ALEX CROOK

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

ALEX CROOK PREVIEW: Premier League Wednesday

Star Sports football ambassador Alex Crook looks ahead to some of the mid-week Premier League action…


🔴 ARSENAL v LUTON 🟠

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Arsenal have a golden opportunity to reclaim top spot for 24 hours at least when they entertain relegation-haunted Luton.

The Gunners required a stoppage time Declan Rice winner to overcome the Hatters in a thrilling 4-3 win in the reverse meeting at Kenilworth Road in December, however, this game should be much more straightforward as the visitors are battling a crippling injury list and are enduring a dire run of form.

Their bid to avoid an immediate return to the Championship has been given a leg-up by both Everton and Nottingham Forest being hit with points deductions for breaching Premier League spending rules, but a run of nine games without a win since trouncing Brighton 4-0 at home is hampering their bid to escape the bottom three.

They also looked like they were running on empty by the end of Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham when they were hit by yet another late goal having taken an early lead, so I would question how much they have left in the tank given the short turnaround between games.

The big plus for manager Rob Edwards is that they have found the net in each of their last 18 league games, but I think that run could end tonight.

Arsenal ended Manchester City’s long scoring run at the Etihad with a hard-fought 0-0 draw on Sunday in what could prove to be a key game in the title race. They have the meanest defence in the division and have conceded just twice in their last six matches.

Gabriel Jesus made an eye-catching return to the Gunners line-up against his former club and will fancy his chances against a make-shift Hatters back-line. Jesus is 14/5 with starsports.bet to score first.

I’ll also be including the Brazilian to net at any time in my build-a-bet along with an Arsenal win to nil and a goal to be scored in the final 15 minutes when the visitors’ legs will be weary. That returns 3/1 with starsports.bet.


🔵 MANCHESTER CITY v ASTON VILLA 🟣

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Manchester City simply must win at home to Aston Villa to avoid being cut adrift in their quest for a historic fourth successive Premier League title.

With Arsenal and Liverpool both highly likely to beat Luton and Sheffield United respectively, the champions cannot afford to fall five or six points behind their pace-setting championship rivals.

Villa have already inflicted one damaging blow on City this season by beating them at Villa Park earlier in the season when the 1-0 scoreline did not reflect just how dominant the home side were.

Often with Unai Emery’s Champions League hopefuls it is a different story away from home, especially with captain John McGinn missing and top-scorer Ollie Watkins also a major injury doubt.

City are unbeaten in 39 home games in all competitions, but while failing to score against Arsenal on Sunday was a rarity the goals have dried up for Pep Guardiola’s men, who are not the same swashbuckling side that swept all before them en route to last season’s treble glory.

While Roy Keane’s controversial comments comparing Erling Haaland to a League Two player may have been a little over the top, it is true Haaland has looked lethargic and off the pace in many of his recent performances.

The champions have only managed nine goals in their last seven games and while I expect them to come out on top it is not hard to see that low-scoring trend to continue. Manchester City to win and under 3.5 goals in the game is available at 1.32/1 with starsports.bet.

Emery has proved himself to be one of the most astute tacticians in Europe and will have seen how Arsenal restricted City to just one shot on target and will try to replicate their tactics so it promises to be a night where patience is a virtue for City.

You can back the game to be a draw at half-time and City to win in the second half at 10/3 with starsports.bet.


🔴 BRENTFORD v BRIGHTON 🔵

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Any time Brentford play Brighton, it always carries an extra edge given the animosity between the respective club owners and former business associates Matthew Benham and Tony Bloom.

Brighton supremo Bloom dislikes Benham to such a degree that he takes his seat with the travelling fans rather than the pair risk crossing paths in the boardroom so will be desperate to see his team come out on top in the battle between two teams who have found victories hard to come by in recent months.

Despite battering Manchester United on Saturday night, Brentford still found a way to drop points and have now won just two of their last 18 games in all competitions while Brighton have also been consistently inconsistent, but are still very much in the hunt for a European place.

Their away form is particularly poor having lost six of their last seven matches away from the Amex. For that reason I am going to side with the hosts, who as well as being unlucky not to beat United should have come out on top against Chelsea when held to a 2-2 draw at home at the start of last month.

I do not see Thomas Frank’s side keeping a clean sheet though so Brentford to win and both teams to score at 14/5 with starsports.bet is the selection for me.

Seagulls striker Danny Welbeck is in excellent form and bidding to score for a third game in a row while Ivan Toney did everything but find the net against United. A build-a-bet of Welbeck and Toney both to score can be backed at 5/1 with starsports.bet.

Good luck,

ALEX CROOK


RECOMMENDED BETS

BACK Gabriel Jesus to score first 1pt at 14/5 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

BACK Arsenal to win, both teams to score no, Gabriel Jesus to score at any time and a goal to be scored between minutes 75-90 1pt at 3/1 with starsports.bet

BACK Manchester City to win and under 3.5 goals 1.5pts at 1.32/1 with starsports.bet

BACK Manchester City v Aston Villa: draw at half-time and City to win in the second half 1pt at 10/3 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

BACK Brentford to win and both teams to score 1pt at 14/5 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

BACK Ivan Toney and Danny Welbeck both to score 0.5pts at 5/1 with starsports.bet


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