Salah - 25.08.2020, Red Bull Arena, Salzburg, AUT, Testspiel, FC Red Bull Salzburg vs FC Liverpool, im Bild Mohamed Salah FC Liverpool // during Friendly Football Match between FC Red Bull Salzburg and FC Liverpool at the Red Bull Arena in Salzburg, Austria on 2020/08/25. **** ONLY GERFRAITAESPSUISSEGBR **** Salzburg *** 25 08 2020, Red Bull Arena, Salzburg, AUT, Test match, FC Red Bull Salzburg vs FC Liverpool, in the picture Mohamed Salah FC Liverpool during Friendly Football Match between FC Red Bull Salzburg and FC Liverpool at the Red Bull Arena in Salzburg, Austria on 2020 08 25 ONLY GER FRA ITA ESP SUISSE GBR Salzburg EP_fei.

Inside Edge: Record-seeking Salah and La Liga market misconception

Over the next few months, Form Labs – a division of Bettorlogic – will be looking at the best of the weekend’s sporting activity.

This time, we check on Mo Salah’s pursuit of Teddy Sheringham’s opening day scoring record and the chances of a fast Premier League start for the promoted teams, before addressing the media hype around Barcelona’s (Messi inclusive) ageing squad and why Novak Djokovic’s New York meltdown was such a great result for the bookmakers.

Salah chases Sheringham record

We’ve barely had time to catch our breath, but all of a sudden football fans across the UK are making a B-line to their computers in a last minute scramble to perfect their fantasy football teams for the opening gameweek of the Premier League.

Favourites Man City (1.81 to win the title) will have an extended pre-season due to their European commitments, meaning their fixture against Aston Villa will have to be rescheduled. Therefore, they can’t improve on an impeccable opening day record, which has seen them win nine on the bounce and six of the last seven without conceding. They’re currently trading at 2.7 with Betvictor to win to nil in their opener against Wolves next week.

Leeds have waited 16 years to taste Premier League football again, and opening day fixtures don’t come much sweeter than this. They’re as long as 11.5 on the Betfair exchange to stop champions Liverpool from getting to 60 home matches unbeaten in the league. 

Much of the liquidity in the goalscorer market will be on Mo Salah who has scored on the opening day in all three seasons in a Liverpool shirt, whilst having also done so in his final season at AS Roma. Only Teddy Sheringham has a longer Premier League streak, netting on matchday one four years in a row between 1992 and 1995. The Egyptian leads the market and goes off at 1.8 to score anytime.

Promoted teams also don’t have the best record at the start of the season, having trailed at both half-time and full-time in 38% of their opening gameweek matches since 1998/99, a growing trend as it’s been the case in 44% of such games since 2008/09. Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester go off at 2.5, 1.91 and 3.3 in the W/W HT/FT market against Fulham, Leeds and West Brom respectively.

Chelsea’s new look side gets going on Monday night against Brighton. Neither of their new defensive signing Thiago Silva or Ben Chilwell will be ready to start for the Blues, while Timo Werner will be looking to join a group of Chelsea forwards to score a Premier League debut goal in recent times – Alvaro Morata, Diego Costa, Willian, Pedro, Alexandro Pato and Juan Mata all achieved the feat. The German is even money to find the back of the net at the Amex.

Click here to see Form Labs’ extensive 2020/21 Premier League Analysis

Has the La Liga market overcorrected from media hype?

It’s not just the Premier League that returns this weekend, with another Spanish title race to get stuck into. Much of the summer speculation has surrounded the Lionel Messi saga, but with the Argentine staying put are Real Madrid too short? 

Los Blancos go off at around the same price as Man City this season. Over £22k has been matched on the exchange, but they do have some issues to consider at that price.

Despite all the discussion about Barca’s ageing squad (average age 26), Real’s is even older at 26.7. That includes key players Sergio Ramos (34), Luka Modric (34) and Karim Benzema (32), to name a few. The latter carried the team last year with 21 goals, while Ramos was second top scorer with 11, highlighting their problem with output. 

They scored three or more goals on just 10 occasions in each of the last two seasons, while they at least doubled that tally in four of the previous five seasons, prompting the question: have they properly replaced Cristiano Ronaldo?

Defensive stability was at the core of their title bid last year, though any lapses this season will be punished by dropped points and their Catalan rivals could be considered better priced at a long 2.88.

Neither will feature on the opening day this season, and as the league’s regular top scorers we’d expect some concentration on the ‘Unders’ goal market. Excluding matches involving either Barcelona or Real Madrid, La Liga has seen Under 2.5 Goals land in 61% of 136 opening round fixtures since 2003/04, and there’s no reason to expect this weekend to not follow suit

Djokovic woe means sportsbook joy!

Novak Djokovic’s surprise default from the US Open means we’re going to get a maiden Grand Slam winner on Sunday for the first time in six years. As mentioned last week, much of the market liquidity was on Djokovic to seal an 18th Slam win, though betting providers would have been licking their lips at the news of Nole’s disqualification, especially as it was early enough for punters to delve back into the market to find a new winner.

Much of the new money has been pumped on last year’s finalist Daniil Medvedev, who is currently trading as favourite at 2.56 and is yet to drop a set en route to the semis. However, more has been lumped on Sasha Zverev at a whopping 5.0 which seems far too long considering his route puts only world number 27 Pablo Carreno Busta in his way. 

The German has won five of his six head-to-heads with Medvedev too and with a distinct possibility they’ll meet in the final you’d have to say the market has not reacted well.

A repeat of the heated 2018 final on the women’s side of the draw with Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams came close, but the American lost out in her semi-final to Victoria Azarenka, meaning she’s failed to equal Margaret Court’s Grand Slam record in nine attempts now since returning to the WTA Tour. By no means does that make this final a mere formality for Osaka (1.65), even if the majority of the £300k matched in the women’s outright is staked on her. 

The last three winners have all won at bigger prices than Azarenka’s (2.48), while only legends of the game Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and the Williams’ sisters have lifted this title more than once in the Open era. 

Stat of the day

Fulham midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa attempted 103 dribbles last season for Villarreal in La Liga, successfully completing 85 of them (82.5%). Only Lionel Messi (182) and Nabil Fekir (98) completed more than the Cameroon international.

Form Labs delivers bespoke editorial covering a variety of sports to a number of sportsbooks. For further details contact Nick Haynes on [email protected].

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