I’ve related NFL, NHL, even Olympic Games betting scenarios to the Monty Hall Problem before. It’s a whale o’ fun, but first we should get to another cross-sport metaphor when it comes to the EPL’s long-term odds for spring 2022.
Fitting that late Arnold Palmer is in charge of a golf tournament this week, because Arnie was more comfortable coming from behind than leading a competition. Liverpool’s speculators are behind on the Premier League points table, but they might be the more relaxed lot.
The (-390) line offered on Manchester City to win could be a nervy bet indeed in the coming weeks, especially if Liverpool’s odds stay fat and Man City’s market remains at remarkably short odds.
Despite Pep Guardiola’s defending champion Sky Blues winning a tense match over Everton last weekend, City is holding just a 6-point edge over Liverpool with a match-in-hand for Reds coming up.
2/19’s upset result at City of Manchester Stadium was the product of a corker. Harry Kane led Tottenham to an epic road triumph, scoring his 2nd and decisive goal in the 95th minute to manufacture a 3-2 win. Punters may reassure themselves that the Lilywhites’ surge is not just confined to a single appearance. Tottenham has beaten Leicester City and Brighton in key matches in early 2022, and stands among the most-popular bets to achieve a top-4 placement in spring. But the sobering effect of Tottenham’s recent losses to Burnley and Middlesbrough in respective EPL and FA Cup matches can only help cast more blame on Manchester City’s back line for its 3 goals-allowed from Spurs.
Reds have won 9 straight times across all competitions, including 4 EPL victories by means of a clean sheet. Salah nearly scored a hat trick on penalties alone in Liverpool’s 6-0 thrashing of Leeds United last Wednesday. Meanwhile, EFL Cup hardware is not the most prestigious award in English football, but Reds earned 2022’s Football League Cup honors with a thrilling 11-10 penalty-kick tiebreaker round, sustaining the club’s momentum and completing February’s slate with a bang.
Liverpool visits Manchester City on April 10th. The clubs tied 2-2 in a maiden 2021-22 league match in October of last year.
Now – about the Monty Hall Problem. As some readers might know, the Monty Hall riddle involves a game-show host tricking a contestant into thinking there’s no difference in the chances of a free car behind Door 1, Door 2, or Door 3. In a twist that fooled math academics for decades, the contestant is actually granted knowledge of lopsided odds-of-success through a “goat” clue displayed in the doors.
Liverpool is a solid pick to win the Premiership at fat, long odds. But that doesn’t mean Reds are a terrific bet to prevail this weekend. Gamblers are considering the what-ifs of a staid Reds appearance, and the likelihood of another goal-scoring explosion from Salah’s squad. Gone missing is the angle that West Ham isn’t an ordinary “minnow” swimming up the ranks of English aristocrats, and that exaggerated betting odds combined with Hammers’ uncanny stamina late in high-profile kickoffs leads to a “Door 3” pick.
Besides, you’re a “goat” for sure if you try to wager on the EPL’s “negative” money-line odds for a living.
Sat. March 5: Leicester City vs Leeds United
Liverpool’s short-odds bid to defeat West Ham on Saturday a healthy favorites’ money-line that’s sure to overwhelm its risk-reward ratio in recreational picks and supporters’ wagers. However, this week’s early kickoff at King Power Stadium could provide a king-ly opportunity to pick a superior team at odds closer to 1/1.
The current (-130) odds on Leicester reflect a bottom-half campaign that reminds supporters too much of the days before Jamie Vardy arrived, and when Foxes were still considered a long-shot Cinderella bid to even flourish in the EPL. Standout defender Ricardo Pereira was lost in last week’s matchup against Burnley in which Leicester City went on to win 2-0.
Fortunately, a turn of the schedule has helped Leicester start to improve its form. Leicester City was granted additional rest from a postponement with Chelsea, and has produced a 2-2 draw with sensational West Ham in addition to an aggregate UEFA victory in the same time-frame.
UK blogs will pay due deference to Leicester’s injury woes and relatively short rest periods in-between the next 3 matches. However, with only a prestige-lacking Europa Conference League opening tie to come Thursday, host supporters won’t allow Foxes to do anything but focus on earning 3 much-needed points.
