Ahead of the fifth round of Premier League fixtures, the Sporting Life team have some punting pointers based on the trends we've seen so far.
An international break just four weeks in gave us the opportunity to digest a relentless opening month of the 2020/21 season. While there may have been only four rounds of fixtures, the new normal of kick-off times spread out across the entire weekend, allied with the Carabao Cup's new pre-Christmas position in the schedule has made things pretty hectic.
And that's without even mentioning Champions League and Europa League qualifying, and a longer transfer window that actually doesn't really close until this coming Friday.
As the Premier League Express prepares to roll back into town, let's give some focus to the general trends identified in last week's column and try and pick some winners for matchday five.
Leeds love a tackle
I will be saying this one until I'm blue in the face, or at least until the prices are no longer inviting.
This is one from last week's general trends piece and it stacks up for Leeds United's home fixture with Wolves in Monday Night Football. It's pointless going into fine detail again, the important thing is the Leeds tackle count game-by-game: Liverpool (34), Fulham (22), Sheffield United (13), Manchester City (27).
Ahead of their meeting with Sheffield United we advised against a tackle bet but this week that's not the case.
Wolves' 3-1 home defeat by Manchester City on the second weekend of the season gives us a good indicator of how this contest might play out. Not because Leeds are as good as City, but because they press at least as much - Nuno's team made 25 tackles themselves while Man City made 22.
Wolves' three other opponents - Sheff Utd (16), West Ham (24) and Fulham (14) - certainly haven't flagged in that department, taking their opposing team's average to 19 per game.
To expect Leeds to make 20+ tackles really isn't a big ask and yet it's been odds-against in every game - 27+ tackles delivered at 6/1 against City.
When the market opens, take the low 20s option.
A winner in our most recent Premier League: Saturday tips was Tom Carnduff's suggestion to back Luke Ayling at 11/4 to make 4+ tackles against Man City. The Leeds right-back has been remarkably consistent this term, making at least four in every game, and 19 in total.
Should he be available at anything above 2/1 then take that bet again. A player to avoid though, is Stuart Dallas.
While the Northern Irishman is just three behind his full-back colleague in the tackle count, Wolves' 3-4-3 / 3-5-2 system means it's likely Marcelo Bielsa will switch to a back three and move Dallas into midfield.
In his games at left-back he’s made seven, five and four tackles. In his solitary outing as a midfielder, he made none.
Mark your card
Goals were the main talking point during the first four weeks of the Premier League season but there is value in the cards market - with a total of 115 shown across the 38 games so far.
Of course, it depends on the referee in charge with some more strict than others. Stuart Attwell has shown 13 yellow cards in two games while Michael Oliver has only dished out eight in four. However, despite the official, some players can consider themselves lucky they haven't been carded more.
The one who stands out is Brighton midfielder Steven Alzate, who picked up a card in their most recent defeat at Everton. He sits second in the Premier League for average fouls per game with 3.5 but that average has been dragged down by the fact he didn't commit one in the opening day defeat to Chelsea.
Since then, there have been four fouls against both Newcastle and Everton with a huge total of six in the loss at home to Manchester United. The fact that Alzate completed four successful tackles in that game highlights his involvement on the defensive side of things.
It's remarkable that he avoided a card against United considering the referee and the six yellow cards shown in the contest. Judging by his start of the season, he's going to be a player to watch out for in the cards markets, which is helped by the appointment of Attwell for Brighton's 'derby' match with Crystal Palace.
Few bookmakers have a cards market live yet for Sunday's fixture, but Unibet are currently offering 5/2 for the Colombian to be shown a card.
Elsewhere, West Ham's Tomas Soucek is due a card based on his record so far. He's yet to be cautioned by the referee but averages 3.3 fouls per game; they have been spread more evenly across the four games in comparison with Alzate.
He had a season high of five against Arsenal while there were three in each contest against Newcastle and Wolves. Their most recent victory over Leicester, where the Foxes failed to create any real attack of note, saw Soucek still commit two fouls.
The midfielder is a great player to watch in the stats markets due to the fact he contributes in the shots department; there were a total of five against Wolves and every game has seen at least two.
Paul Tierney has been appointed as referee for the Hammers' trip to local rivals Tottenham on Sunday. In the three matches he's overseen this season, Tierney has dished out five yellows and a red.
Soucek is certainly worth a look at Unibet's 9/2 price because he is a player who has done well to avoid a card so far.
A version of this article from Tom Carnduff first appeared in Premier League: Punting Pointers on 6/10/20
Take a chance on defenders
We all love a high price, small stake punt that feels great when it lands and we lose absolutely no sleep over if it doesn't.
Another I delved into detail over in last week's column, now it's about using that knowledge to pick out the best opportunities for a Hollywood anytime goalscorer.
To give a little context without all of last week's information, there has been a 40% increase in goals in the Premier League this season and quite incredibly there has been a perfectly proportionate increase in goals from defenders. Crucially for us, prices haven't really been adjusted for them, more for the attacking players.
Our perfect combination is a poor defensive team, especially at set-pieces and, of course, a high price.
Where else to start but Fulham and West Brom, who have conceded a combined 24 goals already this season. More than half of their fixtures have seen opposing defenders find the net.
Chris Basham is 16/1 to score for Sheffield United against Fulham. He would've netted against Villa had he not been brought down in the box when bearing down on goal earlier in the season, but he's that big of a price because he hasn't scored since 2018/19 - a campaign in which he found the net four times.
But the man to back for the Blades is John Egan at 12/1. The Irishman scored twice in their final six matches last term and is always a threat from set-plays.
For West Brom's opponents Burnley, the prices for defenders to score are a surprise given their reputation for set-piece goals.
Jimmy Dunne and James Tarkowski are 14/1, despite Dunne scoring in their opening game at Leicester, while captain Ben Mee is an astonishing 22/1; he's expected to return from injury for the Baggies' visit.
Long-term stand-in Kevin Long is also available at that astronomical price.
My advice would be to take small stakes to both now - no-one should be in the 20s to score against West Brom.
Away from the defensively calamitous Cottagers, and appalling Albion what might surprise you is that Leicester and Brighton join them in having conceded the most goals (four) from set-pieces so far this term.
Leicester face an Aston Villa side that sensationally thumped Liverpool 7-2 last time out to make it three straight wins to start the season. Incredibly though, no defender was on the scoresheet.
Prior to that crazy night at Villa Park seven of their ten post-lockdown goals had been scored from set-pieces, five of which had come from defenders. Ezri Konsa is 22/1 which is just beyond fathomable when the centre-back has scored twice in six Premier League games.
Centre-half partner Tyrone Mings has also netted this season and to be honest his 14/1 isn't to be sniffed at either; the Konsa price must be taken though.
As for Brighton's opponents Crystal Palace, Cheikhou Kouyate has been playing at centre-back this season and headed in from a corner against Everton on matchday three.
Palace have had to use a makeshift backline so far this term, but that could be about to change with positive news over the injury recoveries of Gary Cahill, Patrick van Aanholt and James Tomkins.
Mamadou Sakho has displaced Scott Dann as the only recognised centre-back in the team, and every name mentioned is available between 17 and 35/1 to score against the Seagulls.
In what is an unlikely, bitter rivalry, expect this match to be tight and perhaps settled by a set-piece goal.
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