PL Predictions: Leicester to beat Liverpool

Our betting guru Jones Knows wants to back Leicester at a huge price to beat Liverpool and sees wins for Spurs, Crystal Palace and West Ham.

Crystal Palace vs Norwich, Tuesday 3pm – Watch free highlights of this game after full time

Norwich are hapless. Off the pitch, their sensible business structure and ability to produce talent deserves huge respect but there is no denying they have got their decision making horribly wrong back up at the top table. Dean Smith has not stumbled across his best formation or starting XI, their best player Teemu Pukki is starved of service and confidence must be at rock bottom, scoring just once in their last six games – and that came against 10-man Newcastle.

Backing teams to beat them to nil seems an obvious yet profitable strategy – so let’s roll that dice again at 13/8 with Sky Bet.

Wilfried Zaha react to being sent off against Spurs
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Wilfried Zaha reacts to being sent off against Spurs

Without the suspended Wilfried Zaha, my eyes have been drawn to the Palace corners market. His direct dribbles down the left are a catalyst for how Palace win their corners, without him their average drops immensely. In the past 12 months, Zaha has been missing for seven games and in those matches Palace have averaged just 2.7 corners per 90 minutes. That’s a sharp decline on their overall average of four per 90 minutes with him in the side. Patrick Vieira’s side rank low for corners anyway – the fifth lowest in the league, possibly due to their defensive focused full-backs.

I’m happy to back them at 11/10 with Sky Bet to win five corners or less.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-0

BETTING ANGLE: Back Palace to win five or less corners (11/10 with Sky Bet)

Southampton vs Tottenham, Tuesday 3pm – Watch free highlights of this game after full time

Antonio Conte has got Tottenham motoring. Their direction of travel is towards the top four. Conte has done what Conte does, making teams fitter, better organised and putting his most talented players at the forefront of direct, dangerous attacks.

Since he took the job, no team have a better defensive record in the Premier League than Spurs. They are working at an average of 0.5 goals conceded per 90 minutes. It’s going to take something special from Saints to find a way through and although they scored three times at West Ham, I am yet to be convinced about their ability to create quality chances from open play. A Tottenham win to nil is fancied at 11/4 with Sky Bet.

The man to get that winning goal just might be 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 – as seen by his goal and missed chance from just outside the six-yard box in the win over Crystal Palace where he had five shots on goal. The markets have yet to adjust to his new, more dangerous, position, so the 11/10 for him to have a shot on target against Saints is a price worth taking.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-1

BETTING ANGLE: Lucas Moura to have a shot on target (11/10 with Sky Bet)

Lucas Moura
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Lucas Moura can hit the target for Tottenham at 11/10

Watford vs West Ham, Tuesday 3pm – Watch free highlights of this game after full time

I have made it an absolute artform out of getting West Ham wrong over the last 12 months. Boxing Day was another example. Southampton were clinical with their finishing and took advantage of a horrendous first-half performance from the Hammers that left David Moyes as fuming as he has been since taking the job.

He said: “I could have changed four or five at half-time it was a difficult choice. The reaction has to come not in the dressing room but on the pitch and hopefully, they will put that right.”

West Ham have been consistent for such a long period of time, I would be quite confident of Moyes getting the required reaction at Vicarage Road, especially if, as expected, Michail Antonio plays from the start. His introduction at half-time sparked them into life vs Saints. At 11/10 with Sky Bet, the Hammers are worth following.

A key area of the game will be set pieces. West Ham should be able to put Watford under significant pressure. Only two more teams have conceded more headed goals than Claudio Ranieri’s side (6) while West Ham, along with Liverpool and Manchester City, have scored the most goals (7) from corners this season. In what could be a low-scoring affair where Moyes will be demanding a clean sheet, the 9/2 on a header being the method of the first goal is worth backing.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-1

BETTING ANGLE: First goal to be a header (9/2 with Sky Bet)

Leicester vs Liverpool, Tuesday 8pm – Watch free highlights of this game after full time

I was made to look stupid by Leeds two weeks ago when tipping them up to beat Manchester City at 25/1 based on the price being too generous to ignore. Well, that 7-0 thrashing has not made me learn my lesson as I am taking a swing at Leicester here.

