Premier League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Best Bets for Team Point Totals (August 6)
Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.
The 2021-22 Premier League kicks off its highly anticipated season August 13, with Arsenal visiting Brentford in the opener match.
While the transfer window is still open and some player movement is to be expected, PointsBet released its over/under point totals for 19 of 20 teams in the English top flight. The only missing team is Tottenham Hotspur, due to the uncertain future of star striker Harry Kane with the north London club.
Manchester City is the top projected team at 86.5 points, with Liverpool and Chelsea behind the defending league champion at 76.5 points. That triumph is followed by Manchester United (73.5), Arsenal (61.5) and Leicester City (58.5) to round out the top-six picks.
At the bottom of the table, Burnley, Newcastle, Brentford, Crystal Palace, Norwich City and Watford make up the last six and have projected at point totals of 38.5 or lower.
Soccer writers Anthony Dabbundo and BJ Cunningham unveil their favorite win total (over/under) picks prior to the opener between the Bees and Gunners. Let’s take a look what they think might be in store.
Liverpool — Under 76.5 Points (-110)
Last season, the Reds had a terrible run of finishing plenty of bad luck on the injury front, yet they still managed to finish strong in third place to secure a Champions League berth.
Normally, I’d look to play on these teams to bounce back and improve the following season because finishing and injuries tend to be noisy in the short term and balance out in the long term.
However, that’s not the case for Liverpool, which hasn’t done much to bolster its aging squad as the start of the season nears. Its front three of Sadio Mané, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino are all 29 years old and at the age where declines in production becomes common for attackers. The only reliable backup is Diogo Jota.
Liverpool wasn’t able to get younger in attack or the midfield either. Losing Georginio Wijnaldum could hurt in the short term, and Jordan Henderson is on the wrong side of 30 in the midfield as well.
Defensively, the Reds should improve with the return of Virgil Van Dijk, but he’s also off a major knee injury at 30 years old. Liverpool did an excellent job of signing players to maximize its squad’s peak fitness and age curves from 2018-2020. That window is closing, though, and the Reds haven’t spent enough to replenish the younger end of the age curve.
Liverpool only had 68.6 expected points last season, so even a return to normal finishing won’t be enough. The Reds’ pressing wasn’t as good with aging players in COVID-19 protocol last season, and it won’t be as effective this year as well. That 76.5 total is too high with Manchester United and Chelsea improved, so Liverpool should be around the low 70s at best.
Leeds United — Under 53.5 points (-115)
The Peacocks surpassed even the most bullish of expectations during its 2020-21 campaign with a solid performance in a return to the Premier League. And there was nothing flukey about it. Leeds’ superior fitness, excellent attacking play and chance creation vaulted it to ninth place in the table, as well as 11th in the xP table.
Almost everything went right for the Peacocks to finish as high as they did, though. The majority of the players remained healthy almost all year. They ran really hot defensively, allowing just 54 goals from 62.9 expected goals against.
Leeds isn’t the first team to over-perform in an EPL return, with Wolves and Sheffield United being recent examples of that exact situation. Wolves repeated their success for one more year, while the bottom fell out for Sheffield United in relegation last season. Leeds is likely to fall in between those outcomes.
Teams will adjust to their pressing in the second year when facing them and force the Peacocks to be more pragmatic. There are still serious defensive concerns with manager Marcelo Bielsa’s side, which allowed the second-most xG in the league.
Leeds is unlikely to be in any relegation danger, but 53.5 points is too high for the club entering this season.
Southampton — Under 43.5 Points (-120)
The Saints had a hot start last season with 23 points in its first 12 matches. They were sitting in fourth place on December 14, appearing to be adapting well to the COVID-19 era of soccer.
However, things unraveled for the Saints. Injuries, a lack of squad depth and regression came hard for manager Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side. They managed just 20 points in their final 26 matches with five wins, five draws and 16 defeats. No team had fewer points in that time period.
Southampton’s xG numbers and points also tanked (17th best since Dec. 14), as it was unable to continue pressing with the same success and intensity as players wore down from the condensed schedule. No team was more negatively impacted by the inability to implement a ferocious defensive press than this club.
