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Premier League predictions: Leicester have attacking firepower to get result at Anfield on Friday

BY SKYSPORTS
12.29.2022
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Match highlights of every Premier League game to be shown on the Sky Sports website and app just after full-time; watch Liverpool vs Leicester, Brighton vs Arsenal, Tottenham vs Aston Villa & Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea live on Sky Sports

Liverpool's defence remains vulnerable, says Jones Knows

Liverpool’s defence remains vulnerable, says Jones Knows

Liverpool’s defence remains vulnerable and Leicester are perfectly equipped to hurt the Reds as tipster Jones Knows attacks the next set of Premier League fixtures.

West Ham vs Brentford, Friday 7.45pm

West Ham are becoming a very reliable beast when it comes to slow starts at home and it’s time to start profiting from this lack of early urgency from David Moyes’ side.

In their last seven home games across all competitions, the Hammers have shipped 20 shots on target before the break – working out an average of 2.85 per first half. They have conceded in five of those first halves during that time, including against Sky Bet Championship outfit Blackburn. And the Hammers even conceded the first goal in all three of their recent friendlies to Cambridge, Udinese and Fulham.

I’ve watched plenty of Moyes’ men up close this season and the eye test certainly backs up the data from a performance perspective early on in games as Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham and Blackburn all steamrolled the east Londoners in the opening knockings of their respective matches.

Brentford’s first-half data on the road doesn’t inspire too much confidence but they can play bravely and aggressively when in confident mood, as shown by their most recent two fixtures against Manchester City and Tottenham. They managed four shots on target before half-time vs the champions – only three other teams have managed that feat during games at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League. And, Spurs were battered by the Bees for the opening 60 minutes on Boxing Day as Thomas Frank’s side posted three shots on target before the break.

On what could turn into a very nervy and potentially fractious Friday night for Moyes and his players in front of a disgruntled crowd against a side that did the double over them last season, I’m all over taking the 4/5 with Sky Bet for Brentford to have two or more shots on target in the first half. It’s a bet that has landed against the Hammers in their last seven home games.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-2 | JONES KNOWS BEST BET: Brentford to have two or more shots on target in the first half (4/5 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

Liverpool might be on a run of three straight wins – their best run of the season – but back to their relentless and ruthless best, they are certainly not.

This defence remains vulnerable and I’m happy to swerve them at 2/7 with Sky Bet for this one.

In three of the last four seasons where Liverpool posted 92 or more points in the Premier League, they were averaging just 2.8 shots on target conceded on their goal per game. The contrast now is stark. Take the last last nine games for example, and they are averaging 5.67 shots on target conceded per match.

They are also facing an expected goals per shot of 0.14, which is the highest in the Premier League, meaning they are giving up high probability chances – as suggested by the high shots on target per game average.

The drop-off is alarming and points to structural issues remaining in the way Klopp’s team is shaping up, especially without the ball in midfield which is lacking athleticism and aggression.

Although James Maddison remains absent, Leicester’s potency on the counter-attack and physicality make them an opponent to back when it comes to their prospects of scoring and creating high-quality chances in what should be a goal-heavy clash at Anfield.

The Foxes are the top Premier League scorers away from home with 16 goals. That statistic is no fluke looking at the underlying numbers which show Brendan Rodgers’ side have had the third most shots on target on the road (41) and have posted the highest away expected goals tally (12.3).

The bets that stick out to me are both teams to score at 4/5 with Sky Bet as Liverpool have kept just four clean sheets in their last 19 games and Leicester’s shots on target prospects where four or more are priced up at a very juicy 11/8 with Sky Bet. Combine both.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-2 | JONES KNOWS BEST BET: Leicester to score & have four or more shots on target (2/1 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

Backing cards looks a profitable angle of attack in a game that should be full-blooded and very competitive for what is Julen Lopetegui’s first home Premier League game in charge. No team has seen more yellow cards flashed in their direction than Manchester United this season with their three against Nottingham Forest taking their tally to the season to 40.

