Jones Knows is back in the prediction chair and thinks Sheffield United can improve their chances of a great escape by beating Chelsea.
Tottenham Hotspur vs West Bromwich Albion, Sunday 12pm
Like many Premier League matches, the match result and correct score market represent no strong betting angles in this one. For the purposes of a prediction, a home win is obviously the most likely result as the Baggies will wilt under significant attacking pressure, like they’ve done all season. But you already knew that.
However, West Brom to get caught offside three or more times at 9/4 with Sky Bet does appeal for those looking for an angle in.
A switch to an unashamedly direct approach under Sam Allardyce has seen an upturn in the amount of times West Brom are getting caught offside. In four of the last 10 games in all competitions, the Baggies have been caught offside three or more times. And with Spurs happy to allow opposition plenty of territory – only Liverpool have caught more players offside this season than Jose Mourinho’s side – then West Brom’s long-ball approach can yield three offsides.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-0
BETTING ANGLE: West Brom to have three or more offsides (9/4 with Sky Bet)
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Leicester City, Sunday 2.15pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
This has low-scoring written all over it. But the markets are in agreement with the under 2.5 goals price much shorter than for your average Premier League encounter at 8/13.
Despite being able to call back upon Jamie Vardy and Wilfred Ndidi for this one, I’m still not quite able to trust Leicester in a game where they’ll be allowed to have the ball and space in behind will be at a premium.
Since thrashing Manchester City 5-2, in games where they’ve had more possession that their opponents they’ve taken just 12 points from a possible 33 available with an average expected goals figure of just 1.15 per fixture. That isn’t anywhere near top-four standard and just might be the reason why the Foxes will fall short of consistently competing with the elite again this campaign.
Both fixtures last season between these two finished goalless and another 0-0 makes sense at 8/1.
A betting angle to consider is Youri Tielemans to pick up a booking.
No team have attempted more dribbles than Wolves this season with Pedro Neto and Adama Traore happy to cut in and draw fouls from opponents. No Leicester player has been dribbled past more than Tielemans (39) this season and he ranks third in the overall ranking of all players in the Premier League – only Conor Gallagher and Bruno Fernandes have been skipped past more often. The offering of 4/1 certainly underestimates the chances of him picking up his fifth booking of the season.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 0-0
BETTING ANGLE: Youri Tielemans to be carded (4/1 with Sky Bet)
Liverpool vs Manchester City, Sunday 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
Pep Guardiola is a different animal this season. No longer does he yearn for ‘beautiful football’, all he cares about is ‘winning football’, with a particular craving for clean sheets. In such a congested and frantic season his long-term strategy of plotting the way through the season steadily perhaps could be his greatest masterstroke yet.
City fans will detest me saying it, but it’s very Sir Alex Ferguson-like. And what did Ferguson do in big games away from home? He’d take a point all day long.
That’s why I think City are a tad too short at 21/20 here for victory. If the game is level pegging with 30 minutes to go, Guardiola will say thank you very much.
A common theme this season in meetings between the top three teams has been a lack of goals according to what the market expects. All three fixtures involving Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United have ended as draws with two of those finishing 0-0.
It’s most certainly relevant that Liverpool haven’t scored in any of their last three Premier League home games, with their current goalless run at Anfield standing at 348 minutes. And when you throw in Manchester City conceding just 13 goals in 21 Premier League games this season, keeping a clean sheet in each of their last six, the chances of another 0-0 look pretty plausible.
More plausible than the 16/1 on offer, I’d suggest.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 0-0 (16/1 with Sky Bet)
Sheffield United vs Chelsea, Sunday 7.15pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
Chelsea are vulnerable at Bramall Lane with the 4/9 for an away win just begging to be taken on.
It’s far too early to be making sweeping statements regarding Thomas Tuchel’s style and ability to take Chelsea places.
I agreed with Jose Mourinho in the aftermath of Chelsea’s win at Spurs. For all their possession and silky build-up play at Tottenham, Chelsea scored via a penalty and Edouard Mendy did make more saves than Hugo Lloris.
Spurs weren’t unlucky but Chelsea didn’t dominate the game to the extent that many onlookers suggested. In the three games under Tuchel, Chelsea have created just two big chances according to Opta – and one of those was that Jorginho penalty. In that period 15 teams have created more big chances and considering Chelsea have played Burnley and Wolves at home in that run, it’s actually a very worrying statistic. Still want to back them at 4/9?
