Mark Stinchcombe
6 months ago - 10 minute read

Mark Stinchcombe: “United are still overachieving based on their underlying data, so for me they look worthy of taking on.”

Pro bettor and football analyst Mark Stinchcombe is taking on Manchester United this weekend as well as backing goals in two other tasty looking Premier League games.

This is shaping up to be a really good Premier League season. We have a genuine title race despite Man City arguably being the greatest ever Premier League team, and a battle for top four with Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal seemingly fighting it out for two positions. While for the rest we have eight sides separated by just five points in the middle of the table and a relegation battle involving up to seven teams!

One of the teams stuck in that relegation battle is Fulham.

I was very positive about Fulham’s chances pre-season and even after 17 games it still feels as though it’s only a matter of time before they start moving up the table. However, with the worst defence and the third worst attack maybe it’s time we started to accept success for Fulham this season will just be survival. After all expected points still has them 19th so their performances are justifying their current predicament.

Despite Pep Guardiola’s Man City side being labelled the greatest Premier League side ever, his side are still locked in a battle with Liverpool for top spot.

But my first bet of the weekend is going to involve another club in a very different position, but no fewer troubles facing them and for once I’m going to be less data-driven than usual.

I think it’s important in gambling to trust your instinct and I looked at this bet at the beginning of the week and despite the change in manager, I think it’s worth chancing at the price.

Yes, that’s right, I want to take Manchester United on.

Backing the boys in blue against Solskjaer

The end of Jose Mourinho has always felt as though it’s a matter of when not if given we highlighted pre-season that alongside Burnley, Man Utd were a team set to perform worse. Arguably their league position of 6th flatters them with the seventh worst defence for goals conceded and sixth worst for shots conceded. It is no surprise they’re the seventh worst for expected goals conceded and ultimately that puts them 11th in terms of expected points.

They have a new manager in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and most people will tell you that will automatically mean an upturn in results because of a new face, new ideas and new tactics. That may well be the case, however, most of the time when a new manager sees an upturn in results it is because the previous manager was suffering from bad luck.

But we can see that United are still overachieving based on their underlying data, so for me, they look worthy of taking on.

The ‘Solskjaer Effect’ may take a few weeks to take hold at Old Trafford.

Cardiff are quietly going about their business pretty well after beginning the season with no wins in eight. It’s now four wins from five at home and actually their position of 16th in the table is not unfair at all based on shots and expected goal data, which surprised me. They’re conceding fewer shots than United and just 0.90 expected goals more overall.

I’ve looked at a couple of models which are in agreement and on average make Utd around a 45% chance – or 2.20.

I think that’s a bit extreme, and actually if United were 2.20 then I probably would be backing them -0.25.

However, the market actually has them 1.61 which definitely means a pro-Cardiff bet. Because of the uncertainty a new manager brings, I’m going to take more of a risk for a lesser stake and take Cardiff +0.0 at  4.70 for a point.

Back home on the south coast

My second bet this weekend comes from…yes you’ve guessed it, the Vitality Stadium. My favourite side Bournemouth in 11th place host 13th place Brighton and before I even begin my analysis I think it’s fairly obvious I’ll be heading towards the overs, but it’s as much to do with the away side as it is with Bournemouth. That’s because Chris Hughton’s playing style is fairly conducive to conceding goal chances and there’s a feeling from me Bournemouth could win this bet on their own.

Brighton are having just 43% of the ball this season, which is the fourth worst in the league, and that’s leading to them conceding the second most amount of shots-per-game (16.4). And these are good opportunities, with them having the third worst expected goals against. The warning signs were there for Brighton last season when conceding the fourth most shots-per-game, and I think long-term this is something they need to address.

Eddie Howe and Mark Stinchcombe both love Bournemouth goals.

I won’t go over old ground too much with Bournemouth but their latest stats show 2.89 goals-per-game since the beginning of the 2017/18 season (159 goals in 55 games) and 2.99 expected goals-per-game. This tells us we could actually see a slight increase in the number above over the course of the season with six clean sheets in their last 42 games, while 31 of their last 38 games (a season worth) have gone over 2.5 goals (82%)

The two games last season saw results of 2-2 and 2-1 so when we are able to back over 2.25 goals at a competitive price then it’s full steam ahead with Bournemouth overs once again and I think a point here is more than warranted.

Looking for overs at Goodison Park

Finally, I’m going to Goodison Park and hoping for goals as Everton take on Tottenham. We’re now 17 games into Marco Silva’s reign and I think we’re beginning to get a really good idea of how he wants them to play. They’re trying to play out right from Jordan Pickford, but I think we’ve seen they’re nowhere near ready for this against the top sides over the last couple of weeks when they faced Man City and Liverpool.

Like those two sides, Spurs will press them and make life tricky and I think the fact Everton have scored 24, yet conceded 22 just goes to show both ends of the pitch are seeing plenty of action. Expected goals says we should be in for more goals at both ends with the average total coming out at 3.10 per-game.

Spurs are clearly capable of contributing to this and I’m not worried after I backed over 2.5 goals a couple of weeks ago when Tottenham visited Leicester when the home side didn’t really turn up.

Mark is banking on Harry Kane and the Tottenham attack to have success at Goodison Park this weekend.

However, we rightly shouldn’t be perturbed by one game, and last season these two matches saw four goals in London and three in Liverpool with expected goals totalling 4.21 and 3.57 respectively. With Spurs’ total average xG per-match returning 2.93 per-game since the beginning of 2017/18, I’m happy to back overs again here and this feels like a solid one point bet.

Recommended bets

  • Cardiff +0.0 – 4.70 – 1 point
  • Over 2.25 goals Bournemouth v Brighton – 1.77 – 1 point
  • Over 2.5 goals Everton v Tottenham – 1.85 – 1 point

On this week’s Football Podcast – Host Ali Maxwell is joined by Brodders and Mark O’Haire for a Euro special – taking in games from France, Spain and Italy, with betting angles for Rennes vs Nimes, Rayo Vallecano vs Levante and Parma vs Bologna. We are delighted that Matchbook Betting Podcast has been nominated for Best Betting Podcast in the 2019 Smart Betting Club Awards. If you enjoy listening to the pod, please vote for us. Vote > surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SBCAwards2019