It was a big week last week, and in multiple fashions. This week, we get another power matchup that could result in even more insanity.
In Matchweek 22, we saw the match of the week between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur; Arsenal took an upset, though not major; and we had an interesting game in the relegation zone.
Here in Matchweek 23, we get a few interesting matchups, particularly the dog-fight to be between Arsenal and Chelsea.
Another week of the English Premier League! Let’s break it all down!
MATCHWEEK 22 REVIEW
NO FLUKE: Since the Jose Mourinho firing, Manchester United has beaten teams such as Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, AFC Bournemouth, and Newcastle United — with the level of talent, there’s still been skeptics. The Red Devils put all of them to rest after shutting out No. 3 Tottenham Hotspur for a 1-0 victory — another reason why this victory is such a big deal as well is because Spurs’ manager Mauricio Pochettino was rumored to take over United when the season was finished. Now Ole Gunnar Solksjaer could have a full-time job.
DOWN GOES…: Okay, we shouldn’t make that big of a deal about the upset in Matchweek 22, but No.5 Arsenal did go down by the hands (well, feet) of No. 9 West Ham United. Last week, the Gunners got shutout by the Irons and took the 1-0 loss. Being a hefty 16 points behind Liverpool for the lead on the EPL Table, a loss was the last thing that Arsenal wanted to take in this stage of the season. Things don’t get any easier for the Gunners either this matchweek — they square off against powerhouse Chelsea.
RELEGATION ZONE: MWe had a battle in the relegation zone last week between No. 17 Cardiff City and No. 20 Huddersfield Town, and well, it went exactly how we thought it would. In a contest that provided us poor quality of play, and honestly a snorefest, it ultimately ended up in a 1-1 draw and neither club was able to gain in the EPL Table. Luckily for Cardiff, they still sit right outside of the zone in the 17th position with 19 points. Unfortunately for Huddersfield, they better get on the ball — they’re dead last in the Premier League at 20th with only 11 points.
Be sure to check out our top recommended sites for this weeks EPL matches.
MATCHWEEK 23 PREDICTIONS
This week’s top five games to keep an eye on are:
- No. 5 Arsenal (12-5-5) vs. No. 4 Chelsea (14-5-3)
- No. 11 Wolverhampton Wanderers (8-5-9) vs. No. 8 Leicester City (9-4-9)
- No. 12 AFC Bournemouth (8-3-11) vs. West Ham United (9-4-9)
- No. 18 Newcastle United (4-6-12) vs. No. 17 Cardiff City (5-4-13)
- No. 6 Manchester United (12-5-5) vs. No. 13 Brighton Hove & Albion (7-5-10)
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS VS. LEICESTER CITY (SATURDAY, 7:30 AM ET) (TV: NBCSN, UNIVERSO)
Though No. 8 Leicester City (9-4-9) (Form: 40%) comes in with the slight statistical edge and better resume, No. 11 Wolverhampton Wanderers (8-5-9) (Form: 47%) come in as the +125 favorite. And that’s understandable considering the Wolves aren’t far off in the numbers and are at home — we have balance. And also note: Leicester City has dropped back into inconsistency.
If it got much closer in goal production, the teams would be exactly identical — the Foxes only have a +0.1 advantage at 1.2 average goals-scored-per-match. Wolverhampton is at the 1.1 mark. In average conversion rate, Leicester has a +2 advantage hitting 13% of their shots in comparison to the 11% of the Wolves. The starpower is nearly even, with the Foxes’ top-scorer Jamie Vardy having a +1 edge with seven goals — Wolverhampton’s Raul Jimenez has six. In goal protection, it’s once again Leicester City with the tight advantage averaging out at 1.1 average goals conceded-per-match — the Wolves sit at 1.3
With the home ground advantage that Wolverhampton has, the numbers balance out, if not lean in favor of the Wolves. And not just that, but you can’t trust the inconsistency of Leicester City — especially on the road. Wolverhampton Wanderers by one.
