I foolishly sat down and wrote about a thousand words of notes on Matchday 5 of the Premiership, and of course the gambling lines at the time, in the middle of last week – foolishly and unluckily.
An office hardware crash (that would also temporarily press pause on WagerBop’s Daily Double) wiped out all of my English football handicapping for the cycle, and left only scant memories of what conclusions were drawn.
Does it matter, given another week’s worth of EPL line-movement in Las Vegas? Eh…true enough the soccer ‘capper’s job is never to predict the matches but to weigh the real chances of various outcomes against the odds. When the odds change the “predictions” have to change too…or at least the betting-recommendations drawn from them.
In the silver-lining category I can think of no better way to test the validity of an angle than to see if it comes up twice in the same logical process. In other words, if I liked Spurs to beat Crystal Palace last week, I should like the same outcome to occur now…unless Tottenham’s lineup suffered mad injuries in Euro 2020 qualifying.
It appears as though the opposite is true – Spurs may be healthier going into Saturday. But a summer streak of fine form from Palace has Eagles taking a prodigious number of bets on a weekend in which a lot of match-ups appear to be simply upside-down from what bookmakers and pundits would normally expect.
Then again, what do we expect? It’s just the 5th week…and some would-be aristocrats of the Premier League are thinking long-term while scrappy, hungry Wolves (and other beasts) feast on the opportunities.
All lines below courtesy of Bovada Sportsbook.
Liverpool vs Newcastle United
Magpies deserve credit for turning things around after a 1-3 loss to Canaries, and it’s an August win over Tottenham that still has supporters buzzing.
But is there any concrete reason for the Newcastle line-to-win at Anfield to have moved to (+1900) after opening at 23-to-1? Yes – the health and well-being (or lack thereof) of the Liverpool lineup.
Allison has been injured since the opening match of the season, and it’s a testament to Liverpool’s iron backline and goalkeeping depth that I’ve not had occasion to even mention it while making a pick. Adrián hasn’t had many (cough) rocky moments while filling-in.
Yet given a few more bumps and bruises plaguing the squad as a busier-than-ever international calendar bears down on most of them, it’s a small wonder at least a few high-rollers are going Newcastle’s way on a big fat payoff line, hoping this is the week when Reds finally lose a match.
Don’t bet on it.
Pick: Liverpool ATS (-2)
Brighton vs Burnley FC
Seagulls received a harsh dose of reality last week in an 0-4 result against Man City. Still, a majority of London and Sin City speculators think Brighton is the pick, marking the Falmer Stadium hosts as a (+110) favorite on 3-way moneylines.
Burnley, however, has played extremely well in the 2 matches in which the club was not out-manned athletically, slicing-up Southampton for 3 goals and drawing 1-1 with Wolverhampton.
Manchester United vs Leicester City
Tradition meets the eye-test on the betting board. Man United opened as a 1-to-1.6 favorite to win at Old Trafford, but gamblers have been liking Foxes to pull off the upset, driving Leicester’s underdog line to (+360) while United expands to a (-120) wager at Bovada.
The reason is that the clubs have been trending in opposite directions. Foxes has defeated Cherries with a clean sheet and taken 3 points from Sheffield the week before that, while United, still reeling from an upset loss to Crystal Palace, had problems with Southampton’s press in the Red Devils’ most-recent Premier League appearance.
Pick: Leicester City ATS (+0.5, (+105))
Sheffield United vs Southampton
It’s important to remember that Premiership teams are not part of an “elite class” of programs the way that an NFL or FBS team might be viewed as superior to a CFL or FCS squad respectively. There are dozens upon dozens of great domestic club traditions, and they must all qualify and stay qualified for top leagues in the same way.
Just because an English football club hasn’t played in the Premier League in xyz number of years doesn’t mean opponents aren’t threatened when heading to their venue. Sheffield isn’t an “expansion” club after all, and the team has a terrific record against Saints at Bramall Lane and historically at all locations.
But there’s a problem with such “historical” handicapping which has helped Blades to a (+155) moneyline for the match with visiting Southampton this Saturday – it’s in the past. The clubs haven’t played since 2014, and this particular Sheffield lineup has never faced a hyper-aggressive front line that plays at the tempo of Saints.
