Nottingham Forest v Brighton
Nottingham Forest v Brighton Cheat Sheet
The desperation is becoming very real on the banks of the Trent. The owners publicly backed manager Steve Cooper recently, but the Tricky Trees have been dragged back into the relegation zone after a good run mid-season that looked to have pulled them clear.
When you are looking for a positive result and performance in front of your own fans, Brighton are probably one of the last teams that you want mosying into your saloon. The Seagulls just seem to be able to churn out pretty dominant performances on a weekly basis. They are top of the Premier League for expected points over the period from 1st February, which means that they are constantly winning the xG battle in their matches and this is giving them a great chance to get a positive result. It is the lack of chances being taken to the same degree that is preventing Brighton from being a more dominant force in terms of real results and points.
Forest have been reliant on their home form so far this season to keep their heads above water. However, that form has suffered of late with no win in five at the City Ground and in five of the last six they have been beaten by a substantial margin on the xG difference. Indeed, this has led Forest to now average a -0.5xG difference over their last ten home matches. Conceding half a goal’s chances more than your opponent over a long period of time in your home matches will only lead one way unless that is checked.
Again though the data isn’t good to give much hope. Taking the same size sample for Brighton’s away matches, they are averaging +0.6xG differential and that is generally against teams with better home records than Forest currently do.
Brighton are a short price for the win, and in some ways it is difficult to reconcile that because they aren’t a traditional force in the Premier League, but the data and the performances back the price up. If both teams play to their usual ability then Brighton are deserving of the price that they are.
There is also a lot to like about the potential for goals in this match. Brighton and Roberto De Zerbi usually bring goals with them wherever they go, though not, apparently, to Wembley.
The Brighton players are sure to be determined to improve their goalscoring after that disappointing FA Cup semi-final result and I feel like this is a great opportunity for them to cut loose and really have a good go at the opposition.
The absence of Irish wonderkid Evan Ferguson is affecting Brighton, but they tend to share the goals in any case. Eight out of Brighton’s last ten away matches have gone over 2.5 goals, and as they will be the dominant force in the game, I also expect their modus operandi to be the dominant one over Nottm Forest’s more circumspect approach at home.
Forest showed at Liverpool that they were able to score goals themselves. They have the firepower in Brennan Johnson and Morgan Gibbs-White to notch themselves, so there are enough options for both clubs on the pitch to make the over 2.5 goal line seem an attractive price.
In terms of who might get those goals it is worth looking in the Brighton ranks to see what combinations have been providing them recently.
Obviously, the Manchester United FA Cup semifinal was a blank and a bit of a one-off occasion, but in Brighton’s previous seven Premier League matches Kaoru Mitoma had either scored or assisted in five consecutive matches.
We can use the score or assist market in the bet builder selections to take advantage of Mitoma’s consistency. Though I’m sure that Steve Cooper will have taken note of Aaron Wan Bissaka’s effectiveness at shutting Mitoma down at Wembley, I’m not sure that Cooper will either a) change his system to use full-backs or b) whether anyone in the Forest squad is quite as capable as Wan Bissaka at that particular role.
Neco Williams is likely to be the player installed at right wing-back and he is not known for his diligent defensive work. Mitoma is going to get more space to attack and his form is such that if Brighton are to score at least twice, as we hope, then Mitoma has an excellent chance in being involved in the goals.
The Mitoma/Williams battle is also at the forefront of my thinking when it comes to players to back in the foul markets.
Williams would be worthy of inclusion on this list based upon the fact that he is directly up against Mitoma, but in fact, Williams is the player with the most fouls in Forest’s last 10 matches regardless of who he is up against here. Williams tends to press high on the right flank for Forest so can often produce a foul higher up the pitch either when counter-pressing or to prevent the opponents from taking advantage of his high position. He has at least one foul in five out of six matches and committed 5 against Liverpool last time out.
