Aston Villa v Bournemouth
Aston Villa made their return to the Premier League after three years away from the top-flight. They faced Tottenham in North London on Saturday and, after taking the lead through John McGinn in the first half, lost 3-1 at the hands of Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Villa played well for large portions of the game but, as Tottenham applied more pressure as the game wore on, they just couldn’t keep them out. There were certainly positives to take from the defeat, including Tyrone Mings and Bjorn Engels’ good defensive work. McGinn and Jack Grealish in a midfield duo also looks exciting, with the latter creating numerous chances throughout the game versus Spurs.
Dean Smith’s side are now returning to Villa Park, which they turned into a fortress at the end of last season. They won six out of their last seven games in Birmingham at the tail-end of their Championship promotion campaign, and always looked good at home in front of their home fans.
They’re facing Bournemouth on Saturday, who faced another newly-promoted side last weekend as they drew 1-1 with Sheffield United. It wasn’t the ideal start to their season, especially as they went one goal up, and the Cherries will be keen to find their first win of the season in the Midlands.
They conceded an Expected Goals (xG) score of 1.60 at home to the Blades, which certainly isn’t ideal. They also only recorded an xG of 1.34, so there needs to be some improvements in those metrics.
Part of this may be down to the absence of David Brooks, who’s out with a long-term injury. Harry Wilson has been brought in from Liverpool on-loan as a replacement, and they still have Callum Wilson, Josh King, and Ryan Fraser in their forward line. However, none of those players had much of an impact in their opening game, and their most creative player was centre-back Nathan Ake who recorded an Expected Assist (xA) of 0.81, which is slightly worrying.
I really feel that Villa Park has an impact on Aston Villa’s performance, and I expect to see them get some good results when playing at home this season. So, to get 2.3 on them to beat Bournemouth, who were pretty poor in their first match, looks a nice price here.
1×2 Betting Recommendation: Aston Villa at 2.390
Southampton v Liverpool
Southampton were battered 3-0 by Burnley in Gameweek 1, which doesn’t tell the whole story. They actually recorded a better xG than the Clarets, but some defensive mistakes and smart finishing meant it was a long trip back down to the South Coast. Che Adams had a great chance to open the scoring within the first minute of the game and, if that had gone in, it could’ve been a whole different game.
I’m still quite hot on Southampton, despite the defeat, and I think they can cause Liverpool some problems here. Former Reds striker Danny Ings will be facing his old club and Adams will be eager to get off the mark in the Premier League after an impressive start to his Southampton career. They’ve got the ability in the squad, and it’s just down to Ralph Hasenhuttl to get the best out of them – something which I have no doubt he will, eventually.
Liverpool comfortably won their opening game as they beat Norwich 4-1 at Anfield. However, they were far from convincing in that game, especially defensively. They’ve started playing a higher line this season, and Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip were caught out multiple times against the Canaries and in the Super Cup against Chelsea on Wednesday.
After playing 120 minutes in their Super Cup midweek win, you can’t imagine they’ll properly be prepared for this trip to St Mary’s. They pretty much played their first-team in that game, with Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and van Dijk playing the full two hours.
They’re also without goalkeeper Allison after his calf injury, and he plays a massive part in how they play. Adrian was their Super Cup hero as he saved Tammy Abraham’s shootout spot kick, but he’s certainly not at the level of the Brazilian.
Southampton only lost one of their last six games at home last season (coincidentally to Liverpool), and they beat Tottenham and Wolves, scoring 12 goals in that time. I imagine that defeat to Burnley will have given them the wake-up call they would’ve needed and will ensure they’re tighter at the back for this game. You can get them at 1.88 with a +1.25 start on the Asian Handicap and, although I backed them on the handicap last week without success, I fancy them against a beleaguered Liverpool team.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Southampton +1.25 at 1.910
Sheff Utd v Crystal Palace
As I mentioned earlier, Sheffield United recorded their first point back in the Premier League as they drew 1-1 with Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Many people have written off the Blades this season because of their lack of ‘big-name signings’, but Billy Sharp showed that he’s still good enough to score goals at this level as he bagged the equaliser last weekend. Chris Wilder has now built a really good side at his boyhood club and I think they’re being underrated this season. I can’t envisage them conceding too many goals and I think they’ll cause plenty of teams problems going forward – especially with their much-talked about overlapping centre-backs.
Crystal Palace, on the other hand, I can see struggling this season. Okay, they got a decent result against Everton last weekend but, after looking at the stats, they were lucky to come away from that game with a point.
Wilfried Zaha is so important to that team and, admittedly, when he turns it on, they can beat anyone. He started on the bench against Everton after his failed move to the Toffees and, if he’s not in the right mindset, they won’t get the best out of him. Jordan Ayew started ahead of Zaha but, with just one goal in 21 appearances, I can’t see him being a suitable replacement, short term or not.
Roy Hodgson’s side look to play on the counter attack away from home, which bought them success last season, but I can’t see that being something they’ll be able to do against Sheffield United, who play a deeper defensive line and have two solid holding midfielders at the base of their 3-5-2.
As you can probably tell, this bet is predominantly opposing Crystal Palace because I can’t see them succeeding this season without Wilfried Zaha at the top of his game. That, along with what will be a bouncing Bramall Lane on Saturday, makes the Blades a decent price at 2.425.
1×2 Betting Recommendation: Sheff Utd at 2.580
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