Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY

The first match week of the second half of the Premier League season was good for me. Obviously, with the season total to date still far in the red, there is no use gloating or even getting too excited about a 3-0 weekend. The only way out of this hole is to win my way out, though, and the top of the hole is closer to me now than it was before those three picks came through.

January also brings the opening of the midseason transfer window. Every club but Liverpool has ground to make up, and as a result, many of the teams you watch on a regular basis will look a bit different by the end of this month. Teams will buy to plug holes created by injury or to add a necessary piece; teams will sell to be rid of underperformers or simply to save the transfer fee received for future use. A byproduct of all of this potential volatility is that many players know that more than any other time in the season, they are playing for their jobs.

It’s that sort of urgency that fuels this week’s picks. There is still a long way to go to make this column profitable. Here are this week’s winners:


It’s always special when the league leaders play the team directly behind them in the table. Liverpool remains unbeaten through 20 matches — they have only dropped points three times — and have won nine league matches in a row. City temporarily righted themselves with a win over the weekend, but questions persist about their current form, especially since star midfielder Kevin de Bruyne continues to struggle with injury.

KdB may miss this showdown with Liverpool:

That’s very bad news for City, who desperately need to win this match to keep Liverpool from running away and hiding. Clawing back four points over the remaining 17 matches after this one is doable; recovering from seven will be very difficult and if Liverpool wins and the lead over City becomes 10, that might be it for City’s title hopes.

Unfortunately for Pep Guardiola’s men, this particular opponent is not only the best side in the league right now — Liverpool also pretty much owns City. The Reds eliminated City from the Champions League in the spring, winning both legs of their quarterfinal matchup. In league play, going back to March 2015, Liverpool has won five, drawn two and lost one against City.

The odds on this match (City is 19/20 to win) reflect what is expected to be City’s maximum effort to win this match and keep Liverpool within shouting distance. Here’s the thing, though: Liverpool is better, and ultimately they don’t even need to win. And if Liverpool scores first at the Etihad on Thursday, it’s going to get very quiet. Liverpool to win at 23/10 is really tempting, but Jurgen Klopp would probably take a draw right now if you offered it to him. With that in mind, the play here is to take Liverpool to win OR draw at 8/11.


Don’t look now, but it’s possible Jose Mourinho didn’t manage United quite long enough to keep the Red Devils from chasing down Chelsea for the fourth Champions League place. (And yeah, Arsenal is in fifth…but you saw what Liverpool did to Arsenal over the weekend. The Gunners are not Champions League material.)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has located the Paul Pogba cheat code and isn’t going to stop using it until somebody keeps Pogba from scoring, which he is now doing at will:

The last time these two teams played, Newcastle jumped out to a 2-0 lead at Old Trafford only to see United storm back late in the second half to claim a 3-2 victory that temporarily saved Mourinho’s job. United is no longer that stressed-out, miserable bunch. Solskjaer has them playing with joy and, most importantly, with bad intentions. Newcastle does not have nearly enough quality to keep United from winning their fourth straight league match under their new manager, so take United to win at 6/10.


Wolves shook up the world over the weekend, dumping Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at Wembley Stadium and knocking Spurs out of second place in the table in the process. They are 4-1-1 in their last six, with quality wins over both Spurs and Chelsea. The only loss was a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool, which as we have already established is nothing to be ashamed of.

Spectacular and unexpected results like Manchester City 2-3 Crystal Palace resonate, and they can also create false impressions that can cost you money. Palace played their best match of the season in that win at the Etihad, but aside from that notable victory the Eagles have been quite poor on the road. Before the win over City at the Etihad, Palace had lost five of their prior six league matches on the road, including losses to iffy sides like Brighton & Hove Albion and West Ham United.

This is another good time to keep things simple. Wolves are evens to win at home against a Palace side that is far closer to relegation than it is to Wolves in the table. Wolves are better than a coin flip to beat Palace, so take Wolves to win at evens.

Best of luck, and here’s to a profitable 2019.


Liverpool/Arsenal over 3.5 goals at 5/4: WIN

Manchester United to win over Bournemouth AND over 2.5 goals at 10/11: WIN

Manchester City and Southampton both to score at 10/11: WIN