Premier League Blog: West Ham Top 4, Chelsea Cup Double & Raphinha to Leave Leeds?

West Ham 7/1 with bet365 for Top 4 Finish

WEST HAM legend Tony Cottee has urged David Moyes’ men to go all out to win the Europa League rather than finishing in the top four.

Cottee’s boyhood club are enjoying a genuine renaissance under Moyes and currently lie fifth in the Premier League after winning 4-1 at Watford on Tuesday.

But the former Upton Park goal hero believes going all the way in the Europa League would be the perfect way to qualify for the Champions League.

The Hammers finished sixth last term but their fine start to the current campaign has encouraged hopes of breaking into the top four.

Moyes’ side are 7/1 with bet365 to achieve that goal but 56-year-old Cottee, who had two spells at Upton Park, told “Making the top four is not really what I see as the main aim for the club – the goal has to be to win the Europa League.

“West Ham have made a great start to the season and are currently fifth in the Premier League, which is fantastic and testament to the progress being made under David Moyes.

“But they’re in a really good position in the Europa League as well, so to win that would tick all the boxes for West Ham fans.

“They all want to have a good cup run and travel around Europe, Covid permitting of course, and if you win it then you’re in the Champions League.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the club. They have got 28 points already and they’re not going to get relegated.

“Of course I want them to finish as high as possible in the Premier League.

“But in my opinion the Europa League has got to be the priority.

“And if everyone is fit then the Hammers have got good enough players to win the Europa League this season.”

Cottee remains much loved in the East End of London after scoring on his West Ham debut against Tottenham aged just 17 in January 1983.

He added: “It actually says ‘West Ham’ as the place of birth on my birth certificate, so I’m West Ham born and bred.

“The Hammers have been in my heart since I was a kid and always will be.”

Raphinha 9/2 with Unibet to join Liverpool next month

Conjecture continues to surround the future of Leeds United winger Raphinha with Bayern Munich reportedly stepping up their interest in the Brazilian star.

The 25-year-old, who has scored eight Premier League goals this season, has also been the speculation of interest from Liverpool.

Raphinha is 9/2 with Unibet join the Reds next month while the same bookmaker has him at 1/20 to stay at Elland Road beyond the January transfer window.

Leeds are hopeful they can reach an agreement with the player to extend his contract which currently expires in June 2024.

The Sun have reported that the Bundesliga giants are ready to ‘test Leeds’ resolve’ in the January transfer window, but would be prepared to wait until the summer.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side value the winger at around £60m and insist they have had no contact with Bayern Munich.

Raphinha, who joined Leeds from Rennes for £20m in October 2020, has been the club’s best player so far this season.

His performances have caught the attention of Jurgen Klopp, with the Reds monitoring the Brazilian ace as well as West Ham star Jarrod Bowen.

Liverpool are known to be on the hunt for reinforcements in the forward areas, given that the prolific trident of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are each entering the final 18 months of their contracts.

The Reds are also faced with the prospect of losing both Salah and Mane on a temporary basis as each Africa Cup of Nations tournaments comes around, as will soon be the case in January.

Raphinha has recently broken into the senior Brazil national side, yet maintains his happiness at Elland Road under Marcelo Bielsa.

When asked if he felt he could achieve his goals at his current club, Raphinha told BBC Radio Leeds: “Without a doubt.

“When you bring together players with a real, strong, winning desire together with the manager, the coaching staff, fans who love the club, you create a wonderful atmosphere in the stadium and at the training ground.”

Chelsea dealt Chilwell blow but are 17/1 with Paddy Power for domestic cup double

Chelsea defender Ben Chilwell is likely to miss the rest of the season as the club has confirmed he will undergo knee surgery.

The England left-back, 25, suffered anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) damage during Chelsea’s 4-0 Champions League win against Juventus on 23 November.

Chelsea initially decided to let the defender begin rehabilitation work in the hope he could avoid surgery.

He has three goals and one assist in six Premier League games this season.

An initial scan revealed Chilwell had sustained a partial ACL tear, and Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said at the time “the next six weeks will tell the story” on whether he would require surgery.

A club statement said: “Unfortunately Ben was unable to progress and so collectively the decision has been taken to proceed this week with a surgical repair.”

The loss of Chilwell is a blow to Chelsea’s faltering title hopes but perhaps they could be more of a cup team this season.

The Blues are in the Carabao Cup semi-finals, where they will meet rivals Tottenham Hotspur next month, and an FA Cup third-round tie at home to non-league Chesterfield is also looming.

You can get odds of 17/1 with Paddy Power for Chelsea to win both domestic cup competitions this season.

Craig Jones

Craig Jones

US Sports lover and watcher of the EFL, Craig will guide you through the NFL, NHL and English football