With the international break behind us, we can re-focus our attention on the resumption of Premier League play.
While it’s been quite some time since our last sides column, we still managed to pick a winner in Matchday Seven. Leeds came through at home while Burnley couldn’t find a winner against Norwich, splitting our picks.
To date, that puts this column at 8-5-1 on the season.
And while there’s not necessarily a marquee match across Matchday Eight, I still see two clear-cut side opportunities. As always, odds come courtesy of PointsBet Sportsbook and are reflective at time of writing.
Best Bet #1 - Leeds Draw, No Bet vs. Southampton (+110)
I’m slightly ignoring the metrics for this play as there’s one critical factor separating these sides this weekend
Although the Saints have been a near top-half home side based on xGD, they’ll be without captain James Ward-Prowse after the Englishman was sent off against Chelsea.
That should give Leeds, who have won two of their last three and two straight road fixtures on expected goals, a clear edge in the midfield.
Plus, Leeds’ first three road results have been somewhat misconstrued.
As far as expected goal differential is concerned, Leeds are eight spots and 4.2 xG better than their record indicates.
Even though Southampton have a near-level xGD at home (-0.2) versus -1 in reality, they have only generated 1.0+ xGF once in three tries, per fbref.com.
The underlying offensive metrics give Leeds an edge too. The visitors are seven spots better than Southampton on shot-creating actions and five spots better on goal-creating actions, again per fbref.com.
While Leeds have allowed an average of four goal-creating actions away from Elland Road, 12 of their 13 actions came against teams ranking in the top-half in that category. I’m much more focused on the Burnley match, where Leeds allowed only a single GCA.
Given that Burnley have only one fewer goal-creating action than Southampton this season, I trust the Leeds defense will hold up.
Finally, seeing as Leeds won both meetings last season - without conceding I might add - and both on expected goals, I trust they’ll do no worse than a point on Saturday.
Best Bet #2 - Liverpool Goal-Line (-1.5) vs. Watford (-105)
The main concern with this play? Watford get a new-manager bump in Claudio Ranieri and play above their potential.
But I’m not going to let that narrative discourage me from the fact that Watford have been absolutely abysmal at Vicarage Road this year.
Since winning their opening home match 3-2 (1.2-1.1 on xG), the Hornets have allowed a combined 4.5 xGA at home while recording only 1.3 xGF, per fbref.com. The added concern is that those two matches came against teams in the top-half of the road table.
With Liverpool sitting first in goal differential and second in xGD away from Anfield, I expect the Reds offense will continue to impress.
Dating back to last season, the Reds have now surpassed 2.0 xGF in six of their last seven road fixtures. Included in that record are all three road matches this season.
Plus, there’s a prime revenge factor here for bettors to note. The last time these sides met, Watford fleeced the would-be champions 3-0, ending their 44-match unbeaten run.
But before that abnormality, Liverpool were absolutely dominant of their Matchday Eight opponents.
In the four prior matches, Liverpool won every one by two or more goals and posted a +15 goal differential without conceding.
Even if Watford manage a shock tally in Ranieri’s first match at the helm, they’re still a bottom-half defensive team in every category that matters.
Against an offense that’s firing on all cylinders, Watford could very well lose by three or four or ten if Liverpool bring their best.
PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner, and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.