Following another weekend laced with inexplicable decisions and moments of contention, the 2020/21 Premier League campaign is already shaping up to be the season that spawned a million and one controversies.
A huge seven penalties were awarded across eight top-flight tussles between Saturday and Sunday, bringing the total number of spot kicks awarded this term up to a staggering 20 after just 26 matches.
With the application and interpretation of new handball rules pushing officials to make decisions they ordinarily wouldn’t, and the early-season mistimed tackles of rusty defenders also a factor, penalty kicks have never been awarded as freely in the Premier League.
But while the warring clans of the division prepare to unite against the game’s law makers and others get wrapped up in the hysteria of it all, there is currently a potentially profitable set of circumstances to take advantage of for the clued-in punter.
You can find the rest of our betting tips and match previews over on our Premier League predictions page.
Premier League penalty stats
Incredibly, the 2020/21 season has produced almost three times the average number of penalties per 90 minutes as the last nine Premier League campaigns so far.
12 of the division’s teams have already had a spot kick awarded to them, while 10 of the league’s clubs have conceded at least one penalty since the season started. In total, just five teams out of 20 have yet to see a penalty kick in their Premier League fixtures.
With five penalties in just three matches, Leicester City have been the penalty kick kings so far this term, while Leeds and Man City (three each) have conceded more than anyone else.
Remarkably, 14 or 70% of the 20 penalties won in the Premier League to date were awarded to the away team, smashing any notion of a home team bias.
Penalty kicks worth backing?
Liverpool vs Arsenal betting tips
At Anfield this evening, Liverpool and Arsenal both put perfect starts on the line in a heavyweight clash on Merseyside, and the data suggests there is value in backing a penalty to be awarded in the match.
Alongside the much higher overall prevalence of penalty kicks in Premier League fixtures this season (0.77 per game), recent head-to-heads between Liverpool and the Gunners at Anfield have also been high on penalty area drama.
Three spot kicks were awarded to the home side in the last two meetings between the clubs in Liverpool alone – all three of which were dispatched in style by prolific Egyptian Mohamed Salah – and in the Premier League’s current landscape, the odds on another penalty being awarded look extremely favourable.
Read our 45/1 #OOT special for Arsenal’s trip to Liverpool on Monday here!
Premier League fixtures to look out for this weekend
Leeds vs Man City (Saturday, 3rd)
Both Leeds and Man City have defended carelessly so far this season, conceding three penalties a piece after just three and two outings respectively.
Leeds conceded spot kicks in their defeat to Liverpool (two) and victory at home to Fulham, while City conceded all three of theirs in one disastrous afternoon against Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium.
The Citizens defenders looked particularly clumsy in their attempts to stop their opponents in one-on-one counter situations, while several members of Leeds’ rearguard looked particularly panicky against Liverpool at Anfield.
Everton vs Brighton (Saturday, 3rd)
Graham Potter’s Brighton both scored and conceded two penalties so far this season, the most recent of which came in the 99th minute of their last-gasp defeat to Man Utd on Saturday evening.
This weekend, the Seagulls will be hoping that Lady Luck is on their side, and having notched a penalty in their first meeting of the 2019/20 season with Everton last year, Brighton will be desperate for history to repeat itself.
The Toffees meanwhile, got their first penalty of the season via another mind-boggling handball decision in their win at Crystal Palace on Saturday. The effort, finished by Richarlison, proved to be the game’s defining moment.
Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, 4th)
Ex-Man Utd boss and current Spurs supremo Jose Mourinho has taken plenty of shots at his old club over the volume of penalty kicks awarded to United over the past 18-months.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side topped the charts for penalty kicks scored in 2019/20, rattling home 10 of them overall to run up a haul that earned United less than flattering nicknames like VARchester and Penchester United on social media.
Mourinho, who was left fuming after Spurs conceded a soft penalty against Newcastle on Sunday, saw United win spot kicks both home and away against Tottenham last term, and the verbal volleys aimed at his old employers by the acerbic Portuguese manager in the lead up to Sunday’s clash, suggest the Portuguese manager fears a repeat.
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