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Liverpool vs Manchester City is the standout fixture on a tantalising weekend of Premier League action. Jones Knows marks your card.
Aston Villa vs Chelsea
Chelsea to win without conceding at 2/1 with Sky Bet? This one stinks of best-bet-of-the-weekend material.
On the subject of stenches, we must talk about Aston Villa’s tame attack. Apparently, doctors are advising people with insomnia to get a season ticket at Villa Park.
It was truly a pitiful attacking performance at Nottingham Forest – a side that had previously lost their last five Premier League games. Villa’s expected goals output of 0.69 was the eighth time in their last 10 matches that they’ve posted a tally lower than one, which points to a clear issue in their ability to create good quality chances. The eye test proves that too with Phillipe Coutinho, Ollie Watkins and Emi Buendia all looking lost and out of ideas.
On the basis of the metrics, they should have been beaten to nil in both their meetings with traditional top-six teams this season, creating 0.27 from four shots vs Manchester City and 0.45 from four shots vs Arsenal. Defensively they look pretty secure in their shape but Chelsea arrive in confident and flowing fashion under their new boss Graham Potter, who is getting his message across earlier than expected.
Chelsea have won four successive games in all competitions for the first time since March and have kept three successive clean sheets for the first time since February. Make that four please, Graham.
SCORE PREDICTION: 0-2
Leeds vs Arsenal
We haven’t got much evidence to work with but Leeds’ games against the top-six at Elland Road should be fun under Jesse Marsch. His team are playing with a clear identity now. It’s a brave style of football that leaves them woefully exposed if smart and intricate teams break their press but that’s what you get with risk-reward type of football.
Arsenal are without question a team capable of exploiting that, yet, as Leeds showed in their 3-0 win against Chelsea earlier this season, their attacking patterns do lead to big chances being created. So, a whacky game could be on the cards and those looking to back the over total goals line should fill their boots.
Both teams to score and over 3.5 goals at 2/1 with Sky Bet should give you a good run.
SCORE PREDICTION: 2-4
Manchester United vs Newcastle
My gut is telling me that Manchester United are a touch of value here at around Evens with Sky Bet, but I’m staying clear of getting financially invested in Newcastle matches. They confuse me as I’m convinced they are overrated by the markets, especially in attack, but have just scored nine goals in their last two games. So, my brain is frazzled.
Rest assured if they can grab three points here in a dominant showing I will have to revise my opinion.
One area they will be confident of finding joy from will be from set-pieces. No team has posted more shots (55, 14 more than any other team) and created a higher expected goals figure (5.01) from set-pieces this season than Newcastle. Meanwhile, Man Utd have conceded the third most shots from set-piece situations this season and looked all at sea in the closing stages at Goodison Park last weekend when Everton went direct.
This makes Dan Burn (28/1), Fabian Schar (11/1) and Sven Botman (16/1) all runners in the anytime goalscorer market but a more all-encompassing way of getting the Newcastle set-piece angle onside is to back chief creator Kieran Trippier to bag an assist at 7/2 with Sky Bet. He has produced the most passes into the opposition box of any player in the Premier League this season and it was surprising to find out his assist for Bruno Guimaraes last weekend was his first since joining Newcastle. Another one could be on the way.
SCORE PREDICTION: 2-1
Southampton vs West Ham
There is a frenzy coming. The subject will be Lucas Paqueta, who is going to take the Premier League by storm over the next six weeks. I had the pleasure of watching him up close on Sunday in West Ham’s win over Fulham and it’s easy to see why such excitement was caused when the Hammers secured his unlikely signature. Paqueta was a class apart in the 3-1 win over Fulham, linking up with Gianluca Scamacca in devastating fashion. The Brazilian created three chances for his striker, who scored one when he probably should have finished all three.
“If you are any centre forward you want to play with Paqueta,” gushed David Moyes afterwards.
Playing in a free role in this West Ham side that has plenty of protection for the defence is going to suit a player of such silk and savviness. Yet, the markets haven’t quite given him the respect he deserves, so we must take advantage while we can, starting in this clash where West Ham are taken to make it three Premier League wins on the spin. They will be too streetwise and carry too much threat for a meandering Saints.
But my eyes have been drawn to the 9/2 with Sky Bet on Paqueta registering another assist. I’ll be surprised if this lad doesn’t get over seven assists come the end of the season judging by the freedom he’s given and his creative touch, so these current prices are worth jumping on while they last. Scamacca to score another goal assisted by Paqueta is also overpriced at 14/1 with Sky Bet.
Just for reference, Sky Bet pay out on an assist which is recorded by Fantasy Football rather than Opta. For any bets involving assists, the following rule will be applied: “An Assist is defined as the final pass or pass-come-shot leading to the recipient of the ball scoring a goal. It also includes the following actions: Penalty won; Attempt saved; Shot hit woodwork, rebound scored; Instigating an own goal through a shot/pass.”
SCORE PREDICTION: 0-2
Liverpool vs Manchester City
Being able to get 3/1 with Sky Bet on Liverpool in a home match looks like one of those ridiculous bookmaker sign up offers – but this is the reality of their situation. This is Liverpool’s worst start to a Premier League season under Jurgen Klopp and they have already taken 14 points fewer than this stage in their 19/20 title winning campaign.
That said, Anfield with an underdog mentality is a dangerous place no matter the opposition. No team has won there in the Premier League for 27 games. Their attacking metrics also still suggest Klopp’s men are potentially in for two goals in this game so City may have to score three to win. It makes a pro-Liverpool result look a sensible strategy at the prices.
Liverpool have scored at least twice in each of their last four meetings with Manchester City in all competitions – no team has ever scored two or more goals in five consecutive games against a side managed by Pep Guardiola before.
Obviously since adding Erling Haaland, City do look jaw-droppingly ruthless in attack but when a quality counter-attack opposition team gets it right against them the balance of their defensive game does make them vulnerable to conceding. In games against Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Manchester United this season they have shipped eight goals.
That makes me uneasy if I’m going to back them at 4/5 with Sky Bet for that away win. I still think a draw will be seen as a good result by Guardiola at this stage of the season and that has been the result in three of the last four Premier League meetings. In fact, since Guardiola took charge of Manchester City, the aggregate score in the 17 meetings between the teams reads Liverpool 28-30 Manchester City. Historically there is little between the two.
The game to end 1-1, 2-2 or 3-3 at 7/2 with Sky Bet looks quite an attractive play.
SCORE PREDICTION: 2-2