Sunday 12:00

Using expected goals (xG) data, Infogol’s Jake Osgathorpe picks out the best bets from across the weekend’s Premier League action.

Infogol is a revolutionary football product, which harnesses Opta data to power an expected goals model. Expected Goals quantifies the quality of a scoring opportunity, allocating each chance a probability of it finding the back of the net. 

The xG metric can be used to assess teams and their performances, and it also helps to give an insight into future prospects, which in turn helps with betting.

Aston Villa vs Southampton

Aston Villa’s price for the title plummeted last week after their win at Leicester, but that was laughable in my opinion, and has now rightly drifted back out to a still too short 176.0.

Dean Smith’s side were well-beaten by Leeds last Friday, as they couldn’t deal with the high-press of Marcelo Bielsa’s side, allowing turnovers in their own defensive third far too often (xG: AVL 1.5 – 2.7 LEE).

That game was their worst defensive performance according to xG since pre-lockdown, highlighting how impressive they were post-break, but they face a team here who play in a similar manner to Leeds in their intensity and the way they press the football.

After a slow start, Southampton have got going in recent weeks, picking up 10 points from a possible 12 after a 2-0 win over league leaders Everton.

That game in particular was impressive, mainly due to the way in which they stifled Everton’s previously potent attack, limiting them to just 0.3 xG.

Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side continue to play at a ferocious pace, which if unmatched, blows their opponents away, and that should again lead to a positive result in this game.

Saints have averaged 1.4 xGF and 1.1 xGA per game so far this season, some impressive underlying numbers, and now that they have hit their stride, I am surprised to see them second favourites in this game.

The Infogol model makes them favs in this game, so there is value in backing an away win at a big price (2.87), but I do respect Villa’s backline, so taking a more cautious approach is the way I will play this one.

Backing Southampton draw no bet at odds against is a solid selection in my opinion.

Selection – Southampton Draw no Bet @ 21/20

Sunday 16:30

Manchester United vs Arsenal

Manchester United continue to lay down markers in Europe’s premier competition, as they followed up their win in Paris against 19/20 Champions League runners-up by thrashing the 19/20 semi-finalists and current Bundesliga leaders (xG: MUN 2.6 – 0.5 RBL).

The way in which RB Leipzig set up on Wednesday suited United, as they could play on the counter-attack, which is their best asset given the players they have.

We saw how much they can struggle against teams that sit in a low block, as Chelsea did at Old Trafford last weekend in a drab goalless draw, and this game could see the same pattern.

Arsenal suffered their third defeat of the season at home to Leicester last weekend, a tight game of fine margins that was decided by a Vardy counter-attack goal.

Their process this season remains in the negative (1.2 xGF, 1.3 xGA per game), which is not what many would expect, but their main issue in my opinion is coming in attack.

Improvements have been made in defence, with the rigid structure put in place making them a tougher team to breakdown, but they remain rigid in attack, meaning a lack of fluidity and flair.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is struggling as a result, with the Gabon forward failing to score in his last five league outings. In total this term, he has been on the end of 0.44 xG in total. In 19/20, he averaged 0.45 xG per average match (95 mins). Mikel Arteta isn’t using his best asset the right way.

Given how the Gunners have set up in recent games against the league’s better teams, I expect them to play in a low-block and try and counter attack, which could thwart United’s attack.

I don’t expect too many goals in this game given the trends of both teams, and the Infogol model probabilities makes under 2.5 goals an even money shot, so odds against is value.

Selection – Under 2.5 Goals @ 23/20

Monday 17:30

Fulham vs West Brom

The battle of the two favourites for relegation this season.

Fulham remain winless after a disappointing home defeat to Crystal Palace in which they again conceded a host of chances (xG: FUL 1.0 – 2.7 CRY), this time to a team who had been struggling in attack.

They sit second bottom of our xG table, with the second worst defence according to expected goals (1.95 xGA per game), with their attack not much better (1.11 xGF per game).

I feel as though Scott Parker isn’t getting the best out of this squad, and that was the case last season too, where they were fortunate to make the play-offs (7th xG table in Championship).

West Brom have tightened things up defensively of late, but still boast the worst xGA total (12.3) and xGF total (3.3) through six matches.

A draw at Brighton was a good result, but they struggled to create good chances once again, with their xGF per game of 0.55 on pace to be historically bad.

Since 14/15, when Infogol started collecting Premier League data, the worst attacking teams in a single season have been Huddersfield in 18/19 (0.89 xGF per game) and Aston Villa in 15/16 (0.82 xGF per game).

This is a six-pointer and should be cagey with neither team wanting to lose.

Couple that with the shocking attacking numbers we have seen from these two sides, and the under 2.5 goals looks a strong value play, with the model making under 2.5 a 1.4 shot.

Selection – Under 2.5 Goals @ 4/5

Monday 20:00

Leeds vs Leicester

Leeds made a statement last Friday with their dominant performance against then-unbeaten Aston Villa, with Patrick Bamford netting a hat-trick to take his tally to six.

Bamford is getting his revenge on xG, with those goals coming from 3.4 xG this term after scoring only 16 times from chances equating to 24.3 xG in the 19/20 Championship.

Overall, I have been impressed with what Marcelo Bielsa’s side have done, but along with the thrilling games, they have thrown in some low-scoring ones too against the more organised units.

Leicester fall into the category of a well-organised team, with Brendan Rodgers’ side a far cry from the high-octane, back-to-front unit that won the Premier League in 15/16.

They are a possession-based side that bide their time in matches, as shown against Arsenal last weekend, where they limited the Gunners well before crafting one big chance late on (xG: ARS 1.0 – 0.9 LEI).

Process-wise, they have been solid through six games (1.57 xGF, 1.20 xGA per game), and this is an intriguing match-up of styles between the high-press of Leeds and the possession preference play of the Foxes.

I feel as though this game could be like what we saw when Leeds played Wolves, with the teams cancelling eachother out in a cautious game.

In that case, goals don’t look on the cards, and the 2.12 available about under 2.5 goals looks too big, with the model pricing unders at odds on.

Selection – Under 2.5 Goals @ 11/10