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The Premier League midweek programme has thrown up a corker at the Bridge with Chelsea and Spurs clashing after both suffered defeats on Sunday.
For the visitors, their outside chance of joining Manchester City and Liverpool in the race for the EPL title suffered what’s likely to be a fatal blow as they slumped to a disastrous 2-1 defeat at Burnley. If that wasn’t bad enough, manager Mauricio Pochettino has been hit with an FA charge and possible touchline ban after he clashed with referee Mike Dean on the pitch after the game.
The Argentinian, frustrated that his team’s outside chances of the winning the title had gone, was furious that Burnley’s opening goal came as the result of a corner that TV replays confirmed should have been a Spurs goal kick. Despite Tottenham equalising, a late Burnley winner was sufficient to trigger a furious reaction from not just Pochettino, but also his coaching team.
Things weren’t any more harmonious for the Blues, whose Carabao Cup final against Man City ended not only in defeat but also in bizarre circumstances with a very pubic spat between manager Maurizio Sarri and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
TOP TIP! – Spurs to win 2-1 @ 12/1 13.00 +1200 12.00 12.00 -0.08 / Kane as last goalscorer @ 9/2 5.50 +450 4.50 4.50 -0.22
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For those that haven’t seen or heard, the game ended 0-0 after 90 minutes and stayed that way as it approached the end of extra-time when Kepa went down with cramp for the second time. Sarri attempted to substitute him and replace him with ex-Man City keeper (and penalty specialist) Willy Caballero, but Kepa refused.
The stand-off that ensued was unedifying and embarrassing for everyone involved with Chelsea and made worse by the Blues losing the penalty shoot-out, despite Kepa saving one spot-kick.
So, both London sides go into this game off the back off defeats and controversy, which makes it a tricky one to call, although for Spurs the return from injury of Harry Kane – who scored their goal at Burnley – is a positive sign.
Notoriously, Stamford Bridge has proven a very tricky venue for Spurs and even with Chelsea in apparent disarray, the Blues’ fans will be desperate to put one over their bitter London rivals.
While the bookies are finding it hard to split the two teams, they are edging towards Chelsea, on the basis of there still being a lot of good players in the Chelsea squad who, when they click, can beat anyone in the league. This therefore leaves the value with Spurs who will be looking of exploit the off-field troubles at the Bridge, and we can actually see them adding to Chelsea’s woes with a narrow win.
With Kane fit again, Pochettino’s men will be keen to avoid two EPL defeats on the spin and we strongly fancy 2-1 Spurs, which is on offer at 12/1 13.00 +1200 12.00 12.00 -0.08 with Bet365. Also it’s not beyond the realms that Kane will notch the winner, so consider him as last goalscorer 9/2 5.50 +450 4.50 4.50 -0.22 with BetVictor.
TOP TIP! – Deeney as first goalscorer @ 14/1 15.00 +1400 14.00 14.00 -0.07 / Liverpool to win 3-1 @ 11/1 12.00 +1100 11.00 11.00 -0.09
Before all the shenanigans had kicked off at Wembley, in Sunday’s early kick-off, Liverpool missed a chance to open a three-point gap at the top of the Premier League when they failed to beat an injury-ravaged Manchester United.
Despite plenty of hype, it was a game of relatively little incident and one that was surprisingly low on quality, with the Reds’ much vaunted attack looking a little listless and toothless. United lost three players to injury on the day and had very much a patched-up look by the end of the 90 minutes, but spurred on by a noisy Old Trafford, in the latter stages it was they who looked the most likely to win the game.
If Liverpool do miss out on the title, Sunday may be an afternoon they look back on as key but what they certainly can’t afford to do is miss out on points in this midweek clash with Watford. In many ways this has become a must-win for Klopp’s men.
The Hornets though are tough opponents and as occupants of seventh place in the table are very much ‘the best of the rest’ right now – a position they currently share with Wolves. This makes this a tough test for the Reds, who will be keen to not surrender any more ground on City and who will be desperate for their attacking triumvirate of Salah, Sane and Firmino to start firing again as they did in the first half of the season.
Good news for Klopp is that Naby Keita and Trent Alexander-Arnold, both of whom missed the game at Old Trafford, look likely to be available for selection, although the aforementioned Firmino will face a late fitness test on an injured ankle
Watford boss, Javi Gracia has fewer injury worries than Klopp, with only Kiko Femenia and Jose Holebas unavailable for selection, and has been talking up his side’s chances ahead of the Anfield clash, and with good reason. This is something of a ‘free hit’ for the Hornets who go into the game off the back of two wins.
We can, however, see Liverpool’s greater need for points being the decisive factor and while it’s quite plausible that the visitors can take the lead consider Troy Deeney as first goalscorer at 14/1 15.00 +1400 14.00 14.00 -0.07 with 188bet, we can see the Red machine eventually kicking into life and securing a 3-1 win 11/1 12.00 +1100 11.00 11.00 -0.09 with Bet365.
TOP TIP! – Man City to win 4-1 @ 14/1 15.00 +1400 14.00 14.00 -0.07 / Sane to score twice @ 5/1 6.00 +500 5.00 5.00 -0.20
Off the back of City securing their first trophy of a possible four this season, there will be an air of celebration at the Etihad for the visit of West Ham, but don’t expect Pep Guardiola to allow this to filter through to his players.
Any City celebrations will have been restrained and brief, and a mammoth task awaits the Hammers as City look to squeeze even more pressure onto Liverpool. The lifting of the Carabao Cup on Sunday was obviously the Citizens’ highlight of the weekend but not far behind it would have been the Reds dropping those two points at Old Trafford.
Given that West Ham beat Fulham last Friday, to give them their first win in five and which effectively secured their place in mid-table, they will head to the Etihad minus the pressure of a relegation battle. While some may see this as a good thing, against a rampant City this could lead to a very difficult night.
With the scent of the title still in their nostrils we simply can’t see City slipping up here and can foresee a painful evening for West Ham, although it’s not out of the question that the visitors, amidst the mayhem, could sneak a goal. We’re going big and going 4-1 City 14/1 15.00 +1400 14.00 14.00 -0.07 with Bet365 with Leroy Sane getting a brace 5/1 6.00 +500 5.00 5.00 -0.20 also with Bet365.
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