Betting Week in Review 16/8/21
English top-flight football resumed at the weekend and features in our betting week in review. New boys Brentford stunned Arsenal in the first game of the season, and champions Manchester City got off to a losing start.
New Boys Brentford Beat Misfiring Gunners
It didn’t take long to see a surprise in the new Premier League campaign, with Brentford securing a 2-0 home win against 13-times champions Arsenal in the first game of the season on Friday night.
Although the Premier League newcomers last competed in the top-flight 74-years ago, there was no sign of nerves from the Bees, and they started the better of the two sides and deservedly took the lead halfway through the first half when Sergi Canós scored in the 22nd minute.
The 24-year-old Spaniard, employed as a right-sided midfielder, beat Bernd Leno at his near post. Although Arsenal was furious with the referee’s decision to allow the goal to stand, their players were convinced that the ball had gone out of play during the build-up.
Few Arsenal players deserved much credit for their performances against the team that finished third in the Championship last season. Youngster Emile Smith Rowe was one of the few exceptions; the 21-year-old forced a save out of Brentford keeper David Raya to deny the equaliser. Nicolas Pepe also went close, but Raya came to the rescue to brilliantly deny the £72m man.
Although Arsenal had the majority of possession (64.7% compared to Brentford’s 35.3%) and had nearly three times the number of shots as Brentford (22 shots compared to 8), except the Rowe and Pepe efforts, they rarely looked like scoring. So it wasn’t a total surprise when Brentford gave themselves breathing space by scoring the second.
Mads Bech Sorensen’s long throw caused chaos in the Arsenal area, which allowed Christian Norgaard the chance to head home with 17 minutes left on the clock. Ben White, making his league debut since his £50m move from Brighton, was unable to deal with the throw, which enabled the 27-year-old to score and sent the home fans in the Brentford Community Stadium into raptures.
For bookmakers, it was a great start to the new campaign. Not surprisingly, Arsenal at 109/100 were favourites for punters, with the draw priced at 229/100. Brentford started the game priced at 3/1, much lower odds than at the beginning of the day. However, the price tumbled when the Arsenal team news was announced with no place in the squad for the injured duo of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Although it is only week one, Arsenal’s defeat will heap pressure on Mikel Arteta as Arsenal boss. The Gunners finished the last campaign in 8th place, poor by their standards, but would have been much worse if not for a five-game winning streak in the final month.
Arsenal needed a good start to the campaign. They face some tough fixtures; Chelsea are next Sunday, and after playing West Bromwich Albion, they travel to Manchester to play City before the international break.
Battle of the Uniteds: Part One
In a quirk of fate, the four ‘United’ teams were paired with each other on matchday 1, with Manchester United facing bitter rivals Leeds United on Saturday and Newcastle United against West Ham United on the Sunday, both games made for great viewing.
In the Saturday game, Manchester United beat Leeds United 5-1 with Bruno Fernandes scoring a hattrick and Paul Pogba running riot with an incredible four assists.
Although Fernandes opened the scoring in the 30th minute, United’s second-half performance was excellent, despite conceding the equaliser just four minutes after the break. Luke Ayling’s thunderous hit gave de Gea no chance, and a close game looked likely. However, the Red Devils regained the lead less than three minutes later, Mason Greenwood with a cooly taken finish.
Barely two minutes after Leeds had restarted the game, the ball was once again in the net. Bruno Fernandes low shot was allowed to stand after a VAR review, and six minutes later, the Portuguese man completed his hattrick, the first of his United career. The 26-year-old saving his best goal to last, a lovely finish from a pass from Victor Lindelof. There was still time for a rare goal from Fred, a simple finish after more good work from Paul Pogba in the 68th minute.
The Frenchman received a standing ovation when he was substituted with 15 minutes left to play to enable £74m new boy Jadon Sancho to make his debut. Pogba is into the last year of his contract, and it looks like he will run down his contract at United for the second time and leave for a free next summer. As for Fernandes, no player has had more goal involvement than him since February 2020. His tally of 48 is better than that of Harry Kane (44), Mohamed Salah (41) and Son (35).
