Sunday 9th December – Preview with best bets.

Sunday Betting Preview

This Sunday looks set to be one of the best footballing days of the year, with three great games.

Manchester City v Manchester United

The highlight is no doubt the Manchester derby and the table is nicely poised, with City knowing a win will reinstall then as League leaders on goal-difference.

Last year Manchester City did the double over their counterparts, winning 7-1 on aggregate. This year it looks set to be a lot closer, and with Van Persie and Rooney b beginning to click up-top, it could be a very long afternoon for the City defence.

Manchester United's English striker Wayn

Wayne Rooney has been in great goal-scoring form recently, and is very much a confidence player. When he is on top of his game, he is extremely hard to stop, and always comes alive when needed most for his club, and the 9/1 for him to open the scoring looks big.

Ex-United star Carlos Tevez looks set to line-up for City, and he and Aguero always look a constant threat when they’re in the final third together. Yaya Toure has had a quiet spell after a blistering start to the season, and with you add in the creativity of the magician David Silva and Samir Nasri, City always look likely to score goals.

Despite the sensational attacks of both sides, defensively they have both looked incredibly suspect, United in particular.

They have lacked a real leader in the absence of Rio Ferdinand, and often looked shakyfrom set-pieces, conceding three goals from dead-balls against Reading alone.

This means the height of Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany may provide a massive problem, and the 5/1 for Toure any-time, and 16/1 for Kompany any-time, looks incredible value.

Toure never fails to cause United problems, and given a more attacking role, his pace and strength will mean the United centre-half pairing will be in for a long afternoon at The Etihad.

It is certain to be a free-flowing attacking game, as both teams strengths focus mainly on attack, so the 7/10 for over 2.5 goals looks a banker.

Everton v Tottenham 

Elsewhere, Everton entertain Tottenham in what is set to be a tight affair on Merseyside. Both sides are doing well in the league, and Everton know a win on Sunday will put them back into the top four.

This will be a major catalyst in what will be a big day for David Moyes’ men, and he will be looking for a big performance from Nikica Jelavic who has been on a quiet spell over the last few weeks.

jelavic everton

The Croat scored the only goal in the fixture last year, and the 13/2 for him to open the scoring again this year looks value.

Maraoune Fellaini looks set to line-up just behind Jelavic in a 4-4-1-1 formation, and he will be key in creating chances for the striker.

It will be a big test for Tottenham, who are beginning to pick up a head of steam, and given the fact they had a tough game against Panathinaikos on Thursday, they may struggle to hit top form.

If Spurs go 4-5-1, it will be a very defensive encounter and they will rely heavily on counter-attacking football. So if they fall behind, they will be forced to commit more and more men forward, and allow Everton to begin their own counter-attacking football, which they have used to great effect so far this season.

This means that the 10/1 on offer for the 2-0 Everton score-line looks a solid bet.

West Ham v Liverpool

The final game of the afternoon takes place at Upton Park and sees West Ham host Liverpool, with both teams without their first choice centre-forwards.

Luis Suarez is missing for Liverpool, after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Southampton. This means Liverpool are without a recognised centre-forward and will be forced into fielding Jonjo Shelvey in a false-nine role, a formation used to great effect by the Spanish team in the Euro’s.

Liverpool however, are not Spain, and Jonjo Shelvey is unfortunately, not Fabregas. It is hard to see where a goal will come from for the Reds, and they could be relying on set-pieces.

West+Ham+United+v+Liverpool+Premier+League+fmmqYdEvNURl

This means that free-kick and penalty-taker Steven Gerrard may get an opportunity from the spot, to net his first goal since September and as he is set to take a more attacking role on Sunday, the 11/1 for first-goal looks huge.

West Ham are set to start Carlton Cole as a lone-striker, with Kevin Nolan sitting in behind, and former Liverpool trainee Nolan always looks good value for a goal.

