Infogol's Steven Railston uses expected goals (xG) to predict the likely winners and scorelines of each match in Gameweek 14...
"It was another typically pragmatic Mourinho performance from Spurs, and while their attacking numbers are solid (1.6 xGF pg), they are predictably unspectacular."
Liverpool to win in London
Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
Crystal Palace were held to a draw at the London Stadium in midweek, looking the better side against West Ham (xG: WHU 0.6 - 1.3 CRY). They've now won the xG battle in three consecutive games, admirably securing a point against Tottenham in their penultimate fixture. The Eagles have tightened up their back line, conceding an average of just 1.1 xGA per game across their last five matches, and they'll be looking to continue that impressive run against Liverpool.
The Premier League champions needed a late goal to edge out Spurs on Wednesday (xG: LIV 1.1 - 1.4 TOT), bouncing back from an underwhelming draw against Fulham. While clearly not at their potent best in recent weeks, according to expected goals, Liverpool still boast the league's best attack (2.1 xGF) Unsurprisingly, the Infogol model makes them favourites (60%) and predicts this could be a low scoring game, with one side (49% BTTS 'No'), more than likely Palace, failing to find the back of the net.
Man City to succeed on South Coast
Southampton secured another respectable point at the Emirates on Wednesday (xG: ARS 0.61 - 1.04 SOU), meaning they've now been beaten just once in 11 fixtures. The Saints are just four points behind league leaders Liverpool, although expected goals (xG) suggest they are grossly overperforming. Their underlying numbers (1.2 xGF and 1.3 xGA pg) are those of a midtable side, and if they continue to operate at this level, results will gradually worsen, accurately reflecting their displays.
Manchester City seem to be on an upward curve, although most recently they failed to make a breakthrough against West Brom (xG: MCI 2.8 - 0.4 WBA). Pep Guardiola has solved their fragility in defence, though, with City now conceding an average of 1.0 xGA per game, which is the best defensive process in the league. They're also hitting first gear in attack, averaging 2.3 xGF per game going forward across their last 10 matches, and they will surely be frustrated with anything but the three points here. The Infogol model predicts goals are likely (63% O2.5) and given Southampton's superiority from set pieces that's understandable, but ultimately, City (61%) should have too much on the South Coast.
Everton to hold the Gunners
Everton vs Arsenal
After enduring a few miserable results, Everton are just five points from the top of the league following their away win against Leicester (xG: LEI 0.9 - 1.7 EVE). That result came after their impressive win against Chelsea, and this sudden upturn in form can be explained by their improved defensive numbers across their last three fixtures (1.0 xGA pg). They should be able to deliver another astute defensive display against Arsenal on Saturday, who are yet to fire this season (1.2 xGF pg).
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended his goal drought against Southampton in midweek, but worryingly, he's recorded a measly 0.2 xG/avg match this term. Arsenal have also been poor in defence (1.3 xGA pg), and the Toffees have enough attacking talent to take advantage of this. The Infogol model forecasts a tight game at Goodison (57% U2.5), although both sides are predicted to find the back of the net (49% BTTS), with the points shared.
Improving Fulham to claim point
Although Newcastle scored twice, they brutally capitulated at Elland Road and conceded five goals (xG: LEE 2.9 - 1.7 NEW). The Magpies often look rudderless after taking the lead in fixtures, going ahead only to sit back, attempting to survive waves of pressure. They've also lacked imagination in attack, averaging 1.2 xGF per game, and only the three teams in the relegation zone have created less xGF per game.
Fulham sit just above the bottom three on goal difference, but recently resembled a competent topflight side against Liverpool (xG: FUL 1.5 - 1.9 LIV). They Cottagers delivered some improved defensive performances, while still threatening in attack (1.3 xGF pg). They should be able to test Steve Bruce's side at St James' Park, and both sides are taken to find the back of the net (50% BTTS), although don't expect much more action than that, with both sides desperate not to lose this important bottom half clash.
Back the 1-1 @ 7.06/1
Seagulls to compound the Blades' misery
Brighton vs Sheffield
According to expected goals, Brighton are hugely underperforming this season, sitting in eighth in our xG table, yet actually themselves in 16th position in the Premier League. They failed to break the deadlock against Fulham in midweek (xG: FUL 1.1 - 0.8 BRI), although it is worth noting they've performed better when at home, than when on the road. Their underlying numbers from when playing at the Amex (1.8 xGF, 1.0 xGA pg) are outstanding, and now against struggling opposition, Brighton should secure a positive result.
Sheffield United have gone from bad to worse this campaign, securing just one point. Their underlying numbers (1.1 xGF, 1.8 xGA pg) have deteriorated as the season has progressed, now implying a relegation battle is looming as the New Year swings around. The Infogol mode forecasts it's unlikely there will be a plethora of goals here (56% U2.5), and considering Chris Wilder's side's attacking woes, Brighton should be able to record consecutive clean sheets.
Tottenham to bounce back against Leicester
Tottenham grew into the game against Liverpool at Anfield and Jose Mourinho expressed his frustration at the hosts' late goal in the aftermath in midweek (xG: LIV 1.1 - 1.4 TOT). It was another typically pragmatic Mourinho performance from Spurs, and while their attacking numbers are solid (1.6 xGF pg), they are predictably unspectacular. Instead, emphasis is placed upon their defensive acumen, with Tottenham conceding an average of 1.3 xGA per game this term. They've lost just once at home this season, conceding the joint fewest goals (6) in the league.