Additionally, despite Foxes’ poor overall standard this season, Leeds United could prove to be a vulnerable guest at King Power.
WagerBop’s Pick: Leicester City
Sat. March 5: Burnley F.C. vs Chelsea F.C.
For soccer’s dedicated “futures” speculators, it seems as if the English Premier League is once again becoming a 2-team race to the top. Chelsea may be a prohibitive short-odds favorite to finish top-4 in 2022, but Blues don’t fit-in any better on the sportsbook’s outright-winner odds as a 100s-to-1 wager next to Liverpool’s 3-to-1 market and Manchester City’s short line to keep its lead in check.
However, this all could change if Chelsea takes advantage of 2 matches-in-hand on Sky Blues (and a single match-in-hand on Liverpool) to grab additional victories and climb to within at least 10 points of 1st place on the EPL table. Chelsea F.C. will not make-up its deficit in matches played relative to Man City until after the league’s international break in late March. Nonetheless, a trio of eminently winnable kickoffs awaits Pensioners, while Manchester City must deal with a UEFA leg consisting of MUFC, Crystal Palace, and Brighton.
Blues are a solid (-220) favorite to defeat Burnley at Turf Moor. Clarets (+650) could be considered a live Saturday underdog, however, considering the attack-challenged lineup’s improvement over the past few weeks. Burnley earned 10 much-needed points in a span of 7 EPL league fixtures following an FA Cup let-down against Huddersfield, upsetting Brighton and Tottenham while drawing 1-1 with Man United in the process. Leicester City superstar Jamie Vardy enjoyed yet another shining hour as Foxes defeated Clarets 2-0 last weekend, but Burnley’s report from the match reveals a group that is still better prepared on the field.
Betters on Clarets-Blues are picking against just (-104) payoff odds on a goal total of Over (2.5).
WagerBop’s Pick: Over (2.5)
Sat. March 5: Wolverhampton vs Crystal Palace
Midday gambling will not be limited to Man City versus Man United this weekend, as Wolves, Crystal Palace, and the net-shrinking environment of Molineux Stadium is also set to host a “Defending Derby” this Saturday afternoon.
Home territory for Wolverhampton F.C. (+130) will continue to be defended by the hosts, as Wolves hasn’t allowed more than a single goal in a frighteningly long span of individual matches. Spurs scored twice at Molineux in a 120+ minute EFL Cup battle before eking past Wanderers on penalties, but that was back in the not-so-star-studded 3rd round of the 2021-22 tournament. Brentford defeated host Wolves 2-0 just days before in an EPL match.
Generous (+142) odds on Wolves to keep a clean sheet are being paired with CPFC’s optimistic 2/1 money-line. Wolverhampton has lost twice in a row despite regaining a healthy lineup following the team’s surprise FA Cup elimination at the hands of Norwich. Crystal Palace enjoys momentum from a 5th-round win and a solid EPL record since New Year’s. Given, however, that much of Saturday’s bout will be spent watching Wolves’ limited numbers attack carefully against disciplined, unique formations, bookmakers could be overlooking just how few chances Eagles’ forwards will have to try to solve Rui Patricio while he’s in the net.
WagerBop’s Pick: Wolves to Allow No Goals (Clean Sheet Prop Bet)
Sat. March 5: Newcastle United vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Newcastle’s recent hot streak is threatening to vault Magpies from relegation-territory into a potential top-half finish. Newcastle appeared buried in the sand at year’s end after falling to Leicester, Liverpool, and Manchester City by a combined 10-goal margin in EPL bouts, then losing to Cambridge in an FA Cup defeat that Magpies wish had been “academic.” Newcastle unexpectedly roared through the early-2022 slate, having most-recently earned 10 points in 4 league matches that included utter domination of Brentford on the road.
It is curious, therefore, why Newcastle (+165) is only the slightest money-line favorite next to visiting Brighton’s (+175) line to win this weekend.
