Premier League Predictions – The Archive
What the supercomputer thought about weeks gone by
An emotional weekend where the fixture computer and the supercomputer join forces to create sheer magic in the form of a Heavyweight Title Decider up at Manchester City. But before we see how the 2021 champions do against the 2020 champions, there are nine hors d’oeuvre fixtures to munch through first. So, let’s predict how they’ll turn out with the nation’s favourite win predictor model.
Friday night sees the Temuri Ketsbaia superclasico as Wolves travel up to St James’ Park to face off with Newcastle. The supercomputer grants this game its now-fabled “most evenly matched encounter of the weekend” badge with both sides equally capable of playing well and badly, sometimes within the same game. It’s even a legendarily even fixture historically, with nine of the 13 games between them in the Premier League ending as draws. Parity experts will know that this is the highest proportion of any Premier League fixture to have been played 10+ times. Another draw to kick off matchweek 32? I’ve certainly heard more outlandish claims.
Melancholy Frank Lampard nearly got a draw at Burnley on Wednesday night but ended up losing 3-2, which has plunged Everton deep into the relegation mire and facing the hated drop for only the third time in their history, after 1930 and 1951. So what they absolutely don’t need is a home game against Manchester United, a team who have beaten Everton 37 times in Premier League history and have lost just one of their last 13 against them. The supercomputer gives Ralf Rangnick’s side a 45.0% chance of victory and if that happens then Everton may well end the weekend in the relegation zone. In April. In real life. Uh oh.
Did you see Roy Hodgson’s curved through ball in training? Yes, it was sheer craftsmanship and if his Watford players have watched it and learnt it then they may well back the supercomputer’s judgement that they are favourites to win their game with Leeds on Saturday. It would certainly make a change for the beleaguered fans because Watford have lost their last eight Premier League home games in succession, the sort of run that invariably sees clubs drop down a division. The biggest match in Watford’s season? Yes, it is.
Chelsea have had a dire week, shipping four to Brentford and one fewer to Real Madrid, which is not a phrase that gets trotted out too often. Luckily for Thomas Tuchel his side have a trip to one of their favourite venues on Saturday, St Mary’s on the Solent. The surely-soon-to-be-deposed European champions have lost just one of their last 13 Premier League games at this modern stadium and the win predictor makes them the only away side to have a +50% chance of winning this weekend.
Arsenal and Brighton both have reasons to dislike Crystal Palace. Arsenal because they went to Selhurst Park on Monday and got a severe beating and Brighton because of the raw passion of the A23 and all that entails. Brighton have still never won a Premier League game in April, while Arsenal have not finished in the top four since 2016. Will this game see some spectacular missed chances? Almost certainly. Will Arsenal get the win that keeps their Champions League qualification dream alive? The supercomputer thinks so (51.6%) and deep down so do you.
Should Arsenal stumble against Brighton then Tottenham will know by the time they kick off against Aston Villa in the late game. This bit of Birmingham has been very profitable for Spurs recently, with six Premier League wins in a row at the ex-FA Cup semi-final venue. Another win on Saturday and Tottenham will equal their best ever away winning streak in the league which is seven in a row in the 1950s at… Villa Park. Basically, what this means is that Arsenal cannot afford to drop points against Brighton.
Sunday contains three Premier League games at 2pm, with a relegation 48-pointer at Carrow Road. Norwich are almost certainly down so will they do the right thing for #narrative and allow Burnley’s revival to continue? There must be plenty of Canaries fans still fuming at Everton taking Mike Walker from them in the early 1990s so perhaps they wouldn’t be too sad to see Burnley escape Norfolk with three points. The supercomputer backs Sean Dyche’s newly-confident outfit, making them a 44.3% chance and you simply have to say that feels right.
Another away team strongly backed by our gleaming predictions machine are West Ham. David Moyes’ side felt hard done by on Thursday night in the Europa League as an overseas referee applied professional foul legislation to Aaron Cresswell. Will the Hammers take out their frustration on Brentford? Perhaps, but the Bees won at London Stadium earlier in the season and now have the fearsome combination of Christian Eriksen and receding relegation fears. This is the only MW32 fixture where the supercomputer gives a +30% chance of winning to both sides and it could be a minor classic. If you live outside the UK, why not tune in and find out!
Leicester’s recent revival (as many points in their last five games as in their previous 10) is reflected by the 47.5% chance of victory they are given by the supercomputer ahead of their game with Crystal Palace. Palace haven’t won any of their last five Premier League games against Leicester and the myriad underlying numbers suggest that run will be extended on Sunday.
And so to the Etihad Stadium for a game which could break the modern record for dramatic montages shown pre-game. As in the 2018-19 season, Manchester City and Liverpool are separated by just a single point, but the fact that City are at home is a key factor because they have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League home games against Liverpool, and that was way back in 2015. This will be the 50th Premier League match between first and second placed sides in the division, with the team on top winning 20 and losing 18 (11 draws). It’s the third such match between Manchester City and Liverpool, following a goalless draw in October 2018 (when Man City were top), along with City beating newly crowned champions Liverpool 4-0 in July 2020. That latter game was a dead rubber played out in an empty stadium; Sunday’s game will be the complete opposite. The relentlessly logical supercomputer makes Pep Guardiola’s team favourites at 42.8% but almost anything could happen in this one and that’s why we’ll all be tuning in.
Well, the supercomputer has had a nice little rest and is absolutely champing at the bit to spool out a series of precise match predictions ahead of this, the 31st set of fixtures in this, season 30 of the Premier League. Never interrupt a computer while it’s not making a mistake, as they say, so here we go.
The English top-flight springs back into action on Saturday lunchtime with a game at Anfield that makes you contemplate time. For instance, had Roy Hodgson been given as much time as Liverpool manager as Jurgen Klopp would he too have brought a Champions League title and a Premier League crown to the club? You suspect not. Yet if Roy Hodgson had had just a little more time as Watford boss this season they might be well on their way to safety. If the Premier League had started when he took charge at Vicarage Road [supercomputer: this is illogical, me: shut it] then Watford would be 15th. But they are not 15th and an away game at Liverpool is as tough as it gets. A 6.2% chance of victory for the Hornets actually looks pretty generous on the face of it.
If Liverpool do win then they go top for a few hours at least, because contemporary success rivals Manchester City are away at Burnley in a 3pm slot. City have won their last nine games against Burnley in all competitions by an aggregate of 32-1 so please, if you hear anyone say any of the following words in any order then speak up. Place, It’s, Go, Tough, A, To. The supercomputer gives City a hefty 68.4% chance of victory and thus a guarantee they will end this weekend on top of the pile, ahead of a meeting between the top two next weekend.
A very different sort of game down at Brighton where two teams on six-game losing runs come face to face, only the third time such a pure bad-form clasico has happened in the Premier League. Graham Potter fooled us all in the autumn by painting Albion as a clinical converting machine. Since then they have reverted to type, and currently have the biggest underperformance on xG in the division (-7.1). That said, they are playing Norwich City so the supercomputer is well within its rights to give the South Downs outfit a bumper 50.7% chance of winning.
Up at Stamford Bridge is a west London derby between two sides who have, in the past, hosted Coventry City with a crowd of more than 8,000 but less than 10,000. For instance, Brentford did so in League One in 2014 (8,572) while Chelsea did so in the Premier League in May 1994 (8,923). So, a few similarities but also some fairly major differences. Thomas Tuchel’s side are in secretly great form, but Brentford – for now – have feel-good Scandinavian schemer Christian Eriksen in their ranks so are well capable of pulling something off. But yeah, Chelsea are the favourites obviously, on a chunky and round 60.0%.
The last player to score a winning Premier League goal for Southampton at Leeds was early 1990s hotshot David Hirst, aka the man Alex Ferguson wanted to sign before he got Eric Cantona. Hirst was a super talented player who suffered a lot of injuries, which means he would have fitted in well with the 2022 Leeds squad, who, despite being ravaged by knocks, are creeping towards safety. The win predictor model makes this an even game but fancies the home team to make another step towards a special sealed box marked “Leeds United Premier League fixtures 2022-23”. The chances of United getting a yellow card are surely running at a cool 99.9%, because with eight games to go, Leeds are just four bookings off the club record for a single Premier League campaign. Five to go clear of Sunderland 2014-15. It’s going to happen, it might even happen against Southampton.
Wisely the supercomputer has made Wolves against Aston Villa the most even game of the weekend. The reverse fixture saw Wolves come back from 2-0 down to win against their semi-regional semi-rivals and that might well happen again, or maybe the opposite. Or maybe both. Whatever, this is hyper-local football back in our sights after an international break. Cherish it.
Saturday concludes with Manchester United taking on Leicester in the late game. As I said to the supercomputer, I can remember when one of these teams won the league by fearing no-one and counter-attacking stylishly at will. And yes, that Leicester team in 2015-16 was very good indeed, but the supercomputer still favours United at 47.8% as Brendan Rodgers tries to guide Leicester to a league double over Manchester United for the first time since 1973-74. Not that Rodgers was managing Leicester in 1974 of course, as he was a year old and that sort of thing is largely frowned upon in coaching manuals.
We’re officially into the home straight of the 2021-22 Premier League season. This is the fabled run-in, where dreams are made and relegations are reluctantly confirmed. The supercomputer is excited about matchweek 29 and so am I. Let’s go predicting.
Due to the relentless combination of rearranged games and European fixtures we are in the peculiar scenario this weekend of having three games on Saturday and six on Sunday, like some sort of side panel in World Soccer, circa 1991. No matter, they all count; we will just have to enjoy each fixture in its allotted timeslot.
The curious weekend begins with Liverpool’s trip to Brighton. The semi-humbled-in-Europe Reds can close the gap at the top of the Premier League to a foreboding three points if they win this one, and with Albion having lost four league games in a row, the chances are that they will, even if they are only the fourth biggest favourites (59.6%) according to the supercomputer.
