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Premier League Odds: West Ham v Liverpool, Aston Villa v Chelsea, Tottenham v Arsenal

With a full weekend of Premier League football upon us once again, we look into the stats to try and spot the trends ahead of a crucial weekend in the top flight.

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Read more: What is xG? Expected Goals explained

Premier League

West Ham v Liverpool

David Moyes has been all too happy to let the opposition have the lion’s share of possession, sit deep and then hit them on the counter and it’s often worked to great effect.

The Irons have had less than 30% of possession in four games this season – Arsenal (a), Tottenham (a), Chelsea (h), Brighton (a) – and have won all four. When they’ve had more than 50% of the ball, they’ve taken 11 points from eight games, with their wins being at Luton and at home to Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United.

Liverpool dominated the ball against Everton in midweek, though they were chasing the game for most of the encounter, and will expect similar on Saturday afternoon.

The Reds are as good as out of the title race now, and it looks like Jurgen Klopp’s final Liverpool game will be no more than a dead rubber against Wolves. The 2-2 draw against Manchester United – in which they could easily have come away with nothing – was followed by a shock defeat at home to Crystal Palace, and the most recent defeat to rivals Everton looks like the final nail in the coffin.

A glance at Liverpool’s recent xG numbers would suggest they’re actually playing quite well; their average xGD over the last six games (+1.37) is better than Manchester City’s and Arsenal’s over the course of the season, but it only tells half a tale. Liverpool led for 27 minutes against Manchester United, went behind in the opening minutes against Brighton, were 1-0 down early on against Crystal Palace, and also went into the break behind against Everton.

The issue over the last month or so for Liverpool is that they’re leaving themselves vulnerable as opposed to controlling games from the off, and Moyes’s West Ham must feel confident of at least making things difficult for the visitors on Saturday.

West Ham +1.0 (Asian Handicap) – 2.010

Aston Villa v Chelsea

There have been chinks in the Aston Villa armour in recent weeks, losing 4-0 at home to Tottenham, 4-1 away to Manchester City and the chaotic 3-3 draw with Brentford, but there doesn’t appear to be any sign of panic at Villa Park. Their Champions League fate is just about in their own hands after wins over Arsenal and Bournemouth and they can take another big step when facing Chelsea this weekend.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side may well be the most unpredictable side in the league, beating Newcastle, then drawing with Burnley, then beating Manchester United, then drawing with Sheffield United, then beating Everton 6-0, before most recently losing 5-0 to Arsenal. And that excludes the FA Cup semi-final where they were the better side against Manchester City but couldn’t find the back of the net.

And that’s been Chelsea’s problem for much of the season. Cole Palmer has skewed their figures somewhat with his recent flurry of goals, but nearly half of his 20 have come from the penalty spot. Nicolas Jackson would be expected to be their primary source of goals, and while he’s under-performed his xG throughout the season, it would perhaps be hasty to assume that will naturally turn around. All too often we’ve seen Jackson through on goal when making a poor decision that’s cost the Blues and his profligate ways might not end any time soon.

Aston Villa will allow Chelsea chances; in their last 13 games they’ve allowed less than 1.5 xG just once, and that was 1.4 against Sheffield United.

Clean sheets are hard to come by at Villa Park, but with the Blues’ wasteful finishing, the hosts should come out on top.

Aston Villa to win and both teams to score – 12/5

Tottenham v Arsenal

They look like coming up just short of a Champions League place, but if you’d have asked Tottenham fans if they’d have taken this campaign back in August you’d have done well to find any who’d say no.

A new manager unproven at this level, a smattering of new signings who were also unknown quantities to a degree and of course losing their star man in Harry Kane.

Tottenham got off to a start to the season absolutely no one could have envisioned, but since the start of November, Spurs have taken just 34 points from 22 games; fewer than Chelsea, Manchester United and Bournemouth.

Ange Postecoglou’s side unsurprisingly over-performed their xG to find themselves top of the table, and they’ve largely sustained that over-performance for much of the campaign. Tottenham’s xGD this season is just +2.6, worse than Brentford’s, but their actual goal difference is +16, the fifth-best in the league.

That’s not to say they’re due significant regression, however. In Son Heung-min they have a two-footed forward who consistently defies xG models, and an excellent shot-stopper in Guglielmo Vicario who also over-performs his xG prevented numbers.

As you might expect, Tottenham suffered a large dip in performance when all of their injuries came, but since getting their players back, their xGA has been steadily dropping (with the exceptions of the trips to Fulham and Tottenham) while their xG typically hovers between 1.6 and 2.0.

Spurs have a tough run of fixtures against Arsenal (h), Chelsea (a) and Liverpool (a) with a home game against Manchester City still to come, all of which will likely mean they fall shy of Aston Villa at the end of the season.

When hosting Arsenal on Sunday, one of the league’s most cavalier attacks will come up against the league’s most stubborn defences. There were four goals when the two sides met earlier in the season, and as outstanding as Arsenal have been defensively this season, it looks like more goals are on the cards in North London.

Over 3.5 Goals – 2.200

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