Helsingborgs v Osters
Last year, Helsingborgs endured a difficult campaign as they were automatically relegated back down to the Superettan, having only gained promotion back to the Allsvenskan in 2021. They take on an Osters side that managed to hold on to third place in last year’s Superettan but eventually lost the Allsvenskan/Superettan relegation/promotion playoff by four goals to two on aggregate against Varberg.
Mattias Lindstrom and Alvaro Santos came in as co-managers of Helsingborg in May 2022 but they could not keep up a team that did appear destined for relegation right from the start of the campaign.
Helsingborg managed just four victories in their 30 games last season and finished 14 points off Varberg in the Allsvenskan/Superettan relegation/promotion playoff place. Scoring just 22 goals in the process, they were the comfortably lowest scorers in Sweden’s top-flight, too.
Osters finished the 2022 Superettan campaign with back-to-back defeats and just one victory in their final five matches, and that can be extended to seven games with the aforementioned playoff defeat to Varberg.
Despite their poor end to the season, former Valur Reykjavik assistant manager, Srdjan Tufegdzic remains in charge of the Vaxjo-based club for the 2023 campaign and they will be expecting to mount another serious and sustained promotion challenge.
Following relegation last season, Helsingborgs will be expecting to mount a serious and sustained title challenge this year. They have made several intriguing additions from across top-flight leagues in Europe. They have lost Taha Ali to Malmo for around £650,000, though. Osters have a similar squad to the one that competed for promotion last season. The hosts will be confident of starting their season at a new level in a positive manner.
Leicester City v Aston Villa
Leicester’s defeat against Crystal Palace at the weekend spelled the end of Brendan Rodger’s four-year stint in charge of the Foxes. They were victims of the new manager bounce as they succumbed to defeat in Roy Hodgson’s first match of his second spell at Palace. Leicester will now be hoping to feel the benefit of a new manager bounce of their own. Adam Sadler and Mike Stowell have been placed in charge while they seek out a permanent replacement.
Leicester won 4-2 at Villa Park earlier in the season and this one looks set to be another goal-friendly affair. The Foxes have scored in their last three league matches but it was defensive woes that proved costly. The atmosphere at the King Power has bordered on toxic as the fans grew tired of Brendan Rodgers. They will get right behind the team in this match and I expect them to bare their teeth in attack. The club are in a precarious position in the league and draws at home won’t suffice if they want to secure Premier League survival.
Unai Emery has taken charge of seven league away matches at Aston Villa. His team have won five of those matches and they have managed to find the net in all seven. Emery has even turned around the fortunes of striker Ollie Watkins, with the former Brentford man finding the back of the net in his last five consecutive Premier League games away from home.
They have looked solid defensively in those matches but this season has shown that playing against a side with a new manager, particularly away from home, means they will be put under pressure. There are signs that this game could be very open; just like the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Raith Rovers v Hamilton
Tuesday’s rearranged Scottish Championship clash between Raith Rovers and Hamilton gives the home side some opportunity to exact some revenge on a 1-0 Challenge Cup final loss against Accies less than a fortnight ago. The Fife club should be backed to do just that.
For a start, Raith boast a strong home record this season. From 15 games, they have suffered only three defeats and are averaging scoring two per game. At the weekend, they overcame league leaders Queen’s Park 2-0 in an impressive display, while there remains the outside chance of reaching the playoffs if they can pick up three points against a club that is seriously ailing.
Hamilton’s cup triumph was a rare positive moment in what has been a miserable season for them. It was also a match that came at a cost as they lost three starting players to injury in that game. There is no guarantee that any will be back for this fixture.
Meanwhile, Accies league form is terrible. Indeed, the current state of the team was underlined as they went to in-form Dundee on Saturday and returned with a 7-0 defeat. Although Scott Martin and Dan O’Reilly return after missing that trip due to a ban, they have still lost three of their last four in the league, with the exception a 0-0 draw against fellow strugglers Arbroath. Prior to that run, they were in something of a purple patch, but it appears to have proven just that.
Accies have avoided defeat just six times in 14 away games, so expect Raith, who have won all three league meetings between the clubs this season, to pile on their misery.
Chelsea v Liverpool
We have six midweek Premier League matches to look forward to as we get into the business end of the season. The highlight of the action is Liverpool’s trip to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea were beaten by Aston Villa at the weekend. The defeat ultimately cost Graham Potter his job after a tough spell at the club. Liverpool were comprehensively beaten at the Etihad despite taking an early lead. Klopp’s side need to improve significantly to make it into the top four. For Chelsea, on the other hand, the hope of European football has all but diminished. Bruno Saltor has taken charge on an interim basis and his focus will be on improving results while the club hunts for a new manager.
The last three meetings between Chelsea and Liverpool have finished goalless. The Blues have been leaking goals under Graham Potter but I expect them to be more sturdy as Saltor attempts to steady the ship. Liverpool have lacked a real menace in attacking phase play when playing away this season. They are averaging exactly one goal a game on the road in the Premier League. This is a far cry from the rampant Liverpool attack of recent seasons.
Under 2.5 goals has landed in nine of Chelsea’s last 10 home games in the Premier League. Seven of those matches have seen one goal or less. Even with the 2-2 draw against Everton, there has only been an average of 1.5 goals per game. I’m expecting a cagey affair on Tuesday night between two teams that are low on confidence.
Alianza Lima v Athletico PR
Last year’s finalists kickstart their Libertadores charge with a trip to Peru to face Alianza Lima. The home side haven’t won a Libertadores match since 2015 when they defeated Uruguay’s Nacional 1-0. Last year, they finished the group stage rock bottom, losing five of the six matches.
They’ve attempted to improve their defence, bringing in Boca Juniors centre-back Carlos Zambrano, but the 33-year-old will have his work cut out in his new environment.
Athletico PR signed Manchester City’s Fernandinho after qualifying for the knockout stage last year, and the new captain knows how to win, and his experience should stand his teammates in good stead.
Leading the line, Vitor Roque recently made his debut for Brazil’s national team and became their youngest player to debut since Ronaldo back in 1994. It’ll be a much easier game for Athletico PR back on home soil, but they should be able to weather any potential Peruvian storm.
Just in case Athletico are left frustrated, it’s best to back both teams to score no at 20/23.
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