Photo Credit: Brad Penner, USA TODAY
Come on, you didn’t really think I forgot you, right? Yes, there were Premier League matches on Tuesday, but none of them were especially interesting. I went 1-2 on the picks I would have made. I had West Ham as easy winners, but I thought Manchester City would cover 1.5 goals away to Watford and I thought Crystal Palace would win away to Brighton and Hove Albion. In the parlance of true degenerates, sometimes the best bet you ever made is the one you didn’t make at all.
There are six more Premier League fixtures set for this midweek slate, and there are winners aplenty, so let’s get to it.
BURNLEY v. LIVERPOOL
Let me first come out and admit that I am aware that Burnley is awful. You don’t find yourself 19th out of 20 in the table based on great talent, strong effort, and bad luck. This is not a good Burnley side. But here’s the thing…it’s quite possible that Liverpool isn’t really all that good either.
Oh, sure, Liverpool is second in the league table and putatively keeping up with Manchester City. You see the scenes of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp charging onto the pitch as his men snatch a late winner against Everton a few days ago and say “there’s a club that has a collective spirit!” That’s true enough. What’s also true is that Liverpool has yet to play the sort of wide-open, hell for leather football that was expected of them when the season began.
More to the point for this wager, in the 12 matches Liverpool has played since skinning West Ham 4-0 in their league opener, the total goals scored in their serial league matches has exceeded two just four times, and has exceeded four just once. That’s not Liverpool goals, mind you — that’s total goals in those matches. Liverpool is away to a moribund Burnley side after spilling its bucket against Everton in a derby that Liverpool won at the death. It’s too much to expect the Reds to put a big number on Burnley. Take Liverpool to win AND under 3.5 goals at 21/20.
WOLVERHAMPTON v. CHELSEA
Wolves were very good for me early in this season, but a quick look at the form table shows that the ship is sinking, and fast. Wolves hasn’t won in the league since October 6, and has only claimed one of 18 possible points over its last six league matches.
This is the exact wrong time for Wolves to be seeing Chelsea, a club that got some of its frustration out from its recent derby loss to Spurs out with the win over Fulham a few days back. The Blues undoubtedly see a wounded foe in Wolves, and with Wolverhampton midfielder Ruben Neves missing this match due to a suspension for a fifth yellow card (one of the dumbest rules in the game, by the way), there is little reason to think Chelsea will not pick up three crucial points in the quest to stay in the top four. Take Chelsea to win at 4/5.
MANCHESTER UNITED v. ARSENAL
It tells you all you need to know about where these clubs are now that this fixture is third on the docket to be picked. Three years ago, five years ago, ten years ago, this match would supersede any other offering on any week, any time. But time, like LaVar Ball, is undefeated, never lost. United is a hollowed-out shell of its past glory, 19 points behind Manchester City and happy to eke out a result against a Southampton club that was moments from sacking its manager.
In fairness, Arsenal is on the rise. The weekend derby victory over Spurs (which I called) was a great display, even though it was over an exhausted XI at home. As for this pick, we are officially in “don’t overthink it” territory. Arsenal has not lost in any competition since August 18. You read that right. Arsenal lost to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in mid-August, and since then the Gunners have a 19-match unbeaten streak in all competitions.
As the great Maya Angelou once wrote, when someone shows you who they are, believe them. Take Arsenal to win draw no bet at evens.
SOUTHAMPTON v. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
That’s right, we have the rare BONUS PICK here. As described earlier, Spurs lost a cracking match to Arsenal over the weekend. There is no question that exhaustion played a part in that outcome. Spurs had played a Champions League match days before, whereas Arsenal was more or less fully rested. That probably explains how Arsenal turned a 2-1 deficit at halftime into a 4-2 win. Sometimes it really is that easy to see what will happen.
So Spurs is a little ragged now…but that ain’t nothing compared to what is going on at Southampton. Mark Hughes was fired for committing the cardinal sin of losing to United (har har), and as of this writing expect to play this Premier League match without a full-time gaffer in place. Can Southampton keep it close? Yeah, maybe, but they won’t win and they won’t draw, even against the change side Mauricio Pochettino is apt to field. Take Tottenham Hotspur to win at 4/11.
Good luck on this midweek round of fixtures.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS
Arsenal to win over Tottenham Hotspur (draw no bet) at 4/5: WIN
City to win to nil over Bournemouth at 20/23: LOSS
Romelu Lukaku to score at Southampton at 13/8: WIN
LAST WEEK: +$143