PREDICTION: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2, Leicester City 1
AFC BOURNEMOUTH VS. WEST HAM UNITED (SATURDAY, 10:00 AM ET) (TV: NBCSG)
We have near dead-even odds in the game between No. 12 AFC Bournemouth (8-3-11) (Form: 7%) and No. 9 West Ham United (9-4-9) (Form: 67%) — were only separated by +/-40. The reason why it’s in favor of Bournemouth is because of their 5-3-3 record at home, but the losing streak that the Cherries have been on as of late scares the bookmakers for a big favorite — I concur.
Coming in, neither team has an edge in the statistical race with nothing but even numbers to gaze at. In average goals scored-per-match, both clubs are in a dead-heat sitting at 1.4 — the same goes for hitting their shots. West Ham only has a +1 advantage hitting 16% of their shots over AFC Bournemouth’s 15%, the biggest edge of the game tied with starpower. In that, however, the Cherries counter the Irons being +1 themselves. AFC Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson has been solid this season with nine goals, but so has the Irons’ Felipe Anderson sitting at eight. On defense, the slight edge goes right back to West Ham United — they lead with 1.5 average goals conceded-per-match compared to Bournemouth’s 1.9.
An interesting factor going into the game is that the only seven times the clubs have met, the Cherries have a slight 3-2-2 winning record over the Irons — you really can’t get more even in this match based off of the numbers. With that being said, I have no choice but to take AFC Bournemouth for the victory — but it’ll be a battle. Should be a very entertaining game to watch.
PREDICTION: AFC Bournemouth 2, West Ham United 1
LIVERPOOL VS. CRYSTAL PALACE (SATURDAY, 10:00 AM ET) (TV: NBCSN)
A massive blowout alert needs to be issued — especially with -549 odds vs. +1400. No. 1 Liverpool (18-3-1) (Form: 60%) isn’t just at home in this matchup, but they obviously slaughter No. 14 Crystal Palace (6-4-12) (Form: 47%) in the numbers. Things could get ugly in this one, folks.
Only a -0.6 difference separates the Reds from having a +2 advantage in average goals scored-per-match over the Eagles — Liverpool sits at 2.3, while Crystal Palace fails to eclipse the one mark at 0.9. In average conversion rate, a full +10 advantage is on the side of the Reds. They’ve been magnificent this season hitting 20% of their shots — Crystal has hit just 10% in comparison. In another blowout on paper, the club’s top scorers have a +/-8 difference. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has been brilliant, tied for first in the league with 14 goals — Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are even with Salah. The Eagles top scorer is Luka Milivojevic with six. In goal protection, it’s a complete overhaul in favor of Liverpool — the Reds have been elite this season at 0.5, Crystal Palace sits at 1.3.
You see? Just an absolute slaughter in the numbers game. And matters will get even worse for the Eagles being at Anfield. Liverpool rolls to wins big.
PREDICTION: Liverpool 4, Crystal Palace 0
MANCHESTER UNITED VS. BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION (SATURDAY, 10:00 AM ET) (TV: CNBC, UNIVERSO)
With the roll that No. 6 Manchester United (12-5-5) (Form: 100%) has been on as of late, No. 13 Brighton & Hove Albion (7-5-10) (Form: 53%) should be highly concerned coming into this one. And the odds agree, the Seagulls are a whopping +1000 underdog.
On the offensive side of things, Man United has eclipsed the elite two mark this season sitting at a 2.0 average — Brighton has barely broke one at 1.1. In hitting their shots, the Red Devils come in with a +5 advantage with a steaming 20% mark. The Seagulls haven’t been that bad themselves, however, knocking 15% into the net. Both top-scorers of the clubs (Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku and Brighton & Hove Albion’s Glenn Murray) both have eight goals for the season, but overall, United has a load of a lot more tools in their arsenal than Brighton does. On the defensive side, the numbers line up pretty evenly with the Seagulls having the narrow +0.1 advantage at 1.4 average goals scored-per-match — the Devils are 1.5.
Since Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has taken over, Manchester United has been on a roll — they’re currently on a six-match winning streak in all competition. Being at home and having a lot more firepower on the roster, you can expect the Red Devils to extend that streak to seven — I have United winning in dominating fashion.
