Matchweek 38

So here we are then, the final Premier League weekend of the season. The 38th matchweek and there’s still so much to play for in Our League. The title, the top four, the top six, the relegation places and Mike Dean’s farewell jamboree. All will be served up and revealed on Sunday afternoon in what could be one of the division’s most choice denouements. 10 years on from Aguero, what will 2022 deliver? There’s one machine that knows of course; our beloved supercomputer. Here are its judgements. 

We start with the battle for the title. The supercomputer rates Manchester City as an 80.5% chance of becoming 2021-22 Premier League champions and that’s largely because Pep Guardiola’s side are 74.9% shots to win at home against Aston Villa. Yes, Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa, managed by Steven Gerrard, who will certainly keen for his team to take something at the Etihad and thereby help Liverpool, his alma mater. And should City slip up (yes, slip up) then Liverpool will need to beat Wolves at Anfield to take advantage. The supercomputer flitting between the stadiums like a helicopter pilot delivering the Premier League trophy (there are actually two trophies, you know) makes Liverpool a 61.7% chance to make like a shepherd and outwit them Wolves. The last time a chaser usurped the league leaders to take the title in the final game was Arsenal doing it Anfield back in 1989. It’s surely time for it to happen again, although let’s be honest, it almost certainly won’t, because Villa have only an 8% chance of winning at the Etihad, although eight was the number that Gerrard wore for Liverpool wasn’t it. Makes you think.

Only one of Leeds United and Burnley will have to face Manchester City and Liverpool in league games next season but who will it be? A stormy Thursday night saw Everton secure top-flight status for another year and Burnley go back into 17th on goal difference, so it’s now down to a choice of two clubs to fit morosely into that final relegation slot along with demotion demigods Watford and Norwich. Burnley are at home to Newcastle United but the supercomputer still makes the Clarets slight favourites in what it is happily and loudly promoting as the most even game of the day. And Leeds need it to be even because they have to better Burnley’s result. Jesse Marsch takes his card-happy squad to west London to play Brentford, where the home fans may be witnessing Christian Eriksen play his final game in the red and white stripes. The win predictor has the Bees almost at 50% to win this game and Leeds at a terrifying 84.2% to go down. This is as visceral as it gets and while no-one wants to see fans in tears, we certainly will do so.  


Tottenham are in prime position to take fourth place this season. A draw at Norwich will see them do so even if Arsenal beat Everton, due to Spurs’ stylishly superior goal difference. Antonio Conte’s Champions League-chasing squad will expect to win but Tottenham have lost three of their five final day games against sides who have already been relegated. There’s also the mental scarring from the infamous lasagne situation in 2006, when the club were leapfrogged by Arsenal on the final day. Like lasagne as a valid carbohydrate choice, that was all a long time ago, although it should be pointed out that since lasagne-gate Kevin Lasagna has scored 0.05% of all goals in the top five leagues. The supercomputer, physically incapable of experience either lasagne or lasagne-related gastric concerns, makes Tottenham the most likely away winners on the final day, at 66.7%. Arsenal are at a solid 50.4% to beat the now-safe Everton but it will be the most Pyrrhic of victories if Spurs are celebrating in the vast flatlands of Norfolk at the same time. 

The battle for the minor European places is between West Ham United and Manchester United. Sixth gets you a spot in the Europa League, something the Hammers very much made the most of this season, while seventh is a ticket to the Europa Conference League, the final of which is about to be contested for the first time next Wednesday, when Roma take on Feyenoord. The Europa League has – probably – slightly more glamour than its new brother, but with Manchester United in one of their trademark rebuilding seasons next year, it’s doubtful either competition will excite them, so it’s good that West Ham, keen explorers of the continent in 2021-22, will have another go in 2022-23. If West Ham win at Brighton (38.7% announces the supercomputer) then Manchester United will need to win at Selhurst Park, something they usually tick off but which the supercomputer only rates at a mid-table style 41.9%. Will the Ralf Rangnick era end in style or dismay? 

