Welcome to our weekly "Hunting The Pitch" soccer betting strategy series, where we will dive into some of the world's top soccer matchups of the week, as well as look at recent trends and overall wagering tips for the "football" world. This weekend we will specifically be looking to target the EPL (English Premier League), a league and country which has experienced a meteoric rise to prominence since the early 1990's. In order to break down each matchup here below, we will be looking at a team's recent form, in addition to matchup advantages/disadvantages for each opponent and key players missing due to injury. There are a total of three plays this week that I've identified value on, two of which include tackling game totals and one which I like to call a 'mispriced underdog.' As stated before, soccer is the most volatile sport in the world, but if we take our time in gauging injury reports, breaking down what these injuries mean for the team(s) involved and help understand when a team is in and out of ‘form,' that can go a long way in profitable betting. Now, without further adieu, let's dive into our best value bets for the week ahead:
Newcastle United [+275] vs Aston Villa [+100]
Both teams here have played against each other a combined 39 times in their clubs' history. Newcastle United won 14 direct matches, while Aston Villa won 10 matches. Fifteen of their matches ended in a draw. On average, in direct matches, both teams scored a 2.10 goals per Match. Newcastle United this season has averaged 1.2 goals per match, while Aston Villa has averaged 1.48 goals per match. Both teams have been shockingly bad in front of goal, too - Aston Villa has not scored more than one goal against an opponent since January, 27th, while in the same time frame, whole Newcastle has only gone over their one goal team total two times. Newcastle has had no help up front this season, and both of these teams have dealt with some serious injury woes. Newcastle's brightest spark, Allan Saint-Maximinis, is injured, along with front man Callum Wilson and center attacking midfielder Miguel Almiron.
And this has come at a major cost, the cost being GOALS. Steve Bruce will be without his influential attacking trio until April at the earliest, and his club needs to pick up points in the upcoming fixtures against Aston Villa and Brighton. As desperately as they need a win, the bosses of Newcastle have still expressed their trust in Bruce, who has seen his team's relegation cushion close to just one point after this weekend. I believe this will give him a breath in a fairly tense situation here. Newcastle has needed the points for what seems like ages now, and there is no reason to think that this matchup is any different.
When we look at Newcastle's opponent, on the other hand, Aston Villa has been missing their captain and talisman Jack Grealish, and Villa's manager stated that he was close to playing against Wolverhamptons Wanderers FC, so we are currently unsure of his status against Newcastle (as of this writing, he's due for an assessment on his chin injury today, on Thursday, March 11th). Many arrows have been pointing toward Grealish suiting up for this fixture, so I am currently assuming he is playing and starting in this scenario. If he is ruled out before the start of this match, however, then this may be the most money I put down so far this year. Grealish would tip the scales in Villa’s favor, and even though I have not bet it as of this writing, I understand if people want to play a Villa + Under 2.5 parlay for +333. Grealish adds a lot to this Villa side, whether you love him or hate him. Newcastle on average this season has let opponents control 60 percent of possessions in the 28 total matches played. They love to "park the bus," and I see it here with literally zero attacking options. The best value here is attacking the game total of under 2.5
PICK: Under 2.5 Goals [-130]
Leeds United [+320] vs Chelsea [-130]
Leeds United is arguably the best "bad team" in the entire Premiership. Chelsea, on the other side, has found new life under its new manager. Leeds' 2021 has been a rollercoaster all season, with their style of fast-pressing, fast build-up play showing its flaws although though the manager and players seem like it's a hill they are willing to die on at this point. Leeds' possession average over the season sits at 60% with 138 total shots on goal, and this club also seems to have an issue of just fizzling out by the second half.
I believe this is going to prove worrisome against Chelsea, which has been fantastic after a questionable draw against the Wolves one day after the team's new manager took over. Chelsea has not lost since January 19th, however, and over this time they've recorded nine "clean sheets" (shutouts), largely due to a change in their style of play. Thomas Tuchel's focus is letting the ball do the work and sucking the life out of their competition by making them chase after the ball. Chelsea averages the same amount of possession this year compared to last season, but they have tallied 60+ more shots than Leeds.
Over the course of the season Leeds matches have gone over 2.5 more than half of the time (60%), which would lead people to believe that they should play the over here. Also, the last fixture between these two was on December 5th, which resulted in a 3-1 Chelsea victory. That was under old management, however, with a vastly different play style as noted above. When we look at the 13 total matches played between these two, the total score has actually only gone over 2.5 less than a quarter of the time (23.1%). I simply do not see a high scoring affair here, and I expect Chelsea to want to get the job done and keep moving as the Champions League is right around the corner. I like Chelsea on the 3-way moneyline as well, but my favorite pick in this match is Under 2.5 goals as I do not believe we should be getting this for plus money.
Pick: Under 2.5 Goals [+105]
Arsenal [+140] vs Tottenham [+187]
The battle of North London is one of the best and most fierce rivalries in all of football. Now, I am not going to lie to you, it could be better in terms of quality from both sides for this week's matchup, as both teams are definitely not where they want to be at the moment. Arsenal has looked so bad that there was light rumbling of the EPL giant actually facing the possibility of relegation - which in hindsight no chance of happening, as the bottom three EPL clubs are very poor. But the fact it was being spoken about, that in itself is alarming. Their form has gone up a bit over the last couple of weeks, but that's not saying much in the grand scheme of things. Arsenal, in short, has been an absolute rollercoaster ride this season. You never feel okay when they have the lead or have the ball in their possession. Besides some very inspiring play from Kieran Tierney, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has looked better in the last couple of fixtures, the midfield is simply not good enough here, and David Luiz is robbing a living at center back.
Changing gears to Tottenham, we see a team was top of the table around Christmas time as hopes were high for the Spurs leading into the new year. Harry Kane proceeded to get injured, however, and it was all downhill from there. The Spurs have now slid into pretty bad form themselves. Gareth Bale was painted as the hero to replace Kane with the only goal-scoring coming from Son Heung-min, and as goal production slipped, so did Tottenham's title chances. Fast forward to now, however, and Gareth Bale has found his stride looking like he actually cares about football in a Spurs shirt, or just the sport of football in general.
We have forgotten how good Bale can be when he actually wants to play. Bale was one of, if not the best player, in Great Britain when he left for Real Madrid. Other players who have stepped up include Sergio Reguilon, who looks like a top left back in the country. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Kane have returned into the starting 11, and there is no reason for Tottenham to be underdogs regardless of not playing at home in this match. No fans to sway refs or give a proper atmosphere to the North London Derby will definitely help the visiting club here as well. The under in this matchup is also worth a play (Under 2.5), as Tottenham has scored a total of 108 goals and conceded just 48 this season. Their defense has done well, and Joe Hart backing up the World Cup-winning Hugo Lloris has to have the back line feeling pretty confident.
Pick: Tottenham [+187]