Lions to Maul Gunners for Fifth Consecutive Derby

Athletic Bilbao meet Eibar in La Liga on Friday night.

Kick off the Spanish Primera Division coupon with a derby winner by backing Athletic to beat Basque Country cohabitant Eibar on Friday in the opening game of the 21st round.

At first glance, Athletic does not appear worthy of odds-on favouritism for its Spanish Primera Division home match versus Eibar. After all, Athletic is two points and four rungs below Eibar on the Spanish Primera Division ladder and more half of the competition’s 380 games have been played. But, as one keeps writing, ladders have a tendency to lie until the end of tournaments and one thinks that Athletic will finish the season in a higher position than Eibar.

It is the combination of one’s Spanish Primera Division collateral form analysis and recent head-to-head results between Athletic and Eibar that gives one confidence in the Lions defeating the Gunners in Bilbao. According to one’s Spanish Primera Division collateral form data, Athletic enjoys a 9-3-7 lead over Eibar but the only reason that there is not much difference between the two teams overall is because the Lions have been relatively sloppy against the league’s lesser lights – they led one’s progressive count 6-1-1 before their outcomes versus the likes of Getafe, Girona and Betis were inferior to those of the Gunners. Athletic has faced Eibar four times since this time two years ago and the Lions have won each of their four arguments against their less illustrious regional rivals, including both clashes in Bilbao by at least two goals. Athletic are backed at  -105   with BetVictor.

Athletic has lost only one of its last 12 matches across all competitions and that when the Lions were victims of a Spanish Copa del Rey shock, conceding a 96th-minute home goal to lose 0-1 to second-tier Formentera. Eibar is eighth on the Spanish Primera Division ladder because it has been good versus lower ranked sides but the Gunners have accrued just four points from their eight Spanish Primera Division games against teams in the top nine and one believes that Athletic will end the term on the top half of the ladder.

Bookmakers are trading Saturday’s Spanish Primera Division match between Villarreal and Sociedad as though the Yellow Submarine and La Real are equals, which is neither how the ladder views it nor one’s collateral form number crunching.

Villarreal is fifth on the Spanish Primera Division ladder, 10 rungs and 11 points ahead of Sociedad. Three first-half Sociedad goals meant that La Real took out August’s reverse Spanish Primera Division fixture but most of the form book supports Villarreal being superior to their weekend guests. According to one’s Spanish Primera Division collateral form analysis, Villarreal holds an 11-3-5 advantage over Sociedad and the Yellow Submarine have a 3-1-0 edge over La Real when one only counts the results of games featuring the league’s top four sides – Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Real Madrid. One places greater emphasis on the outcomes of matches involving strong teams than weak teams and those four sides are obviously much better than their cohorts.

On a three-game winning streak across all tournaments, Villarreal is overpriced at  +114   with 888Sport to condemn Sociedad to what would be its fourth consecutive Spanish Primera Division defeat.

It was difficult to settle upon one’s third Spanish Primera Division pick. Atletico Madrid and Barcelona should be far too good for Las Palmas and Alaves respectively but their odds are too short, while Valencia would have made’s short list if it did not have two regular starters suspended. It came down to a choice between Leganes to beat Espanyol and the draw in the match between Celta and Betis, with one siding with the option featuring the Cucumber Growers.

Leganes boasts an 11-2-5 Spanish Primera Division collateral form lead over Espanyol and the Cucumber Growers beat the Budgerigars 1-0 in August’s reverse fixture yet bookmakers are betting on their Sunday showdown as though the hosts are inferior to their visitors, which frankly makes no sense. Take the  +150   on offer with BetVictor.

Below are one’s Spanish Primera Division collateral form numbers for all of the upcoming round’s 10 games.

Athletic 9-3-7
Deportivo 8-3-8
Valencia 7-4-7
Malaga 5-3-11
Villarreal 11-3-5
Leganes 11-2-5
Atletico Madrid 16-2-1
Sevilla 7-2-10
Barcelona 16-3-0
Celta 6-6-7

Athletic Bilbao to beat Eibar
Friday 26th January, 20:00 GMT
Odds:  -105

Villarreal to beat Sociedad
Saturday 27th January, 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +114

Leganes to beat Espanyol
Sunday 28th January, 11:00 GMT
Odds:  +150

Athletic Bilbao
La Liga

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