Sometimes the most fun games on the final day are those with little riding on them, so keep an eye on Leicester against Southampton which has certainly produced some unusual scorelines in recent Premier League history. Leicester games average 3.93 on the final day, more than any other regular Premier League club, and experts will hope they serve up something like the 4-5 they played out with Spurs on the last day of 2017-18. 

Last but not least is Chelsea versus Watford which will feature, for the last time ever, a Mike Dean officiating masterclass. One of the icons of the Premier League, Dean has already shown 114 red cards in his top-flight career, can he add any more this weekend? The game is largely unimportant. Chelsea have a monstrous-but-pointless 69.8% chance of waving Watford into the Championship, and there’s a fear that the Hornets’ increasingly brittle defence could shatter in the Stamford Bridge sunlight. Could it be the sort of game that descends into petty disputes and late tackles? Quite possibly, so, for the last time, let’s just let Mike Dean deal with it shall we? 

An internal fan reduces from 100% of its operation power to a quieter 60%. Screens blink and light up as windows shut down. The supercomputer runs a few final checks as it slows down its own functionality. Shadows lengthen as late evening sunshine is cast on to the machine’s housing. Summer is at the door. The close season looms. The supercomputer sleeps. 

Matchweek 37

In what the machine community are calling a classy gesture, the world famous fixture computer has moved all Premier League matches this weekend away from Saturday to give the FA Cup final a free run. The supercomputer was both proud and profoundly moved by such a manoeuvre by its cousin and refused to run any predictive numbers until the Wembley showpiece had been completed. Well, now it has and Liverpool have extended their lead as England’s most successful club so we can crack on ahead of seven games on Sunday and a massive match at Newcastle on Monday night. 

On Thursday night Tottenham dismantled Arsenal thanks to their biggest margin of victory over their arch-rivals in the Premier League era. It has left the Champions League door ajar, and on Sunday Tottenham can overtake the Gunners, even if it’s a temporary flex. Antonio Conte’s team will face Burnley, who need some points from this game for their own, grimmer, reasons. In some ways games between these sides are the essence of 2021-22, from the postponed game at Turf Moor with Sean Dyche grinning in the snow, to the rearranged game that saw Spurs slip to a dismal loss to this game, glistening with possibility. The supercomputer makes it the most likely home win of the weekend and I simply do not disagree. 

There follows a raft of 2pm games and they start with a meeting of managers who dominated central midfield in the naughty noughties. Steven Gerrard will surely welcome Patrick Vieira to Villa Park, presumably with a friendly handshake rather than a two-footed full-blooded reducer, with both Aston Villa and Crystal Palace cruising towards the end of a season that will be marked as progressive, even if the results weren’t overly consistent. The win predictor model sees this as an even contest and as the players enjoy themselves playing football in the dappled midlands sunshine who are we to argue. 

There will be far more tension up at Elland Road where the two-footed reducers have been a dire contemporary reality rather than a whimsical memory. Leeds surely have to win this game if they are to avoid succumbing to second season syndrome and heading back to the EFL. Unfortunately, they face a Brighton side who have gone cock-a-hoop in the closing weeks of 2021-22, smashing four past Manchester United last weekend and with nine goals in their last three, as many as in the previous 14 games. Leeds edge it amongst the machines, but they’ll need to tone down the ctrl-alt-delete challenges if they are to do so. 

Watford have no relegation worries because, to be fair, they are already down, but they do have an excellent new home kit to look forward to next season. There’s always hope in football, always. Leicester could finish as high as eighth this season or as low as 16th. Forget the substantial prize money difference, that’s an entire vibe difference heading into the summer, so this game feels like won that the Foxes really need to win. Luckily the supercomputer has some good news for Brendan Rodgers at one of his former clubs. 


