Having opened up at close to even money in some places, you really have missed the boat on Manchester United, with the price now around 3/5 (1.60). Granted, three points for The Red Devils is the most likely outcome, but the value has long gone. In fact United have only won 3 of the last 15 when favourites on the road. It is a very different United right now though, as we shall explore later in this preview.
When pondering other ways to get Manchester’s second team onside, I’m bhoyed by the fact they’ve scored in 15 of their last 20, and Brighton have conceded in 17 of the last 20. I’d be very surprised if Brighton manage a shut-out, which makes one consider the most likely goalscorers for United.
Antony Martial to score anytime is around 2.75 on both Betfair and Smarkets exchanges. Even if we ignore his hattrick against Sheffield United, he had scored in 10 separate games from 23 starts this season. That would imply odds of 13/10 (2.30) being a fair price (43.4% strike rate). Obviously to understand if we’re getting value, there are multiple factors to consider.
Brighton are a team that concede pretty much bang on the average number of shots, which surprised me a little as I mistakenly thought they were quite good at limiting opposition shots. The stats highlight the reality here and perhaps Chris Hughton’s Brighton defence of Bruno, Dunk, Duffy and March are stuck in my mind. Afterall, matches involving Graham Potter’s Brighton are averaging just under 2.5 goals, which is only slightly below the league average of 2.6ish.
With nothing in Brighton’s data to put me off backing United’s top scorer to bag at anytime, we should look at Martial’s shot data. Expected goals is a much masturbated over statistic that has some relevance, up to a point. Ignoring last time out vs Sheffield United, the fact he has 9 or 10 expected goals depending on which boffin records the data, means that he’s not a player who is having a spell of good luck. He’s pretty much scoring the amount he probably should.
In terms of shots themselves, Antony has got off 3 or more in 16 out of 24 starts, meaning the 1.66 on offer on over 2 shots is worth a follow too. Given half of Martia’s shots this season are on target, I reckon if those supporting him can create enough for him to have 4 shots today, we’ll see a goal from Martial.
Now let’s bring an ever growing extinct variable to the equation: this columnist’s human eye. With 3 of Matic, Fred, McTominay, Pogba and Fernandes likely to start, United’s central midfield is starting to look a lot more fluid which should mean their strikeforce continue to be presented with opportunities to get shots off. They can go from defence to attack much quicker than in the early part of Solsjaer’s management this season, and James and Rashford’s exploding pace on the wings only help get the ball into promising positions quicker.
Brighton certainly aren’t mathematically safe, but would no doubt settle for a point. I can’t see that being the case for the away side; United need all 3 to keep the Champions League charge going.
In yesterday’s winning 3 bets (from 4), one was U3.5 cards. Unfortunately my sources tell me that Andrew Marriner has a little soft spot for the Seaside life, and given the squid-stuffing Marriner gives even less yellow cards than yesterday’s men in black, Simon Hooper, it could be a low booking point tally. With the line set at 2.5, I’d either avoid, or back the unders and then get with the overs in play in the first half if you like a trading opportunity.
In the card match-up, my model makes Brighton 5/4 (2.22) chances to win the cards market, with United 21/10 (2.1). That’s despite United averaging 1.9 cards compared to Brighton’s 1.58. One to avoid perhaps, although the Brighton DNB on Asian cards with 365 could come into play depending on starting line ups.
Martial to score @2.75
Martial 02.5 shots @ 1.80 PaddyPower