Premier League Odds, Picks & Predictions: Fulham vs. Arsenal (Saturday, Sept. 12)
David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images. Pictured: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Rob Holding, David Luiz, Cedric Soares, Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolasinac.
Fulham vs. Arsenal Odds
|Fulham odds||+500 [BET NOW]|
|Arsenal odds||-186 [BET NOW]|
|Draw||+330 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-136/+110) [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET|
The Premier League season kicks off Saturday with a London Derby between newly-promoted Fulham and Arsenal.
Fulham qualified for the Premier League by route of the Championship playoff. After being a one-and-done team when they were promoted in 2018/19, the Cottagers will be looking to stick around in the Premier League longer this time.
Arsenal finished in its lowest spot in the table in over 25 years but won the FA Cup and the Community Shield in the last month, so things are looking up at the Emirates going into the 2020-21 campaign.
The Cottagers are back in the Premier League after spending only one season in the Championship. They’ve fared pretty well offensively in the second division, scoring 1.43 xG per match, but they’ve been a bit fortunate defensively. Fulham, on average, conceded 1.04 goals per game, but it’s expected goals per match went all the way up to 1.30.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is an advanced statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as luck or outstanding goalkeeping.
Based on historical averages, newly-promoted teams have not fared well defensively in their first season. In fact, teams’ expected goals allowed per match go up 60% when transitioning from the Championship to Premier League. For a team like Fulham, which allowed 1.30 xG per match in the Championship, is projected to allow over two xG per match this season.
Fulham didn’t make any significant moves in the transfer market to upgrade its defense, so it’s hard to imagine it’ll be able to stop Arsenal’s attack.
Last year was the most disappointing season in over two decades at the Emirates. Arsenal made up for its poor finish in the Premier League by winning the FA Cup and the Community Shield last month.
Arsenal’s biggest downfall last season was its offense, which averaged only 1.34 expected goals per match. However, most of those struggles were against the top of the table. In 16 matches against the bottom eight teams, the Gunners averaged 1.60 xG per match. Their offense will get a major upgrade in 2020, as they signed talented winger Willian from Chelsea on a free transfer. Willian was fantastic for the Blues after the restart. He averaged a 0.49 xG per 90 scoring rate in eight appearances and should play a key role in Arsenal’s attack this season.
Arsenal’s defense struggled mightily last season, allowing 1.51 xG per match, which is its worst mark in over five years. They made some additions in the offseason by bringing on William Saliba from Saint-Etienne and Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille. While those two signings are steps in the right direction, it will still take some time for those them to work their way into the starting XI.
Projections and Pick
I think the first match of the season will be a high-scoring one. Fulham is arguably the worst team to be promoted since Huddersfield. It lacks a defense that can compete in the Premier League, which is why it’s one of the favorites for relegation.
Arsenal should be able to create a ton of high-quality chances, but its shaky defense will probably allow one too many chances. I have 3.06 xG projected for this match, so I am going to back Over 3 goals at +128 (DraftKings) and would play it up to +110.
Pick: Over 3 goals (+128, down to +110)