Infogol's Steven Railston uses expected goals (xG) to predict the likely winners and scorelines of each match in Gameweek 26...
"Wolves have conceded just twice across that period, and they should be able to limit Newcastle’s chances on goal considering the Magpies' attacking struggles."
Man City to keep another clean sheet
Man City vs West Ham
Manchester City are clear at the top of the Premier League and it's not hard to see why. Unlike in previous seasons, their success has been built on an outstanding defensive foundation, though. City have conceded an average of just 0.8 xGA per game this term - no team in the league has a strong defensive record. Of course, they're brilliant in attack, too, creating an average of 2.0 xGF per game and they will certainly be worthy title winners.
West Ham are enjoying a remarkable season themselves, incredibly sitting fourth under David Moyes. Like all the best Moyes teams, they're tenacious and hard to break down. Their underlying numbers suggest they're fortunate to be so high in the table, and City should simply have too much for them here, although the Infogol model calculates a 56% chance of there being less than four goals.
Back the 2-0 @ 7.413/2
Brighton can win at the Hawthorns
West Brom valiantly fought with 10-men against Burnley last weekend, looking the better side throughout despite Semi Ajayi's early red card (xG: BUR 0.6 - 1.4 WBA). Their chances of maintaining their Premier League status seem incredibly slim, though. Their performances have fallen short of the required standard all season, and their underlying numbers, averaging 0.9 xGF and 1.9 xGA per game, explain their predicament.
Brighton are the league's greatest underachievers this season according to expected goals. They dominated Crystal Palace on Monday night but still slumped to a shocking 2-1 defeat (xG: BRI 3.0 - 0.3 CRY). Graham Potter's side have created an average of 1.1 xGF per game when on the road this term, and while that's poor attacking output, it's worth remembering they're up against a side that's looked vulnerable at the back all campaign. The Infogol model forecasts goals here (O.25 60%), and Brighton can edge this contest.
The points to be shared at Elland Road
Leeds vs Aston Villa
Leeds United's matches have seen the most expected goals (xG) in the Premier League this season. They've been an excellent addition since returning to the top-flight, and their underlying numbers, averaging 1.7 xGF and 1.8 xGA per game, highlight just how captivating their games are. In Leeds' penultimate game against Wolves, they dominated the clash and were unfortunate to lose (xG: WOL 0.9 - 2.7 LEE). Delivering a performance of that calibre here would probably entitle them to beat Aston Villa.
Dean Smith's side are eighth in the table, which is outstanding considering they narrowly avoided relegation last term. Their attacking process is strong (1.8 xGF pg), but they're now without Jack Grealish, with their midfield maestro currently sidelined. Grealish (8.1 xA) is one of the league's most elite creative forces. Villa will sorely miss his presence In the heart of midfield. However, they have shown they're capable defenders, suggesting this game could be low scoring - the Infogol model agrees (U2.5 46%).
Wolves can topple the Magpies
Since Christmas, no team in the Premier League has won fewer points than Newcastle United. The Black and Whites have created an abysmal average of 1.0 xGF per game across their last 10 fixtures, creating just seven big chances (>35%) across that period. To make matters worse, they're without the injured Callum Wilson, who accounts for 40% of their goal haul this season.
Wolves are now unbeaten across their last four league games, although they were fortunate to beat Leeds most recently (xG: WOL 0.91 - 2.73 LEE). They've conceded just twice across that period, and they should be able to limit Newcastle's chances on goal considering their attacking struggles. The Infogol model forecasts a 62% chance of there being less than three goals, and I can see Wolves just edging this dull game in the North East.
Fulham to pick up another point for their survival bid
Crystal Palace emerged with the bragging rights against Brighton on Monday night, although they were extremely fortunate to win that game (xG: BRI 3.0 - 0.3 CRY). Without Wilfried Zaha, Palace often look devoid of any creativity. Scoring two goals from 0.3 xG at the Amex was highly unlikely, and they'll need to be better here against an inform Fulham side. The Eagles have conceded 14 goals in 12 games at home and they should ensure this game is tightly contested.
Scott Parker has turned around Fulham's fortunes in recent weeks, seemingly dragging the club closer to safety with every game. They've lost just once from their last five league fixtures, and their defensive improvements have been the catalyst to this upturn in results. Fulham have allowed an average of just 1.1 xGA per game across their last five matches. If they can continue to operate at those levels at the back, their chances of survival will only increase. Considering Palace's poor attacking output, they can leave with points from Selhurst Park. Again, the Infogol model doesn't forecast goals (U2.5 61%), though.
