Premier League Predictions
“E-79, E-79, E-79, E-79, E-79”…. the supercomputer is beeping and this mysterious combination of a letter and two numbers is flashing on and off. E-79… what does that mean? Is it the water supply? No, wait, why would a computer need a water supply? Quickly, think! E-79. E-79.
I’m afraid that was the worrying scene the confronted us this morning as we tried to deal with the quick turnaround ahead of matchweek 15 in the Premier League but it turns out E-79 just stood for “Exceptional! +79” and was the machine’s rudimentary way of paying tribute to the fact the division’s top three sides have a combined goal difference of +79. Now you may well know that already, but did you know that the all-time record for goal difference by a top three at the end of an English top-flight season is +171, set in 2009-10? Anyway, with all the E-79 business sorted out, let’s get back to what the win predictor does best: predicting wins.
The early game on Saturday is a capital classic with Chelsea mooching over to the Olympic Park in the freezing east in the hope of winning their eighth league London derby in a row away from home. The Blues rule London with an iron fist these days but they weren’t too impressive at Watford in midweek, and that is recognised by the win predictor which gives Thomas Tuchel’s side a promising-but-not-dominant 41.9% chance of getting onto the Jubilee Line with three points. West Ham are gradually losing touch with the top three but they are still arguably the fourth best side in the Premier League this season, so expect a Super Saturday at Greg Rutherford HQ.
Like Chelsea, Liverpool are on the road again, at Wolverhampton, home of British wrestling, and traditionalists are reportedly delighted that this is the Reds’ fourth Saturday 3pm kickoff of the season, already three more than in the whole of 2020-21. It’s Diogo Jota’s birthday and he’ll probably celebrate that more than he will a goal against his former club, but it seems quite likely anyway and the supercomputer nods in agreement, giving Jurgen Klopp’s goal-obsessed outfit a 54.0% chance of victory. Happy birthday Diogo, hope you get your wish of fewer people calling you Diego.
Last weekend Sean Dyche surveyed a Lancashire blizzard dressed only in TM Lewin’s finest so what will he do as the Wearside wind barrels into St James’ Park on Saturday? Burnley have only won once this season but that’s still one more than Newcastle and this game must therefore be classed as a relegation 48 pointer. The beloved predication algorithm makes it pretty even, with Eddie Howe’s side edging it… slightly. Can Newcastle keep 11 men on the pitch? Can the weather finally defeat a man brought up in Kettering? Tune in to find out.
Premier League south coast derbies are pleasant enough but maybe not if you are Brighton and Hove Albion, who have the worst win rate of any of the four holiday venue/naval heartland clubs in the Premier League. Southampton have enjoyed better fortunes over the years and will be confident of extending “Graham Potter’s difficult spell” but even so, the supercomputer still makes this one as hard to figure out as one of those small horses in the New Forest, Saints on 37.3%, Brighton on 32.8% and the draw 29.9%.
Saturday ends, in Premier League terms, with, pound-for-pound, the easiest fixture in Premier League history. Manchester City have averaged 3.17 goals per game against Watford across 12 fixtures, and also inflicted a joint-record 6-0 FA Cup final defeat against the Hornets to boot. The supercomputer, despite being a big fan of biographical musical fantasy drama Rocketman , makes Pep Guardiola’s side the biggest favourites of the weekend, with hefty 72.3% chance of leaving Hertfordshire with three crucial points.
Sunday kicks us into consciousness with three Premier League games at 14:00. Tottenham Hotspur host Norwich City, fresh from beating fellow 2020-21 Championship side Brentford on Thursday night. Norwich are unbeaten in four Premier League games, which is something no-one has been able to write down since 2013. Harry Kane played for Norwich in 2013 but didn’t score for them, a trait he is also bringing to his football in 2021-22, with just one goal in 12 Premier League games this season. There’s more to Antonio Conte’s team than Kane, though, and the win predictor senses that it will be two home wins in four days for Spurs, pushing the crisis outfit dangerously close to the top four.
Talking of periodic crisis outfits, Manchester United finally get the Ralf Rangnick era underway on Sunday when they host thoughtful Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace. Thursday night threw up a Premier League classic, with David De Gea hunting for earthworms as Emile Smith Rowe scored English football’s first ever accidentally-unsporting goal. Cristiano Ronaldo, like Beorhtric of Wessex, edged into the 800s with an energetic brace and the always-sporting supercomputer fancies he’ll inspire charming technocrat Rangnick to a debut win.
