PREMIER LEAGUE analyst Daniel McCulloch (@danmcc84) takes a look at the best bets available at 3pm on Saturday.
Watford v West Brom | Saturday 3rd March 2018, 15:00
At a best price of 23/20, I expect Watford to be many people’s fancies this weekend. They are 13 points clear of bottom club West Brom and have gained seven points from new manager Javi Garcia’s four games in charge.
In contrast, West Brom are clearly a club in crises, having won just one of their last 26 league games and new manager Alan Pardew, who has only been in the job for just over three months, is one game from the sack. Most Albion fans are already resigned to a Championship campaign next season and it is hard to put forward a case for them leaving Vicarage Road with more than the 20 points they will arrive with.
As an Albion myself, I was fairly impressed with performances in Pardew’s first couple of months and was hoping that results would begin to mirror much of the data. Unfortunately, the reverse has occurred as Albion were wretched throughout February, with last week’s defeat at home to Huddersfield being a particularly tough watch. That said, I do believe they can find the net this weekend.
Saying “West Bromwich Albion won” has been a rare occurrence this season, but saying “West Bromwich Albion one” has been fairly common. The Baggies have scored exactly one goal in 12 of their 28 league matches. In away games under Pardew, they have found the net in just three of his seven encounters, but three of the four failures were against Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.
Watford have kept just three clean sheets in 14 home games and a back four of Daryl Janmaat, Sebastian Prodl, Adrian Mariappa and Jose Holebas hardly screams impenetrable at you. All of this leaves me with two potential options: both teams to score at a shade of odds on or Albion to score exactly one goal at 7/5. The latter appeals as if you go back to the start of 2015, when Tony Pulis took over as manager, this bet would have obliged in 50% (21/42) of their away games.
However, I am conscious that The Hornets have already conceded twice at home to Swansea and Southampton and they let in four against Huddersfield. With that in mind, I would simply recommend backing ‘Both Teams To Score’ at 19/20 with Bet365.
Given that a 2-1 loss has been the most common scoreline for Pardew during his tenure at The Hawthorns – he has lost four of 17 games this way – the 17/2 on Watford to win in this manner holds some appeal. However, there are a couple of bigger prices that take my fancy. Watford have been susceptible to set pieces throughout this campaign, with only Leicester and Brighton conceding more than the 13 goals they have allowed. Four of the last five goals West Brom have scored in the league have come in this manner and they looked a threat from every dead ball situation when the two sides met back in September.
They conceded from one then and I believe that with Chris Brunt likely to return to the Albion side this will be a successful avenue of attack for The Black Country outfit.
I could therefore pick any one of Craig Dawson, Jonny Evans and Ahmed Hegazi to be first goalscorer but it is the Egyptian Hegazi that I believe offers most value. He has been scored the first goal on two occasions already this term and I see no reason he should be the biggest price of the three.
The 35/1 BetVictor are offering looks like an excellent price, whilst I wouldn’t deter anyone from taking the 14/1 on him finding the net anytime.
Swansea v West Ham | Saturday 3rd March 2018, 15:00
Swansea are slight favourites to win this game and on the face of it, it is easy to see why. They have won their last six home games in all competitions, including wins over Arsenal and Liverpool and face a West Ham side with just two away victories all season.
Unfortunately, despite their improvement under Carlos Carvalhal, I simply do not see enough in Swansea to back them at a best price of 8/5. They have scored a league-low 21 goals and have had 19 shots on target fewer than any other side. Performance data suggests that 18th place actually flatters The Swans.
They have found the net more than once in a league match on just four occasions in 28 attempts this term and given that I fancy West Ham to score here – they have done so in their last seven games at this level – I cannot back the Welsh side here.
Instead, I will repeat my bet from last week and back in-form Marko Arnautovic to score at any time at 13/5 with Paddy Power. He hit the bar and forced Loris Karius into a fine save in last week’s defeat at Anfield and I believe he can go one better against Swansea. The Austrian has scored in six of his 13 starts since new manager David Moyes gave him more attacking licence – he started as a sole striker against Liverpool – and I believe that this price is simply too big (he is as short as 2/1 elsewhere).
Freezing conditions are present in South Wales at the moment and Arnautovic is the kind of player the phrase ‘can he do it on a cold night in Stoke’ was invented. Given he spent four years as a player in The Potteries, I am confident he did manage to produce the goods on occasion, so recommend you back him to score in 90 minutes tomorrow afternoon.
Tottenham v Huddersfield | Saturday 3rd March 2018, 15:00
As Tottenham have lost just twice in 22 games at ‘home’ this season, mutterings of a ‘Wembley hoodoo’ have been largely silent as wins over the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund have convinced many that the North London outfit are more comfortable in their new surroundings.
On Saturday they face a Huddersfield side who have made things far too comfortable for top six opponents on their travels this term. They have lost 3-0 at Liverpool, 5-0 at Arsenal and 2-0 at Manchester United and failed to have a short on target at either Anfield or Old Trafford.
They were fairly impressive in winning at The Hawthorns last weekend but I don’t believe Tottenham’s backline will afford them the same kind of space that West Brom’s did. Overall, The Terriers have scored in just four of their 14 Premier League away games and I do not envisage a fifth here.
Tottenham to win at 3/4 with BetVictor is my recommended bet. Five of Spurs’ last eight league games would have seen this wager emerge victorious and they have scored 29 goals and conceded just nine in all Premier League games at Wembley this term. I think Huddersfield will keep it fairly respectable hence why I am not recommending a handicap bet but I do not foresee Hugo Lloris being called into too much action tomorrow afternoon.
Marko Arnautovic to score anytime (13/5 Paddy Power)
Tottenham to win to nil (3/4 BetVictor)
Both Teams to Score in Watford vs West Brom game (19/20 Bet365)
Ahmed Hegazi first goalscorer (35/1 BetVictor)
Ahmed Hegazi to score anytime (14/1 Bet365)