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Coventry might take more corners than expected

The Soccer Boffin has another great bet

Coventry boss Mark Robins
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It is possible that Coventry will do more attacking in the League One game at Gillingham than one of Sky Bet’s markets anticipates. Back Coventry +2 on a corners handicap at evens.

The bet will win if Coventry take more corners than Gillingham, the same number or one fewer. Anything else and the bet loses.

Corners are an occasional by-product of attacking – like goals, which are obviously much more important in the overall scheme of things. So there is generally a relationship between goals for and against and corners for and against.

The score-related markets for the Priestfield Stadium imply something like a 57 per cent chance of Gillingham scoring each goal that is scored. That seems pretty much right. Gillingham with home advantage should probably be better than Coventry, who won the League Two playoff final last season, but not by much.

Coventry have struggled for goals since they gained promotion, scoring just twice in four games. Marc McNulty, leading scorer with 23 League Two goals last season, was sold in the summer to Championship side Reading. And to make matters worse Maxime Biamou tore an anterior cruciate ligament in Tuesday’s game at Blackpool.

These things seem to be expressed to the extent that they should be in the result-related odds, however. And they recognise that Coventry are likely to score more regularly as the season progresses.

Over the last two decades in Football League games with similar goals expectations the chance of the visitors beating a corners handicap of +2 was better than the 50 per cent implied by a price of evens – about 53 per cent.

And there is no obvious reason to think that the chance at Priestfield should be as low as 50 per cent.

Gillingham won the corners count easily in their last two games. But two games is a tiny sample. Beforehand there was nothing unusual in the corners pattern in Gillingham games during the ten months they have been managed by Steve Lovell.

And Coventry have taken a perfectly normal share of the corners in their games – if anything, slightly higher than we should have anticipated from their results – throughout the time they have been managed by Mark Robins.

The chance of Coventry beating a corners handicap of +2 might be at least slightly better than the odds imply.

Coventry +2 corners handicap
1pt Evs Sky Bet

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Thought for the Day

One thing I could not agree with in all the talk this week about Manchester United was the claim that they have a defensive crisis.

Another thing I could not agree with was the accusation that chief executive Ed Woodward was to blame for the three goals United conceded last Sunday in defeat at Brighton. He was to blame apparently for not buying manager Jose Mourinho another centre-back.

United made mistakes at Brighton, for sure. But they have the same defenders this season as they did last season (plus teenage full-back Diogo Dalot). And in previous seasons those players conceded very few goals.

Last season in the Premier League United conceded 28 goals. The season before they conceded 29. Admittedly those totals were so low primarily because of the brilliance of goalkeeper David de Gea. But United still have him. With De Gea in goal it does not matter so much who is in the back four, or even whether there is a back four – United should still not concede many goals.

Mourinho is a coach who prioritises defence. And his goals-against record at United compares favourably with his records elsewhere.

Over the two seasons Mourinho finished in his second spell with Chelsea he watched his players conceded 58 goals. Over his first two seasons with United he watched his players conceded one goal fewer. Real Madrid never conceded fewer than 32 goals in a season when they were coached by Mourinho, nor did Inter. In Italy, Spain and England top-division teams play the same number of games.

In Mourinho’s first spell with Chelsea, granted, the goals-against counts were lower: 24 in 2007-08, 22 in 2005-06 and just 15 in 2004-05. But in those days Chelsea spent so much more on players than other Premier League clubs it is surprising only that they conceded any goals at all.

If United are found wanting at the end of this season there is no reason to think it will be because of their defence.

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Gillingham won the corners count easily in their last two games. But two games is a tiny sample
E.W. Terms
Sky bet