Mark Stinchcombe: “Stubborn, unexciting Man Utd and free flowing record breakers Man City both expected to score a similar amount of goals? Not for me.”

9 min

Last weekend it was heartbreak at the Macron Stadium. At least for me.

On Thursday the prices were Bolton 1.79, Draw 3.90 and Forest 5.40 and although I’d already backed Forest +0.5 at 2.28 given the disparity between the prices and what I thought they should be I took Forest to win at 5.40 as well. Come kick-off the prices were Bolton 2.22, Draw 3.75 and Forest 3.38. What great bets we were sat on!

Bolton’s chances of winning went from 56% to 45% without a ball being kicked. The reason I was fairly aggressive here in backing Forest was because of the expected volatility in both the odds and the match so it made sense to have at least one bet at winning five times our money instead of just two.

Bolton Wanderers’ Aaron Wilbraham celebrates scoring his side’s winning goal of the game vs Forest.

I had four points staked across this match, which is relatively high because I believed the odds were badly wrong.

More value means bigger stakes and I was rightly vindicated in this respect. When Forest took the lead with just 11 minutes remaining, I was quietly confident. They had out-possessed Bolton so now it was just a case of good game management.

Heartbreaks and setbacks

In the first 45 games this season Bolton had won just two points in the final ten minutes. So for me, their comeback with goals in the 86th and 88th minute has to be put down to variance.

The ‘need to win’ can be thrown all around but the reason they began the day 23rd is that they are the second worst team at winning football matches.

The Liverpool game was another tough one to take. There wasn’t much between the sides, Liverpool were arguably better, having 62% possession and forcing Thibaut Courtois into twice as many saves as Loris Karius, but seemingly the Reds small-ish squad showed after their exerts in Rome. But at least Everton saved some pride with a last-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 with Southampton.

Time was almost up for Sam Allardyce’s Everton last weekend before Tom Davies goal saved their blushes and gave Mark a push.

It was a good start to proceedings at Goodison Park with Everton +0.0 going off at 2.05 having backed them at 2.15. There wasn’t a lot between the two sides, shots finished 9-11 and expected goals 0.52 – 0.70, so even though it took a 96th minute Tom Davies goal to turn the bet into a push rather than a loss, I feel that’s the least we deserved.

The final day of the season means goals

On to this weekend and the final day of the season in the Premier League shows an inflated goal expectation across all matches.

With most games having nothing to play for, the shackles come off and the goals tend to flow. Since 2004 the average goals per game in the Premier League is 2.68 yet that increases to 3.14 on the final day of the season – 0.46 goals-per-game more.

Despite that, I think some of the goal lines are now artificially too high and there’s one, in particular, I want to take advantage of.

Man Utd v Watford and Southampton v Man City both have a goal line of 3.0 and that just seems wrong. Stubborn, unexciting Man Utd and free-flowing record breakers Man City both expected to score a similar amount of goals? Not for me and I think opposing goals at Old Trafford is a good angle.

Even at Old Trafford Manchester United games have tended to hit on the under more often than not.

United’s games have seen 95 goals, 2.57pg, and at Old Trafford, it’s 46 goals, 2.56pg. Expected goals say that United have scored around eight more than they should have but there isn’t anything too untoward with that given the amount of money they’ve spent. At the other end they should have conceded nearly 15 more but then again they do possess David de Gea.

Watford’s matches have had 107 goals, 2.89pg, but away from Vicarage Road, it’s 49 goals, 2.72pg. Watford’s attacking output is about right on xG but they should have conceded nearly 10 less so we should see the number of goals they concede regress. In Javi Gracia’s 14 games in charge, 11 have finished under 3.5 goals.

United’s season has been winding down for a while and 15 of their last 17 games have finished under 3.5 goals (88%). And I’m having a point here at under 3.25 goals at around 1.84.

Heading north of the border for some more bets

For my final bet of the weekend, listen to this week’s Matchbook Betting Podcast here.

But before that, I’m off to Scotland again at lunchtime on Saturday as St Johnstone host Ross County in the last day of the SPL. Ross County are the bottom club and need a victory and for Partick Thistle not to win at Dundee to reach the relegation play-off.

The away side have won just six games all season and are 17 points below St Johnstone yet are joint faves to win here. St Johnstone have suffered just one defeat in the last 10 meetings between the two and won this matchup here 2-0 in February at 2.49, 1.76 +0.0.

Expected goals rate the sides similar despite the disparity in league points but with home advantage, St Johnstone should be clear favourites. There’s no sign of them of them letting up with back-to-back away wins of 2-1 and 5-1 and with the draw onside I’m backing them here.

Recommended bets:

  • Man Utd v Watford under 3.25 goals ~1.84 – 1pt
  • St Johnstone +0.00 ~2.00 – 2pts

Check out Matchbook’s latest soccer markets here