If there’s one thing a punter loves it’s a good statistic, and with almost half of the season gone the data set from the Premier League starts to take on significance. No longer can a trend be put down to chance; now it must mean something with so many minutes played.
So how do these statistics lend weight to a punter’s picks? Well, in the cards and corners markets, the relevant data can offer a fantastic insight.
It’s time of the year when many of us love to give and receive cards, and many referees are no different – as witnessed by them proffering the yellows with aplomb for even the tiniest show of petulance on the field.
So who should we be watching out for in the card markets?
You wouldn’t necessarily think it given their fleet-footed creative players, but Tottenham are statistically actually the most rugged team in the Premier League. They have committed 221 fouls – 15 more than closest rivals Crystal Palace – and top the cards table with 37 yellow cards; that’s 2.31 per match.
On Saturday they take on Southampton; themselves no strangers to committing the odd foul or two. The Saints have picked up 29 yellows and two reds this term at an average of 1.81 per match.
Put all these stats together and we can back the Over 4.5 Cards market at 11/10 with reasonable confidence.
By way of contrast, Chelsea are both the most fouled in the Premier League and the side that has seen the most cards handed to their opponents. Their players have been clipped, tripped and bludgeoned a grand total of 224 times this term (and that was just Jose Mourinho in the dressing room) at an average of 14.00 per game. They have witnessed 41 yellows and two reds handed to the opposition too.
On Saturday they tackle a Sunderland side that aren’t afraid to put a foot in – Lee Cattermole et al. The Black Cats have committed 176 fouls this season and been carded 33 times (31 yellow, two red). With Chelsea averaging 2.56 cards against them, and Sunderland picking up 1.94 per match, the Over 3.5 Cards market looks a canny bet at 5/6.
Jack Colback (Newcastle United)
Not content with finishing second in last year’s ill-discipline table with 12 yellows, the flame-haired midfielder has once again shown his fiery side this term and has picked up seven bookings already.
Lucas/James Milner (Liverpool)
This midfield pair has been dubbed ‘Banger & Crasher’ this season for their physical displays; if the Banger doesn’t get you, the Crasher will.
They’ve picked up 12 yellows between them so far in 2015/16 with a series of ‘hefty’ challenges, with eight of those coming on the road. Let’s hope the Watford midfielders remember their shinpads on Sunday.
This sturdy left back has picked up six yellows this term, and on Saturday against Crystal Palace he will come up against one or more of the tricky triumvirate Wilfried Zaha, Yannick Bolasie and Bakary Sako. Surely another booking is on the cards for Peters, so check the in-play markets for a price.
The old corner: it’s a brilliant way to hump the ball into the box and hope one of your lanky centre backs gets on the end of it. Or, as Bournemouth showed with their clever routine against Manchester United last week that resulted in Josh King’s goal, there is more than one way to catch a rabbit.
So who should punters look out for in the Corners market?
Not content with out-muscling sides in the centre of the park, Liverpool are also adept at winning a corner or two as well. In fact, they have claimed 117 this term; more than any other Premier League club. It’s a tidy 7.31 per game.
On Sunday they take on a Watford side that is rather more generous as far as the corner quadrant is concerned; they’ve conceded 95, which is 5.94 per game on average. The Over 11 Corners market looks eminently backable here as a result.
These two meet on Monday night in a huge festive fixture, and both enjoy winning a corner with silky play in the final third.
Man City are just two behind Liverpool on 115 in the corners won stakes, with Arsenal slightly further back on 99. That’s 7.31 and 6.19 respectively, or 13.50 when added together. At 11/10, the Over 11 Corners market can be attacked with relish.