West Ham Fight Back Against Newcastle
In Sunday’s game between Newcastle and West Ham, the visitors were successful, coming from behind twice to take the three points in a six-goal thriller which ended 2-4.
Newcastle drew first blood in the game; Callum Wilson scored from Allan Saint-Maximin’s cross with just five minutes played. The Hammers equalised halfway through the half despite VAR initially disallowing Aaron Cresswell’s cross into the box. It looked like a West Ham player had touched the ball over the line in real-time, but replays show his pass directly found the corner of the net. Newcastle took the lead just before the break, Jacob Murphy heading in Matt Ritchie’s cross to send the 50,000 fans wild and put them in a commanding position at the break.
However, the second half was all about West Ham, and goals from Said Benrahma, Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio sealed the win. Michail Antonio could have scored more; his 63rd-minute penalty was hit straight at the goalkeeper, but Soucek reacted fastest to the rebound to score. His goal three minutes later was his 47th Premier League goal for the club and meant the 31-year-old is now level with Paolo di Canio as the club’s top scorer in the Premier League.
Spurs Stun City Without Harry Kane
The bookies certainly enjoyed the result of the weekend’s biggest game in which Tottenham hosted champions Manchester City at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
City had won last year’s Premier League with 86 points, 24 points ahead of Tottenham, who finished 7th. City had also been busy in the transfer market, spending £100m on Jack Grealish, who made his league debut in the game. However, the biggest talking point was whether Harry Kane, an alleged £150m target for City, would play.
He didn’t, which has raised serious questions over his future, but perhaps more strikingly, Tottenham didn’t need their talisman as they defied their 5/1 odds to win 1-0 thanks to a nicely taken goal in the 55th minute scored by Son Heung-min.
City started the game with high intensity for the first ten minutes and could have taken the lead on a few occasions, but as the game progressed, it was Tottenham who looked the livelier and more energetic. City had more possession (65.6%) and more shots (18 compared to 13), but clear cut chances were few and far between. The City boss went to plan B with 20 minutes left, bringing on Kevin de Bruyne, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus, but Nuno Espirito Santo’s side stood firm to claim an important three points.
Jack Grealish had a fairly quiet game. His biggest contribution was to receive a yellow card late on. As for Kane, the manager gave few clues if the England captain would be staying at the club.
Easy Win for the European Champions
The bookies favourite to win the league, Chelsea, also had an easy afternoon, with the highlight being academy product Trevoh Chalobah’s goal that was hit from 25-yards. The 22-year-old has been at Chelsea since he was 8-year-old and fell to the ground in tears when his speculative shot found the net. The goal was Chelsea’s third after first-half goals from Marcos Alonso and Christian Pulisic. Chelsea barely needed to get out of first gear against Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace despite missing players such as Kante, Ziyech, Chilwell and Havertz. With Romelu Lukaku yet to make his debut since his £97.5m move, Chelsea has an alarming number of excellent players at their disposal.
In other games in the Premier League, two late goals by Brighton gave them victory over Burnley at Turf Moor. James Tarkowski’s header in the 2nd minute was allowed to stand, despite a push on Neal Maupay. Maupay was incensed that the ‘lighter touch of VAR’ didn’t rule out the goal. However, the striker gained his revenge, scoring in the 73rd minute before Argentine Mac Allister scored five minutes later, giving the visitors a 2-1 win.
Everton went behind in their game with Southampton before fighting back in the second half to win 3-1. Adam Armstrong scored on his debut in the 22nd minute, finding the top corner after good work from Che Adams. Rafael Benitez’s side looked like a different team after the break. The former Liverpool boss decided to play Richarlison upfront. That tactic paid off within two minutes with the player poking home from Andros Townsend’s header. Two goals in five minutes from Abdoulaye Doucoure in the 76th minute and Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the 81st made the points safe.
Everton’s neighbours, Liverpool, had a comfortable game against Norwich, the only promoted side to lose on match day 1. In the 3-0 home win, Mohamed Salah made history, becoming the first player to score in five successive Premier League campaigns on the first day of action. The Egyptian had a fine game, assisting Diogo Jota (26’) and Roberto Firmino (74’) before scoring himself in the 74th minute.