Soccer

Premier League Betting Picks for Matchweek 20: Can Liverpool Stay on Top of the Table?

Zack Bussiere
Zack Bussiere@ZackBussiere
Premier League Betting Picks for Matchweek 20: Can Liverpool Stay on Top of the Table?

We are nearing the end of the EPL holiday season, during which every team in the Premier League has been dealing with fixture congestion. For most teams, their fixtures in Matchweek 20 will be their third in seven to eight days. Keep an eye on starting lineups, as squad rotation could be more prevalent this weekend.

Matchweek 20 -- which starts on Saturday -- features 10 matches and is highlighted by a showdown between Newcastle and Liverpool.

When looking at the EPL soccer odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, which bets make the most sense for this matchweek?

EPL Betting: Matchweek 20

Newcastle at Liverpool (3:00 p.m. ET Monday)

Liverpool -1.5 (+118)

Liverpool and Newcastle enter this clash as two teams heading in very different directions.

Liverpool is on top of the table and undefeated in their last 12 Premier League fixtures, while Newcastle has fallen to eighth on the table after losing four of their last five league matches.

Both of these teams excel at generating expected goals. Per FBRef, Newcastle ranks first (38.6) while Liverpool ranks third (37.2). On the other side of the pitch, the Reds have the advantage. Liverpool has allowed the third-fewest xG this season (22.0), whereas Newcastle has allowed the eighth-fewest (26.5).

The Toons' poor run of form can be primarily attributed to their defense. Over their last five fixtures, they have allowed an average of 2.46 xG per match. Their struggles can't be attributed to the quality of opponent, as during that stretch they faced Everton, Tottenham, Fulham, Luton Town, and Nottingham Forest.

They have continued to generate chances, averaging 2.1 xG per match, but outside of their three goals against Fulham, they have managed to find the back of the net just twice from 7.0 xG goals.

At a time when they are struggling to convert their chances, Liverpool's defense presents a difficult challenge for Newcastle. In their last three matches -- against Manchester United, Arsenal, and Burnley -- the Reds have allowed just one goal from 2.3 xG and held all three opponents to less than 1.0 xG. During their current 12-match unbeaten streak, the Reds are allowing just 1.1 xG per match.

Liverpool have also been at their best when playing at Anfield this season. They are undefeated in nine home fixtures and rank second in xG at home (21.0) and third in xG allowed (7.9).

Newcastle has been at their worst when playing on the road. They have taken just five points from their nine away fixtures, with their only win coming against Sheffield United. Away from home, the Toons average 0.76 fewer xG per match and allow 0.78 more xG per match. On the road, their xG difference per 90 (-0.17) ranks eighth. Liverpool's xG difference per 90 at home (+1.46) ranks first.

Playing at home, Liverpool are deserving favorites in this one. Based on their current form and results at home this season, I like them to win by at least two goals and extend Newcastle's poor stretch of results.

Manchester United at Nottingham Forest (12:30 p.m. ET Saturday)

Over 2.5 Goals (-145)

Are Manchester United back? It feels like this question has been asked every other week since the start of the season, and so far, the correct answer has always been no.

After three and a half months of narrow wins against lesser opposition and large losses to contenders, United flipped the script in their last five matches. They have played much better against better opponents, taking seven points from three matches against Chelsea, Aston Villa and Liverpool, but they have struggled in easier spots, losing to Bournemouth and West Ham by a combined score of 5-0.

The only thing consistent about United is their inconsistency. In their win over Aston Villa, they played two entirely different halves, turning things around in the second half when they needed it most to earn a win with their best performance of the season thus far. That same sentence was said after their win against Chelsea, which they promptly followed up with a crushing home loss to the Cherries.

The one thing we do know about United is their inconsistency opens the door for their opponents to generate scoring chances. United have allowed the fifth-most xG this season (31.8). They have held their opponent to under 1.0 xG just once in their last 11 matches and have allowed an average of 1.8 xG per fixture during that stretch.

They have been incredibly fortunate to concede only 25 goals this season, the fifth-fewest in the EPL. Nottingham Forest has allowed 34 goals despite allowing 1.8 fewer xGs than United.

Forest enters this fixture coming off a 3-1 win over Newcastle that broke a seven-match winless streak. Forest has been a better side than their results over the past eight games indicate. In those matches, they have a combined 10-19 scoreline despite an xG scoreline of 11.7-13.2.

Forest has generated at least 1.0 xG and allowed at least 1.0 xG in each of their last four fixtures.

Predicting which United side will show up to any given half of any given game has been a difficult task this season. Their win over Villa should provide them some confidence to find more goals in this one, but their consistent lapses on defense should provide Forest with opportunities, as well.

Player Props

Alejandro Garnacho to Score (+330): Garnacho has been a bright spot for United this season and is coming off the best performance of his young career -- his two second-half goals lifted United to their comeback victory over Villa on Tuesday. Never afraid to play direct, Garnacho ranks second in shots per 90 in the EPL this season (3.78). He enters this one in excellent form and could start to convert his high shot numbers into goals more consistently.

Bernardo Silva to Score or Assist (-130): Manchester City are also coming off a potentially season-saving second-half turnaround. Their 3-1 victory over Everton was just their second in their last seven completed matches. They will carry that momentum into a home fixture against a Sheffield United side that has allowed the most xG in the league this season (37.7). There should be opportunities for all of City's forwards, but I like Silva's odds the most. He has two goals and an assist in his last three appearances and ranks third in xG + expected assisted goals per 90 (0.54) among players expected to start for City this weekend.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.