It’s hard to imagine Jurgen Klopp as Princess Leia but less difficult to imagine him sending a hologram message to David Moyes on Tatooine (Stratford) saying “help me, Moyesey, you’re our only hope”. Whether the former Everton manager wants Liverpool to win the league is another matter but with City having a three-point advantage and a goal difference that is seven better, Liverpool really really need West Ham to win this one. The Hammers have won 3-2 at home to both Liverpool and Chelsea this season and knocked City out of the Carabao Cup here too. They could do it, possibly, but you have to look at the supercomputer rating Pep Guardiola’s team at 62.6% and nod quietly.  

Norwich are incredibly on the beach right now so it’s frustrating they have to head to Wolverhampton this weekend, so from the sea. Wolves have never lost a top-flight home game to the Norfolk side and few humans or calculating machines expect that to change any time soon. 

Sunday concludes with a game that could push Everton to safety after one of their most harrowing flirtations with relegation. They’ve lost six of their last nine home games against promoted sides which feels sub-optimal but recent form, and the power of the united force of the Everton supporters, looks to have saved them…just. The win predictor sees this game possibly going either way, unlike Everton’s divisional status. Probably. 

The Premier League weekend concludes on Monday night with an intense assignment for Arsenal up at St James’ Park, the ground where they once threw away a four-goal lead. Newcastle are gearing up for 2022-23 and the atmosphere for their final home game is likely to be boisterous. But Arsenal have won 17 of their last 18 Premier League games against Newcastle and the effortless calm supercomputer backs them to escape the Geordie bear pit with the result they need.  

Matchweek 36

We’re into the home stretch of the season now. Three matchweeks left in the Premier League, plus a variety pack of rearranged bangers. The supercomputer doesn’t have summer plans, it’s a machine. What, you thought it was going to be parked up by a swimming pool, at risk of some serious splashing? Some advice: keep your devices inside and in a dry, cool environment. Then they might be able to predict how football games will turn out. A bit like ours does. Here:

There’s no early game in the Premier League on Saturday so we dive into the 3pm games for our first burst of narrative. That might come at Selhurst Park, where the club Roy Hodgson managed before he retired take on the club Roy Hodgson currently manages, before he retires. That’s Palace against Watford, obviously, and the supercomputer makes Palace a solid 47.7% chance of ending Watford’s latest stay in the top-flight. The Hertfordshire side have won only one of their last 29 games against London sides, some say as punishment for having a tube station in their town, and confusing tourists keen to explore the nation’s capital, not nearby towns.

PL Preds 36

Staying in the capital city we also have Chelsea against Wolves and Brentford versus Southampton. Thomas Tuchel’s side are playing a form of UEFA tortoise and hare game, having been well clear in third place but now with Arsenal and Tottenham inching themselves closer and closer. The supercomputer understands that Chelsea’s lustre has dimmed slightly, and puts them under 50% to win this game, but only Norwich have scored in fewer games than Wolves this season so you’d still imagine the home fans will be singing “here we go” on Saturday rather than “hare, oh no”. Brentford’s game with Southampton meanwhile, is, maybe, possibly, slightly… a relegation six pointer? Both clubs are on 40 points which has been enough to stay up for nearly 20 years but with the three clubs beneath them all picking up points recently, a defeat here will set relegation alarm bells ringing really loudly (essentially the point of an alarm system).

Also part of the relegation battle is Burnley’s game with Aston Villa, the first time the clubs have met this season. Turf Moor is increasingly a Tough Place To Go under Mike Jackson’s new regime of hope, but for Villa it is nearly always difficult, with the 1982 European champions having won their just once in their last 26 visits. A win takes Burnley to within three points of Steven Gerrard’s team and the supercomputer bestows its “most even game of the weekend” sticker to this one. Expect tension.

