Aston Villa v West Ham
West Ham cruised into the Europa Conference League group stages midweek with another comfortable victory over Viborg, but their domestic form needs some immediate attention. The Hammers prop up the table following defeats to Man City (2-0), Nottingham Forest (1-0) and Brighton (2-0), as they were already behind at the break on all three occasions.
Steven Gerrard appears on slightly shaky ground with Aston Villa losing two of their opening three games, though both were on the road to Bournemouth and Palace, as they secured maximum points hosting Everton. A 4-1 win at Bolton in the League Cup certainly won’t harm confidence levels, though it does mean that Vila are yet to register a clean sheet this season.
Both teams have scored in each of the last five meetings between these sides and although West Ham are yet to get off the mark this term, they’ve demonstrated enough over the past two campaigns to suggest they should get back on track soon. Gianluca Scamacca has had to make do with substitute appearances in each of their three league games this term, but he’s scored in both starts in Europe and could be given the nod over Michail Antonio here.
BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE
Wolves v Newcastle
Wolves have started the season in the same manner in which they ended last term, with their winless league run stretching to 10 games now. Seven of them ended in defeat, including two from three in the new campaign as they’ve registered just a single goal. Finding the net was a huge problem for them last season as only the relegated trio scored fewer goals, which appears to be an issue their transfer business has failed to address.
Newcastle may have only taken a single victory from their first three games, but they remain unbeaten with their dropped points coming on the road to an impressive Brighton outfit and at home to Man City. The imminent capture of Alexander Isak couldn’t have been timed better, with Callum Wilson set for another spell on the sidelines, but Newcastle remain a threat even without the English forward with four different goalscorers already this season.
Wolves’ only point so far has come against promoted outfit Fulham, with that goalless stalemate just the second time they’ve registered a clean sheet across their past 11 games at Molineux, as the other was picked up when relegated Watford came to town. Newcastle may be slicker operators at St. James’ Park, but they actually won five of six trips to teams below Wolves in the table last term under Eddie Howe and should fancy their chances of maintaining their strong start here.
NEWCASTLE TO WIN
Nottingham Forest v Tottenham
Tottenham can be extremely satisfied with their start to the season with maximum points secured at home to Southampton and Wolves, a valuable point picked up at Stamford Bridge, while a kind Champions League group stage draw is the icing on the cake. They did however ride their luck in the clash with Chelsea and took over an hour to break the deadlock against Wolves last time out, as there’s still plenty of room for improvement even if the early signs are encouraging.
Nottingham Forest will also be pleased with their own start, with a defeat at Newcastle on the opening day remedied by a victory hosting West Ham and a point taken on the road at Everton. Steeve Cooper’s new look side are still a relatively unknown quantity, but it’s highly doubtful they’ll be able to keep Tottenham’s attack at bay. The wide areas could be a key battleground, with both sides utilizing wing-backs, something which Spurs should be familiar with given all three of their opponents so far this season have mirrored them with three at the back.
Antonio Conte’s side have netted seven times so far this season, despite Heung-min Son and new signing Richarlison both yet to register a goal. Harry Kane is however up and running early with goals in their past two games, meaning the England captain has scored six times in as many games and scoring at least once in five of these.
The visitors certainly appear capable of improving their attacking output this season and are hard to look past against promoted opposition. They won five of six unbeaten games against such teams last term without conceding a goal, and should only improve with Conte taking his time to hand starts to the summer arrivals as they bed in.
There’s clearly some momentum with Spurs winning 10 of their past 14 games, as they lost just the once. Moreover, they’ve also managed seven clean sheets from their past 10 on the road when excluding the rest of the top-six finishers last season, including each of the last five as they won without conceding against the likes of Leeds, Brighton, Villa and Norwich.
SPURS TO WIN TO NIL
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