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SBOTOP 21-Apr 2021 Wednesday 3:34 PM (94 days ago)               #1
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Premier League: Two Goal Greenwood Sinks The Clarets

Manchester United 3-1 Burnley

Manchester United moved to within eight points of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League thanks to a Mason Greenwood double in a hard fought victory over Burnley.

In an explosive start to the second half Greenwood gave the Red Devils the lead but James Tarkowski equalised just two minutes later. It looked like the Clarets would hold out for a point until Greenwood struck late on, with the help of a big deflection. As Burnley threw men forward Edinson Cavani made it three deep into injury time.

Having played expansive attacking football with little success in recent weeks the Clarets were back to their combative best but, in the end, the Red Devils’ quality saw them through. The Premier League 2021 betting odds suggest the Clarets will avoid being dragged into the relegation places and, while it’s an extremely long shot, Manchester United have the Sky Blues in their sights.

Highlights of the game

The Clarets had the ball in the net in the first minute when Chris Wood chased a long pass which Dean Henderson made a mess of, allowing the Burnley striker to head home, but the flag went up for offside to spare the United keeper’s blushes; and in a lively opening Bailey Peacock-Farrell, in for the injured Nick Pope, made a good save to keep out a looping header from Paul Pogba.

James Tarkowski's goal was not enough for Burnley to win against Manchester United in Premier League

Burnley’s James Tarkowski scored against Manchester United

As the game swung from end to end Henderson made a strong save to deny Wood and then Bruno Fernandes, the league’s third-highest scorer with 16 goals and 11 assists, fired a shot inches wide. Then Peacock-Farrell did well to hold on to a dangerous cross from Mason Greenwood. Burnley were containing Manchester United reasonably well but when Matt Lowton gave Marcus Rashford too much time on the ball the England striker struck a fierce effort which Peacock-Farrell tipped over.

Lowton did better at the other end swinging in a brilliant cross which Wood headed just wide. Greenwood was inches away from meeting a Rashford cross as United probed for the opener and Wood had another chance for Burnley, meeting a knock-down from James Tarkowski and volleying just wide.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a half time change, bringing on Edinson Cavani to replace Fred and Burnley’s resistance was breached three minutes into the second half. Rashford broke away down the left flank and crossed low into the danger area, Fernandes dummied and Greenwood fired home.

But Burnley hit back immediately!

Dwight McNeil did well to win a corner and when Ashley Westwood swung the dead ball kick in Tarkowski fought off a challenge from Harry Maguire to head home.

Fernandes came close to restoring United’s lead, midway through the second half when he met a cross from Luke Shaw but the Burnley keeper saved again. United continued to threaten, dominating possession but Burnley remained dangerous on the break as Wood continued to cause the hosts problems.

But then United had the luck they needed for their pressure to finally tell, on 84 minutes, when Greenwood’s shot from the right side of the penalty area took a wicked deflection off Jack Cork to leave the Burnley keeper wrong-footed. As Burnley threw men forward Cavani made it three with a 93rd minute tap in.

Key statistics

Here at SBOTOP we predicted a narrow United victory and the first half stats did little to challenge that tip. The Red Devils dominated possession and had two shots on target to Burnley’s one. It was the fourth Premier League game in succession that United failed to score in the first half.

In the end United had 17 shots to Burnley’s ten, and nine to three on target, but the Clarets will feel a little unlucky to lose in the manner they did.

Tarkowski’s equaliser was the 1,000 the goal conceded by Manchester United in the Premier League, but the Red Devils’ late onslaught ended Burnley’s for match unbeaten run at Old Trafford.

Only Chelsea have a longer unbeaten record away to the Red Devils with a run of six.

What’s next?

Manchester United have been clicking through the gears in recent weeks and now have five wins on the bounce and Solskjaer’s team has two mouth-watering fixtures coming up, with a clash against fierce league rivals Leeds United next, and then they are back in Europa League action with a semi-final against Roma at Old Trafford.

The weekend’s earlier Premier League 2021 results notably Arsenal’s 97th minute equaliser against Fulham have gone reasonably well for the Clarets but Burnley boss Sean Dyche has said he won’t start planning for the future until Burnley’s survival is guaranteed.

Dyche will expect points from the Clarets next two fixtures against Wolves and West Ham, before they take a trip to West London to meet Fulham on 8th May.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 21-Apr-2021 at 3:35 PM



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SBOTOP 21-Apr 2021 Wednesday 3:37 PM (94 days ago)            #2
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Premier League: Late Show for Leeds Denies Liverpool a Vital Win

Leeds United 1-1 Liverpool

A late header from Diego Llorente gave Leeds a deserved point against Liverpool tonight, and that delivered a blow to the Reds’ hopes of securing a Champions League place at the end of the season.

Sadio Mane scored the opening goal, midway through the first half, but Leeds fought back well and had hit the woodwork before Llorente’s 87th-minute leveller. A top-four place is the only thing Liverpool has to play for now. Out of the Premier League title race, both domestic cups and the Champions League, they really needed a win tonight but a point was just enough to keep them in sixth place while Leeds stay tenth.

Amidst talk of a new European Super League, this match was a good distraction from off the field mayhem. The pre-match Leeds United vs Liverpool betting odds offered 3.74 for a draw and that was the right outcome after a well-fought contest.

Highlights of the game

Liverpool started on the front foot and Thiago tested Illan Meslier with a dipping and swerving drive which the Leeds keeper tipped over the bar.

The hosts had a glorious chance to go ahead when Fabinho gave the ball away carelessly and Kalvin Phillips put Patrick Bamford clean through on goal, but the Leeds top scorer took a needless touch and Alisson saved. The Whites always attack with freedom and Marcelo Bielsa wouldn’t have it any other way, but they can be exposed at the back and Liverpool exploited that on 31 minutes. Trent Alexander-Arnold showed great pace to beat Meslier to a ball over the top and squared it unselfishly for Mane to tap home into the empty net.

After a poor run of form led to him being dropped from the England team Trent has been in fine form in recent weeks, and he did well down the right to beat Ezgjan Alioski and cross for Diogo Jota whose effort was well blocked by Meslier.

Liverpool began the second half as they had the first and Firmino found himself in space, 15 yards out, and drew a fine save from Meslier who turned his effort around the post. Then Mane was close to adding his and Liverpool’s second when he met a cross from James Milner but the ball bobbled agonisingly wide. Leeds began to fight back and had a decent penalty shout when a ball aiming for Bamford hit Trent on the arm, but VAR was unmoved. And midway through the half Jack Harrison had Leeds best effort so far when he dribbled into the penalty area and unleashed a fierce shot but Alisson stood firm to save.

But Leeds kept on coming and Bamford was inches away from scoring his 15th league goal of the season when he hit a fine effort which came crashing back off the crossbar, and then Tyler Roberts should have scored when he had a clear sight of goal from eight yards but he shot straight at Alisson and Liverpool survived.

As the game became more stretched Mo Salah had a chance to settle matters but his shot slid wide of the post, and Diego Llorente made him pay, heading home from a Jack Harrison corner with three minutes left on the clock.

Key statistics

Leeds pulled off a brilliant smash and grab against Manchester City last week but there was little sign of a repeat in the first half tonight as they managed just four shots in the opening half to Liverpool’s ten. But they fought back superbly eventually registering 12 shots to the Reds’ 17 and dominating possession with over 60 per cent of the ball.

Mane’s goal ended the Senegalese striker’s longest drought as a Liverpool player; this was his first goal in ten appearances for the Reds, and it was the first time Liverpool have scored a goal before the 45th in since December 27th.

And while this point ended a run of three wins for the Whites, they denied the 2020 champions just a week after humbling the 2021 champions-elect.

Premier League: Liverpool fail to get maximum points away from home

Sadio Mane celebrates with his teammates after scoring Liverpool’s opening goal against Leeds United

What’s next?

Of course, the big Premier League 2021 news in the run-up to this game was the revelation that England’s ‘Big Six’ clubs along with teams from Spain and Italy have been talking about the breakaway European Super League. Even Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge has entered the debate, expressing his concerns and questioning the wisdom and motives of the six clubs involved, including Liverpool.

We’ll have to wait and see how that one pans out but while the arguments rage, there’s plenty more action to come for SBOTOP Premier League fans next weekend, when Liverpool face Newcastle United, and Leeds meet Manchester United, another of the big teams in the gang of six.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 21-Apr-2021 at 3:37 PM



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SBOTOP 05-May 2021 Wednesday 2:36 PM (80 days ago)            #3
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Premier League: Liverpool Must Be Wary of New-Look Newcastle

Liverpool vs Newcastle United

After an eventful week off the pitch with all the Super League drama, Liverpool now return to Premier League action as they resume their chase for Champions League qualification. The Reds currently in seventh place, two points behind both Chelsea and West Ham in fourth and fifth, respectively.

However, they have a potentially tricky foe coming up next in Newcastle United. The Magpies have been in terrific form of late and have gotten themselves out of immediate relegation trouble, while tripping up a couple of top-four hopefuls in the process.

Can Newcastle defy the Premier League 2021 betting odds once more at Anfield, where Liverpool have had their struggles this season?

Talking Points

Liverpool still chasing Champions League place

Liverpool’s need to secure Champions League football next season has been highlighted once again after the European Super League project — of which they were a part — suffered a spectacularly swift end this week.

The Reds missed their opportunity to close the gap on Chelsea and West Ham for fourth place after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Leeds United. Sadio Mane had given them the lead, but Diego Llorente equalised three minutes from time to hand the Whites a point.

Jurgen Klopp opted to rest leading scorer Mohamed Salah, who only came on as a substitute with 20 minutes to go. But the Egyptian, who has 19 league goals and has scored five goals in his last six games for club and country, is likely to make his way back to the starting XI.

Salah last scored in Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa, which ended the Reds’ horrific run of Premier League 2021 results at Anfield. Prior to that win, they had suffered six consecutive defeats and went eight games without a win on their home ground.

Centre-back Nathaniel Phillips missed the Leeds match with a thigh injury, which meant Fabinho went to partner Ozan Kabak in defence while Thiago came into midfield alongside Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner. Expect the Brazilian to keep his place if Phillips misses out once again.

Newcastle now look safe from the drop

Newcastle United have seemingly saved themselves from relegation for another season thanks to a recent string of impressive results. After outplaying Tottenham in a 2-2 draw, they picked up back-to-back wins against Burnley and West Ham to move eight points clear of the relegation zone with just six games left to play.

Allan Saint-Maximin gears up ahead of Newcastle United's tough Premier League game against Liverpool

Newcastle United’s Allan Saint-Maximin celebrates after scoring a goal during their Premier League match against Burnley

Allan Saint-Maximin has been instrumental in their two victories. He came on as a substitute against Burnley and completely changed the game as he set up the equaliser and scored the winner. He also played a major role in their opening goal against West Ham.

Meanwhile, Joelinton and Joe Willock have also played important roles in Newcastle’s recent resurgence. The much-maligned Joelinton has scored two goals in his last three games, while Willock has popped up with two crucial late goals as a substitute, including the winner against West Ham.

Manager Steve Bruce deserves credit for finally playing a more positive attacking style. Although, with survival all but secure, it remains to be seen whether he will continue to be as adventurous at Anfield against Liverpool or if he will return to his more cautious defensive approach.

If Newcastle do decide to go at Liverpool, though, the likes of Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson could cause the Reds’ shaky backline some problems on the counterattack.

History

Liverpool have historically had the upper hand over Newcastle, with 87 wins to 50 and 43 draws. They have also gone unbeaten in their last eight meetings against the Magpies, with five wins and three draws.

Although, Newcastle ended Liverpool’s run of five consecutive victories against them by holding the Reds to a goalless draw in their first matchup this season in December.

But Newcastle have a terrible record at Anfield. Their last league win at the famous ground came back in 1994.

Betting Tip 

??
Liverpool vs Newcastle United Liverpool Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 1.82
April 24, 19:30 (GMT+8)

Despite Newcastle’s fine form and Liverpool’s awful record of late at Anfield, SBOTOP odds still have the Reds installed as 1.29 favourites at home. The Magpies are massive 9.00 underdogs, while a draw is 5.60.

The key in this match will be the motivations of these two sides. Liverpool are still fighting for a crucial Champions League spot and will surely be up for this match. Meanwhile, Newcastle may be satisfied with just about securing safety and might not have the same verve that they’ve shown in recent weeks.

Amid their problems at Anfield, I fully expect Liverpool to play better and secure the win they need quite comfortably.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 05-May-2021 at 2:36 PM



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SBOTOP 05-May 2021 Wednesday 2:45 PM (80 days ago)            #4
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Premier League: West Ham and Chelsea In Top Four Battle

West Ham United vs Chelsea

East London meets West for England’s match of the weekend when Chelsea head to West Ham for what promises to be a pulsating Saturday night fight.

Sitting fourth and fifth in the League table, locked on 55 points from 32 games and with the Blues ahead on goal difference alone, West Ham vs Chelsea is a clash of epic proportions.

Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea will be out of their Kings Road comfort zone when they arrive in the East End where no-one expects a cushy ride.

And especially this year, the Hammers have been formidable opponents in the Premier League. After a period of underperformance on the pitch and unrest off it, plus with a difficult move to the London Stadium and fan unrest culminating in a relegation battle last season, head coach David Moyes has galvanised the club and turned them into genuine Champions League contenders.

Talking Points

Lingard is in sensational form

The Premier League 2021 betting odds back an away victory but David Moyes’ Hammers will have plenty to say about that.

With players of the quality of Declan Rice and Mark Noble leading by example, the unfancied Eastenders have taken the 2020/21 campaign by storm and the form of a winter loan recruit has moved them on to an even higher level.

Jesse Lingard has scored nine goals in 10 games since his arrival from Manchester United. He knew Moyes from the Scottish coach’s brief stint at Old Trafford and they have linked up again with devastating effect at West Ham.

The club has recruited well over the past couple of years. Midfield ace Tomas Soucek has scored nine goals this season — and some crucial ones at that — and he is not afraid to mix it up by picking up six yellow cards along the way.

After a slow start to his career in London, winger Jarrod Bowen has exploded into life in his second season at West Ham – scoring eight goals and making five assists. Meanwhile, seasoned centre-back Craig Dawson was a shrewd addition at the start of this campaign.

2021 could go either way for Chelsea

As the season fast approaches its climax, the Blues have three targets in sight so the campaign could easily end in triumph or disaster.

Since his arrival at the club head coach, Thomas Tuchel has transformed the team from one with huge potential to a winning unit. Now he needs to keep his players focused to ensure they collect some reward for their efforts.

Premier League Update: Hakim Ziyech scored the winner in Chelsea’s FA Cup win over Manchester City

Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech celebrates scoring their first goal vs Manchester City in the FA Cup Semi-Final

Chelsea are in the FA Cup final after ending Manchester City’s quadruple dream in the semis, but they have a really tough test against Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City who currently hold third place in the league.

And the Blues are already in the semifinals of the 2021 Champions League, but they have a real challenge on qualify for Europe’s premier competition next season.

In the eye of the European Super League storm and with over a thousand of their fans protesting outside Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, the Blues limped to a 0-0 draw at home to Brighton and Hove Albion.

They missed a big chance to climb into the top four and they need to recover their form rapidly to replicate the kind of performance we saw in Chelsea’s 4-1 victory over Crystal Palace.

Both Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic created Premier League 2021 highlights that day and, alongside Hakim Ziyech who scored the FA Cup winner against Manchester City, they have the pace and skill to open up any defence.

If they can maintain their form, there will be success in the shape of silverware or at least a top four place for Tuchel to reflect on in his first six months at the club.

History

The Hammers have had a decent share of success in the head-to-heads, having won 15 of the 51 meetings during the Premier League era and they have drawn nine.

Chelsea have had the lion’s share of victories with 27 and they came out on top of the return fixture at Stamford Bridge, winning 3-0 in December when Tammy Abraham scored a double.

The Hammers are in good form at the London Stadium as they’re unbeaten in five and they have not lost at home to Chelsea in their last three encounters.

Betting Tip

??
West Ham United vs Chelsea Over 2.50 @ 2.03
April 25, 00:30 (GMT+8)

West Ham are at SBOTOP odds of 4.20 to leapfrog the Blues into the Champions League places while the draw is at 3.55 and Chelsea are at 1.82 to earn a crucial three points.

There have been 21 goals in West Ham’s last four games. And while Tuchel will expect his team to attack with intent after their weak display against Brighton, I’m looking forward to an exciting game with plenty of goalmouth action.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 05-May-2021 at 2:45 PM



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SBOTOP 05-May 2021 Wednesday 2:49 PM (80 days ago)            #5
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Premier League ‘War of the Roses’ Returns to Yorkshire

Leeds United vs Manchester United

The war of the roses in the Premier League and, for those fans who don’t remember the last time Leeds United were in the top flight, let me tell you something.

If supporters were allowed inside Elland Road this Sunday, the stadium would be well and truly rocking.

For this is not a clash for the faint-hearted. Indeed, the Yorkshire club’s atmosphere has been as traditionally toxic as it has been white-hot when their arch rivals are in town.

Even without fans, this encounter is bound to create Premier League highlights as the home side look to avenge a pre-Christmas hammering and Manchester United look to secure the runners-up spot.

