Fresh from his featured 7/1 winner in midweek, our betting guru Jones Knows wants to back West Ham to get a result at home to Chelsea on Saturday.
West Ham vs Chelsea, Saturday 12.30pm
Chelsea’s chance creation numbers are enough of a negative from the past two games to put me off backing them in this one at odds-on. They’ve averaged about 1.2 non-penalty expected goals per game over the last 180 minutes of football against Manchester United and Watford. That’s a little south of their usual 1.7 average under Thomas Tuchel.
Also, when you thrown in their clear overperformance in defence in relation to their expected goals data, it certainly opens the door for a consistently dangerous attack like West Ham to trouble the scorers. That makes the 4/5 on both teams scoring very appealing. The Hammers have scored in 21 of their last 24 matches across all competitions and 63 per cent of their games since the start of last season has seen both teams score – the second highest strike rate in the Premier League.
This might turn into a frustrating afternoon for Tuchel’s men in forward areas with West Ham happy to defend in a low block and hit in their usual lightning style on the break. It’s a tactic that works just fine for David Moyes. He can get a result and dent Chelsea’s title bid.
SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1
BETTING ANGLE: Both teams to score (4/5 with Sky Bet)
Midweek winners for Jones Knows:
- 7/1 treble: 25+ shots at Newcastle, Brighton to win or draw & 40+ booking points at Wolves
- Under 30 booking points in Man Utd vs Arsenal: 11/4
- West Ham 1-1 Brighton: 8/1
- Hakim Ziyech to score (each-way): 5/1
- Wolves to draw with Burnley: 5/2
Newcastle vs Burnley, Saturday 3pm
Never have a team with seven or fewer points after 14 games avoided relegation from the Premier League. It might just be ‘one of those seasons’ for the Toon Army, judging by a 1-1 draw with Norwich earned despite Ciaran Clark’s decision-making. Newcastle looked solid enough with 10 men until Teemu Pukki’s outstanding finish but, for the first time, their relegation odds – 4/7 with Sky Bet – look fair enough to me. Eddie Howe has a massive job on his hands.
Burnley are usually very hard to beat in these ‘six-pointer’ scenarios. In the last three seasons in 28 games against teams that finished that season in the bottom five, Burnley have lost just three of those games, winning 16 at a healthy strike rate of 57 per cent. Two of those defeats can be excused, too, as a 4-2 reverse at Fulham came early in the season and the 1-0 loss at Sheffield United at the end of last season was very much a dead rubber. When it matters, Burnley can be relied upon to deliver in a relegation scrap.
That experience and know-how in the dressing room makes the away win very appealing at 21/10 with Sky Bet.
There is also a spot of value in the goalscorer markets to be seized upon, with Jonjo Shelvey looking revitalised and trusted to be a key player since Eddie Howe came through the door. He’s had seven shots on goal in his three appearances under Howe, striking the bar at Arsenal and whipping one just over the bar in the early stages of the draw with Norwich. Shelvey is likely to be on free-kicks, too, so the 7/1 anytime quotes significantly underrate his chances of finding the net.
SCORE PREDICTION: 1-2
BETTING ANGLE: Jonjo Shelvey to score anytime (7/1 with Sky Bet)
Southampton vs Brighton, Saturday 3pm
Two teams I’d pay money to watch but two teams I don’t trust in front of goal, Saints and Brighton are both in the bottom four for conversion rates this season and only Wolves and Norwich have scored fewer goals (13). The under 2.5 goals line has been well found in the market, though, at 4/6 with Sky Bet – which tempers my enthusiasm to get involved on the goals angle.
When a game is likely to go under the goal line my eyes are always drawn to the under cards lines, too. A lack of goals usually means less chance for chaos and counter-attacks and a knock-on effect for cards. Referee Anthony Taylor is a sensible decision-maker in the middle and doesn’t go digging into his pocket for no reason. The 11/10 with Sky Bet for under 40 booking points looks a decent value play.
SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1
BETTING ANGLE: Under 40 booking points (11/10 with Sky Bet)
Wolves vs Liverpool, Saturday 3pm
Liverpool to win without conceding stands out like a sore thumb here at 6/4 with Sky Bet. When Liverpool win, they win to nil. And when Wolves lose, they lose without conceding.
Eight of Liverpool’s nine wins in the Premier League this season have been achieved with a clean sheet. Everton broke that run in the midweek 4-1 but created little in the way of high probability chances other than Demarai Gray’s goal. Meanwhile, all five of Wolves’ defeats this season have come without them scoring in the match.
To put it simply, Wolves aren’t scoring or creating many big opportunities in the final third.
Despite Bruno Lage overseeing a positive start to his reign Wolves have scored the third fewest in the division, but it’s their expected goals numbers that are a greater area of concern. In their last four fixtures against Crystal Palace, West Ham, Norwich and Burnley, Lage’s team have posted a total expected goals figure of just 2.29 – the lowest of any side in the Premier League for that period. When you factor in the level of opposition, it’s actually a laughable record.
The Reds have beaten Wolves to nil in five of the last six Premier League meetings. There is a fair chance of adding another one to the list.
SCORE PREDICTION: 0-2
BETTING ANGLE: Liverpool to win to nil (6/4 with Sky Bet)
Watford vs Manchester City, Saturday 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports
This visit from the champions is the final game of a run of five successive games for Watford against last season’s top eight. There are more important challenges on the horizon for Claudio Ranieri than this encounter. In saying that, the Italian has won eight of his nine Premier League games as a manager against Manchester City, drawing the other.
That quirky stat has had no impact on the market though with City 1/7 with Sky Bet to record an away win. Yes, they’ll win, but we don’t need to be getting involved in those types of markets.
