Selection – Leicester to win and BTTS
Leicester City are the surprise name at the top of the early Premier League table after a stunning 5-2 win at Manchester City last weekend, a game in which they deservedly picked up three points (xG: MCI 1.5 – 3.0 LEI). Brendan Rodgers’ side impressed greatly in that game having not been overly eye-catching against West Brom and Burnley in the games prior.
Despite that, the Foxes have averaged 2.4 xGF per game this season, and have forced their opponents to concede five penalties with their dynamic and pacy attack, and I am expecting them to have joy again here.
West Ham also picked up an eye-catching result last time out, as they trounced Wolves 4-0 thanks to an impressive all-round performance (xG: WHU 2.7 – 0.6 WOL). That was the second straight game in which they have won the xG battle convincingly, after an undeserved loss at Arsenal (xG: ARS 1.3 – 2.3 WHU), and the Hammers are also averaging over 2.0 xGF per game at this early stage.
I still have question marks about both teams defensively, with Leicester having conceded twice in their last two games and West Ham allowing an average of 1.9 xGA per game last season. However, I think Leicester should prevail, but it won’t be easy, as the Hammers push them close and get on the scoresheet in an entertaining clash.
Selection – Southampton to win and Over 2.5 Goals
Southampton got off the mark at the third time of asking last weekend, as they won a dull affair at Burnley – a game which saw a combined 1.0 xG. It was perhaps a nice surprise to see Saints look solid at the back, especially a week after allowing 2.2 xGA and five goals, but this is the perfect game for them to get back to their attacking best, especially as they now have points on the board and confidence in their veins.
They are an impressive side when playing at their max, shown mainly post-break last season, and Ralph Hasenhuttl will be hoping that his side are getting closer to their intense best. Southampton should prove too strong in this game for a beleaguered Baggies side who blew a glorious opportunity to get a first win of the season last time out.
West Brom were 3-0 up at half time against a Chelsea team who looked vulnerable, but their attacking intent was non-existent in the second half. What’s more telling is that, even playing a defensive-minded 5-4-1 formation, Slaven Bilic’s side couldn’t see the game out, conceding three second-half goals, which doesn’t bode well for them moving forward.
West Brom have been the worst defensive team in the league at this early stage, based on xG, allowing an average of 3.1 xGA per game through their three league games so far. It looks bleak for them unless they can shore things up at the back, with their attacking line hardly looking a dangerous threat (0.5 xGF per game).
Southampton have the ability to terrorise the Baggies, as Leicester, Everton and Chelsea managed previously, and I see them winning a high-scoring encounter.
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