What the supercomputer thought earlier in the season. Was it right?
Premier League Predictions: MD11 Quick Hits
Home Wins: Tottenham to keep up pressure on the top two
Away Wins: Arsenal to go nine for 10 at Elland Road
Machine long shot: Wolves to rediscover their scoring touch
“After 90 minutes of sheer hell, you’re gonna get thirsty.” So said John Barnes on a Lucozade advert in the 1990s, but what about 810 minutes of sheer hell, which is what most Premier League teams have endured so far in this most dense of seasons (some clubs have played only 720, which can be slaked with Lucozade, other drinks are available)? The pace of 2022-23 just never lets up, and we’ll feel this next week as a cheeky midweek MD12 squeezes itself into the schedule like a can-friendly vending machine. And, talking of machines, one friend of ours who never gets fatigued is the Opta supercomputer, calculating the outcome of football games without need of rest or a drop of Lucozade. Let’s check in and see what it’s saying.
Are there three more exciting words in the English language than Friday Night Football? Not to fans of Brentford and Brighton who this week play out one of the more subtle grudges in contemporary English football; Benham vs. Bloom. Two sharp-thinking owners who have transformed smaller clubs into established Premier League outfits. Scientists calculate that Brentford may be the most Friday night team in history, and they enjoy that honour, unbeaten in their last nine outings on what many class as the best weekday. The supercomputer has weighed that up in its calculations and makes the Bees very narrow favourites but Brighton are also +30% to pick up their first win since Graham Potter departed for pastures new, while this game also has the highest chance of being a draw in MD11 too. It’s up for grabs, and that’s the Friday way.
Saturday commences with another episode of The Mystery of the Wilting Foxes. That’s right, Leicester City have dropped 35 points from winning positions since August 2021 (14 of them this season) which proves that a) there’s a good team somewhere in there but b) there’s a leaky defence in there also. This week’s opponents are Crystal Palace, who enjoyed a supercomputer approved win against Leeds last weekend and, like Leicester, expect to be much higher in the table. Pessimists might like to view the battle between James Maddison and Eberechi Eze as a clash of men who may well be cruelly denied a place in the England squad for the 2022 World Cup, but why not just enjoy them as happy club men, doing skills?
Are Bournemouth the most overperforming team in recent Premier League memory? They’ve generated roughly as much xG as Ivan Toney this season yet sit on 12 points, possibly a third of the way to survival. This weekend they face Fulham, with whom they battled for the Championship title last season. The Whites are outperforming their underlying numbers too, which suggests that both these sides are making the best of any momentum they brought with them from the second tier, but that they might look back on the autumn as the high point of 2022-23 once reality bites in the midwinter. Either way, the win predictor model can barely split them although the expected continued absence of Aleksander Mitrovic through injury could tip the balance.
Is mid-October too early for a relegation six pointer? It feels not, given that Wolves play Nottingham Forest on Saturday with both teams very much under the weather. Wanderers remain on three (three) goals for the season, while Forest continue to try and mould their clone army of new players into some sort of team. The supercomputer has been moody on Forest all season so is consequentially hot on Wolves finally clicking into some of acceptable form in this one. Red Riding Hood ultras know only too well what can transpire when wolves combine with a forest and it’s fair to say that whoever loses this one will be as concerned about relegation as Red Riding Hood was about her grandmother’s woefully lax anti-wolf security arrangements.
The late game on Saturday sees MD11’s biggest chance of a home win according to our eminent supercomputer. Tottenham Hotspur fans sometimes like to imagine their team operates in a vortex of misfortune, but Spurs have lost only one of their last 19 Premier League games against Everton, so this fixture is just one for them to tick off and get done as they cement their outsider role as “possibly the best team in the division other than Manchester City and Arsenal and maybe Chelsea let’s see what Potter can do”. On Wednesday in the Champions League Harry Kane Son Heung-min combined in an assist/goal hug for the 50th time but it’s to Richarlison we look for narrative in this one. Will the former Everton idol score, showboat to infuriate traditionalists, get involved in a situation or a heady combination of all three? Tune in at 17:30 and find out.
Four games at 2pm on Sunday? Four? That’s insane. It’s true though, and league leaders Arsenal will attempt to flex their title contender muscles at Elland Road. The atmosphere will be heavy and keen but is the old Yorkshire stadium really such a tough place to go for the Gunners? Their last three wins there, including last season, have been by four goals to one and should they win again (by any scoreline, let’s be honest) it will be impossible for anyone – human or machine or a combination of both – to ignore the fact that each of the last four sides to win as many as nine of their opening 10 games in a Premier League season have gone on to win the title (that’s right: Chelsea in 2005-06, Man City in 2011-12 & 2017-18 and Liverpool in 2019-20). The win predictor makes Mikel Arteta’s side an almost 50% chance to win this game and a 14.5% chance of being crowned Premier League champions. Each week that percentage creeps up a little more, in conjunction with a little emotion called hope.
Aston Villa have been involved in four of the six Premier League games with the lowest expected goals totals this season, so it’s not exactly been a fun ride for fans of the Villans who were promised something a bit more expansive than the current output. And Tactical Graham Potter rolling in with his glamour Chelsea side might just make things worse. Potter, a West Midlands man, learnt the managerial game the long way but has won four games in a row in his new job and has brought a flexibility and adaptiveness to Chelsea that promises to shove them back into contention in all manner of competitions. The supercomputer only fancies Arsenal more than Potters’ free-thinking Blues for an away win this weekend.
Manchester United have an incredibly robust home record against Newcastle, losing only one of their last 37 league games against them at world heritage site Old Trafford. They have also won five of their last six Premier League games (you remember the other one), but Newcastle are adding new strings to their bow every week and don’t have European games to distract them from scoring goals and taking photos. Eddie Howe’s upbeat squad have scored nine goals in their last two outings, more than they had in their opening seven games. It’s the Bruno versus Bruno clash we’ve all dreamed of. It’s not live on television. It’s probably worth watching the highlights.
Southampton against West Ham United sees the youngest average XI (Southampton 24y 164d) take on the oldest (West Ham 28y 125d). Will the wily old veterans compensate for their aching limbs with subtle primordial knowhow? Will the effervescent youngsters use their lithe speed to bamboozle the baffled ancients? Or is this a game between two sides in one of the most advanced sports science-influenced competitions in world sport so it shouldn’t make much difference? Yeah, probably that one.
So that leaves us with only one game, and it’s a big one alright. Expect montages. It’s Liverpool against Manchester City at Anfield in the sort of State Of The Premier League Nation encounter that it is only marginally lessened by Liverpool’s stop/start league season. Liverpool have never gone six league games without a win against City in the long history between them (and it is long; don’t believe everything you read on the internet) but that’s what the Reds are facing up to if they don’t record a morale-rebooting win on Super Sunday.
Meanwhile, Manchester City will – presumably – introduce Erling Haaland into proceedings like the second Death Star, the fully operational centre-forward already on 15 league goals and on course to shatter Mohamed Salah’s 32-goal Premier League record for a 38-game season. These two sides have between them (ok, mainly City) won every English league title since 2017 and it’s a game so steeped in consequence that it makes you want to just stand up and have a big think. At times like this an advanced supercomputer is just what you need, to take away some of the mental strain but, incredibly, our machine cannot separate the teams, with both Liverpool and Manchester City on 35.9% to win the game. Parity but no clarity, so perhaps the tie (both games last season ended as pride-intact 2-2 draws) is the way to go. Weekends don’t conclude any bigger than this, so make sure you are strapped in and ready to ingest pure Our League for 98 minutes and 14 seconds.
