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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.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough last played Premier League football in 2008/09 and are just 9/4 to make an immediate return to the Championship next season. However, Boro boss Aitor Karanka has made a raft of new signings as he seeks to bolster his squad ahead of the new season.

Former Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan has signed a two-year deal with the Premier League newcomers and will be joined at the Riverside Stadium by former Manchester United goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who has has signed on a two-year deal after being released by United in June. Other recent additions include defenders Bernado Espinosa from Sporting and Antonio Barragan from Valencia, defensive midfielder Marten de Roon from Atalanta, winger Viktor Fischer from Ajax and striker Alvaro Negredo, also from Valencia, on season-long loan. Karanka has said he’s in no hurry to make further signings, but remains interested in Cardiff City defender Fabio Da Silva.

Captain Grant Leadbitter will miss the start of the Premier League season with a hernia problem and, in his absence, Karanka will do well to lick his new-look squad into shape, ready for the visit of Stoke City on the opening day, although pre-season results offer cause for optimism. Odds of 1,500/1 to win the Premier League title are probably not overgenerous but, more realistically, Boro are 9/1 to finish in the top ten and 66/1 to repeat their 2004 League Cup triumph.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Arsenal

Arsenal won the last of their three Premier League titles in 2003/04, when the so-called “Invincibles” played all 38 games without a single defeat. Nevertheless, despite enduring one of his most difficult seasons so far in 2015/16, Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger, the longest serving manager in European football, remains at the helm and his side are a top-priced 15/2 for the Premier League title in 2016/17.

Last year, the Gunners’ title challenge faded rapidly amid mounting injuries and poor form, but they still pipped Tottenham Hotspur to second place and, in so doing, achieved their highest Premier League finish since 2004/05. In last year’s summer transfer window, Arsenal signed goalkeeper Peter Cech, but no outfield players and, once again, Wenger and the board of directors have been criticised for lack of transfer activity. The signing of Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach for a reported £35 million and defender Rob Holding from Bolton Wanderers for a fee believed to be about £2 million is unlikely to satisfy critics, especially with centre-half Per Mertesacker due to miss the start of the Premier League season with a knee injury.

Wenger appears to be facing another difficult season, but the Gunners have won the F.A. Cup twice in the last three seasons and anyone who fancies them to do so again may fancy a punt at 9/1.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Manchester United

The Red Devils last won the Premier League title in 2012/13 and, having finished seventh, four and fifth in the past three seasons, new boss Jose Mourinho has revealed that his main target for the season is to win it again.

The ‘Special One’ has already signed Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on a free transfer from Paris Saint-German, Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan for a fee in the region of £26 million from Borussia Dortmund and Ivorian centre-back Eric Bailly for a fee that could rise to £40 million from Villareal and continues his pursuit of Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba. Pogba, 23, is reportedly keen to return to Old Trafford, but Juventus are seeking an additional €10 million after United submitted an increased bid of €110 million (£92 million).

Pre-season preparations have hardly gone according to plan, with a 2-0 defeat of Wigan at the DW Stadium followed by a 4-1 thrashing by Borussia Dortmund at the Shanghai Stadium and the cancellation of the game against Manchester City at the Beijing National Stadium after heavy rain made the pitch unplayable. United will fly back to Manchester to continue their preparations for matches with Galatasary in Gothenberg, Sweden on July 30 and Everton at Old Trafford on August 3.

Nevertheless, Mourinho has vowed to the club’s owners that it will take him just one season to win the Premier League title and, at a top-priced 7/2, it would take a brave man to argue with the Portuguese maestro. New signing Eric Bailly has made a promising start, Wayne Rooney has voiced his excitement at the prospect of playing alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the return of Luke Shaw, out for year after suffering a double break of his right leg last September, is excellent news for all concerned.

Monday, 18 July 2016

A.F.C. Bournemouth

Bournemouth have never won a major honour, but enjoyed a successful first ever season in the Premier League in 2015/16, eventually finishing in 16th place with 42 points. This time around, Cherries’ manager Eddie Howe will be without former striker Alan Connell, 33, who has retired from playing to pursue a coaching career, and Scottish international midfielder Matt Richie, 26, who rejected a new contract in favour of joining Newcastle United.

However, striker Callum Wilson, 24, who missed more than six months of the 2015/16 campaign because of a serious knee injury, has signed a new four-year contract. Wilson will be joined at Dean Park by England Under-21 winger Jordon Ibe, 20, who has joined the Cherries from Liverpool for a club record £15 million and Football League Young Player of the Year, midfielder Lewis Cook, from Leeds United for an undisclosed fee. Eddie Howe has also signed former Le Havre striker Lys Mousset, 20, in an effort to bolster his attacking options ahead of the new season.

