There are some huge games in Gameweek 24 of the Premier League, and Sporting Life's Jake Osgathorpe once again uses Infogol's expected goals (xG) model to predict the likely winners and scorelines of each match...
"Ten of those wins have come in the league, as they have ascended to the top of the table. Their process in that ten-game winning streak has been astonishing, averaging 2.3 xGF and 0.5 xGA per game, so they will take some stopping here."
Reds to bounce back
Leicester vs Liverpool
Leicester were held by Wolves last weekend, but remain third in the table. The Foxes have been a much better team away from home this season, winning just five of 11 at the King Power, and possess the 10th best xG process when isolating home games this season (1.5 xGF, 1.3 xGA pg). Liverpool were thumped by a relentless Manchester City last weekend, their third straight defeat at Anfield. However, their best football as come on the road of late, with comfortable wins over Tottenham and West Ham still fresh in the memory. In fact, only Man City have a better underlying process away from home than Liverpool (1.9 xGF, 1.2 xGA pg). The Reds can bounce back here (43%) in a high-scoring game (53% O2.5, 56% BTTS) - 1-2.
A dull draw at Selhurst
Crystal Palace vs Burnley
Crystal Palace looked woeful against Leeds on Monday, barely threatening Leeds even after going behind. That came after two wins in which they weren't much better, with their attacking process a serious cause for concern (1.0 xGF pg), especially in Wilfried Zaha's absence. Burnley were unfortunate not to beat Brighton last weekend, as they put in their best attacking display of the campaign without getting the three points (xG: BUR 2.1 - 0.6 BHA). The Clarets though, have been extremely poor in attack this season, especially on the road, where they have averaged 0.8 xGF per game. A low-scoring game is expected (58% U2.5), with the model unable to split the two - 1-1.
City to register 11th straight PL win
Manchester City vs Tottenham
Manchester City did something in midweek that no English top-flight club has managed in history, as their FA Cup win over Swansea was their 15th straight victory in all competitions. Ten of those wins have come in the league, as they have ascended to the top of the table. Their process in that ten-game winning streak has been astonishing, averaging 2.3 xGF and 0.5 xGA per game, so they will take some stopping here. Tottenham have won just two of their last six league games, against Sheffield United and West Brom, as their top four charge is stalling. Jose Mourinho's side sit 8th heading into this game, and that is a fair assessment of their performances to date. Away from home they do create chances (1.5 xGF pg), but they are vulnerable defensively (1.5 xGA pg), despite their actual total suggesting otherwise (9 goals conceded in 10 games). They should be outclassed here, with City set to register another win (70%), but Spurs can get on the scoresheet (57% BTTS) - 2-1.
All square at Amex
Brighton vs Aston Villa
Brighton extended their unbeaten run in the league to five games with a fortunate 1-1 draw at Burnley last weekend. That was their worst defensive performance since defeat at the Etihad, with the Clarets showing that this Brighton defence is gettable despite recent impressive displays. Believe it or not, only Manchester City have a better home process than Brighton this season - despite the Seagulls winning just one game at the Amex (2.0 xGF, 1.0 xGA pg). Aston Villa's wins over Arsenal and Southampton showed that they could win in different ways, with those two being hard fought, ground out victories. However, this game is likely to see them revert back to their entertaining selves, with Villa's away process perfectly demonstrating that chances are prevalent when they travel (1.7 xGF, 1.5 xGA pg). BTTS is the favourite according to the model (51%), though Under 2.5 goals is also favoured (54%) in a close game - 1-1.
Goalless at St. Mary's
Southampton vs Wolves
Southampton have lost five straight league games heading into this game, conceding 18 in that time, as the wheels have fallen off at St. Mary's after excellent early season form. They were unfortunate to have conceded three times at Newcastle last time out (xG: NEW 0.8 - 1.5 SOU), but at home this season their defensive numbers are very strong, allowing 1.1 xGA per game. They offer little in attack though, which is the reason their season has stalled (1.2 xGF pg). Wolves could perhaps be a good game for the Saints, with Nuno's side struggling on the attacking front, drawing three blanks in their last four league games, averaging 1.1 xGF per game. Defensively they have improved though, allowing just 1.0 xGA per game over that stretch, so few chances are expected at either end here. The model can't split these two, giving them both a 35% chance of winning, though goals aren't expected to flow (63% U2.5, 56% BTTS 'no') - 0-0.
