PL predictions: Leeds to turn heat up on Bruce

Our betting guru Jones Knows was in red-hot form with his predictions last weekend – what has caught his eye this time around?

Last weekend’s winners (+34.5 profit to level stakes):

  • Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea all to win to nil acca at 22/1
  • Chelsea to win to nil at 10/11
  • Manchester City to win to nil at 15/8
  • Wolves to win more corners than Watford at 5/6
  • Leandro Trossard to score first at 15/2
  • Matip 1+ shots & Wolves to win corner race double at 5/2
  • First goal to be a header in Everton vs Burnley 9/2

Newcastle vs Leeds, Friday 8pm, live on Sky Sports

There has been plenty of talk surrounding ‘home advantage’ this season with fans back at grounds. Well, this one could be a case of ‘home disadvantage’ for Newcastle. Leeds – without a win this season – will be circling this fixture in their diary as the one to get their season up and running in front of a home crowd that are on the turn. Just one point taken from Newcastle’s first four games has come with a dollop of positives from Steve Bruce, but the tidal wave of negativity from the fanbase is building to a crescendo. It could boil over at St James’ Park.

Bruce can point to some fluent attacking play in the defeats to West Ham and Manchester United but the numbers paint a worrying picture. They have lost the ‘expected goals battle’ in all four of their fixtures, posting a total of 4.29 xG for and a whopping 10.53 xG against. Also, Newcastle have conceded the most Premier League goals since Project Restart (June 2020), shipping 91 in 51 games. A set of numbers that screams relegation battle.

Leeds have not exactly been setting the world alight either but Marcelo Bielsa’s style will always make them a threat against leaky defences – as shown by their seven goals scored against Newcastle in the two fixtures last season. A Leeds win is fancied at anything bigger than evens and their shots line of more than 16 is worth a tickle as Bielsa notoriously demands his teams to keep on attacking whatever the match scenario.


BETTING ANGLE: Leeds to have 16 or more shots at goal (6/4 with Sky Bet)

Friday 17th September 7:00pm

Kick off 8:00pm

Sky Sports Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League

Wolves vs Brentford, Saturday 12.30pm

Wolves remain a team I want to keep on my side. They turned impressive performances into points last weekend at Watford, playing with plenty of control and confidence in the second half to thoroughly deserve maximum points against a team set for a season of struggle. The task for them this weekend will be a similar one with Brentford likely to remain playing with their no-thrills style where clean sheets are their ploy to a season of survival.

Only Manchester City have a better expected goals against record than Brentford this season with Thomas Frank’s team restricting Arsenal, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Brighton to just an expected goals against figure equating to 2.66. It is an impressive feat and makes me fancy their chances of getting out of Molineux with another clean sheet.

For a bet, though, my eyes are drawn to the chances of Joao Moutinho picking up a card at 9/2 with Sky Bet. He has escaped one so far this season, but has made nine fouls, two of which were sliding challenges that were on the borderline of a yellow. The 35-year-old is being tasked with covering lots of ground in a midfield two with Ruben Neves – a task he has accomplished very well thus far. However, it does leave him exposed during transitions from the opposition and his card-count should rocket in the coming weeks if playing in the same role.


BETTING ANGLE: Joao Moutinho to be carded (9/2 with Sky Bet)

Burnley vs Arsenal, Saturday 3pm – PLAY SUPER 6 FOR FREE!

If Mikel Arteta can create a solid spine to what Arsenal are trying to do, then a top-six finish is still within their grasp despite a flaky start. The signs are there to get me on board with that prediction – which is a 9/4 shot with Sky Bet.

Gabriel Magalhaes adds plenty of steel and no-nonsense defending to compliment Ben White’s footballing ability and Thomas Partey will become an automatic starter when able to stay clear of injury. There is a talented team lurking, I’m sure of it. And I’m happy to side with them for this one in what should be a tight game.

That spine will be significantly tested at Turf Moor, though. Sean Dyche does not seem overly concerned about Burnley’s winless start to the campaign and for 60 minutes at Everton on Monday night where they were the better team you can see why. It is all about channelling that level for an entire 90 minutes and avoiding getting punished for mistakes made in key areas of the pitch.

Kieran Tierney will be seeing plenty of the ball down Arsenal’s left, as he always does. Arteta makes it pretty obvious regarding their ploy of getting him on the overload down that side and it is difficult to stop. He put in 15 crosses in the defeat at Brentford and six in the win at Norwich, officially creating nine chances for his team-mates. One of those is going to be taken soon in a game like this one where Arsenal are expected to dominate territory.


