Weekend Preview 22/09/17

Highlights

English Premier League
West Ham Utd vs Tottenham (Saturday 12:30pm)
Sky Sports Premier League
Tottenham have had a tough time at Wembley and at the minute have been finding away points easier to come by but coming up against a motivated and improving West Ham side will give them a real test. The edge of a London derby always adds extra incentive for both sides.

Team news is positive for both teams, with West Ham having an almost full strength side available, with Noble struggling to get back into a team that has been performing much better in the last 3 games – though an injury to Obiang means he could be brought back in. Tottenham are also close to full strength with only Wanyama and Rose missing and several managers choice decisions on who to include.

The Asian Handicap line is set relatively high for Tottenham but fair 2 goal wins in their previous 2 away games means this is reasonable. West Ham’s move to a 3-4-2-1 has meant they have been much tougher to break down and it’s here that there may be slight value with both sides keeping back to back clean sheets and likely to be wary of opening up too much.

Suggestion: Under 2.75 Goals @ 2.030

Spain Primera Liga

Atletico Madrid vs Sevilla (Saturday 12:00pm)
Sky Sports Mix
Sevilla have made an excellent start to the season and currently sit in 2nd place, having taken maximum points and kept clean sheets in all but one of their league games this season. Atletico Madrid started a little slower but have improved after a surprise draw with Girona and know a win means they will go above their opponents.

Atletico’s positive news continued this week with the agreement for Diego Costa to return to the club in January. They also have a full strength side available after Filipe Luis recovered from a minor knock and will push to attack and win this game. Sevilla are without Nolito but otherwise have a healthy squad, with Pizarro the other minor doubt but he should be fit and start.

Sevilla know full well a point would be a good result and will aim to keep the game tight for as long as possible. Atletico Madrid are very good at avoiding frustration against defensive opponents and know how to grind out a win but if Sevilla do manage to go ahead it places even more value on getting at least a push on the Asian Handicap line.

Suggestion: Sevilla +1 @ 1.854

Germany Bundesliga
Hoffenheim vs Schalke (Saturday 2:30pm)
Not on TV
Hoffenheim continue to show excellent domestic form despite their early exit from the Champions League and opening Match Round defeat in the Europa League. Beating Bayern Munich just 2 weeks ago shows they are a team to be taken seriously. After a terrible start at the beginning of 2016/17 Schalke have shown considerable improvement over the past 9 months and are likely to challenge for European places again this season.

With Schalke’s busy schedule – they face a trip to Bulgaria in midweek to face Ludogorets – they have used some rotation in the past couple of games. This means a few players have been rested and it’s unlikely they will have a genuine strongest team out. Schalke on the other hand should have almost a full strength side available, with Konoplyanka expected to regain his place after dropping to the bench in midweek.

With European commitments in their mind and the improvement Schalke have made this is not an easy game for Hoffenheim. They have been a little lucky to gain the results they have so far, while Schalke have been good but could have done even better. This will be a tight game and the value appears to be on Schalke to get something from it.

Suggestion: Schalke +0.25 @ 2.000

 

Ones to Watch

England Championship
Sheffield Wednesday vs Sheffield United (Sunday 1:15pm)
Sky Sports Football
After 5 years, the Steel City derby returns with both sides wanting to claim bragging rights. Sheffield United have started well while Sheffield Wednesday have traditionally been slow to start under Carlos Carvalhal. The key factor for this game could be who Sheffield United have available up front as a striker crisis saw Sharp, Donaldson and Clarke join Lavery and Hanson on the sidelines. All 3 will be expected to shake off minor knocks to play in this one, though may not be fully fit. The game will be tight with neither team likely to truly open up and both would accept the narrowest of wins.

Suggestion: Under 2.25 Goals @ 1.877

Scotland Premiership
Rangers vs Celtic (Saturday 12:00pm)
Sky Sports Football
Another huge derby with both sides needing little motivation. Rangers have improved under Pedro Caixinha but will be fully aware they have not beaten Celtic outright since March 2012. Under Brendan Rodgers Celtic are an unstoppable force but will also have one eye on the midweek Champions League tie with Anderlecht, where they need a win to have a good chance of finishing at least 3rd. Both sides have mixed team news and while Celtic are the stronger side there is debate about whether they would settle for a smaller margin of victory in order to conserve energy for midweek.

Suggestion: Celtic -0.75 @ 2.000

Italy Serie A
Juventus vs Torino (Saturday 7:45pm)
BT Sport 3
Our third ‘One to Watch’ derby sees these two rivals from Turin face off against each other. Juventus are the dominant force in Italy, winning all 5 of their matches so far with ease. Torino have also started well, are unbeaten and could make a push for the European spots this season. Both teams rotated for their midweek games and will bring first choice players back in to strengthen their sides and the -1.25 Asian Handicap line on Juventus seems appropriate. Both will want to win this game and while the goals line is quite high, previous games this season suggest that they are both capable of causing problems, with 7 of their 10 games between them having at least 3 goals. If Torino score first it certainly improves the chances of this as Juventus will play to win, so the game should open up.

Suggestion: Over 3 goals @ 2.020

Greece Super League
AEK Athens vs Olympiakos (Sunday 6:30pm)
Not on TV
For the first time in what seems like years, Olympiakos are not favourites for a game. After drawing to unfancied opposition in their last 2 league games and defeat against Sporting in the Champions League they find themselves 2nd in the table with Hasi under immediate threat of the sack if they lose this one. That means they will aim to play a very tight game, as Greek matches usually are, and it’s likely to be a solitary goal that wins it. The pressure is more on AEK Athens and that could suit what is still a very good and underperforming Olympiakos team.

