capable of changing the game, they should be confident in their ability to keep that run going despite their midweek struggles.

Everton desperately need rare away points

Everton kept their survival hopes in their own hands after a stunning 1-0 win over Chelsea. They are still inside the relegation zone at 18th place, but they are just two points behind both Burnley and Leeds and have a game in hand.

It was the second brave defensive effort in a row from Frank Lampard’s side, while Richarlison popped up with another crucial goal.

The Brazilian has had a fairly disappointing season, but he has found his best form at the right time with four goals in his last five games, one of which was a stoppage-time equaliser to deny Leicester a win at Goodison Park a few weeks ago.

Richarlison has a fine scoring record against the Foxes – five goals in 10 games – and he will once again be key to Everton’s chances of claiming a crucial point away from home. The Toffees have picked up a single point in their last 12 Premier League games (one draw, 11 defeats).

A matchup with major stakes at the Emirates

Arsenal’s clash with Leeds is the second most consequential game of the weekend, as both clubs still have so much to play for.

The Gunners, who have won three in a row, are keen to keep Spurs at bay in the battle for fourth. Meanwhile, the Whites are fighting for the Premier League lives as they sit just one spot above the relegation zone.

Jesse Marsch's Leeds Unite are desperate to seal a win to avoid being relegated from the Premier League
Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch applauds the fans after their Premier League game against Manchester City

Jesse Marsch’s men lost 4-0 at home against leaders Man City last time out, but their Premier League 2022 results prior to that loss were quite impressive (three wins, two draws), so Arsenal must beware.

Although, Leeds will be without Stuart Dallas, who sadly suffered a broken leg in the loss to City. His absence will be a blow to Leeds, who have endured more than their fair share of injuries this season.

Burnley’s big chance in Claret derby

Burnley are close to riding their new manager bounce all the way to survival. After looking dead and buried a month ago, the Clarets have gone unbeaten since Mike Jackson took over for the sacked Sean Dyche and have improbably reeled off three straight wins.

Their dramatic come-from-behind win over Watford last week was absolutely massive as it took them up to 16th place, two points above the drop zone.

Premier League
LIVERPOOL
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
1X2 Tottenham Hotspur @ 6.40
Over 3.25 @ 2.20
Total Goals 0-1 @ 5.00
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

The Clarets have a great chance to continue their amazing run as they take on Aston Villa, whose form has tailed off at the tail-end of the season.

Incredibly, this will be the first meeting between the two claret clubs; they will meet again a couple of weeks later. But the Premier League 2022 betting odds will fancy Burnley at home, where they have won each of their last three games.

Roy returns to Selhurst Park as Watford relegation nears

Roy Hodgson has not had a successful return to the Premier League as his Watford side have won just twice in his 14 games in charge. And his Hornets could very well be officially relegated this weekend as they take on his old club, Crystal Palace.

But whatever happens, Roy will at least get a nice ovation as he returns to Selhurst Park for the first time since leaving at the end of last season. The Eagles are flying high under Patrick Vieira, but the supporters will no doubt show their appreciation to Hodgson for his four years of service to the club.


 

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05-May 2022 Thursday 11:51 AM (59 days ago)            #24
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Premier League: Junior Firpo Has Yet to Realise Untapped Potential With Leeds

Junior Firpo is in a unique position with Leeds United. When he was brought in for £12-M from Barcelona last summer, many thought that he would be their full-time starting left-back following Ezgjan Alioski’s exit. But so far, he has yet to live up to his promise in the Premier League.

Time is still on his side, though, since he’s just 25 years old. And he’ll get his chance to prove himself now that he’s thrusted into the starting XI for the time being due to injuries to their key players.

How Firpo will fare in these next few weeks remains a mystery, but Leeds United would need some great performances from him since they’re super close to confirm their English top-flight status for at least one more season.

Join us today as SBOTOP takes a look at the young Dominican’s football career so far – from his beginnings all the way to his arrival at Elland Road.

Firpo showed early promise in Spain

Junior Firpo was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and his family moved to Malaga at the age of six. Upon moving to Spain, Firpo played for different local teams such as Atletico Benamiel, Tiro Pichon, and Puerto Malagueno before joining Real Betis’ youth setup.

Many believed that he was an all-around athlete since he also played basketball and baseball. Eventually, he made his senior debut with the reserves during Real Betis’ 1-1 home draw against Granada B in the Segunda Division. Firpo scored his first senior goal in 2016 during their 4-0 away victory against Algeciras.

One year later, Junior Firpo was signed until 2021 for Real Betis’ first team and became the first Dominican Republic-born player to play in La Liga after starting in a 1-0 away loss against Deportivo La Coruna.

He scored his first professional goal on 2018 against Espanyol. In the 2018/19 campaign, he notched five assists and three goals in his 29 appearances for Real Betis and was even called into Spain’s U-21 team where he helped them win the 2019 UEFA European U-21 title.

Because of his steady progression as a regular starter at the Estadio Benito Villamarin, he was given another contract extension by Real Betis until 2023.

UEFA – Champions League
REAL MADRID
MANCHESTER CITY
1X2 Draw @ 3.65
Over 3.25 @ 2.04
Total Goals 0-1 @ 5.40
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Turbulent spell in Catalonia

Fast forward to 2019, Junior Firpo signed a five-year, €18-M deal with Barcelona and he made his debut in their 5-2 home win against his former club Real Betis.

Junior Firpo scored his first Barca goal against Getafe and he made his Champions League debut during the Blaugrana’s 3-1 group stage win over Borussia Dortmund.

However, in stark contrast with his time at Real Betis, Junior Firpo was frozen to the bench as Barcelona favoured playing Jordi Alba more at the starting left-back position. It didn’t help either that Barca were unstable back then since they had three different managers under the leadership of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

He wasn’t particularly happy with the way he was treated at Camp Nou, especially when former manager Ronald Koeman cited him as a “bad influence” in the dressing room, which was the main reason why he wasn’t given much playing time.

“I reached a point where I lost my enthusiasm for football and I realised the importance of family,” lamented Firpo back then.

Junior Firpo finished his Barca stint with 41 total appearances and one Copa del Rey trophy before moving on to Elland Road in 2021.

He’s still finding his footing in West Yorkshire

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch aims to get positive Premier League results with Arsenal and Chelsea up next
Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch after the match against Manchester City

Junior Firpo started his Leeds United career pretty much the same as his time with Barcelona, minus the locker room turmoil. With Luke Ayling or Stuart Dallas often listed as their starting left-back, Junior Firpo’s opportunities to show what he’s got have only come few and far between.

So far, he has only one assist and zero goals and he has struggled to make an influence on both ends for the Whites. But with Stuart Dallas sidelined due to a broken leg against Manchester City, Leeds have no choice but to lean on Junior Firpo to bring his A-game for their final four matches.

Leeds are dragged back into the relegation mix following Everton and Burnley’s wins this past matchday, and they’ll need to get positive Premier League 2022 results with Arsenal and Chelsea up next. This is Junior Firpo’s chance to prove why Leeds got him in the first place. And if he can prove his worth, that would surely boost Leeds’ Premier League 2022 odds of maintaining their top-flight status beyond this term, which would surely endear himself to the Leeds faithful.


 

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05-May 2022 Thursday 11:53 AM (59 days ago)            #25
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Premier League: Chelsea Bid to Nail Down Third Place

Chelsea vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Bruno Lage takes his Wolves team to West London on Saturday to take on third-placed Chelsea with a chance to re-ignite their fading European hopes, but they meet a team with arguably more serious problems and a desperate need for a win.

This Premier League matchup brings together two teams a little out of sorts at the moment, but Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea might just have more at stake in this clash.

They currently sit five points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and just three ahead of Arsenal in fourth. Without a win in their last two games and an FA Cup final coming into view, the Blues need to find some form. And they also need to rule out any nagging doubts that they could slip down the table.

Both teams come into the game on the back of a bad loss, Chelsea in a 1-0 defeat away to Everton and Wolves beaten 3-0 at home by Brighton. In fact, Wolves have lost their last three and dropped to eighth place, three points behind West Ham in the last Europa qualifying berth, so they will be up for the fight too.

Premier League
BURNLEY
ASTON VILLA
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Talking Points

Are Chelsea’s off-field problems creeping onto the pitch?

The Blues have spent much of the campaign in third place but still have work to do to avoid slipping out of the top four at the last moment. And the pre-match Premier League 2022 betting odds back Tuchel’s side to pick up three points against Wolves, but off-field problems are threatening to derail their season.

Since the sanctions placed on owner Roman Abramovich, Chelsea have been up for sale, but recent developments have cast some doubt on the process, which needs to be concluded by the end of May.

The UK government will be aware of any attempts to restructure the deal which could see Abramovich receive the £1.5bn he loaned the club, and any disagreements could hamper the deal. The government needs to be completely assured that the former owner will receive nothing and, as the football club’s licence expires n 31st May, the worst case scenario is Chelsea going out of business. 

While all parties will do all they can to ensure that doesn’t happen, it can’t help matters on the pitch. Top scorer Mason Mount is yet to be offered a new contract, which has been delayed under the current restrictions, while talismanic centre-back Antonio Rudiger is already planning his move out of Stamford Bridge. A recent 4-2 defeat to Arsenal and a pitiful showing in a 1-0 loss, to former player Frank Lampard’s Everton, suggest the players’ minds are not entirely on the game.

Wolves are hard to break down

Conor Coady vows to put in a good performance vs Chelsea in the Premier League
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Conor Coady and Joao Moutinho look dejected after the match with Newcastle United

Wolves come into this game on the back of a run of defeats, but they have been one of the toughest teams to score against this season. Lage favours a back three and he has good cover in those positions.

The cultured Max Kilman, the ball-playing Roma Saiss, and hard man Willy Boly occupy two of these places while the defence is held together by inspirational skipper Conor Coady who, at 29 years of age, is one of the best defenders in the league.

Coady reads the game superbly, making last-ditch tackles when needed but is a clean operator, committing less than a foul a game. He is also a threat at set-pieces, scoring three goals and one in Wolves’ recent 1-0 victory over Everton.

With 32 goals conceded Wolves have the fourth-tightest defence in the Premier League with only the top three teams conceding fewer but, at the other end of the pitch, they struggle, scoring only 33 goals in 34 games.

Raul Jimenez, with six goals and four assists and Ruben Neves, with four goals and two assists, remain Wolves’ biggest goal chances but there is too little creativity around them.

History

The Blues have won 11 of their last 17 encounters with Wolves, while drawing three and losing three. Both the last two meetings have resulted in a goalless draw, at Molineux earlier this season and at Stamford Bridge in the 2020/21 campaign.

In terms of recent form, Chelsea have the edge with three wins, a draw and two losses in the last six while Wolves have won two and lost four.

Betting Tip

Odds of 1.35 seem a little fine on a Blues win, the way they failed to beat Everton without even scoring, while an SBOTOP price of 8.20 on Wolves looks more tempting, but I’m backing a draw in a stop-start affair.

I don’t expect the Premier League 2022 highlights to provide a goal fest and, for an alternative bet, Under 2.50 goals is available at odds of 1.90 while a third consecutive 0-0 draw in this fixture is at 9.16.

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05-May 2022 Thursday 7:23 PM (59 days ago)            #26
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Premier League: Saturday Night and It’s All Up for Grabs!

Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur

With just over a fortnight of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign remaining, there is so much to play for.

At this stage we don’t know who will survive out of Everton, Burnley and Leeds United.

At this stage we don’t know which North London outfit will grab the fourth and final Champions League spot (I still think Chelsea will be safe in third).

And at this stage we do not know who will be crowned champions – Manchester City or Liverpool.

As it stands then, Saturday night’s clash at Anfield between the Merseysiders and one half of that North London duo, Spurs, could go some way to making some of those permutations a little clearer.

Talking Points

Sadio Mane eyeing a Premier League win after Liverpool secure a Champions League final spot
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane celebrates after his side reach the Champions League final

With such important matters on the line, Premier League 2022 highlights could well be in abundance.

Both teams may well be full of confidence. After all, Liverpool have just reached the Champions League final for the third time in five years and are unbeaten domestically since the end of December. They also know they must keep winning to be primed to take advantage of any slip-up from leaders and reigning champions City.

Liverpool were 1-0 winners at Newcastle last time out in the league – a result which moved them briefly top of the standings. Avoid defeat against Spurs and they can again return to the summit as City are not in action until Sunday.

Manager Jurgen Klopp should have a full strength squad at his disposal, a squad which has proved its worth in recent months and showed up even City’s by comparison.

Spurs, who have a decent squad depth, produced a fine showing as they drew 2-2 with Liverpool in a four-goal thriller just before Christmas. Antonio Conte will be looking for a similar display – and result – to keep their top-four hopes alive ahead of a potentially decisive north London derby on May 12.

Son Heung-Min scored the equaliser in that game and was on top form last time out with a double – the second of which was a wonder strike – to see off Leicester City.

He and captain Harry Kane will lead the goal threat for the visitors with Son (and Cristiano Ronaldo) the marksmen immediately behind the league’s top scorer and newly crowned writers’ footballer of the year, Mohamed Salah.

The ability to attract players of the calibre Conte wants this summer would be boosted significantly by Champions League football next term and a good result at Anfield will keep them in the hunt and on Arsenal’s coattails.

Conte has this week pledged his future to Spurs, a position which would also surely become stronger should he guide them to fourth place at the expense of their North London rivals.

All in all, the position could be no clearer – what happens on Saturday night could well shape the conclusion of the campaign for both clubs.

Premier League
ARSENAL
LEEDS UNITED
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History

Two of the established big names of English football but the roll of honour tally between the clubs – in terms of actual trophies – is reflected in the head-to-head meeting stats.

Liverpool have beaten Spurs 87 times compared to the north Londoners who have tasted victory on 48 occasions. Forty-three meetings have ended in a draw.

Their very first meeting came in the old Division One in 1909 when a player by the name of Herbert Middlemiss scored the only goal in a Spurs victory.

Liverpool have really had the upper hand in recent years with Spurs only winning one of their past 20 contests – a 4-1 triumph in 2017.

That, of course, included the 2019 Champions League final and both league matches last season.

Liverpool won the corresponding fixture at Anfield 2-1 thanks to a late Roberto Firmino header.

The return fixture, little over a month later, saw the Merseysiders record a 3-1 win in North London.

Betting Tip

Don’t forget to check out the SBOTOP Premier League 2022 betting odds ahead of Saturday night’s clash.


 

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05-May 2022 Thursday 7:24 PM (59 days ago)            #27
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Premier League: United Looking to Give Ralf Rangnick a Fitting Managerial Farewell

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Manchester United

This season has been a tough pill to swallow for the Red Devils after dropping out from the top four of the Premier League table. As of this writing, Manchester United are at sixth with 58 points, while fourth-placed Arsenal and fifth-placed Tottenham have 63 and 61, and they have two more games at hand.

Three notches below them is where Brighton stand with 44 points. The Seagulls have exceeded expectations this term since they are guaranteed with a Top 10 finish, which is in stark contrast to last season where they were fighting for their top-flight status.

In just a few weeks, Ralf Rangnick will be moving upstairs for his consultancy role – leaving Erik ten Hag with big shoes to fill next season – so United will look to rally behind the German, who has given all he had for the club during his time as their interim boss.

Talking Points

Brighton oozing with potential in years to come

Brighton are fresh from a 3-0 victory over Wolves last Saturday, which is one of their best performances of the season. Alexis Mac Allister started the scoring binge with his penalty near half-time, and then second-half goals from Leandro Trossard and Yves Bissouma iced the game.

Much has been said about Brighton’s need for a striker upgrade, but so far they’ve been coping well despite the fact that Danny Welbeck is approaching past his prime and Neal Maupay sitting on the bench.

Graham Potter is ready to lead Brighton against Manchester United in upcoming Premier League clash
Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter looks pleased following their victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League

Graham Potter has been leaning on to the young midfield trio of Yves Bissouma, Alexis Mac Allister, and Moises Caicedo, while wingers Leandro Trossard and Enock Mwepu have been getting rave reviews for their performances this term.

All of them are more than capable of producing Premier League 2022 highlights, and who knows what their ceiling is since their collective potential is sky high.

The only bad news ahead of this game is that Enock Mwepu is listed as questionable after being forced off the pitch against Wolves due to a groin injury. Should he not play, Pascal Groß or Tariq Lamptey might get the starting nod.

After Manchester United, the Seagulls will be facing Leeds United and West Ham United next, and both games are winnable since neither of the aforementioned are in great form.

Who will be available for Manchester United?

Ralf Rangnick once mentioned that he had around eight players on their injured list, which is why he’s hopeful that there’ll be more warm bodies available at his disposal.

Manchester United are fresh from a much-needed 3-0 victory at home against Brentford on Monday despite being undermanned, so they should like their chances ahead of Saturday since some of their injured players are working their way back to 100-per cent fitness.

Previously injured Fred and Edinson Cavani came on as subs in their match against the Bees, while Luke Shaw (leg), Paul Pogba (calf), and Jadon Sancho (tonsillitis) remain on the sidelines, with Rangnick suggesting that they’re all out for the season.

Furthermore, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have yet to play since their 4-0 defeat to Liverpool, and they’ll look to reclaim their places in the starting XI assuming both will get through training unscathed.

Premier League
LIVERPOOL
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
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History

Brighton have a score to settle with Manchester United on Saturday night given their woeful record against them. The Seagulls have lost each of their last seven meetings versus the Red Devils, which is the longest ongoing winning run by the latter against a current Premier League team.

At the same time, Brighton are winless in their last eight league games at home (D4, L4) since their 2-0 victory over Brentford on Boxing Day, although Manchester United have lost each of their last four league games on the road.

United beat Brighton 2-0 in their reverse fixture at Old Trafford last February as the Portuguese duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes found the back of the net during the second half.

Betting Tip

Given Manchester United’s inconsistencies along with Brighton’s improving form, it’s hard to tell on who will win in this match. But as far as the SBOTOP Premier League 2022 odds are concerned, the Red Devils are backed to win 2.48, while the Seagulls are pegged at 2.81 and a draw is at 3.20 in the 1X2 market.

With a close match in the cards, instead we’ll take a look on how many goals can these two clubs score given their available players, and we feel that Total Goal 2-3 @ 1.90 is your best bet.

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06-May 2022 Friday 7:13 PM (58 days ago)            #28
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Premier League: A Must-Win Match for Both Arsenal and Leeds

Arsenal vs Leeds United

The 2021-22 Premier League season is winding down, and there are few matches left where both teams are in a must-win situation. Matchweek 36 has a couple of them, including this huge matchup between Arsenal and Leeds, which has huge ramifications at either end of the table.