BETTING ANGLE: Kieran Tierney to register an assist (4/1 with Sky Bet)

Kieran Tierney joined Arsenal from Celtic in the summer of 2019

Liverpool vs Crystal Palace, Saturday 3pm – PLAY SUPER 6 FOR FREE!

The quality within the ranks of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City is making them impossible to oppose when facing any other team in this Premier League. As Gary Neville pondered on Monday Night Football, this might be the best English domestic league we have ever seen in terms of quality.

If Liverpool take their chances in this one, then Palace will not stand a chance – a very similar defeat looks on the cards to the one they suffered at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend.

Interestingly, Sadio Mane has scored in each of his last eight appearances against Palace.

Sadio Mane celebrates after doubling Liverpool's lead at Anfield

Only Robin van Persie (against Stoke) has scored in eight consecutive Premier League games against the same opponent, so Mane is set to create history if finding the net. Of course, these runs do eventually hit the buffers, but I am happy to invest in his chances. Despite his wayward finishing from his 10 shots against Leeds last weekend, he leads the way for expected goals in the Premier League this season with chances falling his way equating to a figure of 3.47 with an actual return of two goals. He can bring those two figures closer together by scoring first at 7/2 with Sky Bet at Anfield.


BETTING ANGLE: Sadio Mane to score first (7/2 with Sky Bet)

Manchester City vs Southampton, Saturday 3pm – PLAY SUPER 6 FOR FREE!

If it looks like a home win, quacks like a home win, then it is probably a home win. You do not need me to tell you that. And odds of 1/9 with Sky Bet certainly back that theory up.

Instead of fumbling around trying to sniff out some betting value in the outright match prices, my eyes are firmly focused on Manchester City players in the various goalscorer markets. A price that jumps out to me is the 25/1 with Sky Bet about Ferran Torres scoring with a header, something he has already done this season in the win over Arsenal. Pep Guardiola has started the Spaniard in all six matches across all competitions this season – clearly he likes the way he leads the line.

Although ripe for improvement in that position, Torres does have the instincts to get in where it hurts and should be thriving in that central role with the amount of quality ammunition coming in from wide areas. This is especially relevant for this encounter as Southampton are notoriously sloppy at defending direct ball into their box. Since Ralph Hasenhuttl took over in 2018, Saints have allowed 84 headed shots on target – the third highest of any Premier League team with 22 of those headers finding the net.


BETTING ANGLE: Ferran Torres to score a header (25/1 with Sky Bet)

Norwich vs Watford, Saturday 3pm – PLAY SUPER 6 FOR FREE!

On what we have seen, I would be surprised if these two are not in the bottom three come the final day of the season.

However, relegating teams in September is not a smart move. And a win for either of these two at Carrow Road could ignite a spark in results.

Norwich are not a team I can trust fully to turn promising performances into results. But I am happy to back them here at 23/20 with Sky Bet, mostly down to Watford’s tameness in attack. Since breezing past Aston Villa on the opening day, they have only created a total expected goals tally of 1.5 with their attacking patterns very lacklustre when falling behind in matches.

Those that like playing the cards market may want to check out what Sky Bet has to offer in that regard for this one. With both teams playing for the win and tension in the air, I am expecting a full-blooded battle with a potential for a card-frenzy. This fixture in the Sky Bet Championship last season was card-crazy with 11 being shown across the two fixtures. It should be spicy.

Watford, despite not carrying much dangerous attacking threat in the final third, are a team that plays with a physical edge and do draw fouls from the opposition, especially through Ismaila Sarr. Opposition teams have averaged 2.75 cards per 90 minutes vs Watford this season. That bodes well for the chances of Norwich midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou getting the attention of the referee and picking up a card at 7/2 with Sky Bet. The fiery Frenchman was cautioned in the defeat to Leicester.


BETTING ANGLE: Pierre Lees-Melou to be carded (7/2 with Sky Bet)

Aston Villa vs Everton, Saturday 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports

Saturday 18th September 5:00pm

Kick off 5:30pm

Sky Sports Main Event
Sky Sports Main Event

Villa got plenty of tongues wagging with their performance at Chelsea. Yes, getting done 3-0 is not exactly a reason for cheer but the performance on show, with Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings starting in attack, looked promising. They created an expected goal figure of 1.73 at Stamford Bridge and posted 18 shots on Edouard Mendy’s goal. Since Thomas Tuchel took charge, no opposition team has amassed a higher expected goal figure in a Chelsea home game.