Premier League Predictions: MD10 Quick Hits
Home Wins: West Ham to continue their revival and beat Fulham
Away Wins: Aston Villa to win at Forest and spoil the contract-for-Cooper news?
Machine long shot: Brighton to boost top-four hopes with a win vs. Spurs
It’s that time of the week when we approach the Opta supercomputer carefully (please, don’t startle it mid-calculation) and receive its wise judgements about what will actually take place in the Premier League at the weekend. Last week saw another superb performance from what many are calling “the nation’s favourite win predictor model”, including an ahead-of-the-curve backing of Leicester City before their 4-0 mega romp against struggling rivals Nottingham Forest. Want to know what’s in store for us in MD10? All you need to do is read on to find out.
There’s no Saturday lunchtime game this weekend so why not make the most of the free time by kicking some leaves about or watching an episode of Premier League Years? When actual contemporary sport kicks in at 3pm we are treated to a classic four-way spread, including algorithm icons Leicester City travelling down to sunny Dorset to play Bournemouth. No-one wants the Location Formerly Known As Dean Court to be a bogey ground but that’s what it is for the Foxes: Leicester have never won there in the Premier League but a) have James Maddison in arguably the best form of his career (12G 7A in 24 games in 2022) and b) the backing of the supercomputer at almost 50%. Things change, times move on, Leicester can win in Bournemouth.
Up in London Graham Potter will try and continue his good start when his Chelsea side take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge. Surely at some point in the 13th century an actual potter was ravaged by wolves but here in 2022 this version of the lupine timeline these Wolves are managerless and toothless, with three goals all season. Chelsea are a wolf’s hair above 50% to win this game and possibly climb into the top four.
Also at home at 3pm on Saturday are Manchester City and that means 19-goal Erling Haaland will be released on to the pitch to score one or perhaps two of his traditional hat-tricks. The reigning champions face Southampton, a team who have lost 9-0 in Manchester recently and who will fear just what City’s high-performance Norwegian may do to them. The supercomputer is a kind machine in general but it’s not stupid, and the 3.9% chance it gives to the Saints is both stark and necessary.
The machine gives a much more even sheen to the game at St James’ Park between Newcastle United and Brentford. Eddie Howe’s side are the draw specialists this season with five, while the Bees are only one behind them on four. Feed this sort of information into a specialist model and it throws out a draw percentage of 28.9%, the highest in any of the MD10 games. It really doesn’t sound outlandish.
The late game on Saturday is a fascinating clash between two Italian managers in the closest Premier League ground to Italy. Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi enjoyed a delightful start to Premier League life at Anfield last weekend and now gets to test himself against another of Brighton’s rivals for a top four finish, Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs are allowing their opponents 15.9 shots per game in the Premier League this season, the highest figure ever recorded against them, and that passive stance backfired against Arsenal last weekend as Antonio Conte’s team fell to their first defeat of the campaign. The supercomputer backs Spurs but at less than 50%, with Albion’s seven game unbeaten run having a reasonable chance of being extended to a great eight.
Sunday kicks off with two games in London. Leeds travel down to Selhurst Park with Shoutin’ Jesse Marsch back on the touchline. Palace have nosedived down the table but officially had the hardest start of any Premier League team this season and are now facing a run of supposedly easier fixtures. This is one of them, and the win predictor makes them narrow favourites to put the smiles back on the Selhurst Ultras’ recently-morose faces.
Meanwhile West Ham United play on Sunday yet again because of those infernal European commitments and their match against Fulham is being touted by specialists as El Geriatrico, because it features the two sides with the oldest average age in the Premier League this season. Will the wise old heads play out an industry classic or will they fade rapidly in the pale autumn sunshine? Well, David Moyes, no spring chicken himself, has a superb record against Fulham, winning 13 of 14 against them at home. The supercomputer, age unknown, knows all this and more and makes West Ham the second biggest chance of a home win this weekend at 55.2%.
The biggest clash of MD10 takes place at the Emirates in the blessed Super Sunday slot as three-time Premier League winners Arsenal take on 2019-20 champions Liverpool. Are either of these sides title contenders this season? Sunday should give us some answers and plenty of that sweet sweet penalty box action. Liverpool have scored in their last 13 Premier League games against the Gunners and have lost only one of their last 14 against them but strange lights in the skies above north London are indicating a paradigm shift. The supercomputer leans towards Liverpool in this one but sometimes logic can be defeated by its arch-enemy narrative. This game is one to watch but you knew that already.
That would normally wrap up Sunday but, in a sensational treat for Premier League enthusiasts, this weekend we have a Sunday night game, as if this is Serie A, the NFL or a weak drama on ITV. It’s a good game too, with Everton’s super-tight defence facing up to a Manchester United side who were meek and humbled last weekend against Manchester City, albeit they did score three times. If your mum won’t let you stay up late because there’s school tomorrow then tell her that just the first half will do, because United have let in a massive 71% of the goals they’ve conceded this season in the opening 45 minutes. The supercomputer still backs Erik ten Hag’s team to get something from Goodison, but we won’t find out exactly what until almost 9pm on Sunday. Sheer madness!
MD10 will be completed on Monday night with another Nottingham Forest game, this time against Aston Villa. Neither of these sides have looked very impressive this season but everyone looks a bit better under the lights on a Monday. Well ok, not Forest last week against Leicester. They looked dismal and the supercomputer, while giving them a bigger chance against Villa than they did against the Foxes, still makes Villa strong favourites in what could be an absolute battle between two clubs who once employed midfielder Garry Parker.
Premier League Predictions: MD9 Quick Hits
Home Wins: Manchester City to buck long-term trend and win a home derby
Away Wins: No team >50% in MD9. Time to back the home sides?
Machine long shot: High-scoring draw between West Ham & Wolves?
October is here, the month in which many traditionalists take their first glance at the league table. More fool them, because some teams haven’t played a single Premier League game since the start of September. This is the most condensed campaign in football history, yet you can still find some gaping holes in it. The supercomputer’s solution is to go for a full defrag, but it suggests that as a solution for literally everything, so I feel confident in telling it to stop demanding defrags and start predicting football games. What follows are its findings ahead of MD9 and please, read on for huge spoilers, because in MD8 it got 5/7 results spot on. Some machine.
The weekend starts at the beginning and that means officially the third best Premier League derby as league leaders Arsenal take on unbeaten Tottenham Hotspur in a) the North London derby and b) the battle to look like official challengers to Manchester City’s hegemony as we head towards the World Cup. The win predictor model makes this (just) the most even game of the weekend with Spurs favoured by a miniscule 0.4% over the home side. Yes, Arsenal have only lost one of their last 29 Premier League games at home to their rivals, but Tottenham scored six times in their last outing and have the sort of counter-attacking heavy weaponry to punish the team named after a south east London armoury. It’s a fascinating restart for the Premier League and I can’t call it either, so I have sympathy for the supercomputer, even if that is ultimately an emotion it cannot understand.
Four of the five 3pm kickoffs are also pretty evenly matched according to our favourite machine, with Brentford narrow favourites to win away at Bournemouth in what will become the 109th fixture in English footballing history to feature in all of the top four tiers of league football. At least one fan from each side will chuckle that “this was a better game in League One” at some point but will they maintain that stance when Ivan Toney rattles in some more delightfully-angled strikes or Bournemouth extend their industry-leading “unbeaten run since losing 9-0 at Anfield” stance? The supercomputer narrowly favours established Premier League side Brentford but this one could go any which way.
