The Scout: EPL Week 8 Preview

Brighton v Liverpool – Sunday, October 8 (9pm WA time)

We now know – in fact, we knew at the time – that Liverpool were robbed against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. Luis Diaz’s goal should not have been disallowed for offside, and Jurgen Klopp should not have spent a frustrating week pondering what might have been.

A week later the controversy lingers, as Liverpool, who are fourth on the table, prepare to take on a Brighton and Hove Albion side that suffered its own frustrations last weekend.

Brighton’s pain was self-inflicted as they capitulated against Aston Villa. A 6-1 defeat, which had started with the Seagulls playing well, was the first time they had conceded six goals in a top-tier match.

The fact that Brighton are still sixth on the table and just a point behind Liverpool says a great deal about their capabilities. Despite the nature of this defeat, which was just their second Premier League loss of the season, it’s reasonably safe to write-off the Villa debacle as an aberration.

Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi will demand more of key players, such as Lewis Dunk, Julio Encisco, and Solly March, while Pascal Gross, who was sorely missed against Villa, could return from injury.

Brighton have had few problems scoring goals this season with an average 2.71 scored per match. Evan Ferguson, who was substituted at half-time against Villa, has led the way with four goals.

Liverpool, unbeaten until that controversial loss to Spurs, have scored 2.29 per game and have a better defensive record than Brighton. They have conceded only a goal per match compared to Brighton’s two per game, a statistic skewed by the mauling at Villa.

Liverpool are too good to let the officiating shambles at Spurs impact on their approach to this match, and Klopp will be more concerned about improving on his side’s last Premier League match against Brighton in January.

Albion won 3-0, a success they followed up just two weeks later by knocking Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

But that was then. Liverpool have been showing good signs this season with Mo Salah (four assists and three goals), Darwin Nunez (three goals), Cody Gakpo (two goals) and Luis Diaz (two goals) in good form.

Suggested Bet: Both teams to score + Draw (Same Game Multi) @ $4.10*

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Aston Villa – Sunday, October 8 (9pm WA time)

This is a Midlands Derby with both sides buoyed by recent success. While Aston Villa hit six against Brighton, Wolverhampton Wanderers managed two goals against a stunned Manchester City, who were beaten for the first time this season.

In the overall scheme of things, Wolves’ 2-1 victory over the champions is even more astonishing than Villa’s 6-1 win over Brighton. Wolves had won just one game this season, a goal from Sasa Kalajdzic securing victory over Everton, and had just been knocked out of the League Cup by second-tier Ipswich Town.

But after Wolves were given the initiative by Ruben Dias’s own goal, Hwang Hee-Chan finished the job against City following Julian Alvarez’s equaliser.

Beating the champions must be a boost for Wolves, who are 15th on the table with seven points from seven games. But building on that unexpected victory won’t be easy against a Villa side that is up to fifth on the table with 15 points.

While Villa have found the net regularly this season, scoring at a rate of 2.57 goals per game, they have also had defensive lapses – they conceded five against Newcastle on the opening day of the season, and three against Liverpool last month.

But Wolves don’t seem to be a team capable of taking advantage of any defensive weakness with just eight goals in seven games, although Hwang, who has scored four, and Pedro Neto, four assists, will be hoping to do exactly that.

Villa’s Ollie Watkins took a while to get going in the Premier League this season, but after scoring his first goal in a win over Chelsea, he hit a hat-trick against Brighton.

Wolves have home-ground advantage, but Villa are flying and this could be a long afternoon for Gary O’Neil and his men at Molineux.

Suggested Bet: Villa to win + Total Goals over 2.5 (Same Game Multi) @ $2.88*

Arsenal v Manchester City – Sunday, October 8 (11.30pm WA time)

Mikel versus Pep. Challengers versus champions. Third place versus league leaders. How quickly this has become a fixture with title-race flavour.

It’s very early in the season to read too much into this one, but Arsenal’s rise to second place last season, after they had earlier held the lead, has given the game extra spice.

City’s shock defeat to Wolves last weekend, which came after a League Cup exit to Newcastle, may not be a sign of crisis at the Etihad Stadium but it is rare for Pep Guardiola’s side to lose two successive matches.

For their part, Arsenal go into this game unbeaten in the Premier League, with draws against Fulham and Spurs their only blemishes. Of some concern, though, is the injury the Gunners’ top scorer Bukayo Saka picked up in a midweek Champions League defeat to French club Lens.

Despite an abundance of talent, the Gunners have come to rely on Saka’s attacking threat, he scored 14 goals and provided seven assists last season, and already has four goals and two assists this campaign. If he isn’t fit to play, the scales will tip further in City’s favour.

Recent history is also on City’s side, with the Manchester men victorious in the past six Premier League contests. If you’re wondering whether this game has so much at stake that it might be a tight affair, consider that City have won the past four games between these teams (4-1, 3-1, 2-1 and 5-0), in which an average of 4.25 goals per game have been scored.

Surely there is too much attacking talent for this one to fall short of the hype? City’s Erling Haaland (eight goals this season), Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden can crack open any defence, while Arsenal’s midfield, marshalled superbly by skipper Martin Odegaard and Declan Rice, will be critical in deciding the outcome of this one.

Arsenal, who have not beaten City in the Premier League since December 2015, might have to wait a little longer to break that drought.

Suggested bet: City to win + Both teams to score (Same Game Multi) @ $4.40*

*Odds correct as at 11am, 5th October 2023.

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