Man Utd resurgence built on flaky foundations
Rampant Soucek representing big value
Are Man Utd back? Ha, good one.
Six points off the top of the league, four wins from five games and three straight clean sheets. Manchester United are on the charge, eh?
How about no.
Erik ten Hag's side remain an unsustainable outfit when assessing their underlying performance data. It's why despite knocking around the title race and top-four picture they remain unfancied by the outright markets with the Betfair Sportsbook. They are 80/181.00 for the title and seventh favourites for top-four at 3/14.00.
Scoring once in a lifetime bicycle kicks and shipping 2.47 worth of expected goals but somehow keeping a clean sheet at Everton are both equally entertaining in their own ways, but this so-called resurgence in form is built on fragile foundations.
A collapse is coming if performance levels remain the same.
United have now lost the 'expected goals battle' in wins over Everton, Fulham and Sheffield United with an aggregate total scoreline reading 4.81-3.98 in favour of the three relegation contenders. Alarming.
Making conclusive and sweeping judgements on a team based purely on their expected goals data is of course dangerous when it comes to forming a long-term view as some teams are just built to defy to the data. See Fulham.
But Ten Hag's side are making grim viewing on the eye-test, too. United are emerging with three points whilst playing fine-margin football. There's little control to their game, the defence remains vulnerable when put under pressure, hence why their overall expected goals against data is that of a mid-table side. Chances are being created but United aren't being punished.
Unless this winning run injects a shot of confidence across Ten Hag's players and a desire to defend with more authority higher up the pitch is found, then as a betting strategy, Manchester United must be taken on when playing teams with strong attacking metrics.
It's Newcastle next on Saturday evening as Ten Hag goes in search of his first league win away from home against a top-nine ranked side. In 10 encounters of such nature, his team have lost nine of them to an aggregate score of 34-9.
You can grab a bit of 2.001/1 on the Betfair Exchange for a Newcastle win.
A double your money cracker. Christmas may have come early.
Battering ram Soucek battering Betfair's prices
One of the highlights of my betting so far this season has been bookmakers failing to notice the spiking attacking metrics of Tomas Soucek.
After a season of fumbling around trying to play as a more defensive minded midfielder with Declan Rice, the captures of James Ward-Prowse and Edson Alvarez into the West Ham midfield have allowed Soucek to be pushed back into his battering ram role just off the lone striker. And my word has he been effective.
David Moyes has his Marouane Fellaini back - and it might not be pretty on the eye, but Soucek is making a massive difference for the Hammers in front of goal with West Ham playing very direct.
His winning goal at Burnley took him to six goals for the season and backing him blindly will have left you swimming in profit with his anytime price always venturing around the 5/16.00 mark despite being West Ham's focal point of set pieces and crosses.
When playing as that battering ram off the striker with the protection of Ward-Prowse and Alvarez, Soucek has racked up 19 shots in six matches, including four against Burnley.
Him to hit that line was 16/117.00 with the Betfair Sportsbook with the smaller lines of two or more shots readily available at 7/42.75, too. Hopefully the traders aren't reading this - and he'll be hovering around the same prices for West Ham's home clash with Crystal Palace on Sunday. Rinse and repeat.
Lewis Jones, aka Jones Knows, is Sky Sports' resident betting expert - follow his Premier League tips and predictions across Sky Sports each week.