Talking Points

Leeds will relish playing their arch rivals, just a few weeks after their last gasp triumph at the home of the champions elect, Manchester City.

In fact, Marcelo Bielsa’s team really have shown their potential over the last two games, following up that win at City by holding deposed champions Liverpool to a draw on Monday night.

Despite their efforts on the pitch, the Yorkshire club arguably showed a lack of class off it.

Players warming up in T-shirts that carry the message: “Earn it on the pitch” and “Football is for the fans” was a good touch. But to then leave the same shirts in Liverpool’s dressing room, in case they wanted to protest, seemed almost accusatory.

The Merseyside club may have been one of the big six in England who had initially signed up to the proposed European Super League but those behind the suggested breakaway tournament were not the players nor managers but the men in certain boardrooms across the country.

United were also one of the six clubs who aligned themselves with the tournament before subsequently withdrawing and their owners are as culpable as the next.

With that particular battle now over for the time being – although one suspects the war is anything but – hopefully this story can now be parked and we can go back to concentrating on the actual football.

The Red Devils cemented second place last weekend with a 3-1 win over Burnley, even if the scoreline slightly flattered the hosts.

Team news wise, winger Raphinha is struggling to recover in time from the thigh injury he sustained against City a fortnight ago.

Club record signing Rodrigo remains out with a muscle problem, while captain Liam Cooper is serving a three-match ban.

United striker Marcus Rashford is still nursing a foot injury and may not be risked from the start, while centre back Eric Bailly is likely to be involved in the squad after recovering from Covid-19.

Leeds have lost just once at home in their past six league games and are aiming to go six consecutive Premier League matches unbeaten for the first time since 2002.

Manchester United have won their last five Premier League matches and sit at the second spot in the table

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates after winning 3-1 over Burnley

That unbeaten run was halted by a 4-3 home defeat to United, which included two goals from a certain Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

It should be compelling to see if he triumphs again this time from the dugout.

It certainly will be an attacking game – the philosophy of both managers will ensure that.

History

When these sides first met in January 1923 in the then Division Two, they produced a goalless draw and probably no-one could imagine the rivalry which would develop half a century or so later.

That rivalry has seen 26 Leeds victories, 35 draws and 47 United triumphs, including a 6-2 romp just before Christmas when Scott McTominay netted twice in the opening three minutes.

The last time they met at Elland Road in the top flight was October 2003 when skipper Roy Keane scored a perfectly timed header to win the contest.

Leeds have only won two of their last 17 meetings in all competitions.

Betting Tip

??
Leeds United vs Manchester United First Half Over 1.25 @ 2.14
April 25, 21:00 (GMT+8)

Solskjaer’s visitors have the edge with the SBOTOP Premier League betting odds.

Whether 1X2 @ 194 or Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 2.26, they are favourites, while the hosts are priced 1X2 @ 3.65 and Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.28.

The draw is on offer at what will appeal to some @ 3.55.

There were eight goals in their last meeting and for plenty goals again this time, take a look at over 3.00 goals @ 2.09, total goal 4-6 @ 2.85 and even correct score 2-2 @ 12.50.

I do think there will be plenty of goals in this encounter, although not as many as in their most recent meeting.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 05-May-2021 at 2:49 PM



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SBOTOP 05-May 2021 Wednesday 3:48 PM (80 days ago)            #6
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Premier League: Big Win for Chelsea in London Derby

West Ham United 0-1 Chelsea

Chelsea cemented their position in fourth place in the Premier League on Saturday after a hard fought victory over West Ham.

Timo Werner fired the Blues head at the end of a tight first half and there were chances at both ends in the second, but Chelsea ran out winners as West Ham finished the game with ten men. The two teams began the game locked on 55 points from 32 games but Chelsea have struck a serious blow to the Hammers’ Champions League hopes while greatly improving their own position.

In other Premier League 2021 news, in the early Saturday kick-off Liverpool led against Newcastle United from the third minute when Mo Salah scored, until the Magpies equalised in the 95th after the Reds wasted a string of great chances. That result meant Chelsea and West Ham would end the weekend fourth and fifth and the Blues took advantage moving four points ahead of Liverpool with just five games to play.

Highlights of the game

Chelsea dismantled Crystal Palace in their last London derby, a couple of weeks ago, but they found West Ham much more difficult to break down in this game. Mason Mount turned superbly and drew a smart save from Lukasz Fabianski, on ten minutes, and Timo Werner did well to put Christian Pulisic in on goal but he shot weekly and Fabianski gathered easily.

Jesse Lingard has been in irresistible form since his loan move from Manchester United, scoring nine goals and making three assists, and he tried to create something for the Hammers, driving forward and firing a shot which cannoned off the Chelsea defence and to safety. And then the hosts came close to taking the lead after a set piece fell to Tomas Soucek who’s effort was heading in until it hit Cesar Azpilicueta and bounced to safety. That was the nearest we came to a goal in the opening half until Werner fired the Blues ahead on 43 minutes.

West Ham United suffered another defeat as Chelsea came victorious in their recent Premier League clash

West Ham United’s Tomas Soucek in action with Chelsea’s Thiago Silva

Chelsea had been under the cosh but they struck against the run of play, breaking quickly, and when Ben Chilwell pulled the ball into the middle of the penalty area Werner had timed his run perfectly to slide an unstoppable shot home.

The Blues started the second half brightly and when Werner passed to Mason Mount, some 25 yards out, he hit a thunderous shot which Fabianski did well to save. West Ham had to come out and try to get back into the game, and Pablo Fornals had a good chance but he failed to test Eduard Mendy in the Chelsea goal. Lingard gave the Blues more scares though, first firing in a free-kick which Mendy saved and then, on the hour, lifting a volley just wide of the far post.

As the game opened up Chelsea continued to threaten at the other end, and Werner, now full of confidence, cut in and unleashed a shot towards Fabianski’s near post but the keeper saved well again.

It hadn’t been a dirty game but the Hammers were down to ten men after 80 minutes when Fabian Balbuena cleared a ball and followed through on Chilwell. He was high, but it would have been difficult to avoid the collision and he was unlucky when the ref checked VAR and brandished a red card.

Key statistics

Chelsea are unbeaten in all ten of their away games under Thomas Tuchel, in all competitions, winning eight and drawing two. He is the first Chelsea manager in history to reach this milestone.

And this was the Blues’ ninth Premier League double over the Hammers, who have just lost a five match unbeaten run at home.

Werner doesn’t look like a striker short of belief but his first half strike was only the German’s second goal in the last 23 games.

What’s next?

Chelsea fans have a great few weeks to look forward to. They have a good chance to win the FA Cup when they meet Leicester City in the final next month. The Blues are at odds of 1.53, here at SBOTOPand are strong favourites to win the trophy but they meet a Leicester team full of quality and higher in the league table, up in third.

Next up Thomas Tuchel’s side have a Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid to look forward to after they saw off a quarter final challenge from Porto. They are in Madrid next Tuesday and then host Los Blancos the following week, and in between those mouth-watering ties the Blues have a Premier League date at home to relegation threatened Fulham.

At the start of this campaign the Premier League 2021 betting odds featured the Hammers in the relegation stakes; not the race for Champions League football. But they have enjoyed a superb season and they have another crunch game in two weeks time against Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton, who are also chasing a top four spot. But before that the Hammers have a tricky away game to Burnley, who still need points to guarantee their survival in the top flight.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 05-May-2021 at 3:48 PM



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SBOTOP 05-May 2021 Wednesday 3:50 PM (80 days ago)            #7
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Premier League: Foxes Ready to Feast on the Eagles

Leicester City vs Crystal Palace

Leicester City host Crystal Palace in the Monday night Premier League fixture; a game which means much more to the Foxes than it does the Eagles.

Roy Hodgson’s Palace are comfortable in 13th place on 38 points and 11 clear of the relegation zone and they will arrive at the King Power Stadium depleted in numbers. Their hosts are flying high in third place and have their eyes on Champions League qualification, as well as an FA Cup final round the corner.

But Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes still have the painful memory of losing their fourth place on the final day of the 2019/20 campaign, losing to Manchester United at the end of a season spent entirely in the top four…until that last match.

Talking Points

Leicester can cement their position

The Premier League 2021 betting odds have Leicester City heavily odds on to finish in the top four, but that won’t do anything to soothe the nerves of Foxes’ fans even though Rodgers team is dripping with talent and don’t look like bottling this time around. Their position has improved over the weekend too as, among the chasing pack, there were points dropped. Liverpool threw away two at home to Newcastle when they conceded a 95th minute equaliser having led from the third minute, and West Ham and Chelsea were pitched together in the Saturday tea-time fixture; which all means the Foxes are bound to start their match against Crystal Palace in third place in the Premier League table.

Leicester come into the game on the back of an impressive 3-0 victory over West Brom as Jamie Vardy scored his 13th league goal of the season; the veteran poacher has made seven assists to the benefit of his strike partner Kelechi Iheanacho, who was also on target against the Baggies and has taken his tally up to nine goals in the campaign.

The hosts will be without winger Harvey Barnes for this match but with Youri Tielemans and James Maddison set to start, the Foxes have plenty of ammunition. They would dearly love to nail down a top four place before the FA Cup final next month. The Foxes are at SBOTOP odds of 2.53 to win that trophy and if they can do both it will be a highly satisfactory campaign for Rodgers’ ever improving group.

Crystal Palace short on numbers

Head coach Roy Hodgson has done a fine job, yet again, to keep the Eagles away from danger. But while the Foxes will be at near full strength the visitors are depleted. It’s been two weeks since Palace have played, but they will still be without Mamadou Sakho, James McCarthy, James Tomkins and Nathanial Clyne, while James McArthur is doubtful.

Last time out the Eagles were thumped 4-1 by Chelsea, but before that they earned a 1-1 draw away to another top four chasing team, Everton. And they have been boosted by the return of talisman and top striker Wilfried Zaha who has scored nine goals. The Eagles look much more dangerous with him in the side and he relieves the pressure on centre forward Christian Benteke, who has struggled again this season but has increased his goal tally to six.

Crystal Palace are a far better Premier League team when Wilfried Zaha is on the pitch

Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha reacts during their Premier League game vs Chelsea

The return from injury of wide man Jeffrey Schlupp adds pace to the visitors attack but the Eagles can tough it out, and they tend to pick up their points with a strong rearguard action and by taking their chances when they come. Skipper Luka Milivojevic scored a crucial penalty in a recent 1-0 win over West Brom which all but guaranteed their safety.

History

The head to head results, when Leicester and Crystal Palace have met in the Premier League era, couldn’t be closer. Both teams have won 15 of the clashes and there have been 11 draws.

Last season Rodgers’ team came out on top home and away, winning 3-0 at the King Power and 2-0 at Selhurst Park, but the Eagles earned a point this season when the two teams met in South London back in December.

The Foxes recent Premier League 2021 results have been better than the Eagles’ and they have won four from the last six, in all competitions while their opponents have won just once in that time.

Betting Tip

??
Leicester City vs Crystal Palace Leicester City First Half Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 2.19
April 27, 03:00 (GMT+8)

Leicester City are hot favourites to come out on top in this Monday night fixture at odds of 1.46, with Palace at 6.76 and the draw at 3.88.

The hosts have had two losses in the last six games, to West Ham and Manchester City, and they will be keen to extend their current winning run to three. They came out of the blocks at lightning speed against West Brom, racing into a 3-0 lead by the break and I expect a similar pattern to this game.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 05-May-2021 at 3:50 PM



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SBOTOP 05-May 2021 Wednesday 3:52 PM (80 days ago)            #8
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Premier League: Stalemate in Yorkshire ‘War of the Roses’

Leeds United 0-0 Manchester United

Premier League ‘War of the Roses’ clash for only the second time in 17 years.

In the end, it was a stalemate with very few chances and even fewer Premier League 2021 highlights but there was no lack of intensity.

rivalry for the ages, Leeds went into this on the back of two impressive results, a win at champions-elect Manchester City a fortnight ago which was followed up by a draw at home to Liverpool on Monday night.

The SBOTOP Premier League 2021 betting odds may have favoured the visitors but the hosts, who were thrashed at Old Trafford earlier in the season, were never going to make this anything but difficult.

Highlights of the game

Leeds were missing three men with winger Raphinha unable to recover from a thigh injury, while club record signing Rodrigo remained out with a muscle problem and Liam Cooper served the second game of a three-match ban.

United had Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani on the bench, presumably with big games over the next 11 days to come, but forward Marcus Rashford did start despite nursing a foot injury, which meant he was not involved with training during the week.

Eric Bailly was also named among the substitutes after recovering from Covid-19.

Their first Premier League meeting at Elland Road since October 2003, the first clear opportunity didn’t arrive till towards the end of the first half when goalkeeper Illan Meslier tipped a goal-bound Rashford free-kick over the bar and visiting captain Harry Maguire nodded the resulting corner wide.

The second period was more even and the home side threatened when Helder Costa drove a low cross along the six-yard area before his shot deflected off Victor Lindelof and looped over.

Goalmouth action continued to be rare and the visitors grew frustrated in the closing stages with midfielder Fred and Maguire seen arguing during a break in play.

When Bruno Fernandes fired the ball beyond Meslier it struck the post and Leeds had a welcome point to go with the four gained in matches against City and Liverpool.

A point apiece. Now just wait until these two meet next season – with supporters in attendance!

Key statistics

Premier League: Leeds United vs Manchester United match ends in a stalemate

Leeds United’s Marcelo Bielsa and Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer greet each other after their Premier League match

Leeds have gone six consecutive Premier League matches unbeaten for the first time since 2002.

They have lost just once at home in their past seven league games (won three, drawn three).

Manchester United’s club record run of 24 away matches without defeat in the Premier League is only bettered in top-flight history by Arsenal, who managed 27 between April 2003 and September 2004.

United’s 13-match unbeaten league streak is currently the longest in the division, followed by Leeds’ five games.

This was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 300th league fixture as a manager. He has won 152 of those matches.

Leeds had only six shots in this match, their joint-fewest in a league game at Elland Road under Marcelo Bielsa (also six against Barnsley in July 2020).

United have drawn seven league games 0-0 this season – only in 1980-81 (eight) have they been involved in more goalless draws in a single league campaign. United have the most goalless draws of any side in the Premier League this season.

Maguire has not missed a single minute of Man Utd’s last 71 Premier League matches, equalling Gary Pallister’s club record in the competition among outfield players (Nov 1993-May 1995).

What’s next?

Leeds are on the south coast next with a trip to Brighton on Saturday (May 1). United have a big week ahead with Roma due at Old Trafford in the semi-finals of the Europa League on Thursday evening before arch-rivals Liverpool are the visitors next Sunday.

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SBOTOP 05-May 2021 Wednesday 3:54 PM (80 days ago)            #9
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Premier League: Iheanacho Magic Floors the Eagles

Leicester City 2-1 Crystal Palace

Leicester City cemented their third place in the Premier League on Monday night thanks to a man-of-the-match performance from Kelechi Iheanacho.

The Nigerian hit man-made one goal and scored the second as the Foxes came from behind to earn a crucial three points, which lifts them seven points clear of fifth-placed West Ham and eight clear of Liverpool. With a long injury list the Eagles are short on numbers, but they had the Foxes on the run when Wilfried Zaha scored an early opener. Timothy Castagne equalised minutes into the second half before Iheanacho hit a screamer to win the game.

According to the pre-match Leicester City vs Crystal Palace betting odds, with the Foxes at 1.46, this was a great chance for Brendan Rodgers side to take a big stride towards Champions League football, which they did, but Roy Hodgson’s Palace made them work hard. The Eagles stay 13th but well clear of trouble.

Highlights of the game

Iheanacho has been in brilliant form in recent weeks, scoring 11 goals in eight games in all competitions; he’s built up a great understanding with Jamie Vardy and he almost supplied a goal for his strike partner in the third minute when he split the Eagles’ defence with a superb pass. Vardy rounded Vicente Guaita but before he could get his shot away the Palace keeper ushered the ball out to safety.

The Eagles have been vulnerable in the early stages of recent games, but they managed to catch the Foxes on the hop, against the run of play, to go ahead on 12 minutes. Christian Benteke robbed Youri Tielemans on the halfway line and fed Eberechi Eze who slid the ball through to Zaha, and he finished expertly for his tenth goal of the season.

Premier League: Wilfried Zaha scored his tenth goal of the season

Wilfried Zaha has beaten the goalkeeper and scored the opening goal for Crystal Palace

After a bright start and then going behind, Leicester seemed shell-shocked and struggled to make inroads into the Palace penalty area, managing just one shot on target by the break. But it didn’t take the Foxes long to draw themselves level. Iheanacho turned assist maker, collecting a ball from Tielemans and rolling it back into the path of Castagne who smashed it into the top left corner.

Now was the time for Leicester to step on, but they almost got caught again when Jairo Riedewald burst through, only for Jonny Evans to make a superb saving tackle. The Foxes began to up the ante and Vardy made a weaving run into the penalty area before shooting from a narrow angle and Guaita saved.

While Leicester dominated possession Palace remained dangerous and Benteke had a clear sight of goal, but his header went straight into the arms of Kasper Schmeichel.

With 20 minutes remaining, Vardy had the ball in the net but the offside flag ruled his effort out. And then he almost rounded off a great passing move but his shot from a tight angle rolled wide. And then, with ten minutes left on the clock, Iheanacho stepped up.

