This article is part of our Betting on Soccer series.
It feels nice to have a break from the action. Following three straight weeks of constant Premier League and Champions League matches, teams are off the next two weeks. While it's nice for fans, a lot of the top players still have to travel for their international sides, which could make things worse upon return.
Similar to last month when multiple players came back injured or positive for COVID-19, there's a chance things are worse in November. Not only are COVID-19 cases up around Europe, but muscles are being stretched to their limits, something that happened to Trent Alexander-Arnold against Man City when he went down with a calf injury.
Injuries and illnesses are hard to project, but there are still some numbers to take advantage of the rest of the way.
Leicester City sit top of the table, yet their odds don't align with what's happened over the past year. The Foxes finished fifth last season, four points behind both Chelsea and Manchester United. A lot of talk has been made about the additions to those clubs, but Leicester haven't been quiet, adding Wesley Fofana, Cengiz Under and Timothy Castagne to help their ranks, while everyone else in the team is fairly young outside of the tent poles like Kasper Schmeichel, Jonny Evans and Jamie Vardy.
More impressive than Leicester sitting atop the table after eight gameweeks is that they've done it despite injuries to James Maddison and Vardy. If you can win with Christian Fuchs, who had 10 league starts the prior two seasons, you can win with anyone. This leads me to Leicester at +275 to finish top four or -118 to finish in the top six. They haven't had the toughest schedule, but they already won at Manchester City, and it's not like the five teams projected to finish above them have been consistent. Once at full health, there's no reason Leicester can't compete like a top-four team in the second half of the season. Put it this way: do you trust Chelsea, Man United or Tottenham to finish top four? I'm leaning no.
West Ham are another team that seems a bit off in the odds. They sit 12th in the table with a positive goal differential despite playing maybe the hardest schedule in the league, already facing Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham, Leicester, Wolves and Arsenal. I'm slightly worried about their lack of depth because they've changed their starting XI maybe the least of any team in the league, but I think they have enough to continue their current form.
Said Benrahma boosts the attack if Michail Antonio has to miss more time, while their bench options are at least experienced. Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks could fill in on the back line when needed, while Manuel Lanzini and Robert Snodgrass were full-time starters in prior seasons. Plus, they don't have to worry about non-league matches like the top half of the table.
According to the odds, the Hammers are level with Leeds United at +188 to finish top 10. That places them tied for 12th, which is reasonable after finishing 16th last season. However, there's no reason they can't finish above Arsenal, Everton, Southampton, Wolves or Aston Villa, all of whom are +100 or above to finish in the top 10.
It wasn't long ago that West Ham were in the conversation to be relegated last season and then took 12 points from their final seven matches despite losing at home to Burnley. Not coincidentally, they have 11 points through the first eight matches this season despite a difficult schedule. Extrapolate those numbers and they should be in the 50-point range, placing them in contention for the top 10. If you don't like that bet, West Ham are -112 to finish above Leeds United in the table, which is worth consideration given how inconsistent the latter have been.
In terms of the odds available, there isn't much else that stands out. I was harsh on Fulham in prior articles, but I think they did more during the transfer period than West Brom, which could make them at -112 to finish above the Baggies a viable bet. They aren't a good team, but Joachim Andersen and Tosin Adarabioyo have at least helped the back line look formidable.
GOLDEN BOOT ODDS
There are a couple players I'd take a flyer on for the Golden Boot. It's hard betting against Mohamed Salah, who is the favorite and already has eight goals, but he was in a similar spot last season and slowed down in the second half, finishing with 19. Salah and Vardy are both at eight goals, but they have a combined nine goals from the penalty spot.
I think that gives Timo Werner decent value with +1200 odds to score the most goals in the league. He has four goals, all of them from open play, and he was recently moved to penalties over Jorginho, which should be a nice boost. Son Heung-Min has the same odds as Werner, and while all eight of his goals are from open play, I'd rather go with the penalty taker.
If you want more value, Patrick Bamford has been surprisingly consistent this season even though three of his seven goals came in one match. He's averaging 1.88 shots on target per 90 minutes and comes in at +2500 to lead the league despite being on par with the top scorers. The issue is that Mateusz Klich took Leeds United's only penalty this season.
If you prefer a penalty taker, Bruno Fernandes has oddly been further down the list in terms of odds all season. He opened at +1600 to win the Golden Boot and then dropped to +6600 prior to last weekend's brace. Following Gameweek 8, he's +3300 to lead the league in scoring. He's played one fewer match than most teams and is averaging 0.71 goals per match in league play after no one thought he could match last season's 0.60 in 14 starts. Keep in mind, 0.50 goals per match leads to 19, which is usually enough to be in contention for the Golden Boot and where Salah finished last season.