The question is, can they be trusted to back up that performance in a completely different match scenario? Never trust one much-improved run in isolation, a wise horse racing punter told me. That may ring true here. I have my doubts on Villa with some snoozy and lackadaisical early-season showings, defined by me as the Grealish hangover, still lingering in my thoughts. I am happy to take them on with Everton in town and then start to respect them as a force in the future if backing the Chelsea performance up.

Everton will be happy to allow Villa the ball and that will suit Rafa Benitez’s boys down to the ground. Not many teams go to Brighton and play with such control and fizz on the counter-attack. They got a result there playing that way and this could be a similar outcome.


BETTING ANGLE: Everton draw no bet (11/10 with Sky Bet)

West Ham vs Manchester United, Sunday 2pm, live on Sky Sports

Should the sixth-best team in the Premier League be 100/30 with Sky Bet to beat the fourth-best with the added pull of home advantage? I would suggest that price is too big to ignore.

Manchester United remain an overrated team by the markets. Cristiano Ronaldo, of course, makes them stronger in the final third but as a team they are being rated very closely to Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. The team aspect of their play and strategy from the man at the helm falls very short when compared to those three aforementioned teams. It is basically a formula of relying on quality individuals to make match-changing interventions at key times.

West Ham vs Man Utd

All fine and dandy against most teams in this Premier League but playing that way does leave you vulnerable to fit, well-coached teams that play above the sum of their parts. Wolves absolutely played United off the park ticking all those criteria – all that was missing was the ability to score from creating an expected goals figure of 2.33. My money was down on Wolves that day. And, I am in the mood for recouping some now United are up against another excellent opponent with the counter-attacking style and finishing ability to hurt them.

The Hammers have scored in 18 of their last 20 home matches and even though Michail Antonio is suspended, their defensive organisation and skill on the counter-attack is capable of creating big chances against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.


BETTING ANGLE: West Ham to beat Manchester United (100/30 with Sky Bet)

Brighton vs Leicester, Sunday 2pm

Two good footballing teams likely to cancel one another out here. The draw is a serious runner at 11/5 with Sky Bet.

The scorching pace of Jamie Vardy remains Leicester’s main weapon of attack and he will be licking his lips at the prospect of latching onto Shane Duffy at the heart of the Brighton back three. Duffy is one of the best around at winning 50-50 balls in the air but get the ball down the side of him and he is a weakness in this Brighton side. When faced with pace he has already been cautioned twice this season for wild lunges on opposition players. I can foresee a situation of Vardy testing his ability in one-on-one situations with a last-man infringement a possible outcome. The 66/1 for a red card to be shown Duffy’s way is worth a tickle.


BETTING ANGLE: Shane Duffy to be sent-off (66/1 with Sky Bet)

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

Sunday 19th September 4:00pm

Kick off 4:30pm

Sky Sports Premier League
Sky Sports Premier League

Why would you fix it if it is not broken? That is my theory regarding Chelsea and the chances of them winning without conceding at 15/8 with Sky Bet. The same price as we got last week when they did the business to nil over Aston Villa.

Thomas Tuchel is a bit of a master at mastering the away day. Since he took over, Chelsea have lost just one of their 15 away games in all competitions – the only defeat being a 2-1 reverse at Aston Villa on the final day of last season, where they could be excused for having an eye on the Champions League final. Chelsea have also won four of the last five Premier League meetings with Spurs, keeping a clean sheet in four of those clashes.

Tottenham’s display at Palace did not come as too much of a shock to me. Nuno’s style is always going to make them a tough watch early on in games against so-called inferior opposition. His plan to turn the game into a 20-minute one was working until the sending-off. They will win plenty of games by one goal this season on the road. Not this one though. It is all about Chelsea to grind this one out, showcasing their excellent defensive prowess.


BETTING ANGLE: Chelsea to win to nil (15/8 with Sky Bet)

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Arteta: Leno given no assurances over derby

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he has not given goalkeeper Bernd Leno any assurances about returning to the side for the upcoming north London derby.

Aaron Ramsdale, the £30m summer signing from Sheffield United, replaced Leno in the starting line-up on Saturday as the Gunners claimed a 1-0 win over Norwich at the Emirates.

Reports in Germany claim Leno has been promised a return to the side for the north London derby against Tottenham on September 26, live on Sky Sports.

However, Arteta insists he hasn’t made any promises to the German goalkeeper about the upcoming derby, or Saturday’s trip to Burnley.

Responding to the reports, Arteta said: “I don’t know where they are coming from but they are ahead of me!

