Last week was full of business as usual… and insanity.
You had Manchester United winning again, Chelsea once again suffering inconsistency, and then pure chaos: Liverpool taking their first loss of the season to powerhouse Manchester City.
This week, we get to even more chaos: No matter what happens, there’s sure to be fireworks provided in the Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester United game — especially considering we could start to see a shift on the English Premier League Table as a result.
Oh boy, here we go again for another round — and times are getting critical now!
BAD LIVER: No, I’m not talking about the countless amount of pubs in England. I’m referring to Liverpool taking their first loss to end their undefeated season. In their defense, it was to defending champion Manchester City, 2-1. That brings the Citizens to just four points behind the Reds on the EPL Table, 54-50. But you can breathe, Liverpool fans. You should be able to wipe off some of the sweat this weekend against Brighton & Hove Albion. Problem is, Manchester City also plays a beatable team themselves in Wolverhampton.
BACK TO BEING BLUE?: Soccer royalty Chelsea has suffered inconsistency this season before. Prior to Matchweek 21, the Blues took losses to Leicester City, Wolverhampton and also drew with West Ham United. Last matchweek, it happened again: They drew 0-0 against Southampton, a team sitting at No. 18 on the table and struggling to stay out of the relegation zone. Sitting at a double-digit 10 points behind Liverpool already, things don’t get any easier for Chelsea this weekend facing off against No. 3 Tottenham Hotspur.
RETURN OF THE BRAND: Manchester United handled business again, winning four straight to become 4-0 under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. (5-0 if you count the English FA Cup victory over Reading) Last week, they earned another victory against Newcastle United, 2-0. Despite Newcastle sitting at the No. 15 position on the EPL Table, it’s still been a pretty impressive stretch to see what the Red Devils have been able to do in the past five games — especially considering the circumstances surrounding them. Manchester United is back.
Be sure to check out our top recommended sites for this weeks EPL matches.
MATCHWEEK 22 PREDICTIONS
This week’s top five games to keep an eye on are:
- No. 3 Tottenham Hotspur (16-0-5) vs. No. 6 Manchester United (11-5-5)
- No. 2 Manchester City (16-2-3) vs. No. 9 Wolverhampton Wanderers (8-5-8)
- No. 10 West Ham United (8-4-9) vs. No. 5 Arsenal (12-5-4)
- No. 11 Everton (7-6-8) vs. No. 12 AFC Bournemouth (8-3-10)
- No. 17 Cardiff City (5-3-13) vs. No. 20 Huddersfield Town (2-4-15)
WEST HAM UNITED VS. ARSENAL (SATURDAY, 7:30 AM ET) (TV: NBCSN, UNIVERSO)
The English Premier League gets us off to a great start in Matchweek 22 with a top ten battle between No. 10 West Ham United (8-4-9) (Form: 47%) and No. 5 Arsenal (12-5-4) (Form: 67%). Though not stepping up to the Gunners offensively, the Irons do have something to say on the defensive side.
Let’s start with goal production: Arsenal has the clear advantage here, having a solid edge with 2.2 average goals scored-per-match compared to the Gunners’ 1.4. They also have a +7 advantage in average conversion rate, 23-16%. Arsenal also counters West Ham easily with firepower — their top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has 14 goals compared to Felipe Anderson’s 8. But the Hammers line up dead-even in average goals conceded-per-match, both teams are at the 1.5 mark.
Though that may be good on paper, it won’t be good in a shootout against the Gunners. I have this being a highly-contested matchup and entertaining one to watch with the Irons being at home, but Aubameyang and Arsenal will just be too strong for West Ham United in this one.
PREDICTION: Arsenal 2, West Ham United 1
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION VS. LIVERPOOL (SATURDAY, 10:00 AM ET) (TV: NBCSN, UNIVERSO)
The Reds come into this match as a heavy favorite (-333 vs. +900), and that’s understandable when it’s the top team and a club only eight points away from the relegation zone facing off. And not just that, but it’s a statistical overweigh between No. 13 Brighton & Hove Albion (7-5-9) (Form: 53%) and No. 1 Liverpool (17-3-1) (Form: 60%).
