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How do soccer players do it? I think about major professional sports in America and their offseasons. For instance, the NFL season began Thursday night with a preseason game, and it was the first NFL game played since the Super Bowl on Feb. 13. So there were nearly six months between games. Other leagues like the NBA, MLB and NHL all take around four months off between seasons before the new one starts.

Then there's soccer. Last season ended in May, and a new season begins here in early August. Hell, some leagues have already begun. In a typical World Cup year, when the event wasn't being played on something akin to the surface of the sun, we'd have had a World Cup in June and July that would've served as "the offseason."

Seriously, when do soccer players get to relax? Don't they deserve more time off?

Probably! But, selfishly, I'm happy they don't get it. I'm even happier the season begins in full force this weekend, because not only do we get to watch soccer, but we get to bet on it. After a profitable season last year, Corner Picks is back for what I hope is another profitable season this year. I should mention that betting soccer this early in the season is tricky with new players and managers adjusting to new situations. But I'm too excited to care.

I guarantee all these picks will win! If they don't, it's because the players screwed up. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

Bournemouth vs. Aston Villa

Date: Sat. August 6 | Time: 10 a.m. ET | Watch: Peacock

Some sportsbooks offer odds on the first manager to be fired, and Bournemouth's Scott Parker could be worth a wager. Parker helped get Bournemouth back to the Premier League after failing to keep Fulham up two seasons ago, but he's not happy with how the summer has gone for the club as it prepares for the Premier League. In short, Parker doesn't think Bournemouth have nearly the talent and depth they need to survive a season in the league and keep their place. Typically, a manager saying "we're not good enough" before the season starts doesn't go well.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa continued to fortify their squad over the summer, striking early to address a couple of serious needs in the midfield (Boubacar Kamara) and upgrade at center back (Diego Carlos). Phillipe Coutinho also returns after a semi-successful loan spell last year, and manager Steven Gerrard plans to challenge for a European spot this season. It's probably too much to ask, but Villa did finish ninth in the league last year if you only look at the standings after Gerrard took over for Dean Smith in December. While Europe might be a pipe dream, three points against Bournemouth on the opening weekend isn't. Pick: Aston Villa (+104)

Newcastle United vs. Nottingham Forest

Date: Sat. August 6 | Time: 10 a.m. ET | Watch: Peacock

We've got a bit of a theme: betting on mid-tier clubs with bigger ambitions facing newly-promoted sides in the opening week. Newcastle have not had the summer they or their fans hoped for. All the new money from new owners didn't immediately result in superstars flocking to northern England to join the Toon Army, but they're a much-improved team from where they were a year ago, and should get off to a nice start.

Nottingham Forest is a club with plenty of history, but this will be their first Premier League match since 1999. Forest have spent a lot this summer trying to ensure they stay for a while, but for the most part, this is an entirely new team than the one that won promotion from the Championship. A few preseason friendlies aren't likely enough for the team to gel, and I can see Forest getting off to a slow start. That includes a likely loss away to Newcastle to begin the new era. Pick: Newcastle (-150)

Featured Game | Newcastle United vs. Nottingham Forest

Manchester United vs. Brighton

Date: Sun. August 7 | Time: 9 a.m. ET | Watch: Peacock

Why do I get the feeling we'll be fading Manchester United a lot this season? As you'd expect from United, the offseason was a mess. While I like the hire of Erik Ten Hag, he has a lot of work to do to get United to where United think they should be, and it'll take a lot more than one summer to get it done. Toss in all the off-field drama about Cristiano Ronaldo no longer wanting to be there (so much for that happy reunion), and there's already a bunch of drama and turmoil surrounding the club.

Then there's Brighton. Reliable, tricky Brighton. The team without any superstars, but one led by a good coach in Graham Potter with a clear vision. The club gets far more out of its team than it should. Honestly, these teams are mirror images of one another. United are full of stars that let you down, and Brighton are comprised of a bunch of nobodies who continually surprise you. I'll be more surprised if Brighton doesn't get a result than if it does. Pick: Brighton or Draw (+135)

Featured Game | Manchester United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion

Weekend Parlay

We're keeping it small for the opening weekend. Our parlay pays +112.

  • Liverpool (-350)
  • Tottenham (-285)
  • PSG (-450)

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