If there’s only one 3pm Saturday fixture then you better make sure Burnley are involved and luckily they are, via their trip to Brentford. Sean Dyche’s side used to struggle in the capital but, like the Romans, they are unbeaten in their last four in London and will be up for a battle at the Community Stadium. They have to be, because time is running out if they are to guarantee we, the people, get to see Dutch superstructure Wout Weghorst for an entire Premier League campaign in 2022-23. The win predictor model makes Brentford narrow favourites, but it also acknowledges that this relegation scrap is going down to the wire and, in a phrase that all computers detest, “anything can happen.”
The late game on Saturday (that’s right, we’re there already) is a heritage Clasico, with Lads It’s Tottenham journeying to the Theatre of Dreams to face Lads It’s Manchester United. Last season this ended as a 6-1 win for Jose Mourinho’s brief title challengers, and you could envisage a similar scoreline again, or, to be fair, the complete opposite too. These are Big Clubs… with Big Fluctuations in form! The supercomputer favours Ralf Rangnick’s team but only narrowly, and for anyone growing up in the Upper Ferguson Era, the thought of Tottenham having more than a 30% chance of winning at Old Trafford seems as likely as Pedro Mendes putting the ball a nautical yard into Roy Carroll’s net and it being given as a goal.
I don’t like it any more than you do but Sunday has five games at 2pm and we’ll all have to try and keep up somehow. Of the quintet of matches, the machine sensationally does not make Chelsea the biggest favourites for a series of reasons perhaps that make sense. Newcastle continued their seemingly unstoppable march to the top half of the table with a win at Southampton on Thursday night and who’s to say they won’t win at Stamford Bridge this weekend. Well, the prevaricating supercomputer for one, but stranger things have happened, such as Papiss Cisse’s Sensible Soccer goal at Stamford Bridge 10 years ago. The greatest curveball seen at Chelsea. At the time.
Everton’s game with Wolves earns the coveted most-even-game-of-the-weekend award and if that seems unfair, given Everton lost 5-0 on Monday and Wolves won 4-0 on Thursday then remember that Wolves traditionally struggle at Goodison and, if nothing else, this game is about tradition.
Leeds against Norwich is a huge match between two teams who are really not playing very well. Leeds’ decision to pivot from Bielsa to Marsch has not paid dividends yet, while Norwich, who hail from a county that knows a fair bit about marsh, are sinking towards their fourth Premier League relegation in the last eight years. The supercomputer is incredibly bullish about Leeds in this one, making them a 60.6% chance to win, which given Norwich have only scored seven (7) Premier League away goals seems fair enough. “But” I counter, tapping the machine softly with my finger, “3.5% of all the goals Leeds have ever let in in the Premier League have come since the start of February.” Who will actually win? Maybe no-one.
Watford’s display at Wolves on Thursday night was very much not what the south midlands club needed, but then Southampton lost to Newcastle so you can only applaud the supercomputer’s decision to make this a classic 45-28-27 predictive split in favour of the Saints. “Singular thinking,” you nod, intensely studying a sheet of handwritten facts and figures. Singular-ish I’d say, as the same machine spits out pretty much the same breakdown for the West Ham vs. Aston Villa game which will take place at exactly the same time. A glitch in the system? No, a considered verdict which stands to reason, even if you do glance at camera two and silently mouth “Villa do look really good though right??”
Sunday in the Premier League concludes (finally) with Arsenal’s game with Leicester, and a chance to do the league double over the Foxes for the first time since the 2015-16 season. That feat, sealed at the Emirates six years ago, saw elation and selfies because ultimately it meant that two of Leicester’s three Premier League defeats that season would come at the hands of Arsenal. As a consolation, Leicester did win the league. This time around it’s Arsenal in the ascendancy, Mikel Arteta’s team having won their last four games in a row, and with Alexandre Lacazette in ephemeral, mysterious goal-creating form. The supercomputer puts Arsenal at 45.7% and I distractedly agree, lining up a hubris-soaked selfie of my own.
Matchweek 29 ends on Monday night with Manchester City travelling to Crystal Palace, the nearest they have to a bogey team. Palace regularly get something against Pep Guardiola’s side and if they win this one it will be their first league double over them since 1987-88, a season in which Liverpool won the league title. So the wheel turns, and so the supercomputer calculates, making City the biggest favourites of the weekend (is Monday the weekend? Yes, in football it is) at 65.4%.
It feels like a long time since we’ve had what purists term a “classic Premier League weekend”, which is seven games on Saturday, in a 1-5-1 slot formation, followed by two games on Sunday, and completed with a good, honest Monday Night Football on Monday night. Well, that’s what we have in store this week and our beloved supercomputer is itching to predict the outcome of every game. Let’s begin.
The matchweek begins with Leicester City hosting Leeds United. The Foxes had an important midweek win against Burnley, powered by official talisman Jamie Vardy, back from a hamstring injury and, confounding some experts, back into double figures for Premier League goals. Leeds have a new manager, Jesse Marsch, and will hope that March is a superior month to February, in which they put up one of the worst set of performances in Premier League history, conceding a record 20 goals and at least three in every game. The last team to concede three or more goals in six successive top-flight games were Birmingham all the way back in 1964, back when supercomputers were the size of football pitches. Our machine is sleeker, and better, and despite Leeds being under new management, rates Leicester at 55.3% to win.
The win predictor model predicts a fairly even game at Molineux between Wolves and Crystal Palace. Two clubs who have improved and tweaked their style under new managers this season, the model makes this the highest chance of a drawn game in the Premier League this weekend. Do I disagree? I wouldn’t dare.
Norwich host Brentford in what might be a game that makes up in intrigue what it lacks in pure quality. The Bees have been slowly getting drawn towards the relegation zone in 2022 as if caught in a Championship tractor beam, and if Norwich can win this they’ll only be four points behind Brentford with a game in hand. City sacked Daniel Farke after beating Brentford in the reverse fixture, but Dean Smith will not be getting the same treatment, even if he loses, which is what the supercomputer reckons will happen, with Brentford on a 44.8% chance of curtailing their Bad Run.
Such has been Newcastle’s resurgence in recent weeks that their game with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday is virtually a mid-table clash. These two sides came up together from the Championship in 2017 in the most geographically distanced promotion to the top-flight combination in English football history. They have looked miles apart for much of this season too, but Eddie Howe is doing a Graham Potter who did an Eddie Howe and so Newcastle being favourites for this one feels right, even if the supercomputer rates this as the most even game of the weekend.
Burnley might feel like this is a good time to face Chelsea, what with all the off-field developments around the European champions. Can the looming Wout Weghorst cause mayhem in the Chelsea defence? The model says “no”, and instead instructs you to go and watch Cesc Fàbregas’s assist for André Schürrle in their visit to Turf Moor in August 2014. One of the most delicious assists in the league’s history, and on his debut for the club too.
The 3pm games are concluded with Aston Villa taking on Southampton. Saints waltzed into the FA Cup quarter-finals in midweek and are playing well. They are top of the Premier League’s mid-table of five clubs as it stands, with Villa bottom of that group, five points adrift. Danny Ings loves a bit of “hey look what you missing”, and has scored five goals in his last seven Premier League games against sides he’s previously played for in the competition. The supercomputer enjoys this notion and as such, rates Steven Gerrard’s team at 43.0% to win.
Liverpool’s match with West Ham United at Anfield rounds out Saturday, a venue where the Hammers have one only once in their last 48 visits. David Moyes simply doesn’t do away wins at the Big Four and you struggle to see how he’ll start in this one. Liverpool are 65.3% in machine terms, and that makes them the super top faves in the Premier League this weekend.
On to Sunday and two clubs whose training grounds are right next to each other play as Watford host Arsenal. Whether either manager has employed a drone or a malicious crow to spy on the other side’s preparation this week remains unknown, but we do know that Arsenal have scored in all 15 of their Premier League games against Watford and will rock up to Vicarage Road with a supercomputer-approved 52.2% chance of victory as they inch closer to the fabled top four.
A massive game in Manchester in the Super Sunday slot as City take on United at the Etihad. Pep Guardiola has only done the double over United once as City boss so far and this game does favour the visiting team generally. Premier League meetings between Manchester City and Manchester United have seen the away team win more often (21 times) than in any other fixture in the competition’s history. An away win in this one could help Liverpool win the league, which won’t be popular with United fans but they will have won away at Manchester City, which is still deemed pleasant. However, our win predictor model only makes Ralf Rangnick’s team a 15.5% chance to emerge victorious, making them the second biggest outsiders in the Premier League this weekend. How times have changed.
And finally, Monday night sees Tottenham take on Everton in a game between two clubs who probably hoped 2021-22 was going to go a bit more smoothly than it has. Spurs have lost just one of their last 18 Premier League games against Everton, while the Merseysiders have not won any of their last 10 away games in the league. Lampard, sure to get a vocal welcome from the home fans, is running out of games, especially if they lose this one, which the gleaming machine of judgement and truth says is likely to happen.
The supercomputer and the fixture computer are arguing and it’s not nice.
Stance one: there’s less than 24 hours between Arsenal and Wolves ending and Southampton and Norwich kicking off. It’s too much to deal with, even for a machine.
Stance two: the midweek games were rearranged due to postponements, you have to react and use your processing power to deal with it.
I have no time to decide who is right and wrong here, a slightly truncated matchweek 27 is here! Predict away, predict everything, predict as fast as you can!
As mentioned, this weekend’s Premier League fixtures begin with Norwich City decamping to St Mary’s. The visitors are back in their semi-traditional spot on the bottom of the table but this is shaping up to be the mother of all relegation battles and only a fool or an Ipswich fan would write Norwich off at this stage. That said, almost completely under the radar, Southampton have lost only once at home this season and usually enjoy their Friday nights (other than the ones when they lose 9-0, like Ipswich once did), something the supercomputer likes and respects, giving Saints a 57% chance of winning this weekend, the third highest figure of the matchweek.
