Mark Stinchcombe is swerving this weekend’s FA Cup ties and focussing in on next week’s midweek Premier League action.
It’s always good to bounce back quickly in this game and that’s exactly what happened last weekend when two of my three bets won. Wolves edged a Premier League classic 4-3 against Leicester, there was another seven-goal epic at Anfield between Liverpool and Crystal Palace but Arsenal claimed the spoils with a 2-0 victory against Chelsea.
Having backed Wolves -0.25 I thought I was onto an easy winner after they raced into a 2-0 lead after just 12 minutes in the lunch-time kick-off. But in the space of four second-half minutes, it was all square. Another Diogo Jota goal saw the home side retake the lead, then an 87th minute Leicester equaliser had me once again bemoaning my luck before, inexplicably, Leicester left themselves wide open at the back and Wolves and Jota took full advantage to score the winner in the 93rd minute.
Despite the chaos, I think it was a deserved win with Wolves creating the better chances. They had more efforts on target (7-6) and won the expected goals 2.02 – 1.46. But that was far from the end of my rollercoaster weekend when my under 3.25 goals bet at Anfield faced the worst possible start when Palace took an early lead. In another whirlwind game, the scoring didn’t finish until the 95th minute when Max Meyer found the net for the 7th goal.
I think I just have to put this down to ‘one of those games’ and the unpredictability is one of the reasons we love this sport.
Liverpool conceded the same amount of goals in this match as they had in their last 15 home games combined!
There’s no way of accounting for that on Saturday, and the fact that Palace’s total xG was only 0.83 just goes to show how much they outperformed their opportunities.
The final game would make or break the weekend then where the market had pretty much written off Arsenal despite having home advantage and only one place splitting the sides in the table. But Arsenal performed as we know they can and the +0.25 bet won fairly easily as they made Chelsea look very, very ordinary, which is no surprise considering the lack of threat beyond Hazard. They had the game pretty much sewn up by half-time and were overall winners 2.04 – 0.84 based on expected goals.
This week’s bets and we head to Fulham
Onto this game week, which takes place during midweek, and there are two bets which have caught my interest. First up its 19th v 13th as Fulham host a Brighton side desperately looking to close the seven-point gap between them and safety.
Brighton are renowned poor travellers in the Premier League, losing 20 of their 31 away games (65%). However, Chris Hughton must know they need to improve on their travels and where better to start than at the side second from bottom.
If it’s not getting to the stage of must-win time for Fulham, it almost certainly must be near. Just three wins in 23 see them second bottom with a -30 goal difference, which is almost another point adrift of safety.
Claudio Ranieri needs wins and he needs wins soon, and surely they must fancy their chances here.
I’m not going to try and work out who’s going to win here, but I’m more than happy to go down the goals route, especially when the line is only 2.25 and Fulham possess the worst defence in the league (51 conceded in 23).
Brighton have conceded 32 goals, but that in no way tells the true story based on the quantity and quality of chances they’re giving away. Their xG against is at 1.70 goals-per-game and it’s no surprise when they’re conceding the second most shots-per-game. Fulham are conceding the third most which is one of the reasons I’m keen on siding with goals here.
I’m having a big 2.5 point bet on the over 2.25 goals line here, which you can get at just over evens.
Since Ranieri has been in charge (11 games), Fulham’s matches have averaged 2.75 expected goals-per-game and with Brighton’s averaging 2.80, it’s easy to see why I make this a good bet. It finished 2-2 when they met at the Amex back in August, with the total xG 4.65, so more of the same would be very welcome.
Backing goals as the Wolves go hunting for points
Another match which caught my eye goals wise was the clash at Molineux between Wolves and West Ham. These two sit eighth and tenth respectively with just one point separating them and Watford above them in seventh. Both of these sides should be thinking they’ve got a great chance of finishing seventh and being the ‘best of the rest’ outside the ‘big 6’.
I think there’s scope for goals here, especially with a line of 2.25. Let’s remember the goal average this season is 2.83 over a spread of 230 matches. Wolves’ home games have seen 34 goals (2.83pg) and overall West Ham’s matches have seen 64 goals (2.78pg).
With the overall average xG pitting it as 2.60 v 3.0, you can see why I’m happy to trust in the raw stats when the underlying data backs them up.
The smart bet here feels like a point on over 2.25 goals at close to 1.8 as this gives us some protection with half stakes back if there are only two goals. This bet would have only lost in one of Wolves’ last 15 and just two of West Ham’s games in the same period so it feels like the value here.
- Over 2.25 goals Fulham – Brighton ~2.09 – 2.5 points
- Over 2.25 goals Wolves – West Ham ~1.82 – 1 point