He collected a long ball from Evans, cut inside Scott Dann and hit a thunderbolt into the roof of the net.

Key statistics

This was Iheanacho’s game, but hats off to his partner Jamie Vardy who made his 350th career appearance.

Zaha scored for the fourth successive time at the King Power Stadium. He loves playing against Leicester; his first senior goal came 11 years ago for Palace against the Foxes.

The win has nudged Leicester in front in the head to heads, winning 16 to the Eagles’ 15.

What’s next?

The two former Liverpool managers, Rodgers and Hodgson, have different priorities in the coming weeks. The Leicester boss has two major challenges to deal with, while Palace simply want to finish as high as they can.

Leicester have a chance to win silverware on May 15th when they come up against Chelsea in the FA Cup final. The Blues dumped Manchester City out in the semi-final to end the Sky Blues’ quadruple dream. And Chelsea’s victory over West Ham on Saturday meant that Thomas Tuchel’s side have taken possession of fourth place in the league and the Foxes will be keen to keep their noses ahead. They won’t want to rely on Premier League 2021 results elsewhere and Leicester have two very winnable games over the next couple of rounds, against Southampton and Newcastle United; and if they win both of those games that will also strengthen the Eagles’ chances of staying up in mid-table.

There’s plenty on offer for SBOTOP Premier League fans over the next two weeks as Hodgson’s boys play the teams at either end of the table, with a visit from champions-elect Manchester City next week, before they head to South Yorkshire to face already relegated Sheffield United.

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SBOTOP 05-May 2021 Wednesday 3:57 PM (80 days ago)            #10
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Premier League: Top Signings of the 2020/21 Season

Sometimes all it takes is one good move to turn a team’s fortunes around, and that has been the case here in the Premier League.

Inspired transfers can be the difference between relegation and survival, and it can even boost your Premier League 2021 odds to win the championship or sneaking into the top four. 

So many players have come and go especially during these abnormal times of COVID-19 where clubs aren’t as financially-free as they’re used to. But which players have proved to be the best signings this past year?

Here at SBOTOP, we have our top five for the 2020/21 season.

Raphinha

The Brazilian winger is on the radar of multiple big clubs given his superb campaign under Marcelo Bielsa this season.

Raphinha was Leeds United’s most expensive signing in club history, and so far he has lived up to the hype much to the delight of the fans at Elland Road.

With six goals and as many assists in 33 matches, Raphinha’s numbers may look modest for a casual football fan.

But his impact goes beyond the stat sheet and he is a perfect fit to the Whites’ run-and-gun system. Raphinha’s speed, flair, and strong ballhandling skills have helped Leeds United overachieve in their first season back in English top-flight. 

The Whites are placed ninth in the Premier League standings with 47 points. They are undefeated in their last six fixtures and they can even sneak in to an European qualification spot if somehow Everton, Tottenham, Liverpool, and West Ham United falter in their remaining games this term. 

Tomas Soucek

Tomas Soucek continues to impress for West Ham United since his loan arrival last year. And who would’ve thought that he’ll be an integral piece to the Hammers’ revolution after confirming his permanent move to East London?

David Moyes certainly played a huge part to Soucek’s renaissance as he gave the former Slavia Praha midfielder all the confidence in the world.

Soucek is their second leading scorer with nine goals and one assist. Moreover, he has formed a dangerous combination with the young Declan Rice to strengthen their midfield.

Spending £19-M total to acquire one of the top midfielders in the Premier League is quite a shrewd deal for West Ham United. 

Jesse Lingard

West Ham United’s European qualification chances have taken a turn for the better because of Jesse Lingard’s arrival. The 28-year-old winger has been a revelation for the Hammers as he has already made the most out of his tenure so far in East London.

After scoring only once for Manchester United last season, Lingard emerged as the Hammers’ top hit man with nine goals and three assists in just 11 matches.

He is definitely on fire right now and his fantastic play has earned for himself a big consideration to be included in England’s European Championship squad.

David Moyes is certainly keen on making Lingard a permanent West Ham United member, but they are expected to face resistance from his mother club in Manchester United this summer. 

Diogo Jota

Liverpool have heavily relied on the front trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah especially during their title run last season. However, that may change since they now have Diogo Jota in the fold.

The former Wolverhampton Wanderers forward has been the bright spot for the Reds’ difficult season as he has registered 12 goals and multiple Premier League 2021 highlights in 27 fixtures played.

Jota adds another dynamic to the Liverpool’s offence especially since Roberto Firmino has declined this term.

Liverpool have never lost in all games that he finds the back of the net, which is handy considering his penchant for scoring.

£41-M looked like an overpayment back then. But given Jota’s youth and upside, the Reds may have gotten a diamond in the rough that will serve as one of their future cornerstones.

Manchester City are confident to claim their third Premier League title with Ruben Dias in the backline

Manchester City’s Ruben Dias reacts during a match against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

Ruben Dias

One of the reasons why Manchester City are dominating in the Premier League is because of Ruben Dias. The Portuguese centre-back has added granite to the Sky Blues’ rock solid backline alongside John Stones.

His imposing stature and physicality makes opposing strikers think twice whenever they charge inside the penalty area. 

In 29 appearances, Dias secured 14 clean sheets – spearheading the best defence in the Premier League which has only conceded 24 goals as of this writing.

Dias also played a huge role in helping Manchester City register a crucial 2-1 victory over PSG in the first leg of their Champions League tie as his brick wall-like presence limited attacking opportunities for Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

With him at the back, Manchester City are on the way to secure their third Premier League trophy in the last four seasons, and possibly this year’s Champions League.

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SBOTOP 05-May 2021 Wednesday 4:01 PM (80 days ago)            #11
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Premier League: In Form Leeds Head to the Seaside!

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Leeds United

Leeds United are travelling south this weekend to take on Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium, in search of some Saturday afternoon revenge.

Premier League: Brighton vs Leeds United isn’t yet an established fixture, this is the first season they have met in the top flight this century. The Seagulls won the return match and Leeds will be looking to put that right. Brighton is best known for its 8km beach and seaside attractions but the visitors aren’t quite ready for a holiday just yet.

The pre-match Brighton vs Leeds betting odds slightly favour the hosts, though they have all the pressure on their shoulders, needing a few more points to guarantee survival, while Leeds are enjoying a great run of form.

Talking Points

Seagulls not safe yet

Graham Potter’s side is without a win in four and a defeat to Leeds could leave them with the prospect of a fourth successive relegation battle. They have been successful in their first three, finishing 15th, 17th and 15th and they currently sit in 17th place this season, seven points clear of Fulham and with five games to play.

Realistically, one win would probably be enough but Potter would rather get that sooner than later. A 1-0 defeat to doomed Sheffield United last week rang some alarm bells, and with matches against Wolves, West Ham, Manchester City and Arsenal to come, that was a huge opportunity missed. David McGoldrick’s strike was enough to beat the Seagulls who, despite dominating possession and the shot count, didn’t overly trouble the Blades’ keeper.

It’s a familiar story for Brighton who have a penchant for playing easy-on-the-eye football without a consistent cutting edge. In his second season at Brighton, Belgian forward Leandro Trossard has shown plenty of creative instinct, providing five assists while Neal Maupay is top-scoring with eight goals. 2020 recruit Danny Wellbeck has scored four goals in his first season at the Amex and he was close to making it five when a late effort against Chelsea hit a post, to deny the Seagulls a famous win at Stamford Bridge last week.

But centre back Lewis Dunk is Brighton’s key player, he’s a rock at the heart of the defence and, with four goals, a real threat from set-pieces.

Top ten is on for Leeds

Leeds come into the game on the back of a spectacular run of three wins and three draws, including a victory over Manchester City and draws with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United; and they sit in ninth place, above Arsenal and Aston Villa.

Centre forward Patrick Bamford is having the season of his life, scoring 14 goals while Jack Harrison, with seven goals and six assists, has attracted the attention of a host of top clubs, as has Raphinha. The Brazilian winger has to qualify as one the Premier League’s signings of the season but is likely to be sidelined for this one.

Head coach Marcelo Bielsa has recruited well in defence too. Centre back Diego Llorente has had an impressive season and stalwart Luke Ayling has adapted seamlessly to Premier League football, taking the skipper’s armband in the absence of the injured Liam Cooper, while Llorente scored a late equaliser in Leeds’ recent draw with Liverpool.

Premier League: Diego Llorente's late goal snatches a point for Leeds United versus Liverpool

Diego Llorente celebrates after scoring a last-minute equaliser for Leeds United against Liverpool


 

History

Brighton have won 11 of the last 23 meetings while Leeds have won six and drawn six. All these Brighton vs Leeds results were from the lower divisions until the two sides met in January at Elland Road when the Seagulls won a dour affair 1-0 thanks to a goal from Maupay to end Brighton’s nine-match winless run.

While Leeds arrive in great form, unbeaten in six, the Seagulls are, once again, on a bleak streak, without a win in four, and they haven’t been great at home, winning only twice, drawing eight and losing six.

Betting Tip

??
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Leeds United Under 2.50 @ 2.00
May 01, 22:00 (GMT+8)

The Seagulls are marginal favourites at SBOTOP odds of 2.29 while Leeds are at 3.00 and the draw is 3.35, but I just can’t make a case for a home win.

Graham Potter’s men have struggled to turn draws into victories and they are without a goal in three games, although conceding just once. Leeds have been one of the most entertaining sides in the league this season but they arrive on the back of a goalless draw and a 1-1 draw. Those are fine results against Manchester United and Liverpool, but without Raphinha and against a side desperate to avoid defeat, they may find the Seagulls hard to break down.

A scoreline of 1-1 is at 6.00 and that would probably suit both teams.

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?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 05-May-2021 at 4:01 PM



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SBOTOP 05-May 2021 Wednesday 4:03 PM (80 days ago)            #12
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Premier League: Can Crystal Palace Prevent Man City Coronation?

Crystal Palace vs Manchester City

Manchester City are so close to reclaiming the Premier League title. In fact, they can clinch the league as soon as this weekend.

If City beat Crystal Palace away and rivals Manchester United lose to Liverpool the following day, City will officially be crowned champions with four games to spare.

City have bounced back after recent defeats against Leeds in the league and Chelsea in the FA Cup, and the Premier League 2021 betting odds have them as heavy favourites to beat a Palace side with nothing left to play for this season.

Talking Points

Crystal Palace look safe from the drop

Crystal Palace’s Premier League status looks safe for another season. The Eagles are 11 points clear of the relegation zone with five games left and are highly unlikely to go down. Roy Hodgson has done another wonderful job keeping the Eagles in the top flight despite their obvious limitations.

Premier League: Wilfried Zaha continues rich goal-scoring run against Leicester City

Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha celebrates scoring their first goal vs Leicester City

They have even survived star man Wilfried Zaha’s significant decline in production during the second half of the season. The 28-year-old has 10 goals this season but just two have come since the start of the year.

Zaha finally ended his drought by scoring their opener against Leicester, but the Eagles still ended up losing 2-1.

Palace’s recent Premier League 2021 results have not been all that impressive, in part due to Zaha’s dip in form and perhaps also because they started to let up after looking like they were going to be safe. They have won just once in their last seven matches, with three draws and three defeats.

They suffered heavy 4-1 defeats in London derbies against Tottenham away and Chelsea at home. Although, they have also held Manchester United and Everton to draws, which suggests they are still not completely in vacation mode.

Palace will likely be doing a lot of defending at home against City. It remains to be seen whether veteran centre-back Gary Cahill, who missed the Leicester match due to injury, will be fit enough to play. But veteran defenders James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho are finally back in training after being out since January.

City could rotate heavily once again

Manchester City may have missed out on a historic quadruple, but a treble is still very much on. They have already clinched the EFL Cup after edging out Tottenham 1-0. And they are in a great position to reach the Champions League final for the first time after beating PSG 2-1 away in their semi-final first leg in midweek.

Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez scored the goals in the second half as City overturned an early deficit to get the win.

City also came from behind to win 2-1 in their most recent Premier League match against Aston Villa. John Stones was sent off in the first half of that match and will now be suspended against Palace.

Even though they are on the cusp of the Premier League title, Pep Guardiola will likely rest his first-choice side against Palace ahead of the second leg against PSG next week. That means the out-of-form Raheem Sterling, who did not feature at all against PSG, Gabriel Jesus, and Fernandinho will all likely get the start.

City also rotated heavily in the league ahead of their quarter-final second leg against Borussia Dortmund. But despite their remarkable strength in depth, the second-string City side suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Leeds, who were down to 10 men for half the match.

City have been sensational away from home, though. They have won 10 away games on the trot in the league while conceding just four goals during that time.

History

Crystal Palace have given City some headaches in recent years. They famously beat City 3-2 at the Etihad back in 2018 and also got draws in 2017 and 2020.

However, history has strongly favoured City in this matchup. They have won 11 of their last 15 Premier League encounters, including a 4-0 victory in their first meeting this season. John Stones bagged a brace while Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling scored the other two.

Betting Tip

??
Crystal Palace vs Manchester City Manchester City Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.04
May 01, 19:30 (GMT+8)

Even though City will hardly be at full strength for this match, SBOTOP odds still have the champions-elect installed as significant 1.33 favourites to win. Palace are priced at 8.25, while a draw is 5.00.

There’s a case to be made that Crystal Palace can make things a bit more competitive against City, who have not won by more than two goals since beating Leicester 2-0 at the start of the month.

But with the title so close in their grasp, it’s hard to imagine a second-string City side stumbling like they did against Leeds. I fully expect them to take care of business and leave Selhurst Park with a comfortable win.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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SBOTOP 05-May 2021 Wednesday 4:06 PM (80 days ago)            #13
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Premier League: This Game Always Matters!

Manchester United vs Liverpool

In my opinion, there is no bigger game in world football.

Coaches, players, fans, and writers all over the world may argue otherwise. And certainly there are strong arguments that the ‘old firm’ clash – El Clasico, Milan-Juventus, and the North London derby are equal.

But there is nothing bigger than a meeting between arch rivals Manchester United and Liverpool.

This weekend they face off in the Premier League and, even though no title is at stake and no fans will be present, it still matters. It always matters.

Talking Points

Liverpool players trying to stop Premier League opponent Leeds United during their clash

Liverpool players during their Premier League clash with Leeds United

United have played twice since the Merseysiders were last in action with both sides drawing at Leeds in their most recent away games.

That could work for or against the hosts on Sunday.

Yes they shouldn’t be as fresh as their opponents. But on the other hand, they should be in buoyant spirit after routing Roma in the Europa League on Thursday night.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who is vying for the runners-up spot in the top-flight, are set to recall goalkeeper Dean Henderson after David De Gea started in midweek.

They remain without the injured pair Anthony Martial and Phil Jones.

Liverpool, who are in desperate need of points for a top four finish and a Champions League spot, have no new fitness concerns. However, young centre-back Nathaniel Phillips could again miss out because of a hamstring injury.

Long-term absentees Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, and Virgil van Dijk are still sidelined.

The soon to be deposed champions could do something by securing a return to Europe’s top table given their financial figures announced earlier this week, not that those losses are as significant as those posted by many others clubs – including United who record an estimated £5-M a game without fans in attendance.

The Red Devils are vying to win five consecutive top-flight home fixtures for the first time since March 2018, On the other hand, Liverpool are bidding to continue their recent good away record.

They have won five of their past seven away league encounters, which is more victories than in their previous 15 matches on the road.

A United success will all but end Liverpool’s hopes of Champions League qualification and move them one step closer to cementing second spot. A Liverpool triumph, meanwhile, could reinvigorate their own top four challenge.

Plenty to play for then but even if there wasn’t, this is a rivalry which has never diminished even when one club was dominating and the other faring poorly.

United even used to pull in the biggest crowds in the country during their sole season in the former Division Two in 1974/75.

Obviously, no spectators will be inside the Theatre of Dreams this Sunday.

Perhaps that will come as a relief to the owners of both clubs who have come under heavy fire over the past fortnight for supporting plans unveiled for a proposed European Super League – support that was almost as quickly withdrawn.

The lack of trust and support from both sets of fans towards the owners is the one area they are United about and don’t be surprised if home fans stage a protest outside before kick-off.

That debate will continue another day of course, but the intensity on the pitch should remain.

While some big games often fail to live up their billing, with pride and points on the line, Premier League 2021 highlights are expected.

History

Overall, United have won 89 of their meetings in all competitions. Liverpool have 78 successes and there have been 68 draws – that’s as close as you would probably expect for the two dominant forces in English football.

They met twice within a week in January. The league clash at Anfield finished all square before United edged an FA Cup fourth round thriller seven days later.

It was March 2014 when Liverpool last won at Old Trafford when they were chasing the title under Brendan Rodgers and United were in a free-fall under David Moyes.

Betting Tip

??
Manchester United vs Liverpool Total Goals 2-3 @ 1.96
May 02, 23:30 (GMT+8)

The SBOTOP Premier League betting odds make the visitors favourites. Liverpool can be backed with 1X2 odds @ 2.49 and Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.17.

If you fancy a United win, how about 1X2 @ 2.77 or Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.07 or -0.25 @ 2.56.

