League Cup Betting Preview – 25/09/12

I’ve never been one for betting during the earlier stages of the League Cup, due to the risk of the managers opting to put out an understrength side, but there are some prices this week which have tempted me to have a little midweek flutter.

Lets get the obvious ones out of the way first. Manchester City at home to a Villa side who have been struggling so far this season, and come into the game on the back of a 4-1 defeat to Southampton, is a must for any accumulator. Manchester City’s weakened side is still arguably stronger than most Premier League sides, and they should comfortably see off the challenge of Villa.

Chelsea are another one to add to the banker list. They are also likely to field a weakened side, and give starts to the likes of Piazon and Romeu, who will be attempting to send a message to Di Matteo in an attempt to get a sustained run in the first team. Wolves away from home have never been great, and Chelsea should breeze past Ståle Solbakken’s men.

I was extremely surprised to see Swansea at odds-against to beat Crawley Town, even if Laudrup rests a host of players. The football that Swansea play at any level is a joy to watch, and you can guarantee the players chosen tonight will fit seamlessly into the style of play that has been at Swansea since the Brendan Rodgers days. The Swans will be aiming to send a message out after a rather disappointing performance at home to Everton at the weekend. Crawley are no push-overs but at 5/4, the bet surely has to be Swansea.

The next team is another Premier League side away at League One opposition. Sunderland travel to MK Dons in hope of booking their place in the fourth round, and should be very confident in doing so. They eased past Morecambe 2-0 in the last round, and put out a strong side, which suggests O’Neill will be doing the same tonight. If this is the case, they should outclass The Dons and 23/20 looks massive, should definitely be odds-on.

Southampton are the final side to go in, after displaying to the everyone just how good a side they are this year. Many people thought they would struggle, but Nigel Adkins’ men have battled brilliantly and showed that they have the capabilities to stay up and cement their place in the league. They should comfortably outclass accumulator Wednesday who are currently going through a bad patch of form. 8/11 looks a great price, and will boost the accumulator considerably.


2 points: Manchester City, Chelsea, Swansea, Sunderland and Southampton all to win- 13.85/1

Liverpool v Manchester United – Preview, with Betting tips.

Anfield plays host to what is always one of the biggest games of the Premier League season, on Sunday. Liverpool v Manchester United is one of the most anticipated games each year, and is what both sets of fans look out for first, when the fixtures are released.

This year, more than ever will be extremely poignant, as it is the first game to be played at Anfield since the Hillsborough documents have been released. This will act as a catalyst for a massive performance from the Liverpool team, as they understand they are representing more than just the club on Sunday.

Liverpool come into the game, still yet to win in the Premier League season, with just two points after four games. The lack of attacking options has been frustrating for Liverpool fans who have witnessed some tremendous build-up play, with no end product. There has been many positives to take from the opening few games, including the impressive start from Joe Allen.

Allen came into the squad, on the back of a £15 million move from Rodgers’ old club, Swansea. The high price-tag raised many eyebrows, but the Welshman has settled in seamlessly, and has been integral in the impressive passing game Rodgers’ has attempted to install in the squad. His pass completion ratio at Swansea and Liverpool is 93% in 38 games, the highest currently at the club. He keeps his passes short and simple and keeps the moves ticking along, a player we have lacked since Xabi Alonso. Allen’s range of passing isn’t as impressive as Alonso’s just yet, but given time, he could slot into a similar role which was so successful during Alonso’s time at the club.

The return of skipper Steven Gerrard, who was rested along with many other first team players, for the victory over Young Boys in the Europa League mid-week, will add a boost to the side. As Gerrard knows just how important it is, and how much it means to the fans, to beat Manchester United.

Suarez has been his usual impressive self so far this season, without his performances being rewarded with the goals he really deserves. He is incredibly creative, and the way he glides past opponents is a pleasure on the eye. But once he has found himself, in and around the box, his finishing lacks the quality needed to prove himself as a brilliant out and out striker. He is being played often as the spearhead of a three-pronged attack, with the other two drifting in from wide positions. His finishing is clearly not good enough to be played as the lone-striker, and one must be brought in, in January. That’s not to say he doesn’t score goals however. He has the ability to provide sprinklings of magic and can pull a majestic strike out of nowhere, as was seen on many occasions last year. His link-up play with youngster Raheem Sterling has been impressive and the pair look set to hold Liverpool’s main chances of goals at the weekend.

