Alex Keble rates the tactical battles in the weekend’s Premier League games and looks for the best betting value </ "Man Utd tops the charts for Premier League goals scored in the last 10 minutes (11). Spurs tops the charts for Premier League goals conceded in the last 10 minutes (9). "
Alex watches four of the top league’s best games and predicts Aston Villa and Crystal Palace can destroy Champions League hopes for Liverpool and Chelsea, but Spurs won’t be able to get away from them To capitalize on mistakes by their top 4 rivals …
It won’t be a repeat of the 7-2 at Villa Park, but the pattern of the game itself could be pretty similar. Once again, Aston Villa will sit deep before meeting Liverpool at break and again Liverpool midfield will not squeeze allowing Dean Smith’s side to raise their heads and play balls over the top of Jurgen Klopp’s high line. Jack Grealish may be out, but so is Virgil van Dijk, who played 90 minutes at 7-2.
Real Madrid’s route through Liverpool in the Champions League followed Villa’s rhythm in October. Toni Kroos always had plenty of space in midfield to look up and play a ball, either behind (like Vinicius Junior’s goal) or outside on the flanks, where Liverpool’s full-backs were slightly isolated. Villa doesn’t have the quality of Real, of course, but John McGinn and Douglas Luiz have the range, while a Trezeguet in shape can cause problems.
Additionally, Smith has the option of playing Ollie Watkins and Keinan Davis together, either up front in a 4-4-2 (the system Villa switched to to break a 1-0 deficit against Fulham last weekend) or by using Watkins on the left. Their partnership looked fast and powerful, and in two cases they can put pressure on Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips – a center-back pairing that looked very rope-like against Real Madrid.
Thomas Tuchel will be a little worried about a trip to Selhurst Park so soon after the collapse against West Brom, who took the 5-2 win after Sam Allardyce switched to a 4-4-2, not dissimilar to Roy Hodgson’s at the Crystal Palace. The Baggies have disrupted Chelsea midfield with intense pushing in central areas and while Palace are likely to be less confrontational, it is still possible that Tuchel’s cautious and highly structured possession football has no spark.
It will all be left to the left Come flank of the palace. During the counterattack, almost the entire game comes to this side through Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze, which creates a problem for Cesar Azpilicueta when he resorts to the advancing Reece James. Chelsea fell apart when West Brom collapsed on the left last weekend when Callum Robinson and Matheus Pereira were running the game.
But this is also the palace’s weakest area defensively. They conceded just two or more goals in one of their last five games – a 4-1 loss to Spurs in which Gareth Bale slightly dominated. It didn’t take Bale much to find space between the lines and benefited from Eze’s high positioning and lack of coverage from left central midfield (Jairo Riedewald is not good enough). However, Chelsea don’t have a right winger of this quality and tend to attack through the middle with a 3-4-2-1 – which indicates more lost points.
Neither team has a particularly high line or pushes particularly aggressively once the game is in a rhythm. So, like so many Premier League games this pandemic-ridden season, this can be a pretty tame game of back and forth. Within this meticulous structure, what matters is who can upset things by breaking the lines through the central midfield.
Wilfried Ndidi and Youri Tielemans should be strong enough as a partnership to prevent Jesse Lingard from being as in breakthrough in recent games, while Mikhail Antonio’s absence also means West Ham may struggle to get the ball out of their own third. Leicester appears poised to win the Territory Battle by going ahead in key areas where Antonio and Lingard normally thrive.
Worse for the hosts, Declan Rice is out injured while James Maddison is out for Leicester Starting grid returns. Brendan Rodgers will most likely continue with the 3-4-1-2 formation, but with Maddison for Ayoze Perez, the Foxes can play through the lines more carefully on Sunday. Without Rice to track down Maddison, Leicester will be ahead.
This won’t be a classic, despite the 6-1 line when the teams last met. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho are very cautious tacticians in games like this and after surviving the insane meeting on Sunday preseason it will be far more predictable – and a low score. Man Utd and Tottenham are both bad at constructing attacks except on the counter, and with both teams playing relatively deep, it means a lot of strolling, lifeless football.
But United have the advantage only because of their respective psychologicals States of the two teams: Where Solskjaer has fostered a positive energy where his players have their chests puffed up until the last minute, Mourinho has created a toxic atmosphere where Spurs fold on themselves while the clock is running.
Man Utd tops the charts for Premier League goals scored in the last 10 minutes (11); Spurs top the charts for Premier League goals conceded in the last 10 minutes (9). United will step up the pressure once Spurs begins to pull back and focus on Japhet Tanganga’s side – where Spurs have struggled all season and where Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw bond so effectively.
Back Double Chance Villa / Tie against Liverpool at 2.47 / 5Back Double Chance Palace / Tie against Chelsea at 2.47 / 5Back Leicester against West Ham at 2.47 / 5Back Man Utd against Spurs at 2.56 / 4
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