Using expected goals (xG) data, Infogol’s Jake Osgathorpe picks out the best bets from across the weekend’s Premier League action.
Infogol’s Jake Osgathorpe (@JAKEOZZ) again selects his best bets from across the weekend’s Premier League action, using expected goals (xG) as his guide.
Sheffield United v Southampton
Sheffield United picked up their fourth win of the campaign in midweek when beating Aston Villa 1-0 at Bramall Lane, meaning that they are now 12 points from safety.
I am by no means suggesting that they can pull off what would be the greatest of great escapes, but it appears that they are playing with the freedom you expect to see from a team certain of their fate.
While they sit in the relegation zone in both the actual table and in Infogol’s expected goals (xG) table, the Blades have been a tough beat this season, losing by a single goal in 14 of their 21 defeats.
That shows you just how difficult they make it for their opponents, no matter their predicament, and they face a Southampton side who are in worst form than them, so will fancy their chances of getting another positive home result.
Many wouldn’t have foreseen Southampton’s drastic nosedive in form, but the underlying data at the start of the season didn’t back up the strong results, so a downturn of sorts was expected in the analytics community.
Now 14th in the league table and just seven points above the relegation zone, they could be a bet for the drop given current form and performances.
Let’s not forget, they have picked up just one point from their last nine league games, scoring just five goals. That is relegation worthy form.
From an xG standpoint, they are now in the area of the table that their performances have warranted, with the creation of chances their Achilles heel this season, mustering a lowly 1.0 non-penalty xGF.
Only five teams rank worse in that metric, and even against what is likely to be a make-shift Sheffield United defence, I think it’s likely that they will struggle to create opportunities.
Both sides will have this down as a game they can win, but I don’t think there is as much between the teams as the prices available would suggest.
Chris Wilder’s side shouldn’t be such a big price, meaning I see value in getting them onside in the result and under market, and coupling it with a low-scoring game.
1.5pt Sheffield United and Under 3.5 Goals @ 16/5 (Sky Bet)
Brighton v Leicester
After a six-game unbeaten league run, Brighton have lost their last two matches, though both rank among the most undeserved defeats of the campaign.
Based on the quality of chances created by both teams, we calculate that the Seagulls had a 91% chance of beating Crystal Palace and an 85% chance of winning at the Hawthorns against West Brom.
Performances remain incredibly strong from Brighton, and the premise of xG is that results will regress to an expected level eventually, so if they keep doing what they are doing in terms of chance creation and limitation – which has them fifth in Infogol’s xG table – then they will avoid relegation again this term.
While Brighton have won just one of 13 home games, their xG process at the Amex has been sensational.
Only Manchester City (+20.4) have a better expected goal difference (xGD) at home this season than Brighton (+15.8), and the champions-elect are the only side to have accumulated more expected points (xP) than Potter’s side this term.
Leicester come into this on the back of three disappointing performances, starting with their Europa League exit at home to Slavia Prague.
Arsenal brushed them aside last week, before Burnley won the xG battle against them on Wednesday (xG: BUR 1.75 – 1.23 LEI), as the signs are there that this Leicester team are again set to fall away in the race for Champions League football.
Injuries haven’t helped, with Brendan Rodgers missing two of his key attacking threats. James Maddison and Harvey Barnes have both averaged 0.38 xGI/95 this term, and their team in midweek looked bereft of creativity.
Their away form has been the main source of their points haul thus far, with 62% of their points coming on the road, but they have been hugely fortunate defensively, conceding six fewer than would be expected (12 goals conceded, 18.0 expected goals against – xGA).
Leicester average chances equating to 1.29 xGA per game on their travels, and with a makeshift team in defence and attack, this could be a bad spot for the Foxes against a Brighton team that churn out chance after chance.
If they continue to create chances at the rate that they are, Brighton’s fortunes in terms of results will change for the better, and against a team that won’t just sit 10-men behind the ball and defend, Brighton should have plenty space to exploit and create clear cut-chances.
Defensively the Seagulls have been excellent of late, allowing just 0.69 xGA per game over their last eight, so they should be able to keep an undermanned Leicester attack in check.
I am happy to take the hosts to win this one.
1.5pt Brighton to win at 13/8 (Betfair)