Suarez will be looking to come out of the fixture in a positive light, after last years fixture ended in Suarez being accused of racially abusing United left-back Patrice Evra. There has been much hype over the handshake before the game on Sunday, after he famously refused to shake Evra’s hand last time at Old Trafford. He will be keen to let his feet do the talking this time around, and the Uruguayan knows the best way for that to happen, is to get on the score-sheet.

Manchester United have picked themselves up from their opening game loss to Everton, to go on and win the next three games, and will be hoping to avoid losing any more points on Merseyside.

Robin Van Persie has been in fantastic form for his new club, scoring four goals in four games, including a hat-trick in a 3-2 victory at Southampton. His partnership with Rooney has has the potential to be one of the strongest in the world, and is sure to strike fear into defences across the Premier League, and Liverpool will be thankful that Rooney is still missing for the clash on Sunday.

David de Gea has responded well to the heavy criticism he faced due to a number of poor performances last year, staking his claim to keep the number one spot this year, ahead of Anders Lindergaard. De Gea has always been renowned as a brilliant shot-stopper, but his positional awareness and command of his box, has often been disappointing. Last season he was in inspired form at Anfield, pulling off numerous sensational saves, and helped his side to a 1-1 draw, he knows what it takes to play in high pressure games, and will be hopeful of a clean sheet against Liverpool.

The game will be extremely tight, and there won’t be too many goals, with both teams focusing on defences. Vidic has never had much luck against Liverpool and Suarez will be hoping to exploit this. It is likely Vidic will sit off Suarez, and give him space, after being torn apart two seasons ago, and by Torres for many years before it. This could be dangerous, and work into the hands of Suarez, who seems to strike the ball better from distance, than he does from inside the box. The current price of 15/2 for Suarez first-scorer looks massive value, as Liverpool will be looking to get out of the blocks quickly in front of what is sure to be a terrific home support. This point could also point towards the 12/1 for Vidic to be first man booked, and 2/1 for him to be carded at any-time. Very tempting odds.

You can guarantee that Brendan Rodgers will have gotten across just how important this fixture is to his players, and with Gerrard leading by example, you can expect Liverpool to be ahead by half-time. However, with the likes of RVP and Kagawa attacking a Liverpool defence who have looked shaky this season,  in the second half, it is going to be incredibly difficult to  keep a clean sheet. RVP has a knack of scoring late goals against Liverpool, and the 5/1 for him to be last scorer, looks a brilliant bet. As does the 14/1 for Liverpool to be leading at half-time and the match to end in a draw.

It will be an extremely tight game, and the 1-1 scoreline which occurred last year, could well be the bet. Regardless of the outcome, Liverpool will be hoping to put in a massive performance, in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, and we can only hope that both sets of fans can put aside their differences and make sure the atmosphere doesn’t turn sour.

Betting Tips:

1 point: Suarez FGS @ 15/2 StanJames

1 point: Liverpool HT/ Draw FT @ 16/1 Badog

1 point: RVP LGS @ 5/1 – Various

2 points: Vidic to be shown a card @ 2/1 – SkyBet

0.5 point: Vidic to be first carded @ 12/1 – Various

0.5 pont: Suarez FGS & 1-1 @ 60/1 – William Hill

Champions League 2012/13 – Preview with Best Bets.

Last year’s Champions League was as eventful as ever and eventually went the way of Chelsea, for the first time in their history. They hit 33/1 after losing the first leg of their last-16 game against Napoli 3-1. This result played some part in the sacking of AVB, this led to Di Matteo taking the reigns at the South London club, before guiding them through the second leg in dramatic fashion before going on to lift the trophy three months later in Munich, after beating Bayern on penalties.

