Tactical Preview: four Premier League matches to bet on this weekend

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Tactical Preview: four Premier League matches to bet on this weekend

Alex Keble

Based on the four most popular betting categories, Alex Keble uses tactical analysis to make some Premier League tips – and builds a tasty 157/7 accumulator.

The Outsider

liverpool v west ham

West Ham United vs Liverpool: Back West Ham to win at 4/1 with Ladbrokes

West Ham’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur last Friday was a huge shock; after an entire campaign of heavy-limbs seizing up in the hollow atmosphere of the London Stadium, Slaven Bilic’s team inexplicably rediscovered their 2015/16 form to win the title for Chelsea. Another battling display, built on a compressed defensive shape and gritty tackles in their own third, should be enough to frustrate a jaded Liverpool side sleepwalking their way to the finish line.

Liverpool’s narrow attacking lines are easy to stifle without the sudden chaotic bursts that Sadio mane provided from the flanks, and since his second injury of the season Jurgen Klopp’s team have struggled to break through defences that sit deep, stay compact, and limit space in the final third for Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutiho, and Adam Lallana – three talented but predictable attackers. Liverpool have won 57 points from the 26 league matches in which Mane has started (2.19 per match) and just 13 from the 10 in which he has been absent (1.3 per match).

Bilic’s new 3-4-1-2 formation means they will sit in a flat back five for much of the contest, further limiting space for Klopp’s attackers. Keeping a clean sheet should not be too difficult for a buoyant West Ham, while Jonathan Calleri can cause plenty of problems on the counter-attack.

Nathaniel Clyne will hold a very high line on the right in an attempt to add width to the Liverpool attack, but this should leave his team vulnerable to long passes for Calleri to chase (he did this very successfully in the spaces behind Kyle Walker last week). With Jordan Ayew and Manuel Lanzini in close support, a repeat of Friday’s performance seems likely. Back West Ham to win at 4/1 with Ladbrokes.


The End-to-End Match


Bournemouth vs Burnley: Back BTTS at 4/6 with Ladbrokes

Bournemouth’s commendable – but often naive – pursuit of expansive attacking football can leave them vulnerable through the middle of the pitch, and their inability to remain in a narrow defensive shape could prove costly against Burnley this weekend. However, the Cherries’ rich vein of goalscoring form makes it likely that both sides will score at least once.

With Dan Gosling, Drew Surman, and Jack Wilshere all injured, Bournemouth’s already-vulnerable central midfield has been made weaker by the forced introduction of 20-year-old Lewis Cook. Cook and Harry Arter average a meagre 2.4 interceptions per game between them, which is the fewest of any centre-mid pair in the Premier League. Burnley’s long ball 4-4-2 includes plenty of direct passes through the middle (32% of their attacks are central, the most in the Premier League), which means they are likely to take full advantage of Bournemouth’s key weakness.

What’s more, Sam Vokes, who has three goals in his last two games, is excellent in the air, while Bournemouth have conceded more headers (14) than any other team in the division.

However, the hosts should easily get on the score sheet themselves. With 12 goals in their last five home league matches and Burnley’s Michael Keane unlikely to recover from injury in time, Joshua King will fancy his chances. Back both teams to score at 4/6 with Ladbrokes.


The Goal Fest


Manchester City vs Leicester City: Back over 3.5 goals at 10/11 with Ladbrokes

Pep Guardiola has finally discovered how to break down a deep-lying opponent such as Crystal Palace; abandon the obsession with low-tempo short-passing build ups and instead play long searching diagonals into the final third. He will repeat this strategy against Leicester City, although the Catalan’s idealistic football will inevitably leave space behind for a resurgent Jamie Vardy to exploit.

David Silva, Yaya Toure, and Kevin de Bruyne notably looked for long passes towards the byline last weekend, with Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane catching the full-backs out with very early runs beyond the Palace back line. This caused the visitors to frantically retreat and become stretched out of shape, leading to an early opening goal and two more from similar circumstances. Leicester’s narrow 4-4-2 formation certainly makes them vulnerable to this tactic on Saturday.

However, as Leicester’s 4-2 victory against Man City earlier in the season proved, Guardiola has no interest in being cautious against counter-attacking opposition. Vardy, who has scored three goals in his last two games, is likely to break the offside trap throughout the match, while City’s poor defending from set-pieces could cost them dearly against Robert Huth. Back over 3.5 goals at 10/11 with Ladbrokes.


The Goalscorer


Everton vs Watford: Back Lukaku to score any time at 8/15 with Ladbrokes

Injuries in defence have badly disrupted Watford’s rhythm of late, leaving Walter Mazzarri on the brink and the Hornets an easy target for Everton this weekend. The hosts have won more points at home (40) than any club outside the top two, while 17 of Romelu Lukaku’s 24 league goals have come against teams in the bottom half of the table. The statistics suggest Lukaku will score at least once in what might be his final game for the Toffees at Goodison Park.

Watford concede an average of two goals per away match, the third worst record in the Premier League (behind Hull City and Bournemouth), and this statistic is only getting worse. Injuries to Younes Kaboul, Miguel Britos, and Craig Cathcart has seen Mazzarri revert to three at the back, in the hope that more bodies will hide their deficiency in this area. Having shipped nine goals in their last three away games, it doesn’t appear to be working.

Lukaku hasn’t scored in any of his last three matches and has had a questionable attitude recently, but with the Belgian bidding farewell to fans on Friday he will show up for this one. A makeshift Watford defence is unlikely to get in his way. Back Lukaku to score any time at 8/15 with Ladbrokes.