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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

England versus Lithuania, Sunday, March 26

England remain unbeaten at the top of World Cup Qualifying Group F and are long odds-on (1/8) to beat Lithuania at Wembley on Sunday as Gareth Southgate begins his tenure as permanent manager. Even without the injured trio of Harry Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney, the Three Lions should, repeat should, have too many guns for a side that was thumped 4-0 in Slovakia in its last qualifying match. However, despite two wins and a draw in their last three competitive matches, England remain unconvincing under Southgate and anyone who views this tie as an exercise in buying money could be in for a nervous 90 minutes. England may well win, albeit unconvincingly, once again, but it’s hard to imagine them scoring a hatful, so let’s go with Lithuania +3 in the handicap market at 4/5 with Sky Bet.

Selection: Lithuania +3 (4/5 with Sky Bet)

Monday, 6 March 2017

Liverpool versus Burnley, Sunday, March 12

Burnley have lost just one of their last eight Premier League matches at Turf Moor, but taken just a single point from their last eight away matches. In fact, the Clarets are without a win away from home all season and, unsurprisingly, massive outsiders (17.0 with Betfair Sportsbook) to win at Anfield on Sunday.

By contrast, Liverpool have won five and drawn two of their last eight matches at Anfield and thoroughly deserved their 3-1 over Arsenal last Saturday. However, before you pile into the Reds at long odds-on (1.25 with BetBright), remember that Liverpool, although unbeaten against the current top six this season, have lost to Leicester City, Hull City and Swansea City since the turn of the year.

In fairness to Burnley, they conceded a 92nd-minute goal against Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium last Saturday, played most of the match with ten men against Watford, conceded a 98th-minute penalty at Arsenal and went toe-to-toe with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, eventually losing each of those matches by the odd goal. Sean Dyche’s side deserves a change of luck and, at a huge price, Sunday could be their day.

Selection: Burnley to win (17.0 with Betfair Sportsbook)


Thursday, 26 January 2017

Liverpool versus Chelsea, Tuesday, January 31

Chelsea may have been less than spectacular against Hull City at Stamford Bridge on their last Premier League outing, but a 2-0 win took them eight points clear of second-placed Arsenal, and ten points clear of fourth-placed Liverpool, at the top of the table. The Blues have won 15 of their last 16 Premier League matches and, with rumours regarding the future of top-scorer Diego Costa at and end, according to manager Antonio Conte, Chelsea are in a good place.

By contrast, a 3-2 defeat by struggling Swansea at Anfield dealt a huge blow to Liverpool’s title aspirations, and a subsequent 1-0 defeat by Southampton in EFL Cup semi-final second leg, again at Anfield, has left the Reds with just one win from seven matches, in all competitions, this year. The jaded Reds have questions to answer.

Chelsea have scored the opening goal in 16 of their 22 matches in the Premier League this season, with Diego Costa scoring 15 goals, all from open play, so let’s try the Spanish hitman to score the first goal at 5.5 with32Red or 188Sport.

Selection: Diego Costa to score first goal (5.5 with32Red or 188Sport)

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Hull City

Hull City were promoted to the Premier League for the third time at the end of the 2015/16 season, but have never stayed for more than two seasons and never finished higher than 16th.

Nevertheless, the Tigers’ have made a promising start to the new campaign, beating Leicester City 2-1 at the KCOM Stadium and Swansea City 2-0 at the Liberty Stadium before succumbing to an injury-time winner in a 1-0 defeat by Manchester United back at the KCOM Stadium. They face Arsenal and Chelsea at home, and Liverpool away, in their next four Premier League fixtures but, for the time being, fans have plenty of cause for optimism.

Caretaker manager Mike Phelan has been active in the transfer market, signing former Tottenham midfielder Ryan Mason for a club record £12.5 million, along with former Manchester United striker Will Keane for £1 million and former Cardiff City goalkeeper David Marshall for £1.5 million. Phelan failed in his effort to bring in Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez on a season-long loan, but is reportedly still keen to fill his two remaining loan spaces.

