Fresh from tipping Harry Maguire to score a header at 20/1, Jones Knows is back to preview the four midweek Premier League encounters.
Burnley vs Tottenham, Wednesday 7.30pm – Watch free highlights of this game shortly after FT
Despite both these teams securing fantastic wins at the weekend you get the feeling this will be a cautious game. Both will be looking to protect their defence first and foremost before being clinical with their chances up the other end. In their last nine fixtures with teams in the top eight, Burnley have seen eight of those matches fall under the 2.5 goal line.
The presence of Eric Dier should help to keep Burnley away from the Tottenham goal and keep the scores down too.
In nine games where Dier has started in the Premier League as the central defender in a back three, Spurs are unbeaten (W6, D3) and have conceded just six goals, keeping five clean sheets. And that run includes matches against Liverpool and Man City. With Harry Kane in top form, Spurs certainly have the edge in both boxes and they can win a tight encounter.
That’s not my angle of attack though. My eyes are drawn to the cards market, where I want to back a card-friendless game involving two teams that are likely to sit off one another. Only Liverpool commit less fouls per 90 minutes than Burnley (8.5), while Tottenham are averaging just over 10.5 per game since Antonio Conte took charge which is below the overall average of all Premier League teams.
The overall card count per 90 minutes in matches involving both teams since Conte took charge has this game averaging about 2.8 cards but that can be lowered slightly when assessing Burnley’s home games against teams challenging for the European spots.
In the last 13 fixtures that fit that criteria every game has produced three cards or fewer. That’s why I’m happy to back under 40 match booking points (10 for a yellow, 25 for a red) at 5/6 with Sky Bet.
SCORE PREDICTION: 0-1 | BETTING ANGLE: Back under 40 booking points (5/6 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)
Watford vs Crystal Palace, Wednesday 7.30pm – Watch free highlights of this game shortly after FT
I remain lukewarm about backing Crystal Palace to win football matches when fancied by the markets. In their last 14 games, they’ve landed the odds twice and have won just one of their last 14 away matches – at Manchester City of all places. Watford, under former Palace boss Roy Hodgson, will be making Palace work for this victory, so swerving the match result market in what looks set to be a cagey, low scoring affair looks the way to go.
Hodgson should have an edge here having worked with most of the Palace players. And I will be stunned if he’s not encouraging his players to ruffle the feathers of Wilfried Zaha. The Palace winger plays on the edge more so now than ever with his prickly reactions to getting fouled leaving him vulnerable to an aggressive coming together with the opposition. Confrontation follows Zaha around, especially when playing against Watford. He has been booked in all five appearances at Vicarage Road where the crowd are happy to dish out some special treatment.
He was shown a yellow card for simulation in a 1-1 Premier League draw vs Watford in 2016 and then became engaged in a heated exchange with Watford mascot Harry the Hornet who mocked him by diving to the ground. I’ll be backing Zaha to be the first man carded at 12/1 and to receive a card at 16/5 with Sky Bet.
SCORE PREDICTION: 1-1 | BETTING ANGLE: Wilfried Zaha to be carded (16/5 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)
Liverpool vs Leeds, Wednesday 7.30pm – Watch free highlights of this game shortly after FT
So, the gap could be down to just three.
Even a cynical old goat like me is starting to become a little excited over the prospect of Manchester City and Liverpool going at it between now and May.
There shouldn’t be too many problems on the horizon here for Liverpool either. I’m actually afraid for a Leeds defence that has conceded an average of three goals per game over the last 10 Premier League fixtures. Gulp.
Leeds showed yet again at the weekend that they can’t be trusted defending set-pieces properly and no team has scored more goals from corners than Liverpool this season (11). So, it really doesn’t take a genius to decipher backing the Liverpool centre-backs to score is a fine angle of attack. Virgil van Dijk is the obvious starting point but I’d much rather back Joel Matip at a bigger price in the anytime market at 17/2 with Sky Bet as he actually averages a higher return in shots, expected goals and touches in the opposition box per 90 minutes than the Dutchman.
SCORE PREDICTION: 4-1 | BETTING ANGLE: Joel Matip to score (17/2 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!)
Arsenal vs Wolves, Thursday 8.15pm – Watch free highlights of this game shortly after FT
Wolves have another chance to seriously throw their hat into the ring for the top-four race here. I said the same in the corresponding fixture which Arsenal won 1-0, but two straight wins for Bruno Lage’s men have kept hopes of a European adventure very much alive.
Arsenal are perhaps a tad short in the market at 4/6 for the home win considering Wolves have beaten Tottenham, Manchester United and Southampton away from home this season without conceding.
I’ve got my eye on Bukayo Saka opening the scoring in what is likely to be a low-scoring affair settled by a moment of inspiration.
Saka is becoming Arsenal’s go-to guy in the final third. Since December 17 no player in the Premier League has averaged a better goals per game ratio than him with a return of a goal every 0.92 games. Those five goals in that period suggest Saka is Arsenal’s most likely route to goal. That isn’t mirrored by his 11/2 first goalscorer odds. They should be snapped up.