Norwegian international Josh King was the Cherries’ top scorer in the Premier League last season, with just six goals, but fans have reason to be excited about the potent goal threat they now possess. All things are relative, of course, and Eddie Howe’s side are 1,500/1 to win the Premier League in 2016/17 and just 7/2 to be relegated. Anyone who fancies the Cherries to finally pick up some cup silverware can back them at 66/1 for the FA Cup and the same price for the League Cup.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Burnley

Burnley lifted the Championship trophy or, at least, an inflatable replica, after beating Charlton Athletic 3-0 at the Valley in the final game of the season, but the Clarets are odds-on favourites to be relegated the Premier League. Manager Sean Dyche described avoiding relegation for the second time in three seasons as “massive challenge” and it remains to be seen if his squad is equal to the task.

Goalkeeper Paul Robinson has signed a one-year contract and 18-year-old former Motherwell midfielder Robbie Leitch has joined the club on free transfer, but Derby County have rejected a £3 million bid for midfielder Jeff Hendrick. Striker Sam Vokes, who scored 15 goals in the Championship last season, of course, scored a towering header to take Wales into the semi-finals of Euro 2016 but, along with strike partner Andre Gray, may struggle to make an impact back in the Premier League.

Burnley didn’t spend much money the last time they were promoted and, while their work-rate was admirable, their lack of ambition in attack ultimately cost them dearly. The Turf Moor faithful will, no doubt, be looking to Sean Dyche to bolster his attacking options sooner rather than later, or might just be a case of history repeating itself. That said, anyone who fancies a season of “Leicester-esque” proportions can back the Clarets at 1,500/1 to win the Premier League.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

West Ham United

The 2015/16 Premier League season may have finished on a low note for West Ham United after a 2-1 defeat by Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on the final day left them in seventh place. However, the Europa League place on offer to FA Cup winners Manchester United – who had already qualified for the Europa League by finishing fifth in the Premier League – was passed down to the Hammers, who will join the competition in the third qualifying round.

The Irons have, of course, vacated the Boleyn Ground, their home for 112 years, for the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium on the London 2012 Olympic Park, but that’s not the only thing fans have to look forward to in 2016/17. Former centre back Slaven Bilic was a Hammers’ cult hero even before coming manager last summer and subsequent signings of established European players, such as Dimitri Payet from Marseille, and promising domestic talent, such as Michail Antonio from Nottingham Forest, have done little to diminish his aura.

In fact, as well as securing new deals for Payet and Antonio, along with team-mates Adrian and Cheikhou Kouyate, Bilic has already signed Norwegian midfielder Havard Nordtveit from Borussia Monchengladbach and Algerian winger Sofiane Feghouli from Valencia. Payet was top scorer for West Ham last season, with 12 goals – top scoring striker Andy Carroll managed just 9 goals – and Bilic has reportedly been tracking German striker Mario Gomez during Euro 2016.

It’s been a while since a rare Trevor Brooking header was enough for the Hammers, then in the old Second Division, to beat Arsenal 1-0 in the 1980 FA Cup final, but Bilic’s side are 25/1 to repeat the feat in 2015/16 and 100/1 to lift the Premier League title; notably they’re just 4/1 to finish in the top six in the Premier League.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Southampton

The first and last time Southampton won a major trophy was 40 years ago, when they beat Manchester United 1-0 in the 1976 F.A. Cup Final, but their form in recent Premier League seasons has been outstanding. In fact, in 2015/16, the Saints finished in sixth place, their highest position ever in the Premier League, and so qualified for the group stages of the Europa League.

Of course, manager Ronald Koeman has been headhunted by new Everton owner Farhad Moshiri, while Sengalese winger Sadio Mane and Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama have also left St. Mary’s, so it remains to be seen if the team can continue its recent progress. On the plus side, Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis, fellow midfielder James Ward-Prowse, defender Virgil van Dijk and goalkeeper Fraser Forster have all recently signed new contracts and 22-year-old Norwich City winger Nathan Redmond has joined the club.

