2/2 for Adrian Clarke on his opening EPL column so he’s back looking to do something similar…
It was fantastic to kick off my Premier League Insights column with a double last time out.
On this occasion, I’ve looked outside of some of the weekend’s ‘biggest’ games for a little bit of value in the market…
DON’T BACK AGAINST SOME SURPRISE GOALS AT MOLINEUX
At first glance, Wolverhampton Wanderers versus Brighton & Hove Albion conjures up thoughts of a dreary tactical battle between the deep-thinking Bruno Lage and Graham Potter.
Picture this match and it’s easy to imagine sterile stuff, missed chances and an overwhelming sense of end-of-season malaise.
These two are mid-table and low on goals. Wolves have scored just 33 this term, a whopping 19 fewer than West Ham United who are sitting a place above them.
And the Seagulls boast only 31 goals. Just Norwich (22) and Burnley (29) have less.
I guess a failure to score in 28 of their combined 67 matches this season means it is little wonder the popular goal line is set at Under/Over 2.0 for this Molineux clash.
Those facts speak for themselves, but I sense this could be more exciting than anticipated.
First of all, Lage is not an especially defensive coach, and in spite of their meagre goal output, his team do play higher up the pitch than they did under the cautious Nuno Espirito Santo.
Their finishing has let them down this season, along with a dearth of quality attacking options in a side that’s sorely missed Adama Traore’s pace.
That said Wolves have been entertaining in front of their own fans in recent times, scoring 10 times in their last five outings at Molineux. They have made a conscious effort. I believe, to play with greater ambition.
With a place in next season’s UEFA Conference League still a possibility they are sure to attack this encounter with another dose of positive intent.
On the back of two drab 1-0 losses at Newcastle and Burnley, the message pre-kick-off will surely be ‘don’t hold back from their Portuguese head coach.
Brighton, recent conquerors of Arsenal and Tottenham, are such a curious team to analyse but we all know they are a better, more dangerous side than their goal tally suggests.
Yet again Potter’s excellent but wasteful side has been left in the tail stream of their xG, trailing their expected output by 8.9 goals.
Away from home, they tend to be more efficient though. Brighton have scored in 13 of 17 away matches in 2021-22, which is a surprisingly impressive statistic.
Can they score in this contest, a clash that has end-of-season-fayre written all over it from their perspective? I believe they can.
Wolves have only laid claim to one clean sheet in seven outings at home, so it’s hardly mission impossible for the south coast side.
It wouldn’t be the first pick for many, but I see good value in the 2.14 on Both Teams To Score when Wolves host Brighton.
At this late stage of the season, there’s no point in either gaffer leaving the handbrake on.
VILLA TO REVIVE THEIR FORM AGAINST SMITH’S DOOMED CANARIES
Dean Smith will be afforded a rousing reception from the Holte End on his return to Villa Park, but that might be the only aspect of Saturday’s fixture than raises a smile from the Norwich City boss.
Losing 11 of their 16 away games this term they have been a pretty soft touch on their travels, and although Smith has stabilised the ship their record under him still reads played 8, won 1, drawn 1, lost 6.
Conceding over two goals a game outside of Norfolk, and ten points adrift of safety the Canaries are definitely heading back to the Championship.
If there’s one man who won’t feel guilty about sending them there it’s Steven Gerrard.
Winless in five games the steely Scouser has been under some pressure of late but during a 0-0 at Leicester City last weekend his troops did show signs that their form is beginning to fire.
Up top Ollie Watkins is a class act and there can only be so many games in a row where Philippe Coutinho fails to spark.
Due a strong performance, especially at Villa Park, I fully expect Gerrard’s Villa to be pretty pumped up to make the most of this fixture. They must smell blood.
Backing the Villa at 1.43 isn’t an option, so we need to find another way in and for me that’s pairing a home success with Over 2.5 goals.
That scenario has unfolded in 61% of Norwich matches (3rd highest) and in 59% of games involving Villa (4th highest) which rises to 67% for home fixtures in isolation. Therefore, the data does provide extra comfort.
Norwich have to go for the win. That much is clear, which means they’ll leave holes.
For Villa, opportunity knocks for them to have some much-needed fun and revive what could be perceived as flagging morale. Gerrard, will no doubt demand it from his players.
I see Villa winning, and I see goals.
My selection here is Aston Villa & Over 2.5 goals at 2.18
- Wolves vs Brighton BTTS (2.14)
- Aston Villa to beat Norwich & Over 2.5 goals (2.18)