Liverpool have always looked suspect from set-pieces, and this is where Kevin Nolan manages to get the majority of his goals. His late runs into the box are a constant threat and given his desire to show his boyhood club what they are missing, the 3/1 for Nolan any-time looks fair.

It will be a very defensive affair and the under 2.5 goals looks a banker at 4/6, with the most likely outcome being 1-1 which is a solid 11/2 shot.

Advice:

1 point: Wayne Rooney FGS @ 9/1 – (William Hill, Ladbrokes)

0.5 points: Vincent Kompany any-time @ 16/1 – (William Hill)

0.5 points: Jelavic FGS & Everton 2-0 @ 40/1 (William Hill)

0.5 points: Gerrard FGS @ 1-1 @ 60-1 (Various)

1 point: Y.Toure & Nolan any-time double @ 23/1

1 point: Manchester City/Everton/West Ham – Liverpool Draw – treble @ 16/1 (Various)

0.5 points: Rooney/Jelavic/Gerrard – FGS treble @ 899/1

Everton v Liverpool – Merseyside Derby Preview with best bets

It is always one of the most highly anticipated clashes of the season and tomorrow is no different, as the 219th Merseyside Derby approaches.

Everton go into the game with a spring in their step after a brilliant start to the season, which has surprised many. Over the past few years we have become accustomed to an extremely slow start by The Toffees, before picking up form and putting together a rattling run post Christmas. This always begs the question ‘What would happen if Everton actually started a season well?’. Now we have the chance to find out.

Champions League qualification looks to be an audacious aim this year, but European qualification of some kind looks extremely realistic. This is partly down to their big Croatian finisher, Nikica Jelavic.

Jelavic has started this season the way he finished the last, and his incredible one touch finishing is causing defences in the Premier League all-sorts of problems. The link up play between himself, Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini has been key in the amount of goals that the team have been scoring. As-well as helping them become the side that have hit the woodwork the most times in the league, having hit it on ten occasions.

Unfortunately for Everton, Pienaar misses the Derby after picking up two yellow cards against QPR last weekend. It was a decision that was highly contentious and Everton have the right to feel aggrieved  However this week they have received a massive boost as Fellaini, who had initially looked set to miss the game after picking up an injury last month, has been ruled fit to play.

He will be responsible for holding up the ball, and breaking up the three man midfield that Liverpool adopt. He will be key in making sure Joe Allen doesn’t get his foot on the ball and begin to dictate the tempo. He is a fiery character and loves to through in a robust challenge. With the tempo the game is going to be played at, it would be no surprise to see the Belgian pick up a booking.

Everton start favourites for the game for the first time in a long while, and David Moyes said it is up to them to live up to the tag.

However it won’t be easy as these games never are. Liverpool have had a chequered start to the season, but seem to be coming into a bit of form. The Reds haven’t conceded in their last three games, with Brad Jones keeping two clean sheets in two starts. Pepe Reina looks set to be fit for the game, so it will be a tough choice for Brendan Rodgers as to who he selects to start in goal.

Elsewhere there are no new injury worries, but after an impressive performance on Thursday evening by a number of players who wouldn’t have really been challenging for a place on Sunday, Rodgers has numerous selection headaches.

Oussama Assaidi particularly impressed with his direct running and skill against Anzhi and with him potentially having Tony Hibbert to run at, Rodgers may seriously think about giving the Moroccan a start. He has pace and skill, and would be able to cause Hibbert numerous problems with sheer pace and trickery as opposed to the supreme technical ability of Suso who pose a different threat.

Suarez and Sterling look two definite starters and will cause the Everton defence the most problems. Sterling is fearless and Rodgers is confident that he won’t be bullied by Everton’s likely rough tactics on the 17 year old. He opened his Premier League account last weekend against Reading before coming on and changing the game on Thursday. Confidence is high and he will be looking to harness all the positive energy into a massive performance in a big game, which he is yet to really do.

