The Two and a Half Goals Column: Goals assured at the Madejski

This venue should provide plenty of goals on Sunday

The Inside Man has been studying the fixture lists in an attempt to find four games where he can correctly predict whether Over or Under 2.5 Goals will be scored...

"Reading have played three times so far, Tottenham twice, with both teams scoring in all five of those games."

Back Over 2.5 goals @ 2.0621/20


Aston Villa v Swansea

Villa have conceded five times in their opening three games. And looking at Paul Lambert's management record, they will probably continue to concede more than most. But what I do expect to change is their productivity up-front.

A goal when down to 10 men, against Everton, was a good sign. As was the goal that earned them a 1-1 draw at Newcastle. The significance of that result cannot be over-emphasised. Villa were hugely impressive, and should probably have won, away to a Newcastle side with a strong home record. The performances are starting to come. I expect goals to follow.

Waiting to take advantage of Villa's fragile defence is a Swansea team that's netted 10 times in three matches. Most of those goals came from midfield, through Michu and Dyer, showing just how attacking Swansea are under Michael Laudrup.

However, easy wins over QPR and Norwich were, in all fairness, a soft start to the season. Their first real test saw Swansea concede twice at home to Sunderland. With left-back Neil Taylor out for the season, and centre-half Chico suspended, Swansea are now vulnerable. All this gives us good reason to expect goals at both ends.

Recommended Bet: Back Over 2.5 goals @ 2.0621/20

Burnley v Peterborough

The bottom two sides meet in the Championship.

Defeat for Burnley would see them slip into last place, something that must have seemed unthinkable a month ago, after winning their opening game against Bolton. While the situation is even worse for last place Peterborough, who've lost all of their matches, and who'd be left at least four points adrift at the bottom, should they lose again.

The ray of hope for both teams is that there's evidence they actually could turn things around. Neither has been suffering especially heavy defeats. The problem, especially for Peterborough, is scoring goals. Darren Ferguson's side have netted just twice in four games, with both of those strikes coming at home.

On the flip side, Peterborough's defeats have all been tight, with nobody yet to score against them more than twice. So Burnley's record of five goals scored in four games shouldn't fill them dread, especially considering that Burnley's goals came against sides who engage in fairly open games, such as Huddersfield and top-of-the-table Brighton.

Recommended Bet: Back Under 2.5 goals @ 2.186/5


Reading v Tottenham

Reading's record reads two games, eight goals. The Premier League newcomers could just be the new Blackpool, here to entertain us with their ambitiously attacking style. Certainly that's how they played against Chelsea, when with the score at 2-2, manager Brian McDermott chose to bring on fresh strikers in a bid to win the game, rather than hang on to what they had.

That style of play should worry Tottenham boss Andre Villa Boas, who two weeks ago saw his side unravel against a similarly adventurous Norwich. That game saw Spurs repeatedly exposed at the back. Villas Boas' liking for defending high-up the pitch just doesn't look to be working at the moment. The players appear uncomfortable with the system, and a Spurs clean sheet looks like it could be along time in coming.

Reading have played three times so far, Tottenham twice, with both teams scoring in all five of those games. This match quite simply screams goals. Reading need a first win, while Tottenham need it even more. In fact, anything but a victory for Villas Boas would be a disaster. I expect neither side to back down, in this winner takes all contest.

Recommended Bet: Back Over 2.5 goals @ 2.0621/20

Osasuna v Mallorca

With two wins and a draw from three games, Mallorca have enjoyed a positive start to the season. They could find things much tougher though this weekend.

Their results so far have been what I'd call 'industrious', resulting in narrow home wins over Espanyol and Sociedad, both of whom finished bottom half of the table last season. A trip to Pamplona though should be much more testing. 7th in the league last season, Osasuna won 10 and lost just three of their 19 games at the El Sadar stadium, conceding on average one goal per game. The odds therefore on Mallorca netting more than once look slim.

Mallorca themselves though are no mugs at the back. The islanders have conceded just two goals so far and will be looking to keep things tight as usual. Also, they may have caught their opponents at just the right time, with Osasuna slow out of the traps this season, having scored just once in their opening three games.

With two proven defenses on show, and high work rates likely from both teams, a low-scoring game looks a solid call.

Recommended Bet: Back Under 2.5 goals @ 1.75/7

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