Arsenal vs Wolves: Back Wolves or Draw – Evens
Same old Arsenal. Wait, did I start with that line when previewing Arsenal vs Crystal Palace?
Either way, it applies again ahead of this game, as the Gunners looked as defensively inept as ever in that 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at the weekend, blowing a 2-0 lead, and can have no issue with the game finishing in a draw (xG: ARS 1.58 – 1.72 CRY).
Nothing seems to be changing at the Emirates, as week after week and year after year we discuss the same issues, with none of them seemingly being addressed.
I’m obviously talking about their defensive process, which remains extremely poor, and has, in fact, got worst under Unai Emery, as can be seen in the below chart.
Comparing Arsene Wenger’s final season at the club (1.92 xGF, 1.36 xGA per game) and the current 2019/20 season under Unai Emery (1.58 xGF, 1.65 xGA per game) makes grim reading from an Arsenal perspective and shows that what we are witnessing is as bad as it looks.
Interestingly, all three of Arsenal’s last three goals in the Premier League – one vs Bournemouth and two vs Crystal Palace (three if you count the overturned one) – have come from set-pieces, with Arsenal finding it really difficult to create good scoring chances from open play.
Something has to give at Arsenal if they are to turn this mid-table process (currently rank 10th in Infogol’s xG table) around, whether that be a change of system from Emery, or a change of manager.
They face another tough task in this game, and it could be another match at the Emirates where the Arsenal boo-boys are in full voice.
Wolves have steadied the ship after a difficult start to the new campaign and come into this game unbeaten in five Premier League games after a draw with Newcastle on Sunday – though they were unfortunate not to come away with all three points (xG: NEW 1.09 – 1.97 WOL).
Nuno Espírito Santo’s side have lost only two games this season, which is an impressive feat given the fact that they are plying their trade in the Europa League for the first time. Their underlying process this season isn’t quite yet as good as last season’s, but it is still better than Arsenal’s at this stage of the season (1.47 xGF, 1.48 xGA per game).
Everyone knows what Wolves are capable of, especially against the best teams in the land, as last season they lost only four of their 12 matches against the ‘big’ six collecting 16 points, and that has continued into this season, as Nuno’s side have picked up four points from three games, beating Manchester City in the process.
Wolves are hugely dangerous, as they are organised and provide a demonic counter-attacking threat with the likes of Raúl Jiménez and Adama Traoré, so they will cause Arsenal problems here.
They did in this game last season at the Emirates and were unfortunate in that match not to get all three points.
However, they did beat the Gunners 3-1 at Molineux, and given not much has changed at either club – same manager, pretty much the same group of players – it is hard to think anything will be different this time around.
It is hugely surprising to see Arsenal so short for this game (8/11 – 58%), with Infogol giving the home side just a 46% (6/5) chance of winning. That means the only play in this game is to oppose Arsenal, so backing Wolves to get at least a point is the value selection at the Emirates.
Manchester City vs Southampton: Both teams to score (Yes) – 13/10
After losing 9-0 at home to Leicester on Friday night – the record home defeat in Premier League history – the last thing Southampton needed was not one, but two trips to the Etihad in a week.
Manchester City took the first game 3-1 in the Carabao cup, not a bad effort from Saints to hold the champions to just three, and something similar is expected here, as Ralph Hasenhüttl will get a Premier League reaction from his players.
City were fantastic again last weekend against Aston Villa. Even if they were slightly out of sync in the first half, they blew Villa away in the second and racking up over 3 xG for the sixth time in 10 league games.
They are averaging 3.22 xGF per game this season, but Fernandinho was sent off against Villa last weekend, so John Stones and Nicolás Otamendi will likely be the centre-back partnership.
That is a pairing Pep Guardiola isn’t a fan of given they haven’t played together since a 3-2 defeat at Norwich.
Southampton were poor against Leicester, to say the least, and could have shown some backbone, will and desire in the second half to prevent the scoreline from getting out of hand.
On the whole this season though, we have seen enough from Saints to suggest that they are unlucky not to have collected more points, with their issue being not taking their chances (9 goals) and not an inability to create them (15.69 xGF).
They pose an attacking threat (1.57 xGF per game) to a depleted City backline who are allowing 1.24 xGA per game this season, so Infogol is expected both teams to get on the scoresheet here.
Sheffield United v Burnley: Burnley to win – 5/2
Sheffield United extended their fantastic start to the season (especially away from home) with a 1-1 draw at West Ham. That point has lifted them to eighth in the table, and means they remain unbeaten on the road.
Chris Wilder’s side though, were extremely fortunate to get a point from that game, as West Ham created by far and away the better scoring chances – but didn’t take advantage (xG: WHU 2.61 – 1.23 SHU) – not something that will happen every week.
In fact, while the Blades sit in eighth spot in the table, they have ranked as the fourth-worst team on expected goals this season – with their main over-performance coming in defence.
On the face of it, Sheffield United boast the joint-best defensive record in the league having allowed just eight goals, but based on the chances conceded, they should have conceded closer to 15 goals (15.49 xGA).
Their last home game was a memorable 1-0 win over Arsenal, but while things are looking rosy, there is reason for caution around Bramall Lane, as their underlying process could do with some improvement and they play a Burnley team in this game that sit above Arsenal in Infogol’s xG table.
Burnley were beaten by Chelsea last weekend in what was another extremely clinical display from their opponents, as they were again the better team based on xG and quality of chances created, but lost the game.
That was the case against Leicester also, and away at Arsenal, as Sean Dyche’s side have started the season in impressive fashion with their four defeats this season coming at the hands of four of the current top five – with three of those undeserved losses.
Burnley are not the side everyone perceives them to be and are definitely not the same side of a few years ago. Their underlying process is trending towards that of a top half, maybe even top eight team (13.81 xGF, 12.26 xGA per game).
The Clarets rank as the sixth-best away team in the league this season based on xG, so travel well, and it is a huge surprise to see them priced up as massive outsiders for this game.
Infogol completely disagrees with the market as to who should be favourite in this match-up, calculating that Burnley (8th in xG table) have a 42% (7/5) chance of beating Sheffield United (17th in xG table).
It is hugely surprising to see that Burnley can be backed at 5/2 (29%) on Paddy Power, so the obvious play here is to back an away win, which represents a huge value.
* All odds correct at time of posting.