Lopetegui likes his Wolves team to compete aggressively all over the pitch, too, as seen from his side picking up six bookings in his first Premier League game in charge at Everton. They’ll be sent out with the same ethos in this one with eyes on stifling United’s rhythm.

There is a significant value play in taking the 5/4 on offer for the game to go down a fiery and competitive affair and produce 50 or more booking points in what is a devilishly difficult game to call from a match result perspective.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1

Wretched performances from Patrick Vieira’s men are cropping up quite regularly now. Games vs Leicester, Everton, Nottingham Forest and Fulham all spring to mind but they have a sneaky habit of making me look stupid when making a strong case to take them on, like I did when they won at West Ham.

Considering their overall away record under Vieira, winning just five of 26 Premier League matches, they look vulnerable favourites here at 7/5 with Sky Bet.

Yet, I can’t back Bournemouth either, who remain a team heading towards the foot of the table.

Losing their goalkeeper Neto to injury has had a huge effect on Bournemouth’s defensive output. Previously high-quality chances were being offered up but stopped by the Spanish stopper, but since Mark Travers has stepped in, Bournemouth are shipping goals at an alarming rate.

Travers has conceded a goal every 30 minutes on average in the Premier League (34 in 1035 minutes) – the worst ratio of any goalkeeper with 10 or more appearances in the competition. He has conceded more goals (26) than saves (24) in that period and doesn’t possess the authority of a goalkeeper that is going to win you points in the Premier League.

Goals are probably the answer in this encounter. Back both teams to score at 4/5 with Sky Bet.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-2

Fulham vs Southampton, New Year’s Eve 3pm

“You won’t climb the table with no clean sheets, we have to make sure we change that,” said Nathan Jones after watching his Southampton side defend with little authority in their 3-1 defeat to Brighton. That screams to me it’s time for Southampton to play ugly and grind out a clean sheet first and foremost. When a team is on the end of a bit of a hiding there is a theory that their next game will be all about being defensively secure. That could be relevant here.

Jones will be demanding safety-first defending at Craven Cottage.

I can foresee a very cagey, low-scoring encounter.

The under 2.5 goals line is of interest at odds-against, but my advice is back the 5/4 available on ‘no’ in the both teams to score market with the anticipated change in style from Southampton.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-0

Manchester City vs Everton, New Year’s Eve 3pm – PLAY SUPER 6 TO WIN £250,000!

Despite the noise and current mood around the club, I think Everton will be just fine this season based on what I’ve seen and what the performance data is showcasing. It’s more than enough to stay up – whether that’s enough for a club like Everton is another argument entirely.

Frank Lampard has built a strong spine at the heart of the defence and a midfield that plays with aggression, tenacity and a sprinkling of ability.

Yet one area is holding them back: goals. Just 14 of them from 18 matches across all competitions this season simply isn’t good enough. As is the fact they’ve scored more than once in just two of those matches – in the wins over Southampton and Crystal Palace.

Breaking down elite defences is obviously a problem having failed to score vs Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle. And it doesn’t get much tougher than a visit to Manchester City, who are 5/6 to win without conceding. That might be the way to get Pep Guardiola’s men onside in an unappealing betting heat.

SCORE PREDICTION: 3-0

Newcastle vs Leeds, New Year’s Eve 3pm – PLAY SUPER 6 TO WIN £250,000!

So, can Newcastle win the Premier League?

The chat is starting to gather a bit of momentum.

Well, the best place to answer such questions revolves around the betting markets, who are giving the Toon around a 3.5 per cent chance of lifting the trophy with 28/1 with Sky Bet on offer. Such small percentages shouldn’t dampen enthusiasm though or take away from the monumental job Eddie Howe is doing to get Newcastle to a 50 per cent chance (Evens with Sky Bet) of a top-four finish at this stage of the season considering the level of opposition is a remarkable piece of work.

He took over with Newcastle 19th in Premier League with no wins from 11 games. Since then, Newcastle have won 77 points from 43 games under Howe. It’s top-four qualification form, no doubt – backed up by the performance metrics that have them fully deserving of their place challenging Arsenal and Manchester City.

