English Premier League – Chelsea vs Crystal Palace – Asian Handicap Chelsea -1.5 at 1.81
Are we looking at two teams that could end up at complete opposite ends of the spectrum come next May?
Let’s start with the visitors, who have been tipped by many as potential relegation fodder, with a new manager at the helm that doesn’t fill me with an extreme amount of confidence. Has Patrick Vieira done enough in his managerial career to prepare him for what is the biggest league in the world? I’m expecting a baptism of fire, as so many young managers experience on their first day in the Prem.
Then there’s the European Champions, coming off a win in the Super Cup earlier this week, at that. Thomas Tuchel has almost been untouchable since he arrived at Chelsea, and he’ll be hoping that his stellar run can continue during the upcoming season.
While the Blues were only able to scrape past Villarreal on penalties, having to play 120 minutes just days before this match, it could look on the surface that Palace may have the upper hand in terms of fitness. It’s important to note that Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell and Reece James warmed the bench, with N’golo Kante, Mason Mount and Timo Werner playing less than 90.
The XI that kick off Chelsea’s first game in the Prem will be different, and probably a class above the side that was able to secure the Super Cup, and I expect a quick start from one of the title fancies.
Chelsea to win by 2 goals or more, against a side they’ve beaten in their last seven attempts, (including scoring eight goals in two games last season) seems a good bet at 1.81. 1 unit.
English Premier League – Norwich City vs Liverpool – Asian Handicap Liverpool -1.5 at 1.85
Let’s not beat around the bush. Liverpool last season was a shell of the previous Premier League winning side, with devastating injuries to key cogs of their defence such as Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip and Allisson at various points in the season and a drop in past form for other stars such as Sadio Mane. Despite all this, they finished 3rd in the league with a goal difference of 26 – they were, and still are, a very strong outfit.
Fast forward nearly three months since the end of last season. Liverpool have their key defensive cogs back in place bar one, Andy Robertson, a hole to be filled here by marauding Greek youngster Kostas Tsimikas – an apt replacement. Norwich finished on top in the Championship last season whilst possessing the second tightest defence in terms of goal difference.
The Premier League is a different beast, however – in the 2019/20 season in which Liverpool won the league handily, Norwich conceded a whopping 75 goals and finished dead last in the league. With a defence that still possesses numerous players from that disastrous season along with plenty that are yet to be tested in the Premier League, we’re tipping that Liverpool won’t struggle to put some goals through this weekend. At the other end of the ground, Norwich have lost their best attacking and creative outlet in Emi Buendia – that’s 15 goals and 17 assists from their side last year that have now vanished and need to be made up by other players in the squad.
With Liverpool’s rock-solid defence now (mostly) back in place, this looks to be a difficult early test for Norwich going forward. This, in conjunction with Norwich’s potentially shaky defence, makes the handicap seems like a bet here. 1 unit.
English Premier League – Newcastle vs West Ham – Both Teams to Score Yes @ 1.77
One of the more intriguing matchups of the opening PL weekend, the Magpies and the Hammers will not be short on confidence when they step out onto St. James’ Park. The visitors are coming off their best season since the Dimitri Payet-inspired 2015/16 campaign, with a 6th placed finish doing wonders for the credentials of their gaffer, David Moyes. Despite Jesse Lingard not returning to the club this season, hopes will be high for fans and players alike to consolidate their spot in the Premier League’s top half.
The Magpies on the other hand, are coming off yet another disappointing season under Steve Bruce, where the club only escape the relegation battle thanks for a late season surge, fronted by Arsenal loanee Joe Willock.
The youngster is reportedly on the brink of a return, but the likelihood of this happening before Matchday 1 isn’t high. In spite of this, Newcastle will be buoyed by their recent record against the Irons. They have won three of their last four competitive matches, scoring at least two goals in all of these contests as well.
At home and with the Toon Army back in the stands, it’s fathomable to back them in to pick up all three points in this one. However, given the high volatility of opening weekends, we’ll play it a little safer and back both sides to score. Defence is the biggest concern for both sides and we expect both keepers to be beaten at some point. 1 unit.
English Premier League – Brentford vs Arsenal – Match Goals Over 2.5 @ $1.82
Opening match of the campaign, and Brentford will be eager to impress in their first match in the top flight since 1947.
Ivan Toney was impressive last season with 31 goals, and will be interesting to see if with his abilities if he can score in the Premier League aswell. He was the beneficiary of Brentford’s free-flowing football, but of course in playing this style, they will provide openings for the opposition.
Lacazette and Aubameyang will now doubt be ready to pounce, and improve on their fairly lean figures last year.
Last time the two teams met (2018 League Cup game) there were 4 goals scored. Crowds will be back, and the players will be buoyed playing in front of a packed crowd again. 1.5 units.
CSGO ESL Pro League – Astralis vs Team Spirit – Total Maps – Over 2.5 @ 1.89 1 unit
Their last meeting was in February 2021 in IEM Katowice where Team Spirit won 2-1 with the third map’s scoreline at an embarrassing 16-1. Though worthy to note this was the time when dev1ce was still in the lineup for Astralis.
