I’ve got to face up to it. I got the English Premier League very, very wrong on Matchday 6.
My record in FIFA is pretty shiny, and I’m still a winner in club football, but man o’ man, a handicapper or 3 has had better days than I did when it the tallies were all counted last weekend.
I thought Spurs would handle Leicester City, and after Harry Kane’s goal in the 29th minute it appeared that Tottenham was on its way to a win. But Foxes maintained early-season momentum with a pair of goals in the 2nd half.
Everton – my long-shot futures wager to win the Premiership in 2019-20 – might be essentially finished in the race for the top of the table already after losing 0-2 to Sheffield United and ruining another of my moneyline picks.
Oh, and what was my “brilliant” prediction for Man City vs Watford? Why, the Under of course!
So much for Pep coaching a “cautious” fixture trying to get Citizens back on track. In hindsight, the club did not simply want to rebound with a victory as much as it wanted to make a statement…and that’s exactly what happened.
All in all I was able to guess only 2 moneylines correctly, and what can I tell the punters out there who played WagerBop’s recommended bets?
Only that handicappers shouldn’t be judged by week-to-week results but rather % of winners over time, and I’m still well above 50% in soccer despite some episodes trying to get a handle on the fresh season in Europe.
We’ve left things a little late this week to allow NFL and MLS recaps significant time in the site’s main headlines. (After all, even if you’re a Premiership advocate who disdains North American club soccer, you gotta have your Zlatan fix at least once per week.)
So most readers will find this page just as the Sunday and Monday fixtures are preparing for kickoff, and those stand-alone matches with heavy betting action will be my focus this week. Why not hone-in on a couple of contests instead of a bushel and see if that helps the old accuracy?
But for those early birds who are reading this immediately after posting, here’s a round of quick picks on Saturday’s EPL schedule.
Sheffield United vs Liverpool
Reds are “just” a (-300) moneyline wager to win this fixture at Bramall Lane, probably because Blades scored the upset over Toffees last week.
But we know that Sheffield United’s 2019-20 is going to be an up-and-down seesaw while Liverpool’s 6-0-0 record is hopefully just the start of something much bigger for Salah and company.
AFC Bournemouth vs West Ham
Cherries have won 2 in a row and could be headed for a much-better campaign than we saw last season. Bettors seem to like Hammers, though, following the club’s unexpected clean-sheet win over Man United.
Pick: Under (3)
Aston Villa vs Burnley FC
Aston Villa lost to Arsenal on Matchday 6 despite a Gunner red card in the 1st half, and Villians are overvalued by Las Vegas and London with a (+125) line-to-win against visiting Clarets.
Pick: Burnley FC or Draw
Chelsea FC vs Brighton
Pensioners did not win last week’s important battle with Liverpool, but won the possession battle and took 13 shot attempts in a close-shave defeat.
Frank Lampard’s coaching methods are beginning to turn things around – that’s the only fair analysis after watching a squad that struggled in late summer start to make noise against aristocrats of the Champions League.
Pick: Chelsea to cover ATS (-1)
Crystal Palace vs Norwich City
Punters seem to like Eagles (-105) to prevail over the Premiership upstarts, and why not? The match is at Selhurst Park and Palace has been in fine form despite giving up a heartbreaking 10-on-11 goal in added time to draw with Wolves on Matchday 6.
Canaries, of course, are the club that knocked Man City off the unbeaten path not long ago. Every team in the Premier League is athletic enough to beat all 19 others…it’s the consistency that is missing from Norwich City and inconsistent squads tend to make too many mistakes and lose to zonal-defending CPFC.
Pick: Crystal Palace
Tottenham vs Southampton
Why Spurs is a (-230) moneyline pick in this match I don’t know. It’s a match-up between a frustrated top-4 level side that may be prone to impatience at this point and a unique, determined club that would love to swipe a point.
Pick: Draw (+365)
Wolverhampton vs Watford FC
Another moneyline jumps off the betting board as potentially mispriced. Hornets are having a futile campaign so far, but Wolves has posted nary a win, making the clubs a combined 0-for-12 in trying for 3 points.
It would be ironic if it’s a draw and each club remains winless. But I’m liking the longer of the 2 lines-to-win in a battle of woeful sides.
Pick: Watford (+308)
Everton vs Manchester City
I give up, I’m never ever picking Toffees ever again! WAH!
Actually, that’s just the sort of childish snap-reaction to disappointment that can be dangerous at the betting board.
Man City’s line-to-win at Goodison park isn’t a “Good-ison” pick because it can’t be lucrative at (-340) anyway unless the gambler antes-up with a fat loan from the bank.
The Over (3) seems like the best wager, not because Citizens scored a billion goals in last week’s get-well match but because of circumstances and common sense. Jordan Pickford will probably be helpless to stop City’s attack while playing behind a sloppy lineup which has underwhelmed in 2019. But if Richarlison Everton manages to score in the early-going the fixture could also turn into the kind of wide-open battle that tends to occur when opposing clubs poke the bear.
