Fresh from predicting six correct results, three correct scores and a 7/1 winning double last weekend, our betting expert Jones Knows is back with more predictions.
Crystal Palace vs Newcastle, Friday 8pm
Is there anything better in life than being tucked up in a national lockdown, watching Roy Hodgson and Steve Bruce teams play football? Remember, 2020 has been a year for managing boredom – a skill you can put it to good use for this one. Goals should be in short supply.
With no Wilfried Zaha, Palace will be lacking a game-changer in their ranks. In the 16 games Zaha has not started in the last three seasons Palace average just 0.4 goals per-game without him, in comparison to 1.2 with him. We all know what Newcastle will bring to the party; not much entertainment. Bruce will set them up to be hard to beat. The 0-0 looks a runner.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 0-0 (15/2 with Sky Bet)
Brighton vs Liverpool, Saturday 12.30pm
Were Liverpool really Evens to beat Leicester at home? Or did I dream that? Usually a price like that comes with a too good to be true tag. But no, we all doubled our money.
That performance rubberstamped Jurgen Klopp’s team as the most likely winners of the Premier League. Even at 11/8 with Sky Bet the argument can be made to back them when analysing the performance metrics. They lead the way for total shots inside the box (105), expected goals (20.44) and big chances created (23) – all strong barometers of a dominant team. Plus, they have shipped only three goals since Virgil van Dijk’s season was ended – only Chelsea and Manchester United have conceded fewer in that period. Klopp is skillfully plugging that gap.
If there was a market for Brighton to get their tummies tickled by pundits for a spirited defeat in this one, I would be a backer of ‘yes’. Despite some strong performances, they have not won any of their last eight home matches at the Amex, including against Burnley and West Brom. With the influential Tariq Lamptey suspended too, I just cannot foresee how Brighton will be good enough in both boxes to seriously trouble Liverpool.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-3 (10/1 with Sky Bet)
Manchester City vs Burnley, Saturday 3pm – Win £250,000 for free with Super 6!
Manchester City remain a team overrated by the markets. If you are thinking about taking the 1/7 for a home win here then you are doing it all wrong.
As I have explained in previous weeks, this underwhelming start to the season is more than just a blip. Pep Guardiola’s men are not strangling teams with intensity anymore and all the metrics point to steep decline in the quality of chances created.
Many see the visit of Burnley as a perfect fixture for them. A chance to batter a team to get their confidence flowing, it is where their season could start, apparently. I do not agree.
Burnley’s low block is among the best around – according to ‘expected goals against’ data, Burnley have the second-best defence in the Premier League this season – and City are not flowing anywhere near their creative best. Burnley can make this a fiddly afternoon for Pep’s boys.
However, am I brave enough to go against a side that have won by an aggregate score of 22-1 in the last six meetings between the two? No.
A low scoring City win looks the answer with under 2.5 goals in a home win standing out to me at 3/1.
They will find a way through but yet again I am not sure it will be vintage City.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-0 (7/1 with Sky Bet)
Everton vs Leeds, Saturday 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
You are advised to make space in the diary for this one. It should be an adrenaline-fuelled ‘attack, attack, attack’ football match.
Carlo Ancelotti has yet to really find a balance at Everton, but boy are they dangerous going forward. Leeds have slightly more confidence and belief in their gung-ho structure but do not possess the same level of finishing as Everton in forward areas. That may hold them back this season. That said, I am certain Ancelotti’s team will present them with plenty of opportunities this weekend.
Everton have shipped 16 goals this campaign, the fourth-worst record in the league, and look vulnerable to pace and trickery in wide areas especially with no Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne available. Down the flanks is where Leeds like to dig for gold, so I am happy to get them on side in this one with a high scoring draw the play.
A bet to focus on is Jack Harrison to grab an assist at 5/1 with Sky Bet. Having watched him closely this season, it is easy to see why he is so highly regarded by Marcelo Bielsa and everyone at Leeds. Against Arsenal last weekend, there was a period in the first half where his direct dribbling and clever passing down the left made him borderline unplayable – he created three glorious chances but all were spurred.
Only Mohamed Salah and Bruno Fernandes have created more chances for his team-mates from open play than Harrison in the Premier League. He is in elite company for good reason. His numbers are no fluke and a third assist of the campaign is due.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-2 (20/1 with Sky Bet)
ALSO LOOK OUT FOR: Jack Harrison to get an assist (5/1 with Sky Bet)
West Brom vs Sheffield United, Saturday 8pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
If you are asking me who do I think will finish higher this season: West Brom or Sheffield United, then I would be placing all my chips down on Chris Wilder’s men. He is a master of his trade and will find a way to get his squad winning games again.
However, the confidence issue within his squad really puts me off them this weekend, even if they are facing – statistically – the worst team in the division. Wilder’s team are in the midst of a narrative that many relegation-threatened teams go though. A period of playing well and losing games completely dents the confidence within a squad, who then go on to play badly and lose games. That was in full show against West Ham.
This could be the turning point. But, since promotion, the Blades have played 14 games without their first-choice defence and won just one of those fixtures. Jack O’Connell is still five months away from fitness, which is a big issue.
These sides are on the two longest winless runs in England’s top four divisions – 12 for Sheff Utd, 13 for West Brom.
