This is one of the better times of the year for soccer fans because even if we've all become a bit spoiled by condensed schedules that have matches on seemingly every night, it hits a bit different when those weekday matches are Champions League knockout matches. Then we get to mix in a little Europa League knockouts before league play kicks up again to get us through each weekend, and then we do it all over again.
It's great. It'd be better if my picks were more successful, but I suppose we can't have everything.
After two consecutive winning weeks in Corner Picks, we had a losing week last week. Hopefully, this week we can get back in the win column and keep that momentum going through the end of the season. All odds courtesy of William Hill sportsbook.
1. Burnley vs. West Brom
While the table says Sheffield United are the worst team in the Premier League, there are plenty of statistics that would argue against the idea. Sheffield United might be bad bad, but if we look at expected goals (xG) per match, their -0.56 would rank 18th in the league. West Brom are dead last at -1.07, a full 0.48 xG per match worse than the next closest team (Crystal Palace at -0.59). That gives you an idea of the mountain Sam Allardyce and the Baggies need to climb to avoid relegation (which they won't).
And while West Brom are coming off an unexpected draw against Manchester United, I don't think any tide has turned. Watching that match, West Brom deserved the point, but it felt more like a situation where United thought they would win by showing up. Meanwhile, Burnley's been quite solid as of late. Sean Dyche's men have picked up five points in their last three matches, and despite only one win in those three, they've edged their competition 4.8-1.7 in xG over that strech. Burnley's been the better team all year, they're in better form right now, and at this price, that's offering good value. Pick: Burnley (+104)
2. West Ham vs. Tottenham
I'm perfectly content with fading Tottenham these days, particularly against the better teams in the league. As we enter the weekend, the only thing separating West Ham from a Champions League spot in the top four is goal differential, as both they and Chelsea sit on 42 points. I'm not entirely confident West Ham will maintain the level of play they've showed so far, but these results have not been a fluke.
On the other hand, Tottenham sit in the middle of the table, and everything about this team screams ordinary. The results are average, and the metrics tell the same story. It's a team that's entirely capable of winning this match or getting a draw, but the price being offered on West Ham to win is too good to pass up. Pick: West Ham (+160)
3. AC Milan vs. Inter Milan
The Derby della Madonnina takes place on Sunday, and there's a lot on the line. AC Milan found themselves on top of Serie A for just about the entire season until the last week when rival Inter Milan overtook them in the standings. A win for Inter on Sunday would give them a four-point edge over AC Milan and expand their lead on other contenders like Roma, Juventus and Napoli. As for AC Milan, while they might have been in first place for nearly the entire season, the underlying numbers suggested regression could be coming, and that's been the case in recent weeks.
From the start of the season until early January, Milan had lost only one out of 24 matches across all competitions. Since January 6, the team has lost four of ten, including a 2-1 loss to Inter in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals. Still, while I like Inter to win this match, there's no value on the money line. Instead, the value lies in the total. These teams have played twice this season, and both ended with 2-1 scores. If we include last season's meetings, there have been 14 goals scored in the last four matches between them or 3.5 goals per match. Both teams have plenty of offensive firepower, and no matter the result on Sunday, I expect we'll see it on display. Pick: Over 2.5 (-135)
I didn't think the first parlay we'd lose would be because of Bayern Munich drawing against Arminia Bielefeld, but here we are. This week's parlay pays +130, and it runs through Monday afternoon.
- Manchester United (-355)
- Borussia Dortmund (-300)
- Barcelona (-600)
- Juventus (-650)