Betting Week in Review: A Lookback at the Last Seven Days
Several surprise results in the Premier League has led to a big payday for bookmakers. Both Manchester clubs failed to win, and Aston Villa hammered the reigning champions Liverpool.
Premier League Proving Impossible to Predict
To say 2020 has been challenging is perhaps the understatement of the year. It is therefore perhaps fitting that results on the pitch in the Premier League this season have been just plain crazy and reflective of this strangest of years.
The first game played on Saturday was the clash between Chelsea and Crystal Palace and was one of the few games that followed the script. Chelsea finished in 4th place last season and faced a Crystal Palace side who had won two games and had an in-form Wilfred Zaha in their ranks. Zaha has been popular with punters in the goalscoring market; the Ivory Coast attacker has scored three goals in four games, just one shy of the four he scored in the whole campaign last season.
It was Chelsea’s new boy Ben Chilwell that made the difference though, in his first start since his £45m move from Leicester City; he opened the scoring in the 50th minute. The 23-year-old then produced an excellent cross to enable Kurt Zouma to head in a second after 66 minutes. Two excellently taken penalties scored by Jorginho in the 78th and 82nd minute put the game beyond doubt. The main talking point after the game was around Tammy Abraham, who wanted to take Chelsea’s second penalty. The youngster picked up the ball to take the kick before being shepherded away from Jorginho by captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
Yorkshire Grit Denys Manchester City
The first big surprise of the weekend came when Leeds United held Premier League runner-up Manchester City to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road. The Yorkshire team had already shown their ability to get involved in a slugfest in their first game of the season. They lost with pride in a 4-3 defeat to champions Liverpool. This game was a battle of wits and tactics between the two managers, Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa.
City took an early lead, Raheem Sterling’s 17th-minute finish was the reward for their early pressure. After the goal, the game became a much more open affair with both sides forcing saves at both ends. Leeds came closest with Ederson making two fine saves to deny Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling. It was Ederson who was at fault for Leeds equaliser, his weak punch from a corner allowed Rodrigo to put Leeds level on the hour mark. The keeper atoned for his mistake later in the game, an athletic save tipped Rodrigo’s header onto the bar and also saving a certain goal by diving at the feet of the lively Patrick Bamford. A draw was probably a fair result; it sees Leeds go to 5th in the league and Manchester City move up to 11th, although City have played one less game than most clubs.
Super Sunday Shocks the Footballing World
The BBC describes Sunday’s action as ‘the most ridiculous five hours of Premier League football ever’ and for the bookmakers, it was probably one of their most profitable days. The results were so outrageous that even the next day, you questioned whether it really happened.
The first game of the day was high-flying Leicester who took on West Ham at the King Power Stadium. Leicester went into the game boasting a 100% record and a decent win against the Hammers, who started the day in 10th place, would see the Foxes leapfrog Everton to the top spot in the league. Few predicted anything more than a routine win for Leicester, especially after hammering Manchester City 5-2 seven days earlier. West Ham’s cause wasn’t helped by the absence of their manager, David Moyes, who was in self-isolation after contracting the coronavirus.
Despite this, as in their 4-0 win against Wolves in their previous game, West Ham ran riot and hammered the 2016 Premier League champions 3-0. Goals from the impressive Michail Antonio (14’), Pablo Fornals (34’) and Jarrod Bowen (83’). So good was the West Ham defence that Jamie Vardy, who is always a popular bet in the goalscoring markets, failed to register a single shot on goal. The former England international had a great chance to score in the dying minutes of the game; he was one-on-one against the keeper but put his effort wide. It was a result that meant West Ham had beaten one of top two in the Premier League for the first time since 2017.
Smug Mourinho Enjoys Old Trafford Visit
Tottenham have had to endure a manic schedule due to their participation in the qualifying stages of the Europa League, and many had predicted an easy win for their opponents, Manchester United. Bettors were well aware that the highly influential Son Heung-Min was a doubt for this fixture. When you also consider the minutes that Harry Kane has had to play already this season, expectations of fatigue wasn’t altogether unjustified. However this wasn’t the case, Son started the game and played his part in the rout as Tottenham destroyed United at Old Trafford by six goals to one. The South Korean player scored two goals, as did Harry Kane.
It would be easy to point to Anthony Martial’s red-card in the 28th minute after reacting to an elbow in his neck from Erik Lamela, but the truth is, despite taking the lead in the 2nd minute courtesy of yet another Bruno Fernandes penalty, United were always second best on the day, even with eleven players on the pitch. Harry Maguire, in particular, was having a torrid time at the back. United fans will be hurt by conceding six goals at home; the truth is that they were lucky it was only six, Spurs could easily have hit double figures. By the end of the ninety minutes, the records came tumbling, including:
- This loss was Manchester United’s joint-heaviest defeat in the Premier League. The last time they were beaten by a five-goal margin was against Manchester City in 2011.
- Spurs became the first team to score four first-half goals since they did it themselves back in 1957.
- United have lost the first two home games for only the fifth time in their history. The last time being in the 1986/7 season.
- This match is the first time in a decade that there were three goals scored in seven minutes.
- The win against United is Jose Mourinho’s first away win against Premier League clubs he has managed. Before this game, he had drawn one and lost four.
Aston Villa in Seventh Heaven With Win Over the Champions
It seemed inconceivable that Spur’s win over United wouldn’t be the main talking point of the weekend, yet come Monday morning, all the discussion was about Aston Villa’s stunning 7-2 win over the defending champions Liverpool.
Always heavily backed in the ‘to win’ market, some Liverpool fans were convinced they would improve on last season’s excellent performance and may even go the whole season unbeaten. These dreams and bets were ruthlessly shattered by Aston Villa, who was simply outstanding. Ollie Watkins scored a first-half hat-trick, and England midfielder Jack Grealish was involved in five goals including a hat-trick of assists. All this from a team who only avoided relegation last season on the final day.
In an incredible match, it was Villa who took the lead, a mistake by Liverpool’s stand-in keeper Adrian who passed the ball straight to Grealish, who in turn fed Watkins who side-footed from a close distance. Watkins found the top corner in the 22nd minute before Mohamed Salah got one back for the visitors. Villa extended their lead to three and Watkins completed his hat-trick in the 39th minute, four minutes after John McGinn’s deflected volley. Ross Barkley, a famous Everton fan, scored on his debut in the 55th minute. Salah added his second in the 60th minute to give Liverpool hope of a fightback, but these hopes were dashed with a nine-minute double from Grealish (66’, 75’).
An incredible end to an amazing weekend of football, as we now have a two-week break due to international fixtures, it was the perfect send-off. Bookmakers will be hoping for more of the same when Premier League action resumes.