Also taking place on Saturday afternoon is one of the two MD9 games the machine thinks most likely to end in a draw, Fulham vs. Newcastle. To be fair, Newcastle only really draw games these days, which is one way of reaching 38 points but, unless the rules have been dramatically redrawn in the international break, it’s three points for a win so why not roll the dice and see what happens. Fulham have won their last two Premier League home games while the Magpies have won their last two Premier League games at Fulham. It’s going to be a draw isn’t it.
There’s an all-London clash at Selhurst Park as Graham Potter takes Chelsea south of the river to play Palace. As a former Brighton manager, and therefore a veteran of the white-hot passion of the A23 superclasico, nothing the home fans can conjure up will surprise a battle-hardened Potter but he’ll be looking for Chelsea to continue their superb run of form against Palace. They’ve won their last nine in a row against the Glaziers (not the Glazers) in the league and it’s that strength that has nudged the supercomputer to back Chelsea as slight favourites in this one, even though they are averaging fewer shots per game than they have in any previous Premier League season on record.
Southampton have conceded the opening goal for six games in a row so expect Everton to start on the front foot on the incredibly aging pitch down at St Mary’s. Frank Lampard’s quiet revolution is getting louder with each passing game and the news that ball-pinger extraordinaire Jordan Pickford could be back between the posts is positive news too. Once again, the supercomputer finds it almost impossible to split these sides. If each matchweek in the Premier League had a unique motto (possibly written in Latin), and it really should, then MD9 should be entitled “don’t look at me, it could go either way!” (Noli me intueri, utrumlibet ire posset!)
If Everton are away then tradition (and local policing regulations) demands that Liverpool are at home and they certainly are, facing Brighton and Hove Albion. This is new Albion boss Roberto De Zerbi’s first game in charge and he will be disappointed to learn that the five previous managers to start their Premier League life in the visiting dugout at Liverpool have all lost. Can De Zerbi do better than turn of the century strategist Chris Hutchings? It remains to be seen, but the supercomputer knows that Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 26 league games at Anfield and doesn’t expect that spell of dominance to end on Saturday afternoon.
The Saturday 17:30 slot in the Premier League can be one of the most entertaining in the business but that trend will be tested to its limits this weekend as West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers face off in the new family entertainment show Can’t Score, Won’t Score. That’s right, both sides have scored three goals each this season in seven games, which is one fewer than Rodrigo, and he hasn’t played since August. And he’s one man. Surely something will give in this one? Well, this is the other game the supercomputer thinks most likely to end level so maybe not. What’s that..? 0-0? Yes probably.
Sunday starts with the Manchester derby, a game involving the two sides who have scooped up 19 of the 30 Premier League titles between them. It’s blue versus red, it’s Erling Haaland, it’s Cristiano Ronaldo coming on in the 67th minute. Manchester City are once again in outrageous form, winning their last seven Premier League home games and scoring 3+ goals in each game. No team has done that for eight matches in a row since Tottenham in 1965 but the supercomputer seemingly expects it to happen, giving City a round 69% chance of upending their local rivals. However, this pairing has seen more away wins than any other fixture in Premier League history and Manchester United have looked increasingly solid as the season has progressed. Immense tactical calculations being computed and enacted in real time by Pep Guardiola and Erik ten Hag is as good a reason as any to tune into this one, a match that could set the title tone for the rest of 2022-23.
Also on Sunday is yet another incredibly close game according to the supercomputer (Noli me intueri, utrumlibet ire posset!) as Aston Villa travel to Elland Road to play Leeds United. Leeds have been decent at home this season but with energetic orchestrator Jesse Marsch banned from the touchline, could Steven Gerrard inspire his team to a second successive win following their, er, functional, three points against Southampton? Once again, neither me nor the win predictor model can decide.
The weekend concludes on Monday night with the East Midlands derby between bottom of the league Leicester City and Nottingham Forest. The supercomputer is bullish about Leicester’s chances of ending their dire run and you simply have to admire its electronic chutzpah. Has the international break allowed Brendan Rodgers to go back to basics and reboot his squad? We’ll find out soon enough. Defrag time.
Premier League Predictions: MD8 Quick Hits
Home Wins: Tottenham the only big home favourites
Away Wins: Fulham to extend their good start on Friday night
Machine long shot: Bournemouth to sneak something against Eddie Howe
(Most of) the Premier League returns this week, seven matches for 14 teams playing their seventh game. Can Arsenal maintain their place at the top of the table? Can Diego Costa unsettle Manchester City? Can Tottenham bounce back from midweek Champions League gloom? We’ll all have our own thoughts and opinions but only the famous Analyst supercomputer can literally see into the future and guide you through the results.
Nottingham Forest have never played a Premier League game on a Friday, it simply wasn’t very common in the 1990s, alien to a population who would pay happily 10p to send an SMS. You have to go back even further to find the last time that Forest played Fulham in a top-flight fixture, all the way to 1968. Any ‘super’ computer back then would have been the size of a shed and incapable of any sort of interesting analysis. Our modern machine has no such size or complexity issues, though, and gives Fulham the slight edge in this one, which form suggests is more than fair enough.
Elsewhere in the Premier League on Friday night, Steven Gerrard is handed the chance to guide Aston Villa to a first Premier League win since they eased past Everton 2-1 in early August. Last time out Villa stunned Manchester City by holding the champions to a draw but Gerrard’s indecision this season is shown by the fact that he has made more changes (14) to his starting XI than any other manager, yet no team has used fewer players (18). That elusive blend is in there somewhere, and when it is discovered, Villa should fly. The win predictor model has the home side as narrow favourites, but truly, this one could go either way.
Towards the end of last season Manchester City ran amok at Molineux, Kevin De Bruyne scoring only the second ever weak-foot hat-trick away from home the Premier League has ever seen. A few months on and Diego Costa may make his Wolves debut, with Bruno Lage hoping he can lure the sort of performances that made the Spanish striker an absolute menace in the Premier League during the mid-2010s. But technology advances relentlessly and new models supplant and outstrip older machines, and on that note, Manchester City roll out a gleaming Erling Haaland weekly. Implausibly, only Bournemouth have prevented Haaland scoring this season and you fear for Wolves, Costa or not. The supercomputer makes City the most likely winners in this truncated MD8, and I cannot feign surprise.
At three o’clock Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United face AFC Bournemouth, a team once moulded carefully and guided up to the English flight by Howe himself. But on the back of a five-game winless run, Howe needs to work out how(e) to get his team back on the path to success. Maybe scoring a ton of goals past the Cherries is the way forwards, it sort of worked for Liverpool. Should Newcastle score 4+ goals against Bournemouth then the south coast side will have the worst defensive record after seven games of any side in English top-flight history, but the supercomputer gives the Dorset icons a reasonable chance and recent form suggests the all-seeing machine may well be on to something here.
Saturday is completed by a fixture that invariably produces a lot of goals. Since Leicester returned to the Premier League in 2014 their games with Tottenham Hotspur have produced 63 goals, many of them from Harry Kane, so even though the England captain is in variable form, expect him to go through something of a cultural reboot in a home game against the Premier League’s bottom side. In what experts are calling a “huge boost to the away performance community”, Tottenham are the only home team rated at more than 50% to win this weekend. They’ll need to play better than they did in Portugal to beat Leicester. Or will they?
