What Were The Odds Of That?
Reading gave United all they could handle, Swansea upset Arsenal while the Madrid Derby failed to live up to expectations. As another weekend of football betting comes to a close, Ed Malyon digs into the results to see where the value was.
Arsenal’s season down the Swanny?
As is the case in the immediate aftermath of most Arsenal defeats these days, we fund ourselves suddenly plunged back into the midst of the Gunners’ inexorable march towards crisis and oblivion with Wenger/Bould/Gazidis/Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith absolutely, completely one million per cent to blame, probably.
The fact that Arsene Wenger has done so much for the club means that it’s far more difficult for fans of the club to criticise him, but with professional media-arse Piers Morgan leading the calls for the Frenchman’s sacking, there has been a swell of support for this underground and fickle movement.
Nonetheless, defeat to Swansea at the Emirates this weekend was tough for the fans to handle. Michael Laudrup’s side were one of the first Premier League sides outside the traditional top four or five to go to Arsenal’s shiny, glistening home and completely outplay them – something that the Wenger detractors are taking as a surefire sign that the Frenchman’s powers are on the wane.
Swansea’s win came at a best price pre-match of 8.00, making it the biggest upset of the season. It overtook Norwich’s wins against Manchester United and the Gunners themselves, and in terms of league position put Swansea just three points off the Champions League places.
This weekend’s Premier League results in general turned out to be quite surprising, and at an average winning price of 3.3, it has been statistically the most unexpected round of fixtures that we have seen this season.
Bayern Munich’s unforgiving rampage towards the Bundesliga title took a momentary pause this weekend, but it looks likely to be little more than that as Borussia Dortmund failed to win the six-pointer that would have given them at least a fighting chance of some glory on the domestic front this season.
Eleven points separated the sides before the game, a farcically large gap given Dortmund’s performances over the last two campaigns, and Jurgen Klopp’s side wee undoubtedly faced with a must-win game at the Allianz Arena.
Given how few visitors come away from the Allianz with anything but souvenirs – except of course when playing Munich’s second team, 1860 – it was never going to be simple to try and take all three points back to Westfalen with them and as it turned out they were lucky to get one in a scrappy fixture.
The game’s two goals came from a pair of bright young talents in Toni Kroos and Mario Götze, and the lineups on show spoke volumes about what the teams had wanted to get out of the fixture.
Bayern had chosen one of their most conservative possible XIs, while BVB went with their most dynamic and attacking front four instead of a perhaps more logical choice in utilising the tireless work-rate of Kevin Großkreutz.
The 1-1 draw, one of four examples of that scoreline from nine games this weekend, would have felt like a win for the hosts as it cemented their buffer at the top of the table. Bayer Leverkusen are in second, and don’t have the distraction of the Champions League like the other two, but being eight points off and having second-tier continental distractions makes them unlikely to figure.
This is reflected in the prices, with Bayern best-priced at around the 1/12 mark, and Dortmund second-favourites at 12/1. Leverkusen were the only one of four odds-on sides to actually taste victory this week but find themselves outside 50/1 for the Bundesliga championship.
Italy’s Serie A saw a weekend of little surprise as eight of the round’s ten fixtures went the way of the favourites.
Some of those were minutely-priced winners like Napoli’s 1.2 average mark before playing Pescara, or Juventus’ 1.34 average ahead of the Turin derby, but Milan and Udinese’s wins were both comfortable victories on the field achieved at prices outside evens.
The two that went against the grain were Fiorentina’s draw with Sampdoria, where the hosts’ failed to kick on and win after equalising with fifteen minutes to go, and Chievo’s 4-2 win at Genoa.
Genoa being favourites was perhaps an overreaction to their win against Atalanta, which was a good result without doubt – and the biggest shock this month in Serie A - but was their first win in nine game with the Flying Donkeys having at least shown some more impressive signs of late.
Mad for it
The biggest game in Spain this weekend was, quite frankly, a bit of a damp squib. The Madrid derbi ended up as a lacklustre affair that always seemed over after Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal and failed to deliver the excitement that we had expected between the best Atleti side in years and a Real team at a low ebb.
The biggest shock – and probably most entertaining game – instead came in Valencia, where Real Sociedad beat the hosts 5-2 at the Mestalla in a game that would signal the end of the road for Mauricio Pellegrino as manager.
With Los Che just four points off fifth it may seem a bit premature, especially with him being a young manager that is beginning to build a promising midfield, but La Real’s win was deemed a 5.5 outside shot by some bookmakers and going down in such spectacular fashion at home often makes results seem far worse.
Philippe Montanier has turned things around spectacularly in San Sebastián after his job was said to be on the line, and now his Txuri-Urdin are looking to be in the battle for a European place.
A final word this week has to go to Barca, who comfortably beat a side claiming to be Athletic Bilbao this weekend and saw their outright La Liga odds shorten to a best-priced 2/17 thanks to Real’s win against Atletico. “Cheers guys.”
Follow Ed on Twitter : @eaamalyon
You can read more of Ed's thoughts at The Mirror