It’s hard to see anything for flaky Leeds in this one. Newcastle are usually pretty ruthless at scoring during their dominant periods in games and Jesse Marsch’s side do crumble under such pressure. The 4/9 for a home win will be popular.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-0

Brighton vs Arsenal, New Year’s Eve 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports – PLAY SUPER 6 TO WIN £250,000!

My notifications went a little crazy on Boxing Day, to an extent which either meant there was either a family emergency or Solly March had scored.

Thankfully the Jones clan are all fine.

March, who was going off 10/1 to score anytime earlier this season, finally ended a run of 58 games without a goal in the Premier League, scoring with his 69th attempt. I can finally now sleep at night, although I didn’t have a penny on. I’ll get over that one day.

My March obsession is firmly behind me and I’d much rather back Bukayo Saka to score first at 8/1 with Sky Bet considering his performance level against West Ham on Boxing Day.

I think we might be dealing with one of the best players in world football on current form.

Saka has taken his game to the next level in the last 12 months, as seen in the World Cup where he was England’s most potent attacker. He comes into this game in the form of his life, scoring four goals in his last five appearances for club and country. A player of his intelligence, quality, goalscoring ability and the fact he’s the Arsenal penalty taker equates to that 8/1 looking distinctly large. Get on.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-1 | JONES KNOWS BEST BET: Bukayo Saka to score first (8/1 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

Tottenham vs Aston Villa, New Year’s Day 2pm, live on Sky Sports – PLAY SUPER 6 TO WIN £250,000!

Tottenham are always one defeat away from a full-blown crisis – one might be coming here.

I’m a huge believer in Antonio Conte’s methods but his contract situation, amid reports of ongoing negotiations, added to his team’s woeful intensity early on in games is going to bite them at some point.

And when assessing the match prices here, the market is too skewed in favour of Spurs, who are so skinny at 8/13 with Sky Bet to beat an improving Aston Villa.

Conte’s men have conceded first in each of their last nine games in all competitions and have gone 2-0 down in six of those. That is a reliable set of data pointing to serious flaws in the way Tottenham approach matches.

Eventually, a savvy and shrewd side with good defensive nous is going to make Spurs pay. Villa could be that team under Unai Emery and have shown really positive signs with their performance levels against Manchester United, Brighton and Liverpool. Emery’s team deserved both their wins against United and Brighton when assessing the performance data and created a healthy expected goals figure of 1.44 against Liverpool in a game where conceding first to Jurgen Klopp’s side is never ideal from a game state perspective.

There are lots of ways to get Aston Villa on side with your money. Keeping it simple and backing them to avoid defeat at 5/4 with Sky Bet stands out as the major play but Villa to score first at 15/8 and Villa to be winning at half-time at 4/1 also are worth considering.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-2 | JONES KNOWS BEST BET: Aston Villa to win or draw (5/4 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea

The match prices look about right to me with Chelsea likely to get the job done at odds-on with that extra quality in the final third, especially with Morgan Gibbs-White missing for the hosts, but Forest will be digging in and creating problems for the Londoners at various points.

One area that may prove fertile for them is set-pieces.

I thought Chelsea looked shaky when defending their box under pressure from corners and free-kicks against Bournemouth, with the Cherries creating a healthy 0.29 worth of expected goals via set-pieces with Lloyd Kelly and Dominic Solanke both missing the target from close range. Since Graham Potter took charge, Chelsea’s overall defensive metrics from set-pieces are nosediving. They have shipped 33 shots from such scenarios to an expected goals backdrop of 3.18 – only six teams have a worse output from the day Potter took over.

With that in mind, it’s certainly worth looking at the Forest centre-backs to threaten.

Since Joe Worrall and Willy Boly have been paired together four games ago, they have had eight shots between them and that’s not including Boly’s disallowed goal against Manchester United.

Worrall is 13/8  and Boly is 2/1 to have at least one shot in the player shots market. Both those prices look big – and I’ll be backing the 4/5 on offer for either to have at least one shot vs Chelsea as part of my 3/1 New Year’s Day double.

SCORE PREDICTION: 0-1 : Either Joe Worrall or Willy Boly to have a shot on goal


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