PREMIER LEAGUE analyst Daniel McCulloch (@danmcc84) takes a look at the best bets available at 3pm on Saturday.
Burnley v Southampton | Saturday 24th February 2018, 15:00
If you are looking for entertainment then it is safe to say that Turf Moor would not be the place for you.
There have been just 19 goals in 13 league matches this season, with tight, tense affairs the order of the day. Where Burnley are concerned, games have been competitive regardless of the venue or opposition.
If you take the Premier League as a whole, across 270 games this season, 102 games (38%) have seen a victor by two goals or more. Just three of Burnley’s 27 matches (11%) have seen such an outcome – 3-0 defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea and a 2-0 victory over Swansea.
When trying to analyse the ability of sides outside the top-six, I tend to pay less credence to their performances against the elite as there is a clear gulf between them and the rest of the league.
Burnley’s stats against sides from seventh downwards are incredible. In 17 league games this season, they are yet to concede more than a single goal to any of them and 13 of these matches would have seen Under 1.5 Goals backers in profit.
All of this makes the 13/8 William Hill are offering on this market very appealing. However, I would prefer to repeat my tip of two weeks ago – when Burnley lost 1-0 to Swansea – and combine it with backing a 1-1 scoreline with the same firm at 11/2.
More than a fifth (11/54) of the games Burnley and Southampton have played this season have finished in this manner so I believe that it is worth keeping it onside.
Once again, I would advise placing 70% of your stake on Under 1.5 Goals and the remainder on 1-1. If either of these bets win you would make more than £8 profit from a £10 stake.
Excluding games against the top-six, this bet would have emerged victorious in 24 of the 35 games (69%) these two have featured in this term. Given that you only need the bet to come in 55% of the time to make a profit, I am happy to repeat the formula.
I really struggle to see either sides scoring two goals so I feel that playing it this way offers excellent value.
Liverpool v West Ham | Saturday 24th February 2018, 15:00
There are four other Premier League 3pm kick-offs this weekend and this is the only one that – on paper – looks fairly easy to call.
Bournemouth entertain Newcastle and Dean Court and working out which version of the Dorset side will turn up has not been an easy feat this year. Elsewhere, Brighton host Swansea and odds of 6/5 are simply to prohibitive for me to back the home side.
Swansea have definitely improved under Carlos Carvalhal but I do not believe that their performances have quite merited the results they have achieved.
Finally, Huddersfield travel to bottom club West Brom and given that the Baggies have won just one of their last 25 league games, I can see why many would want to be with the Yorkshire side.
Defeat will almost certain bring Alan Pardew’s short tenure as Albion boss to a close but while there are clear issues in the West Midlands, I don’t believe West Brom are anywhere near as bad as the league table suggests.
Under Pardew they have simply failed to convert enough chances and have often found opposition goalkeepers in fine form. Regardless of whether you use shots, shots on-target or Expected Goals as a key metric, their performance data has been a lot better than their results.
Indeed, such data suggests that they should have gained 16 points since the Londoner arrived at the Hawthorns, double their actual tally of eight. Given this and Huddersfield’s struggles on the road – they have scored in just two of their last 12 away games in the top flight – I simply cannot make a confident case for them here so this is a definite no bet for me.
Attention therefore turns to Anfield and my initial reaction is that the home side are too short. Liverpool have won just five of their eight league games at home to sides outside of the top-six and given that they also lost at home to West Brom in the FA Cup, they cannot be backed at a best price of 1/4.
Since Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool they have won just 19/32 league games against such opposition so their struggles in such matches are not a new thing.
West Ham have actually managed at least a point in eight of their last 15 matches away to the top-six. Moreover, given that they have scored in each of their last six away games – including at Manchester City and Tottenham – I was initially tempted by the evens on both sides finding the net.
However, I think the in-form Marko Arnautovic provides a riskier but potentially more rewarding angle. Since David Moyes replaced Slaven Bilic as Hammers boss, the Austrian has scored in six of his 12 starts (seven goals in total).
Relieved of defensive responsibility, he has been a revelation under the Scotsman and I like the 4/1 Betfred are offering on him finding the net at Anfield. When he has been on the pitch he has scored 35% (7/20) of the East Londoners goals so I believe this offers better value than simply backing the away side to find the net.
Burnley v Southampton – Under 1.5 Goals (13/8 William Hill)
Burnley v Southampton – 1-1 correct score (11/2 William Hill)
Liverpool v West Ham – Marko Arnautovic to score anytime (4/1 Betfred)