The 13/2 with Sky Bet is staring at me, begging to be backed on the basis that Brendan Rodgers has his attack playing some very dangerous football. Yes, their defensive issues are obvious and Liverpool are Liverpool but a team showcasing the sort of attacking numbers with the added pull of home advantage should have more of a chance of winning a Premier League game than just 13.33 per cent, no matter the opposition.

Remember, Liverpool have lost to West Ham this season, have drawn with Brentford and Brighton and were 3-1 down to this Leicester side just last week during their Carabao Cup clash, albeit with a severely weakened team out.

Meanwhile, since they lost to Chelsea in November, Leicester are averaging three goals per game, scoring 15 times in their last five fixtures. This is a higher ratio than Liverpool’s 2.5 goals per 90 minutes in their six games over the same period. With James Maddison in the form of his life, their attacking performance at Manchester City where they scored three with the backdrop of a non-penalty expected goals total of 2.54 was worthy of high praise. It was the first time Pep Guardiola’s side had conceded an xG against figure greater than 2.5 in 55 Premier League matches – with Leicester also being the last team to do so when creating 2.95 in their 5-2 win last season.

PA - James Maddison
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James Maddison can help Leicester to a shock win over Liverpool

I would have Leicester’s win chances closer to 22 per cent here, which would equate to them being a 7/2 shot, so the edge is too good to pass up. Due to Leicester’s inability to keep clean sheets – just two in the last 25 matches across all competitions – bumping the 13/2 up to 10/1 by adding both teams to score makes plenty of sense.

SCORE PREDICTION: 3-2

BETTING ANGLE: Leicester to win and both teams to score (10/1 with Sky Bet)

Chelsea vs Brighton, Wednesday 7.30pm – Watch free highlights of this game after full time

I am very pro-Brighton in this one.

The market is far too skewed towards Chelsea, who can be left alone at 4/11 with Sky Bet. This should be a very tactical affair with both teams vying to control the game through possession and expert organisation at the back where chances are hard to come by for the opposition. That is seen through both teams’ defensive processes over the past 12 months in the Premier League. If you run the numbers since Thomas Tuchel was appointed in January, Chelsea (0.8) and Brighton (1.02) sit second and third respectively in the expected goals against per 90-minute charts with only Manchester City (0.7) faring better.

It’s that defensive structure shown from Brighton that is providing the platform for them to consistently trouble the top-ranked teams in the Premier League. The 2-2 draw with Liverpool at Anfield from earlier this season being a perfect example. The big caveat with Brighton is they are a very untrustworthy team in front of goal which does make the outright away win hard to fancy in this one despite 8/1 with Sky Bet being available.

However, in their last 23 games against teams that finished in the top nine of the Premier League last season, Brighton have only lost three games by more than one goal. Included in that run was a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge last season where Graham Potter’s team had more shots and corners than their top-four chasing hosts. That means I am more than happy to back Brighton with a +2 handicap goal start, meaning we will win if Brighton win, draw or lose by one goal.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-0

BETTING ANGLE: Brighton +2 handicap (4/6 with Sky Bet)

Brentford vs Manchester City, Wednesday 8.15pm – Watch free highlights of this game after full time

Some of Manchester City’s football in the first half of their win over Leicester was an ominous sign for their title rivals. They cantered into a four-goal lead without even needing to move out of second gear. Brentford are working at an average of conceding two goals per game over the last nine games so it will be a huge surprise if City fall under that average in this one.

As with most Manchester City matches at the moment, the opportunity to unearth some value from the betting markets is a tough ask. Even our go-to Joao Cancelo shots angle is now trading at a much shorter price. That has led me to the cards market in search of a betting opportunity and the price of 15/4 with Sky Bet for Brentford wing-back Sergi Canos to be carded does look backable. Likely to be tasked with keeping a lid on Raheem Sterling or Jack Grealish, the Spaniard is aggressive with his challenges and has only just returned from a suspension having collected five bookings already this season.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-3

BETTING ANGLE: Sergi Canos to be carded (15/4 with Sky Bet)

Thursday’s games to follow…

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