Burnley v Sunderland Cheat Sheet
Burnley v Sunderland
The resumption of the Championship programme begins with an enticing looking match between two of the most technically gifted sets of players in the league.
The problem that Sunderland have had, for over half the season, is the lack of a focal point forward. When Ross Stewart and/or Ellis Simms were available to them the Black Cats were definitely a more complete unit, able to build around a strong, but still technically capable, centre forward. The move for Joe Gelhardt in January saw them bring in a forward, but Gelhardt was never designed to play the way that he is having to be used by Tony Mowbray. The Leeds man would be ideally used as a support striker but the effect is quite detrimental to Gelhardt, his potential development, the way that Sunderland supporters are viewing his performances, and, ultimately, the results that Sunderland have been getting of late.
The Wearsiders have slipped from the playoff places to a situation by which, if they lose this match, it will probably see them out of the race for the top six altogether. There is plenty of cause for optimism for Black Cats fans though because there probably isn’t another Championship side with the potential of Sunderland, given their age profile of the squad and the size and ambition of the club.
Burnley, though, have been supreme front-runners in the Championship. They were perhaps guilty in the first half of the season of running slightly hot on their numbers, i.e. winning more points than ‘expected’ judging their performances on expected goals. However, they have actually managed to kick on in the second half of the season to the point that their expected goals and expected points have been the best in the competition since the end of the transfer window.
Nowhere is this dominance felt more than at Turf Moor. Taking their last ten home games as a sample size, Burnley have dominated their opponents by an average of 1.5xG per match. That is a huge differential. Mostly this has been expressed in the scorelines as well, with 3-0 to Burnley being the most common scoreline across the ten matches, being hit 4 times. There have also been 4-0, 3-1 and 3-2 scorelines in this period with only one draw.
Sunderland are by no means a weak travelling team though. They have more away points in the league than home points and emerged from Carrow Road last time with a 1-0 victory, albeit they lost the xG battle in that match.
Only Coventry have prevented Burnley winning the home xG battle convincingly recently whereas Sunderland have won that only four times across their last ten away matches. We can be fairly convinced that Burnley are going to be the more dominant attacking force in this encounter given the performance form and history, it is simply a case of whether that performance edge will end up giving Vincent Kompany’s side victory.
Though the price is representative of the perceived Burnley dominance I believe that it is still worth including the Burnley win in the Bet Builder to give us a basis to view the match from.
It has already been touched upon that matches at Turf Moor tend to see a lot of goals, mainly Burnley goals. In the most recent ten matches, eight of them have gone over 2.5 goals.
This output isn’t quite matched by the expected goals data, but Burnley have been performing consistently above their expected goals this season. This looks to be by virtue of some quality finishing, especially from their wide forwards. Nathan Tella is now Burnley’s top scorer with a couple of recent hat-tricks, but Anass Zaroury and Manuel Benson have also over performed their xG by some margin with some long range efforts.
Five of Sunderland’s last ten away matches have gone over 2.5 goals. However, from the five matches that didn’t go over in actual goals, the xG on those matches were 2.7, 2.5, 2.1, 1.8, and 2.4, all of which could quite conceivably have gone over, none were shutouts. Sunderland simply aren’t the type of team to go to anyone and sit rigidly behind the ball and show a lack of ambition. Their skill is in being on the ball, whether that is springing the counter attack, or controlling ball possession.
Given the pattern of play expected in this match I like the price on over 2.5 goals. This is preferred to Both Teams To Score as it is possible for Burnley to cover this mark on their own, as they have in 7 of their last 10 at home.
The referee for this match is Jarred Gillett. The Australian has been more often found in the Premier League this season, but is well used to Championship action, having covered the league extensively in previous seasons.
Gillett has covered 12 Premier League matches this campaign with 38 yellow cards and 1 red dished out. This comes to an average of 3.17 yellows per match. In the two Championship matches he has given only 5 yellows out. This is despite a higher average of fouls given in the second tier.
For the teams themselves, Burnley are one of the least carded teams in the league, sitting at 20th in the disciplinary table. Sunderland are 5th in that table, which would encourage one to look at the price of Sunderland to be carded more often than Burnley in this match, however the concern is that in a match where the expectation is for a fairly low number of cards, that the draw in that market is too much of a risk.
Instead I was pleasantly surprised by the under 3.5 cards line being priced competitively. Given that each of the teams has recently had a number of matches in which they haven’t seen a yellow at all, Sunderland four times in their last ten, this seemed like the best choice for the builder.
Despite the perceived lack of cards being given, that doesn’t mean that their won’t be a fair share of fouls in the match. Gillett has averaged giving 19 fouls in the Championship matches he’s covered and looking at the prices of the players to commit those fouls, there are a couple of attackable prices.
The data suggests that Jack Clarke is going to be in the thick of the action here. Indeed, the Sunderland left and Burnley right looks to be a key battleground. Clarke is the most fouled Sunderland player, but he has also conceded the most fouls over the last ten matches for the Black Cats.
Combine this with the most fouls drawn by Burnley players in the last ten matches being Nathan Tella, Burnley’s right wing forward, Josh Cullen, who we will come to in a minute, and Connor Roberts, Burnley’s right back, and Jack Clarke is going to be a busy man. It seems exceptionally unlikely that Clarke will not complete at least one foul, especially as he usually plays the 90 minutes. He is a very short price, but he is worth adding in to commit at least one foul.
As part of the same argument, Connor Roberts is a very tempting price in that market. Roberts has committed two fouls in his last two matches, and a further one each in the two matches before that. He is a very good price given that form and the likely pattern of play in this match.
Finally, it was mentioned that Josh Cullen is a regularly fouled Burnley player. He is the main man responsible for setting the Burnley tempo. Dan Neil is the key Sunderland central midfielder and no doubt the two will clash at some stages of this match. Neil has been second only to Clarke in committing fouls for Sunderland, so his price is pretty good for a foul here too.
All of the players put forward for this market are players who are usually full match players for their teams, giving them the maximum amount of time possible on the pitch to commit a foul.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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