Glancing at the halftime score from Wembley and seeing only a Ryan Shawcross own-goal separating Tottenham and Stoke, I was feeling quite happy with my bets last weekend. Once more it looked to proof of a sustainable strategy to bet the unders when Spurs are at home, but it seems maybe I was kidding myself regarding Stoke’s defending, or lack of it.
Stoke now possess the worst defence in the league having shipped 36 goals in 17 games.
It’s a far cry from Tony Pulis’ tight and organised system with Mark Hughes having switched to a fashionable three at the back, and if I was a Stoke fan I would be concerned. Despite three seemingly good players in Wimmer, Shawcross, and Zouma, it just doesn’t look to be working.
In the end, Harry Kane and company romped away with it in the 2nd half to win 5-1. But I won’t be abandoning the system any time soon and it paid off once more when Spurs returned to type with a 2-0 win and an xG of 2.50 against Brighton on Wednesday, despite a goal line of 3.0. I look forward to revisiting the well when they host Southampton on Boxing Day.
Anfield sends us back to winning ways
In the Merseyside derby our bet on the under 3.25 goals won comfortably with the match finishing 1-1, however, I’m not sure how much can be read into the Liverpool performance with Jurgen Klopp leaving out a host of attacking talent. What was interesting though was how little impact the omission of Coutinho, Firmino, Wijnaldum and Can had on the odds.
Liverpool’s price hardly drifted and went off at 1.39 with the market seemingly happy with the replacements in Solanke, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Milner.
While it was no surprise to me to see them falter it seems the market was less prepared for the result, and as Jurgen Klopp has now been in charge of Liverpool for over two years it piqued my interest to see how they have performed at the prices during that time.
Here’s what I found:
- If you backed Liverpool to win in Klopp’s 84 Premier League games, to £10 level stakes, you would see a return of: -£20.20
- Taking out rest of the ‘big 6’ (Liverpool are perceived to do better against bigger sides), in 61 games you would see a return of: -£55.60
- If you backed Liverpool every time they were odds on, in 49 games you would see a return of: -£67.40
So we know that long-term by backing Liverpool every week we will make a loss. It’s no big surprise that backing Liverpool to win every single match would return a small loss as I think we’re all aware of their inconsistency, and it’s no surprise to see those losses increase if you take out the rest of the ‘big 6’. Klopp has recorded some impressive wins against better sides and Liverpool’s ability to raise themselves for the big games is further proved with bigger long-term betting losses when they are priced at odds on.
What makes it even harder to turn a profit betting on Liverpool are going off at much shorter odds than when Klopp took over. His early away games against Chelsea and Man City attracted prices of 3.81 and 5.0 respectively, but the last visits were priced up at 3.43 and 4.05.
So what if we were to lay Liverpool, particularly now we know they’re odds are even shorter every week?
This is what we found by laying them in every game so far under Klopp’s reign:
- Laying Liverpool in Klopp’s 84 Premier League games, with a £10 liability gave a return of: £154.04
- Take out the rest of the ‘big 6’, in 61 games gave a return of: £155.83
- Laying Liverpool at odds on, in 49 games gave a return of: £178.16
These are significant profits. If you laid Liverpool every week to the same liability you would see a return of 18.34% on your investment.
It’s perhaps surprising to see that number hardly changes when you take out the ‘big 6’, but Klopp has only won 7 of the last 20 matches and the figures are distorted by those early wins at Chelsea and Man City. However, it’s no surprise to see the profit figure increase when only laying at odds on even though it’s too small a sample size to draw a definitive conclusion there.
Laying Liverpool as a route to profit?
But can laying Liverpool be a viable strategy? I believe so.
Two years and two months over 84 games is a big enough sample to remove the chance of this being solely due to randomness. And Klopp’s ability to manage game situations is regularly coming under scrutiny. He took top scorer Salah off against Everton despite only being 1-0 up and left Coutinho and Mane on for 90 minutes against Spartak Moscow despite being 5-0 up.
He has thrown away 3-0 and 3-1 leads against Sevilla and Watford and the late equalisers at home to Chelsea and Everton were criminal. And that’s just this season’s disasters. The current period is a huge test with 14 games in just eight weeks and the cracks are beginning to tell, but this is not something new.
Last January they conceded two penalties when drawing at Sunderland. This was then followed up with 0-0 v Plymouth before losing five games in the space of 33 days. January 2016 also saw three defeats and three draws, with the squad seemingly not good enough to cope with the strain.
A change is not as good as a rest
The January strain is unlikely to be helped by Klopp making wholesale changes in order to ‘rest’ players. Liverpool have made 59 changes to their starting XI so far this season and only one team have made more in their opening 16 games. If the players coming in are not as good as the ones they’re replacing then, of course, the team will perform worse and the more changes you make the more it upsets the rhythm of the side.
It’s not just Klopp’s fault, however, and individual errors all too often cost Liverpool.
Since 2015/16 Liverpool have made 23 errors leading to goals, and only West Ham with 26 have had more. They’ve also made 58 errors leading to shots, with only Swansea (59) allowing more. This isn’t variance. It’s hard-wired into the players. They are not good enough.
And it’s not just errors, it’s Klopp’s tactics as well. Since he took over Liverpool have conceded 30 goals from set-pieces, the fourth worst, while open play is just as bad. Liverpool are in the top six for fewest shots conceded but allow far too many of them to go in with the highest conversion rate in the league.
So how do we profit from this? Well the answer is staring us in the face. Lay Liverpool, every single match.