West Ham v Arsenal
Saturday April 9, 9:45pm
West Ham’s bid for a top-four finish was hampered by Palace’s equaliser at Upton Park on Saturday following a somewhat harsh red card for Cheikhou Kouyate that has since been rescinded. Arsenal, meanwhile, built on their 2-0 win at Goodison Park prior to the international break with an emphatic 4-0 win at home over Watford last weekend to keep their slim title hopes alive as they trail Leicester by 11 points with a game in hand.
West Ham have only lost two of their last 18 games but they’ve conceded two goals in each of their last three, which will be a concern for Slaven Bilic. Their record at Upton Park in the Croatian’s first season is W7-D6-L2, though both those defeats came in their opening two home games.
Since then, Chelsea, Stoke, Southampton, Liverpool, Man City and Spurs have all failed to win at Upton Park. Indeed, the Hammers’ record against top-five teams at home and away this term is W3-D2-L2 as they’ve only lost at White Hart Lane and at home to Leicester in their second game of the season.
A disastrous run towards the end of February saw the Gunners follow a 2-0 home loss to Barcelona with back-to-back Premier League defeats at Old Trafford and at home to Swansea, following that with a home defeat against Watford in the FA Cup soon after as their season was torn apart.
Their away record this term is W8-D4-L4 but they’ve only won three of their last 10 on the road, all at bottom-half sides Everton, Bournemouth and Villa.
Indeed, their record when travelling to sides between fourth and eighth since the start of last season is W0-D3-L5, with defeats at United and Southampton this term together with a goalless draw at Stoke.
Part of the reason for West Ham’s struggles defensively in recent weeks has been the absence of Winston Reid, James Collins and James Tomkins but that trio are expected to be fit for this game.
As a result, we expect the Hammers to continue their strong record against the top teams and stretch their unbeaten home record to 14 games.
Seven of the Gunners’ eight road wins this season have come at sides in the bottom-nine and they could well struggle once again against stronger opposition here.
Tottenham v Manchester United
Monday April 11, 1:00am
Harry Kane salvaged a point for Tottenham at Anfield last weekend and whether that was a good result in what was probably the toughest fixture in Tottenham’s run-in remains to be seen. With Leicester’s win against Southampton, Spurs are seven points back heading into this round and will know what the Foxes have done this week, as they travel to Sunderland earlier on Sunday.
Manchester United, meanwhile, kept their top-four hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Everton and they now trail their Manchester rivals in fourth by just one point. West Ham are only two points further back in sixth in what should be a fascinating battle for that final Champions League spot.
Spurs have had the best attack and best defence in the division this season and head into this fixture having won eight of their last 11, with just one defeat in this time. Their record at White Hart Lane this term is W9-D5-L2, with four of those wins coming in their last five.
When hosting top-six sides they’re W2-D1-L1 as they’ve beaten West Ham and City but were held to a draw against Arsenal and lost to Leicester. Interestingly, Spurs failed to keep a clean sheet in any of these games, despite the fact that they’ve otherwise been excellent defensively at home this season, with seven clean sheets in their other 12 games.
Man United’s last four games have all had fewer than two goals as they seem to have reverted to the boring approach that has characterised much of their. That won’t concern Louis Van Gaal as they’ve won three of their last four 1-0, this after a blip defensively when they conceded twice against both Sunderland and Arsenal.
Their away record this term is W6-D4-L6, with four of those defeats coming in their last eight away games as they’ve won just two of their last nine on the road. When travelling to top-four sides this season their record is W1-D1-L1 as they beat City, drew with Leicester and were beaten at the Emirates.
United managed to score in two of these games and have also scored at Anfield and Stamford Bridge in recent times and while they’ve improved defensively in the last few weeks, they’ve only managed two clean sheets in their last 10 on the road.
Given Spurs have failed to prevent the top teams from scoring at home this term that means the best bet in this one looks to be backing both teams to find the net, particularly with Spurs needing to chase all three points to close the gap at the top.
Spurs have also managed just two clean sheets in their last seven, but they have managed to score in 10 of their last 11, including seven in their last three at home thanks largely to the excellent form of Harry Kane.
With Rashford and Martial also impressing for United in recent weeks, there could be goals in this one.