Suggestion: Olympiakos +0.25 @ 1.909

 

*Odds accurate at time of writing

xAssists – a new method for judging a players value to a teams Creation

The recent explosion of data in football has allowed for a greater detail of understanding of several areas. The primary one I’ll be focusing on is the evolution of Assists.

Assists in it’s own right is quite a poor dataset. Whereby Goals at least tell you something of the quality of the player in question, Assists are completely reliant on another player to be registered. Imagine Lionel Messi playing alongside Emile Heskey and laying chances on a plate for him – would he have as many Assists in this case as he does when playing alongside Suarez? It’s likely he wouldn’t.

The evolution of Expected Goals (xG) into the mainstream – even seeing it included on Match of the Day, albeit without any explanation on the show itself – means that Expected Assists (xA) are now a semi-accepted part of Football Data as well.

These are a much better look at how we capture those creative players. If Messi now sets up Heskey and he misses, it matters not, as Messi would get the credit for the expectation of Heskey scoring on a repeatable basis from a similar chance. Likewise, if Messi – great player though he is – is aided by some top notch finishing from Suarez, we’d still be able to see that perhaps he was over performing in this regard, compared to how many Assists we’d expect him to have.

My question is this – are current methods of capturing Expected Assists working as well as they could be? I think the answer is no – and I’ll explain why StrataBet do things differently.

What does StrataBet do differently?

The previous method used in collecting StrataData involves a slightly different way to the norm of logging assists. The objective way of doing this credits only those cases where the player who shoots receives the ball directly from a player on his own team. So a slight deflection? Assist doesn’t count. Great run past 4 players before being tackled with ball rebounding to his own teammate? Assist doesn’t count. While I can see the point behind this, if we’re looking at pure repeatability then surely the player who has created the opportunity to shoot should be given some credit.

It’s clear footballers take notice of their assists – and can often have performance bonuses linked to them – as this article and video showing Cesc Fàbregas having one taken away from him shows.

That is why StrataData focuses on Creation, rather than Assists – so we would reward players for creating opportunities on a repeatable basis rather than just those who make the perfect pass.

So, that means straight away the StrataData model for xA is likely to be different from those using objective data. An Expected Assist could then be calculated as the Assister getting the credit for creating a chance based on the expected conversion rate of the chance created. This can factor in several aspects such as location data, method of creation, player positioning etc. – StrataData uses a subjective rating to roll all this into one, giving an expected goal rating for each chance. We can then calculate the Expected Assist rating based on the number of Chances and their Ratings created by each player.

The Fàbregas example

But we weren’t happy with that. One clear example stuck in my head and it really made me want to look at how Creation was captured. The game was Chelsea vs. West Brom from 11/12/16. A tight game was decided by a single goal. I didn’t watch the match live but saw on Twitter Costa had scored and been assisted by Fàbregas – cue a barrage of tweets about how Fàbregas is so good at assists and has some kind of Premier League record (at least 10 assists in 6 different Premier League seasons) – then I saw the goal. Fàbregas plays an aimless ball into the corner, Costa chases it, bullies his man off the ball, beats another man when cutting inside and smashes the ball into the net from a much more central position, though he still has work to do – the goal is shown below.

So what’s wrong with that? Fàbregas provided the assist Costa scored the goal? 1 goal for Costa, 1 assist for Fàbregas.

Let’s look at the Chance Rating for this goal – judging this by the StrataData scale we have this as a Very Good Chance, which has an xG value of 0.245 – essentially from that position in those circumstances we’d expect Costa to score that chance roughly 1 in 4 times.

But what about the assist? It’s essentially just a long ball into the corner. How much credit does Fàbregas deserve? Using our new method of rating Primary Creation (the assist to the shot) and Secondary Creation (the pass before the Assist) we can gather expected values for these as well, in this case we’d rate Fàbregas’ Assist as ‘Poor Creation Quality’ and he would be awarded 0.033 xA.

This is useful in 2 ways. It assigns a value to those assists, rating them closer to the quality and expectation of being scored. It also allows us to look into the data and see which players are doing a better job of making chances for themselves.

This can then be used to judge how much a team will miss a striker – for example a situation where a striker has an xG score very close to the xA of those chances is likely to be a player who relies on others to set him up. While it can still depend on the type of chances created, these teams would miss the players creating the chances more than the attackers having the final shot.

A player with an xG score much higher than the xA score for those chances is capable of turning a ‘bad’ pass into a much higher quality chance for himself. These players are missed much more when they don’t play, with the team often reliant on individual brilliance.

Top 20 Premier League xA leading contributors 2017-18 (Old vs. New Method)

Data correct up to 22/09/17

While the early stage of the season means that there aren’t too many differences still there are some interesting points to look at straight away.

Eriksen drops by 0.652xA, which, for a player so lauded by so many, means that Tottenham, are likely still relying on more than just an end product by Kane and Alli to finish their chances. In fact Ben Davies surprisingly moves above him marginally as the chances he’s created stayed at the same level between the old method and the new method.

The top of the xA table is still populated by Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham players, making up 7 of the top 10 so at least as a sense check the new method seems to be working.

The Team difference also effects the top sides most, largely due to the number of chances they have created rather than a reduction in quality, but it does mean that these sides may be more reliant on top quality strikers turning Good Chances into Great ones. The top 5 seeing a reduction in xA from the old method to the new method are Manchester City, Liverpool, Newcastle, Arsenal & Chelsea.

I’ll follow this up later in the season to see if the theory still holds true but I’m hopeful it will be a promising new way to look at the quality of assist produced.

