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PL Predictions: Man City too robust & ruthless for Arsenal

Our tipster Jones Knows previews the weekend Premier League card as the title race hots up. Read on for his analysis and betting selections.

Watch free Premier League highlights on the Sky Sports app
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Newcastle vs West Ham, Saturday 12.30pm

Lucas Paqueta makes West Ham tick.

Since start of last season from a 67-game sample size, West Ham have scored 1.6 goals per 90 minutes with him in the team and 0.6 without him. That means his influence is responsible for a goal a game. In such a low scoring sport, that is massive. Flanked by Jarrod Bowen and Mohamed Kudus, West Ham can be an exciting proposition when allowed to play with freedom.

At almost 3/1 with Sky Bet, they look worth chancing for the away win.

Joe Willock’s goalscorer price is worth a mention, too. West Ham have shown they can’t cope with his aggressive running into their box. In just 206 minutes of action against them for Newcastle, he’s scored three goals from eight shots. Yes, that’s a small sample size – but that’s a goal every 68 minutes and a shot every 23 minutes.

His 9/2 anytime goalscorer price does look a punt to keep on your radar.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-2

Any winners for Jones Knows in last round?

  • BTTS & over 2.5 goals in Burnley vs Brentford (11/10)
  • Most goals in second half of Fulham vs Tottenham (Evens)
  • Liverpool 7+ corners vs Man Utd (5/4)
  • BTTS & no draw in Wolves vs Coventry (11/8)
  • Chelsea to beat Leicester & over 3.5 goals (2/1)

Bournemouth vs Everton, Saturday 3pm

Teams that get the ball forward quickly are able to cause Bournemouth problems. Andoni Iraola’s football is all about high pressing and creating turnovers up the pitch but if opposition teams bypass that with direct football, it not only negates that key strength Bournemouth possess but also leaves the back four very vulnerable.

There are seven teams in the Premier League who fall into the category of “fast and direct” when assessing sequences of play. They are Sheffield United, Luton, Brentford, Nottingham Forest, West Ham and Everton – and Bournemouth’s record against those teams this season is P9 W2 D5 L2 – a really disappointing return.

Among those sets of results was Everton’s 3-0 win at Goodison Park over Bournemouth in what was their best performance of the campaign.

They have the style to worry Bournemouth again. They look one of the best bets of the weekend, either on the double chance at 4/6 with Sky Bet or – those with braver tendencies than me – should be tempted by the 21/10 for the away win.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-2 | JONES KNOWS’ BEST BET: Everton double chance (4/6 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

Chelsea vs Burnley, Saturday 3pm – PLAY SUPER 6 TO WIN £1,000,000!

Scoring goals has been holding Chelsea back this season. That is changing though.

In their last eight matches across all competitions, Chelsea have scored 19 goals. There are very positive signs for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who have in that time held both Manchester City and Liverpool in 90 minutes while beating Aston Villa and Newcastle.

Now the goalscoring issue is remedied, Chelsea do have the building blocks in place to have a strong ending to the campaign, starting here with a home win. There is a way to boost their skinny 2/7 win price with Sky Bet by adding both teams to score in the mix.

In eight of Chelsea’s last nine matches, both teams to score has copped while Burnley have shown they are capable of finding the net against top-half teams. Vincent Kompany’s men scored away at Liverpool, Manchester City, Aston Villa, Brighton and Arsenal meaning the 7/4 on a Chelsea win with both teams scoring looks a price to consider.

SCORE PREDICTION: 3-1

Nottingham Forest vs Crystal Palace, Saturday 3pm

This game has tied me in knots trying to look for an angle. Nuno Espirito Santo seems to be still searching for his best XI and won’t be able to utilise their key weapon of counters attacks in this encounter while it’s still too early to make a call about how Palace are shaping up under Oliver Glaser. The early signs have been positive though.

In times of confusion and blurry lines, we head to the goals market for a comfort blanket.

Premier League games continue to produce goals at a rate never seen in this league with the per game average still trending at a record level of 3.24 goals per 90 minutes. The goal lines here are under that figure so taking the 5/4 on both teams scoring and over 2.5 goals in the match should provide you with a bet that goes close in what is likely to be a very even encounter.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-2

Sheffield United vs Fulham, Saturday 3pm

Are there shoots of hope for Sheffield United? I certainly saw that in their 2-2 draw with Bournemouth, where Chris Wilder decided to play Ben Brereton-Diaz and Oli McBurnie as an old-school front two and basically bang balls into the opposition half for them to compete for.

