Bovada Sportsbook’s SEO team (the people responsible for the page titles you see on your browser, not on the site itself) is calling this U.K. soccer campaign the “English Premiere League.”
“Premiere” is of course an old-school Hollywood version of “premier.” But it kind of fits too. English soccer is framed for the fans like a movie (or a soap opera) with emotional “payoff scenes” arriving on the calendar every weekend.
Was the “movie” an all-too-predictable clunker on the maiden Matchday of 2019-20? I predicted heading into last weekend that there would be less surprises and less upsets than people were imagining there might be. A handicapper will always root for his predictions to come true, but maybe I should have been careful what I wished for.
The underdogs just didn’t put up much of a fight. Man City and Liverpool destroyed West Ham and Norwich City by a combined score of 9-1, while Manchester United embarrassed Chelsea F.C. 4-to-nil in a season for which Las Vegas ‘cappers hold out little hope for Pensioners.
In the weekend’s only major upset bid, Aston Villa held a 1-goal lead over host Spurs for almost 80 minutes before French midfielder Tanguy Ndombele finally drew Tottenham level. That set up – who else – Harry Kane to deliver the coup de grace to Villains.
My #1 recommended futures wager to win the Premiership this season – Everton F.C. – emerged with merely a point after a scoreless draw with Crystal Palace. Hmm.
At least Matchday 2 pits a pair of titans against each other in Manchester City and Tottenham. That’s the sort of match that could go either way, not to mention Villains vs Cherries, or the Red Devils’ dangerous trip back to Molineux Stadium on Monday.
Here’s a quick wrap-around of the odds and online-gambling narratives of the Premiership on Matchday 2. Thanks to WagerBop’s new relationship with Google this preview will be seen by more and more readers progressively over the weekend, so I’ll begin with simple updates on Saturday lines and go a little more in-depth on the Sunday and Monday matches.
Arsenal vs Burnley F.C.
Gunners have been getting high praise for acing the transfer period, and the squad got right to work with a clinical 1-0 victory over Newcastle at St. James Park last Sunday. Each keeper was only tested twice, and Arsenal held the ball for more than 60% of the match. Aubameyang scored the winner in a 1-0 result…as if you needed me to tell you that.
Meanwhile, Clarets are pleased to have not only outlasted Southampton on Matchday 1 but to have tallied 3 goals in 12 minutes in a 2nd-half blaze of glory. Bettors at Bovada Sportsbook strongly prefer Arsenal (-305) in this Saturday’s fixture, but you’ve also got to think about past trends and “Premiership minnows” swimming well-upstream prior to the grind of winder and spring. Burnley F.C. is an intriguing underdog at (+900) and I’ve also got my eye on the Draw line of (+475).
Aston Villa vs A.F.C. Bournemouth
It’s strange to see a newcomer (even though Aston Villa isn’t really a newcomer) touted in Las Vegas and London as a (+130) to beat Cherries. After all, Villains couldn’t stand up in the 2nd half against Spurs and looked every bit like a just-hanging-on underdog for much of the maiden match. Bournemouth didn’t look so hot themselves last week, drawing 1-1 with Sheffield United – that’s part of it.
Also consider that Saturday will be a magic moment in Birmingham. Athletes will be 200% motivated to play well, but that could benefit Cherries as much as the hosts. Bournemouth is the pick at (+205).
Brighton vs West Ham
Lines are also tight for this battle of proud clubs at Falmer Stadium. Brighton & Hove Albion was all class while dismissing Hornets 3-0 on the road last weekend, and I’d have forecast Seagulls to be a shorter-than (+150) moneyline as Matchday 2 approaches.
West Ham remains a maddening team to watch and was not physical enough against City during last week’s 0-5 drubbing in London.
Everton vs Watford
It’s early, and no time to panic about a futures wager.
The Toffeemen just seem to find ways to drop points in ways that restrict the club to also-ran status in the Premiership despite an abundance of talent and a marvelous keeper in Jordan Pickford.
Not that injuries help the cause any.
Marco Silva made curious lineup choices on Matchday 1 as the club could not break the Crystal Palace midfield in an 0-0 draw, and Everton will proceed to meet Hornets on Saturday as a risky (-140) favorite.
Thankfully for Richarlison and company, Watford looked like arse on Matchday 1, which is not to say like Arsenal.