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Chelsea v Brentford
Chelsea v Brentford Cheat Sheet
Wednesday evening sees Brentford travel across London to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea, who are desperate for this hugely disappointing season to end. The home side come into this one on the back of four straight losses and without a win in seven, scoring just one goal in their last six. The visitors had started the season very strongly, but they too have faded in recent weeks and are now six without a win. Across their last five games, these two sides have picked up just two points each with only Nottingham Forest picking up fewer (1).
Chelsea’s season is now all but over following a 4-0 thrashing by Real Madrid across two legs in the Champions League which pretty much summarised how their season has gone. Onto their third manager of the season, they occupy 11th, and a defeat here would be their fourth London derby loss of the season – the most since 2001/02. The Blues are fighting for a top-half finish but even that looks unlikely given that they are five points behind their visitors here who are in 10th. Club legend Frank Lampard is now in charge, but they have lost all four games that he has been in charge of, scoring just once in that time. Their record at Stamford Bridge in particular has been very poor by their high standards, winning just six of their 16 games here, including picking up just two points across their last four games at their home ground. Kalidou Koulibably and Armando Broja are out with hamstring and knee injuries respectively, but Lampard will be able to welcome back Ben Chilwell, Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and David Fofana who all missed the defeat against Real Madrid. N’Golo Kante may need a rest which would see either Ruben Loftus-Cheek or Denis Zakaria come in in his place.
Brentford’s season had started spectacularly, and they looked like they had a real opportunity to be playing European football next season. However, following a poor run of form they are now in tenth and six points behind Liverpool in seventh, meaning that particular goal looks very unlikely. However, a top-half finish would still be a real success for the Bees and it would be their highest-ever Premier League finish. It would also give Thomas Frank a very solid foundation to work on for next season, particularly with Ivan Toney – who has 19 league goals already this season. Pontus Jansson, Kristoffer Ajer, and Keane Lewis-Potter are all out with injuries, whilst Christian Norgaard is a doubt. If the Danish central midfielder is unavailable, then Josh da Silva should start with Mathias Jensen and Vitaly Janelt in the middle of the park.
Ivan Toney has been in sensational form all season and has largely gone under the radar. Nonetheless, he has scored more goals (19) than any other player in the league bar Erling Haaland (32) and Harry Kane (24), both of whom are having astonishing seasons. He has taken 84 shots (2.81 per game) with 32 of these on target (1.07 per 90). Phenomenally, he has had at least one shot in every single game this season and at least two in 12 of his last 13. For his club, he has scored four times in his last seven matches and has had at least one shot on target in 19 of his last 11. The English striker has faced Chelsea three times in the Premier League, having 12 shots with five of these on target. In the reverse fixture, three of Toney’s four shots were on target.
Mathias Jensen has been an integral part of the Brentford midfield this season and has been in very good form. The Dane has five goals and five assists having started all their league games – the only outfield player to do so. He has taken 21 shots (0.77 per game) with seven of those on target (0.26 per 90). Since the World Cup, he has played more than 61 minutes in the league 13 times for his club, having 14 shots in that time with this selection landing in 11 of those matches, including in each of his last four.
Four of his goals have also come in those games, along with two of his assists. Last time out he had two shots with one on target against Aston Villa. This season he has faced the traditional “big six” teams eight times, having six shots. In his three away games against these sides, this selection has landed twice (at Arsenal and Manchester City).
In the Premier League this season, Brentford average 3.75 shots on target per game, scoring 47 – the seventh most of any side. Since the World Cup, they have played 17 league games and this selection has landed in 13 of those games – the exceptions being against Arsenal, Leicester, Man United and Leeds. They have also had three or more shots on target against Liverpool, Fulham, Brighton, Aston Villa, Spurs and Newcastle since then – all of whom have been much stronger than this current Chelsea side. In their last three games, they have had 36 shots, with 12 on target and have scored twice. This selection has landed in all three. Brentford have played Chelsea four times since their return to the top division having at least three shots on target in all of them and a total of 17 in those matches.
