Nigel Seeley here, looking forward to another round of EPL fixtures and selecting for you my top picks of the weekend’s action.
Wolverhampton vs. Nottingham Forest (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)
Each week I write about how boring and negative Wolves are. In fact, ironically it is starting to get boring how much I mention it.
The fact remains, though, that they are the lowest home scorers in the EPL with a grand total of two goals. They also have the prize nobody wants of being the lowest scorers in the entire league with an embarrassing three goals. Having sacked their manager, Wolves have failed to land their target to replace him, Julie Lopetegui, and it all adds to a huge cloud over the club.
Forest the visitors are not exactly setting the league alight themselves on their travels with goal action as they have only scored one away from home. Let’s be under no illusions both these clubs are in trouble and this is a relegation battle.
Forest will take heart from their battling to a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa on Monday night where they benefited from new defensive tactics. Their unpredictable owner surprised many by offering under fire boss Steve Cooper an extended contract as opposed to the sack.
With Forest suddenly adopting defensive tactics and Wolves likely to be their boring negative selves, we simply have to play the Under at -125.
We have another pick in this game, which is the halftime Draw at a very enticing + 120. Wolves are the EPL specialist at this pick as last season 22 of 38 games were halftime draws. They have continued this season by landing this play in two of their four home matches. Forest bring a record of three of their last four EPL games being a draw at halftime.
At plus money, it is a carrot we must snap up in what looks very likely to be a low-scoring defensive game.
Picks: Wolves-Forest Under 2.5 goals -125; Wolves-Forest Draw HT + 120
Fulham vs. AFC Bournemouth (Saturday 10 a.m. ET)
By contrast to Wolves-Forest, this promises to be an attacking high-scoring encounter. eight of nine matches involving Fulham this year have cashed on Over 2.5 goals and both teams to score. The only game that did not was a dull 0-0 draw and before you rush to google to discover who that was, I will spare you the time . . . It was Wolves!
Fulham are positive and attack-minded, and I can only see those tactics continuing for the visit of Bournemouth, which makes this a very attractive pick.
Bournemouth has had an eventful start to its season, but the signs are certainly looking more positive. Following their calamitous 9-0 defeat to Liverpool, the owners dispensed with manager Scott Parker. Gary O’Neil was placed in temporary charge, but after remaining undefeated in five matches, he is a huge favorite to be given the job on a permanent basis.
After being given the role following a humiliating 9-0 defeat, it is perhaps no surprise he has brought in more defensive tactics. He did, although, after going behind to Leicester in their last match, change tactics and go on the attack. That resulted in an impressive 3-1 victory, so if needed Bournemouth can match Fulham in the attacking stakes.
It all adds up to another Fulham game where the pick has to be Over 2.5 goals.
Pick: Fulham-Bournemouth Over 2.5 -117
Chelsea vs. Aston Villa (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET)
I am going with Chelsea to shut out visitors Villa here on Sunday. New Chelsea manager Graham Potter is still unbeaten after five matches in charge. Four of those matches have been wins and they have been the last four. The last three have cashed the “win to nil” and proved that Potter has made this Chelsea team very difficult to score against. I was far convinced that Chelsea was the right fit for the former Brighton boss, but after two impressive victories over AC Milan in the Champions League, he has quickly made his mark and has made me look rather foolish.
At + 200, to win to nil against struggling Villa looks far too big to me and has to be the pick in this game. Villa manager, former Liverpool legend Steven Gerard, is having the opposite relationship with the Villa fans that Potter has had at Chelsea. When he arrived from Rangers, there was a real buzz at the club, but after very poor recent performances against Leeds, Southampton and Forest, the fans appear to be turning against him.
Villa look short on confidence and attacking ideas, and with Chelsea looking strong and very well-organized, it all points to another win to nil.
Pick: Chelsea to Win to Nil vs. Villa + 200
Though not an official pick I must mention Liverpool vs. Man City, who meet at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday. This is the biggest game of the EPL so far this year, featuring the two outstanding teams of recent seasons.
The first thing to consider is that unusually for them Liverpool are conceding a lot of goals this season. Trent Alexander Arnold is out injured from the Liverpool defense, and although The Reds did beat Rangers convincingly in midweek in the Champions League, I was not convinced defensively. A better team than Rangers would have scored three in the first half alone. Liverpool has conceded first in every match except one this season, and if that stat continues against City on Sunday, I cannot see any way back.
Manchester City rested key players in their midweek 0-0 draw with Copenhagen with neither stars Haaland or Foden featuring at all. By comparison, Liverpool played a day later and had to use all their top players to get the win.
Though not an official pick, I take City to win at -129 and for smaller bettors chasing pizza money, a correct score 3-1 City has to be of interest at 11-1 in a game where goals look certain. Liverpool will have to go for a win and attack here because a draw does little to help its attempt to get back into this title race.