Newcastle v Leicester
Newcastle are almost over the line with a 10-point lead over 18th-placed Burnley, even if the latter still hold a game in hand. A win over Wolves last time out ended a run of three straight defeats to Chelsea, Everton and Tottenham, leaving them W7-D1-L3 across their past 11 fixtures.
Notably, each of those recent defeats came on the road, and at St. James’ Park alone, Eddie Howe’s men have now won four on the trot. Aside from Everton, who are down in 17th place, the other sides they beat at home (Aston Villa, Brighton and Wolves) are all between eighth and 12th in the table, while their opponents here also occupy a place in that section of the table.
The Foxes have endured a disappointing campaign and with qualification for European competition effectively off the table, their best chance of ending the season on a high rests with a top-half finish and further progression in the Europa Conference League. However, a tricky trip to face PSV on Thursday may stretch their resources.
The big concern for Leicester ahead of this game has to be their poor away form. Across all competitions, they’ve won just twice from 14 road trips since the start of November (W2-D4-L8), as even those were picked up at Burnley and Danish outfit Randers. The Foxes have in fact managed just a single clean sheet from their past 18 away from home in all competitions, against low-scoring Burnley, while they conceded at least twice in 10 of the last 13, as 10 of these also saw a minimum of three goals in total.
Goals could certainly be on the agenda as each of the past five head-to-heads have seen at least three goals, averaging 4.2 per game. Eddie Howe and Brendan Rodgers have squared off eight times during their managerial careers, with these encounters averaging just over three goals per game, with as many as 13 strikes across the past three meetings alone.
OVER 2.5 GOALS
West Ham v Burnley
West Ham have an important Europa League game to navigate on Thursday with Lyon, but no matter the result in that encounter, they can’t afford to take their eye off the ball domestically. The Hammers have suffered some bad results on the road of late, losing each of their past five ahead of the trip to the French outfit, but on home turf their form remains strong. They’re W11-D4-L3 since the October international break, including five wins from their past seven unbeaten such games.
Burnley were unable to build on their crucial win over Everton as they suffered defeat on the road at Norwich, leaving them with five defeats from their past six as they failed to score in each loss. Time is fast running out for Sean Dyche’s side, and away from home, Burnley have picked up just the single victory all season, losing five of the last eight.
Burnley secured a goalless stalemate in the reverse fixture during a difficult run of results for West Ham, but David Moyes’ side did the double over them last term and will expect to make home advantage count. Burnley only scored the single goal across the three meetings over this period, and although they hold the best defensive record amongst the bottom nine sides in the table this season, only rock-bottom Norwich have scored fewer goals as output remains a huge concern.
WEST HAM TO WIN
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