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Fine Margins: Best bets for the weekend in English soccer

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Nottingham Forest vs. Fulham (Friday, 16 September, 3 p.m. ET)

We have a condensed calendar this weekend in the Premier League, as policing issues mean that Chelsea vs. Liverpool, Manchester United vs. Leeds, and Brighton vs. Crystal Palace are all postponed. 

So we need to work a little harder than normal to find value, but it might be found in Nottingham Forest welcoming Fulham on Friday evening. 

Forest’s squad has undergone a huge transition, with 22 players being added over the summer, completely reshaping the team that got promoted. We don’t particularly view this as a positive, and it’s been reflected in their recent defensive performances. Forest has conceded, on average, 2.2 xG per 90 minutes this season, which means that the 14 goals they have conceded is more than justified. 

Fulham, meanwhile, have been competitive in every match this season, scoring in all but one. Aleksander Mitrovic is a player at the top of his game and has been integral to everything positive they have produced. They have also scored in every match but one - away to Wolves, who struggle to score in virtually every match - but they have also conceded in every match but that same one. 

Forest will have to be on the front foot here in a type of game that they will be expected to win if they are to have any aspirations of staying up. So we like the both teams to score market here, given the expected and actual totals both sides have accumulated this season. 

Pick: Both teams to score (-140, BetMGM)


Preston vs. Sheffield United (Saturday, 17 September, 9 a.m. ET)

There are plenty of matches in the Premier League which are too difficult to call, so we’ll take a trip down into the Championship for our bet builder this weekend. 

Preston are breaking things from a statistical perspective as their league results this season more resemble binary code than anything else; 0-0, 0-0, 1-0, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 1-1. It’s a spectacular defensive run which just missed out on breaking an English league record by a single match. But it’s also a horrendous run in front of goal and so, guess what, we’re opposing goals again in this one. 

Visitors Sheffield United are one of the form teams in the division, unbeaten in seven matches, with five wins during that time. Four of their five away matches have gone under 2.5 goals, though, and while we want to get them onside in the result, we can hedge our bet in a combination. 

We can select Sheffield United or Draw on the double chance market, and combine this with under 2.5 goals, we get an odds-against selection of +120. It would have landed in Sheffield United’s last three home matches, and in EVERY Preston home match this season, so we like this one to land. 

Pick: Sheffield United +0.5 and under 2.5 goals (+120, Bet365)


Tottenham vs. Leicester (Saturday, 17 September, 12.30 p.m. ET)

This is an interesting fixture at Tottenham Hotspur stadium as Spurs will look to bounce back from their damaging loss away to Sporting in the Champions League. That wasn’t an expected result for Antonio Conte’s men, who have started the season so positively, and Conte will demand instant redemption against a Leicester team who simply can’t defend. 

Brendan Rodgers’ beleaguered side have conceded 11 goals in just three matches on the road. Last time out Brighton hit five against them, and it could easily have been far worse. Rodgers’ defensive units have always been the weakest part of any team he has managed, and it doesn’t look like he has the answer for solving Leicester’s current woes. 

And for Rodgers, the best form of defense is attack. His team have also netted five goals in three away matches and are far stronger at that end of the pitch, meaning we think they could score here. But their issues at the back mean we would want to side with Spurs, and take over three goals in total. 

We’ll also take Harry Kane to score any time. The England man will be smarting after failing to find the net in two Champions League matches in a row, despite attempting a total of eight shots across those games. He has netted in Tottenham’s last two home league games versus Wolves and Fulham, and you can’t keep a good striker like Kane down for long. He also likes playing Leicester - he’s scored on the last three occasions he has faced them. 

Bundle them all together and you have a speculative builder that covers off the type of match we expect this one to be - but as always, small stakes for long shots!

Pick: Spurs to win, Kane to score, both teams to score, and over 3 goals (+450, Bet365)