Matchday 3 is upon us in the English Premier League, and if you look atop the league table, you’ll find two clubs who you rarely see anywhere near Champions League qualification.
West Ham United is one of five teams to have collected all six possible points, and they lead the entire division in goals with eight. Brighton & Hove Albion also surprisingly have a perfect six of six points and are one of just six clubs who’ve allowed one or fewer goals on the year.
As far as our best bets are concerned, we split for the second week in a row, but we also hit a plus-money winner for the second week in a row. So, despite the 2-2 record, we’re up +0.35 units on the year. Let’s build on our solid start with my two favorite bets of the weekend.
Newcastle United: Two-Way (-115; 0.75u) & Three-Way (+160; 0.25u)
We’re wagering our usual one unit but splitting it up between the two-way (0.75u) and three-way lines (0.25u). A tie results in a push with the two-way line – also known as ‘draw no bet.’ With the three-way, a tie is a loss.
Newcastle is +160 on the three-way line, and Southampton is +170. I do obviously like Newcastle to win this one, but with the odds on these teams so evenly matched, I prefer to give us a safety net in case of a draw while still keeping the potential of a nice payday with a victory within the 90-minute window.
The start to the season hasn’t been anything Newcastle has wanted, but they’ve sneakily played a tough first two matches. They’re 0-2-0 (W-L-D), own a -4 goal differential, and a -1.1 expected goal differential. But they’ve lost to West Ham, who I highlighted in the open as the technical first-place team in the entire league, and Aston Villa, who sit in the middle of the table and have the fifth-lowest expected goals allowed mark of any Premier League club. And because West Ham and Villa aren’t household names like Liverpool and Manchester City, the books play on the public’s preconceived notions that both of Newcastle’s losses are to weak clubs. They’re not, and it’s giving us an edge.
Don’t forget, Newcastle led at two different junctures against the Hammers. They just completely imploded in the second half. Southampton cannot turn up the heat as West Ham did; another early goal from a top player like Callum Wilson should make Newcastle feel pretty confident about securing at least a point.
I'm captaining Callum Wilson this weekend and nobody can stop me.
☑️ Due a penalty
☑️ In form
☑️ At home
☑️ Dodgy opposition
☑️ Ultra differential pic.twitter.com/L8fhOK5Wm7
— Fpl Newcomer (@FplNewcomer) August 25, 2021
The Magpies also return home to St. James’ Park, where despite allowing four goals to West Ham, they scored their only two goals of the year. Southampton isn’t a threat to put four in the back of the net in this one. They’re barely a threat to score at all. They’ve scored just two all year and have a combined 1.5 expected goals across their two matches. That’s second-to-last in the entire Premier League. With Newcastle much more effective on the attack at home and Southampton posing little threat to jump out to a lead, I like the home side in a slow-moving game on Saturday.
As for the quarter-unit on the three-way line: Per FiveThirtyEight, Newcastle has an expected winning percentage (including a draw) of 42%. Kick Form is in full agreement, pinning a 43% mark to Newcastle in this match. Odds of +160 imply a 38.5% chance to win, so we’ve got about a 4% edge based on expected win percentages.
Manchester United / Wolverhampton Wanderers: Under 2.5 Goals (-105)
It may seem insane on the surface to take the under on a team that has scored the second-most goals in the Premier League. But let’s dive in, and you’ll see why the under is the right side in this match.
Manchester United has buried six goals so far this year; five of them came in their opening game against an incredibly overmatched and injured Leeds United side. And not to take anything away from United’s impressive performance, but the ball bounced the right way for them all game long. They may have netted five against Leeds, but their shot-based expected goals were a low 1.4, and their non-shot expected goals were even worse: 0.9. To further how significant that is, they were one of just five teams in the first week of games to be held under 1 non-shot xG. Their opponent, who they blew out by four, had a non-shot xG of 0.8 – only one-tenth of a goal below Manchester United.
United’s defending has also been supreme through two matches; their expected goals allowed mark is second-lowest in the Premier League at 1.4, and they’re about to face a Wolverhampton side which has yet to find the back of the net this season. Manchester United plays a very similar suffocating style as Wolves’ first two opponents – Tottenham and Leicester City – and the Red Devils will be their toughest test yet.
Wolverhampton is also no slouch on defense. They’ve only allowed two goals all year and have held each of their first two opponents under 1 non-shot expected goal. Only Chelsea has equaled that feat. Wolves will also be at home, where their supporters were a huge factor in holding Tottenham to limited offensive output; their only goal scored was on a penalty. I don’t expect Wolverhampton to offer much offensively – I actually don’t even expect them to score – but their crowd and defending will be sure to keep Manchester United under three goals.
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