4/19 Recap: A bit of a technological mishap kept me out of the picks game over the weekend, but after Friday’s results that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. First-half props did not help end my spell of bad betting form. Kevin Long’s awkward own goal was a gut punch for both myself and Burnley. Ajax’s first half was spurts of glumness and glory. A saved PK early on hurt my brain. An out of position keeper allowed VVV to rifle home an unlikely first goal. But to cap it off I was able to snare a draw thanks to a pair of goals from David Neres. Kudos to the Brazilian. So as many a league is coming to an end, I am trying to plot my plan of attack for the summer. So like many teams will be doing, I’m playing out the string.
My Picks: Burnley 1 Chelsea 1 (Burnley +0.5 at half [-200])
Ajax 3 VVV Venlo 0 (Ajax -1 First Half [-130])
Actual Results: Chelsea 2 Burnley 1 (Chelsea 1 Burnley 0 at half)
Ajax 4 VVV Venlo 1 (Ajax 2 VVV Venlo 1 at half)
We’ll start off today in Spain where Athletic Bilbao is attempting to put a disappointing campaign behind them.
SPANISH PRIMERA DIVISION
Levante @ Athletic Bilbao (3:00 PM ET/beIN Sports USA, beIN Sports en Español, fuboTV)
It is the mark of a true professional to perform in a game with literally nothing at stake.
Athletic Bilbao is in the midst of one of their worst campaigns in recent memory. The Basque side finished with 55 or more points in each of the past four years. They’ll need to win out in the league to replicate that feat this year. In the past, they could rely on a hot streak from Aritz Aduriz to propel them to such a run. But the now 37-year-old Spaniard is finally showing his age, despite still being the club’s leading scorer this season.
For Levante, they are not mathematically safe yet, but the form of those behind them all but guarantees it. Las Granolas’ return to the Primera has had its rough patches, but survival should allow the team to build a club in new manager Paco Lopez’s image. The club has won four and drawn one of the six games he’s been in charge since Juan Ramon Muniz’s sacking in March.
The reverse fixture saw Bilbao score all three goals (two for themselves and an own goal) to take all three points on the road. However, with Levante’s recent form is pushing me towards the draw tonight. I like the price and would not be surprised to see Levante win outright if they get a fortuitous bounce at some point.
PREDICTION: Levante 1 Athletic Bilbao 1 (DRAW +275)
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Newcastle United @ Everton (3:00 PM ET/NBC Sports Network, fuboTV, SiriusXM FC 157)
At the start of the season, I predicted that Newcastle would get relegated. One of my other brainless picks was that Rafa Benitez would be the first manager to get the sack in England. Yet here we are a couple weeks from season’s end and Rafa is still at the helm of the mid-table Magpies.
It may not have been a massive return to past glory for Newcastle, but this year has exceeded expectations. Even more so the past month has been stellar for them. A win at Goodison Park would mark a fifth consecutive league win for Newcastle, their best run of 2017-18. Last time out against Arsenal saw them absorb an early Alexandre Lacazette goal, yet reply with two of their own for the big win.
Everton is taking their mid-table status a little bit tougher than Newcastle. After a big summer spending spree to no avail, plus some additional fruitless cash splashing in January, Everton as an organization is in turmoil. The club recently sent out a fan survey to a select panel to rate manager Sam Allardyce’s performance from a 0 to 10. They’ve since backpedaled on the campaign, but the damage is done.
Everton is favored at home (per Bovada) but it doesn’t feel like it. I’ll take Newcastle to cover the half a goal at Goodison. They may both be playing out the string, but at least Newcastle still feels like doing the operative word: playing.
PREDICTION: Newcastle United 2 Everton 1 (Newcastle +0.5 goals [-150])
If you have any picks you’d like to see made, you can contact me on Twitter @TREVORutley. In addition to the available media listed for each game, be sure to try out our Gameview service while watching as well. Also, here is a link for my results throughout and the points system. Cheers!