We had to get back on track last week after our first losing slate of the year, and we did just that. Chelsea burying a meaningless extra-time goal to stretch their lead to 3-0 over Tottenham ruined the under 2.5 wager, but we cashed Tottenham’s team total under 0.5 goals and Brighton & Hove Albion on the two-way line to get back on the winning side of things.
Last week’s 2-1 record only netted us +0.4 units because of the loss on the Chelsea vs. Tottenham under, but profit is profit, and we’ll take it. For Matchday 6, I’m sticking with the under theme, and I’ve got two great lines picked out. We’re going to have to lay a little bit of juice, but it’ll be worth it. Let’s stay hot and kick-start another winning streak; here’s what I like this weekend across the pond.
Southampton / Wolverhampton Under 2.5 Goals (-120)
It’s been a disappointing start to the season for both of these clubs. They’ve got just a single win and seven total points between them in 10 combined matches, and they’re two of the lowest-scoring teams in the entire Premier League. I’m not sure how this total is below -140 to the under, but because of the slight misprice, we’re going to jump on it before it moves.
Southampton has been the better team of the two this year, but barely. After dropping the opener, they’ve drawn four matches in a row, and each of their last two games have ended in scoreless draws. The Saints have resorted to a very defensive and, for lack of a better term, bland style of play of late, and Wolverhampton isn’t a huge offensive threat. Don’t be surprised if we see a third straight clean sheet for the home team.
With just four goals on the year and an expected goals mark of 6.3, Southampton is one of the most feeble offensive sides the Premier League has to offer. Only four teams have scored fewer goals than the Saints, but it’s not all bad news – they’re strong defensively, which is great for this under. Southampton is coming off a rare clean sheet against notoriously high-scoring Manchester City last week, and they’ve also allowed just six goals in five matches this year – seventh-fewest in the league. That may not sound overly impressive on the surface, but consider they’re in the same breath as the class of the Premier League – Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United. Their expected goals allowed on the year is just 7.0 as well, so there’s very little luck involved in their impressive defending; Southampton is earning their strong defensive numbers, and they should have no trouble staying in top form against a similarly weak Wolverhampton squad.
Speaking of teams that cannot score and do a superb job of keeping the ball out of the back of their own net, Wolverhampton has scored just two goals all season but has limited their opponents to only five. As is the case with Southampton, their low number of goals surrendered isn’t a fluke; their expected goals against sits at just 5.6 – sixth-best. These two teams are perfectly content playing a defensive style and waiting for the right opportunity to present itself on the attack.
Three of Southampton’s five matches have ended below the 2.5 goal total, including both matches in their home stadium, and all of Wolverhampton’s matches have come in below this total as well. Three of the last five head-to-head meetings between these two sides and five of the last eight have gone to the under, so they’re used to battling in tight, low-scoring affairs. According to my model, the Saints’ expected output per game is just 1.09 goals, 14th in the league, and they’re -125 on the two-way line to win this match, so the oddsmakers are expecting even less from Wolves, as am I. I’ve got Wolverhampton pegged at 1.07 in terms of expected output, just a shade lower than Southampton. The Saints are also -185 to stay under 1.5 goals, while Wolverhampton’s team total of 1.5 goals is -210, so the clear expectation in Vegas is for at most, a 1-1 draw. We’ll gladly oblige and take this under before all the value dries up.
Arsenal / Tottenham Under 2.5 Goals (-125)
Another London Derby, another under. As was the case with the above handicap, we’ve got a clash of two teams who are having all sorts of trouble finding goals and a total that I expected to be way out of range in terms of price. Playing a -125 line still requires laying some juice, but I expected this under to open around -150, so we’re getting value despite paying a slightly higher price than we usually do for our best bets.
When two teams who really, really don’t like each other meet, expect lower scoring games – especially earlier in the year. Excluding Chelsea, who are just head-and-shoulders above the other London-based clubs, there have been five Derbies so far this season. Three of the five landed below the 2.5 goal total, and two landed below two goals. Players and coaches are extra-cautious, and instead of taking risks, choose to pick their spots to attack while playing sound defensively.
That won’t be any sort of adjustment for Tottenham. They’ve completely forgotten how to score this season and have just three total goals in five games – only one of which came during open play. They’re not generating anything of value in terms of chances and have just 4.6 expected goals and 3.3 adjusted goals to show for their efforts. According to my model, their expected output in this match is just 0.9 goals, the second-lowest of any team, and just .08 points above Norwich City – the only team left without a point.
Tottenham's attacking record in the Premier League this season:
Goals – 16th
Goals from open play – 16th
Total shots – 19th
Big chances created – 19th
Expected goals – 20th
[Opta via Sky Sports] pic.twitter.com/hpi0RuftnJ
— The Spurs Web ⚪️ (@thespursweb) September 21, 2021
What’s been keeping Spurs afloat in the standings has been their defending, and I think recency bias is playing into the reasonable price we’re getting on this under. Tottenham has surrendered six goals on the year, three of which came last week against Chelsea – all in the second half. The first was off a corner, the second took a deflection and rang in off the inside of the post, and the third was in extra time when the match was already in hand for the Blues. I’m not saying allowing three goals was a fluke, but it was certainly an outlier as all of Chelsea’s expectation metrics had them scoring below the three goals they ended up with. Oddly enough, the other three goals they allowed on the year all came to Crystal Palace – and their expected goal metrics weren’t just under three, but under two in that match. The Spurs have three clean sheets outside those two games, and Arsenal doesn’t pose enough of a threat to have me worrying about another three-goal blip on the radar.
The Gunners have certainly looked a bit better over the last two matches, but they couldn’t really have looked any worse. Unfortunately for them, it’s still not translating into goals as they only have two through the first five games and 2.2 expected goals, which is dead-last in the league. Arsenal will get some reinforcements back into the lineup like Granit Xhaka, but Mohamed Elneny still looks doubtful, so this team still won’t be at full strength.
Four of Arsenal’s five matches have finished under 2.5 goals this year, and three of Tottenham’s have as well. Combined, these teams have been held off the score sheet five times already, so don’t expect any offensive fireworks in this one either. The team totals back up this prediction, too. Arsenal’s team total of 1.5 is -165 to the under, and Tottenham’s is -220. As is the case with Southampton vs. Wolverhampton, it looks like the most scoring we’re going to get is a 1-1 draw, and if that holds true, it’ll be another cashed ticket for us.
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