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BetMGM UK Golden Goals: Matchday 11

BetMGM’s Golden Goals returns after a particularly goal-happy Matchday 10. No fewer than 30 were scored across the Premier League last weekend – let’s hope for a similarly entertaining Matchday 11.

Five of those goals were netted at the Emirates as Arsenal continued their impressive start to the league season with the 5-0 dismantling of Sheffield United. Eddie Nketiah proved more than worthy of filling Gabriel Jesus’s boots, netting his first Premier League hat-trick.

The only other unbeaten team in the league, Tottenham, also continued their winning streak by beating Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Despite a late scare from the home side courtesy of Jordan Ayew, Ange Postecoglou’s men held on to remain top of the table.

But we couldn’t mention the happenings of last weekend without highlighting the Manchester Derby. Pep Guardiola’s men once again asserted their dominance over the fixture as Manchester City steamrolled local counterparts Manchester United 3-0, extending their winning record in recent derbies to five out of six.

That was a result correctly predicted right here on our Golden Goals blog last week. In total we landed three correct scores as well as the correct result in the Manchester Derby, while 10 of our players went one better and split the £5,000 prizepool after nailing four correct scorelines of their own.

You can give it a go this week and be in with the chance to win up to £2 million by predicting six correct scores with Golden Goals, our free-to-play football predictor game. Read more about Golden Goals here.

Will you be next? Let’s take a closer look at Matchday 11…

Brentford vs West Ham

Form (all competitions) Brentford: WWLDL West Ham: WLLLD

It’s a tale of two teams at opposite ends of the Premier League form table as Brentford welcome West Ham United to the Gtech Community Stadium.

The Bees are on a two-game winning stretch and, without Scott McTominay’s heroics for Manchester United early last month, it could have been three. Pair their back-to-back victories with consecutive clean sheets and it makes good reading for Thomas Frank’s side.

They’re also making their opponents work hard to create openings. Brentford have conceded only three shots on target in the last two matches. This a trend that has continued throughout the season, with only 28% of shots taken against Brentford troubling Mark Flekken between the sticks.

Bryan Mbeumo continues to carry the load for Brentford at the top end of the pitch. The Cameroon international has the third-highest xG in the entire division – only Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah have mustered more through the opening 10 games. Mbeumo is performing in line with his xG with six actual goals from 6.4 expected.

TOWT 10

He has also, it is worth noting, netted in three of four Premier League meetings against West Ham United. You can back him to add to that tally against the Hammers in BetMGM’s match market here.

West Ham themselves have a significant goal threat in Jarrod Bowen. The former Hull City man has scored in all five away games in the league this season and is the Hammers’ top scorer overall with six.

Though Bowen has found his groove on the road, West Ham’s away record as a whole continues to deteriorate. They’ve suffered two heavy Premier League defeats in a row away from the London Stadium against Aston Villa and Liverpool while Olympiakos got the better of them on their European travels too.

Brentford have won three of the last four meetings between these two by a 2-0 scoreline – and haven’t tasted Premier League defeat against West Ham since arriving in the top tier – but we reckon David Moyes’s men have enough to pick up something from this after their confidence-boosting EFL Cup mauling of Arsenal in midweek.

Prediction: Brentford 2-2 West Ham

Burnley vs Crystal Palace

Form (all competitions) Burnley: LLLLW Crystal Palace: LLDWL

It was another week, another loss for Burnley in Matchday 10. In a game that seemed winnable on paper, the Clarets fell to defeat again – their eighth already in the league this term – and gifted potential relegation rivals Bournemouth their first win of the entire campaign in the process.

Where do they go from here? Well, they face another team on a three-game winless run in Crystal Palace so they may fancy their chances of picking up a result. They do, however, need to be far more productive in the final third.

Only Sheffield United have a lower xG (8.53) and fewer shot-creating actions (167) than Vincent Kompany’s side. For context, consensus relegation fodder Luton Town have conjured over 50 more shot-creating actions than Burnley.

They haven’t been the well-renowned defensive unit from their pre-Kompany era either. Their porous backline has conceded 25 goals throughout 10 games, again only ranking ahead of Sheffield United in this category. In short, Burnley are struggling and it’s hard to find the positives for the Lancashire outfit when it comes to their own performances.

