EPL

Premier League predictions: Man City big favourites against Liverpool, Arsenal to maintain title charge

By Sports Desk March 31, 2023

Premier League leaders Arsenal went into the international break with an eight-point advantage, and the Gunners will be hoping for a favour from Liverpool on Saturday.

Before Arsenal host strugglers Leeds United, Liverpool travel to the Etihad Stadium to face second-placed Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola's side have a game in hand on Arsenal, but surely they must beat the Reds to give themselves a realistic chance of retaining the title.

Elsewhere, there are more huge fixtures at the bottom of the table, including West Ham v Southampton, while Newcastle United and Manchester United play in a repeat of February's EFL Cup final.

 

Manchester City v Liverpool

Liverpool, who won the reverse league fixture 1-0, are looking to complete the league double over City for what would be just a second time in the last 17 seasons, previously doing so in Jurgen Klopp's debut campaign in 2015-16.

Mohamed Salah has scored in all three of Liverpool's games against Man City this season, in the Premier League, Community Shield and EFL Cup. The last Liverpool player to score in four different games against an opponent in a single campaign was Ian Rush, netting in five meetings with Everton in 1986-87.

Erling Haaland has scored 42 goals in all competitions for City this season, including six hat-tricks (all at the Etihad). Only two players have scored more in a single campaign for a Premier League club (since 1992-93) – Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2002-03 and Salah in 2017-18 (both 44).

Best bet – City to avoid defeat:  City have lost just one of their last 13 Premier League home games against Liverpool (W7 D5), going down 4-1 in November 2015 under Manuel Pellegrini. Guardiola's team have won their last three top-flight games, but have yet to win four in a row this season. 

Long shot – Liverpool to win:  Liverpool have won more Premier League games against reigning champions than any other side (23). They are aiming to achieve their first such double since 2013-14, beating Manchester United 1-0 at home and 3-0 away. However, they have taken just 12 points from their 13 Premier League away games this season (W3 D3 L7), compared to 30 at home.

Opta prediction: Despite the fierce rivalry over recent years, City are the big favourites for this game, with Opta's supercomputer ranking their chances of victory at 50.9 per cent. The draw is at 26.4 per cent, with Liverpool handed a 22.7 per cent chance of success.

 

Arsenal v Leeds United

Leeds have won just two of their 23 Premier League games against the league leaders (D9 L12), though both victories came away from home (v Middlesbrough in August 2000 and Man City in April 2021). They have lost all four such games against Arsenal by an aggregate score of 14-2.

Arsenal have won their last six Premier League games, their joint-longest such run under Mikel Arteta. They last won seven in a row between August and October 2018 under Unai Emery.

Arsenal’s top scorer in the Premier League this season is Gabriel Martinelli with 13 goals. The last player to score more while aged 21 or under in a single campaign in the division was Dele Alli in 2016-17 (18).

Best bet – Bukayo Saka to score or assist: Only Erling Haaland (33) and Harry Kane (23) have been involved in more Premier League goals than Saka this season (22), with the winger the only player so far to reach double figures for both goals (12) and assists (10).

Long shot – Leeds to keep a clean sheet: Since a 0-0 draw in their first Premier League away game against Arsenal in February 1993, Leeds have not drawn or kept a clean sheet in any of their subsequent 13 league visits to the Gunners (W3 L10), shipping 31 goals in total.

Opta prediction: Opta do not give Leeds much chance at Emirates Stadium (15.5 per cent). Arsenal are huge favourites, with a 61.6 per cent win probability, while the draw is ranked at 22.9 per cent.

 

West Ham v Southampton

Coming into this weekend's games, Southampton have picked up the highest share of their Premier League points this season away from home (57 per cent - 13/23). Meanwhile, only Nottingham Forest (77 per cent) have a higher share of points won at home in 2022-23 than West Ham (75 per cent - 18/24).

Southampton have picked up as many points in their six Premier League games under Ruben Selles (8 – W2 D2 L2) as they had in their 17 league matches beforehand (W2 D2 L13).

Sides starting the day bottom of the Premier League have won 11 league matches this season, four more than the whole of last term (seven), and the most in a single campaign in the competition since 2017-18 (12). Southampton have been responsible for three of those victories by bottom-placed sides in 2022-23, a joint-high (also Leicester).

Best bet – James Ward-Prowse to create two chances:  Coming into this weekend's games, only Kieran Trippier (49) has created more chances from set plays than Ward-Prowse (35) in the Premier League this season, while the Southampton captain is the only player to create 25+ chances from both open play (27) and set pieces (35) in the division this term.

Long shot – A goalless draw: No other sides have kept fewer clean sheets in the Premier League this season than Southampton (four) and West Ham (five)

Opta prediction: Despite both of these teams struggling, it is West Ham who Opta give 51.4 per cent chance of claiming all the points. Southampton have been responsible for three of the seven victories by the bottom-placed side this season, but the likelihood of them succeeding this time stands at 21.7 per cent. 

