Premier League predictions: EPL Prediction for Week 23

West Ham vs Chelsea, Saturday 12.30pm

“Never bet the early kick-off” is a common phrase regarding the 12.30pm kick-off in the Premier League. Although this slot time is synonymous with dull encounters that can go against what the outright match markets suggest, there are still betting angles to exploit. Since the start of last season, the 12.30pm Saturday game has produced an average of just 2.2 goals per game with 36 of those 45 fixtures seeing three or fewer total goals scored.

Defences are likely to be on top in this encounter, too.

Since losing at Brighton, Chelsea have conceded just six goals in nine Premier League games – a run that included fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester City, Newcastle and Liverpool – while David Moyes has found solace in switching to a back five for West Ham, conceding just once in the last four matches in all competitions when playing in that defensive structure which gets the best out of the impressive Nayef Aguerd.

The under 2.5 goal-line has been unsurprisingly backed at 8/13 with Sky Bet but there remains juice in backing the ‘no’ option in the both teams to score market, where 5/6 is available.


Arsenal vs Brentford, Saturday 3pm

Arsenal must trust the process. They have won eight of their nine Premier League games at home this season, only dropping points in the 0-0 draw with Newcastle. I see no reason to oppose them here if they play with their usual intensity.

The outright match prices mirror that view so those looking for a betting avenue should be alerted to Brentford’s desire to defend deep without the ball which does leave them exposed to facing shots on their goal from outside the box. They have conceded 143 shots on their goal from range this season – the most of any Premier League side with 50 of those efforts hitting the target.

This brings Thomas Partey to score from outside the box at 14/1 with Sky Bet into consideration. Arsenal’s midfield dynamo has fired 13 shots from range this season, scoring with two of them against Tottenham and Nottingham Forest.


Crystal Palace vs Brighton, Saturday 3pm

If these match prices are to be believed, then Patrick Vieira might just be the next manager to come under scrutiny. Brighton are Evens with Sky Bet to take the three points as there seems little market confidence in Palace causing too many problems for Roberto De Zerbi’s flowing side. Palace can be quick in transition but will miss Wilfried Zaha’s influence on that front and Brighton’s attacks are difficult to repel without having a counter-attacking outlet. Away win.

De Zerbi said after Brighton’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth that Kaoru Mitoma is impossible to substitute with him being in such red-hot form. This is music to the ears of punters like me who are riding the Mitoma wave across his individual shot and goals markets. He’s likely to play 90 minutes in this one so his shots lines of two or more (8/11) and three or more (2/1) are dripping with value. Since returning from the World Cup, Mitoma has averaged 2.3 shots per game across all competitions and scored seven goals in his last 11 appearances.


Fulham vs Nottingham Forest, Saturday 3pm

Fulham have rarely got my punting pulses racing this season when it comes to their outright match chances, but the 10/11 with Sky Bet about them winning this one does certainly look disrespectful. Marco Silva has got his team working like a well-oiled machine, everyone knows their job and as a collective they have become a very tough outfit to beat.

Taking 32 points from 22 games is the most by a newly-promoted side at this stage for 13 years. Yes, they are outperforming their expected goals data at both ends, which does temper my enthusiasm for their longer-term prospects, but I’m confident of them being able to put away Forest, and am surprised their outright odds for victory aren’t shorter.

Just look at their record against teams outside the current top five this season: they have lost just one of their 15 matches, winning nine, including beating Brentford, Chelsea and Brighton at home. Meanwhile, despite tightening their belts at the back, Forest have won just once away from home this season and scored just three times in those 10 games.


Leicester vs Tottenham, Saturday 3pm

Tottenham’s defensive numbers have spiked since their second-half capitulation to Manchester City four games ago. With a full-strength squad now available, barring Cristian Romero and Hugo Lloris for this one, and looking in menacing mood, I’m very much back to my early-season view that Spurs aren’t far off being a title contender, although that ship has sailed this season.

On that basis, the 11/10 with Sky Bet for an away win looks good to me.

There certainly looks more aggression in the way the Spurs back-line are approaching games – as seen by Eric Dier’s two performances at Fulham and City. He is tending to move into a midfield position at times when Spurs are hunting the ball back – it was a ploy that completely suffocated the supply to Erling Haaland last weekend. This slight positional tweak by Dier is seeing his fouls committed data taking a sharp rise, to the extent he made two fouls in both victories over Fulham and City.

Assuming he’ll be tasked with a similar role in this one where he should come into contact with James Maddison, who has drawn 2.52 fouls per-game this season, then he is of interest in the player fouls market. Dier is 8/11 with Sky Bet to make just one foul and 4/1 to make two or more.


Southampton vs Wolves, Saturday 3pm

Rasmus Ankersen, the chief executive of Southampton’s owners Sport Republic, played a huge part in Brentford’s rise through the leagues where his understanding and implementation of data analysis was ahead of the curve.