A 1X2 draw will earn you a pay day with odds of @ 3.25, and a repeat of the corresponding fixture last term – correct score 1-1 – is available to back @ 5.80.

Whatever happens, it should be an attacking contest.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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SBOTOP 13-May 2021 Thursday 1:36 PM (72 days ago)            #14
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Premier League: Seagulls Fly to Safety

Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 Leeds United

Brighton & Hove Albion are as good as safe tonight, after a goal in either half gave them a vital three points in a win over an out-of-sorts Leeds.

Premier League: Brighton vs Leeds United was a clash between two teams looking upwards. Leeds are chasing a top ten place in their first season back in the Premier League, while the Seagulls’ aim was to climb away from the bottom three and to safety.

The hosts went ahead when Pascal Gross converted an early penalty and the points where made safe when Danny Welbeck added a cool finish late in the game. The victory took the Seagulls onto 37 points and ten above the drop zone, and with just for games remaining they look pretty comfortable. Leeds stayed in ninth, but they could drop put of the top ten if results go against them in the remaining games of this round.

The Brighton vs Leeds United highlights package tell the story of a team desperate to confirm their Premier League status and another, already safe, and looking jaded after a long and successful season.

Highlights of the game

The hosts made a bright start and Leandro Trossard had a good early chance but he fired his shot straight at keeper Illan Meslier. But, with 15 minutes on the clock, Leeds presented the Seagulls a gift when Ezgjan Alioski needlessly pulled Welbeck down with his arm and the referee had an easy decision to award a penalty.

Pascal Gross had converted two out of two penalties earlier in the season and he hit a brilliant spot-kick to put the hosts ahead. The goalkeeper guessed right but Gross hit his shot low into the bottom left corner just beyond the keeper’s hand.

Leeds came close to an equaliser when a cross from the left hit Dan Burn and almost bounced into the net but the Brighton defender recovered just in time. The Yorkshire side had dominated possession and territory throughout the first half but Brighton looked more dangerous and they went in a goal ahead, but it should have been two. Welbeck did well to scoop the ball across into the danger area and, with the goal at his mercy, Trossard seemed to panic and blazed his effort over.

Brighton’s biggest problems this season have been in front of goal and that was in evidence again, in the first minute of the second half, the Joel Veltman ran on to a low cross but he fired his effort way too high.

Leeds United remained at 9th place in the Premier League table after dropping points against Brighton

Leeds United’s head coach Marcelo Bielsa gives instructions to Rodrigo

Having survived a few scares Leeds began to probe for an equaliser and, after a lucky break, Rodrigo found himself in on goal but there wasn’t enough power in his shot to trouble Robert Sanchez then, in the next Leeds attack, Stuart Dallas hammered a volley just over the bar.

But while they huffed and puffed the visitors couldn’t break through and they paid the price when Welbeck struck with a moment of genius. A loose ball landed at his feet on the left side of the penalty area and he took a brilliant touch before firing across Meslier and into the bottom right corner.

Key statistics

There was little goalmouth action in Leeds’ goalless draw with Manchester United last week and he Seagulls have struggled for goals, but there was no lack of entertainment in this game.

The Brighton vs Leeds United betting odds here at SBOTOP priced Brighton at 2.38 to win and, on the balance of play they deserved the three points. While Leeds dominated possession (58 per cent) and had better passing accuracy, the Seagulls won the shot count by 16 to 11 and five to two on target.

Leeds gave Brighton a leg up with an unnecessary penalty, the ninth they’ve conceded this season, more than any other team.

The Yorkshire side have lost their unbeaten run of six, while the Seagulls have ended a winless streak of four, but I guess it shouldn’t have been a big surprise as the Seagulls have won this fixture in eight of the last nine meetings.

What’s next?

Next Sunday the Seagulls are away to Wolves. Nuno’s side took a 4-0 battering from Burnley last week and are away to West Brom on Monday where they will hope to make amends.

Having enjoyed an unbeaten run against three of the self appointed ‘Big Six’ recently, Leeds take on another, when Spurs visit Elland Road next Saturday. Following the departure of Jose Mourinho, rookie head coach Ryan Mason took charge in the Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City last week, but Tottenham only registered two shots in the entire game; and that’s a worry with the likes of Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Gareth Bale in your team.

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SBOTOP 13-May 2021 Thursday 1:52 PM (72 days ago)            #15
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Premier League: Burnley and West Ham in Clash of the Clarets

Burnley vs West Ham United

Premier League: Burnley vs West Ham rarely fails to entertain and that’s the fixture we have on offer on Monday night (UK time) to round off another great weekend of football.

Both of the two Claret and Blue teams come into the game in good spirits, the hosts on the back of a thumping victory over Wolves and the visitors towards the end of an exceptional season, which has seen David Moyes’ side challenge for Champions League football.

The Hammers’ dream is still on, but back-to-back defeats have threatened to burst the bubble and they could be down to seventh place when they cross the white line on Monday night. And they come up against a Burnley side which is notoriously hard to beat at home, defending like tigers and striking like a cobra!

Sean Dyche will have his team prepared and focused; they started the weekend in 14th place, nine points clear of the drop zone, and will want to confirm their place in next year’s top flight and climb as high up the table as they can.

Talking Points

Wood and Vydra are on a hot streak of form

Burnley have always had a strong defensive unit but in recent weeks the have started to play more expansive football, a change which has coincided with the arrival of striker Matej Vydra in the team. The Czech forward has quick feet, genuine pace and a fine finish but, while he has netted three goals, his striker partner Chris Wood has been the main beneficiary, taking his tally to ten for the season.

Premier League: Burnley winger Dwight McNeil has made six assists this season

Burnley’s Chris Wood celebrates scoring their second goal with Dwight McNeil against Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wood became only the third player in Premier League history to score a first half hat-trick before half time as the Clarets blew Wolves away in a 4-0 victory last week. And while they have won two and lost three of the previous five, Dyche’s team have posted an average of 14 shots a game and were unlucky to lose to Southampton and Manchester United in particular.

Under Dyche Burnley have often relied on successful pairings all around the pitch; Ben Mee and James Tarkowski are one of the best centre back partnerships in the league and both like to get forward at set-pieces. Tarkowski was on target in Burnley’s recent defeat to Manchester United and he will make his way forward every time the hosts get a corner.

The return to the midfield of Jack Cork, alongside Ashley Westwood, has give the Clarets more control of the middle, while young winger Dwight McNeil, who has six assists, links up well with the fit again wing-back Charlie Taylor.

Hammers’ Champions League hopes are fading

A year ago David Moyes’ side was 16th in the table with 31 points and in the thick of a relegation scrap, but this term they are up in fifth place with 55 points in the bag.

Two defeats on the bounce, one to Chelsea, and before that a surprise loss to Newcastle, have seen the Hammers drift out of the top four and now they need points to ensure they qualify for the Europa League at least. While Burnley have some handy partnerships in their team, the Hammers have a really eye-catching pair which, on its day, can take apart any defence in the league.

Here at SBOTOP we picked both Jesse Lingard and Tomas Soucek in our list of the five best Premier League signings; they have nine goals each and when combined they represent a real threat. Wide man Jarrod Bowen has eight goals too and has really looked the part in his second season at the London Stadium. But Moyes may well be without the influential duo, Aaron Cresswell and Declan Rice.

There’s better news at the back for the Hammers where Craig Dawson returns from suspension and Fabian Balbuena is available after his unlucky red card against Chelsea was rescinded.

History

The London side has had the better of the last 21 Burnley vs West Ham results, winning 11 to Burnley’s six and there have been four draws. 

West Ham won 1-0 when the two teams met in January but Burnley won the previous three meetings and four of the last six.

Recent form is similar; both teams have won two drawn one and lost three of the last six games, but Burnley have struggled to turn draws into wins at Turf Moor. In normal times their home ground is a fortress but without fans the Clarets have gone eight games at home without winning, though they have lost just three of the last 12, and are unbeaten in three at home to the Hammers.

Betting Tip

??
Burnley vs West Ham United Burnley Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.29
May 4, 03:15 (GMT+8)

The Burnley vs West Ham betting odds tell us just how open this game is. The Burnley Clarets are at 3.16 to win with the draw at 3.25, and West Ham are at odds of 2.12.

The most likely result is 1-1 at odds of 5.60, and a draw looks a likely option; but with momentum on their side and a full squad to pick from, Burnley might just have the edge.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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SBOTOP 13-May 2021 Thursday 1:58 PM (72 days ago)            #16
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Premier League: What’s Still at Stake in the 2020-21 Season

The 2020-21 Premier League season is winding down, with just a few weeks left in another memorable campaign. Much has already been decided with time to spare, most notably Manchester City all but securing another league title.

However, there are still some loose ends to sort out – namely the precious European places – before the end of the season.

SBOTOP is here to lay out exactly what is left to play for ahead of the last few weeks of the Premier League campaign.

Championship Race

Similar to Liverpool’s amazing run last year, the Premier League has not had much of a title race this season. After some early-season struggles, Manchester City figured it all out and went on an incredible run from December onwards — at one point winning 15 league games in a row — to effectively reclaim their Premier League crown.

City’s resurgence, coupled with Liverpool’s decline amid numerous injuries and Manchester United’s inability to turn more draws into wins, has seen the Citizens build up a double-digit lead atop the table and will clinch the title with their next win or a United defeat – whichever comes first.

Champions League Qualification

While the title race is all but over, the fight for the Champions League qualification places is not done quite yet.

United are in pole position to secure second as they currently have a four-point lead on Leicester in third with a game still in hand. Meanwhile, the Foxes are two points clear of fourth-placed Chelsea.

The Blues have a five-point buffer over Tottenham in fifth, but West Ham (sixth) and/or Liverpool (seventh) can overtake Spurs if they win their games still in hand.

Leicester and Chelsea may be in the final two Champions League spots at the moment, but they still have work to do to hold onto them, especially with tricky run-ins.

Chelsea still have to face City away, Arsenal at home, Leicester at home, and Aston Villa away. Meanwhile, the Foxes have Manchester United, Chelsea, and Tottenham as their final three matches of the season, with their FA Cup final against Chelsea also sandwiched in between.

As for West Ham and Liverpool, they both have relatively easy run-ins. Aside from their matchup against Manchester United, which made Premier League 2021 news after it was postponed due to fan protests at Old Trafford, four of Liverpool’s last five matches will all be against bottom-half sides.

But Jurgen Klopp’s side have dropped crucial points against Leeds and Newcastle after surrendering late equalisers, so they will have a tough time clawing back their seven-point deficit on Chelsea.

Golden Boot Race

With his superb form, Harry Kane is getting closer to lifting his third Golden Boot in Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur star Harry Kane celebrates after scoring a goal during their Premier League clash against Burnley in February 28, 2021

The Champions League race may be tight, but the Golden Boot race is even tighter. Tottenham’s Harry Kane currently leads Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah by a single goal (21 goals to 20), although Salah still has to play one more game.

Both men are gunning for their third Golden Boot, which would put them in a tie with Alan Shearer for the second-most in Premier League history.

Europa League Qualification

While Spurs, West Ham, and Liverpool are on the outside looking in for the Champions League, they are all in a good spot to take fifth place and reach the Europa League group stage.

The winners of the FA Cup get the second automatic Europa League group stage place. Although, Chelsea and Leicester will face off in this year’s final, so if both of them finish in the top five in the league, then the sixth-placed team will reach the Europa League group stage.

As things stand at the moment, West Ham would get into the Europa League, which would be a terrific achievement for David Moyes’ side. The last time the Hammers reached any European competition was in the 2016-17 Europa League, where they lost in the third qualifying round to Romanian side Astra Giurgiu.

Conference League Qualification

There will be a new UEFA club competition introduced next season — the UEFA Europa Conference League. England’s only place in the competition’s playoff stage is reserved for the EFL Cup winners.

However, since Man City once again won this year’s EFL Cup, the qualifying spot will now go to sixth- or seventh-placed team in the league.

Eighth-placed Everton are currently two points behind Liverpool and appear to be the most realistic competitor for that seventh spot. Arsenal in ninth are five points back of Liverpool and have played one game more.

The Gunners will obviously be more interested in qualifying for the Champions League by winning the Europa League. Although, they must overturn a 2-1 deficit against Villarreal in the semi-finals.

Should Arsenal go on to win the Europa League and finish in the Conference League place, then England would have no representative for the inaugural tournament.

Relegation Race

The relegation race is not quite done and dusted, but it’s getting close. Sheffield United are already going down, and the Premier League 2021 odds have Fulham and West Bromwich Albion as heavy favourites to join them in the Championship.

Fulham, 18th, are not yet mathematically out; they are nine points back of 17th Newcastle with 12 points left to play for. Meanwhile, West Brom could still overtake Fulham if they win their game in hand.

Fulham and West Brom both need to win out to stand any chance of survival, but the likelihood of either team achieving that feat is highly unlikely. Since their shock 1-0 win over Liverpool, Fulham’s form has dipped yet again, with five defeats in their last six games.

Still, expect them and the rest of the Premier League teams to go all out as they look to end the season strong!

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SBOTOP 13-May 2021 Thursday 2:02 PM (72 days ago)            #17
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Premier League: Leeds Working on New Bielsa, Dallas Deals

Leeds United are safely in the Premier League for another season as they sit comfortably in mid-table. But while there are still a few games left in the current campaign, the preparation for next season has already begun.

The Whites have some important things to check off on their offseason to-do list, with manager Marcelo Bielsa’s future by far the main priority.

Leeds are also aiming to secure breakout star Stuart Dallas to a new deal and are intensifying their search for reinforcements on the wing.

So read on below for all the latest Leeds-related news you ought to know.

Marcelo Bielsa remains silent on Leeds contract talks

Marcelo Bielsa is still not ready to discuss his contract situation with the club. The Leeds manager appreciated chairman Andrea Radrizziani’s recent comments about hopefully coming to an agreement on a new deal, but the Argentinian would prefer to discuss his future after the season.

“Any reference to this subject, I prefer to make after the competition has finished,” said Bielsa per Sky Sports prior to their 2-0 defeat to Brighton.

“I appreciate the words of the owner with regards to my continuity, but I agree with what he said about Leeds being prestigious above any others. Due to the solidness of this organisation, they have the facility to make correct decisions.”

Bielsa will once again be out of contract this summer as he continues to sign one-year deals. He is finishing out his third season at Elland Road, which is the longest spell he has had as the manager of a club in his career.

Roma’s Fonseca linked with Leeds

With Bielsa yet to commit to a new contract with Leeds, a potential candidate to replace him as manager has suddenly emerged: Roma’s Paulo Fonseca.

Leeds have reportedly made contact with Fonseca, who is likely on his way out at Roma with former Chelsea and Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri reportedly set to take over next season.

Fonseca, who has made previous managerial stops at Porto, Braga, and Shakhtar Donetsk, has led Roma to the Europa League semi-finals this season. Although, they face an uphill battle to reach the final after losing 6-2 to Manchester United in the first leg.

Stuart Dallas set for new Leeds deal

Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring their second Premier League goal versus the Sky Blues

Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring Leeds United’s second goal against Manchester City at the Etihad

As Leeds await a resolution to their managerial situation, they are reportedly ready to offer Stuart Dallas a new and improved contract that could double his current salary.

Dallas, 30, reportedly has two more years on his current deal, but he looks set to be rewarded for his fine play this season.

The Northern Ireland international has been arguably Leeds’ player of the year. He has started all 34 games, initially as a defender but has since transitioned into a mainstay midfielder.

He is the team’s second-leading scorer behind Patrick Bamford with seven goals and also has two assists. He scored both goals as Leeds defied the SBOTOP Premier League 2021 odds by beating champions-elect Manchester City 2-1 despite going down to 10 men.

Rangers star set for new deal amid Leeds links

Rangers look set to offer a new deal to star winger Ryan Kent in a bid to fend off continued interest from Leeds United.

The 24-year-old has been instrumental in Rangers’ title-winning campaign this season, providing nine goals and eight assists in 35 games.

Marcelo Bielsa is a known admirer of Kent going back to Kent’s Liverpool days, but Leeds had their £10m bid for the winger rejected last summer.

Kent said he is flattered by Leeds’ interest but remains focused on Rangers.

“It’s nice to be linked with other football clubs, the big clubs, but you’ve got to understand the duty of where you’re at and as long as I’m at Rangers I’ll always give 100 per cent to the club.

“I love this place and it’s done so much for me. As long as I am here my mind is solely focused on Rangers.”

Leeds eye young Rubin Kazan winger

Aside from Kent, Leeds are also reportedly keeping tabs on another winger: Rubin Kazan’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

The 20-year-old Georgian has already been capped eight times for his country, scoring three goals. He has contributed four goals and four assists in 23 games for Russian club Rubin Kazan this season.

Leeds are looking to add more depth on the wing this offseason. Raphinha and Jack Harrison have been responsible for most of Leeds’ Premier League 2021 highlights, combining for 13 goals and 12 assists this season.

However, Helder Costa has been a disappointment, providing just one goal and one assist from November onwards.

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SBOTOP 13-May 2021 Thursday 2:03 PM (72 days ago)            #18
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Premier League: Leeds Working on New Bielsa, Dallas Deals

Leeds United are safely in the Premier League for another season as they sit comfortably in mid-table. But while there are still a few games left in the current campaign, the preparation for next season has already begun.

