A sequence of bizarre-looking odds on this weekend’s EPL bouts appears to simply defy a lot of common analyses that users will tend to make. That does not mean, of course, that bookmakers are correct and all others are wide of the mark.
Premier League markets this week have little to do with fine angles coming out of the league’s international pause, and more to do with the intuitive bent of Premiership forecasts in various publications. To wit, there is no obligatory “big match” angle or even a chronological point-of-order in starting with Saturday’s kickoff between Man City and Liverpool. It fits into the theme nicely. Man City is drawing almost a prohibitive favorite’s money-line, despite Liverpool having recently pasted Manchester United by a historically lopsided score, in addition to the not-so-extraneous October result of Reds 1, Sky Blues 0.
Saturday, Apr. 1st: Manchester City vs Liverpool
Speculators may be convinced City will take revenge over Liverpool this week, but it is simultaneously not expected to do Pep Guardiola’s club much if any, good in the chase to surpass Arsenal’s season. Arsenal F.C.’s (-190) line to win top Premier League honors not only towers over Sky Blues’ (+135) futures odds to defend 2022’s hardware, but restricts Man City to a betting price that’s similar to its Champions League 2-to-1 futures odds.
The impression that Reds were only suffering from a “hangover” losing to Cherries after an unthinkable scoring day vs MUFC was quashed when Liverpool barely mounted any charge at Real Madrid in the back leg of UEFA Champions League Round-of-16 action, losing 6-2 on aggregate to exit the event. Liverpool faces another potential goal-scoring swoon just as Reds visit City and then Chelsea before hosting Arsenal in a series of league fixtures that could send the team’s betting odds spiraling downward.
Having said that, it is still tempting to rate Reds as a 5-to-1 underdog at (+470) money-line odds, after the eruption of offense against MUFC, and considering that Liverpool has outscored City on aggregate in 3 bouts across competitions since summer. Manchester City ’23 is a squad that does not boast the type of dominant midfield edge shown in Sky Blues’ own embarrassments of Red Devils and other nearby rivals earlier this decade, putting Manchester City in the “Team France 2022” category of teams capable of looking very potent on the attack, then consolidating in other fixtures.
FanDuel is offering thin (-160) odds on Over (2.5) total goals, which scarcely seem to take note of Reds scoring swoon over Liverpool’s last 2 bouts, both of which featured a clean sheet defeat at the hands of a less-deep-in-quality opponent than Sky Blues. But perhaps this time the goal-total odds are handicapped more wisely than the other markets.
WagerBop’s Pick: Liverpool ATS (+1) (+145)
Saturday, Apr. 1st: AFC Bournemouth vs Fulham F.C.
Fulham is a contender for UEFA Europa League placement. But on this Saturday, Fulham F.C. is also the underdog against a fellow promoted team…and a potential 2023 relegation victim. The intuitive sense of long-term English Premier League gamers is informing short-term odds at the betting board in ways that defy naked-eye looks at the 20-team field.
Bournemouth is drawing a substantially more-optimistic betting line for relegation than “odds-on favorite” Southampton, with never-no-mind paid to Saints’ unique style or experience in Premiership points races. That angle might be related to Cherries’ manageable schedule this April and May, which does include a visit to St. Mary’s but avoids the top-4 outside of a single match with Tottenham.
It is unexpected, however, for Cottagers to be seen as next-up on Cherries’ serving platter, given Fulham’s amazing performance to date. Cottagers outplayed Cherries in a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage in the teams’ first meeting this season. It is not as if many of Saturday’s footballers will be unfamiliar with one another after so much time spent on an English Championship rivalry before each team earned the right to promote last season.
It would be an understatement to say Fulham’s been the better side in 2022-23, and yet going into this Saturday, the 19th-place Bournemouth (+155) boasts its shortest odds to defeat a top-half club since Cherries received the upgrade.
Fulham’s recent regression is underlying the sportsbook’s numbers. Cottagers have not won a Premier League fixture since February, and the often-frantic performances of the team’s midfield and backline around keeper Bernd Leno’s box were always destined to drive Fulham’s goals-against total upward faster than its midseason rate.
The psychology of Fulham’s war-weary lineup may be misread by gamers who are only seeing the headlines and YouTube clips focused on recent defeats. At the moment, the club is still looking at a better debut season than anyone could have dreamed, including Cottagers’ cocky owners in Florida. The brand’s scrappy trait of circling-the-wagons, counter-attacking, and then lather, rinse, and repeat is not a formula for taking points from top-half teams over the long haul, but it can certainly work against AFC Bournemouth.
