Draw at Villa Park
Aston Villa vs Arsenal
After being fortunate to get three points at Southampton last weekend, Villa got a deserved defeat in midweek, as West Ham rightly won 3-1 on Wednesday (xG: AVL 0.7 – 1.9 WHU). That was the second game in succession where Villa have struggled to reach the lofty standards they have set, but nonetheless, they boast a stellar home process (2.3 xGF, 1.3 xGA pg). Arsenal were back to their usual selves in midweek, seeing two red cards and throwing away a game they had total control over (xG: WOL 1.6 – 0.7 ARS). Mikel Arteta’s side have been a better team on the road than at the Emirates this season (1.4 xGF, 1.1 xGA pg), so will fancy their chances here. The model is on the fence with this one, making Villa narrow favourites (38%), though few goals are expected (55% U2.5) – 1-1.
Back the 1-1 @ 8.07/1
Seagulls to continue good run
Burnley vs Brighton
Burnley were ineffective against either Chelsea or Manchester City in their last few games, losing 2-0 in both while registering a combined 0.21 xGF. Only West Brom have a worst attacking process than the Clarets this term (0.85 xGF pg), so they should struggle to break down an impressive Brighton backline. Graham Potter’s side have kept four straight clean sheets in the league, and have won three games in that time, most recently beating Liverpool at Anfield (xG: LIV 0.9 – 1.4 BHA). They have conceded an average of 0.6 xGA per game in that period, so have been incredibly tight, but they haven’t lost anything in attack despite looking more assured defensively (1.6 xGF pg). Brighton can get another win here (39%), but it will be a low-scoring tussle (59% U2.5) – 0-1.
Back the 0-1 @ 7.26/1
All-square at St. James’
Newcastle vs Southampton
Believe it or not, Newcastle have now won the xG battle in three straight Premier League games, despite winning only one of those games. They created the better of the chances against Crystal Palace in midweek, and were unfortunate to lose (xG: NEW 2.4 – 0.8 CRY), so there are signs that Steve Bruce’s side are improving. Southampton suffered their second 9-0 defeat in two seasons in midweek, being thumped by Manchester United after an early red card (xG: MUN 5.0 – 0.5 SOU). Prior to that freak result, Saints had been a steady defensive side, allowing 1.3 xGA per game, and given the manner of their midweek defeat, I can see them shutting up shop here and prioritising defending. The model is on the fence with this game too, but a low-scoring game should be in store (55% U2.5) – 1-1.
Back the 1-1 @ 7.26/1
Hammers to pile on Fulham misery
Fulham vs West Ham
Fulham are winless in 11 league games following their 2-0 defeat to Leicester, a result that leaves them eight points from safety. Scott Parker’s side have posted some really poor underlying numbers in that period too (1.0 xGF, 1.8 xGA pg), suggesting that results aren’t likely to take a turn for the better anytime soon. West Ham remain a really dangerous team this season, having great joy on the road yet again, with their away process one of the best in the league (1.7 xGF, 1.2 xGA pg). Only Manchester City, Liverpool and Leicester have a better process when on the road, while the Hammers have played like a top eight team all season long. West Ham should win here (46%), with goals likely to follow (51% O2.5, 54% BTTS) – 1-2.
Back the 1-2 @ 10.09/1
United to follow up big win
Manchester United vs Everton
It’s fair to say that Manchester United’s win against Southampton was a huge confidence builder, with the ruthless nature of the performance likely a pleasing sight for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. They created chance after chance in that game, and while their match against Arsenal wasn’t the same, United still created the better chances and should have won the game (xG: ARS 0.9 – 1.8 MUN). While they have had issues at Old Trafford this term, their process is steady (2.1 xGF, 1.4 xGA pg). Everton bounced back well from defeat to Newcastle by beating Leeds 2-1 in midweek, with that performance (1.8 xGF) their best attacking game since early December against Burnley – according to xGF. Defensively they are far from solid though, allowing 1.5 xGA per game, so I see United winning here (62%) in a high-scoring game (52% O2.5) – 2-1.
