Predicting the beautiful game can be a fool’s errand, but fortune favors the bold. Yahoo Soccer has run the stats and analyzed the form books for five of the biggest games this weekend …
Chelsea vs. Liverpool
Finally, those poor Chelsea fans have found something to soothe their woes! After suffering through the product of one of the world’s most revered manager’s last season — who could only muster a League Cup final, a top-four finish and a Europa League trophy — Frank Lampard has returned to put smiles on faces at the Bridge!
Sarcasm aside, Chelsea’s transfer ban has forced the club to put faith in youth, with every Premier League goal this season coming from an academy product. The defense isn’t watertight, but the play is exciting and the fans have something to believe in again.
What better time to welcome the best team in Europe to West London, as Liverpool will try and maintain their 100% league record this Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s side, however, go into this match a wounded animal, suffering a defeat at Napoli for the second consecutive season. The Blues will likely look to exploit the space behind the Reds’ marauding fullbacks, just as the Italian side did.
Chelsea are undefeated in their last 11 home matches and Liverpool have left Stamford Bridge with only a point from their last two visits.
Blues fans may feel confident, but the odds heavily favor the league leaders. Not only are Lampard’s charges coming off the back of a midweek loss to a bedraggled Valencia side who recently lost their manager — where they failed to convert any of their 22 chances on goal — but they are conceding goals at an alarming rate.
Chelsea are giving up an average of more than two goals per match, and only Norwich have leaked more. That’s a favorable matchup for a rampant Liverpool attack that is averaging three goals per league match in this campaign.
A goal-heavy thriller that earns Liverpool the spoils seems like an excellent punt.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-3 Liverpool
Best Bet: Liverpool win and over 3.5 total goals (+320 with FOXBET). Each of Chelsea and Liverpool’s last three league games have featured over 3.5 goals.
AC Milan vs. Inter Milan
As one of Europe’s premier derbies, held between two powerhouses that share a stadium, the Derby della Madonnina is always an enticing fixture.
Coming into this edition, designated home side AC Milan are on a two-game winning streak, having recovered from an opening day loss at Udinese. The key feature of Marco Giampaolo’s side is their solid defense: They’ve concede only once this season and boast four clean sheets in their last six league outings.
The Rossoneri, however, are faced with one of the toughest tests they are likely to encounter in this campaign. Inter Milan have been rejuvenated by summer spending that has brought in the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez. New coach Antonio Conte has made no secret that he intends to win a ninth scudetto (and fourth as a manager) by dethroning the team who have given him all of his Italian success to this point, Juventus.
The designated away side also have the better of the recent head-to-head statistics. Inter won both Milan derbies last season and have lost only one of their last 10 league encounters with their San Siro co-tenants.
AC Milan may see a glimmer of hope in Inter’s disappointing midweek draw with Slavia Prague, where the Italian side only redeemed themselves for a blunted performance with an injury-time equalizer against the whipping boys of their difficult Champions League group.
Inter, however, are priced as favorites. Given the stingy defensive lines of both teams, a low-scoring victory for Conte’s men is a wise proposition.
Prediction: Milan 0-1 Internazionale
Best Bet: Away team to win to nil (+280 with POINTSBET). AC Milan have failed to score in two of their last three meetings with Inter.
Sevilla vs. Real Madrid
One minute you’re winning three consecutive Champions League titles, the next you’re a disparate bunch of megastar players with no ideas, no tactics and no chance of success. Such is the rollercoaster of life at Real Madrid.
On Wednesday, Los Blancos were given an almighty humbling at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain, who highlighted the key problem in Zinedine Zidane’s team: the midfield. Luka Modric was sorely missed, while Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez seemed like relics of a bygone era.
It appears Madrid’s tried-and-tested combination of beautiful passing and patient build-up play is being left in the dust by teams who are willing to sit deep and counter quickly. One can only imagine what would happen if this side faced Norwich right now.
Real’s league form also leaves a lot to be desired this season. They have dropped four points in a pair of unconvincing draws and nearly gave up a three-goal lead to Levante at home last weekend.
Essentially, this is the perfect time for Sevilla to face Real Madrid. Julen Lopetegui’s side are undefeated and sitting atop the league table. They’re full of confidence as they await a side they have beaten twice in their last three meetings.
Real Madrid also have a particular problem with visiting the raucous Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan, having lost there four seasons in a row.
The visitors are the favorites with most bookies, but the stage is set for Sevilla to compound Madrid’s misery.
Prediction: Sevilla 2-1 Real Madrid
Best Bet: Sevilla win and over 2.5 total goals (+600 with FOXBET). Twelve of their last 13 encounters have featured over 2.5 goals.
PSV vs Ajax
If you tune into ESPN+ at 10:45 a.m. ET on Sunday, you are likely to be treated to a thrilling, goal-filled Dutch extravaganza. The latest edition of De Topper sees both PSV and Ajax in superb domestic form, with each having won their last four matches and scoring freely.
Ajax, who are coming off a convincing midweek Champions League victory over Lille, have scored an incredible 17 goals in their last four Eredivisie matches, while PSV have scored an impressive 13 in the same period.
There’s also been no shortage of goals in recent matchups between the sides. Either has scored three goals in each of their last four league meetings.
The good news for PSV is that the home side tends to prosper in this one. The Boeren have won the last three meetings at the Philips Stadion, the last two of which came by a 3-0 scoreline.
This match will also feature two of the most potent forwards in Dutch soccer. PSV’s Donyell Malen is the league leader with six goals — although this number is padded by the fact that he scored all the goals in a 5-0 win over Vitesse last weekend.
Meanwhile, last season’s joint top goal-scorer, Ajax’s Dušan Tadić, is picking up where he left off with five goals in five games.
Ajax are narrow favorites, but given the split of the head-to-head meetings and their recent respective forms, a high-scoring draw seems to be a great value option.
Prediction: PSV 2-2 Ajax
Best Bet: Draw with both teams scoring (+300 with bwin). Ajax haven’t failed to score in the league since March and PSV have only once failed to score in the league since May 2018.
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