BetMGM UK Golden Goals: Matchday 10
Golden Goals is back after a week in which goalkeepers seized headlines rather than shots.
Chelsea fans know what we are talking about. After a promising 77 minutes against Arsenal, taking a comfortable 2-0 lead and underlining the budding Mauricio Pochettino rebuild, disaster struck. Robert Sanchez moved away from his goal and passed the ball straight to Declan Rice, who hit the ball first time to curl it into an unguarded net. Less than 10 minutes later, the Gunners were level and the London Derby finished 2-2.
Earlier in the match, it had been Sanchez’s Arsenal counterpart David Raya at fault – he was too far out of his goal when Mykhailo Mudryk floated a delightful lob-cum-mishit-cross over his head from close to the touchline to put Chelsea 2-0 up.
Elsewhere last weekend, there was a second yellow card that never was for Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konaté in the Reds’ Merseyside Derby win over Everton and wins for an impressive Brentford, a scintillating Newcastle United and a frankly excellent Aston Villa.
Gary O’Neil, meanwhile, gained sweet revenge on previous employers Bournemouth as his pack of Wolves devoured the Cherries and there were rather more mellow triumphs for both Manchester clubs.
A late comeback from Luton Town against Nottingham Forest joined Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal as the only draws from the weekend, which was rounded off by a comfortable 2-0 win by league leaders Tottenham over Fulham on Monday night.
We got four out of six results correct in our article in Gameweek 9 and were only one goal away from nailing the correct result in three. In total, 16 players managed three correct calls to split the prizepool.
Remember: if you can pick the correct six scorelines, you could win up to £2 million. You don't even have to get all six to earn something. If the jackpot isn't won, just get more scores correct than your BetMGM peers to win a share of our prizepool – which has now increased to £5,000.
As for us, we go again with our matchday 10 stats, facts, insights and predictions.
Arsenal vs Sheffield United
Form (all competitions) Arsenal: WDWLW; Sheffiled United: LLLLL
After the euphoria of beating Manchester City before the international break, a comeback against Chelsea seemed to pale into comparison somewhat for Gunners fans, which says a lot about where the two London sides find themselves at the moment.
In truth, Arsenal would have fancied themselves at Stamford Bridge but were comprehensively outplayed for most of the match.
To come from 2-0 down and draw is the stuff of champions, some may argue, but there is still some concerning underlying form that Mikel Arteta may need to start addressing soon if they are to launch a sustained title challenge again. Facing feckless Sheffield United at home seems the perfect place to start.
One issue Arteta might want to look at is the number of shots his team are popping off – since the beginning of the season they have had 126 efforts on goal for an average of 14 per game. That’s ninth in the league with the likes of Everton, Brentford and Aston Villa having all managed more.
Their shot-creating actions (SCA) rate could be better too. They currently rank sixth in the league with 26.22 SCA per 90 minutes – behind teams such as Brighton, Manchester United and arch-rivals Tottenham – while the loss of forward Gabriel Jesus to injury in the Champions League win over Sevilla on Tuesday will not help their cause up top.
They also need to cut out the errors – they have made five which led to a shot on goal, the joint-third highest number in the division – but against Sheffield United there is a chance to correct these trends at both ends of the pitch and bolster the goals column into the bargain.
No team has conceded more goals (24) this season than the Blades, nor managed fewer shots on goal (82). On the advanced stats front, they also carry the lowest expected goals (xG) rate in the division at 7.5.
This should be a hammering – and the Gunners will oblige.
Prediction: Arsenal 5-0 Sheffield United
Bournemouth vs Burnley
Form (all competitions) Bournemouth: LLLLW; Burnley: LLWLW
An early relegation throwdown? Quite possibly, with the way these two are carrying on. Except for Sheffield United both these clubs are arguably the most underwhelming sides in the division, performing way below even modest pre-season expectations.
Under new manager Andoni Iraola, Bournemouth were reportedly going to be irrepressible, dynamic and exciting to watch. A record of three goals in the last six games is putting paid to those suppositions.
One particularly alarming stat for Cherries fans is they rank at the bottom of the division for progressive passing distance – which measures the total yardage that completed passes have travelled towards the opponent's goal – with 18,323. For context the top seven in this metric are, unsurprisingly, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Brighton, Arsenal and Newcastle.
It's not even close at the bottom either – next up is Luton on 19,016. If you are inching forward at a snail's pace, it's going to be difficult to score goals. To top it all off, no team has made more errors leading to a shot on goal this term than Bournemouth (eight times).
Burnley – second in the errors leading to a shot department, for what it’s worth – were phenomenal to watch in the Championship last year and manager Vincent Kompany was even considered a candidate for the Tottenham job at one point. One win in their opening nine in the top flight shows how quickly things can change in football.
It’s more than just the end results that have changed though. In the 2022-23 season they averaged 13.52 shots per 90 minutes; this year, it's down to 10.11. Last year their xG per 90 was an impressive 1.44; in the opening nine games it's a pitiful 0.85.
One has to take the difference in the quality of the competition into account, of course, but there is no doubt Burnley are misfiring as an attacking unit. With both teams struggling for goals and so much on the line, we predict an edgy bore draw.
Prediction: Bournemouth 0-0 Burnley
Aston Villa vs Luton Town
Form (all competitions) Aston Villa: WDWWL; Luton: DLLWL
The Villans are ticking along nicely under manager Unai Emery and there are whispers of a top-four challenge among those in the Holte End. A clinical 4-1 triumph over West Ham on the sole Sunday game last week certainly boosts that belief.
The numbers reflect that positivity – Aston Villa are averaging 1.89 xG per 90 minutes (fourth-highest in the division) as well as 5.67 shots on target per 90 minutes (fifth-highest) and 4.22 goal-creating actions per 90 minutes (third-highest).