On offense, the Reds more than double the Seagulls in goal production hitting 2.3 compared to Brighton’s 1.1 average goals scored-per-match. Liverpool also has a +5 advantage over Hove Albion in concession rate as well, hitting 21% compared to 16%. And the starpower doesn’t get any easier for the Seagulls either: Their top-scorer Glenn Murray has 8 goals, this compared to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah’s 13. When you look at the defense, the domination continues for the Reds — they’ve been absolutely elite this year only allowing 0.5 average goals scored-per-match. Brighton hasn’t been the best at 1.4.
What can I really say? The heavy odds against Brighton & Hove Albion aren’t lying. And after that loss against Manchester City last week, you know the Reds will be vengeful. Look for Liverpool to roll in fabulous fashion, folks.
PREDICTION: Liverpool 3, Brighton & Hove Albion 0
BURNLEY VS. FULHAM (SATURDAY, 10:00 AM ET) (TV: NBCSG)
If my ‘top five games of the week’ section was a top six list, I’d definitely have this game listed at the sixth position. Due to the relegation stakes in this game and both teams having dismal defenses, the match between No. 16 Burnley (5-3-13) (Form: 60%) and No. 19 Fulham (3-5-13) (Form: 33%) has the potential to be a blaze-fest in goals.
The clubs are nearly identical in average goals scored-per-match with the Clarets having the narrow edge at 1.0 compared to the Cottagers’ 0.9. The advantage in conversion rate also goes in favor of Burnley, a +4 edge at 14% — Fulham is at 10%. Fulham has a counter for the numbers though in individual talent: Aleksandar Mitrovic’s team-leading 8 goals doubles Clarets’ Ashley Barnes at 4. Now we get to these defenses: Burnley once again has the edge, if you want to call it that. They allow 2.0 goals-per-match, while Fulham sits right behind them at 2.2 — get ready for an offensive firestorm, folks.
Although Burnley is at home, has the slight statistical advantage and is the higher positioned club, I have a strong feeling that Aleksandar Mitrovic is going to have fun with the Clarets’ defense. Give me a flamefest that results in a draw.
PREDICTION: Burnley 2, Fulham 2
CARDIFF CITY VS. HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (SATURDAY, 10:00 AM ET) (TV: NBCSG)
Being the relegation zone battle of the week, you can expect the match between No. 17 Cardiff City (5-3-13) (Form: 27%) and No. 20 Huddersfield Town (2-4-15) (Form: 0%) to be a slug-fest to remain in the Premier League. But as always in these type of games, don’t expect the best quality of soccer to be played.
On the offensive side of things, both clubs are currently under one in average goals scored-per-match — Cardiff has the narrow edge with 0.9 to Huddersfield’s 0.6. The Bluebirds also have a +3 advantage in average conversion rate, hitting 11% of their shots. The Terriers, on the other hand, have just been terrible not even eclipsing the 10 mark — they sit at 8%. Cardiff’s Callum Paterson also has the +1 edge in the club’s top scorers with 4, while Huddersfield’s Mathias Jorgensen sits with 3. On defense, the Terriers finally get a grip on things, but not much: In average goals conceded-per-match, they’ve allowed 1.8 compared to the Bluebirds’ 2.0.
Let’s put it simple: At 0% form, Huddersfield Town is just a depressing team to watch. Though Cardiff City isn’t much better, well, they kind of are — at least over the Terriers. And let’s not forget that Cardiff is home in this match. Huddersfield Town takes another loss, keeping themselves locked in the No. 20 position in the relegation zone.
