Dallas may not stick to script when it comes to bookings
It is just possible that the chance of a low card count has been underestimated for the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership game between Hearts and Partick. Hills offer 6-5 for under 45 bookings points with each yellow counting as ten and each red as 25.
The reason they offer such a large price for a low total is that referee Andrew Dallas has tended to show cards more often than most of his Premiership colleagues.
Since the start of the 2014-15 season, 59 per cent of all Premiership fixtures have featured fewer than 45 bookings points. Only 18 of Dallas’s 38 appointments have – just over 47 per cent.
But odds of 6-5 imply little more than a 45 per cent chance of an event happening. And good young referees tend to issue cards more slowly as they gradually become more experienced. It does not happen all the time but it does happen a lot of the time.
And Dallas is a good young arbiter. In January 2015 he was elevated to the Fifa international list. So there are grounds for thinking that the odds might offer at least a bit of an edge.
Neither Hearts nor Partick have provoked a higher than average number of cards this season. Indeed both have received slightly fewer than most other teams.
The score-related markets for Tynecastle suggest that what spectators see may not be greatly different from in many other Premiership games, in terms of the relative strengths of the home and away sides, which can have an impact on the number of cards shown.
And there is no obvious reason to think that the score-related markets are wrong by much, if at all.
In other words, the fixture itself seems likely to be broadly representative of the Premiership. Overall in his three seasons as a top-flight official Dallas has averaged roughly one yellow per game more than a mid-range colleague. But even within those figures, as mentioned, there seem to be reasons for thinking that the chance of a low card count today might be better than the odds suggest.
With the season winding down, in England and elsewhere as well as in Scotland, there does not appear to be a standout bet today. But there might be at least a sliver of value in under 45 booking points between Hearts and Partick.
Under 45 booking points in Hearts v Partick
0.5pt 6-5 Hills
Spurs’ rise can’t diminish Wenger
If Arsenal lose to Tottenham tomorrow they will finish below them in the Premier League. That will be the first time since 1995. Many Arsenal fans were not born then. Others can be forgiven if they have forgotten.
So it might be hard for them to accept that 21 seasons of superiority over their north London rivals was unusual. Previously Arsenal had finished above Tottenham in 38 seasons out of 76 -- exactly half.
In some periods they did better than in others, but there was no earlier sequence of 21 seasons in which Arsenal finished above Tottenham more than 14 times. And there were sequences in which the total was as low as six.
Arsenal’s recent seasons have also been unusually good if considered more generally. Not only manager Arsene Wenger’s first ten seasons, in which he won the Premier League three times, the FA Cup four times and reached a Champions League final. Also the next ten seasons, in which he always qualified for the Champions League and won the FA Cup twice. This is Wenger’s 21st season and Arsenal have reached another FA Cup final.
Arsenal won nothing in their first 32 seasons in the Football League. They also won nothing in 16 seasons from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s. In 15 seasons from 1971-72 to 1985-86 they won only one FA Cup.
Wenger’s supposed years of failure have been among the five or six most successful spells in Arsenal’s history, even if you don’t count regularly qualifying for the Champions League.