Premier Leans, Plays and Picks
By: Matt Lawrence (@mattj_lawrence)
Our beloved English Premier League returned after months away due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and it did not disappoint! For anyone that looked at my twitter (mattj_lawrence) or listened to the Bloker Joker Podcast (@BlokerJokerPod) on the great Pub Sports Radio, you profited this week on its return. I’ll take a 3-2 record for +1.8 units of profit every time. As we know in this industry, you’re only as good as your last pick, so let’s move on to the upcoming midweek slate.
My 2019-2020 Football/Futbol/Soccer record: 113-89-13 +19.57 Units
Leicester City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Leicester went toe to toe with Watford at the weekend and looked to have 3 points wrapped up after Ben Chilwell’s cracking 90th-minute strike…until Watford equalized from a corner in the 94th minute. I picked Leicester, so that one stung a bit. However, I think the result was fair for both sides after it was all said and done. On the flip side, Brighton pulled the ol smash and grab to collect all 3 points after Neil Maupey’s 95th-minute winner sending my co-host Cody (@Squidspicks) into more Arsenal depression. Arsenal lacked the clinical finishing in the final third, and after Pepe’s wonder goal, gifted Brighton a cheap one from a corner kick. If Arsenal had a healthy back 4, I think they would’ve cruised to the 3 points. Leicester has a stout defense led by one of the best summer signings in Caglar Soyuncu. The Foxes won the reverse fixture in a comfortable 2-0 fashion. Leicester will be able to create similar chances as Arsenal, and with the Premier League-leading 19 goals from Jamie Vardy, I believe they will be able to put two past Brighton and grab all 3 points. I grabbed this line right when it came out, but I like it all the way up to -170.
Pick: Leicester City to win (-130)
Tottenham vs. West Ham United
Tottenham looked solid and compact defensively as predicted against Manchester United. If you give Jose Mourinho aka “The Special One” that much time to prepare for a match, it’ll generally go in his favor. In the end, they did well to hold onto a draw because United looked fantastic after halftime when they brought on more attacking talent. Harry Kane looked a bit leggy and Spurs desperately need him to be at 100% against a West Ham side that beat Tottenham in the reverse fixture 1-0 and has given Spurs problems for years. The Hammers looked terrible against Wolves and lacked that cutting edge up top. This squad needs to come together right now, or they risk getting into the dreaded relegation battle. This team has a lot of individual talent, but there is hardly any cohesion. For me, this is somewhat of a lineup checker, so be sure to check my twitter account before this one kicks off. Tottenham should be able to grab all 3 points against a gutless West Ham.
Lean: Tottenham to win (-150)
Manchester United vs. Sheffield United
It’s a battle of the United’s and 2 of the best defenses in the league. This price has drastically changed overnight. Last night I saw Manchester United hovering around -160, and I woke up to a -225 being hung up there, and that’s where it currently sits. If we see the 2nd half Manchester United against Tottenham, they should be able to beat Sheffield by a margin. I just fear that this one could be 0-0 for quite some time, and then Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will be forced to bring on more attackers again. We know that Sheffield is as organized as it gets but will be without John Egan, one of their usual defenders. Sheffield hasn’t looked the same team since the restart and hasn’t scored yet. It won’t get any easier as United have one of the top defenses in the league, and if Ole pairs Pogba & Bruno Fernandes in midfield, this one could get ugly. One of the better angles might be to look at United live/in play.
Lean: Manchester United win to nil (+108)
Wolves vs. Bournemouth
I picked up an easy winner on Crystal Palace +0.25 last week against the Cherries. That was my best bet of the week because, to me, Bournemouth is a complete fade side at the moment. I don’t see this being the year that Eddie Howe masterfully pulls them to safety, like in years past. The board has continued to buy overrated & overpriced players in years past, and it has finally caught up to them. Wolves were another one of my winners last week as they played West Ham. I have West Ham and Bournemouth in the same category, so when this line came out, I locked in Wolves immediately. Nuno Santos’s side has been my favorite team to back from a betting perspective all season. This team has it all and can cause any group in the Premier League problems. I expect this line to be around -200 at kick-off, so I think it’s something to jump on now. I don’t mind Wolves & U4.5 goals as well for more value.
