Jones Knows is back with his Premier League predictions and betting angles across all 10 games. He thinks Raphinha is a great bet to fire first at 8/1 for Leeds.
Manchester City vs West Ham, Saturday 12.30pm
The records are tumbling for Manchester City – is this where their 19-game winning run ends? I can’t see it.
Regular readers won’t be surprised to read that. West Ham will have to be foot-perfect in both boxes to maintain their impressive form. Yet their biggest hope may come from me opposing them. I haven’t got them right for six weeks now. West Ham rejoice.
City’s defence are on the verge of doing something no team has achieved in Premier League history. Another clean sheet here would make them the first team to concede as little as four goals in 18 straight Premier League games. Arsenal (1998/99) and Manchester United (2008/09) managed to concede just four goals in 17 games, but no one has put such a deadly defensive run together. A huge reason for their upturn at the back is simply Ruben Dias, who is part of a defence that is statistically the best in all of Europe’s top leagues. City have conceded just 15 goals this season.
So, why is Dias as big as 12/1 with Sky Bet to land the PFA Player of the Year award when it looks a straight shootout between him and Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes?
The market is far too skewed in the direction of the United playmaker, who is a Even money shot with Sky Bet, and when we have a false favourite at the top of a betting market, there’s only one thing to do, Jones Knows must strap on those punting boots.
Dias can grab another clean sheet here in what should be another routine victory.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-0
BETTING ANGLE: Ruben Dias to win PFA Player of the Year (12/1 with Sky Bet)
West Brom vs Brighton, Saturday 3pm, live on Sky Sports (Play Super 6 to win £250,000!)
The Baggies are a bet here at 3/1 with Sky Bet. That’s a big price.
Brighton just can’t be trusted at odds-on against teams that play a low block. Graham Potter’s men have won just one from seven games against teams that like to defend deep and counter.
Sam Allardyce has left his Houdini act too late in the day to conjure up a miraculous escape but his side are now a competitive outfit, capable of winning games in the Premier League. They were magnificent at Burnley, somehow spurning big chances with 10-men to slip to another draw. In another world, they would be coming into this game with back-to-back wins having made life difficult against Manchester United too.
The impact of Mbaye Diagne has much to do with West Brom’s upturn in performances. He only has one goal to his name but has recorded an expected goals figure of 2.76 in his last four games – that’s the most created by any player since he signed bar Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling. Four of his shots in that period have come via a header, including his goal in the draw with United. All three goals Brighton have conceded of late have come via opposition centre-forwards getting in where it hurts and Diagne looks a fair bet to score with a header at 14/1 with Sky Bet.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-1
BETTING ANGLE: Mbaye Diagne to score a header (14/1 with Sky Bet)
SUPER SIX: It was a 1-1 stalemate when West Brom met Brighton earlier this season and the same outcome is the most popular selection by Super 6 players for the rematch – backed by 27% of entrants.
Leeds vs Aston Villa, Saturday 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports
Now this should be a fun watch. If there’s an early goal we could see chaos.
I was really keen on attacking the total match shots market as the previous fixture between these two produced 39 shots and Leeds’ total of 712 shots for and against in their 25 games works out an average of 28.5 per game which is more than any other side. However, the line is set high at 31 shots at 11/10 with Sky Bet and with Jack Grealish an injury doubt for Villa, I’m happy to let that price slide.
It’s hard to ignore the 8/1 on Raphinha scoring first though. As my colleague Adam Bate wrote in a fantastic read on the Brazilian, “Leeds United have found one in Raphinha.”
He was sensational in the wins over Crystal Palace and Southampton, playing with a confidence that makes him look very much at home at Elland Road. In his last seven games, only Bruno Fernandes and James Maddison have had more shots than him (18) with three of those shots finding the net. He can score first in what is likely to be a typical Leeds ‘we’ll have a shot, you have a shot’ type of game.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 3-1
BETTING ANGLE: Raphinha to score first (8/1 with Sky Bet)
Newcastle vs Wolves, Saturday 8pm, live on Sky Sports
Newcastle are slipping and sliding nearer trouble but I’m still convinced this isn’t the Newcastle of a few weeks ago that embarrassed themselves in a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United. It’s a braver, more forward-thinking approach.
