West Ham v Tottenham
Thursday March 3, 6:45am
Having picked up just one point from trips to Southampton and Norwich, West Ham got back to winning ways at Upton Park with a 1-0 victory over Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland to move back up to sixth and stretch their unbeaten run at home to 11 games. Meanwhile, Tottenham’s run of five straight wins looked in danger of coming to an end as they trailed Swansea 1-0 at home after an hour before Nacer Chadli and Danny Rose found late goals to turn things around and keep Spurs within two points of Leicester. With their North London rivals losing at Old Trafford, Spurs are now into 3.05 to win the title, the shortest they’ve been all season.
Only Leicester have suffered fewer home defeats than the Hammers this season, with Bournemouth and the league leaders the only sides to come away from Upton Park with three points in West Ham’s opening two home games. Since then, only Man City of the current top-six have travelled to West Ham and they picked up a 2-2 draw, though the Irons did beat Liverpool 2-0 in their home game prior to that one.
Slavin Bilic’s side have scored in 12 of their 13 home matches this season, the exception being a goalless draw with Stoke and they’ve only conceded three goals in their last six at home, keeping four clean sheets.
Their record when hosting top-four teams since 2013/14 is a modest W1-D2-L7, though they managed to score in eight of these games but didn’t manage a clean sheet and as a result eight of these games saw at least three goals. Indeed, under Bilic the Hammers have managed to score in all five of their games against top-four teams this season, with four of these seeing at least three goals.
Despite their excellent form, Spurs have managed just two clean sheets in their last nine and five of their six wins during their current run have come against sides that are currently 10th or lower, the exception being their 2-1 win at the Etihad in their penultimate game.
Spurs’ W7-D5-L1 away record this season is as good as anyone else in the league, with that sole defeat coming at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season. United are one of the three sides that Spurs have travelled to this season who are between 5th and 10th, the others being Watford and Southampton, whom they beat 2-1 and 2-0 respectively.
Despite their excellent away record, Spurs have managed just three away clean sheets in 13 games, with two of those against struggling Norwich and Sunderland and the other against Southampton in the midst of a run where they’d lost four of five games and failed to score in three of these.
West Ham have welcomed back Dimitri Payet back to their side in recent weeks following his injury and while they only managed to score seven goals in the eight games he missed (0.88 gpg), they’ve managed 34 in the 19 games he’s started this term (1.79 gpg), scoring at least twice in six of nine home games with him. Given West Ham’s strong record of finding the net at home and Spurs’ lack of recent clean sheets and on the road in general this season, we’re backing both teams to find the net in this one.
Indeed, for those looking to side with Mauricio Pochettino’s men, we’d advise backing them to win with both teams to score at 4.2, as has been the case in nine of their last 13 wins, three of their last four road wins and four of West Ham’s six defeats this season.
Liverpool v Manchester City
Thursday March 3, 7:00am
Having contested the League Cup Final on Sunday afternoon, these two sides meet in the league just three days later as Liverpool will look to get revenge for their penalty shootout heartbreak. Both teams are struggling somewhat in the league as Liverpool have managed just two wins in their last seven, against Villa and Norwich, whilst Manchester City have lost a couple of top of the table clashes at the Etihad against Leicester and Spurs ahead of this fixture.
As a result of their meeting at Wembley these sides have a fixture to make up but heading into this game Liverpool sit in 9th, nine points behind City in 4th, who trail leaders Leicester by a further nine points.
Jurgen Klopp has now been in charge of Liverpool for 18 games in the league now and their results read W7-D5-L6 which gives them a Points Per Game of 1.44 that is in fact lower than the 1.5 Brendan Rogers managed in the opening eight games of the season. Liverpool’s home record since Klopp took charge is W2-D4-L2 (PPG 1.25) with pair of 1-0 wins over Swansea and Leicester, a 1-0 defeat against United and a thrilling 3-3 draw with Arsenal amongst those results.
Indeed, they’ve been level at the break in all eight of their games at Anfield under the German and while he managed wins at City and Chelsea together with a draw at Spurs early on in his tenure, he’s struggled when hosting the top teams, with the exception of that win over Leicester.
Interestingly, during his best years at Dortmund between 2010/11 and 2013/14 Klopp had an excellent W14-D5-L5 record against top-four sides, but four of those five defeats came at home as his sides seemingly perform best on the counter against the top teams, rather than when forced to take the initiative at home.
Having won their opening five games without conceding, many thought that City would stroll to the Premier League title and they were as short as 1.29 so it’s remarkable to think what an extraordinary season we’ve had since then. After winning their opening three away games, City’s road record since is W2-D4-L3 in what has been a tough schedule as they’ve travelled to six of the current top-eight.
They’ve managed draws at West Ham, Leicester and United, but lost at Arsenal, Stoke and Spurs. However, their record at sides between 5th and 8th since Pellegrini took over in 2013/14 is a solid W6-D3-L2 as they led at the break in five of these six wins and four were by more than one goal.
In addition to the defeat at Stoke this season, the other side that City lost to during that sample was Liverpool and the Merseysiders boast a strong recent record against the Citizens as they’ve won three of their last four meetings in the league. Indeed, City haven’t won at Anfield since 2002/03 but this could be their best opportunity for a long time.
City have welcomed Vincent Kompany back to the side in recent weeks and their record when he’s started this season is W6-D2-L1 as they’ve only conceded three goals in the nine games.
Liverpool have little left to play for in the league with the top-four out of reach and after going from the high of equalising late in the Cup Final to missing out on penalties, they could struggle to get up for this one while City will be buoyant and so we’re siding with them.