Premier League Wednesday betting preview: Expect a slow start at the Etihad

16.6.2020 16:10

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Wednesday marks the highly anticipated return of the Premier League as Project Restart has an attractive doubleheader in store for fans and bettors.

In the first game back following a 99-day layoff that felt more like 300, Aston Villa will attempt to kick-start their quest for survival when they play host to a Sheffield United side hoping to cap off a remarkable season to date with a top-six finish.

Following that match, all eyes will shift to the Etihad as Manchester City - hoping to secure a top-four finish sooner that later - welcome a reeling Arsenal side sitting in ninth place and desperate for a fresh start.

Let's break down both of these fixtures with odds courtesy of theScore Bet.

Sheffield United (+125) at Aston Villa (+200), Draw (+220)

When the full-time whistle sounded on Leicester City's 4-0 win over Aston Villa at the King Power Stadium on March 9, no one would have expected that to be the final match in the Premier League for more than three months.

But this break could serve as a much-needed reset for Villa, losers of five straight at the time the season was suspended. The timing was miserable for Sheffield United, though. Chris Wilder's side were in quite a groove, ticking along excellently with their eyes fixated on a top-six finish. The Blades had won five of six, with one draw, at the time of the stoppage.

Wilder's side had developed a reputation as road warriors this season. In 13 matches away from home, they had lost just twice - to Manchester City and Liverpool. Seven of those matches had ended level, with four resulting in victories.

Points are crucial for Villa at this stage of the season with relegation looming, and while they're going to need to have an honest go at three points, a draw would suit them well. Dean Smith will be content with a positive result here to kick-start their final push to safety, while the Blades - a well-organized, difficult side to beat under Wilder - love a nice stalemate away from home. All signs point to a share of the spoils at Villa Park.

Pick: Draw (+220)

Arsenal (+650) at Manchester City (-300), Draw (+425)

Manchester City will be a curious case over these final 10 matches, as their title aspirations are all but dashed, and a top-four finish is close to a certainty. They're essentially locked into a second or third-place finish, so motivation could prove a bit of an issue down the stretch.

That won't be the case on Wednesday, as Pep Guardiola will be eager to put these last few months behind him and get the stretch run started on a winning note. Arsenal are desperate for three points here, and that will prove the case for the remainder of the campaign with the Gunners sitting eight points and five spots back of fourth place.

A major factor I'll be looking for down the stretch - something we've come to learn from the Bundesliga and La Liga - are which clubs have an abundance of depth. With so many matches in such a short period, and teams allowed five substitutes per match instead of three, depth will be a massive advantage over these final 10 fixtures.

It just so happens to be an area where City are especially spoiled. Guardiola has the luxury of starting a front three of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, and Kevin De Bruyne, and then replenishing in the second half with the fresh legs of Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, and Bernardo Silva. That doesn't even include David Silva, Phil Foden, and Riyad Mahrez. Constantly replenishing their attack with fresh legs poses a nightmare scenario for opposing sides.

Guardiola has indicated his players are not yet fully in match shape ahead of tomorrow's clash with Arsenal, but the same is true for every club. With an abundance of options to turn to, City will have too much for the Gunners in this match, making it difficult to recommend anything other than the hosts at -300.

Instead, I would look to the total for a play here, which is sitting at 3.5, with the over and under both juiced at -115. Given the lengthy layoff and the fact both fitness and match sharpness will be lacking, I have a strong lean to the under here as my top play for this match.

Lean: Under 3.5 (-115)

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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