Tottenham vs Crystal Palace
Has Crystal Palace found its stride, or is the club merely among the type of underdog that thrives in September?
Eagles of CPFC are everyone’s underdog darling of the week at (+700) and shrinking. Crystal Palace opened as nearly a 10-to-1 moneyline around 10 days ago.
I’m not feeling it, however, since Spurs has the kind of cracking attack to break zonal defense, and the backline to reject Palace’s trademark counters that helped to vanquish United.
Pick: Under (3)
Wolves vs Chelsea F.C.
Things may change gradually for clubs in the Premiership, but wow, sometimes you can look and look again after a year or 18 months and poof – a contender has shrank to insignificance while its betting lines expand.
Chelsea Football Club is an unfortunate example. If someone would have told you a year ago that Wolves would be winless in 4 matches, yet a (+195) moneyline pick to beat Blues in 90+ minutes, you would have laughed.
Frank Lampard’s side does have the only victory between the warring clubs so far, but Bovada has even posted a weighted “pick’em” spread on the fixture…hopefully not to troll glum post-transfer-ban Chelsea supporters.
Pick: Wolves ATS (Pick’em)
Norwich City vs Manchester City
This match will take place in the early afternoon New York time and will serve as another state-side showcase for the powerful Sky Blues, who are so overwhelmingly favored that gamblers are still pouring dollars into a (-600) moneyline.
I stand by my conceit that City and/or Liverpool will lose when we don’t expect it, and potentially quite soon. The problem with Norwich City as an underdog pick (even at home) is that Canaries’ form appears to have glaring weaknesses. West Ham didn’t need more than 48% possession to pepper the Norwich net on Matchday 4, and backline players like Christoph Zimmermann aren’t contributing enough on the attack to make their presence on the pitch worthwhile. Can the problems and issues be worked out eventually? Yes, but even 130 days of prep won’t help against a Man City side determined not to let Liverpool get ahead at the quarter-turn.
Pick: City ATS (-2.5, (+105))
AFC Bournemouth vs Everton
The smoke has cleared on Toffeemen’s poor start, and the club stands at a reasonably-healthy 2-1-1 but without much margin for error. As much as I hate to say it having touted Everton F.C. as a long-shot futures pick to win the Premier League such a short time ago, Jordan Pickford’s side may have a more realistic shot at top 4 in 2019-20.
It’s hard to catch up with teams that almost never lose. City and Liverpool are making the league awfully top-heavy.
I’m really liking Everton’s (+140) line in this Sunday match, however, since Cherries’ home turf advantage won’t be worth as much against a wicked-fast opposing front line and a keeper who can stifle the momentum.
Watford vs Arsenal
Forget anything I said about Crystal Palace being the sexiest underdog pick of Matchday 5. The honor (or honour) belongs to Watford, as Hornets are now (+275) to beat Gunners at Vicarage Road on Sunday despite opening around 4-to-1.
It almost feels as if the hot-and-cold tabloid treatment of Arsenal leads to supporters placing or passing on wagers sometimes. Gunners are missing a ton of players to injury – the international break did the club no favors. Yet look at the 2 most-recent results, and the squad has played pretty well despite only gaining a point. Who were the opponents? Liverpool and Tottenham…hardly an easy path to plow.
On the same pair of weekends, Hornets fell by 2 goals to West Ham and eked-out a draw with Newcastle United.
Aston Villa vs West Ham
All Even-Steven! Monday’s match opened for wagers with Villains a thin favorite, but odds have evened-out for both sides at Bovada with (+160) lines on Villains and Hammers alike.
Villa’s fresh EPL campaign has been plagued by a difficult summer schedule, and the club has missed-out on its 2 best chances to earn 3 points (Cherries and CPFC) while somehow beating Everton with a clean sheet.
West Ham, meanwhile, has been exceptional so-far at taking points from the matches Hammers aren’t athletically overwhelmed in…the Matchday 1 loss to Man City obviously notwithstanding.
Pick: West Ham
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.