Saturday should have completed itself with Manchester United’s trip to Brighton. “Complete” is a particularly difficult concept in this fixture because United scored a goal in this game last season after the game had been completed in the standard way; that is when the referee had blown the final whistle. But relentless minutiae experts VAR decided that Manchester United should be awarded a penalty, which was rolled home by Bruno Fernandes. The chances of the same thing happening again are minuscule but another 3-2 win for a slightly-happier United is more than possible. And the supercomputer agrees.

Warning: please don’t turn off your television once the game in Brighton has come to an end because this weekend the Premier League has a game at 19:45 like it’s some sort of Tuesday. This used to be the Saturday timeslot where the nation enjoyed Matthew Kelly’s You Bet!, a show where people attempted to complete difficult challenges to impress watching celebrities such as Geoff Capes or the athlete Roger Black. Liverpool’s attempt in 2021-22 to become the first English side to complete the quadruple would certainly be a valid challenge for the show and this game could be the toughest league assignment the club have left this season. But I’m sure that Capes and/or Black would back Liverpool if they had access to the supercomputer because that 57.9% chance of a Reds win it’s proposing is a convincing figure. Can they do it? Vote now.

There’ll be some gloom on display on Hangover Sunday as both West Ham and Leicester return to domestic competition after exiting Europe at the semi-final stage on Thursday evening. The Hammers go to already-relegated Norwich, a team who have never won any games played in that haunted time period after demotion has been confirmed. At 57.3% the supercomputer makes West Ham the best chance of an away win this weekend but, deep down, I am unsure.

Leicester, meanwhile, are Everton’s latest challengers in the Merseyside club’s attempt to win more than six away points in the Premier League this season. Leicester are winless in their last four Premier League games but that’s largely because they’ve been resting players ahead of Europe and now they’re out of Europe. Time to make the fans happy again? As a former Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers might well be happy to plunge Everton back into gloom after their heroic win against Chelsea last weekend.

If Everton and Burnley don’t go down then Leeds may well do so, and their oh-yeah-that-is-hard run-in continues at Arsenal on Sunday. The Gunners have been handing out new contracts this week and the vibe at the club is set to: decent. The coaching staff have been diligent on corners and Leeds are not strong at defending them so the supercomputer’s 59.2% rating of Arsenal seems more than fair.

Will Pep Guardiola closely watch how Liverpool get on against Spurs on Saturday? You Bet! His team have the chance to react in Sunday’s late game, a timeslot that has given them maximum brooding time after their stunning and barely credible Champions League exit in Madrid on Wednesday. A home game with Newcastle is normally just what the doctor ordered for City, with Newcastle losing 23 of their last 28 games against them including each of the last 12 at the Etihad Stadium. But this is new-Newcastle and they, theoretically, could get their first away win against City since Alan Shearer was scoring goals at Maine Road. If they do, they’ll confound our win predictor which gives them a meagre 7.1% chance of doing so but City were 5-3 up in a Champions League semi-final with only seconds left and still got knocked out. Eddie Howe winning against them (current record W0 D0 L11) seems almost likely in that context.

Matchweek 35

Like the Premier League the supercomputer never sleeps. Well, not unless it is in sleep mode, but that can’t happen because we’ve taped over the button so don’t worry, it won’t go into sleep mode. The Premier League cannot sleep because we are hurtling towards Decision Month (May) when all will be revealed. Champions, top four, relegation, who’ll come 14th. But if you’re impatient about finding out then the supercomputer is the machine for you. Here are its latest findings. 

The weekend starts with a pivotal game in the title race with contract-signing Jurgen Klopp taking his here-til-2026 Liverpool up to St James’ Park to face rejuvenated Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United. Newcastle – no-one is sure how – are in the top half of the table, despite having spent 150 moody days in the relegation zone this season. Will Liverpool be fatigued from their attack vs. defence workout in midweek? Will Newcastle continue the sensational form that has taken them from drop zone certainties to divisional loose cannons? The supercomputer makes Liverpool 64.8% strong favourites but it’s the early game isn’t it, it’s the relentless search for three points isn’t it. Anything could happen. 

