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Football Form Labs weekend preview

Not getting enough of your football betting? Looking through a form table is easy, but how do you quantify the absence of a key player? How does the absence of a striker, a midfielder or a centre-back translate to goals and results?

Put some stats behind your gut instincts and work out when to lump on and when to steer clear of a sucker bet. 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


Excerpts from the Football Form Lab Weekender email.

PREVIEW: Tottenham v Arsenal (Sat, 12:45)

The North London Derby kicks off the Premier League weekend and both sides come into this game on the back of impressive results. Arsenal thumped Villa 5-0 at the Emirates while Spurs won convincingly away against a rejuvenated West Brom following the appointment of Tony Pulis. After Southampton’s defeat against Swansea, Arsenal are now only denied their beloved fourth-place by goal difference with Spurs two points back in sixth.

Spurs have won four of their last six home games, drawing the other two, with the most notable of these wins being the 5-3 victory over Chelsea. Last season Spurs’ record in their home games against top-six sides read W1-D1-L3, with their only win coming against fifth-placed Everton. However, we arguably shouldn’t read too much into that form because under Pochettino this season Spurs had that win against Chelsea as well as beating high-flying Southampton at home and drawing at home to Man United. Furthermore, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane have been outstanding for Spurs in recent weeks, with the latter scoring eight goals in his last eight games.

Arsenal’s away form this season has been somewhat patchy with their four away wins prior to the victory at the Etihad each followed by a loss in the following away game. They’ll be hoping to break that pattern against Spurs particularly now that they have the likes of Ozil and Ramsey back from injury and they will be buoyed by the fact that they’ve won three of the last four North London Derbies, drawing the other at the Emirates earlier this season. However, their win at White Hart Lane last season was the only one they’ve had in their last six away games against Tottenham and they’ve lost three of these games.

Whilst Kane and Eriksen have been the stars of Spurs’ season so far, Alexis Sanchez has undoubtedly been Arsenal’s best player and Arsene Wenger’s announcement that the Chilean would be unavailable for this game will have been a source of concern for Arsenal fans. Whilst Arsenal have a plethora of attacking options available at the moment, none of them are as good as Sanchez and given Spurs’ impressive home record against top-six sides this season and their strong home record in the North London Derby, with their only defeat in the last six coming last season under AVB, Arsenal’s price of 2.25 looks too short. Instead, Spurs draw no bet at 2.38 looks appealing given their impressive recent form. When thinking of the North London Derby results such as the 5-2 and 4-4 at the Emirates tend to spring to mind, but the last three matches between these sides have all had fewer than three goals.

PREVIEW: Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid (Sat, 15:00)

Real Madrid travel to the Vicente Calderon this weekend in what is yet another big game for Atletico Madrid, having already played Real Madrid twice and Barcelona three times this year in all competitions. Real beat Sevilla in midweek and will be glad to welcome back Cristiano Ronaldo from suspension for this game, whilst Atletico have won five of their last six league games, with the only defeat coming away to Barcelona. Although this game kicks off at 3pm on Saturday it will be on TV so we won’t have to watch Guillem Balague watching it on his tablet like we did with the Clasico earlier in the season!

Atletico have won eight of their last nine home matches, but did lose against top-six side Villareal. Their only other home game against a top-six side this season was an impressive 4-0 win over Sevilla and looking back at last term, Atletico were unbeaten in their five home matches against the eventual top six (W2-D3), drawing their games against Real and Barca. Furthermore, Atletico will have captain Gabi back from suspension this week and Turan and Ansaldi should also both be able to take their places in the starting line-up.

Real have won nine of their last 10 away matches and like Atletico their defeat came against top-six side Valencia, but they beat Villareal in their only other game against a top-six side this season. Real’s away record against top-six sides last season is somewhat underwhelming, since they failed to win any of those games (D3-L2). Unlike Atletico, Real have a substantial injury list at the moment with James Rodriguez, Ramos, Pepe, and Modric all unavailable for this game and Marcelo also suspended. This means that Real are likely to start with the unexperienced duo of Nacho Fernandez and Raphael Varane at centre-back with Coentrao at left-back in what will be a back four with a makeshift look to it.

These two sides have met five times already this season and Atletico have won three of these games, drawing the other two. Having said all this, and despite their defensive absences, Real Madrid look too big at 2.5 to win this game. Atletico don’t look the same side that they were defensively last year, evidence of which is found in their recent trio of matches against Barcelona. Last season Atletico were unbeaten in their six matches against Barcelona in all competitions, conceding only three goals. This season, however, they’ve lost all three of their games against Barcelona, conceding seven goals in the process. Furthermore, there has been at least three goals in nine of Atletico’s last 10 home matches against the Big Two in Spain and in 10 of Real’s last 12 away matches against top-six sides, making over 2.5 goals at 1.95 a solid bet.

