An up and down Matchweek 2 had us even on my picks but since I nailed the draw in Chelsea/Leicester my units were up.
This Season: 11-6-3 (+6.4 Units)
Matchweek 2: 4-4-2 (+1.3 Units)
Not only are there a few really good matches in the Premier League this weekend but the Bundesliga and La Liga both heat up while Serie A will begin. Let’s dive into an awesome weekend schedule, starting with the Premier League. Strap in as I have 14 matches to preview.
English Premier League
Friday, August 23rd
3:00 pm EST
Everton @ Aston Villa (TV: NBCSN) – It’s no secret Aston Villa are desperate for a result after two losses in their first two matchweeks and a lackluster performance against Bournemouth last weekend. Everton have 4 points to their name but they haven’t put in a great performance in either of their matches yet. I’m a big believer in teams being “due” for results and I think this is one of those situations for Aston Villa especially as home underdogs. I’ll take them at home against an Everton team who has yet to get a solid 90 minutes under their belt. Aston Villa +0.5 (-140).
Saturday, August 24th
7:30 am EST
Chelsea @ Norwich City (TV: NBCSN) – Another team desperate for a result? Chelsea. They’ve had flashes of 20 minutes in each of their matches where they look like a top 4 side, but they’ve dropped off substantially in the other 70 minutes. Against United they could’ve gone up early but instead once United went up, they completely broke down and lost 4-0. Against Leicester, they went up 1-0 and failed to put the game away and allowed Leicester to get back into it to earn a draw. They now go to Norwich whose offense (mostly Teemu Pukki) has been fantastic but their defense has been shaky. They’ve averaged 4.5 total goals in the matches they’ve played and I think they’ll need to be defensively sound against Chelsea if they want a result. Unluckily for them, they’ll be facing former Derby manager Frank Lampard who knows them very well. Chelsea are way more equipped to take points here and I think Vegas is severely undervaluing them. I’m throwing 2 units on the Blues here. Chelsea -0.5 (-120) 2 UNITS.
10:00 am EST
Southampton @ Brighton – Brighton have been the darlings so far this season in the Premier League as they’ve earned 4 points from their first two matches. Southampton meanwhile, the opposite. Without points and a -4 goal differential, the Saints are tied for the last spot in the league. There’s no way you’re going to get me to pick Southampton on the pickem line away from home against a Brighton team who are buzzing right now. Give me Brighton or give me death. Brighton Pickem (-135).
Crystal Palace @ Manchester United (TV: NBCSN) – Palace have looked like the worst team in the league in terms of the eye test, with 0 goals scored so far this season and a pair of extremely uninspiring matches. Their only point came in a goalless draw at home to Everton where they were man up for the last 15 minutes. They then went to Sheffield last weekend and played an absolute stinker and lost 1-0. Now they face a United team who had a great start to their season against Chelsea but slowed down a bit against the giant-killers Wolves. But at Old Trafford United are usually really hard to beat and if Palace could only muster 6 shots against a team like Sheffield then there’s no way I have confidence in them going to Old Trafford and making it tight. I’ll take United here. Manchester United -1.5 (+110).
Leicester City @ Sheffield United – Both teams are coming off of solid results as Leicester drew Chelsea and Sheffield beat Palace. As impressive as Sheffield looked last weekend, this will be their first real Premier League test against a Leciester City team who are much improved and already off to a good start with two draws against teams who finished top 7 last season. I think water finds its level here as Sheffield are due for some regression against its toughest test so far this season. Leicester City -0.5 (+130).
West Ham @ Watford – Both of these teams’ sets of fans will be very disappointed with their starts. Watford are bottom and West Ham aren’t too far above them. The former are yet to score a goal and the latter have conceded 6, albeit 5 of those to City. I don’t like picking either of these teams and I tend to have a strategy for those situations; take the points if Vegas is giving them out. With the points you get two out of the three possible results on your side; a win for one of the teams and a draw. West Ham +0.5 (-130).
