Toffees to extend Newcastle’s sticky patch
Everton vs Newcastle
Everton are in good form heading into this, winning five of their last seven league games, but were held by Leicester in midweek, another game in which they struggled to create opportunities. During that good run, the Toffees have averaged just 0.85 xGF per game, but they have been solid at the back (1.19 xGA pg), so don’t expect much goal mouth action here. Newcastle are winless in nine league games after a 2-1 loss at home to Leeds, and they’re being dragged into a relegation battle. That isn’t a surprise given their underlying metrics (1.03 xGF, 1.68 xGA pg), and it is hard to make a case for them here. Everton, while being uninspiring of late, should win this (53%) game, though expect it to be another low-scoring game (55% U2.5) – 1-0.
Back the 1-0 @ 7.06/1
Wolves to build on Chelsea performance
Crystal Palace vs Wolves
Crystal Palace have won just two of their last 12 league games, and those wins came against the bottom two. They were beaten in midweek by West Ham, but the 3-2 scoreline was a fair reflection of the chances in the game, as the Eagles should have lost more comfortably (xG: CRY 0.73 – 3.42 WHU). They are performing like a team we would expect to see in a relegation battle (1.05 xGF, 1.71 xGA pg). Wolves haven’t been playing much better of late, coming into this winless in eight, but there were positives to take from their goalless draw at Chelsea. They have missed a focal point in attack ever since Raul Jimenez was side-lined by injury, but the signing of Willian Jose could provide them with that and help them kick on. Wolves are the better of the two teams, and the model gives them a 45% chance of winning a low-scoring game (63% U2.5) – 0-1.
Back the 0-1 @ 8.07/1
No Manchester double for the Blades
Manchester City vs Sheffield United
Will Manchester City run away with league title? The signs are ominous as they moved top of the table in midweek with a comfortable win over West Brom. Their underlying numbers during their 11-match unbeaten run are simply sensational, averaging 2.34 xGF and 0.54 xGA per game. The latter figure explains why they have kept nine clean sheets in that time. Sheffield United pulled off one of the shocks of the season by beating Manchester United at Old Trafford, giving them hope and pulling them to within 10 points of safety. They aren’t the worst team in the league despite their league position, and will make life tough for City, but they might have one eye on their midweek game against West Brom. City to win here (78%) in a comfortable manner – 3-0.
Back the 3-0 @ 7.26/1
Honours even in relegation six-pointer
West Brom vs Fulham
Sam Allardyce has failed to improve this West Brom team just yet, not helped by a tricky enough schedule, but they remain toothless in attack and leaky at the back (0.78 xGF, 2.13 xGA pg). Now seven points from safety, this really does feel like a huge game already, but they need to tighten up defensively if they are to get something. Fulham were fortunate to get a point at Brighton in midweek, conceding a host of chances while threatening little themselves (xG: BHA 2.37 – 0.56 FUL). They are now winless in nine matches, and while their performances have garnered praise, their underlying numbers in that period have been poor (0.99 xGF, 1.89 xGA pg). To me, this looks like a game that neither team will want to lose, so I am expecting a cagey and tight game, so fence sitting is the way I’m going, in a low-scoring game (61% U2.5) – 1-1.
Back the 1-1 @ 7.26/1
All-square at the Emirates
Arsenal vs Manchester United
Arsenal come into this game in good form, having won five of an unbeaten six in the Premier League, and their underlying numbers in that time have backed up the results (1.99 xGF, 1.11 xGA pg). This represents a huge upturn in process, but it is worth bearing in mind that they haven’t played any sides in the top half of our xG table since beating a below-par Chelsea. Manchester United were humiliated on Wednesday, as they were beaten by bottom side Sheffield United just as talk of a title was gathering pace. That defeat brought a 13-game unbeaten run in the league to an end, a run that started after a loss to Arsenal. Away from home United have been excellent this term, and they are comfortable on the road, averaging 1.92 xGF and 1.38 xGA per game. Arsenal’s performances against better teams have, on the whole, been good since Mikel Arteta’s appointment, making games tight and nullifying their opponents’ strengths. I think they can get a result here, so the draw appeals in a low-scoring game (57% U2.5) – 1-1.