Sunday provides us with two intriguing fixtures. Arsenal travel to Brentford to play a fixture that got last season up and running in memorable style, with newly-promoted Brentford beating Mikel Arteta’s side 2-0. Both clubs boast better teams now than they did then, though. Only Manchester City have converted a higher percentage of their chances this season than the deadlier-than-bees Bees, but no side has collected as many points as Arsenal so far. Games at the Brentford Community Stadium have an incredibly high xNarrative rating and this one – which the supercomputer rates as very close – could be another addition to the growing collection of minor classics in Hounslow.
The last game of the weekend sees Frank Lampard face up to the club where it all began for him as Everton host West Ham United. The supercomputer feels an affinity with the Hammers for this one, noticing sagely that Everton’s defensive performance this season (10.3 xG conceded, six goals conceded) has been helped considerably by the exceptional form of Jordan Pickford in goal. But Pickford is out injured for a few weeks now and that could change matters considerably. David Moyes knows and recognises every blade of grass at Goodison Park and if his team aren’t too tired out by their trip to Denmark on Thursday, they could well be celebrating three successive wins in this sector of Merseyside for the first time in their history.
Premier League Predictions: MD6 Quick Hits
Home Wins: Tottenham to punish Fulham on Saturday
Away Wins: Liverpool and Man City to ease past Everton and Gerrard
Machine long shot: Wolves to get their first win of 2022-23
Matchweek five in the Premier League was a midweek affair so of course it was the lowest scoring round of games so far this season (25 goals) because that’s what midweek Premier League football is: consistently lower scoring than weekend action. Humans struggle to comprehend this due to something scientists call “floodlight warping”, a phenomenon where goals scored in evening games are more easily assimilated by the brain. That’s why you need a range of industry-leading supercomputers to help you find out the real truth about football, including who will come out on top in matchweek six.
The weekend kicks off with the most consistently aggressive fixture in the calendar, the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. With Everton’s new ground rising vertically from the docks there aren’t many of these games at the old stadium left so we should all savour it, perhaps by flying into a tackle at knee height shouting “this is heritage”. Even in the supermarket. Only Chelsea vs. Manchester United (25) has finished as a draw more often than Everton vs. Liverpool (24) in Premier League history but the supercomputer fancies Liverpool to make it three wins a row in the league, even with their injury list of 284 damaged midfielders. Can an improving and inspired Everton throw a spanner in the works? Will the returning Darwin Núñez do something? Clear your schedule and find out.
High potential for major Our League action on Saturday afternoon with six games at 3pm in the classic Edwardian factory workers’ slot. Three of them are in Old London Town with Brentford hosting high-octane Leeds, Chelsea and West Ham clashing in the longitude clasico and Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham also engaged in a clasico of their, perhaps one based around Bobby Zamora scoring penalties with both feet. The brooding cockney supercomputer knows the value of doing the business in your manor and duly makes all three home teams favourites in these fixtures.
You want some reasoning? Well, Brentford are on their longest scoring streak in the Premier League and have lost only one of their last seven home games, albeit to a desperate Leeds team on the final day. Chelsea, meanwhile, have lost only one of their last 16 home matches against West Ham, and the sluggish Hammers have only scored two goals all season. West Ham are also the favourite victims of a certain Raheem Sterling, who has 14 goal involvements against the east Londoners. Even so, the supercomputer makes a Chelsea home win about a 50/50 chance which feels about right given how inconsistent they have been. Can any of the new signings – for either team – make the difference here?
Finally in London news, Fulham are given only a 12.6% chance of winning at the gleaming NFL-ready hyperdome in north London. The Whites have the Premier League’s worst record in London derbies, winning only 26 of 140 attempts in the capital. But for how many of those have Fulham been able to boast a red-hot Aleksandar Mitrović? Not many, that’s for sure, so can the man some are calling the Serbian Dean Holdsworth inspire his team to a win that would take them level on points with Spurs?
Elsewhere on football island on Saturday we have Newcastle United hosting Crystal Palace. Fresh from giving everyone a crash course reminder session on the workings of injury-time on Wednesday, Newcastle are in that strange position of being only one result from a start that looks very good or pretty bad. Beat the Eagles and they’ll have lost only once in six games, lose to Patrick Viera’s High Flying Birds and they’ll have opened the campaign with only one win in six. That’s Howe (like the manager, Eddie Howe) quickly a season can turn. Maybe it will in fact be a draw, and, as if by magic, the supercomputer has made it the most likely game to end level this weekend.
“Not boo” is great advice for fans who want to get behind their club and it’s also the shortened code for Nottingham Forest against Bournemouth at the City Ground on Saturday. Both of these clubs emerged mysteriously from the shadowy world of the Championship last season, and both know that if the holy grail of top-flight survival is to be tasted this season, then these are the sort of matches you need to win. It’s yet to be confirmed whether the Three Bears will be attending this game but their arch enemy Goldilocks is keeping a keen eye on this one. Why? Because Bournemouth have just departed with their manager because of too few transfers, while Forest have single-handedly revived the flagging fax machine industry with 20+ new signings. What’s just the right amount of new arrivals? Don’t ask Goldilocks, I’m afraid she has no experience of football administration other than a brief role as IFK Göteborg’s director of football. Do ask the supercomputer, though, who narrowly favours an away win but, after a prod with a stick, admits that yes, this one could go either way.
Finally at 3pm on Saturday we have Wolves vs. Southampton. Wolves have yet to win this season and will have jealously looked on as Saints cavorted on their ragged home turf against Chelsea in midweek. The pristine Wolverhampton grass is a less happy hunting ground for Southampton though, they’ve not won any of their last six league games there, and they will fear Raúl Jiménez, who has scored five goals in his last five Premier League games against them. Both Bruno Lage and the supercomputer have been going around this week saying “look, Wolves are better than you think” and our machine has the home side at 44.2% to win this one. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing what The Young Saints™ can do on a midlands road trip.
Saturday concludes with a crisis club (Aston Villa) taking on a club who find themselves in the fortunate position of owning the playing registration of Norwegian goal enthusiast Erling Haaland. Can he become the first Premier League player to score a hat-trick in three successive appearances and/or will Mick Quinn’s sacred record of being the fastest player to reach 10 Premier League goals (in six games in case you didn’t know, but you really should, it’s been on the school syllabus for 20 years) fall to Haaland? Or maybe he’ll be rested ahead of the Champions League starting next week. Either way, City will surely have too much for Stevie G’s stuttering Villains and the supercomputer agrees. City at 66.2% is the most likely win in the division this weekend.
Sunday’s action opens in Brighton as Graham Potter’s coastal stylists take on perhaps the Premier League’s most current crisis club, Leicester City. The Foxes, who were the nation’s sweethearts in 2015-16 when they won the league are now rock bottom of the same division. Will they join 1994-95 nation’s sweethearts Blackburn Rovers as Premier League winners to later get relegated? It could happen but not on the supercomputer’s watch; the all-knowing machine still respects the quality in the City ranks and feels they can get a result in Sussex. Tune in to find out.
The weekend concludes with a heritage fixture as league leaders Arsenal travel to Old Trafford to play always improving Manchester United. You don’t need to have a generic pizza thrown in your face or Martin Keown swooping down at you like an eagle or Arsene Wenger in among the home fans to know that this game has more history than a new extended version of the Bayeux Tapestry (now goes from the eleventh century to August 1992). And I 8-2 to tell Arsenal fans this but they have won only one of their last 15 Premier League games at the Theatre of Dreams. The supercomputer has projected this match as the most even of the weekend and whichever way you slice it, that feels right. Just serve us up some piping hot narrative and 5-6 high quality social media clips please.
