Nick Haynes from Form Labs – a division of Bettorlogic – rounds off the week with a breakdown of the week’s sporting activity. He assesses whether there’s any truth to the idea that international breaks have a negative impact on domestic football and how Tottenham may fare against Manchester City.
The international break can be perceived in different ways by clubs and fans depending on their form heading into it. It’s either a case of ‘perfect timing’ as it offers the opportunity to give the squad time to regroup and potentially break a rut, or it’s a case of ‘halting momentum’ as breaking the squad up can disrupt the positive routine that they’ve managed to get into.
Either way, it’s long been the impression that international breaks have an impact on domestic football, though we look further into whether or not there is any truth in this.
Blindly backing all teams after an international break would clearly play into a sportsbooks hands, though a more savvy approach and backing teams that head into the break in form, can reap rewards as the break can often have an overstated effect on momentum.
Prior to this season, taking teams that head into international breaks in the top four of either the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A or La Liga, backing such sides would have seen a 6.38% profit since 1998/99 taking average odds, with a best odds guaranteed would see more than a 10% take on investment, and caution should be taken when pricing up top four teams on their return.
In the Premier League, this was somewhat disproved after the first international break in October, with top four sides Arsenal and Leicester both losing, and league leaders at the time Everton held to a draw.
Aston Villa were the only side in the Champions League spots to take three points, with that coming over Leicester themselves, while the Gunners and the Toffees were up against last season’s top two in Man City and Liverpool, respectively, so it’s hard to call that a halt in momentum.
This weekend’s clashes see Leicester (24/5) face another side in the top four as they travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool (Evs), while second placed Spurs are 33/10 to beat Man City at home, and it’s 40/17 for Saints to win away at Wolves. Again, there are no easy games for the top four there, though at some longish prices they may be worth keeping tabs on.
Tottenham v Man City: Spurs to hold City at home?
Tottenham head into the weekend just one point behind leaders Leicester and this game could go a long way to telling us if Jose Mourinho’s men are really capable of a title push. City are currently stuck down in 10th place, though they have a game in hand over their rivals and a win in that fixture would leave them just two points adrift of their opponents.
Spurs have only lost once in 14 appearances across all competitions, coming away at Antwerp as Mourinho was clearly unsatisfied with some of his back-up players, making five substitutes at half-time in that clash. However, he’ll undoubtedly pick his best 11 in this contest and that defeat in Belgium was the only time his side have failed to extract maximum points from their last six.
City are hardly in poor form given they’re unbeaten in nine across all competitions since a 5-2 humiliation at the hands of Leicester in September. Nathan Ake is ruled out after picking up a hamstring injury on international duty, but new signing Ruben Dias has clearly made a difference and his partnership with Aymeric Laporte appears to be taking shape.
Pep Guardiola will hope Raheem Sterling is fit to start and will still be without Sergio Aguero, but he’s not short of options in attack. Ferran Torres has been in excellent form and bagged a hat-trick against Germany for Spain on Tuesday, while City had opportunities to win last time out in their 1-1 draw with Liverpool as Kevin De Bruyne missed from the spot and Gabriel Jesus headed a great chance wide.
Still, City do appear susceptible on their travels and they’ve already dropped points at Leeds and West Ham this term in further 1-1 draws, while Fernandinho remains sidelined. Both teams have scored in five of their seven league games this season, including three from four on the road as only low-scorers Sheffield Utd failed to find the net, so we’d expect Tottenham to find themselves on the scoresheet.
Indeed, Heung-min Son and Harry Kane have been on fire this season, providing 23 goals and 15 assists between them in all competitions so far. Son has also scored four times in as many appearances against Man City since 2018/19, while there’s the prospect of Gareth Bale either from the start or the bench as the former Real Madrid man has had a few games for club and country now to build some sharpness.
It’s still hard to fully trust Tottenham’s defence and with Matt Doherty in self-isolation, the defensively suspect Serge Aurier will likely come back into the team. Spurs do, however, appear better equipped this term and look more solid with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Moussa Sissoko providing some muscle, while Tanguy Ndombele is starting to show his worth after a disappointing debut campaign.
Tottenham are doing well at the moment and Mourinho will look to take a useful point here. Three of City’s last six league games have ended in 1-1 draws, with the last three on the road seeing them score just once in each, so a tight stalemate looks on the cards.
NFL: Packers to disregard underdog status again?
One of the highlight clashes of this weekend sees the Packers head to Indianapolis trying to better their 7-2 record, though that’s much easier said than done against one of the best defensive sides in the NFL. This is, generally speaking, a case of attack vs defence as the Packers come into this with an impressive Aaron Rogers led attack.
They rank second for touchdowns and in the top five for a number of offensive driving statistics, including average time per drive and points per drive. Their conversion rate is what separates them from the rest though, both on third downs and in the red zone. Those areas are where this game will be won and lost.
The Colts are one of the best drive preventers in the NFL, allowing one of the fewest yards and points per drive in the entire league, so it largely depends on how well Rogers can spread the ball this game.
When two sides lock horns in a particular area, they tend to be hard fought and close matches, though the Packers might be slightly too long considering their 4-1 on the road this season, including a 2-0 record in such games going in as underdogs. The totals market is also worth considering, with a 51 point line looking too high for a clash like this with the Packers not covering that in any of their last three outings, while the Colts have failed to reach that tally in three of four home matches.
Stats of the Day
- Liverpool are unbeaten at Anfield in 63 league games now, winning 29 of the last 30, but they’ve only triumphed by more than a single goal in one of six matches there in all competitions this season.
- Jamie Vardy has scored nine times in eight matches in all competitions this season, including eight from five road trips as he netted in each, while he’s bagged 15 goals from 20 league appearances away to ‘Big Six’ sides since August 2017.