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PREVIEW: Everton v Liverpool (Sat, 17:30)

The final offering of a feast of derby matches on Saturday is the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park. Like Spurs and Arsenal, both Everton and Liverpool come into this game on the back of impressive wins with Everton beating Palace away and Liverpool winning 2-0 at home to West Ham as well as mounting a late comeback to beat Bolton in the FA Cup in midweek. With fellow competitors for Champions League qualification Arsenal and Spurs playing each other, Liverpool will look to close the gap and build on their good form, while Everton will hope to move back into the top-half after their recent struggles.

Everton’s win against Palace was their first in seven matches and their only win in their last five at home came against the hapless QPR, who’ve lost every away game this season. Indeed, Everton have only won three of their 11 home games this season (W3-D5-L3), whilst last season they had a record of W7-D3-L1 after their first 11 at home. Man City were the only top-half side to win at Goodison Park last season, but this term Everton have already suffered defeats at the hands of Stoke and Chelsea.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have won five of their last six including three straight away wins and now have Daniel Sturridge back close to full fitness and in contention to start this game. Sturridge has played 33 of 61 games since the start of last season and Liverpool scored an average of 2.55 goals in those games, compared to just 1.79 goals per game in games without him. The presence of Suarez in the majority of games that Sturridge has played over this period may partly explain these statistics, but Liverpool’s attacking threat will surely be boosted by Sturridge’s return, even if it is only from the substitutes’ bench. Liverpool have only lost to Everton once in the last 16 Merseyside Derbies and have won four of the last seven at Goodison Park.

The return of Sturridge together with the form of Coutinho and Sterling may be too much to handle for an Everton side that has really struggled this season. Whilst James McCarthy is finally back in the squad for Everton, he is unlikely to start this game and Everton have only won two of the 10 games he’s missed this term, averaging 0.9 points per game, compared to an average of 1.31 points in the 13 games he’s been in the side, and they also score an average of 0.97 fewer goals per game without him in that time. His absence, together with Liverpool’s recent form and dominance in Merseyside Derbies means that they look a solid bet on the Asian Handicap -0.25 at 1.95. Since there has been fewer than three goals in Everton’s last three home matches and in Liverpool’s last three away games, under 2.5 goals at 1.95 also looks appealing.

Form Labs offers you the chance to analyse hundreds of matches every week both pre-match and in-play

Player Analysis:

Using Form Lab Black’s player analysis tool we’ve looked around Europe's major leagues to find some important players that are going to be missing this weekend. For more player analysis from our analysts or to do your own player analysis sign up at Football Form Labs.

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

West Ham v Man United
Michael Carrick, Midfielder, Man United

United have only lost one of the 12 games Carrick has played this season, winning eight and drawing three but in the 11 games he’s missed they average 0.8 fewer points per game with a W4-D4-L3 record and they concede an average of 0.78 more goals per game without him. What’s more, all three of United’s away wins this season (two of which were against Southampton and Arsenal) have come with Carrick in the side and they have a W0-D3-L2 away record without him. West Ham have only lost one of their last 10 home games and can be backed at 1.94 +0.5 on the Asian Handicap.

Mainz v Hertha Berlin
Anis Ben-Hatira & Per Ciljan Skjelbred, Midfielders, Hertha Berlin

Winger Ben-Hatira and central midfielder Skjelbred are both missing for Hertha again and as expected they struggled without them in midweek in a defeat to Leverkusen that cost manager Jos Luhukay his job. Ben-Hatira and Skjelbred have played together seven times this season and Hertha have won four of these games with an average of 1.71 points per game. In their other 12 games this season Hertha average 0.50 points per game with a W1-D3-L8 record. Furthermore, Hertha have conceded an average of 3.00 goals per game in the last 7 matches that Skjelbred has missed, compared to just 1.36 in the last 11 he’s played. Mainz won their last home game 5-0 and are 1.95 to beat Hertha on Saturday.

Caen v Toulouse
Dragos Grigore, Defender, Toulouse

Centre-back Grigore is suspended for this game, meaning that Toulouse are incredibly short at the back since left-backs Matheus and Sylla, right-back Akpa-Akpro, and centre-back Kana-Biyik are all unavailable whilst there are also doubts over the fitness of centre-backs Veskovac and Spajic. Should they be unavailable as well, Toulouse may be forced to play youngster Sami Larabi at centre-back and he has only played four minutes of football in Ligue 1. Toulouse have lost six of their last seven away, while Caen have won their last two home games and they're 2.38 to make it three out of three.


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