EPL best bets for the weekend of September 23rd-24th
Luton vs. Wolves
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET
Don’t be fooled by these two sides’ trend for overs this season. Yes, a combined seven of their 10 Premier League games have seen over 2.5 goals cash but that’s when they are up against opponents superior to them.
Both sides have faced goal-crazy Brighton, with Luton visiting Chelsea on a going day for the Londoners, and Wolves faced the full force of the prolific Liverpool attack last weekend. It’s safe to say these two teams are going to be towards the bottom of the table all season, and when a pair of relegation battlers meet, I mull over the Unders.
Wolves put in a surprisingly good performance in their opening game of the season. Unlucky to lose 1-0 to Manchester United. Gary O’Neil saw his side fire 23 shots that night, but it was the same old problem. They didn’t score any of them, and since then, they have gone backward.
Wanderers have always been an Under side for me and never more so than this year. They have lost their better, more creative players, with the likes of star man Ruben Neves going to Al-Hilal in Saudi for $57 million and Manchester City signing Matheus Nunes for $67 million.
Who is going to score the goals to win them soccer matches? I am not convinced they have anyone, and I’m also not convinced by the manager. O’Neil did a good job in keeping Bournemouth up last season, but he was sacked in the summer so clearly the Cherries board didn’t fancy what they saw either.
Luton have only scored twice in their first four games back in the English topflight. Although they create a few chances with their direct style they don’t have strikers who are good enough for this level.
Manager Rob Edwards is new to this level too, and he is having to learn on the job very quickly. After the 1-0 defeat at Fulham last weekend, he said his side was “progressing,” but they are the only side yet to win a point this term.
Four defeats from four games leaves the Hatters rooted to the bottom of the table – a place many expect them to occupy all season. Wolves have also lost four games but did win the extra game they have played – 1-0 against fellow strugglers Everton.
Given the start these two have made they need to steady the ship. As a result, I feel this will be a very tight, cagey close match like the pre-season friendly they contested in August which ended – yes, you’ve guessed it – 0-0.
Pick: Under 2.5 goals at -110
Brighton vs. Bournemouth
Sunday, 9:00 a.m. ET
Brighton plays their first-ever match in European competition on Thursday night as they welcome AEK Athens to the AMEX Stadium. If they were traveling to Greece, then I probably would have swerved this bet. But a home game to start their campaign in what will be a party atmosphere against poor travelers means I’m all about Roberto De Zerbi’s side continuing their fantastic start, and I am taking them on a -1.5 handicap.
The Seagulls couldn’t have wished for better preparation for their big night, after being deserved 3-1 winners at Old Trafford against Manchester United last weekend. They were the last visitors to leave the famous old stadium with a win in the first game of last season and with this latest success ended the Red Devils’ 31-game unbeaten run at home in all competitions.
At time of writing, I don’t know the make-up of the Brighton team for their Europa League clash, but it doesn’t matter too much. Owner Tony Bloom has masterminded building a good and deep squad that can handle rotations, so whichever combination of players is selected for these two games, they can take care of business.
De Zerbi has seen his team win four of their opening five league games and covered this -1.5 handicap in all of those victories. They beat Luton and Wolves by three goals, Newcastle and Manchester United by two.
Opponents Bournemouth are struggling, and their metrics are trending negatively. Andoni Iraola only took over in the summer but is already under pressure having failed to win any of his opening five league games.
The board backed their new manager with serious investment in the summer window but has yet to see any kind of return on the pitch, with only Everton and Luton scoring fewer than their four goals.
These two sides are trending in opposite directions, and this represents a great matchup for the home side. Brighton wants to continue their upward trajectory and will see this as a must-win fixture, given the tough assignments they have to come following future Europa League fixtures.
One thing we know about Iraola’s Bournemouth is he wants them to be front foot. They play a high, aggressive line and look to take the game to their opponent. Do that on Sunday and Brighton will tear them to shreds.
The Seagulls won both meetings last term without conceding a goal, and despite their distractions ahead of the game, there is no way De Zerbi will allow complacency in pursuit of bettering last season’s fantastic sixth-place finish.
Pick: Brighton –1.5 to win at -102.
Sheffield United vs. Newcastle
Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET
Sheffield United looks a massive price here after what I think has been an unlucky start for them. But although getting them onside is tempting, I can’t ignore under 2.5 goals in this one.
The Blades were outplayed by Crystal Palace in the season opener, but after that, Nottingham Forest scored in the last minute to beat them 2-1, and treble winners Manchester City needed an 88thminute goal to edge past them by the same scoreline. At the weekend, Tottenham set a new Premier League record for the latest winning comeback with goals eight and ten minutes into added time.
All those games should have cashed on Unders, and Paul Heckingbottom and his team will be feeling hard done by. Expect the Bramall Lane crowd to get right behind them and make this a really tough game for Newcastle.
Eddie Howe has managed to get his side a couple of positive results this last week, but the performances have been shocking.
As always, Howe sets his side up negatively keeping it tight and looking to nick a goal – especially away from home where they haven’t won any of their last five. Against Milan in midweek, Newcastle had one shot on target and an expected goals (xG) of 0.19.
Under 2.5 goals is a massive price here for a game with the home side looking to get a foothold in the division and an away team that will look to be sound defensively and not look to get beat.
Pick: Under 2.5 goals at +129.