Mark Stinchcombe: “Manchester’s clubs are the home of value this weekend with City looking like the bet of the weekend”

12 min

Anyone who says there is no luck in football hasn’t bet on it much, and last weekend was a case in point of how things don’t always go your way. Sometimes you can make the right calls and the wrong bets, and after saying this Man Utd side isn’t as good as everyone makes out I didn’t feel a game against low scoring Huddersfield was the right match to take them on. Instead, I bet on Watford.

With Watford 2-1 up at the beginning of the second half away to Chelsea, it would take a stunning collapse to lose +1.5 goals, which unfortunately was exactly what happened.

But this wasn’t a bad bet. It was just bad luck. I actually think Watford should have won the game and Richarlison missed two great chances, although my concerns about Watford defensively were exemplified by Britos trying that stupid ‘scoop’ pass deep in injury time).

Chelsea broke Watford and Mark Stinchcombe’s heart last weekend with two late goals.

The real man at fault, however, was the manager. In the 80th minute Marc Silva substituted Troy Deeney, a striker, for Ben Watson, a central midfielder. Now I can understand wanting to defend the lead but taking off his only striker is just asking for trouble. Deeney is the type of striker who is big and strong, and with him going off Chelsea no longer had to worry about marking anyone upfront.

Silva then brought on striker Andre Gray on in the 90th minute for Adrian Mariappa, a defender, with the score at 3-3. It was bad game management. He had two substitutions, he should have just made two like-for-like changes to run the clock down. Too often you see managers bring off an offensive player and it just surrenders the initiative and asks for trouble.

Defeat from the jaws of victory

It was a similar defeat from the jaws of victory tale as West Brom’s limited ambition invited Southampton on, and an 85th-minute Sofiane Boufal goal meant the Saints won 1-0. I did however emphasise last week that one goal defeat wouldn’t be the worst result, as we still won half our stake back, it was just the manner of the defeat that irked.

Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal celebrates with his teammates.

My bet on Stoke on the other hand was just one of those days.

Stoke weren’t very good and didn’t deserve to win, but if you had told me before kick-off that Bournemouth would be without Josh King (14 goals in his last 24 games) and Jermain Defoe I’d be even keener on Stoke.

But they failed to take advantage.

Onto this weekend, and it’s Jose Mourinho v Tottenham. Straight away when I looked at this match and saw the goal line of 2.5 I thought ‘unders’. So let’s try and build a case.

A case for unders at Old Trafford

First off this is Mourinho in a big game, and their results against last seasons top 5 were as follows:

  • 2-0 Chelsea
  • 1-1 Liverpool
  • 1-0 Spurs
  • 1-1 Arsenal
  • 1-2 City

Tottenham’s away record read similarly:

  • Liverpool 2-0
  • City 2-2
  • Utd 1-0
  • Chelsea 2-1
  • Arsenal 1-1

It’s a small sample size but if you take the average of those games and you get 2.2. The goal expectancy here is 2.55, but there is just a nagging feeling that unders isn’t quite the right bet at 1.81. It’s at Old Trafford, so Mourinho shouldn’t be as defensive as he was at Liverpool and there are goals in this Spurs side, lots of them.

The Jose Mourinho factor will be expected to be at play once again on Saturday with Man Utd’s defensive set up.

Spurs are averaging 2.23 goals-per-game since last season (105 in 47) and when I priced the game up properly using more data the goal quote seems to be about right but I also calculated Man Utd as marginal faves on the outright and the market doesn’t seem to agree.

At the current prices United are the better team even after you take away home supremacy) and I just can’t agree with that.

Without even going into the underlying numbers, I think every football fan can get onboard with the fact that Tottenham are the better team. They finished 17 points clear of them last season and are shorter in the outrights, so why are they suddenly a worse team in the match?

Maybe the market has had an overreaction to losing in the Carabao Cup but backing them to avoid defeat is the play for me at 1.78 as I make it around 1.59.

It also might be worth a very small saver on 0-0 around 12.0 as this is Mourinho in a big game, with no Pogba, Fellaini or Carrick, and sometimes these 12.30 kick-offs can be drab affairs so early in the day.

The other side of Manchester

My second bet this week stood out like a sore thumb when I saw the handicap for Man City at the Hawthorns where they are 1.75 ball favourites. Historically City have beaten the Baggies with ease and arguably this City side is the best to-date. In their last four league visits to West Brom they’ve scored three or more every game. They have no problem breaking down Tony Pulis’ side and the numbers show just the gulf in class between the sides.

City have scored 32 goals this season and conceded just four, and it’s no fluke. Their xG against is just 5.1 given them a whopping +20.4 xG differential, an average of +2.27 per game. You might think many of those 32 goals are from penalties and free-kicks but actually they’ve scored 24 from open play. West Brom have managed just three.

This is a case of how many City want to win by, and -1.75 at odds against is more than generous. I think the line should be closer to 2.25 so this is my biggest bet of the weekend.

Am I ready to forgive Watford?

Finally, I’m not prepared to turn my back on ‘the best team in the world’ after a bad 10 minutes. Watford are at home to Stoke, and, according to the odds, Watford are only very marginally better than the visitors, which I think we all know is not true. Despite the loss at Chelsea, they should have won and outshot them 16 – 14 recording an impressive xG rate of 1.70.

Stoke have the worst defence in the league having shipped 20 goals, losing five of their nine games and the expected points table puts these two sides 9th and 17th and that isn’t reflected in the odds. I’m not giving up on Watford just yet and neither should you and a bet on the -0.25 Asian Handicap market will hopefully banish the memories of last weekend’s extra time heartbreak. For at least a week at any rate…

Recommended bets:

  • Tottenham +0.5 1.78 – 1.5 points (With Harry Kanes injury confirmed on Friday morning I’ll be reducing my stakes to 0.5)
  • Man City -1.75 2.08 – 2.5 points
  • Watford -0.25 1.80 – 1 point

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