BetMGM UK Golden Goals: Premier League - Week 8
Football, football and more football – that’s what it has felt like the past few weeks.
It may be proving a little too overwhelming for some people, particularly in the VAR officiating room, but we for one are absolutely loving it. That’s why we are back again with another in-depth analysis of the upcoming set of fixtures to help you with your Premier League Golden Goal predictions.
Remember: if you can pick the correct six scorelines you could win up to £2 million. You don’t even have to be 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.
In midweek we ran our first-ever Golden Goals Champions League special with one player correctly predicting three scorelines and taking home the £2,000 prizepool while, on Premier League matchday seven, two players split that prizepool with a trio of correct calls each.
Last week there were victories for West Ham, Arsenal and Newcastle but shock wins for Wolves over Manchester City, Crystal Palace away to Manchester United and Luton Town away at Everton means it would have taken a highly-skilled clairvoyant to come close to landing the jackpot.
Elsewhere, there was a hard-fought draw between Nottingham Forest and Brentford and an incredible 6-1 win for Aston Villa over Brighton, a match which the Seagulls actually ‘won’ on xG (1.6-1.7)
The main talking point, though, was reserved for the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where an inexplicable error from VAR officials denied Liverpool a legitimate goal.
In a game which included two red cards, a last minute own goal, and a vibrant attacking display from both teams, the only thing anyone was talking about in the aftermath was the onside goal that never was.
VAR is under the microscope like never before – it needs a flawless weekend. Will you have one of those yourself? Onward to our predictions for matchday eight…
Manchester United vs Brentford
Form (all competitions)
Manchester United: LLWWL
There’s no hiding place for the Red Devils – they are in crisis mode.
Consecutive home defeats to Crystal Palace and Galatasaray means the season feels like it could be almost over after no more than two months. They need to put together an incredible run of form to even think about the top four come the end of the campaign. When you consider the pre-season expectation was to challenge on all fronts, this campaign has been a total bust.
They are proving distinctly average both in front of goal and in quelling attacks at the other end. They sit 10th in the table for expected goals allowed (xGA) with 11.1 – given they have conceded 11 goals so far, that’s as ‘expected’ as it gets.
An expected goal (xG) figure of 11.2 also puts them in the middle of the pack in the Premier League – a return simply not good enough for a club with United’s expectations. It gets worse, too. Only Everton (-6.3) and Chelsea (-6.2) have a poorer goals minus expected goals ranking, meaning that not only are the Red Devils failing to create chances but proving terrible at taking the ones they do get.
One shining light has been the performances of new striker Rasmus Højlund. He hit two goals in the defeat to Galatasaray, his second a showpiece of what United fans will hope he brings to the club. Picking the ball up at the halfway line, he powered past the defence before dinking a delightful finish. He has, however, yet to find the net in the league.
Could Brentford provide an opportunity for the embattled Erik ten Hag to lift the doom and gloom as well as Højlund to break his Premier League duck? Possibly.
The Bees are struggling in the early stages of the campaign and go into this one without a win in six. In Bryan Mbeumo, they do have a genuine goalscoring threat. He has hit four goals so far and has an xG of 4.6 – the best in the competition when excluding Erling Haaland.
It’s hard to justify a win for the hosts at present. This will finish a score draw.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-2 Brentford
Everton vs Bournemouth
Form (all competitions)
In the absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the lack of a true goalscoring option for the Toffees is clear to see. They rank bottom of the G-xG metric as mentioned above but are actually fifth in the competition for number of shots taken per 90 minutes (15.4, more than Arsenal, Newcastle and Aston Villa). The problem? Just five of those 15.4 tend to find the target per game and a league-lowest 0.17 actually go in the net.
Unsurprisingly for a Sean Dyche unit, Everton are creating a lot of these shooting opportunities from set-piece situations; they sit fifth in the league for dead-ball passes (for instance, free kicks, corners, kick-offs, throw-ins and goal kicks) that lead to a shot attempt.
When you consider they also have the fourth-shortest average shot distance of 15.7 yards – and thus aren’t having much trouble getting to the box in general – the need for that goalscorer is extra clear.
The law of averages dictates their profligacy has to change at some stage, though, and in this week’s opponents they find a team for whom it was not gone to plan so far.
Indeed, Andoni Iraola’s winless Cherries look ripe for the picking with 15 goals conceded in their seven games. They are also, with just five, one of only three teams to have scored fewer goals than Everton this term.
This one can go to the Toffees.
Prediction: Everton 3-0 Bournemouth
Wolves vs Aston Villa
Form (all competitions)
Aston Villa: WWLWL
Nobody saw that coming – and we’re not even talking about Aston Villa 6-1 Brighton!
