Wednesday sees the busiest night of the Premier League since its return.
At 8.15pm champions-elect Liverpool host Crystal Palace, but before that we’ve got FOUR matches to look forward to.
Manchester United host Sheffield United in the most eye-catching of the 6pm kick-offs, while there is a trio other crunch games in the diary too and Infogol have been busy doing their homework…
Newcastle got their 19/20 season back underway in emphatic style on Sunday, beating Sheffield United 3-0 at St James’ Park, and they were the better of the two teams prior to the Blades being reduced to 10-men.
That was the third straight Premier League game in which they have won the xG battle, something they only managed to do three times in the previous 27 league games, so there are signs that Steve Bruce’s side are finally improving their underlying process. All three of those were games in which they kept clean sheets and allowed fewer than 0.8 xGA, with a switch from a back five to a back four looking to have had the desired impact both in defence and attack.
Aston Villa have played twice since the restart, and have won the xG battle twice against Sheffield United and Chelsea, though crumbled when 1-0 up against the latter, and conceded a goal that should have stood against the former. One point from those two games means they remain in the bottom three, which is where they deserve to be according to expected goals, having been the worst defence in the league according to xG, allowing 2.3 xGA per game and conceding the most non-pen big chances (62).
Given Newcastle’s improvement in performances, and Villa’s poor defensive process – especially on the road (2.6 xGA per game) – back the hosts in this one.
Norwich picked up where they left off pre-break, as they were thumped 3-0 at home by Southampton in an all-round poor performance in which they again showcased their defensive frailties (xG: NOR 0.9 – 2.0 SOU).
They have allowed 1.9 xGA per game this season, but what is more worrying is that they continue to struggle to create chances on a consistent basis, generating just 1.1 xGF per game. Daniel Farke’s side have been the worst home team in the league according to xPoints and xG process, which doesn’t bode well for their survival hopes.
Everton had the better of things in the Merseyside derby on Sunday, creating the better of the chances and limiting Liverpool to very little in a solid defensive display (xG: EVE 1.1 – 0.7 LIV). Since Carlo Ancelotti’s appointment, the Toffees have been the fifth-best team in the Premier League according to xG, with a process that we expect to see from a team challenging for Europe (2.1 xGF, 1.3 xGA per game).
While they were more reserved against Liverpool – understandably – expect them to get back to their gung-ho attacking best that we saw prior to the break in this game, so back the Toffees to win and over 2.5 goals.
Wolves continued their assault on a European football spot with a 2-0 win at West Ham at the weekend, a deserved win in which they were especially impressive defensively (xG: WHU 0.4 – 0.9 WOL).
Over the course of the season, Nuno Espírito Santo’s side have been excellent in terms of results and underlying performances, sitting fourth in our xG table, with the fact that they have dealt with Europa League commitments and a harsh schedule making this even more impressive. They have averaged 1.7 xGF and 1.1 xGA per game this season, and shouldn’t at all be phased by the short turnaround between the games.
Wolves get praised a lot for their attacking capabilities and rightly so, with them boasting some fantastic attacking players, but it is in defence where they have excelled, conceding the fewest non-penalty big chances of any team in the league this season (24).
Bournemouth were pathetic – to say the least – on their return to action, losing 2-0 at home to Crystal Palace in what was a tame displaying in which they struggled to create scoring chances (xG: BOU 0.6 – 0.9 CRY). Eddie Howe’s side have picked up just 11 points from their last 19 Premier League games, and their xG process has reflected those results, averaging 1.2 xGF and 1.9 xGA per game in that time.
The most worrying thing for Bournemouth comes in attack. What we have seen this season has been a vulnerable defence but a non-existent attack, and they should struggle to break Wolves down here.
Wolves should get the win here, but back them to do so comfortably, with the selection being Wolves to cover the -1 handicap.
- Newcastle to beat Aston Villa
- Everton to beat Norwich & Over 2.5 Goals
- Wolves to beat Bournemouth With -1 Handicap
Wednesday’s other Premier League matches:
- Expect Liverpool to make it a long night for Crystal Palace
- Man Utd to turn on the style against Sheff Utd on Wednesday