Leeds needed a VAR-decided 94th minute penalty to defeat Palace on Tuesday night but they all count, unless your antipathy to correctly assessed video replays is so extreme you keep your own “classic” league table. Brentford have hit the (main)frame of the goal nine times already this season, more than any other side and nothing concerns supercomputers more than mainframes getting bashed up so it’s not a huge shock to see Leeds getting a solid 44.2% chance of victory in this one.
The classic 16:30 slot on Sunday is taken up by a Midlands humdinger between Aston Villa and Leicester City. It’s Steven Gerrard against Brendan Rodgers, it’s folk memories of Brian Little’s Britpop-era treachery, it’s a mild sense of nostalgia for Marc Albrighton. Hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE and clear your cache, it’s the most even game of the weekend™ according to the win predictor. Too close to call? Maybe. Too tense to watch? Don’t be silly. Tune in!
Matchweek 15 is completed by two clubs who can play on Monday night because they are not in Europe this season even though they really really would like to be. Arsenal and Everton have never really been the same since they started trading Francis Jeffers and both sides really, really need a win under the ancient Goodison floodlights. Home advantage nudges Everton to a 31.0% chance of winning but Arsenal, managed by former Everton icon Mikel Arteta, are on 40.0% despite not winning here in any of the last three seasons. “Has this been factored in?!” I demand of the supercomputer. It blinks softly in a soothing pattern. “Did you see Everton in midweek?” it replies in a robotic voice. E-79. E-79.
Not even our shimmering supercomputer predicted that Burnley’s game with Tottenham would be postponed on Sunday, but there’s no time to dwell on Sean Dyche making an incredibly calculated branding decision to go on the snowy Turf Moor pitch without a coat or jacket on because matchweek 14 is upon us, and it’s a Midweek Sports Special. Two games on Tuesday, six on Wednesday and two more on Thursday, weather permitting, and if you want some cutting-edge AI tips on how it’s all going to play out, then it’s your lucky day.
MD14 starts with a match so crucial to the relegation battle that it can’t even be classed as a six pointer. A nine pointer? A 12 pointer? Whatever, it’s winless Newcastle United hosting Dean Smith’s upwardly mobile Norwich City, with Eddie Howe knowing that only one team in Premier League history has ever failed to win any of their opening 13 games and stayed up. Only three teams have ever failed to win any of their opening 14 games and all three – Swindon in 1993-94, QPR in 2012-13 and Sheffield United last season – went down. Basically it’s do or die up at St James’ Park on Tuesday night but the win predictor gives Newcastle a 53.1% chance, noting sagely that Norwich have never won a Premier League game on a Tuesday.
Energetic Leeds United are another team in trouble towards the foot of the table so the visit of stylish Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace is a concern, even if the Eagles have a pretty abysmal record at Elland Road. Once again the supercomputer fancies the home team, giving Leeds a 45.9% chance at a stadium they’ve averaged a goal a game at this season.
It’s very hard to preview Southampton versus Leicester without mentioning That Game From 2019, so let’s just point out that Saints have conceded 25 goals in seven midweek Premier League games in 2021, including a 9-0 defeat at Old Trafford. What an unusual scoreline that was. Rare. Anyway, Leicester are duly backed by the win predictor because of [reasons].
Watford’s season has had more twists than a viral YouTube video and after destroying Manchester United 4-1 in their last game at Vicarage Road they welcome league leaders Chelsea on Wednesday night. The last eight league games between them have averaged 4.1 goals per match but if Chelsea are as wasteful as they were against Manchester United on Sunday maybe Claudio Ranieri, fresh from defeat at Leicester, has a chance against another of his former teams? The supercomputer says “Chelsea win” but it also says “Timo Werner syntax error at line 70.”
Brighton have never lost to West Ham in the Premier League and I’m sure they don’t plan to on Wednesday evening, but the last five have ended level and Graham Potter’s men specialise in 0-0 draws as some sort of concept art form to annoy their own fans. The win predictor gives only Wolves and Burnley a bigger chance of ending level this midweek. Talking of which, Burnley’s Chris Wood scored a hat-trick at Molineux last season in some sort of Three Little Pigs Wood vs Wolves franchise reboot but Sean Dyche’s side haven’t won away from home yet this season… so maybe that supercomputer Big Draw theory is wise.
