EPL best bets for the weekend of August 18th-20th
It was a good start to the 2023/24 Premier League season, as we went 2-0 last week with a push. I'm back to share my best bets for Week 2.
Nottingham Forest vs. Sheffield United
Friday, 2:45 p.m. ET
My first pick of the weekend comes in today's Premier League clash at the City Ground where Nottingham Forest hosts Sheffield United.
Both of these sides started the new season with defeats, but the performances from both were vastly different, and from what I saw in Week 2, Nottingham Forest is the bet here at -110.
Forest looked really good in their 2-1 defeat by Arsenal at The Emirates. They should've taken the lead with Brennan Johnson missing a gilt-edged chance. When manager Steve Cooper brought both Taiwo Awoniyi and Anthony Elanga off the bench, they looked formidable as an attacking threat, and the duo combined to score a brilliant goal. You would expect both to start this game.
Forest is one of the favorites for the drop, which I disagree with. I don't see them having any problems staying in the EPL this season, but the same can't be said for Sheffield United.
Manager Paul Heckingbottom has publicly stated that his squad is weaker than the one that gained promotion from the Championship last season. Many have departed Bramall Lane in the summer, and they looked toothless as an attacking threat last week in the 1-0 home defeat by Crystal Palace.
Their opponents outshot The Blades 24-8. They only had 32 percent possession and managed one shot on target at home on their return to the EPL.
The City Ground is a very tough place to go and get a result as Arsenal, Brighton, Liverpool and Manchester City found last season. In fact, in 2023, only two sides have gone to Nottingham Forest and came away with a win—Newcastle and Manchester United
The atmosphere will be electric, and although this line has moved during the week, I still believe that the -110 on the moneyline is worth taking.
Pick: Nottingham Forest to beat Sheffield United at -110.
Wolves vs. Brighton
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET
If you followed this column last season, you would know that one of my favorite picks was Wolves to draw at halftime. It will be no surprise to see that wager again this week when Gary O'Neil takes charge of Wolces in his first home match against Brighton.
Last season, 15 of Wolves' 38 matches were draws at halftime, and over the last three Premier League seasons, 54 of 114 top-flight matches involving Wolves were a draw at the halftime whistle. To translate that into betting numbers, that is a 47 percent probability. When we take away matches involving the top 5 in England, that percentage increases to 52 percent, or -110, and for this match, a draw at halftime is freely available at +133. Wolves opened the season in a gallant defeat at Old Trafford where the draw at halftime cashed again, and in this fixture last year, it was also all square at the half. The line is high in this match, probably because many expect Brighton to win the game comfortably, as The Seagulls started their campaign with an emphatic 4-1 win over Luton and hammered Wolves 6-0 at the end of last season.
I would expect Roberto De Zerbi's side to show their class and get the win, but let's hope they do all their attacking and goal scoring in the second half.
Pick: Wolves vs. Brighton to be a draw at halftime at +133.
Fulham vs. Brentford
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. ET
My final choice this weekend is my least confident of them, but I would suggest a very small play on Over 2.5 goals at -110 in the London derby between Fulham and Brentford.
Fulham's home matches last season cashed on Overs in 14 of their 19 at Craven Cottage, and I am looking at the form line for the 2022/23 campaign as my guide in this one.
When the two met in the corresponding fixture, the match ended in a 3-2 Fulham win, and it also ended 3-2 when the two met at the Gtech Community Stadium, so it's rather surprising to see Over at -110.
Brentford are without their suspended striker Ivan Toney until the New Year—which is a big loss—but they still played their high press style to great effect in the opening day 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham.
Fulham has some striker problems of their own with want-away striker Aleksandar Mitrovic furious that he wasn't allowed to leave West London for a big money move to Saudi, but he is now the number one target for Tottenham, who sees him as Harry Kane's replacement.
Without those two strikers, you can see how the bookies are enticing us with the -110 on the Over, but stylistically, I think these two teams match up perfectly. With two managers who like to play entertaining football on a sunny summer's day on the banks of the River Thames, I am going to take the Over 2.5 here and also have a little pizza money on a 2-2 draw, which is available at 14-1.
Pick: Fulham vs. Brentford Over 2.5 goals at -110.