Saturday lunchtime serves up a troubled clasico, between two teams who choose to play in white, a colour that arguably should be restricted to third kits. Leeds have conceded 16 goals in February alone, and should Tottenham score four (go with me on this) then it would be the first time in Premier League history that a team had let in 20 in a single calendar month. And in the month with the fewest days in it no less. The supercomputer rates Spurs at 46.4% to win the game against a club they sold a pitch to last season. The grass isn’t always greener, but let’s hope it’s at least drier than it was in Leeds’ game with Manchester United last weekend.
Saturday at 3pm (el slot traditionale) includes a relegation battle deluxe with Newcastle United travelling to Brentford. Eddie Howe’s calmly improving Magpies have two games in hand on the spiralling Bees and will go above them if they win this one. The win predictor makes Brentford narrow favourites in this but Newcastle are used to losing in London (82 defeats there is the most of any non-local side in Premier League history) and quite frankly they fancy a change.
The award for the supercomputer’s most-even-game-of-the-week comes in East Sussex as two managers with wildly different routes to their current Premier League benchwork go head-to-head. Aston Villa Steven Gerrard has scored in World Cups and inspired teams to unlikely comebacks in Champions League finals, while Graham Potter played as left back on the day that his Wycombe team-mate, right back Jason Cousins, committed one of the worst fouls in Football League history (look it up). No matter, they are both studious managers, even if their teams are struggling a bit at the moment. Brighton have scored only 10 goals at home this season, while Villa have won just one of their last seven league games under Gerrard. It looks and feels like a low scoring draw ending in an intense hug between managers in v-neck jumpers.
One club in fine form are Burnley Football Club, in the midst of another great escape, like some sort of Coventry-in-the-1990s tribute act. Sean Dyche’s decision to sign the eight-foot striker Wout Weghorst has seemingly transformed the club’s fortunes and they take their continental siege weapon down to Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon. London, once a gleaming metropolis of fear for the Clarets, has become a happy hunting ground, with five wins from their last 10 games inside TFL’s sphere of influence. Another even game according to the supercomputer, perhaps home advantage gives Palace the edge in this one, although Dutchman Weghorst will surely dispute that.
Manchester United have never lost a home game to Watford, although they did lose a manager after losing away to the Hornets earlier in the season. It may not suit your narrative or memes, but no Premier League side is on a longer unbeaten run without a win than Ralf Rangnick’s side at the moment. Even so, with Arsenal beating Wolves on Thursday, and putting themselves in pole position to claim that sacred fourth place at the end of the season, this is a must win game for United. And they probably will, with the supercomputer making them a 64.0% chance, the biggest favourites of the weekend.
That’s right, Manchester City are 0.1% less likely to beat Everton than Manchester United are to defeat Watford. It’s just blow after blow for Pep Guardiola’s side this week, with shock defeat to Tottenham followed by this supercomputer snub and then the sight on Sunday of the first ever Carabao Cup final in English football history that they are not involved in. We can only hope their morale can cope with an on-paper-easy trip to Goodison Park to play Frank Lampard’s troubled Everton. The Merseyside club have not played second tier football since Velcro was invented in the 1950s but their Premier League membership is looking less secure by the week.
The Premier League week concludes with a nice east London palate cleanser ahead of the aforementioned Carabao feast as West Ham take on Wolves in the ‘battle of the teams beginning with W who have done better than you loudly predicted at a barbecue last summer’. Bruno Lage’s team suffered a setback at Arsenal on Thursday night, eventually wilting in a stern atmosphere driven by agitated interpretation knowledge of football’s rules and laws and ball-in-play time. It should be a more traditional atmosphere at London Stadium, where West Ham have scored in every Premier League game this season while looking increasingly less secure at the back. David Moyes’ side are the 40.6% favourites for this one but pretty much everyone has underestimated a wolf at some point.
You know what it’s like, you’re busy trying to operate some advanced machinery (yes, a supercomputer) but you’re getting hammered with texts from your uncle, who has noticed there are six games at 3pm this week and is peppering you with upper case words like TRADITIONAL, PROPER, REAL and AUTHENTIC. You quickly reply, asking him “what about the first day of league football in September 1888, when clubs chose their own, random, kick-off times? That traditional enough for you?”
For some reason he never replied to that one, but he was right about one thing for once, there are indeed six Premier League games at 3pm on Saturday, which is good news for goal update tv programming at the very least. Our famous win predictor model has crunched through those, and the other four scheduled matches, and here are its findings.
The amuse-bouche to that slew of 3pm games is the latest match in Newcastle’s Incredible Recovery, this time away at London Stadium against West Ham United. Even during their recent decline, Newcastle still enjoyed their Westfield-adjacent trips, winning there in each of the last two seasons. The game sees the two most prolific ball carriers in the division this season in the form of Declan Rice (6,087 metres) and Allan Saint-Maximin (5,714), but it’s been Keiran Trippier who has been carrying Newcastle’s hopes in recent weeks, and now the inspirational right-back is out injured with a broken foot. The supercomputer makes West Ham (50.8%) more than twice as likely to win this game than the visitors, and sometimes you just have to nod and say “yes, yes I agree.”
Staying in London and Arsenal will be looking for the sweet taste of revenge against Brentford. Matchweek 26 is the reverse of the opening weekend in August and that was a hot mess for Mikel Arteta’s team, shorn of a number of key players due to covid-19. Brentford are looking weary after a long debut season in the Premier League, and Arsenal haven’t lost a home game to a newly promoted team since 2010. The supercomputer expects Arsenal’s sneaky bid to finish fourth to continue apace, giving them a 55.9% chance of winning.
The biggest favourites of the Saturday 3pm crew are Liverpool, who face Norwich City at Anfield. With 47 goals and 13 wins in their last 15 Premier League games against the Norfolk side, it’s something of a surprise to see Norwich’s win probability as high as 3.8%, a figure not wildly dissimilar to 1.9%, which is the proportion of Premier League goals conceded by Norwich that have been scored by Luis Suarez.
Liverpool are at home, so Everton must be away, and they are, this time at improving Southampton, aka the Armando Broja Project. The legendary supercomputer makes this one the most even game of the day and that seems fair. Everton don’t score that many away from home, but Saints have gone 13 games without a clean sheet. Ralph and Frank to exchange a hearty bear hug after a share of the spoils? You wouldn’t rule it out.
There’s a London derby south of the river as Chelsea come down from the riverside flatlands to the mysterious hills that surround Selhurst Park. There hasn’t been a drawn game in the last 21 meetings between Chelsea and Crystal Palace but maybe this could be the match to end that statistically unlikely run? No: the newly crowned world champions have won 76% of their encounters with Palace, a Premier League record while Palace have won only one of their last 16 derbies. Both the supercomputer and ordinary humans expect Chelsea to head back to their lair with three points.
By this stage Saturday 3pm seems like it has an inexhaustible supply of games, but they are completed (I promise) with Aston Villa against Watford and Brighton vs. Burnley. Villa have been entertaining at home under Steven Gerrard, with the Coutinho/Jacob Ramsey partnership looking particularly fruitful. Watford are yet to score in three Premier League games under Roy Hodgson and he would be only the fourth permanent manager in Premier League history to start with four blanks if his side fail to score at Villa Park. The supercomputer has deep respect for Hodgson’s grasp of foreign languages, but still gives Villa a 48.5% chance of shunting the Hornets closer to the second tier (el second tier as Hodgson might say).
Meanwhile at the bottom of England, the Angel of the North, Wout Weghorst, if fit (hands praying emoji), will try and deal with any remaining high winds buffeting the south downs as he takes on the progressive probings of Professor Potter’s PHD Seagulls. Brighton were unlucky to lose 2-0 to Manchester United in midweek but they have robbed us of an early chance to see Dan Burn go up against Weghorst like huge Transformers conducting a battle in a quarry, so maybe neither side deserves to win (29.9%).
If people aren’t completely sated by the six course lunch available from 3pm, then there’s an elite dessert on the menu at 17:30, as Ruminating Antonio Conte’s Tottenham travel up to the Etihad Stadium to play Manchester City. Always one of the toughest tasks on the football calendar, defeat here would be the first time Spurs had lost four league games in succession since 2004, a distant world, three PlayStation models ago. The supercomputer, a distant relative of many games consoles, rates City at 64.6% to win and turn up THFC touchline brooding levels to “extreme”.
Sunday starts with one of the most contested rivalries in English football as a club who lost a European Cup final in the 1970s takes on an outfit who did the same in the 2000s and 2010s. Yes it’s Leeds United against Manchester United, the Eric Cantona clasico, el derbi di Alan Smith The Blonde One, and both sides need a win. Leeds (United), to ease their relegation fears, and (Manchester) United, to maintain their hopes of finishing in the top four. Back on the opening day of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side put on an thrilling display to thump Leeds 5-1 but that was a different time, in a number of ways. It was before the club brought Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford, for instance, and if (when) the Portuguese veteran plays on Sunday it will be 18 years and 125 days since he last played a Premier League game against Leeds. Babies have born and become adults in that gap, a generation for which supercomputers are an everyday part of life. Our machine makes this clash relatively even, with Leeds at 27.1% and the red-clad visitors at 45.3%. Come for the intense loathing, stay for the hopefully intense football.
Matchweek 26 concludes with a scavenging beast superclasico, as Wolves take on the Foxes at Molineux. This fixture happens to be the most recent Premier League example of a team coming from three goals down to win (Wolves 4-3 Leicester in October 2003).You don’t need a supercomputer to tell you that three goals is very very rarely a dangerous lead. Will it happen again on Sunday? Well, the win predictor makes this the most closely matched game of the entire weekend so, in conclusion, probably not.
