Mark Stinchcombe
8 months ago - 10 minute read

Mark Stinchcombe: “I can’t believe the away side are favourites here and I’m having by far my biggest bet of the season on this one.”

It was a disappointing weekend for me as two and a half of my three bets lost, thanks to the joys of Asian Handicaps. Chelsea and Man Utd was a surprising goalfest, Bournemouth and Southampton were the opposite as they played out a 0-0 and Liverpool laboured to a 1-0 win over Huddersfield. It was just one of those weekends.

I should have known what was coming when with the match at Stamford Bridge approaching its conclusion, and the score at 1-2, I thought the worst that could happen was a half point loss on the under 2.75 goals bet. That was until Ross Barkley popped up with a dramatic 96th-minute equaliser to see the bet lose completely.

Given the expected goals only totalled 2.06 come the 95th minute I feel a bit hard done by here.

The United defence was nowhere to be seen, but I feel as though it was worth taking a chance given the big increase in goal expectancy from last seasons match. I just didn’t quite get the luck, and neither did I run better when Bournemouth recorded just their fifth clean sheet in their last 34 games.

The narrative was opposed on Saturday as Jose did not park the bus at Stamford Bridge.

It was a game of few clear-cut chances with six shots on target returning a total expected goals of just 1.56 and perhaps it was an indictment of a match coming off the back of an international break. The market isn’t perturbed though, with the goal line in Bournemouth’s game this weekend set at 3.0. However, that might have something to do with coming up against the worst defence in the league in Fulham!

Finally, it was more woe, as despite Mo Salah scoring after 24 minutes and limiting Huddersfield to just one shot on target, Liverpool lacked the style and swagger we have been so used to. There were numerous occasions the Reds wasted good attacks in dangerous areas with sloppy decision making. Unfortunately, it has happened a few times recently with Jurgen Klopp saying the side need to do “a little bit better” offensively.

Perhaps it’s understandable on this occasion with no Mane or Firmino in the starting XI but it’s certainly something that needs to be rectified in order to challenge for the title. At least half stakes were returned here which just goes to show the beauty of Asian Handicap betting.

This weekend we’re hunting with Wolves

But enough licking our wounds. Onto this weekend and first up, I want to head to Brighton and the Amex Stadium as they host Wolves.

I can’t believe the away side are favourites.

I’ve written about Brighton’s home record a few times on the blog this season, and since being promoted to the Premier League, 36 of their 51 points have been achieved at home (71%). Outside of the ‘big 6’, they’ve lost just one of their 15 home games.

We’ve also seen them perform admirably against the better sides beating Man Utd (twice) and Arsenal, while they should come into this full of confidence after winning at Newcastle last weekend. Conversely, Wolves suffered their second loss in nine games last weekend at home to Watford, and whilst it’s probably only a blip, I have reservations about them long-term offensively.

Mark is keen to oppose Wolves this weekend

Wolves have managed just a goal a game so far and no team in the top 13 has managed fewer, with Burnley scoring 10 for example. And it’s no surprise to me with the likes of Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota and Helder Costa all failing to cut it at major European sides. Although it’s worth mentioning that Wolves are posting the third best expected goals against data

But on the flip side, Brighton are returning a positive xG differential at the Amex, and with home advantage, should be backed at the prices especially when we can take advantage of a handicap of +0.25.

I’ve looked at a model which rates Brighton a 41% chance, yet here they are outsiders, so it’s by far my biggest bet so far this season and I’m having three points here.

Buzzing at the price on the Hornets

Next up another price I couldn’t believe was Watford at around 1.80 at home to Huddersfield.

I talked about Huddersfield’s lack of goal output last week but just as a reminder, it’s now only 32 goals in 47 games at just 0.68 goals-per-game. And it’s no surprise given they are firing in the fourth worst shots-per-game and only managing a pitiful 0.1 one of those shots from inside the 6 yard box. Away from home, they’ve only managed to score 16 goals whilst conceding 44 in their 23 games (-28).

Watford manager Javi Gracia has done a fantastic job shoring up his side’s defence.

Watford on the other hand, have started the season well, and deservedly sit in seventh.

They aren’t doing anything spectacular offensively, but defensively they are only conceding the fourth fewest shots-per-game, and with Huddersfield’s woes going forward, as long as Watford can find the breakthrough one goal could be enough.

Again I’ve checked a model which is in agreement, rating the Hornets a 61% chance – or 1.63 – so when 1.81 is available they have to be backed.

Attacking the goals angle at the King Power

Finally, on Saturday night, Leicester entertain West Ham United at the King Power stadium and we have a goal expectancy of just 2.60 and a goal line of only 2.25.

I think it can be attacked.

I’ve said this a few times on the blog, but when you have two teams in the Premier League that are not defensive then the goal line should always be at least 2.5 as the Premier League averages 2.7 goals a game over the last five seasons.

Since the departure of Riyad Mahrez, Leicester’s 9 games this season have still seen 30 goals at a whopping 3.33pg.

Obviously, this is a small spread of data so by looking back at last season and instead using the expected goals metric to negate someone like Mahrez who regularly outperforms it, it tells us their matches average 2.74 xG per game, which is above the 2.6 expectancy we have here.

The 9 game tenure of West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini has been a difficult one to read so far.

West Ham are under new management this season in the form of Manuel Pellegrini, so we can’t read too much into his nine games so far, but despite their matches only seeing 22 goals (2.44pg), crucially the xG tells us it actually should be 2.90 with them both underperforming in front of goal and over performing defensively.

Despite the small spread, the 2.90 gives us a decent margin of error, especially when you consider 13 of Leicester’s 18 games have finished over 2.5 (72%), so I’m happy to have a point on when we have the added security of 2.25.

Recommended Bets

  • Brighton +0.25 at 1.83 – 3 points
  • Watford at 1.81 – 1.5 points
  • Over 2.25 goals Leicester v West Ham at 1.84 – 1 point

On this week’s Football Podcast Ali Maxwell is joined by Mark O’Haire and Mike Holden to preview the weekend Football action on the Matchbook Betting Podcast. If you haven’t already subscribed, search for ‘Matchbook Betting Podcast’ on your preferred podcasting app.