Premier League Acca Builder: Newcastle can lose again to help us to a 45/1 winner

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe.
Howe could be set for a damaging defeat.

Alex Keble assesses four tactical battles ahead of this weekend's Premier League games, building a 45/1 acca based on Burnley beating Newcastle and Chelsea dropping points...

"Newcastle United simply must win this game after dropping points against Norwich City, but Burnley's willingness to concede the vast majority of possession to the hosts will not work in Eddie Howe's favour."

James absence means West Ham can block the middle

West Ham v Chelsea
Saturday, 12:30
Live on BT Sport 1

It might be counter-intuitive, but Chelsea missing right wing-back Reece James means they will be less effective through the middle of the pitch. Thomas Tuchel's 3-4-2-1 is particularly narrow, which in turn creates space for overlapping wing-backs to help maintain width, but without James there is very little threat on the flanks - and consequently West Ham United can stay compact.

David Moyes does not need to worry about the wide areas without James or Ben Chilwell, and so Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek - staying tight to the centre-backs in a compressed low West Ham block - will be able to stunt Chelsea through the middle, taking their creative inside forwards out of the game.

It should be a low-scoring game, and one in which the hosts can build confidence from this defensive base to ensure Chelsea continue their difficulties in front of goal. Tuchel admitted his team were lucky to beat Watford and, with Romelu Lukaku still not match fit, it is hard to see where the goals will come from on Saturday.

lukaku-chelsea.jpg

Back double chance West Ham/draw v Chelsea at 1.9110/11

Howe's midfield a worry in adventurous game

Newcastle v Burnley
Saturday, 15:00

Newcastle United simply must win this game after dropping points against Norwich City, but Burnley's willingness to concede the vast majority of possession to the hosts will not work in Eddie Howe's favour. As the hosts press forward, looking to pass intricately out from the back and pour bodies forward in attack, their weak two-man midfield - and gaps on the flanks - could be exposed.

An early red card on Tuesday prevented us from getting a clear picture of what the Howe era will bring, although the 4-4-2 formation was notable, as was the way Javier Manquillo burst forward at every opportunity and the two wingers, Allan Saint-Maximin and (briefly) Ryan Fraser, took narrow starting positions. There will be space on the counter for Dwight McNeil behind Manquillo and Fraser.

But the bigger worry is in midfield, despite the fact Burnley will not pass through it directly. Sean Dyche's long balls up to the two strikers lead to many second balls dropping between the opposition defence and midfield, and the tenacious Burnley players will surely get there ahead of Joe Willock and Jonjo Shelvey - hardly the most battle-hardened players - in the midst of a stretched Newcastle formation.

Back Burnley to beat Newcastle @ 3.259/4

Complimentary weaknesses suggests goals

Aston Villa v Leicester City
Sunday, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports Premier League

Steven Gerrard's vision for Aston Villa is already coming together nicely. His 4-3-2-1, with two inside forwards behind a striker, is allowing Villa to build more meaningful possession through the lines and get talented players like Emiliano Buendia on the ball more often, while the higher defensive line ensures they are not getting pinned back.

This should work well on the attack against Leicester, whose two-man midfield of Wilfried Ndidi and Boubakary Soumare continues to look soft against teams that play predominantly through the centre of the pitch. There is a confusion to the way Brendan Rodgers' side are playing, especially in central defence, that suggests Ollie Watkins can get in on goal.

But Villa's higher defensive line is a cause for concern when James Maddison is in this kind of form. His sharp passes over the top for Jamie Vardy were a constant threat in the 2-2 draw with Southampton. Maddison's battle with Marvelous Nakamba will be crucial, but complimentary weaknesses suggest goals at both ends of the pitch.

Back over 2.5 goals @ 1.910/11

Passive Everton won't force Arsenal errors

Everton v Arsenal
Monday, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports Premier League

Rafael Benitez looks increasingly out-dated, especially with clubs around Everton appointing young and progressive managers over the last month. He is arguably the most conservative coach left in the division, whose deep defensive line, long balls forward, and focus on counter-attacking football makes Everton vulnerable. In this day and age, that sort of football breed low confidence as players shrink in the face of an opposition press.

Arsenal showed on Thursday night that they are still a work in progress; that this young team can suddenly become passive, inviting pressure on themselves whenever they go a goal up. It is a strange quirk that Mikel Arteta seems unable to solve, and yet the problem of going quiet and timid for long periods of the match only affects them when up against good teams. Everton, themselves meek and unconfrontational, won't take advantage when Arsenal drift.

Martin Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe, and Bukayo Saka will have bursts of energy in this game, flitting in the half-spaces to receive vertical passes through a flaky Everton midfield. It should be a low-scoring game with very little quality in it, but the visitors ought to have enough to deepen Benitez's misery at Goodison Park.

Back Arsenal to win to nil at 3.7511/4

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