PREMIER LEAGUE expert Daniel McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984) is back to attack Saturday's 3pm best bets.
Burnley v Brighton | Saturday 8th December 2018, 15:00
It’s a battle of those that defy the data at Turf Moor as Burnley take on Brighton.
Burnley have outperformed their data throughout Sean Dyche’s reign – although last season was the most extreme – and it must be concerning for their fans that they’ve actually been rather fortunate to have won as many as two matches this term.
The 4-0 victory over Bournemouth flattered them, although they did enough to win that game, but the Cardiff victory was far less deserving. They lost the shot count 19-3 in the Welsh capital and scored with their only two shots on-target. There are very few hard luck stories either. To date this season, they average 8.3 shots and face over 21.
Their opponents Brighton have been a bit of a bogey side to me in recent weeks. Firstly, I opposed them against Wolves and despite losing the shot count 25-7 and comfortably losing the xG (I heard someone say it was only 0.42 more but that is a huge amount in football and 43% in this case!), the Seagulls scored with their only shot on-target to win the game 1-0.
Last weekend I backed Under 1.5 Goals when the Seagulls played Huddersfield yet two centre halves managed to find the net and there were three goals despite a xG of just 1.78.
In midweek, Brighton once again scored with every shot on-target. This included a penalty, which was incorrectly awarded, a goal from a set-piece and another from a very tight angle. Including the penalty, their xG from that game were just 1.3. If that game against Palace was played another 1,000 times, I am not sure they’d score three goals in that first-half again.
It should be stated, however, that luck works both ways and I was rather fortunate with the United bet last night.
After Brighton’s game against Crystal Palace, Chris Hughton stated how pleased he was with how his side limited Palace to so few chances despite playing with 10 men for around an hour. Hughton was spot on in his assessment, as despite having 18 shots (including a penalty), Palace’s xG was just 1.48.
Indeed, while I believe 21 points is incredibly flattering for Brighton, I am aware that they tend to become quite defensive after taking the lead and give up a lot of shots that are very unlikely to be converted.
That said, I have to oppose the south coast outfit this weekend.
To date this season, Brighton's away record reads W2-D1-L5. Their two victories came at Newcastle, where they lost the shot count 27-8 and the xG 1.71-0.68 yet won 1-0 thanks to a freakish goal, and at Huddersfield last weekend, where they were losing 1-0 before taking advantage of Huddersfield going down to 10.
Since they got promoted, Brighton’s away record against their peer group (sides from seventh down) reads W4-D6-L9. In contrast, Burnley’s home record against the same opposition during the same time period reads W8-D5-L4. Basically, Brighton win or draw 53% of the time and Burnley 76%.
Additionally, Brighton’s stoic rearguard will be without Shane Duffy this weekend and I have never been convinced by his likely replacement, Leon Balogun. Glen Murray is also a doubt with a shoulder injury.
I don’t rate Burnley at all but I cannot have Brighton as favourites away to any Premier League side. At 51/50 (Marathon), Burnley draw no bet gets my vote. I did want to add 1-0 Burnley and if I can get 8/1 on Saturday morning I will probably take it but 7s (biggest price available) is just a smidge too small.
Cardiff v Southampton | Saturday 8th December 2018, 15:00
In truth, I find Cardiff one of the hardest teams to judge in the Premier League.
Obviously there is little data on them at this level but it’s also worth noting that four of Cardiff's matches have seen a relatively early red card – three times in their favour – which fairly reduces your sample size (and that’s before you consider games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool).
That said, there are a few stats that I do like. Firstly, five of their eight home matches have seen both sides find the net. The three that didn’t includes Manchester City and the game against Leicester, which came the week after the tragic incident at the King Power Stadium.
Southampton appointed former RB Leipzig manager Ralph Hasenhuttl as new manager this week, replacing the hapless (hopeless) Mark Hughes. Hasenhuttl has a reputation for attacking football and given that Saints are one of the most favourable sides when it comes to both teams finding the net (it’s 8/15 this season and 29/53 since the start of last season) then I have to think that the 19/20 10BET are offering onBoth Teams To Score is a touch too big.
Finally, have a look at the prices of Charlie Austin and Stuart Armstrong in the Anytime Goalscorer markets come Saturday. The former – surprisingly to me – scored his first of the season on Wednesday night, while the latter has three in three.
Presuming you can get 3/1 on the former and 5/1 on the latter at the weekend then I believe you’ve found value.