This year they will be looking to emulate their success and are currently a best-priced 16/1 to do so. It will be a big task to land back to back Champions League’s, as no team have done so since the brilliant AC Milan side back in 89/90. However after landing the job on a permanent basis, Di Matteo has already done some brilliant business during the transfer window so far, bringing in Eden Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin. Chelsea often lacked the cutting edge in the final third last year, failing to break defences down and not scoring as many goals as they should have done. The departure of Didier Drogba will pave the way for Fernando Torres to step up to the mark and prove to the world he is still the same magnificent player he was at Liverpool. He has never managed to get a decent run in the Chelsea team, with the amount of striking options that was at AVB/Di Matteo’s disposal, but this year he is set to be first-choice in the absence of Drogba and coming in off the back of winning the Golden Boot at the Euro’s, his confidence will be sky-high. He has always been a confidence player, and the past 18 months, he has looked someone who lacked self-belief, but following the Euro’s, he looks to have found his shooting boots, and with that comes confidence. He will be a key man for Chelsea, and will be key in any success they are to have this year.

Runners-up Bayern Munich have also been busy in the transfer market in an attempt to go one better than last year. They have brought in a number of new faces, which has given their squad tremendous strength in depth. The aquisition of Mario Mandzukic is superb one and the Croatian front-man looks set to have a massive season. He scored on his first competitive start for Bayern in the German Supercup against Bundesliga winners Borussia Dortmund, notching the first after six minutes in a 2-1 win for Munich. The 14/1 on offer for Bayern may tempt many, but they lack the flair against defensive opposition so I can see them coming up short again. But when the top goalscorer markets are released, it may pay to have a little flutter on Mandzukic being top.

Unsurprisingly, the two joint-favourites for the competition come from Spain. Barcelona have a great record in recent years, having won the Champions League in 2006, 2009 and 2011, beating English opposition in each final. They will be hoping for a repeat performance this year under new manager Tito Villanova, who had previously been assistant under Pep Guardiola from 2008 until taking over as the manager in June of this year. He has inherited arguably the greatest squad on the planet, headed by the worlds greatest, Lionel Messi. Messi is immensely talented, and never fails to make a difference. While he is on the pitch, anything is possible, and with David Villa returning to the squad, the team is sure to get goals. Their defence has often been highlighted as a potential weak spot, but when looking at the arrivals:

Alex Song
Defensive Midfield
Arsenal FC
  Premier League
16.720.000 £
Jordi Alba 10.000.000 €”>Jordi Alba
Fullback, left
Valencia CF
  Primera División
12.320.000 £
Marc Muniesa 2.500.000 €”>Marc Muniesa
Centre Back
FC Barcelona B
  Segunda División
Martín Montoya 4.000.000 €”>Martín Montoya
Fullback, right
FC Barcelona B
  Segunda División
Marc Bartra 2.500.000 €”>Marc Bartra
Centre Back
FC Barcelona B
  Segunda División
Jonathan dos Santos 2.500.000 €”>Jonathan dos Santos
Central Midfield
FC Barcelona B
  Segunda División
Henrique 3.000.000 €”>Henrique *

You can see Tito is attempting so sure up the defensive side of the team, and Jordi Alba is a massive signing. He can attack with menace, as shown by his goal in the Euro Championship final but he can also defend extremely well and is regarded as one of the top three left-backs in the world. Alex Song has been brought in to hold in the midfield, but can also adopt to a centre-back role, meaning along with Mascherano, they have versaitaile holding midfielders who can play anywhere across the back. This could be the difference, and with the wealth of riches Barcelona have in midfield and attack, with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabgregas, it would take a brave man to back against them. However, they have began the new season slowly and other teams will be hopeful of explointing any weaknesses they find, especially with the new manager. They look to have the best squad in the world, but at a best price 7/2, there may be better value elsewhere.

Real Madrid on the other hand, look as steady as ever, with ‘the special one’ Jose Mourinho still at the helm. Los Blancos are the most successful club in the competitions history, with nine wins and Mourinho will be confident of adding a tenth. Madrid have strengethened their already exceptional midfield, by acquiring arguably the best deep-lying play-maker on the planet, Luca Modric. He will give the side that added creativity in midfield, and will help turn defence into attack in one smooth move. His range of passing is superb, and the attackers will be excited to be able to feed off his service. He is likely to line up next to the always solid and consistent Xabi Alonso, who now have a midfield strong enough to challenge Barcelona’s. With Europe’s greatest player, Cristiano Ronaldo, spearheading the attack, there is sure to be goals, and Madrid will be as confident as ever to build on last years unfortunate semi-final loss, and add the tenth Champions League in the clubs glistening history.

