Golden Goals Matchday 15: More Manchester United heartache in store?

What an incredible, action-packed weekend of Premier League football we have just witnessed.

There were last-minute equalisers, come-from-behind dramatics and two red cards mixed in for good measure.

With 38 goals, it also became the second-highest haul of the season in that regard, with only the 41 goals scored during Matchday 4 topping it so far.

Our £2 million Golden Goals jackpot was out of reach for our players – but two of you did split the £5,000 prizepool with three correct scores.

We managed four correct results and we're back with another entry to help you with your midweek picks…

Sheffield United vs Liverpool

Form (all competitions) Sheffield United: LLDWL ; Liverpool: WDWDW

There’s not much in the way of Christmas cheer on the United side of Sheffield this December.

The Blades sit bottom of the Premier League table and are fresh off of a 5-0 thumping by fellow relegation candidates Burnley – a result which looks to have been the final straw for manager Paul Heckingbottom, with reports of his dismissal growing since Monday.

This lashing in Lancashire took United’s goals conceded tally to 39 for the season – the worst in the Premier League – which doesn’t make great reading for when they welcome goal-happy Liverpool to Yorkshire on Wednesday.

XG table

Liverpool sit atop the xG (32.15) and shot-creating actions per 90 (31.4) rankings, so we expect something of a barrage against the team conceding the most shots per 90 minutes in the entire division (18.86).

Add in the fact that Jurgen Klopp’s men are entering the fixture off the back of a four-goal flurry against Fulham – you’d be hard-stretched to find a better quartet of goals – and it makes dismal reading for whoever takes the United reins this midweek.

Has it ever been more obvious where we were going for this prediction? Liverpool haven’t lost to Sheffield United since 2003, they haven’t even conceded a goal against them in three of the last four meetings… it has to be a convincing away win.

Prediction: Sheffield United 0-3 Liverpool

Fulham vs Nottingham Forest

Form (all competitions) Fulham: LWLLD ; Nottingham Forest: LLLWL

It might be time for Fulham and Nottingham Forest to start looking over their shoulders. One win each in their last five fixtures has prompted a steady decline down the table for both teams, leaving them 14th and 15th in the table respectively.

With Bournemouth finding their groove under Andoni Iraola, Luton showing their resilience and a possible revitalised pair in Burnley and Everton, these two could well be in the midst of a relegation battle when the new year begins.

It is hard not to feel for Fulham, however. They were three minutes away from securing a historic win at Anfield before two wonder goals in less than two minutes condemned them to three defeats in their last four.

Liverpool Fulham Match Momentum

But the warning signs were always there for Marco Silva’s side. The Cottagers averaged the highest xGA per 90 minutes last season (1.85) and that trend has continued this year with them currently sitting fourth in this metric (2.01) behind Sheffield United, Luton and Bournemouth.

They ride their luck at times. Fortunately, they have the second-leading shot-stopper in the Premier League in Bernd Leno. The German has bailed his side out on multiple occasions already this season with his fourth-highest save percentage (73.5%), ranking only behind Alisson, Andre Onana, and Nick Pope.

Forest have just been on the wrong side of their close encounters. The formbook states they have lost three of the last four but there has only ever been one goal in it, including a pair of agonising 3-2 defeats to West Ham and Brighton respectively. It doesn’t feel like Steve Cooper’s men are a million miles away from turning their losses into points.

These two sides are in lockstep in the Premier League. They’ve scored the same amount of goals and only two points separate the sides. It’s too close to call for us – we’re going for a score draw.

Prediction: Fulham 2-2 Nottingham Forest

Crystal Palace vs Bournemouth

Form (all competitions) Crystal Palace: DLLWL ; Bournemouth: DWWLW

One team is on the rise, one team is falling... and that’s not something we expected to say about Crystal Palace and Bournemouth just weeks ago.

Crystal Palace’s draw against West Ham on Sunday afternoon extended the Eagles’ winless run to three consecutive games while Bournemouth’s draw against high-flying Aston Villa moved their unbeaten streak to three.

Is Iraola-ball finally in full effect for the Cherries? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet but there has been an upturn in form on the south coast. Bournemouth currently sit eighth in the form table – ahead of Chelsea, Tottenham, Brighton and, crucially, their opponents this midweek too.