“I am the one that picks the team at the weekend and sometimes I read things that I haven’t decided yet. They give me ideas, at most, but I haven’t made a decision for Saturday or the north London derby.”

Aaron Ramsdale replaced Leno in the starting line-up

When asked if he had given Leno any other guarantees about his playing time, Arteta added: “No. That’s what I said to them and I said to the goalkeepers in the last two or three years – that we don’t want to do that.

“What we want to do is empower performance and ask them to train behave and play the best possible way. How can I guarantee somebody something?

“It wouldn’t make sense with what we are demanding them to do. So it is on a daily basis, what you did three months ago in football, it doesn’t count.

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Mikel Arteta is ‘very happy’ Arsenal are ‘out of the blocks’ with their first Premier League win of the season and says there is a fine balance between a consistent team selection and individual player performances.

“So is what you’re going to do today and tomorrow, and that’s it.”

Arteta has hit back at suggestions Leno reacted badly to being dropped against Norwich and insists the German has acted professionally since the match.

“Obviously for Bernd it wasn’t a pleasing communication when I told him he wasn’t playing but he is a top professional and a top person,” Arteta added.

“He should be disappointed and he should support his team-mates like they’ve done every time he’s played, which is exactly what he’s done.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win over Noriwch in the Premier League.

Arteta also confirmed Thomas Partey is likely to be fit to start against Burnley, having come off the bench in the win over Norwich.

The Ghana international missed the start of the season with an ankle injury but is looking sharp – timely given the injury to Mohamed Elneny and suspension of Granit Xhaka.

One midfielder who will not be lining up for Arsenal any time soon is former Gunner Jack Wilshere.

The 29-year-old is currently a free agent and Arteta, who played alongside Wilshere in the Arsenal midfield, said last week the door was always open for the former England international to train with the club.

He was asked again about any developments with his offer but stopped short of saying Wilshere could be signed by Arsenal.

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Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard says the club want to be competing to win the Premier League title ‘within a couple of years’

“We are in conversations with Jack to understand what he needs, what he is looking for,” he said.

“It’s a person and a player who has a huge admiration around everybody, not just the players or fans but all the staff around here, and we are willing to help him as much as we possibly can. He knows that and that’s the situation.”

Pushed on whether Wilshere could play for Arsenal again, Arteta replied: “I wouldn’t take it that far.

“What I’m saying is that we are in conversations with him to understand what he needs and how we can help him and that’s it.”

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Wilshere: Important to speak out on mental health

Former Arsenal, West Ham and Bournemouth midfielder Jack Wilshere says it is important for footballers to speak out about their mental health and realise it is not a weakness.

Wilshere made almost 200 total appearances over 10 years with Arsenal, and scored one of the greatest goals at Emirates Stadium when he finished off a fantastic team move against Norwich in 2013.

He broke into Arsenal’s first team aged just 16 and was due to be Arsenal’s future, but at 29 now, his future is up in the air after he left Bournemouth in May and has been without a club since.

Wilshere told Sky Sports about the challenges of footballers’ mental health, saying: “When I spoke out that I was training on my own, that I was having these thoughts of: ‘what am I training for?’

“The response from everyone really – but mainly people in the game that I respect, ex-players, people that I look up to reaching out to me, saying you’ve still got a lot to give – it made me even more hungry to come back and just enjoy my football again.

Jack Wilshere
Wilshere is without a club after his release from Bournemouth at the end of last season

“Us as players have to be willing to speak up, speak about our feelings and realise it’s not a weakness, it’s actually really brave and people will help you if you need help.”

Speaking at an event in London, Wilshere said that opening up and talking about mental health has made a big difference in his life.

He said: “The biggest feeling is relief – sometimes you don’t even know that you’re holding onto these feelings.

“Some people might think it’s normal to have these feelings, especially when you’re a footballer and things aren’t going well, you question everything.

“I always thought that speaking out or speaking to someone – especially in the media – would almost come across as a weakness because the general perception of footballers is that ‘they have everything, what have they got to moan about? They’ve got a great life.’

“The depressive thoughts don’t care if you’re a footballer. I think it’s important to speak out.”

Arteta: Door always open for Wilshere return to training

Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere
Wilshere’s former team-mate, current Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, said he would welcome Wilshere back to training

Former team-mate of Wilshere’s and current Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta admitted last week he’d gladly allow Wilshere to train with the club, saying: “He is someone that I know who I shared the dressing room with, someone who is so loved around the club with every person here and our doors are always open.”

Wilshere, who was Arsenal’s Player of the Year and voted PFA Young Player of the year in the 2010-11 season and also had 34 caps for England, said: “I spent the majority of my life in that club, I gave a lot to that club.