That winless run for both may continue.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Southampton vs Manchester United, Sunday 2pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
Manchester United are a perfect example of how one major incident can give a skewed perception of the reality.
Memories of Demba Ba charging through an unguarded United defence in comical fashion still linger but an overall view at United’s defensive numbers would deem it harsh to define them by that moment of chaotic organisation.
Since shipping six at home to Tottenham, United have officially been the most defensively sound team in the Premier League, conceding the fewest goals (3), facing the joint-fewest amount of shots (34) and producing an ‘expected goals against’ figure of just 3.14 – the lowest figure of any Premier League side. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, yet again, has found a solution to a problem and is starting to see the best of Bruno Fernandes in a slightly more advanced role. It makes them a tough team to beat.
Southampton are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games, taking 17 points from 21 available and have the better manager in the dugout for this encounter. However, Ralph Hasenhutt can only work with the tools at his disposal and it is difficult to see Theo Walcott remaining an adequate replacement for Danny Ings in the short-term. A new club record of eight consecutive away league wins looks on the agenda for United.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 0-2 (7/1 with Sky Bet)
Chelsea vs Tottenham, Sunday 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
Huge match. Although Chelsea have hit a purple patch of form, I feel this is a great time for Tottenham to head to west London.
Not only will the players be bursting with confidence in the way the team structure is working, Chelsea’s hold over them at Stamford Bridge – losing just one of the last 34 meetings – is null and void due to the behind closed doors factor. This game is usually played in a hatred filled, ferocious atmosphere which Chelsea have fed off to their advantage – not this time.
In these big games between teams with title ambitions, my immediate instinct is to see whether the draw is the biggest price of all three match outcomes. In this case it is. A stalemate suits both parties and if the game is level with 30 minutes to play we could see a repeat of what happened between Manchester City and Liverpool where the game fizzled out completely.
Since the start of Spurs’ four-game winning run, only Jack Grealish – in a league of his own in terms of drawing opposition – has won more fouls in the Premier League than Harry Kane.
From a betting perspective, this significantly increases the likelihood of opposition players within his vicinity picking up yellow cards.
N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma all are going to be tasked with stopping Kane getting into dangerous positions. A tactic employed by Frank Lampard’s side when the two teams met in December last year, a game Chelsea won 2-0. Zouma, especially, was very aggressive in the way he engaged Kane to the extent he was booked for a thumping challenge with 33 minutes gone. He is 9/2 to get a card. That is well worth jumping on.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1 (11/2 with Sky Bet)
ALSO LOOK OUT FOR: Kurt Zouma to receive a card (9/2 with Sky Bet)
Arsenal vs Wolves, Sunday 7.15pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
It’s all gone a bit Unai Emery for Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal are playing with no cohesion, the boss does not know his best XI, especially in forward areas and it has been 476 minutes since they scored Premier League goal from open play. This means you could have boarded a plane to New York, landed at the other end, and Arsenal still would not have scored in that period. I simply cannot have a home win on my mind with Wolves in town when assessing the prices.
I am always keen to keep Nuno’s team on my side when they travel to a so-called big-six team, bar Man City or Liverpool.
Since promotion, in eight trips to Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal, they have only been on the end of a defeat just once. They have the ability to suck the life out of games, then strike when the opportunity arises. The last two meetings at The Emirates between these two ended level – a repeat scenario could be on the cards.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Leicester vs Fulham, Monday 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
The ability to kick the ball properly from 12 yards is basically the reason why Leicester are on a positive trajectory and Fulham a negative one. Fulham’s three penalty misses have effectively cost them four points this season while Leicester’s seven penalties scored has turned rather average performance metrics into wins – to the extent that they started last weekend top of the Premier League.
A reality check came at Liverpool though and if Fulham can restrict space for Jamie Vardy, then Leicester might struggle to reward those taking a short price on the home win. That is a big ‘if’ though – Fulham have conceded 18 Premier League goals (joint-most with West Brom) including five in the opening 10 minutes of matches.
However, Leicester’s two home defeats against West Ham and Aston Villa still are etched in my mind. In both performances they looked toothless without space for Vardy or Harvey Barnes to work in.
Having faith in Fulham may lead me over the cliff eventually but their attacking play keeps drawing me in to thinking that Scott Parker might just get it right. Since Deadline Day, only Leeds, Man City, Man Utd and Liverpool have had more shots on goal than Parker’s boys. I’m backing them to get a result.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1 (7/1 with Sky Bet)
West Ham vs Aston Villa, Monday 8pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League
The best defensive record at home meets the best defensive record away. Something has to give? Or will it?
Who would have thought we would be talking with such positivity about these two sides at the start of the Premier League season? Aston Villa have yet to concede a goal in three wins away from Villa Park as the performances of Douglas Luiz in front of his back four is taking Villa to levels that looked impossible to reach at times last season. But for the highs of the wins over Liverpool, Leicester and Arsenal, there does remain consistency issues as shown by the defeat at home to Brighton. I cannot back them here.
West Ham – whose 14 points from nine games is their best tally at this stage in five years – will have a plan for Jack Grealish in what is bound to be a tight affair.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1 (5/1 with Sky Bet)