We know they are a potent force moving forward and, in Ollie Watkins, they have a striker who has well and truly found his form. The 27-year-old has five goals and five assists so far, with all five of those strikes coming in his previous four matches. Add in an England goal in the most recent international break to boot and he will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing The Hatters.
A fightback from 2-0 down against Nottingham Forest to earn a draw could prove a crucial turning point for Luton.
They are showing some fight and are proving hard to get past – literally, they have the second-highest percentage of dribblers tackled in the league this year. Their clean-tackling reputation is further bolstered by the fact they have only received 15 yellow cards and no red cards, good for the second-best record in the league.
They will need to time those tackles to perfection again while transforming their attacking capabilities to get anything from this game, though. Currently, they are fourth from bottom in goal-creating actions per 90 at 4.4.
It seems too big an ask – this one will go to the hosts.
Prediction: Aston Villa 3-1 Luton
Brighton vs Fulham
Form (all competitions) Brighton: WLDDL; Fulham: LWLWD
The Seagulls are in a mire – the first they have experienced since Roberto De Zerbi joined last year. They have picked up just one point in their previous three games, conceding ten goals in the process.
While it’s true Aston Villa, Liverpool and Manchester City is a tough call sheet for any team, fans would have hoped for a better return and a more resolute defence. To add fuel to the fire, midfielder Solly March and striker Danny Welbeck both look set for a significant spell on the sidelines.
It's not been an ideal few weeks. However, De Zerbi’s men remain a thrill to watch. They rank second in the non-penalty xG + expected assists per 90 minutes metric at 3.46, third in xG with 17.2 and fourth in progressive carrying distance at 11,194 yards.
In Fulham they could not find a better opponent to face to get out of their dip in league form – at least on paper.
The Cottagers concede 5.33 shots on target per 90 minutes in the Premier League and they struggle to hold onto the ball – they are dispossessed 11.1 times per 90 minutes, the third-highest number in the division. Against Brighton's high-octane pressing style, they will need to be much better, or it could prove a long afternoon.
This feels like a big win for Brighton but they will continue to concede goals.
Prediction: Brighton 5-2 Fulham
Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest
Form (all competitions) Liverpool: WWDWL; Nottingham Forest: DDDLD
Is it the slam-dunk fixture of the weekend? The BetMGM sportsbook has priced a Liverpool win at 7/25 (1.28) – not as short as Arsenal to beat Sheffield United at 1/9 (1.10) but hot favourites nonetheless.
They were, it must be remembered, a similar price in April 2023 when a spirited Forest came close to springing a surprise as five second-half goals resulted in a 3-2 home-win thriller at Anfield.
One could make the case that the current Liverpool forward line is the strongest in the league – and the stats support that assertion.
With 20, they have the joint-fourth highest goals in the league and possess the second-highest xG per 90 minutes with 2.12. Only league leaders Tottenham (168) have registered more shots on goal than the Reds (151).
That said, they need to be much more consistent to launch a sustained title tilt. With a shots on target percentage of 27.2%, only Burnley (26.4%) and Luton (16.8%) are more wayward with their attempts.
An average shot distance of 17.9 yards per 90 minutes – the joint-highest in the league – helps explain their profligacy somewhat but that lack of accuracy in front of the net will stick in Jurgen Klopp's craw if it continues.
Forest fans were left fuming last week after letting a 2-0 lead slip at home to Luton. Despite dominating for long spells they couldn't get over the line and now a challenging run of fixtures awaits, starting with Liverpool at Anfield before games against European sides Aston Villa, West Ham and Brighton.
Steve Cooper's men have been happy to let the opposition have the ball this season – they average 40.7% possession this campaign, the fourth-lowest in the league. They have a chance with the pace of an in-form Anthony Elanga and the physical presence of Chris Wood on the counter-attack but Forest will need to be ruthless.
It's hard to see any result other than a home win.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Nottingham Forest
Manchester United vs Manchester City
Form (all competitions) Manchester United: WWWLL; Manchester City: WWLWL
The Manchester Derby rounds off the weekend and, unusually, both teams come into the game behind some unconvincing form.
Watching the Red Devils tends to be a real struggle at the moment. A night of redemption in the Champions League saw a Harry Maguire header and a last-minute penalty stop by Andre Onana save their skin against FC Copenhagen, but United’s first-half performance was attritional in the extreme.
Somehow they have managed three wins on the bounce. In the league they are managing to get shots off on goal – with 143, they have registered the third-highest number of attempts – however a pitiful xG of 1.52 per 90 minutes (10th-lowest) speaks to the desperation that characterises so many of those efforts.
Erik ten Hag's men have lost four of their last five matches in all competitions against the Citizens while conceding 15 goals. Shipping to this Manchester City team is no shame, it’s true, but seeing how they can turn them over this time on current performances is complicated.
That said, City have some issues of their own even if they are far less concerning than those faced by their neighbours.
Erling Haaland is still scoring goals – he has nine in the league – but not quite at last year's rate. In the Norwegian’s previous three games his total xG has reached just 0.4 while in his team's recent defeat to Wolves, he took a season-low 14 touches.
Critiquing a player who's nearly reached double figures before November feels like clutching at straws but his recent domestic performances have raised some questions.
Chief among those: is Haaland overreliant on the injured Kevin De Bruyne? The Belgian provided a direct assist for 13 of the Norwegian’s goals last year – that means De Bruyne was a key cog in 25% of all his goals.
Still, if Pep Guardiola's main concern is his striker not scoring at the incredible rate of more than a goal per game like last season, that problem feels insignificant compared to the quandaries troubling their opponents.
It could get messy for the hosts.
Prediction: Manchester United 1 - 4 Manchester City
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