Confession is good for the soul. I have missed my last six picks. Wallowing, however, is not good for the soul, so that’s the last we’ll speak of Weeks 9 and 10. There were good times before that and there can be good times again, starting right now.
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MANCHESTER CITY (-1300) v. SOUTHAMPTON (+2800) — DRAW (+1200)
WATFORD (+400) v. CHELSEA (-155) — DRAW (+320)
— Chelsea FC (at 🏡) (@ChelseaFC) November 1, 2019
Two weeks ago, I mentioned that Christian Pulisic was sort of struggling at his new club. Actually, that’s an understatement — I sort of buried him. Last week, Pulisic scored three times and led Chelsea to a comfortable victory over Burnley. Look, if I knew I had the power to make something like that happen, I would have done it long before now.
Chelsea has shaken off a middling-to-poor start of the season to seize fourth place in the table, tied for third on points with Leicester City (behind only on goal difference). Perhaps more importantly, Chelsea is four points clear of Arsenal and seven clear of Manchester United. There is probably not a path to challenging Liverpool and Manchester City for the league title. But there is definitely a path to salting away another Champions League place for next season and concentrating on a run in this year’s CL play as well.
There’s not much to say about Watford beyond no wins and one goal scored in their last five matches in all competitions. That’s right: Watford has been shut out four times in their last five outings.
As for Manchester City, they’re playing a Southampton team that lost 0-9 to Leicester City last week and lost to the Sky Blues in League Cup play midweek. Manchester City will roll Southampton, which explains the odds on their match. They’re only included here because Chelsea is -155 to win, and I’m picking Chelsea to win but I want to pull the odds down a bit. The two-team parlay is -130, which is more like it and which I am taking.
CRYSTAL PALACE (+230) v. LEICESTER CITY (+125) — DRAW (+230)
— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 1, 2019
When you’re slumping like I am, it’s best to keep things as simple as possible. (Yeah, I know, throwing Man City into that parlay above isn’t “keeping things simple.” Sorry.) We’re keeping this pick very, very simple: Leicester City right now is an underrated, underappreciated match-winning machine. The Foxes have won five of six in all competitions, with the only loss coming at Anfield to the undefeated league leaders. Along the way, Leicester hung nine on Southampton, five on Newcastle United and, out of the Premier League, four on Luton Town in League Cup action.
Crystal Palace is sixth in the table, but not for long. The Eagles will face Chelsea and Liverpool in their next two matches after this one. Palace drew with Arsenal last week and lost to Manchester City the week before. The only trend you can cite in Crystal Palace’s favor in this match is that they have owned Leicester in recent times, winning the last four league matches between these sides. But that was before Brendan Rodgers took over at Leicester; love him or hate him, his effect on Leicester has been immediate and impactful.
Leicester is demonstrably better than Crystal Palace, and being able to wager on them at better than even money against a lesser side is a gift. Take Leicester City to win at +125.
EVERTON (+165) v. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (+155) — DRAW (+250)
Another trip to Merseyside awaits.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 30, 2019
Woof…the resistible force meets the movable object. These clubs have underperformed wildly in the first quarter-plus of this league season. Tottenham Hotspur has fallen from losing in the Champions League final to 11th place in the league table behind (among others) newly-promoted Sheffield United, Bournemouth and West Ham United. That’s really poor, and yet Spurs look like world-beaters compared to Everton.
The Toffees are two points above Southampton, who would be relegated if the season ended today. Everton spent legitimate money in the summer, bringing in Moise Kean from Juventus, Andre Gomes from Barcelona and Alex Iwobi from Arsenal for just shy of $100M (just less than £75M.) The return on investment has been abysmal. Everton has one win in its last six league matches — the other five were losses. And the losses were not to the elite clubs, either. Away to Bournemouth. Home to Sheffield United. Away to Burnley. Away to Brighton and Hove Albion. Not a “top” club in that lot.
Spurs is not a very good side right now, but this line is out of whack given how bad Everton is. These teams are not essentially even, no matter where they are playing. Spurs has far better players and, despite recent difficulties, a better manager. Take Spurs to win at +155.
Good luck this week.