Advent calendars stop at 24 but the Premier League has no such restraint and as such, matchweek 25 is upon us just hours after we saw Leicester continue to endure issues defending corners and Arsenal going down to 10 men. Ok, those are the sort of things most people could predict, but here at The Analyst we have our clever supercomputer which can go a bit deeper than that. A bit deeper? Apologies, a *lot* deeper. And here are the results.
The weekend kicks off with Manchester United against Southampton, a fixture that saw the home side win 9-0 last season, although nobody thinks that scoreline is about to get repeated this time around. In fact, the number nine seems to be haunting United at the moment, as after scoring nine goals across their opening pair of Premier League games at Old Trafford this season, they have subsequently scored nine in the following nine games there. The supercomputer makes them favourites to win, because this is still Manchester United we are talking about it, but as Ralf takes on Ralph, would either manager say that Southampton have no chance at all? Nein.
Traditionalists who enjoy the 3pm blackout rule in the UK will have to deal with the fact that Chelsea will be in televised action on Saturday afternoon in the Club World Cup but the three Premier League games kicking off at three will remain a mystery in digital form. This set of games will include an incredibly closely matched game according to the win prediction model, between Watford and Brighton, with all three outcomes at 30% or higher. Four of Brighton’s last five Premier League games have ended 1-1 so I’m afraid no-one will think you are some sort of divine soothsayer if you claim the same will happen this weekend. And it just might.
There’s a London derby out on the fringes with Brentford hosting Crystal Palace in a home league game for the first time since 1963, which is slightly surprising given Palace’s journeys up and down the divisions since then. Back in 1963 a supercomputer would have been the size of a bus and have the power of an Ericsson phone. Now supercomputers are the size of bees and Brentford have Christian Eriksen, although not quite yet. It’s another tight game, made even more tense by the knowledge that a defeat in this one plunges either side firmly onto the edge of the periphery of the relegation battle.
And talking of the relegation battle, Everton are now only a point ahead of Newcastle and the fear and loathing is kicking in. Frank Lampard enjoyed a pleasant prologue to Goodison life in the FA Cup last weekend, but then lost at Newcastle. Now Leeds are due in the Premier League on Saturday and things suddenly feel incredibly real. Everton haven’t ever started a calendar year with five consecutive league defeats before but that is what they are facing up to. Leeds and Marcelo Bielsa won 4-1 in Frank Lampard’s first home match as Derby manager; a similar outcome here and it would be crisis time already. The supercomputer, in a weekend of close encounters, gives Everton a slight edge, what with home advantage and Leeds being Leeds, but you don’t need to be able to traverse a chain link fence to spy an unpredictable 90 minutes at the school of science.
Saturday concludes with what should be the most one-sided game of the weekend, if not the season, but we thought that when Manchester City travelled to Norwich two seasons ago, and the outcome was a famous win for the pride of central Norfolk instead. Surely feeding this info into the heart of the supercomputer will result in a huge boost for the Canaries? No, at 4.9% they have one of the lowest chances of victory the modern game has ever seen. You can’t code romance.
There are three types of football fan. The first enjoys the dancing feet of Mohamed Salah, the second is actively thrilled by the sheer physical strength of the Ent of Lancashire, Wout Weghorst, and the third enjoys both in equal measure. All three groups will be interested in Sunday’s game at Turf Moor then, a match the supercomputer reckons Liverpool have a 62% chance of winning. That seems fair if Virgil van Dijk and friends can handle the velvet battering ram, aka Weghorst. Anyone keeping a track of whether Turf Moor is a tough place to go should note that Liverpool have won six of their seven Premier League games there.
Newcastle and Aston Villa once hosted the Kieron Dyer against Lee Bowyer middleweight bout, one of only three times in Premier League history that a team has been reduced to eight men. Let’s hope for more peaceful but equally tense drama on Sunday as two of the most interesting teams in the Premier League right now go head-to-head. The two big winners of the January transfer window? Maybe, and perhaps this encounter will come down to a Brazilian vs. Brazilian style-off between the contender Bruno Guimarães and the grizzled champion Philippe Coutinho. We can’t split them, and nor can the supercomputer, which makes Villa favourites by 0.8%. Punchy.
The Sunday 2pm slot is completed by the game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as Wolves come to town. A lost timeline frames this match as the derbi di Nuno Espirito Santo, with Adama Traore lining up for Spurs and causing his former side severe issues. Instead, the major issues seem to be with Tottenham’s play under pressure, as demonstrated by Southampton in midweek. Antonio Conte hasn’t lost three league games in a row since he was managing Atalanta back in 2009 and a meek 46.2% chance of beating Wolves is testament to Tottenham’s current inconsistency.
Matchweek 25 concludes with troubled Leicester facing their bogey side West Ham United. It was a good midweek for David Moyes’ side, with both Manchester United and Spurs dropping points, although Leicester can tell them a bit about not celebrating a top four finish until the season is absolutely done and dusted. That said, a fourth successive win for West Ham against Leicester will keep them in the Champions League positions for another week at least. If Leicester can restrict West Ham at set-pieces then they may still be able to justify the supercomputer’s loyal backing of them at 43.8%. Otherwise, it could be a long afternoon for the 2015-16 champions.
The small silver key fits into the padlock – barely – and it takes considerable finger strength to twist and pop the lock open. The unmarked door, caked in dust and spider webs creaks open, and there, on a concrete plinth, is the supercomputer, clearly in some sort of incredibly deep sleep mode. Two weeks without a full set of Premier League fixtures has left our beloved machine in an electronic stupor so it is with a sense of sheer joy that I press the button marked “do u want to generate some predictions??”. What follows is some analysis of the outcome of that decision.
Matchweek 24 actually started on January 18 when Brighton and Chelsea tested the concept by drawing 1-1 in Falmer. It resumes on Tuesday with three games, including the deeply intriguing encounter between transfer window enthusiasts Newcastle United and Everton. Eddie Howe and Frank Lampard were born in the same school year (1977-78) but the only qualification they are hoping for in 2022 is qualification for the 2022-23 Premier League (by not getting relegated in May)! The supercomputer rates this game as incredibly tight, with Newcastle on 35.0% and Everton on 35.7%. Come for the new signings, stay for some of the same old defensive issues!
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Roy Hodgson looks to follow up the sorcery he employed on Saturday to get a clean sheet at Burnley, when he takes his Watford team to West Ham. David Moyes’ side spent most of Saturday being upstaged by Kidderminster Harriers in the spiritual home of carpets. That FA Cup game showed how important West Ham’s main players are to their results [hashtag we didn’t want to bring on Declan Rice but we had to], and with top four ambitions on the line in this game, both myself (Duncan) and the machine (supercomputer) expect the Hammers to win this one, especially as Watford have lost 29 of the 40 Premier League games they’ve played in London, the major city their town is quite close to.
Tuesday wraps up with Burnley taking on Manchester United. The gap between Wout Weghorst and Aaron Lennon is 13 inches but the gap between where Manchester United thought they were heading at the start of the season and where they are now is far bigger. The latest setback was the FA Cup exit to Middlesbrough on Friday and although the supercomputer makes them 48.6% favourites to win at Burnley, that’s not a stratospheric percentage given Sean Dyche’s team are a) still bottom of the table and b) have lost their last five home games in a row against United. Turf Moor a tough place to go? For Ralf Rangnick, we shall wait and see.
Antonio Conte is reshaping Spurs on and off the field through force of will, regular exercise and cool tactics, and on Wednesday Southampton come to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium knowing that this piece of north London land has not been a happy hunting ground, even when it was incrementally further to the south and known as White Hart Lane. Saints have lost their last five Premier League away games against Spurs, and the prospect of the home team rolling out new signings Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur only adds to the excitement. The supercomputer agrees, giving Tottenham an almost 59% chance of the victory that could supercharge their top four mission.
For once the story ahead of a Manchester City game is less about how many goals the modern Premier League’s eternal champions might angle in and more about the return of Christian Erikson to the Premier League. It’s a story that has captured the imagination of human beings across the planet, but I am afraid it has not engaged supercomputers in the same way, with Brentford given only a 5.7% chance of winning the game. Four defeats in a row has pushed Thomas Frank’s team to the periphery of the relegation battle and while Eriksen may help that situation in the medium term, he’s not expected to play any part in this game, hence the supercomputer’s stunning verdict.
Norwich’s unlikely bid to stay up continues as they take on Progressive Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace at Carrow Road. A win for Dean Smith’s side would see them close the gap on the Londoners to only five points, which is not the narrative you have been told about, but it’s true. For all the stylistic progress Palace have made under their new manager, they’ve only won one Premier League away game under him, albeit that did come away at Manchester City. With a raucous Carrow Road crowd behind them, Norwich will fancy themselves. The win predictor model backs Palace to win this one but the win predictor model has never been outside on a cold midweek February night in Norfolk. Very few computers have.
Wednesday is completed with the Aston Villa vs. Leeds United game, very much a case of “how good’s your Brazilian, ours is class” as international team-mates Philippe Coutinho and Raphinha go head-to-head at Villa Park. In a matchweek of close encounters, this is a 40-28-32 verdict from the legendary match forecasting machine for a game that sees Leeds clock up their 4000th league game, a run that goes back to 1920. Ask someone in 1920 about a computer capable of simulating football games tens of thousands of times and they’d have thrown you in jail. Ask someone in 1920 about Villa Park and they’d have said “tough place to go.” One out of two’s not bad.