Back-to-back defeats against Chelsea and Manchester United haven’t changed my opinion. And, to an extent, the performance at United, especially in the first half, actually strengthened my belief that the Toon are an improved outfit since switching to this diamond-like formation halfway through their defeat to Leeds.
This is a very winnable game for them, so much so I was surprised to see 5/2 available on the home win with Sky Bet.
Wolves may have won four of their last five matches but they still remain a very stodgy team, especially in the first half of matches. They haven’t scored before the 36th minute in a match for seven fixtures and with Newcastle playing a more aggressive, high-press game, I’m interested in the 3/1 for Newcastle to be winning at half-time. Steve Bruce’s men have scored five goals in their last five first halves.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-1
BETTING ANGLE: Newcastle to be winning at half-time (3/1 with Sky Bet)
Crystal Palace vs Fulham, Sunday 12pm
Quite how Crystal Palace are 10 points from safety is one of football’s great mysteries. In their last four games, most of it without Wilfried Zaha, they have somehow picked up six points despite registering a total expected goals figure of 0.86. It’s probably saved their season as they don’t need to waft outside off stump in order to pick up points to stave off relegation now. Roy Hodgson’s men can block, block, block.
I’m convinced Fulham are the more accomplished side of these two, especially with Zaha still ruled out, yet Scott Parker’s men still can’t be trusted to pick up consistent wins at this level. This could be a similar tale to Palace’s win over Brighton where Hodgson’s boys will look second best for large parts but still come away with a result. I’ll play the draw.
One area Fulham can be trusted is their ability to get Ademola Lookman into shooting positions from outside the box. This month, only James Maddison and Bruno Fernandes are taking more shots from outside the penalty area than Lookman (7), who is quickly becoming a shoot-on-sight merchant.
Palace, likely to defend deep, have faced 128 shots from outside the box – only Sheffield United have faced more, so I’m keen to back Lookman to hit the target from range at 9/4 with Sky Bet.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1
Leicester vs Arsenal, Sunday 12pm
The destination of the points in this one will centre around which club can recover quickest from their Thursday night escapades. Arsenal will take to the field in far more buoyant mood after keeping their Europa League hopes alive vs Benfica but it’s Leicester that surely will be the fresher side.
Brendan Rodgers’ tactical flexibility and ability to rotate his squad in shrewd fashion is a key part of his management. I always got the feeling a Premier League game takes prominence in his eyes over Europe and Thursday’s defeat to Slavia Prague backed that up. They will be ready to rock for this one.
A common theme of their season has been their impressive performance levels after a Europa League clash on a Thursday. The Foxes have won six of their seven Premier League matches straight after a Thursday game, including the 1-0 win at The Emirates back in October. At 6/4 they look backable.
The match-up down Leicester’s left has got my punting juices flowing, too.
Hector Bellerin will be tasked with dealing with a fresh Harvey Barnes, who was rested in midweek. The Arsenal defender is the most booked player in the Premier League this season (8) with one of those for a foul on Barnes in the corresponding fixture. In total, the flying Leicester man has got 12 players booked this season which ranks him only behind Jack Grealish in that regard. The 7/2 with Sky Bet for Bellerin to be carded looks very fair.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-0
BETTING ANGLE: Hector Bellerin to pick up a card (7/2 with Sky Bet)
Tottenham vs Burnley, Sunday 2pm, live on Sky Sports
There was a moment towards the end of Tottenham’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City that might just have changed the trajectory of their season. It was the rebirth and potentially the return of Gareth Bale. With 82 minutes on the clock, Bale, on for another seemingly underwhelming cameo, showed a change of direction and skill to beat two City defenders before his effort was parried away by Ederson. It was bright. It was sharp. It was full of quality. It was Gareth Bale.
Since that moment, Bale has played 130 minutes for Spurs and he’s bagged two goals, two assists and most importantly looked ready to make a significant difference for Jose Mourinho. His performance in the second half at West Ham, where he played in front line of Harry Kane and Heung Min-Son was everything Spurs fans want to see from him. Mourinho’s men were fantastic in the second half at the London Stadium with Bale crashing the crossbar with a fine strike.
Burnley, who were absolutely rancid against West Brom, could be in serious trouble here as Bale looks set to start for the first time in a home game this year. I want to invest in his chances of delivering a monstrous performance. My main play will be his anytime scorer price of 2/1 with Sky Bet but I’ll also be plunging some pennies on Bale to score from outside the area at 12/1, Bale to score twice at 14/1 and Bale to grab a hat-trick at 100/1.
