The start of a New Year is a chance for struggling teams to put their disappointing seasons behind them and try something new to get their campaigns back on track. Teams who ended 2020 with good form will hope the change of year will not cause any major disruption to the way they play. Leaders Liverpool play in the final game of this weekend’s slate of games and by the time the Reds take to the pitch at Southampton, Jurgen Klopp’s side could see their three-point advantage wiped out if Manchester United can beat Aston Villa. It promises to be another compelling slate of fixtures to start 2021. Here are some soccer bets that stand out to me on DraftKings Sportsbook for the upcoming English Premier League (EPL) games.
Manchester United vs. Aston Villa
What a start to 2021 it would be for Manchester United if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team were to beat Aston Villa at Old Trafford and move level on 33 points with leaders Liverpool at the top of the standings. United ended the year as the in-form team with 23 points won from their last nine EPL games to climb to second place after the latest slate of fixtures. United’s challenge in the New Year will be to keep the pressure on the defending champions. The visit of Aston Villa to Old Trafford won’t be easy as Villa is looking to extend their unbeaten run to six. Villa goes into the game fifth in the table and a win will see Dean Smith’s side close the gap on their hosts to a single point. Villa has struggled in this fixture over the years with their last league win at Old Trafford coming on December 12, 2009. Since then United is unbeaten in the last 16 meetings home and away, but they will be tested by a Villa side that has registered more shutouts (eight) than any other team this season.
Tottenham vs. Leeds United
Leeds travels to Tottenham in a fixture that is a clash of styles. Leeds likes to press their opponents at every opportunity which leads to high-scoring games while Tottenham has been accused of parking the bus with their defensive mindset, especially after scoring first. Leeds’ 5-0 win at West Brom on Tuesday night was the fifth time in their last six games that three or more total match goals had been scored. Only one of Tottenham’s last eight matches have managed to produce three or more goals scored. Tottenham’s home game with Fulham on Wednesday was postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests within the Fulham camp, which means Tottenham should be a little bit fresher than Leeds, who were rarely troubled on their trip to West Brom.
Burnley vs. Fulham
Burnley received a belated Christmas present on New Year’s Eve when it was confirmed that ALK Capital’s takeover of the club had been completed. It should bring much needed funds for manager Sean Dyche, who was the only manager not able to strengthen his squad in the summer transfer window. Burnley will look to bring in a striker or two, but for now the onus will remain on Chris Wood to score the goals. Woods is the club’s leading scorer with three, which highlights the importance of adding quality forwards to the squad. Fulham has drawn their last four games but they still find themselves in the bottom three and in danger of being relegated for the second time in three seasons. Under 2.5 goals has landed in five of Burnley’s last six games while Fulham’s last five EPL matches have failed to produce three or more goals. If those trends continue, this could be a game with very few goals.
Chelsea vs. Manchester City
At the start of the season, both Chelsea and Manchester City had visions of challenging Liverpool for the title, but they are both currently off the pace. Both teams are seven points adrift of Liverpool, although City has played two games fewer than both the Reds and the Blues. Neither side can afford to lose more ground on the leaders, which could prove to be a cagey contest. The good news for Chelsea is that the home side has won the last five meetings. Both sides have struggled to score goals in recent months. Chelsea has managed multiple goals in two of their last seven EPL fixtures while City has scored two or more goals in three of their last 12. With that in mind, this could be a low-scoring contest where one goal could win it.
Southampton vs. Liverpool
Liverpool begins the New Year on top of the table after extending its unbeaten run in the league to 12 since they were humbled 7-2 at Aston Villa. Liverpool’s advantage at the top of the standings was three points after the final slate of games of 2020, but the champions know they could and should be further clear of the chasing pack. Back-to-back draws with West Brom and Newcastle will be seen as four points dropped. The last time Liverpool failed to win three consecutive league games was in May 2018, but that is a distinct possibility against a Southampton side that has lost just one of their last six EPL games. However, with Mohamed Salah’s form against the Saints, Liverpool will be confident of returning to winning ways. Salah has scored seven times in his last six meetings and the Egyptian is the favorite to score first (+360).
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is CharliePMullan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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