Leicester head to White Heart Lane on the back of a seriously underwhelming result. The Foxes slumped to a 2-0 defeat at home to Everton most recently (xG: LEI 0.9 - 1.7 EVE), failing to build on the win against Brighton. Leicester have notably created just 1.2 non-penalty xG per game so far, with penalties accounting for 30% of their xGF total. Consequently, they'll struggle to create against a well drilled Tottenham side, and the Infogol model calculates a likely (47% U2.5) chance this will be a low scoring affair.
Manchester United can come out on top again
Manchester United vs Leeds
Manchester United secured another win on Thursday night, beating Sheffield United 3-2 (xG: SHU 1.3 - 1.9 MUN), and since United's 6-1 loss to Tottenham, the Red Devils have actually won the most points (20) in the Premier League. Their underlying numbers (1.6 xGF, 1.0 xGA pg) from that period, particularly in defence, are certainly eye-catching, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side seem to be in relatively good shape, despite their Champions League exit.
Leeds will be high on confidence, though, heading into this game after a swashbuckling 5-2 defeat of Newcastle (xG: LEE 2.9 - 1.7 NEW). Leeds' matches have seen the most expected goals in the league this season, and Marcelo Bielsa's team are thoroughly entertaining to watch, fantastic in attack yet questionable in defence (1.8 xGF, 1.9 xGA pg). That should ensure this fixture makes for an enthralling contest, and the Infogol model calculates 62% chance there will be more than two goals. The visitors can get onto the scoresheet (59% BTTS), but United should have enough quality to win this.
Sam Allardyce to make a difference
Although West Brom secured a huge point away at Manchester City this week (xG: MCI 2.8 - 0.7 WBA), it was understandable Slaven Bilić was dismissed by the club. The Baggies underlying numbers are truly awful (0.7 xGF, 2.1 xGA) , and they're currently the worst team in the division according to expected goals. While it's impossible to quantify the impact that a new appointment can have, Sam Allardyce will be aware of the importance of making a reasonable start, especially welcoming rivals Aston Villa to the Hawthorns.
Villa couldn't find a way through Burnley's back line In midweek (xG: AVL 2.0 - 0.3 BUR), unfortunate not to win the three points. It was an excellent defensive display from Dean Smith's side, something they've consistently produced across this campaign, conceding an average of just 1.2 xGA per game. West Brom may find it hard to score, but as this a derby and Allardyce's first match at the helm, I can see the hosts looking rejuvenated. This should be a low scoring game (60% U2.5) and the points can be shared.
Dull game at Turf Moor
Burnley were fortunate to secure a point against Aston Villa this week (xG: AVL 2.0 - 0.3 BUR), extending their unbeaten run to three games. Impressively, they've now kept two consecutive clean sheets, and expected goals suggest they boast one of the league's stronger defences (1.5 xGA pg). However, Wolves have also excelled in defence since their arrival into the Premier League, and since their West Ham debacle, they've conceded an average of 1.3 xGA per game.
They secured a brilliant result at home to Chelsea on Tuesday (xG: WOL 0.6 - 1.6 CHE), and they should be hard to beat here. Considering both sides' defensive capabilities, the Infogol model has forecast a cagey game at Turf Moor (62% U2.5). Furthermore, it predicts it's unlikely for both teams to score (56% BTTS 'No') and this game could end in deadlock.
Chelsea can regain winning thread
After looking like title contenders, Chelsea suffered two disappointing losses across one week, most recently losing to Wolves (xG: WOL 0.6 - 1.6 CHE). They will feel aggrieved at that result after creating much the better chances, and they'll be eager to bounce back here against West Ham. Regardless of those recent defeats, Frank Lampard's sides underlying numbers (1.8 xGF, 0.9 xGA pg) are still outstanding. The Blues boast the second-best attack in the league according to expected goals, and West Ham (1.4 xGA pg) may struggle to contain their fluid and dynamic attack.
The Irons have won four of their last six, and while they drew against Crystal Palace in midweek, they looked sluggish and off the pace (xG: WHU 0.6 - 1.3 CRY). If they arrive at Stamford Bridge in a similar vein of form, Chelsea (65%) will take all the stopping, and the hosts can keep a clean sheet (46% BTTS 'No') on their way to regaining the winning thread.
Crystal Palace vs Liverpool: Back the 0-1 @ 9.617/2
Southampton vs Man City: Back the 1-2 @ 9.28/1
Everton vs Arsenal: Back the 1-1 @ 7.613/2
Newcastle vs Fulham: Back the 1-1 @ 7.06/1
Brighton vs Sheffield United: Back the 2-0 @ 8.27/1
Tottenham vs Leicester: Back the 2-0 @ 12.5
Manchester United vs Leeds: Back the 3-1 @ 13.5
West Brom vs Aston Villa: Back the 1-1 @ 8.07/1
Burnley vs Wolves: Back the 0-0 @ 7.26/1
Chelsea vs West Ham: Back the 2-0 @ 9.617/2