Premier League Predictions: MD5 Quick Hits
Home Wins: Forest to regret introducing the Haaland family to English football in 1993
Away Wins: Chelsea & Spurs to run amok midweek
Machine long shot: Leicester to press pause on the Man Utd revival
Hey remember last Friday when we thought MD4 in the Premier League could be a chance for the beloved division to take a deep breath before hurtling into a classy looking midweek schedule? Silly us. Never underestimate Our League, which casually served up a 9-0, an Erling Haaland hat-trick, Arsenal going four for four and Richarlison upsetting traditionalists by briefly juggling the ball on his foot, an ancient crime against the sport unless it’s a video of Gazza or someone like that. So, can MD5 match the drama of last weekend? Almost certainly, and if you want a preview of all 10 games and the Opta supercomputer’s official verdict on who will win, then you’re in exactly the right place.
Fulham spent some of Saturday evening contemplating what would have been their first ever away win against Arsenal but ended up losing 2-1. Next up is a chance to face unbeaten Brighton and Hove Albion, a club on the rise and a team who have let in only one goal all season. Like the first Death Star, if Graham Potter has one weakness it seems to be midweek fixtures and/or an exhaust port; Albion didn’t win any of their Tues/Weds/Thurs games last season, but overall they are looking so slick, so clever and so smart that you cannot argue at all with the supercomputer rating them at 39.9%, with the draw fractionally higher than a home win.
Crystal Palace against Brentford is the Ron Noades clasico, an encounter featuring two of the clubs the late businessman both owned and, in a fairly unusual manoeuvre, also managed. Imagine John Henry assuming control of Liverpool for a few Champions League games, or the Glazers taking charge of training at Manchester United and you have a glimpse of the sort of wide-ranging skillset that Noades brought to football. Both games between these clubs last season ended 0-0 (fact: no top-flight fixture has ever started with three goalless draws) and that has certainly been spotted by the supercomputer. It has a tie in this one just under 30%. Spoils shared and some classic Ron Noades anecdotes, Tuesday evenings rarely get better than that.
Like timid naval enthusiasts, Chelsea enjoy their trips to Southampton and have scored in each of their last 17 Premier League games there, the longest scoring run one team has had against another away from home in the entire history of the competition. Chelsea also now own Raheem Sterling, who not only scored twice on Saturday but has seven goals and four assists against Saints in the Premier League. The canny supercomputer thus makes Thomas Tuchel’s team the most likely away winners in this set of games and you simply cannot argue. I mean you can, but you’d be wrong.
Tuesday night is completed with Leeds against Everton, the Memories of Olivier Dacourt clasico. Tuesday is Leeds’ favourite day in Premier League history in terms of win percentage and with the home fans whipped up by memories of not just Dacourt but also Frank Lampard’s time as Derby County manager, expect high-energy antics from everyone’s favourite soccer pioneers. The win predictor makes Leeds narrow favourites, and we back them to win their opening three home games in the top-flight for the first time since 1973, when they were controlled by the fearsome figure of Don Revie.
On to Wednesday and beleaguered AFC Bournemouth must regroup after their 9-0 destruction at Anfield, so a home game against apparently low-scoring Wolves is arguably just what the doctor ordered. The Cherries have already let in 10 open-play goals this season, but if they are to stand any chance of not getting into a relegation battle these are the sort of fixtures they must win. Only two sides in top-flight history have conceded more than 16 goals in the month of August in a single campaign: Sunderland in 1953 (17) and Newcastle in 1999 (18), so three goals from Wolves will create some bona fide top-flight history. The win predictor thinks Wolves can pull off a coastal raid, so what has Scott Parker got up his (quite fashionable) sleeve? The answer is… we’ll never know as he was sacked as the club’s manager on Monday morning.
Arsenal have only started three previous top-flight seasons with five wins, doing so in 1930-31 (finished first), 1947-48 (finished first) and 2004-05 (finished second), so if they beat Aston Villa on Wednesday then a top-two finish is guaranteed. That’s simply how it works. Steven Gerrard rarely enjoyed an away trip to Arsenal. He played more matches at the Emirates without winning than any other ground in his Premier League playing career (six – D3 L3). The supercomputer has calculated that both Gerrard and Mikel Arteta will look “incredibly neat” in this one, but it strongly backs Arteta to look the happiest at full-time.
Nottingham Forest used to love a signing Norwegian player back in them 1990s, fielding the likes of Stale Stensaas, Jon Olav Hjelde, Lars Bohinen and, 72 times, a certain Alfie Inge Haaland. By the end of their game against Manchester City this midweek, Forest may well wonder just what on earth they were playing at ushering the Haaland family across to English football in 1993, because their 2022 team will have faced his all-powerful baron son, the crown prince of the penalty box, Erling. The supercomputer has handed out a minuscule 3.4% chance of victory to Forest and consequentially a monstrous 86.0% chance to the reigning Premier League champions. Forest haven’t conceded more than twice in any of their last 73 away league matches, which is impressive, but this, surely, is a whole new ball game.
West Ham have never lost their opening three home league games in a season, but that’s the concerning prospect they face with Tottenham Hotspur coming to the very London Stadium they once briefly coveted. The supercomputer rates Spurs at 41.9% to inflict more pain on the Hammers but even though Son Heung-min has been involved in eight goals in his last eight Premier League games against the east London icons, you wonder if the Korean will be rested for this one, given his poor form so far in 2022-23. This would open up a spot for Richarlison to create more fun content for fans of footballers just enjoying themselves. Either way, if Spurs can pick up another three points here then their title ambitions could well be raised to “serious.”
Wednesday is rounded out with Liverpool against Newcastle United at Anfield. This fixture once ended 4-3 for two seasons in a row (you remember which ones) but the classic 1990s 4-3 has now been superseded by the achingly contemporary 9-0, of which there have been more in the last three seasons than there have been 6-0s. The scorelines are getting stretched and so might Newcastle, given Liverpool are unbeaten at home against the Magpies in 26 games. The supercomputer – who wants to finally see a 10-0 as much as you do – gives Eddie Howe’s side only a 9% chance of victory. 9.0% to be precise, like the numbers in 9-0. Is the machine… trolling us?
Manchester United will be playing on Thursday nights a lot this season so this week’s trip to the King Power stadium to play Leicester City will be good practice. The supercomputer has gone slightly off piste here, favouring Leicester even though they are still winless and Erik ten Hag’s team have just cranked out two wins in a row. But have United been that impressive? And are Leicester as bad as their results suggest? This fixture invariably provides a minor classic each season and this smells like another one, with both clubs capable of brilliance and woe in the same match. Last year it ended 4-2 to Leicester, might we see history repeat itself?
Premier League Predictions: MD4 Quick Hits
Home Wins: Arsenal to go four for four, Liverpool to taste rare victory
Away Wins: ten Hag, six points
Machine long shot: Wolves to derail the Newcastle bandwagon?
Normally we have a not-entirely-popular [whispers] international break inserted after three rounds of the Premier League season, but due to the gigantic presence of the 2022 World Cup slap bang at the start of winter, this season we just rattle straight through to matchweek eight in one fell swoop. It’s refreshing, it’s zany, it’s relentless. Matchweek 4 looks relatively sedate on paper but in the Premier League anything can happen as narrative leaks from any hole it can find. What’s the best way to prime yourself for another weekend of late summer action? By consulting the wisest machine in the showroom, the mainframe of dreams, The Analyst supercomputer.
