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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Expect East to keep card count low in Tottenham-Stoke clash

Wise words from the Soccer Boffin

Experienced ref Roger East may well enjoy a quiet afternoon at Wembley
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Referee Roger East may not have to reach for his pocket as often as bet365 anticipate in the Premier League game between Tottenham and Stoke. Back under four Asian total cards at decimal odds of 1.725 – fractional odds of just less than 8-11.

Each yellow will count as one and each red as two. If the total is lower than four the bet will win, if it is four stakes will be refunded and if it is higher than four the bet will lose.

The first thing to consider when trying to estimate how many cards might be shown is what type of game this might be. Card counts vary with the type of contest. Specifically, the chance of a low number of cards rises as the difference in ability between teams widens.

Tottenham finished in the top three in the last two seasons. They will start this match in sixth. They are still one of the best teams in the Premier League, and their chance-related stats suggest that they are entitled to feel they have deserved three or four more goals and four or five more points.

Stoke represent mid-range Premier League opponents.

Bookmakers’ home-draw-away odds, stripped of their overrounds, suggest they think there is something like a 75 per cent chance of a Tottenham win, a 16 per cent chance of a draw and a nine per cent chance of a Stoke win. So do I.

Over the last two decades in Premier League games with comparable home-draw-away expectations fair decimal odds about under four Asian total cards would have been in the region of 1.45.

The next thing to consider is whether there are reasons to think the odds should be different for this game. There are.

Tottenham’s games for the last few seasons have featured a slightly higher than usual number of cards, though mainly because of cards shown to their opponents. Stoke’s games in a couple of previous seasons also featured a slightly higher than usual number of cards – though this was entirely because of yellows and reds shown to their opponents.

Only two of arbiter East’s six Premier League games this season have required fewer than four cards. However that is unusual for him. He is yet another good and experienced referee. This is his sixth season in the Premier League, and in the whole of that time he has shown low numbers of cards as often as most of his colleagues.

On Friday afternoon bet365 cut their odds to 1.725 from 1.825. That was disappointing but there are grounds for thinking 1.725 is still too big.

Under 4 Asian total cards in Tottenham v Stoke
1pt 1.725 bet365

Thought for the day

Manchester City have scored 46 goals in 15 Premier League games. They have played some of the best attacking football ever seen in England. To some extent they may also have been lucky, particularly in early games when they were thrashing everyone.

Opta’s expected goals stats tell us how many goals a team would score on average with the same number and quality of chances. Opta’s expected goals figures for City add up to 36 – ten fewer than they have scored.

City have better attackers than other teams so perhaps we should anticipate them shooting more accurately and scoring more than their expected goals. Some other expected goals stats try to take into account the quality of a shooter or header. Those on the FiveThirtyEight website do, for example. But FiveThirtyEight’s expected goals total for City is only 39 – still seven fewer than they have scored.

On Sunday City play Manchester United, who have conceded only nine goals in 15 games. City have scored more than everyone else, United have conceded fewer. Opta’s expected goals total against United is 20 – 11 more than they have conceded.

Here too individual differences may be at least part of the explanation. David de Gea is perhaps the best goalkeeper in the world. Last Saturday he conceded only one of the five goals that Opta (and FiveThirtyEight) expected him to concede to Arsenal.

That was an extraordinary display, even by his standards, but he has excelled in other games as well. Even De Gea, though, may not account for all of the gap between actual and expected goals against.

Expected goals stats of different origins agree that City have been the best team in the Premier League and United one of the top six. Both have played well and deserved good results – but perhaps not quite as good as they got.

Saturday tipping columns

Didi Hamann

Mark Langdon

Dan Childs

Kevin Pullein

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The chance of a low number of cards rises as the difference in ability between teams widens
E.W. Terms
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