PL predictions: Arsenal can dent Man City title charge

Fresh from some midweek winners, Jones Knows takes aim at the Premier League matches this weekend and thinks Arsenal can end Man City’s winning run.

Any midweek winners for Jones Knows?

  • Leicester to beat Liverpool at 13/2
  • Brighton +2 handicap & 10+ shots at 4/1
  • Chelsea to draw 1-1 with Brighton 10/1
  • Lucas Moura to have a shot on target at 11/10
  • Crystal Palace to win to nil vs Norwich at 5/4
  • Wins for Man City, Palace & West Ham

Arsenal vs Manchester City, Saturday 12.30

There never really is the ‘perfect’ time to play Manchester City but for Arsenal, this might be close to it.

Yes, City are in irresistible form, winning the last 10 in the Premier League but Arsenal are flowing nicely too, especially at home. They are unbeaten in 11 home games in all competitions, winning 10 of those and it’s their expert defensive axis that continues to impress me. Since the Ben White, Gabriel and Aaron Ramsdale brick wall was formed, Arsenal have still not conceded a goal before the 38th minute in those 16 fixtures.

Only City have kept more clean sheets than Arsenal (9) since the trio have played together in the win over Norwich.

With Arsenal coming in the fresher team having not played since Boxing Day, the case for them to make this competitive is a strong one. I’d not put anyone off having a stab at the Arsenal double chance at 6/4 with Sky Bet, but I’m taking a more cautious route and backing them with a +2 goal start so they can win, draw or lose by one for us to land.

In their last 18 away days against top-eight sides, Man City have only won four times by more than one goal. It’s a job-done mentality rather than an all-conquering one for Pep Guardiola in these types of tricky games.

I’m happy to throw in the game to be a card friendly affair in order to boost the price, too. These two teams are notoriously well behaved in their matches. In 2021, only West Ham have seen less yellow cards given to their opponents than Arsenal (50) and Man City (53) when assessing ever-present Premier League teams. It makes the under 50+ booking points very appealing at 4/6 with Sky Bet so I’m happy to sprinkle a bit of that across a nice 100/30 same-game multi-bet priced up by Sky Bet.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1

BETTING ANGLE: Arsenal +2 handicap, under 3.5 goals & under 50+ booking points (100/30 with Sky Bet)

Watford vs Tottenham, Saturday 3pm

I had to do a double glance at the Premier League table to make sure Watford weren’t in the relegation zone. Yes, they really aren’t.

They surely can’t keep their heads above water for much longer defending in the same manner. Claudio Ranieri’s team have lost their last five Premier League games, conceding 15 goals along the way. In fact, since Ranieri took charge their average of 2.5 goals conceded per-match is the second-worst defensive record across all of Europe’s top five leagues, with only Bundesliga basement boys SpVgg Greuther F├╝rth posting a leakier return (3.00).

The hapless Hornets also remain without a clean sheet this season – only Bordeaux in Ligue 1 have also failed to keep a clean sheet across those aforementioned leagues. Tottenham should find chances easy to come by in what looks an away win.

One Spurs attacker that remains overpriced in array of markets is Lucas Moura, who is revelling playing with freedom in a swashbuckling attack with Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son. The Brazilian is being encouraged to play in more central areas, posting five shots on goal – including registering a goal against Crystal Palace – and three shots on goal, all on target, in just 28 minutes of action in the draw with Southampton. The Evens for him to register a shot on target in this game rates as a very strong wager against such timid opposition. And I’d recommend doubling him up in a shots double with Michael Keane for Everton against Brighton on Sunday at 3/1.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-2

BETTING ANGLE: Lucas Moura to have a shot on target (Evens with Sky Bet)

Crystal Palace vs West Ham, Saturday 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports

Crystal Palace vs West Ham
Image:
Crystal Palace vs West Ham, live on Sky Sports

Selhurst Park is one ground that absolutely can make a huge difference for a home team. Palace have lost just one of their 10 home matches this season, however, that record is perhaps a little skewed as they have yet to face any of the current top six in south London.

West Ham are the first of that sextet to visit and are slight favourites for the away win at 6/5 with Sky Bet which does look a little short to me. Then again, the 23/10 on a Palace win doesn’t interest me either as the Hammers are very strong against lower-ranked opposition and will be a massive threat from set-pieces.

I’m expecting a game full of incident, so both teams to score, something that has occurred in all nine of their last fixtures between these two, is an obvious runner at 8/13 with Sky Bet. I’d go a little further than that and combine my fancy for a draw with both teams to score at 100/30 with Sky Bet.

It’s most certainly remains a wise tactic to keep on nobbling at Declan Rice’s odds to score from outside the box. He’s fired six shots on target in his last 10 fixtures and should be on free-kick duties while Aaron Cresswell remains out. Remember, there was a goal from outside the box from Rice in the win at Aston Villa and he went close with an off-target attempt in the draw with Burnley. Quotes of 20/1 are worth playing for him to score from range as is the 9/2 for him to have a shot on target from outside the box.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-2

BETTING ANGLE: Declan Rice to score from outside the box (20/1 with Sky Bet)


Live: SNF


Saturday 1st January 5:00pm

Sky Sports Premier League HD
Sky Sports Premier League HD

Brentford vs Aston Villa, Sunday 2pm, live on Sky Sports – PLAY SUPER 6 HERE!

Aston Villa have become one of the meanest defences in the Premier League since Steven Gerrard took charge.

