Premier League Predictions: From the title race to a top-four battle. Liverpool hopefull as Manchester United feeling the pressure
Manchester United’s lack of goals makes them vulnerable vs Wolves | Forest to nick point at Chelsea, Leeds to lose
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From the cusp of the title race to a top-four battle. Are Manchester United feeling the pressure? Wolves may make it awkward for them again, says Jones Knows as he takes aim at the weekend’s card.
Any winners for Jones Knows last week?
Trent Alexander-Arnold 2+ shots – 2/1
Trent Alexander-Arnold 1+ shot from outside the box – 11/4
Willian 3+ shots – 2/1
Everton double chance vs Brighton – 9/4
Gibbs-White to score in a Forest win – 6/1
Over 2.5 goals in Fulham vs Leicester – 4/5
Under 3.5 goals in Man City vs Leeds – 10/11
Leeds vs Newcastle, Saturday 12.30pm
Newcastle remain the corner kings in the Premier League – they are now up to 243 corners for the season – that’s 21 more than Manchester City.
There is significant juice in their corner lines here when you not only factor in their red-hot data but also the fact they are taking on a Sam Allardyce-managed team. Leeds will defend deep and in numbers with a focus on soaking up pressure.
That style of football leads to plenty of match scenarios where corners can be won down the channels. In his last 77 games as a manager, Allardyce’s teams are shipping 6.1 corners a game. If you correlate that over a season, it puts that statistic as the third highest in the league for corners conceded. This is where the value comes from in the current prices as it is being priced up based on Leeds’ data being managed by Jesse Marsch and Javi Gracia where they have conceded the sixth-fewest corners this season at an average of just 4.6 per game. That figure will spike under Allardyce – and we even saw signs of it last week at Man City, where they shipped 10 corners.
Newcastle have won 43 corners in their last four matches, at a whopping rate of 10.75 per match, yet we can back them to win just six or more in this one at 4/5 with Sky Bet. I have that closer to 1/4, so it’s a huge edge. Of course, the higher lines are also worth an interest with nine or more at 4/1 looking very large considering the Toon have cleared it in their last four fixtures.
SCORE PREDICTION: 0-2
Aston Villa vs Tottenham, Saturday 3pm –
Aston Villa have won each of their last five Premier League games at Villa Park, all without conceding. Included in that run was a 3-0 dismantling of Newcastle, who responded to that defeat by thrashing Tottenham 6-1 – on a strict form-line the case for a Villa win at 6/5 with Sky Bet looks strong, although unfortunately things are rarely that cut and shut in the Premier League.
Ryan Mason will stick to a winning formula in terms of strategy following their gritty 1-0 win over Crystal Palace and that may lead to a risk-averse kind of game, as Spurs were more defensively sound but did lack imagination in forward areas.
One area they’ll look to exploit is the Aston Villa high line. Heung-min Son has been pushed more central since Antonio Conte departed and has looked more like himself, scoring four times in his last six appearances. Son is one of the best around at timing his runs to scoot clear of defenders so he’ll be revelling in taking on Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa. The 10/1 with Sky Bet first goalscorer price about Son looks generous.
SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1
Chelsea vs Nottingham Forest, Saturday 3pm –
Playing away at Stamford Bridge isn’t a daunting experience anymore. It’s a bit like a child visiting Santa’s grotto – there are nerves about meeting the big man, but once you get there it’s all very friendly and accommodating, usually with presents involved.
Nottingham Forest will fancy the challenge despite the markets making Chelsea the 1/2 favourites with Sky Bet. Remember, this is a team possessing a home record that has seen them lose to Southampton, draw with Everton and only scrape past Leeds 1-0.
Chelsea’s potential firepower – if they hit a good day – does frighten me, though, so my confidence on a Forest-based bet in the outright is unappealing.
However, Chelsea have failed to keep a clean sheet in all seven games since Frank Lampard took charge and there have been signs of life in the way Forest are attacking so I’m happy to invest in a Forest goals angle.