The Gunners need the victory to maintain their grip on fourth place and the final Champions League place. Meanwhile, Leeds are in the thick of the relegation scrap and need to pick up points to avoid the drop.

The Premier League 2022 betting odds have in-form Arsenal as significant favourites to pick up their fourth win on the bounce. But don’t count out the Whites, who had gone five games unbeaten before falling victim to leaders Manchester City last week.

Talking Points

Arsenal still in pole position for top four

Arsenal are in the midst of one of their hot streaks once again. After losing three games in a row, they have bounced back to win their last three against Chelsea (2-4), Manchester United (3-1), and West Ham (1-2). It’s the fifth time Mikel Arteta’s side has gone on a three-game winning streak this Premier League season, and they remain two points clear of rivals Tottenham for fourth.

Eddie Nketiah has been instrumental in the Gunners’ recent surge as he’s filled in fabulously for Alexandre Lacazette. Nketiah had a team-leading six shots last time out against the Hammers, four of which were on target. Bukayo Saka has been brilliant as well, with two goals and an assist during the three-game win streak.

Mohamed Elneny also deserves a lot of credit as he has slotted back into the midfield after several months out of the side and has played well in Thomas Partey’s absence.

Arteta is unlikely to make too many changes to a settled front six that has been playing well of late. But he should finally have his first-choice right side of defence back against Leeds. Right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu made his first start in several months against West Ham, while Ben White, who missed the West Ham win due to injury, looks set to return and play against his old club.

Leeds facing relegation battle

Stuart Dallas will miss Leeds United's Premier League match against Arsenal due to injury
Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas during their match against Manchester City at Elland Road

After looking like they were so close to safety, Leeds United are still fighting for their Premier League lives. With the combination of them losing 4-0 to Manchester City and both Burnley and Everton winning, the Whites are now just two points above the relegation zone.

Jesse Marsch’s men never stood much of a chance against Man City, and their hopes were dashed even further when Stuart Dallas suffered a broken leg at the stroke of half-time. Leeds have had horrendous injury luck all season long, and Dallas’ absence for the crucial run-in will be a massive blow.

Marsch played an overly defensive back five against City, but he will likely be forced to revert to a more orthodox back four with Dallas out.

Prior to facing City, Leeds’ recent Premier League 2022 results had been quite good. They went five games unbeaten, with three wins and two draws. Marsch was finally getting some consistent performances from his side during that time, and he must get the attack firing on all cylinders again.

The front four of Rodrigo, Dan James, Raphinha, and Jack Harrison is expected to start. Although, Marsch’s options beyond those four are still limited, with 20-year-olds Joe Gelhardt and Sam Greenwood his top choices off the bench.

Leeds have been quite plucky away from home of late. They are unbeaten in their last three, with two wins over Wolves (2-3) and Watford (0-3) and a goalless draw at Crystal Palace.

History

It has been a good long while since Leeds have beaten Arsenal. In fact, it has been nearly 20 years, with the Whites’ last win over the Gunners coming in 2003.

Arsenal have gone unbeaten in their 11 matches since then (nine wins, two draws), although six of them have come in cup competitions.

Leeds held Arsenal to a goalless draw in their first meeting after returning to the Premier League, but they have since lost their last two games, surrendering four goals on each occasion. They were thumped 4-1 in their first meeting of this season at Elland Road. Gabriel Martinelli starred with a first-half brace, while Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe also scored.

Betting Tip

SBOTOP odds have Arsenal installed as 1.46 favourites to get the win at the Emirates. Leeds are 6.40 underdogs, while a Draw is 4.40.

With both sides desperate not to suffer a defeat, this match has the potential to be quite a defensive affair. Having both Tomiyasu and White back will be big for Arsenal, who haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last six. Dallas’ injury will be a blow to Leeds’ defence, but they have shown the ability to battle amid injury absences, and I expect them to do so at the Emirates as they fight for Premier League survival.

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06-May 2022 Friday 7:16 PM (58 days ago)            #29
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Premier League: Will Manchester City Recover in Time?

Manchester City vs Newcastle United

Manchester City welcome Newcastle United for a Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

That sounds like a great fixture to enjoy whether you are a Sky Blue, a Magpie, or a neutral. But the nature of this game has changed beyond recognition as Manchester City have just suffered a huge shock this week which could easily knock them off their stride.

Moving into injury time at the Santiago Bernabeu in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, the Sky Blues were two goals to the good but they somehow lost the match and their long awaited shot at European glory has been cruelly ripped from their grasp much to the amusement of Manchester United and Liverpool fans.

Yes, the Premier League 2022 betting odds still back the Sky Blues to win a fourth domestic crown in five years and, in the most exciting campaign in years, they still have a point lead over Liverpool.

However, the big question is: do City have the nerve to see this one out?

Talking Points

City back on safer ground

At a SBOTOP price of 1.16on the Sky Blues to win, the markets have great faith in Manchester City recovering to keep their control of the Premier League race and they should be happy to be back home after their horrific experience in Madrid.

With three wins and a draw against Liverpool in their last four league games at the Etihad while scoring 14 goals in the process, they have been free-flowing in front of their own fans and that is how they need to respond.

But the psychological damage of conceding two goals in injury time after Real Madrid had failed to register a shot on target in 90 minutes was too much for the Sky Blues players to cope with on the night and it was almost inevitable that Karim Benzema would complete the turnaround in extra time.

Pep Guardiola had already taken off his best player Kevin De Bruyne before the Blancos’ fight back started and I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t start against the Geordies. 

And now is the time for last year’s marquee signing in Jack Grealish to show whether or not he has a future with the league champions if his manager gives him the chance.

Newcastle players are playing for contracts

Dan Burn is determined to help Newcastle United in their upcoming Premier League clash against Manchester City
Newcastle United’s Dan Burn in action against Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah during a Premier League match at St James’ Park

What an exciting time it is to be a Newcastle United fan. The takeover of the club by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund has turned the Magpies into the richest club in the Premier League and they will soon be challenging for domestic and European honours no doubt.

Since head coach Eddie Howe spent £100-M in the January transfer window, he has transformed the team from relegation certainties to a strong mid-table outfit. And with Premier League status confirmed, the club can now look to the future with confidence.

Whether the long-term future includes Howe remains to be seen, but he and his players have a big incentive to keep on performing as points and positions might well mean an extended stay at St. James’ Park. 

Allan Saint Maximin has scored five goals and made four assists and has been a shining light at St. James’ Park over the past two campaigns, while Joelinton’s improved performance of four goals in 32 games probably won’t be enough to persuade the new owners.

In defence, Dan Burn has performed impressively in his first 13 games and he has another chance to show what he can do against one of the most dangerous attacks in world football.

History

Manchester City have had much the better of the head-to-heads with Newcastle in the Premier League.

And while they haven’t had it all their own way with 29 wins, nine losses, and eight draws, the Sky Blues have won the last five encounters – scoring 17 goals and conceding three.

The return match resulted in a 4-0 drubbing for the Magpies as Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez, and Raheem Sterling all hit the mark. But that was before the world changed forever in Newcastle.

We cannot split the teams in terms of recent form as they have both lost one, won four, and then lost another one of the last six games in all competitions.

Betting Tip

At 12.04 on an away win or even 7.33 on a draw it seems unlikely that City’s misery will continue now they are back on home soil.

This promises to be a fascinating match but whether the poor Manchester City fans can face the Premier League 2022 updates is another question.

I don’t think they need worry too much and I’m backing them for a comfortable victory, but that will do little to wipe away the pain of Madrid.

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10-May 2022 Tuesday 12:20 PM (54 days ago)            #30
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A Fortnight To Go In The Non-Stop Premier League

The Premier League is the gift that keeps on giving as far as entertainment is concerned.

This weekend was no different at both ends of the table as the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds twisted one way and then the other and created plenty of talking points.

Conte masterclass shows why Spurs need to keep Italian

Saturday night and there was plenty up for grabs at Anfield.

As so often in meetings between these teams, we were treated to Premier League highlights and a result which could have a major impact on the races for the title and the top four.

A supremely well-organised and resolute Tottenham side led through a fine Son Heung-min goal before Liverpool salvaged a point against Antonio Conte’s visitors courtesy of a deflected strike from Luis Díaz.

However, after 12 successive home league wins for Liverpool it was a bad time to falter in the 13th.

The statistics show why Spurs need to keep and back the Italian this summer if they are to progress – irrespective of whether they qualify for the Champions League.

Spurs have lost just one of their last eight Premier League games (won five, drawn two), and Conte has lost just one of his six Premier League encounters with Liverpool and remains unbeaten at Anfield in the competition.

Premier League: Son Heung-Min scored on the 56th minute of Tottenham Hotspur's 1-1 draw against Liverpool
Son Heung-min celebrates with Tottenham teammate Harry Kane after scoring against Liverpool

Yes, Conte is unquestionably high maintenance – as his previous clubs would testify – but he is proven at the highest level and Spurs might realise he only wants what they and their supporters desire, namely success.

You’re not fit to wear the shirt

“You’re not fit to wear the shirt,” chanted the Manchester United fans on the south coast on Saturday evening – and, with a few exceptions such as David De Gea and Cristiano Ronaldo, they were right.

A number of Red Devils have been going through the motions for about six weeks now. ‘On the beach’ is the polite way of saying there has been little care or urgency for quite some time.

Perhaps if teams could introduce an incentive where you are paid by effort it would improve matters.

In fact, it speaks volumes for the quality of the league (outside the top three) that the team is still on course to claim a European berth next term, despite turning in consistently below average performances, often with little endeavour.

Even by recent standards though, the display at Brighton was unacceptable.

And so United are guaranteed to finish with their lowest ever points tally and most goals conceded in the Premier League era.

Who is to blame?

Certainly not their interim boss Ralf Rangnick who cannot be held responsible for such a sloppy attitude.

In fact, this was as far removed from a fitting farewell as you could wish.

These highly paid players know that, in his current role, the German coach has limited influence to impact their futures at the club. However, they still owe it to the fans – and themselves – to prove they are fit enough to wear the shirt.

The two most damning indictments, without taking anything away from the spirited hosts, was that Brighton did not need to be anything special at all to record this 4-0 romp and the look on Ronaldo’s face on the half-way line after the fourth goal went in.

It basically translated as: ‘what am I doing playing with this bunch of idiots’.

A shake-up cannot come soon enough.

Chelsea need to rediscover winning feeling

La Liga
VALENCIA
REAL BETIS
1X2 Draw @ 3.40
First Half Under 0.75 @ 2.38
Total Goals 0-1 @ 3.00
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

There is no question that Chelsea’s campaign has been affected by the future of the club and its sale which now appears to have been finally resolved.

A consortium led by entrepreneur Todd Boehly has signed a contract to buy the club and effectively end the Roman Abramovich era, subject to Premier League and UK government approval.

The uncertainty has certainly spread to the pitch in recent months and the west Londoners faltered again on Saturday as they conceded a dramatic 97th-minute equaliser at home to Wolves.

In normal circumstances, they would have held on after Romelu Lukaku looked to have secured victory for the Blues with two goals in three second-half minutes.

So now they need to return to winning ways.

They remain third with three games to play and have the FA Cup Final to look forward to next weekend.

Win yet more silverware and the world will seem happy again in the Chelsea camp.

Their next fixture is at Leeds United on Wednesday night, talking of which…

Bielsa folly could cost club

It was in February that I wrote that, for all the praise lavished upon Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United’s style of play last season, there appeared no Plan B this term – certainly no alternative format of how to regroup when under the cosh.

Yes, the Yorkshire club have been hit hard by injuries this season, but the refusal to shut up shop when necessary has gone against them in a big way this term and ‘Bielsa-ball’ had clearly run its course.

A few days later it did after the club’s third defeat in a week in which they shipped 14 goals.

It was ill-discipline which cost them on Sunday at Arsenal as Eddie Nketiah netted a double inside the opening 10 minutes before captain Luke Ayling was sent off for a needless lunge on Gabriel Martinelli.

It was a capitulation entirely of their own making and Leeds now find themselves in the Premier League relegation zone on goal difference. How costly could that refusal to act earlier prove?


 

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10-May 2022 Tuesday 12:21 PM (54 days ago)            #31
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Premier League: Leeds in Bid to Banish the Blues!

Leeds United vs Chelsea

One of football’s fiercest rivalries just got fiercer folks, because Premier League: Leeds United vs Chelsea, on Wednesday night at Elland Road, is as big as it gets.

Leeds and Chelsea fans have never been the best of buddies, with a rivalry spanning over half a century when the two clubs met in an infamously violent FA Cup final. The beautiful game has changed in the intervening years, in many ways for the better, but don’t expect either team to hold back when they meet in front of a packed and passionate Leeds crowd.

The stakes could hardly be higher.

While Chelsea still need points to guarantee their place in the 2022/23 Champions League, Leeds need a result or two to prolong their stay in the top flight. The Premier League 2022 betting oddssuggest a two way shootout between Leeds and Burnley to avoid the drop, though Everton are definitely still in the mix despite a recent upturn in form. 

Leeds head coach Jesse Marsch has three games to save the season and it all starts on Wednesday night with the visit of Chelsea.

The SBOTOP odds are on the side of the visitors, with Thomas Tuchel’s Blues at 1.63 to win, while Leeds are at 5.22 and the draw at 3.49. But the vast majority of a near 40,000 crowd will be squarely behind the Whites. 

The two teams come into the game on the back of poor results, Chelsea drawing at home the Wolves while Leeds lost away to Arsenal, and both head coaches are looking for an immediate improvement.

Talking Points

Dallas and Ayling out for Leeds but Cooper could return

Leeds’ trip to Arsenal was billed as a must win game for both teams but it could hardly have started worse for Marsch’s men as the Gunners raced into a two goal lead and then Leeds skipper Luke Ayling was red carded for a two footed foul on Gabriel Martinelli.

Luke Ayling has been sent off in the 27th minute during the Premier League game with Arsenal
Leeds United’s Luke Ayling walks off the pitch after being shown a red card

That act means the end of the season for Ayling and, following the horror injury suffered by Stuart Dallas in the recent defeat to Manchester City, Marsch has a headache in defence. With two such influential players out Leeds fans will be hoping and praying that club captain Liam Cooper will be fit to make a start. He pulled out with a knee injury in the warm up against the Sky Blues and the head coach was hopeful he would make the team against Arsenal, but Cooper didn’t feature in the Leeds squad. He may be ready for the next challenge but, at the moment, the club remains tight lipped.

Leeds have suffered an injury ravaged campaign and the return of midfield lynchpin Kalvin Phillips has been a boost. And Marsch will continue to encourage his team to attack and Raphinha, with ten goals, remains Leeds’ biggest goal threat.

Chelsea’s third place is under serious threat

Much of the recentPremier League 2022 newshas been dominated by the sale of Chelsea and, over the weekend, a consortium led by LA Dodgers part owner Todd Boehly signed a contract to buy the club at a price of £4.25bn. The deal is yet to be ratified by the government and the Premier League but fans will be hoping the saga is nearing its end.

Results in recent weeks have been poor by Tuchel’s high standards, culminating in a limp display in a 1-0 defeat to Everton, a result to anger Leeds fans. The Blues need to rediscover that winning feeling before they slip out of the top three, and maybe even four. They were 2-1 ahead in their last game against Wolves, deep into stoppage time, but Conor Coady’s 97th minute equaliser made it no wins in three for the Blues.

One bright note for Chelsea was a brace for striker Romelu Lukaku and he, alongside top scorer Mason Mount, will be a key player on Wednesday night.

History

Relations between Leeds and Chelsea have never been good, ever since the 1970 FA Cup final, won by Chelsea but billed as the most brutal game in English football.

Current referee Michael Oliver recently said he would have issued 11 red cards as the two teams played four hours of football which made Ayling’s two footed assault on Martinelli look like a tickle!

More recently the matches have been less bloodthirsty and well contested in the Premier League era, with Chelsea just shading the head to heads by ten victories to eight and there have been eight draws.

Chelsea won the reverse fixture 3-3 while the two teams played out a 0-0 draw at Elland Road last term.

Recent form is identical with both teams winning two, drawing two and losing two of the last six 

Betting Tip

The last time Leeds beat Chelsea at Elland Road was in 2002, but the two teams have only met in West Yorkshire three times since then. It will be a tall order for Leeds against a clearly gifted Chelsea team in need of points; but they will give it their all…and we’ll see goals – of that I’m convinced.

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10-May 2022 Tuesday 12:30 PM (54 days ago)            #32
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Premier League: Championship-Chasing City Head to the Black Country

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Manchester City

The closing stages of the 2021/22 Premier League title race arrives in the Black Country on Wednesday evening.

Molineux has been the scene for plenty of Premier League highlights ever since Wolverhampton Wanderers – one of English football’s great institutions – were promoted back to the top flight in 2018.

It can also prove to be one of the most difficult venues so what can we expect?

Certainly, reigning champions Manchester City can not afford to be complacent as they aim to retain the title and secure what would be a fourth championship success in five years.

Talking Points

Serie A
UDINESE
SPEZIA
TO SEE UPDATED ODDS

After their most dramatic exit from the Champions League last week, City bounced back in true style on Sunday with a 5-0 romp at home to Newcastle – a game in which we witnessed more of the sorcery of Kevin de Bruyne.

Victory came at a cost though with central defensive mainstay Ruben Dias failing to re-emerge for the second period before manager Pep Guardiola revealed that would be his final performance of the season.

With John Stones and Kyle Walker also now absent for the rest of the campaign, three quarters of City’s first choice back four this term are missing and Wolves will surely be looking to capitalise.

They can certainly live with the best as they showed when they scored two late goals to rescue a point at Chelsea at the weekend – a result which will boost their confidence in what is their penultimate home game of the season.

Wolves also have the incentive of knowing they still have a chance of qualifying for Europe next term – they currently trail seventh placed West Ham by five points but with a game in hand.

Although Daniel Podence is close to a return from an ankle injury, this match will probably come too soon for the talented Portuguese, while Maximilian Kilman and Nelson Semedo both remain in the treatment room.

After impressing at the weekend, Chiquinho and Francesco Trincao are pushing for starts.

Home boss Bruno Boss Lage had to watch that encounter from home after returning a positive Covid test, but his substitutions proved crucial with Trincao scoring and Chiquinho laying on both goals.

As for City, it remains to be seen whether Nathan Ake (ankle) will be risked so it could mean club captain Fernandinho sees them through in the heart of the backline.

