Premier League predictions: Jones Knows says back Watford to get a result vs Manchester United
The Premier League is back with new manager bounce potential. If anyone knows, Jones Knows. He foresees more misery for Manchester United at Watford.
Hello waiter, I'll have goals and shots for starters please.
Thomas Tuchel has built, officially, what is the best defence in the Premier League, conceding just four goals (one from open play). Only two teams have conceded fewer after the opening 11 games of a top flight season. However, I'd be stunned if Chelsea maintain these types of numbers over the next few weeks. When looking at the expected goals against data, Chelsea are offering up good chances and shooting opportunities to the opposition.
In fact, Chelsea have the biggest difference between goals conceded (4) and expected goals against (11.79) in the Premier League after the opening eight games - at 7.79. It's a huge overperformance.
This is an angle I've spoken about in the last few weeks but Chelsea's previous opposition, in Norwich and Burnley, haven't been strong enough in forward areas to tempt me in to getting involved on the prices surrounding goals going in Chelsea's net.
Now is the time, though, to back for goals and for an exciting match as Leicester carry a genuine top-six ranked threat in the final third but a defence that is one of the leakiest in the Premier League this season.
Since Brendan Rodgers took charge in 2019, only Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea have scored more goals than Leicester. And their average of 3.11 total goals in their matches over the past two seasons is the second highest average - behind Manchester United - of any team in the Premier League.
The market is expecting a cagey, tactical affair but with chances of goals at either end, this is a match that could catch fire. That also then opens up the avenue for backing the match total shots market where the line is set at 25 or more shots at Evens. If you take out the possibility of this game catching fire and going shots crazy, the hard averages from both teams' shots data this season make that line appealing anyway. Chelsea's games are averaging just over 24 shots per 90 minutes and Leicester's just over 26. I think the 25 or more will breeze home. And the higher lines of 31+ at 5/1 with Sky Bet and even 34+ at 16/1 should not be ruled out.
The play therefore is to combine goals and shots in a special offered by Sky Bet involving over 2.5 goals, both teams to score and the match to produce 27 or more shots.
BETTING ANGLE: Back over 2.5 goals, BTTS and the match to have 27 or more shots (7/2 with Sky Bet)
For a punter like myself that bases much of their analysis on strong data trends to come to conclusions, the change of a manager mid-season is always problematic for finding an angle. Unless you have a strong view or an exclusive insight into how the new manager is going to get his message across, it's hard to rate just how a team will fare over their first few games.
• None Gerrard: Villa can reach Europe; I'm not focused on Liverpool
My opinion on Steven Gerrard goes no further than what everybody else knows: he's an inspirational figure who turned Rangers into champions. Quite how that form-line transfers to the Premier League is difficult to quantify. My gut tells me he's likely to get a reaction this weekend and make Villa hard to beat but Gerrard will face a tough tactical battle up against Graham Potter. Defences are likely to be on top.
No side have drawn more games 0-0 (19) since Brighton won promotion back in 2017, including the last meeting between these two, and this game could meander down that path.
Crystal Palace are a tactically impressive unit that are going places under Patrick Vieira. To stifle teams like Brighton, Wolves, Leicester, West Ham and Arsenal this season - and of course beat Manchester City - shows that they are on an exciting path.
But they are a second-half team.
Much of their play is about controlling the opposition and rarely do they risk too much in the early knockings of an encounter. When analysing first halves only this season, Palace have scored the fewest goals (2) and had the fewest shots (42) of any team in the Premier League. They have failed to score in nine of their 11 first halves and have scored 87 per cent of their goals after the break, to the extent that if only second halves counted they would be fourth in the Premier League.
I can foresee a match situation where that risk-averse tactic to the early stages could come a cropper against Burnley, who do like to fly out of the gates in these type of matches. If you take out the fixtures with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, Burnley have scored the first goal in six of their other eight fixtures. That makes the 5/2 with Sky Bet for Burnley to be winning at half-time too big to ignore.
BETTING ANGLE: Burnley to be winning at half-time (5/2 with Sky Bet)
Newcastle need an Eddie Howe bounce - and quickly.
The Toon remain the only side still without a Premier League win this season as this is technically their worst ever start to a league season.
The 'manager bounce' theory is one that gets a lot of airtime without much delving done into the numbers. I've done some minor digging on that part. In the last 32 occasions where a manager has taken over a club mid-season in the Premier League, the record of results in their first home game reads: W14-D5-L13.
• 'Refreshed' Howe: The pull of Newcastle is huge
That is a much higher loss-rate (40 per cent) than I was expecting to find.
