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Hammers could dent Liverpool's top-four hopes in London

Our experts answer this week's big football betting questions

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic
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Aaron Ashley Racing Post Sport

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Bournemouth at a shade of odds-on to beat Burnley. The Cherries have been scoring freely at Dean Court this season and a visit from the poor-travelling Clarets should please Eddie Howe, who will be desperate to achieve a top-half finish. Burnley have claimed just seven points on the road, notching only 12 times in the process.

Which of the favourites look the most vulnerable?
Liverpool are stalling in their bid for the top four and they could slip up at West Ham. The Hammers have taken time to acclimatise to their new surroundings but last week’s victory over Tottenham shows just how dangerous they can be. Slaven Bilic’s bunch are unbeaten in five matches and have kept three consecutive home clean sheets. 

Who will join Chelsea and Tottenham in the Premier League top four?
Arsenal’s top-four hopes looked over a month ago but they are delivering the goods and I’d take them alongside Manchester City. Manchester United are fully-focused on clinching the Europa League, while Liverpool’s early promise looks to be fizzling out. The Reds may struggle at West Ham and I fancy the Gunners to win their final three matches.

Who wins the Sky Bet Championship playoffs?
It’s difficult to look beyond Fulham. The Cottagers’ mix of youth and experience gives their squad a good balance and they have enough talent in their ranks to see off the challengers. Huddersfield arrive in the playoffs in terrible shape and seem to have peaked too early, while Sheffield Wednesday had an alarming record against the division’s elite this season.

Which team will triumph in the League Two playoffs?
Blackpool seem a touch overpriced. They are formidable on their own patch and boast one of the best defensive records in the division. Seeing off Luton will be the test but the Tangerines held their nerve, winning three of their final four games to book a place in the playoffs, and could be hitting top gear at the right time. 

What are your early thoughts on the Champions League final?I’m quite keen on Juventus. They are well-organised and the back three of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli provides them with the meanest defence in Europe. They have conceded just three times en route to the final, which included shutting out Barcelona for 180 minutes, and Real Madrid won’t find it easy to break them down.

Karl Elworthy Betbright

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Swansea have given themselves a great chance to make the great escape and I think they are a bet to overcome Sunderland. A bit too much has been made of Sunderland’s win last week when in fact Hull only had themselves to blame for not taking something out of the game. Swansea can win and stay up.

Which of the favourites look the most vulnerable?
Liverpool have looked vulnerable all year against teams outside the top six and West Ham will be looking to finish off a disappointing season at their new home in positive fashion. The Hammers should be full of confidence after ruining Spurs’ title chances last weekend and will hope to put a dent in Liverpool’s top-four hopes. 

Who will join Chelsea and Tottenham in the Premier League top four?
Manchester City’s last couple of games are very winnable and they are sure to join Chelsea and Spurs. Liverpool have Arsenal breathing down their neck and one slip could see them miss out. Even so, Middlesbrough shouldn’t be a problem for Liverpool on the last day and I see them stumbling over the line.

Who wins the Sky Bet Championship playoffs?
If you take away their dreadful start to the season, Fulham have arguably been the best team in the Championship and I think they are most deserving of promotion. Slavisa Jokanovic has done a fantastic job with a young side and they play an exciting brand of football. They would be my tip to get the last promotion spot.

Which team will triumph in the League Two playoffs?
It’s another tough one to call and I don’t have a really strong opinion for anyone. Luton are very hard to beat and if you had a gun to my head I would just lean towards them but it’s very competitive and a case could be made for any of the four.

What are your early thoughts on the Champions League final?
It’s a great final. The best attack against the best defence and it should be a classic. Giorgio Chiellini and company are masters at their craft and I think Real Madrid will find it difficult to break them down. That coupled with the counter-attacking threat they possess, I’m strongly in favour of Juventus lifting the trophy.


Didi Hamann Former Liverpool midfielder 

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Crystal Palace to beat Hull. These are two sides who have improved nicely under new managers, but this is a situation which Sam Allardyce is far more used to than Marco Silva. And his record come crunch time is good. Hull will be thinking they need to win and that plays into Palace’s hands, because they can be so dangerous on the break.

Which of the favourites look the most vulnerable?
Swansea at Sunderland. They are only odds-on because they need the points. The idea that Sunderland are just going to go through the motions is fanciful. They were already down last week yet still went to Hull and won 2-0 and they’ll want to sign off with a bang at home. Swansea will have to be positive but they are under enormous pressure.