Ankersen stuck by Thomas Frank after he lost eight of his first 10 games as Bees boss – and despite the deafening noise surrounding Nathan Jones at Southampton, there still must remain a chance that Jones – Ankersen’s appointment – can implement his ideas and flourish at this level. I watched first-hand how his team comprehensively outclassed Manchester City only a few weeks ago and his character does tend to light a fire within footballers. However enjoyable and refreshing he can be to listen to from a journalistic point of view, his PR skills still need work. That could prove his ultimate downfall.

    Of course, this could be the end of the road if he was to suffer a seventh defeat in eight Premier League matches, but I’m willing to back the chances of a reaction forthcoming with the odds skewed far too heavily towards a Wolves team that do lack punch in key moments. Southampton to win at 2/1 with Sky Bet looks perfectly reasonable for those that believe the brains-trust within the hierarchy did appoint the right man.


    Bournemouth vs Newcastle, Saturday 5.30pm

    After a week where James Tarkowski, Ben Mee and Craig Dawson all scored first at gigantic prices, it feels right to invest in the Premier League’s best team at creating chances from set-pieces to score via that method against the league’s worst at defending such scenarios.

    Eddie Howe’s side have fired 120 shots from set-piece situations to a backdrop of an expected goals figure of 11.32 – the best returns of any team across both metrics. It’s therefore a huge underperformance to have only merited six goals via corners and free-kicks this season – seven teams have scored more.

    Bottom of that list are Bournemouth, who have conceded 101 shots on their goal with 13 of those resulting in goals.

      Newcastle actually haven’t scored via a set-piece since Joelinton’s goal against Leicester on Boxing Day, but Fabian Schar has had 12 shots on goal since that game to a backdrop of 1.34 of expected goals. This all equates to the 28/1 with Sky Bet on him scoring first looking particularly juicy. He’s going to find the net soon, let’s hope our timing is right.

      Sven Botman (50/1) and Dan Burn (50/1) also venture up for set-pieces and are also worth considering in a game which should see Newcastle get back to winning ways.


      Leeds vs Manchester United, Sunday 2pm

      This is a unique situation in that this is only the second time in Premier League history teams have met in consecutive Premier League matches within the same season, with Arsenal beating Bolton 2-0 and 4-2 in January 2010. Those that think history will repeat itself from Wednesday can get 11/1 with Sky Bet on the 2-2 draw and I’m playing along similar lines by investing in Wilfried Gnonto to make his mark. After his fine strike at Old Trafford, he’s now scored four goals in his last seven appearances and hit nine shots on target during that period of games.

      That makes his price of 6/5 with Sky Bet for one or more shots on target and his 7/2 anytime scorer odds look rather tempting. Despite Gnonto being the shining light, I’m not sure Leeds defend well enough to avoid defeat in this one though.


      Manchester City vs Aston Villa, Sunday 4.30pm

      I’d expect Manchester City to get the job done here but wouldn’t be going anywhere near the 1/5 with Sky Bet on a home win, especially with how Ollie Watkins is leading the line for Villa. His direct running is likely to cause plenty of issues for a City defence that is seeing a significant decline in their defence metrics. They’ve conceded eight more goals than at the same point as last season and their expected goals against data has risen from 0.65 to 0.82 from the last Premier League campaign. Of course, that number still means they are outrageously secure – but it does just open up the door for direct attacks against them.

        The potential battle between former Villa hero Jack Grealish and Ashley Young has caught my eye from a punting point of view. Young is 6/4 with Sky Bet to make two or more fouls in the game which does seem a little generous when analysing Grealish’s fouls drawn data. He has drawn 48 fouls in his last 16 starts, working out at an average of three per 90 minutes. Young will be relishing the battle and will be letting Grealish know he’s in for a game with some aggressive defending.


        Liverpool vs Everton, Monday 8pm

        We pinpointed the likelihood of Everton’s offside numbers increasing under Sean Dyche last week as the Evens for three or more offsides against Arsenal landed. There still looks a chance to get ahead of the market for this fixture by repeating the same bet, which is available at 5/4 with Sky Bet.

        Dyche’s Burnley always were vulnerable to the Liverpool offside trap during their battles with Jurgen Klopp’s men in recent years, being caught offside 54 times in 12 fixtures – working to a 4.5 average per game. It’s almost guaranteed that Everton will play direct into Dominic Calvert-Lewin once again and Liverpool’s defence are encouraged to be aggressive and play high when tasked with sustaining attacks against direct teams. Brentford, who play a similar style to Dyche’s ways, have been caught offside 18 times in three fixtures with Liverpool since promotion, including racking up seven offsides in each of the last two meetings.

        It’s worth attacking all the lines available with Sky Bet.


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