Aston Villa vs Everton
Villa open their home campaign of the 2022-2023 season welcoming the Toffees to Villa Park Saturday. This has been a matchup lately that Villa have liked, shutting out Everton in it’s last 3 meetings. Everton haven’t beaten the Villans since 2016. Villa are coming off a very disappointing result, losing their opening match 2-0 to Bournemouth. The Cherries are one of the newly promoted sides from the Championship. They were projected to finish bottom and Villa were a under the radar favorite of many prior to the season. If we look a little closer, the game should have probably been a draw (0.59-0.49 xG in favor of Bournemouth). I do think it’s important not to overreact to results week by week, especially in week 1. I thought Villa’s defense played rather well for conceding twice. They had 66% possession, twice the shots as their opponents, but couldn’t create good enough chances. At home in front of a buzzing Villa faithful, I expect them to find the net in this one.
Everton started their season with a 1-0 loss home vs Chelsea. Really one of the more brutal watches of the weekend. It sounds boring, and was it ever. Chelsea got their PK to end the half, and basically ran the clock out after that. For the Toffees, it really never felt like they were going to score. The xG reflects that with the Blues winning it 1.9-0.5. Last week I bet Chelsea, mainly because of the lack of punch in Everton’s attack. DCL will be out again, and they really don’t have a suitable replacement as of yet. Anthony Gordon is a lively young player, but he’s no striker. I see the Toffees continue to struggle in the attacking third unless additions are made or DCL comes back. Villa’s defense is no Chelsea, but it should still be above average. This feels like a Villa win and another Villa clean sheet. I will back them -120 on the moneyline.
Southampton vs Leeds United
In my season preview, I wrote how bearish I was on Southampton. I highlighted the fact that they did not add enough pieces to bolster their squad, and were likely too young to have a successful season. They started off well away to Tottenham, grabbing the 1st goal, but crumbled after that. The 4-1 loss was harsh, but did lose it on xG 1.6-0.4. Spurs were impressive in their pace and their intensity. It was just too much for the Saints. I really do struggle with them and how they are going to score goals. Their defense is lacking, so it’s not like we can expect clean sheets. The attack a lot of the time comes down to a James Ward-Prowse free kick. They have talent, but are missing a striker. Ralph Hasenhuttl is a quality manager though, and he will get something out of the squad. I just continue to worry how this side is going to win games.
Jesse Marsch and Leeds United kicked off their campaign by beating Wolves 2-1, in what was a tight game. Leeds started off well, but saw Wolves controlling the game more than I would have liked. Only having 40% possession, the 2nd goal came off a counter caused by American Brenden Aaronson’s pace. Originally it was his goal, but turns out was a Wolves own goal. Regardless, the American played a fantastic game, and hopefully more to come for Leeds and the USMNT. Bamford was a bit quiet up top. For them to succeed, he needs to get more service from this midfield. The win favored them a bit, with the xG pretty even at 1.1-0.9. Given the high pressing nature of both of these sides, this game should be open and have chances on both ends. I just rate Leeds a good amount higher, and will be on +0.25. Could very well be a draw, but I can’t trust this Southampton side to beat anyone right now. I am moderately bullish on Leeds this season, so this was one of my first bets on this slate. Like the over too, but Leeds are the play for me.
Arsenal vs Leicester City
Arsenal started off their season well with a 2-0 away win at Selhurst Park. I was on Palace because it really is a decent home field advantage. Arsenal got their goal, defended really nice, and got a fortunate own goal to put it away late. I would call this a misleading scoreline, but hey win is a win. I was impressed with their new additions, and do think we see an improved and more consistent approach from them this season. 1.4-1.2 xG would say this as well. Palace played well, just didn’t get the bounces. At home, I do see an Arsenal side that creates chances but also will concede chances. This isn’t a Chelsea that will be happy to sit on a 1-0 lead. The Gunners should be an over team and should be -1 in this match.
As a Leicester fan, I was hoping the blowing of leads late would be a thing of the past. Well, I’m afraid not. At least not in the first week. The Foxes were up 2-0 in impressive fashion vs Brentford, when it all flipped. The game ended 2-2. Same ol’ Leicester it appears. xG turned out in favor of Brentford 0.9-0.5, but that all came pretty late. First 60 minutes Leicester dominated. Then Brendan Rodgers made an aggressive substitution, subbing on Striker Patson Daka for midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. After that, the shape changed, and Brentford were on the front foot. Big tactical mistake by the Leicester manager. Also, just two big mistakes by CB Daniel Amartey, who always seems to be in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. I would say a decent start, but I’m not confident in clean sheets very often for this bunch. BTTS and over 2.5 goals I may just bet in every Leicester game. They have loads of attacking talent, where they will create good chances every match. With that said, feels like they will also concede every match. At the Emirates, this feels 2-1 3-1 to the home side.
Chelsea vs Tottenham
The Blues kicked off their season with a very sleepy 1-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park. This match had Tuchel written all over it. Get your goal, kill the game off, and don’t allow your opponent anything in the box. Much has been written and said about how Chelsea have come back to the pack, and even Spurs leaping over them in the table. This feels like recency bias to me, and this price makes a Chelsea bet very tempting. I will pass on that, but I do not think Chelsea are just a bunch of chumps now. I really like their defense, after adding Kalidou Koulibaly. He needs time with the squad, but I noticed his quality in that home win. Deserved it on xG as well 1.9-0.5. Chelsea will likely struggle to score unless an additional piece gets brought in, but I do really like their defense. They face a tougher foe in Tottenham, but I expect the Blues to make it tough and limit chances for Kane and friends.
Tottenham are your darling in the early stages of this year’s Premier League season. Everyone loves them. Look, I get it. Conte’s 2nd season with some really quality additions. On top of that, they steam rolled Southampton. I just would be careful to overreact based off a one-game sample size. The scoreline did flatter them, only posting a +1.2 xG differential vs the 4-1 win. I would also say it was a home match against a bad Southampton side. Away to Chelsea is a much tougher test. For Tottenham to create these same chances against Chelsea, those wingbacks are going to need to push up in aggressive positions to take advantage of Chelsea’s shape. If they do that, they could get countered right back. For me, this smells like a tactical battle between two elite managers. I think Tuchel will set up his team in a way that limits high xG chances for Spurs. Conte I think could get after it a bit more, but I doubt the wingbacks are as aggressive as they were last week. Under is the play for me. Two really solid defenses in a chess match, with limited chances. Under 2.5 is where I’m going.
Everton ML -120
Leeds United +0.25 -115
Arsenal / Leicester City BTTS / Over 2.5 Parlay +115
Chelsea / Tottenham Under 2.5 -114
All Plays 1.5 Units