Turf Moor Tussle for Wannabe Top Dogs United

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There are six Premier League games spread out between Tuesday to Thursday with Man Utd, Man City and Spurs all playing.

Sean Dyche

After a brief interlude for the FA Cup, the Premier League returns with a slate of six midweek matches, starting with three games on Tuesday and wrapping up with Arsenal against Crystal Palace on Thursday.

Manchester United, Tottenham and Manchester City all have a chance to make gains at the top of the table as they play their games in hand, while at the bottom Sheffield United go in search of a first win. We start our preview of the midweek action with Manchester United’s trip to Burnley as the Red Devils look to move into first place in the table.

Resolute Clarets Pose a Problem

A run of eight wins from their last 10 matches has seen Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer’s men draw level on points with Liverpool at the Premier League summit and they are 5/11 favourites to take over as leaders with a win. Much of United’s best work has come away from home this season, the Red Devils winning six out of seven on the road. They are averaging three goals per game on their travels too, but might find hitting the back of the net a bit tougher against an improving Burnley side.

After stumbling out of the blocks, the Clarets have taken 15 points from their last 10 games to move out of the relegation zone, winning three of the last five at Turf Moor. They’ve recorded five clean sheets during their recent revival with goalkeeper Nick Pope managing the third-best save percentage of any Premier League goalkeeper.

Those clean sheets have been vital to Burnley’s turnaround given their struggles in front of goal, Sean Dyche’s side managing just nine goals in 15 matches. However, United have yet to keep a clean sheet away from home and have injury problems in defence with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof doubtful. The visitor’s attacking quality should give them the edge but it won’t be easy and United to win with both teams to score is priced at 9/5.

Newcastle Face the Chop by Blades

Sheffield United picked up their first win in six months in their FA Cup third round tie against Bristol Rovers at the weekend and will bid to follow that up against Newcastle in Tuesday’s early game. If the bottom-of-the-table Blades are to perform The Great Escape then they need to start picking up points fast and the Magpies could prove the perfect opponents to keep the momentum going after the cup success, Steve Bruce’s men having failed to win any of their last seven games.

Newcastle failed to score for the fourth time in five matches in their FA Cup loss at Arsenal on Saturday and could be without top-scorer Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin at Bramall Lane. Sheffield United are even worse in front of goal, netting just eight times in the league, and this promises to be an ugly game, although one the Blades could edge at 6/4.

Defence Key to City and Spurs

Wednesday’s two games look straightforward on paper with a home double highly likely as Manchester City play host to Brighton and Tottenham take on Fulham. A win for Spurs and City would move them to within one point of Liverpool and further bunch up an already congested top five.

Pep Guardiola’s City side have started to look like their old selves in the last month, winning the last six on the bounce in all competitions. Featuring regularly in their recent games have been solid defensive displays, keeping 10 clean sheets in the last 13 matches, and getting out of the blocks quickly. City’s last five wins have all featured goals inside the first 20 minutes and they should have no issues hitting the ground running against a struggling Brighton side.

City are 9/5 to lead 1-0 at half-time and 7/2 to be 2-0 ahead come the interval, offering some value in a game Guardiola’s men should dominate.

Spurs are also fast starters, scoring more goals in the opening 15 minutes of games than any other Premier League side this season. However, they might need to be patient when they host a Fulham side who have made themselves much tougher to beat.

Although they still only have two wins to their name this season, the Cottagers are unbeaten in four, a run which includes a 1-1 draw with champions Liverpool. Scott Parker’s side seem to be trending in the right direction and a trip to Tottenham can be viewed as a free hit for the west London outfit given the two team’s standing in the table.

Spurs will view this as a must-win clash if they are to be taken seriously as title contenders and their home record suggests they can get the job done, winning eight of the last nine on their own patch. Jose Mourinho was able to rest a few players for Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Marine, including Harry Kane, and should be close to full strength. Having kept a clean sheet in seven of the last nine at home, Spurs to win to zero at 11/10 could be the smart play.

*All odds correct at the time of writing.

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