Premier League Betting Picks, Prediction, Preview: 4 Bets for Opening Weekend (August 13-15)

Premier League Betting Picks, Prediction, Preview: 4 Bets for Opening Weekend (August 13-15) article feature image
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PETER BYRNE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Tomas Soucek.

The English Premier League season kicks off with a ton of intrigue for the 2021-22 season.

Will Manchester City repeat as champions? Can Chelsea build off their Champions League title and dethrone the Cityzens? Does Liverpool rebound from an injury riddled campaign? Or can Manchester United or Arsenal return to glory? Can Tottenham Hotspur finally win their first trophy in more than 60 years?

When it comes to player moves, the transfer market has been going crazy with top talents switching to bigger clubs, highlighted by Jack Grealish moving to Manchester City from Aston Villa for a British record of 100 million pounds (close to $139 million USD) ahead of the season.

HE'S HERE!

We are delighted to announce the signing of @JackGrealish on a six-year deal.

Welcome to City, Jack! 💙

🔷 #ManCity | https://t.co/axa0klD5re pic.twitter.com/5Y3gMREmKL

— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 5, 2021

As to not be outdone by Manchester City, Chelsea has also made a big splash and sits on the verge of signing striker Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan for a record fee.

Romelu Lukaku leaving Milano airport 30 minutes ago after medical completed: “I’m gonna send a message [to Inter fans] soon”, he told to @SkySport. 🔵🇬🇧 #CFC

He’s flying now to London in order to join Chelsea for €115m. Announcement expected this week. 🛫 pic.twitter.com/nUsw9pHt6D

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 9, 2021

Manchester United has also been busy in the transfer market, bringing in exciting 21-year old talent Jadon Sancho from German side Borussia Dortmund. Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal have made smaller moves in the market, but there’s no doubt now Lionel Messi has left for Paris Saint-Germain the EPL is the top league in the world.

If you’re looking for how these transfers affect the futures market for the title, top four, relegation, etc… our soccer crew broke down the entire Premier League futures market. We also did a  podcast that analyzed everything for the upcoming season.

If you’re new to our soccer coverage, I will be providing my projections for every Premier League match, along with every other game from Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1, plus Champions League and Europa League when they kick off in September. If you’d like to read more about how I determine my projections, you can check it all out here.

You can use these projections to identify betting value on current lines, plus follow me in The Action Network App to see any bets I make during the week.

Premier League Projections

Best Bets

Burnley vs. Brighton

Burnley Odds +215
Brighton Odds +150
Draw +260
Over/Under 2.5 (+135 / -165)
Day | Time Saturday | 10 a.m. ET
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Odds updated Thursday morning via DraftKings.

The Seagulls had the most unlucky season in league history. I won’t go into too much detail about how historic it was, but if you’d like to read more I wrote about it in intricate detail here

This is a dream matchup to get them started in the opener. Brighton’s build up play was unbelievable last season and they play very close to the same formation as Chelsea, which is a 3-4-2-1, but sometimes they play it as a 1-2 up top with two strikers. The Seagulls ,get to start off against a Burnley side that is the most defensive team in the English top flight, playing from a 4-4-2 setup.

The Clarets don’t press at a high rate at all (second-fewest pressures in the league last season), so Brighton should be able to live in their final third of the pitch. The Seagulls were top six in touches inside the opposition’s final third and total touches inside their opponents’ penalty area last season.

So, hopefully some of Brighton’s positive regression from last season will show up in the opener. 

If you haven’t seen Burnley play, they basically try to get the ball as close to the goal as possible and score off of set pieces. A total of 14.66 of their 39.38 expected goals last season came off set pieces, corners or penalties. That’s basically where the goals are going to have to come in this match, because Brighton only allowed 0.72 xG per 90 minutes from open play a season ago.

I have Brighton projected at +103 odds here in the opener, so I think you’re getting plenty of value on their Draw No Bet line of -135 via DraftKings. I’d play it up to -145 or the money line down to +120 odds.

Pick: Brighton — Draw No Bet (-135)

Watford vs. Aston Villa

Watford Odds +215
Aston Villa Odds +135
Draw +230
Over/Under 2.5 (+100 / -120)
Day | Time Saturday | 10 a.m. ET
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Odds updated Thursday morning via DraftKings.

Losing Grealish was obviously a huge blow for Aston Villa, due to the fact he was pretty much everything when it came to creating chances for their offense. That being said, Aston Villa used the money from the Grealish sale and brought in a ton of capable replacements that should be able to make up for his loss on the pitch.

Leon Bailey, who came over from German outfit Bayer Leverkusen, is a very similar player to Grealish from a creation standpoint. He recorded nine goals and dished out eight assists in the German top flight last season.

