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Odds and Ends

PL Best Bets: Why Arsenal is underrated

by Brad Thomas
Updated On: November 6, 2020, 10:15 am ET

The Premier League continues this weekend with another full slate of intriguing contests. League leaders Liverpool face off with Manchester City, while Tottenham looks to pad its record against West Bromwich Albion. But the betting value in this week's card lies elsewhere.

Each week I'll break down the EPL action from a betting perspective, digging through information pertinent to bettors and offering my take on some key matchups. We get things started with a pair of matches that have caught my eye this weekend, with odds via PointsBet Sportsbook:

Manchester United at Everton (Saturday)

Total: 2.5 (Over -130, Under +104)

This contest caught my attention for a few reasons, as Everton comes into the match with a slight dip in form and a number of concerns. This would be an enticing moneyline play if there weren't so many question marks surrounding this squad, including the absence of Richarlison, who was hit with a three-game ban by the Football Association for a dangerous challenge on Thiago Alcántara in the final minute of their clash against Liverpool.

James Rodriguez should be back for this match, but how many minutes will he play? How fit is he? On the other side of the ball, Manchester United appears to be in awful form after losing their last Premier League match 1-0 against Arsenal. To add insult to injury, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's club lost their most recent away Champions League fixture to Istanbul Basaksehir in a match where it seemed Man U never stood a chance. And much like Everton, Manchester United have their own slough of injury concerns, with Eric Bailly, Jesse Lingard and Phil Jones all sidelined for this match.

With personnel questions surrounding both teams, my attention is drawn to the total. Manchester United's suspect defense sticks out, especially on the road. In every road Champions and Premier League game this season, they have conceded at least one goal. On the flip side of the coin, Everton has scored at least two goals in all but one home Premier League match this season.

The safest bet is Both Teams to Score (BTTS), but it's a pass for me given the chalky (-170) price. I expect this matchup will feature at least two goals, so I prefer to take the Over 2.5 goals (-130) and just wait to see when the third goal hits the back of the net.

Aston Villa at Arsenal (Sunday)

Three-way line: Arsenal (-150), Aston Villa (+400), Draw (+290)

This clash at Emirates Stadium features eighth-placed Aston Villa and ninth-placed Arsenal. Ignore the fact that Aston Villa is seated higher on the table; Mikel Arteta and Arsenal will be ready to build on their 1-0 victory over Manchester United last week. It was a welcome result given Arsenal had hit a bit of a rough patch before that, losing 1-0 to both Manchester City and Leicester City.

Despite the rocky start, this Arsenal team is much improved from last season's squad. This offseason Arteta wanted to add more offensive firepower to the dynamic duo of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette; he did just that in August with the free transfer of Chelsea's forward, Willian. Although the 32-year-old forward has yet to find the back of the net for the Gunners in his six matches, he most certainly opens the game up for Aubameyang and company.

Arsenal is much better than their 4-3 record indicates. A closer look at the contests they've dropped offers some insight, as their three losses all came at the hands of talented squads: last year's Premier League champions (Liverpool), the 2019 runners-up and 2018 PL champions (Manchester City) and last year's fifth-placed team (Leicester City).

The Gunners had a midweek Europa League fixture on Thursday, rallying to beat Molde, 4-1, at home after a slow start. But that added match gave Arteta some lineup flexibility, as he sat Aubameyang and relied more on some of his younger players like Joe Willock. This means he'll have more options at his disposal this weekend with the lineup card and some fresh legs among his veteran core.

But regardless of how Arteta sets the lineup Sunday, Arsenal is a total mismatch against Aston Villa. Villa is not coming into this match in the best form, dropping points in back-to-back losses. In those two defeats, they gave up a combined 36 shots and seven goals. The defense for manager Dean Smith's club is their biggest worry, as they have proven they can score while tallying 15 goals this season.

But when you struggle defensively, the last place you want to be is on the road. With the offensive firepower Arsenal brings into the match, Ill take Arsenal (-150) to win and put a smaller piece on them against the spread Arsenal -1 (+185).

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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.