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Burnley's dirty side has been underestimated

Wise words from the soccer boffin

Burnley manager Sean Dyche
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Back Burnley to receive at least as many cards as Swansea in the Premier League game at Turf Moor.

Not because they are dirty – they are not, quite the opposite in fact – but because any event can occur, and bet365 may have underestimated the chance that this one will.

Take bet365’s decimal odds of 1.95 – equivalent to fractional odds of 19-20 – about Burnley +0.5 Asian handicap cards. Each yellow will count as one and each red as two, and the bet will win if Burnley’s total is at least as large as Swansea’s.

Match preview

Burnley v Swansea

To understand why this bet might represent value for money we need to learn from Leo – not Leo Messi but his even greater namesake, Leo Tolstoy.

Tolstoy used to explain to anyone who would listen how everything is connected to everything else. It is as true of the play in football matches as it is of more important things.

Nearly all cards are shown because of an honest but mistimed attempt to win the ball. Cards, for most practical purposes, are consequences of defending.

The more defending a team have to do the more likely they become to misjudge tackles and collect cards. And how much defending a team have to do, generally speaking, is related to how many goals they score and concede.

The result-related markets for Turf Moor imply a 59 per cent chance of Burnley scoring each goal that is scored. That seems reasonable given they are playing at home and have started the season better than Swansea.

Expert views

Michael Owen

Didi Hamann

Mark Langdon

In other recent Premier League matches with similar goals expectations the chance of the home team receiving at least as many cards as the away team was around 55 per cent. Decimal odds of 1.95 imply a 51 per cent chance of a bet being successful.

During the five years that they have been managed by Sean Dyche, Burnley have usually received a smaller share of the bookings in their matches than we should have anticipated from the number of goals they scored and conceded. But then so have Swansea over six and a bit seasons in the Premier League. So logically those two effects should at least cancel each other out.

The referee at Turf Moor will be Martin Atkinson, the leading Premier League official. The chance that he will be required to show at least as many cards to Burnley players as to Swansea players may be greater than bet365 calculate.

Burnley +0.5 Asian handicap cards
1pt 1.95 bet365

Bet on this game at

Premier League standings


Thought for the day

There are two reasons why children should not head a football. I thought so before watching Alan Shearer’s well-made documentary on dementia among footballers and I still do.

I will start with the least important reason because it leads into the most important one.

If children who play football cannot head the ball they will have to pass it on the ground. Encouraging them to do that would help them to become better footballers. So a ban on heading for children would be good for the game even if there is never a ban on heading for adults.

As it would be good for the game there is not even a bad reason not to do it.

At this stage it would be a sensible precaution. And that is the most important reason for doing it.

Heading a ball repeatedly involves repeated blows to the head. You do not have to be a brain scientist to fear that could be dangerous. Not enough research has been done, but what has been done does not ease those natural concerns.

Some people say brain injuries could be caused not by heading but by clashes of heads or elbows bashing heads. But those things happen because players are trying to head the ball. So the route cause would be the same: heading.

Schools and clubs do not have to wait for the Football Association to stop children heading. They could agree informally among themselves.

On their own they could stop heading in training. There is more heading in training than in matches. When Pele talked of a beautiful game he was not thinking much, if at all, about heading.

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Nearly all cards are shown because of an honest but mistimed attempt to win the ball
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