Hack the weekend: Brighton aim to surprise Arsenal, Udinese to take points from Fiorentina

Hack the weekend: Brighton aim to surprise Arsenal, Udinese to take points from Fiorentina
Brighton lost 4-2 at home to Arsenal in their first meeting this season.
Brighton lost 4-2 at home to Arsenal in their first meeting this season.
Who will win the big game? Well, that is the key question that sports fans and pundits around the world ask themselves daily. Most of the time, however, they are guided more by feelings and impressions than by raw data. The right answer to this question can often be extremely valuable especially if the numbers suggest that the favourites might just slip up.

That's why Flashscore, in cooperation with a team of analysts from Czech data company 11Hacks, is bringing you a data-driven overview every Friday about where those (un)expected results might occur in the wide world of football to help you ultimately hack the weekend.

Arsenal - Brighton

For a long time it looked like the Premier League title would be decided until the last round, but currently, according to mathematical models, Manchester City have a staggering 87% chance of winning it. The Gunners now need to dominate all three remaining games while hoping City lose five points by the end of the season. Which doesn't seem too likely. While the team, who have Erling Haaland, take on struggling Everton this weekend, Arsenal face Brighton at home.

Premier League expected points table

The Seagulls are seventh in the table, but a glance at the Premier League standings is deceiving. For example, according to the expected points metric, there should be only a slight points gap between the two teams in favour of the Gunners. Offensively and defensively, these are two very evenly matched teams.

Just like in December, this could be a very offensive game. Brighton should have the upper hand in the air and take advantage of the quick transition into attack, while Arsenal should get chances in the box, mostly after perpendicular passes into the box from the midfield or passes underneath. Last time, Bukayo Saka opened the scoring account in the opening minute of the match and there were eventually six goals. How will it go this time?

Fiorentina - Udinese

In the previous round of Serie A, Udinese condemned Sampdoria to relegation at home and now they are facing a match on away soil to stay in the top half of the table. As the ninth team, they will face eighth-placed Fiorentina, who are only a point ahead of them. Bologna, FC Torino and Monza also have the same number of points. These teams had to say goodbye to their cup positions, but there is still a lot to play for.

It is a contest between two extremely evenly matched defences. In terms of their 'leakiness', both teams are virtually identical in the data sample of the whole season, but Udinese has the upper hand, which could also be due to the better form of goalkeeper Marco Silvestri compared to Fiorentina's Pietro Terracciano.

The same goes for the attacks. In terms of the quality of shots created, Fiorentina are the seventh-best offence in the current Serie A season, and Udinese are eighth by a slight margin. Interestingly, Fiorentina play an even higher defensive block than the champions from Naples this season.

Udinese, on the other hand, implement a deep block and will want to threaten mainly from quick counter attacks into open defences.

They regularly create very good opportunities from breakout situations and have already managed to score 13 times in this way, the fifth-best result in the competition. Moreover, Fiorentina often has great difficulty defending breaks. In terms of xG allowed in such situations, only Sampdoria, Monza, Spezia, Salernitana and Cremonese are worse.

Union St. Gilloise - Genk

Those who have the opportunity to watch the championship group in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League will definitely have a good time. It is one of the most attractive European competitions at the moment in terms of team balance. The battle for the title is between Antwerp, Genk and Union St. Gilloise, who are only separated by only one point in the table. No team has really stood out above the other in regards to their performances too.

The title battle continues on Sunday with a meeting between third-placed St. Gilloise and second-placed Genk. Although the bookmakers are heavily favouring the home side, a deeper analysis shows that Genk could maintain their lead in the table. In particular, a well-functioning attack speaks in their favour. According to the expected goals metric, which measures the volume and quality of scoring opportunities created, it is even the best offensive team in the league.

Jupiler Pro League table by expected points

On average, Wouter Vrancken's side are creating 1.74 expected goals per game and even score 2.03 real ones (excluding penalties), while Union is around 1.3 xG (1.8 real). Although the team let go of its top scorer Paul Onuach to English side Southampton during the winter break, its firepower has been well replaced.

In the 13-game period capped by Onuach's departure, Genk's average xG dropped to 1.54, but that's not a significant drop. And the 1.9 real goals scored per game in that period has only been surpassed by Gent. Joseph Paintsil, Mbwana Samatta or Yira Sor are regularly getting good chances, plus the dangerous Tolu Arokodare is returning after injury and should gradually become a key player for the team. All of the above should be able to hit the ground running.

The same cannot be said for winger Mike Tresor, who was sent off in a wild finish to the game against Antwerp. Even though he is Genk's most creative player, the offensive players will not be left without the necessary service thanks to the excellent technical skills of Paintsil and Bilal El Khannous.

In addition, Genk also has a slight advantage in defence. Although across the season they allow a higher number of expected goals per game to their opponents compared to Union, the quality in the goalkeeper position is also key when evaluating defences. And that clearly speaks in favour of the visiting team.

While the youngster Maarten Vandevoordt is one of the league's elite goalkeepers, his counterpart Anthony Moris is not doing too well. If the average league goalkeeper faced the same shots, he would receive five fewer goals. And those are the differences that decide the title.


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