The EPL season is coming to its conclusion and last weekend's results showed that we are moving to the “funny” stage of the campaign where heavy favorites are vulnerable and over bettors are cashing. Will that trend continue into Week 36? Here are my best bets for the upcoming slate.
Leeds United vs. Newcastle
Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET
We don’t have to wait long for my first pick on what is a crucial weekend at the top and bottom of the EPL table. It’s the early kickoff at Elland Road between relegation-threatened Leeds United and Champions League-chasing Newcastle.
Last weekend, we saw that season form goes out the window at this stage of the season after Everton (another relegation-threatened side) shocked Brighton (another Champions League-chasing side) 5-1 on the road. Will we see another upset?
I don’t believe that Leeds is capable of such a big margin win, but I do think that visiting Newcastle is a vulnerable -150 favorite, and I do want to get with Leeds in some way on Saturday morning.
This is a one-off match now, and I believe that league form can be overlooked slightly in these final fixtures with sides fighting for survival. Despite Leeds having a poor season, Elland Road is still a very intimidating place to play. If Leeds can get off to a fast start tomorrow, the crowd and atmosphere will be electric, and I’m hoping that can lift the home side to a big performance.
Former England manager Sam Allardyce has been brought in to take over at Leeds with four games remaining to survive. In his first match in charge, Leeds lost 2-1 to Manchester City, but that was a much more impressive performance, especially in the second half. That will give his team and supporters hope heading into this one.
Allardyce will have been working hard on a defense that has conceded in the last 12 matches, but they are impressive on offense, scoring in their last 10. Allardyce was also a former Newcastle manager, and he is still hurt by the way he was sacked by the club, so there is some extra spice in this one as well.
Newcastle looked tired in their 2-0 defeat last week to Arsenal. They are still fighting for a Champions League spot, and even though they are a heavy (-800) favorite to get that, this could be a good time to face them.
I am expecting a big performance from Leeds tomorrow but their defensive frailties are stopping me from betting them on the moneyline, I also expect goals, but all the goal lines are priced high for a reason, so the best way to play is to take Leeds +1 on the Asian handicap at -136 with the bet a push if Newcastle wins by exactly one goal. The only way it loses is if the visitors win by two or more.
Pick: Leeds +1 on the Asian handicap at -136
Everton vs. Manchester City
Sunday, 9:00 a.m. ET
Manchester City stretched their unbeaten run to 21 matches with a Champions League 1-1 draw at Real Madrid on Tuesday to keep their hopes of winning the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble very much alive. This weekend, Pep Guardiola takes the league leaders to Everton.
A couple of weeks back you would’ve looked at this match as a guaranteed 3 points for Peps boys, but things look very different now.
Last weekend, Everton produced their best performance of the season with a morale boasting 5-1 win at Brighton. In that match, the Toffees remarkably had just 22 percent of possession and scored from all 5 of their shots on target. I would expect Everton manager Sean Dyche to implement the same tactics again at Goodison Park on Sunday. Everton looks like a totally different side. With fit-again England international striker Dominic Calvert Lewin in their starting lineup, they have now scored seven goals in their last two matches, highlighting the attacking threat they were missing when DCL was injured.
On the moneyline, Everton is available at +800. It’s the same odds they carried last week at Brighton to win back-to-back EPL matches for the first time since September, I’m not saying that they can win this match, but I do believe they will make things very difficult for City.
Manchester City doesn’t like playing physical sides, and Everton will be that. The two played out a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture on New Year's Eve at the Etihad. With Everton’s morale at a season-high and City likely to rest key players with a crucial Champions League semi-final second leg with Real Madrid on Wednesday night, I want to get with Everton again in some way. I think the best way is to take them +1.5 on the Asian handicap at -113, as I can’t see City putting their foot on the gas for a big-margin win. It’s all about getting 3 points for Pep in this one and moving on to Tuesday night with no injuries for the champions.
Pick: Everton +1.5 on the Asian handicap vs. Man City at -113
Leicester City vs. Liverpool
Monday, 3:00 p.m. ET
The Monday Night Football promises to be a fizzing firecracker of a match when another relegation-threatened side Leicester hosts a resurgent Liverpool at the King Power.
The lines for this match could change massively on the results of Saturday and Sunday’s games, so I would suggest leaving any wagers on the moneyline until the morning of the match. The one thing that I do expect in this match is goals.
Last weekend, Leicester lost 5-3 to a Fulham side with nothing to play for the remainder of this season, and the Cottagers were without their top two goalscorers.
That performance from The Foxes was under the threat of relegation, and they are a total defensive shambles at the moment, conceding in their last 16 matches. The last side they kept a clean sheet against was League Two Exeter in the FA Cup in January.
Offensively, Leicester has some real quality in Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes. Their survival strategy is to score three and hope they only concede two. On Monday, they are up against a Liverpool side who are playing their best football of the season with six straight wins. Liverpool has Champions League football in their sights, and this leaky Leicester defense is up against the most in-form striker in the EPL, Mo Salah.
Many will say that Salah has had a poor season by his high standards, but he has weighed in with 32 goals for his club this campaign and has 19 in the EPL. Most of those goals have come towards the end of the season, and he heads into this match against the worst defensive (currently) in the top flight with seven goals in his last seven matches.
If this was Erling Haaland traveling to face this Leicester side, the Manchester City striker would be close to -200 to score at any time on Monday. Salah is available at +120, which given his form and Leicester’s leaky defense, and his role taking penalties for the club, it’s far too big in a match that screams goals!
Pick: Mo Salah to score at anytime Leicester vs. Liverpool at +120