Mark O'Haire: Two Overs For The Weekend

11 min’s Mark O’Haire picks out two selections from this weekend’s Premier League action.

Tottenham v Manchester City

There’s been a healthy move for Manchester City in this match with the Citizens seeing their pre-match price tumble from around the 1.83 mark to 1.73 by Friday morning. Those odds do feel a little stingy considering Pep Guardiola’s group were as big as 2.5 to win against Spurs at Wembley as recently as April.

Tottenham had a full compliment available that day and the contest earlier in the year came off the back of City’s worst run of results in 2017/18. The Premier League champions had suffered two Champions League defeats to Liverpool, as well as that come-from-behind loss against Manchester United.

However, this time around, the hosts will be without Dele Alli and Jan Vertonghen. Both are significant but the Belgian’s absence could be keenly felt at the back; without him, Spurs have W1-D3-L2 against top-half teams, failing to record a clean sheet.

Meanwhile, Pep has already claimed his City charges have played some of the best football of his tenure in recent weeks. And with the Citizens taking top honours in 83% of their Premier League fixtures since the start of last season, winning five of seven trips to fellow Big Six sides, I won’t argue with the odds.

Indeed, both of the Sky Blues’ exceptions came at Anfield – although the latest would have been different had Riyad Mahrez converted his late penalty. What’s more, it’s worth reminding ourselves that City dominated Spurs 3-1 in that April encounter and Tottenham have already been turned over by Liverpool here.

Pep Guardiola’s side have been in scintillating form of late.

City have averaged 2.57 Expected Goals, giving up just 0.65 in domestic action since the beginning of 2017/18. They’re also posting a quite frighteningly 86% Expected Goals from open play ratio and have Kevin De Bruyne back available. They’re as complete a side as any in Europe and understandable Champions League favourites.

Saying that, instead of getting involved in the away victory, I’m going to attack the Over 2.75 Goals market at 1.75. The only lingering concern I have for the validity of this selection is the state of the Wembley surface, 24 hours after an NFL game takes place in the same stadium. Not ideal, but not enough to put me off.

Man City have seen 68% of their Premier League outings since the start of 2017/18 pay-out for Over 2.5 Goals backers as 47% broke the Over 3.5 Goals line – the average goals per-game in that sample was 3.45. This term the total Expected Goals average in Guardiola games is 3.41 with 2.58 from open play.

Against Big Six clubs, the Sky Blues have W9-D1-L2 over the past 15 months – on eight occasions three or more goals were seen with half rewarding Over 3.5 Goals supporters, including that trip here in April. The average goals per-game against the Premier League’s leading lights was 3.33.

Tottenham welcomed Christian Eriksen back into the starting XI in midweek and the Danish dynamo provided two assists as Spurs scored for the 49th game in 50 across all competitions.

With Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela in decent nick and Harry Kane continuing to score, I’ve no doubt the hosts will pack a punch.

Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side have been vulnerable defensively this season.

Tottenham’s tussles across their 21 home matches against Big Six sides under Mauricio Pochettino have averaged 3.00 goals-per-game as they’ve fired only four blanks. Kane and co have struck twice against the likes of Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Juventus (x2) and Dortmund (x2).

Saying that Pochettino’s posse are struggling a little defensively.

In domestic matters, Spurs are conceding 0.87 Expected Goals per-game from open play and only nine teams have faced more shots from inside the penalty area. West Ham, Cardiff and Huddersfield could and should have notched against them.

Both teams are more comfortable in the offensive third of the field and it’s difficult to see Monday night’s match failing to ignite like City’s Anfield encounter in September.

So I’m happy to support Over 2.75 Goals, knowing we’ll make a half-stakes profit should exactly three goals be scored with a full pay-out arriving if four or more goals are plundered.

Leicester v West Ham

Leicester fell to a 3-1 defeat at Arsenal on Monday night but Claude Puel should have been pleased with his team’s efforts as they started the Emirates encounter excellently before falling under Mesut Ozil’s spell. There’s no shame in that.

Surprisingly for a Puel side, the Foxes have looked sharp in attacking areas this term.

However, City are often let down by poor defensive performances and have appeared vulnerable against any side with a clinical cutting edge.

The former Premier League champions have kept their sheets clean only twice – against shot-shy Newcastle, and against a Wolves side that rattled the woodwork three times here. But as a result of scoring in each of their outings, Over 2.5 Goals has proven a regular winner, banking in seven of Leicester’s nine matches.

If we include the tail end of 2017/18, the Foxes have surpassed the 2.5 goals line in 13 of their past 18 top-flight tussles, whilst also scoring in all bar four of their fixtures at their King Power Stadium base since the beginning of last season.

Claude Puel’s Leicester City side have kept only 2 clean sheets this season.

West Ham have been turned over 1-0 twice in their most recent two outings following their richly-deserved home success over Manchester United. Nevertheless, the Hammers won both the shot count and fired in four on-target attempts in defeat to Spurs and Brighton and were unfortunate not to score.

Injury to Andriy Yarmolenko will take a little sting out of United’s attacking threat but there’s enough ability in the ranks to ruffle Foxes’ feathers on Saturday evening and so I’m happy to support Over 2.5 Goals at an odds-against quote of 2.06 here.

Manuel Pellegrini’s visitors have recorded a solitary shutout on the road and delivered Over 2.5 Goals profit in 12 of their past 16 away trips. Across the campaign as a whole, West Ham games are averaging 2.93 Expected Goals per-game, providing plenty of extra evidence to support a goals-based bet.

Recommended Bets

  • Tottenham v Manchester City – Over 2.75 Goals (1.75)
  • Leicester v West Ham – Over 2.5 Goals (2.06)

Mark joined Ali Maxwell and Mike Holden 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.