This article is part of our Soccer Picks series.
The international break is a weekend away, which is a blessing for a lot of teams. Even if they have players going away to play for national teams, the ones who are injured will get an extra week to recover and get back in training. Before that happens, it looks like Gameweek 23 should happen with no postponements, the first time that's happened in about a month. Some teams are in the middle of a heavy schedule, as Thomas Tuchel gave his side two days of complete rest before the weekend, but the majority of them had midweek off.
Record: 59-53-5. Up $891 on $100 bets.
I've had trouble betting Everton and Aston Villa all season, so I definitely can't suggest a play in that matchup with Duncan Ferguson leading the home side. While I like Villa to win, I'm not going to give them out at +165 to win away from home.
Instead, I'll look to home sides in the early Saturday slate. Leeds are coming off a win at West Ham and seem prime to bounce back in the second half of the season. A new injury to Adam Forshaw is worrying, but this may be the first time all season that Diego Llorente, Pascal Struijk, Luke Ayling and Robin Koch are all available. They held strong to beat West Ham on the back of a Jack Harrison hat-trick and while Patrick Bamford has a new injury, they were fine without him last weekend. Outside of Lewis Bate possibly starting for Leeds, they're fairly healthy and I think that will help them get another win against what continues to be a struggling Newcastle, who let yet another win slip away at home against Watford last match. You can get Leeds ML at +100, which is decent at home.
There are a few other numbers that stand out on Saturday, but I don't feel comfortable giving them out as plays. The odds on Brentford have gotten worse over the week, so I won't make them an official bet. You can get them +110 on a draw no bet at home against Wolves. While Wolves are playing well, they always seem in play to lose because of their lack of consistent scoring.
I'd rather go after Manchester United, who are still figuring things out under Ralf Rangnick. This game is at Old Trafford, but the Red Devils have had a busier week, whereas the Hammers are rested and should get back Tomas Soucek from COVID-19. That leads me to -105 on win or draw for West Ham.
There hasn't been much to separate these teams in recent seasons. West Ham won the last meeting 1-0, a Cup matchup which was three days after losing 2-1 in league play back in September when Mark Noble missed a last-second penalty in the loss. The home side definitely has an edge, but I think a mostly rested and full-strength West Ham is worth backing when you can get almost even odds on them to win or draw. Man United are far from dominant and I'm not sure they should be a massive favorite against another top side.
I had Manchester City down for a shutout win against Southampton at +110, but James Ward-Prowse has screwed me many times this season and I can't bet against him when a free-kick goal is always in play. While I think the bet makes sense and I may take it myself, Ward-Prowse is a thorn in my side and I'd rather not go against him when in form.
Based off Arsenal getting numerous players back Thursday, I have to go with them at home. It's short rest, but they've beat up lesser teams all season, securing clean sheets in their last four league home matches if you don't include the unfortunate loss to Manchester City. Throw in Burnley without Chris Wood and it's hard to see them stealing points in this spot. Arsenal are -110 for a clean sheet and you can get them in a shutout win at +110. I'd like better odds, but any time you can go against an attack of Aaron Lennon and Jay Rodriguez, you have to do it.
I want to bet Crystal Palace +1 against Liverpool, but I'm smarter than that. Even without Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, Liverpool are still a strong side and could easily win this game 3-0. Plus, I bet on Liverpool in the reverse fixture when they won 3-0. Going further, Liverpool have won the last four meetings by a combined 16-0 scoreline. Palace are better at home but not so good that they can turn around recent history.
Instead, I'm going with a different home team Sunday in Chelsea. We went back on forth on this matchup in Kits & Wagers, but I still like Chelsea at home even though they haven't played well in recent league games. A lot of that has to do with matchups, so I'm putting more into the recent Cup meetings which Chelsea won by a combined 3-0 score.
I've been going back and forth in regards to a bet because I like both Chelsea -1 at +125 and Chelsea to win in a shutout at +165. I'm kind of worried Tottenham may have found their scoring boots midweek against Leicester. Some of that is Leicester, but they had a ton of chances and it always feels good to hit the back of the net, especially in stoppage time. However, it makes more sense to grab the bet that returns more money, so I'm going with the shutout. Chelsea don't have a clean sheet in their last five league matches, but I think they can turn things around against a side they've had recent success against.