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Sunday 22 May 2022 20:07, UK
Our tipster Jones Knows is back for the final day bonanza of football and provides a dollop of analysis and betting angles as the curtain comes down.
Liverpool are 5/1 with Sky Bet to win the Premier League title. It's temping me...
I'll level with you, I spent hours deliberating and toying with the idea of Aston Villa getting a result. But I came to the conclusion it was the journalist in me hoping for the extraordinary story rather than the punter where cold decisions are key. Manchester City are a machine, remember, who have an expert habit of making me look clueless. Not hard, many will argue.
Plus, to cause them issues you need dynamism in high and in wide areas. Heung-Min Son, Wilfried Zaha, Vinicius Jr and Jarrod Bowen all have played big parts in helping their teams get results against City this season.
Villa just don't have a player of that ilk or speed in wide areas to create those dangerous transitions. I can leave the match and title prices alone and hope for some final day drama, although this is the ninth time that the Premier League title has been decided on the final day and in the previous eight seasons the leader always went on to lift the trophy.
One bet that does jump off the page is Kevin De Bruyne scoring the first goal.
An occasion like this is just made for De Bruyne to cap his best-ever scoring season with another important strike to follow up goals in games against Liverpool (twice), Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid and of course the four goals in the win over Wolves. There is an added ruthlessness to De Bruyne in the second half of the season that is taking him to the cusp of being the greatest Premier League player we have ever seen. He can reinforce that narrative in taking City to a fourth title in the last five seasons.
While fingers are being bitten at the Etihad Stadium, the atmosphere at Anfield is going to be one drenched in celebration whatever way the Premier League title drops. This lack of tension in the air, added to key players being fully rested for Liverpool and an out-of-form opposition side with nothing to play for should make this a very straightforward afternoon for Jurgen Klopp's men.
The Premier League table doesn't lie apparently. It does in the case of Wolves.
They have overachieved hugely to finish on the cusp of the European places. Burno Lage's unimaginative and stodgy side have won the expected goals battle in just one of their last 14 Premier League matches. Once their defensive process started to crumble a few months ago, Lage has had no answers.
With motivation lacking in the Wolves camp, Liverpool could run amok here if they wanted to put on a show. Whether that will be enough to seal what would be an extraordinary Premier League title is doubtful, but punters should be looking to back goals - and plenty of them.
Jesse Marsch undoubtedly is a very smart man with a footballing brain that dwarves mine. Yet, there is just something about his style that tells me he's just not the man to become a Leeds hero by leading them to a final-day great escape.
Leeds will have spent just 22 days in the relegation zone this season - only three teams in Premier League history have been relegated spending less than 28 days in the bottom three (Blackpool, Sunderland and Wimbledon).
This Leeds team do know how to fight though.
Only five teams have scored more goals in the final 10 minutes of games this season than them (10). As Marsch pointed out after the 1-1 draw with Brighton, this team dig themselves holes but does possess the resolve to get out of them. Only Manchester City (9) have scored more goals in the 90th minute than Leeds (7) in the Premier League this season, with all seven of their goals in this period being scored by different players.
So, there must be a good probability of Leeds scoring late in the final fixture of the season where everything is on the line for them and not much for Brentford. Profiting from such an angle is a tad fiddly but I was surprised to see odds-against available on Leeds scoring the last goal of the game at 6/5 with Sky Bet. In what is basically a two-horse race market - surely this one can't end 0-0 - then the 45 per cent chance of Leeds scoring the last goal according to the odds available looks to underrate their chances.
On what they have shown for large parts of this season Burnley deserve to go down. If you looked at the table every day between October 1 and April 22, you'd have seen Burnley in the bottom three. But here they are, peaking at the right time and they will avoid relegation if they match Leeds' result.
And I think deep down these Burnley players know they are going to survive. That is the feeling I've got from watching them in the past few weeks. There is no tension in their play. No signs of panic. And even plenty of smiles on faces.
It's that mentality that makes me believe they will get the result on Sunday. When they need to defend, they defend. And the big difference since Mike Jackson has taken over is their ability to create chances when the chips are down. Their expected goals data has rocketed from 1.1 per 90 minutes under Sean Dyche this season to 1.8 under Jackson. Home win it is.
Those looking for a bet should invest in the chances of Conor Roberts hitting a shot on target. It's likely that Burnley will continue playing with a 3-5-2 and it's certainly giving Roberts licence to roam down the right. He's scored once, had three shots on target and is averaging just under two touches in the opposition box per 90 minutes since Jackson took over. His shot on target price at 9/4 with Sky Bet looks more than fair.
Ever since Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed home a famous goal in Everton's history, all the money has been for Arsenal, who are now as short as 1/3 with Sky Bet to finish their season with three points. This Everton side have shown the resolution required for this type of scrap which may actually stand them in good stead for the next campaign if Frank Lampard can add shrewdly over the summer.
For a betting angle, I've got my eye on Bukayo Saka opening the scoring in what is likely to be a low-scoring affair settled by a moment of inspiration. Saka is Arsenal's best attacking weapon and leads the goalscoring charts for the club in the Premier League with 11 goals. Yet, he's still not priced up as the favourite in the goalscorer market despite also being on penalties with Alexandre Lacazette now on the bench. The 11/2 with Sky Bet should be snapped up.
