Before we get to my picks and previews, let’s address the elephant in the room.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked by Spurs and the ‘Special One’ Jose Mourimho has been hired to take his place. The two decisions came within nine hours of each other and they completely shocked the football world. Pochettino famously brought Spurs to last season’s Champions League Final and helped Spurs finish in the top four in four of his five seasons managing the club.
Jose Mourinho brings Spurs a wealth of experience but also a feeling a concern. In Jose’s last few jobs he’s reportedly divided the locker room and caused some controversies behind the scenes. He’s normally been a manager who spends a lot and picks favorites in his starting XI as well. This might not be best situation for a team who looks like they just gave up on their coach and an owner who has historically been very frugal with his money.
In my opinion, I think Mourinho has started a new chapter in his managerial career. He’s supposedly had people around him open up to his flaws and criticisms as a manager and there are other reports he has reevaluated his managerial style. He’s also back in London which he calls home, a stark contrast to working in Manchester away from his family when he was at United. I think this is the best option for Spurs and I also think he will bring Spurs back to the top six by the end of season (they are currently only 3 points out of Arsenal and Sheffield in 5th and 6th).
ALRIGHT. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can celebrate the return of club football! Let’s dive right into it.
This Season: 84-77-33 (+6.7 Units)
Matchweek 12: 7-4 (+4.4 Units)
English Premier League
Saturday, November 23rd
7:30 am EST
Tottenham @ West Ham (TV: NBCSN) – The Jose Mourinho era starts right away. It’s been a good idea to bet on teams after their manager is sacked and especially in the first match with a new manager. They’re normally feeling more confident and will have a lot to prove to Mourinho. I don’t think Mourinho has had the time to fully implement his style into the team but I do think that they will be better on the defensive end and most of the players seem to be in form from the international break. West Ham have also been very poor over the last two months, going winless. At home they haven’t won a match in their last three with those matches coming against Palace, Sheffield and Newcastle. I’m going to take Spurs and the under in their first match under Mourinho against a very out-of-form West Ham. Tottenham -0.5 (-125) and Under 3 Goals (-105).
10:00 am EST
Wolves @ Bournemouth – Both teams sit on 16 points with Wolves ahead only on goal differential (both teams have 15 goals conceded but Wolves have 1 more goal scored). They may seem like two very similar teams, but there is one glaring difference. Wolves have been very tough to beat this season as they have 7 draws through 12 matches and only 2 losses, with only one of those losses coming away from home. Bournemouth have also been impressive but they’ve been inconsistent and have now gone their last 6 league matches with only 1 win. I’m going to be safe here and take Wolves due to the high probability of them getting at least a point here. Wolves Pickem (-115).
Southampton @ Arsenal (TV: NBCSN) – Arsenal went through a great run of form in September and October but have since tailed off a bit. So far in November they’ve drawn Wolves at home, drawn at Vitoria in the Europa League and lost at Leicester before the international break where they were greatly outplayed. Southampton haven’t been great either, with only one point earned in their last seven Premier League matches. Yes, they played well at Man City a few weeks ago but they followed that with a bad loss at home to an out-of-form Everton team. But recently away from home they’ve had a few interesting results; 2-1 loss at City, 1-1 draw at Wolves, 1-0 loss at Spurs, 1-0 win at Sheffield and a 2-0 win at Brighton. Meanwhile Arsenal have not covered the spread at home once this season. At first glance, nothing popped out to me so I’m going to follow the numbers on this one and take the underdog thinking Southampton can keep it tight. Southampton +1 (+110).
Leicester City @ Brighton – This spread blows my mind. Vegas keeps underestimating this Leicester Team and I keep profiting off of it. They’ve not covered the Vegas spread only twice this season, which is tied for the best in the league with Sheffield. They’re sitting in 2nd place right now and face a Brighton team who are severely overvalued. Yes, Brighton are in good form but their only league wins this season came against Watford, a Spurs team in shambles, an Everton team in shambles and a Norwich team who has only 7 points so far this season. They were overvalued before the international break against a Manchester United who aren’t as good as Leicester and were exposed in a 3-1 loss. I will gladly take Vardy and crew with favorable odds here, a number I expect to change in the coming days. Leicester City -0.5 (+105).