Guiding the club to the title in his final 11 days as a City player would be a fitting farewell.

History

Conor Coady scored in Wolverhampton Wanderers recent Premier League match
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Conor Coady celebrates after scoring their second goal against Chelsea

Historically, these sides can’t be separated.

City have triumphed in 51 of their meetings, with Wolves successful in 48 of the contests and the other 25 ending as draws.

In fact, it was level-pegging until City did the double over their opponents last term and won the match earlier this season.

That was courtesy of a Raheem Sterling penalty midway through the second half but only after Raul Jimenez had been shown two yellow cards in a minute at the end of the first half to leave the battling visitors down to 10 men.

The corresponding fixture last term was on the opening weekend of the season for both clubs after their European exertions from the previous campaign (the Covid-delayed conclusion to the 2019/20 season) and saw City win 3-1, thanks to goals from de Bruyne (penalty), Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus.

Jimenez replied for Wolves.

Jesus was also on target with a double in the return fixture, won 4-1 by City, although it took three goals in the final 10 minutes to seal the points against a Wolves team which battled well.

Wolves did seal a league double over City two seasons ago and a comeback 3-2 victory at Molineux when Adama Traore, Jimenez and Matt Doherty sealed the points.

City had played for almost 80 minutes with 10 men after goalkeeper Ederson was sent-off but had still gone 2-0 up, courtesy of a Sterling double.

Betting Tip

You can back the reigning champions to move one step closer to the title in a number of ways with the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds, including 1X2 @ 1.27 and Asian Handicap -1.75 @ 2.07 and -2.00 @ 2.36.

Wolves are really adrift, considering they have just drawn at Chelsea, with best options such as 1X2 @ 11.50 and Asian Handicap +1.50 @ 2.16.

The Draw is on offer @ 5.20.

A repeat of City’s 3-1 success in the Black Country last season is on offer with Correct Score @ 10.00, while another 3-2 Wolves win will pay out at a whopping @ 225.00.

I do expect this to be close and I do expect goals. Total Goal 2-3 @ 2.07 and Over 3.00 goals @ 2.11 were considered.

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10-May 2022 Tuesday 3:42 PM (54 days ago)            #33
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Premier League: Arsenal Can Secure Champions League Return Here

Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal

The fourth Champions League spot is up for grabs when Tottenham host Arsenal this Thursday at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The hosts sit fifth at the Premier League table with 62 points, while their visitors in Arsenal are right above them with 66. And with three more matchdays left including this one, both clubs are in must-win mode.

After experiencing rough starts to their respective campaigns, Tottenham and Arsenal have yielded impressive improvements from their end, albeit through different ways.

Arsenal have stuck it out with Mikel Arteta despite numerous calls for his sacking, which has paid off. On the other hand, Tottenham’s managerial change midseason has been the key reason to their rise.

The pre-match SBOTOP betting odds predict another close affair for this upcoming North London derby which was previously postponed, and we expect nothing less as the Champions League is likely to await the winner.

Talking Points

Tottenham might be vulnerable at the back

Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min during the Premier League match against Liverpool
Son Heung-min celebrates with Harry Kane during a Premier League match against Liverpool

Spurs are fresh from a hard-earned 1-1 draw against Liverpool last weekend, which is quite an achievement given that the odds were stacked against them.

Heung-Min Son put the hosts up by one goal 11 minutes after half-time. However, their backline surrendered one goal as well from Luis Diaz.

Liverpool had 22 total shots compared to Tottenham’s eight, and that’s something that needs to be fixed for the Spurs.

Conte isn’t happy that he only has 15 players available ahead of Thursday since he’ll have several defenders missing, which makes their task harder in these next few weeks.

Sergio Reguilon could be out for the rest of the season due to a groin problem, while Oliver Skipp, Japhet Tanganga, and Matt Doherty join him in the recovery room. Meanwhile, Davinson Sanchez came off the bench last week and could contend for a start since they’ll need another big body at central defence.

Besides Heung-Min Son, Tottenham will rely on the likes of Harry Kane, Dejan Kulusevski, and Lucas Moura to provide them the much-needed goals to counter against a dangerous Arsenal group.

Antonio Conte is no longer stranger to games like these with high stakes, and this may very well be the defining moment of their 2021/22 season.

Arsenal are peaking at the right time

The Gunners tightened their grip at the top four spot after extending their win streak to four games by beating Leeds United last Sunday.

Two goals from Eddie Nketiah, along with Luke Ayling’s red card, gave Arsenal the much-needed victory to inch one step closer to the Champions League next term.

Eddie Nketiah will be out of contract one month later and he’ll turn 23 at the end of May, so this performance from him should give Mikel Arteta and co. something to think about and he’s in line to start again in the North London derby.

He’s likely to link up with Bukayo Saka up front as the 20-year-old is fit to play after sitting out against Leeds. Meanwhile, Ben White’s return after missing their last two games will help shore up their backline.

Premier League

LEEDS UNITED

CHELSEA

TO SEE UPDATED ODDS

History

Tottenham and Arsenal will meet for the 205th time this Thursday. Prior to this upcoming game, Arsenal have the head-to-head edge with 84 victories, whereas Tottenham have won 66 times along with 54 draws.

The Spurs are unbeaten in their last seven home league matches against Arsenal (W5, D2), which is their longest run against their North London derby rivals since their nine-game undefeated run back in 1960 to 1968.

They are also looking to win three straight home league matches against the Gunners for the first time since 1961.

Arsenal are bidding for their first league double over Tottenham since 2013/14. In their reverse fixture last September, the Gunners won 3-1 as Bukayo Saka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Emile Smith Rowe all scored in the first half, while Heung-Min Son scored the lone goal for Tottenham in the second half.

Betting Tip

Tottenham are predicted to win this one at home, as per the updated Premier League 2022 odds. The Spurs are installed at 2.16, while an Arsenal win and a draw are both priced at 3.30 in the 1X2 market.

With Tottenham and Arsenal evenly matched on paper, this game is a tough call but we’re guaranteed to see these two sides generate numerous Premier League 2022 highlights given this game of high magnitude.

So going for Over 2.50 @ 1.84 is your best bet here, and fans from both Tottenham and Arsenal along with the neutrals will have to buckle up for another exciting edition of the North London derby.

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11-May 2022 Wednesday 12:32 PM (53 days ago)            #34
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Premier League: City Capture Haaland Really is a Phenomenal Talent

It feels like a momentous day in English football and a potential game-changer.

Certainly, it’s the Premier League story everyone is talking about right now.

Because by signing one of the two hottest young talents in world football (Kylian Mbappe is the other), reigning champions Manchester City have not just made a statement but also sparked a feeling inside this SBOTOP writer that only landmark moments produce.

As a Manchester United fan, I have been lucky enough to remember the spine-tingling magic I felt on the days my club signed Eric Cantona and Wayne Rooney. They were days I will always recall as the buzz it created made you know something special was on the horizon.

I would image Manchester City supporters feel exactly the same right now.

For the recruitment of Erling Braut Haaland – the reported fee of £51.2 million is a snip in today’s market – brings with it as much a guarantee of success as a transfer can provide.

For Haaland is no normal 21 year-old.

Premier League
WATFORD
EVERTON
1X2 Watford @ 4.30
Watford Asian Handicap +0.50 @ 2.19
Under 2.25 @ 2.20
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

This is the player who has already netted 85 goals in 88 appearances for Borussia Dortmund after joining from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020.

Indeed, he has scored 92 league goals in 121 appearances for Molde, Red Bull Salzburg and Dortmund and last year became the youngest player to reach 20 Champions League goals.

In the words of respected football writer Henry Winter, ‘at the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious, Erling Haaland is a fabulous signing. Just what #mcfc need: a ruthless finisher to turn all that creativity from KDB, Bernardo, Mahrez, Foden, Sterling etc into even more goals. Ambitious, focused, only 21 and with huge re-sale value.’

And there you have it.

A player who will no doubt create Premier League highlights galore and has the ability to turn an already very good side into a potentially great one.

For example, if City had been more clinical in their Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid, they would almost certainly have reached the final in Paris.

This is also the player who will finally see the club replace arguably their best ever player.

Sergio Aguero changed the landscape when he arrived at Eastlands in 2011 and was the leading player in the English top flight for the best part of a decade until his departure last summer.

Premier League: Manchester City legend Sergio Agüero confirms his retirement.
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero celebrates winning the Premier League after his last match at the Etihad Stadium

The fact this transfer already turns attention to the Premier League betting odds for next term, at a time when the current campaign is still so delicately poised, says everything you need to know about this deal.

I can remember being on holiday when the news of his Dortmund debut came through and made me sit up and take notice.

Sure, the young Norwegian had impressed for Salzburg in Europe but this was next level.

That moment was on January 18 as Dortmund kicked off their 2020 away at Augsburg. It wasn’t exactly going to plan for the visitors, who found themselves 3-1 down after 55 minutes.

Enter Haaland.

Three minutes and three touches later, he buried his first shot for the club. Next shot, same result, and Borussia were 4-3 up only 14 minutes after his introduction.

No surprises what happened with his third attempt on goal. Three out of three after just 23 minutes and 10 touches on a Bundesliga pitch, and the ball was going home with him.

A striking superstar who, at 6ft 4in, has netted three hat-tricks and an incredible 19 doubles in the Bundesliga alone, while showcasing to the world his immense power, speed and in-game intelligence. As if that were not enough, he is selfless too, laying on 23 assists during a Dortmund career, in which he won last year’s German Cup.

The doubters may doubt, the critics may, rightly, point to the fact the Premier League is a very different platform than the Bundesliga.

No matter.

A talent like this comes along only a few times in a generation – Manchester City really have secured a phenomenal talent.

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11-May 2022 Wednesday 12:34 PM (53 days ago)            #35
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Premier League: Is Haaland the Missing Piece of Pep’s Man City Puzzle?

The Premier League is set to welcome another superstar with Erling Braut Haaland’s mega move to Manchester City almost complete.

The Premier League 2022 odds have City as big favourites to successfully defend their title this season, and Haaland’s likely addition will significantly improve their chances of winning the league for a third straight time in 2022-23.

But perhaps more importantly, Haaland could very well deliver what City have been dreaming of for over a decade: the Champions League.

So is Haaland the missing piece to Man City’s quest for English and European domination? Read SBOTOP’s breakdown below.

Thor, the modern ‘fenomeno’

So what are Manchester City getting with Erling Haaland? Arguably the most remarkable young striker since the Brazilian ‘O Fenomeno’ Ronaldo and the co-heir – along with Kylian Mbappe – to the Lionel Messi-or-Cristiano Ronaldo ‘best player in the world’ debate.

There’s a reason they call him ‘Thor’, and it’s not just because he’s a tall, blonde Scandinavian. Haaland is straight out of a comic book with his immense physical gifts. He is unbelievably fast, strong, explosive and agile for someone so big, so much so that he makes other top athletes look slow and plodding by comparison.

Bundesliga
VFB STUTTGART
KOLN
1X2 Draw @ 3.60
Under 3.25 @ 2.09
First Half Over 1.50 @ 2.20
Disclaimer: Odds telah sesuai pada saat penulisan.

And aside from his elite physical tools, Haaland also has the preternatural instincts that the best goalscorers are seemingly just born with. Haaland used those talents to good use in Austria and then in Germany. Over the last three years, Haaland has scored an astounding 113 goals in 110 appearances.

And the scary part is that Haaland is far from the finished article. At just 21 years of age, there is still so much room to grow. His link-up play can certainly improve, and his intelligence can increase with experience so that he won’t need to rely so much on his overwhelming physicality quite as much.

But at present, Thor will quite possibly come to City near or at his physical peak, and he will be an absolute nightmare to go up against.

Man City get their magic striker

In Haaland, Manchester City finally got the striker they were searching for to replace the great Sergio Aguero. They came close to signing Harry Kane from Tottenham last summer, but the deal ultimately fell through.

Not that the lack of a truly top-class centre-forward has slowed City down. They have effectively been playing a striker-less system over the last two seasons – the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and even Kevin De Bruyne have taken turns creating Premier League 2022 highlights while playing the ‘false 9’ role – and are still on the verge of back-to-back Premier League titles.

They were also mere minutes away from reaching back-to-back Champions League finals, but Real Madrid did their magic to knock them out in the semi-finals.

Premier League: Gabriel Jesus is one of the good strikers in the Manchester City
Gabriel Jesus celebrates after scoring Manchester City’s second goal against Real Madrid

Speaking of magic, this is what City are hoping Haaland can bring to their already dominant side. While Pep’s City have been a well-oiled machine over the last few years and can still win the Premier League even without a premier striker, they have not quite had that special, truly top-class player who can produce a moment of magic at any time to win them a big game in the Champions League.

Haaland certainly has the chance to be that player. With his physical gifts, he can be an absolutely unstoppable force of nature who can simply overpower City’s opposition into submission.

With the combination of City’s outstanding defence and Haaland’s ability to almost singlehandedly score goals, City may finally have the formula to capture European glory.

No excuses for Man City now

Even without Haaland, Kane, or any other top centre-forward, Manchester City have been arguably the best team in Europe this season, with Liverpool their only competition.

But with Haaland, they should be even better. Guardiola, who has worked with prolific prototypical centre-forwards like Robert Lewandowski and Aguero in the past, can surely tailor a system that suits Haaland’s unique skills. And should that system fail at certain times, Haaland has the game-changing ability to bail them out with his brilliance.

Haaland’s arrival means that Pep Guardiola simply has no excuses left not to win the Champions League. He now has arguably one of, if not the best striker in the world at his disposal as well as a truly world-class squad everywhere else.

Outside of injuries – which are perhaps the biggest weakness in Haaland’s game moving forward – there is no reason for Manchester City not to finally reign supreme in Europe. Such is Haaland’s ability that he should lift an already dominant City team to even greater heights.


 

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12-May 2022 Thursday 2:37 PM (52 days ago)            #36
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Premier League: Chelsea Heap More Pain on Ten Man Leeds

Leeds United 0-3 Chelsea

Chelsea moved to within one point of Champions League qualification thanks to a comfortable win at relegation threatened Leeds United, and the Whites’ head coach Jesse Marsch has some thinking to do.

This Wednesday night fixture, Premier League: Leeds United vs Chelseahad so much riding on it for both clubs. Leeds could have climbed out of the bottom three but they now have just two more chances to save their season. Meanwhile Chelsea shrugged off a poor run of form to put in a clinical display and all but guarantee Champions League football.

The excellent Mason Mount gave the Blues an early lead before Leeds went down to ten men midway through the first half, and when Christian Pulisic scored the second early in the second half the game was done, as Chelsea picked up the three valuable points at pre-match SBOTOP odds of 1.63.

Highlights of the game

The Leeds faithful have been magnificent in their support of their heroes and the noise in the Stadium was deafening as the referee started the game, but Chelsea took the heat out of the situation when they went ahead with just four minutes on the clock.

Without the suspended Luke Ayling, Leeds fielded a makeshift defence of four centre backs but there was nothing any of them could do as the Blues put together a brilliant move which resulted in Reece James pulling the ball back for Mount who side-footed into the top right corner. 

The Whites began to settle into the game and then they suffered a horrible case of déjà vu. Just as Ayling was red carded early on in the defeat to Arsenal, Dan James suffered the same fate but he could hardly complain.

Bundesliga
BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH
TSG HOFFENHEIM
1X2 Draw @ 4.30
Under 4.00 @ 2.02
First Half Over 1.75 @ 2.04
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

The Welsh winger piled into Mateo Kovacic; he took the ball but was high and dangerous and referee Antony Taylor brandished the red card. James left the field and was soon followed by the bruised Kovacic. 

Romelu Lukaku had the ball in the net on 30 minutes but was marginally offside, and minutes later he glanced a James cross inches wide.

At half time the Blues were still just 1-0 up though largely in cruise control.

Leeds played a superb second half with ten men against Arsenal… and the Elland Road faithful were praying for a repeat.

Could Raphinha be the man to provide a divine intervention? Well he had a good chance when Leeds broke with a two on two but, instead of squaring for Rodrygo, the Brazilian ran into trouble.

And then came the second hammer blow. Jorginho played the ball into Mount and he flicked it on to Pulisic who drilled his shot beyond Illan Meslier and into the bottom corner.

It was brutal and brilliant in equal measures. 

Leeds were not finished and Raphinha met a superb cross from Junior Firpo but his header flew over and, at the other end, Liam Cooper made a brilliant tackle to deny Lukaku. And the Belgian hit man had another shot deflected wide as Chelsea turned the screw.

Finally Lukaku’s goal came when he shook off the attention of four Leeds defenders and smashed the third high into the net.

Leeds’ best chance of the night came on 85 minutes but Robin Koch headed over when he should have hit the target.

And that just about summed up Leeds’ night.

Key statistics

Premier League: Chelsea's Mateo Kovacic suffered an injury in their 3-0 win against Leeds United
Mateo Kovacic walks off the pitch during Chelsea’s match against Leeds United

In the end, the pre-match Leeds United vs Chelsea betting odds had it right, though the Blues were helped mightily by the ref’s first half intervention. But with 68 per cent possession, 17 shots to five and four to none on target Chelsea deserved the victory.

James’ red card was the first in his career; he’s by no means a dirty player but will have no complaints when he watches the video back.

What’s next?

With the Leeds United vs Chelsea updates followed throughout the land, in North London there will be some excited fans as Arsenal have the chance to confirm their Champions League qualification when they face Spurs on Thursday night. Provided the Gunners don’t lose Chelsea’s top four place is guaranteed.

Their next assignment is the FA Cup final against Liverpool on Saturday afternoon in a repeat of the 2022 Carabao Cup final, which the Reds won in a dramatic penalty shootout. 

It’s the Blues’ third FA Cup final in a row and they are looking for payback. 

Meanwhile Leeds must now prepare for the two huge games. On Sunday they entertain Graham Potter’s Brighton. The Seagulls are happily in mid table but are a dangerous side away from home. And then, on the final day of the campaign the Whites head to Brentford where they will hope to beat the Bees to spoil the party at the end of a fabulous season for Thomas Frank’s team.

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12-May 2022 Thursday 7:54 PM (52 days ago)            #37
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Premier League: Spurs Host Burnley in High-Stakes Showdown

Tottenham Hotspur vs Burnley

Both Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley still have so much to play for as the Premier League season winds down.

Spurs, at the time of this writing, are still chasing the fourth and final Champions League spot. Although, things could very well change when they face fierce rivals Arsenal.

