Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.
LAS VEGAS — Gonna stay in England this weekend, and thinking about bringing the Hammer down, more about that in a minute, as we take a deep dive into the West Ham United vs Watford match this afternoon.
Premier League Pick #1
Both teams are locked at 34 points, just three out of the dreaded relegation zone. West Ham, or, yes, the HAMMERS, have a superb badge on the jersey, with two golden hammers crisscrossed, but Mrs. Ecks & Bacon has put me on lockdown till Christmas, so no buying.
Michail Antonio, a kid from London, scored ALL four goals in West Ham’s 4-0 win over Norwich City this past Saturday, and as long as he is on the pitch, we’re gonna take a taste of Ham. Just found out that Michail started his career with the Tooting & Mitcham Wanderers, an association football club based in London. Of course, we went to the Tooting store and were looking at their logo, and MAN, it’s SWEET. But once again, I’m banned.
Back to the numbers. The Hammers’ 34 points have come on nine wins, 19 losses and seven draws. They’ve scored 44 times and allowed 59 goals, for a kinda ugly -15 goal differential.
The Hornets from Watford are also on 34 points, with eight wins, 17 losses and 10 draws. They’ve hit the net 33 times and allowed 54 goals, for an even uglier -21 goal differential. Their captain and lead striker, Troy Deeney, was taken off with a knee problem in the last game against Newcastle, and if he does play, he probably will not be at 100 percent.
But the real UGLY for Watford comes on the road. The Hornets have won only one of their last 11 away games (draw 2, lose 8), but wait, it gets even UGLIER. Tell me Eck. In the last four on the road, they have eaten FOUR bagels and been outscored 8-0!!
Don’t have the parachute pants like my guy Stanley Kirk Burrell, better known as MC Hammer, but it’s HAMMER TIME in London, BAABBBEEE!!!
Premier League Pick #2
In the FA Cup semifinal tomorrow, I’d love to take a bite of Arsenal at like a staggering price of +840, but as you know by now, the Gunners are MY guys, MY heart, MY soul. And even though they have won the most FA Cups in history, THIRTEEN, I would be betting with my heart rather than my head.
If you wanna little background on how each team got here, Arsenal beat Leeds United, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Sheffield United, and will be looking to reach the final for a record 21st time. Manchester City beat Port Vale, Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United. But there’s one YUGE problem ... the Citizens. They’ve played twice this season, and City has fed the Gunners two bagels, 3-0 at Manchester and also 3-0 in North London.
I know City is the side, but can NOT bring myself to bet against Arsenal. How about a draw after 90 minutes at +450.
Premier League Pick #3
In the other semifinal on Sunday, it’s the other Manchester, as in United, taking on Chelsea. Both sides are playing at a very high level, and just one point separates them in the top four of the Premier League standings.
Man U is EN FUEGO with an unbeaten run that stretches to 19 games across all competitions. They have NOT lost since the restart, winning six and posting two draws. And the Red Devils do not mind playing on the road; actually, they’ve been BRILLIANT. Check this out. They beat Brighton & Hove 3-0, Aston Villa 3-0 and Crystal Palace 2-0. Not sure if they’re gonna be able to bagel the Blues, but an 8-0 three-game run away from home is phenomenal!
Oh, I forgot to mention that the last time the Devils were at Stamford Bridge in London, it was, guess what, another bagel, beating Chelsea 2-0. And oh yeah, forgot to mention that the last three times they’ve played Chelsea, it was Man U 4-0, Man U 2-1 and Man U 2-0. Gimme the Red Devils for the win. LOCK it in!!!
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America's Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email...email@example.com.