Our betting expert Jones Knows puts forward three bets for the weekend; watch Liverpool vs Leicester live on Sky Sports; Play Super 6 Extra to win £5,000!
Saturday 21 November 2020 21:30, UK
Our tipster is waiting on a Liverpool win for a 7/1 double after Tottenham did the business at Man City - why does he fancy them so strongly vs Leicester?
Excuse me for sounding like a football manager under pressure, but fine margins have been at work, hindering a potentially profitable start to the season.
To follow on from Bukayo Saka (18/1 first goalscorer vs Manchester United) striking a ball just a little bit too hard over the crossbar, Fulham left me mouthing utter filth in their direction after some questionable penalty-taking decision-making against West Ham left me agonisingly adrift of a 14/1 winner.
Quite why Fulham's sweetest striker of a ball in Tom Cairney allowed Ademola Lookman to step up for their last-minute penalty should be a matter of national debate. If Cairney took and scored the penalty, we'd have landed. Instead, the poor lad Lookman made himself a Panenka legend, but for all the wrong reasons.
However, less said about the Aymeric Laporte to score (0.5pt at 50/1, 1pt on a shot on target 11/2) inspired bet the better in Manchester City's draw with Liverpool. Both teams decided to play a third of the game akin to a glorified tea party. City won just one corner in the match - their lowest amount in a home game for five years - as Laporte was offered no attacking bait to feast on.
Liverpool's deficiency in defending set-pieces without their first-choice rearguard does remain an angle to keep up our sleeves, although Leicester will struggle to get anywhere near their goal this weekend. Onto that shortly.
In better news, in my stint providing predictions, I managed to stumble across Scotland to win on penalties at 14/1 and Aston Villa to beat Arsenal at 4/1 in recent weeks. Every blind squirrel finds a nut eventually. You can read this week's ramblings here.
Remember, whatever I tip, I back, we're in this together.
20/21 P+L = -6.5
Let's be honest, many of the stats we love to consume are worthless when it comes to spotting betting angles. But sometimes they are just too good to ignore.
How about this one?
"Leicester City have created the least amount of chances per game from open play in the Premier League this season."
Fewer than Burnley. Fewer than West Brom. But Leicester City are top of the Premier League. Brain frazzled, eh?
Of course, there are many ways to skin a cat in football and winning penalties - Leicester have won seven already this season - is an important skill to possess with VAR in full flow. But an average of just 5.1 chances created from open play per-90 minutes isn't sustainable in terms of Leicester being a genuine title contender. And despite Liverpool's injury woes (Leicester have them too, by the way), Brendan Rodgers' side could be in for a reality check at Anfield.
With problems with personnel in defence, Jurgen Klopp is likely to undertake the "attack is the best form of defence" philosophy and there's still enough quality in the form of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota to trust Liverpool to get the job done. When the two clubs met last season, Liverpool won both matches and dominated the shot count 32-5 over the two games. There is a gulf in class. I simply can't resist the temptation of backing a team to win and have 16 or more shots at 11/4 that are unbeaten in 63 home league games against much inferior opposition.
I'm also happy to advise, with a degree of confidence, the 7/1 on offer for both Tottenham and Liverpool to win this weekend.
Good luck, comrades.
Over the past three seasons, no team get backed like Manchester City do in the betting markets. And as results have shown, it's usually money well placed. However, the time may have come where the Pep Guardiola revolution is starting to fall away from the curve.
The signs have been there in the declining performance metrics and can be seen too with the naked eye. The intensity is down, Guardiola himself seems to have lost a bit of his edge during his press duties and City aren't strangling teams like they used to - many are putting it down to the lack of pre-season factor, but it may run deeper than just that.
When Tottenham beat City 2-0 in February my colleagues Ben Grounds and Gerard Brand wrote an article calling the situation the "most testing period of Guardiola's time in management." Nine months on and Guardiola, with another Champions League crumble to his name and no closer to overhauling Liverpool, remains locked in that area of challenge. After the draw with Liverpool, this season remains his worst start to a season after seven games in his managerial career. The news of him signing a new contract came as a surprise.
So, what is to blame?
The answer may be found in their attacking metrics, which have nosedived this season. A return of just 10 goals from their seven matches tells most of the story but are they just missing chances? Well, the answer is no. The underlying numbers paint a dim picture of City's performances in forward areas.
All the key metrics for attacking processes are way below the standards of previous seasons. As the table below identifies, City are not only failing to create as many big chances, the location of their possession is deeper that previous seasons as shown by the touches in the opposition box figure.
A slight change to a more reserved, defensive-focused style could be a reason for their plummeting attacking numbers but there is a chance we are in the midst of City's decline under Guardiola. Yet, the betting markets remain very strong on their chances. They are being priced up like the City of old - as showcased by the 4/5 about their chances of beating Tottenham on Saturday. It's a price I wouldn't even touch with Monopoly money.
A return of 17 points from their eight games is perfectly aligned with their performance metrics. If keeping to this level, Spurs will be top four challengers this season, maybe even title contenders in a below-average year. Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son are a world-class and prolific partnership. I have no problems with their skills carrying my cash.
As Paul Merson said after Tottenham's win at West Brom, Mourinho is not here to entertain, but to win. With that philosophy in place, the early season attack-minded football has been replaced by a more typical Mourinho-like edge of winning games by a one-goal margin.
Spurs have won their last three Premier League games by such a scoreline - it's a something Mourinho managed teams are famed for. He once went seven Premier League games on the spin winning by one goal when Chelsea roared to the title in 2015 and in 88 games against 'big six' sides, he's won by a one-goal margin 21 times, a healthy 25 per cent strike rate. When Mourinho edges ahead, that's when he calls for the bus.