There are some huge games in Gameweek 25 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...
"They have won 12 straight in the league, with their process over that time simply staggering at both ends of the pitch (2.2 xGF, 0.5 xGA pg). It appears that there is no stopping Pep’s side, and now they have Kevin De Bruyne back in the fold after an injury lay off."
Wolves to pick up third win in four
Wolves v Leeds
Wolves beat Southampton last weekend to extend their unbeaten league run to three games, and that was their second win in that time. They have won the xG battle on all three occasions, meaning there are signs of improvement after sluggish season so far. Leeds were their usual kamikaze selves at Arsenal, with their all-out-attack approach getting ruthlessly exploited. They were 4-0 down in 50 minutes before a late rally, and overall their away process has been underwhelming (1.5 xGF, 2.3 xGA pg). Wolves have been a strong home team (1.4 xGF, 1.1 xGA pg), and the model thinks Nuno's side can get another win here (48%), with both teams scoring (51%) - 2-1.
Tuchel's Blues to win again
Southampton v Chelsea
Southampton are winless in six after defeat at home to Wolves, a deserved loss based on expected goal, as Ralph Hasenhüttl's side once again struggled to create (xG: SOU 0.9 - 1.2 WOL). Overall this season, Saints have averaged just 1.1 xGF per game, making them the fifth worst attacking team in the league. Chelsea have won four in a row after a comfortable success at home to Newcastle. That was their fourth clean sheet in Tuchel's five games in charge, as their defensive process has drastically improved under the German (0.6 xGA pg). They face another poor attacking side here, so another clean sheet wouldn't be a surprise, though the Blues should win (54%) - 0-2.
Burnley to move further clear of drop zone
Burnley v West Brom
Burnley got a decent result in midweek, as they drew with Fulham meaning they didn't see the gap between the two clubs reduced. They were the better team in that game (xG: BUR 1.6 - 0.5 FUL), and that has been the case in all of their last three, averaging 1.8 xGF per game against Brighton, Palace and Fulham. West Brom got a good point against Manchester United last weekend, but are now six without a win and 12 points from safety. They remain rooted to the foot of our xG table based on expected points, as well as bringing up the rear in terms of attacking and defensive process. Burnley are a huge value bet according to the Infogol model, we make them 1.75 (57%) to win here, though few goals are expected (59% U2.5) - 1-0.
Liverpool to make it a miserable week for Everton
Liverpool v Everton
Liverpool had lost three straight league games heading into their Champions League clash with RB Leipzig, but they managed to put in a strong display to emerge 2-0 winners. Their 3-1 loss to Leicester was harsh, as the Reds created plenty enough to deserve at least a draw, so the suggestions that this team have 'lost it' simply aren't true. While they have lost their last three at Anfield, their process at home as remained excellent (2.0 xGF, 1.2 xGA pg), so I expect results to improve at home for Jurgen's men. Everton were simply woeful last weekend against a team winless in 12, being comprehensively beaten on the scoreboard and the xG battle (xG: EVE 0.5 - 2.4 FUL). Manchester City strolled to a 3-1 win in midweek, and it is worth reminding people who see Everton as top four hopefuls that they currently occupy 14th in our xG table. Unless their underlying process improves, there is only one way the Toffees will go, with Ancelotti's side posting a negative xGD (1.3 xGF, 1.5 xGA pg). Liverpool can follow up their midweek UCL win (64%) in an entertaining game (58% O2.5, 52% BTTS) - 3-1.
All square between two strugglers
Fulham v Sheffield United
A huge game at the foot of the table, as the team closest to survival (Fulham) take on the team still rock bottom. Scott Parker's side are unbeaten in three heading into this after a 1-1 draw at Burnley in midweek, following up their brilliant performance at Everton. The Cottagers have had issues at home though this season, winning just one of 12 while averaging 1.1 xGF and 1.6 xGA per game. Sheffield United were handily beaten by West Ham on Monday, the first time in a long time that they were beaten comfortably. They have won three of their last seven league games though, the same number as Fulham have managed all season, and they will be tough to beat in this one for sure. The model is on the fence here, though under 2.5 goals is likely (57%) - 1-1.
