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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Little to suggest Southampton will receive most bookings

West Brom feel the same league-table pressure

Michael oliver shows West Brom's Jake Livermore a yellow card
1 of 1

Back West Brom to receive at least as many cards as Southampton in the Premier League game at the Hawthorns.

In bet365’s Asian handicap cards market back Alan Pardew's side +0.5 at decimal odds of 1.95 – equivalent to fractional odds of 19-20.

Each yellow will count as one and each red as two. The bet will win if Albion’s total is equal to or greater than Southampton’s.

Three points separate 18th place Southampton from 20th-place West Brom. Arguably both have deserved better results than they have got – that is usually true of teams in the relegation zone – but probably by a similar margin.

Premier League standings

So there is no obvious reason to think there is much difference in ability between the teams. West Brom, of course, will benefit from ground advantage.

Odds in the result-related markets seem at least in the right ballpark. Stripped of their overrounds they imply a 37 per cent chance of a home win, a 31 per cent chance of a draw and a 32 per cent chance of a Southampton win.

In games with similar home/draw/away expectations, generally speaking, the chance of the home team receiving as many or more cards than the away team is higher than the 51 per cent implied by decimal odds of 1.95.

Neither West Brom nor Southampton have received more cards this season than we should have anticipated from the games they have won, drawn and lost.

Cards for all practical purposes are an occasional consequence of defending. The longer a team spend without the ball the more likely they become to mis-time challenges when trying to get it back, and the more likely they become to accumulate cards.

Southampton received most cards in their last four away games, but three of those were at Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham – elite opponents against whom Southampton, like almost everyone else in the Premier League, will usually spend most of the time defending.

As both teams are below the relegation line the game is as important to each of them. A win would mean as much to West Brom as it would to Southampton. A defeat would be as disappointing for the Saints as it would for Albion.

So if there is any extra pressure caused by the league table it should be the same for both teams. The referee will be Michael Oliver, one of the Premier League’s best.

West Brom +0.5 Asian handicap cards
1pt 1.95 bet365

Bet on this match at



Premier League clubs spent a record £430 million on transfer fees in the January window, according to accountants Deloitte. Transfer records are broken regularly because of inflation, which is more virulent in football than outside.

Authors Paul Tomkins, Graeme Riley and Gary Fulcher argued in a book called Pay As You Play that after allowing for inflation there is a relationship between a club’s transfer spending and results. There is an even stronger relationship, in my view, between wages and results.

Transfer fees can be misleading, and not only because the reported ones can be hearsay or worse. Fees will vary according to how long players have left on their contract with their old club.

Manchester United got Zlatan Ibrahimovic for no fee. They could have got Alexis Sanchez without a fee, or any player exchange – another complicating factor – if both had been willing to wait until June.

Top players who move without a fee, however, can negotiate even higher wages than they would have got otherwise.

What matters with fees or wages is not how much a club spend as such, but how much they spend in relation to others. And this varies remarkably little, for wages at least. Clubs seem to know every year how much more their rivals are paying.

Take just one example. West Bromwich’s payroll in their last three sets of published accounts rose from £66m to £70m then £74m. It rose every season in absolute terms.

But in relation to the payrolls of other Premier League clubs it changed hardly at all. Each season it represented between 3.3 and 3.4 per cent of the Premier League total.

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There is no obvious reason to think there is much difference in ability between the teams
E.W. Terms
Sky bet