United’s away run to continue
Leicester vs Manchester United
Leicester were impressive at Tottenham last weekend (xG: TOT 1.0 – 1.9 LEI), dominating the game and getting a deserved win. However, their home form and performances this season are a cause for concern, with the Foxes winning just three of seven and posting a negative xG process (1.3 xGF, 1.4 xGA pg). United are the form team in the league, winning six of their last seven, and boasting a flawless away record. Their results on the road have been fully deserved too, as despite falling behind regularly, they continue to out-create their opponents (2.1 xGF, 1.5 xGA pg). These sides are both suspect defensively, so goals can be expected (54% BTTS), though I like United’s chances of winning here (42%) and extending their stellar away run – 1-2.
Back the 1-2 @ 10.5
Villa to win again
Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace
Aston Villa appear to have found their form again after a rough patch, winning two of their last three and keeping three clean sheets. They thumped West Brom last weekend, and while there are question marks surrounding their home form, the underlying data suggests that Dean Smith’s side have been the fifth best home side in the league (2.1 xGF, 1.3 xGA pg). Crystal Palace had a decent run going themselves before last weekend, where they were crushed 7-0 by a clinical Liverpool. Overall this season the Eagles have performed like a bottom half team that will steer clear of relegation (1.2 xGF, 1.6 xGA pg), so more of the same as last season. They will likely struggle to contain Villa here, and the hosts should get the win (49%) in a high-scoring game (52% O2.5, 54% BTTS) – 2-1.
Back the 2-1 @ 9.417/2
Fulham to make it four straight draws
Fulham vs Southampton
Anyone who has watched Fulham in recent weeks will have clearly seen improvement from their early season form, and that improvement has yielded six points from their last five games. They have won the non-pen xG battle in their last three matches, and will fancy their chances here against a Danny Ings-less Southampton. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were beaten for the second time in five games last weekend, going down 1-0 to Manchester City, again failing to create many good chances. Saints have averaged just 1.2 xGF per game this season, and only four teams have a worst attacking process in the Premier League, with Southampton being the beneficiaries of some unsustainable clinical finishing (25 goals, 16.9 xGF). Both teams are expected to score here (54%), but we like Fulham’s chances of avoiding defeat (58% FUL or Draw) – 1-1.
Back the 1-1 @ 7.26/1
Another defeat for Gunners
Arsenal vs Chelsea
Arsenal are showing no signs of turning around their torrid run of form at the moment, suffering yet another defeat at Everton last weekend to leave them 15th in the table. They have won just one in 10 in the PL, scoring four times in that time – only two from open play. At home they have lost four and drawn one of their last five, with none of those games coming against ‘big six’ opponents. Their process at the Emirates is worrying (1.3 xGF, 1.4 xGA pg) and shows they are firmly a bottom half team. Chelsea bounced back from successive defeats by easing past West Ham despite not being at their best. The Blues have improved this season, especially from a defensive stand-point, boasting the best defensive process in the league (0.9 xGA per game). They create plenty too (1.9 xGF pg), so it is hard to see past a Chelsea win (48%) in a low-scoring game – 0-2.
Back the 0-2 @ 11.010/1
City to win comfortably
Manchester City vs Newcastle
Manchester City continue to underwhelm this season, with their underlying process declining from last season. In fact, their current process (1.8 xGF, 1.0 xGA pg) is the worst of any point through Pep Guardiola’s career at City. Their attacking numbers have declined by almost 0.9 xGF per game year-on-year. Newcastle pose a test that City would usually pass with flying colours – breaking down a low-block. This season though, they have struggled in that regard, and could do so again at the Etihad. They will inevitably get the win (86%), but don’t expect a rout (54% U3.5) – 2-0.
Back the 2-0 @ 8.07/1
Fighting Blades to earn a point
Sheffield United vs Everton
Sheffield United can’t catch a break at the minute. After taking the lead with 10-men, they were denied their first win of the season by a last-gasp Brighton goal, succumbing to the mounting pressure (xG: BHA 3.0 – 0.5 SHU). That result did snap an eight-game losing streak though, and the spirit was there for all to see, so don’t be writing this Blades team off just yet. Everton have seen an upturn in results since a shift back to a back four, with four centre halves making them much more robust in the absence of key defenders. Their three most recent wins have all come against teams that were set up to have a go at them, with the Toffees playing defence first, so it will be interesting to see what approach they take here against a struggling opponent. We think Sheff Utd can get another result here (58% SHU or Draw) in a typically low-scoring game of few chances (60% U2.5) – 1-1.
