Expected Goals explained:
Football fans know that a player has a better chance of scoring with a shot from the edge of the six-yard box than a shot from 30+ yards, but on the stats sheet after a game, both are viewed equally in the ‘shots’ column. Infogol’s Expected Goals (xG) is a statistical metric which assesses every chance created during a game, assigning a likelihood of each individual chance being scored. For more details shoot over to Infogol’s Expected Goals introduction.
It delivered an 8/1 winner last week so the boffins are back for three best bets again on Saturday.
Brighton have made a great start to life under Graham Potter, winning away at Watford and drawing against West Ham last week, though they were extremely unfortunate not to get all three points in that game (xG: BHA 2.42 – 0.93 WHU). Potter has his side playing an open and expansive style of football, with Brighton fans loving what they are seeing more attacking play, but need to be careful in this game against a dangerous high-pressing opponent.
Southampton have lost their opening two matches, but are extremely unfortunate to come away empty-handed on both occasions, especially last weekend against Liverpool. They shaded the xG against Burnley (xG: BUR 1.02 – 1.19 SOU), but against Liverpool they created by far and away the better opportunities, with Liverpool scoring from two low-probability chances (Mané 4 per cent, Firmino 9 per cent).
Saints didn’t concede a ‘big chance’ (35 per cent or greater) to Liverpool, while they created three, ultimately showing that they deserved at least a point from that game.
Both sides have been impressive so far this season in terms of underlying performances, with Southampton unlucky to still be pointless, but their high-press and pacey turnover game could cause some serious issues for Brighton’s slow defence.
Infogol make them 6/4 favourites (40 per cent chance) to win so at the current price of 2/1 with Paddy Power – the value lies in backing the visitors to win.
Selection: Southampton to win @ 2/1
Manchester United were again impressive on Monday night, with their all-round play gaining a lot of plaudits – but they struggled to break down a strong Wolves side, creating few chances. Paul Pogba’s penalty miss proved costly, as that would have given United a 2-1 win, but ultimately had to settle for a point after Rúben Neves stunner, which we ranked as a 5 per cent chance of scoring.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær will be relatively pleased with what he has seen so far and with the four points gained and attentions now turn to their first ‘easy’ game of the season. Crystal Palace have had a dire start to the new season, being second-best in both games so far according to expected goals, and being far inferior in defeat to newly promoted Sheffield United last Sunday.
They have barely created anything of note so far, generating just 1.15 xGF over two games, but this challenge may be more suited to Palace, as their counter-attacking ability should be utilised against an attack-minded Manchester United. United will create chances against this weak Palace defence (1.82 xGA per game), but may also be susceptible to Palace’s counter-attack through Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend.
An entertaining game is expected and with our model throwing up a 60 per cent chance of more than 2.5 goals. So there’s a little juice in the price of 8/11.
Selection: Over 2.5 Goals @ 8/11
Sheffield United have made a great start to life back in the Premier League and beat a poor Crystal Palace last weekend in what was a solid defensive display.
That 1-0 win followed a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth (xG: BOU 1.57 – 1.48 SHU), and it’s clear to see even at this early stage of the season that Chris Wilder’s side will be a tough team to break down.
This is their biggest game so far, as the Blades come up against legitimate top-six contenders and a Leicester team that like to dominate the football and probe a defensive line,
The Blades may struggle to make an impact in this game.
Brendan Rodgers would have taken two points from games against Wolves and Chelsea and the Foxes have started the season looking very solid defensively, conceding just 1.94 xGA so far. They were extremely impressive in the second half in the 1-1 draw away to Chelsea.
Leicester possess some serious attacking talent that hasn’t been unleashed, partly due to the quality of opponent they’ve faced. While Sheffield United will be a tough nut to crack, expect a much more attack-minded approach from Rodgers in this game.
They look a decent bet to get their first three points of the season.
Selection: Leicester to win @ 6/5
*The above treble pays about 10/1 at the prices above which are correct at time of publishing.