Meanwhile, Burnley are busy fighting for their Premier League lives as they sit just one spot above the relegation zone.

The Premier League 2022 betting odds have Spurs as overwhelming favourites to come out of this high-stakes showdown on top. But can the battling Clarets pull off a massive shock in the capital?

Premier League
NEWCASTLE UNITED
ARSENAL
TO SEE UPDATED ODDS

Talking Points

Tottenham’s top-four hopes still alive… for now

Tottenham’s hopes of claiming the fourth and final Champions League spot are largely dependent on the result of their North London Derby against Arsenal in midweek. Spurs will come into that match four points behind the Gunners.

Should Spurs lose, they would be officially eliminated as they would be seven points adrift with just two games left in the season. And with essentially nothing left to play for, Antonio Conte could very well field a much-weakened side in the last two games, beginning at Burnley.

But if Spurs win or draw, then Conte will surely play his mostly settled starting XI led by the fantastic front three of Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and Dejan Kulusevski as they continue their chase for Champions League football.

Son is having a fantastic end to the season and has scored nine goals in his last seven games. He is now up to 20 goals on the season, just two behind Mohamed Salah in the race for the Golden Boot.

Conte has hardly made any changes to his first-choice team, with only the wing-backs occasionally getting rotated. But with Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon both out injured, Emerson Royal and Ryan Sessegnon look set to finish the season on the wings.

Burnley suffer first setback under caretaker boss

Burnley co-caretaker manager Mike Jackson hopes for a Premier League win against Tottenham Hotspur
Burnley co-caretaker manager Mike Jackson reacts during the match with Wolverhampton Wanderers

Burnley’s remarkable run of Premier League 2022 results under caretaker boss Mike Jackson finally came to an end as they lost 3-1 at home against Aston Villa. It was the Clarets’ first defeat in five games under Jackson and snapped their run of three wins on the bounce.

It was also a disappointing showing at home by Burnley, who had been in fine form at Turf Moor and had kept back-to-back clean sheets.

Luckily for them, Leeds continue to lose and remain in the third and final relegation spot, with Burnley ahead only by goal difference.

Star centre-back James Tarkowski was forced off early in the second half against Villa due to a hamstring injury, and his status for the Spurs match remains unclear.

Should Tarkowski fail to get fit in time, 31-year-old Kevin Long looks set to make only his second start of the season.

Meanwhile, Maxwel Cornet, who scored a late consolation goal against Villa, could get the start over Ashley Barnes alongside Wout Weghorst.

Burnley have been brutal away from home this season, with just two wins and 13 points in 17 games. However, they did pick up a 2-1 win over Watford in their most recent away match thanks to two late goals from Jack Cork and Josh Brownhill.

History

Tottenham have a 9-3 edge in wins over Burnley in the Premier League era, with three draws.

Although, Burnley did beat Spurs 1-0 at Turf Moor in their first meeting this season. Clarets captain Ben Mee got the decisive goal which snapped Spurs’ three-game win streak against Burnley in all competitions.

Although, Burnley have an awful record away at Tottenham. They have not beaten Spurs at North London since a 4-1 League Cup victory in 1983. And you’d have to go back to 1974 for Burnley’s last league win away to Spurs.

Betting Tip

SBOTOP odds have Spurs as massive 1.33 favourites to beat Burnley at home. The Clarets are priced at an astronomical 10.00, by far the biggest underdogs of the round, while a draw is 4.50.

Things could very well change depending on what happens in the North London derby, but I still expect Spurs to be in the top-four race when they face Burnley.

With both teams still having all to play for, this has the makings of a competitive battle. Despite the quick turnaround from the North London Derby, Spurs should still have the weapons to get the win at home, but Burnley will battle and make it a low-scoring match.

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13-May 2022 Friday 12:28 PM (51 days ago)            #38
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Premier League: City’s Title Charge Heads to London

West Ham United vs Manchester City

The 2022 Premier League title race is entering its final run-in, which is turning in to a sprint for the line between holders Manchester City and 2020 champions Liverpool.

With two games to go, Pep Guardiola’s Sky Blues have a three-point lead over the Reds, and so four points from their remaining two fixtures will bring the title back to the Etihad Stadium for a fourth season in five.

And now they are destined for the London Stadium where they will meet David Moyes’ West Ham who were recently dumped out of the Europa League by Eintracht Frankfurt, but still in with a chance of European Football in the 2022/23 campaign.

Both teams come into the game on the back of thumping four-goal wins – West Ham away to Norwich City and Manchester City away to Wolves – and I would say we can pretty much rule out a goalless draw in this one.

Talking Points

How can the Hammers stop De Bruyne?

At a SBOTOP price of 7.96 to win and 4.55 to draw, the market doesn’t have much faith in West Ham for this game, and anyone who watched Manchester City’s visit to Wolves on Wednesday will know why.

Pep Guardiola’s team were at their scintillating best and, as is so often the case, Kevin De Bruyne pulled the strings while he also scored the goals. De Bruyne bagged four in a league game for the first time in his career in the 5-1 destruction of Wolves.

With no Champions League or FA Cup distractions for City, there will be no squad rotation when it comes to the Belgian genius and so the coaches at West Ham have their work cut out to work out how stop him on Sunday.

His four goals made it 15 for the season, and alongside his seven assists he is the most dangerous player in City’s team.

Jarrod Bowen has become the first player to notch 10+ goals and 10+ assists in a single Premier League season for West Ham
West Ham United’s Manuel Lanzini celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Jarrod Bowen

You can’t cut out the supply of ball to De Bruyne because the Sky Blues rarely lose control of possession, so the Hammers’ defencive midfielders Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice will need to dominate the space just in front of their own penalty area.

Top scorer Jarrod Bowen is a key man if the Hammers are to break down City’s defence. He made three assists in West Ham’s win over Norwich, but he too has a responsibility alongside Pablo Fornals to press City’s defenders and hopefully rush them into mistakes.

The Hammer’s Premier League 2022 resultshave taken a downturn in recent weeks, with a run of three defeats and a draw in the four games before they headed to Carrow Road. But they can still win Europa League football again next season, and that’s a big enough incentive with sixth place in reach.

Champions League heartbreak has focused the Sky Blues

But the hosts have a mountainous task on their hands when they host Guardiola’s side.

Even as Liverpool whittled the gap at the top down to one point, the Premier League 2022 betting odds have been steadfastly behind Manchester City.

And their recent form has been outstanding. Take away the incredible two-leg Champions League loss to Real Madrid and City’s last four games have yielded 12 league points with a goal difference of 19 to two. 

West Ham have more to worry about than De Bruyne. Joao Cancelo with nine assists and Raheem Sterling with 13 goals are both match winners, while Gabriel Jesus continues to perform well as the Sky Blues’ lone striker.

The recent announcement of Erling Haaland’s impending arrival at the Etihad has sent a shiver down the spine of fans in Liverpool and London as the big Norwegian goal machine could make Manchester City unbeatable. 

History

Even though their dominance of the English league is relatively recent, City have consistently had the better of their exchanges with West Ham in the Premier League era, winning 31, drawing eight, and losing 11. 

Back in November, goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Fernandinho gave the Sky Blues a 2-1 win at the Etihad while Manuel Lanzini scored a late consolation for the Hammers. 

Recent form is in City’s favour with five wins from six in all competitions, while West Ham have won just one in six. 

Betting Tip

Manchester City are at 1.35 to win this game and I can’t see any other result.

With an away record of 14 wins, three draws, and one defeat and fantastic recent form, they should have far too much for a stuttering West Ham.

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13-May 2022 Friday 4:51 PM (51 days ago)            #39
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Premier League: Leeds Must Ground the Seagulls to Stay Alive

Leeds United vs Brighton & Hove Albion

Leeds United’s bid for another year in the Premier League became even more complicated with just a few games remaining. Now on a four-game winless run including a three-game losing streak, the Whites have fallen back into the drop zone, placing 18th with 34 points, although they’re still level with Burnley.

However, the Clarets have three more games to play while the Whites only have two, so Jesse Marsch’s men must buckle up and try to get as much points as they can – starting this Saturday when they’ll host Brighton at Elland Road.

The Seagulls have been flying high as of late with two consecutive wins and they’re in great shape for a Top 10 finish.

However, the pre-match SBOTOP betting odds for Leeds United and Brighton are not far off from each other despite their recent forms, suggesting that this match might be closer than most would expect.

Talking Points

Now or never for Leeds United

The odds are clearly stacked against the Whites and Jesse Marsch’s men must get positive Premier League 2022 results with two more games to play. They will also hope that the teams right above them in the standings will lose their respective matches too.

However, they’ll have to get the job done without a complete squad as they’ve been dogged once again by injuries and suspensions.

Red cards for winger Daniel James and full-back Luke Ayling in recent weeks mean that both are unable to play for the remainder of the season.

On the other hand, Adam Forshaw, Tyler Roberts, Stuart Dallas, Crysencio Summerville, and Jack Harrison remain in the recovery room for this weekend, while Patrick Bamford is doubtful to play as he’s struggling with his foot injury.

So Kalvin Phillips is going to be the key for Leeds’ chances of winning against Brighton. His defencive contributions along with his versatility up front should somehow provide aid for the likes of top scorers Rodrigo Moreno and Raphinha.

Liam Cooper recently returned against Chelsea, which is great news following his recurring knee problem, and he’ll be another key cog at the back alongside Diego Llorente, Robin Koch, and Pascal Struijk.

Brighton’s confidence is at a high

Following their impressive 4-0 victory against Manchester United, Brighton are keen on maintaining their fine form in order to carry some momentum ahead of next season.

Graham Potter eyes for another victory when Brighton face the struggling Leeds United in Premier League
Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter celebrates after winning 4-0 in recent Premier League match against Manchester United

In the said game, the Seagulls were aggressive against the listless Red Devils as Moises Caicedo scored within 15 minutes. And then the floodgates were opened by goals from Marc Cucurella, Pascal Groß, and Leandro Trossard.

Marc Cucurella has been a revelation for the Seagulls since his arrival from Getafe last summer and he’ll be the man to look out for if you’re Leeds United with his searing pace and high work rate. 

Compared to Leeds United, Brighton don’t have much injuries to deal with as only Enock Mwepu and Jakub Moder are the only ones on the sidelines.

History

The Seagulls have had the Whites’ number here in the Premier League as they’ve won eight of their last 10 meetings against them (L1, D1). Brighton also held Leeds United scoreless on eight separate occasions in that run.

Brighton have also won five of their last seven away matches against Leeds United (L2) after winning just one of their first 16 visits to Elland Road before (D6, L9).

Premier League
WEST HAM UNITED
MANCHESTER CITY
TO SEE UPDATED ODDS

Leeds United have lost nine English top-flight home games so far this season while conceding 37 goals at Elland Road – which is their second-highest in both categories after losing more in 1946/47 (10) and conceding more in 1959/60 (46).

The Whites, though, did a superb job of keeping the Seagulls in check during their reverse fixture last November as the game ended with a score of 0-0 despite the latter having more total shots and possession.

Betting Tip

Surprisingly, Leeds United are the ones slightly favoured by the Premier League 2022 odds to win. The Whites are installed at 2.60, while Brighton are pegged at 2.61 and a draw is at 3.30 in the 1×2 market.

With both sides settling for a goalless draw in their last meeting, we feel that it won’t happen again this time, although we don’t expect much goals in this game – making Under 2.75 @ 1.75 our best bet.

Brighton are poised to take the victory for this one. However, at this point, Leeds United are not to be taken for granted since they will come out at Elland Road and play like they’ve got nothing to lose.

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17-May 2022 Tuesday 1:58 PM (47 days ago)            #40
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Premier League: City Held by Hammers But are Still in Charge

West Ham United 2-2 Manchester City

Manchester City had to settle for a point away to West Ham United on Sunday, though it could have been worse…or better.

The Premier League table has a tight look about it now as the gap between Manchester City and Liverpool has increased to four points, but the Reds have a game in hand. It is still in the Sky Blues’ hands and a win next week will see Pep Guardiola lead them to a fourth title in five seasons.

In a pulsating game Jarred Bowen scored an excellent double in the first half and Jack Grealish pulled one back early in the second, before a Vladimir Coufal own goals levelled matters. And City could have taken all three points but Hammers keeper Lukasz Fabianski saved a penalty from Riyad Mahrez.

Highlights of the game

On 16 minutes the London Stadium stood as one and applauded their skipper and club legend Mark Noble; it was a great moment. The midfield general has been with West Ham since 2003 and is a Hammer through and through. He’s seen some good times and some bad times, and this was to be his final home appearance in the league.

UEFA – Champions League
LIVERPOOL
REAL MADRID
1X2 Real Madrid @ 3.15
Liverpool Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 2.19
Under 2.50 @ 2.17
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

And Noble celebrated with the home fans as the hosts moved into a surprise two goal lead.

But they could have been behind even before Bowen struck the first blow. Kurt Zouma got away with a crude challenge on Gabriel Jesus in the penalty area and VAR, for reasons known only to the chaps down at Stockley Park, declined to put the referee right. 

That was on 15 minutes and City’s fury was doubled ten minutes later when Bowen latched on to a ball over the top from Pablo Fornals, and rounded Ederson on the left side of the penalty area before finishing brilliantly in the opposite corner.

And the shot stats were at 12 to one in favour of the Sky Blues, though one to one on target, when Bowen sprung the offside trap again. This time Michail Antonio lifted the ball over the City back line and Bowen hit his shot earlier, firing low into the bottom right corner and giving Ederson no chance.

At half time Liverpool fans would have been loving the Premier League 2022 updates

from the London Stadium as it seemed the Hammers were dragging the Reds back into the title race. 

It only took the Sky Blues three minutes of the second half to halve the deficit and it was Grealish who made his mark, picking up a nod back from Rodri and driving the ball past Fabianski and into the net.

And then, with 20 minutes remaining, City were level. Antonio fouled Aymeric Laporte on the left flank and Riyad Mahrez fired in a brilliant cross which Vladimir Coufal could only glance into his own net.

The Hammers were on the rack and the crowd stood to their feet again, as David Moyes brought on Noble to do another big job for the club he loves and loves him.

But in a huge moment City had a fantastic chance to win the game when Craig Dawson tripped Jesus and this time VAR did intervene. But in yet another twist in an amazing title race Fabianski brilliantly saved Mahrez’ spot kick. 

Erling Braut Haaland is on his way to the Etihad and that will make Manchester City an even better side, but they probably did enough in this second half to finish top of the pile in the 2021/22 campaign.

Key statistics

A Jarrod Bowen brace has blown the Premier League title race wide open yet again
West Ham United’s Jarrod Bowen celebrates scoring their first goal Manchester City

The Premier League 2022 betting odds have never doubted the Sky Blues and they are still in charge, but the game stats show this was a chance missed. 

With 78 per cent possession, 31 shots to six and eight to two on target City were dominant; but the brilliant Bowen made his chances count. 

What’s next?

Crashing out of the Champions League was a bitter blow for Manchester City to take and they will have to watch Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the showcase final in two weeks time.

But in the Premier League there is still plenty of drama and action to come.

Liverpool visit Southampton on Tuesday and then have a home match against Wolves and you’d expect them to win both of those. So City need to win their last game. And when the Sky Blues finish their campaign at home to Aston Villa that throws up a fascinating sub plot.

Villa are managed by Liverpool playing legend and fan Steven Gerrard.

Might Stevie G do his old mates a huge favour and keep the Reds’ quadruple hopes alive?

Now that would be a story.

So keep it here at SBOTOP as we enter a thrilling last week of yet another great Premier League campaign.

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18-May 2022 Wednesday 12:12 PM (46 days ago)            #41
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Premier League: Three Epic Midweek Battles

The 2021/22 Premier League is into its last seven days and nothing has been settled.

Absolutely nothing!

Take a look at the league table as we clean up the 37th round of the campaign and you can see that the title, the top four places, the Europa League race and the relegation scrap can all still take another twist. 

Despite drawing away to West Ham, Manchester City are still in the box seat and the Premier League 2022 betting odds reckon the title is on the way to the Etihad, but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, four points behind, have a game in hand and refuse to be shaken off. 

On Monday night Newcastle United gave their home fans a brilliant send-off while putting a huge dent in Arsenal’s Champions League hopes with a well-earned 2-0 win. Mikel Arteta’s side have been in the box seat to take that coveted fourth place, but it seems they may have choked in the home straight as a Ben White own goal and a late second from Bruno Guimaraes left their European dreams in tatters.

Arsenal now trail Antonio Conte’s Spurs by two points and with a much worse goal difference, so while they have a very winnable last game at home to Everton on Sunday, they must hope that somehow relegated Norwich City can beat Tottenham!

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Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka said that the Gunners did not deserve a Champions League spot after their limp display at St James’ Park and the club’s distraught fans might well believe him. but to lose the place to Spurs will be a bitter pill to swallow.

The Europa League places aren’t entirely settled. Seventh-placed West Ham cannot be caught, but the Hammers could sneak past Manchester United into sixth and that is likely to determine which side is in the 2022/23 Europa League and which is in the Conference League. 

This week’s big games

While nothing will be settled, in terms of all the European places, before the final round on Sunday, Chelsea can confirm third place with a win at home to Leicester City on Thursday.

And there are three huge clashes which could determine the outcomes at the top and the very bottom of the leagues.

On Tuesday night Liverpool visit Southampton, needing a win to keep alive their hopes of ambushing Manchester City’s title charge and the Reds are at SBOTOP odds of 1.36 to keep their challenge going.

Klopp’s men have a seven-goal disadvantage on goal difference, and a draw would almost certainly mean the title will be the Sky Blues’, and Pep Guardiola has joked he is hoping for a 4-0 Southampton win. Liverpool fans will hope that key men Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah will be fit to play after they were substituted in the FA Cup final victory over Chelsea on Saturday. 

Southampton’s biggest threat comes from the world-class dead-ball delivery of James Ward-Prowse, so the Reds will be careful not to give away unnecessary free-kicks in around the penalty area.

Salomon Rondon was sent off in Everton’s 3-2 defeat to Brentford in the Premier League
Everton’s Salomon Rondon is shown a red card by referee Michael Oliver after fouling Brentford’s Rico Henry

Alongside Chelsea’s clash with Leicester City there are two colossal games on Thursday night which might go a long way towards settling the relegation battle. There could easily be another huge twist and Leeds United fans will be watching the Premier League 2022 updates nervously as Everton host Crystal Palace and Burnley visit Aston Villa.

