Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY

Consistent readers of this series know that the results have been…not good. A recurring theme of the opening paragraphs of these entries has been the turning over to a new page, the seizure of the opportunity for a new start, “it all turns around starting now,” etc.

Week 19 of the Premier League provides yet another chance to put the past in its proper place, i.e., behind us, because the Premier League season is now half gone. All of the matches going forward will be return fixtures. The symmetry of the league slate is a wonder, and yes, it does give us a real opportunity to put prior missteps in the rearview. That doesn’t mean the “to date” counter is resetting — that would be cowardice. It just means that, starting now, there is time to set it right.

And if these picks don’t work out this week, well, the next entry in this series will come in 2019, and guess what that theme might be.

On to this week’s winners:


Liverpool’s 4-0 Boxing Day destruction of Newcastle United, coupled with another Manchester City debacle away to Leicester City, staked the Reds to a six-point lead in the table. Not over City, who are now third, but instead over white-hot Tottenham Hotspur. Liverpool has not dropped points in a league match thus far, joining past iterations of Arsenal and Manchester United, and last year’s City side, as the only clubs in the league’s history to make it to the halfway point in the schedule unbeaten.

There is no value in Liverpool to win at 2/5, and because Liverpool hasn’t lost to Arsenal in the last seven league matches these teams have played, there isn’t much point in backing Arsenal to win, either. But the total goals wager? That’s a different story.

The last six league matches in this series have featured goal totals of two, six, four, four, seven and six. You could argue that, at least in the past couple of seasons, neither of these sides was as potent as each of them is now. Virgil van Dijk is a great defender, but his presence alone isn’t enough to suggest that these teams can’t score four goals between them in this match. Liverpool might get four by themselves. Take over 3.5 goals at 5/4.


Spare a thought for your old friend here who last week had a 3/1 payoff scuttled by a meaningless 88th-minute strike:

That disappointing development aside, there is no good reason to stop backing United now. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has done the smartest thing (also the most obvious thing) and reinstated Paul Pogba as a fulcrum of the club. Pogba has responded:

Hard to believe it took Solskjaer like a minute to figure out the wisdom of bringing the best out of Pogba when The Special One never could. United is home again in this match to a Bournemouth club that is in a legitimate free-fall. The Cherries’ brief flirtation with the European places was washed away in a sea of red ink. Having lost seven of nine in the league, the Cherries are ripe for picking in this match.

Note also that in their last five matches against the top 6 in the league, the goal totals in those matches were five, four, four, three and three — including their 1-2 loss to United on November 3. Take United to win AND over 2.5 goals at 10/11.


After taking City midweek under the guise of “no way they lose twice in a row,” the Sky Blues went out and lost a second straight league match for the first time since December 3 and December 10 — 2016.

Plus, you have City manager Pep Guardiola rallying the troops with inspirational messages like this:

Yikes. There is no point in trying to figure out whether the City side that rampaged through its early schedule will turn up against Southampton, or whether instead we will get the same confused, lackluster, apparently tired side we have watched in recent days. Again, though, the value is in the goal totals.

City has not kept a clean sheet in nine consecutive matches in all competitions, six of them coming in league play. They concede to great clubs (Lyon, Chelsea) and merely good clubs (Bournemouth, Watford.) Southampton is pretty poor, but dating back to their 6-1 loss at the Etihad on November 4, the Saints have scored in eight of their last nine league matches, including a home draw against United and a home victory over Arsenal.

Both teams are going to score in this match, and at this point it doesn’t really matter to me whether City turns up or not. Take both teams to score at 10/11.


Manchester United to win both halves, to surpass 2.5 goals in the match and to keep a clean sheet over Huddersfield Town at 3/1: LOSS

Manchester City to win away to Leicester City at 4/11: LOSS

Arsenal to win and over 2.5 goals at Brighton & Hove Albion: LOSS

MIDWEEK: -$300