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Brandon Williams
Odds and Ends

PL Best Bets: Expect Man United to roll

by Brad Thomas
Updated On: February 19, 2021, 6:07 pm ET

Five of the Premier League's best teams competed in midweek Champions and Europa League fixtures. Three of the five were victorious, and now Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool must turn around and return their focus toward their domestic championship aspirations.

Each week I'll break down the Premier League action from a betting perspective, digging through information pertinent to bettors and offering my take on particular matchups. This week a pair of games have caught my attention, with all odds via PointsBet Sportsbook:

West Ham United vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, 7 a.m. ET)

Line (Both Teams to Score): Yes (-140), No (+105)

In the past few years, it has been uncommon for Tottenham to be looking up at West Ham on the table. The Hotspurs are currently placed ninth on the table, with West Ham sitting in fifth. West Ham's success must have bothered José Mourinho. During an interview with a Tottenham representative, Mourinho predicted that West Ham will fall lower down the table as the season progressed and attributed their early success to having to only play one game per week.

Mourinho's rant has made its way to the West Ham news website, and this should be bulletin board material to fire up their locker room. I wouldn't blame you for taking West Ham (+175) to win outright.

Mourinho only has his club and himself to blame for their recent struggles. Teams like Manchester City and Manchester United play multiple games in a week and have battled through injuries, with those two squads sitting first and second on the table.

Tottenham's defense, paired with their lack of offensive production, has been the reason for their slide down the table. In their last five Premier League fixtures, they have been outscored 8-3 while collecting only one clean sheet.

However, there was some truth to Mourinho's statement. West Ham have been fortunate to have only one fixture per week. In those games they have played very well, as shown by their 12-6-6 overall record. They are 3-1-1 in their last five contests, outscoring their opponents by a 10-5 margin. Key striker Michail Antonio has been limited to just 15 matches while battling injury. If Antonio is healthy for this fixture, Tottenham's defense will have their hands full.

The "both teams to score" wager option has my attention. It's a bet that has hit in 48 percent of Tottenham's games overall, but that number improves to 55 percent in away fixtures. Meanwhile, BTTS has cashed in 54 percent of West Ham fixtures overall, including 58 percent at home. Both teams do well in hitting the score sheet, as Tottenham has only been shut out in six of 24 matches while that number dips to four of 24 for West Ham. The clean sheet percentage for both teams is under 40 percent.

With those numbers I will be taking Both Teams to Score (-140) in this one. With the total set at 2.5 (Over -105), I will be sprinkling a small wager on that as well. The Over 2.5 is only hitting at a 39 percent rate for Tottenham but improves to 45 percent on the road, while West Ham's O2.5 success rate of 63 percent is second in the EPL.

Manchester United vs. Newcastle United (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET)

Line (Asian Handicap): Newcastle +1 (+270), Manchester -1 (-125), Handicap Draw (+290)

There was a point where many believed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would not last through the season. Despite the critics, Manchester United and Ole have performed well. Currently sitting second on the table, it's important for them to win as many home fixtures as possible to keep pace with their cross-town rivals.

This weekend United face one of the worst road teams in the league. Newcastle have only won two away fixtures and have been shut out in seven. Manchester United have done well protecting their home pitch, with only four home losses out of a possible 14.

Manchester United are led by star midfielder Bruno Fernandes, who is arguably the best player in all of England. In fact, the 26-year-old star has outscored Manchester City great Kevin De Bruyne by 10 goals since his arrival in the EPL.

United's midfield has caught a bit of the injury bug, with both Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek sidelined for the next few weeks. It'll require midfielders like Fernandes to log some extra minutes.

Luckily for United, their midweek Europa League fixture against Real Sociedad was an easy, 4-0 victory. Ole started his stars and played them for much of the match. Tired legs might be a bit of an issue for a few United defenders, but with NUFC having six scoreless road fixtures I foresee De Gea leaving the weekend with another clean sheet.

Newcastle have improved in form, with two wins and three losses over their last five matches after enduring a nine-match winless drought. But until they perform better in the final third, I'll be fading them weekly. With that being said, I will be betting Manchester United -1 (-125), meaning I expect them to win by at least two goals.

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Brad Thomas

Brad is a sports handicapper who is lucky enough to write about his true love; sports. "We may all root for different teams, but our objective remains the same… Beat the books! Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint." Follow Brad on Twitter @MrBradThomas.