Suarez has been having a hard time of things of late, due to his ‘diving’ claims. So referee’s are tending to not give the Uruguayan anything which has also been making the news. The Everton defence is rather static and lacks pace (with the exception of Leighton Baines) and Suarez will be looking to exploit this with his trickery. It is only a matter of time before he manages to win a penalty, and tomorrow could be the day.

Finally, the key man for Liverpool, has to be Mr Merseyside Derby, Steven Gerrard. Gerrard has been in poor form this year by his high standards, but saved his best 90 minutes for the game against United. He comes into his own in big games and will be relishing the chance to go up against his Merseyside rivals once more. He managed to get a hat-trick in the fixture at Anfield last year and will be looking to get on the score-sheet once more.

Best Bets:

1 point: Steven Gerrard to score any-time – 11/4 (Various)

1 point: Nikica Jelavic to score first – 7/1 (Various)

1 point: Everton/Draw (HT/FT) – 16/1 (StanJames)

3 points: Fellaini to be booked – 11/8 (BlueSquare)

1 point: Jelavic FGS – 1-1 – 60/1 – (William Hill)

The Premier League – Who to follow, and updated bets.

The Premier League is well under way and it is clear to see there are numerous surprise packages and potential superstars in the offing, as-well as established top class players, cementing their status.

Five Key Men:

1) Nikica Jelavic: The Everton man has started this season, the way he finished the last. He has bagged 4 goals already, even with missing out two weeks of the season through injury. His one touch finishing is a key factor for Everton’s success this season, and with the support he is receiving from Fellaini he looks set to continue shooting up the goalscoring charts. I advised a bet on the Croatian before the season started to finish top-scorer at 28/1 and he is now a best priced 16/1, so you can afford to lay the bet off for a small profit if you wish. But with Everton’s fixture list, it may pay to wait until more towards Christmas time after the Croat has banged in a fair few more goals.

2) Santi Cazorla: The Arsenal creative midfielder has been one of the finds of the year. After impressing in his first season at Malaga last year, Arsene Wenger seen enough potential to bring the Spaniard to the Emirates in an attempt to fill the void left by Fabregas. He is key to any success Arsenal will have this year, with the link-up play he is going to have, between Ramsey/Arteta and the front three. He knows where the goal is, as shown by his return of 9 goals last year from Midfield when still at Malaga. He has already scored two this year for new club Arsenal and could reach double figures before the end of the season.

3) Fernando Torres: After enduring a torrid opening to his Chelsea career, El Nino has finally began to regain the form he showed at Liverpool. His finishing is exceptional, and he will create chances out of nothing. His partnership with Eden Hazard is enough to scare any defenders and the fact that Chelsea are already four points clear is partly down to the Spaniard finding his shooting boots. He has bagged four so far this season in the Prem, and the 11/1 I advised pre-season has now disappeared and he is now a best priced 13/2. This still looks a brilliant bet, with the way Chelsea have started the season, and I expect him to score 20+.

4) Rickie Lambert: The ex-Beetroot factory worker has answered all his critics who questioned just how well he would when stepping up to the Premier League. The Liverpudlian has been key in Southampton’s opening few games, and has managed to help his side out of the relegation zone, although they still sit in a precarious 17th place. He can play as a lone striker with great conviction and comparisons with Grant Holt at Norwich are fair, as both have magnificent hold up play as well as tremendous power and a deadly finish. If Southampton are to stay up, Lambert will be the key man to keep them up.

5) Joe Hart: Many people’s choice as the Worlds best goalkeeper, and it is hard to disagree after the consistent performances the Englishman has put in. He has started the season in inspired form and although City have conceded a lot more goals than they would have liked, it could have been a lot worse had it not been for Hart. His positioning is second-to-none and it allows him to make plenty of saves that other ‘keepers would have no chance of getting near. Manchester City have conceded twice as many goals as Chelsea have, and Mancini will be looking to shape up his defence. However, if Manchester City are to retain their title, a lot of it will come down to the performances of Joe Hart.