Tottenham can bounce back against Burnley
Tottenham vs Burnley
Tottenham's title challenge only lasted for a fleeting moment, and the club now find themselves marooned in midtable. While they often are inferior against opposition that challenge for European places, Spurs perform well against the league's weaker sides, averaging 1.5 xGF and 1.3 xGA per game against teams currently in the bottom half. Deli Alli's and Gareth Bale's exploits in midweek could also see the pair in contention to start here, which could be a timely boost for Tottenham.
Sean Dyche will ensure this isn't straightforward for the hosts, with Burnley heading into this game on the back of two consecutive draws against fellow relegation candidates. They're unbeaten across their four games despite, allowing just 0.8 xGA per game across that period. They should play deep here, but I'm expecting Spurs to have enough to break through their lines of defence. Unsurprisingly, the Infogol model makes Tottenham favourites and they can win the three points.
Aubameyang to fire for the Gunners
Leicester crashed out of the Europa League in midweek, failing to create any significant chances in either leg against Slavia Prague. Those were two majorly underwhelming displays, and they'll be eager to bounce back here. Their underlying numbers (1.6 xGF and 1.3 xGA pg) aren't worthy of a team sitting in third position in the table, though, suggesting their results may soon worsen.
Unlike the Foxes, Arsenal progressed to the next round of the UEL in midweek, thanks to a late goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arsenal's captain scored an excellent 22 goals from 16.1 xG last season in the league, and he's slowly rediscovering his prolific form. Arsenal have created an average of 1.4 xGF per game this campaign, meaning they should be able to provide Aubameyang with adequate service at the King Power. He can make the difference, with both teams finding the back of the net (BTTS 52%).
Goalless draw at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea vs Manchester United
Chelsea are undefeated across all competitions under Thomas Tuchel and, while that's impressive, it's perhaps surprising at how the Blues are controlling games. The German clearly places great emphasis on a strong defensive foundation, with Chelsea conceding just 0.6 xGA per game since his arrival - that's an elite defensive process. They're marginally winning games, as appose to winning stylishly, which leads me to believe this game at Stamford Bridge could be low on goalscoring opportunities.
The visitors here at the league's best away side, which adds to the intrigue of this Sunday clash. They've conceded 1.3 xGA per game on the road, though, but Chelsea's preference for possession with not much substance going forward may fail to exploit this weakness. The Red Devils didn't create one non-penalty big chances (>35%) against West Brom or Newcastle most recently. Up against an improving Chelsea defence, their chances of scoring are questionable (U2.5 51%).
Everton's inconsistency at Goodison to haunt them again
Everton vs Southampton
Everton's long wait for a win at Anfield duly ended last week. While the plaudits flooded in for that performance, their credentials for European qualification were touted. However, Infogol's expected league table, based on expected points (xP) actually has the Toffees firmly in the bottom half. They're not recording the numbers worthy of a side mixing it among the league's best. Also, only West Brom (2.1 xGA pg) have a worse home defensive process than Everton (1.7 xGA pg) this season. Their failures at Goodison are holding them back.
Southampton aren't exactly firing on all cylinders, though, with their early season overperformance now catching up to them. Their poor attacking process (1.1 xGF pg) has left them exposed this term, and their capitulation at Manchester United was humiliating. Despite this, Everton's awful home record gives the Saints hope of putting and end to their barren run. The Infogol model forecasts a cagey game (U2.5 54%), with both sides scoring.
Liverpool to outclass wounded Blades
Despite a small revival in results, the odds are stacked against Sheffield United to survive relegation this season. Their 1-0 defeat against Fulham felt like a sliding doors moment (xG: FUL 1.3 - 1.0 SHU), and it's likely Chris Wilder also understood how important that clash was. Truthfully, their underlying numbers (1.0 xGF and 1.6 xGA pg) have suggested they were destined for relegation all season, and this wounded Blades side now welcome Liverpool to Bramall Lane.
Liverpool have endured a miserable period themselves, with their title hopes obliterated in recent weeks. Their 2-0 defeat at home to rivals Everton was a bitter blow for the Reds (xG: LIV 1.6 - 1.9 EVE), and Jurgen Klopp will have to regather his side to respond. While their results haven't been brilliant, the champions still boast an electric attacking process (2.0 xGF pg) . The brilliance of Mo Salah could pay dividends when Liverpool need him most. I'm expecting the visitors to outclass Sheff United, but the Infogol model doesn't predict a thriller (U2.5 47%).