The Whites have some important things to check off on their offseason to-do list, with manager Marcelo Bielsa’s future by far the main priority.

Leeds are also aiming to secure breakout star Stuart Dallas to a new deal and are intensifying their search for reinforcements on the wing.

So read on below for all the latest Leeds-related news you ought to know.

Marcelo Bielsa remains silent on Leeds contract talks

Marcelo Bielsa is still not ready to discuss his contract situation with the club. The Leeds manager appreciated chairman Andrea Radrizziani’s recent comments about hopefully coming to an agreement on a new deal, but the Argentinian would prefer to discuss his future after the season.

“Any reference to this subject, I prefer to make after the competition has finished,” said Bielsa per Sky Sports prior to their 2-0 defeat to Brighton.

“I appreciate the words of the owner with regards to my continuity, but I agree with what he said about Leeds being prestigious above any others. Due to the solidness of this organisation, they have the facility to make correct decisions.”

Bielsa will once again be out of contract this summer as he continues to sign one-year deals. He is finishing out his third season at Elland Road, which is the longest spell he has had as the manager of a club in his career.

Roma’s Fonseca linked with Leeds

With Bielsa yet to commit to a new contract with Leeds, a potential candidate to replace him as manager has suddenly emerged: Roma’s Paulo Fonseca.

Leeds have reportedly made contact with Fonseca, who is likely on his way out at Roma with former Chelsea and Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri reportedly set to take over next season.

Fonseca, who has made previous managerial stops at Porto, Braga, and Shakhtar Donetsk, has led Roma to the Europa League semi-finals this season. Although, they face an uphill battle to reach the final after losing 6-2 to Manchester United in the first leg.

Stuart Dallas set for new Leeds deal

Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring their second Premier League goal versus the Sky Blues

Stuart Dallas celebrates scoring Leeds United’s second goal against Manchester City at the Etihad

As Leeds await a resolution to their managerial situation, they are reportedly ready to offer Stuart Dallas a new and improved contract that could double his current salary.

Dallas, 30, reportedly has two more years on his current deal, but he looks set to be rewarded for his fine play this season.

The Northern Ireland international has been arguably Leeds’ player of the year. He has started all 34 games, initially as a defender but has since transitioned into a mainstay midfielder.

He is the team’s second-leading scorer behind Patrick Bamford with seven goals and also has two assists. He scored both goals as Leeds defied the SBOTOP Premier League 2021 odds by beating champions-elect Manchester City 2-1 despite going down to 10 men.

Rangers star set for new deal amid Leeds links

Rangers look set to offer a new deal to star winger Ryan Kent in a bid to fend off continued interest from Leeds United.

The 24-year-old has been instrumental in Rangers’ title-winning campaign this season, providing nine goals and eight assists in 35 games.

Marcelo Bielsa is a known admirer of Kent going back to Kent’s Liverpool days, but Leeds had their £10m bid for the winger rejected last summer.

Kent said he is flattered by Leeds’ interest but remains focused on Rangers.

“It’s nice to be linked with other football clubs, the big clubs, but you’ve got to understand the duty of where you’re at and as long as I’m at Rangers I’ll always give 100 per cent to the club.

“I love this place and it’s done so much for me. As long as I am here my mind is solely focused on Rangers.”

Leeds eye young Rubin Kazan winger

Aside from Kent, Leeds are also reportedly keeping tabs on another winger: Rubin Kazan’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

The 20-year-old Georgian has already been capped eight times for his country, scoring three goals. He has contributed four goals and four assists in 23 games for Russian club Rubin Kazan this season.

Leeds are looking to add more depth on the wing this offseason. Raphinha and Jack Harrison have been responsible for most of Leeds’ Premier League 2021 highlights, combining for 13 goals and 12 assists this season.

However, Helder Costa has been a disappointment, providing just one goal and one assist from November onwards.

●●●

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 13-May-2021 at 2:08 PM



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SBOTOP 13-May 2021 Thursday 2:13 PM (72 days ago)            #19
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Premier League: Who Will be the Spurs’ Next Manager?

Now there’s a question football fans.

In one corner you ask yourself, why wouldn’t any ambitious boss want the job?

After all, the North Londoners have arguably the best stadium in the world and possess players of the calibre of Harry Kane, Gareth Bale (on loan at least), Lucas Moura, and Asia’s greatest Premier League export Son Heung-Min.

So, if us here at SBOTOP will answer the question “Does anybody want the Spurs job?” it’s an emphatic yes.

Then you move over to the other corner and ask yourself, who would want to work with Daniel Levy given his track record as club chairman.

I mean, who would sack an experienced trophy-accumulating manager just six days before their chance to win silverware for only the second time in his tenure?

Furthermore, who would then appoint a 29-year-old rookie to take charge against arguably the best side in Europe right now.

Well, the answer to both those questions ends with Levy. And for those who don’t know, yes of course the Spurs lost the final just as Levy has with the majority of his key decisions.

Here is a man who has been at the helm since 2001 and finally got the man he sought for most of those two decades when Jose Mourinho was appointed Spurs boss in November 2019.

Now they have been left with an extensive list of potential candidates to consider as a replacement for the Portuguese boss.

Who was Tottenham’s first choice?

If reports are to be believed, their first choice was RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann.

It appears the German had offered some encouragement to Spurs when they initially sounded him out earlier in the season about taking over from Mourinho.

That of course, was before Hansi Flick revealed his intention to quit Bayern Munich at the end of the season which may bring a clue to the bizarre timing of Mourinho’s dismissal.

Flick’s exit was confirmed on April 17, a day after Tottenham’s draw at Everton. And Mourinho was on the wrong end of Premier League 2021 news when he was sacked on the morning of the 19th.

But it was too late as it was announced German champions Bayern would be snapping Nagelsmann up at the end of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur sack Jose Mourinho after leading the team to sixth in the Premier League last season

Jose Mourinho applauds during the last minutes of Tottenham’s 3-2 FA Cup victory over Southampton

Even if Nagelsmann had not pledged his future elsewhere, there’s an argument that Tottenham have opted for ambitious, bright, young managers before and had their fingers burnt – remember the Andre Villas-Boas experiment?

So who are the other managers, eligible or otherwise, on the market and on Tottenham’s radar amid the real prospect of a second successive season without Champions League football?

Examining the other possible contenders

Ajax manager Erik ten Hag was seemingly the second favourite but he has just signed a contract extension with the Amsterdam club that runs until 2023.

Closer to home, Brendan Rodgers is doing well at Leicester City. But even if he could be persuaded to leave the East Midlands, he is hardly of Mourinho’s calibre.

It is the same case for former player Scott Parker who oversaw Fulham’s return to the Premier League via the playoffs last season and has impressed this term, even if his side are in danger of going straight back down.

Another who has done well in the Premier League is Brighton boss Graham Potter who got his break in the Swedish fourth tier, leading Ostersund through the divisions and into the Europa League before arriving at Brighton via Swansea.

Again though, how would fans react to recruitment from the relegation battle? 

In many ways though, the next choice may not be the issue so much as the fact that Levy does not appear to be a very patient man when his appointees begin to struggle which stretches beyond a few months.

There was even little time for arguably Levy’s three most successful appointments: Martin Jol promoted from assistant, Harry Redknapp lured from Portsmouth, or Mauricio Pochettino from Southampton – with the latter dismissed just three months into the season after he led them to the Champions League final.

In many ways, the final word should go to Pochettino who reportedly warned Levy of a painful rebuild that needed to take place, even before that final was reached but was not backed. 

It’s been downhill ever since.

Tottenham need to exercise patience 

My best friend is a Tottenham fan. And earlier this season when some were calling for Mourinho’s head after seeing their Premier League 2021 odds dwindle, I remarked to him that supporters should be careful what they wish for.

I stood by that comment then and even more so now.

Whoever agrees to take on the role – and it won’t be Levy’s first choice – needs to be given time to build his own team and move players in and out as he wishes, rather than be dismissed when a few bad results become a mini-slump or when player unrest becomes an issue.

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SBOTOP 13-May 2021 Thursday 2:21 PM (72 days ago)            #20
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Premier League: Magpies won’t Wreck Leicester’s Top Four Dream

Leicester City vs Newcastle United

The 35th round of the 2020/21 Premier League kicks off with a cracker on Friday night when high flying Leicester City face an in-form Newcastle United.

The Foxes are in control of their destiny in the hunt for a Champions League place, currently in third position and five points clear of West Ham in fifth, while the Magpies have pretty much guaranteed their place in the top flight next season. Things looked grim for Steve Bruce’s team three weeks ago, but eight points from the last five games has left Newcastle nine above the drop zone and with just four games to play.

Arguably Brendan Rodgers’ hosts have more to play for and the Leicester City vs Newcastle United betting odds back them to get the three points they need to keep their top four campaign on track.

Talking Points

Big finish for the Foxes

While their destiny is in their own hands for sure, Leicester’s players know all too well how a strong position can suddenly become rather less comfortable, as they handed over a 14 point advantage to gift the final Champions League place to Manchester United last term. They are determined not to make the same mistake again and Brendan Rodgers’ boys have five huge games to take them to the finish line.

After this clash with Newcastle, the Foxes face the Red Devils again on the following Wednesday, and their final two games are against top four rivals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. There’s plenty there for SBOTOP Premier League fans to look forward to, but for Foxes’ supporters they want to emerge with a Champions League place firmly secured, as soon as possible.

And before they face Chelsea in the league, the two teams meet in the FA Cup final on 15th May. It could be a spectacular finish to the season for the Foxes, but equally Thomas Tuchel’s Blues are chasing glory on three fronts, still in the Champions League at the time of writing.

While Jamie Vardy is top scoring for Leicester with 13 goals, the recent form of Kelechi Iheanacho has been a real boost to the Foxes. The Nigerian striker put in a man-of-the-match performance recently to help the Foxes beat Crystal Palace and has ten league goals to his name.

Allan is a Saint for Newcastle

While the Foxes are blessed with a number of attacking players with genuine flair, Newcastle have struggled to excite this season. The Geordies made a strong start to the campaign but then slumped for around five months to find themselves in real danger of the drop, at one point, very recently, being favourites for the third relegation place.

Allan Saint-Maximin has scored 3 goals in 21 Premier League games for Newcastle United this season

Newcastle United’s Allan Saint-Maximin celebrates scoring against Liverpool

But the return from sickness and injury of Allan Saint-Maximin has saved Steve Bruce’s team, and possibly even his job! In his second season at the club, following his transfer from Nice, the French winger has dazzled with his lightning fast running, neat footwork and clinical finishing. He’s the master of the solo goal and can give defenders nightmares, able to catch them on the hop with his electric turn of pace.

Saint-Maximins’s return to fitness coincided with an impressive run of Premier League 2021 results, including victories over West Ham and Burnley, and draws with Spurs and Liverpool; but the Magpies were flat in a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal, and will be missing defender Fabian Schar who saw red against the Gunners.

History

The head to heads between these two Premier League mainstays have been well contested, with the Foxes holding the narrowest of leads at 13 to 12 victories and there have been six draws.

Leicester are unbeaten in the last four meetings, winning the most recent clash 2-1 at St James’ Park with goals from James Maddison and Youri Tielemans.

And the last meeting at the King Power Stadium, at the beginning of the 2019/20 season resulted in a thumping 5-0 win for the Foxes.

Betting Tip

??
Leicester City vs Newcastle United Half Time Full Time
Home-Home @ 1.98
May 8, 3:00 (GMT+8)

The hosts are highly fancied to win this clash at odds of 1.44, while Newcastle are at 6.18 and the draw is 4.26.

With an enviable array of talent at his disposal Brendan Rodgers has built a top class team at the King Power and they have the resilience to see this campaign through. And with a tough run of fixtures to come the Foxes will want to put distance between themselves and fifth place.

If they can keep Saint-Maximin quiet then Leicester should pick up another three points before their rivals play.

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SBOTOP 13-May 2021 Thursday 2:23 PM (72 days ago)            #21
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Premier League: Pride and Passion to Play Part on Pennines

Leeds United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Meetings between Leeds United and Tottenham have produced stories aplenty over the years.

Indeed, long before the advent of the Premier League, these were known as clashes which had a real intensity with a genuine passion. And it’s hardly surprising given the likes of Billy Bremner and Dave Mackay that were among the stars of yesteryear.

If you don’t have a clue what I am talking about, just take a look at this photo!

We may be missing supporters again at Elland Road on Saturday lunchtime but there will still be an intensity as Leeds seek to avenge a New Year reverse to the North Londoners,

Meanwhile, the Spurs have their own incentive – which is to try and secure a Champions League berth against the odds next season – a factor which could well determine the future of skipper Harry Kane at the club.

Talking Points

After beating champions-elect Manchester City and holding Liverpool and Manchester United in their recent Premier League 2021 results, there was a certain irony that Leeds slipped up on the seaside at Brighton last weekend.

On the other hand, perhaps it should have not come as a surprise given their season has been ups followed by downs and downs followed by ups.

An FA Cup embarrassment at Crawley aside though, it’s fair to say their 2020/21 campaign has largely been a job well done.

Regardless of what happens in the closing weeks, Marcelo Bielsa has achieved much in securing stability for the Yorkshire club in its first season back in the top-flight for 16 years.

Now the experienced old head welcomes a rookie caretaker boss still in his 20s to Elland Road and, if there were odds offered on such facts, what’s the betting this will be the only ever managerial meeting between Bielsa and 29-year-old Ryan Mason?

Certainly, current optimism appears higher on the Pennines than it is in North London where a promising first half of the season has tailed off somewhat in recent weeks with a distinct feeling of deja vu.

After their League Cup Final defeat. Tottenham bounced back to comprehensively see off bottom club Sheffield United last weekend as Gareth Bale led the way with a fine hat-trick.

They will need another three points too if they are to keep their faint aspirations for a top four spot alive.

This was massive one-way traffic when the sides met in New Year, a game I enjoyed and seemed to show why Tottenham and Jose Mourinho seemed to be getting it right.

Whether that was the case we will never know after club owner Daniel Levy seemed to again press the self-destruct button.

If their hopes are ended on Saturday though, expect more anger to be directed at Levy, who may be relieved supporters are not yet back inside stadiums.

So passion and pressure should be in abundance on Saturday. Dare I say, it could be just like old times!

Premier League: Son Heung-Min scored in Tottenham Hotspur's previous match against Leeds United

Son Heung-Min celebrates after scoring Tottenham Hotspur’s first goal vs Leeds United

History

Traditionally, these clubs have been well-matched and have enjoyed some ding-dong battles.

Their most recent clash before January’s encounter was in the FA Cup in 2013 when Luke Varney and Ross McCormack goals caused a fourth round surprise in a 2-1 win at Elland Road.

They had given the Spurs a scare in the same competition at the same stage three years earlier when Jermaine Beckford netted twice – including a stoppage time penalty – to earn the then League One side a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane before Spurs won the replay 3-1 at Elland Road thanks to a Jermain Defoe hat-trick.

The last time they met in the top flight in Yorkshire was in January 2004 when Robbie Keane scored the only goal against his former club in a 1-0 Spurs triumph.

That 2013 cup win remains Leeds’ only victory against Spurs in nine attempts.

The last time they beat them in the Premier League was in November 2001 when Ian Harte and Harry Kewell grabbed the goals in a 2-1 win.

Overall, Tottenham have beaten Leeds on 37 occasions, while Leeds have 32 wins and there have been 20 draws.

The very first meeting between the clubs was in October 1924 when Leeds recorded a 1-0 win.

Betting Tip

??
Leeds United vs Tottenham Hotspur 1X2 Draw @ 3.50
May 8, 19:30 (GMT+8)

Spurs have the edge with the SBOTOP Premier League 2021 betting odds.

The Champions-League chasers can be backed 1X2 @ 2.16 or Asian Handicap -0.50 at the same price.

Leeds are further adrift, 1X2 @ 3.15 and Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.40.

As for goals, Over 3.00 will pay out @ 2.13, Total Goal 2-3 @ 1.99 and Total Goal 4-6 @ 2.91.

In the unlikely event Spurs record another 3-0 success over the Yorkshire club, the correct score odds are on offer @ 23.00.

A 1X2 Draw @ 3.50 would seem to have some merit and so that is what I am opting for.

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SBOTOP 13-May 2021 Thursday 2:35 PM (72 days ago)            #22
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Premier League: Etihad Will Witness a Battle of Two Juggernauts

Manchester City vs Chelsea

This upcoming Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea may offer a preview of what’s to come in the Champions League final which will happen at the end of May.

There will be no love lost between these two rivals as they’ve already faced each other before in the FA Cup semifinals, and Manchester City fans certainly have a bone to pick given how that went.

Hakim Ziyech scored the marginal goal that put Chelsea through, effectively ending Manchester City’s quadruple hopes to meet Leicester City in the final.

Battles between Manchester City and Chelsea have always been epic. And here at SBOTOP, we take a look on these two rivals with this match preview.

Talking Points

Manchester City are close to the finish line

At this point, the Premier League title is for Manchester City’s to lose.

They have been brilliant all season as they kept on piling wins and points, and now they find themselves at the summit once again.

City’s brilliance on both ends of the pitch has been in full display since they boast the Premier League’s best attack and defence – scoring 71 goals while only conceding 24 from their opponents.

Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, and Bernardo Silva headline City’s overwhelming firepower out front as they keep on adding to the Premier League 2021 highlights reel.

Meanwhile, Ruben Dias — who is one of the top signings of the 2020/21 season — spearheads their suffocating defence alongside John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, and Ederson.

Pep Guardiola has been getting all the plaudits for what he has done for Manchester City. And as the trophies keep on coming, one can’t help but wonder on whether he should be considered as one of the game’s greatest managers.

But first things first, Guardiola and his men need to be focused at the task at hand since Tuchel’s Chelsea are no joke.

Chelsea aim to solidify top four place

Chelsea have all the incentive to beat Manchester City this weekend since it will help their cause, and they’ll have Manchester United and Leicester City to root for them to win.

After a shocking setback versus West Brom last April 3rd, Thomas Tuchel’s men have gone undefeated in their last four Premier League fixtures – beating Crystal Palace, West Ham, and Fulham, while drawing against Brighton.

Thomas Tuchel’s men have all the confidence in the world since they eliminated Real Madrid to move on to the Champions League final where they’ll take on their opponents this Saturday.

Timo Werner and Kai Havertz look to have turned the corner playing for Tuchel, but they’ll have their hands full in trying to penetrate City’s formidable backline.

With fifth-placed West Ham United hot on their heels, Chelsea must find a way to extend their unbeaten run to secure their Champions League spot next term.

Timo Werner has scored 6 goals and provided 10 assists in the Premier League this season

Timo Werner celebrates after scoring Chelsea’s opening goal against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals

History

Prior to England, Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel are big rivals in the Bundesliga – coaching for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively.

Since then, Guardiola has the edge over Tuchel since he has only lost once in all of their six meetings (W3, D2, L1).

As far as Manchester City and Chelsea are concerned, the Citizens hold the advantage in the recent head-to-heads.

Manchester City have won six of their last 10 meetings with Chelsea in all competitions, and they won over them in their reverse Premier League fixture last January.

All it took was a brilliant first half for the Citizens to pull away at Stamford Bridge. Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Foden, and Kevin De Bruyne all recorded one goal apiece in the fixture’s first 34 minutes, while Callum Hudson-Odoi scored one for Chelsea during added time for consolation.

This Saturday will mark the 168th meeting between these two clubs in all competitions. Chelsea leads this matchup with 69 wins, while Manchester City have won 59 times along with 40 draws.

Betting Tip

??
Manchester City vs Chelsea Manchester City Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 2.01
May 09, 00:30 (GMT+8)

The Premier League 2021 odds are favouring the league leaders to grab three additional points at home this weekend.

Manchester City are priced at 2.01, while Chelsea are lower at 4.00 and chances for a draw are at 3.10 in the 1×2 market.

Putting aside their setback in the FA Cup semifinals, Manchester City should win over Chelsea to move closer to bringing home their third Premier League title in the last four seasons.

The Blues will certainly bring the fight to the Citizens given their superb form. However, Pep Guardiola’s side has more established weapons that are enough to brush aside their visitors.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
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SBOTOP 13-May 2021 Thursday 2:39 PM (72 days ago)            #23
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Premier League: Pride and Passion to Play Part on Pennines

Leeds United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Meetings between Leeds United and Tottenham have produced stories aplenty over the years.

Indeed, long before the advent of the Premier League, these were known as clashes which had a real intensity with a genuine passion. And it’s hardly surprising given the likes of Billy Bremner and Dave Mackay that were among the stars of yesteryear.

If you don’t have a clue what I am talking about, just take a look at this photo!

We may be missing supporters again at Elland Road on Saturday lunchtime but there will still be an intensity as Leeds seek to avenge a New Year reverse to the North Londoners,

Meanwhile, the Spurs have their own incentive – which is to try and secure a Champions League berth against the odds next season – a factor which could well determine the future of skipper Harry Kane at the club.

Talking Points

After beating champions-elect Manchester City and holding Liverpool and Manchester United in their recent Premier League 2021 results, there was a certain irony that Leeds slipped up on the seaside at Brighton last weekend.

On the other hand, perhaps it should have not come as a surprise given their season has been ups followed by downs and downs followed by ups.

An FA Cup embarrassment at Crawley aside though, it’s fair to say their 2020/21 campaign has largely been a job well done.

Regardless of what happens in the closing weeks, Marcelo Bielsa has achieved much in securing stability for the Yorkshire club in its first season back in the top-flight for 16 years.

Now the experienced old head welcomes a rookie caretaker boss still in his 20s to Elland Road and, if there were odds offered on such facts, what’s the betting this will be the only ever managerial meeting between Bielsa and 29-year-old Ryan Mason?

Certainly, current optimism appears higher on the Pennines than it is in North London where a promising first half of the season has tailed off somewhat in recent weeks with a distinct feeling of deja vu.

After their League Cup Final defeat. Tottenham bounced back to comprehensively see off bottom club Sheffield United last weekend as Gareth Bale led the way with a fine hat-trick.

They will need another three points too if they are to keep their faint aspirations for a top four spot alive.

This was massive one-way traffic when the sides met in New Year, a game I enjoyed and seemed to show why Tottenham and Jose Mourinho seemed to be getting it right.

Whether that was the case we will never know after club owner Daniel Levy seemed to again press the self-destruct button.

If their hopes are ended on Saturday though, expect more anger to be directed at Levy, who may be relieved supporters are not yet back inside stadiums.

So passion and pressure should be in abundance on Saturday. Dare I say, it could be just like old times!

Premier League: Son Heung-Min scored in Tottenham Hotspur's previous match against Leeds United

Son Heung-Min celebrates after scoring Tottenham Hotspur’s first goal vs Leeds United

History

Traditionally, these clubs have been well-matched and have enjoyed some ding-dong battles.

Their most recent clash before January’s encounter was in the FA Cup in 2013 when Luke Varney and Ross McCormack goals caused a fourth round surprise in a 2-1 win at Elland Road.

They had given the Spurs a scare in the same competition at the same stage three years earlier when Jermaine Beckford netted twice – including a stoppage time penalty – to earn the then League One side a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane before Spurs won the replay 3-1 at Elland Road thanks to a Jermain Defoe hat-trick.

The last time they met in the top flight in Yorkshire was in January 2004 when Robbie Keane scored the only goal against his former club in a 1-0 Spurs triumph.

That 2013 cup win remains Leeds’ only victory against Spurs in nine attempts.

The last time they beat them in the Premier League was in November 2001 when Ian Harte and Harry Kewell grabbed the goals in a 2-1 win.

Overall, Tottenham have beaten Leeds on 37 occasions, while Leeds have 32 wins and there have been 20 draws.

The very first meeting between the clubs was in October 1924 when Leeds recorded a 1-0 win.

Betting Tip

??
Leeds United vs Tottenham Hotspur 1X2 Draw @ 3.50
May 8, 19:30 (GMT+8)

Spurs have the edge with the SBOTOP Premier League 2021 betting odds.

The Champions-League chasers can be backed 1X2 @ 2.16 or Asian Handicap -0.50 at the same price.

Leeds are further adrift, 1X2 @ 3.15 and Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.40.

As for goals, Over 3.00 will pay out @ 2.13, Total Goal 2-3 @ 1.99 and Total Goal 4-6 @ 2.91.

In the unlikely event Spurs record another 3-0 success over the Yorkshire club, the correct score odds are on offer @ 23.00.

A 1X2 Draw @ 3.50 would seem to have some merit and so that is what I am opting for.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

●●●

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SBOTOP 10-Jul 2021 Saturday 3:13 PM (14 days ago)            #24
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Premier League: Who will be Spurs Next Boss?

It’s been over two months since Jose Mourinho was sacked by Tottenham Hotspur and, with the 2021/22 Premier League season just six weeks away, fans of the North London giants want to know who will be steering their team when they kick off at home to champions Manchester City on Sunday 15th August.

Spurs don’t seem to be any closer to an announcement after a few frustrating weeks of failed approaches. They couldn’t persuade former boss Mauricio Pochettino to return for a second stint, and so interim coach Ryan Mason is on standby to take training when the squad returns for pre-season training. He became the youngest Premier League manager, at 29, when he took over in April, but Spurs are looking for a more experienced boss for the new campaign.

They have made fruitless approaches to Antonio Conte, Paulo Fonseca and Gennaro Gattuso, while Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag has decided to sign an extended contract with the Amsterdam club. The latest manager to snub the Whites was Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui and the situation is in danger of becoming farcical.

With speculation around the future of Harry Kane mounting, there might well be a rebuilding job for the incoming boss at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The star striker has been a prolific marksman for club and country, but he’s yet to score for England at the Euros and looks a little distracted to say the least.

The early Premier League 2021 betting odds here at SBOTOP offer a price of 41.00 on Tottenham Hotspur to win the league, and the priority for the new head coach will be to secure a Champions League place, either by ousting one of Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea from the top four as Manchester City will surely take their place.

That will be as tough a task as it sounds and it needs a strong leader at the helm to galvanise the club. So with a number of big names already ruled out let’s take a look at the most likely candidates for the Tottenham hot seat.

CLICK HERE

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

UEFA EURO 2020

Nuno Espirito Santo

The managerial merry-go-round in the Premier League can often throw up some bewildering events and the departure of Nuno Espirito Santo from Wolves counts as one of them. He left by ‘mutual consent’ in May after four highly successful years at the club, taking over in 2017 and steering them to the Championship title in his first year in charge.

He led Wolves to seventh place in the 2018/19 season, their highest ever Premier League finish, taking them into the Europa League at the fist attempt and repeated the feat in 2019/20 with another seventh placed finish. An injury to star striker Raul Jimenez, a packed schedule and empty stadiums took their toll on the 2020/21 season and his team finished just below half way.

Wolves’ loss could be Spurs’ gain.

Roberto Martinez

One name that has been bandied around recently is that of Roberto Martinez. The former Everton head coach is currently managing Belgium at Euro 2020 and the Red Devils are going well, winning all three of their group games, but he might be persuaded to return to club football if the right offer comes along. It would be huge Premier League 2021 news if Spurs manage to persuade Martinez to join them but it could be a great fit. He knows the Premier League inside out and has a reputation for getting the best out of his players.

Can Graham Porter lead Tottenham to Premier League glory if he will take the managerial role next season?

Brighton boss Graham Potter has emerged as the latest option to become the new Tottenham manager

Graham Potter

Reports which initially surfaced in the Italian press have suggested that the Spurs board has made contact with Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter. The 46 year old is highly regarded, having kept the Seagulls in the top flight in his two seasons in charge. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is an admirer and Potter is renowned for coaching his teams to play attractive, attacking football which would suit the Spurs faithful. He has also developed a more pragmatic side when needs must at the bottom end of the table.

Potter has a bright future ahead but I’m not sure how Spurs fans would feel about a relatively low profile appointment.

Steven Gerrard

One more name which has entered the frame is that of Steven Gerrard, though he doesn’t yet have an established track record of success as a manager. Gerrard was one of the best players of his generation in the Premier League, winning the Champions League with Liverpool and his managerial career has started impressively. In his third season as boss at Ibrox Park, Rangers swept to the Scottish title for the first time in ten years. At 41 his is still cutting his teeth as a boss but he has already been linked with Newcastle United and he is certain to head south to England before too long.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 10-Jul-2021 at 3:13 PM



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SBOTOP 10-Jul 2021 Saturday 3:16 PM (14 days ago)            #25
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Premier League: Sky Blues Chase Three Lions Stars

While Euro 2020 and the Copa America hurtle towards the business end of their respective competitions, the transfer rumour mills are starting to turn, and no more so than in the Premier League.

Along with La Liga, the English top league has been the biggest draw for the world’s best talents throughout the last decade. And after dominating the league in recent years, Manchester City has become a magnet for the most sought-after players.

The Premier League 2021 betting odds here at SBOTOP back the Sky Blues at 1.65 to win a fourth league title in five years, but the Sky Blues have a big hole to fill following the departure of Sergio Aguero to Barcelona. And to that end they have been watching England’s progress in the Euros very carefully.

Before the Three Lions kicked off their Round of 16 clash with Germany, fans were clamouring for the inclusion of Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish who starred in England’s win over the Czech Republic. But head coach Gareth Southgate refused to bow to public pressure and he used the creative midfielder as an impact sub, and what an impact he made with a hand in both England’s goals!

The Villains will be desperate to keep hold of their captain without who they would surely have been relegated in 2020 and would have struggled again last term. He’s a Villa fan, but Grealish knows he can go to the very top and, while no bids have yet come in for the star, it is widely reported that Manchester City are preparing to make a £100m offer for Jack the Lad.

And the Sky Blues are still pondering a move for England captain Harry Kane, who has become increasingly unsettled at Tottenham. While Spurs have only just appointed a new manager, announcing the arrival of former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday night, Kane at last scored at the Euros (thanks to Grealish), and he could be the man to replace Aguero at the Etihad.

Last season, Kane was involved in 37 goals, 23 strikes and 14 assists, and Spurs fans will hope their talisman will stay, and that their Premier League 2021 results prove him right to do so. But the club doesn’t seem ready to challenge the top four and time is running out for the striker, fast approaching his 28th birthday, he is now in his prime and yet to win a trophy.

Let’s face it, at odds of 41.00 to win the 2021/22 league title Kane seems unlikely to win much at Spurs. The only transfer rumour circulating in North London is that Tottenham have been told they must pay £50m to bring Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar to the club this summer. Skriniar is a good player but that news is unlikely to persuade Kane to stay at the club.

Another interesting rumour to be circulating around Manchester is that head coach Pep Guardiola might be interested in bringing Sergio Ramos to the Etihad following confirmation of the Spanish legend’s departure from Real Madrid, but FC Bayern and moneybags Paris Saint Germain are also in the frame.

Jadon Sancho has left Borussia Dortmund to join Premier League side Manchester United

Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho celebrates after winning their Bundesliga clash against RB Leipzig

Over the road at Old Trafford, Manchester United seem to be inching closer to the signing of winger Jadon Sancho. The Borussia Dortmund man is at the Euros with the Three Lions and has been used lightly by Gareth Southgate so far.

But after England beat Germany in the Round of 16, there could be more opportunities to come for the 21-year-old. It is reported that a fee of £72m has been agreed for Sancho, but a part of that will go to Manchester City as the Sky Blues have a sell on clause on their former trainee, and that will irritate Red Devils’ fans no end.

But they need recruits at Old Trafford and this would be a good start.

I reckon Manchester United could do with a big striker, with more longevity than the excellent Edinson Cavani, someone in the mould of BVB’s Erling Braut Haaland, but that ship may have sailed as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is increasingly confident he might be able to bring the 20-year-old Norwegian goal machine to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea starlet Billy Gilmour is on his way out of the Bridge though, completing a medical before making a loan move to newly promoted Norwich City. That will be a good signing for the Canaries. Gilmour made 11 appearances for the Blues last season and starred for Scotland in their brief stay at the Euros, and he will be an asset for Norwich in their quest to stay in the top-flight at the second attempt in three years.

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SBOTOP 13-Jul 2021 Tuesday 3:39 PM (11 days ago)            #26
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Premier League: Sky Blues Chase Three Lions Stars

While Euro 2020 and the Copa America hurtle towards the business end of their respective competitions, the transfer rumour mills are starting to turn, and no more so than in the Premier League.

Along with La Liga, the English top league has been the biggest draw for the world’s best talents throughout the last decade. And after dominating the league in recent years, Manchester City has become a magnet for the most sought-after players.

The Premier League 2021 betting odds here at SBOTOP back the Sky Blues at 1.65 to win a fourth league title in five years, but the Sky Blues have a big hole to fill following the departure of Sergio Aguero to Barcelona. And to that end they have been watching England’s progress in the Euros very carefully.

Before the Three Lions kicked off their Round of 16 clash with Germany, fans were clamouring for the inclusion of Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish who starred in England’s win over the Czech Republic. But head coach Gareth Southgate refused to bow to public pressure and he used the creative midfielder as an impact sub, and what an impact he made with a hand in both England’s goals!

The Villains will be desperate to keep hold of their captain without who they would surely have been relegated in 2020 and would have struggled again last term. He’s a Villa fan, but Grealish knows he can go to the very top and, while no bids have yet come in for the star, it is widely reported that Manchester City are preparing to make a £100m offer for Jack the Lad.

And the Sky Blues are still pondering a move for England captain Harry Kane, who has become increasingly unsettled at Tottenham. While Spurs have only just appointed a new manager, announcing the arrival of former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday night, Kane at last scored at the Euros (thanks to Grealish), and he could be the man to replace Aguero at the Etihad.

Last season, Kane was involved in 37 goals, 23 strikes and 14 assists, and Spurs fans will hope their talisman will stay, and that their Premier League 2021 results prove him right to do so. But the club doesn’t seem ready to challenge the top four and time is running out for the striker, fast approaching his 28th birthday, he is now in his prime and yet to win a trophy.

Let’s face it, at odds of 41.00 to win the 2021/22 league title Kane seems unlikely to win much at Spurs. The only transfer rumour circulating in North London is that Tottenham have been told they must pay £50m to bring Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar to the club this summer. Skriniar is a good player but that news is unlikely to persuade Kane to stay at the club.

