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Sunday Football Tips: Go low on cards on final day

Referee Graham Scott
Graham Scott: One of the most lenient Premier League referees

Following the historical trend for few cards on the final day of the Premier League season is the approach our football props column is taking on Sunday...

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In a weekend where the title is heading to either Manchester or North London, both Pep Guardiola's and Mikel Arteta's side must turn up on Sunday, just incase the other does win. City know the title is theirs with a win, whilst Arsenal are relying on West Ham to do them a favour and any dropped points from City means the Gunners can win the title with a win over Everton.

Betfair have decided to get involved in the title race, and offer a Superboost across both title defining matches, with both the West Ham and Everton GK each to make 3+ saves, now priced at 1/12.00 (was [1/4!]).

Interestingly, only Man Utd's goalkeeper has a higher save ratio than Everton's (74%) and West Ham's (73%), with Jordan Pickford (3.2) and Alphone Areola (4.3) averaging over the 3+ barrier in their Premier League games this season.

Both 'keepers are set to be very busy on Sunday, as not only do they come up against sides who need to win, they come up against sides who are in red hot form in front of goal.

Man City are averaging 7.6 shots on target per home game in 2024, firing 36 on target across their last three games. They also lead the league overall this season with 7.2 per game.

Arsenal meanwhile, have managed 3+ shots on target in all eight of their home games in 2024, averaging 7.1 per game since the turn of the year.

Expect Pickford and Areola to be in the firing line on Sunday.

Premier League final day
Sunday 19 May, 16:00
Live on Sky Sports and TNT Sports (selected games)

History shows the final day of the Premier League season is a good time to go low on cards.

Indeed, I've spent plenty of time this week pulling out the stats for no-card games on matchday 38 - and the data shows there's been at least one cardless game on the last day in nine of the last 10 seasons. Last May, there were two.

Had I known that no markets would be available on which to place such I bet, I might not have bothered!

Perhaps that's got something to do with the fact that no-card games have been rarer this season with referees having clamped down on certain behaviour, such as back chat and delaying tactics. This has seen the cards-per-game average rise from 3.7 last term to 4.36 this.

In 2023/24, only seven of the 370 matches so far have been cardless but I suspect there will be one somewhere on Sunday, especially when you consider the moaning and time-wasting would appear less likely given not so much will be at stake.

Leg 1: Under 2.5 cards in Burnley v Forest

While we can't bet on under 0.5 cards, the ability to go under certain other lines is still there and so my approach will be to back an under-cards treble - last season half the final-day games saw under 2.5 cards.

Let's start with an archetypal final-day game - Burnley v Nottingham Forest.

There's not really anything at stake here with Burnley already relegated and only a massive, unrealistic goal swing would send Forest down with them.

Both sides have featured among those seven cardless games this season and referee Graham Scott has long been known as a lenient official.

Of the officials who have taken charge of multiple top-flight games this season, Scott is the second-most lenient, averaging just 3.2 yellows per game.

His only previous final-day game saw just one card and with neither side anywhere near the bottom of the fair-play table, I'm happy to go with under 2.5 cards in this one.

Leg 2: Under 2.5 cards in Man City v West Ham

Next, let's head to the Etihad where Manchester City will be looking to clinch the title and they are hot favourites to do so against a West Ham side who have finished the season poorly and could well be brushed aside.

Even if it is competitive, it's worth noting City's final-day, title-deciding clash with Brighton in 2019 saw no cards - and that saw them fall a goal down early on.

City have been involved in two no-card games this season - plus another in the FA Cup which landed this column a 27/1 winner - and they've not received a card in four of their last five games (and six of their last 11).

Like City, West Ham have received few cards in recent seasons, including this one, so under 2.5 cards again gets the nod.

Leg 3: Under 2.5 cards in Liverpool v Wolves

Finally, under 2.5 cards at Anfield looks worth including.

There will be a party atmosphere here as the home side, who will finish third regardless of the result, say goodbye to manager Jurgen Klopp.

Mid-table Wolves also have nothing to play for so don't expect ref Chris Kavanagh to be too busy.

He's gone under 2.5 cards in three of his four final-day games in the past and can do so again.

Read all our Premier League final-day previews!

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Column P/L 2023/24

Staked: 259pts
Returned: 280.36pts
P/L: +21.36pts

2022/23 P/L: +68.69pts

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