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Fine Margins: Best bets for Friday & Sunday

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Brentford v Brighton (Friday 14 October, 1500 ET)

These two sides with largely similar philosophies and ownership face off in the Friday night clash, and we are interested in the cards angle on this one. 

These sides are ranked 16th and 18th respectively in terms of yellow cards picked up so far this season. Brentford have averaged 1.22 yellow cards per 90, which is the equivalent of just 11 cards in their nine matches. Brighton meanwhile have picked up just nine yellows in eight games. 

In terms of Brentford’s home matches, 50% of their games have seen no yellow cards for their team. Brighton meanwhile have picked up just a single yellow in their last four matches, and in fact they have only collected three yellow cards in their four away Premier League matches. 

This pattern is shaping up nicely for us to have a look at how the cards market is shaping up. There are more than a few options available, not least Under 3.5 cards in the game which looks tempting. 

But we’ll look specifically at Brighton. Their matches do not tend to produce much in the way of fouls; they are 13th in the league for fouls committed, while only Manchester United have drawn less fouls. They are in many ways the clean-shaven, well-kept team of the Premier League, one that doesn’t like to get involved in the dark arts. 

Therefore we really like the +110 for Brighton to receive Under 1.5 cards. This would have landed in every away match Brighton have played this season, so we’ll happily get this selection onside.

Pick: Brighton, Under 1.5 cards @ +110 (Bet365)


Liverpool v Manchester City (Sunday 16 October, 1130 ET)

The biggest fixture of the weekend is undoubtedly at Anfield as Liverpool take on Manchester City. While in previous seasons this clash was pivotal to the destination of the Premier League title, it appears likely that all Liverpool can do is put a spanner in the works of the champions in waiting. 

City remains imperious and Erling Haaland otherworldly. But Liverpool remain a hugely unpredictable and dangerous side. As much as we’ve seen them produce below-par performances, such as in the defeat to Arsenal and draw with Brighton, they are also perfectly capable of scoring an abundance of goals - as Rangers found out in the Champions League. 

With Liverpool matches in general it pays to get goals onside; just three of their 13 matches have gone under 2.5 goals and one of those, against Rangers at home, saw them collect their second-highest xG of the season. Also interestingly, 75% of Liverpool’s 12 goals conceded have come in the first half - a consistent problem that they have had this season. 

And as for City, well, we all know what this team is capable of in front of goal - they are averaging a whopping 3.66 goals P90 in the league and, well, Haaland is Haaland.

In general this fixture produces goals, too, with the last five meetings all going over 3.5 goals. Even if we play conservatively on that toal and go for over two goals, we can include over 0 goals in the first half. 

Finally, to round out the builder, even though this is likely to be a feisty encounter, we have the two sides with the lowest card totals in the entire Premier League facing off. So if we get Under six cards onside, too, it rounds out to a nice odds-against selection. 

Pick: Over 0 first half goals, Over 2 goals in match, Under 6 cards @ +105 (Bet365)


Real Madrid v Barcelona (Sunday 16 October, 1015 ET)

The Clasico is upon us for the first time this season and once again we want to be on the side of goals in this one and hopefully in a big way. 

The last five competitive encounters between these two have gone over two goals and they are currently the two highest scorers in La Liga, with 19 and 20 goals respectively. It’s a game that always has drama, incident, and this one will be no different. 

Barcelona have, on paper at least, been far more effective from a defensive standpoint, conceding just once in the league. But their expected goals figures tell a far different story. Against Celta Vigo last weekend they relied on last-ditch blocks and some brilliant goalkeeping from Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to keep a clean sheet, before they conceded three - and it could have been more - against Inter in the Champions League. 

Then we lump in a huge injury crisis. Eric Garcia and Gerard Pique were the pairing versus the Italians and they were torn apart. Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso, Hector Bellerin and Ronald Araujo are all either definitely out or extremely doubtful. This will be a cobbled-together back four and we can’t get on board with backing them in any capacity. 

Given Barcelona’s woes and the emergence of Rodrygo and Vinicius as legitimate goal threats this season, despite Karim Benzema’s lack of potence in front of goal, we have to take Real Madrid to inflict further damage on their rivals, and if the goals fly in, we’ve got a long-shot odds against selection to turn to.

Pick: Real Madrid and over 3 goals @ +450 (Bet365)