I’ve conducted some experiments recently, and I’m seeing some startling results. While I don’t want to cause a panic or uproar, there are strong indications that winning bets is far more fun than losing them. I know. I was surprised too, but you have to believe me.

You see, I went two weeks in this column without getting a single pick correct, and it wasn’t any fun. Last week, I went 2-1 and even hit on a longshot underdog. That was a lot more fun. So, while I’ve sent the results of this experiment to others to be picked through and prodded, I’m confident that I’m onto something here.

But, just to be sure, let’s have another winning week. If this one is fun too, well, I mean, I don’t want to get cocky, but I wonder what my name will look like on a Nobel Prize.

1. Crystal Palace vs. Leeds United

Latest Odds:

Leeds United
-0.5

There is a lot of value on this total. When you think of Crystal Palace, you think of a team that isn’t much fun to watch. They play a stodgy style that doesn’t feature much attacking, and they’d rather be hemmed into their own end, hoping Wilfried Zaha can get free on a counter and do something spectacular. It’s boring, but it’s kept them in the Premier League. Well, against this Leeds team, Crystal Palace and Zaha will have plenty of opportunities to counter. No team in the Premier League has conceded more expected goals than Leeds’ 13.4. When it comes to defending, if it bleeds it’s Leeds. It’s a byproduct of the aggressive nature in which Leeds plays. It’s a style that’s a lot of fun to watch, but it is hard to pull off consistently when you don’t have the money or talent of a Liverpool or Manchester City. On the flip side, Palace might play like a defensive team, but that doesn’t exactly make them a good defensive team. They’ve conceded the fifth most xG in the Premier League, at 10.86. Leeds are so aggressive that there’s a real chance Marcelo Bielsa’s side might get three goals on its own. The Pick: Over 2.5 (+100)

2. West Ham vs. Fulham

Latest Odds:

West Ham United
-0.5

West Ham sit 14th in the table with only eight points in seven matches, and I’m thrilled about it because it keeps resulting in the Hammers being undervalued. This is a team with an xG difference per 90 minutes of +0.2. That ranks eighth in the league, just behind Manchester City, and ahead of teams in the top half of the table like Southampton, Wolves and Arsenal. West Ham have played better than its results indicate, and now they’re getting a Fulham team likely to be sent back to the Championship after the season. Fulham have an xG difference of -3.0, which is bad but also misleading. If we remove Fulham’s win over West Brom — the worst team in the league — in its last match, it has an xG differential of -4.1 through its first six Premier League matches. It’s still Fulham, and West Ham should win this with ease. The pick: West Ham -124

3. Manchester City vs. Liverpool

Latest Odds:

Liverpool
+0.5

I have a couple of thoughts in play here. First, I mean, it’s not scientific or anything, but how often do you get a chance to take Liverpool at this price? I mean, come on! It’s calling to me like the sirens called to Odysseus. Second, and most importantly, I’m not convinced Manchester City are as good as we’ve grown accustomed to Manchester City being. I don’t know what the deal is exactly, but this is a City team that is not only struggling to score goals but struggling to create good chances. If we look at Man City on an xG-per-match basis in the Premier League, the side is averaging 1.33 xG per match. That ranks 10th in the league, behind teams like Brighton, West Ham and Aston Villa. Even outside the Premier League, Man City have hit the 2.0 xG mark only once, and that was against an outmatched Olympiacos in the Champions League. Now, compare that to a Liverpool side that has played 10 Premier League and Champions League matches and has exceeded an xG of 2.0 in seven of them. Defensively, plenty has been made of Liverpool’s defensive problems, understandably with Virgil Van Dijk, and now Fabinho out injured, and Jurgen Klopp’s side is allowing an xG of 1.42 in league matches, which isn’t great. Especially not for Liverpool. Man City has been much better at 1.18, but I’m not convinced that’s enough of a gap to make up for City’s lack of attack to this point. At least, not often enough to ignore the price I’m getting on Liverpool here. The Pick: Liverpool +245

Last Week

2-1

+2.33

Overall

8-13

-2.70

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