The in form Chris Bland has called five of his last six tips correctly and is back again with a preview of the three Premier League encounters taking place on Sunday. If you agree with his Premier League analysis, then why not play the £10,000 1X2 Pick 8 pool or join a Syndicate?
Premier League analysis
Wolves vs. Aston Villa
Wolves host Aston Villa in the Midlands derby on Sunday as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side look to build on a late midweek victory over Slovan Bratislava in the Europa League.
The fixtures are adding up for Santo’s men and, with the international break looming, they look well equipped to move into the top half when coming up against Dean Smith’s Villa. Aston Villa came out on top in the Carabao Cup two weeks ago, however it was a much changed eleven from both sides, so it would be naïve to read too much into that affair.
Wolves’ 3-4-3 should be well suited to cause damage on the Villa backline and the game will be ideal for the wingers Diego Jota and Adama Traore. The onrushing wingbacks will be able to create overloads out wide alongside them and it should be these areas that Wolves can exploit.
The defensive work of Villa’s wingers has been questionable at times and the inform Mexican striker Raul Jimenez will relish the battle centrally with Bjorn Engels and Tyrone Mings.
There are slight defensive concerns for Wolves, with Willy Boly’s injury, however they restricted Arsenal well after taking time to settle at the Emirates in their 1-1 draw, and the attacking signs were promising in that affair. Racking up 24 shots and an xG of 1.51, they were unfortunate not to take all three points.
Also standing out is Aston Villa’s expected goals against, standing at a tally of 20.36 and an actual goals against of 18. They are conceding plenty of chances,and it is hard to see them shutting out the Wolves attack come Sunday.
They do possess a strong attacking threat in Jack Grealish and John McGinn on the counter, but Wesley could get isolated up against the defensive three of the Wolves’ backline, so bringing them into the game could be tough. With the impressive Portuguese Ruben Neves martialling the defence in front, Wolves should be confident of restricting Villa and taking all three points on Sunday.
Manchester United vs. Brighton
Manchester United host Brighton at 2pm looking to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing display against Bournemouth. Losing 1-0, they struggled to create chances once again, managing an xG of 0.64, and this has been a common theme against sides who look to sit deep and defend, and it is particularly worrying.
It has been well documented that the Red Devils are underperforming their xG of 18.08, but when delving deeper into, they are actually over-performing it by 0.52 from open play, and their return of ten goals from open play is particularly worrying. The reintroduction of Anthony Martial has helped in recent weeks, however the missing link that Paul Pogba provides in midfield reared its head once again on Saturday, with Andreas Pereira particularly struggling to break down the deep, compact Bournemouth defence. Well suited to playing teams on the break, it will be interesting to see how Brighton approach the game, as if they are to sit deep and look to frustrate United, they possess excellent ability on the break, as shown against Spurs earlier this season.
Brighton themselves have been in good form with three wins in four, and impressed on the front foot against Norwich last time out. Leandro Trossard was influential off the bench for Brighton, and could earn himself a start, and his ability on the counter attack could go a long way to threatening United’s back four, particularly down the left flank with the ageing Ashley Young. Averaging 0.48 xG and 0.43 xA per 90 minutes, it highlights his influence to the Brighton side, and his introduction could go a long way to helping Brighton break down a United defence that has struggled at times this season.
A tight affair is expected, and with Brighton favouring to sit in and exploit the United team on the counter, it could be a long afternoon for United trying to break down the Brighton defence. Brighton themselves have the ability to control the ball and frustrate United for long periods, so it won’t be as straight forward as one would think for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side.
Liverpool vs. Manchester City
The final offering on Sunday comes from Anfield, where table toppers Liverpool host Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in a mouth-watering encounter. Currently sat six points clear of Guardiola’s side, it is certainly an opportunity to hammer home their title ambitions, and even at this time of the season, it represents a must not lose encounter for the Citizens.
Injury worries are rife for Guardiola’s side, with Ederson adding to a lengthy injury list after going off in the draw with Atalanta, and Guardiola is expected to start Claudio Bravo in his place. A considerably worse option to the Brazilian, it could have a large bearing on the game, and the Costa Rican goalkeeper as only saved 19 of his last 40 shots, at an expected goals of 12.6.
Liverpool will fancy their chances of targeting City’s weakened backline, particularly Nicolas Otamendi if he starts, and the often-rash Argentine will come up against the formidable front three alongside Fernandinho. With the full backs expected to push on and provide the main attacking outlet for Liverpool, the fluid front three will drift centrally and try and occupy the centre halves, and this could spell danger for City.
However, Liverpool’s attacking full backs have at times shown their susceptibility to being countered, particularly down the right flank, as Alexander-Arnold often bombs on leaving his central defenders open. With Raheem Sterling’s pace on the break and up against Dejan Lovren, it is easy to see a potential avenue from where City will look to target and potentially have a lot of joy in the game.
Although the defensive worries for both sides point the game in the direction of a high-scoring affair, it is worth being cautious on this element. With so much riding on the game, and both sides keen to avoid defeat, it could take time to get going, and the longer the game stays tight, the less likely we’ll see teams taking risks to break through. An early goal could explode the game into life, but without it, a draw could very much be on the cards.
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