PREDICTION: Cardiff City 2, Huddersfield Town 1
CRYSTAL PALACE VS. WATFORD (SATURDAY, 10:00 AM ET) (TV: NBCSG)
Though the two clubs are six spots apart from each other on the EPL Table, we should have a pretty balanced matchup between No. 14 Crystal Palace (6-4-11) (Form: 67%) and No. 8 Watford (8-6-8) (Form: 53%). Not only do the Hornets not separate themselves that far statistically, but the Eagles are also home — which helps balance the numbers even more.
In offensive production, Watford has the +0.5 average sitting with 1.4 average goals scored-per-match. Crystal Palace fails to land over the one mark, sitting at 0.9. The Hornets also have a nice-sized +7 advantage over the Eagles as well, hitting 17% of their shots compared to Crystal’s 10. In starpower, both teams are dead-even — Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic and Watford’s Roberto Pereyra both have 6 goals. On the defensive side, the Eagles hold the edge in this department — only allowing 1.2 average goals conceded-per-match to the Hornets’ 1.5
With Watford not having the massive advantage in the stats and the Eagles actually holding the edge in defense and tied in talent, you have to take Crystal Palace at home in a close battle.
PREDICTION: Crystal Palace 2, Watford 1
LEICESTER CITY VS. SOUTHAMPTON (SATURDAY, 10:00 AM ET) (TV: NBCSG)
Winning their last three out of four in the Premier League, facing off against a relegation battler and being at their home ground, you have to think that No. 7 Leicester City (9-4-8) (Form: 60%) will have a bye week against No. 18 Southampton (3-7-11) (Form: 33%) this matchweek. The numbers agree, somewhat.
In average goals scored-per-match, the Foxes have the narrow 1.2-1.0 edge. Leicester also only has a slight +3 edge in average conversion rate as well, hitting 14% of their shots compared to the Saints’ 11%. In starpower, the clubs are exactly the same — both Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy and Southampton’s Danny Ings have 7 goals. In ball protection, the numbers are also similar, but a little more distant in favor of the Foxes — they’ve allowed 1.1 goals-per-game, while the Saints have compiled a 1.8 tally in their net.
The numbers say the game will be close, I’m not disputing that, but I am betting that Leicester dominates in possession time. With that fact and being at King Power Stadium, I’ll take Leicester City for the win against relegation battler Southampton.
PREDICTION: Leicester City 2, Southampton 1
CHELSEA VS. NEWCASTLE UNITED (SATURDAY, 12:30 PM ET) (TV: NBC, UNIVERSO)
Showing inconsistency once again last matchweek drawing with No. 18 Southampton 0-0, No. 4 Chelsea (13-5-3) (Form: 67%) will look to rebound against No. 15 Newcastle United (4-6-11) (Form: 20%). The numbers suggest that should happen in flying colors, but it did against the Saints as well — we saw what happened there.
The Blues more than double the Magpies in offensive production, tallying 1.8 goals-per-game compared to New Castle’s 0.7 — just a dismal statistic. In average conversion rate, it doesn’t get much better for United: They fail to hit the 10 mark only hitting 9% of their shots. On the other end, Chelsea has been impressive hitting 17% of theirs. Same story goes for the club’s top scorers: Blues’ Eden Hazard is one of the leading scorers in the EPL sitting at 10. Magpies’ Salomon Rondon only hits half of that at 5. And did you really think it was going to get better on the defensive side? Chelsea holds that category as well with an elite 0.8 average goals conceded-per-match, while Newcastle has eclipsed the one figure at 1.4.
Chelsea has been inconsistent this season, sure, but they’ve also been a force more times than not. Look for the Blues to take advantage of the relegation warrior this matchweek, and blow them out for a big win as a result.
PREDICTION: Chelsea 3, Newcastle United 0
EVERTON VS. AFC BOURNEMOUTH (SUNDAY, 9:15 AM ET) (TV: NBCSN)
One of the matches of the week, the game between No. 11 Everton (7-6-8) (Form: 40%) and No. 12 AFC Bournemouth (8-3-10) (Form: 27%) is the most balanced on paper in the Matchweek 22 slate. Literally, everything is a dead-heat.