Back the 1-1 @ 7.87/1
Leeds to end Burnley run
Leeds vs Burnley
Leeds drew some undeserved criticism for their defeat at Manchester United last weekend, as while they were beaten comfortably, they again created a number of good chances. The issues with Leeds’ system is that, because of their high-press and 1v1’s over the whole pitch, when they face a team that have better individuals, they do get exposed. For numbers to support this: 57% of Leeds’ xGA this season has come from their five games against last seasons top six. This game will be completely different. Burnley are in great form at the moment, winning 11 points from their last six games after a 2-1 win over Wolves. Away from home though they have been vulnerable this season, allowing 1.7 xGA per game, and they will likely face a firing squad at Elland Road, in what will be a game of attack vs defence. I think Leeds can prevail (44%) here, though their weaknesses from set-pieces could lend itself to Burnley staying in the game (54% BTTS) – 2-1.
Back the 2-1 @ 8.88/1
Seagulls and Hammers to share another draw
West Ham vs Brighton
West Ham have really struggled to create in recent weeks, mustering just 0.6 xGF against both Crystal Palace and Chelsea. That is a stark contrast to what they were delivering earlier in the season (1.7 xGF pg). In fact, their underlying process has deteriorated as the season has progressed, with their once positive xGD now marginally negative. Issues remain at home too, where they allow plenty of good chances (1.4 xGF, 1.5 xGA pg). Brighton continue to be a frustrating team, playing expectionally well in games, creating chances and yet failing to get points on the board. That has seemed to be the case throughout Graham Potter’s tenure, where based on underlying numbers, they have been a top half team. Just like last season, the results will come for the Seagulls, especially if they maintain their process (1.6 xGF, 1.2 xGA pg). They can avoid defeat here (59% BHA or Draw), in a game which sees both teams net (55% BTTS) – 1-1.
Back the 1-1 @ 7.26/1
No let up for Big Sam
Liverpool vs West Brom
Liverpool were ruthless against Crystal Palace last weekend, running out 7-0 winners. That result didn’t just keep them four points clear at the top, but it also means they now have the best goal difference in the league. Their enviable record of being unbeaten in 65 home league games began after a defeat to Crystal Palace, who were managed at the time by Sam Allardyce, a nice quirk as his new team head to fortress Anfield. The Reds have racked up incredible underlying numbers at home this term (2.5 xGF, 1.0 xGA pg) on their way to a 100% record. West Brom were thrashed 3-0 by Aston Villa in Big Sam’s debut game in charge, not helped by being reduced to 10-men early. They managed just one shot equating to 0.04 xGF in that game, and there is no reason to think it will be any different in this game from an attacking stand-point. However, Allardyce has now had a full week to work with his new players, so I expect them to be somewhat tighter at the back. Liverpool will win (81%) this comfortably, though don’t expect another seven-goal haul (62% U3.5) – 2-0.
Back the 2-0 @ 7.613/2
Stuttering Spurs to drop more points
Wolves vs Tottenham
Wolves continue to be hit and miss this season, but it is clear that they desperately miss their talismanic striker Raul Jimenez. They do continue to look solid defensively, but they don’t offer the same attacking threat without the Mexican. Having said that they remain a strong team that is difficult to play against at Molineux (1.3 xGF, 1.2 xGA pg). Tottenham are winless in three heading to the West Midlands, following a really poor performance at home to Leicester (xG: TOT 1.0 – 1.9 LEI). They have an issue in attack do Spurs, as they have become so reliant on the counter-attack to create chances and score goals that they have become easy to contain. Limit the space for Harry Kane and the counter, and they look idealess. They didn’t earlier in the season, averaging 2.2 xGF per game through eight, but they haven’t been able to recapture that form. I expect this to be a tightly contested game, with both teams boasting stubborn defensive units, so a low-scorer looks likely (64% U2.5). Wolves can get a result though (68% WOL or Draw) – 1-1.
Back the 1-1 @ 6.86/1