BOURNEMOUTH welcome Liverpool to Dean Court on Saturday. Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) previews the encounter, picking out his best bets.
Bournemouth v Liverpool | Saturday 8th December 2018, 12:30 | Sky Sports
Liverpool beat Bournemouth in both of their 2017/18 Premier League matches by an aggregate 7-0 and the 4/6 (SkyBet) available on the Reds reeling off another league victory is too big to turn down in the early Saturday kick-off.
Jurgen Klopp’s charges were chalked up at just 4/9 on their last visit to Dean Court 12 months ago – a match they won 4-0 – whilst Manchester United were as skinny as 9/10 when pitching up here last month. That’s the same United that are 16 points adrift of the Merseysiders and 13 points worse off in the Expected Points table.
United were shorter still (5/6) when arriving in April, whilst Spurs were also 4/9 shots here in April. Liverpool are still rated comfortably as the second-best side in the Premier League, and whilst Bournemouth have undoubtedly improved, the difference between the two is bigger than the implied odds suggest on Saturday.
The Reds have made their best ever start to a top-flight campaign in history and only six clubs (including Manchester City this season) have won more points from their opening 15 league of a top-flight campaign. Exclude Big Six rivals and Klopp’s men have won all 11 of their Premier League encounters, seven by a margin of two goals or more.
Indeed, Liverpool’s ability to dispatch the league’s lesser lights deserves respect and attention. Since 28th October 2017, the Merseysiders boast a phenomenal W30-D5-L1 from their 36 matches against non-Big Six clubs – that’s an 83% win rate.
Unbelievably, the Reds were available around the 3/4 mark before team news broke on Wednesday afternoon that Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohammed Salah would be rested at Burnley. After a lackluster first 45 minutes, Liverpool soon found their range and ran out deserving winners. The trio should now be fresh and ready for action here.
Bournemouth rarely trouble Big Six rivals
Bournemouth were marked out as potential relegation candidates in pre-season, a school of thought I could never get on-board with. However, I never anticipated the Cherries making such a stalemate across the opening third of the campaign.
Eddie Howe’s outfit have nestled themselves in the top-half of the table thanks to their consistently good efforts in the matches that matter. The hosts have earned a solitary point from 15 points when tackling teams in eighth and above, compared to 22 points from 10 tussles against clubs in ninth and below.
The Cherries snapped a four-game losing streak in midweek but were largely second-best here against Huddersfield, whilst Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United have all beaten the south coast club in the past six weeks. That means Bournemouth have now returned just W4-D5-L31 against Big Six clubs since promotion, W2-D2-L10 at Dean Court.
The home side have recorded only four shutouts in 40 meetings with the league’s elite, and silenced just five of their past 27 visitors to Dean Court since the start of last season. Such defensive concerns are likely to prove their undoing on Saturday afternoon.
Goals on the agenda
I’m also keen to get involved with Over 2.75 Goals at a generous 4/5 (BetVictor). This selection would see us make a half-stakes profit should exactly three goals be scored, whilst four or more would return a full pay-out.
Bournemouth have produced 12/15 (80%) winning Over 2.5 Goals wagers in 2018/19, with those 15 matches featuring an average of 3.13 goals per-game. The Cherries’ encounters are also averaging a lofty 3.15 Expected Goals per-game so there’s plenty of precedence for a high-scoring repeat on Saturday.
Liverpool’s defensive record is outstanding on paper, although it’s worth pointing out that according to Expected Goals figures, the Merseysiders should have shipped six goals more from their first 15 games. With Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser, David Brooks and Josh King looking electric this campaign, and the Cherries posting 1.60 xG per-game, Bournemouth are capable of getting on the scoresheet here.
Even if Howe’s outfit fail to fire, there’s plenty of encouragement elsewhere. For example, 10 of the hosts’ past 14 here against Big Six sides have produced Over 2.5 Goals – six going on to break the Over 3.5 Goals barrier. In the Premier League at Dean Court, 19/27 (70%) have featured at least three goals.
Surprisingly, Liverpool’s domestic matches are averaging only 2.40 goals per-game. However, that figure rises to 2.80 when excluding Big Six rivals, and their xG average still stands at a very healthy 2.86. The away side are also generating 1.35 xG from open play, suggesting the attacking process remains strong for Klopp’s men.
For me, these are the best two bets on the Premier League coupon this weekend.