The opening Champions League Matchdays came and went with some thrillers and surprising scorelines. Through all of that, I escaped with a combined 8-6-3 record and went up 1.5 units.
This Season: 31-30-10 (+1.6 Units)
UCL Matchday 2: 4-3-2 (+0.6 Units)
Saturday, September 21st
7:30 am EST
Tottenham @ Leicester City (TV: NBCSN) – Spurs had a great result last weekend against cross-town rivals Crystal Palace, winning 4-0. But they slipped up this week in Athens against Olympiacos, blowing a 2-goal lead and settling for a draw. Going back to last season’s Champions League results, Premier League teams coming off of a UCL Matchday 1 away match are 0-3 against the spread in their ensuing league match. Not only does that worry me, but also the fact that last weekend is Spurs’ only win in the four weeks and they’ve gone 0-3-0 away from home. They’ll face a hungry Leicester side who will be fresh and undefeated at home this year. I’ll take the Foxes. Leicester City Pickem (+110).
10:00 am EST
Norwich @ Burnley – Norwich are coming off of one of the most historic wins in club history last weekend, where they beat Man City 3-2 (Norwich moneyline was +2500). Burnley meanwhile are without a win since their opener, going 0-2-3 and -6 in all competitions. Norwich are a team who is going to play the same style of football no matter who they’re playing against, and if they have the momentum then they’re a great team to pick. They’re even better when they’re underdogs in what could be a very even matchup. Norwich City +0.5 (-120).
Sheffield United @ Everton – Any time Everton are favored by 1, it’s usually a good choice to fade them. They haven’t won by more than a goal this season and on the flip side, Sheffield haven’t lost by more than one goal. Adding to that, Sheffield’s two away matches have been brilliant performances as they went to Bournemouth in MW1 and grinded to a draw and went to Chelsea on MW4 and came back down 2-0 to draw. I like Sheffield to make it tough on Everton here and therefore the +1 side of the line looks more appealing. Sheffield United +1 (-130).
Watford @ Manchester City (TV: NBSCN) – City did not look good against Norwich last weekend in their shocking 3-2 loss. In fact, they looked absolutely lost and with two starting defenders out with injuries, they’re left in a really tough spot. City also fall under that trend of teams performing poorly after travelling in Matchday 1 in the Champions League. Now, City will win this match, but this Watford team showed last weekend why they can’t be taken lightly anymore. After being down 2-0 to Arsenal at home, they turned on the jets in the second half and made Arsenal look like a youth team. What was a 2-2 draw, could have easily been 3-2 or 4-2 to Watford. The Hornets have also yet to lose by more than 2 goals at City in their last four meetings at the Etihad. I love City with all my heart but I have to tread lightly on this one. Watford +2.5 (-115).
12:30 pm EST
Brighton @ Newcastle United (TV: NBC) – Not the NBC Saturday primetime game everyone was expecting, but it’s the one we’re getting. After a shaky start to Newcastle’s season, they’ve picked it up and gone 1-2-1 in their last four in all competitions, with their only loss being at Liverpool. More importantly, they’ve covered or pushed in all but one of their matches this season (at Norwich). Brighton meanwhile, after winning 4 points through their first two matches, have only gained 1 point in their ensuing three matches (home draw to Burnley). This match could be one both of these teams look back on towards the end of the season as an important set of points, and I’m going to take the team who’s home and covering so far this season. Newcastle United Pickem (-130).
Sunday, September 22nd
9:00 am EST
Wolves @ Crystal Palace – Wolves are in some serious trouble across the board right now. They’re 0-3 in their last three matches in all competitions and fell short to Braga this Thursday in the Europa League. Meanwhile Palace were actually playing well until this past weekend where they capitulated against a vicious Spurs attack. But this Wolves team is still much better than this Palace team and much better than what they’ve showed over the last week or so. I’m going to bank on them turning things around in this match. I think they bounce back here and get points. Wolves Pickem (+110).
Manchester United @ West Ham (TV: NBCSN) – Since West Ham’s 5-0 loss to City at the start of the league, the Hammers have gone 3-2-0 in all competitions with a +6 goal differential. United meanwhile barely squeezed past Astana on Thursday at home and haven’t had a convincing performance since their opener against Chelsea. United have also performed poorly at West Ham over the years, going 1-2-2 in their last five meetings. I love the Hammers here as home dogs against a United team who I am hesitant to bet on at the moment. West Ham +0.5 (-135).
11:30 am EST
Liverpool @ Chelsea (TV: NBCSN) – Both teams are coming off of losses in Europe after being favored, Chelsea at home to Valencia in the Europa League and Liverpool at Napoli in the Champions League. In Liverpool’s first tough game of the year (and playing Napoli at the San Paolo is VERY tough), they had a few defensive mistake that led to goals, which is very uncharacteristic of them. They now have to travel on short rest to Chelsea who they have only beaten once in the last seven matchups in all competitions. Yes Chelsea slipped up against Valencia midweek but I think they rebound here on their second straight home match. I like Chelsea as home dogs here to grab a point and give Liverpool their first hiccup of the season. Chelsea +0.5 (-120).
Aston Villa @ Arsenal – Arsenal’s second half against Watford has me really worried for this weekend’s match. Yes, they won this week at Eintracht Frankfurt and they’ll be home here against Villa, but they couldn’t handle facing a team who aggressively attacked them. I expect something similar from Villa here. In Villa’s three losses this season, only one was from an unimpressive result (one was due to a red card and the other they went 1-0 on Spurs and held on to the lead for 60+ minutes). This might end up being a matchup nightmare for the Arsenal defense and I can’t put money on what I saw from them last Sunday. I’m going to take the points and Villa here. Aston Villa +1.5 (-125).
Italian Serie A
Saturday, September 21st
2:45 pm EST
Inter Milan @ AC Milan – The Milan Derby is one of my favorite matches in the entire world. It’s given us countless moments in football history, consistently tight matches (only one time in over 7 years has someone won by more than 1 goal) and it takes place in one of the hallowed grounds of the sport in Europe. AC Milan have yet to show what they’re made of so far this season, going 2-1 with no solid performance yet. Inter meanwhile are 3-0 in the league and if it wasn’t for their slip-up this Tuesday against Slavia Prague, they’d be having an almost perfect start. I’m not going to take too much stock into Inter’s performance this week as Slavia Prague actually played much better than Inter played worse. I like Inter with the great odds here to bounce back after their midweek loss. Inter Milan -0.5 (+125).
That’s all for this weekend! Enjoy folks.
Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.