Gustavo Hamer celebrates his goal with team-mates Jayden Bogle, Oliver McBurnie and Ollie Arblaster
Image: Oliver McBurnie celebrates a Sheffield United goal at Bournemouth

They attempted 75 long passes in the match – the most they’ve attempted in a single game this season. McBurnie competed for 20 aerial duels in just 69 minutes of action – that’s the sixth highest recorded of any player in the Premier League this season. That’s an aerial dual every 3.45 minutes, which showcases just how quickly the Blades were getting the ball up to their target man.

This kind of direct football does always trigger my interest in the fouls committed market for the opposition as there will be ample opportunities for the strikers to win fouls in a duel with a defender looking to get tight. Bournemouth duo Chris Mepham and Illia Zabarnyi both made one foul each in that 2-2 draw with Wilder’s men.

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A half-time swim could be on the cards for Fulham fans following the renovation of a new sky deck at Craven Cottage!

McBurnie and Brereton-Diaz do have strong data over a big sample size for drawing fouls. In 239 games played in the top four tiers of English football, McBurnie is working at a fouls won average of 1.59 won per 90 minutes and Brereton-Diaz, in 217 games, has won 1.58 per 90. I think fouls conceded against these two could be a developing trend in the next few weeks if the relegation doomed Blades continue along this direct path.

So, Fulham centre-backs Calvin Bassey and Tosin look players in the fouls conceded markets.

Tosin at 10/11 with Sky Bet to make at least one foul is the method of attack when assessing his recent foul data having made four in his last four starts. But Bassey’s price, also 10/11 for one foul, does make significant appeal too.

SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1 | JONES KNOWS’ BEST BET: Tosin to make one or more fouls (10/11 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

Tottenham vs Luton, Saturday 3pm – PLAY SUPER 6 TO WIN £1,000,000!

Rob Edwards surely can’t go to Tottenham and play with Luton’s usual man-for-man style. With the injuries mounting and confidence looking shaky with only one win in their last 11 games, it could be time for the switch to more basic, defensive, football tactics.

Spurs hate playing against low blocks – as seen by their scratchy performances at home to Crystal Palace, Wolves, Brentford and Everton. It required plenty of patience and guile to open those teams up. Spurs are slow learners in that regard.

The Super 6 Rollover hits a whopping £1,000,000! Play for free, entries by 3pm Saturday March 30.
Image: The Super 6 Rollover hits a whopping £1,000,000! Play for free, entries by 3pm Saturday March 30

They have now failed to score in nine of their last 10 first halves in all competitions.

With that mind, if Luton adopt a change in style, the first half goal line looks full of value to exploit. There is Evens available with Sky Bet on the first half producing under 1.5 goals and a whopping 5/1 on there being no first-half goals – or 0-0 at half-time. Yes, Luton have scored in their last 17 Premier League games but their attacking cocktail has lacked a bit of punch in recent weeks and this could be the game where that run ends.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-0 | JONES KNOWS’ BEST BET: 0-0 correct score at half-time (5/1 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

Aston Villa vs Wolves, Saturday 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports – PLAY SUPER 6 TO WIN £1,000,000!

Aston Villa vs Wolves

As rivalries go, this isn’t exactly Aston Villa vs Birmingham or Wolves vs West Brom but with both Birmingham and West Brom down in the Championship, this game does have added spice.

Since the start of the 19/20 season, this fixture is the joint-third dirtiest fixture in the Premier League – that’s of teams that have met at least five times in that period. There have been 45 yellows and three red cards shown in nine games – an average of more than five cards per game.

The meeting earlier this season had five yellows and a red in what was another feisty affair backed up the numbers as Villa have been shown the third most cards this season (76) and Wolves have been shown the sixth most (68). Backing cards looks the way to play and I’ll be taking the 50+ booking points at 4/6 with Sky Bet.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-1 | JONES KNOWS’ BEST BET: 50+ booking points (4/6 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

Brentford vs Manchester United, Saturday 8pm, live on Sky Sports – PLAY SUPER 6 TO WIN £1,000,000!