Chelsea concede an average of 11.23 shots per match in the league this season, with 4.13 of these on target. They have been fortunate to concede just 31 goals with their expected goals against being 39.1 – suggesting that teams have been poor in front of goal in their games. In their last nine league games, Chelsea have allowed their opponents to have 47 shots on target, with this selection landing in eight of those. In each of their last three, their opponents have scored two or more goals. Across Lampard’s four matches in charge again, they have allowed 62 shots (15.5 per game), with 29 of these on target (7.25 per game). This selection has landed in all four.
Chelsea games this season average 10.55 corners per game, rising to exactly 11 at home. At Stamford Bridge, they have had an average of 6.25 corners per game, with this selection landing in 56% of those matches. In three of their last five, they have had at least eight corners and in exactly half of their last ten, this selection has landed. The players will be desperate not to finish in the bottom half and they will see this as a must-win to do that so will be forced to attack. Goals have been hard to come by in recent weeks which should mean that they should be more adventurous going forward.
Brentford games this season average 10.16 corners per game, rising to 10.63 away from home. On the road, they concede an average of 6.69 corners per game and have allowed their opposition to have five or more corners in three-quarters of those matches. This selection has landed in 56% of those contests and the home side has had five or more corners in five of their last six games as visitors.
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West Ham United v Liverpool
West Ham United v Liverpool Cheat Sheet
Two inconsistent teams face off in this match, Liverpool have picked up big wins this season but also had a poor season, while West Ham have only just moved away from the relegation zone thanks to a 4-0 win against Bournemouth. West Ham have a busy schedule due to their European run, this is their 4th-midweek match in a row and they have 3 more to come afterward. This run will be tough on the West Ham legs but results like their 4-0 win will rejuvenate them, as well as allowing them to bring players off early and rest them. West Ham are just 6 points off the magic 40-point mark, safety looks very close for them. West Ham also have almost a fully fit squad to choose from, only Gianluca Scamacca is currently injured and their improved squad depth for this season is helping them right now.
Liverpool smashed Leeds 6-1 but then showed their defensive fragility again in a tight 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest. Despite some improved form recently, top 4 looks too far but 5th looks well in range with a faltering Spurs currently ahead of them. Liverpool won’t have good memories of travelling to the London Stadium, 1 of just 2 domestic losses they had last season came at the London Stadium. With the return of Diogo Jota, who has been excellent, and Luis Diaz to the Liverpool team, most of their squad is now fully fit and they have a strong enough squad to challenge anyone.
West Ham are a direct team that sits in a low block, allowing the opposition to have a lot of possession. West Ham have the third-lowest average possession in the league at just 42.2% possession, while Liverpool have the third-highest average possession with an average of 60%. West Ham have particularly low possession numbers against possession-based teams, they had 30% against Arsenal, 35% against Brighton, and just 29% against Chelsea.
With pressure on Trent-Alexander Arnold to improve, Klopp has played him as an inverted full-back that acts as a pivot in the Liverpool midfield with the freedom to create chances. Trent Alexander-Arnold has attempted 87.9 passes per 90 so far this season and has attempted over 70 passes in 10 of his last 13 matches, only failing to do so against Arsenal, Manchester City, and Crystal Palace (where he only played 70 minutes). Trent Alexander-Arnold had 144 passes against Leeds, 83 last time against Nottingham Forest, and 76 in his last game against West Ham, he should comfortably manage 70 passes here.
While West Ham will sit back, when they do push forward this seems to be their biggest weakness. West Ham were thrashed by Newcastle 5-1 who are sensational on the counter and now face another one of the World’s best counter-attacking teams in Liverpool. Diogo Jota has returned from injury and shown how important he is to Liverpool again straight away. Jota averages 0.87 shots on target per 90 this season and had 2 shots on target against Leeds and 3 in his last match against Nottingham Forest. With West Ham being open to counter-attacks, I expect Jota to have a few chances here and he should get enough chances to have at least 1 shot on target.
Michail Antonio should start up front for West Ham and he presents a challenge different to nearly any other striker in the league. Antonio is strong and can run with the ball meaning he attracts a lot of fouls as West Ham look to play long balls up to him. Antonio draws 2.28 fouls per 90 and will happily take a foul here, giving West Ham an attacking set piece. Antonio will be up against Konate here, Konate is also a strong player and I expect them to tussle and fight for the ball throughout the match seeing both of them commit fouls. Konate commits 1.56 fouls per 90 and has committed at least 1 foul in his last 13 matches for club and country. Konate looks extremely undervalued for a foul here and seems a good selection.
