Mark Stinchcombe: “The market is expecting goals galore at Wembley, but I think there is value in the unders”

12 min

I was pretty happy with my assessment of last weekend’s Premier League matches. Under 3.0 goals would have won at Burnley but I was right to be cautious with Raheem Sterling and others missing some very good opportunities and the match actually returned an xG of 3.38.

I also said Everton were terrible and saw nothing to make me reconsider my view. I wonder if Allardyce is actually taking them backwards.

Meanwhile the Liverpool vs Tottenham game played out the way the odds suggested. Liverpool were the better side for the first half, and if they had managed the game better would have probably come away with a 1-0 win.

Arsenal thrashed Everton last weekend and added further credence to his views on Sam Allardyce.

Perhaps the most interesting results, though, were further down the table with Brighton vs West Ham and West Brom vs Southampton easily going over 2.0 goals although the xG was just 2.40 and 1.91 respectively. But I’ve said before I’m always keen to find a way to back overs when we have a goal line of just 2.0 and there may be some important lessons to draw from this.

The average total goals in the Premier League this season is 2.7, and it was 2.8 last season and with it being such a tight battle at the bottom of the league it could open up some of these “tight” matches. With just seven points separating the bottom nine we might see teams ‘going’ for it more and thus more goals. It’s an interesting trend to watch at any rate.

Regrets, new bets and low (goal) expectations

Outside of the Premier League, it was a weekend of mixed emotions for me. Over 2.75 goals in the Monaco vs Lyon game came in with four goals after just 36 minutes, but those winnings were quickly lost the next night in Rome as a classic smash and grab from Genoa saw the visitors win 2-1.

Lazio had 59% possession, 78-42 dangerous attacks, 8-1 corners and 18-6 shots yet we didn’t even get a push on our -1.0 handicap bet! The expected goals finished 0.78-0.83 which just goes to show that despite their dominance, they didn’t create good enough chances. It was also the first time in 16 games Genoa scored more than one goal. Anyway, onto this weekend.

Monaco v Lyon last weekend was as expected another Ligue 1 goalfest.

The big game takes place at 12:30 on Saturday as Tottenham host Arsenal at Wembley. I’ve covered this matchup a couple of times on the Matchbook Betting Podcast so if you’re a regular listener you can probably guess where I’m going with this game. And this fixture first drew my attention when I saw the goal line of 3.25 with a goal expectancy of 3.35.

I immediately thought that was high even before thinking about the previous meetings. The last 12 matches between these two rivals have seen only 26 goals, just 2.17 per-game, and last season in this match at White Hart Lane the goal line was 3.0.

That seems understandable with Spurs’ old home averaging 2.95 goals-per-game last season, but 13 matches at Wembley have seen slightly fewer with 2.85 per-game, which I flagged up as likely at the beginning of the season.

I can’t agree with the increase in goal expectancy which is a big leap from the league average previously mentioned. I make the odds 1.72 on under 3.25 goals and in the last 12 meetings between these two the bet would have only have lost once. So I have to have a bet on under 3.25 at 1.86.

Getting in with the goals at Goodison

There’s another goal line catching my eye this weekend and that’s the visit of Crystal Palace to hapless Everton.

Generally in the Premier League, unless we have really attacking or negative teams, we should be expecting 2.5 goal lines. So with Everton vs Crystal Palace having a goal line of 2.25 and a goal expectancy of just 2.35, I think there’s a good case to be made with getting with goals at Goodison Park.

Everton’s 26 matches this season have seen 74 goals (2.85pg), while those featuring Crystal Palace have seen 63 goals (2.42pg). Everton have conceded the fourth most goals in the league with 45 (1.73pg) and this actually gets worse in terms of xG under Allardyce with his side conceding 1.87 xG pg in his 12 matches in charge.

Crystal Palace, on the other hand, are by far and away the biggest underperformers in front of goal in the league, with expected goals having them in for an extra 14 goals!

To put this into context the next worst is Newcastle with only 4.5, while West Ham are over-performing by 5.4 goals and with that range, it just goes to show how badly Palace are underachieving.

Everton are 2.3 which looks short when you consider they were 2.59 against West Brom a few weeks ago. However, Palace have got a bit of an injury crisis which puts me off getting with them as they’re likely to be without Zaha, Sako, Loftus-Cheek, Wickham, Puncheon or Schlupp. However, the Eagles share their goals and creativity around.

Palace still have Benteke who should be scoring goals, despite being nearly seven goals behind on xG, and both Townsend and Cabaye are creating more chances than Zaha (who has just one assist this season). So after taking out Palace absentees, I’ve got over 2.25 goals at 1.88 making overs look value with odds against available and I’m having 1.5 points here at 2.12.

Don’t look back in Angers

My final bet this week comes from Europe and again features Monaco who travel to Angers. I really like this Monaco side despite the loss of key players over the summer. They recruited really well in terms of value for money and whilst they aren’t hitting the heights of last season, they’re not as far off as the odds suggest.

Their hosts’ Angers are 16th in the league having won just five games this season, and yet third-placed Monaco are 2.46. Compare this with second place Marseille who are just a point ahead being 1.93 away at 12th place St Etienne.

To add to the seeming discrepancy In terms of shot data, there’s very little to separate Marseille and Monaco, and similarly St Etienne and Angers.

Monaco were 1.75 when they visited St Etienne in December when winning 4-0. They were 1.52 when beating Angers 1-0 at home in December, and if we switch supremacy we get 1.99 for Monaco.

In terms of expected goals, meanwhile, Monaco are posting very similar numbers to Lyon who were 2.22 when they travelled there.

Monaco have won the last three meetings between the sides, though the scorelines have been close (1-0, 1-0, 2-1). But Monaco were 1.65 in this fixture last season and I can’t have the swing in prices when the difference in quality in their team is not that drastic. Given the prices we can get Monaco -0.25 at odds against with only a defeat seeing a full loss and that feels like a 1.5 point bet to me.

Recommended bets:

  • Under 3.25 goals Tottenham v Arsenal 1.86 – 1 point
  • Over 2.25 goals Everton v Crystal Palace 2.12 – 1.5 points
  • Monaco -0.25 2.08 – 1.5 points