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Friday, 19 October, 2018

Las Palmas can buck the corner trend

The Soccer Boffin picks out another beauty

A Las Palmas fan cheers on her team in the 3-3 draw at Real Madrid
1 of 1

Girona v Las Palmas
La Liga
Sky Sports Mix, 12.30pm Saturday

Las Palmas have taken fewer than a quarter of the corners awarded in their away games this season. In every away game they have conceded most corners. Seven times out of nine they have lost the corners count by more than 2.5.

Those are not immediately encouraging omens for a bet on Las Palmas +2.5 Asian handicap corners in Saturday’s televised La Liga game at Girona. And they could be repeated.

But there are grounds for thinking the chance of the bet winning may be better than acknowledged by bet365’s decimal odds of 1.8 – equivalent to fractional odds of 4-5.

Las Palmas, from the island of Gran Canaria, have a long way to travel for all their away games. But in their previous two seasons in La Liga they gained a much larger share of the corners, one that was commensurate with their results.

This season's results, home and away, have been dreadful. But there are still reasons to think that Las Palmas have a better than 4-5 chance of beating a corners handicap of +2.5.

Because results have been bad – they have just 11 points from 18 games – managers have been in out as though they were spinning through a revolving door. Paco Jemez, appointed on December 21, is the third manager of the season – the fourth if you count a caretaker.

Results have not improved as the season has worn on but their share of the corners has.

Promoted Girona have settled in well at the highest level. While Las Palmas are bottom of the table, Girona are 13th with 23 points, a reassuring eight points above the relegation line.

Odds in the home-draw-away market suggest something like a 55 per cent chance of a Girona win, a 25 per cent chance of a draw and a 20 per cent chance of a Las Palmas win. They imply that Girona would be a better team than Las Palmas even without the ground advantage they will enjoy, and that sounds reasonable.

How are corners split usually in such a match? In previous seasons when there were similar home-draw-away expectations, fair odds about the away team beating a corners handicap of +2.5 would have been about 8-11. And it is arguable that fair odds about Las Palmas +2.5 corners would differ little if at all from 8-11.

Girona’s corners for and against have been more or less what we should have anticipated from their results. And Las Palmas have gained an abnormally small share of corners only this season and only away from home.

If Las Palmas lose the corners count by three or more the bet will fail. The chance of a payout may be better than 4-5.

Recommendation
Las Palmas +2.5 Asian handicap corners
1pt 4-5 bet365

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com

La Liga standings


Thought for the day

Referees, I wrote last week, will get a percentage of their decisions wrong. Trials with a video assistant referee (VAR) have provided evidence of just how small that percentage is.

In Serie A only seven per cent of decisions reviewed by VAR have been changed. That means 93 per of the time the referee’s original decision was right. He made that original decision instantly, having seen the incident once, as it happened.

Mike Riley, head of Professional Game Match Officials, says that Premier League referees get 96 per cent of decisions right.

So if referees are wrong so rarely why do we hear so much criticism of them? Part of the explanation is what psychologists call the availability heuristic. We tend to remember referee decisions that have been proved wrong – by VAR or television replays seen by us all – and forget those that have not.

VAR was available in England for the first time in November during friendly internationals against Germany and Brazil. It was not needed. It was also available on Monday during the FA Cup third round tie between Brighton and Crystal Palace. It was not needed then either.

On Wednesday during the League Cup semi-final first leg between Chelsea and Arsenal, referee Martin Atkinson stopped play twice to speak to a VAR but each time he was told his decision had been right. He did not look at a pitch-side monitor.

In Serie A trials a decision has been reviewed about once every three games. That is only rarely. But if you think not in terms of individual matches but in terms of rounds of matches it can seem like a lot. And many people will.

If VAR was used in the Premier League and a decision was reviewed once every three games we might see a referee checking a pitch-side monitor about three times every Saturday on Match of the Day. And even though most of those decisions would stand the subliminal message would be that many decisions are dubious.

I am not an opponent of VAR. I just want to stress that even without technological help referees get surprisingly few decisions wrong.


Premier League previews

Tottenham v Everton

Chelsea v Leicester

Crystal Palace v Burnley

West Brom v Brighton

Huddersfield v West Ham

Watford v Southampton

Newcastle v Swansea

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Paco Jemez, appointed on December 21, is their third manager of the season
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