West Ham will likely target set pieces in this match, they average 2.1 shots per match from dead ball situations while Liverpool concede 1.68 per 90 from dead balls. West Ham target their centre-backs from set pieces, particularly Kurt Zouma. Zouma averages 0.93 shots per 90 and has had a shot in 5 of his last 6 matches. An opposition centre-back has had a shot in 2 of Liverpool’s last 3 matches. Kurt Zouma also scored for West Ham when the teams faced last season at the London Stadium in their impressive 3-2 win. Zouma is good value to have just 1 shot here.
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Manchester City v Arsenal
Manchester City v Arsenal Cheat Sheet
Without a doubt, this is the biggest match of the season. Manchester City’s sensational form has propelled them back into the lead for the title race and a win here would give them breathing room. Manchester City are also still on for the treble, they are in the FA Cup final, Champions League semi-final, and also look good for the league. City are 16 matches unbeaten in all competitions, for that unbeaten run to be ended now would be a massive hit to their title hopes. Manchester City’s biggest loss may be the injury to Nathan Ake, Pep Guardiola said they can’t play their way without him and perhaps attempted some mind games with Arteta by switching back to a back four against Sheffield United at the weekend.
Arsenal will have to forget recent results for this match, 3 draws in a row where they will feel they should have won all the matches may have cost them the title, but they will treat this match as a one-off and Arteta will want them to play brave football. Arsenal know that anything but a win will likely not be enough and that means they will surely look to score goals. Granit Xhaka should be back for Arsenal in this match but without a doubt, their biggest miss will be William Saliba who is still unavailable. Saliba has been a talisman for Arsenal this season and his importance to them has become obvious since his injury, for Arsenal to win at the Etihad without him will be a massive challenge.
Arsenal know they need a result here and Jesus will be a focal point for them in this match. Against what will likely be a back 3 for City, his movement will allow Arsenal to play out from the back and move forwards. More important, is Jesus’ ability to find space even against the top teams. Gabriel Jesus averages 3.71 shots per 90 and while Manchester City away is about as tough of a match as you can get, Jesus is often effective against the top teams.
Jesus missed Arsenal’s previous matches against Manchester City this season due to injury but he has had at least 2 shots in matches against Liverpool twice, Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea. Manchester City hardly allow their opposition any shots, but in 4 of their last 5 matches, opposition strikers have had at least 2 shots. It will be very tough for Arsenal in this match but Jesus might be their biggest goal-scoring threat.
Arsenal know that missing William Saliba is a huge difference for them, Rob Holding is a solid centre-back but does not bring the aura and safety that Saliba does. Saliba is a pacey defender, something which Holding is lacking, and will be an area that I expect Erling Haaland to try and exploit. Haaland is in incredible form, he has 15 goals in his last 8 matches and has had 2 or more shots on target in 6 of his last 8 matches. Opposition strikers have had at least 2 shots in 3 of Arsenal’s last 5 matches and with this match having them up against the best striker in the world right now, Haaland is good enough to not just have 2 shots, but 2 on target.
Playing against Jack Grealish for Manchester City right now effectively guarantees that you will be committing fouls. Opposition right-backs have committed at least 1 foul in all of Manchester City’s last 10 matches and they have committed 2 or more in 7 of these 10 matches. Manchester City’s 3-2-4-1 formation looks to shift everyone to one side of the pitch before quickly moving it to the other wing, this sees Grealish get the ball in one on one situations very often. Grealish draws 3.4 fouls per 90 and will be up against Ben White for Arsenal here.
White has averaged 0.75 fouls per 90 so far this season. While White has only committed 2 or more fouls in 1 of his last 5 matches, he has committed a foul in all of his last 5. Against Grealish I expect him to commit more fouls than normal, he looks like a good choice for 2 or more fouls here.
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Written by an Andy verified content writer
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