The 2nd half of the season kicks off with another terrific set of fixtures but the bookies seem to be expecting one or two sides to be nursing a New Year hangover judging by the projected goal-lines from their match odds forecasts. They are predicting some low-scoring affairs, notably, Sunderland versus Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion versus Stoke City, as can be seen in the table below.
Penciling in the Potters at just 1.07 goals seems a bit harsh bearing in mind that they have been in such impressive form, dispatching both Manchester clubs and winning at Goodison Park in their last 6 games. The improved form of Marko Arnautovic has not gone unnoticed and the big Austrian, who has accounted for 7 goals and 3 assists so far, was the subject of a recent WhoScored piece by Martin Laurence. Perhaps it’s a case of the bookies banking on Tony Pulis having too much inside information on his old club in their affirmation that the Baggies can neutralise Stoke’s attacking threat to such extent. If West Brom can manage that and even pull off a victory against his former side then that would certainly be a feather in his cap!
The two aforementioned fixtures are definitely worth closer scrutiny for fantasy managers who like to stack their defences with players from the same team in an attempt to secure those valuable clean sheet points while Arsenal and Manchester United, who face Newcastle United and a goal-shy Swansea City side respectively, also look capable of keeping their opponents out.
Everton versus Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday looks the pick of the round and goals could be in plentiful supply. Despite having the league’s most-sought after defender John Stones in their ranks, Everton’s fixtures have been averaging over 3.3 goals per game this season. This will no doubt have had manager Roberto Martinez scratching his head in the dugout and another high-scoring affair looks to be on the cards when a rampant Spurs side come to Goodison Park. The Lilywhites are up to 4th place now and are just 4 points off top spot with a better goal difference than all their rivals. They look like serious title contenders and another away victory would certainly signal their intent!