We're sad to see you go, but good luck on your new adventure @LeonBailey! 🤝🔥 pic.twitter.com/eXCBT3qGJK

— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) August 4, 2021

Even though the Villans finished in 11th place and their expected-goal differential of +3.47 didn’t end up being that impressive, they dominated the teams below them in the table. In 18 matches against the bottom nine clubs, Aston Villa went 8-4-4 with a +12.38 xGDiff and averaged a sizzling 1.95 xG per contest.

I, along with plenty other outlets I trust, have Watford projected to be one of the three worst teams coming into season. In the Championship last season the Hornets drastically over-performed, as they had an actual goal differential of +33, but their xGDiff was more than 10 goals lower at +20.8 as well.

On average since 2005, teams coming up from the Championship have allowed 54% more goals per match in the top flight than they did in the second division. Conversely, offenses see about 35% less goals scored per match in the Premier League than in the Championship.

So, based on Watford’s xG record from the Championship (1.48 xGF per match; 1.02 xGA per match), I have them projected to only average 0.97 xGF per match and conceding 1.57 xG per match this season.

Watford also made no significant moves in the transfer market, with their average per player squad value is the lowest in the league, per transfermarkt.com.

Since I have Aston Villa projected at -108 on the road, I think there’s good value on them at +130 via DraftKings and would play it down to +107 odds.

Pick: Aston Villa ML (+130)

Norwich vs. Liverpool

Norwich Odds +750
Liverpool Odds -320
Draw +500
Over/Under 3.5 (+120 / -145)
Day | Time Saturday | 12:30 p.m. ET
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Odds updated Thursday morning via DraftKings.

Liverpool went through more injuries than any Premier League team in recent history during the 2020-21 season. The Reds’ top three center backs — Virgil van Djik, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez — only had a combined 22 appearances last season, so their defense should improve.

Their offense didn’t really take a dip at all from the title campaign. In the 2019-20 season, Liverpool averaged 1.98 xG per match. Last season, the Reds averaged 1.90 xG per match.

While the return of their top three center backs will obviously improve their defense, it will also improve the offense. Last season, Liverpool’s full backs — Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold — weren’t able to push high up the pitch to supply crosses into the box. Instead, they had to stay back and help protect Liverpool’s two fill-in center backs.

Norwich had a ton of fire power in the Championship last season, averaging 1.67 xG per match. That was the most in the second division. The Canaries have some talent going forward in attack via Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell, who combined for 32 goals last season.

Defensively, Norwich is going real struggle because they vastly over-performed in the Championship by allowing 52.50 xG, which was well above their actual total allowed of 36 goals.

Like I mentioned before, teams coming up from the Championship allow 54% more goals in the Premier League than they did in the second division, so Norwich’s projected xGA per match is at 1.75 heading into the season.

Also, Norwich is going through COVID-19 issues right now, with nine players currently questionable for the opener, including top defender Grant Hanley.

I have 3.54 goals projected for this fixture, so I think you’re getting some value on over 3.5 goals at +120 via DraftKings, but I would only play it down to +114 odds.

Pick: Over 3.5 Goals (+120)

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Newcastle vs. West Ham

Newcastle Odds +225
West Ham Odds +260
Draw +120
Over/Under 2.5 (-105 / -115)
Day | Time Sunday | 9 a.m. ET
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Odds updated Thursday morning via DraftKings.

Newcastle’s offensive numbers weren’t that great last season, but they had to deal with a lot of injuries to their attack. Two of their best offensive players — Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson — were only on the field together in 17 of Newcastle’s 38 matches.

With those two playing, the Magpies averaged 1.30 xG per match. Without them on the field, they averaged just 1.04 xG per contest.

Newcastle also had a breakout star in Joe Willock, who spent the second half of the season on loan. Willock scored eight goals in 14 appearances, with Newcastle just paying $25 million to Arsenal for him. That said, he will continue to add another attacking threat for Newcastle.

Defensively though, Newcastle was a mess. The Magpies allowed 1.58 xG per match; the second-most shot-creating actions; the most touches in their own final third; and, second-most touches in their own penalty area.

So, West Ham’s offense should be able to do whatever they want in this one and were actually the best offensive team outside of the top four last season, averaging 1.59 xG per fixture.

Defensively, West Ham wasn’t that great. The Hammers do have an incredible defensive midfield pairing in Declan Rice and Tomáš Souček, but they actually allowed 1.31 xG per match, which was middle of the pack in the league, West Ham also allowed the fifth-most touches in their final third, as well as the third-most carries into their final third of the pitch. Also, 63% of West Ham matches went over 2.5 goals last season. 

I have 2.99 goals projected for this game, so I think there’s some value on over 2.5 goals at -105 via DraftKings and would play it up to -112 odds.

Pick: Over 2.5 Goals (-105)

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