Football expert Chris bland gives his verdict on four of Saturday’s big Premier League matches. He reckons that Chelsea will bounce back from their midweek defeat to upset former manager Jose Mourinho. Read on for his Premier League betting tips.
Chelsea vs. Tottenham
Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat to Manchester United on Monday night as the race for the top four was blown wide open thanks to Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire netting against Frank Lampard’s side.
Jose Mourinho has seen his Spurs side’s form pick up in the league as he tactically adapted to Harry Kane’s injury, but Heung Min-Son’s injury will be a massive blow in their Top Four ambitions, and another exciting London derby is expected on Saturday lunchtime.
Spurs struggles up front became apparent without Son in their defeat to Leipzig, as they struggled to create openings against a defensively solid German side, and in trying to operate on the counter attack, they were unable to break them down. However, with less impetus on Mourinho’s side to press on in this game, they may be better suited to sitting off their London rivals and counter attacking, whilst frailties at the back for Chelsea cannot be overlooked.
Chelsea combined some controversial VAR decisions with poor defending, particularly from crosses, to find a way to lose to Manchester United, despite having the better of the openings. Maguire was fortunate not to see red, whilst Kurt Zouma’s equaliser shouldn’t have been ruled out, as the big turning points went against Lampard’s side, and he will be looking for a response against Spurs.
In the meeting between the two sides earlier in the season, it was a hot-blooded affair, as Lampard’s tactical tweak to a back five worked wonders, and saw his side defend comfortably, whilst Willian caused Serge Aurier a whole host of problems in this clash. How both managers react to the first meeting, as well as potential injury worries awaits to be seen, but it should be another exciting affair.
Spurs would settle for a point, and traditionally you would expect to see Mourinho set his side up to park the bus and soak up pressure, before counter attacking at pace, similar to how United managed to cause Chelsea problems. The packed defence and central areas made a Chelsea side lacking tempo struggle to create chances, but Tottenham’s own defensive problems, particularly when sitting in, were apparent against Villa, and could see Spurs look to play more on the front foot, with clean sheets hard to come by.
Initially I was going to opt for a draw, but after seeing Spurs struggle against Leipzig, I would be more inclined to opt for Chelsea, as even if Spurs can create chances against their rivals, I wouldn’t be convinced if they can take them. Abraham’s return should boost Chelsea, and have enough to see off their rivals come Saturday lunchtime.
Premier League betting tips: Chelsea
Crystal Palace vs. Newcastle
If ever there was a game that shouted “0-0” more than this! Both sides are extremely reliant upon a flamboyant winger to create any chances, or set pieces and goals from unlikely sources, whilst having misfiring forwards up top.
However, it can’t be overlooked the underlying statistics behind both sides defences, and it does mean that both sides should get opportunities in this clash, it just comes down to which side will be able to take them.
Newcastle lie bottom in the league on expected points, over-performing their xGa by 9.01, but last weekend’s second half capitulation to Arsenal was a stark reminder to Steve Bruce how fragile his defence can be, particularly when chasing the game. They defended well to keep Arsenal at bay, before the Gunners upped the tempo and picked off the Toon in the second half, however Bruce will be aware it is a contrasting threat when playing Palace on Saturday.
Tactically, both sides are more than happy to sit off and try and use the counter attack to set up openings, but with Palace at home, the onus will be on Roy Hodgson’s side to take the game to Newcastle, and this will play into their hands. Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron impressed on the break against Arsenal, and with space in behind a slow Palace backline, particularly down Palace’s left where Patrick Van Aanholt and Wilfried Zaha can leave space, Bruce will be relishing the prospect of causing problems.
Although not a must win game for Palace, a point would suit Newcastle much more, and the Eagles will be keen to arrest their slide towards the relegation zone, which has come on the back of seven games without a win, and three defeats in a row. The underlying numbers were always going to catch up with both sides, and whilst it is the easy result to plump for, a draw appeals on Saturday.
Although I fancy Newcastle could be a threat on the counter attack, taking the chances remains the issue, whilst Crystal Palace will be heavily reliant on Zaha. I expect a tight game, and the importance of not losing rather than winning may outweigh any gung-ho attitude from either side.
Premier League betting tips: Draw
Southampton vs. Aston Villa
Southampton fell to a surprise defeat against Burnley last weekend, all be in torrid conditions, as they manufactured their own downfall with silly mistakes, particularly for Ashley Westwood’s opener, but against an Aston Villa who are really struggle to defend, I fancy they will be too strong.
Bjorn Engels’ error in added time against Spurs was unforgivable and gifted Mourinho’s side the three points, and the centre back had also given away a penalty earlier in the match, all be it with Dean Smith ruing the decision post match. Tyrone Mings would make a huge difference if returning, but Aston Villa are another side seeing the underlying numbers catch up upon them, although this is more in defensive areas rather than attacking. They had been finding ways to win games despite being under immense pressure and letting up quality chances, although they were still posting decent attacking numbers, buoyed by the introduction of xx Samatta in January.
Southampton themselves have been in impressive attacking form, and coming up against a side that look to sit deep, the impetus will be on Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side to break down the Premier League strugglers initially. However, if they can find the initial breakthrough, something I believe the likes of Sofiane Boufal and Nathan Redmond’s creativity will be too much for, Villa leave themselves exposed on the break, and this is where Shane Long and Danny Ings’ movement in behind will cause a whole host of problems, and risk Villa being caught out of the game early on.
The Saints themselves are highly susceptible to counter attacks with their high pressing full backs and lack of pace at the back, so whilst the game is at 0-0, Villa will be threatening. However, I believe Southampton will have too much on Saturday afternoon to break them down before succumbing to their own defensive worries, and a Saints victory is what I’ll go for.
Premier League betting tips: Southampton
Leicester City vs. Manchester City
Manchester City’s Champions League ban has added an interesting dynamic to this clash, with the trip to Madrid to face Zinedine Zidane’s Real side looming in midweek. City eased to victory in midweek, but this came against a poor West Ham side, and the clash with the Foxes is totally different proposition.
Brendan Rodgers will be eyeing this up as an opportunity to reinforce their top four credentials as the chasing pack faulter behind, and with Pep Guardiola’s side firmly focussed on Champions League glory this season, it could see a slightly rotated City side travel to the King Power.
The first meeting between the two was an enthralling encounter, as City pressed the Foxes high up the pitch, which led to a frantic, open game, where Leicester were able to pick off City for the opener and utilise Harvey Barnes’ and Jamie Vardy’s movement in behind, before becoming overwhelmed and error strewn through the rest of the game, as Kevin De Bruyne’s individual performance led City to victory.
Whether City open up the same awaits to be seen, as these defensive issues have plagued Guardiola’s side throughout the season, and seen him adapt to a back three against a similar threat in some games, such as against Manchester United and Everton, but it could also see the likes of Eric Garcia and Phil Foden given a chance to impress, when considering how important European success is this season.
Although Leicester have faltered in recent weeks, particularly struggling against Wolves last Friday to find the cutting edge against a side set up so well defensively, it should see a much more open game, like that against Chelsea, and perfectly suit Rodgers’ side to take the game to the Manchester side.
An open game is expected, and how strong Manchester City opt to go awaits to be seen, as they full well know the league is out of grasp, and success in other competitions is key to a successful season. I’d be happy to take a punt on Leicester in this one, as I can’t see City sitting in trying to soak up pressure, and with a weakened team potentially on display, and weaknesses shown defensively throughout the season, it could be one for James Maddison, Vardy and Barnes to shine in.
Premier League betting tips: Leicester City
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