with Nick Pulford
Betting on football is no longer simply about home/away/draw selections, with a proliferation of different ways to bet on a match nowadays. One of the most popular is what the Hong Kong Jockey Club terms HiLo, more simply known as the under/over goal line (usually set at 2.5).
There are several teams in the European leagues whose figures are remarkably consistent on the goal line, being either regularly above or below, and this week's column is devoted mainly to identifying 10 of these teams. Four are in the English Premier League, and two of them, Aston Villa and Chelsea, are in opposition this weekend, offering an early opportunity to bet them on the HiLo. Villa tend towards low-scoring home games (never less than 63 per cent under 2.5 goals in any of the past six seasons, with an average of 67 per cent) while Chelsea have been low-scoring on the road since Jose Mourinho took charge (70 per cent under 2.5 goals).
The other teams to follow in the Premier League are Arsenal and Middlesbrough. Arsenal are known for high-scoring home games (67 per cent average over 2.5 goals in the past five seasons) while Boro developed into a low-score away side under Steve McClaren and have not altered under Gareth Southgate (63 per cent under 2.5 goals last season - precisely the average in McClaren's five seasons).
The German Bundesliga is renowned for high-scoring games, and teams to follow are Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen in home games. Leverkusen average 71 per cent over 2.5 goals at home in the past five seasons (never below 65 per cent) and Werder 65 per cent (with a low of 59 per cent). Fiorentina are an interesting case in Serie A. In three seasons since promotion, they have had high-scoring home matches (averaging 63 per cent over 2.5 goals) but low-scoring away games (68 per cent under 2.5 goals).
Two other Italian teams are worth following. Cagliari's home games tend to have low scores (67 per cent under 2.5 goals in three seasons since promotion).
Sampdoria were promoted the season before Cagliari and since then the Genovese team's away matches have averaged 72 per cent under 2.5 goals. The advice is to follow these teams on the HiLo for the rest of the season.
As with this weekend's clash between Villa and Chelsea, there will be occasions when these teams are in opposition - if the trends match, as they do with Villa (low-scoring at home) and Chelsea (low-scoring away), stakes should be doubled on that game (in the last three seasons, Villa v Chelsea has finished 0-0, 1-1 and 0-0). If the trends do not match (for example, when high-scoring Arsenal host low-scoring Chelsea) no bet should be placed on that game.
The form is still settling down around Europe but one standout bet this weekend is Reading for a home win over West Ham. Reading's home form still looks strong.
Shortlist: Reading, Atletico Madrid. Best bet: $100 Reading (HW). Season bet: High goals: Arsenal (H), Leverkusen (H), Werder Bremen (H), Fiorentina (H). Low goals: Aston Villa (H), Chelsea (A), Middlesbrough (A), Cagliari (H), Fiorentina (A), Sampdoria (A).