Premier League Previews : Game On!
- Various venues around England
- Wednesday 17 June and Friday 19 June
- Live on Sky Sports
It's going to feel a bit different with no crowds but at last we have the Premier League back. Our preview looks ahead to the first four games and there's a lot at stake re European qualification and bidding to avoid relegation.
Wednesday 17 June
Aston Villa v Sheffield United 6pm KO
The Premier League makes its return with a game that is important for both clubs. Both of these sides won promotion from the Championship last season but have had very different results this term. Aston Villa continue their battle against relegation, while opponents Sheffield United are still dreaming of Champions League football. Villa begin the game with only Norwich City below them in the table. They are two points from safety but do have a game in hand. They will need to improve their form if wanting to avoid going straight back to the Championship. Their last four league games have all been lost with 11 goals conceded. Villa have failed to score in their last two league matches so there are problems at both ends of the pitch.
Home form has been patchy this season but they have won five times and two of those have come in the last four played. They were against Watford and Norwich City so not the cream of the Premier League crop. Keeping a clean sheet is a problem with none achieved in the last nine league fixtures. There's a lot of work to do to stay out of the bottom three.
Sheffield United are seventh in the table and only five points behind Chelsea in fourth. If Manchester City lose their appeal against a European ban, fifth place could be good enough to qualify for the world's top club competition. A win at Villa will take them into that position, a point ahead of Manchester United but from a game more. United have to play both those rivals in their run-in. With an upcoming FA Cup quarter final against Arsenal, The Blades have plenty to look forward to in the weeks ahead.
United made an impressive start to the season but then form started to slide in December and January. The bubble might have been bursting but that wasn't to be the case. Their last four league games have produced ten points. On their travels, Sheffield United have only lost twice and that was when playing the top two. Only four have been won though with seven drawn. 13 away league games have only seen 25 goals scored. 12 have been conceded but of those six were in three games. Only two of their away league games has seen over 2.5 goals scored. With Villa struggling up front and their opponents only averaging a goal a game on their travels, a bet on under 2.5 goals in this match is the bet to go for.
Manchester City v Arsenal 8.15pm KO.
Manchester City resume the season wih more interest in cup competitions and off-the-field court cases than the Premier League. They are 25 points behind leaders Liverpool and know it's only a matter of time until the Reds take their title from them. Much more important is trying to win the FA Cup and Champions League. Being able to take part in the 2020/21 Champions League is of vital importance to them and court proceedings will determine that.
City are four points clear of third-placed Leicester City but weren't in the best of form in March. Their last four league games have produced two wins but also a couple of losses including the Manchester derby. Home form has been impressive again this season with nine out of 13 won at home in the Premier League. Four of the last five have been won and they have scored at least twice in eight of their last nine home league fixtures. They have won each of their last six games played against Arsenal. Only once in those games did they fail to score three goals and even then they scored twice. Three out of the last four home Premier League games against the Gunners have been won but both teams have scored in each of those matches.
Arsenal are still hoping that they might make it into the Champions League for next season. They are ninth and eight points behind Chelsea in fourth but with a game in hand. Of course, they would love City to be banned for next season as fifth would be good enough and they are only five points behind Manchester United and have that game in hand. They have won their last three league games but all of those were played at the Emirates.
They would be in the top four but for their away record. Only two wins on the road this season and that's just got to improve. Only five of their last 26 away Premier League games has ended in them going home with a win under their belts. They are making some progress though and are on a five game unbeaten run going into this game. The trouble is that all those matches have been drawn and only one was against a club currently in the top eight. City can be backed to win this game but that title of theirs is going to be lost.
Friday June 19
Norwich City v Southampton - 6pm KO
Nine games to go and Norwich City are bottom and six points from safety. It might as well be seven because of their poor goal difference. They need to get some wins and host Southampton who are 14th in the Premier League, seven points above the drop zone. The Canaries have lost three of their last four league matches. The other was a home win over Leicester City, that shows on their day they can get positive results. Four home league games have been won this season with two of those coming in the last three. They have only lost one of the last five at home and that was to Liverpool. The fact only one goal has been conceded in the last three at Carrow Road is encouraging. Home form is going to be vital though as they still have to travel to Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Southampton have lost four of their last five league fixtures. They have a seven-point advantage over the bottom three and a couple more wins should see them safe. They have had an up-and-down season blowing hot and cold. The Saints had been on a run of one loss in seven but that's been followed by this latest poor run of form. They might not be looking over their shoulders just yet but another couple of bad results might.
They have the worst home record in the Premier League but have won six on the road, the sixth best record. Southampton had won four straight away league games before suffering losses at Liverpool and West Ham United. It's hard to work out what they are going to do next but the Saints have scored in 12 of their last 13 away league fixtures but conceded seven in the last two. A bet on both teams to score looks the one to make.
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - 8.15pm KO
Another cracking game looks likely here with European qualification on the agenda for both clubs. Tottenham would consider it a major disaster if they failed to qualify for the Champions League. There's even a chance they might fail to get into the Europa League. They are eighth in the table and four points behind their opponents who are fifth. Spurs might also be hoping Manchester City are banned from next season's Champions League. That's because the London side are currently seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
Tottenham have no wins in their last six league and cup games. That includes being knocked out of both the Champions League and FA Cup. Harry Kane was absent for those matches and Spurs will hope his return can get them back in winning ways. Two of their last four home league games have been lost plus defeats by Norwich and RB Leipzig, perhaps they should move back to Wembley.
Manchester United are in fifth and that could get them back into the Champions League. They have a busy time ahead with the FA Cup and Europa League still to play for. United are three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and perhaps crucially, a couple ahead of Wolves in sixth. They are unbeaten in their last 11 league and cup games. Perhaps most importantly, United seem to have learned how to defend. They have kept nine clean sheets in those 11 matches with only Club Brugge and Everton netting against them.
Away form is still a bit of a concern with only four wins in the Premier League this season. That's the 12th best record in the league and six away games have been lost. 15 goals in 14 away league games isn't a great return either with only five in the last six. The returns of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford may well help them but they don't have an easy week with this game being followed by a home game against Sheffield United. A bet on under 2.5 goals in this game is the one to make, that's happened in 11 of United's away league matches.
- Aston Villa have lost their last four league games.
- Villa have failed to score in their last two league fixtures.
- 11 out of 13 Sheffield United away league matches have had under 2.5 goals scored in them.
- There have only been 25 goals scored in Sheffield United's 13 away league matches.
- Manchester City have won their last six games against Arsenal.
- City have scored at least twice in eight of their last nine home games in the Premier League.
- Arsenal have drawn their last five away league matches.
- The Gunners have won their last three games in the Premier League.
- Norwich City have only lost one of their last five home league games and that was to Liverpool.
- Only one goal has been conceded by Norwich City in their last three home league fixtures.
- Southampton have the sixth best away record in the Premier League but have conceded seven goals in their last two.
- The Saints have lost four of their last five away league fixtures.