A deserved 2-1 win over the champions for Wolves last weekend means they have put some daylight between themselves and Everton in 16th. While that was a huge victory, securing all three points against Midlands rivals Aston Villa would likely mean even more.
The Molineux men have had the better of the Villans recently – winning three of their previous four matches – but there is no getting away from the fact that they are underdogs here.
They have the fifth-fewest shot-creating actions in the division with 19.86 and, remarkably, have been awarded the fewest number of corner kicks in the division with just 19 from their opening seven matches. That’s despite having the third-highest attempted take-ons.
A lack of cohesion going forward afflicts Wolves, then, but the same cannot be said for Aston Villa, whose fans are no doubt still bouncing around after that thrashing of Brighton.
Striker Ollie Watkins finally clicked into gear with a lethal hat-trick and the result on matchday seven means Unai Emery’s men have racked up 17 goals, level with champions and treble-winners Manchester City.
This could be a classic case of attack versus defence – and the former should come out on top.
Prediction: Wolves 0-3 Aston Villa
Brighton vs Liverpool
Form (all competitions)
Is this the game of the weekend? If Arsenal and Manchester City weren’t going toe to toe a couple of hours later on Sunday, it may well be.
Understandably spitting with rage following the incomprehensible VAR error against Tottenham Hotspur, Jurgen Klopp demanded his team be afforded the chance of a replayed match in the pre-match press conference ahead of their Europa League tie against Union Saint-Gilloise in midweek.
That was never going to happen – but it is clear the Reds have a bee in their bonnet and the German manager will want to use it as fuel for his team to put in a statement performance out there domestically.
Brighton, meanwhile, will be out to right their own wrong in a way after their chastening 6-1 defeat to Aston Villa. There is lots on the line at the Amex and this feels like it could be a cracker.
On that note, there have been 56 goals across the 14 combined league matches these two sides have played so far this season – that’s an average of exactly four per game.
Despite their offensive prowess, the Seagulls have the joint-fourth leakiest defence in the division to date, with 14 goals conceded, while the Reds have kept just one clean sheet all season themselves.
Sometimes fortune favours the bold – but we are going with a high-scoring affair that, ultimately, will see the spoils shared.
Prediction: Brighton 3-3 Liverpool
West Ham vs Newcastle United
Form (all competitions)
West Ham: WWWLW
Newcastle United: WWWWD
Are the Geordies still on cloud nine after Wednesday?
A memorable 4-1 thrashing of Paris Saint-Germain will go down in Newcastle United folklore. The atmosphere was absolutely electric on Wednesday night and there is a general sense of optimism around Eddie Howe and his team at the moment.
They have scored 16 goals in the previous six games in all competitions, conceding just once along the way. With a resultant 4.14 goal-creating actions per 90 – the third-highest in the division – it is difficult to see how David Moyes’s West Ham can stop them scoring.
Despite having a goal difference of three, the Hammers’ expected goal difference is not as promising at -3.2. They are struggling to gain control of matches in general, with an average possession of 38.1% coming in as the third-lowest in the league.
They will need their defence to step up – including Kurt Zouma, who leads the league with 49 clearances so far, five ahead of anyone else. The bite and guile of midfielder Lucas Paquetá could also prove crucial in stopping the Newcastle tide with the Brazilian having won 18 of the 23 tackles he has attempted the second-most successful in the competition.
If Newcastle control the game, as the stats suggest they should, then this should be an away win.
Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Newcastle
Arsenal vs Manchester City
Form (all competitions)
Manchester City: WLLWW
Here we go: an early season tussle between two challengers.
Both, however, have suffered defeats of late. It will be a fascinating affair and a true test of how far the Gunners have come from last year, where they were totally outclassed as the two meetings between the sides ended in City victories by a combined score of 7-2.
The hosts can rest easy knowing one of Pep Guardiola’s talismen is out with an injury. Two incredible individual displays from Kevin De Bruyne, who hit three goals and two assists across the two matches last term, will live long in the memory for many a football fan and likely haunt those of an Arsenal persuasion for some time too.
With the Belgian out, all eyes will be on the midfield battle. Can Declan Rice assert dominance over a City side that is also, lest we forget, without another of Guardiola’s best in Rodri? The Spanish linchpin is serving the final game of his three-match suspension – the champions have lost the previous two.
Indeed, since making his debut for the Citizens in August 2019, the team have lost five of the 15 Premier League matches in which he has not featured.
Wedded to that, Arsenal have currently made the second-highest tackles in the middle third of the pitch (52, with only Aston Villa having managed more at 53). The Gunners also possess the highest average defensive line height in the competition at 42.69 metres – beating out, you guessed it, Manchester City (42.29) for top spot.
With no De Bruyne and no Rodri to contend with, if the Gunners can win the midfield battle then we think this is theirs for the taking.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City
Odds correct at time of publication but subject to fluctuation
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