*as Mark O'Haire correctly stated on this weeks Football... Only Bettor, backing 'no goalscorer' instead of the 0-0 correct score is the safer play, as if the game finishes 1-0 but the goal was an own goal you would get a winner as opposed to a correct score loser*
A routine United win
West Brom vs Manchester United
West Brom are winless in five heading into this one, following a 2-0 loss at Tottenham in a game they once again struggled to create opportunities. Their season average of 0.8 xGF per game is the worst in the league, and unsurprisingly, their defensive process is also the worst in the league 2.1 xGA per game. Manchester United were frustrated by a last gasp equaliser last weekend against Everton, but a draw was a very fair result based on expected goals (xG: MUN 1.6 - 1.6 EVE). Results have been much better on the road than at home this term, and that is reflected in their underlying process (1.9 xGF, 1.3 xGA pg). This should be a routine win for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side (68%), though a low-scoring one is preferred rather than a blow-out (51% U2.5, 59% BTTS 'no') - 0-2.
Leeds to get a point at Emirates
Arsenal vs Leeds
Arsenal dropped into the bottom half of the table after defeat to Aston Villa, a 1-0 loss that represented another poor attacking display. They created just 0.9 xGF in that game, following on from 0.7 against Wolves and 0.9 at home to Manchester United, with their overall attacking process ranking in the bottom half of the league. Defensively they are improving, with only four teams boasting a better defensive record than the Gunners this term (1.25 xGA pg). Leeds have won three of four heading into this, and their underlying numbers make for interesting reading. Only West Brom have allowed more xGA this season than Marcelo Bielsa's side, but it is worth factoring in that 52% of that total have come in seven games against last season's top six. In 15 games against 'the rest', Leeds have allowed just 1.3 xGA per game, so aren't as defensively vulnerable as the raw totals suggest. They could struggle to create a hatful of chances here against Arsenal though, so a low-scoring draw is what I envisage, though both teams should score (56% BTTS) - 1-1.
Toffees to pile misery on Fulham
Everton vs Fulham
Everton salvaged a deserved point with a last-gasp equaliser at Old Trafford last weekend, a fully deserved result based on expected goals (xG: MUN 1.6 - 1.6 EVE). That result kept them within touching distance of the top four, as they are three points behind fourth placed city rivals Liverpool with two games in hand. While their overall process hasn't reflected their lofty position, there have been signs of improvement of late, especially in attack. Fulham are now 12 without a win following a goalless draw with West Ham, with Scott Parker's side still eight points from safety. Performances haven't been great in that time either, with their process reading 1.1 xGF and 1.7 xGA per game throughout that winless run. With Fulham struggling at both ends of the pitch, Everton are fancied to win (53% EVE), with the model siding with a low-scoring game (51% U2.5) - 2-0.
Hammers to keep Blades at bay
West Ham vs Sheffield United
West Ham have lost just one of their last nine league games, as they remain in the top six of the Premier League. David Moyes has done an unbelievable job this season, with his side posting figures we expect to see from a top six contender (1.6 xGF, 1.3 xGA pg). Sheffield United have won three of six, losing three in that time against Tottenham, Manchester City and Chelsea. Time is running out for the Blades, who need results fast if they are to pull off the great escape, though their away process doesn't make for good reading ahead of this trip to London (0.9 xGF, 1.7 xGA pg). I expect them to find it a tough task to break the Hammers down here, with the home side prevailing (53%) in a low-scoring contest (52% U2.5) - 1-0.
Another clean sheet for Tuchel
Chelsea vs Newcastle
Chelsea have picked up 10 points in four games since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel, with their defensive numbers immediately catching the eye having allowed an average of 0.5 xGA per game. Question marks remain in attack though, with the Blues not yet fully clicking in the German's system, averaging 0.9 non-pen xGF per game. Newcastle have won two of their last three, but suffered a huge blow against Southampton last weekend as Callum Wilson went off injured. He is their attack. Wilson has contributed to 53% of Newcastle's total xG this season, so he will be sorely missed. On the road they have been extremely weak defensively (1.9 xGA pg), meaning this could be a good opportunity for Chelsea to find their groove. The Blues are taken to win (69%) and keep another clean sheet (54% BTTS 'no') - 2-0.