There are two ways of looking at Burnley’s promotion and how they might respond with the title up for grabs: a) they are so professional, they are bound to be switched-on for the trip to Charlton, or b) they have been so switched-on for so long, it’s going to be extremely difficult for them to recover that level of focus now they’ve finally let their guard down.
Traditionalists might bristle at the mere suggestion, but the silverware on offer to the Clarets here barely registers in significance compared to the reported £180 guaranteed windfall that last Monday’s 1-0 win over QPR secured. Not even for a team or a club who’s all-round attitude is as admirable as theirs.
That’s not to say they don’t want to win it, of course they do. On balance, though, after a week of celebrations, we probably shouldn’t expect the same intensity to their approach. For Charlton, it’s no longer about survival or relegation, or even playing for contracts. The pressure is virtually non-existent, the Addicks are doing it for themselves and it makes them dangerous opposition.
Last weekend, Jose Riga led the Londoners to an impressive 2-1 win at Leeds - impressive insomuch that Steve Evans has had the Whites fired-up more than most mid-table sides in recent weeks - with a performance that prompted many questions about what might have been had the clueless Roland Duchatelet overlooked the hopeless Karel Fraeye and re-appointed the 58-year-old sooner.
Slowly but surely, Riga has pieced together a whole at least equal to the sum of its parts but the shoots of recovery have appeared just a little too late. Had the Addicks been churning out a points-per-game average of 1.36 since the start of November rather than the start of March, they would now be 13 points better off, sitting in 15th position.
Alas, it’s Riga who departs in the summer and not Duchatelet but in the meantime the Addicks can land the 6/1 on offer here. My 16-match shot data makes the Clarets quarter-ball favourites, yet the market has lumped an extra 0.93 goals on top of that. In short, it suggests the title incentive is worth an extra 3.5 points on what you get paid about a Charlton win.
When the differential is so great, it pays long-term to go in search of other avenues that exploit the inaccuracy even further. To that end, I’m settling on the Charlton 2-0 correct score at 45/1 in pursuit of a bumper payday. By standard conversion, my tissue makes it 18/1. The truth, of course, will be somewhere in between, but a lot closer to the 18s than the 45s.
Click here for more information about Mike Holden’s shot-based ratings system