This is just one part of the variety of data we collect at StrataBet. If you are interested in purchasing StrataData please contact us on info@stratabet.com to discuss your needs

 

@donceno

Weekend Review 18/09/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Chelsea vs. Arsenal (Sunday 1:30pm)
With such a poor record away to last seasons top 6 over the past couple of years Arsenal needed to turn in a big performance. They managed it and actually had the better of the game for spells. Welbeck and Lacazette missed first half chances and Ramsey hit the post but the game lacked any clear cut openings in the 2nd period. Chelsea looked strangely subdued and lacking ideas on how to break Arsenal down and never looked close to getting the full win on the Asian Handicap.

Suggestion: Chelsea -0.75 @ 2.060
Actual Outcome:  0-0 (-0.75)
Fair Outcome: 0-1 (-0.75)

Dutch Eredivisie

PSV vs. Feyenoord (Sunday 3:45pm)

Feyenoord got off to the worst possible start in this one, conceding after just 2 minutes as Pereiro opened the scoring. A tight match followed but PSV had chances in the 1st half to extend their lead while Feyenoord were the ones pushing for an equaliser in the 2nd half with PSV happy to play on the break. With Jorgensen injured the away side struggled to convert some reasonable chances and the red card just before the break for Berghuis made the 2nd half much more comfortable for the hosts and saw this Suggestion come in.

Suggestion: PSV -0.50 @ 2.081
Actual Outcome:  1-0 (-0.50)
Fair Outcome: 2-1 (-0.50)

 

France Ligue 1
PSG vs. Lyon (Sunday 8:00pm)

PSG were huge favourites in this game, showing their utter dominance of the French League at the minute to so so heavily backed against a traditional title rival that the Asian Handicap line had actually moved to -2.5 before the game. As it was PSG struggled and Lyon had some good chances, including hitting the bar. It took 2 own goals in the last 15 minutes for PSG to eventually win the game and record a Half Loss for our suggestion but a Penalty miss by Cavani – after an argument about who would take it with Neymar – between these goals shows the fine margins between winning and losing.

Suggestion: PSG -2.25 @ 1.892
Actual Outcome:  2-0 (-2.25)
Fair Outcome: 2-1 (-2.25)

 

Ones to Watch

Germany Bundesliga
RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach (Saturday 5:30pm)

RB Leipzig were twice ahead in this game but couldn’t hang on or push for another goal which would have seen a full win on the Asian Handicap. In truth, the sides were evenly matched and there weren’t many clear chances, with good finishing providing 4 goals rather than a lot of quality opportunities. Disappointingly the Monchengladbach goals came from a needless penalty and a fine long range strike but it’s hard to say they didn’t deserve a share of the points.

Suggestion: RB Leipzig -0.75 @ 1.92
Actual Outcome:  2-2 (-0.75)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (-0.75)


Spain Primera Liga

Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid (Sunday 7:45pm)

The problems for both sides were noted before the game, with Sociedad without both first choice centre backs and Real Madrid missing Ronaldo and Benzema amongst a few others, so Mayoral got a very rare start. It mattered little as he scored the first and assisted the 2nd and with in form Sociedad fully playing their part in the 1st half it was 1-2 at the break. Bale sealed the victory for Real Madrid just after the hour and ensured the Overs bet came in, which was a fair score.

Suggestion: Over 3.25 goals @ 1.98
Actual Outcome:  1-3 (+0.75)
Fair Outcome: 1-3 (+0.75)

 

England Championship

Barnsley vs. Aston Villa (Saturday 5:30pm)

Aston Villa tore up their recent form with a convincing victory away to Barnsley. Despite only 4 wins in 26 previous Championship games Villa were in full control from the moment a mistake by Davies allowed Adomah to poke them ahead. Barnsley had been in the game up to this point but failed to really test Johnstone in goal and a needless challenge for a penalty just before the break gave Villa a comfortable cushion with the 2nd goal. Despite trying to get a reaction a 3rd goal on 55 minutes by Davis killed the game and gave the away side a richly deserved victory.

Suggestion: Barnsley +0.5 @ 1.84
Actual Outcome:  0-3 (+0.50)
Fair Outcome: 0-3 (+0.50)

 6 Suggestions
Total Actual Outcome: -1.5
Total Fair Outcome: -2

*Odds accurate at time of writing

 

Top 3 Trading Moves of the Weekend 18/09/17

Highlights

 

England Premier League
Manchester United vs Everton (Sunday 4:00pm)

Manchester United were given a -1.5 handicap for this game and it looked fair after Everton’s struggle over the last week. Valencia got the home side off to a perfect start after 4 minutes but after this they struggled. Everton, inspired by Rooney, performed well and could consider themselves unlucky not to score. However, they ran out of steam later on and conceded 3 late goals to beat both the Handicap line and the Goals Line and though Everton can consider themselves unfortunate to be on the end of such a big score, Manchester United beating the Handicap should be considered fair.

Actual Outcome:  4-0 (-1.50)
Fair Outcome: 3-1 (-1.50)

Italy Serie A
Milan vs Udinese (Sunday 2:00pm)
A goal line of 2.75 was reasonably set with the onus on Milan to bounce back from a heavy defeat to Lazio last weekend and produce goals. After taking the lead on 22 Minutes, Udinese quickly equalised but Milan went back ahead to mean Overs would be at least a half win by 31 minutes. The game then remained with this scoreline but a controversial decision denied the full win on 82 minutes, when Milan scored but the goal was called back by the VAR system – further viewing makes this seem like the wrong decision and the goal should have stood.

