Adrian Clarke is back with his Premier League Matchbook Insights column – two confident plays this weekend…
VILLA HAVE THE CREDENTIALS TO COMPETE WITH CHELSEA
Five Premier League titles and a pair of Champions Leagues give Chelsea deserved kudos and credibility, but this season’s reality is that they’ve been mid-table fayre.
Just like Aston Villa as it happens, who have exactly the same number of points (38) as Graham Potter’s side after 27 games.
Interesting then, that the Blues have been priced up at 1.72 to beat Unai Emery’s men this weekend, who are in turn available with Matchbook at a rather generous 5.8.
Home advantage, star names, proud history etc all come into play I’m sure, but for me that gap is too wide.
Something else to consider is that under Emery, Villa have been excellent travellers.
OK they lost at Manchester City, but they have won four and drawn one of their other way fixtures since the astute Spaniard took charge. That’s a strong return.
They also arrive at Stamford Bridge with plenty of confidence. That’s what three wins from your last four games, including three clean sheets, does for you.
At both ends of the pitch Tyrone Mings and Ollie Watkins are in great form especially.
A goal in this game for Watkins would incidentally see him become the first Villa player to net in five successive Premier League appearances on the road.
As for Chelsea, two more dropped points at home to Everton prior to the international break means their frustrations continue.
On their day they can blow anybody away, we know that, but in 2022-23 that’s just not happened.
Potter’s side have failed to win seven of their 13 home Premier League matches, and in the six they did win, four were by a single goal margin, and the others by two.
Scoring has been the issue. Netting just 16 goals at the Bridge, Chelsea have relied too heavily on clean sheets to gain victories on their own patch.
When you study this season’s back history for both teams, I think it’s pretty apparent Villa are capable of being competitive in this encounter.
In my opinion, Aston Villa +1 on the handicap provides terrific value.
We get any type of away win or drawn result to pay out in full, and should Chelsea win by one goal we get our money back.
That’s a lot of varying score lines on our side, so at 1.74 with Matchbook, that’s my pick.
BRIGHTON PRICE FEELS TOO SHORT IN BATTLE OF THE OVER-ACHIEVERS
Roberto de Zerbi is doing a wonderful job as head coach of Brighton & Hove Albion.
Playing a brand of exciting and sophisticated attacking football the Seagulls are often a joy to watch, and their ability to win matches has grown since the Italian replaced Graham Potter.
In short, I rate them.
Do I rate them enough to back Brighton at 1.71 to beat Brentford, another side that’s punching way above their perceived average, this weekend though? No, I don’t.
This fixture pits 7th v 8th and at a current price of 5.3 I can’t help but feel the Bees are being a tad disrespected in the market.
This is a team that won at Manchester City, drew at Arsenal, and who has lost ONE of their last 15 matches!
Yep, Thomas Frank’s men have tasted defeat just once since October 23. (and that was a 1-0 loss at Everton).
Very well organised at the back, super-aggressive in midfield, and pretty lively up top thanks to Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbuemo’s powerful double act, Brentford are not an easy obstacle to overcome.
As good as the Seagulls are, or can be when they run hot, they are not an impregnable outfit on home turf. In fact, under De Zerbi they have been beaten by Fulham, Arsenal, Villa, and Spurs at the AMEX Stadium already.
They also lost 2-0 away to Brentford earlier on this season.
I do like 1.78 on Brentford +1 in this contest. In 27 Bees matches this term, this selection would have lost us cash only three times, against Arsenal, Newcastle United and Aston Villa.
I see this one as a likely draw if I’m honest, so Brentford with a goal head start is a punt I am happy to take on.
- Chelsea vs ASTON VILLA +1.0 (1.74)
- Brighton & Hove Albion vs BRENTFORD +1.0 (1.78)
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