At the time of writing, Frenchman Claude Puel, who previously won the French league title with Monaco and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League with Lyon, is poised to become the new Southampton manager. The club is also reportedly working on other transfer targets so, while 150/1 to win the Premier League is probably one for diehard Saints’ fans only, 14/1 for a top four finish and, certainly, 11/4 for a top six finish, looks far more realistic. That said, Italian Graziano Pelle has excelled at Euro 2016 and may well be on his way to Juventus after the tournament, tempted by the lure of Champions League football, so much will depend on Saints’ transfer market activity.

Monday, 20 June 2016

West Bromwich Albion

west brom
West Bromwich Albion last won a trophy in 1968, when a Jeff Astle goal was enough to beat Everton 1-0 in the FA Cup final, but manager Tony Pulis has committed his future to the Baggies and said that he would like at least three or four years at the Hawthorns to move the club forward.

Despite several lacklustre performances in January and February, including failure to register a single shot on target against Aston Villa and Newcastle, who were both subsequently relegated from the Premier League, and a shock FA Cup fifth-round defeat by Championship side Reading, Albion recovered to finish 14th in the Premier League.

Technical director Nicky Hammond, who joined the club at the end of April, has said that Tony Pulis will have the final say on transfers during the summer. Midfielder Stephane Sessegnon, 31, and striker Victor Anichebe, 28, have already left the Hawthorns after reaching the end of their contracts, but veteran defenders Gareth McAuley, 36, and Jonas Olsson, 33, have signed new one-year contract extensions.

Albion scored just 34 goals in the Premier League in 2014/15 – only bottom side Aston Villa scored fewer – so, while midfielder James Morrison is likely to sign a new contract, Pulis will, no doubt, be looking to bolster his attacking options during the summer. QPR winger Matt Phillips is one possible target, Middlesbrough striker Jordan Rhodes is another, and Palermo midfielder Franco Vazquez is yet another, although Tottenham Hotspur and AC Milan are also interested in the latter.

West Brom are rank outsiders at 1,500/1 to win the Premier League title in 2015/16, and just 5/2 to be relegated but, with Pulis at the helm, a top six finish, at 50/1, doesn’t seem entirely out of the question and staying up, a 4/11, may well be a foregone conclusion.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Everton

Everton may have reached the semi-final stages of both domestic cup competitions in 2014/15 but, even without the distraction of Europa League football, their Premier League season was one to forget. After flirting briefly with relegation, the Toffees recovered to finish 11th in the Premier League table, but it was a case of too much too little too late for manager Roberto Martinez, who was sacked just before the end of the season.

Martinez has long been known for his positivity, but some of his rhetoric during the season, not to mention his team selections and substitutions, was bordering on the absurd. Following a 2-0 home defeat by Sunderland, he told journalists Everton ‘completely controlled the game’ and described them as ‘tactically outstanding’ in the second half of a home match against West Ham, in which they conceded three goals in the last 12 minutes to lose 3-2. His description of Gareth Barry as ‘one of the best English players ever’ was another gem in a season that saw the Toffees win just five home games in the Premier League.

Anyway, the Martinez era is over, with Everton confirming Ronald Koeman as their new manager. Former Dutch international Koeman, 53, takes over at Goodison Park after two years in charge of Southampton, who will receive around £5 million in compensation. Obviously, it’s early days for the new boss, bit on the way out of Goodison Park are Tony Hibbert, 35, Leon Osman, 35, and Steven Pienaar, 34. Of course, Everton still have plenty of talent to draw on, including Ross Barkley, John Stones, Luke Garbutt, Phil Jagielka and Romelu Lukaku, to name but a few.

In truth, the 125/1 on offer from Boylesports about the Blues winning the Premier League title is probably a true reflection of their chances but, with up to a rumoured £100 million in the transfer kitty, a top four place could be within reach and, after that, who knows?

Monday, 6 June 2016

Sunderland

Sunderland finally secured their place in the Premier League for 2016/17 with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Everton at the Stadium of Light in their penultimate fixture, but manager Sam Allardyce is determined to avoid another relegation fight next season. The Black Cats failed to win any of their opening eight fixtures of the 2015/16 campaign, leading to the resignation of former boss Dick Advocaat and the appointment of Sam Allardyce on a two-year contract.

A five-game losing streak at the end of 2015 once again put a tenth consecutive season in the Premier League in doubt, but Sunderland finished the season with just one defeat in their last 11 games. Allardyce was the first to acknowledge that his side were heavily reliant on former England striker Jermain Defoe, whose 15 Premier League goals made all the difference in the relegation struggle.