Actual Outcome:  2-1 (-1.25)
Fair Outcome: 3-1 (-1.25)

 

China Super League
Shanghai SIPG vs Shanghai Shenhua (Saturday 12:35pm)

With a Goals Line of 3.5 this was expected to be an exciting and end to end game. Shanghai SIPG were big favourites but the 1st half was a non-event with the score at 0-0 and no quality chances to speak of. The line had drifted at this point but things changed dramatically at the start of the 2nd half – by 63 minutes the score was 4-1 to Shanghai SIPG with the Over line coming in with a 4th goal in the space of 5 minutes between 56′ and 61′.

Actual Outcome:  6-1 (-1.50)
Fair Outcome: 4-0 (-1.50)

Weekend Preview 15/09/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Chelsea vs. Arsenal (Sunday 1:30pm)
Sky Sports Premier League
Arsenal have still not fully recovered from the heavy defeat at Liverpool and despite winning comfortably in 2 home games they are underdogs against the title holders. Arsenal haven’t beaten Chelsea away from home since 2011 and Chelsea may well have a point to prove after losing both the FA Cup Final and Community Shield in slightly unfortunate circumstances.

Chelsea also played on Tuesday compared to Arsenal playing in the Europa League on Thursday though they did rest all but 3 or 4 of their full strength team. Sanchez got some much needed game time against FC Koln while Hazard did the same in midweek against Qarabag. Both should start. Cahill returns to strengthen Chelsea’s back line.

It’s unlikely Wenger will make the same tactical mistakes as against Liverpool but Arsenal will still have to play above themselves to get anything from this game. Chelsea will be keen to take the full 3 points and deepen Arsenal’s misery.

Suggestion: Chelsea -0.75 @ 2.060


Dutch Eredivisie
PSV vs. Feyenoord (Sunday 3:45pm)
Sky Sports Football
Feyenoord’s heavy defeat to Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek could have a big mental effect on them ahead of this game. PSV, already knocked out of Europe, should be much fresher and know a win puts them back level on points after last weeks defeat to Heerenveen.

While it is still early in the season, a Feyenoord win would be nothing short of a disaster for Cocu but luckily he has almost a full squad available with only Lozano out suspended. Feyenoord will likely be without Jorgensen and Haps, both key at either end of the pitch.

PSV will be determined to win this game, while Feyenoord would take a draw and with the line moving from -0.25 on PSV to -0.5 it shows that PSV are likely to have the mental edge and push for the win if the game is level in the latter stages.

Suggestion: PSV -0.5 @ 2.081

 

France Ligue 1
PSG vs. Lyon (Sunday 8:00pm)
BT Sport 1
PSG look in completely unstoppable form as they bid to regain the Ligue 1 crown and have a long run in the Champions League. Their opponents Lyon have not started the season quite as well, dropping points in 2 games and not being strong enough defensively to hold onto a lead.

Both sides played in European competition midweek but Lyon surprisingly played a stronger side than expected away to Apollon of Cyprus and still only managed a draw. PSG have had an extra 2 days to recover from a convincing win away to Celtic, so fatigue is likely to hit Lyon much harder than the hosts.

Both sides are very attacking in nature and it will be difficult for Lyon to sit back, which is why the goal line has been set so high in this game (4.25) but with 38 goals in the 10 matches between them this season this is understandably set. However, it’s PSG to make a big statement that is the suggestion for this game.

Suggestion: PSG -2.25 @ 1.892

 

Ones to Watch

Germany Bundesliga
RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach (Saturday 5:30pm)
BT Sport 2
After making their Champions League debut in midweek RB Leipzig should rotate a little for this game, with Keita a potential notable absentee. They have started the season well and the depth of squad should still have enough to see off a Monchengladbach side that has started poorly. While the away side will feel they can get something from the game and cause problems for their hosts Leipzig will still be expected to do enough to comfortably win.

Suggestion: RB Leipzig -0.75 @ 1.92


Spain Primera Liga

Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid (Sunday 7:45pm)
Sky Sports Football
Both sides have notable injury absentees for this game with Sociedad struggling defensively while Madrid have attacking absences to deal with. Raul Navas is out for Sociedad while Inigo Martinez is a major doubt but this is offset as Madrid cope without Ronaldo, Marcelo, Benzema and possibly Asensio.

Despite this, both sides are very attacking and will both feel they can get a victory from this game. That is likely to lead to an open nature and both sides are more than capable of scoring, so beating the 3.25 goal line is realistic.

Suggestion: Over 3.25 goals @ 1.98

 

England Championship

Barnsley vs. Aston Villa (Saturday 5:30pm)
Sky Sports Football
With pre season favourites Aston Villa struggling badly the pressure is starting to show on Steve Bruce. Their typically strong home form only returned 2 points in the last week and they were lucky to hold on at home to Brentford.

Conversely, little is expected of Barnsley and after a bad start to the season they have recovered and shown what they are capable of by beating Sunderland comfortably at home and grabbing a draw at Preston, a difficult place to go.

Barnsley have the players capable of causing problems and Aston Villa’s wretched away from (4 wins from their last 26 Championship away games) shows they are going to have to play above themselves to take the 3 points.

Suggestion: Barnsley +0.5 @ 1.84

 

*Odds accurate at time of writing

Top 3 Trading Moves of the Weekend 12/09/17

Top 3 Trading Moves of the Weekend – 12/09/17

Highlights

Portugal Primeira Liga
Porto vs Chaves (Saturday 8:30pm)

Porto were big favourites for this game but made hard work of Chaves. Porto scored early in the 2nd half but Chaves had 2 big chances after this which would have made beating the line very tough. It stayed 1-0 to Porto until 86 minutes so even 1 more goal would have seen a half win on Chaves but goals for Porto on 86 and 87 minutes turned it around and saw Porto beat the handicap

Actual Outcome:  3-0 (-2.25)
Fair Outcome: 2-1 (-2.25)

Germany Bundesliga 2
Holstein Kiel vs Kaiserslautern (Saturday 12:00pm)
Holstein Kiel were big favourites against Kaiserslautern and though they had the better of the game the home team looked to be struggling to beat the handicap given. The home side took the lead just before half time but Kaiserslautern equalised midway through the 2nd half with their only high quality chance of the game. It stayed this way until the 93rd minute with Kaiserslautern comfortable on the line but a stoppage time own goal by Vucur turned a win for those on the away team into a half loss.

