Premier League Picks, Predictions, Preview: Projections & Best Bets for Matchweek 2 (August 21-23)

Premier League Picks, Predictions, Preview: Projections & Best Bets for Matchweek 2 (August 21-23) article feature image
Credit:

Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Jamie Vardy (right).

  • The Premier League was buzzing on opening weekend, highlighted by Brentford's upset win against Arsenal.
  • BJ Cunningham takes a look at this week's slate, delivering a pick for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
  • Check out below his betting angles on some interesting featured matches.

The Premier League season kicked off last weekend with a ton of drama, from Brentford beating Arsenal, 2-0, in their first match in the English top flight since 1947…

CAN YOU BEE-LIEVE IT? 🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝

Brentford are top flight, and they've scored the first goal of the 2021/22 Premier League season! #MyPLMorning pic.twitter.com/87HpURszwn

— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) August 13, 2021

…to defending champion Manchester City suffering a 1-0 loss to a Harry Kane-less Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday’s card.

🔥 Time and time again Tottenham have hit Manchester City on the counter and Heung-min Son finishes this one off.

"Nice one Sonny, nice one Son, nice one Sonny, let's have another one!" sing the #THFC fans. What an atmosphere here. #TOTMCI 1-0 pic.twitter.com/oZt00jMwWy

— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) August 15, 2021

Looking ahead, this weekend’s fixtures are headlined by a London Derby between Arsenal and Chelsea, which could see the Gunners go to the bottom of the table with a loss.

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

Brighton vs. Watford

Brighton Odds -140
Watford Odds +475
Draw +250
Over/Under 2.5 (+120 / -150)
Day | Time Saturday | 12:30 p.m. ET
How To Watch NBC
Odds updated Thursday morning via DraftKings.

Brighton and Watford got their respective campaigns off to a fantastic start, with both grabbing three points on opening weekend.

The Seagulls showed a ton of resilience after going down 1-0 in the second minute to Burnley. What was most impressive about Brighton was how much better they got as the match went along against the Clarets.

Burnley dominated the first half, out-creating Brighton on expected goals by a 1.67-0.23 margin. However, the beauty of the Seagulls playing under a fantastic manager like Graham Potter is their versatility as the match goes on.

They made a big switch in the second half, making a point to try and beat Burnley on the outside channels, because that’s the easiest way to beat a 4-4-2 formation. Brighton was successful in doing so, because their two goals came off crosses into the box and they out-created their opponent by 1.46-0.13 xG in the second half.

We’ve talked ad nauseam about how unlucky Brighton was last season and how they are due for so much positive regression. These are the types of matches where the Seagulls are going to be undervalued against inferior opponents, especially at home, considering they had a +18.13 xGDiff at the American Express Community Stadium last season. That wound up being the third-best mark in the entire league.

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Watford might have beaten Aston Villa on opening weekend, but they’re projected to be one of the three worst teams coming into season. 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, since Watford had the lowest xGDiff of the three promoted teams, this is a great opportunity to fade them at a fairly short price. 

Watford’s three goals were actually quite lucky when you break it down. The first two came off deflections and the third was a wonder goal outside the box from Juan Hernandez that only registered a .03 xG value.

In fact, the Hornets’ three goals combined only had a 0.25 xG value, so they were quite fortunate in their first match back in the Premier League.

I have Brighton projected at -230, so I think there’s massive value on them to grab all three points at home at -130 odds via DraftKings and would play it up to -196 odds.

Pick: Brighton ML (-130)

Wolves vs. Spurs

Wolves Odds +225
Spurs Odds +140
Draw +215
Over/Under 2.5 (+120 / -150)
Day | Time Sunday | 9 a.m. ET
How To Watch NBCSN
Odds updated Thursday morning via DraftKings.

Despite losing 1-0 at Leicester City last weekend, Wolves was incredibly impressive on the offensive side. They outshot the Foxes,  17-9, out-created them 1.66-0.50 in the xG battle and had 27 shot-creating actions compared to only 14 for Leicester, per fbref.com.

