BetMGM UK Golden Goals: Matchday 7
Matchday seven is incoming like a Bruno Fernandes volley and BetMGM is at hand with another week of in-depth Premier League predictions to mark the occasion.
We weren't too far off the money with three correct results and one correct score in an exciting set of fixtures last weekend. That said, we had nothing on the two BetMGM players who shared our £2,000 prizepool with four correct scores each. Just two more and they would have scooped the £2 million jackpot.
Here's what happened…
Manchester City retained their 100% record with a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest and look the team to beat again for this year's title. However, will the dismissal of Rodri against Forest have some impact? The league leader in successful passes per 90 is now out for the next two games.
Liverpool are right on City’s tail with Jurgen Klopp appearing to have gegenpress 2.0 in working order. They beat a stubborn West Ham 3-1 at Anfield to ease past what many anticipated to be a banana skin. We were bang on, too, in predicting that 3-1 scoreline in last week's blog.
Elsewhere, Arsenal and Tottenham provided the game of the weekend when sharing the spoils in a thrilling North London Derby and there were wins for Manchester United, Everton, Aston Villa and Brighton while the weekend was signed off with an eye-watering 8-0 shellacking of Sheffield United at the hands of Newcastle United.
There were 30 goals across the weekend, which is in keeping with the high-scoring trend we are seeing this season. Indeed, five of the first six gameweeks have averaged more than 2.5 goals per game.
So, without further delay, here are our matchday seven predictions.
Bournemouth vs Arsenal
Form (all competitions) Bournemouth: WDDLW; Arsenal: WWWDW
The Cherries are ripe for picking on just at the moment – they are unconvincing, inconsistent and struggle to find the net. Without a win this season, only their deep defensive line keeps them out of the drop zone.
Under the guidance of Andoni Iraola, the south coast side were meant to follow an in-possession approach, attacking via the flanks and utilising width through flying full-backs.
Instead, they have made the fifth fewest passes (1,823) and possess the joint-fifth poorest pass completion rate (75.3%). Furthermore, they are fourth in the division for average pass length - only Luton, Sheffield United, and Everton lump it longer than they do.
If Iraola is to showcase a brave new world at Bournemouth he better do it soon. Currently, they are a timid imitation of what we saw from them last season.
‘Is Declan Rice injured?’ That's the question every Arsenal fan is asking themselves this week.
His half-time substitution changed the game against Spurs – he was running the show in midfield in the first half. In the second half his direct replacement, Jorginho, lost the ball cheaply to James Maddison as the Spurs midfielder set up the equaliser within seconds of them falling behind.
In general, the Gunners appeared weaker and easier to run through without Rice. Both he and influential winger Bukayo Saka missed the midweek League Cup win over Brentford while Mikel Arteta’s latest update on Rice’s availability in particular was coy – “let’s see,” he said on the 24-year-old’s chances of featuring against Bournemouth.
There are still some concerns about attacking cohesion around the Gunners in general too. As a unit, they are eighth in the table for goal creating actions (GCA) with 18; Brighton (31) lead the way in this metric.
More concerning is their non-penalty expected goals (npxG) rate, down at 8.9. They are 11th in these rankings behind the likes of Everton (9.4) and Brentford (9.8). Despite that they still have a broad range of matchwinners to call upon – Gabriel Jesus, high-profile miss against Tottenham last week aside, is looking threatening once again.
As a result, we are going for an away win here for Arteta's side.
Prediction: Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal
Everton vs Luton Town
Form (all competitions) Everton: WDLWW; Luton Town: WLLDL
Are those green shoots of recovery we see spurting out of Goodison Park or are they the overgrowing weeds from the new stadium yet to be started?
Either way Sean Dyche can surely be happy with how his side is performing in this campaign, even if the league standings don't exactly reflect some encouraging displays.
A convincing 3-1 away win over Brentford last weekend means they have registered their first win and frequent the dizzying heights of 15th. They followed it up with an impressive League Cup win against Aston Villa at Villa Park in midweek.
In truth this sort of result has been coming, at least according to the stats.
Despite only scoring five goals in the league so far, they actually have an xG tally of 9.4 and a non-penalty expected goals + expected assisted goals (npxG+xAG) of 17.3 – placing them 11th and 10th in the table respectively for each metric.
What’s that mean? Essentially, if they can sharpen up in front of goal, the chance creation numbers the Toffees are showing suggests they could find themselves much higher up the table sooner rather than later.
The Hatters, meanwhile, have their first point of the season and it arguably should have been more. Against Wolves at the weekend they hit 20 shots on goal – 32.8% of their total for the season.
They benefited from a fortuitous penalty but with just three goals so far this season – the lowest in the league – they need to find a more clinical edge to have a shot at staying up. Home win here.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Luton
Manchester United vs Crystal Palace
Form (all competitions) Manchester United: LLLWW; Crystal Palace: WWLDL
If Tuesday evening is anything to go by, this will be a stroll in the park for the Red Devils.
They were totally dominant against the Eagles in a 3-0 victory with Alejandro Garnacho, Casemiro and Anthony Martial getting on the scoresheet. The performance was notable for the impressive showing by Sofyan Amrabat, who settled into his midfield role alongside Casemiro seamlessly.
A special mention, too, for Hannibal Mejbri. In his admittedly low game-time this league season the academy graduate has made 100 pressures per 90, 20 more than any other player. He is, in a way, providing a refreshing antidote to the accusations flying around the club about a lack of commitment by some players. There is a sense Mejbri is seizing his chance and can expect a more prominent role this season as a result.
