Premier League – Overachievers to serve up few thrills on Saturday

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PREMIER LEAGUE analyst Daniel McCulloch (@danmcc84) takes a look at the best bets available at 3pm on Saturday.

Swansea v Burnley | Saturday 10th February 2018, 15:00

When looking at this weekend’s fixtures, my initial plan was to find a way to oppose Everton. However, given the news that the hosts are 7/5 and their opponents Crystal Palace will be without their best player, Wilfried Zaha, I am compelled to leave that game alone.

Instead my attention turns to South Wales, where Swansea entertain Burnley. Much has been made of the visitors results this term, and how they have overachieved when points totals are compared with their performance data.

However, I believe that the Welsh side are also in a higher league position than their endeavours have merited. Using expected goals, and thus expected points as a metric, Swansea should be bottom of the league.

To give this context, they have conceded as many goals as bottom club West Brom despite the fact that the Swans have faced 32 more shots on their goal.

Undoubtedly performances under new manager Carlos Carvalhal have improved, but 11 points from six games flatters the Portuguese. Their victory over Arsenal was fully deserved but wins against Watford and Liverpool were both rather fortuitous while they were second best throughout in their draw at Leicester.

With their run-in, they may well stay up but I cannot back them this weekend even though I believe they will be well fancied at a best price of 6/4. Instead, I would recommend a combined bet of backing Under 1.5 Goals at 29/20 with Marathon and the 1-1 correct scoreline at 11/2 with William Hill.

If you give yourself £10 to play with, I would put 70% of it on Under 1.5 Goals and the remainder on the 1-1 result. This guarantees you at least £7 profit from your total stake and given that the two sides have scored two goals just eight times between them in 52 matches, I think your bet would be in safe hands.

Indeed, it is not as if either side has been unlucky as in terms of shots, shots on-target and expected goals, Swansea rank 20th in all these categories and Burnley in the bottom six in each of them.

If you exclude games against the Big Six – which tend to see far more goals – then 18 of the 33 matches these two sides have played this season have featured Under 1.5 Goals, which suggests I am being a little cautious with this bet.

However, I like keeping 1-1 on side where Burnley are concerned as three of their 13 away league games have finished in this manner.

West Ham v Watford | Saturday 10th February 2018, 15:00

While my Swansea and Burnley bet was based around stats, this one simply resolves around West Ham’s lengthy injury list.

With injuries to key attackers Marco Arnautovic, Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll, the East Londoners starting line-up in their last two matches has featured 10 players who are better known for stopping goals rather than creating or scoring them.

At the time of writing, I believe that all three forwards are likely to miss the game against Watford and given their performances without them, I think it is worth getting with the Hornets at 117/100 (Marathon) in the Draw No Bet market.

The Hammers have missed the trio in their last two Premier League game and have managed just one point from a home game with Crystal Palace and away to strugglers Brighton. They scored from the spot against the Eagles and created little else in that game while they found the net with their only effort on-target against the Seagulls, in a game that they were second best in throughout.

It is clearly too early to tell whether Watford manager Javi Garcia will be a success but his side followed a decent draw away at Stoke with an excellent performance at home to last season’s champions Chelsea on Monday night.

Much was made of the limp display from Antonio Conte’s men but it is worth noting that the Hertfordshire side were the better team throughout – against both 11 men an 10 – and while they may have scored three late goals, they fully deserved to win the game according to all the key metrics.

Barcelona loanee, Gerard Deulofeu, was in form and I fully expect him to cause West Ham’s ageing backline plenty of problems.

I still believe that David Moyes’ men will stay up comfortably but given that they are shorn of the services of so many important attacking players, I believe they are worth opposing here.

Stoke v Brighton | Saturday 10th February 2018, 15:00

As my regular reader can testify, I am always on the lookout for a good-value bet and I feel like the First Goalscorer market offers that opportunity here.

Brighton have struggled from set-pieces throughout the campaign, conceding a league-high 16 goals. With this in mind, I like the look of Kurt Zouma at 28/1 with Bet365 to find the net first.

The Frenchman scored in the reverse fixture and given the quality of deliver that the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Charlie Adam – if he is on the pitch – possess then I believe this can be a profitable play.

I considered backing his teammate Ryan Shawcross either as well or instead of but feel that the Chelsea loanee is the more likely scorer. After all, he did have more shots on-target than Swansea in November!

Best Bets

Swansea v Burnley – Under 1.5 Goals (29/20 Marathon)

Swansea v Burnley – Swansea 1-1 Burnley (11/2 William Hill)

West Ham v Watford – Watford draw no bet (117/100 Marathon)

Stoke v Brighton – Kurt Zouma to score first (28/1 Bet365)

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