Premier League – Wenger to end on a high

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THE Premier League concludes on Sunday and Daniel McCulloch (@danmcc84) is here with his best bets for three of the encounters.

Huddersfield v Arsenal | Sunday 13th May 2018, 15:00 |

The first question I asked when analysing the final day fixtures is how many goals should we expect. I looked at a relatively small sample – five seasons worth of data – and noted that 165 goals had been scored across 50 matches.

This average – 3.3 a game – is significantly more than the 2.7 we have seen across the full seasons. I therefore have little doubt that there will be a few very surprising scorelines, especially with all the key places – with the exception of the fourth Champions League spot – decided.

It is upon this logic that I believe an Arsenal win and Both Teams To Score is the way to go. That is available at 15/8 with bet365. It is difficult to back this recommendation up with data. Arsenal have, after all, lost all seven away games this calendar year. However, I think in the circumstances their need is greater.

Their players will surely want to see Arsene Wenger off with a victory and they face a side who have had a euphoric and exhausting week. David Wagner’s side confirmed their Premier League status with hard earned draws at Manchester City and Chelsea and – rumour has it – enjoyed themselves in London after the game at Stamford Bridge.

In contrast to their obdurate recent displays, I believe The Terriers will try to make a game of it against a side who, for all their faults, possess far greater ability. Given their defensive struggles – key defender Laurent Koscielny is one of several they are missing this weekend – I don’t believe they can keep a clean sheet but am confident in them winning the game and therefore believe this is the way to go.

Crystal Palace v West Brom | Sunday 13th May 2018, 15:00 |

Entertainers Crystal Palace take on a resurgent West Brom at Selhurst Park in what promises to be a festival-like atmosphere. The Eagles have secured their Premier League status in fine style – they are unbeaten in five matches and have scored 12 goals in the process – while Albion Caretaker Manager Darren Moore secured the April Manager of The Month award and his side have also not lost in five.

In contrast to Stoke and Swansea fans, Albion supporters accepted their fate weeks ago (sadly the board did so weeks before that) and the scenes after they secured a last minute victory over Tottenham last Saturday were incredible.

Since Roy Hodgson took over at Palace, 11 of their 16 home games have seen three goals or more scored. It’s fair to say that Albion games under Moore have been less entertaining – he has three 1-0 wins to his credit as well as 1-1 and 2-2 draw.

However, with relegation now confirmed, I believe the shackles will be off and this should be an excellent atmosphere, which will hopefully result in a great spectacle. Therefore, I believe the 4/5 BetVictor are offering on over 2.5 goals is the correct shout.

Swansea v Stoke | Sunday 13th May 2018, 15:00 |

Swansea vs Stoke At first sight, I simply cannot believe that under 2.5 goals in this match is available at 21/20 with Ladbrokes. Yes, a ten-goal swing across the Southampton and Swansea matches can keep the Welsh side in the Premier League, but there appears to be little faith this is possible.

Yesterday, the club confirmed that manager Carlos Carvalhal will be leaving at the end of the season, which is hardly likely to galvanise a side who know that relegation is a near-certainty. In truth, the lack of confidence is hardly surprising given recent results and it is hard to envisage a side who have scored just two goals in their last eight league games scoring a hatful this weekend.

I thought Swansea were dire in their ‘must-not-lose’ game against Southampton, creating few chances of note as the visitors won the game as well as the shots, shots on target and expected goals metric. Moreover, since Carvalhal joined the club, just five of their 17 league games have seen three goals or more scored. Stoke games have been similarly dreary affairs since Paul Lambert arrived in Staffordshire.

Stoke have not scored more than a single goal in their last 14 matches and just six of the Scots 15 matches would have resulted in an under 2.5 goals bet being a loser. The first half of matches have been particularly dull under both managers. Across the 32 top-flight matches the pair have managed, 13 (41%) of them have seen a goalless first half.

This suggests that the 9/4 Bet365 are offering on the score being 0-0 at half time is excellent value.

Best Bets

Arsenal v Huddersfield – Arsenal to win and both teams to score (15/8 bet365)

Crystal Palace v West Brom – Over 2.5 goals (4/5 BetVictor)

Swansea v Stoke – Under 2.5 goals (21/20 Ladbrokes)

Swansea v Stoke – 0-0 at half time (9/4 bet365)

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