Mark O'Haire: Friday Night Special At St Marys

11 min

Football betting analyst Mark O’Haire picks out a selection of his favourite fancies from the domestic and continental scene this weekend.

Our focus on domestic matters was reasonably rewarded on Tuesday night as Birmingham and Portsmouth picked up top honours in their respective Football League fixtures. Unfortunately, Bradford fell to a surprising (and undeserved) home reverse to Port Vale to scupper hopes of a full house of winning selections.

With the action coming thick-and-fast, I’ve picked out a best bet from Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s football with the Premier League, EFL and La Liga all on the agenda. Fingers crossed we go one better this time around…

Sociedad Backed To Impress At Balaidos

Awake from your Sunday morning slumber this weekend because Real Sociedad are on show.

The Basques have been the best team to watch in Spain this season and the Anoeta outfit are well capable of justifying their position as pre-market favourites at Celta Vigo.

La Real moved into the Champions League places last weekend following a thrilling 3-1 victory against Real Betis with Imanol Alguacil’s group producing yet another absorbing attacking performance. The side from San Sebastian were fast, precisive, technically impeccable at times and relentless in the rain after falling behind.

Mikel Merino produced a performance that was startlingly complete, while just ahead of him, Martin Odegaard was spell-binding on the ball, again. Remarkably, seven of the men who played against Betis came through the club’s youth system and that cool air of confidence, purpose and positivity is makes this enterprising Sociedad team fearless.

Real Sociedad have been an absolute joy to watch this season.

Alguacil’s troops are posting an outstanding 64% Expected Goals (xG) from open play ratio and a positive +0.46 xG from open play differential per-game over their opening nine encounters, suggesting their lofty league position is no fluke. And it makes the Basques enticing 1.85 shots off a scratch 0.0 start away at Celta Vigo on Sunday morning.

Celta were kept afloat by club captain and top goalscorer Iago Aspas in 2018/19. Despite the arrivals of Denis Suarez and Santi Mina to add further clout for the Galicians in attacking areas, the hosts have been unable to stem the defensive bleeding, whilst the goals have dried up in the offensive third. It’s put Fran Escriba’s charges right in the brown stuff.

The Vigo-club (W2-D3-L4).have failed to notch four times already, with Celta grabbing only five goals in total across 13-and-a-half hours of La Liga action. Last weekend’s loss at Alaves epitomised the Galicians woes and Escriba is now fighting for his future with the team’s performance data pointing towards a bottom-three position should things fail to improve.

Cod Army Can Down Dons

Fleetwood boss Joey Barton criticised his players’ decision-making after seeing the Cod Army surrender a one-goal advantage against Coventry on Wednesday night. The Fylde coast club dominated proceedings for almost an hour at St Andrew’s and could have been out of sight before gifting the Sky Blues a route back into the League One encounter.

Defeat was a painfully frustrating experience for Town, although Barton’s boys should be backed to deliver an immediate reaction when returning to their Highbury base on Saturday for the visit of MK Dons. For starters, Fleetwood have been efficient and effective homeboys in 2019/20, racking up five triumphs from their opening seven showdowns here.

However, the Cod Army have excelled in the underlying performance data, generating one of the EFL’s highest xG from open play averages (1.28), as well as a chunky +0.71 supremacy differential when viewing the same metric. If the Fisherman can come close to the standards on Saturday, out-of-form Milton Keynes will be heading home pointless.

Fleetwood Town manager Joey Barton was not a happy chappy this week.

Dons manager Paul Tisdale admitted his team are in desperate need of a reset after suffering a sixth defeat in seven winless games at Rochdale on Tuesday evening. MK have nosedived after a promising opening stanza, failing to score in six of those seven recent encounters, whilst also being beaten nine times in 14 League One fixtures since promotion.

Tisdale’s troops were garbage at Coventry last weekend and comfortably second-best against bang-average Rochdale in midweek, and head to Fleetwood having suffered five losses in six road trips. With the home side racking up at least two goals in all bar four of their 13 fixtures, a cushy home success (-0.75 Asian Handicap) should be on the cards.

Both Sides To Oblige On South Coast

Southampton’s inconsistent campaign continued last weekend when Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team were unfortunate not to collect maximum points against Wolves (1-1). The stalemate means the Saints have now tabled only two Premier League triumphs across their last 14 fixtures, averaging only 1.19 points-per-game under the highly-rated German’s tutorship.

The south coast club return to St Mary’s on Friday and it’s not too surprising to see Saints marked up as outsiders on their own patch. Southampton have won just 24 points from their last 23 games in front of their home supporters, the worst tally from an ever-present Premier League club. Nevertheless, the hosts continue to pose a final-third threat.

Southampton have scored in all 16 St Mary’s outings under Hasenhuttl in the Premier League, however, the hosts’ only shutout during that sequence came against relegated Fulham last term. That means a huge 15 of those 16 match-ups have paid out for Both Teams To Score backers with 12 also rewarding Over 2.5 Goals hunters.

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl have been BTTS Kings this season.

Across all venues, the Saints have silenced just five of 32 opponents during the German’s reign and their high defensive line could easily be exposed. Leicester will look to use Jamie Vardy’s pace on the counter and the ex-England international is averaging a goal every 113 minutes in the Premier League under Brendan Rodgers’ watch (15 goals in 19 games).

Talking of Rodgers, Leicester have W10-D4-L5 following his arrival from Celtic with three of those five reverses coming against Big Six clubs. The two Manchester clubs are the only teams to thwart the Foxes in their last 11 games as guests and if we exclude both City and United from the equation, BTTS has copped in seven of nine away days under Rodgers.

Recommended Bets

  • Real Sociedad +0.0 – 2 units @ 1.85
  • Fleetwood -0.75 – 3 units @ 1.81
  • Both Teams To Score in Southampton v Leicester 4 units – @ 1.76