Back the underdog as one of two best bets

With the FA Cup semi-finals taking place on Saturday and Sunday, the English Premier League features a smaller-than-usual six-game schedule over the weekend.

Two of the six games stand out in terms of betting value:

Brighton (+500) v Tottenham Hotspur, 7:30pm ET on Saturday

Regardless of the sport, knowing when to sell well on top teams is a good skill for bettors to develop. Figuring out when the market has finally reached a turning point for a particular team is more art than science, but often the numbers can help you make a pragmatic decision.

Tottenham Hotspur is on fire. With six wins from their last seven games, Antonio Conte’s Spurs now look like favorites for last place in the Champions League in the Premier League.

Tottenham’s superficial numbers shone during this 6-0-1 (win-draw-lose) run. Spurs have scored 25 times and conceded just five goals. Tottenham have scored at least two goals in each of their last seven games and have scored four goals in that span. It’s been a whirlwind two months for the north London outfit, so it’s no wonder Spurs now find themselves -190 favorites against Brighton & Hove Albion.

While Tottenham’s run has been impressive and they deserved full points to put themselves on pole for fourth place, they’re running pretty hot offensively. Spurs have scored 16.5 expected goals in their last seven games. That’s still an impressive number, but falls short of the actual performance of 25 goals. At some point you would expect Tottenham’s attack to falter – if only a little – and open the door for a team to stage a surprise result.

Rodrigo Bentancur claps.
Rodrigo Bentancur celebrates after a Tottenham win.
Getty Images

Brighton & Hove Albion could be that team. Despite a terrible form, the Seagulls still make their mark as one of the EPL’s most dangerous underdogs. Graham Potter’s club upset Arsenal at a similar price last weekend and have usually caused problems for the ‘Big Six’ for the last year. In addition to that victory over the Gunners, Brighton have earned draws against Chelsea (twice), Liverpool and Arsenal this season.

It was an atypical track for Potters Seagulls. Just two games away from a six-game losing streak, Brighton are also struggling to control games. The Seagulls, known as xG kings last season, have conceded more expected goals than scored in nine of their last 11 games.

Brighton is better than what it has shown in recent months and this is a good price to buy into a reversal from the Seagulls against a team facing negative regression.

The bet: Brighton +500 (up to +470)

Brentford (+150) vs Watford, 10am ET on Saturday

While the market is probably too fond of Tottenham, there still seems to be an opportunity to jump on the Brentford bandwagon.

With four wins in their last five games, the Bees went from a relegation battle to a potential top-10 finish in their first-ever season in the Premier League. And if you’ve been paying attention to Brentford’s prediction metrics, you could see this hot run coming.

In their last five games, Brentford have recorded four wins and one loss with a +8 goal difference. According to Understat, the bees generated 10.05 xG compared to 4.4 xG against it. There is nothing that screams “coincidence”! about this current hot period, and it’s no coincidence that Brentford’s best form came right after Christian Eriksen signed the club. The Great Dane gave the Bees the skill they lacked in midfield and his chemistry with star forward Ivan Toney was superb.

Brentford will now make the short detour from west London to Vicarage Road to take on relegation favorites Watford. While the Bees are in terrific form, the Hornets have been a mess lately and seem almost doomed to be sent to the championship.

This is a must for Watford, but the Hornets aren’t profiling themselves as the kind of team that should thrive in this situation. Brentford are one of the best pressing teams in the Premier League and the Hornets don’t have the ball movers to hit the lines. Roy Hodgson’s teams usually like to sit back and take pressure before counterattacking and that kind of football is fine in a relegation battle when you’re trying to keep up with the pack, but that’s not Watford’s job at the moment. The Hornets must swim to the surface, not tread water.

There will come a time when this Brentford club will sell dearly but it is not. Getting +140 or more for the Bees against a club that’s lost nine home games on the spin seems like good value, even if it’s a square game at the end.

The bet: Brentford +140 or better Back the underdog as one of two best bets


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