(Sunday) Leicester City vs Newcastle United
It’s been more of the same-old for “New”-castle in the opening 6 weekends of play.
An August 25th triumph over Tottenham sparked a lot of hope among supporters at St. James Park, but the club hasn’t won there yet this season, and only managed to eke-out a pair of points while hosting vulnerable Watford and Brighton.
Magpies simply aren’t scoring enough goals, and couldn’t even tally more than twice in a penalty-kick tiebreaker vs Leicester City in the 2nd round of the Carabao Cup.
Meanwhile, Foxes are on fire prior to the Premier League rematch at King Power Stadium. While there might not be another shocking championship run in the works – Leicester has drawn 2 matches and lost 1 already – Sunday’s hosts have made London speculators extremely happy (and wallets ready to burst) over the last 4 Matchdays.
While the club simply pushed ATS in an 0-1 loss to United on September 14th, solid wins over Blades and Cherries preceded last weekend’s fabulous upset of Spurs in which Kane’s early goal totally failed to rattle Brendan Rogers’ side.
Rogers has been described as a “flexible” skipper who has gone with a standard 4-3-3 in the past but likes to go with 4-1-4-1 with Foxes, placing the excellent Jamie Vardy in a striker position from which the veteran has scored 3 goals in 6 EPL matches in 2019-20.
There’s no 2-man “pincer” attack like the scheme that once destroyed the titans of the league…but 4-across-the-back plus bothersome forward passes aimed at Vardy creates a similar dilemma for lineups like Magpies who must bring numbers forward to put suitable pressure on Denmark National Team keeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Despite the heavy betting action that typically goes with a stand-alone Sunday fixture, line-movement is subtle with Foxes a (-185) wager to win on the current betting board. I like what Rogers has cooking so far but again, recent results are always subject to reversion, and it’s probably a safer bet to take Leicester-to-cover (-1) for a heftier payoff or at least an easy push unless a surprise is in store.
Pick: Leicester City to cover (-1)
(Monday) Manchester United vs Arsenal
Ah, at last we come to the money match (and the “money” moneylines) of the week as 2 very old rivals square-off once again in the historic hall of Old Trafford.
The gambling public seems to like Gunners as a slight underdog, moving Arsenal’s line to (+190) with a week of action. But MUFC’s (+140) is probably hinging on the advantage of hosting the match, which kicks-off at a nice late hour (or late for the English Premier League anyway) of 3 PM in New York.
There appear to be few better excuses for marking United as the favorite. Ole Gunnar Solskjær is a well-respected skipper who rescued the club from the clutches of defiant and combative José Mourinho, who had driven the Red Devils to distraction in 2018. But he’s not putting Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford in the proper spaces to succeed so far in the current campaign.
There’s no shame in losing to Hammers at London Stadium – it’s happened to a lot of teams just like it happened to United on Matchday 6. However, the fact that MUFC attempted almost 500 passes and 7 corner kicks and only managed 3 on-target shots is troubling.
Rashford, a young striker who has captivated the league at times, was injured and removed from the front of the formation in the 1st half of the clean-sheet loss last Sunday, and nothing panned out for a modified lineup in the 2nd frame.
Could Solskjær be going through a wide-view version of what happens to a lot of temporary-turned-contracted managers? USMNT fans observed the down-up-down pattern when Bruce Arena was signed as a “comfort food” coach following the dismissal of Jurgen Klinsmann late in the current decade. The Yanks were unhappy under the German coach and roared with several victories as soon as Arena came back to the fold, but the burst of energy was short lived, and the Americans’ form sunk to an even lower level than before in miserable CONCACAF losses.
English teams with unpopular managers which are replaced by players’ favorites often rack-up wins in “jailbreak” fashion only to realize soon-after that 19 U.S. marshals 19 other Premiership sides are hot on their tails, ready to pounce on any tactical weaknesses or loose form once the excitement of change wears off.
United might be searching for a different long-term solution in the coach’s chair by this time next season. In the short term, Pogba and Rashford are unlikely to return from injury in time to take on Arsenal.
Gunners, meanwhile, appear to have worked their way through some early-season jitters and are faring well within and outside of the Premiership. Aubameyang scored the winner in last weekend’s courageous 3-2 triumph over Villa, but more-impressive was the team’s 3-0 win over Eintracht of Bundesliga in the 1st round of Europa League round-robin competition on September 19th.
United can still find some weaknesses in the back 4 of Arsenal, but psychology is everything when it comes to rivalry matches, and historical trends are not as important as the scenario this Monday in which the visitors are likely to look healthier and more focused than Old Trafford’s hosts.
Gunners are the pick at (+190)…and don’t wait for the line to shrink further before putting those units down.
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.