Back the 1-1 @ 7.613/2
Villa to bounce back
Southampton vs Aston Villa
Southampton have won just one of their last seven games in the league following a disappointing loss to Arsenal in midweek, and that run has seen drop into the bottom half of the table, and rightly so. They have struggled greatly in attack this term, with their process of 1.03 xGF per game the fourth worst in the league. Aston Villa were extremely unfortunate to lose to Burnley in midweek, racking nearly four times as much xG than their hosts (xG: BUR 0.79 – 2.98 AVL). They continue to perform like an attacking juggernaut, with Dean Smith’s side boasting the best attacking process in the entire Premier League (2.09 xGF pg). They are a free-flowing side that have the ball carriers and line-breaking passers to beat Southampton’s press, and I like their chances of winning at St. Mary’s, in a high-scoring game (52% O2.5) – 1-2.
Back the 1-2 @ 11.010/1
Tuchel to get his first win
Chelsea vs Burnley
Thomas Tuchel’s debut as Chelsea manager ended in an uninspiring goalless draw with Wolves in midweek, as while the Blues dominated the football (68% possession), they created very little (0.81 xGF). In Tuchel’s defence, he had only one training session to work with his new players, so I expect to see an improvement in this game given he has had more time to bed things in. Burnley are on a sensational run of form, losing just four of 13 and winning six, with those results seeing them soar clear of the relegation zone – they are now nine points clear of the bottom three. While they have collected the sixth most points in the league during that 13-game spell, they have collected the fourth fewest expected points, with a huge overperformance in defence the reason for the disparity (12 goals allowed, 22.25 xGA). That good fortune defensively won’t continue, and I think Chelsea can get back to winning ways here (64%), but they won’t hammer this stubborn side – 2-0.
Back the 2-0 @ 7.06/1
Leicester to beat Leeds comfortably again
Leicester vs Leeds
Leicester have been impressive of late, with a 1-1 draw at Everton extending their unbeaten run to seven, where they have collected 15 points. Performances in that time have been excellent too, losing the xG battle only once (vs MUN). Leeds bounced back from successive defeats by beating Newcastle in midweek, but this game represents a test that Bielsa’s side have failed miserably with this season. Against last season’s top six this season, they have managed just one point, but in those games they have allowed a staggering 3.20 xGA per game. In fact, 52% of their xGA total this season has come in those six matches. Playing against better sides clearly exploits their weaknesses, and Leicester can do so again here, as we give them a 53% chance of winning in an open encounter (53% O2.5, 53% BTTS) – 3-1.
Back the 3-1 @ 15.014/1
Reds to end Hammers run
West Ham vs Liverpool
West Ham have been excellent this season, and come into this unbeaten in six and on a four match winning run in the Premier League, having won the xG battle in all six games. Their underlying numbers this term are what we would expect to see from a top eight side (1.60 xGF, 1.26 xGA pg), and their strength from set pieces could pose a real threat to Liverpool (25% of xGF from set-pieces). Liverpool bounced back to winning ways in emphatic fashion on Thursday, dominating Tottenham to end a five-game winless run. They were excellent defensively in that game, while also posing a typical threat in attack, as Klopp’s side looked much more like their usual selves (xG: TOT 0.11 – 2.39 LIV). They have had issues on the road this season though, winning just three of 10, but they have collected the second most expected points on their travels, so that poor record is more down to bad luck rather than poor performances. The model thinks they win again here (52% LIV), with goals likely (56% O2.5, 57% BTTS) – 1-2.
Back the 1-2 @ 8.615/2
Brighton to grab a point
Brighton vs Tottenham
Brighton continue to frustrate. They again dominated and created numerous chances against Fulham in midweek, but failed to get the win (xG: BHA 2.37 – 0.56 FUL). That result means they are still winless at home this season, losing four of their 10, but performances at the Amex have been sensational. Graham Potter’s side sit third in the home xG table based on expected points, averaging 1.97 xGF and 1.03 xGA per game. That is a fantastic underlying process, but bad luck means they don’t have more points on the board (GD -5, xGD +9.4). Tottenham were extremely poor in midweek against Liverpool, looking toothless in attack as Jose Mourinho got his tactics wrong. That result leaves them sixth, and that is a few places higher than their performances warrant, sitting 10th on expected points and xGD. Make no mistake, this game isn’t a relegation candidate hosting a top six team, and I like Brighton’s chances of getting a positive result, in a game both teams net (54%) – 1-1.
Back the 1-1 @ 7.26/1