We’ve not seen Tuchel’s team come under any significant pressure defensively in his first three matches in charge either – but we might here. And, with Thiago Silva missing, they can be got at.
One of Tuchel’s tactical tweaks has been to select Marcos Alonso down the left side of his defence. He seems to trust him but those that have watched Alonso enough over the years know he’s very poor positionally. Remember Chelsea’s first-half display against West Brom in September? Alonso was at fault for two of the three goals and never played for Frank Lampard again after that.
I’m expecting the axis of Chris Basham and Jayden Bogle down the Blades’ right to expose Alonso when Chris Wilder’s men get the territory. As my colleague Kate Burlaga pointed out, no centre-back has created more chances or attempted more take-ons than Basham this season.
His link-up with Bogle was very savvy in the comeback win over West Brom – it was the Blades back to their best. A performance level that actually beat Chelsea by an aggregate score of 5-2 over two meetings between the teams last season.
Additionally, in his last three home matches the dangerous Bogle has had eight shots on goal. He can fire a shot at goal in this one, especially up against Alonso. One goal might just be enough for Wilder’s boys who restricted the two Manchester clubs to just two goals combined in their recent away days. The 11/1 for the Blades to win without conceding is certainly a runner.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-0
BETTING ANGLE: Sheffield United to avoid defeat and Jayden Bogle to have one shot (4/1 with Sky Bet)
Leeds United vs Crystal Palace, Monday 8pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
Trying to predict match outcomes and results in the Premier League is a tough job at the best of times but Leeds make it an impossible one. Since drawing 0-0 with Arsenal on November 22 they’ve won six and lost six of their last 12 matches. Apart from a low-key performance at home to Brighton they remain quite consistent in their process but working out how their process will affect a certain game in terms of the result has been hurting my brain.
Yes, six of Leeds’ nine Premier League wins this season have been against teams in the bottom half but Palace thumped them 4-1 in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park and Roy Hodgson’s men arrive here with back-to-back wins under their belt. Like many Premier League football matches, all three match outcomes are easily argued with the odds on offer. With Palace’s injury troubles, I’ll edge towards a home win with no confidence behind it.
With the way Leeds play at such relentless speed, the game gets stretched on plenty of occasions in their fixtures. Palace like to play on the break and rank fourth for most fouls won this season in the Premier League.
Mateusz Klich usually finds himself exposed chasing back counters and it’s no surprise to see him ranked third of all players in the Premier League for fouls conceded (37). He should give you a good run to pick up his sixth booking of the season at 13/5 with Sky Bet.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-1
BETTING ADVICE: Mateusz Klich to be carded (13/5 with Sky Bet)
Aston Villa vs Arsenal, Saturday 12.30pm
My faith in Aston Villa being a genuine top-six contender is wavering. Villa have lost four of their last six Premier League games – as many as they had in their previous 18. Have teams worked out how to stop their clever interchanges through midfield? In their last two matches, Villa have only registered 15 shots and conceded 39 on their goal.
Arsenal won’t be affording them much space either in this one. According to expected goals conceded data, their season tally of 11.48 away from home ranks them as the fourth best defence in the league. This is even more impressive considering they’ve already played Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United on the road this season.
This one looks set to be a low-scoring affair settled by a fine margin. I’m on the fence with the result.
An angle to attack at an appealing price is Ollie Watkins to have a header on target with Sky Bet at 4/1. Only Patrick Bamford (22), Aleksandar Mitrovic (19) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (18) have had more headers on goal than the in-form Watkins this season with five of those hitting the target. He managed to score a header in the reverse fixture, too.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1
ACTUAL RESULT: 1-0
BETTING ANGLE: Ollie Watkins to have a headed shot on target (4/1 with Sky Bet) – WON
Burnley vs Brighton, Saturday 3pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League (Play Super 6 to win £250,000)
It would be a mistake to judge Burnley on their last two performances. They may have mustered just three shots across their last two Premier League games (one vs Chelsea, two vs Man City), failing to register a single effort on target in those matches, but better can be expected here.
Saying that, the penny just might have dropped with Brighton.
In their last two impressive victories they’ve been rather ruthless instead of fruitless in both boxes. All the performance data suggests their process is one of a top-half side and if they’ve now found a balance within their play at both ends of the pitch, a rise up the table could be forthcoming, as highlighted in this column before the Liverpool game where they were 16/1 for a top 10 finish.
I think they’ll nick this one.