The 3pm games kick-off with Aston Villa vs. Norwich City, the Faint Sense of Regret Clasico. Are Villa any better off since sacking Dean Smith? Are Norwich any better off since appointing Dean Smith? The Norfolk outfit can be relegated this weekend, but a win [supercomputer: 15.6%] for them could pull Villa into the periphery of the relegation battle. Would that make Dean Smith happy? Sad? Somewhere in between where most people reside? Not sure. 

Also at 3pm is this week’s MOST EVEN GAME, and once again it involves could-go-either-way icons Southampton FC. Saints are rated at 35.3% to beat Crystal Palace but the sometimes go ahead Eagles are rated at a chillingly close 35.4%. Will that 0.1% make a difference? Or will the game end in a draw that features dead last on Match of the Day

Burnley’s recent improvement has not made them win predictor favourites for the season-defining away game at Watford on Saturday. Historically they’ve done ok against the surely-doomed Hertfordshire side, winning five of their nine Premier League games against them. They also have the form and the Target Man Angel of the North, aka Wout Weghorst. But Watford’s run of 10 successive home defeats has to end at some point and the supercomputer says it will this weekend.  

Wolverhampton Wanderers against Brighton and Hove Albion is the longest fixture in Premier League history at 43 characters, although we only need 18-22 characters to make this a classic. Two teams with little to play for other than remote Europa Conference League ambitions could be a recipe for an unheralded barnstormer.  

Saturday concludes with Manchester City reacting to what happened in Liverpool’s game in their own match away at Leeds United. The reverse fixture ended 7-0 in City’s favour earlier in the season and Pep Guardiola will hope that in this one Leeds will be focused on achieving Premier League immortality by becoming the first side to collect 95 yellow cards in a single season. They need two to reach this target and beat Sunderland’s record from 2014-15 and we all hope they can do it. The supercomputer makes City 74.5% monster favourites and at this stage you simply have to nod.  

PL Preds 35

The race for fourth place dominates Sunday in the Premier League. Up at Goodison Park Chelsea are 50% favourites to ease closer to a return to the competition they won last season and further shunt former idol Frank Lampard into the relegation doomscape. Tottenham and Arsenal, meanwhile, face up against Leicester and West Ham United respectively. Fans of European competitions played on Thursday nights will have noticed that the latter two teams have 1.98 of their eyes on second legs next week and may well be resting players and/or avoiding injury. The supercomputer makes Tottenham 48.7% favourites to defeat Leicester and Arsenal a narrow 37.3% edge case to win at London Stadium. Those predictor numbers say a lot about the inconsistency those clubs are displaying currently but that’s what’s making this race so exciting. Tune in to see who drops out. 

The weekend concludes on Monday night with Manchester United, rated at 50.2%, against Brentford. United are leading the Premier League currently. In games played. And this is their final home game of the season, so they might put up a show for the fans, who have experienced only nine home victories in 18 games so far this season. Each of the last 20 sides making their first Premier League trip to Old Trafford have lost, but none of them had Christian Eriksen in their team, so let’s see what happens. 

We’ll end with the latest season predictions. Chelsea to finish third is the most nailed on outcome as it stands, and it feels hard to disagree. Matchweek 35, please unveil your narrative.  