Actual Outcome:  2-1 (-0.75)
Fair Outcome: 2-1 (-0.75)


 

Italy Serie A
Bologna vs Napoli (Sunday 7:45pm)

The 2.75 goal line was reasonably placed and dropped slightly possibly due to Napoli’s Champions League involvement in midweek.

Napoli dominated but struggled to make a lot of high quality chances and the game remained 1-0 until 83 minutes, when a quick fire double by Mertens and Zielinski took the game to overs, something that didn’t look likely for a long time. The Fair Score reflected this, with Napoli still comfortable enough to beat the Asian Handicap but those on Overs lucky to gain a half win.

Actual Outcome:  0-3 (+1.25)
Fair Outcome: 0-2 (+1.25)

 

Weekend Review 12/09/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Manchester City vs. Liverpool (Saturday 12:30pm)
This game started quite cautiously with both sides assessing each other but Manchester City were just getting on top when Aguero put them ahead. Salah had Liverpool’s best chance shortly after this and scoring would have likely resulted in a different game.

However, the key turning point was Mane’s red card on 37 minutes. Once down to ten men the chances of Liverpool pulling the handicap back were slim and Manchester City took full advantage with some clinical finishing to record a big victory.

Suggestion: Liverpool +0.5 @ 2.05
Actual Outcome:  5-0 (-0.50)
Fair Outcome: 3-0 (-0.50)

Spanish Primera Liga
Barcelona vs. Espanyol (Saturday 7:45pm)
Barcelona were expected to want to finish this game relatively quickly and they did thanks to Lionel Messi’s hat trick, coming inside 67 minutes.

However, Overs backers had to wait until 87 minutes before Barcelona finally made their true dominance count with 2 late goals. Espanyol contributed little going forward so beating the line was always going to be reliant on the home side, but they created enough quality chances to warrant a big victory.

Suggestion: Over 3.5 @ 1.94
Actual Outcome:  5-0 (-2.25)
Fair Outcome: 5-0 (-2.25)


 

Italy Serie A
Lazio vs. Milan (Sunday 3:00pm)

A game delayed by the heavy rain in Rome, but Lazio made a mockery of the -0.25 handicap to ruthlessly dispatch a Milan side who had started the season very well.

In an 11 minute spell either side of half time Lazio blew their visitors away with Immobile grabbing a hat trick. Milan’s previously tight defence could not cope with the attacks of Lazio and though they started slightly better were a well beaten side by the end. Milan were allowed to dominate possession after the 4th goal and scored a consolation but a comeback was never likely.

Suggestion: Milan +0.25 @ 1.854
Actual Outcome:  4-1 (-0.25)
Fair Outcome: 4-1 (-0.25)

3 Suggestions
Total Actual Outcome: -1
Total Fair Outcome: -1

 

Weekend Preview 08/09/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Manchester City vs. Liverpool (Saturday 12:30pm)
Sky Sports Premier League

The Premier League restarts after the international break and both these sides have started well, with Liverpool’s convincing victory over Arsenal showing the potential they have to be title challengers.

Both sides have had the majority of their squad on international duty, with the loss of Kompany for Manchester City a weakening at the back. The long trip from the South American players (Aguero, Jesus, Fernandinho, Firmino) could prove decisive in what will be a high tempo game. Coutinho has been left out of the Liverpool squad despite returning to fitness.

The Asian Handicap line favours Manchester City, but Liverpool’s counter attacking prowess could be key against a back line still finding their feet and Liverpool have the edge in previous encounters, being unbeaten in 7 of the last 8 meetings.

Suggestion: Liverpool +0.5 @ 2.05

Spanish Primera Liga
Barcelona vs. Espanyol (Saturday 7:45pm)
Sky Sports Football

Barcelona are perceived to be struggling after losing Neymar and not getting the players they desired in the transfer window. Dembele is expected to make his debut in this game after his £90m move from Dortmund, so pressure is likely to be high on him.

Suarez could return, though is not 100% fit and would be rushed back, while Barcelona have had many players in World Cup Qualifiers who didn’t return until Thursday/Friday. Tiredness could be a factor so the home side will look to have this game won early.

Espanyol are struggling defensively with Diego Lopez likely to miss out in goal though Victor Sanchez has been passed fit and will start, which will be vital in such a tough game. The expectation will be on Barcelona to make a positive statement and they will look for goals, with Espanyol capable of scoring but unlikely to truly test their hosts.

Suggestion: Over 3.5 goals @ 1.94

Italy Serie A
Lazio vs. Milan (Sunday 2:00pm)
BT Sport 3

Milan’s summer spending has seen them with a much stronger squad already and they seem to have gelled very quickly, winning all 6 games they have played so far conceding just 1 goal. Lazio were surprisingly held 0-0 by SPAL in their opening game but triumphed over Juventus in the Super Cup at the start of the season.

