Adrian Clarke is on a run of six wins from his last eight Premier League Insights tips, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down…
I’m back from a week away and nicely recharged for another of these Premier League Insights columns!
We’ve had plenty of winners in recent weeks, so hopefully, that momentum continues at the weekend.
I want to start with a selection from one of the Sunday games…
IMPROVING UNITED TO EDGE OUT STUBBORN HAMMERS
Erik ten Hag is getting Manchester United straight. Constant Cristiano Ronaldo-related dramas aren’t making it easy for the Dutch disciplinarian, but I think we can all see with our own eyes that his side is taking shape.
They look sharper and more settled, and game by game, we are witnessing a stronger team ethic growing within the confines of Old Trafford.
On that subject, I think Ten Hag’s start as backable favourites (1.73) at home to West Ham United this weekend.
When you consider David Moyes’ horrible record away to the club he briefly managed (four draws, 11 defeats, no wins), that price looks relatively attractive.
Add in the Hammers’ away record at any of the ‘Big Six’ clubs since the start of 2020-21, which reads; Played 13, Won 0, Drawn 1, Lost 13, and it’s easy to see why I am leaning towards a home success in this one.
Under Moyes the east Londoners have been a very decent outfit but the Scot’s persistently cautious game plans in matches like this tend to end up with the same kind of outcome.
They compete but get beat.
To squeeze a bit more juice into my selection pricewise I’m keen on pairing Manchester United with a low goals angle.
With that in mind, West Ham’s solidity has to be respected. They have only leaked 12 goals this term, two shy of Newcastle United, who have the best defensive record.
Perhaps more interestingly, the Hammers are one of only two teams not to have been breached more than twice in a Premier League match this season. Amazingly, the other is Everton.
They know how to stay in games and very rarely offer up gifts or sudden collapses.
Can they make this a competitive affair at United? Absolutely. Yet I do think it’s a tall order for them to avoid defeat.
Ten Hag has already overseen home wins against Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool, and they were the better side in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea last time out.
Manchester United were recently held to a goalless draw at home by Newcastle United, but right now, I’d have to put the Magpies down as a stronger outfit than the east London raiders.
Two of 12 West Ham games have gone Over 2.5 goals this term, but I will resist taking the gamble on that or the Under 3.5 market.
My pick here is Manchester United to win and Under 4.5 goals to be scored in the match. I am happy to get a price of 2.0/Evens.
ATTACK IS THE BEST FORM OF DEFENCE FOR SWASHBUCKLING FULHAM
Fulham have been the surprise team in this season’s Premier League. Not only are they 8th (and ahead of Liverpool) after 12 matches, but they are also the division’s great entertainers. No one was predicting this!
Marco Silva is by nature a front-foot, aggressive head coach that wants to take the fight to opponents, but I didn’t envisage this much attacking output from the newly promoted Cottagers. Most expected them to be far more circumspect.
Their tactical approach is in part down to a lack of quality at the back. I suspect Silva understands his defenders are a little short at the highest level, so his focus has been on ensuring they hurt teams at the other end of the pitch.
The result has been a string of high-scoring Fulham games.
Matches involving them average 3.67 but that becomes 4 when you only take games at Craven Cottage into account.
Every match there has eclipsed 2.5 goals so far, with 11 of Fulham’s total of 12 Premier League fixtures featuring at least three goals too.
Aleksandar Mitrovic, that man mountain of a centre forward, has played a huge role in this but it’s not just about the Serbian. Buoyed by a fresh, positive approach we are seeing exciting displays from a number of previously unheralded players.
They will take the game to Everton on Saturday evening and try to outscore them.
This won’t be easy against a Toffees side that’s conceded just 12 times all season, but I don’t feel that’s going to be maintained over the long haul.
Yes, Conor Coady and James Tarkowski have formed a strong central defensive partnership but there has also been a huge reliance on Jordan Pickford to bail Everton out of trouble.
Not convinced? If you have doubts on that, check out Opta’s Expected Goals Against from Open Play numbers…
Fulham top that lost with an xG Against in Open Play of 16.86, and it’s Frank Lampard’s Toffees who are next in line with 13.52. They had ridden their luck at times, and that is not sustainable.
They are improving in attack, though. A fit-again Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Anthony Gordon make a tremendous difference, and off the back of a handsome 3-0 victory against Crystal Palace they will feel confident here.
This is one away match they will not sit back in. With a gettable three points on offer I see both managers (and sets of players) going toe to toe in pursuit of goals.
To me, it all adds up to an exciting affair that should feature Over 2.5 goals.
Given that it’s landed in 92 per cent of Fulham’s games, I’ll gladly take a price of 1.93 with Matchbook.
Adrian Clarke’s Premier League Tips
- Manchester United & Under 4.5 Goals vs West Ham United (2.0)
- Fulham vs Everton – Over 2.5 Goals (1.93)