It's good to have the league football back, isn't it? Don't get me wrong; I don't hate international breaks. I'm one of the few soccer fans I know who still seem to enjoy international competitions, even if they're newfangled money grabs. If it weren't for international soccer, the World Cup, and Roberto Baggio, I might not even like soccer right now.
That said, doesn't an international break during a global pandemic seem like a bad idea? Isn't there a part of you that wonders if maybe having players traveling all over the world for a week and then coming back could lead to problems?
It would seem to me that if leagues want to make sure they get in a full season without disruption, maybe international competitions should be canceled just this once. Of course, I might just be an idiot. Who knows? Anyway, the Premier League is back this weekend, and I'm looking to stay hot despite the break. Let's get to it.
All odds are via the William Hill Sportsbook.
1. Everton vs. Liverpool: Liverpool -119
I see a chance to get Liverpool at a price we're rarely able to get Liverpool at. The last we saw the defending champions, they were getting trounced 7-2 by Aston Villa. Now, I'm an Aston Villa fan, so I enjoyed the hell out of it, and I'm going to continue enjoying it by taking advantage of the overreaction to it. Liverpool were without Sadio Mane in the match, and it showed in their inability to press up top like they're accustomed to doing. That, combined with Pool's usual high line of defense, led to a lot of open space for Aston Villa to take advantage of, and boy did it ever! I expect we'll see a much better defensive effort here, and while Everton are on top of the table, they've yet to play a side as good as this one in the league.
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2. Sheffield United vs. Fulham: Sheffield United +109
Sheffield United's last match against Arsenal might have been a 2-1 loss to Arsenal, but it was a monumental moment for the team. The goal they scored was the first one they managed to score all season, and now they're hoping to carry that momentum onward here to victory. I like their odds of doing so here because, while the offense has been a struggle through four matches, United's xG of 3.3 on the season is just below Fulham's 3.4. The difference is defensive, where Sheffield has an xG against of 4.1 compared to Fulham's 6.3. Fulham hemorrhages shots on goal. This will be the match where Sheffield breaks through, and if it isn't, it's time to take out some relegation futures on Sheffield United.
3. Crystal Palace vs. Brighton: Brighton +175
I love betting Brighton because Brighton are continually better than the odds suggest. The Seagulls have only picked up three points in four matches, but they have an xG differential of +2.1. Along with Southampton, they are the only two clubs in the bottom half of the table with a positive xG differential, though Southampton's in 11th at +0.4. In other words, Brighton's results have not been nearly indicative of the way it has played. Meanwhile, Crystal Palace picked up six points in four matches with an xG differential of -3.7. The Eagles have scored five goals in four matches despite an xG of only 2.8. They've been a bit lucky, and this play is designed to take advantage of the luck for both teams evening out.