Who will join Chelsea and Tottenham in the Premier League top four?
Manchester City and I’d take a big price about Arsenal. I’d love to see Liverpool back in the Champions League but I’ve got a horrible feeling they are going to slip up at West Ham. They look flat. Arsenal have been written off for weeks but no one knows better than Wenger what’s needed to get into the top four and they have hit some form.

Who wins the Sky Bet Championship playoffs?
I think Huddersfield have run out of gas at the wrong time and fancy Sheffield Wednesday quite strongly to beat them in their semi-final. So I’ll take them to win the playoffs as well beating Fulham in the final. Wednesday beat Brighton in the playoffs before missing out to Hull at Wembley, and Carlos Carvalhal’s men are stronger again this term.

Which team will triumph in the League Two playoffs?
I like the fact that Blackpool, under pressure to win their last match to get into the playoffs, pulled it off. They have to be confident heading into their double-header against Luton. They lost twice to the Hatters but this is going to be third time lucky for the Tangerines, who have been transformed into promotion contenders under Gary Bowyer.

What are your early thoughts on the Champions League final?
I’m all over Juventus. They can score goals if they need to but, most importantly of all, they are superbly well organised and they are going to stifle the life out of Real Madrid. I’ve been impressed with Juve from the outset this season and while I wouldn’t put anyone off backing them over 90 minutes, just take the 11-10 they lift the trophy.

Richard Sutcliffe Yorkshire Post chief football writer

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Swansea to beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. I was at last weekend’s win for the Black Cats at Hull and Jordan Pickford was superb. Despite his undoubted talents, the Swans will have too much for a side who haven’t won at home since before Christmas.

Which of the favourites look the most vulnerable?
West Ham could surprise Liverpool at the London Stadium. Jurgen Klopp’s side have ground out excellent victories away from home lately with wins at Watford, West Brom and Stoke but with the pressure on in the race for the top four a big slip-up may lay in store. 

Who will join Chelsea and Tottenham in the Premier League top four?
Manchester City and Arsenal, who have rediscovered some form at just the right time. Liverpool look vulnerable, especially with the Gunners and City both having a game in hand.  

Who wins the Sky Bet Championship playoffs?
Sheffield Wednesday. Having reached the final last year, the Owls know all about what is entailed. Fulham have been on a great run and scoring plenty of goals but they remain vulnerable at the back. 

Which team will triumph in the League Two playoffs?
Luton are in form but traditionally struggle in the playoffs so I fancy Carlisle. They were on course for automatic promotion until Charlie Wyke was sold to Bradford on January deadline day. Keith Curle’s men then fell away but the final-day win over Exeter could be key when the clubs meet again in the semi-finals.

What are your early thoughts on the Champions League final?
No club have won back-to-back Champions League finals since the change of format and name in 1992 but Real Madrid are ready to do just that. Juventus will be what all great Italian sides are and hard to break down but Real should have enough.


Ian Wilkerson Racing Post Sport 

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Over 2.5 goals in Bournemouth v Burnley. The Clarets should be perked up by their performance in their last away game at Crystal Palace and only the top five have scored more home goals than the Cherries. The statistic that 12 of the last 13 games at Dean Court have featured at least two goals should support the case.

Which of the favourites look the most vulnerable?
Most of the Premier League favourites look decent things this week, but I’m not mad about Southampton at Middlesbrough. Boro have had a terrible campaign, but the Saints are off the boil and have failed to score in four of their last five matches. It’s not a price to get excited about.  

Who will join Chelsea and Tottenham in the Premier League top four?
Manchester City’s path to the end of the season looks comfortable and I would be surprised if they didn’t make it. Arsenal’s fixtures look kind too and their toughest game is at Stoke today, but they still need Liverpool to drop points and I just fancy Jurgen Klopp’s team to be there are the finish.

Who wins the Sky Bet Championship playoffs?
People have been raving about Fulham for months but I think Sheffield Wednesday have flown under the radar. They won six straight matches before losing to the Cottagers last week and last year’s playoff experience should stand them in good stead. Huddersfield have struggled lately and Reading’s 64 goals conceded in a concern.

Which team will triumph in the League Two playoffs?
Luton lost fewer games than any of the three promoted teams and I would expect them to get over the line. They have dropped just four points in their last seven games, so it is not as if they have eased up despite knowing they were in the playoffs for some time. The Hatters look to be worthy favourites.

What are your early thoughts on the Champions League final?
Hopefully it will be a cracking final and I just give Juventus the edge. They look the better organised side and they can utilise the counter-attack to great effect against a team whose defence does not convince. It might take extra-time or even penalties, but I’ll take the Italians to triumph.

 

The Hammers have taken time to acclimatise to their new surroundings but last week’s victory over Tottenham shows just how dangerous they can be
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