Welcome back from the second international break of a Premier League season that’s just eight weeks old. Through seven games, Chelsea sits alone on top of the table for the first time this year, one point clear of Liverpool and two points clear of a four-way tie for third place.
There are also four winless teams at the bottom of the table – Southampton, Burnley, Newcastle United, and Norwich City – with the Canaries finally securing their first point after dropping their first six matches. It might be early, and we’ve still got 30 weeks remaining in the season, but desperation time is close to setting in for these teams who want to avoid relegation and an imminent financial loss at all costs.
On tap for Matchday 8’s best bets is a matchup between two of the league’s top seven teams, as well as a clash between sides looking to continue their ascent up the ladder. Here are my two best bets for this weekend.
Brentford Under 0.5 Goals (+105)
While I’m confident in the bet given how strong Chelsea is defensively, this play is one of my best bets because of the value it presents. Let’s take a look at the on-field handicap first.
Brentford surprisingly sits seventh in the Premier League standings, having captured seven of a possible nine points over their last three matches. And while they’ve caught a bit of fire on the attacking side of late, let’s keep in mind the metrics and the entire body of work this season. Through the first four matches, the Bees had tallied just three total goals, had been shut out twice, and held below 1.5 expected goals in all four games – and below 1.0 expected goals in two of them. They’ve put seven goals home in the last three league matches, but only once has their expected goal output been greater than their actual output. In simpler terms – they’re getting fortunate bounces.
They also do a poor job possessing the ball, and if you let Chelsea control the ball for the majority of the match, you’re not going to get anywhere near their goalkeeper – plain and simple. The Bees have held possession for more than 50% of the game just once this year and just barely (52% vs. Aston Villa). Moreover, they’ve tallied 41% of possession or less in an astounding five matches already this season; while they may be able to squeak by teams like Wolves and West Ham with those metrics, they won’t sneak by Chelsea.
Edouard Mendy for Chelsea in the Premier League and #UCL in 2021:
◉ 34 games
◉ 22 goals conceded
◉ 19 clean sheets
◎ Champions League winner
◎ UEFA Goalkeeper of the season
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 8, 2021
The Blues have allowed just three goals all season long, and only one came in open play – to Manchester City. The other two were on penalties; one questionable card against Liverpool and one clear foul against Southampton. Against teams not named Manchester City and Liverpool, they’ve allowed one goal in five games – and Brentford does not have offensive skill close to Manchester City or Liverpool. Despite being on the road, I expect Chelsea to play their usual aggressive style in the midfield, something the Bees will have trouble overcoming.
I mentioned earlier there’s value here; it looks like a misprice. Brentford to get shut out is +105, but there’s an “exact goals” category on many betting sites. Brentford to score exactly 0 goals is -120, even -125 at some books. Also, both teams’ “no” side to score wager is -140, so clearly, the books expect one of these teams to post a clean sheet. Odds are it’ll be the team who’s posted four of them already.
Arsenal / Crystal Palace Both Teams to Score (-110)
After a dreadful start, Arsenal has completely turned their season around, tallying three wins and a draw in their last four matches after three losses to start. They’re also getting healthy, and last week’s international break was a much-needed gap in the schedule. Of their expected starting XI at the beginning of the year, only Granit Xhaka will be missing on Monday.
That’s right: Monday. This is the equivalent of Monday Night Football here in the United States. It’s a standalone game on national television so that the public’s eyes will raise the stakes, and the juices will be flowing. Which means goals should be plentiful. So far this year, the over has hit twice through three Monday matches, games are averaging 3.7 goals, and all six teams have scored at least a goal. This game will be under the lights at Emirates Stadium in front of nearly 60,000 strong – the second biggest crowd of any Premier League home venue. I expect goals early and often, and both teams should be highly motivated – albeit for different reasons.
Arsenal will be motivated to play hard in front of their supporters, but Crystal Palace will be looking to do just the opposite – shut them up. Palace has turned a corner offensively after getting blanked in their first two matches and have scored eight goals in their last five games while only being held off the scoresheet once by Liverpool. They are sitting 14th in the standings and looking up at 11th place Arsenal. Their position should drive this team to go all out on the attack, as sitting back and playing for a draw won’t help their hopeful climb up the table.
These two teams also historically play high-scoring matches, and both teams get involved in the action. Seven of the last nine matches have hit the over, and seven of the previous eight have featured a goal from both teams. The only match that didn’t have scoring for each side was a short-week Thursday match, the first meeting between the teams in a COVID-environment without fans. This will be drastically different on Monday, and I expect fireworks.
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