Leicester v Leeds
Jesse Marsch will get his first taste of English football on Saturday as he takes his Leeds side to the King Power looking for a new manager bounce.
Having previously worked at RB Leipzig, it is expected that Marsch won’t turn his back on playing expansive football despite Leeds’ defensive fragilities. Working with top quality talent such as Lukas Klostermann and Nordi Mukiele, Marsch’s Leipzig still conceded 31 goals in 21 games, scoring 43.
He now takes over the worst defence in the Premier League who have already let 60 league goals in this season and his first test is a Leicester side with plenty of attacking quality and their own defensive troubles. Coming off a 2-0 win at Turf Moor while resting players, the Foxes will look to string some momentum together now having rested a few starters.
67% of Leicester games go over 2.5 goals and 65% of Leeds games go over this mark, the 2nd and 3rd highest numbers in the league. Marsch won’t have had much time with his men and with Vardy and Maddison coming in to this game off a rest, I’m expecting goals a plenty.
Aston Villa v Southampton
Fresh off another home victory, FA Cup quarter finalists Southampton now hit the road looking to take points off a dangerous Villa side.
The Saints are one of the most in form teams in the League, particularly at home going unbeaten in 11 now at St. Marys. They drop points on the road but are consistent in scoring on their travels with BTTS in 69% of away games. They now pose even more of an attacking threat recently with the combination of Adams and Broja who are consistently finding the net.
Villa Park has seen 40 goals in 12 games with 20 goals scored by Villa and 20 against. After back to back 1-0 defeats they finally found the back of the net against Brighton, a much tougher side to break down than Southampton. The important thing to note from that game was Ollie Watkins finding the back of the net again, a sight welcomed by all Villa fans who need him to find form again.
I don’t expect Gerrard to set up for a draw here with all the attacking talent at his disposal. This should give opportunities for both sides in an open game where I expect the quality of both attacks to bury at least one chance a piece.
Burnley v Chelsea
After agony for Chelsea fans last Sunday, they will hope for a much more routine performance from their boys at Turf Moor as they tackle a Burnley side fighting relegation.
The Carabao Cup was one of the most eventful 0-0’s I have witnessed in my time with multiple disallowed goals and numerous missed chances capped off by Kepa’s penalty miss. Chelsea suffered defeat, however their performance offered a lot to be optimistic about, particularly going forward.
Burnley’s brief run of form was halted by Leicester on Tuesday as the Foxes finally broke down a resilient back line in the last 10 minutes. The same back line held Chelsea to just a single goal back in November when Burnley picked up a point in the reverse fixture. I don’t expect them to have too much firepower going forward with fixture congestion wearing out a tiring Burnley side.
Ultimately, there are so many questions surrounding Chelsea and plenty of inconsistencies that lead me to think they will struggle to break down Burnley today. Over 2.5 goals has landed in just 3 Burnley home games this season out of 12 and Chelsea’s patient football won’t frustrate a Burnley side used to being out of possession. I believe they will stay resilient and eventually get broken down but not until late on, similar to the Leicester game.
Newcastle v Brighton
Newcastle are flying right now, unbeaten in 6 Premier League games and looking clear of any relegation threat. Today, they face an out of form but good Brighton side, looking for a first win in 4.
Eddie Howe will be without Wilson, Trippier and probably Saint-Maximin this week, three of Newcastle’s greater attacking threats which should be a problem against a resolute Brighton back line. Despite these injuries, the Geordies are still in fine goal scoring form, comfortably seeing off 10 men Brentford last week.
Brighton dominated Villa last week with 67% possession but Ollie Watkins’ late goal on the break gave Villa a comfortable win. After this fixture, Brighton have games against Liverpool, City and Spurs so need points at St James Park if they want to finish in the top half. Potter’s men play attractive football and often underperform their xG, they are struggling to convert chances and need a result soon.
Due to injuries and underlying numbers, I think it’s going to be difficult for both teams to score in this fixture, which didn’t land in either fixture last week. In fact, in 2 of 9 PL meeting between these sides BTTS has landed. I can’t see both sides scoring today and that’s my tip.
Norwich v Brentford
This really is a pivotal clash in the relegation battle as Brentford continue to slide down the table and Norwich still sit bottom of the league.
With Anthony Taylor in charge of a high stakes game and averaging 3.94 cards per game, I am looking at the card market today.
Taylor has been in charge of one Norwich game this season awarding 5 yellows, including 4 to the opposition, far above the average of just 1.92 cards against for Norwich at home this season. Visitors Brentford travel today, still depleted by injuries and suspensions. Expect that if they take the lead, they will be sitting back and willing to stop Norwich by any means.
The return of Ivan Toney adds to the chance of Brentford cards, particularly as he averages 2 fouls per game away from home. Other potential casualties for a yellow include Norgaard who has been booked 5 times in 13 away games.
Brentford picked up 4 cards last week following Da Silva’s early red last week and picked up 2 in the reverse fixture. I think 2 or more cards in this game should land with ease.
Wolves v Crystal Palace
Wolves return to Molineux having lost back to back away trips and needing a win in front of their home fans.
A side who pride themselves on defensive stability, Wolves have conceded just 10 at home all season while also scoring just 10 too. They have been consistent at the back operating with a back 3, a system Palace have struggled against, failing to score against Spurs and Brentford using back 3’s.
Palace have hit form recently though, finally winning in 2022 by putting 4 past Watford and going unbeaten in 3 games. Michael Olise is hitting the form that I expected him to produce and is now terrorising left backs in the Prem.
Despite this form, Palace have had a tough run of form away, only winning at City prior to Watford. They travel to a Wolves side who have been difficult to break down at home and Jimenez should have the better of their back line with his height.
The past 5 meetings between these sides have been won by the home team to nil, including 3 Wolves home wins. I reckon Lage’s men return to winning ways today, nullifying quite an electric Palace attack.
Liverpool v West Ham
The title race is heating up as Liverpool continue to go undefeated this calendar year while West Ham are mounting a top 4 push, setting up for a great spectacle at Anfield on Saturday night.
Klopp’s men are flying and after last weekend are still on for a quadruple, a prospect which seemed so unlikely just a month ago. Squad depth is a necessity in this period, and everyone is performing with goals flowing from everywhere including Joel Matip.
Having gone full strength in the cup on Wednesday, West Ham now make the trip up North with the possibility of rotation. They also have to travel to Spain on Thursday for their Europa League tie.
I’m expecting a tired side to struggle today against Liverpool who play with such a high intensity. Despite winning the reverse fixture, West Ham have struggled from an all too familiar January slump recently and could really struggle to contain the Liverpool front 3.
Liverpool have the most home games over 2.5 goals this season with 69% and this fixture is notorious for goals. West Ham often score and aren’t prone to a clean sheet making me lean to over 2.5 goals, which has hit in the last 4 games between these sides.
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