PL Preds overall Apr 29

Matchweek 34

[Music plays] “It’s Friday. It’s the supercomputer. Here are the headlines” 

  • Manchester City with a semi-unprecedented 83.4% chance of beating Watford 
  • Statistically, there’s a one in 10 chance you’re dreaming right now, just like Everton have a one in 10 chance of beating Liverpool 
  • The fabled Even Game Of The Matchweek award will be travelling by boat to Brighton 

Yes it’s matchweek 34; the business end of the season; the run-in; squeaky bum time. The festivities start on Saturday lunchtime with Arsenal playing Manchester United. Once the apotheosis of English club football, it’s now merely a tense game between two clubs who would really like to play Champions League football in 2022-23 but aren’t that sure they will. Manchester United have lost their last three Premier League away games, record another at Arsenal and it would be the first time they’ve taken zero points from four away games since Donkey Kong was released in 1981. The supercomputer favours Arsenal slightly, at 40.4% but they’ve lost their last two at the Emirates so who knows. Then again, they won 4-2 at Chelsea on Wednesday. Don’t either of these clubs know anything about consistency? They used to, they used to. 

Leicester and Aston Villa face-off at 3pm on Saturday in the fixture that closed out Premier League football before the first lockdown began in March 2020. Say that phrase to Brian Little as he walked out on Leicester for Villa back in the early 1990s and he wouldn’t have a clue what you meant but he would understand that the Foxes will be up for this one, even if they are likely to rest players ahead of the UEFA Conference League semi-final on Thursday. 1994 Brian Little wouldn’t have known what that competition was either. It’s a bit like the Cup Winners’ Cup Brian. Villa have got a 25.7% chance and that could be worth glancing at, you know. 

Elsewhere at 3pm Saturday we have Manchester City against Watford, a fixture so generally mismatched that it almost broke the win predictor model. City are a monstrous 83.5% to win, Watford on a so-tiny-you-might-miss-it 4.4%. Pep Guardiola has won all 10 of his encounters with the Hertfordshire side by an aggregate of 42-4 and it’s literally unthinkable that they can do anything but win at a canter. Isn’t it? Somewhere in a tactical laboratory 36 miles underneath Hemel Hempstead Roy Hodgson laughs in a sinister manner.  

Norwich have an above average rating of 25.3% for their home game with Newcastle. It’s the 54th time in their history that they’ll start a Premier League game bottom of the table so that won’t phase them, but Newcastle might do. Eddie Howe’s upwardly mobile XI can go into the top half of the table – however briefly – with a win here and at 45.7% you might just fancy them to do so as much as the supercomputer does. 

Tottenham close out Saturday with a trip around the A406 North Circular to the Brentford Community Stadium. Spurs’ attempts to finish fourth have become slightly circular after they followed up 25 goals in seven Premier League games with not a single shot on target against Brighton last week. They’ll also know the result of the Arsenal v.s Manchester United game by the time they kick off, which might help, or might not. They’ll also have to witness Christian Eriksen playing a Premier League game for someone else. All this emotional turmoil and the win predictor model still has them (45.2%) as the second most likely away winners this weekend after Newcastle at Norwich. Let’s see which Tottenham turn up first.  

Sunday sees three games at 2pm. There’s the Classique de la Manche as Southampton go to Brighton. Saints put up a pretty dismal showing at Burnley on Thursday night, while Brighton have won two of their last three games. A win for Graham Potter’s side would see them reach double figures for victories in a Premier League season but the supercomputer, as mentioned above, has deemed this the most even match of the weekend and so it may very well be. 

Burnley can climb out of the relegation zone with a draw at home to Wolves, and the supercomputer makes this the only game of the matchweek to have a draw % of more than 30%. Obviously a win for the home side would pile even more pressure on Everton but calm, mid-table Wolves have the edge here. That said, never interrupt a desperate dog when it has found a bone so maybe urgency will be Burnley’s chief ally in this one. 

Motivation will be the buzzword in the Chelsea vs. West Ham game. The home side were distracted and defensively loose against Arsenal in midweek, while the Hammers will be desperate only to avoid more injuries ahead of one of the Europa League semi-finals. West Ham at 20.9% feels about right for this one because they’ll need to take it steady ahead of giving 110% against Eintracht Frankfurt next Thursday. 

