Mark Stinchcombe
3 weeks ago - 8 minute read

MARK STINCHCOMBE – HITTING THE HANDICAPS

Two winners and a push for Mark Stinchcombe last week as he continues his strong finish to the season.

Watford and Wolves delivered on over 2.25 goals as three were seen at Vicarage Road and deservedly so with the expected goals totalling 3.34. It’s always comforting when two goals have been scored after only half the match so it was pleasing when Diogo Jota scored after 76 minutes to give me a winner.

I was a touch fortunate to get a push in Brighton – Newcastle according to the xG with the total returning just 1.64. However, neither did I expect such a lacklustre 1st half from a Brighton side allegedly fighting for survival – they had zero shots in the 1st half!

Finally it was complete domination from Manchester City at Burnley with 25 shots to 2. However, Burnley restricted them to low quality chances, as alluded to last week, with only one chance above 0.16xG.

WOBBLING WOLVES?

Wolves are having a great season after winning promotion back to the Premier League last May. 7th and on course for a Europa League spot, they also made the FA Cup semi-finals where they agonisingly lost in extra-time. Rather peculiarly though, their record against the bottom six isn’t very good. Played 11 Won 3 Drew 2 Lost 6. For 8 Against 12 (-4). And this weekend they welcome a Fulham side who’ve won three on the bounce without conceding.

Nuno’s Wolves side are anything but flat track bullies

It’s difficult to know why Wolves struggle against the lesser sides.

They have the 5th best defence in the league, 4th in terms of expected goals, but concede 50% more goals than they score against 15th and below. And we see that perhaps they struggle to break these sides down with just 8 goals in 11 games (0.72pg), compared with the 38 they’ve scored in their other 25 games (1.52pg).

Indeed, perhaps, it could be a mentality issue, that they take their foot off the gas in these fixtures.

Either way, I think 1.58 is too short here.

I can’t tell you that Fulham have all of a sudden become world beaters but they certainly have become harder to beat emphasised by only 2-1 losses v Liverpool and Chelsea recently and obviously these three straight wins should give them confidence here.

When they met at Craven Cottage in December it finished 1-1 and Wolves only edged it by 0.08 expected goals. Just five of Wolves 15 wins this season have been by more than one goal and I think Fulham +1.0 offers value here.

CHELSEA BLUES?

On Sunday afternoon Chelsea welcome Watford to Stamford Bridge, and it’s the home side that have struggled of late. Just three wins in eight and in one of those wins the Chelsea fans were chanting for Maurizio Sarri to be sacked.

Watford have impressed this season. They were 4th favourites to go down yet sit in the top half and in an FA Cup final.

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is under all sorts of pressure right now.

This match falls at an awkward time for Chelsea three days after a Europa League semi-final 1st leg against Eintracht Frankfurt who themselves are having a great season. And it’s noticeable that’s Chelsea’s results after European matches have got progressively worse over the course of the season:

D L L D D L W W D W W D

Played 12 Won 4 Drew 5 Lost 3 F14 A10 (+4). All of their wins came against the bottom six as did 13 of their 14 goals.

Not the record you would expect of a side like Chelsea as perhaps their reliance on Eden Hazard becomes too much. And Watford have done a good job of keeping things close against the teams fighting for Champions League qualification. 0-1 v Arsenal (10 men for 79 minutes), 1-2 v Man Utd, 1-2 v Spurs, 1-2 v Chelsea, 1-2 v Man Utd and 2-1 v Spurs.

With Watford offered with 1.25 goal handicap, I think that gives us at least a quarter of a goal in our favour.

It may also be worth a small bet on Chelsea to win 2-1 given Watford’s previous results against the better sides this season.

MACHINE MAN CITY?

Monday night football is a huge game at the Etihad between Manchester City and Leicester. City have won 12 straight league games in a row and know that the league title is in their hands. However, since Brendan Rodgers has come in, he’s given the club a boost and his brand of football has led to five wins in eight.

I don’t think this will be as easy as the -2.25 handicap suggests.

Mark feels that Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City’s side will be tested on Monday night.

This will be City’s 11th game in the last 38 days and in none of them have City won by more than two goals and they’ve only scored 3+ twice. At the end of a long gruelling season it appears to be results over performances.

Whereas the two seem to be hand in hand for Rodgers’ side with 17 goals plundered in his eight games. He seems to be getting the best out of all Jamie Vardy, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, Demarai Gray and Youri Tielemans, the latter four all of whom have huge potential.

In fact, since Rodgers became manager, Vardy has scored more Premier League goals than any other player (8). And after Aguero, he has the most goals against the big six since 2014 (31).

This fixture will hold no fear for Leicester having already beaten Man City 2-1 in the reverse fixture from a goal down, deservedly so as well, winning the xG 1.56 – 1.35. I’ve mentioned them offensively but defensively I was impressed to see they have the 5th best defence in terms of expected goals against, only marginally behind Wolves.

All in all, being able to back them +2.25 makes sense to me.

Recommended bets

  • Fulham +1.0 ~2.05 – 0.5 points
  • Watford +1.25 ~2.02 – 1 point
  • Leicester +2.25 ~1.90 – 1 point