Now we’re talkin’.
WagerBop – or myself, personally – had a lousy week making English football predictions prior to the 6th round of Premier League fixtures.
Moneylines might be 3-ways and goal spreads push too often to shoot for 60% accuracy, but punters still rightfully expect at least 6+ prevailing picks or maybe 3-5 bargain-priced jackpots out of 10 sets of markets. The column accomplished neither on Matchday 6.
Last week, however, almost everything seemed to begin falling into place as so many obvious prognostications felt like even more obvious winners in hindsight. Liverpool may have only scored 1 goal against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, but Reds controlled the football for almost 3/4ths of the event, and bookmakers had left some kind of reasonable payout on a Reds moneyline wager (-300) despite the likelihood of the outcome.
Frank Lampard’s Blues are starting to come around earlier than anticipated, making Stamford Bridge a difficult road trip for Premiership opponents once again. But we already thought Chelsea would be covering (-1) over Brighton when Jorginho converted a penalty early in the 2nd half to set the squad alight.
Crystal Palace-over-Norwich City was a true “gimme” in hindsight, as was our pick that Leicester City would go way, way over Newcastle United. Leicester has a whole lot of momentum at the moment, and the only real difference table-wise between now and how the club’s epic underdog title run looked in the early days is that the “prohibitive” favorites Liverpool and Manchester City are always going to be looking down at everyone until if-and-when lighting bolts strike more than once.
For instance, Canaries already beat Citizens 3-2 in the moneyline shocker of the season to-date on September 14th. But Leicester still sits 2 points behind Man City and 7 points behind Mohamed Salah and Liverpool.
Of course, Foxes can start doing something about that this Saturday at Anfield.
We’ll try to keep the hot streak going with a handicap for this weekend…and try not to overlook any streaks-in-motion by clubs that may not lose until November.
Brighton vs Tottenham
Spurs vanquished our most-frustrating pick of Matchday 7 (Draw at (+385)) by somehow earning 3 points against Saints after suffering a red card and an opposing goal 8 minutes apart late in the 1st half.
But the club is still nowhere it would like to be on the table, and fell in a 7-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in Champions League play on Tuesday.
The spirited Son Heung-min scored to give Tottenham a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute, usually the type of heroics that would help motivate the roster going forward. Spurs’ vaunted backline proceeded to defend like Brazil against Germany in the 2014 World Cup – in other words jogging alongside Bavarians while the visitors made mince-meat of Hugo Lloris.
A final score of 7-2 puts the team’s 2019-20 Champions League fortunes in doubt while pundits question whether a midfield and backline with such a low floor can find its ceiling and stay there long enough to reach the competition again in 2020-21.
The dark hour at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hasn’t produced that much line-movement in London, and Bovada Sportsbook still gives (-110) to Spurs to beat host Brighton in Saturday’s stand-alone early fixture.
At this particular juncture, a trip to Falmer Stadium will feel more welcome to Spurs than hosting another iconic European club at home would. That’s probably bad news for Seagulls (+285) since Brighton & Hove Albion has not prevailed in a match since slipping-by Bristol Rovers in an August 27th EFL Cup meeting.
Burnley F.C. vs Everton
Sour, sour Toffees. An early-season result like “Everton 3, Wolves 2” might have promised that the club would approach best form sometime in autumn, but time is running out as upset losses to Villains, Cherries, and Blades have marked the attack ineffectual and Jordan Pickford’s backline full of flaws. Popular Theo Walcott suffered a scary head injury against Man City in a 1-3 loss last week.
But I’m still liking the visitors at (+155) against a 2-3-2 Clarets side on Saturday, with the moneyline having swelled from closer to (Even) waters originally. Reversion plus line-movement to the favorite are 2 good reasons to pick vs Burnley at Turf Moor right now, since the mid-tier of the Premier League is filled with nothing but wild inconsistency while rare steady clubs battle atop the table.
Norwich City vs Aston Villa
Gamblers seem to like Villains at (+190) and it’s hard to blame them, since the echoes of Norwich City’s epic upset win still reverberate through this Saturday’s odds.
Aston Villa’s attack was alive against Burnley last weekend. The Over (2.75) was a great early-week market but online bookies have wisely bumped it up to (3) total goals.
Pick: Aston Villa
Watford vs Sheffield United
Another mid-Saturday match that could be viewed as a respite for both sides, though Hornets have played so poorly in Premiership action that the club’s (+125) line is due to reputation and history at Vicarage Road more than any fair analysis.
Pick: Sheffield United
Liverpool vs Leicester City
This match occurs in the round of 10 AM EST kickoffs, but will dominate live-betting action on Saturday morning throughout the United States…at least until a batch of American “kickoffs” at midday begin to draw the biggest handles.
No Liverpool fixture at Anfield plays 2nd-fiddle to any other event, but it also helps when there’s a sexy underdog pick in the mix.
Things are going well for Leicester City and the club is getting some breaks too, with the media learning from Jürgen Klopp today that goalkeeper Allison will continue to ride pine with injury, missing the upcoming fixture with Foxes. Gamblers already thought Leicester was handicapped too long at 8-to-1 odds, but the wounded GK position at Anfield and a 5-0 romp on Matchday 7 have helped the guests to a (+550) line-to-win at Bovada Sportsbook as of half of a week’s action.
