Liam Kelly previews table-toppers Bournemouth's trip to Luton, expecting a tighter match-up than the prices suggest.
1.5pts Under 2.5 Goals at 5/6 (BetVictor)
Table-toppers Bournemouth have the chance to extend their lead over Fulham in the early game on Saturday, but that task will be far from straightforward for the Cherries at Kenilworth Road.
Although Luton sit in 16th place in the table, their underlying numbers tell a different story, unfortunate not to be higher in the table and possessing one of the best defensive units in the Championship.
Scott Parker's side might well look a solid bet at the prices to many based solely on league positions, but a tight affair beckons in the early kick-off.
As mentioned, the Hatters are a tough nut to crack, holding the second-lowest expected goals against total (23.6 xGA). Only Fulham have been better in that metric (22.9 xGA).
Luton have displayed that same form recently, too, faring well — at least from a data perspective — against some tough opposition.
Nathan Jones' men have recorded an average of 0.84 xGA per game over the course of their last seven league fixtures, which includes games against form teams such as Middlesbrough, QPR, Nottingham Forest, Blackburn and Fulham.
As a result, UNDER 2.5 GOALS makes appeal at a shade of odds-on.
Bournemouth may well be over their pre-Christmas blip, winning their last two Championship matches against QPR and Cardiff to nil (0.45 and 1.04 xGA respectively), but it's not difficult to envisage the pattern of this game edging Luton's way, especially with the league leaders on the road.
The Cherries hold only a +2.5 expected goal difference (xGD) on their travels, and, although there has been an underperformance on underlying metrics, just 22 goals have been scored in Bournemouth's 13 away games.
That's an average of 1.69 goals per game.
At almost a pick 'em price (5/6), two goals or fewer is the value bet in this match-up, with Luton expected to give the automatic promotion-chasers a headache.
Score prediction: Luton 1-1 Bournemouth (Sky Bet odds: 5/1)
Odds correct at 1130 GMT (13/01/22)
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