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Lucky Liverpool? Three compelling reasons Man City are favourites despite Premier League points difference

Jurgen Klopp's side have taken no prisoners this season on their way to a first title in 30 years, but the stats tell a different story to the table

Jurgen Klopp's side have taken no prisoners this season on their way to a first title in 30 years, but the stats tell a different story to the table

Liverpool have absolutely obliterated the competition this Premier League campaign.

The Reds have won 28 of their 31 fixtures to win the top-flight in style, opening up a 23-point lead over current champions Manchester City.

No team has taken fewer games to confirm the title, with the previous record standing at 33, but when Liverpool travel to City on Thursday evening, Pep Guardiola’s side will be out to do their level best to spoil the party.

The Premier League points record is firmly in sight for the champions, who need 15 from their final seven games to eclipse the 100 that City recorded in 2017-18.

But despite the Red's domestic dominance, Cloudbet have crunched the numbers and can show that - apart from the league table - every other statistic shows that the home team should be the ones celebrating the title.

Indeed, Cloudbet make Man City 2.06 favourites to win the game at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday and gain revenge for the 3-1 defeat at Anfield earlier in the season.

Alternatively, it is 3.67 that Liverpool take the points and the draw is priced at 4.10. Odds are correct at the time of publishing but will fluctuate.

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When it comes to Man City’s clash with Liverpool, Cloudbet has crunched the numbers and can offer unique statistical insight on why the hosts have such a strong edge on the visitors.

Reason No1: Expected Goals

The expected goals stat, or xG, quickly entered common parlance when it was first introduced by Opta. It’s used to show how many goals a team would have been expected to score in an individual game.

Each shot taken by the team is given an xG value between zero and one, with variables such as shot angle and distance from goal considered to determine its value.

The closer it is to one, the more likely it is that a goal should be scored from that shot and any value over 0.5 means the chance should be reasonably expected to go in over half the time.

Using this metric over the course of a season can show whether a team has made the most of their chances in front of goal or whether they have been wasteful.

No team has scored more goals than the 77 City have managed this EPL season, but that is still below their xG of 79.22 – which shows they have not been as clinical in the final third as they perhaps could have been with all their chances.

This has been particularly evident in games they have failed to win, with their two fixtures against Tottenham supreme examples of this.

The sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium back in August 2019, with Spurs twice coming from behind, but xG suggests was 3.2-0.07 in City’s favour.

Bernardo Silva in particular was guilty of failing to finish chances, recording an xG of 0.54 from five shots including one that hit the post from 12 yards out.

Premier League standings

It was a similar story when the sides met in north London as Spurs ran out 2-0 winners despite City’s dominance of the xG scale, this time 3.25-0.42 to Pep Guardiola’s side.

Ilkay Gundogan was the culprit this time, missing a penalty with an xG of 0.76 and failing to score from 10 yards out despite an xG value of 0.58. Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero also missed chances with an xG of over 0.5.

Using the same metric, Liverpool can count themselves lucky in a host of games this season after losing the xG battle against teams such as Southampton, Wolves, Man City and Chelsea – despite taking all three points in each of those games.

The Reds’ overall xG clocks in at 64.25, lower than their actual total of 70 goals, making them one of only five Premier League clubs to have scored more goals than their xG suggests this season.

Of course, the xG stat also shows how many goals a team would expect to have conceded by now and that just enhances the notion that City have been unlucky to be so far behind Liverpool.

The xG against Guardiola’s side is 32.60, which is slightly lower than their actual total of 33 goals against them, and so they can consider themselves only marginally unlucky in that regard.

It is a totally different story for Liverpool, who have the best defence in the league with just 21 goals conceded but their xG against them is out at 29.38.

Manchester City 1-0 Liverpool

Reason No2: Expected Points

Expected points, or xPTS, is an extension of xG and determines the amount of points a team should have taken from each fixture based on the amount of goals they would have been expected to score.

Using the previous examples, it is clear that Man City are unlucky to only have 63 points by now, and unluckier still to be 23 points behind Liverpool.

In their 2-2 draw at home to Spurs, their xPTS was an incredible 2.95 and yet they took away only a single point, whilst in the 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium their xPTS was 2.91.

Taking Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Wolves in January, the xG was actually 1.85 to 1.59 in favour of Nuno Espirito Santo’s side and the Reds’ xPTS from that fixture was only 1.15.

However, Roberto Firmino’s late strike handed Liverpool victory and an xPTS total of just 64.04 shows that Klopp’s side have been overperforming to reach 86 points this season.

Premier League XG/XPTS

Man City’s xPTS is 68.94, which would give them essentially a five-point cushion at the top, and in fact the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United would both be within 10 points of Liverpool if the table was decided that way.

xPTS and xG are, of course, based on subjectivity and the save percentages of Alisson compared to Ederson have also played a big part.

Alisson has saved 48 of the 59 shots that have come his way this season – stopping 81.4 per cent of all shots on target against him - whilst his Brazilian counterpart has made 50 saves from 74 shots, which is 67.6%.

Manchester City 2-0 Liverpool

Reason No3: Asian Handicap

The Asian Handicap market is a variation on the regular handicap market and removes the option of teams drawing as a result of the handicap, making it two-way instead of three-way.

That means that each side of the market should have a 50% chance of success, as a bigger handicap means there is bigger disparity between the teams playing.

Cloudbet offers Asian handicap markets with high limits, which allows lots of money to be wagered as kick-off approaches and gives a truer representation of the theoretical difference between the two teams. You can find Cloudbet's explainer on Asian handicaps here.

Using Man City vs Tottenham as an example, City to win with a -1.25 handicap closed at 1.77, which implies a 56.5% chance of that happening.

In the same fixture for Liverpool, which the Reds won 2-1, the price closed at 2.05 which implies only a 48.8% chance.

That implies that City are a superior team against the same opposition and has consistently been the case throughout the season, including when the sides met at Anfield in November.

Manchester City 3-0 Liverpool


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Cloudbet, as a leading cryptocurrency sportsbook, prides itself on being able to offer bettors best market odds on a wide range of sports and on multiple markets within each sport. To celebrate the return of the Premiership to action, it is extending this to the extreme and offering bettors the chance to place bets at zero margin. You can find out more about what zero margin means and how Cloudbet is able to make such an offer.

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