Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY

Pundits who dispute the assertion that the Premier League is the greatest domestic soccer league in the world had a tough week. All four Premier League teams that qualified for the Champions League this season survived the group stage and will be drawn into the knockout round.

But it wasn’t easy. Liverpool had to survive a very nervy home encounter with Napoli on Tuesday, and Tottenham Hotspur ground out a draw away to Barcelona that same evening. Nerves were less frayed for Manchester City and Manchester United, since both clubs had qualified to the knockout stage after Matchday 5. Pep Guardiola’s side enters that tournament as favorites with Liverpool close behind. United, not so much.

The midweek exertions of these four preeminent teams inform the selections this week. On to the Week 17 winners.


All hail Liverpool, your new leaders at the top of the Premier League table after City threw a shoe against Chelsea last weekend. Ordinarily, there would be no reason to think that boring, boring Man United could go into Anfield and get a result this weekend. Certainly the bookmakers don’t care for United’s chances, as Liverpool is 8/15 to win this match.

Conversely, United is 5/1 to win this match. That looked like a misprint to me when I saw that. 5/1 is longshot territory, and if we’re being honest with each other, it’s pretty ridiculous. United has been uneven this season, and Jose Mourinho is feuding with Paul Pogba, and United is almost certainly going to miss out on the Champions League places for 2019-2010 unless they win the tournament this season.

But this is still Manchester United, and just because you can’t trust them against Crystal Palace or West Ham doesn’t mean they are going to roll over for Liverpool. United’s last three results against top-5 teams in the league were a draw away to Chelsea, a loss away to City, and a draw home to Arsenal. Mourinho still gets his teams up for big matches.

Plus, there’s an open question as to whether this qualifies as a big match for Liverpool. You could almost argue it’s a trap game, since Liverpool’s next three league matches are away to Wolves, home to Newcastle, home to Arsenal. This stretch is brutal, and it’s followed by a trip to the Etihad to tangle with City. 

I don’t trust United to walk into Anfield and win the match, but I do expect United to stay within touching distance of the Reds and maybe even have an opportunity to steal a result (maybe even a win) in the closing stages. Take United to win OR draw at 29/20.


It’s not easy days for City, what with Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne both out injured until very recently and the club looking up at Liverpool in the league table. Both star men are back in training and each has a chance to appear in this match.

Everton is the club you have come to expect — consistent, workmanlike, and nondescript. Seventh in the league table, they are tied for the league lead in draws with Southampton at six. There is nothing exciting or particularly interesting about this Everton side, except occasional flashes from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison. The thing we can safely project with regard to Everton in this match is that they are going to try to take the air out of the ball. Against both Chelsea and Liverpool this season, Everton failed to score but also gave up just one goal (to Liverpool) in the entirety of those two matches. They also lost 2-0 to Arsenal earlier in the season.

This bet cost me last week when I picked United to beat Fulham to nil, only because United gave up a really unnecessary penalty. Still, all the indicators call for a tightly played match that City wins by a goal or two without conceding. Take City to win to nil at 5/4.


It’s “keep it simple, stupid” time with this pick. Bournemouth has lost five of their last six league matches — only beating relegation-bound Huddersfield Town during that stretch — and received a 4-0 hammering from Liverpool last weekend. Wolves has rebounded from a terrible two-match losing streak which saw them drop points to both Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City by beating Chelsea and Newcastle United in the past 10 days.

This pick is more of a selection against Bournemouth than an endorsement of Wolves, but the odds are right: Wolves is better, just by enough, so take Wolves to win at 10/11.

Good luck this weekend.


Manchester United to win to nil over Fulham at 7/5: LOSS

Chelsea to win, draw no bet, over Manchester City at 4/5: WIN

Leicester City to win OR draw against Tottenham Hotspur at 4/5: LOSS

LAST WEEK: -$120