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The Over/Under 2.5 Goals Column: Goals at the Cottage but goal-drought down the road at the Bridge

Premier League RSS / / 29 January 2009 /

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Ed's column continues to bang in the winners. Last Saturday he recommended four selections and all four won, and midweek he put up another three and all three were successful. That's seven out of seven inside a week. Here are this weekend's tips...

Liverpool v Chelsea

Prior to Wednesday's Premiership fixtures I was looking for reasons to back the over 2.5 goal option in this match at what is an attractive price of [2.5].

But following Liverpool's 1-1 and Chelsea's 2-0 victory I feel that Chelsea will be more cautious than they may have been during this game, with a point being a better result now than it might have been if both teams had won midweek.

So despite odds of [2.5] on the overs being very attractive, the evidence suggests that this game will be another low scoring encounter.

In Europe, when Liverpool welcome Chelsea to Anfield, the games have lacked the "all guns blazing" approach you'd normally expect when you have two top English teams in action, with both sides deciding to be cautious and not much happening for long passages of play. A stark contrast to their Premier League encounters that tend to be a little more open.

The last four Champions League games between these sides at Anfield have ended 1-1, 1-0, 0-0 and 0-1. The last four Premier League games have ended 1-1, 2-0, 1-4 and 0-1.

Despite Liverpool drawing five of their eleven home games this term, they have not lost any and do not concede many - just seven goals (two each against Hull and Wigan).

Chelsea have been excellent away from home and post better stats this season on the road than at Stamford Bridge. They have won eight of their eleven games and scored a Premiership best of 23 goals on the road.

The two sides met as early as 19th August at Anfield last season when the score was 1-1. Liverpool went with a standard 4-4-2 with Torres and Kuyt. Chelsea went with a 4-4-1-1 with Malouda and Drogba and the Blues were happy with a draw, substituting Malouda for Alex on 85 minutes. It should be noted that Michael Essien played in the back four along with Ben-Haim. Liverpool had eight shots on target while Chelsea managed just two shots on goal.

Recommendation

Chelsea's objective for this game has changed with the midweek results. I feel they will be more concerned with not losing than they may have been before Wednesday's results. Also, I feel that Liverpool will not push themselves for a winner if level with 15 minutes to go.

I say this with self perceived confidence as Rafa Benitez continues to show ultra-cautious tendencies. He didn't go for a winner when a man up at the Emirates earlier in the season when other managers challenging for honours would have been much more aggressive - and on Wednesday his response to Wigan equalising was to bring Steven Gerrard off because he was 'tired'. Unders have to be the call, even at the price.

Recommendation: 1pt Liverpool v Chelsea Under 2.5 goals @ 1.65

Hull v West Brom

The two midweek games involving these sides has prompted me to increase my original bet from one point to two points on this game being an under 2.5 goal encounter.

Hull have only scored ten goals at home, only one team has a worst home scoring record in the Premiership, and if there was a league table just looking at home performances the Tigers would be bottom as they have won just three of their eleven matches.

They have won just one of the last ten games, scoring just ten goals in the process. As such, and following a comprehensive 2-0 defeat at Upton Park (West Ham had 13 shots on target), they will be looking to get a result, and I'm sure that although Phil Brown will be looking for a win against West Brom the number one priority is not to concede, seeing as his side have gone 15 games since they last kept a clean sheet. And more importantly, they have not picked up any points since drawing with Liverpool at Anfield on 13th December. A 1-0 win would be more than enough for Brown, a 0-0 or 1-1 could also be deemed acceptable.

West Brom are very poor away from home. They would be second bottom in an away league table with just four points and four goals from eleven matches. They have lost nine times on the road and suffered a 0-5 reverse at the Hawthorns against Man Utd on Tuesday night. As such you can be sure that Tony Mowbray will have taken his team for extra defensive drills and their mindset on Saturday will be more to keep a clean sheet than to score.

Recommendation

2pts Hull v West Brom Under 2.5 goals @ [1.85]

Fulham v Portsmouth

Portsmouth have scored in all but one of their Premiership contests at Craven Cottage and despite suffering defeat midweek they played well against Villa, creating plenty of chances even when down to ten men.

The worry for going long on goals is that Peter Crouch is the only Pompey player with more than two Premier League goals to his name. For those looking for reasons to go short on goals, the fact these sides have both scored just nine times in their last eleven Premiership could be a telling statistic.

Portsmouth have scored just eight goals on the road all season while Fulham have conceded just eight goals all season in front of their own fans. They would be in fourth place in a league table consisting of just home results.

Only two of Portsmouth's last eight away games have been over 2.5 goal affairs but Fulham have been involved in six over 2.5 goal games - 60% of all home games in fact.

Portsmouth have been performing better away from Fratton Park recently, and it may just be that they score again this weekend. But I expect Fulham to score - they have done so in all but one game in front of their fans this season.

Recommendation

I can understand why many will play the unders in this game - but there are valid reasons to think that we might see three or more goals here, and at the prices I favour a small play on the over 2.5 goals market, with a saver on the 1-1.

Recommendation:

1pt Fulham v Portsmouth Over 2.5 goals @ [2.22]
0.15pt Fulham v Portsmouth 1-1 @ [7.4]

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