There will be an extremely strong challenge from Italy this year, in the shape of Juventus and AC Milan. Last years Serie A winners Juventus will be out to prove a point after not playing in Europe at all last season. They managed to fight off the challenge of AC Milan in the league, and secure their first Scudetto since the ’02/03 season, possibly helped by the lack of European distractions. This year, they have added to their squad, with numerous strong signings from across the world, most notably purchasing the other 50% of Sebastian Giavinco’s transfer rights from Parma. He will add that goalscoring touch alongside Mirko Vucinic. They look solid, and the Juventus Stadium is always a tough place to go, but I doubt their ability to go away from home and score goals, which could cause problems in the latter stages. So they would need to be considerably bigger than the current 16/1 to tempt me.

AC Milan have gotten rid of two of their key-men, in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva. The club raked in £55 million from PSG during these sales and are yet to re-invest it. Milan have started their Serie A campaign very slowly, going down 1-0 at home to Sampdoria. They will need to pick up the pace and make two or three world class signings to be in the position to mount a serious challenge.

Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal complete the strong English challenge, along with holders Chelsea. Both Manchester United and Manchester City will be out to make amends on rather disappointing showings in last years competition, when they bowed out in the group stages. Manchester United have strengthened their squad massively, acquiring the highly-rated Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund as-well as Robin Van Persie from rivals Arsenal. RVP is sure to bring goals to the side, which is something, at times,  they lacked last year, as-well as the creativity in the final third that Kagawa will bring. The return of Vidic is massive, as is the form that De Gea seems to have started the season in. Expect a bold showing from United this year, as Ferguson will be going all out to land the European Cup at least once more before he finally retires. With the group they have, RVP will have many chances to get on the score-sheet in the opening games and he could be a value bet for top-scorer.

Manchester City were well fancied by many last season, when they flopped in the group stages. Going away from home, they looked extremely vulnerable and their defence has started the season in the exact same fashion this year. They have immense attacking quality, with Aguero, Tevez, Balotelli, David Silva etc, but their defence has often let them down. Joe Hart is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and will give his defence confidence that they have a pair of safe hands behind them, and he will be key to any success that City have. They have been dealt an extremely tough draw and at a best-priced 10/1, it would be difficult to hammer into them knowing they face a mammoth task, to even get out of their group.

Arsenal have started the season in mixed fashion, initially failing to score in their opening games before hitting form and showing what we all know they can do. They have a wonderful set-up, with a beautiful passing game. The departure of RVP is a massive loss for Wenger’s men, but in Podolski and Giroud, they have two apt replacements. They have a pair of forwards who have the potential to link-up and finish the chances provided by the solid midfield behind them. Santi Cazorla is one of the captures of the season, and his creativity is something Arsenal has definitely lacked in recent years, in the absence of Fabregas. They should be able to comfortably escape their group and the 25/1 may be some each-way value for small-stake punters.

Group Overview:

Group A: Paris Saint-Germain (11/10), FC Porto (15/8), Dynamo Kiev (7), Din Zagreb (25)

PSG will be pleased with their group, after avoiding many of Europe’s big guns. The French side have been splashing the cash in the the summer transfer window, bringing in many high class players in an attempt to land the Champions League for the first time. Lucas Moura, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marco Verratti, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi have all signed for the club for massive transfer fees and expectation will be huge. They should comfortably come through their group with the amount of class they possess and it would be no shock to see them progress very far in the competition.

It looks as though Porto, Kiev and Zagreb will all be battling it out for second place, and 2004 winners Porto, look set to take that role. Seeded first in the draw, they will be fairly pleased with the draw, although trips to the Ukraine and Croatia will not be easy. They should be able to beat both Kiev and Zagreb on their own turf, and providing PSG do the same, all Porto would have to do, is stop the sides from beating them, which they should be able to do.

