The second round of the Champions League closed out with some awesome games. Liverpool had a 3-0 lead taken away from them at Anfield by an impressive Salsburg ream but still prevailed 4-3, Barcelona came back from a goal down to win 2-1 against a stingy and impressive Inter team and Lyon, Ajax and Chelsea all got big road wins. I, for one did not do so well.
This Season: 47-44-18 (+2.6 Units)
UCL Matchday 4: 2-5-1 (-3.5 Units)
Not my best week but we have one more batch of picks before the next installment of the international break, so let’s finish strong. One thing I will incorporate a bit more in this blog is each team’s ATS (against the spread) record. Why I’m doing that is because the sample sizes are beginning to become large enough to use for (or against) these teams to see how they’ve outplayed (or underperfomed) Vegas’ expectations. One tricky thing though is that ATS is (Win-Loss-Push) while records in soccer are recorded as (Win-Draw-Loss). I’ll do my best to not get everyone confused. Let’s ride.
English Premier League
Saturday, October 5th
7:30 am EST
Tottenham @ Brighton (TV: NBCSN) – What on Earth is happening with Spurs? Their 7-2 shocker to Bayern on Tuesday was their worst ever loss at home in the history of their club (137 years), and Pochettino held them in the locker room for an hour after the match. They only have three wins this season from ten matches and they all came at home to three bottom-table sides in the Premier League. They’re 0-4-1 (win-loss-push) against the spread in their last five matches and 3-5-2 on the season overall. Brighton haven’t been much better though as they’re only one point above the relegation zone and haven’t won since the first match of the season. But they’re 2-1 against the spread at home and the only time they didn’t cover, they were man down for 2/3 of the match. I can’t pick Spurs after what I saw the other day, and Brighton will surely be chomping at the bit with a full week’s rest here at home. Brighton +0.5 (-110).
10:00 am EST
Everton @ Burnley – Another team in crisis? Everton. They have two wins this season in the league, both of which were at home, and they sit in 15th place only two points removed from the relegation zone. Away from home they’re 0-1-2 and have yet to cover the spread. Meanwhile Burnley are 2-1 at home this year so far and are undefeated in their last three matches. They’re 5-1-1 (W-L-P) against the spread this year so far, with their only loss against the spread being against Liverpool. I’m going to make the safe bet here and take a Burnley team who has figured out how to play teams, and fade an Everton team who has been a bettor’s nightmare. Burnley Pickem (+110).
Leicester @ Liverpool (TV: NBCSN) – Leicester have been the (not so?) surprise darlings of this young Premier League season. They sit in 3rd place right now with only one loss and are just as close to City in 2nd as they are Arsenal in 4th. They’re 5-2 against the spread this season so far and are really playing well under Brendan Rodgers, who makes his return to Anfield for the first time since managing them from ’12-15. Maddison should be ready to go for this match, making the Foxes fully fit for this big clash. Liverpool have obviously been unstoppable this season in the league, but they were rattled on Wednesday against Salzburg. They surrendered a 3-0 lead in only 21 minutes and showed that they had a few weaknesses that can be exploited. They’ve been pretty good against the spread going 4-1-2 (W-L-P) this season but they’ve gone 1-2-1 (W-L-P) in all competitions in their last four. Since Leicester got a full week’s rest and have been covering more as of late, I think it’s a safe bet to take the points here with Leicester likely believing they can take points. Leicester City +1 (+110).
Aston Villa @ Norwich – This match is huge for both teams as it could be a six-point swing at the bottom of the table if one of them wins it. They obviously know each other very well as they played each other twice last season in the Championship. Villa are 2-3-2 (W-L-P) this season against the spread while Norwich are 2-5, but what stands out to me is that Norwich have been underdogs in six of their seven matches while Aston Villa have been underdogs in only four, with three pickems. This will be Norwich’s first pickem, meaning that it’s the tightest matchup for them this season (according the Vegas). But to me, Norwich have been too inconsistent, with only one result that really stands out (shock win against City). Meanwhile Villa are 3-2-2 in their last seven in all competitions and have been a more consistent bet to make. I’ll take the Villains on the pickem. Aston Villa Pickem (+105).
