It’s been far too long without Premier League action thanks to the international break. But with another week of World Cup qualifying in the books, English football’s top players return to their respective clubs. We’ll take a look at the action with our Premier League Matchday 31 picks.
The competition is reaching its zenith in the Premier League, with Manchester City only one point ahead of Liverpool following a disappointing draw at Crystal Palace. Meanwhile, the battle for a Champions League spot rages on, as only eight points separate fourth-place Arsenal from eighth-place Wolves.
At the bottom of the table, Leeds have given themselves some breathing room with back-to-back wins, while Everton are just three points clear of Watford following wins by both sides in Matchday 30.
This week’s matches promise to come with consequences at both ends of the table, and we’re highlighting a few of the teams that could be most impacted.
One midtable club looks to put perhaps the final nail in the coffin of another’s top-four hopes, an East London side tries to establish a strong run of form with a hammering of the Premier League’s worst away team, and a club once flirting with relegation aims to continue its climb back up the table with a third successive win.
Here are my top betting picks and predictions for the Premier League Matchday 31 schedule (odds via BetMGM, DraftKings Sportsbook, and FanDuel Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
SEE ALSO: 2022 World Cup Draw
Premier League Matchday 31 Picks
- Aston Villa (+155) vs. Wolves ★★★★★
- Everton vs. West Ham -1 (+220) ★★★★
- Southampton vs. Leeds (+140) ★★★★
SEE ALSO: All Soccer Picks
Premier League Matchday 31 Predictions
Aston Villa (+155 via DraftKings)
Among the many games on Saturday is a matchup at Molineux between eighth-place Wolves and ninth-place Aston Villa. Both sides are coming off a loss in their last Premier League outing, with Wolves dropping a home affair to Leeds and Villa similarly losing at home to Arsenal. However, the former's defeat came with much greater consequences than just the dropped points.
Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves exited the match in the first half due to a knee injury that will sideline him for the foreseeable future. Additionally, striker Raul Jimenez was sent off before the hour mark and will consequently be suspended for the Villa clash. As it was, Wolves struggled recently at home even with the services of their two best players. They've taken six points from their last five home games, but they've managed a minus-5.4 expected goal differential in those matches.
Meanwhile, Villa have been one of the Premier League's more impressive away sides with just a minus-3.0 xGD. That's the fifth-best mark in the league, though Villa's 1.20 away points per game rank 10th. However, Villa have taken an impressive nine points from their last five away matches (1.80 per game), during which they've managed a plus-0.90 xGD.
Wolves' top-four hopes will take a massive and possibly deathly blow with a second straight home loss, and Villa will continue their impressive run since replacing former manager Dean Smith with Steven Gerrard.
West Ham -1 (+220 via FanDuel)
Everton's status as a team in danger of being relegated is due to a true Jekyll and Hyde act this season. The Toffies have actually been relatively good at home, averaging 1.36 points per game at Goodison Park, a number that would have the team in 10th if applied to its 27 games. However, Everton are unfathomably bad away from home. They've taken just six points from 13 away matches for a league-worst average of 0.46 per game, and their minus-10.3 xGD in those matches is only marginally better as the fourth-worst mark.
To make matters worse for the Toffees, they travel to London Stadium to take one of the Premier League's better home sides in West Ham. The Irons rank sixth in the Premier League with 1.80 points per game at home, and their plus-6.9 xGD is right in line with their plus-seven goal differential, which ranks sixth.
Both teams are expected to be without important players for this clash. Jarrod Bowen will likely miss a third straight game for West Ham with an injury. However, Said Benrahma has stepped up in his teammate's absence, recording two assists in West Ham's home win over Aston Villa and notching a goal in their away loss to Spurs last time out. On the other side, Everton will be without midfielder Allan, who was sent off in the team's home victory against Newcastle. The Brazilian brings with him a work rate and level of aggression in midfield that the Toffees will sorely miss.
Everton have a catastrophic minus-8.4 xGD in their last five away games in the Premier League. Even without Bowen, West Ham will add to the Toffees' road woes with a resounding victory.
Leeds (+140 via DraftKings)
Following a rocky start to life as a Premier League manager, Jesse Marsch and his Leeds side are finally turning the corner. They've won two straight matches and thoroughly outplayed the opposition in each affair. Now with some breathing room from the drop zone, they welcome Southampton to Elland Road.
Similar to Everton, the Saints' away record is what's holding them back this season. Southampton's 0.93 points per away game rank toward the bottom of the league, and they were absolutely decimated at Villa Park in their last match away from St. Mary's. Southampton's issue hasn't been a lack of goals, but rather the inability to not leak them in bunches. They've managed a relatively decent 16 goals away from home (a similar mark to that of most midtable clubs), but they've conceded a truly shocking 31 goals on 25.9 expected goals against - both numbers are the third-worst in the Premier League.
For his part, Marsch's changes already seem to be having a positive effect on the team's performances. Leeds have been much tighter at the back in his four matches - they have a plus-3.1 xGD in them - and his decision to give more responsibility to forward Rodrigo has coincided with the Spanish international improving his play, recording two goals in the last two matches.
The only marching the Saints will do will be back home following another disappointing away result, as Leeds will make it three wins on the trot.
Premier League Matchday 31 Quick Picks
Premier League Matchday 31 Parlay Picks
We're combining our six winners to build a very tasty parlay. You can add Liverpool (-800) for some extra profit if this isn't quite wild enough already.
Manchester City (-450) + Aston Villa (+155) + Leeds (+140) + Manchester United (-190) + West Ham (-125) + Spurs (-195) = +3008 (via DraftKings)
Where to Bet on Premier League Picks
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Premier League Matchday 31 picks made 3/31/2022 at 12:45 p.m. ET.