However, Defoe is now 33, Fabio Borini has been transformed into a winger, rather than an out-and-out centre forward and Steven Fletcher, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Marseille, has accepted that this Sunderland career is over. It’s no surprise that ‘Big Sam’ has spoken openly about his desire to add another striker to his squad and West Ham striker Diafra Sakho is likely to be high on the list of transfer targets he’s due to discuss with owner Ellis Short.

Sunderland have won the League Championship twice and the F.A. Cup twice, as well as finishing runner-up in the F.A. Cup and League Cup twice apiece. However, their only major trophy since World War II remains the F.A. Cup in 1973 when, as a Second Division team, they recorded a shock 1-0 win over Leeds United. Sam Allardyce has never been relegated and has said that the Black Cats must learn from their mistakes this season so, with consolidation the name of the game, 1,500/1 for the Premier League title is unlikely to see many takers. However, stranger things have happened, haven’t they?

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Tottenham Hotspur

Of course, the 2015-16 Premier League season was all about Leicester City, but the Foxes’ exploits overshadowed Spurs’ best finishing position since the start of the Premier League era. Indeed, Mauricio Pochettino’s side were title contenders with only a few weeks of the season remaining and, despite a bizarre 5-1 defeat by ten-man Newcastle United at St.James’s Park in their final fixture, the Lilywhites have plenty to look forward to next season.

Their third place finish in the Premier League means that they automatically qualify for the Champions League group stage, albeit not as a seeded team, and they have reached a deal to play their Champions League home games at Wembley next season.

Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, Tottenham have won the Football League Cup twice and finished runner-up in the same competition three times but, two years into a five-year contract, Pochettino must surely have his sights set on more prestigious silverware next season.

The former Argentine centre-back has built a team full of energy and desire, with Harry Kane, who scored 28 goals in all competitions in 2015-16, well on his way to establishing himself as England’s first-choice striker. The emergence of Dele Alli who, at the age of 20, set a Premier League record by becoming the youngest midfielder to score 10 goals in a single season, provides further cause for optimism. It’s no secret that Pochettino wants more attacking options, but the club is well positioned to attract the crème de la crème of striking talent.

At the other end of the pitch, the addition of Belgian international Toby Alderweireld to an erstwhile ‘leaky’ back four had the desired effect, with Tottenham conceding 0.92 goals per game, against a league average of 1.35.

None of Pochettino’s first-team players are out of contract so, if he can secure the services of the striker he wants, the 9/1 available with Paddy Power for Spurs’ to win the Premier League might prove a little generous.

Monday, 23 May 2016

UEFA Champions’ League Final Preview

So, after a qualifying campaign stretching back to last July, three months’ of group games and the knockout stages, the UEFA Champions’ League essentially boils down to a Madrid derby, albeit played on neutral territory at Stadio San Siro in Milan, on Saturday.

Both teams topped their respective qualifying groups, but Real had to overcome a 2-0 first-leg deficit against VfL Wolfsburg at the Bernabeu in their quarter-final, while Atletico also trailed Barcelona 2-1 after their quarter final first-leg at the Camp Nou. The sides finished second and third in the Spanish Primera, separated by just two points, so the repeat of the 2014 final, which Real won 4-1 after extra-time, could be a tense, tight affair.

The bookmakers, understandably, make Real Madrid – the most successful team in the history of the competition – favourites (6/4) to lift the trophy for an eleventh time against Los Colchoneros (23/10), who’ve yet to win it at all.

Los Blancos’ boss Zinedine Zidane will be without French international centre-back Raphael Varane because of a thigh injury but, while Zizou has acknowledged that Real face a difficult task to overcome their old rivals, it’s hard not to fancy any side that includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Toni Kroos, to name but a few.

Of course, Atletico drew 1-1 at the Vincente Calderon Stadium back in October and won 1-0 at the Bernabeu in February, so clearly all is not lost for Diego Simeone’s side, but Zidane has steadied the ship at Real since taking over from Rafa Benitez in January and must have every chance of becoming the sixth man to lift the Champions’ League trophy as a player and a manager. In search of a little value, let’s try both teams to score and Real Madrid to win at 5/1 with Bet 365.

Selection: Both teams to score and Real Madrid to win (5/1 with Bet365)

Monday, 16 May 2016

Liverpool versus Sevilla, Wednesday, May 19

A 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Sunday means that Liverpool must beat Sevilla in the Europa League final in Basel on Wednesday if they are secure European football next season. Sevilla seek not only to guarantee their own place in the group stages of the Champions League, but also to win the Europa League trophy for an unprecedented third year in a row. 

