Soccer Picks: Manchester United vs Stoke City

Nila Amerova

Thursday, October 24, 2013 6:05 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 6:05 PM GMT

As the hoopla around European competition dies down, another weekend full of domestic soccer action awaits. In the sports betting mix is the clash between Manchester United and Stoke City. Find out what the odds maker have on offer in the way of odds, and where the value is to be had.

Manchester United look to return to winning ways

This is in an intriguing new era for Manchester United and fans. A stuttering start to the season represents a nadir for the extremely proud Red Devils and their loyal followers, having to suffer the ignominy of middle-table position, following unexpected humiliations – defeat to West Bromwich at home, and defeats to arch rivals Manchester City at the Etihad and Liverpool at Anfield; as well as the shameful disgrace of draws to Chelsea and (more so) Southampton at the Old Trafford.

David Moyes now faces the task of winning over fans dubious about Fergusson’s thinking behind choosing him as his rightful heir and restoring pride that is fast waning in the wake of growing disappointments. The worrying thing is that the Old Trafford is no longer a safe haven, hallowed grounds that are sure to deliver home success. Visiting teams no longer fear the Red Devils, encouraged along by the fact that already many sides have come and gone away with points.

Moyes needs a home win badly, Manchester United has already dropped seven points over four games at home and he really can’t afford to have his side lose anymore if he hopes to keep his job through the season proper. On a side note: right now Paddy Power is offering manager special odds on David Moyes’ tenure with a bet on him to last over 1 year going for 2/7 while, at the same time, 6/1 odds are in full swing on Alex Fergusson returning to assume the reigns this season. But we digress here. Back to the matter on hand: previewing Manchester United vs. Stoke City.

That sense of urgency isn’t being felt in the market. That Manchester United is desperate for a home win, you wouldn’t know it to look at the soccer odds for their next engagement with Stoke City that are set rather high at -300 to win outright at Bet365. Are odds makers slow to cotton on? Or is Stoke City really just that bad?

Weighing the balance it seems to be the latter notion: Stoke City is really just that bad. Currently sat pretty in sixteenth place on the back of a 2-2-4 record they are just a point above the drop zone. Largely thanks to having recently snapped a three-game losing streak with a scoreless draw to West Brom at home they earned a crucial point. The worst aspect about Stoke City’s form this season however is their lack of firepower – they’ve only scored four goals over eight games but conceded seven. That and their road form leaves much to be desired with a 1-0-3 mark.

That said the difference between Stoke City (16th) and Manchester United (8th) in the table amounts to three points. As well, stats reveal an interesting picture. Manchester United is averaging 14 shots per game of which at least five have been on target; they are averaging one goal per game; and they have an average of 56% possession and an 84% pass success rate. Stoke City, by comparison, are averaging 12 shots per game, of which four have been on target; they are averaging 0.5 goals per game; and they have an average of 49% possession with a 79% pass success rate.

On balance, these stats point to so few differences between these two sides that it would almost suggest a Manchester United win can’t be nailed a sure soccer pick. Not as sure as the -350 odds at Bet365 seem to suggest it is. To put another way, it doesn’t warrant Stoke City being listed at the hefty price tag of +1000 to win outright at Bet365 now does it.

Soccer Betting Verdict

With Manchester United leaking points left and right at the Old Trafford, even against unexpected teams, nothing can be ruled out. Sports bettors therefore unconvinced by Manchester United, hesitating to back them at their pricey -300 odds, understandably will be tempted by the odds on Stoke City. Still Stoke City to mastermind an upset win at the Old Trafford belies conventional wisdom; it will require something extra special by the Potters, to say the least. If you are inclined to go against the grain, the draw bet at +400 is a better option – it really is the best Potters can hope for, a golden nugget to swell their chests with pride.

That said Manchester United really should win this game, especially now with reports that Van Persie is slated to return to action in time for this engagement. Those in ‘the-know’ know that Van Persie is a thorn in Stoke’s side – he’s scored eight goals in seven games against them. Wayne Rooney’s form has picked up of late, despite all the struggles, Manchester United, as a whole, appear to be slowly finding their feet. Of course -300 odds offer little value in terms of return for your investment so if you are looking to back a Manchester United win here are a few additional sports picks to consider: both teams have been scoring few goals in the league so the Under 2.5 at +100 looks attractive. As well a narrow win looks to be on the cards that can be matched with a one-goal winning margin bet on Manchester United at +240. The double result market is another to consider where Manchester United to win both halves is listed at -110 or a Draw-Man United win at +275.

Soccer Free Picks: Manchester United to win outright at -300 and Under 2.5 at +100

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