The midweek sports special ends with two games in the increasingly fashionable Thursday slot and they’re big ones. Brendan Rodgers returns to Anfield to face a Liverpool team boasting a new signing (Luis Diaz), a recovered prodigy (Harvey Elliott) and two legends who will have differing memories of the 2021 AFCON final, (Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah). Whether any of that glamour quartet actually features is up to Jurgen Klopp but he certainly has options. If Rodgers chooses to try and stifle Trent Alexander-Arnold, as he did in Leicester’s 1-0 win against Liverpool in December, then fine, but watch out for Andy Robertson who has seven assists in his last eight Premier League appearances. In the FA Cup on Sunday Nottingham Forest were the latest team to expose Leicester’s defensive underbelly. Anfield on a Thursday night is not usually seen as a good place for away teams to reset, and the supercomputer agrees, giving Leicester the second lowest chance of victory in matchweek 24, at a mere 13.5%.
The schedule is completed at Molineux with Wolves taking on Arsenal in a fascinating fixture. Some say there aren’t enough goals in the Wolves squad and some say there aren’t enough players in the Arsenal squad so this game could go any number of ways. The supercomputer’s gambit here is a relatively rare 30%+ draw chance. Our famous machine thinks these two clubs could cancel each other out in an upper mid-table dust up. “Forget dust ups,” I smile, getting out a soft cloth and sweeping it across the machine, “it’s time to take some dust off, for the Premier League is back, and you have much work to do my friend.”
“I’m confused by 24,” the supercomputer suddenly admits to me on a Thursday lunchtime. “The long-running early 21st century espionage drama series?” I reply, “Yeah, some of the later seasons could have done with a stricter script editor, that’s for sure!”
“No,” our machine mechanically counters, “What I mean is that Chelsea have played 23 games before Matchday 23, while some clubs haven’t even reached 20 games yet. This is illogical to me, a supercomputer.”
I’ll not go into details but, believe me, the machine was made to understand that Chelsea are in the Club World Cup so have played their 24th game before Matchweek 23 while many other sides are still reeling from the series of Omicron-fuelled match postponements that have left the Premier League table looking, let’s be honest, achingly cool with myriad possibilities. HOWEVER, all being well, we should have a full and fat 10-game matchweek this weekend, so let’s get stuck in and see just what is going to happen.
Losing five games in a row against Watford is some going but it’s what Norwich have been up to. After the dismal failure of the “three-horse title race,” the battle at bottom is refreshingly tight and it feels like at least one of the sides in this game will be back in the Championship next season. That makes this clash on Friday night monumental, and the supercomputer is heavily backing Watford, despite Claudio Ranieri’s side not having won a league game since they de-Solskjaered Manchester United in November. Norwich have only won one Premier League game fewer than Chelsea since the start of November, but that’s very much three-horse race chat, to be fair.
Saturday in the Premier League commences with a heritage clasico, Everton against Aston Villa at Goodison Park. Sixteen league titles between the clubs but none since the Channel Tunnel project was begun; you never know what forces you’ll unleash when you start to dig. One player who loved a “dig” from range was “Stevie G” and, although he is now retired and not allowed to shoot in the Premier League, he’ll be on the touchline at Everton, facing up to his old rival Big Duncan Ferguson, who is, of course, temporarily in charge of the listing Merseysiders. The supercomputer, in a suspiciously diplomatic and nervous manner, makes this a very even game, with Everton, boosted by war cries and sheer relief, slight favourites at 39.0% but it also points out that passion will be running at 110%!
Manchester United at three o’clock in the Premier League used to mean a comfortable stroll for the English record champions. But this season, due to philosophical entropy, things are different. United’s last two outings in this slot have seen them lose 4-1 at Watford and 4-2 at Leicester. They’re at home this weekend, though, and have to face David Moyes, a manager who has never won away at one of the Classic Big Four™ even when he was coaching one of them. That’s 64 games now, which is quite a lot. The supercomputer gives Moyes a one-in-four chance and his former employers a one-in-two of a won-a-3pm.
Leeds and Newcastle, who both employed James Milner before the iPad was invented, face off at Elland Road. If Leeds have vague relegation fears then Newcastle have vast, incredible relegation fears. Even if Eddie Howe’s team score first it’s rarely positive news: they’ve done so 10 times this season yet won just once. In that context, a supercomputer-approved 24.4% chance of a Newcastle win is promising, but let’s just wait and see what happens, right?
Who would win in a fight between a swarm of bees and a single wolf? The supercomputer doesn’t speculate and as usual Attenborough didn’t answer, so we’ll never know but we can see who out of Brentford and Wolverhampton Wanderers wins on Saturday. Wolves haven’t let in a first-half goal in their last 13 Premier League games, while Brentford did everything but score a first-half goal in their game with Manchester United in midweek. There’s barely the width of a bee between the sides, according to the win predictor model, with Brentford on a cool 34.5% and Wolves on an even cooler 35.5%.
Manchester City’s serene, horse-neutralising progression to the league title travels to Southampton on Saturday evening, with Kevin De Bruyne (nine goals and two assists in his last 14 Premier League starts) looking in ominous form. The supercomputer is incredibly confident that City will add another three points to their portfolio and gives Pep Guardiola’s side a hefty 73.5% chance of victory.
There are three games at 2pm on Sunday, which includes Arsenal and Burnley both embarking on their second league game of the year. Bottom side Burnley have conceded three goals fewer than fourth-placed West Ham, although they have played five games fewer. It’s that sort of season but there’s one constant: The bottom three teams are going to be playing in the Championship next season and Sean Dyche’s side can feel the rusty fangs of the hated trapdoor on their backs. The supercomputer has no good news for them, giving Arsenal a 56.4% chance of winning for the 13th time in their last 19 games against Burnley.
Also taking place in London at the same time but below the big river is Crystal Palace against Liverpool. Last season, Jurgen Klopp’s team won this fixture but then embarked on the longest spell of existential bad form Our League has seen for some time. Liverpool are the clear favourites on the win predictor, but 2021-22 Palace have matchwinners, if not always players who win matches. Trent Alexander-Arnold assisted both goals in Liverpool’s EFL Cup win at Arsenal on Thursday night and has as many assists in all competitions this season as Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane and Riyad Mahrez combined. Is that good? It certainly sounds good.
Completing the 2pm jamboree is Brighton’s trip to Leicester in the forward-thinking-managers-clasico. A meeting of two cities that used to contain nationally renowned velodromes, Leicester are currently stuck in a cycle of bad defending from set pieces, and Adam Webster’s 1,500-watt header against Chelsea in midweek suggests the Foxes could suffer further against Albion. The supercomputer is less sure, probably correctly calculating that the events of Wednesday evening when Leicester suffered the latest turnaround in Premier League history cannot happen again. That reminds me, I must install the funny_old_game.exe patch asap.
The Premier League weekend concludes with one of its most aggro matches as Chelsea take on Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. Famously (to experts) this fixture in 2016 saw the visitors pick up nine yellow cards, which remains a Premier League record for a team in a single game. Chelsea cruised past Spurs in the League Cup semi-final but Tottenham are the team with momentum in the league. Yes, they’ve only won one of their last 31 league games at Stamford Bridge but the supercomputer gives the home team only a 43.3% chance of winning, which is indicative of the slow malaise that has enveloped them as winter has progressed. “Maybe a trip to the Club World Cup will invigorate Chelsea,” the supercomputer muses. “Maybe it will,” I reply. “Maybe it will.”
Ok yes, 2022 has been pretty cool with the AFCON and the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup and the rearranged Premier League games from “2021” but what I’ve been craving is a good, hearty helping of an Entire Premier League Matchday. And if I’ve been eager, then what about our old friend the supercomputer, straining under 7mm of dust? The machine has missed scanning a set of fixtures and making a considered and industry-renowned judgement. Well, my friend, wait no more, because MD22 is upon us.
The weekend begins in Brighton on Friday night with a visit from the scourge of Sussex, the Crystal Palace football team. The south London side will travel down to Falmer using an A road and a motorway combo that often gives its name to this derby but which the supercomputer refuses to recognise. Brighton are rated at 38.5% to win, with Palace at 31.6%, which means the draw is a) 23 or b) 29.9%. Yes, it’s b).
Saturday starts with a fixture so massive that UEFA made it the Champions League final last season. That ended 1-0 to Chelsea, while the league encounter at Stamford Bridge ended 1-0 to Manchester City. For many fans at this game thoughts will turn to City legend Frank Lampard who scored six goals in 32 Premier League games for the club and also had an earlier spell with Chelsea. That’s ancient history for the predictor model, though, and it makes the reigning (Premier League) champions 58.1% to defeat the reigning (continental) champions, Thomas Tuchel’s side on a gruel-style percentage of 17.3% to win.
Wolves have only conceded 14 goals this season and still, theoretically, have a chance of beating Chelsea’s Premier League record of 15 conceded, set in 2004-05. That would mean Bruno Lage’s team not letting in a goal in the 19 games they have left which doesn’t sound likely but also, if you check Wolves’ recent results, sounds…likely?? Southampton are given a round 27.0% chance of winning this game which sounds fair enough until you realise that three times nine (9) is 27. Oh, supercomputer you cheeky unit.
Norwich vs. Everton is a fixture steeped in the betrayal of Mike Walker, manager of negative-goal-difference-but-top-three-in-1992-93 Norwich City, who then walked out on the Canaries the following season to take up a glamour role at Everton. It had been only six and a half years since Everton had been champions of England, so it made sense, but some people in the cathedral city have never forgiven Walker, or indeed anyone called Mike. In 2022 neither side is in great shape; Norwich haven’t scored for six games, Everton are 15th and in a rut. But in the Norfolk flatlands even a rut can seem like a mountain, and the predictor model this gives Everton a 52.0% chance of victory. Do it for Mike Walker.
Relegation six pointers don’t come meatier than Newcastle against Watford. The one-win Magpies who, like a medieval baron, have taken Wood from their rivals to bolster themselves and weaken the enemy, against Watford FC. Eddie Howe outsmarted the Hornets in 2014-15 to win the Championship by one point and who knows, he may do the same next season, but in the meantime he’ll have to contend with the fact that Newcastle have only won one of their last 10 Premier League games against Watford. It’s a tough sport and the supercomputer offers Claudio Ranieri’s side – who have scored only two fewer Premier League away goals than Manchester United this season – a solid 30.0% chance of victory. Tune in and wallow in the drama.
