All right, so if this column were playing in the Premier League, it would either be in the relegation zone or pretty close to it after two weeks., but we learned some valuable lessons.
The most valuable one was that we won't be taking many Premier League unders in the near future. The league is out of its mind with goals right now. Through the first 18 matches of the season, we've seen 67 total goals scored for an average of 3.72 per match. The Bundesliga has seen 4.0 goals per game through nine matches, but that number is skewed by an 8-0 win by Bayern Munich.
So, until things calm down in England, we won't be taking any unders.
Sat., Sept. 26
Man United (-0.5)
Sun., Sept. 27
Man City (-1.5)
Mon., Sept. 28
Aston Villa (-0.5)
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
1. Brighton vs. Manchester United: Over 2.5 (-115)
We tend to do this thing where we overanalyze any match involving Manchester United. They lost to Crystal Palace 3-1 in their only Premier League match of the season, but the story of the expected goals wasn't nearly as bad. If we look at that, United still lost, but it was 1.1-1.6. It was the first match after the break, and a team that features a lot of players who spent the previous weeks playing for their respective countries for the UEFA Nations League looked a bit spent and out of sync with one another. I expect we'll see a much more dangerous side against Brighton. Nor should we overlook the Seagulls here. Through two matches, the Gulls have looked like one of the more aggressive sides in the Premier League with an xG of 3.1. That ranks sixth in the league. Both Teams To Score is a good play here if you prefer that direction, and it's at the same juice as this over. I prefer just taking the over as insurance against a 3-0 Man United win.
2. Sheffield United vs. Leeds United: Sheffield United (+170)
Listen, I know Leeds getting back to the Premier League is a great story, but can we slow down on the hype a bit? Everybody is treating this team like it's a contender for a European spot when any team that's just been promoted should only be worrying about staying up. The 4-3 loss to Liverpool didn't help matters, but that scoreline did not tell the story. In xG, Liverpool won that match 3.3-0.6. In other words, Leeds were fortunate to get three goals given the opportunities they had in that match. Then, in their next match, they conceded three to a Fulham side that was just promoted. Now a team that has allowed seven goals through two matches is favored on the road against a strong defensive team in Sheffield United. The Blades haven't won a match yet, but have an xG allowed of only 2.1 through two matches, and that's after spending 75 minutes down a man against Aston Villa on Monday. There's simply too much value on the Blades to pass up here.
3. West Ham United vs. Wolverhampton: West Ham (+265)
I have a lot more faith in Sheffield pulling through than this, but West Ham is a longshot worth taking this weekend. The Hammers haven't picked up a point from their first two matches and have been outscored 1-4 against Newcastle and Arsenal. But, looking at xG again, we see that West Ham has an xG differential of +0.2 through two matches, as they're outpacing opponents 3.1-2.8. They've played much better than the results indicate, and I think we're getting extra value on them here because manager David Moyes won't be able to manage from the sideline after testing positive for COVID-19. But this is a punt worth taking considering how the Hammers have played, and then factoring Wolves looking a bit out of sorts so far as they work in new players and try to figure out how to replace Diogo Jota.