Eric ten Hag is the first manager in Premier League history to make 15 substitutions in his first three games. Don’t worry, he’s not broken any rules but he might just have broken the stranglehold of dismay that has gripped Old Trafford for the best part of a decade. One win doesn’t make a season but a 2-1 home victory against Liverpool is about as good as it gets, especially if you can parade five-time Champions League winner Casemiro before the game, a man who has promised to give an industry-leading 120% to his new team’s cause. United have lost seven away games in a row, their worst run since radar was invented, but if they win at St Mary’s in the early kick-off on Saturday then they might have just located the biggest gift of all: hope. The supercomputer is bullish about United’s chances, giving them a 47.2% chance of victory and we simply have to agree.
Ben Mee spent much of his career at Burnley having to listen to nonsense from pundits about Turf Moor being a “tough place to go” but it turns out that his new home in Brentford, the Gtech Community Stadium, actually is. The Bees have kept a clean sheet in five of their last six Premier League home games and you can barely travel around west London without hearing someone say “away teams get wrecked… down at the Gtech.” This Saturday Everton and their nervous 5-4-1 come to town, and with an average of only one point per game under Frank Lampard you fear the worst for them. A rare Frank surname vs. Frank forename clasico and the supercomputer is utterly frank: a point here will absolutely be one gained for the Merseysiders.
The Premier League contains the best football managers in the world, and those looking to get in and around that conversation know they can join that exalted company if the results are good. High up on the South Downs on Saturday the division will witness a bearded English thinker take on a fevered Ted talk tactics teacher when Graham Potter entertains Jesse Marsch in the Brighton against Leeds game. It’s fifth against third, it’s cleverly restructured teams with unique gameplans, it’s the ongoing rehabilitation of Rodrigo’s goalscoring ability. The win predictor model has Brighton as narrow favourites, but if you want to see a wildly entertaining high-scoring draw with easy access to the English channel I’d suggest this game is the absolutely the one.
Chelsea got Leeds United-ed last weekend and now skulk back to their capital city lair to lick their wounds against a similarly wounded former Premier League title winner. Thomas Tuchel’s Blues are attempting to see out the month with some more retail therapy. One of the players on their list is Leicester City’s Wesley Fofana, who is parked up training with the U23s while the speculation swirls. When the supercomputer has a big six team at pretty much bang on 50% to win at home then you know that it is wrestling with the eternal battle between squad strength and localised narrative and that feels correct for this game. Brendan Rodgers, a former Chelsea employee, has only won two of his 20 meetings with them in his managerial career and although Edouard Mendy was castigated for his getting-tackled error at Elland Road, Leicester’s Danny Ward already has the worst goals prevented rate in the Premier League this season at -2.8.
Liverpool and Manchester City are both playing home games at 3 p.m. this Saturday, like this is some weekend sent in a time machine from the 1990s or earlier. Will the traditional kick-off time inspire the visiting sides, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace? The supercomputer laughs at such a suggestion, making Liverpool 79.2% hot favourites with City not far behind on 72.7%. That’s right, the team without a win in the league this season are stronger favourites than the reigning champions who have seven points from nine, but when you factor in Palace’s record of two wins and a draw from their last four Premier League games at the Etihad it starts to make sense. Then ladle in knowledge of Bournemouth’s record of seven defeats from eight at Anfield in the Premier League, added to the fact that they have recorded only 16 shots so far this season, the fewest in any Premier League club’s opening three games since Huddersfield in 2018, and you start to see just how wise the supercomputer is yet again. Look, both Liverpool and City should win handsomely and get big numbers on the 39 different versions of the classified football results that have sprung up in the last few weeks, but there’s always the chance that they won’t, and that’s what makes Our League so alluring.
Saturday’s action concludes with the Premier League’s only 100% record, held by Arsenal Football Club, going up against the Aleksandar Mitrović nationwide anti-hubris goals-and-that tour, in association with Fulham FC. “Mitro” has three goals in home games this season but could only muster a missed penalty in Fulham’s trip to Wolves on MD2. Arsenal have never lost at home to Fulham, ever, not even in the days when goal nets were optional and you could shoulder barge an opponent into a river. Always a fear for Fulham, that, given how close Craven Cottage is to the Thames, but given the narrative arc of 2022-23 so far you expect Arsenal, with their own personal Jesus, to go four for four, just like Watford did in 2018-19. The supercomputer certainly thinks so, giving Mikel Arteta’s men a 62.4% chance of victory. As Europe’s leading interpreter of result-based supercomputers I’m fairly sure that last season this sort of fixture would have seen Arsenal given a rating in the 50s so there’s evidence right there of the club’s unstoppable rise back to prominence.
West Ham’s ongoing European commitments mean they are once again tucked away on Sunday, a sad slot for their 1000th Premier League game but they won’t mind at all if they can score a goal or pick up a point, neither of which has happened so far this season. Not that Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa have looked much brighter, and it is this pervading double dose of claret and blue gloom that has led this match to be classified as the now legendary Most Even Game of the Weekend. Could be a draw, maybe 0-0. You get a point for that though. Progress.
Simultaneously in the west Midlands on Sunday afternoon Wolves take on Newcastle, the visitors fresh from the uplifting-even-though-they-let-a-two-goal-lead-slip 3-3 draw with Manchester City last Sunday. It will be the Wolves fans first chance to see Matheus Nunes on home turf, and they’ll hope that he can have as much impact on their side as the almost-peerless Bruno Guimarães has had on Newcastle since February. The supercomputer can work fast, trust me, but with transfers flying in by the hour it can be hard to factor that it into the calculations. Classy big man Alexander Isak is set to bolster Newcastle even further in the long term but this game might come too soon, so it could be a last chance for Chris Wood to do something for the Magpies, although nursery rhyme fans will know that Wolves can usually deal with wood fairly well, if not bricks.
Talking of transfer sagas, early Premier League enthusiasts will recall that the division’s maiden campaign, 1992-93, saw Nottingham Forest and Tottenham Hotspur tussle for Teddy Sheringham, the future Euro 96 star scoring Forest’s winner in their opening game against Liverpool only to take his classy touches and surprisingly poor penalty conversion record (31 taken, 21 scored!) down to old London town to play for Spurs. Will there be 30-year bad blood when the two sides meet at the City Ground on Sunday? It seems unlikely, in fact it feels more likely that Forest will re-sign Sheringham (one of only 29 people on Earth they have not been in for this summer) than beef over this. What if you rebuilt Sheringham but removed the penalty taking glitch? You’d probably end up with Harry Kane, a man who has scored against 30 of the 31 Premier League clubs he has faced (well done Brentford btw) and he’ll be eager to show Forest fans what Teddy Sheringham might look like in the year 2022 and played for Tottenham (as he did for much of 1992 tbf). The supercomputer makes Spurs the biggest chance of an away win this weekend and after West Ham did everything but take three points in Nottingham in MD2 you simply have to agree.
Premier League Predictions: MD3 Quick Hits
Home Wins: Everton to bounce back against Nottingham Forest
Away Wins: Brentford to rule west London
Machine long shot: Manchester United to trouble fellow strugglers Liverpool?
1981-82 was the last top-flight season to see both Manchester United and Liverpool start with a winless pair of games, but here we are in 2022 and the nation’s two most successful clubs are in differing but equally genuine stages of crisis. The Analyst supercomputer didn’t exist in 1981 (you simply can’t crunch millions of data points on a 32kb BBC Micro, lord knows I’ve tried) but it is humming away in the corner ready to get stuck into Matchday 3 so let’s hop to it.