The Toffees are priced at 1.99 to get the win they desperately need to guarantee their top flight survival, while the Clarets are priced at 1.64 to avoid defeat against Steven Gerrard’s side.

It really is a case of one from three to join Watford and Norwich City in the Championship, and who will drop is anybody’s guess.

Frank Lampard’s Everton probably have the best chance of survival as they sit one point ahead of Leeds and two points ahead of 18th placed Burnley. Should the Toffees beat Crystal Palace then they are safe. But the way they failed to beat doomed Watford last week, and then imploded to lose at home to Brentford on Sunday their fans are understandably nervous, particularly as they play away to Arsenal on the last day.

Should the Toffees win one point or less, then Leeds can overtake them by beating Brentford on the final day.

Burnley also have two bites of the cherry and the best goal difference. The Clarets were unlucky to lose away to Spurs on Sunday and have won three of the last five. Their two final opponents, Aston Villa and Newcastle, have little to play for, but that does not mean that Mike Jackson’s team will get the point, or points, they need easily.

It’s going to be a nail-biting few days…but we love it!

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18-May 2022 Wednesday 12:14 PM (46 days ago)            #42
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Premier League: Tuchel and Chelsea Look for Pick-Me-Up

Chelsea vs Leicester City

As pick-me-ups go, the task facing Thomas Tuchel this week must be one of the hardest he has ever faced.

To lose one cup final on penalties is hard enough, to lose two in the same season via the same route to the same opponents must be devastating.

Yet that is the task facing the German as Chelsea return to Premier League action with Tuchel’s men needing to seal a top three finish to make sure they are competing in the Champions League next term.

The incentive is victory against Leicester City on Thursday night will achieve just that.

Talking Points

It would be wrong and unfair to say this has been an unsuccessful season for the West Londoners.

After all, they have lifted silverware in the shape of the European Super Cup and also been crowned world champions for the first time in their history.

They have also created plenty of Premier League highlights and, until Christmas, looked like they were set to mount a title charge.

Since mid-February, however, inconsistency has been their downfall as, eventually, uncertainty over the future of the club took its toll on the field.

Ironically, this game comes virtually a year to the day since last year’s corresponding fixture which proved crucial in the race for Champions League qualification. – just three days after the Fantastic Foxes lifted the FA Cup.

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That was also at Chelsea’s expense.

Indeed, the West Londoners have now lost three successive finals.

The mood in the camp won’t have been helped by the emergence that centre back Andreas Christensen limited their defensive options in Saturday’s FA Cup Final by making himself unavailable for selection on the day of the game.

Christensen, who is poised to join Barcelona on a free transfer at the end of the season, was a surprise absentee from the squad that lost on penalties against Liverpool at Wembley on Saturday. He was not carrying an injury and reportedly told Tuchel of his decision on Saturday morning.

One suspects that will have angered team-mates, let alone fans, who will fear his decision robbed the manager of playing the strongest available XI in the showpiece.

With that in mind, I would be surprised if the Dane gets a chance to say farewell on Thursday night or in the final contest of the season at home to West Ham.

Leicester, meanwhile, have endured something of a strange season – certainly by their recent standards.

Last year’s FA Cup success came off the back of two strong league campaigns and it looked like a young, talented, improving squad may push on again but things haven’t quite worked out like that.

They have, of course, continued to defy the odds against much bigger clubs at times and there has been progress in some areas.

For example, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall has established himself, James Maddison has found form in recent weeks and Harvey Barnes is improving.

Jamie Vardy prepares as Leicester City take on Chelsea in the Premier League
Jamie Vardy in action during Leicester City’s match against Watford at Vicarage Road

Arguably the most pressing issue for the club is replacing Jamie Vardy. In an ideal world, his role from now on would be as rotation player and impact sub. The question is whether Patson Daka is ready to step up. Though he has shown flashes of immense ability – at both Leicester and RB Salzburg – he has struggled in recent months. The onus is now on the frontman to find the consistency it’ll take to displace a club legend, who was again on target with a double in Leicester’s 5-1 win at relegated Watford last time out.

Leicester will travel to Stamford Bridge with nothing to lose and, should things not go to plan, the atmosphere amongst the home fans could be akin to a wake.

The onus is all on Chelsea.

History

Earlier in the season, Chelsea turned on the style at Leicester, recording a comprehensive 3-0 win, courtesy of goals from Antonio Rudiger, N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic.

Overall, Chelsea have a clear edge. They have won 59 of their clashes with 27 Leicester victories and 35 draws.

Betting Tip

Chelsea are big favourites, as you’d expect, with the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds.

1X2 @ 1.38 and Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.13 are among the odds with Leicester out as far as 1X2 @ 8.50 and Asian Handicap +1.00 @ 2.40.

The Draw @ 4.40 will certainly be considered an attractive option to many, as will another 2-1 Chelsea success which is available @ 7.20 with Correct Score.

The hosts have to lift themselves for this encounter, something which will be a struggle.

They do have the edge though and I expect a few goals.

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19-May 2022 Thursday 2:36 PM (45 days ago)            #43
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Premier League: Leeds United’s One Last Stand

Brentford vs Leeds United

It all boils down to one match for Leeds United if they are to secure their Premier League status for another season as they’ll visit Brentford in the penultimate matchday of 2021/22.

The Whites barely have one foot outside of the relegation scrap as they’re sitting at 17th with 35 points – which is only one point over Burnley who have a game in hand.

Jesse Marsch’s men are in for a tough challenge as they’ll take on Brentford, who are in fine form lately, and the Bees overall have had a great campaign in their first year back at the English top-flight.

Here at SBOTOP, we are expecting another highly-competitive affair between these two sides since there’s so much on the line particularly for the visitors.

Talking Points

Brentford gunning for a Top 10 finish

The Bees’ first season back in the Premier League has been impressive since they’re about to achieve something similar to what their visitors have done last term.

A victory against Leeds United can put them to as high as ninth place. And whether they’ll be in the Top 10 or not, Brentford can give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done.

Brentford will give Leeds United a tough challenge as they clash in the last matchweek of the Premier League
Brentford manager Thomas Frank reacts during their Premier League match against Everton

Thomas Frank’s cool and steely demeanor has been the key to their success, while the Premier League return of Christian Eriksen has been crucial too since he gives them another playmaker and a veteran leader.

The Dane has tallied one assist and four goals so far. And while those numbers are modest, Leeds United would be wise to try and take him out of his rhythm for this fixture.

There’s not much to complain here if you’re a Brentford fan. However, the only thing I’d have to nitpick is the inconsistency of Ivan Toney lately.

Toney is their leading scorer with 14 goals and six assists this term, but he has been scoreless since early April and he’ll be keen to get back on track to finish this season strong.

Can Leeds United overcome the odds?

Leeds United looked like they were edging nearer to relegation after Danny Welbeck’s first half goal to give Brighton the lead, but Pascal Struijk’s late header gave the Whites a sliver of hope.

Despite being winless since April 9, the Whites have built some semblance of momentum following the draw against the Seagulls, so they’re hopeful that Struijk’s leveller will indeed prove significant given the fine margins.

Unlike fellow relegation battlers Burnley and Everton, Leeds United have a week to prepare for the final matchday which should help in boosting their energy levels and calm their nerves.

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Jesse Marsch is probably fielding in the same starting lineup vs. Brighton, with Raphinha, Rodrigo Moreno, Jack Harrison, and Joe Gelhardt leading their frontline, especially with Patrick Bamford likely out for the season.

It’s now or never for Leeds United, plain and simple. And they must do everything they can in order to avoid returning to the Championship come August.

History

Sunday marks the second English top-flight meeting between Brentford and Leeds United since 1947, where the Bees won 2-1 at Elland Road. Both clubs were relegated at the end of that campaign.

Their reverse fixture last December ended in a 2-2 draw as Patrick Bamford scored the late equaliser to save a point for the Whites. Tyler Roberts drew first blood, but Shandon Baptiste and Sergi Canos’ goals in the second half have given the Bees the lead up until Bamford’s goal happened.

The said match also was the first time that Brentford have conceded more than once in any of their last 15 league encounters with Leeds United during the 21st century.

Brentford have had better Premier League 2022 results heading into this contest with three wins, one loss, and one draw in their last five, whereas Leeds United have three losses and two draws in the same stretch.

Betting Tip 

The Premier League 2022 odds have Brentford winning this game, but their margin of error is small. The Bees are priced at2.31, while Leeds United are right behind them at 2.76 and a draw is installed at 3.30 in the 1X2 market.

With both sides capable of scoring in bunches, we expect more of the same as in their reverse fixture – making Over 2.75 @ 1.87 the likeliest outcome to bet on.

Leeds United are in a must-win situation since getting all three points here would boost their chances to extend their stay in the Premier League for one more season.

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20-May 2022 Friday 2:41 PM (44 days ago)            #44
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Premier League: Not Much Fun For Arsenal and Everton

Arsenal vs Everton

There may not be many smiles among the fans on their way to Emirates for the Premier League fixture between Arsenal and Everton, but there’s no reason why the rest of us can’t enjoy the game.

Dependent on results on Thursday night, the Toffees may need a point or more to guarantee survival – a situation no one at Goodison Park thought they would be in. They face an Arsenal team whose season has taken a sudden turn for the worse.

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for Mikel Arteta’s Gunners. They were in a great position to claim the coveted fourth place, but catastrophic back-to-back defeats have now made things very difficult.

Following a nervous few weeks, Frank Lampard’s Everton may be safe if they beat Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Thursday night. But at the time of writing, they are still in danger after losing 3-2 at home to Brentford on Sunday.

The Gunners are at 1.51 to win the game with Everton at 5.03 and the draw at 3.78 and, if a home win is the outcome, it might well be no use for either team.

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Talking Points

Can Arsenal pick themselves up?

The Gunners had a great chance to nail down a Champions League place when they faced Tottenham last week but they choked horribly.

Arteta will, with some justification, point to the officials who he blames for ending the Gunners’ four-match winning run which included victories over Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham.

Even before centre-back Rob Holding was harshly sent off on 33 minutes, Spurs’ Harry Kane had converted a contested penalty after Cedric Soares was judged to have pushed Heung-Min Son.

Arteta was furious but his side wilted as Kane and Son piled on the misery.

And then a 2-0 loss to Newcastle United on Monday night left Arsenal trailing their North London rivals Spurs by two points moving into the final weekend. 

This is a young side with plenty of attacking flair. 20-year-old Bukayo Saka is top scoring with 11 goals, while 21-year-old Emile Smith Rowe has 10 and Brazil striker Gabriel Martinelli, still only 20, has weighed in with five goals and five assists.

The future looks bright at Arsenal but right now they need a result against Everton and some help from relegated Norwich City, who face Spurs on Sunday.

Long-term injuries Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey have been badly missed over the past couple of weeks and they will sit this one out too.

Everton need a cure for their travel sickness

Richarlison and Demarai Gray gave Everton a 2-1 Premier League victory against Arsenal in December
Everton’s Demarai Gray celebrates scoring their second goal against Arsenal during a Premier League match in December 2021

The Toffees have been woeful on the road this season with a record of two wins, four draws, and 12 defeats away from Goodson Park and the pre-match Premier League 2022 betting odds don’t give them much chance at the Emirates. 

A 0-0 draw away to Watford was put into context by the fact it was the first game in 12 that the Hornets had avoided defeat at Vicarage Road, and it dragged Everton back into the relegation mire.

And Lampard is a little short at the back, which is not good news against such a vibrant Arsenal attack. With Ben Godfrey, Yerry Mina injured, and rookie defender Jarrad Branthwaite sent off in the defeat to Brentford, the Toffees are stretched but they have the experienced Michael Keane to guide Mason Holgate on Sunday.

There will be plenty of other teams looking out for the Premier League 2022 updates for Tottenham, Burnley, and Leeds. The Toffees know that two points from their final two games will almost certainly see them safe, but if they draw or lose to Palace on Thursday, it will be squeaky bum time.

Leeds United are the current favourites for the drop but the Whites last home game against Brighton yielded a point when Pascal Sruijk headed home a 92nd-minute equaliser.

Everton will only have themselves to blame if they do drop through the trapdoor.

History

Both Arsenal and Everton have been ever presents in the Premier League but the head-to-heads have been pretty one-sided, with the Gunners winning 37, drawing 13, and losing 11 over the past 30 years.

But Everton are unbeaten in the last three encounters as late goals from Richarlison and Demarai Gray gave them a 2-1 victory in December. And last season, the Toffees ran out with a 1-0 win at the Emirates.

Betting Tip

Whether or not Everton have secured their Premier League status before this game, I just can’t see their depleted defence holding out against a hungry young Arsenal attack. 

It has been a disappointing week for Arsenal, and they owe it to their fans to finish on a high and give themselves a slim chance of grabbing that fourth place.

I also wouldn’t rule out Everton top scorer Richarlison continuing his good run of form and for an alternative bet, Over 2.75 goals is at SBOTOP odds of 1.81.

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20-May 2022 Friday 2:49 PM (44 days ago)            #45
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Premier League: Liverpool Ready to Fight to the Finish

Liverpool vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes have come down to the last day of the season. The Reds host Wolves at Anfield in a match they simply must win. At the same time, they need Aston Villa to do them a massive favour and keep Manchester City from winning in order to claim the title.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have needed to come from behind in each of their last three Premier League matches as their gruelling quadruple quest has taken its toll on the squad.

Can struggling Wolves somehow play spoiler at Anfield and ruin the Reds’ already slim chance of reclaiming the Premier League crown?

Talking Points

Liverpool fighting to the finish

For the second straight game, Liverpool rallied from an early deficit to grab a crucial 2-1 win to keep their faint Premier League 2022 odds of winning the title alive.

Both Salah and Van Dijk will return for Sunday's Premier League season finale against Wolves
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah with manager Jurgen Klopp after being substituted during the game with Chelsea

Liverpool went down after just 13 minutes away to Southampton in midweek. But Takumi Minamino, who was handed a surprise start with Mohamed Salah out, equalised on 27 minutes. And for the second game in a row, centre-back Joel Matip scored a crucial goal to give the Reds all three points.

As expected, Jurgen Klopp made a host of changes to the side that played in the FA Cup final win over Chelsea. Salah, Fabinho, and Virgil van Dijk all missed out due to injury, while Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Thiago, and Sadio Mane were all rested. But once again, Liverpool’s impressive squad depth came to the rescue.

Both Salah and van Dijk are certain to play in Liverpool’s Champions League final against Real Madrid at the end of May according to Klopp, but they could return to the side as soon as this weekend against Wolves.

But as the Southampton match showed, neither is necessarily required to get the win Liverpool need to stand any chance of reclaiming the title. As Klopp put it, the Reds have the ‘Ferraris’ on the bench with the likes of Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Minamino, and Divock Origi, so they should have more than enough attacking firepower to throw at Wolves.

Moreover, they have the massive Anfield home advantage. Liverpool have the best home record in the Premier League this season. They are unbeaten in 18 games (14 wins, 4 draws) with 46 goals scored and just eight goals conceded.

Wolves on a woeful end-of-season slump

Outside of the bottom two, Liverpool could not have asked for a better opponent in their must-win last game than Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves’ recent Premier League 2022 results have been simply atrocious; they’ve picked up just two points over the last six games – only relegated sides Norwich and Watford have gotten fewer points – while scoring just four goals and conceding 13.

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Bruno Lage was lauded for the job he did early in the season, but whether it’s been regression to the mean or a simple lack of motivation toward the tail-end of the year, his Wolves side has fallen off a cliff in the last few weeks.

The sheer lack of consistent goals from their strikers has also been a major issue. Raul Jimenez – the club’s top scorer with six goals – has found the net just once in his last 12 league outings, while Hwang Hee-Chan hasn’t scored since late February.

Wolves’ away form, which was a major part of their early success, has since soured. They have won just one of their last six away games, with four defeats. Although, they did come from two goals down with 11 minutes to go to hold Chelsea to a 2-2 draw in their most recent away match.

History

Liverpool have simply dominated Wolves in the Premier League. The Reds hold a massive 12-1 advantage in terms of wins and are on a run of five straight wins against Wolves.

Although, Wolves have kept things relatively competitive in their last two meetings, losing only 1-0 on both occasions. Liverpool needed a 90th-minute winner from Divock Origi to win their first meeting of the season at Molineux.

Betting Tip

SBOTOP odds have Liverpool priced as massive 1.18 favourites to win at Anfield, while Wolves are astronomical 17.00 underdogs to pull off an upset. A draw is 6.40.

While Liverpool have looked quite leggy in recent games, the Anfield crowd should give them the energy they need to overcome a Wolves side that has been ready for summer vacation for several weeks now.

Look for Liverpool to get the early jump on Wolves en route to a quite comfortable win in their home and season finale.

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20-May 2022 Friday 2:51 PM (44 days ago)            #46
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Premier League: Out with the Old and In with the New?

Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

As the 2021/22 Premier League campaign draws to a close, here are two clubs who will look back on the season with very different feelings.

For Crystal Palace, the campaign has undoubtedly been one of progress under a new manager with the potential of more strides to come.

For Manchester United, I think even the most polite observer or ardent Red Devils would admit it has been little short of a disaster.

At times, a sheer embarrassment in which Premier League highlights have been few and joyous occasions even fewer.

In the words of a letter I read in the ‘Red News’ fanzine this week, and I summarise: ‘the fact is United is now no longer a football club but a mega-business run by owners we despise to the extent we now feel no connection, no honour and no pride’.

Can there be much more of a damning indictment than that?

Anyway, back to the football.

Talking Points

The final spot in next season’s Europa League is up for grabs and two teams are vying for it.

Tournament winners in 2017 Manchester United and this year’s semi-finalists West Ham.

Of course, only one can secure sixth place and while United know it will be theirs if they win at Selhurst Park, they will also be aware that should they miss out, it would be the final ignominy in what has been a bitterly disappointing campaign.

While the Hammers are determined to get back into a tournament they lit up this season, United can consign them to the Europa Conference.

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Seeing off Palace on their home turf has been no mean feat this season, however, as reigning champions Manchester City and Champions League-chasing Spurs and Arsenal can attest.

Even on Thursday night, Palace rested some men I consider regulars against Everton, which suggests Eagles’ boss Patrick Vieira had one eye on this encounter.

One of those players was Conor Gallagher who has played 36 times in all competitions so far this campaign and netted eight times from open play, while catching the eye with his energetic displays in the centre of the pitch.

His early season form was rewarded with his first senior call-up to the England national team in November before being voted Palace’s player of the season at their end-of-season awards night.