PREDICTION: Manchester United 3, Brighton & Hove Albion 0
NEWCASTLE UNITED VS. CARDIFF CITY (SATURDAY, 10:00 AM ET) (TV: NBCSG)
With No. 18 Newcastle United (4-6-12) (Form: 33%) trying to claw their way out of the relegation zone and No. 17 Cardiff City (5-4-13) (Form: 33%) fighting to stay out of it, you know this weekend’s match between the two clubs will be pure entertainment. Expect the intensity to be high at St. James’ Park.
Neither team comes in with a significant advantage on the statistical side. In offensive production, Cardiff sits with a +0.2 advantage tallying 0.9 average goals scored-per-match, Newcastle knocks in 0.7. The Bluebirds have another advantage in average conversion rate, +2 hitting 11% of their shots compared to the Magpies’ 9%. In the club’s top-scorers, Newcastle has that edge with Salomon Rondon (5) being +1 over Bluebird Callum Paterson’s four goals. On the defensive side, that’s another narrow edge that Newcastle holds — they’ve allowed 1.4 average goals conceded-per-match, while Cardiff has a 1.9 mark.
It should be a highly contested match, and with Newcastle being at home and knowing they need points to get out of the relegation zone, I can see the Magpies being a little more fiery in this one. As a result, Newcastle United takes the dog-fight.
PREDICTION: Newcastle United 2, Cardiff City 1
SOUTHAMPTON VS. EVERTON (SATURDAY, 10:00 AM ET) (TV: NBCSG)
I’m guessing it’s because No. 16 Southampton (4-7-11) (Form: 33%) is home, but I’m a bit confused of why the odds are so close at +/-13 — though I do agree about No. 10 Everton (8-6-8) (Form: 60%) being the favorite. Everton is currently positioned No. 10 on the EPL Table, while Southampton is fighting to stay out of the relegation zone at No. 16.
Another reason why I’m surprised the odds are so close is due to the statistics. Though not a drastic difference between the two clubs, the Toffees do come in with the advantage in every category. In goal production, Everton has put up a 1.5 tally — a +0.4 advantage over the Saints’ 1.1. In conversion rate, the Toffees have a +5 advantage hitting 16% of their shots, while Southampton sits at 11%. In firepower, it’s another advantage for Everton — this time +2 with their top-scorer Richarlison having nine goals, while Saints’ Danny Ings has seven. On the defensive side, it’s the Toffees’ again — +0.4 with 1.4 average goals scored-per-match, Southampton is at 1.8.
I’ll give the odds-makers this: I can see the match being close due to Southampton being at home, I’ll even give them a goal, but I can see Everton taking at least 60-65% of the possession time for a considerably easy win. Toffees by one to put them over .500.
PREDICTION: Everton 2, Southampton 1
WATFORD VS. BURNLEY (SATURDAY, 10:00 AM ET) (TV: NBCSG)
No. 7 Watford (9-5-8) (Form: 53%) has the better record, resume and it’s a statistical landslide in their favor — and oh yeah, they’re at home too. Lingering near the relegation zone, No. 15 Burnley (6-3-13) (Form: 80%) have their work cut out for them in a match that seems to have the odds dramatically stacked against them.
In average goals scored-per-match, the Hornets have put up a 1.5 tally — the Clarets are -0.4 at 1.1. It’s +2 for Watford in the conversion rate, they’ve hit 17% of their shots in comparison to Burnley’s 15%. Another +2 edge goes in favor of the Hornets in individual talent as well — their top-scorer Roberto Pereyra has six goals for the season, while Clarets’ Ashley Barnes has four. On the defensive side, it’s +0.5 for Watford allowing 1.5 goals into their net. Burnley has been horrendous this season eclipsing the two mark at 2.0.
With the match being at the Hornets’ Vicarage Road and all of the statistics being in favor of Watford, you already know the deal. Hornets get the easy win, and dominate in possession time.
PREDICTION: Watford 2, Burnley 0
ARSENAL VS. CHELSEA (MATCH OF THE WEEK) (SATURDAY, 12:30 PM ET) (TV: NBC, UNIVERSO)
We have a very fascinating game this week for our match of the week between No. 5 Arsenal (12-5-5) (Form: 47%) and No. 4 Chelsea (14-5-3) (Form: 67%). The Gunners come in with the more high-powered offense, while the Blues hold a lock-down defense on their side. Oh man, this one will be fun — and a huge test for Chelsea and their consistency.
