We're swiftly into another full round of Premier League fixtures and Infogol's Jake Osgathorpe uses expected goals (xG) data to predict the likely winners and scorelines of each match...
"The Cottagers have drawn their last four matches, and in fact, their only loss in their last six came at Manchester City. They appear to be much more difficult to break down since the system switch, but still offer a counter-attacking threat that has to be respected. On the road, Fulham have created an average of 1.5 xGF per game."
Miserable Palace run to continue
Crystal Palace vs Leicester
Crystal Palace have been dismantled in their last two outings, losing 7-0 against Liverpool before losing 3-0 at Aston Villa, though it was the in the latter which they allowed more expected goals (xG: AVL 4.8 - 1.0 CRY). They really need to tighten up defensively if they are to stop this run of poor results. Leicester drew for the first time in the league this season, with a fair 2-2 draw with Man Utd seeing them remain in the top four. The Foxes have been excellent on their travels this season, winning six of seven and boasting the best attacking process when on the road (2.1 xGF pg). They should have no issues creating here, and the visitors are taken to win (44% LEI), though this game may not be as high-scoring as recent Palace games (56% U2.5) - 0-2.
Back the 0-2 @ 12.5
Villa to test Chelsea
Chelsea vs Aston Villa
Chelsea were lacklustre to say the least at the Emirates at the weekend, deserving to lose despite the late missed penalty swinging the xG total in their favour (xG: ARS 2.3 - 2.7 CHE). That defeat continued a worrying trend that has seen Chelsea make mincemeat of the poorer sides in the league, but struggle against the decent sides, and at this moment in time, Aston Villa fall into the latter category. Villa were exceptional against Crystal Palace, winning 3-0 despite playing half the game with 10 men. Dean Smith's team boast a process that is in fact superior to Chelsea's heading into this game (2.2 xGF, 1.1 xGA pg), suggesting they can push the Blues all the way. However, Infogol still thinks Chelsea prevail here (57% CHE) in a high-scoring game (53% O2.5, 52% BTTS) - 2-1.
Back the 2-1 @ 9.417/2
City to end Everton run
Everton vs Manchester City
Everton extended their winning run to four in the league, after edging out Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. The Toffees have thrived since a defensive switch, allowing only 0.8 non-pen xGA in their last four, though they have also struggled to create in that time (0.9 non-pen xGF pg). Manchester City made lightwork of Newcastle on Boxing Day, winning comfortably despite only a 2-0 scoreline. That game means that only one team (Leeds) has created more than 1.0 non-pen xG against City this season in the Premier League, just highlighting their defensive improvements. In attack, their 1.9 xGF per game average is some way short of their 2.7 from last season, so don't expect a blow out here. City should win (57% MCI), though I don't think we will see many goals - 0-1.
Back the 0-1 @ 9.617/2
Seagulls to get another draw
Brighton vs Arsenal
Brighton drew for the third successive game at West Ham last Sunday, with that 2-2 result a very fair scoreline (xG: WHU 1.6 - 1.5 BHA). It appears as though the Seagulls are struggling at the wrong end of the table, but their underlying data is excellent. At the Amex, while they are winless, Graham Potter's side are averaging 2.0 xGF and 0.9 xGA per game this season, so they shouldn't be underestimated. Arsenal ended a seven-match winless run by beating Chelsea at last time out, a fully deserved victory and a much improve performance. It will be interesting to see how that result affects them, as over the course of the campaign they have been poor based on xG (1.3 xGF, 1.4 xGA pg). The model thinks Brighton can get something from this game (64% BHA or Draw) - 1-1.
Back the 1-1 @ 7.26/1
No let up for Blades
Burnley vs Sheffield United
Burnley saw their four-game unbeaten run come to an end at Leeds last Sunday, but they have performed much better at Turf Moor than on their travels this term. They have averaged 1.0 xGF and 1.1 xGA per game at home, compared to 0.8 and 1.7, so they are much tougher to break down. Sheffield United remain winless and rooted to the foot of the table following a 1-0 loss against Everton, yet another defeat by a single goal margin (10 out of 13 defeats). Their underlying process doesn't give much cause for optimism that things will turnaround though, with the Blades struggling at both ends (1.1 xGF, 1.8 xGA pg). This could be another heart-breaking defeat for Chris Wilder's side, with Burnley taken to win (43% BUR) in a low-scoring game (56% U2.5) - 1-0.
