Infogol Analyst Liam Kelly takes a data-driven view of the Premier League weekend action, selecting his three best bets.
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Tottenham vs Manchester City
José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola clash in the marquee game of the Premier League weekend.
Tottenham have started their season in stellar fashion, justifiably sitting second in the table, while posting outstanding underlying metrics (2.15 xGF and 1.23 xGA per game). However, based on Infogol’s forecasted finishing positions at the end of the 2020/21 campaign, Spurs have faced the easiest schedule in the Premier League. As a result, their title credentials will be severely tested in the coming weeks, starting with this match-up against a resurgent City side. Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min’s exploits on the counter-attack provide hope for Tottenham, though, linking up to devastating effect on a consistent basis this season.
Currently sitting 10th in the league, Manchester City’s start has been fascinating from a data perspective. Their attacking numbers have significantly declined on previous seasons, creating chances equating to an average of 1.53 xGF per game. Whether that has been a bi-product of rustiness or injuries up top remains to be seen, but it has resulted in an improving defensive process, especially with the budding Rúben Dias and Aymeric Laporte partnership. Guardiola’s side have conceded only 14 non-penalty shots totalling 0.91 xG in their last three matches with Dias and Laporte at the heart of the defence, essentially shutting down opponents.
Tottenham have garnered some positive results despite being dominated by Pep Guardiola’s side in recent years. I expect Manchester City to dominate this match-up again but leave London with all three points this time. Despite City’s somewhat muted displays this season, we could be in for a high-scoring affair, too. Manchester City to win and Over 2.5 Goals at 6/4 is the value play.
Selection – Manchester City to win and Over 2.5 Goals @ 6/4
Manchester United vs West Brom
An ideal opportunity for Manchester United to end their Premier League winless run at Old Trafford. United’s excellent 3-1 comeback win at Everton last time out (xG: EVE 0.49 – 1.81 MUN) saw them move up to 14th place in the table, deservedly capitalising on a much-improved defensive process. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side have limited opponents to an average of 0.81 xGA per game after the October international break.
West Brom enter this game as the worst team in the Premier League based on xG, and by some distance. Slaven Bilić’s side have recorded over 1.0 xG in just one game this season, averaging a measly 0.60 xGF per game. That would be the lowest on record since Infogol began collecting Premier League data in 2014. The Baggies are struggling defensively, too, conceding chances equating to 1.98 xGA per game on average.
Predicting a Manchester United win is hardly imaginative, but, given their recent strength at the back and West Brom’s limitations in attack, forecasting a clean sheet en route to obtaining three points represents good value at 6/5.
Selection – Manchester United to win to nil @ 6/5
Wolves vs Southampton
Although they sit in the top half, Wolves have yet to hit their stride, posting a negative expected goal difference (-2.7 xGD) due to an unusually shaky defence and an inability to create scoring chances. Wolves have averaged just 1.09 xGF per game this season, a steep decline on their 2019/20 numbers (1.59 xGF per game). Thankfully for Nuno Espírito Santo, their problems at the back appear to be surfacing away from Molineux, conceding an average of 1.08 xGA per game, offering some real hope they can rebound from a disappointing loss to Leicester last time out.
Southampton spent a brief moment at the top of the table prior to the international break, dominating Newcastle in a 2-0 home win (xG: SOU 1.00 – 0.30 NEW). However, despite gaining seven points in four away games, their underlying numbers have been less than impressive. Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side hold a -1.9 xGD on the road, a process that will be punished if it continues.
Wolves possess the quality to take full advantage of Southampton’s poor metrics away from home, especially with Danny Ings on the sidelines. At 11/8, they look a solid bet to get back on track.
Selection – Wolves @ 11/8