Talking of teams in trouble, Burnley are pushing their “yeah it looks bad but we’ll come good in the spring and you’ll look stupid” script to the absolute limit while Leicester have injuries and form issues of their own, and etc and so on. Look, the harsh truth is that Brendan Rodgers’ team are favourites (44.1%) but Burnley (27.7%) are up against it and that is how they like it. Expect fireworks! (not actual fireworks).
“You can’t win anything with kids,” I explained to the supercomputer, making, at best, a weak excuse for a dismal managerial performance in the over-60s north Oxfordshire darts league. By coincidence that was also the verdict of 1990s pundit Alan Hansen when Aston Villa defeated Manchester United at Villa Park in 1995. United though, bolstered by that very youth, went on to win the title that season, and Villa haven’t beaten them at home in the league since. But the supercomputer cares little for 90s soundbites and with Steven Gerrard’s supersquad on the rise it gives United only a 44.3% chance of extending that historic run in Birmingham.
West Ham defeated Leeds last weekend in the FA Cup and they are predicted to do so again this weekend in the Premier League. That’s just the way it goes.
Anyone wondering how Liverpool, shorn of AFCON talent, would do against a Premier League team got an answer on Thursday night as the Reds failed to break down 10-man Arsenal at Anfield in the League Cup semi. They take on another side form the capital on Sunday, Brentford, and the predictor model gives Jurgen Klopp’s side a hefty 69.7% chance of winning, based on logic. Using narrative as an alternative you have to give the plucky Bees a small-to-reasonable chance of remaining unbeaten against Liverpool this season.
The weekend concludes with the north London derby at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Two clubs who have to accept Chelsea being European champions while scrapping to get back into the competition themselves. Arsenal haven’t won away to Tottenham since March 2014, when Bukayo Saka was 13. Does the supercomputer think it’s time for that run to end? Sort of: it makes this game a 41-29-31 chance, which, if you think about it, is the perfect distillation of a local derby. Well done, I say to the supercomputer happily. You’re a real football fan now.
The end of a year is a time for reflection for some. But not in the supercomputer community! Not only do these proud machines have no emotional attachment to the system of months and years we cling to in the hope that recurrent rituals will add meaning to our existence, but they also understand that a season runs from August to May and we need to get the games in. Thick and fast. And lo, onto matchweek 22 we go.
Premier League football in 2022 starts with the sort of fixture that can take New Year resolutions, crush them into a tiny metallic cube and then bury that cube 16 miles beneath the ocean floor. It’s Arsenal against Manchester City, a fixture that has ended in an away win in the last four seasons, with City opening the scoring inside the opening two minutes in the last two. It’s hope against inevitability, it’s youth against truth, it’s City on 53.9% to win.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane is the Premier League’s top scoring player on New Year’s Day but Watford have the in-form forward in the division in the form of Emmanuel Dennis, who has been involved in 10 goals in his last eight Premier League games. He should have been about to go to AFCON to play for Nigeria but some sort of registration loophole means he is not. Doesn’t seem fair, and it isn’t fair. The supercomputer gives Spurs about a 50% chance of winning by the way. Fairer.
Leicester’s game with Norwich is off, meaning that Jamie Vardy – injured anyway – will likely reach February with fewer than 10 Premier League goals, as some experts predicted. Talking of predictions, the cutting edge model fancies an even contest between Crystal Palace and West Ham at Selhurst Park. Palace have only won two of their last 13 Premier League games against the Hammers and the supercomputer does (38.8%) favour them slightly but like a display eagle at a country fair, it could go either way.
Sunday January 2, an incredibly bleak phrase, has four games at 2pm. There’s Brentford against Aston Villa, a fixture where only fans of those two sides probably know how good the Bees have been against the Villans recently, unbeaten in their last seven. Actually one being that also knows this is 2022’s Supercomputer of the Year, the supercomputer, which makes Brentford narrow favourites at 36.9%. This one could be a minor classic!
Brighton have never won away at Everton but they’d never scored a goal at Chelsea until this week and that one’s been ticked off so just watch them go at Goodison. The home side will be rested and have history – too much history if anything – on their side but Albion are looking like they’re headed into one of their fabled “good spells” so the supercomputer might have to learn a lesson from this one.
Newcastle make the long trip to Southampton to play in “The Waning Playing Career of Kevin Keegan clasico” and once again, the model sees this as being a very close game. Hats off to the fixture computer (a distant cousin) for scheduling such an egalitarian start to the year. Five of the last nine games between these sides have been level and if it happens again it won’t be the most outlandish thing to happen in 2022.
Leeds against Burnley is, like it or not, a relegation six-pointer. Sean Dyche has defeated snow this season but has won only one Premier League game. Traditionally Leeds dominate Burnley, the Clarets being one of only two clubs in their league history that Leeds have a +50% win rate against. Another three points would go down extremely well in this part of Yorkshire, and send Burnley scurrying back across the moors with gloom in their hearts. The supercomputer agrees, giving Leeds a pleasant 45.6% chance of victory.
Super Sunday concludes with Chelsea against Liverpool, aka the two members of the three-horse title race to have pulled up lame halfway around the racecourse. Whoever wins will still believe they can gallop up behind Manchester City, and in recent years Liverpool have enjoyed their trips to Stamford Bridge, just as Chelsea have tucked in at Anfield. The win predictor model concurs that this is an away win buffet, but one where the stakes are much higher than the sausage rolls.
The first matchweek of 2022 comes to an end on Monday with Manchester United against Wolves. The visitors haven’t won a league game at Old Trafford since 1980, back when the best supercomputers could offer us was Pac-Man. Still, if you like to see famous figures from the 1980s gobble up chances then United’s new frontline of Ronaldo and Cavani could be the gaming experience you need. The (our) supercomputer makes United a 49.3% against a team who have the joint-second best defence in the Premier League right now, which feels about right. Put some coins in the machine, 2022 is up and running.
Even a respected supercomputer can barely cope with a zero day gap between Premier League matchdays, especially when there are sudden postponements to consider and the sheer narrative of a Premier League Christmas. It’s relentless, and no-one ever really stops to consider the welfare of an advanced win prediction model that is working night and day to forecast matches in Our League. You may have only just got over the pulsating medium-quality action at Newcastle on Monday night, but here are the next games already formed.
No three words cause more confusion in England than “Bank Holiday Tuesday” but if Christmas Day is on a Saturday then, I’m afraid, here we are. This theoretical day off has allowed sport-hungry administrators to schedule three Premier League games at 3pm, namely Watford vs West Ham, Southampton vs Tottenham and Crystal Palace against Norwich.
Starting at Vicarage Road, our beloved computing friend makes West Ham the favourites, which makes sense, given Watford have lost four of their last five Premier League home games. But hang on, West Ham have lost three of their last four away games. Can both teams lose a game? No. Can both teams be on the London underground network yet only one of them be based in London? Very much so.
Tottenham’s revival under Antonio Conte has been stylishly impressive, with the vocally dominant coach even coaxing a couple of goals out of Harry Kane. Spurs’ trip to Southampton is Conte’s seventh game in charge, yet only his second away from home. Tottenham haven’t played on the road in the Premier League since November 7, so you have to wonder how they’ll cope with a dressing room that doesn’t contain NFL posters. Then again, they generally smash Southampton, including last season’s fixture, when Harry Kane assisted Son Heung-Min four times. The win predictor loves stuff like this and gives Spurs a 50.1% chance of winning, a result that would give their chances of finishing in the top four another big boost.
Crystal Palace lost their way against Spurs on Boxing Day, and the absence of the suspended Wilfried Zaha is a corollary of that wretched performance. But Norwich at home is just the sort of thing doctors order. Even real doctors. Not only are the Canaries rock bottom of the Premier League, but they haven’t won any of their last 16 games at Selhurst Park, while they’ve scored just 10 goals in their last 27 Premier League away games. In a fight you’d heavily back an eagle to destroy a canary and it feels like a very similar situation here. The supercomputer agrees, giving Palace a 56.7% chance of swooping to victory.
Bank Holiday Tuesday is completed by a fixture that nearly always delivers; Leicester against Liverpool. Two seasons ago it was this game, at this time of year, that convinced even the biggest doubters that Liverpool were about to end their long, long wait for a league championship. Jurgen Klopp has two games worth of Mohamed Salah to use before he leaves for AFCON and you’d fancy a relatively rested Liverpool to try and make the most of Leicester’s defensive issues. But then Leicester could do similar to Liverpool, and that’s why we love the game.
There are two games on Wednesday, starting with Chelsea taking on Brighton at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have never lost to the English channel-adjacent club and almost certainly don’t plan to this week. That said, Thinking Graham Potter’s side have lost just once away from home in the Premier League this season and can be frustrating opponents, what with their ability to pass the ball accurately, and the supercomputer recognises this, making Chelsea favourites of course, but only at 54.5%, which, for the European champions at home, is something of a robotic snub.
Starting 45 minutes later than that game in west London is Brentford against Manchester City in further west London. The last time these sides played in the top-flight was back in 1937-38 when City became the first and only reigning champions to get relegated. You’d like to think such a thing was technically possible this season, except it’s not, because City already have 47 points and are SAFE. Yes, the Brentford supporters will clap and sing but the win predictor gives City a 68.8% chance of winning and you have to accept that will almost certainly happen.
The final two Premier League games of 2021 occur on Thursday, starting with Everton taking on Newcastle at Goodison Park. Eddie Howe may have marked this game on a special calendar as “the final match before the transfer window opens” while Rafa Benitez may be thinking “well, I’ll get a decent reception from the away fans anyway.” In truth, neither of these sleeping giants™ should be struggling but this is football and they are. Everton are supercomputer’s favourites but not massively so. A troubled draw perhaps? I’ve seen them happen and so have you.
