THE boss Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) has trawled through his big book of stats to unearth the best value Anytime Goalscorer from Sunday's football.
Lazio v Milan | Sunday 25th November 2018, 17:00 | Eleven Sports
Milan signed off for the international break with a disappointing 2-0 defeat at home to all-conquering Juventus. Having arrived at the San Siro encounter on the back of a seven-game unbeaten run in Serie A, the Rossoneri were hopeful of giving the Old Lady a stern examination.
However, striker Gonzalo Higuain endured a nightmare contest against his old club, missing a penalty when Milan were 1-0 down before being sent off in a rage in the final 10 minutes after Juventus had already doubled their advantage. The result leaves Rino Gattuso’s group one point outside the top four.
Higuain’s red card and subsequent suspension has left the Italian giants in the midst of a major selection crisis ahead of their trip to the capital to face Lazio on Sunday evening. Milan are without at least nine first-team players through injury or suspension, making the guests easily opposable.
Captain Alessio Romagnoli, top scorer Higuain, plus fellow frontliners Mateo Musacchio, Giacomo Bonaventura, Lucas Biglia and Mattia Caldara are all absent, whilst Hakan Calhanoglu, Davide Calabria and Patrick Cutrone are all rated major doubts for this weekend’s encounter at the Stadio Olimpico.
With centre-backs Romagnoli and Musacchio missing, as well as main cover Caldara, Gattuso’s troops are up against in the capital. In fact, Cristian Zapata is the only senior option available at the heart of the defence, and the visitors have only recorded six shutouts in 29 matches without the influential Romagnoli.
This fixture has produced plenty of goals in recent seasons – half of their last eight head-to-heads have produced four or more goals, including three of the last four here. Lazio ran out 4-1 winners in the corresponding game last term with star striker Ciro Immobile helping himself to a 10-minute hat-trick.
Immobile is the obvious selection at even-money (Unibet) to strike again. The Azzurri international has scored seven goals in his 14 Serie A or Europa League starts for the Biancocelesti and has bagged a phenomenal 60 goals in 81 appearances since signing for the club in the summer of 2016.
The 28-year-old has notched 0.58 goals per-game and generated 0.50 Expected Goals per-90 minutes for his club in 2018/19, firing in almost 3.50 attempts, of which 42% are on target. In 10 his 14 starts, he’s taken at least three shots at goal and he should be given plenty of opportunity against a makeshift Milan.
Borussia Monchengladbach v Hannover | Sunday 25th November 2018, 17:00 | BT Sport
I've already covered this contest in-depth here as the match features my European NAP of the weekend. However, there are other avenues to exploit as Borussia Monchendglabach bid to extend their best start to a Bundesliga campaign for 31 years when lowly Hannover arrive.
The Foals have W7-D2-L2 and racked up the Bundesliga’s second-most potent attack. The hosts have scored at twice in all bar two of their 11 outings and have tabled a perfect five wins from five at their Borussia-Park home by an aggregate 14-2. Gladbach have now triumphed in each of their last eight home fixtures.
The North Rhine-Westphalians have won by a margin of two goals or more in six of their seven victories in 2018/19 and boast a W12-D4-L0 return when welcoming bottom-half teams, averaging 2.31 goals per-game. And Dieter Hecking’s men will be expected to enhance that record on Sunday evening.
Visitors Hannover have been beaten in six of their 11 encounters, and picked up just two points from a possible 18 (W0-D2-L4) on their travels. The guests have shipped two or more goals in five of those fixtures, conceding an average of 2.50 goals per-game in away dates.
The 96ers are winless in 18 road trips, losing 13/23 (57%) games as guests since returning to the top-flight. Viewing encounters at top-half teams, Hannover have W0-D3-L7, conceding at least three goals in half of those fixtures, and they’ve also been beaten in each of their past seven trips to Monchengladbach.
The stats certainly stack up for punters wishing to support Gladbach here and with the Foals leading goalscorer Alessane Plea available at odds-against quotes of 13/10 (Betway) to score, the recently-capped French international forward is well worth backing to add to his eight-goal tally since joining from Nice.
Plea is averaging a goal every 0.89 matches in Germany, including a hat-trick in his most recent encounter before the international break against Werder Bremen. He’s posting 0.57 Expected Goals per-game, averaging 3.88 shots per-game with 55% of those attempts on-target.
The 25-year-old cost Monchengladbach €25 million in July but has already engrained himself as a fan’s favourite, notching in six of his 11 league matches. Over his most recent eight outings, Plea has attempted 31 strikes at goal and managed to hit the target with 16, highlighting his form and threat.