We’d best prepare to welcome a slew of newbie Premier League gamblers.
Setting aside the disappointment of a 1-1 draw with Jamaica, it feels certain that Christian Pulisic and the United States turned a corner on the football pitch last Friday. With greater success for USMNT (and hopefully a revival of world dominance for the U.S. women soon) will come heightened betting action from recreational gamblers in North America, not FanDuel or Bovada’s thin roster of “punters” who hail from the UK and elsewhere.
Yes, the FIFA cycle will get the bulk of recreational bets as USA rises. But the FIFA schedule is sporadic, while the English Premier League loosely matches the rhythm of NFL and college football, and it’s readily available on network and cable TV every Saturday and Sunday morning. When an American star appears for Chelsea or another English team on a U.S. national broadcast, the fixture will be sure to draw outsized betting handles.
What to expect from those who bet while waiting on the Dallas Cowboys? It would be surprising if the classic “thin Over odds” syndrome of casual sports-betting afflicts total-goals markets on the Premier League very much. Those who wager fast-action “Over” bets for fun are less likely to sit through 90+ minutes of an EPL match. Goals in European football are like storms, hitting with sudden momentum after days of calm sunshine. Viewers who stick around long enough to see the ping-pong chaos of a Premiership scoring frenzy may avoid O/U bets entirely.
We should anticipate more money-line bets on underdogs, that’s for sure. American cheering sections for whom terms like “out from the back” and “5-across and straight ahead” mean absolutely nothing will notice that the underdogs sure seem to produce a lot of attacks and unexpected outcomes in Premier League play, for all of the pundits’ efforts to handicap each match as a win, loss, or draw before kickoff time.
But maybe the North American betting public hasn’t caught up to speed just yet. At least 1 set of money-line odds for this Premier League weekend (here’s looking at you, West Ham) is overly generous thanks to London’s influence and the history-tinged outlook of pro EPL handicappers. Yet it’s hard to see the side with more wins, goals, and momentum as a 2-to-1 underdog based on whatever occurred in 2018. The story of Premier League bookmaking for the last 10 years has been lost profits due to overestimating legacy teams and dismissing everyone else.
That won’t change in a hurry – the UK’s sports influencers never do. Thankfully, the focus on “old almanacs and cobwebs” means that fat underdog odds are still readily available on the weekly EPL betting board for now, and that winning a nice payoff from an “upset” victory can be as simple as Yankee common sense.
Saturday 11/20: Leicester City vs. Chelsea F.C.
We’re back in 2015, and try to imagine that a United States footballer’s health is considered a major factor in the English Premier League championship race. If you can’t imagine it, that’s because Yankee soccer has never reached its current level of quality before!
The USMNT and its supporters believed Christian Pulisic to be ailing with an ankle wound headed into Friday night’s World Cup qualification match in Cincinnati. However, the Chelsea star needed only a few moments of his appearance to set USA supporters alight with a classic, winning header to vanquish Mexico. As opposed to limping back to Stamford Bridge, Pulisic looks healthy again and poised to build on international glory. That’s bad news for Leicester City, which currently stands as a (+380) pick vs Chelsea.
Counting “Foxes” out in any match is a rather hard choice. Pensioners, after all, were the victims in Leicester’s FA Cup Final victory back in spring. But the club has fallen into poor form in autumn, achieving only drawn results with teams like Brighton, Leeds United, and Spartak Moscow, the latter a Europa League bid that Premiership sides are supposed to handle with ease. Leicester’s last definitive result was an 0-2 loss to Gunners.
Recommended bet: Chelsea
Saturday 11/20: Wolverhampton vs. West Ham United
A trip to Molineux Stadium could provide the perfect opportunity for an upstart club to prove its worth. West Ham’s glory over the past 4 matches includes an amazing 3-2 league upset of Liverpool and a penalty shoot-out victory over Man City.
However, the London bookmakers—and especially those at FanDuel—are skeptical that Hammers can keep it up. Wolves have won 4 out of its last 6 EPL matches, perhaps justifying West Ham United’s (+140) odds offering.