On offense, the numbers are exactly the same — literally, yes, literally — in every single category. In average goals scored-per-match, both teams are at 1.5. Both teams are identical in average conversion rate at 16%. And you guessed it: Both top scorers have 9 goals each — Everton’s Richarlison and AFC Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson. When we shift to the defensive end, that’s when the numbers finally differ from each other. Everton holds the edge, but in a very narrow advantage — 1.5 goals conceded-per-match compared to the Cherries’ 1.9.
Here’s the problem for AFC Bournemouth though coming into this match, other than being on the road: They’ve struggled as of late, drawing to Watford, and before that, they lost four out of their last five. I don’t trust them at Everton’s house. Take the Toffees in a tight one.
PREDICTION: Everton 2, AFC Bournemouth 1
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR VS. MANCHESTER UNITED (MATCH OF THE WEEK) (SUNDAY, 11:30 AM ET) (TV: NBCSN, TELEMUNDO)
Being the match of the week, we’ll obviously have an exciting battle between No. 3 Tottenham Hotspur (16-0-5) (Form: 80%) and No. 6 Manchester United (11-5-5) (Form: 100%). However, the only thing that concerns me for the entertainment value is powerhouse Tottenham being at their home in London — and they’ve been on a roll. Good news for United though, so have they.
In a statistical comparison, the teams line up nearly identical. On the offensive side, the Spurs hold the tight grip with an elite 2.2 goals scored-per-match. The Red Devils have been elite themselves as well, sitting at 2.1. In shooting percentage, it’s Hotspur once again with the advantage (+2) — they hit 22% of their shots compared to United’s 20%. Again, both with elite numbers. The two clubs also come in with a load of talent, but when you look at the top-scorers, it’s once again Tottenham Hotspur with the edge — Harry Kane has a +6 advantage with 14 goals compared to Romelu Lukaku’s 8. On the defensive side, the Spurs once again have the grip. They’ve conceded 1.0 goals per-match — Man United is at 1.5.
As I previously mentioned, Manchester United has been on a roll as of late, but let’s be honest here: The competition hasn’t been the best. They’ve beaten a number of relegation battlers. And here’s another problem for the Red Devils: The Spurs have been on a roll as well. As much as I’d like to see Manchester United continue their streak, I don’t see it happening against power Tottenham Hotspur at home. Spurs win a war.
PREDICTION: Tottenham Hotspur 2, Manchester United 1
MANCHESTER CITY VS. WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (MONDAY, 3:00 PM ET) (TV: NBCSN, UNIVERSO)
Despite this being a matchup between two top 10 teams, No. 9 Wolverhampton Wanderers (8-5-8) (Form: 47%) come in as a heavy +1200 underdog against No. 2 Manchester City (16-2-3) (Form: 60%). That’s bound to happen though when you play the defending champions who then dethroned undefeated Liverpool this season. Massive blowout alert is needed for the Wolves.
When you compare the numbers between the two clubs, it’s not even close — especially on the offensive side. The Citizens have a massive +1.6 advantage in average goals scored-per-match, tallying a total of 2.7 compared to the Wolverhampton’s 1.1. City also doubles the Wanderers in average conversion rate, hitting 22% of their shots in comparison to 11% of the Wolves. The same goes for the club’s top-scorers: Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero has a +4 advantage over Wolverhampton Wanderer’s Raul Jimenez — 10 goals to 6. The defensive numbers are a bit closer, but there’s a difference: The Citizens are elite, the Wolves not so much. City is still under the one mark, only allowing 0.8 goals into the net-per-game. The Wolves have eclipsed that mark at 1.2.
The Sky Blues are at home and it’s a statistical slaughter. You already know how this one is going to go, folks. Manchester City wins big.