Aston Villa vs Chelsea
We’re seeing a rejuvenated Chelsea squad come to life under Graham Potter. It hasn’t been long, but the former Brighton man already has his side purring. Dealing two defeats to AC Milan at the Bridge and a less-than-intimidating San Siro will do Potter’s credibility no harm, especially when you consider the somewhat alien landscape of the Champions League.
The 1-1 opening draw against Salzburg aside, Potters Blues have clinched three points in all four consecutive fixtures. The last-ditch Conor Gallagher-inspired Palace win and the routine victory over Wolves supplementing the two Milanese walkovers.
A stuttering Aston Villa side poses the next obstacle. Although with a number of different coaches at the helm, Chelsea have won six of their last eight Premier League away games against Sunday’s opponents. Personally for Potter, the new Chelsea gaffer lost both matches versus Gerrard in 2021/22 and five of his eight meetings with Villa in total. However, with the wealth of quality now at his disposal, expect that win rate to improve sooner rather than later.
In theory, Aston Villa should continue to struggle to create high-quality chances against a team that has conceded once and won each of the last four under new management. It was the same story up against Nottingham Forest and Leeds in recent weeks. Unfortunately for Villa supporters, there’s a lack of ingenuity in the final third at Villa, alongside personnel not entirely cutting the mustard form-wise.
If that continues, and we haven’t seen much to suggest it won’t, Chelsea have every chance of extending their winning stretch. So here, we’re hanging our hat on Villa to squander their chances and Chelsea to make the most of the opportunities Gerrard’s men will probably afford the travelling Blues.
There could be cards galore when Villa take on Chelsea today, with both sides having fallen afoul of the referees on the regular so far this season.
Aston Villa have averaged 2.56 cards per 90 themselves this season. Throughout their 9 games so far, they’ve picked up a minimum of 2 cards in every match bar their outing against Crystal Palace in August. Additionally, 7 of their 9 games have finished with a minimum of 3 match cards.
Cards in last 5 Aston Villa Games (PL Only): 6, 7, 4, 2, 5
Chelsea have also struggled to stay out of the referee’s book in the Premier League this season. The Blues have averaged 2.88 cards per 90, including 2 reds.
Much like opponents Aston Villa, Chelsea have picked up a minimum of 2 cards in every game played save for their loss to Southampton. Potter’s side have also seen 7 of their 8 games finish with at least 3 match cards.
Cards in last 5 Chelsea Games (PL Only): 2, 4, 5, 3, 5
The referee for this one is Robert Jones, who has dished out 4.40 cards per game in the league. If he keeps up that form, then the cards should fly in.
Leeds vs Arsenal
Arsenal, who top the Premier League standings after nine games with the youngest average squad (23.7-years-old), travel to Elland Road on Sunday. If they have enough to nick a win, the nine victories in ten will be their best-ever start to a top-flight season.
Contrastingly, Leeds are winless in their last five Premier League games, falling to defeat on three occasions. In addition, Sunday’s home side are also without a victory against Arsenal in the previous five meetings. Last season, The Gunners romped to a 6-2 aggregate scoreline, winning both matches.
Arsenal have kept three clean sheets in their four Premier League away games this season. No side in the division has conceded fewer than the three goals Arsenal shipped on their travels. Said three strikes came in the trip to Old Trafford, which resulted in Arsenal’s one loss to date this season. Interestingly, Mikel Arteta’s men find themselves on an unbeaten run whilst away from home spanning 15 matches. It’s an impressive run that started with a 1-4 win over Leeds.
The three goals scored in consecutive Premier League matches for The Gunners highlight precisely where Arteta’s men are at. If they find the net three times at Elland Road, it’s a four-game three-goal stretch last seen 18 years ago at the club.
It’s difficult to bet against Arsenal at present – it would take a brave bettor to do so. With that spring in their step, accompanied by the ability to see games out on the road, the straight win is a worthwhile addition to the treble. Not only is the three conceded away from home the fewest in the league, but the nine goals scored in unfamiliar surroundings also has them neck and neck with Manchester City.
Arsenal’s style, tempo, and silky wing play should see them win multiple corners in this one.
The Gunners average 5.68 corners per game in the Premier League and have had a minimum of 4 in all but 1 of their 9 league games thus far.
Arsenal corners for in last 5 games (PL only): 4, 5, 3, 5, 10
Leeds certainly haven’t been giving away corners for free, but with 4.38 conceded per game, there is a good chance that Arsenal can find the 4 that they need tonight. Leeds have conceded 4 or more corners 5 times this season, including in 3 of their last 5 games.
Leeds corners conceded in last 5 games (PL only): 5, 9, 3, 3, 5
The aggressive style, along with the high press that Leeds employ means that Arsenal could find plenty of space in behind and down the flanks. Martinelli and Saka will be key in helping Arsenal to win corners, and their direct running styles and tricky feet should result in a few corner kicks.