Five to watch:

1) David de Gea: 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 Lindegaard. De Gea has always been renowned as a brilliant shot-stopper, but his positional awareness and command of his box, has often been disappointing. He lost his place against Spurs, as Fergie opted to give Lindegaard his chance between the sticks, but after conceding three, it looks likely he will be be relegated to the bench once more. If United are to mount a serious challenge to claim their 20th league title, a lot will rest on clean sheets, so de Gea will be of key importance. He knows this is his chance to prove himself as a world-class ‘keeper, and this will be a massive season for him.

2) Matt Jarvis: Jarvis turned heads in the summer when breaking West Ham’s club record transfer fee, for over £10 million. He had a successful career but will be under a substantial amount of pressure from the Hammers faithful to deliver. However, he seems to have slotted in to the way Allardyce goes about his football perfectly. Last season he was the most accurate Premier League crosser, and the most frequent, with 56 finding a team-mate out of 218 crosses, and with the loan addition of Andy Carroll, he will have a brilliant target to aim at. He never fails to track back and his work-rate is excellent, he looks set to be in for a brilliant season which could really kick-start the 26 year-old’s career.

3) Suso: Brendan Rodgers has put his faith in the products of the Liverpool youth academy and Suso is possibly the most exciting prospect. The Spaniard slipped under the radar following all of the fuss about 17 year-old Raheem Sterling, but the creativeness of Suso is something that Liverpool have lacked for a long time. He is one step ahead of defenders and has the talent to actually create an end product in the final third. His debut against Manchester United was incredibly impressive, and he didn’t let the occasion overwhelm him as he showed he was fearless, with his direct running at some of the best midfielder’s and defenders in the world. He has put in numerous brilliant performances at Youth and Reserve level, and the partnership he struck up with Suarez during the Norwich game was enough to excite Liverpool fans across the globe. He looks set to be given plenty more chances by Rodgers and by the end of the season he could well have established himself as a key first-team member.

4) Romelu Lukaku: The West Brom forward who is on-loan from Chelsea is one of the rawest talents in the league. His physical presence is massive and the 19 year-old Belgian has the perfect mix of pace and power. He failed to cement a starting place at Stamford Bridge but Steve Clarke has said Lukaku will be getting a number of first-team opportunities at The Hawthorns. He often brushes past defences with his direct running style, but his finishing often lets him down. Clarke will aim to get the best out of the big man during his time at the club and if he can improve his finishing, he will be a massive hit. He has the potential to become one of the best target-men in the league, as he has incredible pace to go with his strength and tremendous aerial ability. It is going to be a massive season, and it would be no surprise to see him become a massive success, and we could well see him partnering Fernando Torres up-top next season at the Bridge.

5) Michu: One of the shrewdest pieces of business during the transfer windows has to be Laudrup bringing in ex Rayo Vallenco star Michu. He was the highest scoring midfielder in La Liga last season with 15 goals, alongside his 3 assists and 5 Man of the Match performances. He has adapted well to the English game and has already scored 5 this season, impressing pundits with his passionate performances, intricate passing and brilliant finishing. He will be key to Swansea’s attempt to avoid relegation and he is more than a fitting replacement for Gylfi Sigurdsson. A big season is in store for the Spaniard and he will be hoping his decision to turn down bigger clubs for the Swans, will be a worthwhile venture.

Tips:

0.5 points: Santi Cazorla – PFA Player of the Year @ 14/1 – Paddy Power

0.5 points: Fernando Torres – PFA Player of the Year @ 16/1 – Paddy Power

3 points: West Brom – Top Midlands Club @ Evens – BetVictor

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

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.

 

Tips:

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

 

 

 

Liverpool v Manchester City – Match Preview, with Betting Tips.

Liverpool play host to Premier League holders, Manchester City tomorrow, in what will be a tough game for the home side.

