Premier League – Expect late drama in the 3pm kick-offs


THE Premier League continues on Saturday and our man Daniel McCulloch (danmcc84) shares his best bets from the 3pm fixtures.

Brighton v Leicester | Saturday 31st March 2018, 15:00

Fans of both these sides will doubtless be pleased that the international break is now over as both sides play their first league game in three weeks on Saturday afternoon.

Brighton are six points clear of the relegation zone and probably only need one victory from their remaining eight games to secure safety. Everyone concerned with the club will want that to come as quickly as possible, particularly with the Seagulls facing such a difficult run-in. They have all of the top four to play, as well as away games with rivals Crystal Palace and high-flying Burnley.

Manager Chris Hughton will surely therefore be targeting at least four points from the next two games: home matches against Leicester and Huddersfield. He will also be aware of how much of a fortress The Amex has been this season.

His side have gained 24 of their 34 points at home with only Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool leaving Sussex with all three points. Moreover, they've scored nine goals in their last three home games against West Ham, Swansea and I am sure they will add to that tally this weekend.

Leicester have realistic hopes of overtaking Burnley and finishing in seventh spot, but their need is not as great as their opponents and their away record holds little fear. They may have despatched rock-bottom West Brom 4-1 at The Hawthorns but that was just their fourth victory in 15 away games this term.

They clearly have better players than their opponents this weekend but I am not sure they have a better manager and do not believe they deserve to be clear favourites here.

Given that both sides have drawn exactly a third of their league matches this campaign, I would rather leave the outrights alone and simply back Brighton in the Draw No Bet market at 107/100 with Marathon Bet.

West Brom v Burnley | Saturday 31st March 2018, 15:00

Having already broken the club's run of games without a victory, this Albion outfit are looking to break another record: most consecutive defeats. They are currently on eight and given their ability to engineer defeats from the jaws of victory this term, even the most one-eyed Baggies fan would find it difficult to say that they justify favouritism here.

In the 1X2 Albion are a best price of 17/10, while you can get as big as 85/40 on Burnley. That is because despite such a wretched league record, Albion's performance data has actually been ok and suggests they should be around 12th place in the table.

Their problem all term, but most excruciating under Alan Pardew has been maintaining leads: they have lost 24 points from winning positions, which is an impressive effort when you consider they only have 20 points in total!

It is for this reason, that I fancy a late goal in this encounter. Albion have conceded five goals in the last 15 minutes in their three most recent matches and they face an opponent, who so often find themselves involved in a close game that is settled late on.

There have only been 53 goals in Burnley' s 30 league games this season but 25 (47%) of them have come in the final 22 minutes of their matches. Overall, 19 of their 30 matches have seen at least one goal scored in this time period and this certainly gives me confidence that the 5/6 Bet365 are offering on a goal after 67:59 is of great value.

Such a bet would have been successful in 21 of West Brom's 31 matches (68%) as well and while I believe the side I support are unlikely to score it (they have conceded 17 of the 24 goals scored), I certainly believe it's an excellent price.

I just wish matches ended after 68 minutes. Albion would then possess 34 points, 70% more than they do currently!

West Ham v Southampton | Saturday 31st March 2018, 15:00

Having looked at this game several times, I came to the conclusion that Southampton are too short here.

There is no doubt that West Ham are in a mini-crisis off the field but I don't believe the most recent performance against Burnley was as bad as the result suggested. Both David Moyes and Sean Dyche felt that The Hammers should have been leading before a fine Ashley Barnes strike put The Clarets ahead.

Crazy scenes and a capitulation from the home side followed but you have to presume the security in the stadium will be tighter this weekend. Still, overall, the East London outfit have lost just two of their nine games at The London Stadium since Moyes arrived and I cannot see how The Saints justify slight favouritism here.

Mark Hughes did win his first game in charge away to League One Wigan, but tougher trips are ahead for The Welshman who will be well aware that The Saints have won just twice on the road this term. Both performance data and playing personnel suggest that their current position of 18th doesn't do them justice but surely any side with just one league victory in four months is going to lack confidence.

I expect a tense, nervy affair in Stratford and actually believe a draw is the most likely outcome. However, I would rather keep The Hammers on side so will once again recommend Marathon Bet's 107/100 on them DNB.

A further bet I like here is Marko Arnautovic to score anytime at 23/10 with Paddy Power. The Austrian scored three times whilst on international duty – admittedly against Slovakia and Luxembourg – and has also looked like The Hammers most likely scorer in recent weeks.

He has failed to score in his last three league games but he did hit the bar against Liverpool and also missed good chances against both Swansea and Burnley. He has found the net seven times since Moyes joined West Ham and is the clear focal point for the home side. I expected this price to be shorter than 2/1 so am happy to take Paddy's offering.

Best Bets

Brighton v Leicester – Brighton Draw No Bet (107/100 Marathon)

West Brom v Burnley – Goal after 67:59 (5/6 Bet365)

West Ham v Southampton – West Ham Draw No Bet (107/100 Marathon)

West Ham v Southampton – Marko Arnautovic to score anytime (23/10 Paddy Power)

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