The weekend begins with bad boys Spurs up against Wolves at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. A single goal from Harry Kane in this match will make him the outright top-scoring player in Premier League history for a single club, and if it is the opening goal it will be Tottenham’s 1,000th in a home game, albeit they have had three different homes in the Premier League era. The win predictor backs Antonio Conte’s side not to trip up in this one, and to go – briefly – top of the table when they take three early points.
Sticking with north London pacesetters, Arsenal travel down to alphabet-rivals AFC Bournemouth in the Saturday early evening slot and the cheeky supercomputer has given Mikel Arteta’s men exactly the same odds as Spurs have of besting Wolves. There’s enough rivalry between the two clubs without the devious machine stepping in like this but it feels right, just like football in that section of England’s capital city does at the moment.
In between those two slices of Spurs/Arsenal are five classic 3 p.m. games, which include the fabled Most-Even-Game-Of-The-Weekend between Crystal Palace and Aston Villa, yet another match where two combative midfielders from the 2000s are instead forced to watch from the touchline and bark instructions. Will Steven Gerrard be angry with Patrick Vieira for ending Liverpool’s title hopes on Monday night? The Palace boss needs to watch out because Villa have been better on the road under Gerrard (P14 W6) than at luxury FA Cup semi-final venue Villa Park. You can see why our machine makes this one so even.
CTRL-ALT-DELETE all you like but the supercomputer has Everton at almost 53% to beat Nottingham Forest on Saturday. It could be a masterstroke because although Forest won against West Ham last week, they were undeniably fortunate to do so, and it remains beyond the grasp of even science to work out just how good or bad the sentient transfer window club are. We all suspect Everton might be quite bad but a 3 p.m. game at Goodison is probably just what the doctor ordered.
Fulham against Brentford in the top flight, it’s a whole new ball game. The supercomputer has casually calculated that this is the 1,445th different fixture to be played in England’s highest division and it also gauges that Brentford – destroyers of Manchester United last week – are strong favourites to be crowned kings of the bit of London it always takes 25 minutes longer to get to than you predicted. Look out for Josh Dasilva’s attempts to become the first player to score from outside the box for three successive games since Jordan Henderson in 2015. Bit disrespectful to xG, but ok fine.
The supercomputer’s biggest home favourites in MD3 are Leicester City who face Southampton, a team they have certainly heavily punished in the past. Can the 2022-23 iteration of Leicester do this though? Both sides have let in a league-high six goals this season so defences haven’t been on top, but they have managed to score at the other end. Whisper it quietly, but could this be the Premier League’s first 9-9 draw? No, probably not.
Leeds versus Chelsea is a fixture that drips with historic aggression so Thomas Tuchel – wherever he watches the game from – would be advised to bear it in mind. The German is not only an expert at self-defence but also organising a defence, with Chelsea having let in only 17 goals in Premier League away games in his time with the club. That solidity is the reason why the supercomputer backs the Blues strongly to leave Yorkshire with all three points and a warm, traditional handshake.
Sunday kicks off with Brighton’s trip to West Ham United, a fixture that the Seagulls love because they simply never lose it. Six draws and four defeats makes Albion officially the Hammers’ most infuriating opponents in Premier League history and Respected Tactician Graham Potter has his side playing so well that they may restrict West Ham to their first goalless start after three games since 1994. If David Moyes wants to glimpse some hope, though, he should dial up his local friendly supercomputer because our model fancies the Hammers to win this one. I’m not so sure but Brighton have to start squandering huge amounts of xG at some point, so why not at London Stadium on Sunday?
Only two Premier League clubs haven’t let in any goals so far this season and they are Newcastle United and Manchester City, who face each other at St James’ Park on Sunday. City are looking so smooth and so polished thus far and have also only lost one of their last 29 league games against Newcastle. Nick Pope can expect to be a busy Pope once more in this game, trying to fend off the likes of Erling Haaland as he tries to retrospectively punish a club his dad played against 11 times in the Premier League without scoring or assisting once.
A baby born during the last Manchester United versus Liverpool fixture played at 3 p.m. on a Saturday would now be an adult; it has only happened three times in Premier League history and will probably never happen again. This weekend will see only the third Monday night clash between the old rivals, though, and it promises to be one of the most narrative-soaked battles they’ll have ever taken part in. Both clubs absolutely need a win, both want to forget their opening two matches but only one of them can name Mohamed Salah in their XI, a man who has scored eight goals in his last four games against them in all competitions including three in this exact fixture last season. That’s (partly) why the supercomputer has Manchester United Football Club at only 20.7% to win a Premier League home game. Erik ten Hag, it’s over to you.
Premier League Predictions: MD2 Quick Hits
Home Wins: Manchester City to bamboozle Bournemouth as per tradition
Away Wins: Back West Ham to trouble yet-to-gel Forest
Machine long shot: Arsenal to struggle vs. Leicester?
In 2020, matchweek two served up a monstrous total of 44 goals so let’s hope for more of the same this weekend, especially if the scorching pitch-surface temperatures contribute to some hollow legs towards the end of games. Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, so it’s absolutely perfect that the early kick-off on Saturday is between Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa and Frank Lampard’s Everton. Like that bit in Heat when Pacino and De Niro finally appear together, all eyes will be trained on the technical areas to see which brooding Premier League legend will inspire his team to glory in the, er, heat.
The unusually noisy supercomputer has turned its internal fans up to 125% to cope and favours Aston Villa at 41.4% but Everton at 29.6% makes it a fairly even shout. Everton are still reeling from their terrible away record last season while Villa were maybe not as bad as some people, including most of their fans, thought in the game last weekend. Only Newcastle and Tottenham had more open play shots than Gerrard’s team, although crucially some of theirs did end up in the back of the opposition’s net.
Moving into the 3pm kick-off zone and the Emirates Stadium will see a game between two managers whose thoughtful methods have been exposed on documentaries. From drawing brains and hearts to sealing envelopes, these men will do what it takes to get their message across. Arsenal haven’t started a top-flight season with two wins and two clean sheets since 1971 when they were reigning champions, but although our friendly supercomputer rightly rates them as a 42.4% chance in this game, it gives Leicester almost 30% too, and if first half City turn up from last week then they might just pull off some sort of early shock. I can envisage it… can you?
It’s a long way from Newcastle to Brighton but the clubs are managed by Eddie Howe and Graham Potter respectively, so this is a sort of BBC4 arthouse version of the Gerrard vs. Lampard coaching battle from earlier in the day. MD1 was lovely for both sides but this will be a sterner test, although the fact that Albion and Newcastle lead the division in high turnovers that lead to shots (yes after one game, I know) suggests that this could be a ding dong summer classic on the Sussex coast.
There are no certainties in sport. Oh, actually there are: Manchester City will always beat Bournemouth. 16 games between them (10 in the Premier League) and 16 wins for the reigning champions. Scott Parker has tasted success at the Etihad before but the wise supercomputer gives Bournemouth only a 4.5% chance of leaving there on Saturday with three points. Erling Haaland’s home debut is something to look forward to but not if you play for AFC Bournemouth.
Southampton vs. Leeds is the fabled machine’s most even fixture of the weekend. Yes, Saints have lost their last two Premier League games by four goals to one and yes Leeds started the season by beating Wolves but they still gave up some red hot xG opportunities and Southampton are generally better in their Solent base. Why not settle for a draw and plenty of drinks breaks? Makes sense. Keep hydrated.