Having beaten Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and, more recently, Villareal en route to the final, it’s difficult to argue that Jurgen Klopp’s side are worthy favourites to lift the trophy they last won in 2000/01. Sevilla lost their last three matches in La Liga, to eventually finish seventh but, with so much at stake, it’s likely to be an emotional, intense encounter with little to choose between the sides. Let’s try both teams to score and Liverpool to win at 4/1 with Bet365.

Selection: Both teams to score and Liverpool to win (4/1 with Bet365)

Monday, 9 May 2016

Sunderland versus Everton, Wednesday, May 11th

Even the eternally optimistic Roberto Martinez had to admit that the Toffees’ 3-1 defeat by Leicester City at the King Power Stadium last Saturday evening was ‘incredibly disappointing’ and, with little left to play for, his side is in danger of being overshadowed again by Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday. The Black Cats climbed out of the bottom three by beating Chelsea 3-2 on Saturday and, if they win again on Wednesday, will secure their own Premier League survival at the expense of Newcastle United and Norwich City.

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce praised the character, determination and desire of his side, which twice came from behind against Chelsea, and a similar performance may be good enough against an Everton side that has managed just one win in ten Premier League matches and still looks frail defensively. The Black Cats have relied on goals from Jermain Defoe all season, so let’s try the former England frontman to score the opener at 5/1 with Coral.

Selection: Jermain Defoe to score first goal (5/1 with Coral)

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Norwich versus Manchester United, Saturday, May 7

Norwich City may have beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time since 1989 in December to climb out of the relegation zone, but the Red Devils are odds-on (10/11) to nudge the Canaries even closer to Championship football when the teams meet again at Carrow Road on Saturday. Frankly, it’s hard to enthuse about a Norwich City side that has lost more Premier League games than any other, except relegated Aston Villa, this season and kept just five clean sheets.

The future of Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal remains uncertain, but his side had, by far, the majority of the possession during the 1-1 draw with Leicester City at Old Trafford on Sunday and, although they are four points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City, they have a game in hand. Qualification for the Champions’ League would surely save Van Gaal’s bacon so, with an away tie with West Ham at Upton Park next Tuesday to follow, he’s unlikely to pull any punches here. Let’s try Manchester United for a routine 2-0 win at 17/2 with Bet365.

Selection: Manchester United to win 2-0 (17/2 with Bet365)

Leicester Did It!

and here's the players reactions. What a great end to a fascinating and unexpected season! Let's hope that next year's season will keep us guessing too. get looking for those 5000-1 selections!!

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Manchester United versus Leicester City, Sunday, May 1

Fred Done, co-owner of Betfred, made the decision to pay out on Leicester City as Premier League champions when the Foxes beat Southampton 1-0 on April 3. Having been 5,000/1 to win the Premier League title at the start of the season, Claudio Ranieri’s side are now 1/20 and will cost bookmakers over £10 million if they beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Even without top scorer Jamie Vardy, suspended after being sent off during the 2-2 against West Ham, the Foxes thrashed Swansea City 4-0 at the King Power Stadium last Sunday, with Argentinian striker Leonardo Ulloa proving an able deputy for Vardy.

The Foxes only need three points from their three remaining games to be certain of winning the Premier League, but look good value at 29/10 with BetVictor to get the job done against a United side that has failed to convince in recent weeks, despite reaching the F.A. Cup final. For a spot of extra value, though, let’s try Leicester City to win 1-0 at 10/1 with BetVictor.

Selection: Leicester City to win 1-0 (10/1 with BetVictor)

Monday, 18 April 2016

Liverpool versus Everton, Wednesday, April 20

Liverpool are unbeaten in five matches in all competitions since surrendering a two-goal lead against Southampton at St. Mary’s in the Premier League last month and go into Wednesday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield on the crest of a wave. The Reds made a dramatic comeback against Borussia Dortmund to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League at Anfield last Thursday and, despite ten changes, beat Bournemouth 2-1 at Dean Court last Sunday.

Everton, minus Romelu Lukaku, James McCarthy and four other regular first-team players, could only draw 1-1 with Southampton at Goodison Park on Saturday, taking their winless run to five. Toffees’ boss Roberto Martinez will, no doubt, have one eye on the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday evening, so a comfortable Liverpool victory would be no great surprise. The Reds have scored 11 goals in their last four games, nine more than their Merseyside rivals, so let’s try Liverpool -2 at 5/1 with Sky Bet in the handicap betting market.