Even though Arsenal holds the edge on the offensive side, it’s only by a slim margin — +/-0.3 to be exact — the Gunners are at 2.1 average goals scored-per-match, while the Blues are at 1.8. In average conversion rate, both teams shoot well, but Arsenal eclipses the 20 mark at 21% (+4) — Chelsea sits at 17%. Another +4 advantage for the Gunners is in star-power as well, with their top-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang racking up a power 14 goals. That’s tied for first in the English Premier League. Though Eden Hazard isn’t bad, he’s -4 behind Aubameyang with 10. On the defensive end, the edge then shifts in favor of Chelsea — they have an elite defense that’s only allowed 0.8 average goals conceded-per-match. That’s +0.7 over Arsenal’s 1.5.
Arsenal comes in with home ground advantage and the offensive edge, but Chelsea counters it with an offensive game themselves and a shut-down defense. With that being said, give me Chelsea and Arsenal to balance out and finish in a draw in an intense game.
PREDICTION: Arsenal 1, Chelsea 1
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN VS. MANCHESTER CITY (SUNDAY, 8:30 AM ET) (TV: NBCSN, TELEMUNDO)
A serious blowout alert needs to be issued. In this match, we have a “battle” between defending champion No. 2 Manchester City (17-2-3) (Form: 100%) and the team dead last in the EPL, No. 20 Huddersfield Town (2-5-15) (Form: 7%). Things may get ugly quick in this one.
Going in, the statistical matchup is completely in favor of City — as a matter of fact, it’s a complete slaughter on paper when you go by the numbers. In goals, the Sky Blues have an incredible +2.1 advantage hitting a massively potent 2.7 average goals scored-per-match. The Terriers come in at 2.7. To make things worse for Huddersfield, they’re -14 in average conversion rate. Man City has just been lethal this season eclipsing the 20 mark at 21%. Huddersfield, on the other hand, fails to even hit 10 at 7%. It’s also a drastic +7 edge in individual talent as well: Sky Blues’ Sergio Aguero has 10 goals this year to lead his team, while Mathias Jorgensen leads the Terriers with just 3 — not good. And it doesn’t get any better on defense for Huddersfield: They’re -0.9. The Terriers’ defense has been dismal allowing 1.7 goals into their net-per-game, while City has been elite at 0.8.
Based on the numbers alone, you should already know what to expect: The Sky Blues will roll into John’s Smith’s Stadium and turn it into their conquered Blowout City. Manchester City wins big in this one, folks.
PREDICTION: Manchester City 4, Huddersfield Town 0
FULHAM VS. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (SUNDAY, 11:00 AM ET) (TV: NBCSN, TELEMUNDO)
The couple of games on Sunday’s slate are just terrible matchups. In the second (and last) game of the day, one of the top clubs in the league No. 3 Tottenham Hotspur (16-0-6) (Form: 60%) squares off against next-to-dead-last No. 19 Fulham (3-5-14) (Form: 27%).
Similar to the Manchester City-Huddersfield Town game, the numbers don’t match up at all — it’s in the complete direction of the Spurs over the Cottagers. Starting on offense, Tottenham has been elite this year averaging 2.1 goals scored-per-match — a complete overhaul on Fulham’s 0.9. In average conversion rate, it’s another elite number hitting the 20 mark at 20% even. That’s a +10 advantage over the Cottagers’ 10%. In firepower, it’s the same story. Spurs’ Harry Kane has been magnificent in scoring this season, tied for first in the Premier League with 14 goals — that’s +6 over Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic. When we shift to defense, it’s again more domination for Tottenham. They’ve been elite at 1.0 average goals conceded-per-match, a +1.2 advantage over the 2.2 mark of Fulham.
On Sunday, we have two matches. And on Sunday, we should also have two blowouts. Tottenham Hotspur takes care of business at Craven Cottage and gets a distant victory over Fulham.