He will almost certainly return to the starting XI on Sunday for a Palace team which has impressed me enormously under Vieira, the Frenchman surpassing my, admittedly low, expectations and shaping a side which has made me sit up and take notice ever since an early season win over Spurs at Selhurst Park.

By contrast, United hit a new low last time out on the south coast against Brighton, a performance I described as unacceptable.

In fact, it speaks volumes for the quality of the league (outside the top three) that the team has claimed a European berth next term, despite turning in consistently below average performances, often with little endeavour.

A victory for Manchester United will secure a sixth-place finish in Premier League and qualification for Europa League
Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their second goal against Brentford

Certainly, United are guaranteed to finish with their lowest ever points tally and most goals conceded in the Premier League era.

In front of the soon to take over boss, Dutchman Erik Ten Hag, and in interim manager Ralf Rangnick’s final game in charge (they were also his first opponents), can United show an element of pride or will Palace pile on the final misery to their instantly forgettable season?

History

Between November 2011 and August 2019, United won 11 and drew two of the

14 meetings between the sides.

Since then, however, the Eagles have enjoyed back-to-back victories at Old Trafford and only narrowly lost at Old Trafford in December, Rangnick’s first encounter as interim boss, when a super Fred goal settled the contest.

This game finished goalless last term and United were 2-0 winners the season before, courtesy of goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

United have won 39 of their 60 clashes with a further 12 games ending all square.

Betting Tip

The SBOTOP Premier League betting odds have these two so evenly matched with United slight favourites with odds of 1X2 @ 2.28 and Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 1.99.

Palace are priced 1X2 @ 3.10 and Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 1.94.

Goals are expected judging by odds of @ 1.93 with over 2.75 goals.

The 1X2 Draw @ 3.25 has certainly caught my eye but, with more offers still to come at the time of writing, make sure you take a final look at the array of odds ahead of the final weekend of another dramatic top flight season.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 20-May-2022 at 2:51 PM





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21-May 2022 Saturday 1:00 PM (43 days ago)            #47
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Premier League: One More Step for the Sky Blues

Manchester City vs Aston Villa

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City welcome Aston Villa to the Etihad Stadium for what the Sky Blue half of Manchester hopes will be a title coronation.

Victory for the hosts will make it four league titles in five seasons and it will put a gloss on a season that has been otherwise a little disappointing, with exits in all three cup competitions before the final stage. If Manchester City falter then Liverpool are poised to pounce, and Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are still in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple.

The Sky Blues are red hot favourites to win the 2022 Premier League title at odds of 1.16 here at SBOTOP and they are a similar price to beat Aston Villa on Sunday, and failure for the Sky Blues is almost unthinkable; though Liverpool do have an ally at the game in the shape of Villa boss Steven Gerrard.

Talking Points

Manchester’s steely focus

City are homing in on yet another league title and they have been in charge for most of the campaign. When Liverpool closed the gap to one point a few weeks ago some questions were asked, as it didn’t look like the Reds were about to drop points any time soon. But they were frustrated in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur so when the Sky Blues were held to a draw by West Ham it meant that they were still a point clear and with a superior goal difference.

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This season the Premier League 2022 betting odds have backed the Sky Blues from the word go and haven’t waivered no matter how hard Liverpool have pushed Guardiola’s men. And the boss says if they stick to their game plan and focus on the game they have nothing to fear. But he does say that the Premier League is the biggest prize of all, in a clears swipe at Klopp’s trophy collectors: “The league is more difficult,” says Guardiola. There’s a lot of weeks and games, you are struggling with injuries, have good and bad moments. It’s satisfying because it’s every day. It gives you the sense that we enjoy a lot. There was one year when Liverpool were unstoppable and we were not good enough.”

City’s best player Kevin De Bruyne will be the biggest threat if Villa allow him too much space, while Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez ands Raheem Sterling are all in line for a start behind lone striker Gabriel Jesus. But City will be without central defender who went off injured in the Sky Blues’ recent victory over Newcastle United.

Gerrard is Liverpool through and through

Steven Gerrard's Villa takes on Man City on the final day of the Premier League season
Steven Gerrard denies he is extra motivated to beat Man City to help Liverpool win the title

The interesting sub plot in this game is that Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard played his whole career at Liverpool, the club he supported as a boy, and he would love nothing more than to help them win the title. The Reds have a home date with Wolves on Sunday and should win that game, so if City somehow lose to Villa then the title will head to Merseyside.

Gerrard is clear that his loyalty right now is to win points for his club, saying: “We’ll go out at the weekend and give it everything we’ve got to try and get points for Aston Villa and our supporters. If that inevitably helps Liverpool, fantastic, but my priority is to try and get points for Aston Villa.”

The boss left striker Danny Ings and former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho on the bench for Villa’s Thursday night date with relegation threatened Burnley, but he brought them on with the score at 1-1 but neither could break through. Centre forward Ollie Watkins is back from injury and is likely to start alongside Ings against City but, like their hosts, the visitors are without a key centre back. Esri Konsa has been Villa’s best defender this campaign but he is out with a knee injury and Tyrone Mings will probably line up alongside Callum Chambers. 

Villa’s recent Premier League 2022 results have been a little patchy but Gerrard will have his players well primed for this huge game.

History

The head to heads in the Premier League era are heavily stacked in the Sky Blues favour by 31 wins to seven and there have been nine draws. The Manchester club has won the last six, with a goal difference of 17 to four.

In terms of recent form Villa have won two, drawn three and lost just one of the last six games while the Sky Blues have won four, lost one and drawn one.

Betting Tip

City are free scoring but Villa have conceded just five goals from the last six games and two of those in a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool.

Gerrard will try to make this as difficult as he can for the Sky Blues but I expect the hosts to come through, and a score line of 2-0 to City is the most likely outcome at a price of 5.41.

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21-May 2022 Saturday 1:02 PM (43 days ago)            #48
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Premier League: Can Canaries wreck Spurs’ Top Four Dreams?

Norwich City vs Tottenham Hotspur

Short answer?

I very much doubt it!

But stranger things have happened in football and particularly on the last day of a campaign; but if this fixture, Premier League: Norwich City vs Spursends Tottenham’s Champions League hopes then the shock waves will be felt throughout North London and beyond.

There are fascinating battles at the top of the Premier League, where the race between Manchester City and Liverpool has gone down to the last weekend, and also at the bottom of the table where one of either Leeds United or Burnley will join Watford and Norwich in the Championship.

But the fight for fourth place has as much intrigue as any, not least because it’s a shootout between rivals Tottenham and Arsenal, who were in full control until recently. 

The Gunners will probably beat Everton who confirmed their survival in midweek but, with their superior goal difference Antonio Conte’s Spurs will secure a place in the Champions League with a point at Carrow Road.

Talking Points

Son’s push for the Golden Boot

Tottenham’s rise up the table has coincided with a stunning return to form of Harry Kane but Heung Min Son, with 21 goals, has been consistent throughout the campaign and he is just one goal behind leading scorer Mo Salah in the race for the Golden Boot. Liverpool face Wolves on the final day and they have a much tighter defence than Norwich, so a goal or two might well give the South Korean the prize.

Spurs are currently at the 4th spot in the Premier League table, 2 points above Arsenal
Tottenham Hotspur’s Heung-Min Son celebrates scoring their third goal against Arsenal

He scored in Spurs’ recent draw with Liverpool and then in a crucial win over Arsenal, and the recognition as one of the league’s best strikers is fully deserved for the man who has formed such a lethal partnership with Kane over the past seven seasons. It’s something of a mystery that the club has failed to win any silverware in that time.

Alongside Son and Kane, Dejan Kulusevski has made a big impact since his arrival from Juventus in January, and he has weighed in with a crucial eight assists in Spurs’ top four charge. Conte’s team put in a brilliant performance to draw away to Liverpool, and then they won the North London Derby 3-0 before edging past Burnley last week.

One more step and Tottenham are in the Champions League.

Smith is not interested in the top four race

The Norwich City vs Spurs betting odds don’t give the Canaries much hope, but they will do what they can to upset Tottenham’s Champions League push for their own reasons.

There is an element of pride at the Norfolk club. With 22 points they are rock bottom of the table but the Canaries are only one point behind Watford who play away at Chelsea on Sunday. A hoe win, however unlikely, would probably lift Dean Smith’s team up a place. And the Norwich boss is fully focussed on his own team amidst all the noise surrounding the top four race. He said: “I have had texts off Arsenal fans and I have had texts off Tottenham fans, but I have no allegiance to either so there is no extra motivation at all.

“That doesn’t affect us at all. It is a game of football.”

They have suffered a punishing campaign and a 1-1 draw away to Wolves last week ended a run of five consecutive losses for the Canaries. During that run they were consigned to the Championship once again. 

Only Teemu Pukki has looked at home in the top flight and the Finn he has done well again, registering 11 strikes, while fellow forward Josh Sargent has struggled to two goals as the only other player with more than one. Smith is woefully short of quality in his squad and his plight isn’t eased by the injuries to centre back Ben Gibson and on loan midfielder Billy Gilmour.

History

Tottenham haven’t had it all their own way in the head-to-head Norwich City vs Spurs resultsover the past three decades, winning 12 to the Canaries’ five and there have been four draws.

But Spurs have won four of the last five Premier League meetings and three of those by a 3-0 margin.

With three wins, two draws and a loss in the last six games, the visitors are in much better form than their hosts and they should ease to three more points on Sunday.

Betting Tip

You can’t tempt me at SBOTOP odds of 12.04 on a Norwich win or even 5.61 on a draw, and I’m looking for a bigger return than the 1.21 available on a Spurs win. I expect Son and Kane to tear the poor Canaries apart and would not be surprised by yet another 3-0 Spurs win at a price of 7.33.

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24-May 2022 Tuesday 12:04 PM (40 days ago)            #49
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Premier League: City Crowned Champions After Six, Mad, Magic And Monumental Minutes

What drama!

Yes, it was always going to be an afternoon of twists n’ turns, tension and tummy-tingling Premier League highlights but was anyone expecting the script to be delivered quite like this.

From the moment the team sheets came in, the focus began and gave some potential indication of what was to come.

For the Premier League champions, John Stones started at the back for Manchester City, while Fernandinho was also in the side for his final game for the club.

For second placed Liverpool, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk were on the bench.

Moving from the title race to the Champions League chasers, and Harry Kane started for Tottenham despite some illness concerns earlier in the week – sparking comparisons when the two north London giants were vying for fourth spot in 2006 and luckless Spurs were hit by a bout of food positioning.

Arsenal, meanwhile, were without Takehiro Tomiyasu through injury, while Manchester United, looking to seal sixth spot and a place in the Europa League ahead of West Ham, were without Cristiano Ronaldo.

Meanwhile, down at the bottom, Leeds went on the attack at Brentford, selecting only one established midfielder in Kalvin Phillips with young forwards Sam Greenwood and Joe Geldhart in the side.

And then there was the ‘what if’ thought at the back of the mind as ex-Claret Chris Wood was named on the bench for Newcastle at the club he left in January, Burnley.

Then the talking stopped and the action began!

Two minutes in and Anfield was stunned when a long clearance from Jose Sa caught out the home defence and Raul Jimenez had all the time in the world to pick out the unmarked Pedro Neto who tapped home his first goal of the season.

It was to be one of Neto’s few involvements as he had left the fray injured by the midway point of the first half, lasting slightly longer than Joelinton as Newcastle suffered a blow inside 10 minutes with the Brazilian needing to leave the field on a stretcher.

Back in the race for the Champions League, it was all but game over as Spurs took a 16th minute lead at relegated Norwich City through Dejan Kulusevski, doubled on the half hour by Kane and Spurs were well on their way.

That meant Arsenal were always playing catch-up, despite scoring twice in quick succession through a Gabriel Martinelli penalty and the in-form Eddie Nketiah, on their way to a 5-1 success.

Back at the bottom and there was drama at both ends of the country.

As a VAR review for a handball went against Burnley – Callum Wilson slotted in the resulting penalty – it was almost a double Leeds celebration as Gelhardt had the ball in the Brentford net, only to be ruled offside by a whisker.

Back to the title race and Liverpool were level as a Thiago flick-on was finished clinically by Sadio Mane.

The mood on Merseyside lifted even more when Lucas Digne’s cross from the left was headed in by fellow full-back Matty Cash and Villa had a half-time lead at the Etihad.

Meanwhile, United – watched by new boss Erik Ten Hag – and West Ham switched sixth and seventh place in a matter of minutes as former United man Wilfried Zaha fired the Eagles in front with a touch of class, while around the same time Michail Antonio was hammering home for the Hammers at Brighton.

Premier League: Jack Harrison and Raphinha scored in Leeds United's 1-2 away win against Brentford
Leeds United players celebrate after winning against Brentford

Half-time and it was advantage City (just), Spurs, West Ham and Leeds in the key areas.

There were enforced changes at Anfield during the break with James Milner on for the injured Thiago and veteran John Ruddy on in goal for the injured Jose Sa for the visitors.

The first big moment of the second half came on the south coast five minutes after the restart when Joel Veltman’s shot inexplicably went through the legs of Lukasz Fabianski and Brighton were level at West Ham.

Then at the bottom, a key few minutes.

Raphinha – Leeds’ player of the season – was fouled in the box and duly dusted himself to rifle home an equaliser. At around the same time, Allan Saint-Maximin’s low ball was converted by Wilson for his second.

Quick question: how high could Newcastle have finished had he not missed virtually the whole second half of the season?

Back to the final day drama and Liverpool’s dream scenario as Villa, managed by Steven Gerrard, doubled their lead through a sublime goal from former fans’ favourite Philippe Coutinho.

It seemed Liverpool were the title favourites; Spurs were in top four command – confirmed as Son Heung-Min hit a quick fire double as Spurs ran riot – and Leeds were safe, even when Maxwell Cornet puled one back for the Clarets.

Then the most amazing six minutes ever witnessed at the Etihad! Six, mad, magic and monumental minutes.

Substitute Raheem Sterling crossed from the right and fellow sub Ilkay Gundogan headed in from close range.

Almost immediately, another sub, Oleksandr Zinchenko pulled the back to Rodri on the edge of the box and he drilled into the bottom left corner.

And, with the country catching its breath, there was still time for the majestic Kevin de Bruyne, the newly crowned Premier League player of the year, to whip in a sumptuous delivery from the right and, incredibly, there was Gundogan again!

City had come from two goals down to win a league contest for the first time since 2005 and Anfield, joyous a matter of moments earlier, was stunned.

The goal Liverpool craved duly arrived six minutes from time as sub Salah bundled the ball home, a goal which ensured he shared the Golden Boot with Son.

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Indeed, Andy Robertson also added a third, but alas, it was not enough.

With all the focus at the top, it was barely noticed that Brighton scored two late goals to secure their best ever league finish – and the Europa Conference League for West Ham.

How this United side finished sixth after being, at times, appalling, is for another day.

The tension at the bottom still had another twist as Brentford levelled through Sergi Canos who was sent off within two minutes for a second booking.

With Kristoffer Ajer off injured and the Bees having used all three subs, Leeds were facing nine men in their survival battle and it paid dividends in stoppage time when a half-volley by Jack Harrison ensured they were safe.

One last stand. Leeds players, fans and staff went wild!

Against the odds, they had survived.

Back at Eastlands, City players, fans and staff also went wild.

2-0 down with quarter of an hour remaining.

Dare I say it, an even better achievement than the climax of 2012 when they were playing a 10-man QPR side which knew it was safe from relegation in the closing stages.

Wild scenes, incredible response, the character of champions.

That’s why they’re champions.

That’s all folks. And before you know it, you’ll be studying the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds for next season!


 

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24-May 2022 Tuesday 12:06 PM (40 days ago)            #50
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Premier League: A Salute to Superb Man City Stars, Son and Salah

The 2021-22 Premier League season has concluded, the champions have been crowned, and the awards have been handed out. Manchester City not only grabbed the biggest prize of all – the Premier League title – on another dramatic victory on the final day, but a handful of their players also claimed a number of the top individual awards.

Meanwhile, a couple of Liverpool’s stars settled for a share of their respective awards, with Son Heung-Min tying Mohamed Salah for the Golden Boot.

Read on below as SBOTOP salutes champions Manchester City and their outstanding stars, as well as the other awardees of the 2021-22 Premier League season.

Champions: Manchester City

Manchester City successfully defended their Premier League title, although it was a bit more dramatic than many had expected. They needed to come back from two goals down to salvage a draw at West Ham, and that slip-up gave Liverpool hope heading into the last day.

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But despite being overwhelming favourites according to the Premier League 2022 betting odds, City shockingly found themselves in a similar predicament as they went 2-0 down at home against Aston Villa. Once again, though, the Citizens’ championship mettle eventually shone through as they came back to win 3-2.

While it wasn’t as dramatic as the ‘Aguerooo’ game – most likely, nothing else ever will be – it was still a terrific end to another impressive title-winning campaign for Pep Guardiola and co.

Player of the Season: Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

Prior to City’s coronation, Kevin De Bruyne had already been named the Premier League Player of the Season for the second time in three years. The brilliant Belgian had his best goalscoring season in the Premier League with 15 goals, and he also added eight assists in 30 appearances.

It was a close race between De Bruyne and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, and either one would have been a worthy winner. But the Man City star was so instrumental in his side’s successful title defence, and he is without a doubt a deserving pick for the award.

Young Player of the Season: Phil Foden, Manchester City

De Bruyne’s teammate, Phil Foden, certainly has the potential to be a future Premier League Player of the Season. But for now, the 21-year-old will have to settle for the Young Player of the Season award, which he as won for the second year in a row.

Foden had another fantastic Premier League season with nine goals and five assists in 28 games – all identical numbers to last year.

With Foden well on his way to superstardom and another prodigious 21-year-old in Erling Haaland set to join next season, the present and future are very bright indeed for Manchester City.

Golden Boot: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool & Son Heung-Min, Tottenham

Mohamed Salah looked like a lock to be the sole winner of the Golden Boot this season. But Son Heung-Min had other ideas.

The Spurs star had a spectacular end to the season as he scored 12 goals in his last 10 games – including a brace on the final day against Norwich – to finish with 23 goals, which got him a share of the Golden Boot with Salah.

Son Heung-min and Mohamed Salah share the 2021-22 Premier League Golden Boot Award
Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min celebrates after scoring their fifth goal against Norwich City

It was a spectacular effort from the South Korean, who becomes the first Asian to ever claim the prestigious award.