Brentford vs Manchester United

There is no getting away from Brentford’s dire run of form, losing 14 of the last 18 Premier League games – that’s the most defeats in that period of any team in the top five European Leagues.

Hopes are pinned on the return of Bryan Mbeumo helping Brentford get out of their sticky situation. Before his injury he was having his best Premier League season, scoring 10 goals in 18 appearances. He can have a huge impact for Brentford, especially in home matches where since promotion they have been notoriously strong when Mbeumo plays.

In 26 home games he’s started since the start of last season, Brentford have only lost three of those matches, winning 13 – so a 50 per cent strike rate. In comparison, they’ve lost five of the seven games he’s missed.

The fact Thomas Frank can start Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo together for the first time in 324 days is massive for Brentford and isn’t being reflected in the market with the home win standing out at 15/8 with Sky Bet.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-1

Liverpool vs Brighton, Sunday 2pm, live on Sky Sports – PLAY SUPER 6 TO WIN £1,000,000!

Liverpool vs Brighton

Football is all about timing, isn’t it? And the Liverpool job just might be available at the wrong time for Roberto De Zerbi, whose stock is dropping.

I’d just love to see someone of De Zerbi’s maverick nature get given a chance at a club like Liverpool as I’d like to think it’s a style that would only thrive if he had better quality players to teach it to. He’ll want to showcase what his teams can do at Anfield – that could lead to a bonkers match against Liverpool’s deadly attack.

De Zerbi has faced Klopp four times and never lost though – his football does tend to cause Liverpool problems.

Brighton have scored 10 goals in those four meetings and registered 24 shots on target.

Although I’m not brave enough to trust Brighton to get a result just down to their lack of current ruthlessness in their attack, I do think De Zerbi’s style will lead to them finding lots of situations down the flanks in behind the Liverpool full-backs. I’m liking the look of Simon Adingra’s shot on target prices for Brighton, where we can get 4/5 with Sky Bet for one or more.

The Brighton recruitment wizzes have done it again with this guy – he cost just £6m two years ago and is developing at a rapid rate this season. He’s had 25 shots in his last nine starts and nine of those hit the target. He scored and had two shots on target in the reverse fixture at the Amex, again showcasing how influential the wide forwards are likely to be in this game for Brighton.

SCORE PREDICTION: 4-2

Manchester City vs Arsenal, Sunday 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports – PLAY SUPER 6 TO WIN £1,000,000!

Manchester City vs Arsenal

Time to put some big-boy pants on for a big-boy opinion. I think Manchester City are a great bet here at 10/11 with Sky Bet.

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Speaking on the Essential Football podcast, Sam Blitz explains why the battle between Rodri and Declan Rice will be crucial in determining who comes out on top of Manchester City vs Arsenal

Until I’ve seen Arsenal play with cool heads in a make or break game at this stage of the season, I can’t trust them with my money. I’ve had this fear with Arsenal for most of the season and the performance in the second leg against Porto only heightened those fears. I thought they were really poor against a very limited Porto side where even William Saliba and Gabriel – their two most important players – looked very shaky and nervous.

On the evidence my eyes are telling me, City are a more mature, more ruthless and more robust team than Arsenal in these kind of a high-stakes environments.

Plus, home advantage here is massive. City are unbeaten in their last 38 games in all competitions at home (W33 D5) and they’ve beaten Arsenal seven times on the spin in the Premier League at the Etihad by an aggregate score of 21-4.

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Ahead of Manchester City’s title-race showdown with Arsenal, we look back at some of the most iconic moments between the Citizens and the Gunners from the Premier League over the years

Also a key factor is just how strong Man City are defending set-pieces. They’ve conceded the fewest set-piece goals this season, just two, that’s three fewer than any other team. Arsenal have scored 27 per cent of their goals via se- pieces this season, that’s the third highest percentage in the Premier League. City have the organisation and aerial dominance to cut off Arsenal’s key weapon. Sign me up to the home win.

SCORE PREDICTION: 2-0 | JONES KNOWS’ BEST BET: Man City to beat Arsenal (10/11 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)

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