We’re over halfway into this Premier League season and it’s Liverpool who have been the most consistent performers. Jurgen Klopp’s side have shortened from an implied probability of around 20% chance to nearly 55%. How can an analysis of the season so far help in the Premier League betting markets. Read on to find out.
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Is Liverpool’s lead deserved?
Liverpool have started the Premier League season in excellent form and currently hold a four point lead over defending champions Manchester City. City recorded a vital win at the beginning of January to narrow the gap on Jurgen Klopp’s side – a result that reduced Liverpool’s potential probability of winning the league to 55%* from around 85%* if they had been victorious.
The current title race could be even closer as analysing the expected goal data suggests the Reds should have dropped 11 points this season, instead of nine. City won the 2017/18 Premier League title by 19 points, with Liverpool 25 points behind in fourth – this shows the inclusion of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker in key positions has been crucial to their success this season.
Manchester City's expected goals statistics suggests the champions have been the superior side in every Premier League game, except for when playing Liverpool earlier this month. Based on expected goals, Manchester City have been the best team in the league. Pep Guardiola’s side should have lost five points so far this season, instead of 13, and would top the Premier League table by six points.
Manchester City are currently priced at 2.200* to win the Premier League and could be the value bet based on current data.
The evidence of a two team race?
As seen from @PenaltyKickStats’ data and the league table itself, there is a clear divide between Liverpool, Manchester City and the rest of the chasing pack. Using Sporting Index data to model the Premier League, match by match. The graph below highlights the gap in class between both sides and the remaining teams in the Premier League.
Using SpIndex data to model the EPL, match by match.— PenaltyKickStat⚽️ (@PenaltyKickStat) January 18, 2019
There really is a gulf going on here.
The toughest head to head looks like Tottenham vs Chelsea.
Tit for tat until the end. pic.twitter.com/dG5GbFfGFT
Who will secure Champions League qualification?
Tottenham are over-performing so far this according to expected goals, scoring more than expected and conceding fewer than projected. This level of over-performance is not maintainable and with additional injuries to key players (most notably Harry Kane) it would be no surprise to see Spurs slip down the table.
"Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has turned Manchester United’s fortunes around since his arrival and has improved United’s process, especially in attack, though they haven't been as good as results suggest."
Expected goals has Arsenal on approximately 30.0xGA conceded this season, meaning that they give up chances worth about 1.34 goals per game. That ranks the Gunners eighth in the Premier League table. Unai Emery’s suspect defence has also conceded 105 shots on target, which is alarming numbers for a team looking to gain Champions League qualification.
However, the north London side are over-performing expected goals, which has them on approximately 35 which means they are creating chances worth around 1.6 goals per game, but they have been consistently scoring over 2 – largely thanks to having two strikers with the calibre of Aubameyang and Lacazette.
10 - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the first player to score with 10 consecutive shots on target in the Premier League since October 2007 (Benni McCarthy for Blackburn). Pinpoint. pic.twitter.com/CHa1Tjyzfb— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 2, 2018
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has turned Manchester United’s fortunes around since his arrival and has improved United’s process, especially in attack. It’s important to note that they haven't actually been as good as results suggest - (and certainly not as dominant) so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see United’s results decline.
Chelsea have acquired the services of Juventus striker Higuain, and he is considered to be a proven performer, but it’s unlikely that another physical presence added to the Blues forward line is what they need to improve on their current results. Higuain's goal against SPAL back in December, was his first since October and his statistics have been on the decline, which is expected, given his age.
The Argentine will likely be an upgrade on Alvaro Morata and carries a better expected goals per 90 minutes than Harry Kane. Chelsea sit fourth in the Premier League and have the lowest tally of goals scored out of the top six, but are second in chances created. Despite their struggles, there are positive signs for the Blues as they move into the second half
Why are Wolves so good against the top six sides?
Wolves can count themselves unlucky so far this season according to expected goals, and they deserve to be higher than their current position. Of the 14 clubs below the top six sides in the Premier League table, Wolves' form against the top six is unrivalled.
"The Midlands club had 39 per cent possession against Tottenham, 30 per cent against Chelsea and only 29 per cent in drawing against Manchester City, yet still secured 7 points in those 3 matches."
The Midlands club had 39% possession against Tottenham, yet were still victorious. Despite just 30% against Chelsea (which they won) and only 29% against Manchester City (which they drew), Wolves still managed still secured seven points in those three matches.
The tactics used by Nuno Espírito Santo allows the opposition players time and space to come forward with the ball, which give Wolves the ability to then exploit the space left behind with fast counter attacks after they eventually gain possession.
Wolves are solid defensively and can control a game without having possession and it will be no surprise based on their statistics so far this season if they finish inside the top seven clubs.
xG map for Spurs - Wolves— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) December 29, 2018
A result that's been coming for both clubs. Wolves defended exceptionally well, Spurs never got the ball into the center of the box as the map shows. pic.twitter.com/lorD4rt8Nd
The battle against the drop
Cardiff City, Fulham, and Huddersfield currently occupy the three relegation spaces at the other end of the Premier League table. A defeat for Cardiff last weekend to fellow strugglers Newcastle moved the Bluebirds into dangerous territory, but they deserve a higher position of 16th according to expected goals.
Huddersfield remain favourites for the drop, and analysing their statistics it looks likely they will be playing Championship soccer next season. It is worth bettors noting that Cardiff City have played each of the current top six sides once, so their remaining fixtures will be easier on average than their rivals, plus their underlying performances suggest there is a chance that they will start to score more goals as the season progresses.
When analysing the other sides involved in a relegation battle, Southampton look like a side who have been more unfortunate than bad so far this season. The Saints data suggests that the average team would have scored around twice as many from the same chances. With Ralph Hasenhüttl’s team yet to face any of the current bottom three sides, their statistics look strong enough for them to avoid the drop.