Now, the Saints have lost striker and leading scorer Danny Ings to Aston Villa. They were in the bottom five in passes allowed in their own penalty area, unheard of for past pressing teams under Hassenhuttl. James Ward-Prowse is set to miss the start of the year, there are question marks at goalkeeper and Southampton is one cold spell from being in the relegation battle.
I took Southampton to be relegated at +550 odds and love its under 43.5 points. For a team that only managed 43 points last year and is worse on paper without Ings’ 10-plus goals per season, it’s my favorite total across Europe.
Brighton & Hove Albion — Over 46.5 Points (-125)
This is a laguable number and should be well above 50 points. The Seagulls’ had a +13.91 xGDiff, which was good for fifth best in the Premier League, but their actual goal differential was -6 on the season.
So, based on xP of which they accumulated 61.41 last season, they should have finished 11 spots higher in the England’s top flight. Brighton should have been battling for a Europa League spot, but instead it was fighting relegation.
What’s even more cruel about Brighton’s results is just how good it was at home, but had very few points to show for it. In their 19 home matches, the Seagulls had a +18.13 xGDiff and conceded just 0.81 xG per match.
Only Manchester City and Chelsea — the Champions League finalists — had a better xGDiff than Brighton. So, Brighton’s luck has to turn around entering this season.
Brighton did sell its best defender in Ben White to Arsenal for $64.35 million, but the club is bringing in a fantastic, very versatile midfielder to play alongside Yves Bissouma in Enock Mwepu from Austrian outfit Salzburg. Those two in the midfield will be an incredibly dynamic duo, as they are two of the best pressing midfielders in England’s top flight. In fact, Brighton had the fourth-best pressure success rate in the Premier League last season.
Brighton was the most unlucky team in league history last season, so if it can continue to play with that much quality, water will find its level and the club is going to fly past 46 points.
Crystal Palace — Over 36.5 Points (-140)
Now, before I get into Crystal Palace, I know the side overachieved and due for negative regression. The Eagles were bottom five in xG, xGA and xPlast season. With that being said, I love what Crystal Palace did in the transfer market and think it helps them become a 40-point club.
Crystal Palace sold off their old, underperforming players like Andros Townsend, Patrick van Aanholt and Mamadou Sakho to name a few, then brought in some exciting young talents.
The Eagles added center back Marc Guehi from Chelsea, who spent all last season on loan at Swansea; center back Joachim Anderson from Lyon, who spent last season on loan at Fulham; and, and attacking midfielder Michael Olise from Championship side Reading.
Crystal Palace still has Wilfred Zaha, who is one of the league’s best creative attackers and had 85 shot-creating actions in 27 appearances last season. The Eagles also have one of the most promising young midfielders in Eberechi Eze, who is poised for a breakout campaign..
Crystal Palace also has a new manager in former Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira. He was recently the manager of Nice in France, leading the club to a seventh-place finish and a spot in the Europa League two season ago. However, after a bad run of form in late 2020, he was sacked by the club. Vieira will be an upgrade over former leader Roy Hodgson.
So, I think this young Crystal Palace squad has a lot of potential this season.
West Ham United — Over 49.5 Points (-135)
The Hammers had a dream 2020-21 season, finishing in sixth place en route to securing a Europa League berth. While they’re likely to regress from achieving 65 points, the decline won’t be that drastic because West Ham has a really solid roster, especially at the back.
The club has quite possibly the best center defensive-midfield pairing in the league via Declan Rice and Tomáš Souček in their 4-2-3-1 formation.
West Ham’s offense was the reason why it finished as high as it did a season ago, averaging 1.59 xG per match. Unfortunately, it will have to deal with the loss of Jesse Lingard, who came over on loan in January last season and lit the Olympic Stadium on fire. Lingard scored nine goals and dished out four assists in just 16 appearances.
However, outside of Lingard, West Ham kept its entire squad together and added Alphonsse Areola on loan from French giant Paris Saint-Germain. Areola spent last season on loan with Fulham, finishing in the 80th percentile or above in Post Shot xG allowed minus actual goals allowed, crosses stopped, and save percentage among Europe’s top five leagues.
With pretty much the exact same roster, I think West Ham is definitely a 50-plus point team and should once again contend for a Europa League spot.
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