 

Newcastle United v Manchester United

Following their goalless draw at Old Trafford in the reverse fixture, Newcastle are looking to keep a clean sheet in consecutive Premier League games against United for the first time since May 1997.

No player has scored more winning goals in the Premier League this season than Marcus Rashford, with nine of his 14 strikes being the winner. Only two United players have ever scored more winning goals in a single campaign in the competition – Cristiano Ronaldo (12 in 2007-08) and Wayne Rooney (10 in 2009-10).

Coming into this weekend's fixtures, only Bournemouth (38), Nottingham Forest (32) and Leicester (30) have conceded more away goals in the Premier League this season than United (27). Indeed, only in four different Premier League campaigns have the Red Devils conceded more on the road – 1999-00 (29), 2001-02 (28), 2018-19 (29) and 2021-22 (35).

Best bet – United to win: United have won more Premier League away games against Newcastle than any other side (14). However, they have lost two of their last five such visits (W2 D1), having lost just one of their previous 13 at St James' Park. Newcastle are winless in six Premier League games against Man Utd (D2 L4), though the last two have both been drawn.

Long shot – Rashford and Alexander Isak to score: Rashford has been involved in seven goals in his eight Premier League starts against Newcastle (four goals, three assists) – only against Arsenal and Leicester City (nine each) has he been involved in more. Isak, meanwhile, has scored six goals in 10 Premier League appearances for Newcastle this season, including three in his last two. 

Opta prediction: This could prove a big game in the top-four race, with Newcastle only three points behind third-placed United. The visitors are made very slight favourites (36.8 per cent to 34.2 per cent). The draw is given a 29 per cent chance.

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  • Switzerland 1-1 Germany: Late Fullkrug leveller secures Group A top spot for hosts Switzerland 1-1 Germany: Late Fullkrug leveller secures Group A top spot for hosts

    Niclas Fullkrug proved the last-gasp hero as Germany avoided a shock upset to top Group A at Euro 2024 after snatching a 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Sunday.

    Dan Ndoye's first international goal seemed set to seal a famous win for Switzerland and ensure them top spot in Group A, but Germany's towering substitute stepped up in the dying seconds in Frankfurt.

    Ruben Vargas thought he had doubled Switzerland's advantage late on, only to be denied by the offside flag, and that decision proved pivotal when Fullkrug headed in his 92nd-minute leveller.

    That late intervention ensured Germany finished top of the group and will face second place in Group D in the last 16, while Switzerland's top-two finish sets up a meeting with the runners-up of Group B.

    The host nation started brightly once again and thought they had taken another early lead when Florian Wirtz teed up Robert Andrich, who squeezed his shot past Yann Sommer into the near post.

    However, the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder was denied his first international goal after a VAR check as Jamal Musiala was deemed to have fouled Michel Aebischer in the box during the build-up.

    Nagelsmann's team instead found themselves behind for the first time in the tournament just before the half-hour mark after Ndoye crashed Remo Freuler's whipped cross past the helpless Manuel Neuer.

    Just moments later, Ndoye offered Germany another scare, racing past Antonio Rudiger before fizzing an angled shot just wide of the far post. 

    Nagelsmann's half-time message was clear as Musiala looked to make it three goals in three games with a powerful hit from the edge of the box, but Sommer was equal to the attempt.

    Toni Kroos drilled a low shot wide under pressure before Kai Havertz glanced a header over the bar as Germany failed to find their clinical edge.

    Joshua Kimmich had the best chance to equalise from close range in the 71st minute, but an incredible last-ditch block by Manuel Akanji denied him.

    Vargas was left one-on-one with Neuer shortly after and slotted into the far corner, but the assistant referee was quick to flag for offside as Switzerland celebrations were short-lived.

    Havertz's looping header bounced off the crossbar as Germany sought a response, which arrived when Fullkrug made his impact off the bench, thumping a header home from David Raum's left-sided delivery.

    Neuer's record-breaking day salvaged by Fullkrug

    Neuer had already made history in their opening game at Euro 2024 as he became Germany's outright top appearance maker at major tournaments, surpassing Philipp Lahm.

    Now, on his 37th start for his country, only Cristiano Ronaldo (45) has played more games across the Euros and World Cup than him, while he has also made the most appearances among goalkeepers in the history of the competition (18, moving ahead of Gianluigi Buffon).

    The 38-year-old could not mark a special day with a win, though, as Germany's long wait for a comeback victory when trailing at half-time stretched to 11 matches in the competition (D2 L9).

    Their last such win came at Euro 1976 against Yugoslavia (2-0 down at half-time, won 4-2), but Neuer and Co. can at least celebrate top spot after late drama in Frankfurt.

    Ndoye steps into the spotlight

    Xherdan Shaqiri grabbed the headlines in Switzerland's 1-1 draw with Scotland last time out after scoring in a sixth consecutive major tournament, but with him on the bench on Sunday, the Red Crosses needed others to step up.