The appointment of Howe is a difficult one to weigh up. It's a step into the unknown for Howe away from Bournemouth and, with what we've seen so far from the new Newcastle owners, there is a lack of planning and strategy from a football decision-making point of view. That could make Howe's job tougher than it needs to be. Of course, the ceiling of their potential is much greater with Howe in charge as he could be the real deal but I'd be much more confident of their survival chances if they'd appointed someone of the ilk of Roy Hodgson.
Brentford are on a run of four straight defeats but their performance data remains strong. In three of those matches they won the expected goals battle with their attacking metrics remaining very strong. In that period, only Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and West Ham have amassed a bigger total expected goals for figure than Brentford (6.57), with only City posting more shots on goal from inside than box than the Bees (46). They have the firepower to score twice at St James' Park and ruin Howe's first day.
BETTING ANGLE: Brentford to score two or more goals (6/4 with Sky Bet)
Dean Smith's head must be spinning. His appointment at Norwich means he'll be the first manager to face an opponent in consecutive Premier League games in the same season, but with different clubs.
Like all three other managerial changes over the international break, this is an almost impossible one to weigh up in terms of predictions and betting angles. All we can use for an argument in this case at this time is gut instinct as to whether he'll get Norwich moving in the right direction. I'd be lukewarm on that.
Just from a personal perspective, surely Smith could have benefitted from a bit of time to refresh away from the stresses of management? Out of the frying pan into the fire springs to mind as the job to get Norwich winning games with their current squad looks a tall order.
Meanwhile, in their last eight games, Southampton have only conceded six goals - a statistic backed up by their expected goals against data (8.43) which has them down as the fifth-best defence in that period. However, during that run, they have faced Manchester City, West Ham and Chelsea - three of the top four attacks in the Premier League. They have been impressive.
The theory that their strong base means just one goal is enough to win a game at the moment worked a charm for the prediction for the Villa game and I see no reason to change tack against a very limp Norwich attack.
BETTING ANGLE: Southampton to win to nil (5/2 with Sky Bet)
I had to double check Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was still manager of Manchester United. I can confirm he is.
I also had to double check that United were genuinely as short as 4/9 with Sky Bet to win this game. I can also confirm they are.
United have lost four of their last six Premier League games, taking just four points from 18 available. The only win in that time was that 3-0 at Tottenham, who were so embarrassed at losing to this United side they went and sacked their manager. By not acting to solve the problem with their own manager, it screams to me that the Manchester United board have all-but written this season off with the hope that the talent within the squad can haul them to a top-four finish.
• Man Utd's sorry stats: How much is midfield to blame?
It's an achievable task but one that will need to be built around making themselves hard to beat - as they did with their set-up at Tottenham. However, judging by Solskjaer's comments after the defeat to Manchester City, he wants them to return to a more open, aggressive style that made them very easy to create chances against. See the defeats to Leicester, Liverpool and Aston Villa for examples.
He said: "We've got to go back to being on the front foot, be more aggressive, maybe circumstances have made us a little bit more cautious and passive. We can't, or I can't, look at myself and say this is the way I want Manchester United to play."
Even up against lowly Watford, Solskjaer's talk will be music to the ears of Claudio Ranieri. He has the players to utilise space on the counter-attack - as seen in their 5-2 win over Everton. They can get a result here.
BETTING ANGLE: Watford to draw or win (13/8 with Sky Bet)
I'm all over a West Ham win here at odds-against.
Having spent most of last season thinking the bubble will burst for David Moyes as he oversaw a classic case of overachievement, I've completely changed my view based on continued excellent and consistent performances from the Hammers. Moyes has gone back to what made his Everton side so dangerous, making West Ham a tough outfit that play very much as a team and one that carry a huge goal threat.
The 100/30 with Sky Bet for them to finish in the top four would be a serious bet for me if I had faith in Michail Antonio's body to hold up from injury. Here though, at 7/5 with Sky Bet, they are a generous price to beat a Wolves team that look on the downgrade following an impressive start to life under Bruno Lage.
• The £250,000 is up for grabs with Super 6, and as always it is completely free to play. Entries by 3pm Saturday.
Since beating Watford in September, Wolves have gone flat in forward areas. In their last seven matches, they have posted just 54 shots - that's 16 fewer than any other team. An expected goals figure of 7.4 in that period is fine on first viewing but dig a little deeper and it becomes a tad more worrying. All of those seven fixtures have come against teams not in the top nine of the Premier League table. Crystal Palace were insanely comfortable in their 2-0 victory before the international break, with Wolves recording an expected goals figure of just 0.28.
The Hammers have lost just one of their last 17 games away from home against teams that finished ninth or lower according to last season's table and won 12 of those 17, including beating Wolves 3-2 last season. That's a 71 per cent win-rate and we're getting odds-against here.
Moyes' boys are perfectly equipped to get the job done in these type of games.
Arsenal were 15 places below Liverpool in September. They will go above them with a win at Anfield. Football works in strange ways, eh?
