The beautiful game is fast becoming a sport overridden by numbers; slowly the influence of Billy Beane and Moneyball is creeping into how clubs, journalists and punters look at the game.
Opta is the premier collator and user of data, and while many of their most insightful numbers are hidden behind a paywall – and thus only available to the clubs themselves and certain media organisations – their trusted Twitter hawks are never shy to share a stat or two; they are truly well worth a follow.
Here are some of the best bits to arise from Gameweek 1 in the Premier League, and a look at how these can be implemented in your wagers this weekend:
Stoke City vs Manchester City
Stoke have conceded in each of their last 11 Premier League matches
Like Southampton, being poor defensively is not an attribute to savour when welcoming free-scoring Manchester City to your own patch; especially as Pep Guardiola’s men are fresh from a 5-0 hammering of Steaua Bucharest in midweek. Much of that Stoke frailty coincided with an injury to goalkeeper Jack Butland, but still: the numbers don’t lie.
Sergio Aguero is the Premier League’s top goalscorer in the 2016 calendar year
An indication of what the Argentine is capable of when fully fit then, but his inability to play three games in a week due to recurring muscle injuries means that he may well be rested here – so check the team sheets prior to wagering.
You can back Man City to score two or more at 7/10 (Coral), with Sergio Aguero available at 16/5 with Betfair to score first and Evens with Ladbrokes to score anytime.
Swansea City vs Hull City
Swansea are unbeaten in their last eight Premier League matches played in August, including six wins
Well, that’s rather nice timing ahead of an eminently winnable fixture against Hull. Why do Swansea start the season so well? Who knows….just go with it!
Łukasz Fabiański has kept 23 clean sheets in the Premier League since the start of the 2014/15 season; only Joe Hart, David De Gea and Simon Mignolet can better that.
Respect must go to the whole Swans backline for that run, and also Francesco Guidolin for his smart management and organisation.
In 2014/15, Hull City also won their opening Premier League campaign fixture. They then went on to win once in their next sixteen
The Tigers fully deserved their win over Leicester last Saturday, but this trip to Wales will surely be a whole different proposition. Swansea can be backed at 5/6 to win with Paddy Power, and 11/10 with bet365 to keep a clean sheet.
Watford vs Chelsea
Watford have never lost in the 15 Premier League games they have led at half time
Eden Hazard has scored five goals in his last six Premier League outings
Diego Costa has scored six goals in his last eight Premier League outings for Chelsea in August.
The Blues were mightily impressive in dispatching West Ham on Monday night, while – statistically at least – Watford were lucky to leave Southampton with a point. But as we can see, if the Hornets can somehow fashion a half-time lead then they are well worth supporting.
Hazard and Costa both netted against the Hammers, and both looked at the top of their game. With the Hornets adopting a 3-5-2 formation, Hazard should have the freedom of Vicarage Road to cause havoc down the left flank: he is 21/10 with BetVictor to net anytime (6/1 with Betfred to notch first), while Costa is 6/4 anytime (Ladbrokes) and 9/2 first (Betfred).
Tottenham vs Crystal Palace
Erik Lamela has contributed to seven goals in as many Premier League appearances (three goals, four assists)
Only Aston Villa have lost more Premier League matches in 2016 than Crystal Palace.
Palace have also failed to net in the first half of each of their last eight Premier League outings.
Spurs will be looking for their first win of the campaign back at the comfortable surroundings of White Hart Lane, and they look well primed against an under-performing Crystal Palace side. Christian Benteke will add a forceful presence to their attack, although he may not feature here.
Spurs are available at 1/2 to win the match (Betfred), Lamela can be backed at 5/2 with Betfred to score anytime (7/1 with Paddy Power for first goalscorer), and Spurs to be leading at half time is available at 21/20 with Coral.
Leicester City vs Arsenal
Riyad Mahrez has contributed to 29 Premier League goals since the start of last season (18 goals, 11 assists)
In the four matches that Robert Huth has missed since signing for Leicester, the Foxes have failed to keep a clean sheet
The 3-4 defeat to Liverpool was the first time that Arsenal have conceded four goals in a league game at the Emirates in seven years
We’re anticipating goals in the evening kick off on Saturday as these two sides, woefully short on defensive reinforcements, will ultimately try to outscore one another (as the Gunners and Liverpool did last Sunday).
The 6/10 offered by BoyleSports on Both Teams to Score looks fantastic value for acca punters, while there is certainly value in backing Mahrez to score against the side he rejected a move to in the summer (11/4 anytime with Coral, 8/1 first with Ladbrokes).