While Son was making several Premier League 2022 highlights during his sizzling hot streak, Salah definitely lost steam towards the end of the season. His goal on the last day against Wolves snapped a run of seven straight games without a goal in all competitions.

Nevertheless, no one can argue that Salah’s contributions throughout the season were crucial to Liverpool pushing the title race to the very last day. Aside from his third Golden Boot, Salah also claimed the Playmaker of the Season award with his league-leading 13 assists, which is a testament to his remarkable production for the Reds.

Golden Glove: Alisson, Liverpool & Ederson, Manchester City

And last but not least, Liverpool’s Alisson and Man City’s Ederson fittingly shared the Golden Glove award.

The two Brazilians have been the best goalkeepers in the Premier League – and, arguably, the world – for the past few years now, and they were once again on top of their game this year as they both kept 20 clean sheets this season.

This is now the fourth straight year that either of the two has won the award, with Ederson maintaining his 3-2 edge over his compatriot. And with both goalies not yet even in their 30s, it might be a long time before a non-Brazilian goalkeeper grabs the Golden Glove from them.


 

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24-May 2022 Tuesday 12:10 PM (40 days ago)            #51
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Premier League: Welcome Back to Fulham and Bournemouth!

After a short spell in the Championship, Fulham and Bournemouth have returned to the Premier League for the 2022/23 campaign.

Led by former Everton manager Marco Silva, Fulham were promoted as champions with three weeks to go when they beat Luton Town 7-0, and they return to the top flight after just a 12-month absence. Striker Alexandar Mitrovic scored twice in that win to equal the Championship record with 43 goals in a campaign and, after struggling in his previous stints in the top flight, the 27-year-old Serbian goal machine will hope to write some Premier League 2022 news headlines over the next six months or so.

Bournemouth returned to the Premier League after a two-year absence and there was redemption for their boss Scott Parker, who had suffered relegation as Fulham head coach only 12 months earlier. The Cherries finished strongly to climb to within two points of Fulham and six clear of third-placed Huddersfield Town. Former Liverpool striker Dominic Solanke had his best season yet, scoring 29 goals and, had he not been chasing Mitrovic, he may well have finished as the Championship’s top scorer.

Both Fulham and Bournemouth will feature in the Premier League 2022 betting odds

for the relegation battle, as newly promoted teams always do, but both have the managers and playing staff who can cope with the pressure.

Can Forest return after a 23-year absence? 

The Championship’s form team, Nottingham Forest, have a chance of returning to the top flight of English football for the first time since 1999.

The famous Nottingham club were kings of Europe in the late seventies. They were league champions in 1978, managed by the legendary Brian Clough, and the Reds won the European Cup in 1979 and 1980, beating Malmo and Hamburg, both by a 1-0 scoreline.

But following the departure of Clough, the club went into a steady decline and dropped out of the Premier League with three weeks of the 1998/99 campaign remaining.

And they have been looking upwards ever since.

Steve Cooper aims for Nottingham Forest to be promoted in the Premier League
Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper during their Championship match against Sheffield United

42-year-old manager Steve Cooper is one of the brightest young coaches in the country and, after impressing in his stint as an England youth team coach, he led Swansea City to the play-off semi-final in 2020 and then the final in 2021 which they lost to Brentford. Cooper left the club by mutual consent and joined Nottingham Forest, leading his new team into the play-offs at the first attempt.

Forest beat Sheffield United in a dramatic penalty shootout in the semi-finals as keeper Brice Samba made three brilliant saves, and they now meet Huddersfield Town, the surprise package of this year’s Championship.

The Terriers had two seasons in the Premier League in 2018 and 2019 but have struggled in the Championship, until this season, and they will be tough opposition for the Reds. But Forest are a good attacking outfit and with Samba between the sticks and former Bournemouth defensive rock Steve Cook at the heart of the defence they have every chance of making a return.

Goodbye, for now, to Burnley

While Norwich City and Watford had been relegated some time ago, the battle to avoid the last relegation spot went down to the last few minutes of the 2021/22 season. My SBOTOP colleague covered a breathtaking finale to the campaign and, on a dramatic Sunday afternoon, Leeds United upset the odds by beating nine-man Brentford, and that meant Burnley joined Norwich and Watford in the Championship after six seasons in the top flight.

The Clarets had never been in a relegation scrap during the past five campaigns, with two top-ten finishes, and even last year when they had a poor finish and ended up 17th, the gap to 18th was 11 points. 

It will be interesting to see how the Clarets cope in the Championship. The club is more precariously financed now after the local owners sold out to the American ALK group headed up by chairman Alan Pace. But if they can keep the nucleus of their team. then Burnley will be one of the favourites to bounce back. Watford and Norwich will probably be in the mix at the top of England’s second-tier next season too, but they were never really in with a hope in the Premier League this season. The Canaries didn’t measure up to the task throughout the campaign and a final-day clash against Spurs was a fair reflection of their season as they were slaughtered 5-0 to finish bottom, a point behind Watford, who were 12 behind the 18th-placed Clarets.


 

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25-May 2022 Wednesday 1:22 PM (39 days ago)            #52
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Premier League: Can Liverpool Afford to Lose Salah?

Mohamed Salah has just won a share of the Premier League Golden Boot, alongside Spurs’ star Heung-Min Son, and he’s about to spearhead Liverpool’s attack in the Champions League final.

But Liverpool fans are terrified that the final may be the last time they see Mo Salah in the famous red shirt of their team.

Salah is out of contract at the Anfield club and, while they search for another treble, the Egyptian star has publicly said he wants to stay with Liverpool. But he is yet to put pen to paper and rumours are circulating that Pool’s Champions League final opponents, Real Madrid, may be about to make a sensational move.

It could just be mischief-making ahead of the European showcase final, but European football expert Julien Laurens has recently said that Real Madrid are primed to make a statement by signing Mo Salah.

UEFA – Champions League
LIVERPOOL
REAL MADRID
1X2 Liverpool @ 2.21
Real Madrid Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.02
Over 2.75 @ 1.99
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

Los Blancos have missed out on two of their major targets already and Laurens, the French football journalist thinks that Salah would be the ideal player to operate in a front three, alongside Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior.

The Madrid giants lost out in their pursuit of Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Braut Haaland as the Norwegian scoring sensation opted to join Manchester City, while Kylian Mbappe, who seemed set to move to the Santiago Bernabeu, has recently agreed to sign a new deal with Paris Saint-Germain. The loss of Mbappe is a huge blow to Los Blancos and head coach Carlo Ancelotti will want to move quickly to get a big signing in.

With Barcelona recovering under Xavi, Los Blancos are desperate to keep their noses in front of their El Clasico rivals and the signing of a player of Salah’s quality would go a long way towards that target. If this story does gather pace then it could easily turn out to be the biggest Premier League 2022 newsof the summer break.

And it doesn’t come at a good time for the Merseysiders.

Liverpool beat Wolves on the final day but fell short in points to win the Premier League title race
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates their first goal against Wolves

Liverpool’s quadruple dreams disappeared last Sunday in six mad minutes at the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City remarkably turned a two-goal deficit into a 3-2 win. The Premier League 2022 betting odds had backed the Sky Blues throughout the campaign but, on 75 minutes, Liverpool were in the box seat before City launched one of their famous dramatic finishes. 

But despite the disappointment, as well as being the league’s joint-top scorer, Salah was named the Footballer of the Year by the English Football Writers’ Association, ahead of City’s Kevin de Bruyne, for the second time after winning the award in 2018. 

Anfield fans adore their Mo

If he were to leave Anfield, the Liverpool faithful would be heartbroken as they have accepted Salah as one of their own. With their ‘Mo Salah Egyptian King’ song the Anfield faithful praise his running, his thunderbolt shooting and his aura of majesty. He is loved by Liverpool fans more than anyone since the days of King Kenny Dalglish in the 1970s and 80s and he has had a wider influence in the region.

Since Salah’s arrival in 2017, incidents of Islamophobia plummeted in Liverpool, according to a study by researchers at Stanford University in their Immigration Policy Lab. The research discovered a 19 per cent reduction in hate crimes against Muslims on Merseyside, leading academics to conclude that his prominent position as a fans’ idol has led to an increased familiarity and empathy with Islam in the region.

And the reason for the fans’ adoration is clear. While he plays alongside talents including Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota, Salah has delivered more consistently than anyone and has genius in his boots. His strike in a 2-2 draw with Manchester City this season was one of the goals of the century as he slalomed past the best defence in the league before finishing beautifully in the far corner.

The Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool is the most anticipated clash of the year and here at SBOTOP we’ll be previewing and reporting on what should be a fantastic clash. Salah has already said that the Reds are on a revenge mission after losing the 2018 final to Los Blancos 3-1. He was on the end of a brutal challenge from Sergio Ramos which ended his match and Salah said, at the Football Writers Dinner: “Yeah, yeah, we lost in the 2018 final. It was a sad day for all of us. It’s revenge time.”

It may be Liverpool’s chance to even things up in Paris, but Real Madrid might have the last laugh if they can lure Salah to the Santiago Benabeu.

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27-May 2022 Friday 12:04 PM (37 days ago)            #53
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Premier League: Erik ten Hag Makes Great First Impression at Old Trafford

There’s a sense of excitement in the air following Erik ten Hag’s arrival as Manchester United’s new boss. The Dutchman certainly has big shoes to fill, but he’s welcoming his new Premier League challenge with open arms.

The Red Devils are coming off a disastrous 2021/22 campaign, and supporters at Old Trafford are hopeful that their new manager can improve their Premier League 2022 odds next season.

Meanwhile, their main rivals in Manchester City and Liverpool are also planning ahead for next season despite having already won trophies.

City are keen on strengthening their lineup with at least one more key addition, while Liverpool got a big boost ahead of their Champions League final against Real Madrid.

This summer is going to be pivotal for these three clubs. So today, allow SBOTOP to give you the newest Premier League 2022 updates concerning these big sides.

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Erik ten Hag has a promise to Manchester United fans

A new era begins at Manchester United as Erik ten Hag addressed the media for the first time since his arrival from Ajax.

During his first press conference with the squad, the Dutchman brought music to the United fans’ ears when he bared his ambitions for his new home next season.

Erik ten Hag shared that he’s an admirer of the Red Devils’ rich history and he wants to create a better future by winning trophies. Manchester United’s last piece of silverware was the 2017 Europa League, and they haven’t won anything significant since then.

The Dutchman heaped praise to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Maguire, and Donny van de Beek, and he looks forward to get to know the team better in the next few weeks.

He also added that while Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have been dominating the Premier League in recent years, he feels that the said era can come to an end soon and he looks forward to battle with those two renowned coaches.

City and Liverpool finished 35 and 34 points ahead of United in the table this season, so his work will be cut out for him this summer. However, Erik appears to be a highly determined individual who is ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work right away.

Mohamed Salah insists he’ll stay with Liverpool

Mohamed Salah is not going anywhere as per latest Premier League reports
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah walks off the pitch after sustaining an injury during the FA Cup Final against Chelsea

Mohamed Salah has been a hot commodity in the transfer market but he said that he’s going nowhere this summer.

The Egyptian goalscorer is out of contract at Anfield in 2023 and he has yet to commit to a new extension. Salah has already been linked to the likes of PSG and Real Madrid, but he will see out his current deal for the meantime.

For him, his main focus is on the Champions League where he’s keen on seeking revenge on Real Madrid, to whom they lost in 2018 when he was injured.

“I am motivated through the roof, especially after what happened last time and what happened on Sunday, everybody is motivated to win the Champions League,” said Salah.

“Coming off after 30 minutes the last time against Madrid was the worst moment of my career,” he added.

Other than Salah, Sadio Mane is another Liverpool forward who’s approaching the final 12 months of his current deal. He is linked to Bayern Munich as a potential Robert Lewandowski replacement, but he wants to wait until after the Champions League final before announcing his decision.

“Whether I stay or not, I will say it after the Champions League,” said Mane.

Manchester City not yet done in the transfer market

The Sky Blues are already one of the biggest winners ahead of the summer with Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez coming to town, but it seems that they aren’t done making moves just yet.

Pep Guardiola and co. are reportedly going after another quality midfielder since Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan are likely to leave this summer.

One of their supposed main targets is Kalvin Phillips, who has been a key player for Leeds United in these past few seasons. Other than City, the Whites midfielder is also linked with Manchester United, Aston Villa, Arsenal, and West Ham United.

Another option for them was Declan Rice at West Ham, but it’s unlikely that they will splash a ton of cash for him after doing so to get Jack Grealish last time.

If City are unable to get a hold of Phillips, they are certainly keeping an eye on Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni, while they’re looking at Brighton’s Marc Cucurella as well to bolster their full-back depth.


 

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27-May 2022 Friday 12:06 PM (37 days ago)            #54
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Premier League: Dedicated Defenders Have Key Role To Play In Top Flight Football

The art of defending is exactly that – an art.

From perfectly executed tackles to goal line clearances, when such moments happen, they are every bit as special as a great goal or world class save.

Considering everything defenders are up against in the modern game, not least some of the best attackers the sport has ever seen, we should hail those performers even more.

Incidentally, the top five in the 2021-22 Premier League for this SBOTOP writer are not all great defenders, but they are all good or very good defensively and, coupled with the fact that a few are excellent from an attacking perspective, all deserve to be described as top class after contributing Premier League highlights.

João Cancelo (Manchester City)

Along with his team-mates Rodri and Aymeric Laporte, Cancelo made more passes than anyone else in the top flight. An all-purpose influence, he was also in the top 10 for tackles, dribbles and interceptions and 12th for shots at goal – and this is a defender.

Indeed, only Kevin de Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus made more assists for the champions this term than Cancelo (seven).

With players like that, no wonder City have retained the title and clinched English football’s top prize for the fourth time in five years.

The Portuguese full-back is so comfortable on the ball and moves so gracefully, he is one of the most complete players in the league.

Perfect for Pep Guardiola and the way he insists the game should be played, Cancelo’s great feet and remarkable vision are a joy to behold.

His ability to play from both left-back and right-back positions has been a game-changer for the club and Guardiola has leveraged that to improve their possession-based game.

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

J-League
FC TOKYO
KASHIMA ANTLERS
1X2 Draw @ 3.30
Under 2.25 @ 2.06
First Half Over 1.00 @ 2.11
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

Alexander-Arnold still has his critics when it comes to the defensive side of his game, but no one can dispute that the zip he provides to Liverpool’s prolific attack, while playing at right-back, is invaluable to the Reds’ success.

The fact he set up more goals in the Premier League this season than any other player bar team-mate Mohamed Salah is testament to that.

That alone is deserving of high praise and shows why he is one of the Merseysiders’ most potent weapons.

Ruben Dias (Manchester City)

Another key player in the champions’ squad is Cancelo’s compatriot for club and country, Dias, whose contribution has been outstanding in both his seasons with the club.

Certainly, the statistics speak for themselves and when Dias is not involved, City are much weaker defensively.

He won the Football Writers Award last season and would have been on the shortlist for all the major gongs this term too – worth every penny of the £65 million the club parted with to secure his services from Benfica 20 months ago.

His partnership with John Stones at the heart of Guardiola’s defence, as well as Laporte, played a key part in City’s Premier League triumph, his increasing influence ensuring the retirement of club legend Vincent Kompany has been finally overcome.

Thiago Silva (Chelsea)

Chelsea's Thiago Silva made 31 blocks and 32 tackles in the Premier League
Thiago Silva waving to fans after Chelsea’s match against Leicester City

Let’s be honest: if there were Premier League betting odds on leading defenders, few would have expected a so-called veteran in his late 30s to still be on the list.

Yet in two campaigns with the west Londoners, amidst the hustle n’ bustle and sheer physicality of the English league, Brazilian Thiago Silva has shown why he remains one of the world’s best defenders.

Alongside Dias and Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, the trio have undoubtedly been the best centre backs in the league this season. What a partnership they would make in the same team.

Reece James (Chelsea)

My final place for defenders may surprise you but Reece James has gone under the radar for many.

However, his involvement with goals matches Alexander-Arnold whose 12 assists and two goals was matched by James (nine assists and five goals) over the course of the campaign – all this despite playing significantly fewer minutes.

James certainly made genuine progress this term and is one of the league’s most improved performers.

It may well be a ‘what if’ for Chelsea to see how 2021-22 would have materialised but for a November injury to their other flying wing-back, Ben Chilwell, and the off-field distractions caused by the sale of the club. Academy graduate James has certainly been an influential figure for the Blues on the pitch, finding a flurry of goals early on in the league. It’s no coincidence that the side’s drop in form came in conjunction when the defender was on the sidelines through injury.


 

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31-May 2022 Tuesday 12:55 PM (33 days ago)            #55
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Who Is Your Main Midfield Man in the Premier League?

It was a Premier League campaign which began on a Friday night back in August with a team from the south playing their first top-flight match for more than 70 years and ended last Sunday with the final decisive pass of the whole campaign coming in the north from a Belgian wizard – the culmination of six mad, magical and monumental minutes.

And if the latter is arguably the finest footballer in the world at the moment, then some of his peers also had campaigns worthy of note.

But who makes my top four midfielders amidst the excitement of yet another breathless campaign.

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

Of course, this is the only place to start.

Not only did he enjoy his best-ever goalscoring season in the Premier League (15), but he created more chances per 90 minutes than any other player (3.6 – excluding players to feature in fewer than 500 minutes).

The superlatives continue to be written for a player whom Chelsea decided to sell in 2014 after just five starts for the club.

UEFA Nations League
SPAIN
PORTUGAL
Spain Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.01
1X2 Draw @ 3.25
Over 2.25 @ 1.95
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

Despite their success over the past decade, how they must rue the one that got away.

When the title race was coming down to the term coined by Sit Alex Ferguson as ‘squeaky bum time’, De Bruyne was a class apart.

In fact, in the words of one Guardian reporter, his display in the 5-1 win at Wolves with three games remaining – when he scored four of his side’s goals – was the best individual performance I have seen for some time.

Sheer quality.

Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace)

Thomas Tuchel has confirmed he wants Gallagher in Chelsea’s squad for next season and it’s easy to see why after a campaign in which he was responsible for many of the Eagles’ Premier League 2022 highlights.

Certainly, he set the tone for a number of the key moments in the epicentre of midfield at Palace – where he spent the season on loan – and under the tutelage of Patrick Vieira, improved his all-around game.

His best moment? Perhaps his screamer against Everton – curled in off the bar from outside the box after he won back possession high up the pitch – or his first touch to set up a strike against Watford, killing a cross stone dead and shimmying past an opponent in one glorious swoosh, before lashing the ball into the top corner.

Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)

It has been a season when many of the plaudits emanating from east London began with Declan Rice.

And I must admit that, while I’ve not seen much of the West Ham and England man, he impressed me when I saw him playing in a match at Old Trafford in January.

It was ironic as I did not mention him once in my match report that day but the influence of the 23-year-old – who is set to permanently take over the captain duties when Mark Noble retires – was quietly yet highly effective and it is no wonder he is attracting a lot of interest from some of England’s top clubs.

West Ham United's Jarrod Bowen clearly impresses the crowd throughout the 2021-22 Premier League season
West Ham United’s Jarrod Bowen celebrates after scoring against Arsenal in their recent Premier League game

However, for me, his team-mate Bowen pips him after a season in which he netted 18 goals and provided 13 assists for the Hammers in all competitions.

After being in contention for the previous England squad in March before being ruled out with a fractured foot bone, he thoroughly deserves his call-up this week for forthcoming fixtures against Hungary, Germany and Italy.

Honourable mentions go to Christian Eriksen whose arrival at Brentford in January on a short-term deal – a little more than six months after his cardiac arrest during Euro 2020 – added a level of quality to the Bees and renewed impetus in their bid to survive; Fabinho, Liverpool’s best midfielder and the man who makes them tick; and Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse, whose dead-ball expertise was the best in the league and lifted the Saints at vital moments.

But my final place goes to – and this may surprise you…

Raphinha (Leeds)

Yes, his form may have faded during the final months of the campaign but he was Leeds’ savior for so long during the first six months of the season and again showed his worth by winning and converting a penalty at Brentford on the final day.

This SBOTOP writer – and presumably most Premier League 2022 betting odds – thought Leeds were safe by the second week of April, yet a comfortable win at soon-to-be relegated Watford was followed by an awful run of form which left them in the drop zone going into the final day.

Over the course of the season, Raphinha also weighed in with three assists and only Illan Meslier and Stuart Dallas played more minutes. The Brazilian international was not at his brilliant best as much, especially in the second half of the season, but the winger finished with a bang and without him, they would almost certainly have bowed out of the top flight.


 

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31-May 2022 Tuesday 12:56 PM (33 days ago)            #56
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Premier League: World-Class Talent Pogba Is the Biggest Disappointment of Them All

About a month from now, one of the most expensive footballers in the world – not just the Premier League – will depart English football for a second and likely final time.

He is one of the most naturally talented midfielders of his generation and, unlike some players over the decades who really have been overrated, this Frenchman certainly does have the ability to back up both his price tag and reputation.

However, that is where the story of a world-class footballer ends because this is a tale of player who has world-class skills yet is anything but a world-class talent.

Because for all of the rare moments of brilliance, there have been ten times more of underachievement and body language which portrays a ‘laissez faire’ attitude.

Sure, Paul Labile Pogba has honours to his name with both Juventus and Manchester United, not to mention a World Cup with France in 2018 – of course, if you are part of good or very good teams during your career, there is always a chance you will end up with some silverware.

But when he leaves United for the second time on a free transfer in June, few associated with Old Trafford (apart from the money men disturbed by a lack of profit following his £89 million recruitment in 2016) will shed a tear.

Actually, his final two performances in a United shirt summed his wider contribution up perfectly.

On Easter Saturday against Norwich City he was jeered off by his own supporters with shouts of ‘f*** off’ ringing in his ears.

Three days later, he lasted eight minutes against Liverpool at Anfield by which time his team were 1-0 down and it was clear he simply didn’t have the heart for the fight.

His previous appearance against the same opponents earlier this term, incidentally, lasted 15 minutes, before he was sent off for a reckless lunge, unable to hide his frustration at the fact he needed to add perspiration to his so-called inspiration if he was to make a positive impact.

Back to the Norwich game and how did this player, who supposedly gives his all and loves the club, react?

Well, after a section of United fans let it be known they had had enough and told him — with some industrial language — that they would like him gone, Pogba merely cupped his ears and gestured for further negative reaction from a fanbase resigned to seeing him leave on a free transfer this summer.

The truth hurts, one suspects!

Let me repeat, this is not a player who, like so many before him in the English game, has been built up and over-hyped.

For Pogba always had ability to match, never better displayed than on the very opening weekend of this season when he was responsible for four assists in United’s 5-1 trouncing of Leeds.

Yet therein lies a prime example.

UEFA Nations League
POLAND
WALES
1X2 Draw @ 3.45
Under 2.00 @ 2.28
First Half Over 1.00 @ 2.23
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

After setting up five goals in his first two games of the campaign, he only managed another four all season!

He lost the ball too often, his defensive positioning was poor, his lack of urgency at times was staggering and, when the going got tough, he so often went missing and lacked tenacity.

Yes, at times Pogba lost possession partly due to his desire to make things happen – creative players are naturally risk-takers – but it was also symptomatic of carelessness.

In fact, it was best summed up the excoriating verdict recently given to many of the United team by former captain Roy Keane – who knows what would have happened to Pogba if he had been a team-mate of the Irishman – when he described the mindset and culture as supine.

For Pogba was so often passive, so often second to almost every ball. That’s not poor technique or poor coaching, that’s lack of effort, hunger, fight. That’s embarrassing. That’s inexcusable.

And sure enough, as the final third of the season petered out for him and his club, Pogba gave the impression of someone protecting what little reputation he had left before moving somewhere new – either giving the ball away or strolling aimlessly around the pitch (when he wasn’t out injured, that is!).

Away from the game, he also didn’t help himself at times and his actions and jaunts off the pitch angered some but, in many ways, are irrelevant.

For, with a few exceptions, he simply did not deliver when it mattered and, as I outlined at the start, his pronounced failures in so many big matches should be a case of sadness, not scorn.

In summary, his lack of Premier League 2022 highlights, indeed his lack of many highlights during what should have been the prime years of his career, are no-one’s fault but his own.

I read an article earlier this month from a Times journalist which stated Pogba was never given the platform at Old Trafford to display regular moments of beauty grace or artistic expression.

That with a little care, he could have flourished.

With the greatest of respect to a fellow journalist, the age of delusion is not dead.

I want to end this article on a positive note and put forward the credentials of my man of the season.

Brentford finished the Premier League 2021-22 sitting on the 13th place
Brentford coach Thomas Frank applauds the fans after their match against Leeds United

Step forward Brentford manager Thomas Frank.

Having achieved top-flight status for the first time in 74 years, the Bees were meant to be immediately relegated. Instead, they finished 13th.

In large, that was down to the tactical acumen and motivational skills of their manager who pulled off a masterstroke by bringing Christian Eriksen to the club in January.

The Bees could not have made a better start to life in the Premier League, showing the pedigree that made them such an entertaining side on their journey.

Super-smart micro-management on a tiny budget with the game-changing capture of Eriksen ultimately ensured safety was secured with relative ease – and none of the SBOTOP Premier League 2022 betting odds predicted that.

While Norwich and Watford sunk without a trace after winning promotion Frank performed wonders to keep Brentford up. Bravo.

Premier League 2021/22 – over and out.


 

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31-May 2022 Tuesday 12:58 PM (33 days ago)            #57
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Premier League: Chelsea Sale Is Almost There

After three months of turmoil, the sale of Premier League giants Chelsea is expected to go through early this week as a consortium led by Todd Boehly has agreed the purchase at a staggering price of £4.25bn.

A final agreement was reached on Friday and the deal will bring to an end the reign of Roman Abramovich, which has stretched to almost two decades. The Russian businessman had his UK assets frozen in March, and the money from the sale will be held by a UK bank until the government has received assurances that the proceeds will go to support humanitarian causes in Ukraine.

Abramovich has wished the new prospective owners ‘the best success on and off the pitch’ and in his statement he said, ‘it has been an honour of a lifetime’ to own the Stamford Bridge club. 

The club has said the deal could go through as early as Monday, to end the protracted period of anxiety for the Chelsea faithful from the moment Abramovich put the club up for sale on March 2nd.

And now head coach Thomas Tuchel can look forward to the next campaign. This saga has been the big Premier League 2022 newsand the fact that Chelsea missed out on a domestic cup double in penalty shootouts to Liverpool has almost been forgotten. But Tuchel will expect to open the trophy cabinet again next season and the Premier League 2022 betting odds will likely install the Blues as third-favourites for the 2022/23 title.

UEFA Nations League
BELGIUM
NETHERLANDS
1X2 Netherlands @ 3.10
Over 2.75 @ 2.20
Total Goals 2-3 @ 1.81
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

Ten Hag’s work begins

Manchester United fans have suffered a miserable decade since the departure of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson and no one knows that more than my SBOTOPcolleague, who is a Red Devil through and through and has lamented another disappointing campaign with a sixth-placed finish. Over the last nine seasons, United have won one FA Cup, one Carabao Cup and one Europa League and they have not come close to challenging for the Premier League title since the great man left.

Erik Ten Hag is the man tasked with bringing the good times back to Old Trafford and his work has already started, as interim head coach Ralf Rangnick has now left the club to concentrate on his new position as manager of Austria. After taking over in November, following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Rangnick steadied the ship but, ultimately, too many draws and a poor finish saw the Red Devils accumulate their lowest ever points total in the Premier League (58) with a zero goal difference.

Premier League: Is Frenkie de Jong what Manchester United need in midfield?
Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong in action with Real Betis’ Andres Guardado during a La Liga clash at Benito Villamarin stadium

Ten Hag has a rebuilding job to do, starting in midfield. Paul Pogba’s imminent departure from Old Trafford won’t prompt an outpouring of grief at the club, far from it. But the French star is a clear talent and the club will need to replace him. Ten Hag is making a push to sign Wolves midfield ace Ruben Neves and he also has his eye on Dutch compatriot Frenkie de Jong. The 25-year-old midfielder joined Barcelona in 2019 for a fee of around 75m Euros and the Blaugrana are asking for a similar amount to sell their man.

The United boss may believe that the arrival of De Jong will help Donny van de Beek settle at the club after a difficult campaign which saw him loaned out to strugglers Everton. But the deal is still in the balance and United face competition from Paris Saint-Germain.

Meanwhile, Ten Hag is still watching Benfica striker Darwin Nunez, but fears the price may be too high.

Forest are back in the big time

Nottingham Forest have joined Fulham and Bournemouth in the 2022/23 Premier League after winning the play-off final in dramatic fashion. The famous old club returns after two decades out of the limelight, last appearing in the top flight in 1999.

Back in September it seemed unlikely that Forest would challenge at the top end of the Championship as they struggled to climb out of the relegation zone. But head coach Steve Cooper was appointed when the club was bottom of the table and he masterminded a fantastic recovery and an ultimately successful season.

The play-off final was full of nerves, and the only goal of the game was scored by Huddersfield Town’s Levi Colwill, sadly for him in the wrong end and just before half-time. Forest saw the game out and the city celebrated.

The heady days of being European champions, back in 1979 and 1980, is a memory etched on the minds of older fans. But now they are back in the big time and where they believe they belong.

It’s time for the Forest faithful to dream again.


 

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31-May 2022 Tuesday 12:59 PM (33 days ago)            #58
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Premier League: An American Reunion in Leeds as Brenden Aaronson Arrives

After successfully surviving in their second season in the Premier League, Leeds United have now started strengthening their squad for next season.

The Whites have agreed to sign 21-year-old American midfielder Brenden Aaronson from Red Bull Salzburg for a reported fee of around £25 million.

Leeds boss Jesse Marsch had coached the 21-year-old Aaronson in Salzburg, and they will now be reunited at Elland Road.

Leeds have actually had their sights set on Aaronson for some time, and after securing Premier League status on the last day against Brentford, they finally sealed the deal. So what exactly are Leeds getting in Aaronson and how will the young American fare at Elland Road?

Read on below as SBOTOP breaks down the Whites’ newest big-money signing.

Who is Brenden Aaronson?

So who exactly is Brenden Aaronson? Well, he is a 21-year-old who primarily plays as a central attacking midfielder but can also play wide on the left.

Aaronson came up in the youth system of MLS club Philadelphia Union. Starting at age 16, he played for affiliate club Bethlehem Steel for a couple of seasons before moving on to the Union’s first team.

After one and a half seasons in Philadelphia, Aaronson earned himself a move to Red Bull Salzburg for a transfer fee that was the highest for an American homegrown MLS player. Aaronson made 56 appearances for Salzburg in a season and a half, scoring 9 goals and providing 11 assists.

UEFA Nations League
SERBIA
NORWAY
Serbia Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.01
1X2 Draw @ 3.20
Total Goals 2-3 @ 1.83
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

The 21-year-old Aaronson has also been capped 18 times already for the US men’s national team, scoring five goals.

But while he has been given the nickname “Medford Messi” – he hails from Medford, New Jersey – and plays an advanced midfield role, Leeds fans should be under no illusions that Aaronson is set to become some sort of attacking star anywhere near Messi’s galaxy.

So if that is the case, then why exactly did Leeds spend upwards of £25 million for the young American?

How will Aaronson fit at Leeds?

Leeds had had their eye on Aaronson even before Marsch’s appointment, and it’s apparent why: pressing.

Like Marsch, who was chosen to succeed the beloved Marcelo Bielsa as coach in part because of his experience implementing a pressing system, Aaronson was earmarked because of that specific skill. He is an elite-level presser, which presumably makes him a fine fit for Leeds and their system.

And the fact that Aaronson spent time under Marsch with the Red Bulls and shone in the Salzburg system should make his bedding-in process at Leeds and the Premier League somewhat easier.

Leeds likely see Aaronson as the long-term successor to Mateusz Klich’s position in the side. Although, the young American still has a long way toward reproducing the Polish international’s overall production.

Mateusz Klich will be working closely with Brenden Aaronson as they approach the new Premier League season
Leeds United’s Mateusz Klich in action during their Premier League match against Manchester City

Aside from being a tremendous presser, Klich also provided more than his fair share of shots and shot-creating actions. And while Klich was not a gifted passer, he was adept at getting into pockets of space and in position to receive passes, particularly in the penalty area.

By comparison, Aaronson’s goal and shot production stats in the Austrian Bundesliga were quite poor considering the relatively weak level of competition. His ability to create shots for others is also not all too impressive and is unlikely to improve Leeds’ Premier League 2022 odds.

But Aaronson did still provide his share of assists at Salzburg, and given his relatively young age, the hope is that he can develop more of his offensive game in the future.

At present, though, he can offer his young legs that can run all day and his pressing skills, which are welcome additions to a Leeds side that value both.

Will Aaronson prove to be a smart signing?

One could argue that despite Aaronson’s elite pressing ability, Leeds might have overpaid for the young midfielder given his current overall skill set, notably his underwhelming offensive production.

With Raphinha – who was signed for a mere £17 million in 2020, an absolute bargain in hindsight – possibly set to leave in the summer and question marks over Patrick Bamford after an injury-hit season, Leeds could have used an attacking midfielder who could actually make a significant difference in their attack.

But with Klich now well into his 30s, there was no doubt that Leeds needed an injection of youth and fresh legs in midfield for next season, so Aaronson’s arrival should be much welcomed. And while he is unlikely to provide too many Premier League 2022 highlights, at just 21 years of age, Aaronson could still make major improvements on the offensive side of the game.

So Leeds’ Aaronson signing should be considered a bet for the future than a move for the present. Although, with his familiarity with Marsch’s system, the hope is Aaronson will be put in a position to succeed and contribute this year, then gradually grow at Elland Road.


 

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Premier League: Can Manchester United Get Another Big Year from CR7?

Summer is always a mad time for Premier League fans. The wait for the new season is made all the more exciting (or torturous depending on your perspective) as clubs across the land fight to get the best players, while keeping their own crown jewels.

Last year the emotional return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United, after an absence of 12 years, wrote all the headlines, and he started his second stint at the Theatre of Dreams in fine fashion as the Red Devils climbed towards the top of the league.

But it has been a long campaign and United’s Premier League 2022 results over the last few weeks of the season were little short of woeful, culminating in a sixth-place finish and a disappointing points total of 58 points.

35 points behind champions Manchester City and just 23 above the relegation zone is not what CR7 envisaged on his return.

Ronaldo had a strange season at Old Trafford; he was their top-scorer with 18 goals at an impressive rate of one goal per 137 minutes, with only Golden Boot winners Mohamed Salah and Heung-Min Son scoring more. He won four of the club’s ‘Player of the Month’ awards and in the Premier League he was involved in 42 per cent of the club’s goals.

But he has cut a frustrated figure at times and possibly feels let down by some of the players around him. The off-field shame of Mason Greenwood was a blow to the club, and Paul Pogba has continued his quest to become the most frustrating and enigmatic talent ever to be seen in the Premier League.

UEFA Nations League
BELGIUM
NETHERLANDS
1X2 Netherlands @ 3.10
Over 2.75 @ 2.20
Total Goals 2-3 @ 1.81
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

And, off the field too, Ronaldo was dismayed by the lack of progress at the club since his departure in 2009, discovering that the swimming pool at the Carrington training ground had not been updated since he last had a dip there. He told staff the faulty tiles were a health and safety risk and so the main pool and plunge pool has been refurbished.

That was an embarrassing intervention for Manchester United and, elsewhere in the media, questions have been asked whether Ronaldo has been responsible for some disharmony within the squad, notably by former Liverpool playing legend John Barnes. The ex-England winger has questioned Ronaldo’s attitude, claiming that he has caused disunity. But coming from a Liverpool man in the wake of the Merseysiders’ Champions League disappointment, maybe this is a bit of mischief.

Manchester United fans won’t be listening to Barnes, that’s for sure! 

Ten Hag simply wants goals from CR7

Incoming head coach Erik ten Hag has been asked whether Ronaldo can fit into his framework and philosophy, and he gave a short answer when quizzed on what the Portuguese star will bring to the team in the new campaign.

His one-word response was: “Goals.”

Fair enough. And if he can match the 24 from 38 games in all competitions then Ronaldo is certainly worth another year to the club, but he needs another world-class scorer alongside him. Marcus Rashford hasn’t moved on in the last two campaigns and, with Edinson Cavani on the way out of the club, Ten Hag needs to find more firepower.

Can Erik ten Hag help Cristiano Ronaldo rediscover his form in the next Premier League season?
New Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag watches from the stands during a Premier League match between Crystal Palace and United at Selhurst Park

Without Ronaldo, the Red Devils were toothless last season. In the eight games he missed, they won just once, a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa in the FA Cup and, overall, they lost five and drew the other two. 

When the new season begins I suspect the opening Premier League 2022 betting odds

will predict another battle for Manchester United to try to win a top-f