WagerBop’s Pick: Fulham (+185)
Saturday, Apr. 1st: Arsenal F.C. vs Leeds United
Arsenal’s 1-to-4 odds for this Saturday’s kickoff are not the only piece of evidence to show that the betting public has finally been won over. Gunners hold an 8-point lead over Sky Blues and a whopping 19-point lead over 3rd-place Red Devils, each fact seeming to have a better persuasive component than anything said or written about Arsenal Football Club’s amazing trek to date. Those hoping for a dip in Gunners’ goal-scoring production have been sorely disappointed, as Arsenal has roared into the UEFA break with 5 consecutive league victories, scoring almost 20 combined tallies.
There is a small contraction on FanDuel’s goal-tally odds and prop betting lines on the bout. The sportsbook’s Over/Under odds heavily favor an outcome of Over (2.5) goals with a pricey (-178) number attached to the market. That happens to be reasonable enough since Leeds United is a mid-table brand known for lively fixtures. Though, simultaneously there are 1-to-1 odds being offered for “Both Teams to Score” in the sportsbook.
It is apparent that odds-makers think another laugher of a Gunners win could be in the cards. Peacocks, in a contrasting angle, comes off an impressive 4-2 win over Wolverhampton, and back in the fall only allowed a single goal upon hosting Gunners’ vaunted squad.
WagerBop’s Pick: “Yes” (Both Teams to Score Prop Bet) (-108)
Sunday, Apr. 2: West Ham United vs Southampton F.C.
When making their picks on matches between the Premier League’s relegation candidates at the bottom of the standings, many gamers look to “goal totals” picks, and not necessarily the money-line odds. But it is hard to take one’s eyes off of the lopsided money-line markets FanDuel is offering for West Ham (-135) and Southampton (+400) on Sunday, given that Hammers hardly boast much of a points edge on Saints after each team’s poor cycle.
A dark cloud is hovering over St. Mary’s Stadium, where Saints will soon host Sky Blues in a fixture during which supporters may simply be hoping the team can get through without further injury or embarrassment. The back-line for Southampton has been badly thinned by long-term wounds, including an injury to the veteran back Kyle Walker-Peters after just 21 appearances for the cycle.
There is more than one team on the pitch on Sunday, though, and so the betting markets at hand may reflect overconfidence in Hammers more than any flawed analysis of Saints. Hammers are a single “upset” loss away from getting jumped over by Southampton on the table, and West Ham United also didn’t manage a win when the clubs met in October under less despairing conditions.
WagerBop’s Pick: Southampton ATS (+1) (+110)
Monday, April 3: Everton F.C. vs Tottenham Hotspur
The theme of this week is illustrated once more by FanDuel’s odds on Everton vs Tottenham. Bookmakers and punters alike seem to be largely ignoring a 30-match sample size of outcomes from 2022-23 in exchange for speculation on what is about to happen over the final stretch run for the season.
Tight odds are being drawn on Aston Villa and Leicester City for a Tuesday meeting, even though Aston Villa is appearing at a King Power venue where Villains have not prevailed more than once since 2006. That is a reflection of Villa’s win total of 11 dwarfing Foxes’ meager W-D-L standing this cycle, with a double-digit gap between 11th place and the rest of the English Premier League’s team point-totals. Spurs, by comparison, own a far more massive points edge over struggling Toffees of Everton, the latter still a single digits-to-one bet to relegate in ’23. Tottenham nonetheless stands only a “plus” odds Monday favorite next to Everton F.C.’s brave (+240). To review, that means there are 2-to-1 odds on a 2023-24 relegation candidate against a bona fide top-4 team.
Are Spurs guilty of laboring at Goodison Park, as Villa has faltered at King Power Stadium? Not quite. Supporters may recall Everton’s recent 5-4 corker over visiting Tottenham in the FA Cup, but all of the pair’s recent fixtures have turned into draws at Goodison Park.
The lack of betting action on Spurs may be tied to punters’ frustration watching Tottenham blow a lead vs Southampton, but the UEFA break will place that morale blow far in the past for footballers on Monday, if not in the heads of bettors making their picks at present.
WagerBop’s Pick: Tottenham (+120)
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.