We end the year with Manchester United taking on Burnley. It’s unlikely Sean Dyche will ever use the 4-2-2-2 formation but he’ll have rigidly taken notice of United’s struggles on Monday night at Newcastle. In 1994-95 United conceded only four goals at home all season; so far this campaign they’ve let in 22. Time moves on, fashions change, but Burnley will always be a “difficult prospect”. How difficult? Why not tune in and find out (by enjoying some classic late December Premier League action). “Happy New Year…” I say to the supercomputer “… oh by the way, will Excel ever be able to handle dates before January 1, 1900?” As usual, there’s no satisfactory response so the power is switched off. Millennium bugs and all that, you can’t be too careful.
Some say Boxing Day football is the most sacred tradition this country has left, but the pandemic has shown no respect for it, already carving off three of the 10 fixtures into a postponement-shaped bin. Until we see the remaining seven games kick off with our own eyes it’s tough to second guess exactly what’s going to happen, but that’s where our result-predicting multi-simulation supercomputer comes in. No virus is going to bring this machine down. Not that sort of virus anyway. Here’s how it thinks Sunday and Monday will go.
The scheduled early kick-offs have departed, so Boxing Day (by the way it’s called ‘Boxing Day’ because the expected goals industry have worked out that it’s the day of the year players feel most confident about having a shot from long range) gets underway with four games at three o’clock. Manchester City face Leicester City at the Etihad in a game between two of the four teams to have been champions of England since Manchester United last were. Last season, Brendan Rodgers’ team won this game 5-2 thanks to super striker Jamie Vardy. This time, Pep Guardiola is musing about strikes and player welfare, but the supercomputer expects he’ll still ask his employees to wear football kits and take on Leicester, and gives the league leaders a monstrous 71.6% chance of victory.
Talking of top-four clubs, Arsenal travel to Carrow Road hoping to continue their youthful charge at Champions League qualification. No-one knows why, but Norwich have never won a Premier League match on Boxing Day in seven attempts, while Mikel Arteta can now call on an array of youngsters so promising that you can actually hear opinions being revised about the club in real-time if you hold your ear to a glass and press that glass onto any football website. The win predictor puts Arsenal at a detox-healthy 61.6% chance of winning, the only concern being that the youngsters might be tired out and emotional after Christmas Day otherwise it might be even higher.
Tottenham love the concept of running around. When it arrived as an instruction from Harry Redknapp it was earthy and amusing; now it is coming from Antonio Conte is it is urbane and continental. Either way, when a man in a club suit is shouting at Spurs to run run run, they improve considerably. They take on Progressive Pat Vieira’s Crystal Palace on Sunday, I mean Boxing Day, a club who don’t tend to do very well on Boxing Day, although they are now managed by someone (Progressive Pat Vieira) who won all eight such games he took part in as a player. Spurs haven’t lost on Boxing Day since the iPhone came out and the supercomputer, though not an Apple machine, gives Conte’s side an almost 55% chance. Like Spurs, it loves running [simulations of Premier League matches that is!].
The three o’clock games wrap up with West Ham against Southampton at London Stadium. The Hammers have won more games against Saints than any other side in their Premier League history and with David Moyes’ side still brooding after their slightly unfortunate exit from the Carabao Cup in midweek, expect a festive, dramatic response from the Westfield Shopping Centre-adjacent club. The supercomputer agrees.
Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa take on Chelsea at 17:30 on Boxing Day, having already given stern tests to both Manchester City and Liverpool in the short period under their new manager. Had Frank Lampard still been Chelsea boss the level of narrative surrounding this game could possibly have shut the league down for months, but instead it’s Thomas Tuchel’s task to try and coax some points out of his vast but not virus-free squad. Chelsea lost at Arsenal on Boxing Day last year and against Southampton the year before. Could former transfer target Stevie G make a hat-trick of festive despair and virtually shunt the Blues out of the title race? Our calming supercomputer still makes Chelsea favourites at 44.9% but think what sort of percentage they’d have had if this game had taken place earlier in the season.
Boxing Day concludes with the most even match of the round, according to the all-knowing machine. Brighton take on Brentford in a “I Can’t Believe It’s Not League One” spreadable clasico. There’s historic beef between the owners of the clubs, and there’s been some ducks in front of goal from Brighton in particular this season. The supercomputer makes the home side ever-so-slight favourites but the draw could also be as inevitable as bread sauce.
The matchweek concludes not on Boxing Day but on ‘Boxing Day,’ which is apparently what December 27 is called if December 26 falls on a Sunday. But only someone who hasn’t been out of the house since the mid 1990s would care about such arcane UK bank holiday minutiae, and let’s face it, if they hadn’t even watched any football since the 1990s then they’d probably still assume Newcastle United versus Manchester United is the biggest game of the season. It’s still important, of course, and with Ralf Rangnick’s team having had what seems like four months on the training pitch since they last played, they should be brimming with new ideas and jaunty shapes. Newcastle just need a win, any sort of win, and the supercomputer, like a sort of robotic Three Wise Men combo, offers them a gift. AKA the gift of hope. It rates Eddie Howe’s team at 23.2% to win the game, which seems sort of generous to me but then hey, it is Christmas after all.
Even the supercomputer is getting confused now. Some of matchweek 17 was played, some of it was postponed, and it’s a similar story in the Premier League this weekend with half of the scheduled games already squashed into the great P-P machine that hypersonically circles the planet, cancelling fixtures. But it’s a time to be thankful for what we have, so let’s see what our win predictor makes of the five [AS IT STANDS!] Premier League games.
Aston Villa and Burnley, two sides who competed in the first ever Football League season back in 1888-89, kick off the weekend (PROBABLY!) at 3 o’clock on Saturday. Aston Villa are upwardly mobile under Steven Gerrard, while Burnley’s last five scheduled league games have seen them fail to score in three, see one postponed for heavy snow and one because of a global pandemic. Factoring all this in, even with Chris Wood’s excellent record against Villa, the supercomputer gives the home side a 44.8% chance of taking another three points.
Saturday is completed (HOPEFULLY!) with Arsenal’s trip to Leeds United. Between them these clubs won three of the final four league titles before the formation of the Premier League, but such ancient back pass-era history will mean little to a generation reared on short goal kicks and lateral flow tests. Leeds are hovering near to a state marked ‘Big Trouble’ after getting obliterated 7-0 at Manchester City in midweek, while Energetic Mikel Arteta coaxed arguably Arsenal’s finest performance of the season to see off top four rivals West Ham. The Gunners have won 10 of their last 13 league away games at Elland Road and know that they’ll remain in the top four whatever happens, because of all postponements.
They should try and win, though, and the supercomputer says “YES: 39.5%”, although it also says, “ALERT: MOST EVEN GAME OF THE FIVE MATCHES”.
Sunday commences [WITH ANY LUCK!] when Chelsea travel to Wolves on the back of a 1-1 draw with Everton that may have downgraded the three-horse title race to two-horses-and-a-well-regarded-pony. And Wolves away isn’t an easy task these days, with the midlands outfit having let in just 14 goals in 17 games, only two more than Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel will be asking his increasingly defensively suspect team to shut up shop, while Molineux has witnessed just 12 goals in total this season. It’s no surprise, then, to learn that the supercomputer makes this match the most likely draw of the five remaining games. 0-0 perhaps. Great.
Newcastle took an early lead at Anfield on Thursday night but were then swept away by a Liverpool team intent on staying one point behind Manchester City like it’s 2018-19 all over again. No pandemics in 2018-19, classic season. Eddie Howe’s next task [ALL BEING WELL!] is to prepare his side to face Pep Guardiola’s league leaders. They don’t have to worry about Sergio Aguero (15 goals in 14 games against them) these days but yeah, there are other threats. One more league win and City will have won more matches in a single calendar year than any other team in English top-flight history. It feels likely and the supercomputer agrees, giving City a royal 68.9% chance of victory.
The Premier League concludes [SURELY, PLEASE!] with Liverpool’s trip to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to play the eponymous football club. Since losing 4-1 to Spurs in one of Jurgen Klopp’s lowest points as their manager, Liverpool have won away to Tottenham every time they’ve played them, their longest winning away run against Spurs in league history. Meanwhile Mohamed Salah needs just a goal or an assist to set a new record of 16 consecutive Premier League appearances with at least one goal involvement. He was substituted late on against Newcastle in midweek with this surely in mind.
Spurs haven’t played a game of football since December 5 so may be incredibly fresh for this one and/or a bit rusty. The supercomputer gives Liverpool a 45.6% chance of winning, but, and this is rare for a machine incapable of sentiment, it also printed out a single piece of paper with [ENJOY THE FOOTBALL WHERE YOU CAN] on it. Emotional stuff.
I get a message on my phone from s_comp. DID YOU KNOW…, it starts, unnecessarily using capital letters, that 17 is not only a prime number but the sum of the first four prime numbers. I have little to no use for this trivial information but I smile as I know that our friend the machine is just preparing itself to predict matchweek 17 in the Premier League. They’re coming fast now, the games. We’re two away from Christmas, we’re two away from being halfway through the entire campaign. For some teams at least. Glad tidings, and here are the findings.
Until just before 12 o’clock last night, we were due to start this matchweek with Manchester United playing at Brentford for the first time since the very day David Letterman was born in April 1947. Now it’s more a case of “hope you feel better, man”, with numerous members of Rangnick’s squad testing positive for Covid-19 after the Norwich game on Saturday and the game being officially postponed. The predictor model gave United a 45.6% chance of victory but wisely refused to predict the chances of the match kicking off. Does it know too much?
