Adrian Clarke is back with his Premier League Insights column one final time before the World Cup…
Last weekend was a frustrating one with a push and a loss on the books, but before we pause for the World Cup Finals let’s try and bow out on a high!
We begin at the home of the champions…
— Matchbook Betting Exchange (@TeamMatchbook) November 10, 2022
NORMAL SERVICE SHOULD RESUME WHEN MAN CITY ENTERTAIN THE BEES
While I was working as a match summariser on Manchester City’s dramatic and controversial late doors win against Fulham last Saturday, it was all very disorientating.
An actual competitive home match for Pep Guardiola’s goal-munching champions? I’d forgotten what they were like, but that’s what we were unexpectedly treated to at the Etihad Stadium.
Easy wins can easily morph into tense struggles the moment a red card is flashed, and Joao Cancelo cynical challenge on Harry Wilson certainly made things a lot more interesting than planned.
To their credit City played three-quarters of that match with 10 men, and still dominated a meek, almost overawed Fulham outfit.
Ok, it took a Kevin de Bruyne dive (yep, that’s what it was folks) to get them over the line with a 2-1 win, but it was a deserved victory.
It was the first time City hadn’t scored three goals in a game at home all season.
If a half-fit Erling Haaland hadn’t been sat on bench for over an hour, and they’d kept a full complement of players on the field, Guardiola’s men would surely have scored at least three. Likely more.
This weekend they entertain Brentford.
Thomas Frank’s outfit haven’t won away from home yet this season and were recently battered at Newcastle United and Aston Villa.
Last time out they drew 2-2 with bottom side Nottingham Forest.
I do fear the worst for them here. The Bees have been leaky at the back outside of their west London home with 5 of 7 away games featuring Over 3.5 goals.
Away contests involving Brentford average 3.57 goals, and unless Haaland is crocked again and/or they somehow get two City players red-carded, it would be a shock to see that average drop on Saturday.
Humbled by Gillingham in the League Cup in midweek, Brentford will not fancy this encounter one bit.
As for City, all the stats point towards normal service resuming at the Etihad Stadium.
Home games are producing 5.14 goals a game, and how they would like to apply pressure to Arsenal (who kick off later that day) with a resounding statement success.
Manchester City and Over 2.5 is unbackable at 1.44 but if you stretch it to Manchester City & Over 3.5 goals the price suddenly gets interesting on Matchbook.
With an 85.7 per cent hit rate this season I’m very happy to take 2.1 on the hosts producing yet another goal-laden home win. It’s City & Over 3.5 for me.
NEWCASTLE SHOULD FEND OFF OUT-OF-SORTS CHELSEA
It feels like I’m in some weird, trippy, parallel universe to say this, but Newcastle United are quite a bit better than Chelsea at the moment.
In the space of one incredible year Eddie Howe has improved the players he inherited beyond recognition and used his spending money wisely.
Beaten just once in 14 matches this term and coming into the weekend with six wins from their last seven, the Magpies are fast becoming the real deal. In four of those seven wins by the way, they scored at least four goals! Blimey.
When you crunch the wider numbers, it tells you this is no fluke.
Newcastle United have the best defensive record in the division and are top four or five in almost every key metric going.
They press well, they attack with conviction, and they know how to defend as a unit. Top six is achievable for the north-east giants.
Chelsea on the other hand are a mish-mash of a side, right now.
Across the season as a whole, they are yet to beat anybody of note. Their biggest scalp so far was a win at Crystal Palace, but even that was laced with more than a large slice of fortune.
They rank 15th for shots attempted (Newcastle are 3rd) and albeit having played a game less, Chelsea have scored nine fewer goals than their opponents on Saturday evening.
Last weekend at home to Arsenal they were abysmal, mustering an xG of just 0.29; their lowest of the season by far.
A lot of punters may look at Chelsea’s price with Matchbook (3.2) and have a nibble at that, but the Blues as a word of warning they do fail on stats and the eye test.
Graham Potter is still working out his best XI. Injuries haven’t helped (Kante, Chilwell and James are all key men) but at the time of writing his team looks like one that’s in a period of transition.
There is little fluency or cohesion about them, and inside both boxes the Blues have been uncharacteristically bad.
You could bet on the Magpies here at 2.4 but I’m not inclined to get carried away.
With Howe’s men still backable at 1.74 on the Draw No Bet market (+0.0) I am happy to settle on that.
If they win we’re in profit, and if they draw we get our money back. As strange as it is to say it, the least likely outcome feels like a Chelsea win at St James’ Park.
- MAN CITY & OVER 3.5 vs Brentford (2.1)
- NEWCASTLE +0.0 vs Chelsea (1.74)
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