Mark O'Haire - Happy To Oppose City Once Again

12 min

Matchday 15 of the Premier League takes centre-stage this midweek and football betting analyst Mark O’Haire has picked out two of his favourite fancies from the top-flight fixtures.

It was a successful weekend for the Matchbook Weekend Football Podcast as we nailed all four televised fixtures, whilst my Insights column provided a pair of profit-makers from the continent. With Christmas coming, it’s a handy time to bank a bit of cash and I reckon I’ve found two more selections to bolster the festive kitty this midweek.

It makes sense to focus on Matchday 15 of the Premier League with history in the offing as Amazon get set to break Sky’s and BT’s stranglehold when it begins live-streaming the first 10 of 20 top-flight games through its Prime Video service. The next batch take place on Boxing Day so here’s hoping for a smooth transition into the world of streaming.

Clarets Can Keep City In-Check

Pep Guardiola has said Manchester City will “fight until the last day” as they look to successfully defend their Premier League title. The Citizens trail league leaders Liverpool by 11 points and the Catalan head coach has never had to overcome a gap as large during his managerial career across the continent.

City twice led at Newcastle before being forced to settle for a 2-2 draw on Saturday. Despite the proverbial bus being parked on the edge of the Magpies’ area, Guardiola’s group still managed 24 efforts on goal, and had it not been for Martin Dubravka’s saves and the late misses by Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling, this should have been a deserved win.

The attack played their part, but at times City’s defensive structure left a lot to be desired.

They made their intentions known as early as the first minute when they pressed high up, with right-back Kyle Walker coming inside to provide almost a second playmaker role. It was a confident move, but also left them exposed to the pace of Newcastle down the wings.

Kevin De Bruyne’s late goal still couldn’t get the win for Manchester City up north.

A similar tactical test now awaits the Blue Moon on Tuesday night at Turf Moor.

Man City will again be tasked with finding a way past a deep-lying defence and two banks of four; nobody should suggest the Citizens aren’t good enough to successfully negotiate such tasks but few can have faith in Pep’s posse from keeping the back door shut on Burnley.

Since Aymeric Laporte was injured, City have kept five clean sheets in 16 outings, and throughout Guardiola’s reign, the visitors have shutout their hosts in fewer than half of their away days. Considering Man City have managed to win by three or more goals in only three of 34 road trips when conceding, the guests make no appeal in the Asian Handicap market.

Instead, we’re inclined to oppose the Blue Moon with a steep handicap hurdle to overcome. Burnley can be supported with a +2 start with punters only losing their stake should the under-fire visitors achieve victory by at least three goals.

Despite City’s attacking riches, Pep’s troops have scored two goals or fewer in nine of their most recent 12 encounters across all competitions and make the relatively short journey without key forward Sergio Aguero through injury. The team’s record of winning by 3+ away from home drops from 27% to a paltry 16% in the Argentine’s absence.

Burnley might boast a wretched return against top-six finishers since returning to the Premier League, but Sean Dyche’s robust and resilient outfit have been beaten by three or more goals in only three of 20 Turf Moor tussles against the league’s elite, giving up fewer than two goals-per-game in that same sample.

Goals To Flow On The South Coast

Southampton and Norwich have both picked up back-to-back positive results in their battle for Premier League survival and Wednesday night’s match-up between the pair at St Mary’s could prove to be an entertaining and intriguing affair.

Only Southampton’s profligacy prevented them from leaving Arsenal with all three points 10 days ago as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side managed 21 shots against the Gunners. But Saints started their 2-1 triumph against Watford anxiously and were forced to fight back from behind in the second-half following the introductions of Sofiane Boufal and Shane Long.

Long twice struck the woodwork, Danny Ings eventually restored parity after good work by Moussa Djenepo and James Ward-Prowse completely the turnaround with a fine free-kick, marking only the second time in 44 league matches that Saints had won after trailing at half-time.

Hasenhuttl is now hoping to see a 90-minute effort from his team this midweek.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton side have been good for an ‘Over’ of late.

Norwich also remain in the bottom three but can consider themselves unfortunate not to have claimed successive Premier League wins for the first time since April 2016. The Canaries matched Arsenal for shots on-target and arguably had better chances overall during their 2-2 draw on Sunday in a performance full of energy, grit and determination.

Daniel Farke’s side appears to have been buoyed by the renewal of their first-choice central defensive partnership – Christoph Zimmermann and Ben Godfrey – and the solidity of that pairing was noticeable when the Canaries captain returned from injury at Everton last week; while the German conceded a penalty here he was otherwise excellent.

Finnish goal-getter Teemu Pukki was back on the scoresheet for Norwich and Todd Cantwell was again lively in forward areas as the Norfolk giants pressed forward in search of goals. That forward-thinking approach should stand the Canaries in good stead and may lead to a high-scoring, basement battle shoot-out should Southampton reciprocate at St Mary’s.

Norwich City’s Teemu Pukki (left) celebrates scoring his side’s first goal against Arsenal last weekend.

That looks likely. Since arriving on the south coast, Hasenhuttl’s presided over 37 Premier League games with an average of 3.11 goals-per-game. Twenty-four (65%) of fixtures paid out for Over 2.5 Goals backers with 27 (73%) clicking in the Both Teams To Score market; such stats push even higher when focussing only on contests from St Mary’s.

When hosting league opposition, Saints have seen 15/19 (79%) matches produce Over 2.5 Goals profit with 8/19 (42%) breaking the Over 3.5 Goals barrier. Seventeen (89%) of those games saw both sides score as Southampton have scored in all bar one, and silenced a solitary visitor to their south coast base.

Norwich’s numbers dip when taking to the road, although that’s largely due to the Canaries failing to notch in five games as guests. City have shipped twice or more in five of those seven fixtures, and with Expected Goals (xG) figures suggesting a high portion of goals are anticipated here, I’m happy to follow the underlying numbers.

Over 2.75 Goals available at a kind 1.78 and sees our selection make money if three or more goals are scored at St Mary’s.

We’ll pocket a half-stakes pay-out should exactly three goals be plundered with four or more goals rewarding us with a full-stakes winner.

Recommended Bets

  • Burnley +2 – 3 units @ 1.72
  • Over 2.75 Goals in Southampton v Norwich 3 units @ 1.78