As Super Sundays go, and Bank Holidays to boot, this week’s fixture list is hardly edifying for punters, spectators or armchair viewers. Middlesbrough travel to West Brom in what is surely set to be a low-scoring affair, while Man City welcome an injury-ravaged West Ham.
That said, there should be plenty of betting value to be had from two games that look pretty straightforward to call.
1:30pm – West Brom vs Middlesbrough
It is easy to undervalue West Brom as a betting proposition. They very rarely seem to win football matches, and just about scrape by for another year in English football’s top flight. With Tony Pulis’ rather pragmatic approach to the game, the Baggies are the forgotten men of any punter’s weekend.
And yet they deserve credit. On a shoestring budget they continuously over-achieve, and they have that gnawing habit of being the Premier League’s ultimate ‘coupon buster’. Write them off at your peril.
Speaking of over-achievement, just look at Middlesbrough’s early form. Unbeaten in two, they were exceptional at times against Sunderland in their 2-1 win, and perhaps deserved to beat Stoke in their opener as well. The canny management stylings of Aitor Karanka are paying dividends.
What are punters to do here then? It certainly has the feel of a game that could go either way, and will probably be settled by a single goal as result. Most will write off West Brom, but here’s a side who are once again performing to a level greater than the sum of their parts; pundits are falling over themselves to praise Everton at the moment, and yet the Baggies matched them for large parts of their encounter.
Middlesbrough average just 4.50 shots per game from inside the penalty area – the sixteenth lowest total in the division, and while players like Stuani are capable of finding the net from range, ultimately that low turnover of shots on goal could be a problem.
We have to go with Under 2.5 Goals in this one, although at a best price of 1/2 with SkyBet that’s hardly anything to get excited about. Both Teams to Score (No) is slightly more enticing at 31/40 with BetVictor.
If you own a Betway account then the Winning Margin – One Goal market looks a smart investment at 23/20, and to counteract that we can take the draw at 11/5 with Betfred.
4pm – Man City vs West Ham
Pep Guardiola’s introduction to English football has been as smooth as silk: a home opener against Sunderland is always handy for an early morale-boosting victory, while Stoke’s lack of ambition belied their genuine problems in defending at the moment. Two games, two wins for Pep, and he’ll be hoping to make that three here.
An injury crisis has ripped the heart out of West Ham’s attacking options, and it was only endeavour and belief that saw them past Bournemouth on Sunday. Without Andy Carroll and Dimitri Payet, they really do lack a cutting edge.
Expect City to have plenty of possession here, and while there have been a few teething problems with Guardiola’s new tactics they showed in the 4-1 demolition of Stoke that they are more than capable of doing some serious damage in the final third.
We were bemused to see Man City with a -1 handicap at a very generous price here (4/5 with Betfair) considering the facts, and even accounting for a West Ham goal City have more than enough firepower to net three times or more at the City of Manchester Stadium. In fact, with the form Sergio Aguero is in he could clear that handicap on his own….
It’s a speculative punt admittedly, but backing the Argentine in the First Goalscorer market also looks wise. He has netted six in three this term already, so who is more likely to put the ball in the net? At 5/2 with Paddy Power, little persuasion is required.