Lowest XG

There could be a glimmer of hope in the poor form of Crystal Palace, however. Roy Hodgson’s Eagles haven’t exactly been flying high themselves – they have now gone three straight games without victory since beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in September.

The core of Palace’s issues lie in the forward areas. They have scored only eight goals so far this season and half of them have come from Odsonne Edouard; no other member of the squad has managed more than one. But even the Frenchmen seems out of sorts in front of goal. He hasn’t scored since September 16th, with all four of his goals coming in the opening five.

They rank towards the middle of the table when it comes to shots taken but it’s rare that these shots are converted into goals. They’ve got the third-worst goals-per-shot ratio in the entire division, ranking only ahead of newly-promoted Luton Town and Sheffield United.

Both teams are toothless in attack, so we don’t think the goals will be flowing at Turf Moor. A low-scoring draw between two struggling sides seems more likely.

Prediction: Burnley 1-1 Crystal Palace

Everton vs Brighton

Form (all competitions) Everton: WWLWL Brighton: DWLDD

Our next Golden Goals fixture features two sides yearning for consistency. Everton have alternated wins and losses over their last six fixtures whereas Brighton’s form has stalled since their sensational start to the campaign with no wins in their last four.

Admittedly, it’s hard to curate form when you can’t keep a clean sheet – and Brighton simply cannot keep a clean sheet in the Premier League. They’ve conceded 18 goals in 10 games, which gives them the fourth-leakiest defence in the entire division, slotting in just above the actual bottom four teams in the Premier League.

They may have been able to sugarcoat their defensive fragility if they had a more reliable shot stopper. Jason Steele and Bart Verbruggen have split the goalkeeping commitments domestically but neither has helped Roberto De Zerbi’s side keep the ball out of the net; in save percentage Verbruggen (62.5%) sits second-bottom of all 22 keepers used in the Premier League this year while Steele is only marginally better in sixth (64.5%).

They can, however, always rely on their attack to score goals. The Brighton forward line is spearheaded by 18-year-old Evan Ferguson, who has five goals in only six Premier League starts. It’s even more impressive when you delve deeper and realise he’s scored more than double his xG (2.7) in the Premier League.

Ferguson shot map

But can they break down a Sean Dyche defence? Everton are quietly turning a corner in the defensive third and the manager’s influence has been on full display.

The Toffees rank in the top three for tackles won, blocked shots and blocked passes in the Premier League this campaign. Helped hugely by the solid partnership that has been formed between James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite at the heart of the backline.

We have already swooned over Ferguson’s clinical finishng but Everton talisman Dominic Calvert-Lewin has returned from injury and got amongst the goals as well; he’s already the team’s top scorer alongside Abdoulaye Doucoure even though he’s started five fewer matches than the Malian midfielder.

Simply put, we fancy goals in this one. Indeed, it is a fixture that has averaged 4.5 total goals across the last four meetings – who are we to say that will change? Everton’s alternating results means they may well be in line for a defeat so we think Brighton oblige and take all the spoils.

Prediction: Everton 1-3 Brighton

Manchester City vs Bournemouth

Form (all competitions) Man City: WWWLW Bournemouth: LWLLL

Well, the possible struggles of Manchester City did not last very long. They’ve quashed any shred of doubt about a lack of motivation or drive with three consecutive wins after their 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in early October concluded a run of three defeats in four.

The champions were never in real trouble, of course, but they will be delighted to see Erling Haaland return to his unmatched form in front of goal. Before last weekend’s derby the Norwegian had a total of 0.4 xG across his previous three fixtures, a statline that seems inconceivable when talking about one of the best finishers in world football.

Though Haaland grabbed the headlines with his goalscoring exploits, Rodri's importance was underlined as the midfielder ran the show from City’s engine room. Once again, the Spaniard dictated play from deep, registering more touches (96) and shot-creating actions (9) than anybody on the pitch. He was also effective defensively, leading the way in tackles for his side.

Manchester match momentum

We worry that Bournemouth may be next to face the full wrath of City’s resurgence.

The Cherries can enter this fixture with a little less pressure on themselves after securing their first win of the campaign last time out. After falling behind early, many were preparing to write Andoni Iraola’s obituary as Bournemouth boss. Yet they turned it around and moved out of the relegation zone in the process.