Another interesting rumour to be circulating around Manchester is that head coach Pep Guardiola might be interested in bringing Sergio Ramos to the Etihad following confirmation of the Spanish legend’s departure from Real Madrid, but FC Bayern and moneybags Paris Saint Germain are also in the frame.

Jadon Sancho has left Borussia Dortmund to join Premier League side Manchester United

Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho celebrates after winning their Bundesliga clash against RB Leipzig

Over the road at Old Trafford, Manchester United seem to be inching closer to the signing of winger Jadon Sancho. The Borussia Dortmund man is at the Euros with the Three Lions and has been used lightly by Gareth Southgate so far.

But after England beat Germany in the Round of 16, there could be more opportunities to come for the 21-year-old. It is reported that a fee of £72m has been agreed for Sancho, but a part of that will go to Manchester City as the Sky Blues have a sell on clause on their former trainee, and that will irritate Red Devils’ fans no end.

But they need recruits at Old Trafford and this would be a good start.

I reckon Manchester United could do with a big striker, with more longevity than the excellent Edinson Cavani, someone in the mould of BVB’s Erling Braut Haaland, but that ship may have sailed as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is increasingly confident he might be able to bring the 20-year-old Norwegian goal machine to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea starlet Billy Gilmour is on his way out of the Bridge though, completing a medical before making a loan move to newly promoted Norwich City. That will be a good signing for the Canaries. Gilmour made 11 appearances for the Blues last season and starred for Scotland in their brief stay at the Euros, and he will be an asset for Norwich in their quest to stay in the top-flight at the second attempt in three years.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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SBOTOP 13-Jul 2021 Tuesday 3:42 PM (11 days ago)            #27
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Second Season Syndrome in Premier League or Strength to Strength: What’s Next for Leeds?

They were responsible for Premier League highlights aplenty.

On occasions, they took a pummeling, on other days they turned on the style to defy the Premier League betting odds.

Sometimes, they showed their best and worst sides in the very same games!

But the fact that Leeds United were able to not only survive in their first term back in the top flight for 17 years but actually claim ninth place, finishing with a flourish after an impressive late run, made their return an undoubted success.

In fact, the club surpassed all expectations in their first season back, attaining the highest points tally for a newly promoted side since Ipswich Town in 2001, as they amassed a total of 59 to finish above the likes of Everton and Aston Villa.

Now, what awaits the Yorkshire club, sponsored by SBOTOP, in the Premier League next term?

In many ways the team’s success in 2020-21 has been best emphasized by the role young midfielder Kalvin Phillips has played in helping England through to the final of Euro 2020.

Dubbed the ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ by his club fans, Phillips’ importance to his club is unquestionable, with the Whites winning only two of the nine Premier League games he missed last season.

The thought of a player, who was plying his trade outside of the top league just 12 months ago, being selected for the England squad for a major tournament could not have been foreseen; less still, the fact he has had such a key role.

He is one of seven players representing the club at Euro 2020; again, something which would have been scoffed at a year ago.

Leeds surpassed all expectations to achieve a ninth-placed finish in their first season back in the Premier League

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa commanding his players from the touchline

Looking ahead, Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa has already started strengthening the ranks after he signed full-back Junior Firpo from Barcelona for about £13 million on a four-year deal this week.

The 24-year-old moved to the Nou Camp from Real Betis in the summer of 2019 and made 41 appearances for Barca, who have included a 20% sell on clause in the deal. The former Spain Under-21 international helped Barcelona win the Copa del Rey last season.

They are also on the verge of gaining the signature of former Liverpool youngster Sean McGurk from Wigan. He is set to link up with the club’s under-23 side, who will play in the Premier League 2 Division 1 next season.

That would be another signing that falls in line with the club’s bold policy which helped them gain a top half finish.

Players like club-record signing Rodrigo, Raphinha (from Bayern Munich), Robin Koch, Diego Llorente and Firpo are not the type recruited to be well prepared to bounce back after a potential relegation.

That level of recruitment is necessary too, when all the talk around Elland Road and training ground Thorp Arch is of expectations of a harder and more challenging second season.

At first-team level, Leeds are reportedly not pushing for departures although, if they add another winger, it could mean even more limited game time for the likes of Helder Costa, and Kiko Casilla who is set to be loaned out.

Polish under-21 international midfielder Mateusz Bogusz has already returned to Spain for a second loan spell after joining Spanish Segunda Division side UD Ibiza for the 2021-22 season.

It is incomings though which are what are the talk of the town and Bielsa has been hunting for a central midfielder since the Whites won promotion and since Bayern Munich midfielder Michael Cuisance came close to signing last autumn.

Indeed, the two clubs had supposedly agreed an £18 million deal for the 21 year-old, who was set to pen a five-year contract before the transfer fell through at the 11th hour after the player failed a medical.

Leeds swiftly pursued a deal for Raphinha instead.

Among the latest rumours, Maxwel Cornet from Lyon is expected to leave the French club this summer, amid interest from Bielsa. Indeed, it has been suggested a bid has already been lodged for the 22-cap Ivory Coast international.

They are also said to be keen on rekindling their interest in Rangers winger Ryan Kent.

All in all, Leeds dans are excited but if there is a word of caution, they need not look far – just across the city in fact.

They will be well aware of Sheffield United and the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’ tag.

Like Leeds, the Blades finished ninth in their maiden top-flight campaign but plummeted severely last term as they finished bottom of the league with just 23 points.

All in all though, it’s very difficult to see a repeat, even if Leeds do not achieve their transfer targets.

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SBOTOP 20-Jul 2021 Tuesday 1:29 PM (4 days ago)            #28
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Premier League: A Close Look at Leeds’ Big Transfer Needs for 2021/22

Leeds United made a remarkably successful return to the Premier League last year as they finished in the top half of the table in their first season back.

But now, Marcelo Bielsa’s men face the big challenge of matching or even surpassing their ninth-place finish in their second season.

That will require some smart and substantial investment in the squad during the summer transfer window. The recruitment process has already begun with the big capture of left-back Junior Firpo from Barcelona and other acquisitions, but more signings must be made to address other areas of need.

SBOTOP takes an in-depth look at Leeds’ top transfer needs heading into the season, while throwing out some potential targets they could go after to fill those spots.

Backup centre-forward

Leeds likely wouldn’t have finished as high as they did without the goals of Patrick Bamford. After several disappointing spells in the top flight with different clubs, Bamford finally proved he was Premier League quality as he scored 17 goals, tied for fourth in the league, and had seven assists.

However, Leeds were also fortunate that Bamford was fit to play all 38 games last season, with 37 starts. And even if Bamford does avoid injury once again this year, Bielsa would be wise to give his star striker a rest once in a while. But to do that, he must improve his attacking options behind Bamford.

Record signing Rodrigo Moreno had an impressive end to the season with four goals in his last four games, but he has not exactly been a prolific goalscorer in his career. Tyler Roberts and Ian Poveda-Ocampo were Bielsa’s go-to options off the bench, but they scored just one goal between them all season.

Ideally, Leeds could do with adding a veteran striker who would be happy to back up Bamford and provide Leeds with a traditional target man late in games. Fernando Llorente – a former Bielsa favourite at Athletic Bilbao – or Olivier Giroud would be perfect for that role, although the latter is apparently AC Milan-bound.

But as may clubs have found out, capable forwards are hard to come by, so Leeds may have to set their sights toward more realistic targets like Eddie Nketiah. The 22-year-old striker, who is potentially on his way out at Arsenal, had a reasonably decent loan spell with Leeds in 2019-20, scoring five goals in 19 appearances. Bielsa called him a ‘complete player’ and can also play out on the wing if needed.

Third winger

Raphinha aims to bring Leeds United to Premier League glory next season

Raphinha celebrates after scoring for Leeds United during the 2020-21 Premier League season

As important as Bamford was to Leeds’ success last season, wingers Raphinha and Jack Harrison were not far behind. Harrison was second on the team in both goals (8) and assists (8) and Raphinha had six goals and a team-best (9) assists as he emerged as one of the top new signings of the season.

After numerous loan spells, Leeds have finally signed Harrison on a permanent deal, and he will produce his fair share of Premier League 2021 highlights. But the Whites need much more behind them this season. Their primary backup, Helder Costa, was a bit of a disappointment as he fell off after a promising start.

Leeds have already signed teenager Amari Miller from Birmingham, although he is not expected to contribute right away.

Meanwhile, they have been linked with Denmark’s Mikkel Damsgaard, who impressed during Euro 2020 and could raise Leeds’ Premier League 2021 odds of a higher finish. But they now face stiff competition from bigger clubs who could also bump his price up.

Leeds have also been linked with young wingers from lower leagues – Rangers’ Ryan Kent and Club Brugge’s Noa Lang to name a few – which are more attainable and affordable targets.

Young central midfielder

Leeds tried and failed to bring in another central midfielder last summer. Rodrigo De Paul – now of Atletico Madrid – was a reported target that didn’t come to fruition, while the deal for Bayern Munich’s Michael Cuisance unfortunately fell apart late.

Luckily, the emergence of Stuart Dallas helped fill that void in the middle of the park. But with Dallas and Mateusz Klich now in their 30s, Bielsa will be keen to add some younger legs and a bit more creativity in the middle of the park to help England star Kalvin Phillips.

Leeds have signed promising attacking midfielder Sean McGurk from Wigan, and Huddersfield Town’s Lewis O’Brien has also emerged as a hot name. While both are exciting prospects who can grow in time, Leeds would do well to add a more proven and experienced midfielder to provide cover for Dallas and Klich amid another long and gruelling Premier League campaign.

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SBOTOP 20-Jul 2021 Tuesday 1:31 PM (4 days ago)            #29
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Premier League: Four Weeks and Counting…

The 2021/22 Premier League kicks off on four weeks time folks. Well, four weeks on Friday night to be precise as Manchester City begin the defence of their title.

The 2021 also-rans are jockeying for position and working hard in the transfer market to strengthen their squads while this teams lower down the food chain and the newly supported clubs do their business as quietly and cutely as they can.

The Sky Blues cantered to the title last season and the early Premier League 2021 betting odds suggest they should make it four titles in five years, though it would not have been so easy last season but for injuries to a key rival.

Liverpool’s defence — who was decimated by injury last term — is on the road to recovery with head coach Jurgen Klopp delighted by the progress of long term injuries Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, who are both progressing nicely according to the Reds boss.

Wing-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who missed out on the Euros, picking up a knock in the run up to the tournament is also doing well.

The three players are working on their fitness at Liverpool’s pre-season camp in Austria and Liverpool fans can hope to see the in action before too long.

So what else is happening in the Premier League 2021 news?

Heroes return

Well, after a summer of International football in which England came within a penalty shootout of ending 55 years of hurt, the players who delighted the nation for almost the entire competition are on their way back to their clubs.

Kalvin Phillips’ return to pre-season training with Leeds will earn a heroes welcome after he starred in the Three Lions campaign, winning a man-of-the-match award in the victory over Croatia and being a first pick throughout the competition.

Manchester United are expected to confirm the transfer of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund over the next few days and he’ll be a fan-favourite at Old Trafford for sure, while England captain Harry Kane returns to Spurs with his future still uncertain.

Nuno’s arrival at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has done little to attract support in the betting markets with Spurs at odds of 41.00 here at SBOTOP to win the title.

They are cut adrift from the two Manchester clubs, Chelsea and Liverpool. And that won’t please Kane who has consistently won or challenged for the Golden Boot over the past few seasons.

He’s desperate to win silverware. And if England had won the penalty shootout against Italy, I wonder whether Spurs would have had a more contented player on their hands.

Deals done

There’s bound to be a flurry of business over the next few weeks, but a few eye-catching transfers have already been completed.

Leeds have confirmed the signing of midfield ace Jack Harrison from Manchester City while also capturing 24-year-old full-back Junior Firpo in a £13-M switch from Barcelona.

Liverpool have signed 22-year-old Ibrahima Konate in a £36-M move from RB Leipzig and the centre-back will be good competition and support for the returning duo.

Premier League: Aston Villa agree a club-record deal worth an initial £33m for Norwich City midfielder Emiliano Buendia

Norwich City’s Emiliano Buendía in action against Reading

Aston Villa have signed Norwich’s best player Emi Buendia for a cool £38-M while Burnley have attracted the highly rated 20-year-old centre-back Nathan Collins, completing a £12-M deal with Championship club Stoke City.

Opening Fixtures

So less than a month away, the 2021/22 season kicks off on Friday 13th August when newcomers Brentford make their first ever appearance in the Premier League as Arsenal are the visitors to the Brentford Community Stadium.

A London derby is all their fans could ask for and the Bees will be eyeing an opening night success as the opening round of fixtures usually throws up a surprise or two.

The tie of the round is at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium where Spurs host Manchester City. The hosts will be hoping Harry Kane is still a Spurs player after he said he’d make a decision on his future after the Euros.

Manchester City are reported to have a £100-M big rejected but the player could force a move if he feels strongly enough to do so, and Tottenham may have to cash in.

Elsewhere, Manchester United host Leeds United in the cross Pennine grudge match. The Whites surprised everyone with their success last term and they will go to Old Trafford without fear. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows he needs some success this season and might well target the cup competitions.

New boys Norwich City have a cracking opener against Liverpool and, having bounced back at the first attempt, the Canaries have more experience than two years ago when they played nice football but were too easily picked off.

There’s a mouthwatering Midlands derby at the King Power Stadium where Leicester City host Wolves, while the third promoted team in Watford have a home game against Aston Villa.

The Villains will hope they can keep hold of talisman Jack Grealish but he has a queue of big clubs clamouring for his signature.

Other fixtures:

Chelsea vs Crystal Palace

Burnley vs Brighton

Everton vs Southampton

West Ham vs Newcastle

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SBOTOP 20-Jul 2021 Tuesday 1:52 PM (4 days ago)            #30
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Premier League: Can Manchester City Afford to Stand Still?

They won the 2021 Premier League with plenty to spare, but as any top manager will tell you, in the most competitive league in the world you must continually invest to stay ahead of your rivals.

Pep Guardiola’s side made a slow start to the 2020/21 campaign. But sparked by the arrival of central defender Ruben Dias, they went on a devastating run to blow away their rivals and ultimately win the league by a clear 12 points.

This summer so far, the Sky Blues are yet to add any new recruits. And with the new season set to start in just four weeks time, the pressure to sign a big player might start to increase.

Two of Manchester City’s fiercest rivals have already made waves in the transfer market.

Liverpool, who saw their 2020/21 season decimated by injury to their best defenders, have shelled out £36-M to bring RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate to Anfield, and Jurgen Klopp says long term injury absentee Virgil van Dijk is nearing a return. The fitness of the Dutch master alone would surely cut that 12-point gap down significantly.

Meanwhile, Manchester United are very close to completing the signing of England star Jadon Sancho and the Red Devils are also rumoured to be keen on Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane, who could move to the Premier League club for a fee of around £50-M.

How will the Sky Blues respond?

In contrast, it’s been rather quiet at the Etihad where Manchester City are yet to replace the departed striker Sergio Aguero and Guardiola says his club is in danger of being priced out of an inflated market.

So much for the fear of COVID-19 damaging the finances of the top clubs!

The Sky Blues have already had an offer of £100-M for Spurs’ want-away striker Harry Kane knocked back and the City boss is struggling to make any headway elsewhere.

He is rumoured to be interested in Borussia Dortmund’s prolific forward Erling Braut Haaland, but I doubt £100-M would be enough to engage BVB’s interest.

Over the last few days, rumours have been circulating that FC Bayern ace Robert Lewandowski could be the next on Guardiola’s list and what a prospect that would be.

The Polish striker has been prolific throughout his seven-year stay in Bavaria, regularly scoring 40 goals a season and registering 203 in 219 appearances in all competitions.

Lewandowski has already said he’d be keen on a move to La Liga with Real Madrid foremost in his thoughts, but Guardiola might be tempted to speak to the striker who would be sure to rip it up in the Premier League.

As well as Kane, the Sky Blues have been keeping tabs on another of England’s Euro 2020 stars. Jack Grealish is on Pep’s radar, and though the Aston Villa star has plenty of admirers, City will be in pole position should Grealish be tempted away from his boyhood club.

Premier League: HarryKane is still the No.1 target for Manchester City

Manchester City are prepared to spend near £215 million on Harry Kane and Jack Grealish in this transfer window

The Three Lions fell short at Euro 2020, losing to eventual winners Italy in the finals. But in his cameo appearances, Grealish got the fans on their feet and gave opposition defences plenty to think about.

England had a great competition, but many supporters are still pondering whether they could have gone all the way had Grealish had more game time. If City are to sign the creative midfielder, they may need to offload a player to make room. But who?

Kevin De Bruyne remains Manchester City’s most important player and there is no way Pep will let the Belgian genius go.

And he is surrounded by creative allies in the shape of Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan, while midfield sensation Phil Foden looks set to become one of the best players the Premier League has seen if he continues his impressive progress.

The Premier League 2021 betting odds here at SBOTOP have already placed Pep Guardiola’s team as the odds-on favourite to win a fourth league title in five years at a price of 1.70. But as time goes on, signing a player could become more important, particularly if Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea are more active in the market.