The loss of Keita Balde to Monaco for £27m is a loss for the hosts as is the prolonged absence of Filipe Anderson, though they are at full strength other than this. Nani is expected to begin on the bench. Milan are likely to be without Conti at right back, though Abate is an adequate replacement. Bonaventura could be fit enough for the bench, but Cutrone should keep his place up front after impressing, with Andre Silva and Kalinić offering real firepower in reserve.

Both sides will be looking to make a statement with a victory in this game, but almost as importantly neither will want to lose. This could result in a cagey match, with counter attacking football utilised, particularly if one goes ahead early. Milan have the options going forward to beat a generous line and will expect to return home with at least 1 point.

Suggestion: Milan +0.25 @ 1.854

 

*Odds accurate at time of writing

Weekend Review 23/05/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Liverpool 3-0 Middlesbrough (Sunday 3pm)
Klopp ensured that his side qualified for next season’s Champions League with a nervy win over Middlesbrough, which was affected by unfolding events at Arsenal. The first half was punctuated by shots from distance and told the story of a team struggling under pressure, with Liverpool racking up 11 chances in all, eight of which had an average conversion rate of just 2%. However, Wijnaldum came up big on the stroke of half time to completely change the atmosphere and the way the second half unfolded.

Having conceded, a Middlesbrough team with nothing left to hold onto and poor motivation quickly crumbled and were 3-0 down 11 minutes after the break. From there it was plain sailing for the hosts, who secured fourth place relatively easily in the end. All in all the campaign has to be considered a success for Klopp, though it looked as though it could promise so much more around Christmas time. Efficiency and the ability to break down opponents has been their major downfall, though they were not found wanting on this particular occasion. In terms of our suggestion we ended up with a slight positive, winning the handicap but losing half on the goals line, although our Analyst Fair Score believed us to be a little fortunate. Liverpool controlled it, but probably not to the extent of a 3-0.

Suggestion: Liverpool -2.25 @ 1.80 and Over 3.25 @ 1.92
Actual Outcome: 3-0 (+0.5)
Fair Outcome: 2-0 (-1.5)

English Premier League
Watford 0-5 Manchester City (Sunday 3pm)
This was one we had absolute conviction in after the news broke of Mazzarri’s departure from Watford, with Man City turning in some supreme attacking performances of late and still required to go for the win with Arsenal and Liverpool breathing down their necks. As soon as Kompany headed home five minutes in we were all set to chalk up a win, and the dam broke midway through the opening period with Guardiola’s side racing into a 0-4 lead by half-time having created 10 chances overall. Watford effectively gave up, as they have had the tendency to do all season when the going gets tough.

Whoever the new manager at Vicarage Road is has his work cut out for him, with Mazzarri and Sanchez Flores before him working minor miracles to have such comfortable campaigns. Motivation is key and it seems to us that a lot of the squad need a comforting arm around their shoulders. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that they started this game with Behrami and Holebas at centre-back, with 19-year-old Mason at left-back. Motivation is always key for City too, and they should have done much better than third this year.

Suggestion: Man City -1.75 @ 1.99
Actual Outcome: 0-5 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 0-4 (+1)

English Premier League
Arsenal 3-1 Everton (Sunday 3pm)
A game full of incident proved to be worth nothing, as both Liverpool and Man City won to make Arsenal’s task impossible. In an open game that got off to the best possible start with Bellerin giving the hosts the lead after just eight minutes, the most interesting event was Koscielny’s red card just six minutes later. He now misses the FA Cup Final but was not missed much here, with Arsenal going 2-0 up and dominating before Lukaku reduced the arrears near the hour mark.

Wenger also lost Gabriel to injury, which leaves him with a real headache for their date with Chelsea, but it made no real difference as Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners and could have won by a little bit more. Everton were largely abject, which was no great surprise given that they were marooned in seventh place and knew that any sort of positive result for them would have been a massive boon for city rivals Liverpool. We stayed out of this one, but missed a trick on the handicap.

Suggestion: N/A
Actual Outcome: 3-1 (N/A)
Fair Outcome: 4-1 (N/A) 

Spanish Primera Division
Malaga 0-2 Real Madrid (Sunday 7pm)
Real produced a decent enough performance to take the La Liga title, being helped on their way by a Ronaldo opener that came within two minutes of play beginning. To their credit Malaga didn’t just roll over and were a little hard done to with a two-goal defeat, at least according to our Spanish analyst, but the data shows that they probably deserved to score at least once – if not more than that. Real were happy to sit back after getting the lead, knowing that just a solitary point would be enough, but this led to Malaga having a massive 18 chances, five of which were significant. They actually out-shot Zidane’s men, showing one of the key failings of xG in its failure to account for game state and tactical approach. This game was the less interesting of the two key ones in Spain, but we were pleased to win.

Suggestion: Real Madrid -1.75 @ 1.81
Actual Outcome: 0-2 (+0.5)
Fair Outcome: 1-2 (-1)

Spanish Primera Division
Barcelona 4-2 Eibar (Sunday 7pm)
This was something of a classic and had a bit of everything, with events almost certainly impacted from the news coming in from Malaga. Eibar shocked Camp Nou by taking the lead just seven minutes in, catching the hosts with their guard down, but then impressively held on right through until the hour where they actually doubled the advantage. That’s when things got really interesting, though, with Messi and co. rallying to storm back to a stunning 4-2 win, though it was all for nought in the end due to Real’s comfortable win. This game also had one of the worst penalty awards ever seen, but for our part it never looked like being a huge win on the handicap for Enrique and his players.