The boy is back and I’m expecting Spurs to surge up the table in the next few weeks, starting here with a comfortable win.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 3-0
BETTING ANGLE: Gareth Bale to score anytime (2/1 with Sky Bet)
Chelsea vs Man Utd, Sunday 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
It’s far too early to be making any sweeping statements about Thomas Tuchel’s impact at Chelsea – but one thing we can say with confidence is their upsurge at keeping the ball out of their net. As my colleague Nick Wright wrote in a feature analysing Tuchel’s first few games, since Tuchel’s appointment, Chelsea have faced the fewest shots in the division and recorded the lowest expected goals against total too. Tuchel has made defensive stability a priority since his arrival, switching to a back three and making Chelsea more robust by deploying two defensive midfielders rather than one.
Now comes the biggest test. Can he keep the free-flowing Manchester United attack, led by Bruno Fernandes quiet? Well, I’d argue it might not be such a challenging task as it first seems.
One Fernandes penalty vs Tottenham is United’s only goal in ‘big six’ Premier League meetings this season. United have not kept the pace with rivals City in the title race due to their record in matches against teams competing for the top six. Solskjaer’s side are winless in their seven fixtures this season against traditional ‘big six’ teams and Leicester, with Fernandes seemingly going missing when the big occasion arrives. As you can see from the table below, he has managed one goal, one penalty and one assist in 630 minutes of action against such opponents.
His individual performances in those games is summed up by the player ratings awarded by Sky Sports’ team of journalists on the match in question. In those seven games, he has averaged a combined player rating of just 5.3, showcasing just how little he has impacted those type of matches.
Chelsea are set up to be counter-attacked, an area where United flourish, but it’s hard to make a case for an away win when all angles are assessed. Like most meetings between the big boys this season, it’s bound to be a tactical and very cagey affair with Chelsea dominating possession. One goal will probably do it for Tuchel.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-0
BETTING ANGLE: Chelsea to win by one goal (3/1 with Sky Bet)
Sheffield United vs Liverpool, Sunday 7.15pm, live on Sky Sports
I’ve not lost faith in Liverpool yet. A string of injuries at centre-back – combined with individual drop-offs in form – has left Liverpool low on confidence. That can be fixed by Jurgen Klopp.
With Phil Jagielka set to start for the Blades, they will be defending deep in order to protect their goal. Liverpool will only need one goal against the league’s worst attack.
This brings forward the prospect of Liverpool managing to get shots away from distance and prices around Trent Alexander-Arnold hitting the target have got my attention. The England man has yet to hit the heights of last season in a low-key year for him but confidence is slowly returning after a spell of classy performances down the right. He’s had five shots in his last two games and likes nothing more than firing from range against a low-block, hitting the target from outside the box vs Tottenham, Burnley, Sheffield United and Everton twice this season. The 11/4 for another is too big.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 0-2
Everton vs Southampton, Monday 8pm, live on Sky Sports
All eyes will be on Everton here. Traditionally, you’d think the Toffees would be vulnerable in trying to back up a famous win like they had at Anfield. Lose this one and that historic victory is toned down a touch.
It’s relevant that eight of Everton’s 12 Premier League wins this season have been away from Goodison – only 35 per cent of points have come at home (14/40). I wouldn’t be touching them around Evens against a dangerous Saints team.
Yes, they have won just one of their last 13 Premier League games since mid-December but Ralph Hasenhutt’s boys do raise their levels when necessary, as seen when beating Liverpool and drawing with Chelsea.
I’m expecting plenty of bite in midfield in this one with the rapidly improving Tom Davies matching up against a Saints side that play very aggressively through the middle with James Ward-Prowse at the forefront of their play.
Davies was sensational in the win at Anfield with a destructive and tactically astute performance in front of his expertly organised defence. No player made more tackles than Davies (5) and no Everton player gained possession for their side on more occasions (8). Carlo Ancelotti is getting the best out of the midfielder in the absence of Allan and the 11/4 with Sky Bet for him to make four or more tackles looks good to me.
JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 1-1
BETTING ANGLE: Tom Davies to make four or more tackles (11/4 with Sky Bet)