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We’re BACK! Well, it hasn’t really been that long, has it? At the time of this writing, the defending Premier League champions, Liverpool, played the last league game of their title-winning season just 46 days ago. Now, here we are just six weeks later and the 2020/21 season is set to kick off. Even for a sport known for its lack of a true offseason, that’s still an absurdly short amount of time between the old season and the new, especially when you factor in the extra responsibility of international team play that’s taken place in the intervening weeks. Virgil Van Dijk’s Netherlands team just had a match on Monday.
Why does any of this matter? Because, more so than any prior season, the 2020/21 is going to feel like an extension of what came before, not something new. Chelsea — who spent a mind-blowing £200 million this summer alone — certainly have tons of shiny new toys, but how long will they take to integrate? That’s difficult to do in a regular offseason, let alone a historic one like this.
The bottom line is this: experience and togetherness are going to be as big of a factor as any in this brave new world of Premier League football. Coming up from the second division is going to be harder than ever. Integrating new talent is going to be harder than ever, as will staying healthy and focused. For me, the biggest key to the upcoming Premier League season is going to be continuity and cohesion, so with that in mind, let’s get to the picks.
PREMIER LEAGUE BETTING PICKS
Liverpool -1.5 vs. Leeds United – Saturday, 9/12, 12:30 p.m.
Leeds United are coming up from the Championship with as much hype as any newly-promoted side in recent years. Want to know how I know? Some bookies have them with better odds to win the Premier League than the likes of Everton and Wolverhampton, which is truly astounding.
That said, given my whole rant on experience, I’ve simply got to take the reigning champions here. Not only will they be looking to make a statement when it comes to their title defense, but Liverpool are historically excellent on opening day’s under Jurgen Klopp, winning three of four (2016, 2018, 2019) by at least three goals. In 2017, they tied Watford, and even then it was a 3-3 draw — needless to say, Liverpool’s defense has improved greatly since then.
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United are in for an exciting return for the Premier League, but unfortunately for the legendary club, they’re going to begin their campaign with a rude awakening that the summit is still far, far away.
Everton +1/2 vs. Tottenham Hotspur – Sunday, 9/13, 11:30 a.m.
I love this line. In fact, if you can find Everton +1/2 (plus half-a-goal on the spread), I’d take it now, because I can definitely see that line shifting to a pick em’ by Sunday. With the line as it stands, an Everton tie or an Everton win would net you a W.
While these may be historically middling-to-above-average English sides, they’re each helmed by truly legendary managers with dozens of titles between them in Carlo Ancellotti and Jose Mourinho. Given each manager’s likely deep respect for one another, this tells me that this is going to be a tight contest that will likely end in a draw. Following Ancelloti’s hiring last Winter, Everton became a largely improved side and have only built on that momentum with the summer signings of James Rodriguez, Allan, and Abdoulaye Doucouré, which gives the Toffees an entirely new-look midfield.
Meanwhile, as for Jose Mourinho’s Spurs, they showed signs of life under Mourinho, but certainly not the sort of transformational change that Everton underwent with Ancelloti. Granted, Spurs dealt with TONS of injuries last season and should look like a different side following a full offseason together.
All those factors combined tells me that, more than anything, Jose Mourinho will play to not lose this game, making the draw a very likely outcome. If you want some extra juice (the draw is at +260) then take the draw, but if you want to play it on the safer side, take Everton against the spread at +1/2.
Chelsea -1/2/-1 vs. Brighton – Monday, 9/14, 3:15 p.m.
Another line that I could see moving to a solid -1 by the time kick-off rolls around on Monday, I just think that Chelsea simply has too much firepower — and therefore early-season-adrenaline due to said newly acquired firepower — for Brighton. If you can get them at -1/2/-1 (this means that if Chelsea were to win by one goal, you’d win half your bet, since they only covered a portion of the spread) fantastic, but if not, I still think -1 is a safe bet as a Chelsea win, and therefore at least a push, is the most likely scenario here.
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