Hammers to hit Spurs hard
West Ham v Tottenham
West Ham remain in the mix for European football after a thumping win over Sheffield United, with that meaning they have won six of their last 10, losing just one. The Hammers are rightly in and around the top six, and sit a few places above Tottenham in Infogol's xG table, so it is no fluke that David Moyes's side are mixing it with the leagues best. Their process this term has been really strong (1.6 xGF, 1.3 xGA pg), and they will fancy themselves to get a result here. Tottenham were non-existent at the Etihad last weekend, rolling over and being comfortably beaten (xG: MCI 2.5 - 0.4 TOT). That means they have won just three of their last 12 league games, losing six, and their process in that time explains their results (1.2 xGF, 1.5 xGA pg). At the moment, West Ham are the better team. More organised, better defensively and they now have the attacking tools to hurt any team. The model makes the Hammers 43% favourites to win the game, with goals expected (51% O2.5, 55% BTTS) - 2-1.
Leicester to continue top four charge
Aston Villa v Leicester
Aston Villa rode their luck massively last weekend against Brighton, conceding plenty of chances while offering little in attack (xG: BHA 2.4 - 0.1 AVL). The Villains have won three of their last six, so remain in and around the European places themselves, but their process has dropped off dramatically over their last four, averaging just 0.7 xGF per game in that period. Leicester beat champions Liverpool to remain four points clear of fifth, though a draw would have been a fairer reflection of the game. Away from home, the Foxes have been sensational, winning eight of 12 and boasting the fourth best xG process in the league when on their travels (1.8 xGF, 1.2 xGA pg). This should be a good game, but the Foxes are taken to win (43% LEI) a high-scoring game (52% O2.5, 55% BTTS) - 1-2.
No stopping City juggernaut
Arsenal v Manchester City
Arsenal played in a very attacking manner last weekend against Leeds and got a deserved win, ending a three-match winless run. They are slowly improving under Mikel Arteta, but what we have seen from the Gunners in games against the 'big six' has been to keep the game tight. Four of their six games against those opponents have seen under 1.5 goals, with an emphasis on defensive stability their chosen way of playing in such games. Manchester City have the tools to break down whatever set-up Arsenal choose to deploy, and are on an absolute tear at the moment, with their win over Everton in midweek the 17th straight victory across all competitions. They have won 12 straight in the league, with their process over that time simply staggering at both ends of the pitch (2.2 xGF, 0.5 xGA pg). It appears that there is no stopping Pep's side, and now they have Kevin De Bruyne back in the fold after an injury lay off. City should win (57%), but I see this being another low-scoring victory for them. Six of their 12 straight league wins have seen under 2.5 goals - 0-2.
United to cruise to home win
Manchester United v Newcastle
Manchester United's title charge appears to be over after a run of one win in five and Manchester City's winning streak. They are 10 points behind their city rivals, so need to get back to winning ways, and this game represents a great opportunity to do just that. Newcastle have won just two of their last 13 league games, meaning they are looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone - just six clear of Fulham. Steve Bruce's side have been woeful on the road this term, creating just 0.9 xGF per game while allowing 2.0 xGA per game this season, numbers that rank the Magpies as the second worst travelling team in the league. Callum Wilson's absence is a huge void to be filled, and it doesn't appear there is anyone to step in a provide the goals. United should win here (70%), and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them rack up a few goals (56% O2.5) - 3-0.
Another clean sheet for Potter
Brighton v Crystal Palace
Brighton extended their unbeaten run to six games, with all six of those seeing under 2.5 goals, and their three wins in that time all came by a 1-0 scoreline. While they have won just once at home all season, Graham Potter's side boast the second-best home process in the entire Premier League. Only Manchester City (+18.2 xGD) better Brighton (+13.0) in home matches, and last weeks game against Aston Villa showcased exactly why they have underperformed at the Amex (xG: BHA 2.4 - 0.1 AVL). Crystal Palace have won just two of seven heading into this after a shocking display against Burnley, losing 3-0 at home. Wilfried Zaha's absence is obviously massive, but even with him in the side, Palace have averaged just 1.1 xGF per game on the road this term. Defensively they are vulnerable (1.8 xGA pg away), and Brighton can get another low-scoring (54% U2.5) win (55% BHA) - 1-0.