Group B: Arsenal (4/5), Schalke 04 (3), Montpellier (7), Olympiakos (14)

Arsenal will be hopeful of getting out of this group, but they do have to face tricky away days across France, Germany and Greece. They should be able to get maximum points at the Emirates however and as long as they pick up points at Montpellier and Olympiakos they should be able to top the group.

Of the rest, it looks a straight battle between Schalke and Montpellier for minor honours. Schalke have tremendous strength in depth, and with the likes of Huntelaar and Affelay (who is on loan from Barcelona), the German side should progress as runners-up.

Group C: AC Milan (13/11), Zenit St Petersburg (2), Malaga (5), Anderlecht (22)

It looks a straight battle between Milan and Zenit as to who tops the group, with Malaga close behind before a massive gulf in class between the rest and Anderlecht. Milan have started the season slowly and I can imagine it will take a while they hit top gear, so it may be wise to take a little risk on Zenit, who have recently acquired the highly-rated Hulk and Axil Witsel. They are 2/1 to win the group and this looks decent value, with Milan expected to fill the runners-up spot.

Group D: Real Madrid (10/11), Man City (5/2), Bor Dortmund (7), Ajax (33)

The group of death includes four champions from four different countries. Any team that wants to progress will have to be on top of their game and it would be no surprise to see the eventual winner, to come from this group.

Madrid always put in a major showing in whatever they take part in and they should have too much class for the opponents, and the 10/11 for them to top the group looks tremendous value. They host Manchester City first game, and a victory here would set them on their way to topping the group. Manchester City have never impressed in European competitions but should be able to see off Dortmund and Ajax, which would be enough to secure the runners-up spot.

Group E: Chelsea (20/19), Juventus (13/8), Shakhtar Donetsk (9), FC Nordsjaelland (100)

Chelsea have impressed so far this year in the Premier League, and Eden Hazard looks set to show his class on the big stage. Stamford Bridge is always a difficult place to go and the fact they are odds-against is a shock for me. The group could well go down to goal difference, and Juventus have never really been known as a team that scores many, as it is the strength of their defence that often gets them out of trouble. The pair should draw clear of Shakhtar and FC Nordsjaelland and it looks a banker forecast, for it to finish Chelsea/Juventus.

Group F: Bayern Munich (1/2), Valencia (3), Lille (10), BATE Borisov (33)

Essentially Group F is Bayern Munich’s group to lose. They should comfortably have enough to see off the declining giants Valencia and Lille who have lost their star-man Eden Hazard. Bate Borisov will struggle to get anything out of the group, and look set to finish in a distant last place.

It looks between Valencia and Lille for the runner-up position, and Valencia should be able to progress, as they look to  have too much fire-power for their French opponents, in the shape of Soldado and Jonas.

Group G: Barcelona (2/13), Benfica (9), Spartak Moscow (20), Celtic (66)

Barcelona should comfortably win the group, with Benfica filling the runners-up spot. Spartak and Celtic both lack the strength-in-depth to compete with Europe’s big guns at this stage, and it should be a procession.

Group H: Man Utd (2/7), Braga (8), Galatasaray (10), CFR Cluj (50)

Manchester United have managed to avoid all of Europe’s big-guns and will be extremely pleased with their group. They face tricky away ties across some tough parts of Europe, but they should top the group comfortably, with the strength of their current squad.

It will be extremely close between Braga and Galatasaray as to who fills the runner up-spot, and I think it may pay to side with Galatasaray. The Türk Telekom Arena as it is now known, is always a tough place to travel, and the Galatasaray fans will play a key part in making it a fortress, and an extremely difficult atmosphere for the away teams to come to.


Manchester United to win the Champions League: 0.5 point e.w @ 10/1

RVP top scorer and Manchester United to win UCL: 1 point @ 66/1 

Madrid, Barca, Chelsea, Munich, United to win their groups: 2 points @ 13/2

PSG, Arsenal, Zenit to win groups: 1 point @ 10.34/1

Weekend Tips – 15/9/12

After an International break, the Premiership returns this weekend, with numerous tasty fixtures to get stuck into.

Hammer Holt:

The early kick-off involves West Ham once more, as they travel to Carrow Road to face a Norwich side who are yet to win this season. The Canaries will be hoping to get three points on the board, in what looks a more simpler test than Tottenham last time out. It looks set to be a very close game, and the draw looks decent value. However it is the first goalscorer market which looks more of interest.