Everton took three points at Anfield last season for the first time since the 1990s but have collected only six points on the road in the whole of 2021-22. 45% of all their points came in the first six games and they now face an improving Burnley below them while Liverpool are simultaneously going for the first proper quadruple English football has ever seen. If a season could be conjured from an existential nightmare then it might well be this one. The supercomputer says 10% for an Everton win, so about twice as likely as Watford winning away at Manchester City. In an Everton season where everything feels wrong, that feels about right. 

Finally, Crystal Palace feature on Monday night once again – the fifth time this season – as the battle of MLS bosses takes place in south east London. Jesse Marsch won five of his games against New York City manager Patrick Vieira when the current Leeds coach was in charge of the New York Red Bulls, the last two ending 4-0, but Palace are a different proposition, even a wounded version after their FA Cup exit last Sunday. Under those luminescent Norwood lights the Eagles will soar again. No less an authority than the supercomputer agrees, giving Palace a 43.6% chance of closing this matchweek with three points.  

Matchweek 33

Truncated but not unpredicted. That’s this weekend in the Premier League, with a mere six games in store, because four of the competition’s clubs will instead be playing at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals. And while the supercomputer respects any trophy that counts Clapham Rovers and Blackburn Olympic amongst its former winners, it prefers the symmetrical 380-sided dice that is a Premier League campaign. So while the league title and the relegation battle won’t be wildly affected by the events of this weekend, there are still subplots aplenty to both examine, and with the aid of the gleaming machine in front of us, predict.

The weekend begins with low-scoring-but-never-boring Brighton returning to north London – where they romped against Arsenal last weekend – this time aiming to scupper Tottenham’s top-four bid. But it looks a much harder task for Graham Potter and his team, with Spurs having scored at least two goals in their last seven Premier League games, their best such run for more than a decade. The win predictor model gives Antonio Conte’s team a 54.8% chance of victory, a scoreline that would heap more pressure on Arsenal.

And what of Arsenal? They are down on the south coast, not frequenting a range of naval museums but instead facing Southampton, who, to be fair, have been shipping a lot of goals recently. Saints were sunk 6-0 by Chelsea last weekend and while a similar scoreline might help Mikel Arteta’s side close the goal difference gap to Spurs, a simple three points would surely be more than acceptable. The supercomputer? It makes Arsenal the biggest chance of an away win this weekend at 46.7%.

Watford’s last home win in the Premier League was against Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Manchester United which seems like a long time ago to everyone but probably not as long as it does for Watford. Nine defeats in succession at Vicarage Road is the sort of metronomic consistency valued by computers so it’s with a sense of surprise that we reveal that Watford’s game with Brentford is the most evenly matched of the truncated Premier League weekend. Both sides have a 30%+ chance of victory but the Bees are playing with a sense of freedom and relaxation that could still prove all the difference. Should Watford lose, they’ll match the top-fight record of 10 successive defeats on their own patch in the same season, the sort of torrid form that’s beyond even a computer’s vast comprehension.

Saturday is completed in the Premier League with Manchester United vs. Norwich. The home side are rated at 71.1%, which makes sense but the 2021-22 season seems to be drifting towards being yet another chapter of “League Title Number 21: The Prologue,” so who knows. Norwich are on a meagre 9.4% but they’ve won from lower positions. It’ll be Norwich’s last trip to Old Trafford for two seasons so they might as well make the most of it.

PL preds 33

On Sunday there will be happy vibes and fatigued legs from Leicester and West Ham after both made it through to European semi-finals on Thursday evening, Leicester for the first time in their history, West Ham for the first time since 1976. The supercomputer fancies them both to celebrate with wins, against Newcastle and Burnley respectively but in truth, of the four teams, Burnley are the only ones who really need three points, and yet they’re the most unlikely to do so. And this morning the huge news broke that the Clarets had sacked Sean Dyche, the Premier League’s longest serving manager. It’s a roll of the dice that not even the supercomputer saw coming. How it plays out we shall wait and see.

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