Thus it’s strange that Man City has solidified, and even improved upon, its betting line to win the EPL in 2022. Gambling action favors City (-220) as a short-odds repeat champion while keeping the 2nd-place Reds at championship odds near 2-to-1.
Sunday’s climactic kickoff comes with lopsided money-line odds that offer a clue as to why long-term EPL betting remains so lopsided in kind. Sky Blues are an optimistic (+100) wager to prevail over Reds at City of Manchester Stadium, next to 2/1 bets on a draw and Liverpool’s paltry (+250) odds.
No narrative exists that suggests Liverpool is doomed in the 2021-22 EPL race, especially with the warring clubs so closely-matched on the table following a span of 30 fixtures. Klopp is expected to continue phasing-out the services of Divock Origi, but the Belgian forward has only appeared in 10 combined EPL and UEFA matches this cycle. Liverpool is coming off a 3-1 opening leg victory over Benfica in Champions League quarter-final action, arguably a more impressive result than was coined from either of Manchester City’s recent, and rather dull, appearances in international fixtures.
Speculators may be shy to pick Reds due to the irrepressible hype around Liverpool, which is always destined to overreach compared to reality. CNN published an article this week entitled “Liverpool Continues Quadruple Charge,” which refers to a 4-up season of championships including the FA Cup, EFL Cup, Champions League, and EPL hardware. No team from the UK has ever won a quadruple, and it’s probably a bad idea to set a quadruple as the goal of a team in any cycle. Management would never demand its footballers win a quadruple or mark themselves disappointed, even a footballer as great as Liverpool’s Salah. As a result, there’s a disconnect between hype and probability when it comes to Liverpool’s title chances.
Another prevailing sentiment postulates that Man City won’t allow another “2nd banana” domestic side to crush its trophy hopes across competitions in spring of 2022. Liverpool and Manchester City are drawn on opposite sidelines for an FA Cup semi-final bout at City of Manchester Stadium on April 16th, just 6 days after what could be a momentous EPL fixture at the same venue. Such circumstances could remind punters of last cycle, in which Chelsea would become Man City’s icy nemesis in not 1, or 2, but 3 battles.
There’s plenty to say (and a prediction to make) on this Sunday’s climatic Sky Blues vs Reds kickoff. But first, let’s look at selected matches and best-bets from a slate starting as early as Friday.
Newcastle United vs Wolverhampton F.C. (Friday, April 8)
The league’s lone match this Friday pits a pair of EPL teams who have disappointed their supporters roundly in the last recent span of fixtures. Wolves (+125) appeared to enjoy a soft patch in scheduling against Everton, Leeds, and Aston Villa, but wound up dropping 3 points to shaky Peacocks in a 3-2 result that sullied Molineux Stadium’s reputation for crack defending. Newcastle (+260) has been in even worse form as of late, losing to struggling Everton in stoppage time despite Toffeemen playing with a 10-on-11 disadvantage. Newcastle was then embarrassed and beaten by 4 tallies at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, an outcome that may at least spark Magpies’ back line to a better effort against Wolverhampton.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, FanDuel Sportsbook’s odds on a total-goals outcome of Over (2.5) are offered at a bargain (+140) price. The timing is wrong for those kinds of lines on Wolves, though. Wanderers rarely have to prove that they’re competent without the football, but that’s the scenario in April after some shaky performances.
WagerBop’s Pick: Over (2.5)
Everton F.C. vs Manchester United (Saturday, April 9)
As of this month, Everton could be the easiest opponent in the EPL, even including Norwich City and other likely relegation victims. Toffees have taken red cards in 3 out of 4 league matches, with time-out for a terrible FA Cup loss to Crystal Palace. Embattled manager Frank Lampard likely cannot afford to tax an already-strained lineup to try to achieve a glorious upset over visiting Man United this Saturday, with an arduous Leicester + Liverpool + Chelsea schedule coming up next.
Why, then, are Red Devils a paltry (-130) pick to win on Saturday at Goodison Park? Punters have watched as Manchester United has simply faied to produce an attack (or ball-possession ratios) worthy of a UEFA side against opponents such as Watford and Burnley, even allowing lower-tier Middlesbrough to loiter around in an FA Cup battle until Red Devils wound up losing 8-7 on penalties. As if to emphasize the point, Man United was eliminated in the Round of 16 from the Champions League not long ago.
The (-115) odds on Ronaldo-to-score offered at FanDuel are probably more accurate than the match’s main betting lines. Just because so much attention is focused on MUFC doesn’t mean Red Devils’ opponents don’t count for just as much in analytics. Everton is screwing up royally against almost every team Toffeemen face.
