This article is part of our Betting on Soccer series.
After an almost non-existent summer break for some players, the Premier League returns Friday. Newcomers Brentford host Arsenal in a match that could go anywhere. Arsenal were slight -115 away favorites early in the week with over 2.5 goals sitting at -120 (under 2.5 goals at +100).
This first match presents tons of value unless Arsenal show up like they did in last season's opener when the won 3-0 at Fulham. The difference is that I think Brentford are in the best situation of the promoted sides despite having to win their way via playoff. They didn't lose anyone relevant from last year's team outside of maybe Henrik Dalsgaard while adding pieces at each level, including Kristoffer Ajer, Frank Onyeka and Yoane Wissa. More so, Brentford have looked like the better team in preseason.
Brentford drew 2-2 with a somewhat Man United B squad a couple weeks ago, lost to West Ham 1-0 and most recently beat Valencia 2-1; those are solid results for a team coming from the Championship.
It's been almost the opposite for Arsenal, as they've yet to win a friendly. They lost to Hibernian 2-1 and drew Rangers 2-2 before falling to both Chelsea and Tottenham. Even worse, the Gunners have had a mostly full squad the entire preseason outside of Bukayo Saka, and the injury to Thomas Partey doesn't help.
Playing with fans in their Premier League home opener, it's a prime spot to steal some points for Brentford. There are three ways to play that: you can take some risk and go Brentford +310 to win. It's not too crazy, but you can still get decent +200 odds for a draw no bet, which means a draw returns your money. Even if you go with a win or draw, you can still get +100 odds, which is probably the best bet. You don't have to worry about getting three points and will be fine with a draw when Arsenal struggle to hit the back of the net.
I'm not as confident taking a side in the total. Brentford were the highest-scoring team in the Championship last season, but top striker Ivan Toney may not be ready for a full 90 and the step up in competition will provide challenges. I think there's a chance Arsenal look terrible and this match still finishes 2-2, but a 1-0 result to either side is always in play.
That's kind of how things went for Arsenal last season. Their matches either finished 1-0 for either side or things completely went off the rails and it ended 3-2. Arsenal are a mystery on a match-to-match basis, but if I had to bet, over 2.5 goals is the better play.
However, I think there's a smarter play to bank on some early season rust and that's to take under 1 goal in the first half, which comes in at +100. The only way you'd lose your money on that bet is if two or more goals are scored in the first half, something I don't think will happen.