Neal Simpson
top tips

The Premier League's dirtiest fixture and other top-flight bets to consider this weekend

We’re tipping Tony Pulis to spring a surprise and Dele Alli to continue his terrific form.

Red card in first half of Merseyside derby – 10/1

FOR THE MOST part, both Liverpool and Everton have been impeccably well-behaved this season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side may play with high-energy but that hasn’t meant crossing the line into overtly-aggressive tactics. They are yet to pick up a red card this season and have accumulated just 46 penalty points – the second-best tally in the Premier League. Jordan Henderson has been flashed a yellow card eight times but that’s as bad as it’s got.

It’s slightly similar at Goodison Park. Everton have the sixth-best disciplinary record in the league so far with just one dismissal to go along with their 48 yellow cards for a tally of 51. Gareth Barry leads the way with eight bookings while Idrissa Gueye has picked up seven.

Still, a Merseyside derby is, historically, the dirtiest top-flight fixture: 21 red cards in 49 Premier League clashes between the sides. Some games have been a lot worse than others – most notably in September 1999 when there were three sending-offs.

Britain Soccer Premier League Mori holds his Everton badge as he walks off at Anfield last year. Jon Super Jon Super

But when there’s a spark, it tends to be a big one. The last red came at Anfield in April 2016 when Ramiro Funes Mori went in studs-first on Divock Origi’s ankle.

Earlier this season, Ross Barkley was incredibly fortunate to remain on the pitch when the teams met at Goodison after a shocking challenge on Henderson.

10/1 is good value here so we reckon it’s worth a punt.

West Ham to score two or more goals v Hull – 9/2

Slaven Bilic’s side may not be in the best run of form (three straight defeats) but they know where the goal is.

From their last six fixtures, they’ve scored two or more times in four of them. And with a trip to Hull this weekend – a side that leaked four against Everton last time out and three away to Leicester shortly before that – it looks likely the Hammers will continue their goalscoring form.

West Ham United v Leicester City - Premier League - London Stadium Adam Davy Adam Davy

It could be worth sticking down a few bob on Andre Ayew also. He’s managed four goals this season – three of them have come in his last four games.

Dele Alli to score twice for Tottenham v Burnley – 12/1

In the absence of Harry Kane, Tottenham have been able to rely on their exciting, goalscoring 20-year-old to get them through games. In his last four, he’s struck four times for the club. Handily for betting purposes, he’s also on penalty duty with Kane sidelined so that’s always worth a little extra.

He’s managed a couple of braces this term already – against Southampton and Watford – and both occasions were away from White Hart Lane.

Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City - Premier League - White Hart Lane Steven Paston Steven Paston

He’s at Turf Moor this weekend against a Burnley side that can be stingy. However, the Clarets – despite holding Sunderland last time out – have kept just one clean-sheet in their last seven games. So, things are not quite water-tight defensively for Sean Dyche’s side.

And if anyone can exploit that, it’s Alli.

West Brom to beat Manchester United by one goal – 11/1

Yes, we’re all aware of the terrific unbeaten run that Jose Mourinho’s side are on. But, all good things, etc.

Could this be the weekend?

Well, they have big selection problems. No Ibrahimovic. No Pogba. No Smalling. No Jones. No Herrera. Marcos Rojo is doubtful having only got back from international duty on Thursday. So, they may lack a little fluidity and creativity and be a bit more vulnerable defensively.

To compound matters, West Brom under Tony Pulis don’t give much away. In fact, the respect between both coaches is huge and you can see why. The defensive numbers are, for the most part, relatively similar.

From 27 games, United have kept 10 clean-sheets and conceded more than once on just three occasions.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea - The Hawthorns Nick Potts Nick Potts

From 29 games, West Brom have kept five clean-sheets but conceded just one goal 15 times. So, effectively, West Brom have been competitive in 20 of their 29 league fixtures. And that’s down to Pulis and his pragmatic ways. It says much that centre-back Gareth McAuley is their joint-top scorer in all competitions with seven goals and that they place a huge emphasis on getting the ball wide and forcing set-pieces.

Back in December at the Hawthorns, it took a brace from Ibrahimovic to win it for United. It will be interesting to see how they fare on Saturday.

Man City to beat Arsenal and five or more goals to be scored in the game – 11/2

From their last six games, Arsene Wenger’s side have leaked more than two goals in four of the fixtures: 3-1 against West Brom, 3-1 against Liverpool, 3-1 against Chelsea, 2-1 against Watford. So, they’re not in the best shape defensively. Especially against the league’s elite.

But, you would expect some kind of response. After all, by Sunday, they could be sitting outside the top-six – depending on how Everton fare against Liverpool.

Arsene Wenger file photo Martin Rickett Martin Rickett

You can never be quite sure of City either. They may still have Fernandinho as a makeshift right-back while Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling aren’t 100% fit. Still, City know where the goal is. They’ve managed two or more goals in 19 league games – the same rate as Chelsea.

And if this is a shootout – which appears likely – one would expect City to edge it.

Originally published on Friday

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