Using expected goals (xG) data, Infogol’s Jake Osgathorpe picks out the best value bets in the over/under markets from Sunday’s Premier League action.
Infogol is a revolutionary football product, which harnesses Opta data to power an expected goals model. Expected Goals quantifies the quality of a scoring opportunity, allocating each chance a probability of it finding the back of the net.
The xG metric can be used to assess teams and their performances, and it also helps to give an insight into future prospects, which in turn helps with betting.
Leicester vs West Ham
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.
The Foxes have averaged 2.4 xGF per game this season, and have forced their opponents to concede five penalties with their dynamic and pacey attack, and I am expecting them to have joy again here.
West Ham also picked up an eye-catching result in gameweek three, 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.
It is no surprise then that over 2.5 goals makes plenty of appeal, as these two in-form attacking teams go head-to-head.
Best bet: Over 2.5 Goals at 8/13
Southampton vs West Brom
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 I am expecting them to be at their attacking best now they have points on the board and confidence in their veins.
They are an impressive side when playing at their max, and Ralph Hasenhuttl will be hoping that his side are getting closer to their intense best, with West Brom a good opponent for them to register another good performance.
The Baggies blew a 3-0 half-time lead against Chelsea, as their defensive issues came to the forefront again. Playing a defensive 5-4-1 formation, Slaven Bilic’s side couldn’t see the game out, conceding three second half goals.
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.
The Premier League table sorted by expected goals against this season
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 this being a high-scoring encounter, with over 2.5 goals looking a good bet.
Best bet: Over 2.5 Goals @ 8/11
Arsenal vs Sheffield United
Arsenal were dominant against Fulham on the opening day, but the more we see of the Cottagers the less impressive that win appears, and the Gunners have been underwhelming since.
They were second best against West Ham, being fortunate to win (xG: ARS 1.3 – 2.3 WHU), before being handily beaten by Liverpool (xG: LIV 2.7 – 1.4 ARS). They created little in both, mustering a combined 11 shots in those two matches while allowing 35. That isn’t going to work in the long run.
Mikel Arteta’s side appear to be heavily reliant on moments in games, and since his appointment, no Premier League team has created fewer chances than Arsenal (217 – 9.4 per game). They really need to create more.
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Sheffield United have been backed into third favourites for the drop on the back of their losing start to the season, but that looks like an overreaction to me.
The Blades were blown away in the opening six minutes against Wolves, but were competitive for the remainder of the match, and they went down to 10 men after 12 minutes in their loss against Aston Villa, but did well to allow only 1.0 xGA.
Against Leeds, they won the xG battle and were very unfortunate to come away empty handed (xG: SHU 1.7 – 1.3 LEE), as they continue to look like a staunch defensive unit.
Let’s not forget that they conceded only 39 goals from 38 games last season, and they had Arsenal’s number, beating them 1-0 at Bramall Lane and drawing 1-1 at the Emirates – winning the xG battle in both.
I can see Arsenal struggling to break the Blades down in this game, which would ultimately lead to a low-scoring game, and the under 2.5 goals is a value bet based on the Infogol model.
Best bet: Under 2.5 Goals @ 4/5
Wolves vs Fulham
Wolves were thumped by West Ham last weekend, going down 4-0 in an uncharacteristically poor display from Nuno’s side, as they allowed 2.7 xGA while creating just 0.6 xGF.
That loss followed a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City, and if ever there was an opponent you would want to play to get back on track, it would be this Fulham team.
Scott Parker’s side have been woeful to say the least so far this season, conceding 10 times in three matches and getting thumped 3-0 in both home games.
The loss at Craven Cottage to Aston Villa last time out was more concerning than their previous defeats, as according to the pre-season relegation odds, Villa were supposed to be a ‘relegation rival’ of Fulham’s.
They barely laid a glove on them, while looking extremely porous at the back once again (xG: FUL 0.8 – 2.1 AVL). It could be a long season for them.
Wolves are rightly short-priced favourites to win this one, but I was pleasantly surprised to see over 2.5 goals at odds against, with the hosts having the firepower to add to Fulham’s woes.
Best bet: Over 2.5 Goals @ 11/10
Manchester United vs Tottenham
To say that Manchester United got lucky last weekend would be a major understatement. The Red Devils were gifted a late penalty after being second best throughout the game (xG: BHA 2.9 – 1.9 MUN).
It was another worrying performance from a United team that are clearly feeling the effects of a late 19/20 finish and a lack of pre-season, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side don’t look as sharp as they did post-break.
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However, they have match-winners in their side, so will likely always create one or two good opportunities to score at the very least.
Defensively though, they look very gettable at the moment. Crystal Palace and Brighton had field days exploiting United’s vulnerability, and that wasn’t what we had come to expect from them, especially post-break (0.9 xGA per game).
Tottenham were on the wrong end of a controversial decision last weekend, as they conceded a very late penalty to Newcastle that was consequently dispatched, meaning they had to settle for a point.
It was a game in which Spurs were utterly dominant, creating chance after chance while allowing their opponents to create nothing (non-pen xG: TOT 3.5 – 0.2 NEW), meaning they were hugely unfortunate to come away with a 1-1 draw.
The Premier League table sorted by expected goals for this season
That game followed a strong attacking performance at Southampton (2.2 xGF), but one in which they looked extremely vulnerable defensively, similar to their opener against Everton.
Another factor to consider is that this will be Tottenham’s third match in six days after playing Chelsea in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday and Maccabi Haifa in the Europa League on Thursday. Their players could be cooked come Sunday.
Given what we have seen from Spurs in the last few league matches, I am expecting an attack-minded approach, which would mean we see an entertaining game.
Both defences are vulnerable, and both attacks have the potential to create plenty, so the over 2.5 goals makes great appeal at a decent price at Old Trafford.
Best bet: Over 2.5 Goals @ 10/11
The 5-fold accumulator pays around 19/1 with Sky Bet
Odds correct at 1830 BST (01/10/20)
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