It’s providing them with a fantastic base to work with in terms of getting positive results. Since the arrival of Gerrard in November, Villa have won four of their seven Premier League games with all three defeats coming against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. In those four wins against Brighton, Crystal Palace, Norwich and Leicester they have averaged an expected goals against figure of 0.7 per game and faced an average of just 8.2 shots per game. Of course, it’s a small sample size but that’s a defensive record that puts them on par with Manchester City. The early signs are very positive for the future for Gerrard and his new club.

Meanwhile, Brentford are a robust side at home that don’t offer up many chances to their opposition, as Manchester City found out as they created just 1.04 expected goals against the Bees – the lowest total they’ve posted on the road this season. To have played City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal at home this season and to have the sixth-best home expected goals against output is a serious achievement for a newly-promoted side.

When you factor in both defences, a low scoring affair should be on the cards. Villa perhaps have that extra bit of quality in the final third so I’ve taken them to edge it.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-1

BETTING ANGLE: Aston Villa to win and under 2.5 goals (4/1 with Sky Bet)

Everton vs Brighton, Sunday 2pm – PLAY SUPER 6 HERE!

I can’t have Brighton in this one at 11/8 with Sky Bet, especially if Dominic Calvert-Lewin is fit to play. He can be the difference-maker on his return bringing with him a 50 per cent win rate when he plays against 21 per cent when he’s missing.

Brighton don’t have someone of his ruthlessness or power in the final third which will continue to hold them back at putting together consistent winning runs. They have also won just one of their last 13 Premier League games, albeit drawing nine of those.

Brighton were remarkably impressive at Stamford Bridge in midweek but one area where they struggled was their inability to defend set-pieces. That probably stems from Lewis Dunk being missing. Over their last five fixtures, Brighton have shipped 5.2 shots per game from set-pieces, the third-highest average of all Premier League teams during that period.

With him still in the treatment room, Everton should be confident of getting plenty of joy from those areas.

My eyes have been drawn to the 10/11 on Michael Keane having one or more shots at goal. The Everton centre-back carries a big threat when venturing forward and has fired a shot in 12 of his 17 appearances this season.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-1

BETTING ANGLE: Michael Keane to have 1+ shots (10/11 with Sky Bet)

Leeds vs Burnley, Sunday 2pm – PLAY SUPER 6 HERE!

Bring your hard hats. If you like your football rough, ready and full of fouls then this is right up your street. The importance of this match won’t be lost on both sets of players and the atmosphere inside Elland Road is likely to light the touch paper. Unlike other teams who could drop into a relegation scrap, the Leeds fans look ready to muck in with their team. They are behind the manager and seem very united after a wave of injuries has decimated their squad, none more so than to Kalvin Phillips, who looks set to be out until March. A seismic blow to their hopes of climbing the table.

Burnley will be arriving with three points on their mind, too. A win for them would draw Leeds right into the mix. The match prices look about right to me with Leeds rightly favoured at Evens and Burnley at 13/5. If you’re pushing me, I’ll play the draw and go hunting in the cards market.

The reverse fixture at Turf Moor between these two produced seven cards and with the explosive atmosphere predicted, referee Kevin Friend may have his hands full. Leeds sit top of the most yellow cards awarded table this season (50) but also have drawn the most yellow cards from the opposition in 2021 (88). Unsurprisingly, their fixtures this season have averaged more cards than any other team. The game to produce 50+ booking points at odds-against should do the business.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1

BETTING ANGLE: 50+ booking points (11/10 with Sky Bet)

Chelsea vs Liverpool, Sunday 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports

Chelsea vs Liverpool
Image:
Chelsea vs Liverpool, live on Sky Sports

I’m all over a Liverpool away win at 11/8 with Sky Bet.

My tendency in these ‘monster’ encounters between two title capable winning teams is to go searching for value for the game to be a low-scoring, tactical affair. Not this time. Even at this stage of the season draws are no use for both in their pursuit of Manchester City. Three points or nothing has to be the method of attack.

This game has the hallmarks of a classic, involving plenty of goalmouth action and shots – and on the basis of what I’ve seen from Chelsea in the past few weeks, most of the attacks will be steamrolling in their direction.

Whether it would be fitness issues or just a general lack of confidence in the camp, they are miles away from their early-season performance levels. The way in which Brighton cut through their midfield time-after-time on Wednesday will have got Jurgen Klopp licking his lips as will have the lack of chances created from open play from the Blues. Remember, this is a Chelsea team that against Arsenal on the second week of the season created 18 chances from open play in one fixture. Such is their current malaise, they have created a total of 18 chances from open play in their last three fixtures combined against Brighton, Aston Villa and Wolves.

Liverpool haven’t got that problem. Yes, they head to Stamford Bridge on the back of a defeat to Leicester but it’s not a time to panic for them. The attacking process remains frighteningly good, averaging just over 2.5 expected goals per 90 minutes in their last eight fixtures. Chelsea have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight Premier League games. It’s hard to see them improving that record against the rampant Reds forward line.

With the expected match scenario being one of high tempo, goals and draws being no good to either team, the match shots market is also worth a visit. Liverpool are averaging 19.5 shots per 90 minutes this season and I’d expect them to hit just below that number in this one as Chelsea are shipping more shots on their goal than earlier this season.

Brighton managed 18 in midweek, Leeds hit 12 and Watford 14. With Tuchel’s team unlikely to be allowed to sit back by the home crowd, they’ll be flying forward and should also be relied on to get shots away. That makes the shots lines with Sky Bet very appealing with 27+ (11/10), 29+ (15/8) and 31+ (3/1) worth a nibble.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-3

BETTING ANGLE: Liverpool to win and 28+ total match shots (5/1 with Sky Bet)

Manchester United vs Wolves prediction to follow

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