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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Long spells of defending could see Killie collect cards

Wise words from the soccer boffin

Kilmarnock could find themselves on the wrong end of the bookings count
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Back Kilmarnock to receive most bookings points in their televised Ladbrokes Premiership match at home to Celtic. Sky Bet offer 11-10. Each yellow will count as ten points and each red as 25.

The odds are possibly a bit big for the sort of contest it seems reasonable to expect at Rugby Park.

The result-related markets suggest there is about an 80 per cent chance of Celtic scoring each goal that is scored. That seems reasonable given that over the last 17 seasons in the Premiership Celtic scored 78 per cent of the goals in their games at Kilmarnock and 79 per cent of the goals in their games away to teams who finished between eighth and 12th, which is where Kilmarnock finished in the last five seasons.

The chance of one team in a match receiving more bookings points than the other varies with the difference in ability between those teams. The weaker one team are in relation to the other the more likely they are to receive most bookings points, for the simple reason that they are likely to spend longer defending.

Cards are an occasional consequence of defending. The longer players spend trying to win back the ball the more likely they are to mistime tackles.

When Celtic played away during the last 17 seasons their opponents received most bookings points in 44 per cent of matches. Forty-four per cent is less than the 48 per cent chance implied by odds of 11-10. However the chance of Celtic's opponents receiving most booking points varied with the chance of Celtic scoring most goals.

Opponents such as Aberdeen who usually finished high in the table received most bookings points less often than many opponents who finished further down the table.

Aberdeen can afford to pay players about three times as much as Kilmarnock. Celtic can afford to pay players about 15 times as much. So it is only natural that Kilmarnock tend to finish below Aberdeen, let alone Celtic.

When Celtic played away to teams who finished between eighth and 12th their opponents received most bookings points in 55 per cent of matches.

Those are the encouraging omens. As always there are discouraging ones as well. Kilmarnock have not received most bookings points in any of their last four Premiership matches at home to Celtic and in only seven of their last 30.

Referee Nick Walsh has shown a smaller proportion of his cards to home players than have most Scottish officials.

However this is only his sixth season in the Scottish Professional Football League and only his third in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

He is a good referee, who rightly seems to be highly esteemed by his bosses, so it is possible the low proportion of cards for home players is merely a curiosity from a small sample that will dilute as the sample enlarges.

Kilmarnock most bookings points
2pts 11-10 Sky Bet

Thoughts for the day

The first weekend of the English Premier League season produced shocks. Chelsea lost to Burnley. Liverpool were held by Watford.

The Premier League has a reputation for being a competition in which any team can upset any other. But is it deserved?

Sometimes little teams do surprise big ones - last Saturday, for example - but not many times. Only once in the last 20 seasons did the team that went on to finish bottom beat the team that went on to finish top.

Four seasons ago Cardiff beat Manchester City 3-2. That was one win out of 40 attempts. (In 20 seasons top played bottom 40 times). There were also three draws. So 36 times out of 40 the team that would become champions beat the team that would be relegated in last place.

Over the past ten seasons there was actually more inequality in the Premier League than in Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Serie A or even La Liga - according to the Gini coefficent, which was designed to measure inequalities in income but can also be used to measure disparities in the points won by football teams.

There is a simple, practical solution to the problem of the transfer window closing after the English season has begun. Start the English season later.

Anthropologists say that some things are found in all human societies. Among them are use of a calendar, an explanation of how the world came into being, a concept of the soul, funerals, jokes, tool-making... and divination, which is an attempt to foretell the future.

When you bet you are trying to predict the future. So whatever this urge is that makes you want to predict the future, it is universal.

Aberdeen can afford to pay players about three times as much as Kilmarnock. Celtic can afford to pay players about 15 times as much
E.W. Terms
Sky bet