It was another profitable weekend for me on the Matchbook Podcast with a win and a push, although in truth both were probably a bit lucky. But you need a bit of luck in this game.
Our bet on under 2.75 goals in the North London derby was a bit of a sweat, with Arsenal 2-0 up after 41 minutes and it could be argued we were fortunate there were no more goals in the remainder of the game. However, the total expected goals was 2.87 so a win was or a push was very likely and on this occasion, we got on the right side of the luck. But it’s all about putting yourself in the right position.
If you back unders in a football match, see three goals scored and still get away with a push, then you’ve got to be happy and that was my case in point in taking a slightly worse price but getting an extra 0.25 of a goal onside in Liverpool v Southampton.
The bet’s still value, as all the prices are correlated, and it’s always good to be risk averse when betting on a team such as Liverpool whose playing style is attack, attack, attack.
Back against black and white
This weekend I’m returning to a team that’s been good to me: Watford. This weekend they are away to Newcastle, and once you take out home advantage the prices suggest these sides are equal in terms of ability, and I think there’s definitely enough to confidently say Watford are better. Just taking one stat, the Hornets have fired in 19 goals to Newcastle’s 11, which is almost twice as many.
Watford enjoy playing away, returning the third highest number of goals in the league in away fixtures, and have already won at Southampton, Bournemouth, and Swansea.
They arguably should have beaten Chelsea and Everton, too. Rafa Benitez meanwhile looks to have realised a Championship winning side isn’t good enough to go out and attack sides in the Premier League and Newcastle are registering the third worst possession in the league at home.
So the initiative looks to be with Watford, and this is further highlighted by the fact Newcastle’s four wins have come against the bottom three and 15th-placed Stoke. So why are the prices so close? Well these two sit pretty much equal in the expected points table (based on xG). But after just 12 games that’s not enough data and it doesn’t factor in the strength of the opposition played with Newcastle yet to face Man City, Chelsea or Arsenal.
All that said it’s probably folly to blindly back Watford in the match odds and we can get a much more competitive price on the Asian handicap where they are available at +0.25 and +0.5. I can’t help but think the +0.5 line is a more attractive route even at a skinnier price, as if it finishes a draw we’ll get paid out in full rather than just a half-win so that’s the bet here.
We’re going under goals…
Tottenham return to Wembley this weekend to face West Brom and it’s no surprise my angle of attack is to oppose goals. I’ve profited from this route in their last three ‘home’ games against so-called ‘small’ clubs where their inability to break down sides that sit back really shows up. There is also the issue of Wembley, which I have discussed at length in this column before.
Their xG in the four games against these “small” clubs is just 2.07 and as they toiled against Crystal Palace I think they will find it tough going here.
This will be Spurs third game in eight days after playing both Dortmund and Arsenal away, so there could be tired legs and Pochettino may rotate his squad with a midweek set of Premier League fixtures coming up.
West Brom sacked Tony Pulis after their 4-0 defeat to Chelsea but I’m not expecting Gary Megson to suddenly change their approach and it’s interesting to note they have only conceded 14 xG in 12 games. This is only bettered by Huddersfield outside of the ‘big 6’. Again the most competitive line is 2.75 but I think the better approach is take some extra safety to protect against some bad luck and back the under 3.0 line.
Burnley to hold back Arsenal
Finally, Burnley host Arsenal on Sunday and I was surprised to see the goal line at 2.75 here. Generally, in the Premier League, you expect to see a goal line of 2.5, and I see no reason why that shouldn’t be the case here.
Burnley’s defensiveness coupled with home advantage should cancel out Arsenal in terms of the goal expectancy.
Since their return to the Premier League, Burnley have only conceded 22 goals in their 25 home games, with five out of six finishing under 2.5 goals against the big 6, with just 12 goals scored (2.0 per game) and only a 1-2 loss to Man City going over 2.5. Arsenal only won 1-0 here last season with a match xG of 2.30 and in their previous visit in 2015 it was only 1-0.
Burnley seem a tough side for Arsenal to break down with the game at the Emirates only finishing 2-1 and a match xG of just 1.92. But once again I see no reason not to keep an extra 0.25 of a goal onside and take the under 3.0 goals. Sometimes it pays to be a little cautious.
- Watford +0.5 ~1.80 – 1 point
- Under 3.0 goals Tottenham v West Brom ~1.75 – 1 point
- Under 3.0 goals Burnley v Arsenal ~1.75 – 1 point