Leeds are as aggressive and energetic this season under Marsch as they were last season under Bielsa. They’ve become a solid pick for cards this campaign, and the stats make for good reading.
Jess Marsch’s side have averaged 2.76 cards per game in the Premier League, and have picked up 2 cards in all but 1 of their 8 games so far, that being their 3-0 victory over a lacklustre Chelsea.
Leeds cards in their last 5 matches (PL only): 3, 5, 2, 3, 3
Leeds are good for an early card, and have picked up a minimum of one first half card in each of their last 5 games. If they find themselves behind, I’d expect more cards to flow in the second half as well.
With the entire Arsenal frontline, consisting of Jesus, Martinelli, and Saka, being fleet of foot (fouled 3.37, 2.41, and 1.97 times per 90 respectively), the Leeds defence will have their work cut out and they should be drawn into a number of fouls.
Liverpool vs Man City
It may come as an ask too great for a Liverpool side failing to perform at the levels we’re accustomed to. The worst points return in twenty years at this stage is set to get no easier as a rampant Manchester City arrive seeking blood, and three points. Nevertheless, this is a club adept at turning doubters into believers – the Reds have won 22 Premier League games against reigning champions, six more than any other team. So if City waltzes over to Anfield, not 100% on it, complacency could prove a killer.
It will be a makeshift backline against Erling Haaland and his gang of merry men, with Tsimikas likely featuring on the left instead of Robertson. Further injuries to Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip will cause Jurgen Klopp to shuffle his defensive pack. That will be music to the ears of Pep Guardiola.
The Spaniard’s City side have racked up thirty-three goals (3.67 goals per game) from 20.8xG in the Premier League. Considering Liverpool’s 11.3xGA sees them tenth-worst for expected goals-against in the division, the data points towards City having their fair share of opportunities.
Both teams to score has landed in 9/10 of the recent head-to-heads between the pair, as a rivalry to define to modern era blossomed alongside City’s top-flight dominance. Both teams managed to get on the scoresheet in the last six consecutive outings, suggesting there’s a good chance of more of the same during Super Sunday. Additionally, their most recent meeting in the Community Shield finished 3-1, another game between the two that comes in at over 3.5 goals.
For all of their explosive output in the attacking third, this City side can be got at, at the back. Aston Villa, Newcastle, and Crystal Palace had enough to cause Pep a headache, and despite poor form, there is world-class ability going forward in Liverpool red. Klopp’s side have averaged 2.50 goals per game this campaign, with an xG of 2.46 per 90. If they can carry that form into this game and find their cutting edge, then there should be goals galore.
In an almost equally impressive return as the 9/10 above, City have scored in both halves in 7/9 showings this campaign. That 78% strike rate should have us in good hands here, and City are more than capable of scoring multiple goals per half.
Some might question this selection when looking at the card stats for both sides this season. Liverpool have been averaging just 1.13 cards per 90, Man City even less at 0.56 cards per 90.
However, when you look into recent meetings between the pair, they tend to be feisty. This has evolved into somewhat of a modern day heavyweight rivalry within the Premier League, with both Liverpool and City standing tall as the Premier League’s strongest sides for the past 5 years.
The 5 most recent meetings between the pair, dating back to the beginning of 2021, have all had a minimum of 3 cards save for the Community Shield clash in July.
Cards in last 5 meetings between Liverpool and Man City (All competitions): 2, 5, 5, 6, 3
Both teams will be desperate for a win on Sunday and will do everything that they can to secure it. This is particularly the case for Liverpool, who even at this early stage of the season find themselves in a must win situation against the reigning Premier League Champions. Cards should naturally come as they fight for the points.
Referee Anthony Taylor certainly isn’t averse to a card or to either, and his dished out 3.63 on average per game this season.
This selection speaks for itself.
Erling Haaland has been in monstrous form at the beginning of this season. The Norwegian has 15 Premier League goals already and has notched up a further 4 in the Champions League.
A shot on target shouldn’t be a worry here despite the calibre of opposition. Haaland has mustered at least 1 shot on target in every game that he’s played in this season, including the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in the Community Shield.
Haaland Shots on Target in last 5 games (All competitions): 1, 4, 3, 2, 1
He’ll be up against a somewhat makeshift Liverpool backline, with Tsimikas and Gomez deputising at full back, and Konate likely to make his first Premier League start of the season. He’ll also be coming up against a player in Van Dijk who’s looked shaky at best this campaign.
Liverpool may only be conceding 3.75 shots on target per game, but I fully expect Haaland to register at least 1 effort on target, like he has done in all of his appearances in Man City blue.