The position of Leandro Trossard in an attacking central role just off Neal Maupay has caught my eye, especially in how Sky Bet have priced up their first goalscorer market. Despite scoring the winner against Tottenham and registering a shot on target in each of his last three appearances playing in the advanced role, we’re able to get a juicy 13/2 on him opening the scoring.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-2
ACTUAL RESULT: 1-1
BETTING ANGLE: Leandro Trossard to score first (13/2 with Sky Bet) – VOID
Newcastle United vs Southampton, Saturday 3pm (Play Super 6 to win £250,000)
They must have put something in the water up on Tyneside as Newcastle have become fun to watch. There’s much more energy in the team and the back four are pushing higher up the pitch. In their last three matches, they’ve managed to fire 56 attempts at goal – that’s more than they mustered in their previous seven matches combined before that and Allan Saint-Maximin has yet to play from the start.
Yes, Steve Bruce’s boys have lost two of those three fixtures but at least now there’s a bit of spark and enjoyment in their football. It’s all the locals want.
Southampton make the long journey north with problems, too. This current four-game losing run is the longest losing run in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s league managerial career although his injury-list is easing up.
It’s unlikely they’ll shut up shop with the players they have available so this could be an action-packed game if Newcastle arrive in no-fear mode once again. With that in mind, I’m happy to take a swing at the 9/2 for Newcastle to register 16 or more shots at goal. Also, Miguel Almiron is becoming an important player just behind Callum Wilson and rates as a very interesting proposition to have a shot on target from outside the box at 4/1.
He’s had four shots from range in his last four matches, hitting the target twice and crossbar once. If you combine the 16 or more shots angle with the Almiron one, you get a tasty 28/1 shot. That’s worth a swing.
The outright prices look pretty tight to me, so when in doubt play the draw.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-2
ACTUAL RESULT: 3-2
BETTING ANGLE: Miguel Almiron to have a shot on target from outside the area & Newcastle to have 16 or more shots (28/1 with Sky Bet) – LOST
Fulham vs West Ham United, Saturday 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
West Ham fluked their way to another win on Wednesday night… only joking Hammers fans. No need to nibble at me.
A key aspect in my world of making profitable betting decisions is to admit when new evidence comes along to change a previous way of thinking. For West Ham to be capable of dismantling both Crystal Palace and Aston Villa brings forward the case that there’s more to this David Moyes team than just being reliant on a strong defensive process and set pieces. It’s taken them to 38 points – the most points they’ve had at this stage of a top-division season for 35 years.
Michail Antonio is absolutely key to these impressive recent performances. He’s now fully fit and hitting performance levels we saw after the first lockdown where he was vital to their Premier League survival. He’s now leading the line in a far superior side to that one with the Czech duo of Tomas Soucek and Vladimír Coufal providing so much steel alongside the ever-improving Declan Rice. What a player he could become.
Antonio only has two goals to his name in his last five matches but no player in the Premier League has posted a higher expected goals number in that time (3.72). Against flaky Fulham, who mirror many of their players – silky to look at but go missing at big moments in matches, he should find another way through to goal. The 13/5 for an away win and Antonio to score makes plenty of sense.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 0-2
ACTUAL RESULT: 0-0
BETTING ANGLE: Michail Antonio to score and West Ham to win (13/5 with Sky Bet) – LOST
Manchester United vs Everton, Saturday 8pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
Everton are a big price here at 5/1, aren’t they?
Carlo Ancelotti’s team won’t win any awards for their style of football, but they have won seven of their opening 10 Premier League away games, including the last four on the bounce.
Only Tottenham and Manchester City have conceded fewer goals on the road than Everton’s 10 this season as Ancelotti has shown his experience and tactical nous to make the Toffees a team with great defensive unity. They’ll surely set-up to stifle United, who still don’t look comfortable trying to break down well-oiled defences at home.
If you rid the freakish win over Southampton from your minds, then it’s very hard to get carried away with United’s record when asked to make the running in games. In home matches against West Brom, Wolves and Sheffield United, they scored just three goals and managed only one at Old Trafford when faced with Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham. They have also conceded 15 goals at home in the league so far this season – more than at this stage in any
previous Premier League campaign. And the expected goals against figure of 13.5 backs that poor metric up.
Everton are capable of frustrating the hosts and using their countering skills with Richarlison and Lucas Digne down the left, plus their big threat from set pieces, to make this a tricky evening for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 0-1
ACTUAL RESULT: 3-3
BETTING ANGLE: Everton to win to nil (11/1 with Sky Bet) – LOST