Premier League Acca Builder Tips: Villa to win at Tottenham

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola
Liverpool v Man City should be a low-scoring game.

Alex Keble assesses four tactical battles ahead of this weekend's Premier League games, with a bet from each game building a fourfold that pays out at around 40/1...

"Villa consistently got behind United's full-backs, as have many teams this season, which suggests Benitez's direct approach will find success."

Everton's counter-attacks to outwit Solskjaer

Man Utd v Everton
Saturday, 12:45
Live on BT Sport 1

Manchester United's improvised attacking patterns and lack of tactical detail during periods of possession has been a problem throughout Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's time in charge, but a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa seems to have been the tipping point. The view has finally gone mainstream, with even Solskjaer's ex-team-mates beginning to question his methods. There is every reason to believe Everton will pile on the pressure on Saturday.

Rafael Benitez likes to sit back and play on the counter-attack, which is the ideal way to stump Man Utd. He should be able to reduce them to meandering sideways possession, as usual, and ensure Cristiano Ronaldo is frustrated, before launching counter-attacks quickly via Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend. These two, with Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan winning the midfield battle and setting them away, should have the pace to get behind Man Utd's disorganised high line and create chances.

Villa consistently got behind United's full-backs, as have many teams this season, which suggests Benitez's direct approach will find success. There simply isn't enough coaching at Man Utd to deal with a low block, and as his low-confidence players seek for gaps Everton's aggression - not to mention tactical cohesion - should ruffle the feathers and grab the visitors at least a point.

Back double chance Everton/draw at 2.56/4

Expansive Brighton will give Odegaard space he needs

Brighton v Arsenal
Saturday, 17:45
Live on Sky Sports Premier League

Arsenal's form looks very good now that Mikel Arteta has intelligent players capable of following his detailed, Guardiola-esque positional instructions. This was particularly obvious in the win over Tottenham in which they seamlessly switched between 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-3, with Martin Odegaard coming wide right to help build attacks around the Spurs midfield. Of course, that midfield was absent for most of the game and Arsenal galdly countered through the middle to win with ease.

Brighton will be a much sterner test, and arguably the first of this reborn Arsenal - whose previous wins came against the league's bottom two clubs, Norwich and Burnley. However, the Gunners should be able to continue their winning streak thanks to Graham Potter's expansive system, which does leave gaps between the lines when Brighton lose the ball. Odegaard and Emile Smith Rowe will have the space they need for quick interchanges through the middle, especially if Yves Bissouma is still absent.

The most impressive thing about Arsenal lately is their ability to play with and without the ball; they pressed high against Spurs until they went a goal up, at which point they dropped deep and waited to hit their rivals on the break. Consequently Arteta's side should cope with seeing less of the ball at Brighton, who may find themselves on top for long periods - but ultimately defeated.

Back Arsenal to win at 2.4529/20


Determined Villa midfield to win the battle

Tottenham v Aston Villa
Sunday, 14:00
Live on Sky Sports Premier League

Spurs' confidence is extremely low following their 3-1 defeat to Arsenal last Sunday in which the tactical confusion under Nuno Espirito Santo reached a new nadir. Having pressed high against Chelsea the previous weekend, with Dele Alli and Tanguy Ndombele confidently dominating between the lines before Tottenham's second half collapse, Nuno inexplicably went for ultra-long-ball tactics against Arsenal.

They had no central midfield, punting it forward in a 4-1-5 formation that handed Arsenal the entire middle third of the pitch to build attacks. It's anyone's guess how they will approach the Villa game, but we do at least know this is a baffling team with no discernible vision or long-term tactical plan - which points to the more aggressive, organised, and confident team winning this weekend.

Led by John McGinn, Villa's three-man midfield in their 3-5-2 looks very effective on the break. Dean Smith's side ought to win the majority of the second balls, allowing them to set away the overlapping wing-backs and the strike partnership of Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings. That front four, bursting forward on the break, should be too much for a passive and alarmingly demotivated Tottenham defence to cope with.

Back Villa to win at 3.412/5

Grealish versus Milner to decide tight game

Liverpool v Man City
Sunday, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports Premier League

Manchester City and Liverpool will play out a very tight and high-energy game on Sunday, with space compressed all over the pitch as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola - embroiled in another claustrophobic chess match - focus on avoiding defeat rather than winning the three points. Both teams will sit off more than usual, fearful of an open game, although there is an element of chaos on one flank that neither will be able to fully control.

Jack Grealish has been Man City's creative outlet in the last few weeks. As opponents block central midfield in a narrow shell, City hav been forced to pass the ball down the flanks, where Grealish takes on the right-back and invariably makes something happen; he has played more key passes than any other player in the division, per WyScout. This weekend he faces James Milner, in for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Grealish will fancy his chances one-on-one and Milner probably won't get much help from his team-mates given the narrowness of Klopp's 4-3-3. At the other end, Grealish isn't the best at tracking back, suggesting the Liverpool right-back can find space to cross - especially if Diogo Jota, dropping off the front, can help overwhelm Rodri and move Liverpool forward on the counter. In a nervy and low-scoring game, the fact TAA is missing gives City a slim advantage.

Back under 2.5 goals at 2.111/10

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