Another dramatic midweek slate of games served up even more storylines in this season’s EPL campaign. Liverpool’s shock home loss to Brighton has the champions on the verge of dropping out of the title race. Defeat to leaders Manchester City this weekend will certainly make it difficult for Jurgen Klopp’s side to repeat last season’s success. Manchester United remain City’s closest rivals after scoring nine times against hapless Southampton on Tuesday.
Burnley vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Under 2.5 goals (-177)
Brighton has shown in the last 10 days they are good enough to beat the best teams in the league. The Seagulls followed up their 1-0 win at Tottenham last week with a repeat scoreline at Anfield to ease their relegation fears. Their challenge going forward is to maintain the standard set in both those victories to pull away from the drop zone in the coming weeks and months. Burnley suffered their customary loss to Manchester City earlier in the week which ended their seven-game run without a loss. Sean Dyche will want his players to bounce back from that home defeat to beat their opponents who are currently two points and two places ahead of the Clarets in the standings. The reverse fixture was one of the dullest games of the season with no goals scored. It would be nice if these two sides could muster one goal at least this weekend, but there might not be multiple goals at Turf Moor.
Manchester United vs. Everton
Tie at half-time (+143)
Manchester United became the first club to score nine goals in a Premier League game for a second time when they hammered Southampton on Tuesday at Old Trafford. Everton will be a much tougher nut to crack than the Saints, who plotted their own downfall by having a man sent off with just 72 seconds on the clock. United and Everton have picked up more points away from home so that is a good omen for Everton who won 2-1 at Leeds on Wednesday. Carlo Ancelotti has his side well organized and they are hard to break down, especially in the first half. They have gone 12 league games without trailing at the interval and they will hope to get to the break at the Theatre of Dreams on level terms or better. One of United’s nine goals came from the penalty spot which was their sixth of the season. United are unbeaten in their last four with Everton and they have won the last two by two-goal margins.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Leicester City
Under 2.5 goals (-148)
Wolves has been one of the biggest disappointments this season and they go into this home game with Leicester 14th in the standing. There is no pressure on manager Nuno Espirito Santo, whose side ended an eight-game run without a win in midweek when they beat nine-man Arsenal at Molineux. Leicester’s form has left many analysts scratching their heads. They sit third in the table, but their 3-1 loss at home to Leeds recently was a shock and denied them the win that would see them second. Five of the last six league and cup meetings have produced two goals or fewer. The exception was a 4-3 win for Wolves at Molineux two seasons ago when Diogo Jota scored a hat-trick for the home side. Two of the last three meetings have been goalless contests.
Liverpool vs. Manchester City
Under 2.5 goals (+120)
The standout fixture of the weekend takes place at Anfield, which used to be a fortress for the champions Liverpool. A run of 68 home league games without a loss was ended, surprisingly, by Burnley last week and was quickly followed by another surprise defeat by Brighton on Wednesday. A third straight loss on home soil would be unthinkable, but the way Manchester City are playing right now, it wouldn’t be a shock if Jurgen Klopp’s side slipped up again. If City were to win, then it could be the final nail in the coffin of Liverpool’s hopes of retaining the title they waited 30 years to win last season. The gap between the two sides is currently seven points and a 10-point gap with City having played a game less could be too much of a gap to overturn. City’s record at Anfield has been terrible since Nicolas Anelka scored twice in a 2-1 win on 3 May, 2003. The Citizens have gone 19 games at Anfield without a win and that includes the last 17 in the EPL. This would be a great time to end that winless run, but a point would not be the worst result for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Sheffield United vs. Chelsea
Chelsea HT/FT (+112)
Three wins in their last five league games have given Sheffield United a fighting chance of staying in the EPL. While that is an impressive turnaround for a team that failed to win any of their previous 17 contests, the gap between the Blades and safety is 11 points. It might be too much of a gap too close, but Chris Wilder’s side will fight until the final whistle of the season to make sure they avoid dropping out of the league. United decided to stick with Wilder through their rough start to the season while their opponents opted to replace Frank Lampard with PSG boss Thomas Tuchel three weeks ago. Tuchel has picked up seven points from his first three games in charge of the Blues to revive their hopes of finishing in the top four. In the reverse fixture, United took an early lead at Stamford Bridge, but finished on the wrong end of a 4-1 scoreline.
Chelsea’s last five league games have not produced three or more goals, but this could be the game where Tuchel removes the shackles and allows his players to play with more freedom. The last time Chelsea visited Bramall Lane, they were embarrassed 3-0 last July.
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