Magpies were bullied by Brighton during their previous trip to St. James Park, as Seagulls prevailed 3-0 while helping to instigate 31 fouls that kept officials’ cards out of pockets and whistles echoing loudly until the clock reached full time. Furthermore, the surprise top-half Brighton & Hove Albion gets credit for quality on the road since the beginning of the current cycle.
Draws against hosts Liverpool, Chelsea, and West Ham prior to New Year’s Day were bright spots for Seagulls, who then went on to lose only 1 match played away from Falmer Stadium in a subsequent span of 6 weeks. It’s very hard, though, to overlook Brighton’s struggle with reversion-to-average in all competitions since January. Brighton gained 3 lonely points over meek Watford at Vicarage Road … to go with 4 losses in recent action.
WagerBop’s Pick: Newcastle
Sat. March 5: Liverpool vs West Ham United
Saturday’s anticipated late kickoff features host Liverpool facing off against a cocky underdog. West Ham is a (+900) long-shot wager next to the prohibitive (-340) odds placed on Liverpool.
West Ham’s “Door 3” doesn’t have many knockers. Casual gamblers are siding with Liverpool. Tactics gurus like an elite forward unit’s superior quality against a West Ham lineup that is still missing names like Kurt Zouma and saddled with a tough all-federation schedule. West Ham’s dodgy prospects to defend have led to long (+162) payoff odds on total goals bets Under (2.5).
West Ham’s capacity to defend and produce level scores against deeper squads is being overlooked. Hammers fell 1-2 in an excellent match at City of Manchester Stadium in November, and have only lost to a clean sheet once in 2022. Correct-score prop bets of 1-1 and 2-2 scores are handicapped at mistakenly generous odds of (+1000) and (+1900) respectively, and a Draw money-line of (+480) could be even more valuable.
WagerBop’s Pick: Draw
Sun. March 5: Manchester City vs Manchester United
Manchester United’s pale 13-win record has led to Red Devils drawing (+750) wagers in winner’s markets and merely (+400) odds to claim a single point. Meanwhile, Manchester City is enjoying (-280) money-line odds to win Sunday’s derby at City of Manchester Stadium.
Citizens’ amazing track record is threatening to make Man City into the shortest-odds wager since UConn ladies basketball, especially so following a 5-0 win over Sporting Lisbon that essentially advanced Man City into the UEFA Champions League quarter-final round a leg early. Pesky footballers from Tottenham brought City back down to Earth in a 3-2 league upset, and a full week’s rest and training weren’t enough to manufacture multiple goals in a February 26th win at Everton that disappointed “totals” bettors from Britain to Hawaii.
Analysts could point to City’s strong forward lineup in this week’s banal 2-0 FA Cup win over Peterborough as evidence of problems with the club’s passing and striking. But a deeper look reveals that manager Pep Guardiola fiddled around with his back-4 and held off requesting forward numbers by the 67th minute after a pair of go-to-bed goals secured the win.
MUFC’s underdog odds could still grow attractive as the week progresses thanks to Manchester United’s form having bounced back from a nadir. Ronaldo’s club seemed to hit rock-bottom in early February, executing like an English Championship side against lower-tier “minnow” Middlesbrough in a shocker FA Cup loss before drawing 1-1 against Burnley F.C., a potential EPL relegation victim in 2022, and then again in a league match with Southampton. MUFC held the football for just over 50% of the latter bout. Headlines have begun to perk-up as Red Devils approach spring, sparked by CR7’s goal against Brighton in a 2-0 league victory on 2/15. A quartet of other Red Devils scored goals against Leeds, including the youngster Elanga, in what became a 4-2 win.
Man United may be looking ahead to its mega-hyped upcoming schedule of Manchester City, Spurs, Atlético Madrid, and Liverpool whilst failing to score on Watford F.C. last week. Still, a match report of 22 shot-attempts and 19 misses screams “positive reversion” at Premier League bettors. City’s lack of scoring momentum may be a temporary blip, but that’s nicer for underdog gamblers than if Sunday’s favorites were coming off a fiery battle.
WagerBop’s picks: Man United and Draw (Double Chance Prop) (+210)
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.