This article is part of our Betting on Soccer series.
If you haven't been keeping up, we've been winning money in Bundesliga based off a couple theories I created during lockdown. After midweek results, the first theory is 31-18 and the second is 17-18. If you bet $100 on every play, you'd be up $778 on the first theory and $1,284 on the second. These aren't ground-breaking, stat-crunching numbers; they're pretty simple, and the second one is based off how I feel about certain teams, which usually isn't a good strategy.
- Bet the away team to score first if the home is less than a -200 favorite
- When two fairly even teams are playing, lean on the away side
As you'll see, I'm not huge on the Premier League slate this week. It's also tricky in Bundesliga because not every team has something to play for with two matches left.
I'd look at Bayer Leverkusen -150 to win and parlay that with one of the bigger favorites like Bayern. You can get that to plus odds pretty easily, and with a Champions League spot on the line, I think Leverkusen win against a depleted Hertha Berlin squad. Eintracht Frankfurt to score first goal and to win straight up against Koln is also intriguing. My favorite play may be Augsburg to win at +265 or at least score the first goal. Dusseldorf are favored because they're in need of a win, sitting only one point above Werder Bremen in full relegation. Dusseldorf are playing better than they have all season, but that doesn't mean they should be this big of a favorite against Augsburg, who recently won at Mainz.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Teams to score first
Southampton -148, Manchester United -127, Leicester City -157, Arsenal -165, Wolverhampton -159, Crystal Palace -105, Sheffield United -155, Chelsea -275, Liverpool -265
Southampton +120, Manchester United +150, Crystal Palace +195, Sheffield +128
Right off the bat, it's clear oddsmakers are almost completely removing home-field advantage. There is an oddly high number of away teams favored in the first week back. That's something I'd be wary of, especially with a team like Southampton at +120 to beat Norwich City. For comparison, Southampton were a +180 underdog at Aston Villa on Dec. 21. That number says it all about how little oddsmakers are viewing home teams. It's almost like they're overcorrecting for the lack of home-field advantage, which is why I'm not using my theories for the Premier League.
I don't like any of the score-first goal odds. Some of that has to do with matchups, but there's no reason to bet Southampton -148 to score first. Even Crystal Palace -105 is difficult because they've had trouble scoring all season.
My favorite play of the weekend may be Brighton, who were +260 to beat Arsenal earlier in the week, dropped to +240 on Wednesday and is now +205 on Thursday. Brighton have eight points from the last four meetings between these teams and didn't have to play Manchester City on Wednesday. If you aren't comfortable with betting Brighton to win, you can get them at -136 to win or draw against Arsenal. I'd also look at Brighton +116 to score first. Why are Arsenal getting so much love? Unfortunately, those numbers don't exist anymore. Brighton are -162 to win or draw and +100 to score first.
I feel similarly about Norwich City at +215 to beat Southampton. Prior to the pandemic, Norwich beat Leicester City and drew Tottenham in FA Cup play, while Southampton lost to both West Ham and Newcastle. I don't think those results mean a ton three months later, but they show that these teams aren't much different and Norwich are in need of points to get out of last place in the table. I don't think Norwich are the better team, especially after the recent injury report, but they had 60 percent possession in the prior meeting and shouldn't be that big of an underdog on their home grass.
Instead of taking the under on Newcastle/Sheffield United, I'm leaning Newcastle +240 to win or 1-0 win at +700 if you want to go for it. Sheffield United have been one of the healthiest teams in the league, but they had issues pop up just before Wednesday's match. On a short week, which will be the case the rest of the way, depth could be a concern.
While there will be rust, I think supreme talent will show up in these early matches, similar to how Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund (and Barcelona and Real Madrid, to an extent) have been flawless in the restarts. Chelsea get most of their players back from injury and play an Aston Villa side that already had a match. Taking Chelsea at -182 to win seems like a good parlay piece.
The same goes for Liverpool, who will be hungry to secure the Premier League title. While the Merseyside derby is often close, I'd rather bet on the Reds in this situation, who are -175 to win.
Combine Chelsea and Liverpool to win and you have +145 odds. As a bonus, those matches are back-to-back Sunday.
Brighton +100 to score first
Newcastle +240 to win
Chelsea -182 and Liverpool -175 both to win for +145
OVER and UNDER
This first week back will be hard to project in terms of over/unders. While Bundesliga is run-and-gun and full of teams that love to score, the Premier League has a lot of teams who like to sit back and play it safe. The oddsmakers know this, and a lot of the over/unders are below three goals. My first thought was Newcastle and Sheffield United, but that match is -182 for under 2.5 goals. Right, too obvious. The same goes for Bournemouth/Crystal Palace which is -134 for under 2.5 goals.
For a couple over plays, I'm going back to teams that played Wednesday. A lot of these guys won't start both matches, and even if they do, that'll undoubtedly lead to tired legs. While over 2.5 goals is -175 between Chelsea and Aston Villa, I'm going bigger with over 3.5 goals at +148. Villa put up a fight against Sheffield United, but this match could get ugly, as in Chelsea could score four or five times. The Blues are almost completely healthy and will have Tammy Abraham back up top. Chelsea have allowed four more goals than any other team in the top seven of the table and Villa have more goals than seventh-place Sheffield United. These teams kind of play more like Bundesliga sides, which is why I'm leaning in this direction, aiming for a 3-1 or 4-0 Chelsea win.
Elsewhere, it's expected Manchester City will completely change their lineup for Monday's match. In addition to guys like Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane possibly starting, the back line could feature Nicolas Otamendi, who seems to make a mistake every other match. City have scored at least four goals in three of the prior four meetings and Burnley will add one late from whoever their healthy forwards are. Again, the oddsmakers kind of sniffed this one out, but I think over 3.5 goals at -120 is a worthy play.