Before we discuss this weekend’s preview, there is some news. Unai Emery has been sacked by Arsenal a day after their home Europa League loss to Eintracht Frankfurt. Jared and I discuss it in detail on the podcast so go there for my thoughts.
Now to more pressing matters. We have officially entered the festive period! Over the next six weeks teams will play around eight or nine matches in a stretch that will determine the title race, the champions league spots and who will get relegated. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Last matchweek was good to me and I stayed away from the Champions League this past week due to my recent form in the competition. Discipline yields long term results folks.
This Season: 91-81-34 (+11.1 Units)
Matchweek 12: 7-4-1 (+4.4 Units)
English Premier League
Saturday, November 30th
7:30 am EST
Manchester City @ Newcastle United (TV: NBCSN) – City didn’t look good this week in the Champions League and there were long stretches of play against Chelsea last weekend were they looked second best. They now travel north to face a Newcastle team who has only lost once match at home this season and that was their first match against Arsenal back in August. They’ve had their goalscoring issues but they’ve been stout defensively at home only conceding four goals in those six matches. I think two goals away from home is a tough spread for City since they haven’t been blowing teams out this season. City have only one win by more than two goals in the league since their 8-0 win over Watford and away from home they’re average margin of victory is by 1.3 goals. Newcastle have also kept it one goal games or better recently against Wolves, Chelsea and United. I’ll take the points here. Newcastle United +2 (-110).
10:00 am EST
Crystal Palace @ Burnley – It’s been a tough run for Palace after playing five straight matches against current top six teams. They lost four of them and got a draw at Arsenal. Burnley meanwhile have had back to back 3-0 wins against two teams below them in the table and have since moved up to 7th place. At home this season they’ve had four wins and only one loss (4-2 against Chelsea) since their August loss against Liverpool. They’re far better than Palace right now and they’ve been good at beating teams below them this season. Their moneyline odds of +125 are too good to pass up here. Burnley -0.5 (+125).
West Ham @ Chelsea – Chelsea had a tough loss at City last weekend and then traveled to Spain to draw Valencia in the Champions League. They’re not playing too poorly but they’re starting to concede a lot of goals. In fact, nobody in the top 13 have conceded more than them and they’ve conceded an average of 1.9 goals per game in their last seven in all competitions. Luckily for them though, they’re playing a West Ham team who have not won a game since September 22 and have had disappointing losses against Palace, Everton and Newcastle to name a few. But to me, this match is weird because I don’t trust Chelsea to win by multiple goals and I also don’t trust West Ham to get close to points here. I’m going to pass on this match because the spread of 1.5 feels like a trap to me. If it gets to 2, I’d take West Ham but for now I’m passing on this. PASS.
Bournemouth @ Tottenham (TV: NBCSN) – Spurs needed a two-goal comeback this week to beat Olympiacos and almost let things slip towards the end against West Ham last weekend. They need stability right now and Bournemouth aren’t an easy out. They’ve played most of the top clubs pretty tough and are neck and neck in the table with Spurs, making this game even more crucial. I lean taking the points but Spurs’ 3-0 lead last weekend against West Ham has me worried that this team could finally find their stride as long as they can keep their defensive shape for a whole 90 minutes. But for now, I’m going to pass on betting on Mourinho and Spurs until I know what we’re going to get. PASS.
Brighton @ Liverpool – This will be a weird match for Liverpool. They’re coming off of a draw at home to Napoli in the Champions League where they looked pretty poor and now they’ll be without Fabinho who has been one of the more crucial players for them all season. Adding to that, they play rivals Everton on Wednesday and Klopp will surely look to rest some players here. Brighton meanwhile aren’t playing well and only have four points away from home this season, but they’ve recently kept things decently close against big clubs and they’ve mostly played as you’d expect them to. They’ve only lost by more than two goals once this season and they’ve somewhat run with Chelsea, United and Leicester in the last few months. I think this will be a tougher match for Liverpool than many think and I think Brighton with a two-goal cushion is a safe bet with a high push probability. Brighton +2 (-115).
12:30 pm EST
Watford @ Southampton (TV: NBC) – I’m sure NBC saw this as the primetime fixture and weren’t happy but this match should be thrilling to watch. These two teams probably know by now that they’ll be fighting for their lives for the rest of the season and three points aren’t going to come easy over the next six months. That makes this match super important to both teams because they can begin their climb out of the relegation zone with three points. But to counter that point, both teams know that any points are valuable and I wouldn’t be surprised if they settle for a draw because of that. This smells like a “can’t lose” situation which makes the value of the draw at +245 very appealing. Draw (+245).
Sunday, December 1st
9:00 am EST
Arsenal @ Norwich City (TV: NBCSN) – An Unai Emeryless Arsenal will face a Norwich team who are looking to build off of their win against Everton and get their way out of the relegation zone. Neither of these teams have covered the spread much this year and more importantly they’ve combined for a shocking 18 spread losses this season (lack of pushes from both sides). But I have a simple principle and it’s to always bet on teams who are fresh off of firing their manager. Teams usually feel rejuvenated and eager to impress after a sacking and I’ll gladly take Arsenal here in what is a perfect bounce back situation for them. I think they get their first win in seven matches here. Arsenal -0.5 (-125).
Sheffield United @ Wolves – This is the match of the weekend and it’s not even close. This match deserves the Spiderman meme treatment because they set up their teams pretty similarly and Sheffield are recreating what Wolves did last season, getting promoted and infiltrating the top six immediately. Sheffield United are on a historical gambling run this season with 11 wins against the spread, 6 more than the league average (only one other club has more than 8 wins against the spread). I’ve bet on them almost every single week this season so far and it’s been very profitable especially as underdogs. Vegas still hasn’t caught on and made Sheffield underdogs again. I don’t need more reason to pick them but if you needed any more reasons, Wolves’ short week due to a Thursday Europa League match in Portugal in the pouring rain should help. Sheffield United +0.5 (-110).
11:30 am EST
Everton @ Leicester City – I was hoping Vegas would make the mistake again of having Leicester as positive-odds favorites but they seem to have finally caught on. Leicester sit in second place with some of the best stats in the league. They’re for real and have just as much of a chance to catch Liverpool as City do. They’re facing an Everton team in crisis after their home loss to Norwich and Marcos Silva is on the verge of getting the sack. Everton are about to face their toughest stretch of the season and with the Liverpool match looming over them on Wednesday, I fully expect Leicester to roll here. Don’t overthink this one just because Vegas caught on, Leicester are the easy pick here. Leicester City -1 (+105).
Aston Villa @ Manchester United (TV: NBCSN) – I can’t seem to nail these two teams this season. Both are very inconsistent and hard to pin point when they’ll have a good game. United have a short week after shockingly losing to Astana on Thursday in the Europa League and Villa have the worst away record in the league this season.Villa are also coming off of a win against Newcastle but aren’t reliable enough to have solid back to back performances. I don’t want to bet on either team and there are no picks that stand out to me so I will pass on this one. PASS.
That’s all for this weekend’s picks! Check out this week’s podcast which recaps the Champions League matches, covers Emery’s sacking and previewing this weekend’s games.
Stay Kickin’ It. Peace.