Our resident football odds guru Adrian Clarke has been eyeing up this weekend’s Premier League fixtures, and having studied the form book long and hard, here are his three big Premier League match previews and predictions…
Leicester City v Liverpool | 23 September, 17:30
If football happened to be a numbers game, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool would put Leicester City out of sight this weekend. No bother.
During the past seven days, the Reds have swamped their opponents with possession, mustering an astonishing 56 shots on goal across two matches. That’s a strike on goal every three and a bit minutes.
However, profligate finishing, coupled with dodgy defending, mean they only earned a 1-1 draw with Burnley and were knocked out of the Carabao Cup 2-0 by the Foxes.
Stats are great, but they don’t always win you games.
Liverpool hate it at the King Power Stadium too.
They’ve now been beaten on their last three visits in all competitions, with speed merchant Jamie Vardy regularly partying at their expense. He’s netted a brace in the previous two Premier League meetings.
It’s a clash of styles that appears to suit Craig Shakespeare’s men.
Liverpool boss the ball and push for goals, Leicester hold them off and break with deadly efficiency. The pattern has kind of been set.
“He transformed the whole outlook.”
— Leicester City (@LCFC) September 20, 2017
Klopp will certainly need to keep closer tabs on Shinji Okazaki than he did on Tuesday evening. The on-fire Japanese forward ripped them to shreds with his infectious energy after halftime and whenever he and Vardy counter, the visitors must be watchful.
They are big underdogs, but I have faith the Foxes can send Liverpool packing once again.
After a challenging first few weeks fixture-wise, this is a big opportunity to get their season going.
Up against a rickety Reds rearguard, backed up by a vociferous atmosphere, a fourth straight home win against the Scousers is on the cards.
Adrian Clarke’s Prediction
Brighton & Hove Albion v Newcastle United | 24 September, 16:00
Sacking one of football’s nice guys, Chris Hughton, just months after he’d guided Newcastle into the Premier League – and with the Magpies sitting in a respectable 11th place – has to go down as one of Mike Ashley’s coldest ever decisions.
It was brutal, and not especially bright.
But revenge for Hughton is proving incredibly elusive to claim.
Despite enjoying successful stints at Birmingham City, Norwich City, and his current employers, the quietly spoken boss has never claimed three points at Ashley’s expense in the ensuing seven years.
It feels as if he just can’t beat them.
To break his duck at the AMEX this Sunday when Rafa Benitez’s in-form side come to town, I feel he must go against his cautious instincts and let his Seagulls fly free.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) September 19, 2017
His Brighton side has been disciplined and solid, but they lack adventure. Playing it too safe, they’ve lacked a serious goal threat.
It’s time, especially on their own patch, to release the shackles and go for it.
The Magpies aren’t great, but with three wins on the spin (including a couple of clean sheets) good vibes are building at St James’ Park. They’re grinding out results without having to hit too many heights.
That kind of afternoon will do for Rafa in this one, and providing Brighton stick with a safety-first approach, I can’t see their unbeaten run ending here.
Adrian Clarke’s Prediction
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur | 23 September, 12:30
They won’t admit as much, but Spurs are sure to be thirsty for revenge at the London Stadium.
Their title challenge was ended amid great hysteria on the east side of town last May, thanks to a barnstorming 1-0 Hammers victory. In truth, it’s been the only true rip-roaring night out the West Ham supporters have reveled in at their new home.
Getting their own back in style will be high on Mauricio Pochettino’s priorities.
Despite claiming three clean sheets in a row in all competitions I’ve not been super-impressed by the Slaven Bilic revival.
West Ham’s football still isn’t flowing, and they have a lot of work to do to claim a top-half finish this term; even if they look significantly stronger on paper.
Finding a way to use Andy Carroll and Chicharito in the same XI is the big challenge for the Hammers chief, who seems strangely reluctant to revert to an old-fashioned tactic that’s got a history of paving the way to goals.
Ever thought about playing two up front Slaven?!
For me, Spurs will win this at a canter.
I envisage the powerhouse central midfield pairing of Eric Dier and Moussa Dembele controlling the game, and Messrs Alli, Eriksen and Kane applying the gloss.
Revenge will be theirs.