Premier League Acca Builder: Brentford to take points from Man Utd

Premier League Acca Builder: Brentford to take points from Man Utd

Brentford v Man Utd
Tuesday, 19:30
Live on BT Sport 1

Ralf Rangnick lamented the lack of aggression from his team in the 1-0 victory over Norwich City, in which Manchester United seemed too timid on the ball and unable to play with the verticality or urgency he requires. With so little time on the training ground this is likely to be an ongoing problem, and one that sees them come unstuck against an assertive Brentford in front of buoyant home fans.

In terms of pure fight and energy, in winning the second balls and putting United under pressure, this is going to be a good battle. But more specifically, Brentford’s long balls up to two bullish centre forwards, plus their set-piece delivery, can unsettle Rangnick’s defence in a way he is yet to see. Man Utd have kept two clean sheets thanks to their improved pressing and higher defensive line. Those things will be less effective at Brentford.

What’s more, United’s 4-2-2-2 isn’t particularly suited to playing Brentford’s 3-5-2. The hosts, sitting behind the ball, should have enough bodies centrally to cope with the inherent narrowness of Rangnick’s formation (Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho cut in from the wings). A shock result is definitely on the cards.

Back double chance Brentford/draw at 1.9110/11

Man City v Leeds
Tuesday, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 2

Manchester City were fortunate to beat Wolves at the weekend after another sluggish performance when faced with a deep defensive line. Without a central striker making intelligent runs, City lack someone to hit, and consequently struggle to create chances as they play slowly in front of the opposition. However, Leeds United’s pressing should mean the champions have no problem winning on Tuesday.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side generally empty out their central midfield space in a daring approach, even when off the ball. At Stamford Bridge on Saturday their front two lines pressed high while the defenders dropped, opening up a huge gap between the defensive and midfield lines that Chelsea inexplicably failed to capitalise on. Pep Guardiola will have noticed it.

Look out for Jack Grealish dropping off the front. He has been given more freedom in the last two matches to roam around, probably to help him settle into the team and rediscover his confidence, and that should mean he gets plenty of time on the ball in the areas where Kalvin Phillips would usually sit. This is the key battleground at the Etihad, and with Leeds pressing all over the pitch City should get the room required to carve out chances.

Back City to win with a -2 handicap at 2.26/5

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Arsenal v West Ham
Wednesday, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 1

Mikel Arteta’s side were far more comfortable without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the pitch against Southampton on Saturday. The Gunners will go into this game feeling more confident in an agile forward line that works far more effectively together. However, this is exactly the sort of game in which Arsenal become meek and passive, and exactly the kind of contest that West Ham relish – despite being out of form after collecting just five points from the last five games.

David Moyes’ team is at its best as underdogs, and being allowed to absorb pressure for long periods before quickly counter-attacking behind a high defensive line through Michail Antonio. It is a simple strategy with repetitive beats; Jarrod Bowen will dart infield to collect the first pass after Tomas Soucek or Declan Rice have won the ball and begun to charge forward, then the ball will be played through to Antonio.

Arsenal will not enjoy it. They are frequently caught in a stretched shape with gaps everywhere, failing to shut down the counter-attacking space until their confidence drains and errors start piling up. Antonio should bully the Arsenal defenders and Arteta’s team should, once again, take a step back right after taking a step forward.

Back West Ham to win at 3.259/4

Chelsea v Everton
Thursday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 2

Everton’s central midfield has been a major issue all season for Rafael Benitez and things did not improve despite the change of formation at the weekend. Fabian Delph played poorly as Crystal Palace easily dominated the middle, with Conor Gallagher particularly impressing as Everton once again sunk into confusion. Their defensive caution is leading to low self-esteem.

That is not a good attitude to have for a trip to Stamford Bridge, where Tuchel will surely have learnt from the mistakes made against Leeds. Reece James is the key player, his under-lapping runs recently developing into a box-to-box central midfield role, and he should be able to cause all sorts of problems in the gaps between Everton’s three-man midfield.

Chelsea do not always flourish when facing a deep blockade like Everton’s, and yet there are so many defensive errors in Benitez’s team it’s hard to believe they can hold out for the 90 minutes. If Chelsea’s inside forwards remain narrow on Thursday, they can overwhelm Everton’s midfield and inspire a comfortable home win.

Back Chelsea to win with a -1 handicap at 1.738/11