They have also found some rhythm in front of goal; Iraola’s men have scored in seven straight games across all competitions and they have netted two in four of their last five Premier League games.


That said, they seem to go goal-shy when they face Palace – Bournemouth haven’t scored against the Eagles in the last five meetings and they have not won away at Selhurst Park since 2016.

Despite Palace’s seemingly fantastic record against their upcoming opponents, Roy Hodgson’s side are in the middle of a slump this campaign. They have one win in seven and they have lost to two of the current bottom three in that spell.

What will be of most concern is that they are failing to pick up points at Selhurst Park. It is a place that is often considered a difficult place to play yet only the bottom four teams in the Premier League have a worse home record than Palace with only one win all season.

Palace are struggling at home, Bournemouth struggle in South London. This one will be a tight encounter dictated by fine margins. We’re going to say that Bournemouth buck the historic trend and at least pick up a point.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-1 Bournemouth

Brighton vs Brentford

Form (all competitions) Brighton: LWWDW ; Brentford: WLLWW

The Seagulls come into this one off the back of a painful 3-2 defeat against Chelsea, where they played 10 men for more than 45 minutes, managed 18 shots on goal and had 68% of possession but could not find a way to win.

That result means they continued their form as an excellent bet in the both teams to score market – it was the 18th Premier League match in a row in which Brighton have scored and conceded.

Brighton Brentford Stats

Brentford have been in some promising form with three wins from five solidifying a mid-table presence in 11th. They have hit 22 goals in 14 games, which is the second-highest number of goals of teams in the bottom half of the league – only Chelsea, in 10th, have more (25).

In the four Premier League meetings between the two, Brighton have won two games, Brentford have won one and a thrilling 3-3 draw was played out in the most recent clash. This one could be another score draw.

Prediction: Brighton 2-2 Brentford

Manchester United vs Chelsea

Form (all competitions) Manchester United: LDWWL ; Chelsea: WLDWW

There are plenty of adjectives to describe the Red Devils' performance against Newcastle United on Saturday evening but the most telling one is ‘insipid’.

For 80 minutes, they were totally dominated and a 1-0 defeat flattered them. Just look at the match momentum below.

Newcastle Man Utd MM

It was their third defeat in a row to the Magpies – the first time such a feat has happened since 1992 – and the general mood around the club is on the floor. Manager Erik ten Hag has a mammoth job on his hands to turn his club’s fortunes around.

Chelsea, meanwhile, come into the clash after a morale-boosting 3-2 victory over Brighton but there are some defensive issues surrounding the Blues. They have conceded 22 goals in 14 league games, their second-worst start to a campaign since their disastrous 2015-16 season when they shipped 23.

It's hard to call – both teams are in a pickle. We'll go with another score draw.

Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea

Aston Villa vs Manchester City

Form (all competitions) Aston Villa: DWWWW ; Manchester City: DWDDW

The Villans let some points slip in a 2-2 draw away to Bournemouth on Sunday but can be grateful for leaving with a result.

They have striker Ollie Watkins to thank, assisting Leon Bailey with their opener before scoring a last-minute equaliser to continue a run of five games without defeat in all competitions.

It means Watkins is only the fourth Aston Villa player to contribute 6+ goals and 6+ assists in back-to-back Premier League seasons. He has led his team to fourth and hopes of a Champions League spot remain piping hot.

Goal contributions

A thrilling 3-3 draw with Tottenham on Sunday means Manchester City have conceded 10 goals in four games in all competitions – hardly the sort of control we are accustomed to seeing under Pep Guardiola.

It is not just the leaky defence that will worry the Citizens on the road to Villa Park – they are without the suspended Rodri and Jack Grealish. The absence of Rodri will be especially worrying – after receiving a three-game ban following his red card to Nottingham Forest, City lost all three games he missed.

Villa are also one of two teams, alongside Liverpool, to have won every single Premier League home game so far this season. We reckon they will do it again here.

Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Manchester City

Add our Golden Goals predictions to your betslip here

Odds correct at time of publication but subject to fluctuation

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Take Time to Think | | 18+

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