The assignment of referee Mike Dean to the fixture has spooked visiting supporters, as Dean has been quick to eject West Ham footballers on ticky-tack red cards. That being said, the injury problems at Wolverhampton should allow Hammers to settle into the challenge, and manufacture another “unlikely” win that really isn’t that unlikely for a club with a 7-2-2 record.
Recommended bet: West Ham
Saturday 11/20: Newcastle United vs. Brentford F.C.
3-way moneylines are seldom handicapped with matching markets, but Newcastle and Brentford are getting equal (+165) odds to win from FanDuel Sportsbook. Of course, Saturday’s match is home engagement for Magpies, which usually carries some sort of numerical edge on the betting board. For Brentford to have equalizing odds, Blades must have more-than-equalizing form.
Newcastle’s league record may be the poorest among notable English teams. Magpies have won 0 EPL matches in the current cycle, and Chelsea prevailed 3-0 in Newcastle’s most recent match at St. James Park.
Now isn’t the time to wager on Brentford, however, as the club has had only 1 league victory since September. The club also barely outlasted Stoke City in a sloppy EFL Cup bout before dropping 6 more points to Clarets and Canaries. Prior to the FIFA break, Newcastle showed spirit on the attack in the 2nd half of a 1-1 draw.
Recommended bet: Under (2.5)
Saturday 11/20: Watford F.C. vs. Manchester United
After winning 3 league matches this season, Watford is proving itself as an honorable opponent for similar Premier League sides. But Hornets haven’t knocked off a legacy team all cycle and have lost via clean sheets to Wolves, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Arsenal. Such performances have helped mark Saturday’s hosts as 5-to-1 underdogs.
Despite United’s woes vs. Manchester City and other top brands, Ronaldo and company are somewhat likely to feast on a shaky back-line at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Recommended bet: Over (3.5) (+164)
Saturday 11/20: Liverpool vs. Arsenal F.C.
Throughout their busy slate, Liverpool (-210) has faired fairly well. October saw the club stay comfortably ahead of Group B in Champions League competition, advance in the EFL Cup, and defeat Man United and draw with Manchester City.
Liverpool’s position on the Premiership table is lagging, however, following a string of dropped points. Urgency could lead to forward numbers and an aggressive game plan as Liverpool tries to keep pace with the top 4 teams on the domestic table. Arsenal’s 200+ straight minutes of clean-sheet football could also compel safer tactics by the opposing side.
Recommended bet: Under (2.5) (+156)
Sunday 11/21: Manchester City vs. Everton F.C.
The prohibitive (-650) money-line odds for Man City to defeat Everton are partly a product of Toffees’ poor form. Put in context of FanDuel’s lines on UEFA Champions League competition, in which City is a steep favorite to beat Paris Saint-Germain next week, the number illustrates that Pep Guardiola’s club is perceived to be back on track.
Since losing 0-2 to Crystal Palace on the day before Halloween, the defending Premier League champions overcame a rare own-goal from John Stones to defeat Club Brugge 4-1 and stay on top of the UEFA table. The club then went on to embarrass Man United in a lopsided match.
Man City is not facing the typical underdog opponent in Everton. We know how Citizens fare when facing a slower, humbler EPL side without elite footballers, as the team surrounds “circled wagons” in the opposing box and tries not to fall prey to counter-attacks. Toffeemen lineups are bookended by 2 of the sport’s best-in keeper Jordan Pickford and striker Richarlison. Saturday’s 15-to-1 underdogs just aren’t living up to their potential in the slightest, having gone winless since late September in all competitions.
Continuing the woes for Everton is last Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham that included a red card for defender Mason Holgate in the 92nd minute, another costly blow to an already flawed lineup.
London’s views on Sunday’s kickoff are well represented by FanDuel’s fat (+126) odds on Over (3.5). Man City could appear poised for another 5-6 goal victory, but Everton’s back-line crisis could have the paradoxical effect of focusing Toffees on slowing City’s attack down. A drawn match and a single point are about all the visitors can hope for. Furthermore, Man City is preparing for a UEFA revenge-bout with Paris Saint-Germain just 3 days after Sunday’s match-up.
Recommended bet: Under (3.5)
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.