Grant Holt has had a slow start to the season by his standards but the target man has been getting ever closer, and against a West Ham defence who have been defeated 3-0 at Swansea on their only venture outside of London this year, he will fancy his chances. His partnership with Simeon Jackson will be key, and after the break, they will be both raring to go. He is 6/1 with many firms, and this should be snapped up.

Draw Double:

There looks set to be a few extremely close games this weekend, and it looks a perfect day to get stuck into the draw double.

Fulham opened their campaign extremely brightly, before suffering two straight defeats at the hands of United and West Ham. Morale will be low at the Cottage, after selling their talisman Clint Dempsey and key player Moussa Dembele. I expect Fulham to struggle this season and playing host to the in-form West Brom will not be an easy task. These are the sort of games that Martin Jol knows his side have to be winning, and he will be drilling into his players the importance of attacking early on, but this will leave them exposed to the Baggies counter-attack which has been used to great effect already this season. It will be an extremely close encounter, and 5/2 for the draw looks great value.

Sunderland are unbeaten in the only two games they have played this year, drawing both so far, and they look set to continue that run against a Liverpool side who are are yet to hit full throttle. Sunderland’s signings of Louis Saha and Adam Johnson have strengthened their credentials considerably and they look set to be in for a massive season, but Liverpool have undoubted class and it is only a matter of time before they click. The lack of fire-power for Liverpool is clearly a worry, but after the week surrounding the Hillsborough disaster, it will give the club the added boost needed to go out and put in a huge performance for the victims of that fateful day 23 years ago. Unfortunately I think Sunderland should be able their own however, and the 23/10 looks set to be the bet.

Any-time scorer acca:

Peter Crouch will be out to emulate his wonder-goal against Manchester City last year, and with City’s defence having and extremely shaky start to the season, he will fancy his chances to get on the score-sheet. Stoke have a decent record against Manchester City and the 100/30 for the big-man to net at any-time looks massive.

Danny Graham has had a fine start to the season and seems to have a great understanding with current strike-partner Michu. Their opponents Aston Villa have had a woeful opening to the season and have struggled to defend set-pieces on many occasions. Graham doesn’t need any second opportunities and the 5/2 for him to score any-time looks great value, as I fully expect him to bag at least one from a set-piece.

Louis Saha looks set to start, and make his home league debut for his new club and will be out to silence the away fans. Having played for both Manchester United and Everton, Saha is sure to be greeted by a hostile reception from the travelling fans. On his day, Saha is one of the greatest finishers in the Premier League, and if he had better luck with injuries there is no telling where his career could have taken him. He will work well with other new boy Steven Fletcher, and with the service from Adam Johnson against Liverpool’s current nervy defence, the 3/1 for Saha any-time looks absolutely huge.

Reading play host to Spurs on Sunday afternoon and AVB will be expecting a big showing from his players after their worst opening to a season since 1912. The little and large partnership of Adebayor and Defoe will be massive to any chances that Tottenham hold and I fancy the target man, Adebayor to get on the score-sheet. He has had little playing time this season but looks set for a starting role this weekend and he will be doing all he can to impress the new boss. 11/5 looks fair, and if the other three in the acca have all scored, feel free to lay off Adebayor to score to ensure a profit of some sort.

RVP too good:

United should have far too much class to see off Wigan and it would be no surprise to see the Dutch maestro notch a couple. United had won all previous 14 meetings prior to last season, with Wigan failing to score in eight out of ten of them. It looks all set up for a United victory to nil, and with RVP in sparkling form following on from his hat-trick versus the Saints, United could run riot. RVP to score first and United to win 4-0 pays a tempting 30/1 with Bet365.



1 point: Grant Holt to score first v West Ham: 6/1 (Various)

1 point: Fulham/West Brom & Sunderland/Liverpool to draw – 10.55/1 – William Hill

1 point: Crouch/Graham/Saha/Adebayor – to score any-time –  193.13/1 – SportingBet

1 point: RVP to score first, United to win 4-0 – 30/1 – Bet365