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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 4:16pm
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PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 April, 2014, 10:40pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 April, 2014, 10:46am

More upsets possible - but unlikely this weekend for Liverpool or Chelsea

With Liverpool and Chelsea in control of their own destinies, Norwich and Sunderland could pay

BIO

Nick has been SCMP’s tipster since soccer betting was launched in Hong Kong in 2003, having previously served as racing editor. He takes a statistical approach to soccer betting, focusing mainly on the English Premier League but also on the other major European leagues and the English lower divisions. Now based in England, he brings a wealth of experience as a punter and writer having also worked for the Sunday Times, Racing Post and Betfair during a 25-year career in sports betting journalism.
 

Manchester City blinked first in the final stages of the English Premier League title race, losing at Liverpool and then drawing at home to Sunderland, which means they are the only team in the top three who do not have their destiny in their own hands.

City's slip-up against Sunderland was a timely reminder of the dangers that lurk even in the lower reaches of the table and Saturday it is Chelsea's turn to host Sunderland, while on Sunday Liverpool go to Norwich.

On average this season, the top three have dropped points against opponents from the bottom half of the table every three and a half games, which means there is still time for another nasty surprise or two before the championship is decided.

Most of Saturday's Premier League games are tough to call, but on Sunday the battle for fourth place looks likely to drive Arsenal and Everton to victory
Nick Pulford 

Recent results suggest Liverpool will record an 11th straight win at Norwich. In fact, Luis Suarez could beat the Canaries almost single-handedly, it seems.

Liverpool have run away with the last four matches between the sides, by scorelines of 3-0 (away), 5-2 (away), 5-0 (home) and 5-1 (home), with Suarez scoring 11 of their 18 goals.

Norwich are by no means the only struggling side to have suffered against Suarez, whose scoring stats are heavily tilted towards games against teams from the bottom half of the Premier League.

This season 21 of his 29 goals have been scored against teams in that category and he has been on the scoresheet in more than half of those games.

That is not an implied criticism of Suarez, but more an indication of his unplayable nature when he is up against lesser opponents.

Liverpool have won all nine games against bottom-half teams when Suarez has scored, which is an ominous sign for Norwich given that they seem to have no idea how to stop him.

Liverpool did not win any of their first three games against bottom-half teams this season when Suarez played but didn't score, which makes the Uruguayan the key player and even more so if strike partner Daniel Sturridge is not fit to start.

Suarez, Sturridge and Steven Gerrard have accounted for 75 per cent of Liverpool's 52 goals against bottom-half teams this season.

Removing Sturridge from the equation would put a considerable onus on Suarez to maintain his phenomenal scoring run against Norwich, as most of Gerrard's goals have come from the penalty spot.

It is worth noting that Norwich have the seventh-best record at home against top-half teams, with only two defeats in eight and just seven goals conceded, and their last two home games against elite teams resulted in a goalless draw with Manchester City and a 1-0 win over Tottenham.

But it is open to question whether the defensive organisation that was the hallmark of Chris Hughton's reign at the club will be maintained in the wake of his departure.

Without a clean sheet, there seems little hope for Norwich, as they have lost 10 of the last 12 league games in which they have conceded.

The main problem for Norwich is they are very low-scoring (they have scored more than once in only two of their last 21 matches against Premier League opposition) and on recent form they have little prospect of matching Liverpool, who have scored in 24 straight league games.

If Liverpool get in front early (they have scored in the first half in all of those last 24 games), Norwich could fall apart.

Six of Liverpool's nine away wins have been achieved by at least a two-goal margin and the handicap looks the best-value bet.

Jose Mourinho's remarkable home record suggests it is unlikely Chelsea will make the same mistake as City did against Sunderland, although both teams to leave Stamford Bridge with a point this season are in the bottom half (West Ham and West Brom).

The bet options are limited with Chelsea, but perhaps it is worth chancing a scoreline like 3-1.

Most of Saturday's Premier League games are tough to call, but on Sunday the battle for fourth place looks likely to drive Arsenal and Everton to victory.

At the very least Everton look a solid bet on the handicap at home to Manchester United, who have won only one out of 11 this season against teams above them in the table.

One of the most disappointing aspects of David Moyes' reign at United has been his cautious approach to big games.

Whereas that was more understandable when he was Everton boss, his one-dimensional game plan has left United exposed whenever they have failed to keep a clean sheet (seven defeats out of eight when conceding against teams above them).

 

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