ASTON VILLA take on Manchester United on Thursday night. Tom Love (@TomLove_18) shares his thoughts on the Premier League encounter.
Aston Villa vs Manchester United | Thursday 9th July 2020, 20:15 | Sky Sports
It’s getting to must-win territory for Aston Villa now. They trail 17th-placed Watford by four points and are struggling for goals more than anything.
Dean Smith initially brought in Wesley to provide the goal threat but his season was cut short by injury, Smith then went back into the market in January for Mbwanna Samatta who has found himself dislodged from the team in place of youngster Keinan Davis. It’s been a problem all season but more so because their defence has largely been porous as well.
They’ve conceded 1.90 goals per-game but their Expected Goals (xG) against sits around 2.20, so you could say they’ve got a tad fortunate on the whole. Having said that they have tightened up at the back since the restart. They restricted Liverpool to just 0.82 xG, not many teams have bettered that. They also kept Wolves to 0.64 xG, Newcastle to 0.79 and Sheffield United to 0.36.
I’ve not seen such an upturn in defensive statistics for a long time. If they can get some sort of fluency in the final third then they could start picking up vital wins. I actually think with a player like Jack Grealish at his disposal, Smith should’ve been more intuitive in order to be more productive at the top of the pitch.
Because Grealish draws people towards him like a magnet there is space for the other attacking players that they’ve simply not utilised to the optimum. Maybe Grealish could pop it off a bit quicker but they’ve had the same problem all season and they’ve not rectified it.
United have been very impressive since the return with four wins and a draw. They look so dangerous going forward. Bruno Fernandes has been an inspired signing and the emergence of Mason Greenwood is only adding to the excitement at Old Trafford.
Victor Lindelof is a doubt here though meaning the erratic Eric Bailly could come in which is a downgrade. Nevertheless, the bookies are heavily fancying an away win here with the Red Devils priced up as short as 1/3. As much as I’ve been impressed by them, I’m not sure they should be that short. Instead I’ll dip into the player props market with a small play on two Aston Villa players.
Firstly, you can get 11/10 with Bet365 on all-action Villa midfielder John McGinn to win over 1.5 tackles and I’m surprised that’s odds against. Only two players average more tackles than the Scot, he averages two tackles per game and will be up against skilful players in Fernandes, Pogba as well as Rashford and Greenwood cutting in. He’s a shorter price for 3+ tackles with SkyBet so there’s a clear price discrepancy here.
I’ll also take a chance on Grealish to have over 30.5 attempted passes at 5/6, also with Bet365. He loves to come deep and receive the ball and all Villa’s play goes through him. He has been playing a slightly deeper role of late and may have to again here. Grealish averages 40 passes per game and has surpassed this line in 24 of his 31 games so I’m surprised his line isn’t a bit higher in all honesty.