Selection: Liverpool -2 (5/1 with Sky Bet)

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Rotherham United versus Nottingham Forest, Saturday, April 16

Nigel Pearson heads the betting to pick up the poisoned chalice that is the manager’s job at Nottingham Forest in the summer but, in the meantime, caretaker manager Paul Williams is tasked with keeping the Reds in the Championship. Admittedly, Forest are currently nine points clear of the relegation zone with five games to go, but the odds against them playing League 1 football next season have shortened to 25/1, in places, from 100/1 a couple of games ago and, having earned a single, solitary point from the last 33 available, the club is clearly in dire straits.

By contrast, the Millers took a huge step towards retaining their own Championship status by beating relegation rivals MK Dons 4-0 at Stadium:MK last Saturday. In fact, Neil Warnock’s side has won six and drawn two of its last eight Championship fixtures and, at 6/4 with Betvictor, looks fantastic value to compound the misery for the Forest faithful. Forest have conceded seven goals in their last three games, two of which were at home, so let’s try a punt on Rotherham to win 2-0 at 11/1 with Betvictor.

Selection: Rotherham United to win 2-0 (11/1 with Betvictor)

Monday, 4 April 2016

Sunderland versus Leicester City, Sunday, April 10

The Leicester City bandwagon rumbles on, slowly, but unmistakably, inching its way towards the Premier League title. The Foxes play early on Sunday so could, if they beat Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, have the luxury of a 10-point lead at the top of the table by the time Tottenham Hotspur kick-off against Manchester United at White Hart Lane later in the day.

Sunderland’s main problem has been their inability to keep a clean sheet. The 0-0 draw against West Bromwich Albion at the Stadium of Light last Saturday was the first time the Black Cats had failed to concede a goal in 17 Premier League outings and they had been pegged back from winning positions against Newcastle, Southampton and Crystal Palace in their three previous matches.

Leicester’s centre-back pairing of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth looked as solid as ever against Southampton at the King Power Stadium last Sunday, so Black Cats’ leading marksman Jermain Defoe will have to make the most of his chances, something he failed to do against the Baggies last week. Defoe and striking partner Fabio Borini were slated by Sunderland fans on social media for their wastefulness, which left their side 18th in the table, four points from safety. The Foxes seem to have found goals from a few unlikely sources lately so, all things considered, let’s speculate on a 2-2 draw at 18/1 with Bet 365.

Selection: Draw 2-2 (18/1 with Bet 365)

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Nottingham Forest versus Brentford, Saturday, April 2

Nottingham Forest are hardly on the crest of a wave at the moment, having sacked manager Dougie Freedman earlier this month after losing five of the their six previous matches in the Championship and owner Fawaz Al Hasawi saying he would consider selling the club for the right price.

However, the Reds’ back four were impressive during the 1-1 draw with Hull City at the KC Stadium, only to fall victim to a deflected equaliser after 73 minutes and, despite managing just one shot on target, Paul Williams’ side showed plenty of endeavour during the 1-0 defeat by Derby County at the Pride Park Stadium last Saturday week.

Forest have won two and drawn one of their last six home games, while Brentford have won just one and lost five of their last six away games, including 3-0 defeats at Queens’ Park Rangers and Brighton and a 4-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday. In fact, the Bees slumped to their seventh defeat in eight games when beaten 1-0 by 10-man Blackburn Rovers at Griffin Park on their last Championship outing and captain Jack Bidwell is, quite rightly, already worried about being drawn into a relegation battle.

Forest started brightly against both Hull City and Derby County and a similar high-tempo, high-pressing game may well be able to breach the Bees’ leaky defence early on and set the tone for the rest of the game. An entertaining, high-scoring encounter it probably won’t be, but let’s try Nottingham Forest/Nottingham Forest in the Half Time/Full Time market at 14/5 with Betvictor.

Selection: Half Time/Full Time Nottingham Forest/Nottingham Forest (14/5 with Betvictor)

Monday, 21 March 2016

Match Result & Both Teams To Score, Saturday, March 26

The international break provides us with an opportunity to delve a little further down the Football League for our selections and, with plenty of League 1 and League 2 action over the Easter period, we’ve tried to find some value in the Match Result & Both Teams To Score Markets.

In fact, the three League 1 fixtures that take place on Saturday, March 26 could provide the basis for a profitable wager. The fixtures in question are Burton Albion versus Oldham Athletic (10/3 with Coral), Bradford City versus Millwall (6/1 with Coral) and Chesterfield (4/1 with Coral) versus Fleetwood Town.

