The Card Shark is well and truly back on track, with two winners from three selections last weekend to show an overall profit once again.
West Ham were (quite predictably) booked more than Manchester City and there was just a single booking at Anfield. The only reason we were denied a clean sweep was Mike Dean’s insistence on booking everyone in sight at Old Trafford – the only person who had worse luck with a card this week was Philip Schofield.
But nevertheless, we are in good form and what’s more, this week’s choices are all odds-against for the first time in the column’s history, so we are hopeful of another money-making week.
Reading to receive more yellow cards than Norwich City @ 21/10
I’ve been looking at the price for Reading to get booked more often than Norwich when they face each other at the Madejsk and I really can’t understand why the Royals are so big given what we have been saying in Counting Cards all season.
Neither of these sides have been particularly dirty, with Reading booked just 11 times in nine games, and normally that would make me want to have Brian McDermott’s team onside in the bookings markets.
But as we keep banging on every week, Norwich just don’t get booked. Nobody has received fewer yellow cards than the Canaries and a tally of seven all year – four of which came in one match against Arsenal – shows that this isn’t a trend and I want to be on the opposition to be in the notebook more frequently every time they play.
So I’m going to gobble up that 21/10, because it is far, far too big in my opinion.
Over 3.5 yellow cards in Everton v Sunderland @ 5/4
On Saturday, Goodison Park sees a match between two sides who are mid-table in the fair play league, but it could be worth taking a chance that there are at least four bookings.
Everton have been shown yellows on 19 occasions in ten games this year, while Sunderland have been booked just 12 times in nine, so it doesn’t immediately strike you as a match that would necessarily see a flood of cards.
But the overriding factor here for them is the presence of Lee Mason as referee. The Lancashire official loves a yellow card more than most and has produced 40 in nine games this season – an average of 4.44 a match.
All he has to do is keep up his average for the bet to land and remember, with Marouane Fellaini and Lee Cattermole on the pitch, you’re arguably halfway there before a ball has even been kicked.
Over 4.5 yellow cards in Newcastle v West Ham @ 6/5
Newcastle and West Ham are two of the dirtiest teams in the Premier League and I like the look of the odds-against shout that there are a flurry of bookings when the two meet at St James’ Park on Sunday.
It may play to every stereotype, but no team have been booked more often than Sam Allardyce’s Hammers and their 25 bookings in ten games marks them out as a team you want to be with when the yellow cards are handed out.
But Newcastle aren’t much further behind on 22 yellows and we have to be looking at the 6/5 there are five or more, especially when Mike Dean is in the middle. Dean lost the plot at Old Trafford last week, booking eight players and sending off Jack Wilshere when the match between Manchester United and Arsenal was hardly dirty at all.
Dean has booked 36 players in ten games and has shown more than four yellows in three of his last four games. And with so many other factors involved too – Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce facing former clubs, not to mention the return of Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan to their old stomping ground – we need to get involved at odds-against.