I'll be getting to my picks for the weekend momentarily, but I just wanted to take a moment to get something off my chest. VAR has been a controversial addition to the Premier League and soccer leagues across the globe. The flow of a match can sometimes be ruined by checking whether a player's heel was two millimeters offside, and it also allows officials not to have to do anything.
Not sure if the player was onside? Screw it, let the play go, and we'll check VAR!
It's annoying, but there's something else that it's affecting off the pitch. It's killing studio commentary and analysis of matches. Every single match you watch now, the conversation about the match is dominated by talk of calls about officiating. Was that a penalty? Should it have been a penalty? Would that have been a red card, in your opinion?
It goes on and on and on, and it's becoming just like NFL discussion on studio shows. All anybody wants to talk about is what the refs or officials screwed up. Nobody wants to talk about the games they're watching, what happened in them, or why. It's annoying, and I hate it. It's the easy way out.
Anyway, now that I've got that off my chest let's get to this weekend's picks.
All odds via William Hill Sportsbook, and all times U.S./Eastern.
1. Manchester United vs. Chelsea, Saturday 12:30 pm: Both Teams to Score (-165)
We're starting the weekend off with a Mr. Rogers. For those unfamiliar, we call a Both Teams To Score bet a Mr. Rogers because we just want everybody to succeed and enjoy themselves, and then maybe after the match, we'll all get pizza. This match is the perfect time to do it, and the price is reasonable enough to take the shot. Neither Chelsea nor Manchester United are off to the starts they were hoping for, but Chelsea's attack has been as dangerous as anticipated, scoring 13 goals off of 9.0 xG in five matches. United's attack has been a bit lackluster, as they've scored nine goals despite an xG of 5.8. But that's what tends to happen when you win penalties at a ridiculous rate. There's just too much firepower between these teams -- and enough suspect defense -- to imagine both won't find their way onto the scoresheet.
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2. Arsenal vs. Leicester City, Sunday 3:15 pm: Arsenal (-110)
Arsenal haven't played as well as its results might suggest. The Gunners have picked up nine points in five matches and sit fifth in the table with a goal differential of +2. Well, their expected goal differential (xGDiff) is -1.1. Still, this seems like an excellent chance to get right against a vulnerable Leicester side above them in the table. Jamie Vardy hasn't played since Oct. 4, and there's a chance he'll miss this match as well. Leicester have also lost center-back Caglar Soyuncu for least three months and will be without Wilfred Ndidi as well. That makes me concerned for Leicester's defensive capabilities against an Arsenal side that can take advantage. We're getting a good price on the Gunners here.
3. Brighton vs. West Brom, Monday 1:30 pm: Brighton (-135)
If the Premier League season ended right now, West Brom would survive relegation. It doesn't, and West Brom won't. They've only managed two points through five matches and have an xGDiff of -7.3 on the season. The only team within three goals of them in that department is Crystal Palace (-4.4). What I'm trying to tell you is the Baggies are bad, and if you want to take a relegation future out on them right now, you have my full support. But, before you do, hammer Brighton this weekend. Brighton is only one spot ahead of West Brom in the table, but it has an xGDiff of 2.8, a full 10.1 xG difference. Brighton are good; they have just been incredibly unlucky through the first five matches of the season. They'll pick up three points on Monday.