Chronology ultras will know that it is 20 years since Pep Guardiola and Steven Gerrard faced each other as players in the UEFA Cup, the second leg at Anfield famous for the then-Barcelona player refusing to shake Gerrard’s hand after a 1-0 defeat. Will similar arm-related controversy occur on Wednesday if Gerrard’s rapidly improving Aston Villa team shove a stick into the spokes of City’s title-retention system? Maybe, and that’s why we love the sport. However, the win predictor gives City a 63.8% chance of winning their 11th game at Villa Park in their last 12 visits there. No Villa manager in the club’s long and storied history has ever begun with three wins in a row and that’s not about to change now. Is it?
Your uncle’s come round to drop off some carrots and he’s got some opinions on the Merseyside derby. “They go on about the record number of Premier League red cards in this fixture…”
“22 of them I believe,” you smile.
“Shut up I’m talking. No, my issue is yeah, plenty of reds, but only two of them have come in the last 10 years. If you ask me, the game has g…”
“..gonna be a tough one for Rafa Benitez who faces a rampant Liverpool side, a team who have scored two or more goals in their last 17 matches? I agree, and it’s no surprise that the supercomputer gives Liverpool a 55.1% chance, whether they are facing 11 Everton players or fewer.”
“Do you want the carrots or not?”
Not every team in London is forced to endure a dreary period of liminal regression once they open a new ground. Look at Brentford, who pivoted from Griffin Park to the Brentford Community Stadium and made the leap to the Premier League in the same timeframe. On Thursday night they travel to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to face Antonio Conte’s form-and-weather afflicted squad. A win will take Brentford above Spurs in the table but the supercomputer thinks the retractable pitch will intimidate the Bees and gives Conte’s team a solid 51.8% chance.
The midweek fixtures are completed by one of the classic Premier League match-ups, Manchester United against Arsenal. It’s nearly nine years since United were last champions of England and nearly 18 for Arsenal but heritage fans will tune in to see what happens. It’s the start of the Ralf Rangnick era at Old Trafford and there are improvements to be made. November was the first time in recorded Premier League history that United had fewer than 20 shots in a month, while their haul of five points from the last eight league games is their worst spell since 1990. Arsenal have fielded the youngest starting XIs in the Premier League this season and their team of pleasant rookies might not even remember when United were a feared team at home. The supercomputer does, though, and gives Rangnick’s new charges a 45.2% chance of winning, whether that’s achieved via “rock and roll football”, or just normal, decent football like in the olden days.
After Matchweek 12 threw up more drama than a reanimated William Shakespeare pitching ideas to Netflix, what can the 13th round of fixtures possible do to top it? Frankly you and I don’t know. We may have some theories, maybe even some hunches, but the events of November 27 and 28 lie in the future. Fear not, though, because the Stats Perform Win Predictor Supercomputer has spent all week simulating the Premier League’s forthcoming games and here we present its latest findings.
The weekend kicks off with Eddie Howe’s winless Newcastle United travelling to Arsenal. No matter who is in charge of the Magpies and where the game is played, this is invariably a tough old fixture, with Newcastle having lost 16 of their last 17 Premier League games against the north London outfit. Arsenal got thumped up at Anfield last weekend, but the win predictor gives them a healthy 53.9% chance of bouncing back with the draw at 25.9%. Arsenal did once throw away a 4-0 lead against Newcastle of course, but they don’t like to be reminded of that, so we won’t.
Your uncle’s on Zoom, jabbing his finger as he speaks. “Just three three o’clock games this week, game has gone,” he mumbles. “What’s three three o’clock?” you counter. “Doesn’t sound like any system of time I’ve heard abo….” His face disappears. He’s logged off. He was right though, just three matches protected by the ancient English Blackout Law but a solid trio all the same.
There’s Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace taking on Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa at South Norwood’s Selhurst Park. Just the 811 Premier League appearances between the two managers and approximately 4,834 full-blooded tackles. Vieira has transformed Palace this season and they are on the longest current unbeaten run in the division. The supercomputer respects combative midfielders even more than life-giving code and had trouble separating these two. The Eagles are slight favourites at 37.2% to Villa’s 33.9% but just like a 50/50 between “Paddy” and “Stevie G” back in the day, this one could go either way.
Liverpool’s extraordinary goalscoring run just goes on and on. Jurgen Klopp’s team have scored 2+ goals in each of their last 16 games in all competitions and can equal the record held by Sunderland (that’s Good Sunderland back in the olden days) set in the 1920s if they get at least two against Southampton at Anfield. The win predictor has no opinion on whether Thiago’s goal against Porto touched the ground or not as it flew like a cheap frisbee into the Kop End net, but it does make Liverpool huge favourites to win, at 74.1%. The Reds haven’t lost a Saturday 3pm game at home since 2015 so if Saints get anything on Saturday jaws will hit the ground, unlike Thiago’s shot. Maybe. I don’t know.
