FOOTBALL analyst Ben Levene (@benlevene96) delivers his best bets from Saturday's 3pm kick-offs in his new specials feature.
Goalscorer – Tom Hopper anytime (9/4 Betway)
Tom Hopper opened his goalscoring account for Southend on debut last Saturday.
The former Scunthorpe frontman started up top with Simon Cox, who dropped deeper more than Hopper. The striker had five shots, and for a Shrimpers side who accumulated more attempts, and shots-in-the-box than any other League One side on the opening weekend – there is scope for him to get on the scoresheet again.
Southend travel to Plymouth on Saturday, who this summer lost their star centre-back Sonny Bradley. Argyle conceded twice to a Walsall side without last season’s influential star Erhun Oztumer in their opening encounter last weekend.
Oztumer was directly involved in 40% of Walsall’s goals in the last campaign. And like Southend, the Saddlers went with a front-two, and were able to cause problems.
It’s 9/4 (Betway) Hopper finds the net anytime – that’s the value of the 3pm goalscorers.
Longshot – Brighton to beat Watford (12/5 Betfair)
Javi Gracia faces a selection conundrum this Saturday, especially in the middle of the park. Tom Cleverly has been ruled out, whilst Nathaniel Chalobah and last season’s shining light, Abdoulaye Doucoure, are both doubts.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, Brighton’s Pascal Gross could benefit. As has been the case throughout Chris Hughton’s tenure, the Seagulls will line up in a 4-4-1-1. They will be well-drilled throughout, and its Gross who will more often than not produce in the final-third.
Brighton boasted the bottom-half’s best defensive record last season and have recruited well to add extra-quality in attack. Florian Andone and Alireza Jahanbakhsh join with good pedigree.
Gerard Deulofeu and Jose Holebas are also doubts for the hosts. Gracia’s men are not at full-strength and as a result we can back an organised, settled, and consistent Brighton side at 12/5 (Betfair).
Cards – Stefan Johansen to be shown a card (7/2 Bet365)
Crystal Palace under Roy Hodgson reverted back to basics and thrived. Wilfried Zaha was amongst the division's most fouled players, and that’s nothing mind-blowing given the coveted star became the Eagles focal point.
But Palace were direct across the park. With regards to the foul stats – Zaha’s teammate Andros Townsend wasn’t far behind and they travel to Fulham on Saturday in what's expected to be an open encounter. And so it’s the cards markets where we can profit.
Mike Dean showed 95 bookings in 25 Premier League matches last season, which is an average of 3.8 per-match. In all competitions last campaign he produced 113 yellows in 30 games – 3.8 per-game. Dean showed at least three cards in 17 of those 25 Premier League matches.
Midfielder Stefan Johansen committed more fouls than any other Fulham player last season. He was also booked 12 times in 48 games (including play-offs).
Fulham have spent plenty this summer, but Johansen has been a mainstay in Slavisa Jokanovic’s side for two seasons now. With new signings taking time to bed in, the Norweigen may not lose his place just yet.
It’s 7/2 (Bet365) he picks up a card in an all-action encounter.