Mark O'Haire
2 months ago - 6 minute read

Mark O’Haire: Goals value found on the south coast

Bournemouth v Leicester

I’ve been impressed by Bournemouth so far this season.

The Cherries have enjoyed their best-ever start to a Premier League campaign (W2-D1-L1) and Eddie Howe admitted he was frustrated his side hadn’t actually picked up more than their seven-point tally.

Having overcome Cardiff on the opening weekend, Bournemouth won away at West Ham before being held by Everton at home. Their last outing before the international break saw the Cherries go down 2-0 at Chelsea.

Post-match stats suggested Bournemouth were well beaten at Stamford Bridge but the south coast club put in a usually strong and gritty defensive effort.

In fact, the Cherries had two great opportunities to break the deadlock when the game was goalless and only conceded the first goal with 18 minutes to play.

Howe’s troops now have a very favourable fixture list to try and cement their place inside the top half of the Premier League, starting with Leicester.

The Foxes put up a decent fist of things at Old Trafford on the 2018/19 curtain-raiser before earning fortunate triumphs against Wolves and Southampton. Claude Puel’s charges were then beaten by Liverpool, although City put the Reds under pressure when rallying for a route back into that clash after the break.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard (centre) in action with Bournemouth’s Dan Gosling (left) and Adam Smith during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London.

With Jamie Vardy now back from suspension, hopes will be high in the away dressing room that Leicester can get back on track with a positive performance at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

Unsurprisingly, both sides produce their best work when taking on teams outside the Big Six and are renowned for their forward-thinking football, particularly when facing the best of the rest the Premier League has to offer.

With that in mind, I can’t see anything but a goal-filled game between the two.

Bournemouth still have plenty of issues at the back – the hosts have conceded more than 60 goals in each of the past three seasons and have only silenced a toothless Cardiff outfit thus far. In fact, since the start of last season the home side have managed a paltry four shutouts from 21 Vitality Stadium showdowns.

Nevertheless, 14 (67%) of those fixtures paid out for Over 2.5 Goals backers and that has to be our angle of attack when Leicester come to town with kind 1.88 odds on offer.

Leicester delivered successful Both Teams To Score selections in 24 of their 38 league outings last term and away from their King Power home, a remarkable 15/21 (71%) fixtures since the start of last season have crossed the Over 2.5 Goals whitewash with the Foxes scoring in all bar four.

If we put the two clubs’ home and away records together since the beginning of 2017/18, Over 2.5 Goals has been covered in 69% of their respective encounters with a goals-per-game average of 3.26.

Meanwhile, the duos eight collective games this term are averaging 2.90 Expected Goals from open play so there’s real value in supporting a high-scoring contest.

Bournemouth v Leicester Markets

Bristol City v Sheffield United

Both Bristol City and Sheffield United have recovered from slow, winless starts to their Championship campaigns to find form before the international break. The pair are perched inside the top-six having churned out successive winning streaks of three and four respectively.

The duo also signed off a fortnight ago with eye-catching results; Bristol City recovered from a one-goal deficit to run out convincing 4-1 winners against previously unbeaten Blackburn, while Sheffield United rolled over Aston Villa with consummate ease during a 4-1 thrashing at Bramall Lane.

Both clubs are renowned for their offensively-minded styles and the two forward-thinking sides should combine to produce a very watchable, entertaining encounter at Ashton Gate on Saturday. So much so, a punt on Over 2.5 Goals at 1.91 should be gobbled up.

Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp will be looking to improve on his 3 goal tally this season.

Only West Brom (15) and Leeds (14) have scored more often than the visitors (12) and with the pair collectively averaging 3.08 goals-per-game this season, there’s plenty of reason to believe we’ll avoid a low-scoring contest.

Bristol City and Sheffield United have collectively seen an average of 2.62 Expected Goals from open play scored when their record are stitched together while firing just two blanks between them in 2018/19.

Meanwhile, since the start of last term, the pair have seen Over 2.5 Goals bank in 31/52 (60%) of their respective home/away matches, with Both Teams To Score copping in 30/52 (58%) showdowns.

This encounters pits together two of the top seven teams in the Championship for shots, on-target attempts and efforts from inside the penalty area and with the majority of performance data metrics, and raw statistics pointing us towards goals, I think the 1.91 available is well worth a reasonable investment.

Bristol City v Sheffield United markets

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