Not even Tottenham can Tottenham this one up, surely?
With the knowledge of a draw being enough to secure top-four, there really isn't enough jeopardy to make this a tricky occasion for Spurs, especially as their forward line arrive in such red-hot form.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Heung-Min Son on penalty duties once Spurs have the game in the bag as he chases down Mohamed Salah in the Golden Boot race, where he is one back ahead of the weekend. "Hopefully we can win him the Golden Boot, that'll be nice," said Harry Kane. That could prove to be a source of motivation in the closing stages if Spurs have the game wrapped up and Son's prices for multiple goals should be backed, including the 9/1 with Sky Bet for a hat-trick.
I've got a feeling I'm going to be investing in Tottenham across many ante-post markets next season after Antonio Conte gets another transfer window to strengthen key areas. A task which will become easier with the lure of Champions League football now.
In a season where the possibility of some freak results owing to a winter World Cup and Conte being only interested and motivated by major honours, the early 10/11 with Sky Bet for them to finish top four again next season looks a fair price if investing in long-term plays is your thing. Even the 28/1 for Tottenham to win the Premier League carries some weight even at this very premature stage.
West Ham still have plenty to play for and I'm not sure that is factored into the match prices in this one. I like the look of the away win at 7/4 with Sky Bet.
Two points clear of West Ham but with an inferior goal difference, Manchester United (58 points) need to beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park to be assured of sixth and a spot in the Europa League group stages. The Hammers would rise a position if they win at the Amex Stadium and Man Utd fail to do likewise.
Whoever finishes seventh will play in the Europa Conference League, entering in the play-off round in August. That is a very fiddly start to a campaign before even factoring in the mammoth schedule of that particular competition, so David Moyes will be fully motivating his players to finish with a rattle.
Trust issues remain with Brighton, especially when they are favourites to win a home match. They have the fourth worst home record in the Premier League this season, albeit with the backdrop of some strong performance data. Burnley and Watford have scored more home goals than them this season. I'm sure Graham Potter's men will ask questions and play some lovely stuff but when it comes to attacking ruthlessness and finishing ability in the box, I'm fully with the Hammers for this match up.
You can only guarantee three things in this life: death, taxes and a goal-bonanza on the final day of a Premier League season.
From the last 12 Premier League final days, the goal per game ratio (3.28) always sails above the season average on the final day. Teams are more likely to play with a bit more freedom in a sunshine-filled no pressure environment. The final day also has the potential for a game to go into overdrive in terms of a scoreline. Remember Crystal Palace 5-3 Bournemouth? Or Tottenham 5-4 Leicester four seasons ago? How about Hull City 1-7 Tottenham five years ago? This game could go down a similar path with such deadly attacking players on show.
And looking at the match prices, it's absolutely worth adding a Crystal Palace win at 2/1 with Sky Bet to any goals-based bet. This is a Manchester United side that have taken just 11 points from their last 10 Premier League games but yet again are priced up favourites to win away from home.
The cries of "shoooooot" from the fans when a defender comes forward with the ball infuriate managers but that cry from the Chelsea end towards Antonio Rudiger should help land the best bet of the weekend.
Rudiger is Real Madrid bound having failed to agree new terms with Chelsea, yet leaves firmly a fan favourite and he'll receive a warm send-off from the Chelsea fans. Such is his character, he'll be looking to go out at the centre of attention so he makes plenty of appeal across his shots and goals markets against a Watford side that could well be on the end of a thumping.
Since Thomas Tuchel took charge of Chelsea, no centre-back has had more shots on goal in the Premier League than Rudiger (56). That average of 1.26 shots per 90 minutes always makes him a player to consider in the individual shots market especially at home to teams Chelsea are likely to dominate. That is the case here with the 5/4 with Sky Bet for him to have two or more shots at goal very appealing - as the three (4/1) and four lines (11/1).
The beauty with Rudiger is that not only is he a threat from set-pieces when venturing forward he also has the eye for the spectacular from range giving us two potential routes to profit. No centre-back has had more shots on goal than him from outside the box this season (20) - Everton's Ben Godfrey is next in with 12. And since Tuchel has been in charge, eight of those have hit the target, working out an average of 0.19 per 90 minutes. That makes the 5/1 with Sky Bet for him to hit the target again from outside the box a very fair price without even factoring in the opposition and the end of season/final farewell type of occasion.
Ralph Hasenhuttl's Southampton are burning out yet again.
Over the last three seasons during the months of February, March, April and May, Southampton have won just six of their 37 fixtures, losing 23. At this time of the season, Hasenhuttl's side are relegation fodder and no wonder they tempted many punters in - myself included - at the start of this season to be relegated at juicy prices. They may end the season just two points clear of the drop zone so even though we haven't really got a run for our money the early season analysis on them being overpriced wasn't too far off. Next year could be the year to get them.
This Leicester team have the attacking flair to punish relegation level teams, scoring 14 goals in four fixtures against Norwich and Watford this season. Yes, they may ship a few going the other way in what should be a shackle-free match, but the price on a home win and plenty of goals should go close.