The thrilling EPL season continues with another set of matches guaranteed to provide excitement. In a weekend of fixtures where perhaps the only surprise was that there were only four goals in the Bournemouth v Everton game, soccer fans around the world will be hoping for more of the same. Though it's still early days, it looks like Wolves have the quality to stay up while Fulham fans will be full of confidence after their victory over Burnley. In our bitcoin betting guide to the EPL, we take a look at some value bets for the weekend's action.
The Underdog Victory: Back Wolverhampton to beat West Ham (2.89)
West Ham’s point-less start to the season has been defined by Manuel Pellegrini’s recklessly open tactics, soft central midfield, and top-heavy team selection, all of which hands an advantage to a Wolves side that showed their mettle against Manchester City last weekend. The visitors’ quick counter-attacks, confrontational tactics, and narrow 3-4-2-1 formation is perfectly set up to take advantage of West Ham’s frailties.
Wolves expertly cut off the passing lines to the City playmakers by playing a relatively high line, with Diogo Jota and Helder Costa excelling as inside forwards both defensively and offensively. When Nuno Espirito Santo’s team won possession these two were already close to striker Raul Jimenez, allowing them to counter-attack quickly through the middle of the pitch and overwhelm an area in which City are under-stocked (Fernandinho is all alone now the full-backs are no longer inverted).
|Wolverhampton Key Player||West Ham Key Player|
|Diogo Jota||Carlos Sanchez|
Jack Wilshere and Carlos Sanchez aren’t quick enough to snuff out the danger, and receive no support whatsoever from forwards that don’t track back. Wolves, so settled in their shape, should easily outmanoeuvre a West Ham side stuck awkwardly in transition, piercing through the centre with ease to consign the hosts to their fourth consecutive defeat.
The End-to-End Match: Back BTTS in Leicester v Liverpool (1.79)
Liverpool’s run of clean sheets cannot go on indefinitely, and while Jamie Vardy’s suspension means Jurgen Klopp’s team should be able to grind their opponents down and find the back of the net, the Foxes pose a significant threat from dead ball situations. James Maddison’s deliveries, towards the head of Harry Maguire or Jonny Evans, will be a major threat throughout the 2018/19 campaign.
|Leicester Key Player||Liverpool Key Player|
|James Maddison||Virgil Van Dijk|
Klopp’s new defensive resilience is partly thanks to Virgil van Dijk’s arrival but partly the result of their menacing attack; opponents are too fearful of the Liverpool front three to press high or commit men forward, which makes James Milner’s screening job easier. Increasingly their matches resemble the attack-versus-defence we see in Manchester City games. This weekend, Vardy’s absence means Kelechi Iheanacho up front and the Nigerian struggles to hold up the ball, strengthening Liverpool’s goalscoring potential.
However, Liverpool conceded several big chances to Brighton from headers, suggesting this could be a potential weak point in the team. If Demarai Gray can run at the Liverpool defence and win some set-pieces then Maddison, who has made a superb start to life in the Premier League, can put Alisson Becker under pressure.
The Goal Fest: Back over 3.5 goals Manchester City v Newcastle (1.94)
Rafael Benitez seemed unhappy that pundits accused his team of being too negative against Chelsea last weekend when Wolves were praised for a similar performance against Man City, which is simply not true. Newcastle were considerably more defensive, cautious, and deep than Wolves, using tactics that won’t be successful when they play City on Sunday.
|Manchester City Key Player||Newcastle Key Player|
Huddersfield Town were beaten 6-1 because they showed no courage and no attacking purpose, instead backing off into a narrow defensive shell. Newcastle will do something similar, and although Benitez’s team will no doubt tackle harder than the Terriers, Manchester City should comfortably win. Pep Guardiola will most likely play his 3-5-2 formation again, with Benjamin Mendy and Bernardo Silva constantly peppering the box with crosses from out wide.
City attempted 24 crosses that day, stretching the shell wide to create space in the inside channels for David Silva. Pep Guardiola’s success in this match provides the perfect template to ensure a similarly emphatic win at the Etihad.
The Goal Scorer: Back Wilfried Zaha to score in Crystal Palace v Southampton (2.65)
Mark Hughes’s Southampton are pretty uninspiring. Insisting on a flat 4-4-2 formation, they don’t have the right shape for fluid possession soccer or to effectively stop quicker forwards from piercing the lines. This was most apparent in the 2-1 defeat to Everton, in which Richarlison dominated down the left and scored the winner, and this should give confidence to Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.
|Crystal Palace Key Player||Southampton Key Player|
|Wilfried Zaha||Danny Ings|
Roy Hodgson’s simple, direct tactics – find Christian Benteke’s head and get Zaha to look for the knock-downs – could work well against Southampton’s haphazard defence. Cedric Soares and Dale Stephens have not made good starts to the season on the right side of the Saints defence, and so it is unlikely they can stop Zaha from picking up where he left off. The Ivorian is full of confidence after netting his first goal of the season against Watford.
What’s more, Southampton tend to rush into challenges, picking up eight cards so far this season, the second most in the division, and fouling 14.3 times per match (only Burnley have committed more). Zaha’s trickery will commit bodies, leading to openings and big chances for Hodgson’s team.