Liverpool @ Crystal Palace – Liverpool will be without Salah and Robertson in this match which might be crucial for them. They struggled without Salah against United earlier this season and they’ve really yet to be without Robertson over the last season and a half. But Crystal Palace have not been all that great this season, especially at home and against some of the top teams. Their last four matches have actually come against four of the top six teams in the league this season and they lost 2-0 to City and Leicester at home, 2-0 at Chelsea and drew Arsenal 2-2 but only after being down 2-0 in the first 10 minutes. I think the spread of 1 goal is too low here and even though it’s juiced, I don’t see Liverpool dropping points. I’ll take the Reds before this line jumps to 1.5. Liverpool -1 (-135).
Norwich @ Everton – It’s safe to say that both of these teams desperately need wins. Norwich sit at the bottom of the table and if they don’t start winning matches, then relegation looks probable. Everton sit in 15th and a loss, coupled with a few other results that don’t go their way, could see them drop to 17th place. But Everton’s recent form has been a bit more of a sign of who I think this team could end up being. With seven points from their last four matches, they’re starting to turn things around and I think this match could be a springboard for their season. The spread of 1.5 feels a bit high but Norwich’s last seven losses all have come by at least two goals and they’re winless away from home. To me, there seems to be a high chance of a blowout than of a draw so I’ll take the favorite. Everton -1.5 (+105).
Burnley @ Watford – Burnley have had a good season so far but their away form can’t overlooked. Through six away matches, they are winless and have only earned 3 points. Watford meanwhile got their first win of the season at Norwich before the international break but oddly enough, their home record is the exact same as Burnley’s away record (3 points and winless). So what is there to break these two teams apart? Well I did some digging and I realized that Burnley are actually undefeated against teams that are currently lower than them on the table (wins against Southampton, Norwich, Everton and West Ham with draws against Villa and Brighton). They actually only have earned 1 point from teams in the top half of the table and 14 from teams in the bottom half. I’m going to take Burnley on the favorable pickem line and to win the game at over 2/1. Burnley Pickem (+125) and Burnley Moneyline (+220).
12:30 pm EST
Chelsea @ Manchester City (TV: NBC) – Well aren’t we lucky! The Premier League welcomes us back with an awesome top six matchup. Shockingly enough, Chelsea actually sit above Man City in the table right now even though City has more than twice their goal differential. It’s obvious that Man City will likely have to win out to win the Premier League and they’ll need Liverpool to lose a few matches along the way. Their season now rests on every match they play and it starts with Chelsea, a team who has not beaten anyone in the top seven this year in all competitions. They’ve lost to United twice, Liverpool once and they drew to Leicester and Sheffield. The price on the City spread is too good to pass up and although I think this has the chance to be close, it also has the high possibility of one of those masterclasses from City and that (+120) price on the spread is too good to pass up. Manchester City -1.5 (+120).
Sunday, November 24th
11:30 am EST
Manchester United @ Sheffield United (TV: NBCSN) – Sheffield have covered the spread 10 times this season, a league high. To put that in perspective, the league average is 4.9 wins against the spread (due to the high amounts of pushes). Yet Vegas undervalues them here yet again as home underdogs for the third time this year (2-1 but have covered their last two as home underdogs against Arsenal and Liverpool). In a similar spot a few weeks ago, Manchester United lost 1-0 at Bournemouth when favored and I think this Sheffield team is much better than Bournemouth. I will gladly keep taking Sheffield as underdogs especially at home against a United team who has been susceptible to bad results against solid defenses. Sheffield United +0.5 (-135).
Monday, November 25th
3:00 pm EST
Newcatle @ Aston Villa (TV: NBCSN) – Newcastle seems to have turned a page recently with 10 points from their last 5 matches with wins over United, West Ham and Bournemouth while also drawing Wolves. In fact, only one of their losses this season have come against teams outside of the top six. Villa meanwhile had a good run of form in late September and early October (4 matches unbeaten) but since that run they’ve lost three straight in the league. But that needs context because those losses have come against Man City, Liverpool and Wolves. To me, there’s not much to separate these two and it seems like Vegas is almost making my decision for me by putting Newcastle as underdogs. Newcastle have averaged 1.25 points per match and 1 point per match away from home. All I need them to do is get a point from this match. Newcastle +0.5 (-125).
That’s all for my picks this weekend! Some other great matches this weekend include Juventus travelling to Atalanta and Napoli travelling to AC Milan. Enjoy the return of club football!
Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.