The 3pm games are completed by Norwich City hosting Wolverhampton Wanderers at their mid-Norfolk base. Norwich started life under Dean Smith with a win against Southampton last weekend, but Wolves have snuck into the top six like some sort of predatory animal (maybe a wolf?) and with wins in their last two trips to Carrow Road will fancy it. The win predictor gives Bruno Lage’s team a 48.4% chance and who are we to argue?
Saturday is completed with a fixture known by experts as the Brian Clough Failure Clasico, aka Brighton and Hove Albion against Leeds United. While fans may gather before the game and share anecdotes about the man who didn’t win them a league title or a European Cup it’ll be furious business once the game kicks off. Are Brighton good or bad? Are Leeds bad or good? It’s hard to say and while Leeds have lost on their last five visits to Brighton in the league without scoring a single goal, Brighton haven’t won for seven games in the Premier League. Even the normally decisive supercomputer is doing the Larry David can’t decide hand movement clip with this one, giving Brighton a 31.1% chance and Leeds 39.3%. What will happen? I don’t know, maybe watch the game if you want to find out?
Like some sort of crazed Serie A schedule, the Premier League season sees four games at 2pm on Sunday, thanks to clubs from Our League competing in various Thursday night competitions. Brentford against Everton is the “Hey Remember August and September?” Clasico, back when both teams were picking up points easily and humbling supposedly superior opponents. Here in late November the situation is much bleaker, with Brentford having not won at home since that mad, sultry Friday night against Arsenal and Everton having collected two points from their last six games. As such, the win predictor makes this the most even game of the weekend with Thomas Frank’s side given a 36.1% chance of winning and Rafa Benitez’s outfit on 34.1%.
Tottenham Hotspur suffered a Euro humiliation on Thursday, going down 2-1 to Booker Prize nominee NS Mura. They’ll need to recover fast as they have to take the high road to Turf Moor on Sunday. It’s taken a while but at least 87% of the country now know that Turf Moor isn’t the difficult place to go that it is often portrayed as, especially if you are a Big Six team (and yes, Spurs are a Big Six team, it’s not based on league position it’s based on NFL games hosted and how many kids in your year at school had holdalls with the Tottenham badge on them).
In fact, Burnley have won only one of their last 29 home games against the Big Six, but that was against a Tottenham team managed by a coach coveted across the continent (Mauricio Pochettino). Now Spurs have Antonio Conte, who’ll try and outgrowl Sean Dyche on Sunday, and the supercomputer thinks the fearsome Italian tactician will roar longest, giving Tottenham a 47.3% chance.
Leicester against Watford will be tinged with nostalgia and laughter as kindly Claudio Ranieri returns to the stadium where he masterminded the greatest title triumph in English football history. Leicester used that heavenly season to pivot themselves into becoming one of England’s top six or seven football clubs, but the last few weeks haven’t been great. They’ve lost their last two Premier League home games by an aggregate of 5-0 and they haven’t lost three in a row at home without scoring since 1983, back when Ranieri was plugging away as an earnest defender at Catania. Watford, meanwhile, are cock-a-hoop after ending the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era last weekend but the win predictor feels that two statement wins in a row for the Hornets is a big ask and gives them only a 19% chance.
The Manchester clubs round out MD13 with reigning champions City hosting West Ham United at the Etihad and watching-brief-Ralf-Rangnick’s United making the daunting trip to league leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. If David Moyes watched City dismantle PSG on Wednesday night he may have felt fear, but then again he might have felt hope because his front three actually run around and work hard. Even so, Pep Guardiola has won nine out of 10 against the Hammers and his team may hammer the Hammers once again. The thoughtful supercomputer certainly suspects so, giving City a 71.8% chance.
Down in west London, Chelsea will emerge at Stamford Bridge having only let in four league goals all season, something Manchester United can go and do in the space of 45 minutes. If United lose they’ll have lost as many league games this season as they did in the whole of 2020-21. Life comes at you fast, but not as fast as a Reece James shot from the right-hand side of the box. Chelsea on 42.3% to win the game seems more than fair, I say to the supercomputer, its lights blinking in a relaxing pattern.
The Premier League returns this weekend after the latest international break and it’s back for good. Well, until the FA Cup starts in January at least. We head into matchweek 12 with the uncertainty that 15% of the clubs having brand new managers brings with it, so it’s a huge relief to have the cool certainty of the Stats Perform Win Predictor at hand with its blessed Premier League predictions. Read on for supercomputer generated spoilers if you dare.
