Having shared my favorite side bets for the weekend, it’s now time to turn our attention to the totals!
Last time out in Matchday Seven, we produced two more winners in the Brighton-Arsenal under (easy) and the West Ham-Brentford over (not so easy).
That brought us to an 11-4-0 record through the first seven matchdays, making this our most profitable column.
But enough dwelling. Time to share my two favorite total plays across the entire Matchday Eight card. Odds come courtesy of our friends at PointsBet Sportsbook and are reflective at time of writing.
Best Bet #1 - Aston Villa/Wolves Under 2.5 Goals (-140)
Sprinkle - Under 1.5 Goals (+210)
Despite acquiring a trio of attackers in the summer transfer window, Villa have quietly been a defense-comes-first home side.
Granted, Newcastle, Brentford and Everton aren’t exactly the most intimidating offensive sides, but Villa have still been steady in terms of not allowing high-risk chances.
In two of their three home fixtures to date, Vila have allowed fewer than one expected goal against. In the lone match they failed to do, that number came in at 1.2 xGA, per fbref.com.
Additionally, two of those same three fixtures have finished under this total. The only one that didn’t - a 3-0 Villa victory against Everton - only saw a combined two expected goals.
Wolves, meanwhile, have somehow proven to be of higher quality away from home in the early stages.
Despite sitting in 12th position and eighth in the road table, Bruno Lage’s side have allowed the fewest xGA on the road this season.
In their first three road fixtures, all three finished under 2.5 goals and under 2.5 xG as well. Add in their first four home fixtures and you’ll find that only one match has finished over this number and only two have surpassed 2.5 xG.
Against a Villa offense that has never surpassed 1.5 xGF through their first seven matches, I expect you’ll see the Wolves defense continue to shine. After all, this is a side that has allowed the second-fewest shot-creating actions and fourth-fewest goal-creating actions this season, again per fbref.com.
Finally, history’s on your side here too. All of the last three meetings have finished under 1.5 (!!) goals with the same three meetings finishing under 2.5 expected goals.
Best Bet #2 - Brighton & Hove Albion/Norwich City Under 2.5 Goals (-140)
Watch me look like a complete fool come Saturday as Brighton boatrace the Canaries 3-0, but the metrics say this match is a dead-under.
Only Wolves have allowed fewer xGA than Brighton in road fixtures to date. Additionally, all three of the Seagulls’ road contests have finished under 2.5 expected goals.
But of greater concern is the fact that Brighton have been atrocious offensively on the road. After registering two goals on 1.3 xGF in their opener against Burnley, Graham Potter’s side have scored twice on 0.8 xGF in their last two road contests at Brentford and Crystal Palace.
On the flip-side, opponents Norwich City have experienced some bad luck at Carrow Road. In three matches against Liverpool, Leicester City and Watford, Norwich have allowed eight goals, but on five expected goals against, per fbref.com.
And don’t look now, but the Norwich defense has actually been decent in their last two fixtures. Against Everton and Burnley, the Canaries allowed only two combined goal-creating actions and 41 combined shot-creating actions.
So far this season, their averages/90 minutes in those categories are 24 and three, respectively.
That said, there’s still little to like about the Norwich offense. In seven matches, Norwich are dead-last in shot-creating actions, goal-creating actions, shots on target and total shots.
Against a Brighton defense that is sixth in SCA allowed and seventh in GCA allowed, I have a hard time seeing how Norwich breakthrough against a side that shut them out twice in their 2019-20 meetings.
Therefore, the only way I see this bet losing is if Brighton somehow beat the total on their own. But given the aforementioned offense struggles, I believe that outcome is a longshot.
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