Back the 2-1 @ 9.417/2
Spurs to get back on winning train, just
Tottenham vs West Brom
Tottenham have been shocking in their last three matches, rightly losing all three. During their three games against Liverpool, Brighton and Chelsea, Spurs have looked pathetic in attack, racking up a combined 1.2 xGF – an average of 0.4 per game. Harry Kane’s absence has understandably had a huge impact, with their attacking ideas looking non-existent without the England captain. Thankfully for Spurs though, they face a West Brom team in this one who are the worst team in the league. I have been banging that drum all season long, despite Sheffield United breaking unwanted records. The Baggies have been rock bottom of our xG table all season long, and are the league’s worst attacking side (0.84 xGF pg) and worst defensive side (2.1 xGA pg). This is therefore a good game for Tottenham, who should get the win (64%), though I think it will be a struggle given their attacking issues (51% U2.5) – 1-0.
Back the 1-0 @ 8.27/1
Foxes to edge out Wolves
Wolves vs Leicester
Wolves ended an eight-match winless run in midweek, beating Arsenal and deservedly so according to xG, but they did look idealess once again for 45 minutes of the first half. After the red card and penalty, they looked much more comfortable, but they still struggled to create non-penalty chances (0.8 non-pen xGF). Leicester bounced back from a disappointing result against Leeds, comfortably edging past Fulham 2-0 at Craven Cottage, extending their excellent away form. The Foxes have won eight of 11 on the road, and only Manchester City boast a better underlying process when playing on their travels, with Leicester a serious force on the road (1.8 xGF, 1.2 xGA pg). Defensively they do look solid, and Wolves could find it difficult to create here, meaning we should be set for a low-scoring game (59% U2.5). Leicester are taken to edge it though – 0-1.
Back the 0-1 @ 7.613/2
City to all-but end Liverpool’s title hopes
Liverpool vs Manchester City
Who would have thought that Liverpool would be coming into this huge game on the back of successive home defeats? Not me. The Reds were beaten by Brighton in midweek, deserving to lose on that occasion based on xG – not something that happens very often (xG: LIV 0.9 – 1.4 BHA). Attacking issues have arisen at Anfield for Liverpool, averaging 1.5 xGF per game in their last four at home, a process that could struggle to breach this Manchester City defence. Pep Guardiola’s side are unbeaten in 12 league games, conceding just one goal in that time and a staggering average of 0.45 xGA per game. Their attacking process is trending upwards too, averaging 2.0 xGF per game this term, and that means they are rightly the team to beat this season, and could pull away shortly. In my opinion, the only way Liverpool get something from this game is by attacking, as I expect Manchester City to score past this makeshift Reds defence, so we could be in for a high-scoring game (59% O2.5), though I see City running out winners (41%) – 1-2.
Back the 1-2 @ 10.09/1
Another clean sheet in Chelsea win
Sheffield United vs Chelsea
Sheffield United have won three of their last five league games, lifting them to within touching distance of the teams directly above them. Their comeback win against West Brom ignited hope that they could pull off the great escape, and one thing is for sure, they keep every game tight. Chelsea are yet to concede a goal under Thomas Tuchel, which isn’t a surprise given that they have conceded an average of 0.5 xGA per game in his three matches in charge. They aren’t giving up many chances at all, but they are yet to fully click in attack, averaging just 1.1 non-pen xGF per game. This could turn into another Chelsea win (56%) that is a hard-fought, low-scorer, as the Blades rarely get thumped (52% U2.5) – 0-1.
Back the 0-1 @ 7.26/1
Leeds to bounce back
Leeds vs Crystal Palace
Leeds were surprisingly poor against Everton in midweek, especially off the back of successive wins. They looked vulnerable defensively again (xG: LEE 1.4 – 1.8 EVE), something that is known at this point and should give Palace a boost here. The Eagles have won two in a row heading into this, though the latter of those two wins at Newcastle was a very fortunate victory (xG: NEW 2.4 – 0.8 CRY). Roy Hodgson’s side have been very poor on the road from an underlying numbers standpoint, allowing an average of 1.7 xGA per game while creating just 1.2 xGF per game. This looks like a decent game for Leeds to bounce back, especially with Wilfried Zaha out, with the Ivorian having contributed to 39% of Palace’s xGF this season. The model likes Leeds here (51%) – 2-1.
Back the 2-1 @ 9.28/1