Mark Stinchcombe: I'm liking lots of Christmas Goals at the Emirates

9 min

They say you don’t learn much from winning, so after a couple of losses this weekend it might be time to look back at what went wrong to see if we can learn anything. And first up we have Liverpool’s visit to Bournemouth.

Last week’s blog gave a comprehensive reason why Liverpool were a good lay, but they comfortably swept Bournemouth aside. That doesn’t make the reasoning incorrect, it’s just many of those factors happened to not be prevalent last Sunday. Liverpool were 1.72 in this fixture last season, so 1.54 this time around was more than enough scope to get involved.

I’m not buying that Liverpool’s defense has suddenly improved either. The argument is they have only conceded four goals in the previous nine league games, but that conveniently leaves out the three against Sevilla and if you add one more game you find the four they shipped at Tottenham.

Eight of those nine games were against bottom half opposition and we can’t use a sample size of nine games to give an accurate representation of overall ability.

So what does this mean for this Friday night when Arsenal host Liverpool? I won’t be rushing to lay Liverpool, but the continued frailties in Liverpool’s defence and both sides attacking ability provides some value. The previous meeting back in August saw Liverpool blow Arsenal away 4-0 and over 2.75 goals was a winner and I see no reason to change approach here with only a small increase in goal expectation.

In the 11 fixtures between these two since 2013, there has been 45 goals at 4.09 per-game.

Both sides are firing this season, with Liverpool registering 2.20 xG per game and Arsenal 2.10. Both sides are also conceding over a goal a game and unless either manager plays with the handbrake on we should see more of the same and I will be having a bet on over 3.0 goals in this one.

Backing Bournemouth to hold back City

Bournemouth, on the other hand, have no respite. After being blown away 4-0 by Liverpool as they face the daunting prospect of a trip to Manchester to face a rampant City side. But have had a week to recover, and their results against the big guns haven’t been that bad and a goal line of 4.0 looks a bit too high.

  • 2-1 Chelsea
  • 0-4 Liverpool
  • 1-0 Man Utd
  • 0-1 Chelsea
  • 1-0 Tottenham
  • 3-0 Arsenal

I may be taking a bit of a chance here given the way the Citizen’s have wiped out all in front of them this season and stuck four past Tottenham and Swansea in their last two games. But you have to go back nine games prior to this before they’d scored more than three and this will be their 11th game in the last five weeks.

This game is part of a run that will see them play 17 games in nine weeks after their progression to the League Cup semi-finals.

Their next two fixtures over the festive period are both away, with a 12 o’clock kick-off at Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve, and I can see Pep Guardiola managing the squad by resting and rotating.

I just don’t think this is necessarily going to be an all-out-attack all game. In Bournemouth’s previous meeting with Man City this season they only lost 2-1 with an xG of just 1.40.

City won this fixture 4-0 last season, but the xG in that was only 3.0 so I think at odds against there is enough value to warrant a bet.

Trusting the system

My other losing bet on the weekend was on the Everton v Swansea game, and this was disappointing given nothing had happened in the first 35 minutes. Two quick goals before half-time came from a corner and a penalty before we saw another two with a wonder strike and another penalty in the second half.

Four goals in the game means on the face of it a bet on the under 2.5 market looks a very bad bet but the type of goals and the corresponding xG tells us a different story. The total goals was just 1.35, so long-term I’d like to think I was on the right side of the bet.

Part of being a winning bettor is knowing the difference between a bad bet and a bad outcome.

It’s tempting to over-analyse things and pick holes but having analysed the matches and more importantly the process in arriving at the bets, I’m happy that long-term I’m on the right track.

And with that in mind, once again this weekend I like the look of keeping with Sam Allardyce’s organised and building from the back approach as they host a Chelsea missing suspended top scorer Alvaro Morata. So far Big Sam has presided over a 3-1 victory v Swansea, a 1-0 win at Newcastle, a 1-1 at Liverpool and a 2-0 win v Huddersfield. The average xG across those games is just 1.65.

Chelsea won the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge 2-0 with an xG of 1.61 and having drilled the Everton defence to limit Liverpool’s attack, you would expect Allardyce to set up similar to deal with Hazard, Fabregas, and co. I think a bet on under 2.5 goals is warranted here, and like Big Sam, we’re just going to have to trust the system and the process.

Recommended bets:

  • Arsenal v Liverpool, Over 3.0 goals 1.92 – 1 point
  • Everton v Chelsea, Under 2.5 goals 1.91 – 1 point
  • Man City v Bournemouth, Under 4.0 goals 2.04 – 1 point

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