As the YouTube title implies, Newcastle’s “highlights” were absurdly brief in nature.
So long as Kasper Schmeichel remains at the height of his powers and someone named Vardy is dancing around at the front of Leicester’s formation, the upstarts will be a challenging put-out for any host-favorite in the Premier League.
But a couple of notes on Liverpool’s chances – yes, Reds are off to a shaky start in the Champions League just like Tottenham, but unlike their fellow 2018-19 UEFA finalists, the current 7-0-0 EPL table-toppers’ form against Napoli has not shown up in domestic play. Meanwhile, Adrián hasn’t had many problems filling-in for the missing Brazilian star.
Bovada has seen fit to move the ATS line to (-1) for Reds, though they’re “juicing the hell out of the line” as my colleague Kreighton Rahn likes to say. My plan is to wait for that market to shorten further with action on Leicester City and then strike when it’s around (-130) or even (-120) if possible.
Pick: Liverpool to cover (-1)
West Ham vs Crystal Palace
Saturday’s stand-alone late fixture may be overshadowed by college football betting in North America, but it will serve as a “bailout” opportunity for any punters who have had a week of picks go awry akin to WagerBop’s Matchday 6 performance.
Hammers tend to get a little too much fanfare when playing at home following a flurry of points in recent matches. Combine supporters’ frenzy with the fact that Crystal Palace is not every gambler’s taste for betting and cheering, and West Ham’s moneyline – while opening as a plus-market – is now shortened to (-105).
That leaves a solid, possibly-superior CPFC side at (+280) and a Draw (+245) market just begging to be invested confidently in.
*** ADDED SUNDAY PREMIER LEAGUE PICKS ***
Arsenal vs AFC Bournemouth
Sunday’s multi-sport “football” gamblers can get a jump on the day’s action with a trio of early Premiership kickoffs, not the least of which occurring at Emirates Stadium as Cherries travels to visit Gunners in a battle of top-half clubs.
If European soccer has any kind of “parity enhancement” such as the weighted drafts of western pro leagues, it’s that the less-rich organizations feel encouraged to build momentum and develop close relationships with talent via successful tournament play. AFC Wimbledon, for instance, may not be climbing the ladder toward a Premier League bid, but last season’s FA Cup triumph over West Ham was still a shot in the arm that Wombles sorely needed.
Yet rarer is the underdog that stumbles badly in tournaments – even the early rounds of 2nd-tier tournaments like the Carabao Cup – and nevertheless plays bravely and well against the best of a vaunted domestic league. AFC Bournemouth has fallen woefully short in an EFL Cup bid that should have been reachable for an EPL club in the top 10 of its table. Last week, however, Cherries lost by a clean sheet to Burton in the 3rd round, 4 weeks after needing penalties to vanquish a club called Forest Green – and if a squad called Water Blue or Waves Choppy came along Bournemouth may have needed penalties against those.
It doesn’t auger well for the FA Cup when you can’t even stack the deck and sail through a bracket of lower-division teams. But look at league results and another story is told – Cherries upset Toffeemen 3-1 on 9/15, out-foxed the press of Southampton 3-1 just 5 days later, and most-recently shook up West Ham with Callum Wilson’s go-ahead tally to start the 2nd half, controlling much of an eventually 2-2 draw with a ginned-up Hammers side at Dean Court.
Bournemouth now travels to meet Arsenal, a club which hasn’t been getting much moneyline action for some reason, at least not at sports betting pages available to America. I understand wholeheartedly any general skepticism toward Unai Emery’s team, but consider that Gunners are having no such trouble as their opponents in other competitions – or in the Premiership for that matter – grabbing 4 points from Aston Villa (despite a red card) and Man United while blasting Nottingham Forest 5-0 in the Carabao Cup and putting on a clinic in Europa League.
As we speak, young Arsenal reserve striker Gabriel Martinelli is working on a potential hat trick against Standard Liège of Belgium. The good vibes and obvious day-to-day consistency pouring from the hosts should make a (-220) moneyline start to shrink back toward 1-to-3 and may affect other lines, so I’m recommending a 3-days-out Gunners wager to get the best prices.
Pick: Arsenal to cover (-1) or (-1.25)
Manchester City vs Wolverhampton
Wolves doesn’t seem to have much steam headed into a nightmare match-up on Sunday (though that’s what we thought of Norwich City when Sky Blues visited Carrow Road). Still the odds have tightened to a “short” (ahem) (+2000) line-to-win on Wanderers following near-25/1 odds on opening consensus.
Pick: Over (3.5)
Southampton vs Chelsea
Bettors are swarming to Chelsea now that the club is starting to appear more formidable, shrinking a plus-market opening moneyline to close to (-110) as of Thursday.
But facing the unique Southampton style at St. Mary’s Stadium could throw a wrench in Lampard’s grand plans…for now.
Pick: Southampton (+300)
Newcastle United vs Manchester United
Red Devils continue to suffer from injuries and seesaw results on the pitch in addition to the unending shriek of the tabloids – though the club would be remiss not to have gotten used to the latter by now. The furious schedule of the Europa League + EFL Cup + Premier League isn’t helping, and maybe it would be best if Man United bowed-out of the 2nd competition soon.
But Newcastle has played more like a Championship squad than a Premiership side for 7 weeks running.
Pick: United (-115)
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.