Top of the table Burton Albion versus Oldham Athletic, 22nd in the table, appeals as a home banker and probably rightly so, but the Latics have scored in 11 of their 18 away matches this season and have a goal difference of just -1 on their travels, compared with -13 at Boundary Park.

Bradford City have failed to score in just three of their 18 home fixtures this season, accumulating a total of 23 goals, while Millwall have the best goal-scoring record away from home in the division, failing to score just once in 18 games and accumulating a total of 33 goals. The Lions have an enviable away record an can just shade what is likely to be a tight encounter.

Despite being in 18th place, Chesterfield rank second in the division for goals scored and have scored in 13 of their home fixtures this season. Fleetwood Town have been less impressive away from home, scoring just 15 goals scored in 18 away fixtures and failing to score seven times, but only lost by the odd goal in the reverse fixture in November. They should be capable of bagging a goal against a Chesterfield defence that’s conceded more than a goal a game at home this season.

Selections: Burton Albion, Millwall, Chesterfield, Match Result & Both Teams To Score, 1-point Win Treble (150.55/1 with Coral)

Monday, 14 March 2016

Everton versus Arsenal, Saturday, March 19

Having lost three successive home games in all competitions for the first time in over 13 years, Arsenal face Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the UEFA Champions League in midweek before travelling to Goodison Park for their next Premier League fixture on Saturday. Of course, all things are possible, but the Gunners are 25/1 to turn around their 2-0 deficit with Barca, so the chances are that Arsene Wenger’s side will hardly be oozing confidence by the time Saturday lunchtime rolls around.

Romelu Lukaku scored twice in a feisty F.A. Cup tie against his old club Chelsea at Goodison Park last Saturday to take his total for the season to 25 and, in current mood, the Arsenal back four will do well to contain the Belgian striker. The absence of Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey is a definite disadvantage for the men in red-and-white and, with their season in danger of petering out to nothing, the Toffees may be playing them at just the right time. If confidence counts for anything, Everton and Lukaku look the way to go here, so let’s try the Belgian to score the opening goal at 9/2 with William Hill.

Selection: Romelu Lukaku to score first goal (9/2 with William Hill)

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Manchester United Versus West Ham United, Sunday, March 13

West Ham United forced a no-score draw at Old Trafford in the Premier League in December and, while their recent away record in unenviable, they might just represent a shade of value for their return visit, in the sixth round of the FA Cup, on Sunday. The Red Devils’ latest 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns owed much to the dismissal of Juan Mata after 26 minutes but, even so, Baggies’ keeper Ben Foster didn’t need to make a single save. Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has said that winning the Europa League – in which United face Liverpool at Anfield on Thursday – is his priority this season so, with squad rotation likely, his opposite number Slaven Bilic must be fancying his chances of causing an upset.

Summer signings Dimitri Payet and Michail Antonio have contributed 19 goals between them in all competitions and, while Bilic has said that qualification for the UEFA Champions League is ‘not realistic’ for his side this season, he presumably wouldn’t say no to some silverware to take to the former Olympic stadium next season. Antonio scored for his third consecutive game against Everton last weekend, so let’s hope he finds his shooting boots again at 9/2 with Bet365.

Selection: Michail Antonio Anytime Scorer (9/2 with Bet365)

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Arsenal versus Swansea City, Wednesday, March 2

After a 0-0 draw with Hull City in the F.A. Cup, a 2-0 defeat by Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League and a 3-2 defeat by Manchester United in the Premier League, Arsenal are hardly on the crest of a wave for the visit of Swansea City on Wednesday. However, only West Ham United and Chelsea have beaten the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League this season, so Arsene Wenger must be hoping his side can rekindle their title aspirations. They currently trail leaders Leicester City by five points.

Dogged though they were in their latest 2-1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, Swansea City lie 16th in the Premier League table just three points above the relegation zone. Swans’ coach Alan Curtis believes that subsequent fixtures against Norwich, Bournemouth and Aston Villa will prove decisive and midfielder Jack Cork said, prior to last week’s defeat, that there was ‘no pressure’ on the Welsh outfit for their successive visits to London.

The Gunners strolled to a 3-0 victory in the reverse fixture at the Liberty Stadium on Halloween and, while there was no doubting the Swans’ commitment against Tottenham, another horror story may well be on the cards. Swansea have hardly been prolific scorers away from home this season, but found the net at White Hart Lane, Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadium on their travels, so let’s try a correct score of 3-1 at 13/1 with BetVictor.

