Mark O'Haire best bets

Mark O'Haire's football betting tips, best bets and nap: Wembley weekend

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  • Mark is -5.61pts for the 23/24 season

Football betting tips: Weekend

3pts Man City to win and Under 4.5 goals vs Man Utd at 10/11 (Sky Bet)

2.5pts Portland Timbers vs Sporting Kansas City - BTTS and Over 2.5 Goals at 11/10 (Sky Bet)

2.5pts Leeds vs Southampton – Under 2.5 Goals at evens (Sky Bet)

  • The above are enhanced prices with a £25 max stake

Leeds vs Southampton

The Championship play-off final is dubbed ‘the most valuable match in world football’ with promotion to the Premier League boosting the winners’ coffers by at least £170m, and the magnitude of the match can often cripple clubs on their big day at Wembley.

Perhaps unsurprisingly with so much at stake, Championship play-off finals are rarely high-scoring affairs. Since the famous Sunderland 4-4 Charlton play-off final 26 years ago, 17 (68%) Championship curtain-closers have reached the 90-minute mark with fewer than three goals - 52% of those 25 encounters produced no more than a solitary strike.

Meanwhile, only six of the past 23 finals have paid out for Both Teams To Score backers, highlighting the value in going against the grain and opposing goals.

With that in mind, I’m happy to back UNDER 2.5 GOALS here at even money with the odds implying just a 50% chance of a low-goal game despite the rarity of a Championship play-off final shootout.

Portland Timbers vs Sporting Kansas City

Major League Soccer continues to provide plenty of entertainment in 2024. Across both conferences, the Stateside division is boasting a 2.94 goals per-game average with 59% of contests featuring Over 2.5 Goals winners and 64% of matches delivering Both Teams To Score profit; I’m eager to support a repeat in Portland on Saturday night.

The Timbers are only three points off the bottom in the West, winning just three of their opening 14 fixtures. Nevertheless, Portland’s goals record is fascinating – only Real Salt Lake, the leaders in the West, have scored more than the Timbers’ 26-goal tally, whilst only rock-bottom San Jose have conceded more than their 29 goals against thus far.

Matches involving Portland are averaging an enormous 3.93 goals per-game with the hosts still searching for their maiden shutout but managing to get on the scoresheet themselves in 12 of 14 fixtures. That’s seen the BTTS wager pay-out in 12/14 matches with all bar two of those tussles also covering the Over 2.5 mark – 64% of dates even went Over 3.5.

Second-bottom Kansas City arrive having tabled only two triumphs in 13. However, the visitors have also grabbed at least one goal in 11 of those showdowns, recording a solitary clean sheet along the way, leading to 11/13 BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE winners – combining a repeat alongside OVER 2.5 GOALS therefore holds plenty of appeal at here.

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Manchester City vs Manchester United

Manchester City recorded a historic fourth successive Premier League title last weekend and it’s difficult to oppose the Citizens on Saturday as they go in search of another domestic double. Pep Guardiola’s group ran out cushy 3-0 and 3-1 winners when facing Manchester United in league action this season with dominant displays arriving in each victory.

Across the two EPL tussles, Man City won the expected goals (xG) battle 6.50 to 1.20. The shot count was 48-10 in City’s favour with the Citizens racking up 18 on-target efforts, 29 attempts from inside the penalty box, 27 corners and 111 touches inside the Man Utd penalty area (the Red Devils accumulated just 25 of their own across the two games).

The defending champions arrive in fearsome form – winning nine successive Premier League showdowns, striking three times or more on seven occasions. In contrast, Erik ten Hag’s underdogs continue to produce chaotic and ramshackle defensive performances, hemorrhaging goals, and conceding chances and corners by the lorryload.

MAN CITY are understandably short-priced favourites yet we can back the Citizens at a generous price when including UNDER 4.5 GOALS – only two of the past 26 FA Cup finals have produced five goals or more, whilst just one FA Cup final since 1979 has seen a team succeed in a match that’s featured five goals or more.

Odds correct at 1230 BST (23/05/24)

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