With just a few games left in the Premier League teams are jostling for final positions, and Liverpool’s participation in the Champions League is still in the balance. The Reds have played 36 of their fixtures but may yet require maximum points from their last two games against West Ham and Middlesbrough. It’s a trip to the London stadium to take on the Hammers on Sunday first, before they welcome the relegated Teesiders to Anfield next week.
One of the chasing pack is Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, who could still catch Liverpool if the Reds slip up, but the Portuguese manager has made clear his priorities for the end of the season. He fielded a very different team in the 2-0 defeat at Arsenal last week, to the one which qualified for the Europa League final in midweek against Celta Vigo. The Red Devils travel to White Hart Lane to take on second-placed Spurs, with Mourinho insisting that the Europa League and subsequent qualification for the Champions League is top of his list.
The title may have slipped away from Spurs, but it was their excellent run of form which made the race competitive again after Chelsea had looked like running away with it. Tottenham have won 16 domestic home games in a row, and are fully deserving of 2nd place. Despite losing out on the big prize, Spurs should still be motivated to secure a home win against United.
West Ham v Liverpool
It was the Hammers who were the thorn in Spurs’ side last week as they beat Pochettino’s men 1-0 at the London stadium to end lingering title hopes. Could they cause similar damage to Liverpool’s Champions League hopes?
West Ham are +126 with 188Bet to avoid defeat on their own patch, which looks a good price on recent form. Since restoring Spanish goalkeeper Adrian to his starting line up, Slaven Bilic has watched his side keep three clean sheets in a row against Everton, Stoke and Spurs. The latter two games have seen a switch to a back three of Fonte, Reid and Collins, which is proving to be a formidable wall of defence. It’s five games without defeat for West Ham, and they’re unbeaten in the last five fixtures versus Liverpool.
The Reds have won three away games on the trot against Watford, West Brom and Stoke, but their limitations have been exposed in recent games too. Jurgen Klopp’s side fell to a shock 2-1 Anfield defeat to Crystal Palace, before Milner’s penalty miss cost them dear in the 0-0 draw with Southampton. Prior to those three away wins, it had been five Premier League road games without victory for Liverpool, a run which included defeats at Hull and Leicester. Although they may snatch all three points, the Reds are not worthy of quotes of odds-against to win on Sunday.
Another bet to catch the eye in the same game is under 2.5 goals at +106 with Marathonbet. Four of the Hammers’ last five have had less than three goals, and as stated, their defence hasn’t been breached in the last three matches. Three of Liverpool’s last five have also been under the 2.5 goal line, and one suspects this will be more of a tight affair than a free-flowing exhibition.
Tottenham v Manchester United
It’s just three days since Manchester United scraped past Celta Vigo in the Europa League semi final, and just ten days until the final on May 24th against Ajax. The Red Devils will play three Premier League games during those ten days, against Spurs, Southampton and Crystal Palace. One suspects Jose Mourinho will use his players sparingly during those games as he prepares for the big final, and this particular fixture comes quickly after Thursday’s tough semi.
For Spurs, the loss at West Ham more or less ruined their title chances, but it was optimistic in the extreme anyway to think that they could catch Chelsea. What they have done is out-perform almost every other side in the league as they pushed the leaders all the way, and a second season in the Champions League will follow. Spurs are strong at home and should have too much firepower for what is expected to be an under-strength Manchester United side.
West Ham or Draw
Sunday 14th May, 14:15 GMT
West Ham v Liverpool – Under 2.5 Goals
Sunday 14th May, 14:15 GMT
Tottenham to beat Man United
Sunday 14th May, 16:30 GMT