Elsewhere on Tuesday we have the Dean Smith redemption clasico between Norwich City and Aston Villa. Smith has already beaten the last team he lost to as Aston Villa manager, Southampton, and now has the chance to beat the last team he managed called Aston Villa, Aston Villa. Steven Gerrard, meanwhile, had a very strong record against Norwich as a player, winning six of his seven encounters, but he absolutely can’t call on the services of then team-mate Luis Suarez, who even now has scored 1.9% of all the goals Norwich have ever conceded in the Premier League. Nevertheless, the supercomputer is deeply impressed by what Gerrard is building in the West Midlands and rates them at more than 50% to beat Smith’s Norfolk outfit.
Concluding Tuesday in Our League is an overseas tactician superclasico, with Pep Guardiola’s gleaming Manchester City squaring up to Marcelo Bielsa’s erratic Leeds United. Last season, Leeds went and won this fixture but they did so by scoring with their only two shots of the game. OK, that’s not sustainable but City failed to win either game against Leeds last season, meaning the last actual tactician to guide City to a win over the Whites was Kevin Keegan. Even so, City’s 72.5% chance of winning is the joint-biggest in the Premier League this midweek, so even dropping two points would be a sensation.
Thanks to the Brentford postponement the midweek Premier League fixtures are currently spread from Tuesday to Thursday in an achingly cool 2-4-3 formation, and Wednesday has three games scheduled for 19:30 like it’s some sort of Saturday. The South Downs sheep farmers will be dismayed to learn Wolves are in town, but they may be relieved to learn that the pro-chalkland livestock industry supercomputer makes this the most even game of the matchday, with a home win, a draw and an away win all in the 30-odd per cent bracket. Brighton have gone 10 games without a win, but rarely lose, while Wolves rarely score, but also lose less than you’d imagine. This one feels like a draw and it may very well be a draw. Tune in, to probably watch a draw.
Up at Turf Moor we have the Sean Dyche respect clasico, with his current Burnley team taking on the only other football club he has managed, Watford. The win predictor points to Burnley as slight favourites, and they very much need that win, having emerged victorious in just one of their 15 league games so far this season and having failed to score in their last three. That Watford defence, though, looks prime for the sort of scenario where Dyche can smile contentedly at full-time and talk about work rate and belief. Which are two nice things to talk about, to be fair.
Crystal Palace tyro Conor Gallagher has scored three times as many league goals as Harry Kane and Lionel Messi combined this season, which, I’ll be honest, not even the supercomputer forecasted. Two against Everton on Sunday means the Chelsea loanee is a wickedly dangerous prospect for Southampton in a fixture Saints generally do well in, having won 14 of their 24 Premier League games against Palace. Southampton have been underperforming their xG by some distance this season and it’s that lack of finishing prowess that means that the predictor model favours Palace at a cool 43.3%.
Wednesday concludes with a good old fashioned London derby with David Moyes’ high flying Hammers heading up to Islington to take on stern Mikel Arteta’s up-and-down Arsenal. Traditionally Arsenal have an easy time of it at home to West Ham, winning 10 of their last 11 but these are different times, so Moyes’ men will be going all out for three points to maintain their Champions League place, something Arsenal secured for 20 successive years under Arsene Wenger. The supercomputer is emotionally taken by Arsenal’s form at home this season with four wins in a row and clean sheets in the last three and makes them favourites but how often have we seen West Ham upset bigger teams already this season? Sorry Mr. Supercomputer, I have to factor in narrative, unlike you.
On to Thursday and we should start with Tottenham’s trip to the King Power Stadium to play Leicester. Cards on the table; if this isn’t the fixture to kickstart Harry Kane’s league season then he might as well just lay down like a hedgehog and wait until 2022-23. He has 17 goals in 16 games against Leicester in all competitions, including four goals in this fixture in 2018. Brendan Rodgers’ team bounced back from their Europa League exit with a demolition of Newcastle last weekend, and that glimpse of their old selves has put our favourite judgemental AI system in a right old pickle, with an incredibly close rating of Leicester at 35.9% and Tottenham at 35.8%. It could go either way! It could still be called off!
Chelsea and Everton face off in the “hey we both like Pat Nevin but our current form is causing some concern” derby. Everton boss Rafa Benitez used to face Chelsea 13 or 14 times a season in his Liverpool heyday, but this will be some task for his struggling Blues. Yes, Chelsea have conceded as many goals in their last three games in all competitions as they had in the previous 18, but they’ll get plenty of chances at the other end and so their chance of winning is rated at a pleasant 54.4%.
The matchweek ends with a fixture the supercomputer has genuine disdain for, Liverpool vs. Newcastle. Don’t get the machine wrong, it respects both clubs, but in machine learning culture the biggest horror story out there is that time when Liverpool beat Newcastle 4-3 in 1996 in one of the competition’s most memorable matches. That was fine, but when the hopelessly analogue entertainment-hungry TV men chose to broadcast the same fixture the following season, hoping for more of the same, the admittedly rudimentary supercomputers of the ’90s told them not to. “It can’t happen twice in a row,” they bleeped indignantly. Guess what, it did, and many machines never spiritually recovered. Here, in late 2021, our supercomputer gives Liverpool, like Man City against Leeds, a whopping 72.5% chance of victory but like most computers, it simply won’t watch the actual game. The memories are just too painful.
Oh the Premier League can do rounds of 16 just like any of your favourite “cup competitions” and here it is. Like Pickles the dog on the prowl for another major football trophy to “discover”, the weekend starts in west London on Friday evening and ends on grassland near Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon. Premier League teams are about to – pandemic permitting – start a furious schedule of games over the next few weeks and many ambitions will be shattered and/or rekindled over the festive period. Like a wise manager, our result-predicting supercomputer takes each game as it comes, so read on to get a technological heads-up.
Brentford have played Watford in the fourth, third and second tiers but never in the top flight. That historic wrong will be righted tonight when the Hornets head counter-clockwise around the outside of London to Hounslow. Watford have scored two goals more than Arsenal this season but have a defence that can be filed under: generous. Meanwhile Brentford have had some bad days but also quite a few good days, including a high-scoring 3-3 draw at home to Liverpool. It’s that propensity to notch that has convinced the win predictor that Thomas Frank’s team have a great chance of adding three more points, and it duly gives them a 43.7% chance of doing so.
Onto Saturday and new league leaders/reigning Premier League champions Manchester City do the one thing shepherds across the globe detest and invite Wolves into their home. Bruno Lage’s team are the only side yet to concede a set-piece goal in the Premier League this season, which sounds super, until you remember City are perhaps the best open-play team in the world. The supercomputer, chuckling, gives Pep Guardiola’s team a chunky 66.4% chance of victory.
Whatever happens beforehand at the Etihad, the big story on Saturday afternoon will be Steven Gerrard’s emotional return to Anfield, as manager of Aston Villa. AI models are more robust than humans; you wouldn’t ever see a computer slip over and allow Demba Ba a run on goal, but then you’d never pick a computer to dominate midfield in the heat of a Premier League battle. Even so, you don’t need to be made of microchips to foresee that Liverpool’s fine form gives them a very strong chance of giving Gerrard what he experienced at Anfield 33 times as a player: defeat.
Chelsea vs. Leeds is a memory-littered bellicose fixture that is redolent of the 1970s, although it is sure to feature both goalkeepers playing short passes to team-mates, which was of course a criminal offence back then. Chelsea slipped from the Premier League’s summit last weekend and their underlying numbers both going forwards and at the back paint them as very much the third-best team in the division right now. Even so, that may well be enough to defeat an injury-ravaged Leeds team but a win prediction of ‘only’ 52.6% hints at the recent downturn in effectiveness at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal will be glad to be back at the Emirates after some disastrous road trips in recent weeks, culminating in last Monday’s “The Bad Night at Everton” at Everton. They’ll be delighted to know that Southampton have never won a Premier League away game against them, the worst ever away run by a Premier League side against a specific team, but surely for Southampton it’s now or never?
Saturday concludes with Norwich City against Manchester United at Carrow Road. Briefly the most consequential fixture in the country in the early 1990s, this time we expect Ralf Rangnick’s recalibrated superstars to run amok in the semi-rural confines of Norfolk. No Manchester United manager has lost his first away league game in charge of the club since some guy called Alex Ferguson did so at some club called Oxford United back in 1986. Despite Norwich’s recent improvement under Dean Smith, the win predictor reckons this is the biggest chance of an away win in the Premier League this weekend, and who are we to argue?
Sunday sees three games, down from four, after Tottenham’s trip to Brighton was postponed on Thursday due to the Covid-19 outbreak at the north London club. The supercomputer rated this as one of the most even matches of the weekend; whether that’s the case when this fixture eventually gets played is beyond even machine learning.
Leicester return from a drenched and gloomy exit from the Europa League in Naples to face up Eddie Howe’s re-energised Newcastle United, who have spent the week texting all the other clubs about their win. Traditionally, Leicester have enjoyed their games with Newcastle, beating them eight times since returning to the top flight in 2014 but after a long, wet, tiring trip to southern Italy, perhaps this is the perfect time for the Foxes. The supercomputer makes Brendan Rodgers’ team favourites but solemnly acknowledges the club have now gone 16 games without a clean sheet.
West Ham were also in European action on Thursday night but were able to rest their first team ahead of a potentially difficult trip to the frozen tundra of Turf Moor. All three Premier League claret and blue sides are playing in the north west this weekend, but not all of them can win. The supercomputer doesn’t like claret and blue (it prefers magenta and cyan) and reckons that this game has the second-highest chance of ending as a draw. Maybe it will.
The 16th matchweek ends at Selhurst Park with the game the win predictor model reckons is the most even in the Premier League this weekend. Attentive Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace try to end their three-game losing streak against an Everton team who have just ended their winless run. “Maybe, in the end, that’s all football is,” I muse to the supercomputer. “Just a vast series of games that start runs and end runs and fill up the history books with scorelines.” The gleaming emotionless machine doesn’t respond. It has work to do. Matchweek 17 commences on Tuesday.
“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.