Saturday 12:30

Burnley vs Everton

Now the first game of the Premier League weekend, Burnley hosting Everton looks an intriguing and important match for both.

Burnley were beaten handily at the Etihad last weekend, as they seem to do every season, going down 5-0 at the hands of Manchester City, though the scoreline was harsh on Sean Dyche’s side.

The Clarets rightly lost the match, but based on the chances created by City, a 2-0 loss would have been a fairer reflection of the game (xG: MCI 1.9 – 0.5 BUR), with Pep’s side proving very clinical.

They can be forgiven for that performance and result against one of the league’s elite, and in fact, Burnley are unbeaten in three against teams outside of that sphere, keeping three clean sheets against West Brom, Brighton and Crystal Palace.

Only three times out of nine games this season have Burnley allowed more than 1.5 xGA in a game, and no team have allowed fewer non-penalty big chances (0.35 xG or greater) than the Clarets so far. They remain a tough nut to crack.

Everton have had a real drop off in performances and results since the October international break, winning just one of their last six, losing four in that period.

Their underlying numbers suggest that this severe drop in form has been warranted, with the Toffees simply not reaching the lofty standards set in their opening four league games.

For perspective, through four games Everton boasted a process of 2.3 xGF and 0.9 xGA per game. In their last six, they have put up a process of 1.2 xGF and 2.2 xGA per game. Their attacking and defensive numbers have swapped places.

A back three was deployed last weekend with Tom Davies and Alex Iwobi as wing backs was shredded by Leeds (xG: EVE 1.5 – 3.4 LEE), and it appears Everton simply can’t defend for toffee at the moment. Ancelotti’s side have the fourth worst defensive process in the league.

While the still offer a decent attacking threat, Burnley possess a solid defence, and the hosts will fancy their chances of creating and scoring here, so I like the Clarets chances of getting something from the game.

Selection – Burnley or Draw @ 10/11

Burnley or Draw - 1pt @ 10/11

Sunday 19:15

Liverpool vs Wolves

VAR was the talking point after Liverpool’s draw with Brighton, well that and another Jurgen Klopp TV schedule rant, but the bottom line was that the reigning champions didn’t play well enough to warrant the three points (xG: BHA 2.2 – 0.3 LIV).

Despite starting with a front four of Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Takumi Minamino, Liverpool put in their worst attacking display of the league season so far – and by a long stretch.

It was the first time they failed to generate chances equating to 1.0 xGF in the Premier League this term.

However, barring the two penalties, Liverpool limited Brighton well last weekend (0.6 non-pen xGA), and have in fact dealt with their defensive injury crisis well, remaining a tough team to create against.

Wolves have played Liverpool close at Anfield in recent seasons, but that was when deploying Nuno’s trusty back five system, and it will be interesting to see what approach they take this time around.

They have had great success in recent weeks when playing with a back four, notably last weekend at Arsenal when running out deserved 2-1 winners even without their talismanic striker Raul Jimenez for 75 minutes.

Nuno’s side racked up 2.3 xGF in that game, and in their only other outing when fielding a back four (vs Southampton) they racked up 1.9 xGF, so they are a much more potent side in that system.

But, will they continue in that 4-3-3 manner here? Effectively going toe-to-toe with Liverpool? I hope so from an entertainment perspective, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take a more cautious approach.

We know how solid they are defensively when they want to be, and I can see them frustrating the Reds, just as they have in their last two visits to Anfield (2-0 and 1-0).

Under 2.5 goals appeals to me at the prices available, with Liverpool’s recent attacking issues and Wolves well-renowned defensive stability. I’m happy to chance it at odds against.

Selection – Under 2.5 Goals @ 13/10

Under 2.5 Goals - 1pt @ 13/10

Monday 20:00

Brighton vs Southampton

As mentioned already, Brighton thoroughly deserved their point against Liverpool last weekend, holding the champions to just 0.3 xGA, though 73% of their xG total was via penalties.

They are still only four points clear of the relegation zone, but their expected position of fifth is a better reflection of just how good Graham Potter’s side have been this season.

The underlying numbers they have posted through 10 matches have been excellent (1.6 xGF, 1.2 xGA per game), and deserve even more credit given they have already played Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool.

Couple the impressive numbers with an attractive style of play and Brighton really are a team evolving into a competitive and entertaining Premier League team.

Southampton saw their unbeaten run come to a crushing end last weekend, blowing a 2-0 half time lead at home to Manchester United to lose 3-2, though that result was fully deserved based on expected goals (xG: SOU 0.5 – 2.8 MUN).

That loss was coming for the Saints, who had been fortunate to win very tight games previously, scoring from low-probability chances to earn victories. That way of playing is unsustainable.

Process-wise, they rank as the 14th best team in the Premier League (1.1 xGF, 1.4 xGA per game), but this game could suit their high-press, as Brighton look to play risk-reward football.

I can see both teams creating plenty of chances on Monday night, which will hopefully lead to a high-scoring game, and the over 2.5 goals is a bet I like at odds against.

Selection – Over 2.5 Goals @ 21/20

Over 2.5 Goals - 1pt @ 21/20