I hope the holiday weekend is treating you as well as Burnley treated me last week to help me avoid going 0-3 on the week by beating Crystal Palace as an underdog. I tell you, when you're 0-2 on the weekend and staring 0-3 in the face, winning on a +170 ticket feels great. Sure, you still lose money overall, but you feel like you've won because being down 0.3 units is a lot better than being down 3.0 units!
The problem is we're still down overall on the season, but I'm not worried. The deeper into the season we get, the more reliable the data I use to make these picks becomes. At least, that's what I'm telling myself! At the very least, if we have a good weekend here, I can say, "see? I told you the data was becoming more reliable." And if we lose, I can say, "well, there's variance when dealing with small sample sizes."
So, I'm in a can't lose situation. But I'd much rather win, so let's do that with these three picks for the weekend.
All odds are via William Hill Sportsbook.
1. Leeds United vs. Everton
I am delighted to keep going against Leeds until Leeds shows it can defend. The numbers are warped every week because Leeds is a large club, and it's a feel-good story. People want to root for Marcelo Bielsa's side, and I hope they keep doing so because it's skewing the lines. Everton is a much stronger side than Leeds. Carlo Ancelotti's team hasn't maintained the blistering of the opening weeks of the season, but still sits in sixth with an xG difference per 90 minutes of 0.28. That ranks sixth in the league. Leeds is at -0.02 on the year, which isn't awful, but the team still has an average xG conceded of 1.69 per match. A team with trouble defending against an attack that includes James Rodriguez, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and Richarlison isn't one I want to bet on. Pick: Everton (+103)
2. Sheffield United vs. West Bromwich Albion
All right, I'm serious this time. I'm backing Sheffield United one more time, and if the Blades let me down, I'm done with them. At least until I'm not. United sits dead last in the table, has one point from nine matches, and has scored only four goals. But Chris Wilder's side has an xG of twice that at 8.0! The regression is bound to come eventually, and while it might not be enough to save this team from relegation in the long run, it could be enough to beat freaking West Brom at home. I mean, West Brom is in 19th place, and favored on the road here. A West Brom team with a worse xG difference per 90 (-1.23) than United (-0.75). United's the better team, even if the results haven't shown it yet. Pick: Sheffield United (+185)
3. Manchester United vs. Southampton
Manchester United is a frustrating team to figure out, and while I think United wins this match more often than not, I'm not willing to bet on that happening. Not at the current price. What I do think is likely here is a higher-scoring affair. United have scored 13 goals on an xG of 11 through eight matches, so the attack hasn't been awful, though I'd argue it should be better considering the talent. The problem United hve had is defensively, so I can see this match becoming something of a shootout. I was worried about Southampton's attack after Danny Ings went down, but averaging 1.2 xG per match in two matches without him at least suggests the side is managing ok. Hopefully that continues and Southampton can find the back of the net once or twice in this spot, as can United. Pick: Over 2.5 (-115)
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