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Football Form Labs weekend preview

Not getting enough of your football betting? Put some stats behind your gut instincts and work out when to really lump on. One of the very best in the business is Football Form Labs who have shared their wisdom with a preview of some of this week's action. You can also follow Football Form Labs on Twitter, @footballformlab

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PREVIEW: Liverpool v Everton (Sat, 12:45)

The Merseyside Derby kicks off the Premier League weekend and if last season’s meetings are anything to go by we’ll be in for a cracker. Liverpool won this fixture 4-0 back in January while the first derby last season was a 3-3 at Goodison and Sturridge and Suarez scored in both matches.

With Liverpool having lost three of their last four matches and Everton coming off a shock defeat at home against Crystal Palace this is a crucial game as both teams look to get some momentum and move up the table. Liverpool have won 17 of their 21 home games since the start of last season but the sale of Luis Suarez and the injury to Daniel Sturridge has clearly weakened them significantly in attack while their defensive vulnerabilities remain.

Everton have scored first in four of their opening five games so a return of just one win will be a huge disappointment as they’ve conceded 13 times already. However, their away form since the latter part of last season is good with five wins and just one defeat in their last eight away games. Furthermore, in the past two seasons their record away to teams that finished 3rd-7th is W1-D4-L3 and they look perfectly capable of avoiding defeat at Anfield, as they’ve done in two of the past four seasons. With that in mind the 3.9 for the draw looks well worth taking, particularly as Liverpool have a crucial trip to Basel on Wednesday to think about and so may not risk the recovering Sturridge.

With these two defences ‘overs’ will definitely be popular and it’s hard to argue with. 15 of Liverpool’s last 18 home games have had at least three goals with 12 having four or more strikes. However, six of Everton’s eight trips to last season’s top nine had fewer than three goals and we could be in for a more cautious derby than in recent meetings. It’s worth waiting for the team news before getting involved in the goals markets but Liverpool have played just two games since the start of last season without Sturridge and Suarez - their last two matches – and they’ve scored only once, so Under 2.5 Goals currently looks some value at 2.38.

PREVIEW: Arsenal v Spurs (Sat, 16:00)

Arsenal are one of only two teams to be unbeaten after five games but with three draws they are already four points off the pace and have been unimpressive so far. Spurs, meanwhile, have picked up just one point from their last three games and now face a very busy couple of months with Europa League alongside domestic commitments.

The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 20 home games and while they’ve rarely beaten the very best in recent seasons they’ve been superb against teams just below the top level. Against teams that finished 5th-10th in the past two seasons they’ve W7-D4-L1 with six wins by more than one goal.

Spurs, meanwhile, lost at each of the top four last season, including two 4-0 losses and a 6-0, and failed to score at any of the five teams that finished above them. Pochettino has been bought in to improve their performances in these games but Southampton lost eight of their 12 matches last season against the top six whilst conceding 2.17 goals per game. At 1.8 Arsenal are worth backing here, particularly given their superb home record in the derby, and they are also worth supporting on the -1.5 Asian Handicap at about 3.0.

North London derbies have a history of goals in recent seasons and both sides have been more ‘overs’ than ‘unders’ so far this term. Six of Arsenal’s last eight home games have had at least three goals as have eight of Spurs’ 10 trips to top-six finishers in the past two seasons. While Pochettino didn’t enjoy much success against the big boys last term his Southampton side were not afraid to attack in those matches and Over 2.5 Goals is a good price at 1.8.

Dirty Derbies Dirtier in Serie A:

The Premier League is not the only league featuring major derbies this weekend as Schalke take on Dortmund in the Bundesliga and Genoa face Sampdoria in Italy. Out of the Big 5 leagues, Serie A comes second only to La Liga for the worst disciplinary record. In the past 11 years, there have been 4.49 yellow cards per game and 0.30 sending offs, accumulating 52.4 booking points. So if regular Serie A matches are this fiery, how dirty must their derbies be?

Well it turns out very. In the three biggest Serie A derby matches (Milan derby, Genoa v Sampdoria, and Lazio v Roma), there have been, on average, 83.5 booking points per derby (56 derbies in last 11 years). That is the equivalent of more than three extra yellows, every derby match. The average Premier League derby game saw 42.7 booking points – less than one extra caution more than the average Premier League game. English derbies seem a bit timid in comparison.

Probably the most famous Italian derby is the ‘Derby della Madonnina’ (AC vs Inter), played at the iconic San Siro. On average, this game produces 71.8 booking points, as well as a red card nearly every other match. This, however, is the ‘tamest’ of the biggest four derbies, despite having over 14 more booking points than the Premier League’s dirtiest derby.

Without doubt, however, the most ill-tempered and fiery Italian derby in recent years is Genoa v Sampdoria. A recent encounter in the 2009/10 season, reached a staggering 200 booking points, involving four red cards, and ten bookings. This isn’t an anomaly either. The season before, the derby produced 175 booking points. In the last six meetings where Genoa have been the nominal home team (they share the ground), five of the games have generated over 100 booking points and involved at least eight bookings and one red card, with an average of 130 booking points from the six derbies. A sending off this weekend can be backed at 2.6.

The other major derby is in the capital, between Roma and Lazio. This, like the Genoa v Sampdoria derby, produces a tremendous amount of ill-discipline. In the last 11 years, none of the 22 Rome derbies have had fewer than 50 booking points. Moreover, in the last six seasons, the 12 derbies have averaged 104 booking points, with seven totals of over 100. 10 of these 12 games have seen a red card, and five have seen more than one player take an early shower.

Player Analysis:

Using Form Lab Black’s player analysis tool we’ve looked around Europe and found three teams who will be missing important players in this round of matches and without them they look set to struggle.

N.B. Appearances mentioned below relate to starting and completing an hour unless otherwise specified.

Championship
Birmingham v Fulham
Lee Novak, Forward, Birmingham


Novak has missed 21 of Birmingham’s 54 matches since the start of last season and without him they’ve lost 13 times including picking up just two points from their last nine home games in his absence. Fulham might be at the foot of the table but they might be worth backing to take three points here at 2.75.

Nottingham Forest v Brighton
Andy Reid and Chris Cohen, Nottingham Forest


Forest are missing two key players in Reid and Cohen and it’s been a familiar story as both missed much of the second half of last season. In the 18 matches that both have been missing for since 2013/14 Forest have W3-D5-L10. This compares to a record of W11-D6-L2 when both have been playing. With that in mind the 1.75 for Brighton the Double Chance looks a good bet.

Visit Football Form Labs to turn your gut feel into proper, profitable research.

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