Liverpool have began the season very slowly, starting with a  3-0 defeat away at The Hawthorns, although The Reds did have the right to feel aggrieved after some controversial calls from referee, Phil Dowd.

Zoltan Gera opened the scoring just before the break, with a sensational strike from 25 yards, which Pepe Reina could do nothing about. This came against the run of play, as Liverpool had enjoyed a dominant spell in possession, in which Luis Suarez went close to opening the scoring numerous times.

After the break was more of the same, as Liverpool created chances, but failed to convert. And when Shane Long raced clear on goal and was brought down by Danny Agger, it was game over.  It looked a soft penalty, but one that had to be followed up with a red card for Agger, once it had been given. Although the penalty was missed, there was huge gaps in the defence and the Baggies took full advantage, winning another (very soft) penalty, and scoring another from big-man Lukaku.

There was a few positives to take out of the game for Liverpool fans, with the creativity of Suarez being an obvious one. Joe Allen had a solid game, and was never scared to throw himself into a tackle, and his passing was solid, as-per.

However Agger’s suspension means that Liverpool will be short at the back, with the veteran Jamie Carragher looking set to play along-side Martin Skrtel. Carragher has been a grand servant for Liverpool, but has slowly started to decline over the past few seasons. He lacks pace, and although his reading of the game is still excellent, there is only so far that can get you when playing against the likes of Tevez and Balotelli.

Attacking-wise, the new signing, Oussama Assaidi, looking set to be given a starting role, he will add pace and trickery to a rather flat Liverpool front trio. Borini and Downing are not out and out attacking-wingers, so the fact that Assaidi looks to get at full-backs and is not afraid to cut-in an shoot, is a major plus for Liverpool’s attack.

Suarez if often wasteful, and his poor scoring record is very well-documented, with pundits questioning whether he is an out and out striker. However, something which he most definitely is, is a big game player. He always turns up when Liverpool need him most, and tomorrow is when Liverpool really need him.

They will be looking to send a message out that they will definitely want to challenge for fourth place, with the position looking wide-open this year. A win against holders City will highlight their credentials, but it will be a major ask.

Manchester City managed to scrape through a tricky game against newcomers Southampton at the Etihad last week. They found themselves 2-1 down with twenty minutes to go, but battled back bravely and secured the three-points, winning 3-2.

They constantly looked a threat when attacking, and were unlucky not to score more, squandering numerous decent chances, including a penalty.

However, defensively they didn’t look as strong as they had done previously, and showed they were susceptible to counter-attacking football. Liverpool will look to punish this tomorrow, but it won’t be easy, as they are sure to play a little deeper than they did at home.

Key-man Sergio Aguero will miss the game, after sustaining a serious injury in the opener, meaning Balotelli could be in line for a recall to the starting line-up. Him and Martin Skrtel have never really gotten along, after clashing at Anfield last season, when Balotelli seen red for two nasty challenges. He has matured ever so slightly and will be out to send a message to his manager, as to why he deserves a start.

Overall:

I think Manchester City may just be too strong for Liverpool in the final-third tomorrow afternoon. Joe Allen and Lucas will make sure Liverpool have their fair share of possession in the centre-midfield, but with no real finisher on the pitch, Liverpool will struggle to convert. Whereas Manchester City have a wealth of riches in the attacking department, with Balotelli, Tevez, Dzeko, Yaya Toure etc all known to be deadly in front of goal. But it is Samir Nasri who will be a major threat. The Frenchman has carried on where he left on from the Euro’s and looked extremely lively and creative in and around the penalty box. He will have some fun attacking Liverpool’s full-backs tomorrow, who often like to attack themselves, so there is sure to be space. Balotelli will have too much pace and power for Carragher to handle, and it could be a very long afternoon on Merseyside for the veteran Scouser.

