The in-form Chris Bland nailed 3 out of his 4 tips in his midweek preview and he’s returned to give his thoughts on four of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures. If you agree with his Premier League betting tips then why not utilise them in a Colossus pool?
Aston Villa vs. Leicester
Aston Villa host Leicester on Sunday. The Foxes notched a seventh consecutive league victory on Wednesday against Watford and it’s hard to see past them again.
Villa fell to a 2-1 defeat in London against Chelsea last time out. Against a side that possess a similar threat to that of Leicester, they looked to sit deep and counter attack. Although this worked effectively for their equaliser, it also highlighted the defensive worries Smith’s side have had this season, and up against an attack which just can’t stop scoring, the signs are ominous.
With an xGa of 26.98 and 24 goals conceded from Villa, they are leaking chances and goals at the back, and with Leicester themselves netting 35 goals, all be it at an xG of 23.70, the combination of both factors points in the direction of a comfortable Leicester win.
Looking to sit deep to nullify the threat of Jamie Vardy in behind would be no surprise, as many teams have attempted this season, however the attacking talent at Rodgers disposal to create chances is a scary prospect, with the form of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans particularly standing out this season. Villa’s wingers are also questionable defensively at times, and with Leicester’s overlapping full backs key to providing the width, they will be able to target these areas as well, and it would be no surprise to see them have joy in these areas throughout the game.
Leicester highlighted their ability to pick sides off on the counter with their second goal against Watford in midweek, and if Villa do go behind and are required to chase the game, it would be no surprise to see them able to pick off Villa at ease on the break, and as a result, its hard to argue against a Leicester victory in this one.
Newcastle vs. Southampton
Newcastle’s ability to complete the smash and grab victories this season came to fruition once again at Bramall Lane, as the clinical Magpies saw off Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United with a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Allain Saint-Maximin and Jonjo Shelvey. This followed a similar pattern to their 2-2 draw with Champions Manchester City on Saturday afternoon, and their xG, as well as expected points, makes for interesting reading, and begs the question how long can they outperform it?
Sat 11th in the league, Steve Bruce’s side are outperforming their xG by 3.55, whilst their xGa shows they’re out performing that by 4.46, and on the face of it, it doesn’t sound like the biggest difference. However, when expected points is factored in, Bruce’s side are sat bottom of the league with just 10.71 points, showing an overperformance of 8.29. So it begs the question how long will this last?
Bruce has sat up his side in a very deep, defensive 5-4-1, relying on the wingers Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron to drive up the pitch and link up with striker Joelinton or Andy Carroll, and it is a fairly basic approach which has proved effective. Although Almiron and Joelinton have struggled to hit form, goals have come from elsewhere, and with Almiron constantly getting chances, his luck should turn at some point.
They come up against a Southampton side back in form after two consecutive victories, and the Saints improved form has lifted them out the drop at the expense of Everton. Danny Ings has started to find the back of the net for Southampton, who initially struggled to score at the start of the season, and although there are still obvious defensive worries, they will be confident of heading to St James Park and returning with at least a point.
The goals against tally for Southampton doesn’t make for pretty reading, although the 9-0 defeat to Leicester has particularly dented these stats, whilst their expected points actually has Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side in midtable, highlighting their issues in front of goal at the start of the season.
However, the vulnerabilities they have shown will fit the system Newcastle play, with their quick attackers on the break, and it is hard to split these two sides for this game. The underlying statistics do suggest an away win has more chance than the table and form guide suggest, but a draw looks the safest bet between these two sides.
Norwich vs. Sheffield United
Last season’s Championship top two clash at Carrow Road, as both look to bounce back from midweek defeats. Norwich’s form had picked up in recent weeks, with a win away at Everton followed by a point against Arsenal, however a disappointing defeat at St Marys in midweek has brought them crashing back down, and leaves them languishing in 19th, four points from safety.
Sheffield United have been one of the surprise packages this season, but as alluded to earlier, went down to a Newcastle side that rode their luck, as the Blades wasted countless opportunities, racking up an xG of 1.09 to Newcastle’s 0.53, but drawing a blank. There was an element of VAR controversy to the Magpies’ second goal, but their wastefulness in front of goal cost them in the end, although Wilder will be pleased to see his side are still creating chances.
Sheffield United come into the game as favourites, and whilst they’re not scoring many goals, their excellent defensive record has helped them to midtable, where they currently sit 9th. Tactically, you know what you will get from the Blades, and very rarely does Wilder opt to change personnel, and they should be able to utilise their wing backs to hurt Norwich in wide areas, where they can traditionally get overrun.
How Daniel Farke sets up will be interesting to see, in what is borderline a must win game for the Canaries, even at this early stage. Pace in attack has hurt Sheffield United this season, and the movement of striker Teemu Pukki, coupled with the creative talents of Todd Cantwell and Onel Hernandez in behind are well equipped to hurt Sheffield United, particularly in the channels where there can often be a vast amount of space left to exploit.
The defence is a particular worry for Norwich, conceding 32 goals at an xG of 31.46, so if they are to get anything from this game, you do feel like it will take a number of goals, as keeping a clean sheet may be a tough ask. However, despite the underlying numbers, they are well equipped to take on the Sheffield United side, and the retuning Christoph Zimmermann and Ben Godfrey and centre back will be more than capable of dealing with the direct nature of Sheffield United’s attack. The lack of rotation could begin to creep up on the Yorkshire side in a hectic period of fixtures, and that has got to be factored in.
It is an incredibly tough game to call, with the underlying numbers suggesting it should be an away win, however after the midweek defeat for Sheffield United, the worries over taking chances could arise once again with misfiring forwards, and as a result I’m willing to take a chance on a much-needed Norwich victory.
Brighton vs. Wolves
Graham Potter’s Brighton host Wolves on the South Coast on Sunday afternoon, as the Seagulls look to make it two wins on the bounce after defeating a strugging Arsenal side in midweek. Goals from Adam Webster and Neal Maupay set Brighton on course to the three points, moving them up to 13th in what is a very congested league.
Wolves are now ten games unbeaten in the Premier League after easing past West Ham 2-0, and with qualification already in the bag from their Europa League group, Thursday’s match against Besiktas will be the least of their worries, and allows them to focus purely on this encounter.
It will be no surprise to see Wolves sit back and soak up the pressure against a possession happy Brighton side, as the tactical flexibility of Potter’s side does make it hard one to predict. Vulnerable to the counter attack and particularly in wide areas, it is an affair that is suited to Wolves’ style and the way Nuno Espirito Santo has set up his team this season, utilising wingers Diogo Jota and Adama Traore, as well their onrushing wing backs.
Brighton showed their attacking threat at the Emirates on Thursday, and Maupay and Aaron Connolly are well suited to attacking the Wolves backline, particularly with their dribbling ability, and with playmakers Pascal Gross and Aaron Mooy in excellent form, chance creation shouldn’t be an issue, even against a traditionally resilient Wolves backline.
However, Brighton’s vulnerability defensively cannot be overlooked, particularly to the threats that Wolves pose, and with an xGa of 26.21, it would be no surprise to see Wolves get themselves on the scoresheet at the Amex. It should be a tactically interesting affair, as Brighton games have proven to be this season, and once again I’ll sit on the fence and take the draw.