The weekend starts, as many do, in Leicester, with league leaders Chelsea taking on the 2015-16 Premier League champions. The King Power Stadium has been a graveyard for Chelsea managers with both Jose Mourinho (v2.0) and Frank Lampard managing Chelsea for the final time in this exact geographical location. Leicester City have already defeated Chelsea twice in 2021, including in the FA Cup final, and the wise supercomputer has taken this into account. Chelsea are the favourites with a 39.7% chance of winning, but the draw and a Foxes win are also well backed too.
Your uncle once claimed it would never happen again but there are a bumper crop of six games in the “3pm classic” slot on Saturday, including all three of the matches involving the division’s newly appointed managers; Eddie Howe at Newcastle United, Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa and Dean Smith at Norwich. Howe’s new side take on Brentford and the match predictor would love it, LOVE IT if he got something. It gives the Magpies a 36.8% chance of victory, something they haven’t experienced in a league game since last season. But Brentford haven’t won at Newcastle since 1934, when Bobby Robson was just a year old, so it could just happen.
Gerrard, or ‘Stevie G’ to his admirers, knows that his Aston Villa team have slipped up on numerous occasions this season, throwing away a 2-0 lead at home to Wolves matchweek eight being the most painful. Brighton and Hove Albion will be the subject of Gerrard’s first Premier League team talk, and he’ll surely point out that the south coast thinkers have gone six Premier League matches without a win. Even so, Graham Potter’s team haven’t lost away from home yet but that’s not good enough for the supercomputer, which gives Villa, sorry, ‘Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa’, a 41.5% chance of victory.
Will Aston Villa fan Dean Smith be keeping tabs on Gerrard’s progress on Saturday? You’d assume not because he is employed by Norwich City and they have a game with Southampton at the same time. Two weeks ago Smith’s Villa side lost to Saints and now, thanks to fate and legally binding contracts, he has another chance to get one over them. It’s a tough ask for a club who have taken just a single point from their last 10 Premier League home games. Southampton have lost 9-0 away from home in each of the last two Premier League campaigns yet our model gives them a 47.8% chance of winning at Carrow Road, and you know why.
You: hey supercomputer my old friend, which game has the highest probability of ending as a draw this weekend?
Supercomputer [whirring]: Burnley’s game with Crystal Palace. Dyche, Vieira, different approaches, both winners though.
You: yeah seems fair enough, cheers!
Watford have conceded in each of their last 21 Premier League games and this weekend they take on Narrative’s Manchester United, who have only kept two themselves this season, so expect some textbook net rippling at Vicarage Road on Saturday afternoon. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team’s chance of winning is a slightly low 53.8%, perhaps unsurprising given their poor form. Meanwhile, Man Utd’s former goalkeeper Ben Foster is rated at 100% for calling at least 2-3 United stars “legends” in his post-match content.
Two entertaining teams close out the heavy 3pm action, with surprise top four contenders West Ham United heading to Wolverhampton. The supercomputer can barely separate them, with Wolves having a 34.5% chance of victory and David Moyes’ Hammers 36.2%.
The probable game of the weekend comes on Saturday evening with Arsenal travelling to Anfield to play Liverpool. Mikel Arteta’s team are on the longest current unbeaten run in the Premier League but their record against the Reds at Anfield is pretty ropey, with not even a single point in their last five visits and with Liverpool scoring three or more goals in each match. The win predictor feels that Jurgen Klopp’s team will bounce back from defeat at West Ham last time out and hands them a solid 56.6% chance. This is New Arsenal, though, with spring-heeled positivity generator Aaron Ramsdale in goal, so the Gunners could cause an upset. Maybe.
Sunday’s Premier League action has its kick-off with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City facing Everton, looking to win a league match by 5+ goals for the 25th time under the keen tutelage of the sports-casual coaching icon. Everton were woeful for much of their last game, away at Wolves, and the supercomputer understands the importance of recent form, making Man City the biggest favourites of the weekend, with a 69.7% chance of victory.
And the weekend concludes with Antonio Conte’s first home game as Tottenham Hotspur manager. Spurs haven’t had even a shot on target in their last two and a half games, a barren run precisely equal to the length of Gone With The Wind. But the supercomputer, not a fan of 1940s American cinema, thinks an international break’s worth of brutal Conte training will reboot Spurs. It gives the home team a 48.9% chance of winning against Leeds United, and predicts that Marcelo Bielsa will wake up on Monday morning having Gone Home With No Points.