Norwich City at Newcastle United
Bookmakers at Bovada have temporarily pulled the markets for this match, with promoted Norwich City last taking wagers to-win at just (+115).
Perhaps odds managers are not comfortable with such a long line as (+230) on an established Premier League side as Newcastle United, but Carrow Road is a treacherous road trip on Matchday 2.
Manchester City vs Tottenham
The final Saturday match is still an AM kickoff in the United States, but nationally-broadcast and chock-full of American betting action.
Bovada is offering a (+750) moneyline on Spurs, which I’m taking every day of the week including early on the weekend.
Pundits forget that Man City lost an important soccer match much more-recently than Liverpool has – and the Sky Blues lost that meeting in the 2018-19 Champions League…to Tottenham Hotspur.
If there’s going to be an early-season upset at City of Manchester Stadium, Saturday will be the day.
Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace
This is a stand-alone Sunday match which should also see its fair share of AM-hour gambling action in North America. Sheffield is a (+155) favorite to prevail on home turf, mirroring the betting public’s logic in going Norwich City’s direction against Newcastle.
Crystal Palace is still holding on to Wilfried Zaha, and a scoreless draw with Everton F.C. last weekend may have been a positive sign overall. Eagles’ identity is firmly intact as a tough defending club.
Meanwhile I always get nervous about touting a lineup whenever “players’ meetings behind closed doors” are a topic of gossip. Remember the epic fail of Ray Handley’s reign as head coach of the New York Giants? The NFL players would lose a game, have an emotional closed-door meeting, lose another game, have an even more emotional meeting, and so on. By the end of a dreadful season, New York was only ever winning at having the most meetings, never the most points on the board.
But CPFC played reasonably well and managed a draw against Toffees…and doesn’t have to face Jordan Pickford again this weekend. Given the team’s propensity for effective zonal defense even in moments where it’s downright impolite of them, I’m liking the Draw line of (+225) on Sunday morning.
Chelsea vs Leicester City
Another strange moneyline, this time on a favorite.
Action has Chelsea at (-130) to beat Foxes of Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and that’s not quite right considering what we found out about Pensioners last weekend.
I imagined that an influx of youth would help provide quality for Chelsea in the short term, and that the lack of veteran warhorses acquired via transfers would only slow the club down later in the season. In other words, Chelsea could be a “minnow” in late summer even though in a normal sense the storied organization is always a whale capable of great victories in spring.
Maybe not this time around. But the woes are coming sooner than that. Not to overreact to 1 loss on the 1st day, but Chelsea was awful in moments during a 4-goal loss to United at Old Trafford.
Then again, Blues actually out-paced MUFC in some areas and fell victim to a penalty which set the team behind 0-1 – not the ideal circumstance for a club infused with youngsters. Maybe Foxes will provide easier prey on Matchday 2 as the teachings of skipper Frank Lampard begin to sink-in under fire.
Wolves vs Manchester United
Monday’s match brings echoes of last September.
Wolverhampton F.C. has carved out a niche as a competitive, dangerous Premier League side just 1 year into a new promotion.
But nobody knew that was going to happen a year ago, except Wanderers themselves.
Wolves was a pretty steep underdog while playing host to Man United in 9/22/18. The match itself turned into a minor classic, and scored a nice payoff for savvy sharks on the Draw line.
Wolves beat United later in the 2018-19 season as well, but the Red Devils were a new team by then and are a new team now. MUFC was plagued by constant Paul Pogba transfer rumors (or “rumours” as they say in The Guardian) and displeased with soon-to-be-sacked skipper Mourinho.
Are things really all that different in September ’19, though? Pogba headlines may have cooled off as of this week, but former touchstone attacker Romelu Lukaku joined the bailing party prior to the 1st match, and the club is not a lock to continue on a path of consistency it was lacking in 2018.
Harry Maguire is the defender everyone wants to see, but it’s forwards like Alexis Sánchez who must play better and stay upright in 2019-20 for United to get past Wolves and have a grander start this season.
Gamblers are largely unsure about the match at Molineux, currently marking United as a thin ML favorite at (+135).
However, a standard (and cautious) Over/Under total of (2.5) is a sign of respect for Wolves GK Rui Patrício and storied Manchester United keeper David de Gea.
I’m leaning to the high side of that market for 2 sides full of fresh legs on Monday.
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.