Before I get about Spurs…..It didn’t take long to find a sack race winner, did it?
This week Roy Hodgson takes charge of his first Crystal Palace game replacing Frank de Boer in a game that will have a lot of football “experts” trying to tell you how new managers improve results. Actually, this is largely a myth.
Sacked managers are replaced generally not because they have been poor but because they have been unlucky.
And the performance of a new manager makes it look like things have got better, but this is simply a result of results progressing towards the mean. And Crystal Palace have been very unlucky.
In their 1-0 defeat at Burnley they outshot them 23 – 4, had 65% possession, 13 corners and won the expected goals by a convincing 1.98 – 0.28. Only a poor back pass cost them a result. In fact, they’ve won the xG in three of their four games, with the only loss being the defeat at Liverpool.
Hodgson welcomes Southampton on Saturday, but if they win it’s more likely due to finding some luck than finding inspiration from the new boss…
The Saints are a team with their own issues having failed to score in nine of the last 12 games they’ve been involved in. And Southampton are once again worth opposing here, especially as favourites.
I’d rather keep the draw onside so taking +0.25 on the Asian Handicap feels like the right play here.
Spurs home struggles to continue?
I’ve discussed Spurs issues at home before and this week they welcome Swansea to Wembley as 1.28 favourites. Spurs themselves have scored just 13 goals in their 12 games at the ‘new’ Wembley, and I’d much rather oppose them in a game which could be attack v defence for 90 minutes.
The goal line is set at 3.0 here but I think there’s enough to suggest that’s at least a quarter ball too big.
Swansea’s last seven away games have all seen under 2.5 goals and offensively they really aren’t very threatening.
Swansea has managed just seven shots-on-target this season, the second worst in the league, and their total expected goals is just 2.46.
A point on under 3.0 goals is the value bet here.
Finally Chelsea welcome Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Arsene Wenger’s record is horrendous away to the rest of the ‘big 6’. His last 25 matches read W0 D7 L18. Chelsea themselves have won 16 of their last 18 home games, including this fixture 3-1 in February.
Chelsea will also have two days extra rest having played in Europe on Tuesday compared to Thursday for Arsenal.
There looks to be just enough juice in the price at around 1.8 to back them to win again.
Analysing the European hangover
The Chelsea game raises one of the more subtle variables on Premier League results: European football.
The Champions and Europa Leagues were back in action this week and it’s worthwhile taking a quick look at its impact on the teams involved as it’s more varied than you’d think.
For teams in the Champions League, generally, there is no pattern. Better teams usually mean bigger squads to cope with more matches, the standard of the opposition and travel time can vary substantially and the schedule can range from European football on Tuesday or Wednesday and a Premier League game on Saturday, Sunday or Monday.
In the Europa League though, the schedule is more static with generally Thursday night games followed by Sunday kickoffs, meaning just three days between games compared to four or five in the Champions League.
So it may not surprise you there is a slight edge in backing Europa League sides to lose directly following continental action.
Since the Europa League format began in 2009/10, 18 Premier League sides have competed in the competition from the beginning. On average, those sides win 42% of their league fixtures overall. Interestingly in the 190 matches played immediately after a Europa League game that win rate stays at 42% but, their loss rate rises from 31% to 37%. It’s a small variance, but one worth taking note of.
Last week’s bets went well….Liverpool aside
Last week’s bets went well again with Chelsea winning to move their outright price from 6.3 to 5.8 and Chelsea’s 2-1 win at Leicester brought the over 2.5 goals bet as well. Despite Jamie Vardy’s 62nd minute penalty bringing the bet in with a third of the game to spare, the total xG goals was only 2.10. However, this was mostly down to Chelsea, as they took a slightly defensive approach by playing Fabregas beginning in more of a 3-5-1-1 as Conte employed at Spurs.
Our bet on Liverpool went less well as they were comprehensively beaten at Man City. But up until Sadio Mane’s red card, there wasn’t a lot between the sides, so it’s difficult to analyse the match with the majority 11 v 10.
When the top sides face other and one team is reduced to 10 men, generally they are soundly beaten which shouldn’t be a huge surprise to anyone.
But our bet on Watford was much better as they won at Southampton meaning the +0.75 won easily at 2.11.
When a side wins 2-0 at 5.40 and you’re only sitting on a 2.11 winner, you do question your approach. However, both of their goals were from outside the area and they only won the xG 0.72 – 0.34. The important thing is they restricted Southampton, and it took until injury time for the Saints to register their only shot on target.
The aim of this bet was to oppose Southampton so I’m happy with the decision-making process here which is just as important as the result, if not more.
More overreaction to Man Utd
I was surprised to see Man Utd drift from 3.52 to 4.25 in the outrights after their 2-2 draw at Stoke and this looks far too big a move for me. Don’t get me wrong I’ve been keen to oppose United from the start of the season, but they outplayed Stoke twice last season, despite two 1-1 draws, and once again they outperformed the Potteries club.
They forced goalkeeper Jack Butland into the joint most saves last weekend (7) and comfortably won the xG 2.26 – 1.26.
When you bear in mind that’s the first points United have dropped in a game where they were 1.53 to win, the move on the outright market seems too much like an overreaction.
Man City in comparison have also dropped two points this season when they failed to beat Everton in a game where they were 1.32 to win, yet they are now into 2.30 after starting the season at 2.80. It doesn’t quite seem to add up, and as I mentioned last week I’ll be looking to lay them in two games time when they visit Chelsea – price dependant of course.
- Crystal Palace +0.25 1.769 – 1 point
- Under 3.0 goals Spurs v Swansea – 1 point
- Chelsea 1.826