WagerBop’s Pick: Man United
Watford F.C. vs Leeds United (Saturday, April 9)
Is it possible for a weak defending team to simply score its way out of EPL to Championship relegation? Things appeared to have reached a nadir for Leeds United when Peacocks allowed 20 goals in 5 EPL matches, followed by a 3-nil loss to Aston Villa a fortnight later. But the club began to score goals at a pace that out-flanks other relegation candidates, even tallying 3 amazing goals at Molineux Stadium to hand Wolves a rare high-scoring loss at home.
At (+155) odds, Leeds is a bright pick to defeat host Watford in 90+ minutes. Saturday’s goal-total lines, of course, will intrigue Hornets vs Peacocks bettors, given the wild outcomes of Leeds United fixtures over the past month and more. FanDuel offers (+108) odds on the low-side outcome and only a thin (-130) betting price on Over (2.5) goals from the 2 clubs.
WagerBop’s Pick: Over (2.5)
Southampton F.C. vs Chelsea F.C. (Saturday, April 9)
Instances of long-term and short-term EPL gamblers appearing to sharply contradict each other prior to Saturday matches have been tracked faithfully by WagerBop’s soccer blog. Chelsea’s kickoff at Southampton this weekend presents the exact opposite kind of gambling scenario, in which Pensioners’ dull (-115) odds to beat a bottom-half club are led by futures predictions in obvious ways.
The mounting concern for Chelsea after this week’s opening Champions League tie against Real Madrid can be extended to the domestic slate. Blues are chagrined after taking Brentford too lightly in Chelsea’s previous EPL date, allowing 4 fast goals from the only moderately-talented Bees after scoring early in the latter half.
On the other hand, there’s not much chance of Blues rallying to improve on domestic league grounds because there’s simply nowhere for Thomas Tuchel’s side to go in spring 2022. Chelsea could be surpassed by Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur without falling into 5th place, and pursuant West Ham has been slowly running out of steam on the table. There’s also no realistic hope of catching Manchester City or Liverpool. Supporters hoping for a spirited finish from Blues could score a Pyrrhic victory if Chelsea defeats Southampton, for it will take only a handful of points to seal a top-4 finish and turn May’s slate academic. Pensioners are more likely to go all-out in the FA Cup’s climax later this cycle.
Betters looking to pick Southampton to earn a tremendous upset at home could trip over the same pitfall. Southampton has run out of hope to finish top-3rd and bid for international success in 2022-23, and yet there’s very little chance that Saints will be relegated. More so than the elite footballers of Chelsea, teams like Southampton rely on motivation and emotion to survive and take points from big EPL bouts. That motivation is now dwindling.
We can therefore expect Southampton’s trademark pressing to look more “dutiful” than effective against Chelsea’s expert movement out from the back, just as Chelsea’s inevitable runs in open space could be dialed-back by Tuchel as the Real Madrid rematch looms. Anticipation of a staid, methodical match hasn’t kept FanDuel Sportsbook from posting 1/1 betting odds on each side of O/U (2.5) total goals, or (+850) prop bets on a 2-0 Blues win.
WagerBop’s Pick: Chelsea 2-0 (Exact Score Prop) (+850)
Manchester City vs Liverpool (Sunday, April 10)
The main betting line on Liverpool to win Sunday’s marquee match shrank from (+270) to (+250) in a matter of hours on Wednesday afternoon. Clearly, the opening “minus” odds on Manchester City to defeat the EPL’s swiftly-closing 2nd place team were mispriced. But is Liverpool still a solid underdog pick at less-generous odds that could continue to thin out?
Undoubtedly, one of the most evenly-matched soccer battles of 2021-22 occurred between Reds and Citizens at Anfield last October. There was no appreciable difference between the sides on the 2-2 draw’s scoresheet, and each go-ahead Liverpool goal was quickly matched by City. Sky Blues haven’t lost at home since falling to Tottenham in a February upset, but Man City’s “warm-up” ledger leading to this Sunday’s all-important EPL kickoff includes Crystal Palace, Sporting Lisbon, Burnley, and the defense-minded Indios of Atlético Madrid. Together, those opponents make for poor preparation to face an on-the-attack Liverpool lineup.
Bets on Liverpool are being further inspired by Reds’ top quality at striker, a position that Man City has been trying to reconfigure into an every-match threat after losing the services of retired Argentine legend Sergio Agüero. Salah’s odds to score in the match are (+180), but notably those prop betting odds are less optimistic than the (+165) odds offered on City’s Riyad Mahrez to score.
Another slugfest between the giants at City of Manchester Stadium, with cautious (+168) odds handicapped for Over (3.5) total-goals bets at FanDuel, is expected by bookmakers. Liverpool is a 1/1 pick to cover (+1) on the goal spread, a simple-enough chore in EPL fixtures which include no tiebreaker. But punters know both teams will be gunning for 3 points and a significant lead on the table, especially if the score is still drawn with only sparing minutes to go.
WagerBop’s Pick: Liverpool (+1) ATS
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.