My main betting attack on the match will centre around the performance of the sensational Joao Cancelo.
He is fast becoming City’s most important player in terms of chance creation – his link play with his teammates is seriously impressive and results in the full-back enjoying plenty of space to work with in the final third.
And once he gets into these dangerous positions, he’s happy to fire shots at goal, posting 18 shots on goal in his last nine appearances in all competitions. I’d expect him to go close to keeping up that average in this game where City will be dominating territory for the majority. The 6/5 for him to have a shot on target makes plenty of appeal.
SCORE PREDICTION: 0-3
Leeds vs Brentford, Sunday 2pm
The goals and entertainment factor may have dried up at Leeds this season but Marcelo Bielsa is still getting a tune out of his troops in terms of their physicality. When that stops, then Leeds will have a problem with their manager. Although Leeds’ distance covered per game has dipped slightly, they are still amongst the league’s better running sides.
As for sprints, they are fractionally ahead this season compared to last. That effort was on show in the win over Palace. It wasn’t vintage Leeds in terms of the quality of their attacks, but they made life very uncomfortable for the visitors.
It will be more of the same in this one where chances might be easier to come by. Brentford’s defensive output is on the slide. Since Alvaro Fernandez replaced the injured David Raya, only Everton and Manchester United have a greater expected goals against figure than Brentford. Home win.
SCORE PREDICTION: 1-0
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace, Sunday 2pm
Manchester United needed a better manager. And they’ve got one. Although performances haven’t exactly rocketed, United have taken two wins and a draw at Chelsea since removing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the boss. I’m expecting them to go up another level now Ralf Rangnick can get his hands on United’s gifted array of attacking players.
He can make an instant impact despite only having a few hours with his troops before this one.
A fast start is expected. They are playing against the perfect opposition in that regard. Palace have failed to score in 11 of their 14 first halves this season and are missing the influence of Joachim Andersen and the energy of James McArthur in midfield. Against Aston Villa and especially against Leeds, Patrick Vieira’s side dropped their levels from what we’ve become accustomed to this season. Anderson’s ability to push higher up the pitch has been missed.
The opportunity is there for United to put their stamp on the match in the opening 45 minutes. Odds-against quotes with Sky Bet for them to be leading at the break are worth consideration.
SCORE PREDICTION: 2-0
Tottenham vs Norwich, Sunday 2pm
Tottenham are unbeaten in three Premier League games since Antonio Conte took over, winning home games with Leeds and Brentford. I was impressed with them on Thursday against the Bees, who can be a tricky team to overcome. Spurs brushed them aside while posting an expected goals figure of 2.24.
If Conte’s team can hit those performance levels, then Norwich stand little chance of leaving with any points.
Dean Smith’s team were quite frankly appalling at Newcastle in midweek.
They looked clueless and significantly lacking in quality when tasked with scoring against what is officially the worst defence in the Premier League – a defence that was playing with 10 men. Teemu Pukki’s stunning finish got them out of jail. It’s going to be a long, hard winter for Norwich based on that showing, and the 11/10 with Sky Bet for them to finish bottom won’t be around for long with fixtures against Manchester United, West Ham and Arsenal on the horizon. This could be the start of a losing run.
SCORE PREDICTION: 2-0
BETTING ANGLE: Tottenham to win to nil (6/5 with Sky Bet)
Aston Villa vs Leicester, Sunday 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
It’s really difficult to seriously fancy Leicester in any Premier League match given the way Brendan Rodgers is seemingly neglecting their huge defensive issues. They rank near the bottom in all the main defensive categories. Only Newcastle have faced more shots (227) and only Norwich have faced more shots on target (75). They have not kept a clean sheet in their last 13 Premier League games, conceding 25 goals during that period. It’s a run which is their longest without a clean sheet since 2002.
Such abysmal numbers are putting a huge amount of pressure on the Leicester attack to score at least two goals to get a result in a match. And, judging by what we’ve seen from Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa at the back, they will make it very tough for Jamie Vardy and co.
Set-pieces look an area of strength under Gerrard – and an obvious negative for Leicester. Another failure to defend a corner at Southampton resulted in their seventh goal being shipped via that route this season. In Tyrone Mings, Villa possess a player with great authority and presence in the opposition area. And more importantly, his prowess isn’t really mirrored in the market. He’s had six efforts on goal since Gerrard took over, scoring in the 2-0 win over Brighton. All his shots and goals prices are worth a look, but the standout is the 11/2 with Sky Bet for him to have a headed shot on target.
SCORE PREDICTION: 2-1
Everton vs Arsenal, 8pm, live on Sky Sports
The time for talking is over. Rafa Benitez needs a reaction. He needs a performance.
Everton have not won in their last eight Premier League games, since a 2-0 win vs Norwich in September. They have only once gone nine successive Premier League games without a win. Benitez can have little complaints about results either based on the key performance data. In those eight games, Everton have recorded the division’s worst expected goals against figures with 2.10 goals conceded per 90 minutes. It’s relegation form, but the fact they faced Manchester City, Liverpool and West Ham during that set of fixtures – added to their injury problems – perhaps gives Benitez a little bit of a pass in terms of his job security.
It’s hard to see Everton finding a way through the Arsenal defence in this one. Despite shipping seven goals in their last two away games, Arsenal’s overall defensive performances against teams outside the ‘big six’ have been impressive. Newcastle, Leicester, Watford, Brighton, Leeds and Burnley all failed to score – and Everton, who remain without Dominic Calvert-Lewin, could go the same way. It could be time for Big Dunc to save the day.
SCORE PREDICTION: 0-1
BETTING ANGLE: Arsenal to win to nil (11/4 with Sky Bet)