In case you are unfamiliar with expected goals (xG), in layman terms it is a better stat than ‘shots’ for example, as it takes into account many different variables to quantify how good a chance was. So a one-on-one has a higher expected goals xG than a 30-yard pot-shot for example.
So it actually provides a better insight into the quality of chances a team creates, and in terms of Everton, as an example, their xG total against Chelsea and Arsenal shows that they have the capabilities to carve out good scoring opportunities against the very best teams.
So here goes …
In typically Everton style, the Toffees went to Fulham last weekend on the back of three great performances (a 2-0 win over Chelsea and a 1-0 win over Arsenal among them), only to suffer a complete brain fart and lose to an already relegated side.
You couldn’t make it up.
It was the first time in six matches that Everton went into a game as odds-on favourites, and they are now back in their favoured position of plucky underdogs on Sunday.
Everton will undoubtedly create good chances, especially against Phil Jones and his partner-in-crime Chris Smalling, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Toffees get another good result.
While the shine has come off Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s reign, with five defeats in seven games in all competitions, their performances in the Premier League offer hope.
Many thought United were poor last weekend against West Ham but according to xG (see explanation above), they were deserved winners. And the same can be said when they played Watford at Old Trafford. Although they were out-shot by the Hornets (20 to 8), the chances United created were of a better quality, with Rashford’s one-on-one and Martial’s on-the-line tap in.
United will create chances again, but given their defensive vulnerabilities, (no clean sheet in 10), we’re backing both teams to score. And if you’re brave enough, we’re predicting an entertaining game with more then 2.5 goals.
Verdict: Both teams to score @ 6/10
Neil Warnock’s side got a huge result by beating Brighton in mid-week to move to within two-points of the Seagulls, though Warnock probably found someone to have a go at.
The Bluebirds have lost all five of their home games against the other top six sides by an aggregate score of 18-4 despite giving a good account of themselves in pretty much all of those, running Chelsea and Arsenal close in single-goal defeats.
Expect another battling performance from Warnock’s side, and while they will probably come up short against a far superior Liverpool team, they have a great chance of scoring.
Liverpool are purring right now, with a 4-1 midweek Champions League win over Porto their eighth straight victory in all competitions. Interestingly, the Reds have only kept two clean sheets in that time, coming against Porto in the first leg, and Chelsea last weekend.
The Reds are a winning machine that have shown a recent liking for conceding, as Burnley managed two, Fulham one, Tottenham one and Southampton one before Porto managed to hit the onion bag also.
It all points to a Liverpool win and both teams to score, which is a juicy looking 2/1 in what is a huge game for both.
Verdcit: Liverpool to win and BTTS @ 2/1
The late kick off in Seville on Sunday night features two attack-minded sides who are both still in the hunt for European qualification.
Real Betis have seemingly gone backwards this season under highly-regarded coach Quique Setién, as their sixth placed finish last season looks unlikely to be repeated. They’re one of the most attractive teams to watch in European football, with a ‘we don’t give a sh*t’ attitude. The down-side however, has led to them winning just one of their last five La Liga games.
Betis have conceded more than 2 xG (see explanation above) in all of their last five La Liga games, so are definitely there for the taking. In contrast, Valencia are one of the form teams in Spain, a 3-1 win over Levante in the Valencia Derby last weekend their fifth win in seven matches – and they’re hot on the heels of fourth-placed Sevilla.
They are such an attacking threat when they get going, with a great balance of speed, incisiveness and power. They’re ranked as the third best team in Spain according to Infogol’s xG table – ahead of both Real and Atletico Madrid.
Valencia’s counter-attacking capabilities should prove a perfect match for Real Betis’ open and expansive style, and we fancy the visitors to win in what should be an entertaining knock.
Valencia to win and both teams to score is nicely-priced at 7/2, so we’ll have a bit of that. Lovely.
Verdict: Valencia to win and BTTS @ 7/2.
*Prices correct at time of posting
For a more detailed breakdown of xG, check out our Expected Goals Introduction article.