PREMIER LEAGUE analyst Daniel McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984) takes a look at the weekend action, picking out his favourite fancies from the 3pm games.
Newcastle v Cardiff | Saturday 19th January 2019, 15:00
St James’ Park plays host to what is likely to be an attritional encounter between Newcastle and Cardiff.
While we are still only in January, it does feel like a must-not-lose game for the home side in particular. Both these teams find themselves in the bottom five of the table and looking at the results between those sides, it looks like goals could be at a premium.
When these two met in Cardiff at the start of the season, the game finished 0-0 and other matches in this mini-league have been similarly tight. Cardiff drew 0-0 with Huddersfield in both their matches while Newcastle beat the Terriers 1-0.
Cardiff beat Southampton by the same scoreline, while Newcastle drew 0-0 with them. The Geordies recorded the same result against Fulham while Cardiff’s 4-2 victory was the only game in this eight-match sample to see more than a single goal!
Cardiff recorded their first away victory of the season last time they went on their travels, with Neil Warnock claiming it was a deserved victory (it wasn’t). Cardiff lost the Expected Goals battle 1.52 vs 0.49 and it’s fair to say they have defied the data a few times recently.
Despite facing 31 shots against Palace and their opponents recoding a xG of 2.43, the Bluebirds kept a clean sheet in South London and last week, despite recording just three shots all game and a xG of just 0.12, the Welsh side managed to avoid defeat against Huddersfield.
Newcastle’s performances and results haven’t been great at any point this season, but I do believe that in Solomon Rondon they have the one genuine Premier League forward on either side. Despite finishing last season in the relative comfort of 10th place, Newcastle were in a relegation battle for much of the season, but Rafa Benitez’s ability to win tight matches ensured they survived.
Indeed, since the start of last season, seven of their 16 victories (44%) have been by a 1-0 scoreline. Cardiff have lost four of their last 16 games in all competitions in this same way and I believe one goal will once again be enough to defeat Neil Warnock’s side.
Watford v Burnley | Saturday 19th January 2019, 15:00
While I don’t think Burnley’s three-game winning run in the Premier League is anywhere near as fortuitous as Brighton’s was earlier in the season, little moments have gone the way of the Clarets in their last couple of games. With the game locked at 1-1 Huddersfield had a player sent off against them a couple of weeks back, while last week they beat Fulham 2-1 despite officially recording a shot on-target.
This Saturday they face a Watford side that I believe will have too much attacking threat for them. The home side may have lost five games on their own patch this term, but four of them were against members of the Big Six. Their record against the rest of the league reads W4-D1-L1.
Burnley have recorded just two wins on their travels – the aforementioned game against Huddersfield and a 2-1 victory over Cardiff, where they lost the shot count 18-3. Burnley’s record away to sides outside the top half dozen reads W2-D1-L4.
8/13 for a home victory is a little skinny so I would rather add the Over 1.5 Goals angle – Watford to win and over 1.5 goals is 19/20 with Ladbrokes and has been a winner in seven of their 13 combined matches against sides in their peer group. I may also back the 2-0 and 3-0 correct scores depending on prices on the exchange come Saturday afternoon.
Bournemouth v West Ham | Saturday 19th January 2019, 15:00
A few weeks ago, I tipped up Felipe Anderson at 7/2 in the Anytime Goalscorer market. The Brazilian is just 5/2 with Betway to do so at Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon but given that the Cherries have conceded 42 goals in the league this term (only two sides have conceded more) it’s enough to get me tempted.
Anderson has eight goals in 22 league games this term and while that exceeds his Expected Goals numbers by some distance, he looks like an excellent finisher so I am relatively happy to ignore that.
I also feel like the antics of Marco Arnautovic put greater pressure on him and this is something he appeared to revel in against Arsenal last weekend. He linked up well with Samir Nasri at the London Stadium and in a match which promises to be full of goals (these two have recorded a 3-3 and a 4-3 in the last three seasons), I think Anderson is good value to get on the scoresheet.