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Premier League review: What have we learnt so far?

Premier League review: What have we learnt so far?

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% (1.74*) since their opening odds of 4.90*. How can analysis help in the Premier League betting markets in order to find value in Premier League betting odds? Read on to find out.

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, reducing the Reds' lead at the top to just four points – a result that narrowed Liverpool’s potential probability of winning the league to 55%* from potentially 85%* if they had been victorious.

Analysing the expected goal statistics, Liverpool's current league position can be deemed lucky. The 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 – so the inclusion of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker in key positions is obvious 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, 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 – so according to expected goals, City have been the best team in the league, followed by Liverpool.

Manchester City are currently priced at 2.200* to win the Premier League and could be the value bet in the Premier League odds based on their current calculated stats on to see how players and clubs are performing based on their expected goals stats.

Premier League betting – 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 SpIndex 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.

Premier League betting: 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.

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 8th 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.

The Gunners have a total of 46 goals this season and that has kept them in the hunt for Champions League qualification, sitting only second behind leaders Liverpool and second placed Manchester City. The north London side are over performing expected goals, which has them on approximately 35.0xGF, which means their chances are worth around 1.6 goals per game, but they have been consistently scoring over 2 – largely thanks to having two strikers with the caliber of Aubameyang and Lacazette.

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 - and certainly not as dominant as their large margins of victory suggest – so it wouldn’t be a surpsise 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 sits fourth in the Premier League, and have the lowest tally of goals scored out of the top six, but are second in chances created which is a positive sign moving into the second half of the season and they are likely to maintain a good level of performance based on their statistics until the end of the season.

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 unrivaled.

The Midlands club had 39 per cent possession against Tottenham, yet were still victorious. 30 per cent against Chelsea and only 29 per cent in drawing against Manchester City, and still secured 7 points in those 3 matches. This is a tactic used by Nuno Espírito Santo which allows the opposition players time and space to come forward with the ball, which they can then exploit with fast counter attacks when they eventually gain possession.

It’s a risky approach but it can be exploited as demonstrated in their victories if all players in the team are fully aware if their responsibilities. Wolves are solid defensively and can control a game without having possession so it will be no surprise based on their statistics so far this season if they finish inside the top 7 clubs.

The battle against the drop

Cardiff City, Fulham, and Huddersfield currently occupy the 3 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, meaning they would be above Huddersfield, Fulham, Newcastle and Brighton in the table.

Last season’s surprise package Burnley, have been the poorest team in the league and their poor position is justified. 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.

Throughout the Premier League season, you can find value in corners bettingbetting on cards or use an expected goals model to inform your betting.

*Odds subject to change


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Chris McCarthy
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