By News Team
8th March 2021
Another round of Premier League fixtures concludes with two intriguing matches involving three of the sides battling for Champions League football next season.
First up, Carlo Ancelotti takes his Everton side back to former club Chelsea, who are still yet to taste defeat under new manager Thomas Tuchel, before high-flying West Ham host Leeds at the London Stadium.
Here is our preview of both matches.
Ancelotti to haunt former side?
It’s been very much so far so good for Tuchel at Chelsea, with the London side still unbeaten under their new manager. Thursday’s impressive performance at Anfield was a big step to guaranteeing Champions League football next season, as will a victory against one of the sides vying to knock them out of the top four in Everton. Much of Chelsea’s improvement under Tuchel has come from a rock-solid defence which has kept eight clean sheets in the 10 games he’s been in charge for so far. Thiago Silva has been injured and many thought that would impact the Blues significantly, but both Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have really stepped up to the plate in his absence. Chelsea are 8/15 to win this one, while they are 5/4 to win to nil.
When Ancelotti was appointed at Goodison Park, Everton were as hopeful as they had ever been that this was a manager who could take them to new heights, and although they won’t want to be getting too far ahead of themselves yet, the signs are this is a side on the up. The Toffees sit just one point and one place behind Monday’s opponents, but they do have a game in hand, so an away win here would be huge for their European prospects. There is room for optimism too. Everton are currently fourth in the Premier League away table with 29 points – 12 more than they have accrued at Goodison Park – and having won at both Liverpool and Spurs this season, a trip to another big side will hold no fears. The visitors are 6/1 for the win here.
A big reason for Everton’s current standing in the league is the form of Richarlison, who has scored in his last four matches. The red-hot Brazilian is 15/4 to continue his purple patch at Stamford Bridge by scoring anytime.
Moyes and Bielsa go head-to-head
If you had told West Ham fans that at the beginning of March they’d be seventh in the table, two points off the Champions League spots with a game in hand, almost all of them would probably have laughed at you. However, that’s the brilliant job that David Moyes has done with the Hammers and as they get ready to take on Leeds on Monday, they are very much looking upwards instead of fighting off the threat of relegation – a factor that has haunted them over the past few seasons. Moyes should be given huge credit for the job he’s done, with the signings of Tomáš Souček and Vladimir Coufal proving inspired business, while the January arrival of Jesse Lingard has added pace and guile up front. Lingard is 11/2 to grab the first goal at the London Stadium, while West Ham are the favourites for this one at 21/20.
Leeds continue to prove a breath of fresh air with their free-flowing and eye-catching style of football proving a real hit. The way Marcelo Bielsa sets up his team does mean they are very open at times and it’s perhaps not surprising they have been thrashed on a few occasions this season, but those defeats don’t change his philosophy and every one of his players have bought into that. Leeds are just five points off that magical 40-point mark and barring a total collapse, they are almost certainties to be playing in the league again next season. The visitors are 13/5 to pull off an away victory.
One player who has really caught the eye over the past few weeks is Raphinha, who is yet another Brazilian who looks a star in the making. The summer signing from Rennes has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water and you feel plenty of Europe’s big-hitters will be keeping close tabs on his progress ahead of a potential move in the summer. The Leeds winger is 9/1 to score first, while he’s 3/1 to score at anytime.