What an incredible week Matchday 37 was in the Premier League. Liverpool took care of business against Southampton, notching a 2-1 victory to pull themselves within a point of Manchester City for first place. But how did they go from within three points to within just a single point? Don’t ask a fan of the Sky Blues, that’s for sure.
In the waning minutes of City’s match against West Ham, a match tied 2-2, by the way, they were awarded a penalty kick. Automatic, right? Apparently not. The attempt was saved, the score remained tied, and the match ended just a few minutes later in a 2-2 draw. As a result, Manchester City earned just a point and kept the door slightly open for Liverpool’s title shot.
If Manchester City wins this weekend, the title is theirs regardless of what happens in any other match. If they draw or lose, and Liverpool wins, the Reds will be awarded the Premier League crown. It’s a huge final weekend across the pond.
I expect both teams will take care of business this weekend, as both are heavy favorites. So for our final two best of the year, we’ll turn our attention to two unders.
Arsenal / Everton Under 2.5 (+120; DraftKings)
Poor Arsenal fans. This year, the Gunners started in the poorest form of any team in the Premier League – literally. They dropped each of their first three matches by a combined score of 9-0 and sat in dead-last place. Behind Norwich City, behind Burnley, behind Watford. But then they turned it on and stormed all the way up the table to fourth place. And they actually had legitimate aspirations of holding onto a top-four slot to earn a Champions League bid. Until the last two weeks.
Arsenal has dropped back-to-back matches to Tottenham – the team chasing them who has now overtaken them for fourth place – and Newcastle United, causing them to slip to fifth place. It’s not all bad; a Europa bid is theirs, but when a Champions League bid was all but locked up and then snatched away after two poor performances, it stings. And I expect that to carry over into this week’s match against Everton.
The Gunners can technically still leap over Tottenham for fourth place, but it’s not going to happen. Spurs play Norwich City, the last-place team in the league who’ve already been relegated for next season – they’re not going to lose. So, where is the motivation for Arsenal? There is none, in my opinion, and on top of that, I can’t imagine the Gunners being all that inspired to play this game after two enormous letdowns on back-to-back weeks. They also didn’t score in either of those two games, so they’re on a true dry spell.
As for Everton, I don’t expect much offense from them either. They’ve only scored 39 times on the year, which is fourth-worst in the Premier League, and there’s very little motivation on their end as well. Could they still fall down to 18th place and be relegated? Sure, they could, but it’s doubtful. They’re +750 to be relegated – essentially, both Leeds United and Burnley would have to win their games, and Everton would have to lose.
In a match that would have been full of fireworks in past years, I expect very few in this weekend’s installment of Arsenal vs. Everton. Play this under down to +105.
Manchester United / Crystal Palace Under 2.5 (+115; DraftKings)
Has there been a bigger disappointment in the Premier League this season than Manchester United? They’re in sixth place, and fans of most teams would sacrifice a limb for a chance at a Europa bid. But United isn’t “most teams.” Their fans expect them to contend for Premier League and Champions League titles every year. But just one win in their last five matches has sunk the Red Devils, and as was the case with my earlier write-up, it’s hard for me to find motivation in this match.
United cannot ascend any higher than sixth place. They can technically fall to seventh place, but they’d have to earn zero points, and West Ham would have to earn the full three. The Red Devils also just have not been scoring goals. They’ve been blanked three times in their last seven matches after being shut out just five times over their previous 30 this year. They have also scored just eight goals over the previous seven games after scoring 49 in the prior 30. Something is off in Manchester.
As for Crystal Palace, we’ve been riding unders on this team for the last few weeks because they really have nothing left to play for except for pride. They’re stuck in no man’s land – 13th place in the standings. They can’t be relegated, they can’t make the Europa League, they can’t make the Champions League – they’re just playing for final positioning. And like Manchester United, their foot has come off the gas of late.
They’ve been shut out twice in their last six matches and have just five goals in that span. Surprisingly, this team hasn’t lost any of their last four games (two wins and two draws), and it’s been thanks to stellar defending. Palace has allowed just two goals in their last four, five in their last nine, and nine in their last 14. They’ve given up multiple goals just once in that span and have five shutouts.
Goals will be hard to come by in this low-event match, so play this under down to +105.
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