Astralis showed decent CSGO in their recent stint at the IEM Cologne 2021 where they reached the Semifinals while Team Spirit was knocked out pretty early in the group stage but then showed good form by winning the Pinnacle Cup in July. Astralis might be doing better recently but it’s quite hard to ignore what Team Spirit could achieve hence I’m expecting the match to go to a third map. 1 unit.
English Premier League – Leicester Vs Wolves – Both Teams To Score Yes @ 2.02
Leicester will be flying high after seeing off Manchester City in the Community Shield last weekend. However, it should be noted that it took an 89th minute Iheanacho penalty in order to do so, against a City side missing a host of first team regulars.
Apart from that the Leicester pre-season has been a bit of a mixed bag, with a solitary win over Villarreal, draws against QPR and Burton and a defeat against Wycombe. That win over Villarreal was also marred by a nasty injury to Wesley Fofana after a poor challenge left him with a broken leg.
They’re also likely to be without Jonny Evans and Timothy Castagne against Wolves, with Brendan Rogers down to the bare bones defensively. Wolves saw long-time manager Nuno Espirito Santo depart over the summer to Spurs, who came calling after failing to get several other high profile names into the hot seat. Replacement Bruno Lage is a bit of an unknown quantity, having been out of work for a year having previously managed Benfica.
They’ve also had somewhat of a mixed bag in pre-season, beating Real Betis and Coventry, drawing with Stoke and losing to Las Palmas and Celta Vigo. They will however, be extremely happy to see the return of Raul Jimenez, who looked to be back in business in pre-season after a horror injury saw him ruled out for all of last year.
Leicester have a wealth of attacking talent in the likes of Maddison, Barnes, Vardy and Iheanacho, but their defensive issues coupled with the return of Jimenez to the Wolves team suggests that both teams could find the back of the net in this one. Both Teams to Score at odds against is worth a look. 1 unit.
Rugby Union Test Match – New Zealand v Australia – Australia Asian Handicap 15.5 @ 2.70
While it may have been the obligatory All Blacks win at Eden Park last weekend, the Wallabies far from disgraced themselves and showed decent signs in the 33-25 defeat.
Australia managed to score first in the opening test in what was a tight opening. The hosts managed to cross the line just before the break followed by a damaging 14-minute period early in the second half which resulted in three New Zealand tries to put the game out of reach for the Wallabies. Three five-pointers of their own in the last 10 minutes of the game however gives Australia some positive signs heading into Game 2.
The inclusions of Lachlan Swinton and Marika Koroibete are crucial ones for Australia after being sorely missed in the first test. Koroibete has been one of Australia’s best international performers over the past couple of years and Swinton adds some more much-needed ruthlessness to the pack.
While it’s hard to see the Wallabies beating the All Blacks at Eden Park for the first time since 1986, they showed in the first test off the back of an impressive series win over France that the team is on the right track under coach Dave Rennie. 1 unit.
WTA Montreal – Camila Giorgi vs Cori Gauff – Game Handicap Cori Gauff (-2.5) @ 1.96
Watching the 17yo Gauff during these early stages of her career it is highly likely she is going to be World Number 1 and/or Grand Slam Winner. The American is so versatile and can adjust to any opponent, which makes her almost invulnerable.
Whilst quite obviously being selective in which tournaments entering, as this is her first since Wimbledon, she blew any cobwebs a 17yo might have in the R1 blitzing of the athletic. Since that she was 5-0 up in 1st set in R2 vs Potapova and a walkover in R3 vs Konta; she’s certainly well rested for it. It is their first ever h2h in May on clay that has caught the eye where the teenager took it in straight sets, 2 & 3…
Giorgi, known for her big serve, only managed to win 58% first and 35% second service points (the Italian will need to be on form on her serve), however what is more interesting is Gauff’s 81% and 41% respectively – she was able to dominate on serve on clay, imagine what this is going to be like on a hard court?
There is no doubt Giorgi has overcome the odds to knockout Mertens (R1) & Kvitova (R3) to setup this QF, but both of their form I think is less than “meh”. The (shortening) 1.67 for the match, when on paper it is 24th vs 71st in World Rankings (considering selective Tournament participant Vs journey-woman), seems value. If Giorgi does take a set, could be a tie-break situation, but if not, expect Gauff to steamroll. 1.5 units.
CSGO ESL Pro League – Team Spirit vs Bad News Bears Team Spirit Map handicap (-1.5) @ 1.62
Should be an easy one for Team Spirit, who are currently doing well winning 3/5 of their past matches with those 2 losses coming from top teams Faze and Heroic. Currently ranked #12 in the world, this tournament will be another great opportunity for them to progress as a team against top tier opponents. 1 unit.
This week’s Community Tip comes from GoldenMagnet who has chosen the following.
English Premier League – Watford FC vs Aston Villa – 1st Half – 1×2 to Draw @ 2.15
The head-to-head statistics tell us that the matches are tenacious, keeping the fans in suspense until the very end of the match.
In addition, in the summer transfer window, Watford FC is seriously entrenched in all lines. As a free agent passed the most experienced defender Danny Rose from Tottenham Hotspur FC. The team is ready to restrain the attacks of rivals and strike with counter-attacks. Aston Villa will have a hard time breaking into Watford’s defence.