Selection: Arsenal to win 3-1 (13/1 with BetVictor)

Monday, 22 February 2016

Both Teams to Score, Saturday, February 27

Our last foray into the BTTS market, two weeks ago, produced two 0-0 draws, which left a rather bitter taste in our mouth, so we’ve picked three more Championship ties in an effort to redeem ourselves.

Wolverhampton Wanderers versus Derby County (4/5)

Wolves currently lie 11th in the Championship table after a run of five games without a win, but have managed to score at least once in their last seven home games. The Rams ended their own eight-game winless run in the Championship with a dramatic 3-1 at Brentford last Saturday and, with striker Chris Martin rediscovering his goal-scoring touch, they should be good for a goal at Molineux.

Bolton Wanderers versus Burnley (5/6)

The Trotters are firmly embroiled in a relegation battle, but have scored in all three home matches in the Championship and both F.A. Cup ties since the 2-0 home defeat by Huddersfield early in the New Year. Title chasing Burnley, on the other hand, have scored in five of the their last six away games, including against Arsenal in the F.A. Cup.

Fulham versus Middlesbrough (5/6)

Fulham have scored in all bar three of their Championship home games this season, including three goal from corners against struggling Charlton last week, while third-placed Middlesbrough haven’t exactly been prolific away from of late, but will be keen to maintain their push for automatic promotion after missing the chance to go top at Leeds last week. Former Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes looks a decent acquisition for the Smoggies.

Both teams to score treble (5.05/1 with Bet365)

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Both Teams To Score, Saturday, February 13

From time to time, we like to look beyond the heady heights of the Premier League to see if there’s any value to be found in the Both Teams To Score (BTTS) markets in the Football League. This week, we’ve come up with three Championship fixtures that we believe will produce a few goals and, hopefully, a nice little profit to boot.

Blackburn Rovers versus Hull City (6/5)

Rovers needed an injury time equaliser to force a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at the KC Stadium in September and, despite being separated by 15 places in the Championship, there may not be much between the teams once again. Paul Lambert’s side had the best of the chances during their 1-1 draw away to Middlesbrough last week and, while the Tigers are a strong defensive side, they have conceded in 7 of their last 10 away games in the Championship.

Charlton Athletic versus Cardiff City (5/6)

The Addicks remain rock bottom of the Championship, four points from safety, and although winless at home since November, score draws against Bolton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers provide cause for encouragement. The Bluebirds recorded back-to-back away wins at Wolves and Huddersfield last month, scoring three on each occasion, so should be capable of breaching the Addicks’ defence.

Reading versus Burnley (10/11)

The Clarets currently lie third in the Championship table, just 2 points behind leaders Middlesbrough and, having scored 9 goals in their last three fixtures away from Turf Moor, are sure to provide stiff opposition for Royals. That said, the Clarets’ defence is far from impenetrable, especially against a Reading side that’smade a habit of scoring at home in the Championship this season.

A BTTS treble on the above three fixtures with Bet365 works out at cumulative odds of 6.7/1, or a return of £77 for a £10 stake.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Newcastle United versus West Bromwich Albion, Saturday, February 6

Newcastle United have invested a total of £28.5 million to bring Jonjo Shelvey, Andros Townsend and Bordeaux midfielder Henri Saivet to St. James’ Park during the January transfer window, not to mention Roma forward Seydou Doumbia, who joins the Magpies on a season-long loan.

However, at the time of writing, the Toon remain in the bottom three in the Premier League, two points from safety, so manager Steve McClaren will be hoping that the recent acquisitions will make more of an impact than summer signings Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has scored just four goals in all competitions, and Florian Thauvin, who has proved equally disappointing.

Newcastle lost 2-1 to Watford at Vicarage Road on their last Premier League outing, a performance that McClaren oddly described as “terrific”, apart from the two goals, so it’ll be interesting to see if the former England manager can draw any more positives from the visit of West Bromwich Albion to St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Tony Pulis’ side has hardly set the world on fire, failing to register a shot on target during their goalless draw with Aston Villa at Villa Park two weeks ago. Nevertheless, the return of Victor Anichebe has increased the Baggies’ attacking threat while, at the other end of the pitch, the return of Ben Foster has bolstered confidence defensively.

If West Brom once again take a direct approach, as they did in the reverse fixture at the Hawthorns over Christmas, which they won just 1-0, despite having 22 shots on goal, they could make the 16/5 available from William Hill look exceptional value by teatime on Saturday.

Selection: West Bromwich Albion to win (16/5 with William Hill)