Mark Stinchcombe: “No Premier League action this weekend so I'm looking to La Liga and one FA Cup tie that has piqued my interest"

10 min

Last weekend was one of those where everything just clicked. Tottenham beat Arsenal 1-0 for under 3.25 goals, Everton beat Crystal Palace 3-1 for over 2.25 goals and Monaco at -0.25 destroyed Angers 4-0. Three winners, but three very different results.

In retrospect it seems very fortunate there was only one goal at the North London derby with Petr Cech pulling off save after save and Arsenal having a couple of chances late on. The expected goals finished 2.98 – 0.57 so perhaps we were lucky to have a winner here.

Tottenham’s Harry Kane scored the only goal in last weekend’s North London derby.

However, what we did have on our side was the historical evidence of a lack of goals in this fixture (2.17pg in the last 12 matches) and perhaps the pressure of a derby gets to the players and affects their composure when finishing? It’s an interesting one to consider at any rate.

Over at Goodison Park, however, we had a very good result. Firstly I was vindicated with my analysis as our over goals bet comfortably won with a total xG of 3.50. And secondly, I felt my analysis was spot on as on another day the result could have easily gone in Roy Hodgson’s favour.

Palace won the xG count 1.90 – 1.60 but their problems in front of goal continue and are set to get worse. Zaha is set to miss the rest of February and that news coupled with their poor finishing means their position looks precarious one point above the relegation zone.

They also have four of their next five fixtures against Tottenham, Man Utd, Chelsea, and Liverpool.

The loss of Wilfried Zaha to injustry could doom Crystal Palance to the Championship next year (photo courtesy of the BBC)

Meanwhile, the convincing Monaco victory was a pleasing one. Despite no Falcao and Thomas Lemar only on the bench, Leanardo Jardim’s men cruised to a deserved 4-0 win recording an xG of 2.26 – 0.53. It was a satisfying win to see my faith in the quality of Monaco’s squad be rewarded.

But after a great set of results, I’m finding it tricky to seek out the value this weekend with no Premier League action. There are two bets however I believe have sufficient value to get involved with.

I’m Singing Viva Espana

Firstly on Saturday night, I’m looking to get involved with the away side in La Liga as third place Valencia travel to bottom of the table Malaga. I talked about Valencia last month when we backed them -0.75 v Girona and picked up a half win and I’m going down a similar route. Their record against bottom half opposition is impressive and now stands at P12 W10 D1 L1 F31 A12 +19.

Valencia recently signed striker Luciano Vietto on-loan from Atletico Madrid which I think is a great pickup and he’s already hit the ground running with four goals. Malaga, on the other hand, are rock bottom of the league on just 13 points and seem to be going down without too much of a fight. They’ve lost 16 of 23 games this season, scoring just 14 goals.

The singing of Luciano Vietto on loan from Atletico is a massive coup for this Valencia team.

Malaga appointed a new manager in Jose Gonzalez last month but that doesn’t seem to have improved things with just one goal in their last eight. The problem is quite clearly goal scoring with 14-goal top scorer Sandro Ramirez leaving last summer and having sold top scorer Pablo Fornals to Villarreal. On top of that veteran striker Charles left and the replacements they’ve brought in just haven’t been good enough.

Even the January reinforcements are pretty uninspiring bringing in former West Brom flop Ideye Brown and youngster Isaac Success, who isn’t really a striker, in from Watford. So in terms of prices, there looks to be value with Valencia here. Los Che were 1.82 when they visited Las Palmas last month, and the market rates the Islanders and Malaga very similarly ability wise, so I think Valencia should be odds on here, and being able to get them at odds against is a bet for me.

The magic of the cup (and its terrible pitches)

The other match I’m getting involved with is in the FA Cup where Rochdale host Tottenham. I’m taking a chance that the pitch at Spotland isn’t conducive to a pretty game of football and a goal expectancy of 3.30 looks worth taking on. To give an idea of the impact the pitch has had on goals at Spotland, as the weather has deteriorated there’s has been just 13 goals in the last 8 games.

Rochdale’s pitch has been in a horrendous state the last couple of months. Their last match against Fleetwood on Saturday had to be postponed and before that, the pitch resembled more of a beach as they poured tonnes of sand on to get their replay on against Millwall.

I missed the plunge on the unders price so took 0-0 and it finished 1-0 in a predictably scrappy game.

Mark is banking that the poor surface at Rochdale’s Spotland stadium will slow down Spurs.

The pressure has been on the Rochdale chairman from the Spurs camp to do something about the pitch and he’s finally given in after their league position became even more precarious after Saturday’s postponement and paid the majority of their FA Cup winnings into a new pitch. This is the second time in a year it’s had to be re-laid and with the bad weather, there’s every chance it won’t bed in and cut up.

In the last round, Spurs took a strong team to League Two Newport County including Kane, Alli, Son, and Dembele, to face a side with similar pitch problems as they share a ground with two rugby teams. But at Newport, it needed an 82nd minute Kane goal for Spurs to salvage a 1-1 draw and after Tottenham’s energy-sapping exerts in Turin in midweek, they could be tired and rotate so it’s difficult to see them blowing Rochdale away. I think under 3.25 goals here at 1.91 is a decent bet.

Recommended bets:

  • Valencia -0.5 2.13 – 1 point
  • Under 3.25 goals Rochdale v Tottenham 1.91 – 1 point

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