‘There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception,’ so said moody brainbox Aldous Huxley. Now, without wanting to turn a sports betting blog into a philosophical lecture, it is clear we can shoehorn this quote into a debate about the importance of the Premier League table when placing our bets.
What the overall league table – you know, the one that started in August – tells us is how good each team has been in the last eight months or so. But that’s of little use in reality; what we need to know is how good is each team right now.
So, we’re going to run an experiment on this weekend’s fixtures. We are going to smash down the doors of perception, forget all the things we ‘think’ we know, and make our selections based only on a more relevant matrix: the Premier League table of 2016 thus far.
For context, that looks like this:
Our experiment is a very simple one: we will place (hypothetical) £5 wagers on our selections, the research for which we have gleaned from the above table.
They look thus:
Aston Villa vs Chelsea – Away Win & Over 2.5 Goals
It’s clear from the league tables (both ours and the real one) that Chelsea should be winning at Villa Park.
The Blues are romping along in 2016 – yet to lose in the league and netting at an average of two goals per game. Aston Villa, on the other hand, are conceding an average of two per match. Managerless now, they look in big trouble.
£5 returns £13.00
Arsenal vs Watford – Home Win & Under 2.5 Goals
In what should be a tightly-fought contest, the Gunners should just get the upper hand.
They have only lost two of their last ten – while the Hornets have lost seven of their last 10, and it is Watford’s inability to score (six in eleven) that counts them out of this one.
£5 returns £17.50
Bournemouth vs Man City – Bournemouth Double Chance
High-flyers Bournemouth have made a mockery of their recently-promoted status (according to our 2016 table), and should be able to avoid defeat against an under-performing Manchester City side.
The Cherries have avoided a loss in 8/12, while Manuel Pellegrini’s men have won just 4/11. Beset by injuries, they could struggle at Dean Court.
£5 returns £8.75
Norwich vs Newcastle – Draw
These two sides have nigh-on identical records in 2016, so there really is little to pick between them.
Norwich have found a slight bit of form in recent weeks, while Newcastle have improved marginally under Rafa Benitez. As such, they will both need to be prised apart – unlikely in a proverbial relegation six-pointer of such magnitude.
£5 returns £16.50
Stoke City vs Swansea – Draw
As with the Norwich/Newcastle match, these two sides have a near identical record in 2016….and so backing the draw is the smart investment.
Both are wildly consistent – four combined draws in 24 outings is proof of that – but a stalemate looks on the cards here.
£5 returns £17.00
Sunderland vs West Brom – West Brom Double Chance
The Baggies have lost just three of their eleven matches in 2016 to date, and so it takes a decent side to beat them. The Black Cats, much improved under Big Sam Allardyce, have only won 3/11, so we’re happy to side with Tony Pulis’ team in this encounter.
£5 returns £8.50
West Ham vs Crystal Palace – Home Win & Over 2.5 Goals
The Hammers should run away with this one. They are amongst the most in-form sides in the land, and have found scoring goals no problem.
Crystal Palace fans will be worried by that defensive record – no team has leaked more goals than them in 2016, although their penchant for scoring consolations (and West Ham conceding a shade over a goal per game on average) has forced our hand with this selection.
£5 returns £15.50
Liverpool vs Tottenham – Both Teams to Score
Sometimes we have to force open the doors of perception to have a peak at the real world behind, and when we do we come up with this startling observation: no team in England has scored more league goals than Liverpool in 2016.
That’s surprising, given that Christian Benteke is a ‘flop’ and Daniel Sturridge a ‘sick note’. Spurs are strong defensively, but even they will struggle to resist the might of the Anfield frontmen.
£5 returns £8.50
Leicester City vs Southampton – Under 2.5 Goals
Just look at those sweet defensive records: this will be akin to the immoveable object meeting, well, another one.
Leicester have the edge according to the league table, but the Saints have only tasted defeat in three of twelve; a close encounter awaits.
£5 returns £8.07
Manchester United vs Everton – Home Win
A home win here would see Manchester United leapfrog Southampton into third position (in our hypothetical table at least), and it is hard to oppose them given Everton’s inconsistent streak.
The Red Devils have more than 50% of their matches in 2016, while the Toffees have gone soft in almost 50% of theirs. Benefit of the doubt must go to the home side.
£5 returns £10.50