Best bets for this weekend’s EPL matches:
Wolves vs. Nottingham Forest
Sunday, 10:00 a.m. ET
I’m keeping it straightforward for my first pick of Matchday 16 in the English Premier League. Wolverhampton Wanderers to win on the moneyline at -115.
Wolves were given an incredibly tough set of fixtures to begin their home campaign. Their opening six games at Molineux were all against teams in the top eight, and they still managed to pick up eight points after losing the first two against Brighton and Liverpool.
Victories over Manchester City and Tottenham would have given them confidence when one of the league’s lesser teams finally visited. Sure enough, they took care of business in midweek when they defeated Burnley and a lot more comfortably than the 1-0 scoreline suggests.
Next up are a Nottingham Forest side who visit on the back of their worst performance of the season so far—a 5-0 humiliation at the hands of a Fulham side who traditionally struggle for goals.
The pressure is on Forest manager Steve Cooper with many pundits expecting him to be fired by trigger-happy owner Evangelos Marinakis ahead of this clash. That appears not to be the case, but rumors from my sources at Crystal Palace suggest Cooper is expected to take over from Roy Hodgson at Selhurst Park imminently. If this is the case, that would explain a series of below-par performances from the Tricky Trees.
If it wasn’t for Everton’s points deduction and the newly promoted sides performing terribly, Forest would be stuck in a relegation battle. They look likely to avoid that more by default rather than by their own ability to pick up points.
Last season, Cooper’s side had a terrible road record. In fact, it was the worst in the English top flight, picking up just one win and a total of eight points from the 57 on offer. They were beaten 13 times, including in this fixture.
We thought they may have turned that around this term when they went to Chelsea and won in September. Since then, they have lost four of their five road games, failing to score in four of them and shipping an alarming 13 goals.
Top goalscorer Taiwo Awoniyi has been ruled out until the new year, which is a massive blow, and with Brennan Johnson sold to Spurs, they offer little in attack. Wolves seem underrated for this one, and we can take advantage.
Manager Gary O’Neil has impressed this season and has his men playing some good football. They look to have too much about them, especially at home, for those sides in the bottom half of the table.
Expect a similar pattern to the game against Burnley on Tuesday. A concern would be the visitors bouncing back from that hammering at Craven Cottage, but if the manager is destined for pastures new soon that train of thought goes out of the window.
Given the host’s form and given the circumstances at Forest, Wolves look a great bet here on the Moneyline.
Pick: Wolves to win at -115.
Aston Villa vs. Arsenal
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET
What a game we have in store at Villa Park this Saturday lunchtime. Two title contenders colliding? Possibly.
This should be priced as a pick ‘em contest for me, but instead, we look to be getting a lot of juice in this Villa price of +254 on the moneyline. I wouldn’t put anyone off that play, but my official selection is Aston Villa Double Chance at -123.
There are things to take into consideration, hence the safer bet. After a stunning performance against Manchester City on Wednesday, Unai Emery’s side are being talked about as having a chance of winning the title. Can they handle that added pressure which they are not used to, with the media swarming all over them for soundbites in the build-up to this fixture?
There are subplots a plenty too, with Emery sacked after an underwhelming brief stint as Arsenal manager and Yashin Trophy (World’s Best Goalkeeper) winner Emi Martinez sold by the Gunners three years ago. They would love to have him back now with current shot stopper David Raya looking less at ease with crosses than Dracula.
While the Villains swept the treble winners aside, 24 hours earlier, Arsenal needed a last-second winner to edge a seven-goal thriller against relegation favorites Luton. How much has that taken out of the league leaders emotionally? They celebrated like they had just clinched the title, not won a match as a -500 favorite.
Villa Park is currently the hardest place in English football to take even a point. Talk about a fortress! Aston Villa have now won 14 consecutive home league games.
Manchester City, one of the best offensive units on the planet, were contained to just two shots over the whole 90 minutes on Wednesday. They didn’t have an attempt at goal after the 11th minute, while the hosts peppered Ederson with 22 strikes, forcing him into a string of fine saves to limit the damage to a 1-0 scoreline.
This is a young and dynamic Villa team who would have witnessed the Gunners defense look shaky for the entirety of the game at Kenilworth Road.
Aston Villa are definitely the value, and although I can’t be so bold as to bet them on the moneyline, the Double Chance is a lively bet. Basically, betting Arsenal not to win. With Mikel Arteta watching this one from the stands due to a touchline ban, I am convinced he would sign for a draw here and get out of town. That is good enough for us.
Pick: Aston Villa Double Chance -123
Luton Town vs. Manchester City
Sunday, 09:00 a.m. ET
What heartbreak for Luton on Tuesday. They went toe-to-toe with Arsenal for 96 minutes, coming from behind twice and taking the lead once, only to lose courtesy of Declan Rice’s header with pretty much the last touch of the game.
If that had happened to Jurgen Klopp, it would have been hard for him to pick his star-studded squad of internationals up to go again in a few days’ time. This is Rob Edwards, who must do that with the smallest and most inexperienced side in the Premier League.
To make matters worse, he must do that to face the treble winners, the worst fixture he could possibly have been dealt, and I fear for the Hatters.
City are a wounded tiger. They will visit Kenilworth Road and want to put on a show, demonstrate who is the boss and send a message to their title rivals exactly why they are still minus money favorites to retain their crown.
Every time Pep has had a problem in his managerial career, he has bounced back and generally emphatically. This run of four games without a win is the longest such sequence since he has been at the club. He will be laser-focused on ensuring he doesn’t break that record on Sunday.
I feel Luton will run out of gas, having had two games in seven days and spent 70% of those fixtures chasing the ball. This is the time of year in England when the games come thick and fast. Those with the bigger squads, the title challengers, move up the table, while the clubs at the bottom get left aside.
Two key pieces of team news for the champions is having Rodri and Jack Grealish available after their one-game suspensions. The Spanish midfielder has missed four games this season, and City have lost all of them. Grealish (or Doku if he is fit) will be vital to dribble the ball past a packed defense and create space for others, something sorely missed against Aston Villa.
As a result, I am expecting Manchester City to win this easily. Taking -2 on the Asian Handicap means we need an away win by three or more goals to cash but victory by exactly two at least gives us a full refund on our stake.
Pick: Manchester City -2 Asian Handicap -132