Talking of Wolves, they start their home campaign by hosting Liverpool-humbling Fulham, as Marco Silva, against one of his former clubs, prepares to start his season-long demonstration that his version of Aleksandar Mitrovic is top-flight ready and hungry for goals. The win prediction model enjoyed Fulham’s bright start but is backing Wolves as strong favourites to emerge with their first three points of the season. They’re more dangerous than you think, very much like actual wolves.
Saturday concludes with what could be the game of the weekend as troubled superclub Manchester United travel down to Brentford to face a side who will be more than happy to land some more wounds on the old giant. Go back to the 1990s and tell someone that Manchester United would only have a 40.8% chance of beating little Brentford in a league game and they’d grab you by the shoulder and march you out of the room, but that’s where we are. Erik ten Hag played Christian Eriksen as a number nine last week, something that Brentford didn’t choose to do when they had access to his services last season. He could be the difference, or he could be left fully reminded of what the Bees can do when they work up a head of steam.
The first ever Premier League Sunday in 1992 contained a Nottingham Forest home game and so does this one. Forest will play their first top-flight game at the City Ground since the 20th century but the supercomputer, while a committed fan of the excellent Forest-under-Clough film I Believe In Miracles, doesn’t believe the club’s ever-expanding squad will have a miracle up their sleeve when they face West Ham this weekend. West Ham are a massive 58.2% shot and the biggest likelihood of an away win in MD2. Yes, they were beaten by Manchester City last Sunday but in a way we all were.
Super Sunday concludes with a massive game as Tottenham travel to Chelsea in the battle of London superclubs whose prospects you’re not quite sure about yet but who are undoubtedly good. Chelsea are unbeaten in seven Premier League games against their capital rivals (W6 D1), conceding only one goal in that run, and the supercomputer makes them slight favourites, but Harry Kane is only a hat-trick away from overtaking Thierry Henry as the top-scoring London derby player in Premier League history. We know that August isn’t his favourite month of the year to unleash but even so…
The matchweek concludes on Monday night with Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace, the last fixture to ever feature a player born in the 1970s (Julian Speroni), and one that saw a 9-0 home win in the 1990s. This is the 2020s, though, and after dropping two points in their opening game, Jürgen Klopp’s team simply have to win this one or, somewhat ridiculously, the crisis talk will be all too real. The supercomputer thinks it will happen and if Darwin Núñez is in the starting XI then it very probably will.
Premier League Predictions: MD1 Quick Hits
Home Wins: Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United
Away Wins: Liverpool and Manchester City
Best Chance of a Draw: Leeds United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
The 2022-23 Premier League will be different from previous seasons. There will be mid-season break for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, teams can now use five subs, and Mike Dean will be confined to wearing a full referee kit in a side room at Stockley Park. But fear not, the supercomputer returns for another campaign of Premier League predictions.
The 31st Premier League season kicks off on Friday night with a London derby under the lights at Selhurst Park, as Crystal Palace host Arsenal.
Palace beat Arsenal 3-0 in their last meeting but have never previously won consecutive matches against the Gunners in league competition. Our supercomputer gives them a 29.7% chance of doing that this time around – lower than the chance of an Arsenal away win (41.3%). The Gunners’ strong pre-season and summer transfer window acquisition of Gabriel Jesus should make them a dangerous side to face on the opening weekend.
The Eagles are led by former fans favourite Patrick Vieira, a man who knows a thing or two about a red card. Arsenal have had more players sent off in their opening game of a Premier League campaign than any other side (six), with Vieira on the receiving end of one of those, in 2000-01. Not content with being sent off on the opening day that season, he was then sent off in Arsenal’s second game two days later. A much calmer man in the dugout now, it must be said – just don’t invade the pitch and goad him.
Fulham may have been the entertainers on their way to the Championship title in 2021-22, scoring 106 goals, but that doesn’t curry favour with the supercomputer. Hosting Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side isn’t the most welcome start to any side’s season, but the fixture computer doesn’t factor requests. Earlier this week we revealed that starting a Premier League campaign well gives you a strong chance of surviving relegation, but with just an 8.8% chance of a Fulham victory given by the supercomputer, they have the lowest chance of winning across the competition this matchweek.
They may have lost out to Manchester City in the Premier League title race last season, as well as a defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final, but our supercomputer is giving Liverpool the best chance of topping the standings at the end of this campaign, pre-season.
At the other end of the table, the supercomputer has already rated the three newly promoted sides as having the highest chance of being relegated this season, and we’ll get to see Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest play in the traditional 3 p.m. Saturday slot on MD1.
Scott Parker’s Cherries side host Aston Villa in their first game back in the Premier League – a repeat of their first-ever game in the competition in August 2015, which Villa won 1-0. With a 38.1% chance of an away win, we might even see a repeat of that result.
Nottingham Forest start life back in the Premier League with an away trip to Newcastle United. This will be Forest’s first Premier League game in 23 years and 82 days – the longest-ever gap between matches in the competition. The supercomputer doesn’t expect it to end in success. Newcastle have a 51.1% chance of victory, compared to Forest’s 21.1%.
Tottenham Hotspur have a home game with Southampton to kick off the Premier League season. Antonio Conte’s Spurs side have been given the highest chance of victory across all 10 hosts of a top-flight game in England this weekend, at 62.9%. Their deadly attacking duo might be powering the supercomputer’s thoughts, as only Alan Shearer (14) and Andy Cole (11) have scored more or as many Premier League goals against Southampton than Harry Kane (11) and Son Heung-min (10).
This is the 124th English top-flight season since the EFL began in 1888, and Everton are the team to have played in the most of these – 2022-23 will be their 119th in the top division. The supercomputer doesn’t respect that history when it comes to predicting their chances of success this weekend, though.
After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, Toffees’ boss Frank Lampard will face the club that gave him his best years as a player – Chelsea. Despite winning each of their last four games against Chelsea at Goodison Park – Chelsea’s longest current active streak of defeats against a league opponent – the supercomputer doesn’t rate their chances of making it five in a row (22.8%), with Thomas Tuchel’s side having the third best chance of victory among the 10 away teams on MD1 (49.8%).
Raheem Sterling looks set to make his competitive debut for Chelsea in this match, and the England forward is one of only 10 players to score a hat-trick on the opening matchweek of a Premier League season.
Leeds United’s meeting with Wolves at Elland Road is the only other Premier League game on Saturday, and the data-crunching contraption gives this fixture the highest chance of a draw across the 10 matches on the opening matchweek (29.3%).
On paper, a trip to the London Stadium to face West Ham United is a tricky game to start a Premier League campaign with. Not for reigning champions Manchester City, according to the supercomputer.
Man City are being given a 63.3% chance of winning in London on Sunday, with the current 13-game unbeaten run for Pep Guardiola’s side against the Hammers – and City’s work in the transfer market to bring in superstar striker Erling Haaland – forcing the AI-powered machine to heavily back the away win.
Before that meeting, Leicester City host Brentford and Manchester United’s Old Trafford will entertain Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday afternoon. Both home teams are being given a shade under 50% chance of victory in these two matches.
Erik ten Hag becomes the eighth different man to take charge of Man Utd in the competition since Sir Alex Ferguson retired – six of the previous seven have won their opening match, with the only one to lose also being Dutch (Louis van Gaal).
The new season is upon us. Sit tight and see if the supercomputer’s predictions play out.