With the Premier League on hiatus, England's FA Cup garnered the attention of the soccer world last week as England's clubs battled for another piece of silverware. Many of the EPL's best were able to rest top players while still earning a victory, while Aston Villa, Leeds, Newcastle United and Crystal Palace were among the teams who were eliminated from the competition. But this weekend, domestic league play has our full attention.
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 weekend a pair of matches have caught my attention, including one where a COVID-19 absence could prove pivotal (all odds via PointsBet Sportsbook):
Southampton at Leicester City (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET)
Line: Leicester City (-130), Southampton (+350), Draw (+260)
Leicester City come into this weekend's fixture in solid health and great form, riding a five-match unbeaten streak. They began that run with a shocking road win over Tottenham, holding the league powerhouse goalless at home.
For Leicester, many of their struggles have come when key players missed because of injury. With minimal injury concerns at the moment, this team should fire on all cylinders. Harvey Barnes, James Maddison and Jamie Vardy have all been playing well this season and have helped the club steal points from Manchester United as well as Tottenham.
On the other side, all eyes are on Danny Ings who tested positive for COVID-19 after Southampton's Jan. 4 game against Liverpool. While there remains a chance he could be cleared for this match with a negative test result, he seems likely to miss this pivotal road fixture.
There's no doubt that if Ings is healthy and available, backing Leicester City would be daunting. During last season's campaign, the star forward accumulated 22 goals in 38 appearances for Southampton. That tally was good enough to tie Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for second in the EPL.
The problem for Southampton is that Ings is the goal funnel for the club. Last season they scored 55 total goals, with Ings directly involved in 24 of them. This season, he has scored seven of the club's 26 goals while assisting on three others.
As long as Ings is sidelined, I'll be attacking favorable lines on Southampton opponents with more efficient offenses. That includes taking Leicester City (-130) to win this match. I'll also be adding a small wager on Harvey Barnes Anytime Scorer (+225), given that Barnes has been in great form this season and has tallied three goals in Leicester's last five fixtures.
Burnley at West Ham (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)
Line: Over 2.5 goals (+102), Under 2.5 goals (-135)
If there were ever a time for Burnley to start an unbeaten streak, that time would be now. Burnley are dangerously close to the bottom-three relegation line, with just 16 points in 16 matches this season. They did well to hold league leaders Manchester United to just one goal in their last fixture, but in that match they faced the same issue that has been plaguing them throughout the season: lack of quality in front of the net. Burnley failed to score, losing 1-0.
In fact, Burnley have been shut out in nine of their 16 games this season, scoring just nine total goals. Sean Dyche has been unable to spark his club on the offensive side of the ball. They play defense well enough to keep them in the game, which might be just good enough for the Burnley faithful, but struggle to capitalize on scoring chances.
From a betting standpoint the over/under for Burnley this season is 5-11, meaning the under is hitting at a clip of nearly 69 percent. Their scoring woes certainly haven't improved on the road, where they're averaging just 0.5 goals per away fixture and the under 2.5 line is hitting at 62 percent.
West Ham are riding a three-match unbeaten streak and have done much better than their counterparts at scoring goals this season, with the over 2.5 hitting at a 59 percent clip this season. But given Burnley's offensive struggles, I'll take my chances that both teams will not combine for three total goals. I'm betting under 2.5 goals (-135).
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