If Manchester City’s opening Premier League 2021 results are as patchy as their start from the 2020/21 season, it may not be as easy to fight back and then ultimately pull away from their rivals.

Titles are never won in the opening weeks of the season but they can be lost in that time. And for City to pull off another miracle would be twice as hard as this time, their rivals are going to be ready for them.

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SBOTOP 20-Jul 2021 Tuesday 1:55 PM (4 days ago)            #31
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Premier League: Norwich City, Watford, and Brentford are the New Kids on the Block

In just a few weeks from now, a new Premier League season is about to kick off to where we’ll see a couple of familiar faces and a newbie joining into the fray.

Norwich City, Watford, and Brentford have secured their qualification to the English top-flight and all of them have plans to make sure that they’ll stay there for a considerable amount of time.

The Canaries and the Hornets have bounced in and out of the Premier League in recent years, but the Bees are relatively new to this kind of environment since their last appearance dates back to 1947.

Here at SBOTOP, let’s preview the new boys by analysing their roster as well as taking a look at the Premier League 2021 updates.

Norwich City

After bowing out from top-flight status at the end of the 2019/20 season, the Canaries are now back with a vengeance here in the Premier League.

They finished on top of the Championship last season with 97 points in 46 fixtures, while Watford and Brentford trailed behind them at 91 and 87.

A key reason to the Canaries’ success is because they’ve been prolific at the attack with Teemu Pukki and Emiliano Buendia leading the way. The strike duo combined for 41 goals and 20 assists last term, and the team overall recorded 75 goals.

However, Norwich City will have question marks out front next term as Aston Villa signed Emiliano Buendia for £38-M, while Teemu Pukki is slowly reaching the past of his prime.

Aware of this situation, Norwich City decided to become buyers in the transfer market in hopes of bringing in recruits to boost their Premier League 2021 odds.

One of their top signings was when they got Milot Rashica for around £9-M from Werder Bremen to replace Emiliano Buendia.

Rashica’s numbers aren’t eye-popping but he can fit in seamlessly right away and can even outdo Buendia’s production.

Meanwhile, Norwich City have also added Pierre Lees-Melou from Nice for additional firepower in the midfield, while they’ve strengthened their backline with the likes of Ben Gibson, Dimitris Giannoulis, and Angus Gunn.

Norwich City had one of the biggest upsets at the start of the 2019/20 season when they bested Manchester City in a five-goal thriller, and they’ll be looking to achieve the same feat when they’ll meet again at the Etihad on August 21.

Watford

Xisco Munoz will face the biggest test of his managerial career in trying to steer Watford’s ship for the upcoming Premier League season.

The 40-year-old tactician was brought in last December when the Hornets had a shaky start during the Championship. However, he was able to turn things around by guiding them to 17 wins out of their next 24 fixtures to finish at second place.

Vicarage Road will be rocking once again. But just like Norwich City, Watford will need to shore up their depth.

Ismaila Sarr was their top scorer last term with 13 goals and four assists but he’ll need a reliable partner out front in order to keep up.

Ismaila Sarr will be one of Watford’s key players in the upcoming Premier League match

Ismaila Sarr vies with Gabriel Jesus during the Premier League clash between Watford and Manchester City

Watford have brought in a viable candidate in the form of Emmanuel Dennis, who recently signed a five-year deal after spending four seasons with Club Brugge.

The Nigeria international is big and agile – qualities that are perfect for Munoz’s free-flowing offence. And he’s just 23 years old, which means that time is on his side.

Along with Emmanuel Dennis, the Hornets have added another striker in Joshua King to the hive, who should offer experience given his time with Everton last season.

Imran Louza is also an intriguing young addition for the Hornets. The French-Moroccan midfielder scored seven goals in 35 appearances for FC Nantes last term.

Brentford

Brentford supporters will be ecstatic to see the Bees back in top-flight after a 74-year wait, with Arsenal first on the menu on August 13.

But unlike Norwich City and Watford, Brentford are probably just happy to be here and it’s inevitable that they’ll have some growing pains along the way.

Team manager Thomas Frank will be strapped in trying to strengthen his roster due to financial constraints, which is why their focus will be on acquiring and developing young talent.

According to recent reports, Reiss Nelson is on top of their wishlist but they might be in a bidding war against Crystal Palace and Brighton.

The 21-year-old has been underutilised by Arsenal and he is said to be one of their academy’s best young standouts.

On the other hand, they are also interested in Brennan Johnson, Trevoh Chalobah, Matthew Cox, Kristoffer Ajer, and Harry Wilson, although it remains to be seen on whether they can get either one of their signatures soon.

●●●

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 20-Jul-2021 at 1:55 PM



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SBOTOP 20-Jul 2021 Tuesday 1:57 PM (4 days ago)            #32
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Premier League: What a Return For the Pride of Yorkshire!

As Premier League returns go, Leeds United’s 2020/21 top-flight campaign was an undoubted success.

Not only did they comfortably survive in their first term back at the top table for 16 years, but they actually claimed ninth place – finishing with a flourish after an impressive late run.

In fact, the club surpassed all expectations in its first season back — attaining the highest points tally for a newly-promoted side since Ipswich Town in 2001 — amassing a total of 59 to finish above the likes of Everton and Aston Villa.

Along the way, in fact from the very first day to the last day of the season, the side produced Premier League 2021 highlights – a number of which this SBOTOP correspondent witnessed.

Here are the leading five as far as yours truly is concerned.

Leeds United 4-3 Fulham (September 19, 2020)

An opening day 4-3 defeat at Liverpool was described by BBC Sport journalist Phil McNulty as “magnificently chaotic”, adding that “the defending from both sides was dreadful”.

Of course, opening day can often throw up unusual results so not too much was read into the events at Anfield.

Marcelo Bielsa managed to keep Leeds United’s top-flight status in their first season back in Premier League

Leeds United coach Marcelo Bielsa in the touchline before their match against Fulham

But when the newly-promoted Yorkshire men produced an identical result a week later — albeit this time with the score in their favour — it was clear Marcelo Bielsa and co. were here to entertain.

Two games in, they’ve had seven goals scored and seven goals conceded, and no wonder Leeds are Premier League box office!

That’s how I summed up the clash of the newly-promoted sides as the first top-flight game at Elland Road since 2004 delivered yet another seven-goal thriller. And so the scene was set.

Leeds United 1-1 Manchester City (October 3, 2020)

After going behind to Manchester City, Leeds equalised in the second half with a 59th-minute goal from club record signing Rodrigo — which was his first for the club — and that was how it stayed.

Any observer scanning the details of an unremarkable 1-1 draw might be confused and wonder why this is on the list.

But fans watching the game in a tropical storm saw opponents unashamedly going at each other hell for leather, in the character of two of the most innovative coaches in the world.

It was tactical mastery and it was breathless and wonderfully reckless. It was like a lab experiment that no one could predict the result of.

At the final whistle, a rain-sodden Bielsa remained on his haunches with his head bowed and exhausted, limp and lifeless from the wildest of emotional journeys.

That is until his opposite number Pep Guardiola arrived and they embraced in mutual respect.

Leeds United 1-0 Burnley (December 27, 2020)

A week after they were on the receiving end of a 6-2 pummeling at traditional foes Manchester United, Leeds needed to bounce back quickly.

Following criticism, Bielsa defended his style of play and announced he would not change, yet this hard-fought victory did show another side to their game and outlined they could also engage in a war of attrition when required.

A fifth-minute lead was secured when Patrick Bamford was fouled in the box and then converted the resulting spot-kick for the only goal of the match despite second half pressure from 16th-placed Burnley.

As uninspiring as it may have been, it was an important a message to deliver to anyone who thought that their Old Trafford hammering could spark a crumble in the second half of the campaign.

Manchester City 1-2 Leeds United (April 10, 2021)

Yes, City had all but sewn up the Premier League title and had one eye on their forthcoming Champions League quarter-final, but Leeds didn’t care after completing a true smash and grab.

When they mustered their first effort on target after a lengthy 41 minutes, it was actually the longest they had waited for a shot in a top-flight match all season.

Of course they only went and scored it which meant that, after being under the cosh against the champions elect, Bielsa’s men had a surprise lead at the Etihad Stadium.

When just minutes later, Leeds captain Liam Cooper went in high on Gabriel Jesus and, following an initial yellow card, VAR intervened and the skipper was dismissed.

It would have taken an even braver man to assess the Premier League 2021 betting odds and tip the visitors to preserve their lead.

Yet after being pegged back, Stuart Dallas pounced again at the death to seal a 2-1 win which sent Leeds fans into pandemonium.

Leeds United 3-1 Tottenham (May 8, 2021)

Leeds’ penultimate home game of the campaign is a result which showed how strongly they were finishing the season against opponents who still harboured European hopes.

After Heung-Min Son cancelled out Stuart Dallas’ opener, the onus was on the North Londoners to go and gain all three points.

Instead, Leeds United rode their luck as Tottenham hit the woodwork twice and Bamford and Rodrigo found the net to secure the points.

The club’s progress was highlighted further by the fact that Bamford had become just the fourth Englishman to score 15+ goals for Leeds in a single Premier League campaign after Lee Chapman (15 in 1992-93), Rod Wallace (17 in 1993-94), and Michael Bridges (19 in 1999-00).

Patrick Bamford was in good company indeed.

●●●

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 20-Jul-2021 at 1:57 PM



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SBOTOP 20-Jul 2021 Tuesday 2:00 PM (4 days ago)            #33
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Premier League: Leeds are Marching On!

Leeds United’s return to the Premier League after a 16 year absence couldn’t have gone much better for the West Yorkshire faithful.

Super boss Marcelo Bielsa led the Whites to a ninth-placed finish in a season characterised by high-tempo goal-fests.

Leeds cast off their image of 20th century win- at-all-costs merchants to become one of the most popular teams in the top flight, renowned for attractive football and some breathtaking drama.

And now, not surprisingly, the Premier League 2021 betting odds here at SBOTOP reckon the Yorkshire side will finish top 10 again at 151.00 to win the title and 31.00 to lift the FA Cup.

With less than four weeks to go until the new season starts, fans on the East side of the Pennine hills are desperate to see their heroes again, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic cruelly denied them of that delight in their return season.

In the meantime, the boss still has work to do to get his squad ready for action, and to bring in the new bodies he needs to ensure the Leeds will be ‘Marching on Together’ again in the new season.

Jack the lad is now a Leeds United player

Wide man Jack Harrison has already put pen to paper and committed his future to Leeds after a fantastic loan period at the club.

He’s scored 18 goals in 119 appearances for the Whites since his arrival on loan from Manchester City in 2018 and has become a firm fan-favourite at Elland Road.

That was a great start to the summer off the field. After wing-back Ezgjan Alioski declined the offer on the table, Leeds moved quickly to secure the signature of a like-for-like replacement in Barcelona’s Junior Firpo at a cost of £15-M on a four-year deal with a 20-per cent sell-on clause for the Catalans.

There was a lot of competition for the 24-year-old Spaniard and Leeds won as they were the fastest. Firpo has scored two goals in 24 appearances for the Blaugrana and he will certainly be a player to watch in the Premier League.

Junior Firpo signs for Premier League club Leeds United from Barcelona

Junior Firpo has signed a four-year contract with Leeds United

Who else is on Bielsa’s shopping list?

The head coach is on the lookout for reinforcements up front and in midfield and he also wants competition for goalkeeper Illan Meslier following the sale of Kiko Casilla to La Liga club Elche.

That problem seems to have been solved as Leeds have been tracking three keepers including Newcastle United’s Freddie Woodman and Levante’s Daniel Cardenas.

But Bielsa seems to have plumped for young Norwegian prospect Kristoffer Klaesson. The club is reported to have tabled a bid for the 20-year-old Valerenga stopper and hopes to get that one over the line before too long.

In midfield, there could be movement soon as it has recently emerged that Turkish international Okay Yokuslu is about to become available for an attractive price of £5-M.

The player spent the second half of last season at West Bromwich Albion as the Baggies improved, but has returned to Celta Vigo and the La Liga club seems happy to let the 27-year-old move on.

Yokuslu is a tough tacking player with 35 appearances for Turkey and he’d be a great addition to support some of Leeds more creative players, but Bielsa may have to move quickly again with Premier League rivals Crystal Palace monitoring the situation.

Out front, striker Patrick Bamford led the line brilliantly last season and was the fourth top scorer in the league with a fantastic return of 17 goals. But if he suffers injury or a lack of form, Leeds would be lacking a spearhead and that is something Bielsa will be acutely aware of.

There is an abundance of creative spark in this team with Harrison, Rodrigo, and Rafinha all capable of weighing in with goals and assists. But every Premier League team needs at least one striker who can score double figures year after year.

Former Leeds player Chris Wood has achieved that in his last four seasons at Burnley, but the Clarets won’t be prepared to let the New Zealand hitman go. Meanwhile, young Wales striker Tyler Roberts is yet to make a serious mark at Elland Road.

So Bielsa still has work to do.

Over the next four weeks, we’ll keep you up-to-date with all the very latest Premier League 2021 updates and all things Leeds United.

But if you can’t wait, we already have our odds and stats up for the opening round of fixtures and the Whites are currently at 5.22 to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 20-Jul-2021 at 2:00 PM



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SBOTOP 20-Jul 2021 Tuesday 2:03 PM (4 days ago)            #34
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Premier League: Which Stars Could Be Heading to West London?

After a two window transfer embargo, Chelsea were the country’s biggest spenders last summer with a £200 million plus spree.

For six months, it barely looked like their attempt to make up for lost time had worked.

But then a new coach came in and players who had struggled initially to settle in the English game began to show glimpses of talent their respective transfer fees demanded.

In fact, Chelsea ended the campaign as champions of Europe, FA Cup finalists and secured a Premier League top-four finish with some key wins in the closing stages of the season – something which seemed highly unlikely when they were placed ninth in the Premier League in late January.

So, what do the free-spending west Londoners require as they aim for more glory in 2021/22?

Who will improve the squad and, most importantly, their starting XI?

And, after four years without a genuine title challenge, can we now expect one? Certainly, based on the final six weeks of last season, reigning champions Manchester City will not relish meeting opponents which held something of a hoodoo as they ended City’s treble dreams in the FA Cup semi-final, defeated them on their own turf in the league to delay a title party and then, for the third time in quick succession, dented City’s long-standing European dreams in the final of the Champions League.

Already Chelsea have bid farewell to one of their squad men, albeit one who contributed some important goals, as Olivier Giroud headed to Serie A and Milan.

In addition, the west Londoners have said farewell to Fikayo Tomori who has also joined Milan on a permanent transfer after the defender spent the second half of last season on loan with the Italian giants.

That deal may have disappointed some fans given Thiago Silva was never a long-term signing, although even in his late 30s the Brazilian has shown he remains a class act and Chelsea are a better side with him at the heart of their rearguard.

Perhaps Tomori has been allowed to leave permanently – unlike promising midfielder Billy Gilmour who will spend a season on loan at Norwich City – because Thomas Tuchel is confident he can land Real Madrid centre back Raphael Varane.

Spanish newspaper Marca claims the Blues have now registered their interest in the French international.

Further forward, one man regularly linked with a move from east London to the west is West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, fresh from a fine Euro 2020 with England.

There are suggestions the Blues have made an ‘informal enquiry’ to the Hammers about a player Tuchel’s predecessor Frank Lampard admired.

Whether West Ham are willing to sell, especially after the track record of losing many of their stars to Chelsea, is unclear.

Interestingly, another young English talent, Callum Hudson-Odoi has around three years remaining on his contract with Chelsea but his future remains uncertain.

The 20-year-old’s career with the Blues so far has been dominated by transfer rumours, with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich reportedly bidding for the winger a couple of times already in recent years.

If that is the case, and if Hudson-Odoi is deemed surplus to requirements, perhaps they could look to include him in a potential swap deal for Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman.

The Blues are certainly well aware of the Bundesliga outfit’s long-term interest in Hudson-Odoi.

Further afield, even with the emerging Timo Werner, who will surely be stronger for a year in English football behind him, the club will want to boost their attacking options.

Although it is hard to imagine Bayern Munich selling the most prolific frontman in Europe, there are rumours Tuchel will make an ambitious £50 million bid to sign the Pole Robert Lewandowski – this after supposedly failing in their attempts to land Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund.

And then there’s a former player who was rarely given a chance in their own ranks as a youngster.

Romelu Lukaku has delivered Premier League highlights aplenty at West Brom, Everton and Manchester United. But has also been prolific with Inter Milan, who he helped to win Serie A last season.

Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring a goal for Inter Milan in the Serie A

Chelsea were keen to bring the Belgium forward back to Stamford Bridge in 2017 but preferred Jose Mourinho’s United rather than teaming up with the then reigning champions under Antonio Conte.

With reports that Inter is struggling financially, Chelsea could chance their arm with an audacious bid – although I Nerazzurri must be in a desperate financial plight if it is considering selling a player who has netted 47 goals in 72 appearances over the last two campaigns.

Bankrolled by Roman Abramovich, the landscape of English football changed when the Russian oligarch arrived in 2003.

Since then, Chelsea have always had money to spend. Who will be their 2021 star captures?

The SBOTOP Premier League betting odds could well change if some of these names arrive in west London.

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 20-Jul-2021 at 2:03 PM



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