Has an English football club ever found itself struggling in the competitions it’s supposed to be primarily focused on, yet flourishing in other events with less preparation? One could say it’s been any English Championship team licking at the top 3rd of the table but showing better form in the FA Cup than in league matches, since the ultimate goal of a Championship squad is supposed to be reaching the Premiership.
If we can’t immediately think of a Premier League club that’s won events with a modest effort while losing-out whenever its best 11 play all day, it might be because of a sort of “mental reverse-engineering” in the handicapper’s mind. We hear that Manchester City is focused on UEFA competition above all. Then we see Liverpool overtake an elite Sky Blues lineup on the Premier League table. Meanwhile, City won’t be disinvited to play in the Champions League anytime soon. Every time Pep Guardiola’s team wins another UEFA match (or is upset in a Premier League match) we think, “ah, there’s that Guardiola to-do list coming into play again.”
But do we remember as clearly when European teams simply sneak-into a competition’s upper ranks while reeking it up under pressure? What if City won the Premiership title but not the Champions League? (That actually happened very recently, of course, but maybe before there was so much talk about Pep’s international focus.)
Anyway, these are the intricate angles, otherwise known as “straws” at which a handicapper clutches after suffering his blog’s worst losing streak of a soccer season. Ay, matey, a veritable cornucopia of EPL picks, and not a one’s a winner! Hah!”
That’ll make you too queasy for seafood. Last week’s English soccer tout was WagerBop’s lousiest set of Premier League handicaps in quite a while. Things can only get this bleak when you’re recommending bets on The Beautiful Game, as it’s actually hard to lose 6 or 7 straight 2-way point spreads or Over/Under bets, even if you’re weird enough to try.
Grasping for angles like “unexpected good form when a team needs it the least” could, as hinted above, fall prey to confirmation bias when looking at stats in hindsight. It’s like preaching that Cattails grow best on North-facing shores, without ever looking on banks facing in other directions. For all we know, City’s phenomenal form over the past few EPL matches signals a new dedication to winning domestic football fixtures, even now that Liverpool has put 1st place out of reach.
A better woodsy metaphor is fishing, as usual. When things are going badly, a good fishwife goes to a method she feels confident in. For me, that’s moneylines and 2-way spreads. It’s fun to play around with so many betting options available for a handicap with English soccer among the maiden sports back in action. But the “goals” section at FanDuel has kept the blog from accomplishing any of same. Let’s try a new round of picks with a single running angle – which EPL clubs are set to out-play the odds by means of attack or defense, notwithstanding what a fixture’s goal total happens to be?
Wolverhampton FC vs Everton FC
Wolves is handicapped like a genuine Premier League favorite, a (+105) bet to defeat storied Everton (+0.5) in a contest for which Under (2.5) is the consensus London pick. Certainly, the club’s amazing 2nd season back at the top level is worthy of such odds.
But does the recent form of Wolves stand-up to scrutiny? Here’s a team that managed 1 on-target shot against Sheffield United, a club that’s springing leaks on the back line, in an 0-1 defeat on Wednesday. When Arsenal visited Molineux Stadium in the previous fixture, Wolves lost to a clean sheet.
Pick: Everton (+295) or ATS
Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace
I’ve whiffed on a couple fat underdog lines for CPFC lately, and it’s clear that Eagles are somewhat behind rivals tempo-wise in post-COVID suspension matches. Teams have never been healthier or more ready to go across the entire European landscape. Clubs that don’t respond with a cracking effort will be thrown overboard, and Palace supporters must be nervous about relegation now that Eagles have won less times than Watford or Brighton.
However, I fail to understand why Villains are a (+125) favorite for Sunday’s crucial appearance. Aston Villa will be coming-off an arduous schedule of Wolves, Liverpool, and Man United prior to meeting Crystal Palace…which already showed signs of life in a 2-3 loss to visiting Chelsea and does not play again until visiting Villains.
Pick: Palace (+235) or Draw (+235)
Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal FC
Spurs has regretfully picked up right where the club left off…playing nobly against all-comers under Mourinho but also posting the occasional dodgy result. There’s no excuse for not pouncing on Sheffield United considering the woes Blades have been experiencing.
Still, I’m thinking the wiseguy grabs a Spurs moneyline slip vs visiting Arsenal before the squad handles AFC Bournemouth on Thursday and shrinks in the weekend odds.
Pick: Tottenham (+145)
AFC Bournemouth vs Leicester City
At last! A simple logic flaw in the betting lines. Yes, it’s in the Over/Under…but it’s to be discerned from how ML gamblers are behaving.
The consensus on Cherries vs Foxes is that visiting Leicester will control Sunday’s match, given a (-150) moneyline on the guests at Bovada. Most ‘cappers are considering what happened last time Foxes met a club on Bournemouth’s athletic level, a 3-0 win for Leicester City over CPFC. Jamie Vardy scored 2 times and Leicester controlled the play just like speculators believe Foxes will out-class Cherries this weekend.
But wait – if the faster, sleeker, better-attacking team will command play, why an O/U line of (2.5) total goals? Leicester could score 4 or 5 goals with an exemplary outing. The (-115) payoff on “Over” shows that a few gamblers have noticed the contradiction between markets…but not so many as to drive it up to (3).
Pick: Over at Current (2.5) Line
Manchester United vs Southampton FC
The determined style of Saints doesn’t mix well with a (+1.5) goal spread. Not when playing a titan of an opponent on the road, anyway.
Manchester United would have a simple a 50% chance to cover the spread except for 1 potential scenario – MUFC scoring an early-to-mid 2nd-half goal to go ahead by 1. In that case, look for Red Devils to break open the pitch and add more, as Saints try awkwardly to bring more forward numbers and transition from defending to attacking.
Pick: United 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.