Yet the result on Tuesday shouldn't mean Manchester United underestimate Palace’s threat. Indeed, manager Erik ten Hag will be wary of a backlash from Roy Hodgson and co. given the seven changes the veteran made to his Eagles starting XI.
One man who did not play on Tuesday was Odsonne Édouard – the former Celtic and Paris Saint-Germain striker has a hamstring issue and remains a doubt for the weekend.
If the Frenchman does make it then the patched-up Old Trafford backline – Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire recently returned from injury and Lisandro Martinez is a doubt while Luke Shaw, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Tyrell Malacia are all out – will have to negotiate an in-form player with four goals in five league games so far.
The Eagles also have an impressive defensive record, conceding just seven goals so far this season in the Premier League. It's not surprising when you dig a little deeper – they top the rankings for successful tackles of dribblers (59.5%) and have made 116 successful tackles (the fourth-highest in the league).
This should not be the walkover it was on Tuesday night but, nonetheless, there is a sense the storm is passing at Old Trafford. We’re going with another home win.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Crystal Palace
Newcastle United vs Burnley
Form (all competitions) Newcastle United: LWDLL; Burnley: WLDLW
An eight-goal hammering of Sheffield United could be the season's turning point for the Magpies.
A great visual representation of their incredible dominance against the Blades can be seen in the match momentum chart below. From the 30th minute onwards, it was one-way traffic.
They showed two sides to their game with a controlled 1-0 win over Manchester City in the EFL Cup on Wednesday but, when the Magpies take the handbrake off, just watch them fly. They have scored 16 goals in six games but 11 of those came across just two matches (5-1 vs Aston Villa and 8-0 vs Sheffield United).
With an xG of 12.1 for the season they are technically overperforming – but they do rank third in the Premier League for goal-creating actions with 27 and top the table for the highest shots on target percentage with 45.3% of their efforts testing the keeper.
It has not been the campaign many had anticipated for Burnley. Vincent Kompany is considered one of the most promising managers in the game but, with just one point from five games, they are joint-bottom of the table amid concerns about their style of play and just how easy teams have found it to bypass their midfield.
The Clarets are second from bottom in the division for the number of players tackled per 90 minutes this season (14.4), just shy of Manchester City (12.7). When you consider the Citizens' average 66% possession compared to Burnley's 50.8%, that lack of assertiveness is an issue.
Kompany needs to find a way to stem the tide – however it's difficult to see them managing that away to a free-scoring Newcastle.
Prediction: Newcastle 3-0 Burnley
West Ham vs Sheffield United
Form (all competitions) West Ham: WLWLW; Sheffield United: LLDLL
The Hammers have been a surprise package so far this season but are perhaps in danger of letting their great start slip.
Two defeats in three – admittedly against Manchester City and Liverpool respectively – have dented confidence somewhat but the potency of David Moyes' side is not to be doubted.
Despite registering just 65 shots in the campaign – the sixth-lowest in the league – they have the highest goal to shots on target ranking with 0.42 and beat out heavy-hitters such as Liverpool (0.41), Newcastle (0.38) and Manchester City (0.36).
In the red corner, to be blunt, Sheffield United’s chances of staying up are not looking good on early viewing.
The Newcastle disaster in gameweek six followed a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Tottenham the weekend before and manager Paul Heckingbottom has a big task to rally the troops.
The squad faces many issues – with an xG of 4.5, only Burnley have a poorer record in creating shots on goal. They have managed the fewest number of shots (50), allowed the second-most crosses into their box (112) and have the second-fewest touches in the opposition box (75).
Perhaps their most damning record, though, is their squad discipline. With 22 yellow cards and one red card, they are showing a collective inability to keep their heads in tough situations.
All in all, it's hard to get away from a home win here.
Prediction: West Ham 3-0 Sheffield United
Wolves vs Manchester City
Form (all competitions) Wolves: WLLDL; Manchester City: WWWWL
We are into October and it's been a perfect league season for Manchester City. It would take a brave punter to bet against them in any Premier League tie.
The loss of Rodri for this game and the match against Arsenal on October 8 is a big blow but perhaps it will allow one of Kalvin Phillips, Mateo Kovacic or Matheus Nunes to establish themselves in his absence.
City top the rankings in four of the five metrics used to measure the effectiveness of a team's passing. In passes completed (646 per 90), attempted (726.5 per 90), completion percentage (88.9%) and total passing distance (10,816 per 90 minutes) they are ahead of all other rivals.
So forget Erling Haaland – to an extent – because the bedrock of City’s dominance lies in them being an incredibly well-coached, well-oiled, winning machine.
On initial assessment, Wolves' chances don't look too promising. When you consider goalkeeper Jose Sa has already faced 36 shots on target in six games and the team as a whole allow 28.7 shot-creating actions per 90 – both numbers that sit as the fourth-highest in the division – it’s clear Gary O'Neil will have his work cut out to stop the Pep Guardiola juggernaut.
They are topping the tackling charts with 123 successful tackles, four more than West Ham, and have blocked 28 shots, the joint-third highest in the division. If they are to upset the bookmakers, they will need spades more of that defensive mindset.
We can’t see it. This one will go to the champions.
Prediction: Manchester City 5-0 Wolves
Odds correct at time of publication but subject to fluctuation
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