“To hear the manager – who I played with, who I had a good relationship with, I really enjoyed playing with him, sharing the dressing room with him – to hear him come out and say the door is always open is nice.”

Asked whether or not he would take Arteta’s offer up, Wilshere said: “It can only help me.

“Being around good players, training with world-class players and as well just being in a team environment is something I’m interested in.

“I’m sure that I’ll have a conversation with someone at the club over the next couple of days.”

Wilshere was speaking as part of a mental health campaign between CALM and Original Penguin.

If you are affected by issues related to this piece or want to talk, please contact the Samaritans on the free helpline 116 123, or visit the website.

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Arteta hails ‘best week of his career’ after Norwich win

After watching Arsenal beat Norwich 1-0, Mikel Arteta hailed it as “the best week of my career” as the Gunners got their season up and running.

The Arsenal boss came into the game under the spotlight after starting the season with three defeats on the spin without scoring, and the tension was growing further inside Emirates Stadium until Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck on 66 minutes.

It was one of 30 shots Arsenal had on Norwich’s goal in a performance that offered hope that a fruitful season could still be on the cards despite the worrying start.

Arteta made seven changes in total from their defeat at Manchester City, with debuts handed to Aaron Ramsdale and Takehiro Tomiyasu, while Ben White and Gabriel were partnered at centre-half for the first time and looked assured.

Star man: Gabriel Magalhaes
Gabriel Magalhaes returned to the Arsenal side

“For me, it’s the been the best week or 10 days of my career in this industry,” Arteta told Sky Sports.

“I am not saying they were the easiest, but I got to the game today with a real emotion inside because you learn a lot in difficult moments, who you are with. In difficult moments when you see the people and the level of organisation and the fans we have.

“From the top of the club to everybody that works with us as a team, I cannot be any prouder for what we’ve done.

“And then you have to win football matches and get results. That’s unquestionable but that’s very meaningful.

“And I also have to say I saw the crowd and I didn’t know what to expect today because I didn’t know what the feeling was.

“They were ready to suffer with the team today and they were only focused on trying to give things to the team, so I am extremely grateful to them as well.”

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Arsenal’s win over Noriwch in the Premier League.

Despite Arteta’s praise for the crowd, sarcastic chants of “we are staying up” rang around the home stands at the Emirates as the result lifted Arsenal to 16th place on three points from four games while Norwich, who are still looking for their first point of the season, slipped to the bottom of the table.

“It was a deserved win as well because we had chances to finish the game much earlier than we did,” Arteta added.

“It was a really tricky game to play because you were playing not only the game but the emotions too and knowing what happened in the last three weeks and the games that we’ve lost.

“We knew that today was a must-win game. We came here and you saw the attitude of every player and I’m happy to give something to the fans as well.

“We started really crisp, really sharp, really attacking and with a high press, and after 20 to 25 minutes our rhythm broke and we started to give the ball away. We wanted to attack in one or two passes, and we were very split with big distances. We looked a little bit shaky in some moments.

“In the second half, straight away, we took control of the game and we looked like the team that was going to win the game.”

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates after he scores his team's opening goal
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates after he scores his team’s opening goal

Have Arsenal turned a corner? What the pundits said…

Clinton Morrison on Soccer Saturday:

“I wouldn’t say Arsenal were convincing.

“Norwich did put up a fight. They defended well, but in attack they weren’t convincing. They didn’t really create any clear-cut chances. It was comfortable for Arsenal.

“Meanwhile, Arsenal dominated possession without creating any real clear-cut chances in the first half. In the second half, once they got the goal, they did start to get opportunities, but they just weren’t ruthless enough.

“All in all, for Arsenal’s first Premier League goal of the season I don’t think Mikel Arteta or the Arsenal fans will care how it came. It was just about getting the three points.

“Have Arsenal turned a corner? No, because this is a game you expected them to win without a shadow of a doubt and it should have been two or three, but you do have to credit Norwich.

“These aren’t the games where Arsenal will be judged, no chance. They should beat a team like Norwich. The amount of money Arsenal have spent, they should be beating them convincingly.

“I don’t think Arsenal have turned a corner. If you ask me in six or seven games’ time I may change my mind, but what I will say is that when you win football matches it breeds confidence and getting the three points will give them a big lift.”

What’s next?

A trip to Burnley is next up for Arsenal next Saturday (3pm kick off) while Norwich are back at Carrow Road for the visit of fellow Premier League newbies Watford (3pm kick off).

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