Pick: Wolves to win (-145) is what I got, and I like it all the way up to (-180)
Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa
Newcastle was one of the sides I was very impressed with last week. The front 3 of Joelinton, Almiron, and Saint-Maximim proved to be too much for Sheffield to handle. However, they still couldn’t score until after the Sheffield red card. Villa took a one-goal lead into the break vs. Chelsea and laid an egg in the 2ndhalf. This team has a brutal schedule the rest of the way and is almost certainly going down. This was a natural match for me to pass, but if I had to side with one, it would be with Newcastle.
Lean: Newcastle Draw No Bet (-143)
Norwich City vs. Everton
I’m kicking myself for not fading Norwich in the first week back. I had Southampton circled and later crossed it off. It finished 3-0, but it could’ve been 5 or 6. Norwich’s season is over, and they will start preparing for Championship football soon enough. Everton was tactically brilliant against the soon to be Champions of England. Ancelotti was up to his usual mastery of tricks and once against stifled a well-oiled Jurgen Klopp side. Norwich won the reverse leg 2-0 at Goodison Park. However, that was before Ancelotti took over for the Blues. I expect Everton to control this match from start to finish. If they play as well as they did against Liverpool, it should be enough to get us over the line. The price feels too good to be true, but I must fade this Norwich side.
Play: Everton to win (+100)
Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace
Liverpool could’ve used Mo Salah on Sunday, couldn’t they have? I was amazed that he didn’t feature at all in the crosstown derby. Alisson pulled off a brilliant save to deny Calvert-Lewin or Everton would’ve won their first Merseyside Derby in many, MANY years. Palace, on the other hand, has picked up four straight victories without conceding a goal. Old boy Roy Hodgson should have a solid plan to stifle Jurgen Klopp’s men here. Palace has been a thorn in Liverpool’s side for years. Liverpool (The Champions of Europe and soon to be Champions of England) still struggle against teams that are organized and play with 11 men behind the ball. Hopefully, they will purchase an attacking midfield in the summer window because Manchester City have 5+ of them. I think this will be a low scoring game as well. Palace has been a top 5 road side in the league for the last 12 months. Liverpool will have 70% possession, but what will they do with it?
Lean: Crystal Palace +1.75 (-115) & Under 2.5 Goals at (+121)
Burnley vs. Watford
Burnley was given a tough first fixture back having to take on the clinical Manchester City. City put five past the Clarets, and now we see a pick-em match with two teams that I feel are not equal. Watford looked excellent against Leicester. Watford needs these points more, and I think Nigel Pearson’s side is too strong and athletic for Burnley. Watford’s win % increases dramatically when the Senegalese winger, Ismaila Sarr, is in the lineup. He’ll be fit and ready to go here, so I’m happy to side with the away side.
Pick: Watford Draw No Bet (-110)
Southampton vs. Arsenal
Mikel Arteta’s men will be low on confidence heading into this one. I cannot believe they dropped all 3 points to Brighton & Hove. They were terrific in the first 30 minutes against Manchester City before the injuries piled up. It’s officially rebuilding mode at the Emirates, and I think Arteta is doing a smart job to try out the youngsters. If it were up to me…Mesut Ozil, Alexander Lacazette, and David Luiz would all depart in the next transfer window. They’ve been a spineless side for the last five seasons, and it needs to change. I’m a massive fan of Southampton’s manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl. He has done a great job of creating an attacking identity for the Saints led by Danny Ings with 16 goals. There is still quality all over in this one, and I think these two teams are evenly matched, like the line indicates. I’d typically back the over 2.5 goals here, but I don’t fully trust Arsenal. I’m leaning with the side that I trust in more at the moment.
Lean: Southampton Draw no Bet (-110)
Chelsea vs. Manchester City
A battle of perennial Top 4 squads go toe to toe here on Thursday night in what is the best match of the week. Chelsea is going to need to take their chances if they want to get something from this one. Christian Pulisic, aka “The American Gladiator,” came off the bench to add a goal & an assist to help Chelsea come from behind against Aston Villa. Manchester City just finished thrashing Burnley 5-0 without playing a handful of their top players. Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, and Aymeric Laporte should come back into the lineup for this heavyweight clash. To me, this match is all about the no fans in the stands aspect. It’s basically played on a neutral site, and if you’re going to give me the best-attacking team in all of Europe in Man City at this price, I have to bite. The newly installed five substitution rule benefits this side more than any other in the league as they have world-class talent all over the bench.
Play: Manchester City to win (-110)
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