Analyst: Alex Christodoulou
Feb 22, 2019 04:24 PM
Reds or Red Devils? Old foes fight for more than bragging rights
EPL action returns this weekend after an FA Cup intermission and it doesn't get any better, with Liverpool and Manchester United set to duke it out in the North West derby.
The match has huge implications for the title race, as Liverpool look to reclaim top spot on the ladder.
Before that, the attention shifts to the relegation battle, with both Fulham and Southampton hoping to cause an upset when they travel to West Ham and Arsenal respectively.
West Ham vs Fulham
EPL Odds: West Ham $1.83 / Draw $3.60 / Fulham $4.20
The round resumes on Saturday morning AEST, so EPL punters should be looking to get their EPL tips in by Friday.
And while this fixture may not be the most glamorous London derby of the season, from Fulham's point of view, it will certainly be the most important.
That's because it's panic stations down at Craven Cottage, with Fulham looking like heading straight back down to the Championship after the briefest of stints in the top flight.
The Cottagers are currently sitting 8 points from safety and at this time of the season, that is a huge gap.
This is reflected with the bookies, who are offering the EPL odds of $1.08 for Claudio Ranieri's men to go down.
Winning as many games as they can is vital, and that starts here against the Hammers.
However, the problem for Fulham all campaign has been their terrible away record.
Remarkably, the Cottagers have the worst away record out of any team from Europe's top five leagues this season.
Ranieri's men have only picked up two points on the road all season, with draws coming against Newcastle and Brighton.
That form won't stack up against a West Ham side who typically up their game in London derbies.
In their previous four, the Hammers have recorded three wins (against Arsenal, Palace and Fulham), and one draw.
When these teams last met on December 16 at Craven Cottage, West Ham won 2-0.
The Irons were without Marko Arnautovic that day, who is arguably their best player.
He is expected to start here, which will only pose Claudio Ranieri further headaches.
Key EPL Stat
- Fulham have lost 10 of their previous 11 EPL away games: West Ham to win @ $1.83
EPL Betting Tip: West Ham to win @ $1.83
Reasoning: Fulham's away form is too bad to tip anything else.
Arsenal vs Southampton
EPL Odds: Arsenal $1.40 / Draw $4.33 / S'ton $7
This is a match that will have a significant bearing on the EPL table on two different fronts.
That's because it sees a side gunning for a top four spot host a team desperate to rise out of the drop zone.
Southampton have called the EPL home since 2012, but are in perilous danger of being relegated.
Last time out they suffered a crushing 2-1 home defeat to fellow relegation battlers Cardiff City.
Based on that form, you'd have to say that the Saints will be easy pickings for the Gunners at the Emirates.
However, this is a fixture that, for whatever reason, Southampton always seem to rise for.
Spurs fans will gleefully recall their Christmas present in 2015 when the Saints thumped Arsenal 4-0.
Or even earlier this season, when Southampton prevailed 3-2 over the Gunners.
Both of these shock wins came on the South Coast, and beating Arsenal at the Emirates is a different kettle of fish.
However, the Saints' 2-0 victory at the Emirates in late 2016 shows it can be done.
And considering Southampton will be desperate to pick up points in every game from now until season's end, don't be surprised if there's another shock result here.
Arsenal won't be full of confidence, after coming off one of their most embarrassing defeats in recent memory.
The Gunners lost 1-0 to Belarusian side BATE Borisov in the Europa League.
Before that, Arsenal made tough work of a 2-1 victory against EPL minnows Huddersfield Town.
In fact, since their 2-0 victory over a struggling Chelsea on January 20, the Gunners have been on the slippery-dip, losing comprehensively to both Manchester clubs.
Based on that form, you wouldn't be tipping them with any confidence here.
Key EPL Stat
- Arsenal have won 25 of their previous 26 EPL day matches as a home favourite: Arsenal to win @ $1.40
EPL Betting Tip: Double chance- Southampton to win or draw @ $2.70
Reasoning: This is one of those EPL games that just has smell of an upset about it.
Southampton seem to find an extra gear when they play the Gunners, and with the threat of relegation looming, expect 100% effort from the visitors.
Manchester United vs Liverpool
EPL Odds: United $3 / Draw $3.30 / Reds $2.25
The EPL's greatest rivalry takes centre stage this weekend, in a match that has enormous implications on Liverpool's title hopes.
The Reds will face their biggest challenge yet, in attempting to go to a rejuvenated Old Trafford and come back with all three points.
While it will be hard, it's exactly the remedy needed to cure Liverpool fans' increasing doubts of whether they can hold on for the EPL title.
From a Man U point of view, they'd love nothing more than to give Liverpool a morale-crushing defeat just as the title race heats up.
Ask any Manchester United fan, and they'd rather see cross-town rivals Man City win the league than the old enemy Liverpool.
The atmosphere will be intense, in a match that promises to be season's best.
Coming in, it's unquestionable that the Red Devils have the better form.
It was Liverpool's 3-1 victory over Manchester United on December 17 that proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back, and led to Mourinho being replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Since Solskjaer took over, the Red Devils have won 13 of their 15 games and only tasted defeat once, against French giants PSG in the Champions League.
Paul Pogba is once again playing like one of the world's best midfielders, with Man U beginning to score for fun.
Furthermore, the defensive problems under Mourinho have also been solved, with the Red Devils keeping 3 clean sheets in their past 4 games
The Mancunians will also enter this game full of confidence, after coming off a recent 2-0 away victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup.
In front of their home fans, they will be hard to stop.
Or will they?
Liverpool will take some confidence from the fact that in Man U's last two home games, they have suffered their only two blemishes under Solskjaer.
And while the likes of Mane, Salah and Firmino haven't been at their brilliant best of late, they have the potential to flick the switch and pile on the goals.
All three will need to find something if the Reds are to come away with three points.
Liverpool will also be boosted by the return of defender Virgil van Dijk, who is not just a rock in defence, but a threat from set pieces.
With so much on the line, look for defence to play a big part in this game.
Key EPL Stat
- The previous 8 match-ups between these teams have produced an average of 1.75 total goals per game: Total match goals to be under 2.5 @ $2.01
EPL Betting Tip: Total match goals to be under 2.5 @ $2.01
Reasoning: Don't be surprised if both managers set up to play very conservative football, with both aware of how deflating a defeat would be for their fans.
With even more on the line in this North West derby than usual, a tight, low-scoring game is on the cards.