Sunday Premier League Odds, Pick, Preview: Back Aston Villa to Cover Spread vs. Chelsea on Boxing Day
Marc Atkins/Getty Images. Pictured: Chelsea standouts Mason Mount, left, and Cesar Azpilicueta.
- Aston Villa hosts Chelsea in Sunday’s Premier League showdown
- The Blues have been anything but sharp of late, but the Villans have found new life under manager Steven Gerrard.
- Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the matchup below and details why he’s backing Aston Villa in this spot.
Aston Villa vs. Chelsea Odds
|Aston Villa Odds||+425|
|Over/Under||2.5 (+106 / -135)|
|Day | Time||Sunday | 12:30 p.m. ET|
|How To Watch||NBC | Peacock Premium | fuboTV|
|Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.|
The featured, national television broadcast on Boxing Day will feature Aston Villa and new manager Steven Gerrard hosting Chelsea in Premier League action Sunday at Villa Park.
The Blues have hit a rough patch of form following their 1-1 draw with Everton and 0-0 draw with Wolves in the last week. While Liverpool and Manchester City have mostly kept on winning, Chelsea’s draws have cost them the top spot in the Premier League. The Blues have slipped into third place, where they probably should be based on expected goals and overall performances.
Chelsea has dealt with COVID-19 issues that have wrecked the squad recently, with multiple key starters and attackers potentially missing this away fixture.
Aston Villa comes into this match playing considerably better under Gerrard than it was when the club fired Dean Smith prior to the November international break. The Villans did lose to Liverpool and Manchester City, but only by a goal to each and had encouraging performances in both matches.
Given the COVID-19 issues for Chelsea and players likely to miss out here, Aston Villa is in a good home spot to take at least a point from the favorites.
Aston Villa Defense Improving Under Gerrard
The Villans’ defense has gotten considerably better since Gerrard was hired and a lot of that has to do with personnel choices. He’s opted to play Jacob Ramsey as a winger, dropped Danny Ings from the lineup and played Ollie Watkins as a striker. They’re getting more defensive work out of Ramsey and Watkins is back in his more natural striker position.
Watkins is averaging 0.4 xG per 90 minutes despite playing a bunch of time out wide this year, which is a relatively encouraging number for a mid-table EPL striker. Add in the usual Ramsey and Leon Bailey shots and they now have a serviceable EPL attack. Bailey is out for this game, but Emi Buendia has also had considerably improved performances in the last month since struggling early in the season.
Villa did lose the defensively solid Marvelous Nakamba, but has been playing a midfield three as opposed to a two to make up for the lack of ball winning from Douglas Luiz and John McGinn. The Villans’ midfield is difficult to break through as a result and even with Chelsea getting some midfield starters back, I don’t expect Villa to be overwhelmed.
Since Gerrard took over at Aston Villa, his side has the fourth-best xGA in the league and that includes matches against Liverpool and Manchester City in the sample. The Villans have been better defensively than the Blues, averaging about 0.15 xGA/90 minutes more than the visitors in the last seven matches.
Lineup Questions Surrounding Chelsea
Chelsea is getting some reinforcements back in the side, but it’s not clear they’ll be fit to start. Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi are healthy and off the COVID-19 list, but Kai Havertz and Ruben Loftus-Cheek remain out through the virus.
Jorginho’s status is also in doubt, but it appears Mateo Kovacic and N’Golo Kanté will start in the Chelsea midfield. The recent wobble has been partially regression, injuries and unfortunate results. For example, Chelsea battered Everton and created 2.9 xG, only to settle for a 1-1 draw. They were forced to play a weakened side away at Wolves in a scoreless tie, and manager Thomas Tuchel wanted that match postponed.
Tuchel also opted to rest a bunch of players for the Carabao Cup match with Brentford out of necessity. Over the course of the year, the Blues’ recent attacking regression has brought them back close to their season-long xG numbers.
However, there’s still room to fall for this Chelsea defense, with a recently out-of-form Edouard Mendy in goal. The Blues’ defense has conceded about one xG per match, but has only allowed 0.64 goals/90 minutes at even strength.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Chelsea opened as a -170 road favorite against Wolves last week before closing at -135 odds. This week, the Blues open as-145 moneyline favorites despite Aston Villa being projected better than Wolverhampton in my power ratings and in better current form.
The market is clearly pricing in some of the Chelsea regression in recent weeks, but it hasn’t moved far enough. My numbers put Chelsea at -115 on the three-way moneyline to take all three points. At +120 or better, I show value on Villa to get at least a home point. Lukaku should bolster the Chelsea attack on paper when he’s on the pitch, but it’s not clear he’ll start. And the Blues’ attack hasn’t played any better with him on the field than off the it this season.
When these sides met earlier this year, the Blues earned a 3-0 home victory, but lost the xG battle by a 1.5-1.1 margin. Chelsea continues to be overvalued and will find it difficult to break down a much-improved Aston Villa defense.
Pick: Aston Villa +0.5 (+118 or better)