Attacking Hammers can force more corners than expected
More great advice from the Soccer Boffin
West Ham v Newcastle
Kick-off 3pm Saturday
West Ham have put in some decent performances in recent weeks, often by sitting deep and hitting on the counter-attack against top teams. That is a sensible strategy against opponents such as Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
There is likely to be a different sort of game when the Hammers play at home to Newcastle. West Ham are likely to have more of the ball and spend longer in the opposition half. And Betfair may have underestimated how much.
Back West Ham at 13-8 on a corners handicap of -1. The bet will win if West Ham take at least two corners more than Newcastle.
The more attacking a team do, as a general rule, the more shots they have, the more goals they score – and the more often the ball bounces off a defender and goes behind for a corner. So there is usually a relationship between goals for and against and corners for and against.
The result-related markets for the London Stadium imply a 58 per cent chance of West Ham scoring each goal that is scored. That is what we should expect in a game between teams who are unlikely to be separated by much more than the ground advantage one of them enjoys.
That seems a reasonable expectation for West Ham at home to Newcastle. After 18 games two points separate them in the Premier League table.
In other games with similar goals expectations, fair odds about the home team taking at least two corners more than the away team would normally be around 6-5. For this game they should be bigger but perhaps not quite as big as 13-8.
Newcastle have taken a larger share of the corners in their matches than we should have anticipated from the goals they scored and conceded. Twice this season I have advised backing them on corners handicaps. This time, though, there may be value for money in opposing them.
West Ham have taken a smaller share of the corners in their matches than Newcastle. But not by much, and most of the difference is attributable to away games. There was nothing unusual about the corners patterns in West Ham’s games in previous seasons, or in the games of other teams directed by new West Ham manager David Moyes.
So will West Ham take at least two corners more than Newcastle? The bet is more likely to lose than to win, but the chance of it winning may be better than suggested by Betfair’s odds of 13-8.
West Ham –1 corner handicap
1pt 13-8 Betfair
Thought of the day
There are runaway leaders in the Premier League, but if the teams are not tightly bunched something else is: the fixtures.
Premier League teams will have played up to eight times between December 2 and January 1. A fifth of the season will have been compressed into just 31 days. Some Premier League teams have also played in one or more of the Champions League, Europa League and League Cup.
The Premier League and Football League seasons reach their halfway points this weekend. But the fixtures are not spread out evenly on either side. They are clustered round the middle.
Games are concentrated at one of the times in a year when the weather can be most unsuitable for football.
Premier League pitches are now maintained perfectly throughout the year, and substitutes waiting on a bench can always cuddle a hot water bottle to keep warm, though that hardly seems like an ideal preparation for athletic exertion.
But in the Premier League just as in the Football League rapid-fire fixtures can injure or exhaust players.
And what does that mean for the people who pay to watch, in the grounds or on television? The quality of entertainment will go down as the Christmas and new year programme wears on with four games in as few as ten days. And increasingly often managers will not be able to select their best team and field only patched-up line-ups.
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