Frank Sawyer is on an 8 of 10 (80%) run with his highest-rated 25* plays, and he furthers his 5 of 6 (83%) Soccer Game of the Month/Year mark with his 25* EPL NBC-SN Total of the Month at 7:30 AM ET!
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At 7:30 AM ET on Saturday, we will be playing Over the Total in the match between West Ham United (200121) and Newcastle United (200122). THE SITUATION: West Ham (W16-D7-L8) enters this match coming off a 3-2 win against Leicester City last Sunday. Newcastle (W8-D8-L15) comes off a 2-1 win at Burnley last Sunday.
REASONS TO TAKE OVER THE TOTAL: The Hammers got two opening goals in the first half from Jesse Lingard who is on fire right now in the English Premier League. Lingard has scored eight goals and added three assists in his nine matches since being acquired by West Ham on loan from Man United in the winter transfer window. While he is over-performing his underlying metrics, he is still averaging 0.44 expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes and 0.18 expected assists per 90 minutes. And take his over-performance with this grain of salt: Lionel Messi over-performs his metrics as well. No, Lingard is not Messi (or Messi Jr.) — but there necessarily are outlier performances that determined league-wide averages of expectation. Brighton underperforms in their expected goals because their striker, Aaron Maupay, is not very good. Lingard might be out-performing his expectations because he is simply playing better than the average player. Baseball measures this statistic a bit better with their “Wins Above Replacement Player” (WARP) number. I digress. Even without forward Michail Antonio being healthy and available, West Ham is clicking on offense right now. They have scored three goals in each of their last three matches. They have scored 20 goals in their last ten matches while averaging a robust 1.61 xG per game during that span. David Moyes’ side will need to continue this efficiency on offense given their injuries on defense. The Hammers have been without center back Angelo Ogbunna and holding midfielder Declan Rice — and they have allowed 3.58 xGA combined in their last two matches. Left-back Aaron Cresswell joins them on the sidelines for this match as he is dealing with a hamstring injury. That is not a good development for a defense that has allowed the second-most shots inside the box in their last four matches. Newcastle may be in 17th place but they lead the EPL over the last four matchweeks in expected goals in open play. They generated a whopping 4.07 xG against Tottenham two matches ago. They have scored four goals in their last two matches — yet they are still the most underperforming side in the EPL when comparing expected goals with actual goals in the last six matchweeks. If lack of talent explained that problem, help is on the way for manager Steve Bruce who saw the return of his two most talented players on offense in Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin last Sunday. They combine to average 0.69 xG per 90 minutes. But like West Ham, the Magpies are dealing with their share of injuries from key defensive players as well. Bruce will be without center backs Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar for this match. Newcastle allows 1.54 xGA per match this season which is the fourth-worst mark in the league. And in their ten matches against teams in the top half of the table, the Magpies are allowing 2.38 xGA per contest.
FINAL TAKE: Both of these teams have plenty at stake. West Ham is motivated to stay in fourth place to qualify for the Champions League next season. Newcastle is six points clear of relegation in 17th place — but picking up points this morning goes a long way to keep them safe which is why Bruce has them playing as openly as of late as they have all season. In a game between two teams playing with confidence on offense but with depleted defensive corps, expect a higher-scoring match. 25* English Premier League NBC Sports Network Total of the Month with Over the Total in the match between West Ham United (200121) and Newcastle United (200122). Best of luck for us — Frank.