From a betting perspective, the Tigers are 10/11 to be playing Premier League football next season, 14/1 for a top ten finish and 1,000/1 to win the Premier League title.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Crystal Palace

Eagles’ boss Alan Pardew has invested heavily in attacking options during the summer but, with his side having taken just one point and scored just one goal in the first three Premier League fixtures of the 2016/17 season, he could soon come under pressure. Scott Dann’s injury-time equaliser gave his side their first point of the season against Bournemouth at Selhurst Park on their last Premier League outing, but Palace have now won just two games in the whole of 2016.

Record signing Christian Benteke, who joined the south London side from Liverpool for a reported £27 million, will need to make an immediate impact after the international break if Palace are to avoid being relegated from the Premier League for a record fifth time. At the time of writing, the Eagles are 1/4 to stay up and, with former Chelsea striker Loic Remy (loan) and former Newcastle team-mates Andros Townsend (£13 million) and Yohan Cabaye (£10 million) among the new faces at Selhurst Park, they look to have bright prospects of doing so.

The departure of winger Wilfried Zaha would be a blow, but a bid of £15million from Tottenham Hotspur was immediately rejected and now the England international looks set to stay at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace have never finished higher than tenth in the Premier League, but anyone who fancies them to exceed expectations can back them at 5/1 for a top ten finish, or even 66/1 for a top six finish. Alan Pardew is, however, currently 4/1 favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Chelsea

Chelsea have won the Premier League title four times, most recently in 2014/15, but a turbulent start to the 2015/16 – in which the Blues lost nine of the their opening 16 Premier League matches – saw the departure of Jose Mourinho. Guus Hiddink was appointed head coach in December, with the club teetering on the brink of the relegation zone, and subsequently steered them to mid-table stability, but was replaced by former Italy coach Antonio Conte at the conclusion of the 2016 European Championship.

In their opening fixtures of the 2016/17 Premier League season, Chelsea have beaten West Ham 2-1 at Stamford Bridge and Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road, but have relied on Diego Costa for a late winning goal on both occasions. Nevertheless, Eden Hazard has looked particularly sharp and creative, as have new signings Michy Batshauyi (from Marseille) and N’Golo Kante (from Leicester City).

Conte has spent £65 million, but is likely to pursue further signings, with Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, Real Madrid striker James Rodriguez and Juventus striker Mario Mandukic among those listed as potential transfer targets. Chelsea are currently 11/2 third favourites, behind the two Manchester clubs, to win their fifth Premier League title and, while the other new managers, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, will be keen to make their mark, Conte’s iron discipline could be just what’s needed at Stamford Bridge.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Liverpool

Liverpool have won the First Division of the English Football League 18 times but, since the formation of the Premier League in 1992/93, the Reds have managed three second-place finishes, in 2001/02, 2008/09 and 2013/14, but nothing better.

Nevertheless, Reds’ boss Jurgen Klopp must have been delighted with an Premier League impressive debut by Sadio Mane, who scored the winner during the 4-3 defeat of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on the opening day of the season. Arsenal were without experienced defenders Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel, but Liverpool took full advantage and are currently top-priced 17/2 to win their first Premier League title.

The blistering attacking play at one end was in complete contrast to the ‘Keystone Kops’ defending at the other, with beleaguered left-back Alberto Moreno the main, but far from the only, culprit. The Spaniard endured a woeful first half, in which he conceded a penalty and was again at fault when Theo Walcott scored moments later.

Liverpool face newly promoted Burnley at Turf Moor on their next Premier League outing and, while the Clarets’ lack of clinical finishing was ultimately punished by Swansea in their opening fixture, they did create chances. Klopp will be hoping to resolve the Reds’ defensive issues sooner rather than later, if they’re to become bona fide title challengers this time.