It was a tough weekend for this column but if I had the time back I would have placed exactly the same bets.
Two sides got and converted penalties which ultimately cost us money. These things happen in football but I was actually really happy with the pattern of the West Ham game in particular. Despite Watford’s penalties (so a xG of almost 0.8 alone there), the performance data suggested that a draw was a fair result.
Anyone following the stats of this game would surely concur that The Hammers were unlucky as they dominated for long periods and created the better chances from open play.
Tottenham v Bournemouth | Wednesday 26th December 2018, 15:00
Anyway, on to the Boxing Day fixtures and I was pleased to see that – based on a relatively small sample size – the results over the last few years were not too surprising. I had two concerns, firstly that you needed to factor in more goals as Boxing Day has a habit of serving up some strange scorelines and secondly that it sees very few away victories.
Over the last four seasons there have been 100 goals in 36 games (so an average of 2.78 per game) and 10 away victories, so numbers are pretty much in line with what you would expect. With that in mind, I have not really taken seasonality in to account when selecting my bets.
Tottenham looked in imperious form against Everton at the weekend but scoring six goals generally suggests that their conversion rate was at an unsustainable level. Spurs xG was 2.49 and while they thoroughly deserved to win, I do not expect another annihilation when they face Bournemouth.
The bet that takes my fancy is Spurs to win and under 4.5 goals, which is available at 4/5 with Ladbrokes. This bet has been a winner in six of their eight home games this season, with the two losses coming against Manchester City and Liverpool. Going back to the start of last season, it has been a winning bet in 12 of their 19 games against sides outside the top six (63%), while they face a side who tend to struggle against members of ‘The Big Six’.
Bournemouth’s results against the aforementioned sides this season read 0-2, 1-2, 1-2, 0-4 and 1-3. All five would have seen the advertised bet emerge victorious. Indeed, since The Cherries gained promotion to the Premier League, they have faced ‘The Big Six’ 20 times away from home, with 15 of these matches seeing them lose and four goals or fewer being scored. This represents 75% of all games and given that the odds imply that we need the bet to win 56% of the time to be in profit, I am happy to take this bet on.
Crystal Palace v Cardiff | Wednesday 26th December 2018, 15:00
Crystal Palace enjoyed an excellent result against Manchester City but manager Ross Hodgson will surely take greatest pleasure from the fact that that victory moves them six points clear of the relegation zone.
I don’t believe many observers felt that Palace were ever in serious contention for relegation and 18 points from the same number of matches still does them a disservice. I am pretty sure they will have too much for Cardiff on Boxing Day but 4/6 is simply too skinny on a side with just five home goals and two victories to their name this season.
Instead, I like the look of under 2.5 goals, which is available at 101/100 with MarathonBet. Seven out of eight of The Eagles home matches have finished with two goals or fewer and a few sublime strikes against Manchester City and Leicester will do little to convince Roy Hodgson that a striker shouldn’t be his number one priority in the January transfer window.
There have been 23 goals in Cardiff’s eight away matches but unfortunately for The Bluebirds, they’ve accounted for just five of these. Half of their games on their travels have seen two goals or fewer which suggests that there is minimal value in this bet.
However, it’s three out of five when matches against the Big Six are discounted and anyone who watched their matches against West Ham and Watford will wonder how there were nine goals across the two games. The combined xG was just 5.6, with the Watford game containing three goals from outside the area – the only time this has happened this season.
Basically, unless we see some sublime finishing or penalties awarded, I cannot see how this game finishes with three goals or more. I think one goal may be sufficient for Palace, so shall also have a few pennies on 1-0 to the home side. Cardiff have already lost by this scoreline twice on their travels this season and I can see a third on Boxing Day. 1-0 is 13/2 with Betfred.
Tottenham and under 4.5 goals (4/5 Ladbrokes)
Crystal Palace v Cardiff – under 2.5 goals (101/100 MarathonBet
Crystal Palace 1-0 Cardiff – (13/2 Betfred)