The English Premier League gets under way on Saturday when the last team to book its spot in this season’s competition, Hull, entertains last term’s shock champion, Leicester, and one thinks that it is likely to be a low-scoring game.
Hull’s preparations for its return to the English Premier League have been disastrous ever since Steve Bruce decided that he would prefer unemployment to managing the Tigers in the top flight. Mike Phelan, an experienced coach who has not been the boss of any team since retiring as a player in 1995, is set to lead Hull in its weekend home match against Leicester and, given the task that the Tigers face, one expects that Alex Ferguson’s former Manchester United assistant manager will employ a safety-first gameplan.
Even though Hull won promotion from the English Championship to the English Premier League last season, most of its games were moribund. Thirty-two of Hull’s 49 English Championship matches went under two and a half goals, including 14 of its 24 home games. Only Middlesbrough conceded fewer goals than Hull during the 46 English Championship rounds so the Tigers were reliant on sound defence in their successful campaign and one thinks that they will be the first of many sides to force Leicester to make the pace because the Foxes were so dangerous on the counter attack in their incredible season.
Marathonbet is listing odds of -147 about Hull and Leicester combining for under two and a half goals. Leicester has been popular in match betting at around even money but, with Hull unlikely to trouble Kasper Schmeichel often, one prefers the slightly shorter prices about under two and a half goals.
Many bookmakers, including Paddy Power, are offering odds of -175 about the Tony Pulis Cup between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich on Saturday going under two and a half goals. Crystal Palace looks set to continue to struggle in the goal-scoring department and, even though the Eagles reached last term’s English FA Cup final, there is no getting away from the fact that its form in the second half of the English Premier League was awful.
West Bromwich has a new Chinese owner so Pulis cannot afford for the Baggies to get off to a terrible English Premier League start and the history books show that the Hawthorns supremo reverts to type when the pressure is on. Reverting to type for Pulis means prioritising defence and making it difficult for opposition teams to pierce West Bromwich. No English Premier League side featured in more low-scoring games last term than West Bromwich, with 24 of the 38 matches featuring the boring Baggies going under two and a half goals, including 14 out of 19 fixtures away from their Black Country ground.
Finally, if there is one English Premier League round one game that is likely to go over two and a half goals, it is Sunday’s glamour clash between Arsenal and Liverpool. The option is available at odds of -104 with Marathonbet and it rates as one’s third and final English Premier League pick.
Arsenal and Liverpool have met just once since Jurgen Klopp became Reds boss and January’s English Premier League match at Anfield ended in a 3-3 draw, with punters who backed over two and a half goals collecting their winnings after only 19 minutes. If any team is going to outscore Manchester City in this season’s English Premier League it is likely to be Klopp’s attack-minded Liverpool, each of the last three Reds friendlies went over two and a half goals and each of Arsenal’s last four warm-up games exceeded that line.
Hull v Leicester – Under 2.5 Goals
Saturday 13th August, 12:30 GMT
Crystal Palace v West Brom – Under 2.5 Goals
Saturday 13th August, 15:00 GMT
Arsenal v Liverpool – Over 2.5 Goals
Sunday 14th August, 16:00 GMT
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