Tips:

3 points: Manchester City win @ 6/4 – Paddy Power/Stan James

1.5 points: Manchester City to win to nil – 4/1 – SkyBet

0.5 points e.w – FGS: Balotelli – 8/1 – Stan James

0.5 points e.w – FGS: Nasri – 12/1 – Stan James

0.5 points: Manchester City 3-0 – 33/1 – Stan James

 

 

25/8/12 – Weekend Football Preview and Tips.

After an opening weekend filled with shocks, hopefully we can thin down this weekends proceedings and find some value bets.

Tasty Treble:

Manchester United struggled to hit top-gear against a determined Everton side, who thoroughly deserved their victory. They will be looking to bounce back immediately and lay down their title credentials against a Fulham side who are coming here off the back of a 5-0 victory. Confidence will be high in the Fulham camp, but United’s attacking prowess should be enough to comfortably see off The Cottagers. 1/3 is a must in any accumulator.

Tottenham also suffered defeat in their first fame of the new season, at the hands of Newcastle. They played good football throughout and were unfortunate not to be leading by the break, after hitting the woodwork numerous times. Spurs lacked the clinical touch in the final third but they have finally secured the signing of Emmanuel Adebayor who will bring much needed goals. They face an in-form West Brom side who comprehensively beat Liverpool 3-0 last weekend. However the first goal was a wonder-goal, and the Baggies constantly looked vulnerable at the back, but Liverpool couldn’t take their chances. When Agger received a red-card in the second-half the game was effectively over, as gaps began to appear in defence as Liverpool attacked, looking for an equaliser and route back into the game. The scoreline flattered West Brom and this is a factor in the current 8/15 for Spurs. If it was going to be played towards the back end of the year, Spurs would be 2/5 – 1/3 to get all the 8/15 you can.

Chelsea have started the season in great form but will face their toughest test on Saturday evening. They host Newcastle at Stamford Bridge and will be looking to eradicate the bad memories from last year when they were defeated by two Papiss Cisse wonder-goals. The defence looked a little frail when they played Reading earlier in the week, but that should have sharpened them up and made them aware of where their problems lay. They attacked with great menace, and with Newcastle’s venture to Greece mid-week, they should be able to take advantage of the tired defence. 8/15 looks a fair price and should mopped up.

Manchester United/Chelsea/Tottenham all to win pays 2.2/1 with Paddy Power and looks an absolute cert to start your weekend. 

Draw Double:

Eight of the last 12 games between Aston Villa and Everton have ended in a draw. Aston Villa know they are in for a tough season and will go all out to try and win games at Villa Park. Everton look solid all-over the pitch and will be difficult to break down, they have one of the best defences in the league and I can’t see them conceding many, but with Moyes’ tendency to play a lone striker away from home, Jelavic looks set to be isolated, with the best chances of goals coming from the midfield. Either-way it looks set to be a stalemate and the 12/5 looks value.

Both Norwich and QPR suffered humiliating 5-0 defeats on the opening day, and both will be looking to bounce back with a win. Neither team played with any real fluency and they both looked as though they needed a few more weeks of pre-season before they would be up to scratch. It is worth taking the chance that their torrid runs continue and I think the two relegation candidates look set to battle out a bore-draw at Carrow Road. 12/5 looks fair.

Aston Villa/Everton and Norwich/QPR both to draw pays 10.56/1 with SkyBet.

Acca:

Southampton came out of their 3-2 defeat at Manchester City, with great credit. They played some brilliant attacking football and looked threatening on the counter-attack. If they manage to sort out their defensive frailties they can make a real push or the top-half this season. They play host to Wigan Athletic who look set to be in for a long season, and the St Mary’s crowd will play a  major part in guiding their team to success this season. The 11/10 looks big, and I would back The Saints to get their first win of the Premier League season.

