I took a different approach last week recommending trades rather than bets, and each one presented a fascinating story. The Arsenal game was a lesson learned, the Napoli match was a bit of an anti-climax and the Porto one was the best of the lot.
My plan was to try and trade Arsenal potentially without a ball being kicked, but that went out of the window really as wasn’t much movement in the Arsenal price even once the lineups were announced with Henrikh Mkhitaryan starting alongside Aubameyang, Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin. Arsenal actually drifted very slightly to 9.00 so with that I laid Man Utd at 1.41 rather than be aggressive and back Arsenal just to win.
Despite Man Utd taking the lead, it didn’t feel as though there was much in the match and having contemplated laying Man Utd again at half-time around 1.20, I left it, so there were mixed emotions when Mkhitaryan equalised just six minutes later. With Utd now out to around 1.8 I felt happy leaving my lay in at 1.41. But of course, Fellaini popped up with a 91st-minute winner!
Should I have heeded my own advice and traded out or was I just unlucky? I think on balance letting the lay of United run was just bad luck.
I definitely should have laid them again at 1-0 though, not because Arsenal equalised, but because pre-match I thought they were too short and the same was true in-play given the way the game was going. So that’s a lesson learnt.
Napoli and Portugal provide mixed fortunes
The Napoli match was a bit of anti-climax trading wise. I thought there was a chance their price would collapse given Fiorentina’s dislike of Juventus, but it barely moved. and it may have had something to do with Juve winning 3-2 at Inter the night before.
Fiorentina certainly didn’t play like they wanted any other result, running out 3-0 winners albeit against 10 men for the majority of the game. And it’s a shame that the Serie A title race looks to be over after Napoli’s dramatic win at Juve the week before.
The Porto game was much more interesting and again the prices may have been influenced by Benfica surprisingly losing 2-1 at home to Tondela the night before. Having laid them at 1.22 it was positive to see them go off at 1.31, and given they no longer were desperate for the three points I was happy to let this one run at a very nice price.
But disaster struck just before half-time with the dismissal of Maritimo’s goalkeeper. I’ve seen this scenario before where a big side face a minnow with a man less and could only see the game ending one way. So with Porto now around 1.20, I sensibly traded out for a very small loss.
Alas it took them until the 89th minute to score (which would have hurt) but I think it was always a case of when not if they would score. I think it goes to show we were on a great bet but sometimes you have to act in-play if the dynamics of the game drastically change.
It was definitely a case of some good value last weekend with just a couple of pieces of bad luck making the difference, but long-term this should swing back in our favour.
Finding some artificial shorties in the market
Onto this weekend and it’s no surprise we have some sides that are artificially too short because they ‘need to win’ and I am looking to take them on.
And the first of these is on Saturday evening when Everton host a Southampton side who have spent much of 2018 in the bottom three yet the away side are 2.64 favourites.
Southampton have actually been a bit unlucky this season, expected points have them 10th this season and only marginally worse than 9th placed Everton. Even so Everton should be slight favourites with home advantage and have shown no signs of downing tools yet having only lost one of their seven, and that was against Manchester City.
Everton have been very good in these fixtures this season, having won 10 of 11 unbeaten games at home to sides below them, bagging two or more goals in seven of nine of those matches. And defensively they have been relatively sound recently, only conceding more than one goal in two of their last 10, both coming against sides above them in the league.
Everton also have a good record in this fixture. They are undefeated in their last 11 home matches against Southampton in all competitions and the recent stats don’t make good reading for Saints fans. They have won just one of their last 15 away games while conceding 10 in Mark Hughes’ five games as manager, and I think Everton at +0 on the Asian Handicap is a strong bet here.
Finishing out the Championship in style
It’s the last day of the Championship on Sunday lunchtime, and the relegation battle is really exciting with two of five teams in danger of joining Sunderland in League One next season. Unfortunately for four of them, they are in a battle with sides aiming for automatic promotion and the playoffs, which means Bolton Wanderers are a scandalous 1.79 at home to 17th place Nottingham Forest.
Only a win will do for Bolton, which could play into the opposition’s hands, and as a reminder, Bolton are rated the second worst side in the division based on their weekly odds. This is summed up by posting both the second-worst average possession (44%) and shots-on-target per-game (3.0). There’s also no sign of Forest being on their holidays.
Forest won a similar fixture against relegation-threatened Barnsley 3-0 recently. And to put their price into context, they are bigger odds than when they visited Millwall, Sheffield United and Norwich recently. A couple of models have Bolton around 3.0 to win the game, and even being conservative with motivation, I can’t have Bolton anything more than very slight faves.
This looks an excellent opportunity to oppose them again and I can’t resist a bet on Forest to win given the huge price. I’m having two points on Forest at +0.5 on the Asian handicap and another two points on the outright at around 5.4.
The battle for the top four?
Lastly on Sunday afternoon, Chelsea host Liverpool in what will be hyped up as a battle for the top four but models suggest Liverpool have a 97% chance of finishing in a Champions League spot and Chelsea just 4%. Again Chelsea’s ‘need to win’ looks to be overly factored in with the prices suggesting there’s very little difference in ability once home advantage is taken away.
However, I think most people will accept Liverpool are definitely a better team than Chelsea.
There’s a six-point gap in the table (Chelsea have a game in hand) but expected points suggest that gap should be at least 11 points. Liverpool have scored 20 more goals than Chelsea and if prices are a good guide of a side’s ability, Liverpool went off 2.49 favourites at Old Trafford compared to Chelsea’s 3.32.
If anything Chelsea have regressed since then with being 2.92 outsiders for the FA Cup final against the Red Devils. And what should be concerning for Chelsea is how they’ve performed in these fixtures this season, failing to score more than a single goal in their four games at home to the ‘big 6’ this season.
Against two sides with a similar playing style to Liverpool, they lost 1-3 to Spurs having been out possessed and lose the xG count 1.18 – 1.82 and in their 0-1 defeat to Man City where the away side had 58% possession and outshot them 17 – 4. Even in their 0-0 draw to Arsenal, the Gunners won the xG count 0.9 – 1.52. And I think a bet on Liverpool at +0.25 on the Asian handicap is a great bet here.
- Everton +0.0 ~2.15 – 2.5pts
- Nottingham Forest +0.5 ~2.28 – 2pts
- Nottingham Forest ~5.4 – 2pts
- Liverpool +0.25 ~2.02 – 1pt