PREMIER LEAGUE analyst Daniel McCulloch (@danmcc84) takes a look at the best bets available at 3pm on Saturday.
Bournemouth v Stoke | Saturday 3rd February 2018, 15:00
Bournemouth have enjoyed arguably their best fortnight in the Premier League with victories over Arsenal and Chelsea lifting them up to the relative safety of 10th place.
Their come-from-behind victory over Arsene Wenger’s side was memorable but it was their 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge that was the more eye-catching. With the pace of Callum Wilson, Junior Stanislas and Jordan Ibe among their ranks, they carved the home side open on numerous occasions, in what manager Eddie Howe labelled a complete performance.
On Saturday they take on a Stoke side who have gained four points from two games since Paul Lambert took charge. Whilst that is an impressive return, it should be noted that they were gained from home matches with Huddersfield and Watford, both of whom have been on very poor runs recently.
I therefore do believe that the Dorset side are worthy favourites, but given that they are odds-on across the board, I cannot back them in the outright market. Instead, I like the look of backing their key marksman Wilson in the first goalscorer market.
The striker scored three league goals this calendar year and his overall tally of 18 in 48 Premier League appearances is impressive. Were it not for an horrendous run of injuries – he has featured in less than half his sides games since they were promoted – then I believe the vultures would be circling in greater numbers.
The striker has the pace and skill to cause a porous Stoke backline plenty of problems and I like the look of SkyBet’s 5/1 on him repeating his feat of Wednesday night and scoring the first goal at Dean Court on Saturday.
Brighton v West Ham | Saturday 3rd February 2018, 15:00
West Ham’s injury list is the sole reason that Brighton’s price is hovering around 7/5. If the East Londoners were not shorn of the services of Manuel Lanzini, Marco Arnautovic and Andy Carroll then I believe they would be vying for favouritism in this game.
Brighton have not scored from open play in their last three league games and have just one victory in their last 14 matches in the Premier League. They tie Swansea for fewest goals scored and only the Welsh side have had fewer shots on-target.
Therefore, despite West Ham missing so many key players, I cannot back the Seagulls at the aforementioned price. I do, however, like the look of Under 1.5 Goals at 33/20 with Marathon.
As already stated, the home side have struggled for goals this term and given that four of their nine home games against sides outside of the top-six have finished with one goal or fewer then this seems like good value. Additionally, I cannot see where the goals will come from in a West Ham side with so few attacking options.
Of the 11 players that started against Crystal Palace, only Javier Hernandez could be described as an attack-minded player and I don’t believe the likely inclusion of Michail Antonio will make them significantly more potent.
To be honest, this is more of a circumstance rather than data-based bet, but I do believe that Under 1.5 Goals is the way to go.
Manchester United v Huddersfield | Saturday 3rd February 2018, 15:00
Manchester United are a best price of 19/100 at the time of writing and whilst I am not a fan of long odds-on shots I simply cannot make a case for Huddersfield getting anything at Old Trafford this weekend.
The Yorkshire side opened their campaign with a victory away at Crystal Palace but have since scored in just two of the following 11 matches on their travels.
United may have been disposed of comfortably by Tottenham on Wednesday night but this promises to be a far easier proposition for them. They have only conceded five goals at home all season and given the goalscoring record of their opponents, I think United to win ‘to nil’ will be a common bet this weekend.
That is a best price of 7/10, however, so I would rather go with a slightly more riskier alternative: United to win and Under 3.5 Goals in the match. That is available at 10/11 with Bet365.
For reasons already identified, I really struggle to see Huddersfield finding the net and I also can’t see United scoring four or more. Looking at their recent home record, they have scored just nine goals in six games against Brighton, Bournemouth, Burnley, Southampton, Derby and Stoke.
I see this as a relatively comfortable, low-scoring victory for Jose Mourinho’s men and I don’t believe David Wagner or his Huddersfield side will be too disappointed if that is the case.