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Newcastle to be corner kings against Stoke

Wise words from the Soccer Boffin

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez
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Back Newcastle to take more corners in their Premier League game at home to Stoke. You can get decimal odds of 2.0 – evens in fractional odds – from bet365 on an Asian handicap corners line of -0.5, which amounts to the same thing as a corners match bet.

The starting point for any estimate of how corners might be split in a match should be an estimate of the relative strength of the two teams.

The team likely to score more goals is usually the one likely to do most attacking, which is also usually the one likely to get most of the incidental by-products of attacking, such as corners.

Long-term markets suggest Stoke are likely to finish above Newcastle, which sounds right even though Newcastle have one point more than Stoke after four games. Newcastle have just returned from the Sky Bet Championship and Stoke have played more difficult fixtures.

But match markets suggest that today at St James’ Park with home advantage, which usually helps, Newcastle are slightly more likely winners. Result-related markets imply something like a 55 per cent chance of Newcastle supplying each goal that is scored, and that also seems about right.

In games with similar goals expectations in the Premier League in previous seasons the chance of the home team taking more corners seems to have been about 54 per cent. Evens, of course, implies a 50 per cent chance of a bet being successful.

The next thing to consider is whether there has been anything unusual in the distribution of corners in the games of either or both teams.

Newcastle finished top of the Championship last season. Their corners for and against were almost exactly what we should have anticipated from their goals for and against. Manager Rafa Benitez throughout his career has tended to be associated with teams who do as well as or better than expected in corner handicap markets.

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Back in the Premier League, Newcastle have taken fewer corners than we should have anticipated but they have played only four games. Stoke for several seasons have taken a smaller share of the corners in their matches than is usual for the number of goals they scored and conceded.

Stoke’s four games this season have included home fixtures against Manchester United and Arsenal, elite opponents who usually dominate possession and corner counts, so nothing meaningful should be read into corner stats from them.

This season may be one in which corner splits in Stoke games return to normal. But even then it would still be arguable that Newcastle should be shorter than evens to take more corners at home to Stoke.

Newcastle -0.5 Asian handicap corners
2pts Evs bet365

Thought for the day

Referee Jon Moss made an astonishing decision last Saturday to send off Liverpool’s Sadio Mane at Manchester City.

The online Oxford Dictionary defines astonishing as “extremely surprising or impressive”. Like many others I found Moss’s decision extremely surprising when he made it. Unlike many others I realised after watching several slow-motion replays that it was right and extremely impressive. Moss saw at full speed what I had noticed only after watching numerous television re-runs.

Mane was sent off for raising a boot head-high in a challenge with City goalkeeper Ederson. He did not mean to hurt Ederson. He was upset when he realised Ederson was injured. Ederson was carried off on a stretcher.

But Mane’s intention is not the issue. Law 12 of association football says a player should be sent off for serious foul play, and that serious foul play includes “a tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent”. Mane’s challenge did endanger Ederson’s safety. He did not mean it to, but it did. That would have been so even if Ederson had not been injured.

The online Oxford Dictionary gives another definition of astonishing: “amazing”. Moss realised in the blur of action that Mane should be sent off. That was amazing.

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Stoke for several seasons have taken a smaller share of the corners in their matches than is usual for the number of goals they scored and conceded
E.W. Terms
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