What was even more impressive is they did all of this without two of their best attacking players in Daniel Pondence and Pedro Neto, who missed the match due to injury. The real bright spot was Adama Traore, who moved to left wing and looked like his old self under new manager Bruno Lage.

His pace gave Leicester a ton of problems, due to the fact he was very threatening in the final third with five carries into the penalty area that led to shots. That was the most of anyone in the league on opening weekend.

This will be an interesting encounter against former Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo, but if Wolverhampton looks as lively as it did against Leicester, the club should be able to break down a Tottenham defense that allowed Manchester City to create 2.30 xG against them.

The Harry Kane saga rolls on and it seems he might feature for Tottenham after returning to training.

BREAKING: Harry Kane is training with Tottenham's first team this morning for the first time since returning from his holiday.

— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) August 17, 2021

At the time of writing, Spurs have dug their heels in and said they will not be selling him to Manchester City for a reported 125 million pounds.

So, it’s currently up in their air if he features for Tottenham this weekend. Yet, even if he does, I think Wolves has a lot of value at home given how overrated and poor Spurs was on the road last season.

In their 19 matches away from home, Tottenham had a -3.66 xGDiff and allowed a whopping 1.53 xG per match, which was 10th in the Premier League. In fact, five of Spurs’ eight road wins last season came against the bottom six teams in the league.

Yes, they did beat Manchester City, but they were thoroughly dominated. They basically allowed the Cityzens in their final third, allowing 227 touches in that area of the pitch and 43 touches in their own penalty area, according to fbref.com.

I only have Tottenham projected at +142 on the road, with their Draw No Bet line at -119, so I think there’s plenty of value on Wolves Draw no Bet at +145 on DraftKings and would play it down to +138 odds.

However, I would also tell everyone to be patient, because if Kane is confirmed in the lineup, I expect Tottenham’s line to get steamed, which means you could get Wolves +0.5 for the match. If that’s the case, I would play anything -123 or better.

Additionally, I have 2.57 goals projected for this match. So, it’s safe to say if Kane plays that only provides more value. I also think there’s value on the total over 2.5 goals at +132 via FanDuel and would play it down to +111 odds.

Picks: Wolves — Draw No Bet (+145) | Total Over 2.5 Goals (+132)

West Ham vs. Leicester City

West Ham Odds +160
Leicester City Odds +175
Draw +245
Over/Under 2.5 (-125 /+100)
Day | Time Monday | 3 p.m. ET
How To Watch NBCSN
Odds updated Thursday morning via DraftKings.

West Ham got their season off and running in thrilling fashion, putting four goals past Newcastle at St. James’ Park.

The Hammers’ electric offense that averaged 1.59 xG per 90 minutes last season, which was the league’s fifth-best mark, looks to be every bit as good as they were during the 2020-21 campaign after creating 3.15 xG in the victory.

West Ham lived inside the Newcastle final third with 214 touches, 32 touches in their penalty area and 29 shot-creating actions, per fbref.com. Now, they’ll be going up against a Leicester squad that’s limping into the second match of the season.

Currently, center back Johnny Evans, right back Ryan Bertrand, left back James Justin, central midfielder Wesley Fofana and central midfielder Nampayls Mendy are out due to injury. To make matters worse, star attacking midfielder James Maddison and starting right back Timothy Castagne are both questionable for Monday’s game.

Leicester wasn’t impressive in their opening match, despite securing a 1-0 win against Wolves, as they were out created 1.66-0.55 xG margin. West Ham was also the second-best team at home last season, accumulating 34 points in 19 match with a +2.53 xGDiff as well.

I think the Hammers are way undervalued at home, as I have them projected at +111 to grab all three points. So, I think there’s a lot of value on their Draw No Bet line of -110 (DraftKings) and would play it up to -125 odds.

Pick: West Ham — Draw No Bet (-110)

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