After a couple of poor weeks in this column, it was nice to get back to winning ways last week, but the least said about my under 2.5 goals play in Sheffield United’s 0-8 home defeat against Newcastle the better.
Everton vs. Luton
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET
It’s been a massive seven days for Everton. Picking up their first Premier League victory of the season last weekend with an impressive 3-1 win at a Brentford side who were only beaten on home soil twice last term.
Sean Dyche then led his side to a 2-1 victory at Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night. The Villa side had won their previous 10 competitive home games including a 4-0 success when the two sides met in the league last month.
We talk about the relevance of cup results, but make no mistake about it, that was a big win for Everton at Villa Park. To carry on the momentum from last weekend and also to celebrate the new ownership of the club. Goodison Park is going to be rocking on Saturday.
You may wonder why I am so strong about taking Everton on a -1 handicap here when you look at their home form. Three games played. Three 1-0 defeats. This is their big opportunity; they have to win this match. They will win this match.
Visitors Luton are still being widely tipped to break Derby’s record for the lowest points return in a Premier League season of 11. Their 1-0 cup defeat to third-tier Exeter in midweek has done little to change that opinion.
Manager Rob Edwards groaned after the defeat that his side “never looked like scoring,” and there lies the main problem. Despite promotion last season seven, sides scored more goals than the Hatters with Carlton Morris as their top scorer with 20. No other player hit double figures, and their third-highest scorer hit the back of the net just three times.
Morris leads the way again this term with two goals, both from the penalty spot, meaning Luton have only scored once from open play. His spot kick last week at least got his side their first Premier League point following a 1-1 draw with Wolves.
However, Wolves had Jean-Ricner Bellegarde sent off just before half-time. So that counts as a massive missed opportunity at home to a relegation rival with a man advantage for the majority of the game.
Another massive boost for the home side is the return of Dominic Calvert-Lewin who scored just eight minutes after coming on as a substitute against Brentford. The England international who has had terrible luck with injuries followed that up with another goal in midweek.
With the European Championships coming up at the end of the season, if he can stay fit and scoring goals, the man who was backup to Harry Kane a couple of years ago could force his way back into the national team. For now, he can help fire his club side away from the relegation zone, and that starts here against Luton.
Pick: Everton -1 at +110
West Ham vs. Sheffield United
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET
I got stung by an awful Sheffield United performance last weekend when they fell apart and suffered an embarrassing club record 8-0 defeat at home to Newcastle. But as a result, I can quickly get my revenge.
We have seen a massive overreaction to that result and especially in the goals market. Last week, I wrote about how competitive Paul Heckingbottom’s side had been and how they pushed Nottingham Forest, Manchester City and Tottenham all the way before conceding a late goal in each to lose by the narrowest of margins. All that seems to have been forgotten.
The disaster at Bramall Lane last week doesn’t change that. Fans, players and the coaching team will all be hurting, and all will expect a positive reaction against West Ham. If that freak result had followed to form, then we would be looking at an Under 2.5 goals line here at minus money. Therefore the +130 on offer has to be taken.
When a side is humiliated, whatever the sport, the trend is for a bounce back of some extent on their next appearance. I have dug deep into my archives to back that statement up.
I have looked at the 20 biggest wins in the Premier League and looked at the following result. For example, Manchester United beat Ipswich 9-0, and in their next match, Ipswich only lost 2-0. In 16 of those 20 matches, Under 2.5 goals cashed the following week.
In addition, I have been fortunate enough to go to the London Stadium and watch West Ham on several occasions. The Hammers love taking on the big teams and raising their game to play outstandingly well and get a positive result.
When they take on the bottom sides who come, sit deep and make themselves tough to break down as Sheffield United will, it’s a different story. David Moyes’ side generally struggles, and the Hammers fans get frustrated with a tight, low-scoring, drab contest and outcome.
One bad result doesn’t mean we rip up the form book. Heckingbottom has had a clear week to work on that defense. They have to put in a better performance and will. Trust me, that +130 is far too big.
Pick: Under 2.5 goals at +130
Wolves vs. Manchester City
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET
I have already mentioned Wolves this week when talking about their draw with Luton. It is from one extreme to the other as they go from facing the side everyone thinks will finish bottom to the one that everyone expects to finish top, as the treble-winning Champions Manchester City visit.
Gary O’Neil wasn’t happy with either referee Josh Smith for awarding the penalty that cost his side a precious two points, or with Jean-Ricner Bellegarde for his first-half red card. The draw at least prevented a run of three straight defeats, although it was back to normality in midweek when Wolves lost 3-2 to Championship side Ipswich in the cup despite being 2-0 up inside the opening 15 minutes.
Anyone hoping for a party hangover from Pep Guardiola’s side has been disappointed as they have won their first six Premier League matches of the season. The first time they have achieved that since the 2016-2017 season.
As a result, and as is usually the case, Man City are unbackable at -278. However, three of those wins came with a clean sheet, and that is the route I am taking here which boosts the price to a more than generous-looking +130.
This bet would have cashed last week as two first-half goals were enough to beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 at the Etihad—a result that never looked in doubt even with Rodri being sent off at the start of the second half.
As for Wolves, regular readers will know I am always happy to fade them in any goals market. An encouraging display in their opening fixture against Manchester United offered some hope even though it was another game they failed to score in.
Last week, they looked like the blunt Wolves of old even against the side tipped to finish rock bottom of the league, Luton. Remember last season they scored a league low 31 goals in 38 games and failed to score in 15 of them.
Wanderers lost both meetings between the sides 3-0 last season and face a City side here that boasts the best defense in the league this term having only conceded three goals. If it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it – expect a similar outcome here, another win for the champions and another clean sheet.
Pick: Manchester City to win to nil at +130