This has been the lowest scoring start to a Premier League season for over a decade. A greater competitive edge, due to heavy investment in the upper and lower echelons of the League, seems to be the most obvious reason for the average goal-rate being so markedly down.
Look at this weekend’s big-game action at Old Trafford for example, Manchester United v Arsenal is a match that has exuded openness in the last couple of campaigns (think of the 8-2 in August 2011) but now it is a tough call whether we will see goals on Sunday.
Arsenal’s £50m+ splash out on Mesut Ozil has galvanised a belief amongst the squad, raising the resilience and skill levels of their previously under-performing midfield. Their impressive 1-0 away win at Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund in midweek highlighted their new found professionalism and ability to close off matches in a sensible defensive way, something we haven’t seen for over five years from the Gunners.
David Moyes’ Red Devil’s outfit lack creativity in central midfield, and rely heavily on Van Persie and Rooney, plus the 18 year old Adnan Januzaj, to provide the match-winning moments for the reigning Champions. Arsenal had the chances to score 4 or 5 against Liverpool last Saturday, but will find it more difficult on Sunday, making this one 50/50 on whether we’ll see Over or Under 2.5 goals.
Norwich v West Ham on the Saturday maybe a slightly easier one to predict. The visitors have failed to find the net in 5 of their last 6 away matches in the Premier League with all of those games ending in Under 2.5 goals, and last September they played out a fairly dreary 0-0 draw at Carrow Road in the same fixture.
Under Pressure Canaries Boss, Chris Hughton, has seen his team draw a blank in their last two outings, with many fans in Norfolk growing tired of his functional and boring style of play. The Hammers’ head Honcho, Sam Allardyce, has always been a results-first, performance-not important sort of manager, but last week’s 0-0 draw with Aston Villa was a low point, and could stake a claim for worst game of the season so far.
I’d go for the Under 2.5 goal result here, at 1.75 Euro odds or 3/4.
Faith in the attacking abilities of Aston Villa manager, Paul Lambert, may be slowly eroding in the Midlands, in this fickle world of football. Villa have not scored a goal in the League now for over 360 minutes of play, four matches, and they are struggling to create any chances either.
Cardiff are a very hard working team who give their opponents little space in the final defensive third of the pitch, so this should be a tight, tactical battle between two up and coming Scottish managers. Malky Mackay’s Cardiff side will be buoyant after the 1-0 win over Welsh rivals Swansea last Sunday but I can’t see them improving on their average away goal rate of 0.8 goals per game.
Villa’s lack of form and confidence, added to Cardiff’s defensive organisation, should mean we see an Under 2.5 goal result here, at 1.87 Euro odds or 20/23.
England » Premier League
Norwich v West Ham, Saturday 09 Nov 2013, 17:30
50 points under 2.5 goals, best odds 1.77 @ Bovada
England » Premier League
Aston Villa – Cardiff, Saturday 09 Nov 2013, 15:00
50 points under 2.5 goals, best odds 1.83 @ StanJames