Premier League Odds, Picks, Preview: Our Projections & Best Bets, Including Leicester City vs. Liverpool (Dec. 28-30)

Premier League Odds, Picks, Preview: Our Projections & Best Bets, Including Leicester City vs. Liverpool (Dec. 28-30) article feature image
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David Ramos/Getty Images. Pictured: Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, center, celebrates his goal with teammates.

Despite the wave of positive COVID-19 tests across England, Boxing Day was able to go forward with six Premier League matches.

Manchester City now has a vice grip on the title after winning a nine-goal thriller against Leicester City. The Cityzens are now huge -300 favorites to lift the trophy in May.

A much needed goal for Manchester City as they make it 5-3. So many goals. 😅 #MCILEI #MyPLMorning pic.twitter.com/PzdfQKPAMN

— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 26, 2021

Matches featuring Arsenal vs. Wolves and Leeds United vs. Aston Villa have already been postponed during the midweek slate, so let’s hope the other eight matches are able to kick off without any issues.

This is the festive fixture portion of the calendar. So, this would be an important time to say my projections below don’t take into account suspensions or injuries. Therefore, with the ever changing COVID-19 news, make sure to stay on top of who’s in or out of the lineups before placing a bet.

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’re in action.

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

Watford vs. West Ham

Watford Odds +240
West Ham Odds +115
Draw +250
Over/Under 2.5 (-120 / +100)
Day | Time Tuesday | 10 a.m. ET
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Watford has been off for quite a while now. Their last match was Dec. 10 when they lost on a stoppage-time penalty to Brentford.

Watford is dead last in NPxG allowed and bottom five in pretty much every single defensive metric that we look at. They’re also still down their starting goalkeeper in Ben Foster and one of their starting defenders.

Watford has played a difficult schedule since manager Claudio Ranieri took over, but allowing 20.2 expected goals in eight matches is extremely concerning. That’s especially troublesome going up against West Ham United offense that’s top five in NPxGF this season, per fbef.com.

West Ham has been struggling of late, but the offense came alive in the second half against Southampton on Sunday, creating two big scoring chances. Michail Antonio came on in the second half, so I assume he will be up top for this match.

They’re still top six in shots per 90 minutes, big scoring chances and box entries, so this is a perfect get right spot for them going up against the worst defense in the English top flight. 

Michail Antonio makes an immediate impact off the bench by leveling the match just 3 minutes into the second half! #WHUSOU #MyPLMorning pic.twitter.com/5en5lclKCA

— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 26, 2021

West Ham is still decimated defensively and it really showed against Southampton. Angelo Ogbonna, Kurt Zouma, Aaron Cresswell and now Declan Rice are out for this match, which means there is a good chance that Watford can get on the board.

The biggest thing in this matchup is Watford is allowing the highest pressure success rate in the league, but West Ham presses at the third lowest rate in the first division. And without Rice in the lineup, I find it hard to imagine that they’re going to try and press Watford at a high rate. 

I have 2.95 goals projected for this match, so I like the value on the total going over 2.5 goals at -120 odds via DraftKings and will make it my top pick.

Pick: Total Over 2.5 Goals (-120)

Leicester City vs. Liverpool 

Leicester City Odds +700
Liverpool Odds -280
Draw +450
Over/Under 3.5 (-105 / -120)
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
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The Leicester City offense exploded in the second half against Manchester City on Sunday, scoring three goals in 10 minutes and creating 2.5 xG for the match against the best defense in the world. 

The Foxes are fourth in the league in NPxG, averaging 1.47 per match. They have a lot of depth, pace and technical ability going forward that can give the Reds’ backline some problems. These teams just met a week ago in the Carabao Cup, granted Liverpool was playing a ton of backups. However,  Leicester City was still was able to score three times on the Reds.

All those angles 🤤 #EFL | @Madders10 pic.twitter.com/3RZsXvdhfU

— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) December 27, 2021

Leicester’s offense is built on creating big scoring chances and that’s an area Liverpool has been a bit susceptible on defense, allowing around one per match this season. The Foxes have been much better at the King Power Stadium this year than they’ve been on the road, especially offensively, averaging 1.69 xG per game compared to 1.29 xG per road outing.

Now, even though Leicester has been one of the top offenses outside of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, their defense has been an absolute mess. The club is allowing 1.72 xG per match, which is in the bottom five of the Premier League.

The Foxes are allowing a ton of shots (15.25 per 90 minutes), a ton of box entries (13.88 per 90 minutes) and crosses into their penalty area (2.8 per 90 minutes), per fbref.com. To make matters worse, they will be down their top two center backs — Çağlar Söyüncü and Johnny Evans — for the festive period.

Mo Salah, Diogo Jota and Sadio Mané have accumulated more xG between them (33.48) than 17 Premier League teams. pic.twitter.com/9T9LdxVnMw

— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) December 21, 2021

Offensively, Liverpool is No. 1 in the league in every single offensive category, including averaging 2.60 xG per match. Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota are the top three forwards in the league in xG, combining for 33.4 xG this season.

That said, Liverpool can basically pick how many goals they want to score in this contest.

I have 3.67 goals projected for this match, so I love the total clearing 3.5 goals at -105 odds in this affair.

Pick: Total Over 3.5 Goals (-105)

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Editor’s note: The scheduled match between Everton and Newcastle United has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues.

Everton vs. Newcastle 

Everton Odds -115
Newcastle Odds +340
Draw +260
Over/Under 2.5 (-110 / -115)
Day | Time Thursday | 2:30 p.m. ET
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Everton benefited having their match against Burnley postponed on Sunday to allow them to get healthy. Dominic Calvert-Lewin will finally be back, which is a massive boost for the Toffees because he means so much to their offense.

Dating back to last season when Calvert-Lewin was in the lineup, Everton averages 1.34 xG per match. And when he’s out of the lineup, the Toffees’ average drops to 1.07 xG per game. Demarai Gray has also been upgraded to questionable, which would also be a big boost for Everton considering he’s their leading goal scorer this campaign.

That first touch from Dominic Calvert-Lewin 👌 pic.twitter.com/ST5YWsk8AY

— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 30, 2020

The biggest reason why Everton struggles offensively is because they’re one of the worst EPL teams against pressure. The Toffees are 17th in Offensive PPDA, but won’t have to worry about that in this match because Newcastle is the worst pressing team in the league, ranking dead last in PPDA. 

Newcastle have been pretty poor under manager Eddie Howe. In his seven matches in charge, the Magpies have generated only 5.5 xGF and 12.9 xGA thus far. Granted, they faced Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool during that run.

Howe has switched Newcastle to a 4-4-2 formation, which is what he typically played out of in his last two seasons in charge of Bournemouth. However, it hasn’t been very successful, considering the Magpies are allowing 1.82 xG per 90 minutes when playing out of that tactical approach, per understat.com

Everton’s biggest weakness is they allow way too many big scoring chances, conceding 33 already this season. However, Newcastle has created the third fewest big scoring chances and are 19th in NPxGF so far. That said, I don’t think they’ll be able to exploit Everton, especially away from home where they have a -9.2 xGDiff and only created 6.3 xG in nine road matches. 

I have Everton projected at -143 on the moneyline, so I like the value on the Toffees to grab all three points in Calvert-Lewin’s return at -115 odds and will make it my top selection.

Pick: Everton ML (-115)

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