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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Referee Mike Jones could keep cards close to his chest at Wembley

The Soccer Boffin has another blinding bet

Christian Eriksen, Harry Winks and Harry Kane of Tottenham appeal to match referee Mike Jones during the Premier League match against West Brom
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Tottenham v Huddersfield
3pm Saturday

Bet on a low number of cards in the Premier League game between Tottenham and Huddersfield. In bet365’s Asian total cards market back under 3.5 at decimal odds of 1.75 – equivalent to fractional odds of 3-4. Each yellow will count as one and each red as two.

The number of cards shown in a match varies primarily with the difference in ability between the teams. The greater the difference in ability two teams, other things being equal, the lower the number of cards likely to be shown.

Tottenham have the sixth-largest payroll in the Premier League and they are playing at home to Huddersfield who have the lowest wage bill in the Premier League. It would be astonishing if Tottenham were not nearly always better than Huddersfield.

Result-related markets for Wembley imply an 80 per cent chance of Tottenham scoring each goal that is scored. Stripped of their overrounds the home-draw-away odds imply something like an 82 per cent chance of a Tottenham win, a 13 per cent chance of a draw and a five per cent chance of a Huddersfield win.

In Premier League games with similar result-related expectations fair odds about under 3.5 Asian total cards are typically about 4-7.

There are reasons, though, to think that the right odds today would be bigger than 4-7 – though perhaps still not as big as 3-4.

Tottenham v Huddersfield preview 

Didi Hamann: Rafa Benitez can make things awkward on Anfield return

Referee Mike Jones is a good and experienced official. Over more than 200 Premier League games spread across ten seasons his card counts have been middle-of-the-road. However Tottenham games and Huddersfield games in recent seasons have produced slightly more yellows and reds than we should have anticipated – though in each case because of their opponents not because of themselves.

And as the end of this season approaches the importance of each game will rise – for Tottenham who want points to stay in the top four and qualify again for the Champions League, and for Huddersfield who want points to stay out of the bottom three and remain in the Premier League.

When bet365 opened their Asian total cards market on Thursday they quoted under 3.5 at 1.90, which would have represented exceptional value for money. By midday on Friday the odds had been cut to 1.75. Now any edge in our favour must be much smaller, but there are still grounds for thinking the odds should be even shorter.

Under 3.5 Asian total cards Tottenham v Huddersfield
1pt 1.75 bet365

Premier League standings

Thought for the day

Arsenal are having a bad season and Chelsea a poor one. But there is another reason why they are outside the Premier League top four. A team need more points now than they did in the past to get into the top four and qualify for the Champions League.

There are six clubs whose owners are paying for teams they think should be in the top four every season. Six into four, as my maths teachers would have said, goes once with two left over.

The more teams there are capable of performing at a high level the more points you are likely to need in any given season to be one of the best four. Between seasons 2002-03 and 2008-09 the average number of points required to finish fourth was 67. Since then it has been 71. This season the fourth-placed team will probably get more.

In the early years of the millennium England had three Champions League places and there were three clubs who thought they should occupy them – Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.

In 2002 the number of Champions League places increased to four. A year later Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea and there was another club who thought they should be in the Champions League all the time. Everything was still hunky-dory, though. There were four claimants for four places.

In 2009-10 Tottenham finished fourth. One place below them came Manchester City, who were beginning to feel the benefit of money poured in by new owner Sheikh Mansour. Since then there have been six predators hunting four prizes. The consequence is that a team have to be better now than they did before to qualify for the Champions League.

Premier League previews

Burnley v Everton

Liverpool v Newcastle

Tottenham v Huddersfield

Leicester v Bournemouth

Swansea v West Ham

Watford v West Brom

Southampton v Stoke

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Tottenham games and Huddersfield games in recent seasons have produced slightly more yellows and reds than we should have anticipated
E.W. Terms
Sky bet