After a week’s hiatus, Adrian Clarke’s Premier League Insights column returns with two strong fancies this weekend…
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— Adrian Clarke (@adrianjclarke) September 16, 2022
DON’T EXPECT A GOAL GLUT AT GOODISON PARK
Four points from the opening six matches was not the plan for West Ham United or Everton, but that’s where they find themselves ahead of a nervy encounter on Merseyside this Sunday.
Frank Lampard is under pressure as Toffees boss. While he’d love to go all out for their first win of the campaign, he’s also acutely aware of how bad a look it will be if they fall to defeat against a so far unconvincing Hammers outfit.
The prospect of hearing ‘You’re getting sacked in the morning’ from a set of fans he fell out with years ago, doesn’t bear thinking about if you are in Frankie’s shoes.
He also goes into this clash without his star man so far this term, Jordan Pickford.
The Everton keeper has prevented 2.6 extra goals according to Opta, the biggest impact by any top-flight custodian until this point.
Reserve keeper Asmir Begovic will need a bit of extra protection, and newbies Conor Coady, James Tarkowski, Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye are capable of providing that. It’s a solid enough spine.
When you study the early season numbers around both these sides, it screams of a lack in firepower.
David Moyes’ West Ham have the second lowest xG in Open Play (3.47), which outlines how flat they have been in a creative capacity. Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio, Manuel Lanzini and new boy Gianluca Scamacca are yet to catch fire.
Just one of West Ham’s six fixtures has produced over 2.5 goals and the same applies to the hosts.
The reason is two-fold. Up top they are both light right now, amassing a grand total of seven goals from a combined 12 matches. And in defence, they aren’t bad at all. Everton have leaked just six goals, compared to eight from the East Londoners.
It is little wonder then, that Everton (1.67) and West Ham (1.83) are ranked 19th and 18th respectively for average goals per fixture.
You can probably see where I’m heading here! Following up on the Hammers’ last three visits to Goodison Park (which aggregated four goals) my selection has to be Under 2.5 goals.
There is a temptation to look at BTTS NO at an odds against price of 2.1 but as always with that gamble, the 1-1 draw is your Achilles Heel.
So for me it’s better to play it more cautiously and opt for Under 2.5, which is on offer at Matchbook for 1.85.
From what we have seen so far, everything points towards a dour affair with defences largely on top.
BACKING THE FOXES TO KEEP UP THEIR SCORING RUN ON THE ROAD
Leicester City have scored in 20 of their last 22 Premier League away matches. This is not a misprint!
Impressive, isn’t it? Even though results have by and large been chequered on the road for Brendan Rodgers’ side, they almost always offer up a goal threat – and I don’t see any reason to doubt why that might be different at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
This season they scored twice at Emirates Stadium, twice at the AMEX and were unlucky to only find the back of the net once in a 2-1 loss at Stamford Bridge. All three games ended with zero points gained, but they performed with positive intent.
As Rodgers desperately seeks to get his team off the foot of the table I do not anticipate them cowering or shutting up shop against Spurs. Leicester City will go out to score goals.
That’s probably the best policy when defending as badly as they are this season. It’s been a mess at the back, so all eyes will be on debutant Wout Faes, who should make his Premier League debut at centre back.
Can he shore the Foxes up? Maybe. But almost certainly, it won’t be enough to claim a clean sheet against an attack with as much class as Tottenham Hotspur.
Spurs may have been bang average in midweek against Sporting Lisbon, but Harry Kane, Richarlison, Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-Min have more than enough class to trouble the visitors here.
Kane loves playing Leicester City too. He’s netted 19 against them down the years in all competitions.
In the away dressing room, will Jamie Vardy earn a recall? He was dropped last time out for a front two of Patson Daka and Kelechi Iheanacho, so it will be interesting to see which way Rodgers goes.
In my view Both Teams To Score leaps off the page at 1.79.
Tottenham have netted in nine of their last 10 matches at home, and we know how consistently Leicester score when they are away from the King Power Stadium.
If this ends up 0-0 it will be an almighty surprise.
Everton vs West Ham – Under 2.5 goals (1.85)
Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City – BTTS (1.78)
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