PREMIER LEAGUE expert Daniel McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984) is back to attack Saturday's 3pm best bets.
Arsenal v Watford | Saturday 29th September 2018, 15:00
At first glance, Arsenal may appear too short here at a best price of 1/2. The Gunners have won their last four games but have been far from convincing in any of those victories and certainly last week’s 2-0 win over Everton was less comfortable than the scoreline suggests.
However, there is a weight of evidence to suggest that they should have little difficulty overcoming the Hornets, who have started the season in fine style.
Over the last few seasons, Arsenal have found it difficult to beat anyone away from home and have a very modest record against other members of the Big Six. One thing you cannot question, however, is their ability to beat sides they should beat at The Emirates.
Going back to the start of the 2014/15 season, they have played 58 homes games against sides outside of the Big Six. Their record in that time reads W49-D5-L4. That’s an 85% win rate and hopefully explains why I won’t be opposing them this weekend!
Admittedly, one of those losses came against Watford but they have despatched the Hertfordshire side 3-0 and 4-0 on the other two occasions, so I don’t think you can argue that they are a bogey side for them.
That victory was Watford’s only win away win in 18 games against members of the Big Six and they’ve only managed one drawn in that sample as well.
Thirteen of Watford’s 16 losses have been by more than one goal but I don’t trust Arsenal to make a comfortable afternoon and will make a more cautious recommendation and simply follow last weekend’s pick and back the home side and Under 4.5 Goals to be scored. That is available at 11/10 with BetVictor.
Such a bet has obliged in 38 of Arsenal’s 58 matches in the aforementioned sample and 12 of Watford’s 18 games away to members of the Big Six. All of this makes me very confident that the value is on our side.
I couldn’t put the more aggressive of you off from backing Arsenal and Under 3.5 Goals at 9/5 or even combining the home win with Under 2.5 Goals. That is available at 17/4 with the same firm.
I’ll remain cautious though, safe in the knowledge that we have six scorelines on our side with this bet.
Newcastle v Leicester | Saturday 29th September 2018, 15:00
There has been an element of symmetry about Newcastle’s start to the season. They have lost all four games against members of the Big Six, all by a scoreline of 2-1 and they have drawn both their other matches 0-0.
Goals are clearly going to be an issue for the Geordies this term, with new loan signing Solomon Rondon yet to get off the mark and chances at a premium.
In contrast, Leicester have found the net 11 times, although their issues are at the back, with just one clean sheet to their name this season.
Goals are usually easily to come by in Leicester matches, particularly away from home. Going back to the start of last season, there have been 81 goals in just 22 games.
Newcastle’s home games have genuinely been quite tight, however, with just 47 goals in the same number of matches. Rafa Benitez’s ability to produce drab encounters therefore puts me off taking the 5/4 BetVictor are offering on three goals or more being scored in the game.
Instead, I will back the Foxes in the Draw No Bet market. They are available at 11/10 with Marathon and that price seems more than fair to me.
They have scored in 18 of their last 22 away matches and their record against sides of a similar standard is decent. They’ve only lost five of their last 15 games away to sides outside the Big Six while Newcastle have won just five of their last 13 matches at home to the same teams.
Ultimately, I believe Leicester will score and struggle to see a toothless Newcastle outfit scoring twice. This is a safe play in a game that I believe has the wrong favourite.
Manchester City v Brighton | Saturday 29th September 2018, 15:00
Manchester City have been a joy to watch in the two and a bit years that Pep Guardiola has been boss and I believe that part of their appeal to the eye is that they’ve often looked suspect defensively.
The Citizens face a Brighton side who have really struggled on the road, with their last victory coming in November, 2017.
The Seagulls have only scored in eight of their 22 away games since promotion but I still believe the 2-1 and 3-1 scorelines are worth a small bet (between 10% and 20% of what you would normally stake on an even-money bet) given City’s love of them!
City have played 41 home league games since Guardiola took the helm, with 15 of these matches finishing either 2-1 or 3-1. Such a statistic makes a mockery of the 14/1 and 12/1 respectively that Bet365 are providing for said scoreline.
It was 3-1 when these two met at The Etihad last term and for all their pain on the road, it is worth noting that Brighton have only conceded four or more goals on one occasion in their 22 away matches in the top-flight.
You may get a bigger price on both scores on the exchange come Saturday, but for now the liquidity is not there and I already believe the value is on our side.