PREMIER LEAGUE expert Daniel McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984) is back to attack Saturday's 3pm best bets.
Manchester United v Crystal Palace | Saturday 24th November 2018, 15:00
It’s somewhat of a bumper Saturday afternoon, with Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United all in action.
I have to be honest, this is my favourite time of year as a punter. The volume of games – aside from the frantic Christmas period – are reduced, international football is largely forgotten about for a few months and you are starting to get sufficient data to accurately assess a side.
Where United are concerned, I think you have several years worth of data to analyse, as their performances since Alex Ferguson left have been well below the standards he set, with David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho all managing the fifth or sixth best side in the division, irrespective of what the league table has said.
In terms of a recommendation in this game, I was genuinely tempted to back Crystal Palace at 8/1. The Eagles have only eight points to their name from their opening 12 fixtures, but like last season, their performances have merited more. After Saturday they will have played five of the Big Six and I am confident that they will steer themselves away from trouble over the winter months.
I do, however, have concerns about the Eagles' goal threat in this game, which is why I will take the 14/5 Marathon are offering on a United win by exactly one goal. Jose Mourinho’s side have won eight games in all competitions this term, with six of them by a single goal.
The Red Devils seem to lack the desire to hammer sides and have generally produced their better performances when going behind.
United face a Palace side that have been competitive against the Big Six since Roy Hodgson came to the helm but have usually came off losers. The Eagles have won just one of these 16 matches, but have lost by a single goal on seven occasions.
While his powers may have diminished, Mourinho remains the master of small margins and I expect him to do so once more. I couldn’t put anyone off backing United to win 1-0 or 2-1 but I will stick with the single goal victory at 14/5.
Watford v Liverpool | Saturday 24th November 2018, 15:00
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool travel to Hertfordshire determined to keep their unbeaten league running going and while I expect the Hornets to trouble them, I think the Merseyside club will ultimately come out victorious.
Since returning to the top-flight, Watford’s games at home to the top-six have been very entertaining. There have been 71 goals in 20 games and both teams have scored in 14 of those matches. Watford have already beaten Tottenham at Vicarage Road this season, while they also found the net against Manchester United.
On paper, Liverpool’s defence looks a lot tighter this season but the data suggests they should have conceded three or four more goals. In the last month, they’ve faced Arsenal, Cardiff, Red Star Belgrade and Fulham. They conceded against the first three while Alexsander Mitrovic was wrongly denied a goal at Anfield in their last encounter.
Klopp’s side have the firepower to hurt any side in the league but I believe there is sufficient reason to believe that Watford will score, so will back Both Teams To Score at 4/5 with Betfred.
I also like the idea of putting around 15% of my regular stake on a 2-1 or 3-1 victory for the away side. In the 20-game sample already identified, Watford have lost 2-1 on five occasions, with a further 3-1 loss.