Nearly 3 months into the season, the league tables are taking shape. Trends are forming that can be followed, and the sample sizes are no longer small enough to ignore. While some performances so far this season are either fortunate or unfortunate and likely to regress to the mean, some unexpected teams are legitimately high in the table. There still can be value is selecting these teams as they can be expected to continue their good form.
For this first weekly preview, we will focus on the Premier League, with further analysis of other matches in the top 4 English divisions. Each week, the focus will change depending on which divisions matches catch the eye.
Unquestionably the most significant talking point of the previous week’s fixtures was Leicester’s 9-0 demolition of Southampton at St Mary’s. While the final score obviously affected by Ryan Bertrand’s very early red card, it continues 2 significant trends from the season so far.
Firstly, Leicester are the real deal. Their performances this season have been reflective of their position in the top 3. Despite the result against Southampton, they have performed better at home, winning their last 4 matches after a 0-0 draw in their first home match against Wolves. They are on the road again this weekend; however, their price of 2.05 (21/20) appears reflective of a tricky trip on Sunday at Crystal Palace.
Secondly, Southampton has significant reverse splits, as they are performing much better away from home this season. Even excluding last week’s match against Leicester, they have taken 1 point from 4 home matches, scoring 4 and conceding 10. Away from home, they have taken 7 points from 5 games, including wins at Sheffield United and Brighton. They travel on Saturday to play Manchester City. While a much better performance would be expected, it would be a stretch to see them return from the Etihad without a defeat.
The two matches that catch the eye this weekend both involve newly promoted teams. Sheffield United have won near nationwide acclaim for their results and performances this season and host Burnley on Saturday. Despite losing three times at home this season from 5 matches, two of these were against Liverpool and Leicester. They have beaten Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Bramall Lane, both of which have gained more points away this season than Burnley.
Although Burnley are sat comfortably in 13th with 12 points from 10 games, they have not won away from Turf Moor this season in 5 matches. Therefore it would not be a surprise to see Sheffield United win this, at odds of around 2.30 (13/10).
The second match comes from the Amex Stadium, where Brighton & Hove Albion host Norwich City. Although Norwich finished above Sheffield United in the Championship, they have found the transition to the Premier League far more challenging than the Blades. Although part of this is due to their first team being ravaged by injuries, it is questionable whether the squad was bolstered enough to cope with the Premier League in the summer. Whatever the cause, they are not playing with the confidence or fluency of the team that won the Championship 6 months ago, having only scored 1 goal away from Carrow Road and picking up 1 point.
Brighton have made a solid start to the season under their new manager Graham Potter, and sit in 14th. 8 of their 12 points this season have been picked up at home, winning their last 2 home matches against Tottenham and Everton. It will be a major surprise if they don’t add another 3 points against Norwich. At odds of 1.75 (3/4), there isn’t a large amount of value, but they are worth backing.
The Championship appears wide open this year with the top half of the table separated by only 6 points. As a result, there are few matches where there are significant differences in talent, which helps to keep the odds higher. A more in-depth analysis will be done on the Championship next week.
The main bet that catches my eye this week is Cardiff vs Birmingham. Cardiff have not fared as well as expected following their relegation last season, sitting in 14th having not won in their previous 4 matches. However, they are showing much better form at home than away – they have not lost at the Cardiff City Stadium, whereas they have not won away.
Birmingham sit in 11th in the table, above their hosts but similarly to their hosts, show significant home and road splits. They have earned 16 of their 22 points at home; only Preston have gained more points from home matches than Birmingham. Although they have won twice away from St Andrews, Birmingham have struggled to score goals away, scoring 4 in 7 games.
As a result, at odds of around 2.37 (11/8), there is value in backing Cardiff to win.
Following Bury’s sad withdrawal from the football league earlier this season, there are only 11 matches on the card this weekend. The automatic promotion places are currently occupied by Ipswich and Wycombe, with managers of both clubs receiving deserved credit for the way they have led their clubs.
The two matches to catch the eye this week cover 4 teams in the crowded mid-table. Doncaster play Burton at the Keepmoat, with both sit in the top half but outside the playoffs. Doncaster have performed stronger in home matches, with Burton performing better away from the Pirelli Stadium. Doncaster’s 8 home matches have seen 21 goals combined (2.62 per game), and Burton’s 7 away games have seen 24 goals (3.43 per game). Therefore it would be a major surprise not to see both teams score in this match, and there is value in the odds of 7/10 of this occurring.
Secondly, Rotherham have struggled to string a consistent run of results together following their relegation from the Championship. However, their form away from the New York Stadium has been excellent; only Ipswich has earned more points on the road than Rotherham. They have won their last 2 away matches at Ipswich and Blackpool.
They travel to face Gillingham, who has won 3 times at home, but 2 of these wins were against Southend, who has struggled immensely this season, and pre-takeover Bolton. Given Rotherham’s excellent away form, there is good value in backing them to win at 2.3 (13/10).
This is another tightly bunched division, with the top 7 separated by only 3 points, and the next 11 teams separated by 5 points. Four of the top six are in action against each other, with Cheltenham hosting Forest Green, and Exeter travelling north to face Bradford. Both matches look too close to call, it would not be a surprise to see each game be a draw, or settled by a single goal either way.
The main match to focus on is Newport vs Salford. Having lost in the playoff final, Newport has shown no hangover effects, sitting 3 points off the lead in 7th. They have not been beaten in 8 matches at Rodney Parade, and 16 games dating back to last season. Salford have not lived up to market expectations following their promotion. They were close to being favourites to win the league in their first-ever season in the football league.
Future blogs will look at other teams in the top 4 divisions, as well as looks at the Scottish Premiership, the Vanarama National League, and international leagues featured on the app. The app is available on both Apple and Android devices, please download today! If you have any feedback, suggestions or any other questions, please feel free to email the team on [email protected], and we will be in touch as soon as possible.
The prices quoted in the analysis are from Sportingbet. Sportingbet is the world’s leading Sports betting, Casino, Poker and Games provider. Sign up today with this link to get a risk free £10 bet. The prices quoted in the article were correct at the time of writing and may have fluctuated since.
While this is undoubtedly influenced by the owners of Salford, which is 50% owned by the famed Manchester United “Class of ’92” and 50% owned by a billionaire, this creates a significant market inefficiency. On the road, Salford have won 2 of 8 matches, losing heavily in their only game against a top 7 team on the road (4-1 at Crewe). Salford has typically been overbet this season, and Newport look good value at 2.2 (6/5) to win.