12:30 pm EST
Arsenal @ Liverpool (TV: NBC) – The match of the week brings us the two teams at the top of the table. Arsenal have actually done pretty well against Liverpool over the years, but most of those good results have come at home. The last 19 matches these two have played, Liverpool have won 6, Arsenal have won 5 and there have been 8 draws. 12 of those 19 matches have had 3 or more goals and these two usually play thrillers. But this is a trap game for a team like Liverpool who many expect to win this match. Their goalkeeper has shown some shaky moments, they haven’t put together two solid halves in a game yet and Arsenal have looked pretty good so far. I think Vegas is overvaluing Liverpool here and I love Arsenal with the points at Anfield. Their defense looks a bit reshaped, their midfield looks bright with Ceballos and their front three is one of the deadliest in the league. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Gunners kept this close. Arsenal +1 (+110).
Sunday, August 25th
9:00 am EST
Manchester City @ Bournemouth (TV: NBCSN) – In the last four seasons these two teams have played 8 times and City have only won by less than 2 goals, twice. The Blues just came off of a 2-2 draw to Spurs where they outshot them 30-3 and had 19 more chances. The quality is there for City but they just need to execute better in certain moments on both sides of the ball. Bournemouth meanwhile have the same amount of points as City through their first two matches but those were against two newly-promoted teams. City are an entirely different animal and I think they bring Bournemouth back down to life here. Manchester City -2 (-115).
11:30 am EST
Newcastle @ Tottenham (TV: NBCSN) – Spurs’ draw at City was highway robbery. Yes, I’m saying that as a City fan but to have 3 shots and score 2 goals while City have 30 shots and you only concede two is bananas. But overall Spurs have looked good and 4 points through those first two matches is certainly a positive. On the other hand, Newcastle have gotten 0 points and are coming off of a 3-1 loss at Norwich where they did not look too good. I’m going to take Spurs -1.5 here, and even though it feels like a trap game, I can’t get myself to pick Newcastle at Spurs’ new stadium which is slowly turning into a tough place to play. Tottenham -1.5 (-130).
Burnley @ Wolves – Wow this one is really difficult. You don’t normally see Wolves as such slight favorites at home to Burnley, but it’s due to the fact that they were in Italy on Thursday playing Torino in their Europa League qualifier. The travel, quick turnaround and the fact that the starters played really leaves this match in question for Wolves. But one thing that Wolves have going for them is momentum. Their Europa League qualifying is going really well after a 3-2 win to Torino, they’ve fought for two big draws to Leicester and Manchester United between their Europa League matches and they’re playing some of the best soccer we’ve seen them play. I’m going to take Wolves here at home even with the tough run of games. Wolves -0.5 (-120).
Friday, August 23rd
2:30 pm EST
Borussia Dortmund @ FC Koln (TV: FS1) – Although Dortmund conceded within a minute of their Bundesliga season last weekend, they fought back and scored 5 unanswered and showed everyone what they’re made of. Koln meanwhile, had a rough go in their first match back in the Bundesliga as they lost 2-1 to Wolfsburg. I can’t fade Dortmund here in a match that might expose Koln’s defense against Dortmund’s stellar offense, even with the high likelihood of a push. Borussia Dortmund -1 (-130).
Saturday, August 24th
12:30 pm EST
Bayern Munich @ Schalke (TV: FS1) – Bayern will look to rebound after their shock draw to Hertha Berlin at home last Friday. Schalke meanwhile fought off a solid draw at Mochengladbach who aren’t an easy team to go and take points from. I really don’t trust Bayern right now and I’ll gladly take the points and large underdog in Schalke here at home. Schalke +1.5 (-120).
Spanish La Liga
3:00 pm EST
Real Betis @ FC Barcelona (TV: beIN Sports) – Barca had a really tough start to their season as they lost to Athletic Bilbao. It’s not an easy place to play and they didn’t have Messi, but it’s still no excuse to not come away from that game with no points. Now Messi is likely back, they’re returning home for the first time this season and they’ll face a Betis team who had a very uninspiring start losing to Valladolid at home. I love Barca here at home with the best player in the world returning to their team. FC Barcelona -1.5 (-130).
Italian Serie A
Monday, August 26th
2:45 pm EST
Lecce @ Inter Milan – Lecce, the newly-promoted team from a town of less than 100,000 people (would rank around 350th in US population) goes to the San Siro to play a new-look Inter Milan squad. That’s a tough task for any team in Serie A and I love Inter at home here especially against a Lecce team who will likely be one of the favorites to go back down. Inter Milan -1.5 (-130).
That’s all I’ve got for this weekend which surely will be one of the best for a while. America Football hasn’t started yet and it’s the perfect time to get on board with some of these matches in the mornings on weekends.
Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.