EPL best bets for the weekend of September 16th-18th
A rare bad weekend for me before the international break, going 0-3 for this column. That's the bad news. The good news is we are still profitable, and I'm relaxed and refreshed after a nice few days in Greece and ready to get stuck into Matchday 5 for the EPL.
Tottenham vs. Sheffield United
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET
My first pick of the weekend comes in Saturday’s early Premier League kick-off which sees
The first game following an international break can cause concern for some bettors. These days though, the majority of Premier League teams are packed with internationals, and that's even the case in the English lower tiers with just two games in League One played last weekend as a result.
If anything, it helps the bigger sides when they take on the lesser-ranked outfits given the depth of their squads. That is part of the reason I am taking Tottenham to beat the promoted Sheffield United with room to spare.
The Spurs faithful are loving life under Ange Postecoglou with the big Aussie getting the North Londoners playing the attractive brand of soccer their supporters crave. Their last fixture saw them travel to another newly promoted side in Burnley and give them a 502 hammering.
That result proved there is certainly life after Harry Kane with only Brighton scoring more than Tottenham's 11 goals so far this term. Heung-Min Son blasted a superb hat trick after being moved to a central role, indicating it may not just be the armband he is taking on from the departed captain.
James Maddison was exceptional once again as he continues to show why many people, myself included, think he is the signing of the season. A reminder that this was against a side that finished 10 points clear of Sheffield United in last season's Championship.
The Blades picked up their first Premier League point last time out, but that was against a poor Everton side. That was also on home soil where they have a strong record. Visiting the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is a completely different task, especially with the crowd fully behind the home team for the first time in a long while.
Postecoglou has seen his side score at least two goals in all of his league games so far, and I am taking them to do at least that again in only their second home game. I am looking for a similar result to the first, a 2-0 win over Manchester United, as I am taking the home side on a -1.5 handicap, meaning they need to win by two or more goals.
Tottenham will be desperate for a big win here and not just to keep the feel-good factor going. It will also give them a chance to go to the top of the table taking that momentum into two huge upcoming fixtures with local rivals Arsenal and fellow top-four contenders Liverpool.
Pick: Tottenham -1.5 Asian Handicap at -122
Aston Villa vs. Crystal Palace
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET
Two of my favorite sides to fade for goals come face-to-face at Goodison Park on Saturday, and I
Aston Villa starts a busy week by hosting Crystal Palace in the Premier League before they make their much-anticipated UEFA Europa Conference League group stage debut against Legia Warsaw on Thursday. They will want to go into that fixture on a high, and I am taking them to do just that by winning this clash at odds of -104.
I see the VIllains as something like a bully—steamrolling their way past the teams in the middle to lower reaches of the table but getting found out against the bigger boys. That has certainly been the case at the start of the season.
Unai Emery's side began their campaign with a heavy defeat at Newcastle, getting thumped 5-1. Last time out, they traveled to Liverpool and were slightly fortunate only to concede three goals in a 3-0 defeat.
However, in between that, they thrashed Everton 4-0 in their only home league game to date and convincingly beat Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor. They also claimed their place in the UECL group stages by defeating Scottish side Hibernian 8-0 on aggregate over two legs.
I definitely want to get them onside when they are at home, taking on teams I project to be in the bottom half of the table come May. Palace fits that category.
At Villa Park, with a vociferous home crowd right behind them, their Spanish manager lets them play with flair and on the front foot, confident in the belief they can go out and score three or four times. The victory over Everton here last month was an eighth successive Premier League win on home soil—a run that has seen them score 18 times and concede just twice.
I am not convinced by the visitors. Roy Hodgson himself admitted they are still very much a work in progress and weren't very good last week in the 3-2 win at home to Wolves.
The Eagles have won only three of their last 13 road game in the EPL. Two of those victories were last season against two sides who got relegated in Southhampton and Leeds. The other came this campaign against newly promoted Sheffield United.
I'm not one for historical trends, but it's worth noting Crystal Palace has a terrible record at Villa Park. They've won there only once since 1992 and haven't scored more than once at the venue since January 1962, losing 16 of those 25 meetings.
Expect Aston Villa to let loose on Palace here, and they are a terrific value on the moneyline to get back to their winning ways.
Pick: Aston Villa to win at -104
Nottingham Forest vs. Burnley
Monday, 2:45 p.m. ET
As the saying goes, "Save the best for last." That's what I have done here. I am a big fan of Nottingham Forest this season, and I have already said a few times that they have been massively underrated. That is the case here again.
They have the potential to break into the top 10 this year. In Steve Cooper, they have a fantastic manager who has now got this team playing some great soccer.
Forest's excellent home record was responsible for keeping them in the division last term. They are a hard team to beat on home soil with their passionate support making the City Ground a very tough place to visit—illustrated by them having the best home record of the sides finishing in the bottom half and the 10th best overall.
This game kicks off at 7:45 p.m. local time, meaning the usually electric atmosphere will be cranked up another notch or two, making this an even tougher task for newly promoted Burnley. As was the case when the side that finished one place below the Clarets last season, Sheffield United, fell to defeat in the only Premier League match played here so far.
I an not put off by the Asian move for Vincent Kompany's visitors. The same thing happened when they played Aston Villa a couple of weeks ago and were soundly beaten.
This may also be due to the away team winning 1-0 when these two sides met in the League Cup at the end of last month. Read nothing into that. The starting 11 that night were heavily rotated and will be nothing like the lineups we will see on Monday.
Burnley didn't pick up a single point from their opening three games of the campaign, despite all of them being played at home. Forest, on the other hand, will take great confidence from arguably their biggest Premier League win last time out at Chelsea.
The home side has lots of attacking threats, with players who have pace to burn and a clinical striker in Taiwo Awoniyi. The price of +122 on the Nottingham Forest win is wrong, and I'm taking advantage.
Pick: Nottingham Forest to win at +122
Have a week, and let's cash some tickets!