Ahead of the ninth round of Premier League fixtures, Joe Townsend has some Punting Pointers based on the trends that have emerged so far this season.
The arrival of another international break gave us the chance to step back and properly assess what should and shouldn't be making our staking plan in 2020/21, without the pressure of pinning those ideas to a specific fixture.
The pressure is back on now though, as in a few days' time the top-flight action will be back under way.
Last week's general trends piece forms the perfect starting point for us to pick out some matchday nine winners, but there are some new arrivals too with a helping hand from the Sporting Life team.
Mark your card... or don't
This is very much a moveable feast as we continue to get to grips with the card trends of the behind-closed-doors era, but I like what we gleaned from last week's analysis strongly enough to take the plunge this weekend.
Matchdays seven and eight saw a huge concentration of bookings on a small number of fixtures, with the remaining 13 sharing 21 yellow cards between them. Only one of the seven high-booking games was neither a local derby, nor a fixture between what could reasonably be considered direct rivals. Middle-of-the-road matches tended to involve 0-3 yellow cards.
Looking through this weekend's games, Spurs v Manchester City, Liverpool v Leicester and Wolves v Southampton are the only fixtures between teams realistically looking to be competing in the same vicinity of the table come May.
Optimistic Leeds fans could argue their clash with Arsenal falls into that bracket, while pessimistic Villa supporters might class their meeting with Brighton as a relegation contest; Palace's trip to Burnley and West Ham's match at Sheffield United could be pegged as that too. I'd class those last three as having under 30 booking points potential but they'd need closer examination.
Wolves and Liverpool (seven), West Brom, Tottenham and Chelsea (eight) are the current bottom five for bookings, with a two-card gap to those above. A line goes through Wolves, Liverpool and Spurs based on their opponents, which brings us to West Brom's trip to bad boys Manchester United, for an encounter that has 30+ booking points written all over it.
Newcastle v Chelsea is our game. The Magpies are up their in the bookings stakes, but it's seven matches since they received more than two. The Blues meanwhile have managed to avoid a yellow card on five occasions in all competitions.
Newcastle's record means this could provide some juicy odds, further enhanced by Craig Pawson's appointment as referee.
The man from South Yorkshire has dished out plenty of cards this term, but eight came in Arsenal v Leicester, hugely skewing his average. His tendency to be handed high-profile games helps lift that overall number too, with four yellows awarded in Liverpool v Arsenal and Man City v Liverpool.
But his two 'run-of-the-mill' games? Which is what we care about. Bingo: Brighton v Chelsea (1), Newcastle v Man Utd (2).
Saturday lunchtime at St James' is where the value should lie when the markets go live.
Foxes déjà vu
We've been here before, Leicester are being underpriced to spring a shock.
I cannot promise that this recommendation will see the Foxes romp to victory at Anfield as in the fashion they did by thrashing Manchester City 5-2, days after we highlighted the startling prices on offer via this very column, but we can point you towards what is unquestionable value.
Liverpool deserve to be huge favourites. The Premier League champions equalled their club record of 63 home league games unbeaten by beating West Ham last time out, but with that comes the pressure of being 90 minutes from history.
That though, is just the glaze on top of the cherry on top of the icing in terms of what is in Leicester's favour this weekend.
The Reds' injury crisis has been well documented, but it has severely worsened over the international break. Andy Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Mo Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold (technically in the final seconds before the break) are now sidelined, while Joe Gomez has been ruled out for most of the season following knee surgery.
But Jurgen Klopp's team remain odds-on for victory against a Leicester side top of the table, on a six-game winning streak and with a 100% away record on the road in all competitions this season.
Brendan Rodgers' team simply have to be worth backing in some capacity, with an away win 3/1, the draw 14/5 and double chance at a fraction shorter than evens in places.
A controversial James Milner penalty deep in stoppage time secured Liverpool a 2-1 win last term, the season prior their Anfield meeting finished 1-1, and in 2017/18 Mo Salah's late strike gave Liverpool a come-from-behind 2-1 victory.
Call me a wimp, but I would probably go with the draw and love the 8/1 on offer for it finish 1-1.
But I cannot deny that Leicester to win 1-0 (16/1), 2-1 (14/1) and 3-1 (30/1) are mouthwatering prices given the threadbare defence the home side could be forced to put it out.
Chelsea's flying full-backs
This is a general trend, being sharply focused for use on one club.
Full-backs/wing-backs have loved getting on the scoresheet in the Premier League this season, and when it happened in half the fixtures on matchday seven it was enough for me to keep it noted down as something to seriously back.
Centre-halves have been pretty prolific in the top flight too this term, but while their goalscorer odds are being cut, the exploits of full-backs/wing-backs are essentially being written off.
Chelsea are the club I really like for this punt, especially against a Newcastle side that will sit deep. Ben Chilwell and Reece James will be needed to provide that extra support for overloads to try and break down a stubborn defence, and are likely to also get the odd opportunity to fire a shot in from distance.
Chilwell, who has quickly recovered after limping off midway through England's defeat by Belgium, gave an interview this week detailing how his role has changed at Chelsea since joining from Leicester in the summer. He is now encouraged to attack the back post like a winger, rather than hang back and look to get the ball back into the box if it spills out.
Both his goals for the Blues this season, against Palace and Sheffield United, have come from doing exactly that.
James hasn't scored since lashing in from distance against Brighton on opening weekend, but has gone close plenty of times. He is a regular taker of Chelsea's direct free-kicks too, boosting his chances of scoring.
I particularly like the 33/1 e.w. odds with bet365 on Chilwell to score first at St James' but James' 25/1 with Sky Bet aren't bad either. With the respective anytime prices of 12/1 and 10/1 you could do a lot worse than to back them each-way, especially given how Chelsea have made mincemeat of teams determined to sit in and frustrate.
The usually stoic defences of Palace, Burnley and Sheffield United were hammered 4-0, 3-0 and 4-1. West Brom tried to defend a half-time 3-0 lead, and it ended it all square.
I can't see a Newcastle side who eventually succumbed 4-1 at home to Manchester United being any more successful.
- SAFE TO BACK UNDERS
After a high-scoring start to the season, 31 of the past 40 matches have involved under 3.5 goals, and 25 of the past 30. Sheffield United and Wolves remain our go-to teams, but it's a highly reliable market at the moment.
Look past the Blades' 4-1 thrashing by Chelsea last time out, and 47 of their previous 50 matches had involved under 3.5 goals. For Wolves, it's now 19 from 22 for under 2.5.
- PENALTY INSANITY
One to watch in case there has been a meeting of minds over the international break, and we suddenly see a drop in numbers. Since 2006/07 there have been between 80 and 106 penalties awarded every season; at the current rate we're on for 200.
There have been 41 already and we have had only 78 fixtures, so backing a designated penalty-taker to score puts things further in your favour, especially if they happen to be midfielders like Southampton's James Ward-Prowse or Leeds' Mateusz Klich, whose price isn't anywhere near as short as a 20-goal striker with spot-kick duties.
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