What an incredible weekend Matchday 1 was in the Premier League, hopefully setting the tone for a season full of excitement, thrills, and jaw-dropping goals.
Amazingly, not a single match last weekend ended in a draw; 10 teams received the full three points, and 10 teams were sent home without anything to show for their efforts. Goals were aplenty, too – seven matches featured three or more goals, and six matches were decided by multiple goals.
This week is derby week, and rivalries are set to kick off all across England, giving us plenty of valuable betting opportunities to take advantage of. Last week’s best bets split down the middle, as our Watford/Aston Villa under was a huge miss, but Liverpool’s clean sheet against Norwich City helped us cash a plus-money team total. Let’s check out the two plus-money wagers I like this weekend.
Leeds United / Everton Under 2.5 (+120)
I just mentioned in the intro that seven of the ten matches last weekend topped this total, and games averaged a combined 3.4 goals. Am I crazy for taking another under?
After looking at the game totals this week, I think they’re inflated. Last week’s offensive onslaught caused the sportsbooks to raise the price on game totals knowing the public would be more inclined to bet overs after they saw so many goals scored just a week prior. We’re not going to fall into that trap.
Last week’s scoreboard for these two teams doesn’t exactly scream ‘under’ either – Leeds fell 5-1 to Manchester United, and Everton rolled over Southampton 3-1 – but the underlying metrics tell a completely different story. For starters, both matches last week were much more lopsided in terms of depth and skill than Saturday’s upcoming matchup between Leeds and Everton; this one is much less likely to result in a blowout. These two sides finished ninth and 10th in standings last season, so this is about as evenly matched as it gets. Close matches, especially early in the season, tend to favor lower scores because neither team has gotten into a rhythm yet. Many managers are more content settling for a point than watching their players take a risk and blowing the chance to capture at least a point.
But about those underlying metrics: sure, Leeds allowed five goals to a Manchester United team with clear title aspirations, but their shot-based expected goals against was just 1.4, and even more amazingly – their non-shot based expected goals against was a miniscule 0.9. For clarity, shot-based xGA measures the quality of shot attempts, and non-shot based xGA measures the game flow as a whole. Based on how Leeds defended, they should have essentially allowed just a single goal on the road in one of the most hostile environments in Europe. And now they’ll travel home against an Everton side who also loves to attack but has nowhere near the skill of Manchester United. They’ll have a much easier time keeping the scoreboard from lighting up against them, and their attack was nothing to write home about either. In fact, they had the second-lowest shot and non-shot based xG outputs and were the only team to be below one in both categories.
Everton’s shot quality against Southampton was terrific; their shot-based xG landed on 2.9 – just one-tenth lower than their actual goal output. However, that’s heavily influenced by the fact that Southampton was absolutely out-manned and had no chance in stopping the downhill attack from Everton. Leeds is much more equipped to stymie them before those chances materialize. What really tells the story is Everton’s non-shot based xG, which was just 1.4 – or less than half their actual output. They over-performed and took advantage of a weak defense, a luxury they certainly won’t have on Leeds’ home turf.
The team totals also support this under. Everton’s team total of 1.5 is heavily juiced to the under at -155, and while the line isn’t as dramatic for Leeds, their team total of 1.5 sits at -115, slightly leaning under. Look for a 1-0 Leeds victory or, at worst, a 1-1 draw.
Tottenham Hotspur ML (Three-Way; +140)
Spurs are getting disrespected on the three-way line because they beat a Manchester City squad who did not have its best 11 yet were thoroughly dominated everywhere but the scoreboard in the process. FiveThirtyEight gave them just a 22% postgame expected win percentage, which was an astounding 34% below the City team they shut out. What bettors aren’t realizing is this is how Tottenham plays. They’re an incredibly tactical, careful, and defensive-oriented side who are more than comfortable dealing with pressure and making the most of their counter-attacking opportunities.
Once again, I expect Spurs to be without Harry Kane – which is, of course, a big missing piece in their attack – but Son Heung-min stepped up last week and netted the team’s only goal. It wasn’t a fluke either; Son is a top-flight player who is more than capable of putting the team on his shoulders, especially against a Wolverhampton side which is much weaker than the Manchester City team he just willed his team to defeat last week.
Son shines once again in North London!
Tottenham lead the defending Premier League champs! #MyPLMorning
📺 NBCSN pic.twitter.com/hPawJGavGb
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 15, 2021
Wolves didn’t impress last week and were one of just five teams to be held off the score sheet. They ranked 15th among all teams in expected goals, and dating back to last season, they’ve lost four Premier League matches in a row – three of which they were held without a goal. They’re also extremely banged up and could be without four of their regulars on Sunday.
Per FiveThirtyEight, Tottenham’s expected win percentage on the three-way line is 45%. Per Kick Form, it’s 54%. Odds of +140 imply a 41.7% chance to win, so both projections give us a clear edge.
This one opened at Tottenham +110 on the three-way line, and it was just a lean for me at that number. Now that it’s climbed to +140, there’s plenty of value, and it’s one of my favorite plays on the board. I expect a similar result to Spurs’ first match; a slow-paced 1-0 finish and another three points in the standings for Tottenham.
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