WagerBop scored on our longest-odds prediction of the Premier League season last weekend when United upset City at 9-to-1 payoff.
I can’t claim “square” gamblers (those who never question the handicapper’s picks) have been raking-in rubles with our moneyline bets from week to week this season, however. Nailing the surprise Manchester United win helped rescue the blog’s 2019-20 Premiership rate-of-return following rounds of below-par results.
Hitting a sweet (+900) payoff can send an ailing sportsbook stake soaring into the black. But the question has to be asked – even then, does the bookie have you right where they want you? It’s sort of like getting intoxicated. Suddenly, all those fattened-up football moneylines look like profit-opportunities instead of 1-out-of-3 guesswork. London and Las Vegas are thrilled when we forget it’s easier to lose on 3-way markets. The payoffs are larger on average, yes, but losing streaks come about far more easily.
I’m somewhat of a rogue among prediction bloggers because I tend to advise confident, bold betting for punters who’ve been taking it on the chin. Paring-down and playing with pennies once you’ve lost pounds is giving the sportsbook a free hand to count its riches. The flip-side is that when you’ve won a bundle at long odds, it’s risky to behave as if you’re betting with house money. Money you’ve won is now your money. It’s up to the bookmaker to try to get it back – don’t help her out with reckless wagers.
So let’s dive into our Matchday 17 recommendations with just a wee-bit of caution. The goal isn’t to look for another 9-to-1 payoff right away (Man United certainly won’t be playing against those odds again anytime soon). It’s more gainful to try to preserve last weekend’s windfall and keep the bankroll ticking upward at whatever % it may.
Liverpool vs Watford
We know it’s possible for a steep underdog to challenge Liverpool on the pitch. It just doesn’t happen very often.
Brighton nearly took advantage of stunned Reds when Alisson took a red card in the 2nd half on Matchday 14. Incomparable center-back Virgil van Dijk had scored twice in the opening 25 minutes to give Salah’s side a customary 2-0 advantage. Once Adrián was called to man the posts for the hosts at Anfield, however, Lewis Dunk sent a clever free kick past the backup kicker to cut Liverpool’s lead in half. Seagulls surged with forward numbers and crisp passing against a squad that looked too anxious to get onto the counterattack, posting a surprising 56% edge in possession despite losing the 1-goal result.
Forget counters – Reds went on to grab the football and keep it through most of the next 2 fixtures, posting a 5-2 win against Toffees and a clean-sheet triumph over Cherries in Alisson’s return last Saturday. The keeper remained perfect in 90+ minutes of Champions League soccer on Tuesday in a 2-0 victory over Red Bull.
Liverpool stands at 15-1-0 and is a (-500) favorite to beat visiting Watford in Saturday’s early match.
To stand a chance of beating Reds, a club must have great goalkeeping and backline play, and a cunning attack which can capitalize on scant opportunities. Hornets does not size-up adequately in either of the 2 categories, though veteran GK Ben Foster deserves all kinds of credit for holding Leicester City and Crystal Palace to a combined 2 goals over his last pair of appearances. Watford is in 20th place and in danger of relegation but if Hornets is an English Championship team in 2020-21 we won’t be able to scapegoat the keeper for it.
It’s unlikely Liverpool will have the stamina or wherewithal to pour it on after playing 6 matches between November 23rd and December 10th.
Pick: Under (3.5)
Newcastle United vs Burnley FC
Where I come from (admittedly state-side) “reversion” most-often refers to a club which builds momentum beating solid teams until whiffing at too-short betting odds against a capital side like Liverpool or Manchester City. Not so much a modest squad like Clarets suddenly finding better form against a lesser rival at Turf Moor, or a team like Magpies falling short in a winnable match while in midst of an unbeaten run.
Nevertheless, gamblers and odds-makers seem to agree that Burnley (-101) is a solid favorite to defeat Newcastle when the clubs meet on Saturday. Mapgies will have some further injury problems to deal with but I’m still recommending a “lay” on Burnley or a 1-unit gamble on Newcastle-to-win (+295) and on the Draw market (+240).
Pick: Newcastle and/or Draw
Chelsea FC vs AFC Bournemouth
Is Chelsea headed for another swoon after dropping 9 of 12 points? Possibly, but I’m more inclined to view last Saturday’s 1-3 result at Goodison Park as an outlier. Richarlison scored for Everton in the 5th minute, after which Toffees were out-played for almost the entire match but engaged in desperate tackles and rough play that resulted in 3 yellow cards. Blues lost despite dominating in almost every statistical category.
The rapid-fire succession of 3 Matchdays was hardly an easier path for Cherries. AFC Bournemouth couldn’t tally a goal against CPFC despite playing 11-on-10 for most of last Tuesday’s fixture at Selhurst Park, then walked the plank against Liverpool a few days later. Saturday’s pairing of Chelsea and visiting Bournemouth will be determined by a discrepancy in talent as opposed to momentum, form, or tactics.
Pick: Chelsea (-1.5)
Leicester City vs Norwich City
Bovada Sportsbook is offering a (+110) market on Foxes (-2), which feels like the steal the week considering Saturday’s hosts at King Power Stadium have won 3 of 4 against Canaries and just defeated Villains 4-1 on the road.
The favorites know they must keep winning and winning to stand a chance at catching Salah and the EPL front-runners.