Suggestion: Barcelona -3.25 @ 1.98
Actual Outcome: 4-2 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 4-2 (-1)

German Bundesliga 1
Hamburger SV 2-1 Wolfsburg (Saturday 2.30pm)
An enormous comeback win for Hamburg ensured their safety and condemned Wolfsburg to the relegation play-off. The tension was palpable throughout and it certainly impacted on the quality of football on display, with the game ultimately fortunate to go over the 2.5 goal line in the end. Hamburg always seemed to be holding something back but when they finally went for it they got the winner they needed, Waldschmidt heading home to send the home crowd crazy. Wolfsburg almost snatched a draw through Arnold after this, but Mathenia came up big with a great save to see his team through.

Suggestion: Over 2.5 @ 2.04
Actual Outcome: 2-1 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (-1)

Ones to Follow

German Bundesliga 1
Hoffenheim 0-0 Augsburg (Saturday 2.30pm)
Augsburg secured safety by fighting hard to get a scoreless draw from Hoffenheim, ensuring that their hosts finished fourth instead of third at the same time. Given that Dortmund won and Wolfsburg only lost by a single goal any other outcome was highly unlikely, making the unders a resounding winner.

Suggestion: Under 3.5 @ 1.93
Actual Outcome: 0-0 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 1-0 (+1)

German Bundesliga 1
Borussia Dortmund 4-3 Werder Bremen (Saturday 2.30pm)
With Hoffenheim dropping points Dortmund didn’t need to win this and at times they played as if they knew a point would be enough. They trailed on two occasions but woke up to take a deserved one-goal win, which unfortunately meant that our handicap selection never looked like paying off.

Suggestion: Borussia Dortmund -2 @ 1.80
Actual Outcome: 4-3 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 3-2 (-1)

Italian Serie A
Chievo 3-5 Roma (Saturday 5pm)
Roma kept their noses ahead of Napoli in the runners-up race with a thrilling win over Chievo, but only just beat the -1.75 handicap. The title has now gone with Juventus making short work of Crotone, but with Genoa visiting Rome next weekend they look set to wrap up second.

Suggestion: Roma -1.75 @ 1.81
Actual Outcome: 3-5 (+0.5)
Fair Outcome: 2-3 (-1)

Italian Serie A
Napoli 4-1 Fiorentina (Saturday 7.45pm)
Napoli are unstoppable at the moment and comfortably beat the market line here, though all of these resounding wins look unlikely to pay off with automatic qualification for the Champions League. It goes to the last day where they’ll go to Sampdoria and where we expect another big handicap allocation.

Suggestion: Napoli -1.75 @ 1.94
Actual Outcome: 4-1 (+1)
Fair Outcome: 3-0 (+1)

French Ligue 1
Olympique Marseille 1-0 Bastia (Saturday 8pm)
The visitors bowed out of Ligue 1 with a whimper, actually deserving to lose more heavily than they did and not creating a single chance of note in a game that they had to win in order to survive. Marseille wrapped up fifth in routine fashion, but missed Payet’s creativity.

Suggestion: Over 3 @ 1.83
Actual Outcome: 1-0 (-1)
Fair Outcome: 2-0 (-1)

French Ligue 1
Lorient 1-1 Bordeaux (Saturday 8pm)
Lorient slipped into the relegation play-off spot and Bordeaux ended the season stuck in sixth, though they will still hope that it will be enough for Europa League qualification. 1-1 was the fair result, although either side could have won it, with the point keeping the hosts’ survival chances alive.

Suggestion: Bordeaux 0.25 @ 1.80
Actual Outcome: 1-1 (+0.5)
Fair Outcome: 1-1 (+0.5)

12 Suggestions
Total Actual Outcome: +3
Total Fair Outcome: -4

Weekend Preview 19/05/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Liverpool vs. Middlesbrough (Sunday 3pm)
Sky Sports 1
With Chelsea champions and all of the issues at the bottom taken care of, all that we’re left with on the final day of the Premier League is the race for the top four. Liverpool currently occupy fourth spot, sitting one point ahead of Arsenal in fifth, and know that any sort of win against Middlesbrough will see them entering Europe’s premier club competition next season. They have made it very difficult for themselves, but they should get over the line against a poor Boro side.

The visitors will come and look to make it a nervy afternoon for Klopp’s men, playing the only way they really know how, but they’ve lost their motivation since being confirmed relegated and probably won’t have enough in the tank to hold out. Following a resounding 0-4 win at West Ham in their last outing the hosts will have plenty of confidence and look nicely suited to their new diamond shape. We can’t see anything other than a solid home win, but would love the handicap to be tighter.

Suggestion: Liverpool -2.25 @ 1.80 and Over 3.25 @ 1.92

English Premier League
Watford vs. Manchester City (Sunday 3pm)
Sky Sports 2
Watford would be very high up on a list of teams to choose to play on final day when needing any kind of positive result to guarantee Champions League football next season. This would be especially true of a Watford who have just announced that their manager is leaving at the end of the season, yet again. Although Guardiola would naturally prefer to be at home, this won’t faze him with the form his players are in.

The hosts again have serious issues at the back with Cathcart, Kabasele and Kaboul injured, while Prodl is suspended, but City come with an almost fully fit squad and can name the same sort of team that made short work of West Brom in midweek. We think going for the visitors to win by two clear goals is a relative no brainer as the pressure of the situation is the only significant thing going against them. Even before Mazzarri’s departure was announced Watford were one of the quickest sides to give up when things started going against them.

Suggestion: Man City -1.75 @ 1.99

English Premier League
Arsenal vs. Everton (Sunday 3pm)
No TV
Given that we have gone for both Liverpool and Man City to beat their handicaps, it’s safe to say that we don’t think Arsenal can end up taking a Champions League spot this season. Although we have to give them huge credit for taking it to the final day and making so much of their games in hand, our pre-season prediction of a fifth-placed finish still looks very good. To get ahead of Man City they need a tidy win and for City to lose at Watford, while they essentially still need to win and hope for Liverpool to slip up at home to Middlesbrough due to their poorer goal difference and goals scored.

