Mark O'Haire: "Struggling to wrap my head around this Low Total"

10 min


Bournemouth v Manchester United

Bournemouth continued their fine start to the Premier League season when romping to a cushy 3-0 success over struggling Fulham last Saturday. The Cherries are perched inside the top-six and know victory against Manchester United on Saturday would push them temporality above Arsenal and Spurs.

It’s remarkable to see the south coast club flying so high as we enter November, although Eddie Howe’s troops have been gifted a fairly kind fixture list, meeting only Chelsea from the Big Six across their opening 10 matches.

Unsurprisingly, Bournemouth do their best work when meeting bottom-half clubs.

Indeed, Saturday’s hosts have returned just W4-D5-L28 when taking on Big Six sides since promotion, a record that reads W2-D2-L8 in their past 12 here at Dean Court. So whilst I’m sure the Cherries will have their backers in the early kick-off, I’d prefer to focus our attention on a goals-based angle with Over 2.5 Goals trading at 1.77.

Bournemouth have been Overs Kings this season.

Encouragingly, eight of those 12 tussles when welcoming Big Six opposition have produced three or more goals, whilst half broke the Over 3.5 Goals barrier. What’s more, Bournemouth’s matches are averaging 3.1 goals-per-game, with the Expected Goals average also coming in at 3.10 per game.

Only Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City have outscored the Cherries thus far with Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and David Brooks excelling in the final third.

And although Howe’s charges deserve credit for their current run of three clean sheets on the spin, concerns remain over the hosts’ defence.

Bournemouth have silenced Big Six opposition four times in 37 encounters, whilst before their current run of shutouts, the Cherries managed to keep their sheets clean in only three of their previous 32 games.

Manchester United still aren’t convincing despite improved spells against Chelsea, Everton and Newcastle. The welcome resurgence of Anthony Martial has seen Romelu Lukaku dropped, while the reintroduction of Fred has given Paul Pogba the required freedom further forward.

The defensive frailties of Jose Mourinho’s side has been on full show in recent weeks.

However, it’s defensively where the Red Devils are struggling, keeping a solitary shutout in 2018/19.

United have shipped 17 goals – the fifth-worst in the division – thus far, which pales in comparison to last season’s efforts at this stage of the campaign, where United had already recorded eight clean sheets.

Last term, Jose Mourinho’s men conceded a goal every 15.57 shots they faced, and every 5.21 on-target attempts. This term the visitors are leaking a goal every 6.94 shots, and every 2.94 on-target strikes, which is far from ideal when you’re already allowing as many shots on-target as Huddersfield.

United have delivered profit from this selection in all bar two of their 10 outings, with those matches averaging 3.40 goals-per-game, and 3.39 Expected Goals. With the Premier League goals-per-game sitting at a healthy average of 2.77 per-game, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest Over 2.5 Goals is real value here at anything above 1.7.

Newcastle v Watford

Newcastle are toiling after making one of their worst starts to a season for 120 years. The Magpies are winless from their opening 10 matches and Rafa Benitez’s boys have been beaten in all five of their St James’ Park dates.

The Tynesiders have played five of the Big Six already, including three on home soil, although their performances in games against the lesser Premier League lights has raised question marks with the Geordies unable to create regular goalscoring opportunities.

Last weekend Newcastle failed to register a shot-on-target in a 0-0 draw with Southampton, losing the shot count 21-6.

If Saints had shown any sort of composure, the Magpies would have been well beaten, leaving them rock-bottom of the division.

There’s been zero home advantage for Benitez’s me this season.

In Newcastle’s last St James’ Park fixture, Benitez’s troops were beaten 1-0 by Brighton. That day, the hosts had 25 shots, however, they generated just 1.39 Expected Goals, suggesting the vast majority were of low quality.

Indeed, the match against Manchester United was arguably the only time this term that Newcastle have made any sort of eye-catching offensive approach to a game, where they scored twice inside the first 10 minutes.

Saturday’s hosts have now fired blanks in four of their last five, notching more than a solitary strike once (at Old Trafford). In six of their 10 outings they’ve failed to record more than six shots in a game and they’re averaging only five attempts from inside the penalty box. It’s desperate stuff.

Watford’s Tom Cleverley (centre) celebrates scoring his side’s second goal vs Arsenal earlier this season.

Visitors Watford produced a professional performance to win away at Wolves a fortnight ago and then keep Huddersfield in-check seven days ago to seal successive wins to nil. The Hornets restricted the Terriers to pot-shots from distance and deservedly bagged a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Javi Gracia’s men have only been beaten by Arsenal, Man Utd and Bournemouth this season – the latter when they were reduced to 10 men early on – whilst the Hertfordshire club returning W2-D1-L1 on their travels, giving Arsenal a stern examination at the Emirates in that sole reverse.

So with that in mind, I’m happy to keep the Hornets onside on the Asian Handicap line with a scratch 0 start at odds-against quotes. Watford have won six of their seven games outside of those three losses, scoring at least twice on each occasion and that firepower could prove decisive on Tyneside.

Recommended Bets

  • Bournemouth v Manchester United – Over 2.5 Goals (1.77)
  • Newcastle v Watford – Watford 0 Asian Handicap (2.06)

Mark joined Ali Maxwell and Nigel Seeley to preview the weekend Football action on the Matchbook Betting Podcast. If you haven’t already subscribed, search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app.