Back the 1-0 @ 7.413/2
Saints to get back to winning ways
Southampton vs West Ham
Southampton were poor from an attacking stand point against Fulham, managing to create chances equating to just 0.2 xGF in a game that saw both teams cancel each other out. Saints have had plenty of joy at home this season though, shown by their underlying numbers (1.3 xGF, 1.0 xGA pg). West Ham were also held last time out, drawing 2-2 with Brighton in a closely contested match. The Hammers have seen their process decline as the season has progressed, but their numbers on the road suggest we could be in for an entertaining game (1.6 xGF, 1.5 xGA pg). The model gives the edge to Southampton in terms of winning the contest (44% SOU), though we should see goals (52% O2.5, 55% BTTS) - 2-1.
Back the 2-1 @ 9.89/1
Leeds to make it consecutive wins
West Brom vs Leeds
West Brom got their first point under Sam Allardyce last Sunday, as they went to Anfield and got a surprise point thanks to a solid second half display. They were non-existent in the first period, but were more proactive in the second. More of the same will be needed here. Leeds bounced back to winning ways with a 1-0 win over Burnley, another of the leagues lesser sides that Marcelo Biela's team have beaten. It does appear that, when playing against elite players and elite teams, Leeds get exposed defensively, but against teams they have better individuals than, they are tough to stop. I expect another stubborn Baggies performance contributing to a low-scoring game (59% U2.5), but Leeds are fancied to win (47% LEE) - 0-1.
Back the 0-1 @ 12.011/1
United to edge past Wolves
Manchester United vs Wolves
Manchester United dropped points on the road for the first time this season, as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Leicester. There were yet more defensive errors, but again some good attacking play, suggesting that they are capable of another top four finish. Wolves picked up a good point at home to Tottenham, conceding just 0.4 xGA in what was another solid defensive display. Away from Molineux though, Nuno's side have had major problems, allowing an average of 1.7 xGA per game this season. Going forward, they aren't the same threat without Raul Jimenez, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them draw a blank at Old Trafford. United are expected to win (52% MUN), though we shouldn't expect goals (62% U2.5) - 1-0.
Back the 1-0 @ 7.06/1
Unconvincing Spurs win
Tottenham vs Fulham
Tottenham are now four without a win in the Premier League, as they continue to struggle in attack. Spurs have averaged just 0.7 xGF per game in their last seven matches, managing to create just 0.4 xGF against Wolves on Sunday. They are vulnerable at home too, meaning Fulham will fancy their chances here. The Cottagers have drawn their last four matches, and in fact, their only loss in their last six came at Manchester City. They appear to be much more difficult to break down since the system switch, but still offer a counter-attacking threat that has to be respected. On the road, Fulham have created an average of 1.5 xGF per game, so I like their chances of scoring here (53% BTTS) in a high-scoring Spurs win (59% TOT) - 2-1.
Back the 2-1 @ 9.28/1
Reds to ease road worries
Newcastle vs Liverpool
Newcastle were woeful at Manchester City, being fortunate to only lose by a 2-0 scoreline (xG: MCI 3.0 - 0.3 NEW). Steve Bruce's side continue to look like a bottom half team and no more, with their process suggesting they are more likely to be dragged into a relegation battle than push for a top half finish. Liverpool's 100% home record was ended by West Brom, as Jurgen Klopp's side took their foot off the gas and were punished. The Reds have had issues on the road this term, winning just two of their seven away games, which isn't a surprise given their defensive process away from home (1.6 xGA pg). Nonetheless, expect to see a Liverpool win (64% LIV), with goals likely (57% O2.5) - 1-2.
Back the 1-2 @ 10.09/1
Crystal Palace vs Leicester: Back the 0-2 @ 12.5
Chelsea vs Aston Villa: Back the 2-1 @ 9.417/2
Everton vs Manchester City: Back the 0-1 @ 9.617/2
Brighton vs Arsenal: Back the 1-1 @ 7.26/1
Burnley vs Sheffield United: Back the 1-0 @ 7.413/2
Southampton vs West Ham: Back the 2-1 @ 9.89/1
West Brom vs Leeds: Back the 0-1 @ 12.011/1
Manchester United vs Wolves: Back the 1-0 @ 7.06/1
Tottenham vs Fulham: Back the 2-1 @ 9.28/1
Newcastle vs Liverpool: Back the 1-2 @ 10.09/1