This all seems highly unlikely to us and while the prospect of a play-off for the final Champions League spot is hugely appealing as a one-off spectacle, the 1-1 draw here and 0-2 win for Middlesbrough that is needed for that scenario is naturally a massive long shot. We think Arsenal will win, but the handicap is pitched just about right.

Suggestion: N/A

Spanish Primera Division
Malaga vs. Real Madrid (Sunday 7pm)
Sky Sports 1
We were quietly hoping for a Real wobble on Wednesday night, but at a Celta side who downed tools long ago it was never really likely to happen. As such the title race goes to the final day, but the balance is tilted very firmly in the favour of Ronaldo and company. They need just a solitary point to guarantee the title and while Malaga have hit great form to end the season, it would be a massive shock if that didn’t come to pass. Malaga are managed by Michel, who has significant ties to the Bernabeu, while two of their strongest back four are also absent. Zidane has everyone bar Carvajal and Bale available, making an unchanged side from their midweek romp very likely.

Suggestion: Real Madrid -1.75 @ 1.81

Spanish Primera Division
Barcelona vs. Eibar (Sunday 7pm)
Sky Go
This should be a procession for Barcelona, but it may not matter because if Real manage to take a point or three then they cannot prevent the title from ending up in Zidane’s hands. The hosts welcome back Pique and Roberto, leaving just Mascherano on the sidelines, while an Eibar side who have not scored in five out of their last size matches are completely full strength. Seeing the market at 4.5 total goals and with a -3.25 handicap on the home side is no surprise at all, with Barca racking up wins of 7-1, 3-0, 4-1 and 4-1 in their last four outings after scoring 3 in the Bernabeu. Eibar are good opponents for them, but even the expected huge win won’t be enough.

Suggestion: Barcelona -3.25 @ 1.98 

German Bundesliga 1
Hamburger SV vs. Wolfsburg (Saturday 2.30pm)
BT Sport 3
This is basically a relegation shootout, with Hamburg in need of a win to escape the play-off spot at the foot of the Bundesliga table. Wolfsburg are just two points ahead of them and interestingly will not necessarily be doomed if they lose narrowly and Augsburg go down hard at Hoffenheim. There is so much at play and a lot could come down to who handles the pressure better. If Wolfsburg go ahead then Hamburg have no choice but to go all out, while the same works the other way too. It will start cagily, but we can see goals.

Suggestion: Over 2.5 @ 2.04

Ones to Follow

German Bundesliga 1
Hoffenheim vs. Augsburg (Saturday 2.30pm)
BT Sport Extra
Augsburg are not out of the woods yet despite the two teams directly below them playing each other at the same time. If they lose heavily and Hamburg win narrowly, then they will be relegated. Hoffenheim are still fully motivated because they can usurp Dortmund and finish third for automatic entry to the Champions League, but even though goal difference could be a factor it is very unlikely to play a part on Saturday afternoon.

Suggestion: Under 3.5 @ 1.93

German Bundesliga 1
Borussia Dortmund vs. Werder Bremen (Saturday 2.30pm)
BT Sport Extra
Dortmund left the door ajar for Hoffenheim to sneak into third again last weekend, drawing 1-1 with relegation-threatened Augsburg. They are facing less motivated opponents here, thankfully for Tuchel, which means that it’s difficult to see anything other than a home win. Bremen still have an outside chance of a Europa League spot but the market gives them little chance of achieving it, setting the money line handicap at -2.25. We’ll nudge that down one.

Suggestion: Borussia Dortmund -2 @ 1.80

Italian Serie A
Chievo vs. Roma (Saturday 5pm)
BT Sport 3
There isn’t as much going on in Italy as there is in Germany, but the title race is not officially done yet and there is still a question over who takes the second automatic Champions League spot. Roma got a huge win over Juventus last time out and should get another victory to apply some pressure to Allegri’s men, moving within a point. Even without Dzeko they should be worth a couple of goals here.

Suggestion: Roma -1.75 @ 1.81

Italian Serie A
Napoli vs. Fiorentina (Saturday 7.45pm)
BT Sport 2
Napoli have the strongest form of the top three heading into the final two weekends and should relish the chance to get after a Fiorentina team missing three first choice players, two of whom have significant importance defensively. The hosts are again completely healthy and look so dangerous at the moment that they are impossible to go against, especially given that their motivation to take the final automatic Champions League spot will still be high.

Suggestion: Napoli -1.75 @ 1.94

French Ligue 1
Olympique Marseille vs. Bastia (Saturday 8pm)
BT Sport 3
The title is decided, but there are still issues to be resolved at the top and bottom of the table. Marseille and Bordeaux are going head-to-head for the final guaranteed Europa League spot, drawing 1-1 in the wine country last week, so Marseille have to win to be sure of taking it. Bastia have to take something to stand any chance of surviving, with a draw potentially enough to end in the relegation play-off spot.

Suggestion: Over 3 @ 1.83

French Ligue 1
Lorient vs. Bordeaux (Saturday 8pm)
Bet365
The only way Lorient can hope to finish outside of the relegation spots is by taking something, although their chances are hampered greatly with Ciani, Marveaux and top scorer Moukandjo all being ruled out. Bordeaux are only missing Pallois and will also go in search of victory, due to needing three points to take the last guaranteed Europa League place. Bordeaux are tough to beat and we think they’ll be the calmer of the two.

Suggestion: Bordeaux 0.25 @ 1.80

*Odds accurate at time of writing