Can Mikel Arteta's boys go to that next level with a win here? The 11/2 with Sky Bet may tempt a few in. Not me though.
This will probably be a step too far but I think they can make this a difficult evening for Liverpool. Instead of backing a pro-Arsenal angle, I'm interested in the goals line.
Past meetings looks to have played a big factor in how the goal line has been priced up, with 49 goals having been scored in the last 11 Premier League encounters between these two, averaging at 4.5 goals per game. That probably explains why the over 2.5 goals line is 1/2 with Sky Bet. It's a price that looks woefully short when you analyse Arsenal's impressive defensive numbers in recent weeks.
I can see this being a low-scoring, slow-burner with the Gunners likely to focus on being hard to break down.
• Have Liverpool shown Arsenal how to get at them?
The Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White and Gabriel axis continues to impress - shown by our back-to-back winners on Arsenal wins to nil against Leicester and Watford.
In eight games, the trio have conceded just four goals with an expected goals against figure of 7.1 backing up their strong actual numbers. They have also yet to concede a goal in the first half in those eight matches. This will obviously be the stiffest task they've faced taking on Liverpool's deadly attack but it's hard to argue with Arsenal's defensive output.
The 6/4 with Sky Bet for under 2.5 goals is the play.
Manchester City have shown enough vulnerability this season to make teams travel to the Etihad with a slice of hope in their bid for a result. Southampton nabbed a draw and Crystal Palace, aided by having an extra man for 45 minutes, played excellently to leave with a 2-1 win.
However, only Aston Villa (0) have taken fewer points than Everton (2) in the last five Premier League games. Pep Guardiola's boys should find a way through but that's hardly telling you something extraordinary, is it?
A more enlightening angle surrounds the chances of a Joao Cancelo goal. One is coming for City - and he rates as an interesting wager.
The full-back has been sensational for Pep's men in recent weeks, with his creative flair and excellent positioning very hard for opposition teams to stop. In his last six starts, he has posted 17 shots on goal, including bagging his first goal of the season in the win over Club Brugge. The movement ahead of him, whether it would be Jack Grealish or Phil Foden, does lend Cancelo to find very dangerous pockets of space outside the box and he does possess the quality to test goalkeepers with quality strikes. The 14/1 with Sky Bet for him to score from outside the area makes sense as we're squeezing more juice out of the price instead of backing 5/1 anytime odds.
BETTING ANGLE: Joao Cancelo to score from outside the box (14/1 with Sky Bet)
There wasn't an obvious Antonio Conte bounce for Tottenham at Everton - but it may just explode here.
Tottenham delivered one of their best defensive displays this season at Everton, while their work-rate was also much improved, covering the most amount of distance in any of their games this season.
Meanwhile, Leeds' wins and eight of their 11 points this season have come against teams currently below them in the Premier League as they continue to have problems playing teams with better individual quality. I like the home win.
The player shots market has drawn me in - as it normally does for an opponent playing Leeds. Marcelo Bielsa's style of man-to-man football always yields space for central players to have strikes on goal as beating their marker usually opens up a pathway to goal.
Bruno Fernandes (four shots - three on target), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (four shots, four on target), Sadio Mane (10 shots, two on target), Michail Antonio (seven shots, three on target) and Armando Broja (five shots, three on target) have racked up multiple shots from a central area against Leeds this season.
The obvious play is to make a case for Harry Kane to go shot crazy but obviously he is priced accordingly, with just 13/8 available with Sky Bet for him to have five or more shots. The prices on Lucas Moura are much more appealing considering he is playing much more centrally under Conte and looks a player that could thrive under the watch of the Italian.
All of his lines are worth a look but the pick is the 5/1 with Sky Bet on him to have two or more shots on target.
BETTING ANGLE: Lucas Moura to have two shots on target (5/1 with Sky Bet)
Premier League Preview - Souness on 'angry' Liverpool's point to prove vs Arsenal | Delph's impressive return | Kane's confidence boost
Peter Smith is joined by Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness, and football writers Oliver Yew and Ben Grounds to look ahead to the Premier League weekend.
PART 1 | How will Liverpool respond after their first defeat of the season? Graeme Souness explains why they'll be 'full throttle' against an Arsenal side who, he feels, are still a long way off, despite their recent unbeaten run
PART 2 | Oliver Yew and Ben Grounds look at the contrasting impacts of Jack Grealish and Gabriel Jesus this season, and discuss Fabien Delph's surprise return to form with Everton, ahead of his side's trip to a club he won two Premier League titles with
PART 3 | Harry Kane scored seven goals in two games during the international break but will that translate to the Premier League? We talk Tottenham ahead of Antonio Conte's first home league game in charge, and explain the reasons behind Leeds' slow start.