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Matchweek 28 Review – Honours even in tense title shaper

Matchweek 28 of the 2023/24 EPL season saw a fascinating clash between the title favourites, Arsenal edge closer, and Spurs rout Villa.

Liverpool and City live up to billing

There could hardly have been a bigger buildup to Liverpool’s Sunday afternoon clash against Manchester City in what loomed as, if not a title decider, then a title shaping match. With just a point separating the two clubs most favoured to claim the 2023-24 EPL title, the result loomed as crucial as City hunt a record fourth straight crown. In the lead-up, we said we couldn’t spilt the two, as City ($2.20) went in as marginal favourites (Liverpool $2.75).

City got the jump in unusual fashion — not just because they pulled something straight out of the training book with a clever low, near-post corner, but because the man to put it away was defender John Stones ($15 first goalscorer). But from there, Liverpool came at them. In fact, the Reds’ 19 shots were their most in an EPL game against City since February 2013. And when a rash challenge from Sky Blues keeper Ederson (following a poor Nathan Ake backpass) handed Liverpool a penalty, Alexis Mac Allister ($5.50 anytime) hammered home his eighth straight EPL penalty. But in the end, the sides couldn’t be split, finishing 1-1 (draw $3.75, correct score $8.50). And you got the sense that neither manager was overly displeased…

Havertz steps up again as Gunners edge closer

Prior to the Liverpool versus City blockbuster, Arsenal had taken the three points on offer for an eighth straight EPL match, after downing Brentford 2-1 at home. While Mikel Arteta’s men had coasted to victories in their four previous league games, winning by an average of over five goals per game in this period, they were made to work in this one despite going in strong $1.19 favourites. After converting early dominance to go 1-0 up via Declan Rice ($8.00 first goalscorer with Palmerbet), the Bees equalised on the stroke of half time against the run of play from a horror Aaron Ramsdale error. But, despite some nervy moments, it was the increasingly reliable Kai Havertz who got the job done, scoring in the 86th minute ($2.05 anytime goalscorer) to ensure a 2-1 win.

Havertz’s feast-or-famine run is quite incredible. The German has now has scored in four consecutive EPL matches, netting as many goals in this run as his previous 32 league matches. The win was significant for several reasons, not least that it’s the first time Arsenal have won eight consecutive EPL games since April 2015 under Arsene Wenger. Further, their 70 goals to date this season (from 28 matches) is the earliest into a league campaign they have scored 70+ goals since 1963-64. Now top of the EPL table, the Gunners are now right in title betting, shortening into $3.50 after the weekend’s action.

Top 4 race tightens as Spurs rout Villa

As far as the Top 4 race goes, Tottenham’s clash against Aston Villa was a ‘six pointer’ in every sense. Unai Emery’s men ($2.35 favourites) could have streamed eight points ahead of Spurs ($2.55) with victory, in what would have been a damaging blow for Ange Postecoglou. But not even the most optimistic Spurs fan could’ve envisaged what was to take place on Sunday at Villa Park…

Spurs not only left the Midlands with three points in hand, but hammered Villa to the tune of 4-0. To put the result into context, it’s Emery’s joint-heaviest home defeat as a manager. You have to go back as far as 2012 (when his Spartak Moscow side went down 5-1 to Dinamo Moscow) to find as hefty a defeat for the Spaniard on home turf. Spurs were $24 pre-match for any punter daring enough to back them at -3.0. It was their familiar faces with James Maddison ($8.00 first goalscorer), Brennan Johnson ($2.90 anytime goalscorer), Son Heung-min ($2.00 anytime) and Timo Werner ($2.30 anytime) all getting on the scoresheet. Son’s dominance just cannot be understated, as the club skipper is simply thriving under the Aussie manager.

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