Steve Cooper’s side didn’t enjoy much territory in their win over Southampton but they attacked with great ruthlessness and quality when the game opened up in their favour. Both teams to score at 10/11 with Sky Bet makes sense and yet again the price on Morgan Gibbs-White scoring at 7/1 is like a light drawing a moth to a flame – with a happier outcome, hopefully! He’s now the designated penalty-taker and relishes big moments in matches. He might just fire them to safety.
SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1
Crystal Palace vs Bournemouth, Saturday 3pm
Relegation fears erased. The sun has his hat on. This has the ingredients for an end-of-season goal bonanza.
The starting point for those looking for an angle should be goals, with 4/5 with Sky Bet on over 2.5 rating as very fair. Bournemouth’s last five matches are averaging 3.8 goals per-90 with four of those seeing over 3.5 goals land, while Palace’s front four are always capable of spiking a game into a frenzy as seen by scorelines like 1-5 and 4-3 since Roy Hodgson returned and put an arm around his talented crop.
Expect set-pieces to cause issues for both defences, too. Bournemouth’s problems on that front are well documented having conceded 21 goals from such situations this season – six more than any other team.
Palace aren’t faring much better in that regard, either, having conceded nine goals from corners this season – only Bournemouth (16) and Chelsea have shipped more. Importantly, five of those goals have come with Hodgson in charge – and they looked very ropey last weekend at Tottenham where Cristian Romero hit the crossbar following a set-piece situation.
Head to the shots and goals market to take your pick of options. Marc Guehi to have at least one shot at 11/8 with Sky Bet and Marcos Senesi to score at 12/1 look good to me.
SCORE PREDICTION: 2-2
Manchester United vs Wolves, Saturday 3pm –
Goals flowed like they have never flowed before last weekend in the Premier League but don’t be lured in by short-termism. This game looks one to oppose goals.
Manchester United are crawling towards their goal of a top-four finish, very much playing in job-done mode rather than the free-flowing football we’re accustomed to seeing at this time of the season. And with United’s recent malaise in front of goal, the case for a low-scoring encounter is an easy one to make with the league’s lowest scorers Wolves in town.
Erik ten Hag’s men have scored just 14 goals in their last 14 matches across all competitions, and eight of their last nine matches in the Premier League have fallen under the 2.5 goals line with just 1.5 total match goals scored per game.
The goal-shy nature of Wolves’ games has also maintained under Julen Lopetegui – in fact, since the start of the 2020/21 season Wolves have averaged less than a goal every game, scoring just 104 goals in 111 Premier League matches.
The market may have got the goal expectancy wrong here, with 5/4 with Sky Bet available on the game falling under the 2.5 goal line. Another United wobble could be on the cards.
SCORE PREDICTION: 0-0
Southampton vs Fulham, Saturday 3pm –
Southampton’s 11-year spell at the top table will end if they fail to win here, so expect much of the same as we saw against Nottingham Forest on Monday. Lots of endeavour and energy in going to search for goals but a lack of knowhow and ruthlessness about how to deliver in both boxes at key moments in the match.
With this type of match scenario, Fulham are likely to see lots of attacking situations drop their way and they arrive in confident mood having put five past Leicester on Monday.
Willian, in flying form, did us a turn by delivering three shots at 2/1 and scored twice in that rout – and he remains an option across the shots and goals market with the prices being offered by Sky Bet. The 7/2 for him to score in what should be a goal-heavy game looks a profitable angle to exploit.
Image:Willian is a 7/2 shot to score vs Saints
SCORE PREDICTION: 1-3
Brentford vs West Ham, Sunday 2pm
West Ham’s midfield has proved the catalyst for their charge up the table with Declan Rice and Lucas Paqueta providing the quality and passing ability alongside Tomas Soucek, who is getting back to his best in terms of battering ram midfield play and joining in with the direct attacking. He has played every minute of West Ham’s last five Premier League games, registering 10 shots to an expected goals tally of 0.87.
Image:Tomas Soucek fires West Ham ahead at Selhurst Park
That has equated to a goal against Crystal Palace and almost another against Manchester United last weekend, when an offside flag denied him. He is a serious threat when West Ham are functioning, especially from set-pieces, so the 25/1 with Sky Bet on him opening the scoring does seem a little generous in what should be a very close encounter with the Bees.
SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1
Everton vs Manchester City, Sunday 2pm, live on Sky Sports –
Is this the moment the title takes a twist?
Ultimately it’s hard to see Pep Guardiola’s machine malfunctioning under pressure from the Goodison Park crowd. Been there, done it. Guardiola has won 14 of 15 games in management against Sean Dyche, which says to me his style of football finds a way to break the famous Dyche block. With Real Madrid on the horizon and the big games ramping up, a one-goal margin of victory will do just fine for Guardiola.
There is a bet I like, though, that does involve Everton getting a result. The edge is just too much to ignore. One way of turning the screw a little to get a chunkier price on Everton being able to frustrate the title chasers is to back Jordan Pickford to be carded and Everton to avoid defeat using the BuildABet tool that gives you a 28/1 shot with Sky Bet.
Image:Anthony Taylor is strict when it comes to timewasting
Anthony Taylor is the strictest referee when it comes to time wasting in the Premier League – he shows no patience for it. He has shown 14 yellow cards for that offence this season – the most of any referee – with nine of those for goalkeepers. That’s six more than any other Premier League referee has produced for goalkeepers wasting time. He even booked Ederson after just 36 minutes in Manchester City’s win at The Emirates. He’ll be keeping a close eye on Pickford from those restarts.
SCORE PREDICTION: 0-1
Arsenal vs Brighton, Sunday 4.30pm
There is a time and a place to invest in Brighton. This is it.
Roberto De Zerbi’s side may have dropped their standards slightly in the freakish defeat to Everton, but the longer-term picture implies that they have the style of football to be more than competitive for this trip to the title challengers.
Brighton’s recent record against Arsenal, Man City, Spurs, Man Utd, Newcastle, Chelsea and Liverpool is a simple way of constructing this argument.
In their last 18 matches across all competitions against those opponents, Brighton have won 10 of those fixtures, winning the aggregate score 31-22 while also winning the expected goals battle 24.74-22.30. That is a phenomenal set of results for a team outside the so-called elite.
Image:Roberto De Zerbi has added his own ideas to the Brighton success story
They have also won three of their last four visits to the Emirates Stadium in all competitions. And Arsenal remain vulnerable with their dogged pursuit of the title likely to end in disappointment.
At Newcastle they were brave and determined to stand up in a bearpit atmosphere, but they were fortunate to emerge with a clean sheet with the Toon creating 1.32-worth of expected goals, hitting the woodwork twice and forcing Aaron Ramsdale to make five saves. Arsenal are still conceding 1.8 goals per-game without William Saliba, and Brighton are very capable of keeping up with that average.
We could have a Premier League classic on our hands here if there is an early goal – and I’ll be taking Brighton on the double chance (to win or draw) at 11/10 with Sky Bet, with the Brighton win and over 3.5 goals also a runner at 9/1.
SCORE PREDICTION: 2-3
Leicester vs Liverpool, Monday 8pm, live on Sky Sports
It is seven years to the day since Leicester played the final game of their 2015/16 Premier League title-winning season. They are on the verge of becoming only the second Premier League title winner to be subsequently relegated – a fate which previously befell 1994/5 champions Blackburn. But with James Maddison and Harvey Barnes there remains hope – two genuine top-six players slumming it in a relegation battle. It’s obvious where the problem lies. Leicester have no clean sheet in their last 20 Premier League games – they are the only team in Europe’s major leagues not to keep a clean sheet since the World Cup.
And now Liverpool come a-knocking, with a top-four finish now in their sights and boasting six wins in a row.
It’s a game that screams goals but the market is aligned with that, so we’ll head to the goalscorer market.
Trent Alexander-Arnold came close to delivering our best bet last weekend of scoring at 9/1, having a crisp drive tipped away by David Raya with one of three shots from his new hybrid position. He is worth following along with Ibrahim Konate (12/1) and Virgil van Dijk (7/1) to score anytime. No team have scored more from set-pieces than Jurgen Klopp’s men (16) – and Leicester have a tendency to crumble under direct pressure in their box.
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