Just as the Premier League betting season was picking up steam, we had to pause for the first international break of the year. Many players ventured off to suit up for their home country in hopes of qualifying for the World Cup, while others used the week off to rest up and get healthy for a long stretch of upcoming matches.
As we head into Matchday 4, we’ve got many of the usual suspects near the top – Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool in the top five, with Manchester City just a point off their pace. But the top two teams in the table couldn’t have been predicted by even the most shrewd bettor. Tottenham remains the only perfect side, capturing nine out of a possible nine points, and West Ham, by virtue of a ton of tiebreakers, sits in second place as one of just two teams to have 10 goals scored on their ledger already.
To recap our year so far, best bets are 3-3-1, which could obviously be better, but we’re up 1.1 units thanks to plus-money winners in back-to-back weeks. Matchday 4 features a ton of heavy favorites, so much of the value on the board has already dried up. Luckily for us, there are still two lines I really like – one side and one total – heading into this weekend.
Tottenham Hotspur / Crystal Palace: Under 2.5 Goals (-125)
This line opened at -114, and it’s been bet down a little bit already, but I expect it to fall even further as the week progresses. I like it down to -135, but if and when it eclipses that number, it’ll be out of range for me.
As I detailed in the open, Tottenham sits alone in first place, and they’ve done it in perhaps the most unconventional way possible: three 1-0 victories. Make no mistake, Crystal Palace is not a good team, but Tottenham has already played two teams who most likely won’t finish in the top half of the table. They were perfectly content clogging up their defending half and putting away a timely goal for a simple 1-0 victory. They aren’t a team whose style is conducive to ‘pouring it on’ – especially on the road, which is where they’ll be on Saturday – so despite being the far better team, I don’t anticipate them running away with this game and blowing Crystal Palace out with a barrage of scoring.
Tottenham’s lowly three goals on the year may seem like a fluke, but according to their advanced metrics, it’s right on par with expectations. Spurs have a total of just 3.7 expected goals on the year with an adjusted goals mark of 3.3 – both numbers just a shade higher than their actual output. Now they’ll battle a Crystal Palace side who’ve not only been stout defensively, have been outperforming expectations offensively, and are due for regression.
They’ve scored five goals in three games, which is right in the middle of the pack in the Premier League, but their expected goals number on the season is just 1.5 – dead last in the entire division. Their adjusted goals metric is also just 2.1, which is last among the 18 teams who’ve scored a goal on the year. Palace’s attack is barren, and it’s going to have a world of trouble scoring against one of the better defensive sides in the Premier League.
Crystal Palace has an expected goals allowed per game of 1.0, and they’ve only allowed two actual goals on the year. They’ve also drawn in two of their three matches, so their style of play is just like Tottenham’s – close, tight games decided by opportunistic chances – Crystal Palace just hasn’t generated many chances to take advantage of.
My model projects 2.05 total goals in this match, with the most likely outcome being a 1-1 draw. I don’t see Crystal Palace breaking through, so our under is still safe even if Tottenham scores a second goal late.
West Ham United: Two-Way (-130; 0.75u) & Three-Way (+145; 0.25u)
For those who haven’t been following the best bets series, the two-way line marks a draw as a push, so if the teams tie, you get your money back. The three-way line offers a higher potential payout in exchange for a draw being marked as a loss. Like we did with Newcastle United two weeks ago, despite it not going our way, we’re putting three-quarters of a unit on the two-way line and one-quarter on the three-way line.
West Ham has been the most surprising team in the entire Premier League, especially on attack where they’ve scored 10 goals already. Only powerhouse Manchester City has cracked double-digit scoring through three games. Granted, West Ham hasn’t played the Premier League class just yet, but their 6.0 expected goals are still fourth-best in the entire division. They’ve also got the highest adjusted goals (9.4) in the league, and their expected output per game of 2.56 goals is second to Manchester City and one of just three teams to eclipse two per game.
Michail Antonio has started the season in outstanding form! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/Z66IiTmUsS
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 7, 2021
Many will focus on the fact that these goals have been against weak competition, which is certainly true, but they’re about to play some more weak competition this weekend, and they’ve proven to me that they do not play down to their opponent’s skill level. Southampton, the team tasked with slowing the Hammers down on Saturday, have an expected goals against of 5.3 on the year – fifth-worst in the Premier League. Not exactly reassuring for fans of Southampton, but great for us as West Ham backers.
FiveThirtyEight gives West Ham a 43% chance to win, and Kick Form gives the Hammers a 55% likelihood, despite being the away team. My projections give West Ham a 52.8% chance at victory as well. Being +145 on the three-way line is an implied odds of 40.8%, so we’ve got an edge using all three projections.
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