Sheffield United @ Watford – If there’s anyone who needs a win it’s Watford. They’re 0-2-5 this year with only 2 points at the bottom of the table and have only covered the spread once this season. Sheffield meanwhile have had a few great results (win at Everton, draw at Chelsea and a home cover against Liverpool) and are sitting in 12th place with a 0 goal differential. Not to mention they’re 5-2 against the spread. Even with Watford looking better with their new manager, I like a Sheffield team who have been playing really well, especially away from home where they have 5 points through 3 matches, while covering the spread in all 3 of them. Sheffield United +0.5 (-130).
12:30 pm EST
Crystal Palace @ West Ham United (TV: NBC) – The Hammers are flying high in 5th place with only one loss through 7 matches in the Premier League, which came against City in the first weekend of the year. They’ve only not covered once (against City), going 3-1-3 (W-L-P) this year against the spread. But just because Palace are four places back doesn’t mean they’re not playing well either. They’re only 1 point back and if it wasn’t for a blowout loss to Spurs, they’d be much closer due to goal differential. They’re a not-so-bad 3-3-1 (W-L-P) against the spread this season, but they haven’t played well away from home. I still like West Ham who I think has a more sustainable form, especially at home. They’re also on an unprecedented 6-match win/push run. West Ham -0.5 (+105).
Sunday, October 10th
9:00 am EST
Bournemouth @ Arsenal (TV: CNBC) – Since their shocking draw at Watford in mid-September, Arsenal have gone 4-1-0 and 4-1-0 (W-L-P) in all competitions. That’s big considering their league form hasn’t been as spectacular, and neither has their betting numbers. As a whole in the Premier League, they’re 2-4-1 (W-L-P) against the spread. But their form in the Europa League has been fantastic and has balanced that out. Bournemouth have been better against the spread, going 3-2-2 (W-L-P) this season and have gone three straight covering or pushing. But one thing that has me confident in Arsenal is the fact that they’ve played really well at home recently, going 3-0 with a +10 goal differential. I’ll take the in-form offense of Arsenal at home, especially with the upside of a push if they win by one goal. Arsenal -1 (-130).
Wolves @ Manchester City – Wolves are in a tough situation here as they have to travel back from Istanbul after playing Besiktas on Thursday night, only to play Man City on Sunday. Wolves have also tacked on the most miles of any Premier League team so far, playing in 16 matches so far. To compare, Man City have played 10. Against the spread, City have done better but not by much as the Cityzens have gone 4-2-1 (W-L-P) and Wolves have gone 3-3-1 in the league so far. City are back to playing the football we’ve been accustomed to them playing and I really don’t want to fade them, especially against a Wolves team who are likely running out of gas right now. Travelling back from Turkey on 2 days of rest after playing 6 more matches than your opponent this season is not a great recipe for success. Man City -2.5 (+110).
Chelsea @ Southampton (TV: NBCSN) – Chelsea have been a confusing side this season because they haven’t played all that great but they sit in 7th only 1 point off of the top 4. They’ve also played well away from home this season going 2-1 with their only loss coming at Man United in Matchweek 1. In all competitions they’re 3-1 away from home and have the same record against the spread, most recently beating Lille in the Champions League this week. Southampton meanwhile will face their third top 6 side at home this season, previously facing Man United and Liverpool (going 0-1-1). They’re 3-2-2 against the spread, not a bad number at all but are winless at home this season, much to the fact they’ve played the opponents I just mentioned. I think Chelsea keep it rolling here and continue their good form away from home. Chelsea -0.5 (-115).
Manchester United @ Newcastle United (TV: NBCSN) – Two clubs in shambles face each other Sunday as the last match of the matchweek. It’s so bad that United are barely even favorites here. The Red Devils sit in 10th place, winless away from home, 1-2-1 in their last four matches (win came on penalties against a third division team) and have recently barely beaten Astana, barely beaten Rochdale on penalties and drew AZ Alkmaar. They’re 2-5 against the spread in the league and 2-8 against the spread overall this season. They’re so vulnerable that many people think Newcastle can win this game. Speaking of the devil. Newcastle are coming off of a brutal 5-0 loss at Leicester and have gone 1-5-2 in all competitions in their last eight. They’re 1-3-3 (W-L-P) against the spread this season but there is hope for them. At home this season, they’ve only lost once in the league in three matches and United are facing a slew of injuries after their tough Thursday match in Holland. I think a rested Newcastle team can get points here against a very vulnerable and banged up United side. Newcastle United +0.5 (+105).
Juventus @ Inter Milan: Inter Milan Pickem (-110).
That’s all for my preview for the last matchweek before the international break. Enjoy!
Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.