    In his 14th start for the national side, Ndoye netted for the first time, becoming Switzerland's second-youngest goalscorer in the history of the Euros at 23 years and 242 days, after Johan Vonlanthen against France in 2004 (18y 141d).

    Despite going off in the 65th minute, Ndoye had the most shots for Switzerland (two of their three), creating an expected goals tally of 0.52 as he proved their biggest threat.

    Though Switzerland will rue their late concession, they are now unbeaten in their last four meetings with Germany – a promising sign as the last-16 awaits.

  • France v Poland: Deschamps remains calm despite Les Bleus' struggle for goals France v Poland: Deschamps remains calm despite Les Bleus' struggle for goals

    France manager Didier Deschamps says he is "not concerned" with his side's recent struggles in front of goal ahead of their final Euro 2024 group game against Poland on Tuesday.

    Les Bleus are all but through to the knockout stages of the European Championships, sitting joint-top of Group D with four points, but need to avoid defeat to ensure progression.

    Yet France's only goal at the tournament so far has come courtesy of Maximilian Wober turning into his own net in the opening 1-0 victory over Austria, before a goalless draw with the Netherlands on Friday.

    France failed to score with any of their 15 shots in a wasteful display against the Oranje as Deschamps went without Kylian Mbappe, who was only fit enough for the bench due to his broken nose.

    Asked about Les Bleus' profligate showings, Deschamps responded: "I am not concerned. It is just the name of the game.

    "Sometimes you have countless chances and don't hit the back of the net, and sometimes it is the other way round.

    "I would be worried if there were not any chances. Efficiency at high-level football is important, and it is something we can work on.

    On Mbappe's fitness, Deschamps added: "Everything is going in the right direction; he is recovering from the shock, there is the haematoma part which will diminish each day, he will get used to his mask, which modifies the vision a little. But he is fine."

    Poland became the first side to be eliminated from the tournament following France's draw, after they lost their opening matches to the Netherlands (2-1) and Austria (3-1).

    They have faced their own problems without Robert Lewandowski, who missed the start of the tournament due to a hamstring injury before appearing from the bench against Austria.

    "We are depressed by this result, but we still have one more game in our group, and we need to put our best foot forward and try to win three points," Lewandowski said.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    France – N'Golo Kante

    N'Golo Kante was a surprise inclusion in Deschamps' squad for the tournament after a two-year absence from the national side, but his performances so far have earned him the Player of the Match award in their opening two games.

    The midfielder has made more major tournament appearances without losing than any other European player, with France unbeaten in all 17 games he has played across the Euros and World Cup (W12 D5).

    Poland – Piotr Zielinski

    Poland may be out of the tournament but will be desperate to go down fighting, with Piotr Zielinski again expected to be key here.

    Zielinski has been directly involved in more shots than any other Poland player at Euro 2024 (11 – seven shots, four chances created), as well as completing the most passes for his side (68) across the first two rounds.

    MATCH PREDICTION: FRANCE WIN

    This will only be the third meeting between France and Poland in a major tournament, and the first at the Euros. Poland won a third-place play-off match 3-2 at the 1982 World Cup, while France triumphed 3-1 in the round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup.

    Including all competitions, France are unbeaten in their last eight meetings with Poland (W4 D4), since losing a friendly match 4-0 in August 1982.

    Les Bleus simply need to avoid defeat to qualify for the knockout stages, and they are unbeaten in their eight games in the group stage at the Euros under Deschamps (W4 D4), with their last such defeat coming on MD 3 versus Sweden at Euro 2012 (2-0), under Laurent Blanc.

    Meanwhile, Poland have lost both of their games at Euro 2024 so far but have never previously suffered three defeats in a single group stage at a major tournament.

    Poland have lost their final group stage match in three of their four previous appearances at the European Championships, with the exception being a 1-0 win against Ukraine in 2016 – the only time they have reached the knockout rounds of the competition.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    France – 73.9%

    Draw – 14.8%

    Poland – 11.2%

  • Sabitzer focused on last-16 qualification after Champions League heartache Sabitzer focused on last-16 qualification after Champions League heartache

    Marcel Sabitzer insisted he will put his Champions League final defeat in the past as he prepares to help Austria reach the last-16 of Euro 2024. 

    The Borussia Dortmund midfielder played the full duration of their 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid at Wembley earlier this month. 

    Los Blancos secured their 15th success in the competition thanks to goals late in the game from Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Junior. 

    But Sabitzer played a starring role as Austria roared back from their defeat to France in their opening game of the competition, beating Poland 3-1 to bring it down to the final matchday. 

    Austria face the Netherlands in Berlin next Tuesday to conclude their Group D campaign, and know a win could see them finish top or second. 

    A draw or defeat could also leave Ralf Rangnick's side with a good chance of progressing as one of the four best third-placed teams. 

    "The possibilities then really open up," Sabitzer said.

    "I know that from the Champions League, especially this season. Once you're on a run in the knockout phase anything can happen.

    "The most important thing is to get through the group stage and into the round of 16 and then we'll see what happens next."

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