Pick: Leicester ATS
Sheffield United vs Aston Villa
If you’re going to throw multiple units at a 3-to-1 underdog this Saturday, Aston Villa should be the team. Villains is a feast-or-famine side which has won almost as many times as Blades despite a yawning gap on the table, and the moneyline odds appear to be factoring-in too many very recent results with Villa owning a strong record in the match-up historically.
Still, I’m more inclined to wager the Over (2.5) since punters do not appear to have reacted quickly-enough to striker Lys Mousset’s return for Sheffield.
Southampton vs West Ham United
Saturday’s late kick-off between desperate, physical clubs is likely to include a lot of stoppage time and also less goals than Over/Under speculators are predicting.
Pick: Under (3)
Manchester United vs Everton FC
MUFC’s abundance of top-dollar talent – and supporters’ high expectations for Red Devils – leads to a lot of confident wins and a few crushing defeats. However, it’s interesting that Manchester United beat rival Man City last Saturday using tactics more-often associated with David vs Goliath upsets.
United took the pitch in its 4-2-3-1 and surprised City with 2 goals in the opening half-hour. Marcus Rashford converted a penalty to set the visitors alight before finding space on multiple El Tricolor-style counterattacks, hitting the bar in the 27th minute. Citizens were clearly out-of-sorts when not in possession of the ball, and Rashford’s fellow international star Anthony Martial took advantage with a precise strike to put Red Devils up 2-0.
Then the guests set their teeth and began defending. City would finish the contest with nearly 90% accuracy on over 600 passes, 16 corner kicks, and 20+ shot attempts, but the hosts remained without a goal until center-back Nicolás Otamendi finally headed a shot past David de Gea in the 85th minute. By then, it was clear that Man United had succeeded in its goal of draining time and preventing a Citizens comeback. Red Devils had meanwhile goaded the entire right flank of City’s 4-3-3 into taking yellow cards.
You could argue that manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær lacked a killer instinct and that an elite tactician would have found ways to keep the attack going, at least enough to prevent Citizens from controlling the 2nd half so thoroughly. But give the old hand credit – most of City’s eventual shots flew off-target and it’s undeniable that the hosts were taken out of their comfort zone.
NFL junkies hoping to get a leg-up on Sunday’s betting circus will find tighter lines than expected for the Manchester United vs Everton match at Old Trafford, chiefly thanks to Toffees having scored such an unlikely win in the team’s most-recent effort. The Over/Under for United-Everton is holding at a cautious (2.5) thanks to Jordan Pickford and de Gea’s presence in goal. But the guests have already played their way out of contention in 2019-20 and don’t possess the form to knock-off a well-motivated MUFC. I’m sticking to my handicap that the upset of Chelsea was nothing short of a fluke.
Pick: Man United (-130) or Over
Wolverhampton vs Tottenham Hotspur
José Mourinho is starting to get Spurs cranked-up. Harry Kane scored twice while fronting an efficient 4-2-3-1 as Tottenham smashed Burnley 5-0 on Saturday. But Lilywhites hasn’t fared as well against elite clubs following the change in leadership, dropping tough outcomes to Man United and Bayern Munich over the last 8 days.
Meanwhile, Wolves has quietly been among the better teams in Europe following a slow start this season, and handicappers should expect Wanderers to defend the host box at Molineux Stadium with the passion we’ve come to take for granted.
Pick: Under (2.5)
Arsenal FC vs Manchester City
Man City’s popular ML market (-220) for Sunday shows that punters expect Citizens to rebound against an Emirates Stadium host which has not bested a top-half Premier League side all season.
With the payoff so slim on a City victory and each team having played UEFA matches at the end of a grueling domestic stretch, taking the Under (3.5) may not be a bad idea. However, once again Bovada has made the choice easy, putting (+110) odds on the far-superior guests covering (-1.5) goals against the spread.
Pick: Man City ATS
Crystal Palace vs Brighton FC
Talk about a popular underdog! Seagulls opened as about a 3-to-1 moneyline pick but the market has shrunk like a sea-side population of crickets, with lines tightening to (+195) on the visitors and (+150) on Monday’s hosts at Selhurst Park.
It’s hard to point to any 1 overbearing factor in the line-movement. Brighton has played reasonably well in recent days, losing nobly against Leicester City and Liverpool while beating Arsenal and forging a 2-2 draw against visiting Wolves. Still, the club stands at 5-4-7 and doesn’t have any additional victories to show for its last 5 appearances. Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace is challenging Paul Pogba for the media’s most-transferred player of 2019, which is to say if the tabloid writers could kidnap and transport him to another club, they would, but (funny enough) Zaha keeps taking the pitch in a CPFC shirt and until he doesn’t it’s all a lot of meaningless noise.
Palace does have some injury issues. Jeffrey Schlupp couldn’t finish last Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Hornets and defenders Joel Ward and Patrick van Aanholt will be absent the lineup against Seagulls. That’s bothersome for a team which does not score a fantastic number of goals and relies on stubborn zonal defense to help make tallies count.
But unheralded Eagles keeper Vicente Guaita has a nice little shut-out streak going, and far from making Brighton the true favorite in Monday’s match, the Schlupp injury invites a smart and sober bet against-the-public on a weirdly rising O/U total.
Pick: Under (2.5)
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.