This article is part of our Betting on Soccer series.
Home teams continued to find positive results in Gameweek 2, as five won outright and only two lost, neither surprises (Wolves and Arsenal). I even posited on our new weekly betting podcast that Southampton could trouble Man United simply because it was their home opener. And so, the Saints scored first and then held on for a point that no one saw coming.
I took the same approach with Arsenal, my lone loser, and that clearly didn't work. However, I don't take full blame for the play. We didn't know ahead of time Romelu Lukaku would start for Chelsea, and he made an immediate difference in their attack. Combine that with Arsenal's COVID-19 issues and maybe it was only slightly dumb of me to back the Gunners at home.
For the sake of superstition, I won't give my record after the first two weeks only because I don't want to break the trend, and my full-game betting previews have eerily gone exactly as I projected them to go.
Gameweek 3 brings a few things to the table to keep in mind: a lot of teams have midweek League Cup matches and it's also the last weekend before the international break. Since it's early in the competition, most teams will likely go to their benches midweek, but it's still something to monitor.
Unlike Gameweek 2, there aren't a ton of big spreads this weekend. Manchester City are the biggest favorite at -350 and that match has the highest implied goal total, hovering around three. Otherwise, there are expected to be a lot of close games, and every other match has an implied goal total above 2.45, which is rarely the case. There's usually a Crystal Palace and Brentford-type matchup with a goal total around two. That means, if you like a certain side this week, you can get some decent numbers.
I like the under between Man City and Arsenal, but I can't bring myself to bet on Arsenal's back line in back-to-back weeks. Gabriel may return from injury, but betting on the away team at the Etihad is a slippery slope.
Playing Norwich City is a fine spot to bounce back for Leicester City, and while away from home, they don't have a midweek match like the Canaries. I liken this matchup to the two 3-0 results Leicester got against West Brom last season. Norwich have a ridiculously hard opening schedule, but I'm not sure they're a better team than a season ago when they had Emiliano Buendia. They're still working some things out with new players and you can get Leicester at almost even odds to win, listed at -130 early in the week.
I have questions about Leicester's back line and their cohesion, so I think there will be goals. Over 2.5 is at -135, while both teams to score is -140. That's not a ton of value, but I think both are options if you don't want to take Leicester. I also think the addition of Kelechi Iheanacho into the starting XI will be a boost to their attack even if it's done out of necessity because of a suspension for Ayoze Perez.
I'm slightly hesitant on parlaying West Ham to win at -170 with something else because they've looked great through two matches. They're scoring goals while Crystal Palace are not, and it only makes sense for that to continue. Instead, I'll back on what has been a sketchy back line for the Hammers and take both teams to score at -110. On first look, this doesn't make sense. There's little reason to take Palace to score given their first two performances, but that's exactly the reason to do it. Even up a man, West Ham still couldn't keep Leicester City out of the back of the net, and they allowed two goals to Newcastle before that. Even at home, I think this is a spot Wilfried Zaha, or someone, can break through. I also like that Palace scored in both meetings last season.
I'm keeping the goal train going with Newcastle and Southampton, maybe two of the most unreliable back lines in the league. Newcastle continue to tinker their defense because of injuries, and their midfield takes a new hit every match, while Southampton played well against Man United, but I have zero trust in them away from home. I think each team will get their chances and this could be a match that finishes with four or five goals.
That's what happened when these teams met last February when four goals were scored in the first half. You can get over 2.5 goals at -125 or if you want to go big, both teams to score in the first half is +265.
I was going to take the over 2.5 between Burnley and Leeds, which is also -125, but I can't bring myself to bet the over on any Burnley match. They don't play for overs, and while the last time they met it was 4-0, I doubt there's a repeat result.
Instead, I'll test my luck even more and go with Wolverhampton against Manchester United. The biggest thing is that Wolves have played fairly well despite losing two games. They allowed first-half goals to both Leicester and Tottenham, and instead of giving up more goals in full attack mode, they racked up chances and stayed within one goal in each game. I still have doubts about Wolves in general, not to mention they lost to Man United at the end of last season when they played mostly backups and 20-year-olds.
After seeing that result, I'm dropping Wolves win or draw at +120 and taking NO on both teams to score at -105. While I think Wolves winning 1-0 is in play, I'd rather take the possibility that happens to either side. This allows for a 1-0 result to either side or even a scoreless draw.
I'm writing this before Tottenham's UEFA match Thursday, but I expect them to have a full squad Sunday against Watford, including Son Heung-Min. Back at home, I think they'll continue what has been mostly defensive play under Nuno Espirito Santo. They'll continue the trend of getting that opening goal and then sitting back and hoping to not allow one. At their peak, that's kind of what Wolves did, so this isn't surprising.
I also think Watford's opening win threw people off their scent a little bit. I'm not sure they'll ever be a team that consistently runs out and scores three goals. They had one shot on target against Brighton and, despite winning midweek, they were mostly outplayed by Crystal Palace with a lot of their regulars seeing minutes. That leads me to Tottenham to win in a shutout at +120. No matter who starts for Tottenham, I think they get that key opening goal (-285 to score first) and hold on against Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis to open the season with three straight clean sheets.