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Total-points prop spices kickoff of EPL season

By Nicholas Hennion  () 

Following a short break, the English Premier League is set to resume Saturday. And while the Nevada futures market is mostly limited to EPL champion, bettors can find some value at one market at the Westgate. 

That’s the total-points prop. Explained simply: Bettors can wager on how many points each of the 20 EPL teams will accumulate across the 2020-21 campaign. While some numbers are really sharp and require stayaways, in my opinion, I’ll outline the team points totals that are ripe for the taking, either on the Over or Under side. All totals are as of Sept. 7 and might have moved since then. 

Over Plays

Manchester City (91.5): It was an odd 2019-20 campaign for Pep Guardiola’s men, who recorded their lowest point total since 2016-17. The main issue? Last season City endured a whopping seven road losses — more than the two previous years combined — including defeats against Southampton and Norwich City. If you’re handicapping City as the presumptive title winner, you have the trend in your favor that four straight league winners have cleared the 91.5-point threshold. Even if Liverpool goes back to back, I’m confident Guardiola will find a way to pick up 11 more points than last season.

Manchester United (71.5): Across the second half of last season, United was the third-best team in total points won. From Matchday 28 onward, United was the best team. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side needs to pick up only six points from last year’s total to cash the Over. Considering Man U dropped nine points to bottom-five opposition, I expect it will find a way into the top four and collect 72 points comfortably.

Arsenal (63.5): This is the Over I’m most concerned about, but some metrics favor Arsenal. In 16 fixtures under Unai Emery, Arsenal won a mere five matches. In the remaining 22 under new manager Mikel Arteta, the Gunners won nine games outright. Additionally, Arsenal dropped 15 points from winning positions last season but have promising defensive reinforcements coming in William Saliba, Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares. While that number won’t drop to zero all of a sudden, I’m counting on Arsenal being the team that was fifth best in points across the second half of the season instead of the team that was 10th through the first 15 matchdays.

Tottenham (62.5): If Arsenal is the main concern, Tottenham is right behind as Over Concern 1A. The number feels right for a team that grabbed 59 points last season. But before that campaign, the last time Tottenham failed to get at least 63 points was 2010-11. A lot of injuries doomed the Spurs last year, but when Jose Mourinho arrived, Tottenham was suddenly a Champions League side in points from Matchday 13 through the end of the season. Matt Doherty and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are great additions for a team that needs to add only four points to cash the Over. Given that Tottenham won only four of 19 on the road last season, I expect improvements in that category to take the team Over its point total. 

Everton (51.5): Another bet on a new manager in his first full season, as Carlo Ancelotti proved a significant improvement. Under the three-time Champions League winner, Everton accumulated 63% of its point output. The main issue is that the Toffees won only a single point at home against the three relegated teams and only three of nine points against those opponents on the road. Bringing in Allan and James Rodriguez will bolster a weak midfield, and if Everton can shore up its record against the weakest teams, I expect it can grab the three points needed from last season’s total to surpass this year’s number. 

Southampton (49.5): What if I told you that last season, Southampton was the third-best road club in the EPL while simultaneously being the second-worst home team? After all was said and done, the Saints still managed 52 points. While it lost one of its best midfielders in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, there’s room for Southampton to work here. Considering the Saints have managed at least a point in 60% of games under Ralph Hasenhuttl, I believe the Saints are primed to finish in the top half this campaign. 

Under Plays

Crystal Palace (38.5): Perpetually caught in a question of whether it will sell Wilfried Zaha, Palace is a bit of a contrarian play here as it hasn’t won fewer than 40 points in the last five seasons. However, Palace also won seven points against Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United, teams I expect not to drop points as frequently this year. Lastly, eight of 11 Palace wins last season were by one goal, and I expect at least some regression. 

Leicester City (57.5): Last season the Foxes won 12 of their first 16 fixtures and looked like a sure bet to snatch a Champions League spot. But over the next 22, Leicester won a mere six matches, and I expect we’ll see similar struggles this season. Ben Chilwell, arguably Leicester’s best defender, left for Chelsea this summer, and depending on how results go, James Maddison could be on his way out as well. I also believe European football could be a curse for Leicester. The last surprise team to secure European football, Burnley in 2017-18, regressed to 15th place the next season. Expect a similar result for Leicester. 

Brighton & Hove Albion (40.5): Since its return to England’s top league in 2017-18, Brighton has never finished higher than 15th. In the two seasons before last, the Seagulls finished on 40 and 36 points. In 2019-20, they finished on 41 but won twice against Arsenal and once against Tottenham. Even assuming Brighton wins one of those, that still drops it below its total for this season. Bottom line: Brighton has struggled to produce meaningful road records in the EPL, a good recipe for an Under here. 

West Bromwich Albion (32.5): In six of the last seven Premier League campaigns, at least one side that has been promoted has been sent back down the very next season. This year I expect West Brom to produce a one-and-done EPL campaign. There is some danger of losing on the hook here as in two of the last three seasons, the 18th- and 19th-place teams have garnered 33 or more points. However, I have West Brom rated as the worst team in the league and think it will be lucky to grab 30 points. 

Aston Villa (39.5): This bet will almost certainly be dictated by whether Villa decides to sell Jack Grealish before Oct. 5 or during the January window. Thirty-five points for Villa last season proved enough to guarantee safety for at least another season, but I rate Villa as the third-worst team in the EPL this year. To last another year in the top flight, Villa will need to improve its 2-5-12 road record. However, this is still a team that has gained 40 points or more only once in its last six EPL campaigns. Simply put, 39.5 feels too high. Under on Villa. 

Rapid-Fire Leans 

Liverpool (86.5): Lean Over. Hard to see Liverpool dropping 14 points from last year’s total, but Jurgen Klopp’s men will get the very best from every side. 

Chelsea (77.5): Lean Under. A lot of new additions for Frank Lampard’s second season. Chelsea should go Over, but maybe it takes the team a few matches to find its groove. Sharp number makes it a stayaway for me. 

Wolverhampton Wanderers (57.5): Lean Under. With 57 and 59 points in the last two Premier League seasons, it’s a hard call. I think we’re about to find out just how important Matt Doherty was to the Wolves’ back five. 

Sheffield United (43.5): Lean Under. Dean Henderson is gone. Don’t be surprised if Sheffield is fighting to stay up toward the end of the season. 

West Ham (42.5): Lean Over. Unless the Hammers sell Declan Rice, it seems to follow a weird trend, performing well every other season. I’ll take last season as an anomaly and put some trust in David Moyes.

Burnley (42.5): Lean Over. Burnley had 54 points last season but only 40 the season before. Jeff Hendrick is a big loss that will need to be addressed, but certainly other teams have bleaker outlooks. A sharp number here, but I have faith Burnley can scrap its way to 12th or 13th.

Leeds United (42.5): Lean Over. A lot of hype for newly promoted Leeds, but Marcelo Bielsa’s side hasn’t played in the top-flight league since 2003-04. If Leeds does go Over the total, it’ll be by a very slim margin. That makes this a stayaway for me. 

Newcastle United (37.5): Lean Under. Some talent in the midfield with players like Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, but I don’t see Newcastle defending well enough to clear this total. 

Fulham (33.5): Lean Under. The last time Fulham was promoted it was relegated the next campaign, and I find it likely to happen again. The number did open at 32.5, so some Over money already is in play. But bettors also have the trend that four of the last six EFL playoff winners have been relegated the next season.

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