Any feel-good factor surrounding the club may be destroyed should they get a hiding from the blue side of Manchester – an outcome that may very well occur. Bournemouth possess the third-worst defence in the league with 21 goals conceded and they’ve lost the last two fixtures to Manchester City by a combined 8-1.

Even the most optimistic Bournemouth fan knows that a result at the Etihad is extremely unlikely. They have never beaten Manchester City in a competitive game and we don’t see that changing here. We’re expecting a goal-laden win for the home side.

Prediction: Man City 4-0 Bournemouth

Sheffield United vs Wolves

Form (all competitions) Sheffield United: LLLLL Wolves: DWDWL

And then there was one. Bournemouth’s win over Burnley last weekend leaves Sheffield United as the only winless team in the Premier League.

What makes it even worse? Paul Heckingbottom’s side have five fewer points at this stage than Derby County did back in the 2007-08 season – yes, the Derby side that has the lowest points total in Premier League history.

Wherever you look it’s grim reading for the Blades who have, pun intended, no cutting edge to speak of up top.

They struggle to get the ball to their forwards in and around the box, limiting themselves to shots from distance They have the second-highest average shot distance in the Premier League with both Cameron Archer and Oli McBurnie feeding off scraps with one goal apiece this season (McBurnie’s was a penalty). It is a struggle to see where the goals will come from for United.

That hasn’t been an issue for Saturday’s opponents. Most of anything creative offensively for Wolves has come from talented winger Pedro Neto. The Portuguese stands alone as the Premier League assists leader with seven, an impressive number considering his expected assists figure stands at just less than three.

Assist table

Neto’s importance cannot be underestimated and that is why all Wolves fans held their breath when he was stretchered off against Newcastle United last weekend. The winger took to social media to announce he will be out for only “a couple of weeks” but his absence is sure to be felt.

The attacking baton will have to be picked up by his Wolves team-mates as his side-leading crosses and passes into the penalty area will be hard to replicate. However, if one man can do some of the heavy lifting, it’s Hwang Hee-Chan. The Korean is leading the way for Wolves on the scoring front with six – outperforming his xG by almost four goals.

While Wolves will still pose a threat in front of goal without Neto, it’s likely they still feel the hit of his absence. Therefore, while stopping short of predicting a first victory for the Blades, we are going to predict that they double their seasonal points tally with a draw.

Prediction: Sheffield United 1-1 Wolves

Newcastle United vs Arsenal

Form (all competitions) Newcastle United: WDLWD Arsenal: LWWDW

The headline fixture of our Golden Goals comes from St James’ Park as Newcastle United welcome Arsenal north.

Eddie Howe has a slight injury crisis within the camp as Harvey Barnes, Sven Botman, Alexander Isak and Jacob Murphy could all miss another fixture. Even with all the absences impacting the team, Newcastle are six games without defeat in the Premier League and routed Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford in the EFL Cup just days ago.

Isak’s replacement, Callum Wilson, already proved he could step into the limelight and produce when he bagged a double against Wolves in Matchday 10. The English forward has the highest xG per 90 minutes (1.42) in the Premier League – surpassing Haaland, Darwin Nunez and Salah in this metric.

Wilson and co. will have to be on top form once again as they face the second-stingiest defence in the Premier League in Arsenal. The Gunners have conceded only eight goals in the opening 10 games.

Despite their impressive defensive record, Mikel Arteta’s side have not been averse to giving their opponents an opportunity in front of goal. Arsenal have made five errors which have led to a shot so far this season – ranking in the top half of the Premier League for that metric above the likes of Everton and Nottingham Forest.

They have more than made up for their somewhat error-prone defence with the second-most fruitful attack. Arsenal have simply been firing on all cylinders offensively, with Nketiah’s hat-trick last weekend the latest flex of their attacking muscles. It would not be a surprise if Nketiah continued his inspiring form against Newcastle and added to his tally of five goals.

It is likely to be a tense game between Newcastle and Arsenal but we are leaning towards history with our recommendation. The Magpies have won just once in their last 11 meetings with Arsenal – who have tasted victory in four of their last five visits to St James’ Park – so we expect a win for the away side.

Prediction: Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal

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