Arsenal are away at Stoke, and although they haven’t had the greatest success at the Britannia in recent years, I can’t ignore the odds-against for the classy footballing side at the home of the hoof-it specialists.  In recent years Arsenal’s centre-forwards have often been intimidated by the big Stoke centre-backs, but this year they have Lucas Podolski who can handle his own. Behind him is the key-man, Santi Cazorla. He is an outstanding winger, and can play anywhere across the midfield or up-top. He has pace, trickery and an end-product and will run Stoke ragged. The 5/4 is a massive price.

Sunderland held Arsenal to a goalless draw on the opening day and now play host to new-boys Reading. The new signing of Louis Saha gives strength to the Sunderland attack and they should run out comfortable winners over a Reading side who also played mid-week.

Liverpool play host to Manchester City on Sunday afternoon and the Merseyside club are going through a transitional period. The style of play they are looking to play under Brendan Rodgers will come in time, but this is clearly a work-in-progress and at the minute, Liverpool just don’t look like scoring. Manchester City on the other hand have a number of attacking options and should put Liverpool to the sword, with the suspended Daniel Agger a big blow. 6/4 looks big.

Southampton, Sunderland, Manchester City, Arsenal pays: 18.3/1 with Paddy Power.

 

Return of the Acca.

The Premier League season finally returns tomorrow, and so does the chance for everyone to get on their favourite £1 to a three/four-figure acca.

Nothing can beat the excitement of sitting in front of Gilette Soccer Saturday, with Jeff Stelling reeling off the latest scores, desperately flicking down your slip to see if it’s one of your games. Hearing Paul Merson scream like a girl in the background and knowing he’s commentating on one of your games, the dreaded wait to see if it’s for or against your boys.  Or sitting at the back of the coach on the way back from an away game, desperately checking your phone for the Yeovil score, as it’s the last one you need to and your bet. (They will probably have conceded an injury time equaliser if my luck with accumalators is anything to go by.)  And once a season, you might be lucky enough to get one up.

Everyone loves an accumulator, but if you want to win money consistently, you will have to reduce your selections to doubles and trebles, as this is the only real way to make money from football betting.

With the unpredictability of English football, every added selection turns the odds into the bookmakers favour, so it key to keep them to a minimum.

Right, on with this weeks selections.

Tasty Treble:

The first week of the Premier League season is often a rusty, cagey afffair with most teams still struggling with match fitness, so it usually pays to side with teams who have already played in competitive matches. I.e European qualifying or the Community Shield. This leaves us with Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool. Looks a solid treble.

Chelsea are away at Wigan and look set to condemn the Latics to their first defeat of what will be a difficult season. 4/7 seems a fair price, but with Manchester City 1/6 to get the better of new boys Southampton, It hardly seems worth it.

This is until you see that Liverpool are Evens to beat West Brom. Liverpool have had a brilliant pre-season, and Brendan Rodgers seems to be getting the best out of his players with his new tiki-taka philosophy. His new aqcuisitions look as though they will slot in perfect to his new 4-3-3 formation and Joe Allen will be able to dictate the play in what should be a dominant Liverpool performance. West Brom are often wasteful with possesion, and may take a while to trutly settle under their new manager Steve Clarke. Lukaku looks a solid signing on loan from Chelsea, but Agger and Skrtel should have enough to stop the big man. This treble pays 5/2 with SkyBet and looks as  solid as any 5/2 shot you will find this weekend.

Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool – all to win – 5/2 – SkyBet

Draw Double:

Elsewhere many teams won’t be as sharp, and it is likely there won’t be too many goals in certain games this weekend. This is where the value is, to back teams to draw. The first game that fits into this mould is Reading v Stoke. Reading play nice attacking football on the floor, which is going to be countered by Stoke’s long-ball philosophy. Reading will try and get off the mark positively, knowing that these are the types of games they will have to win, but they will struggle defensively against the height and power. It looks set to be a stalemate and at 12/5, it looks a fair bet.

Newcastle v Tottenham is arguably the game of the weekend. Both teams finished in the top 5 last year and will be out to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke. Newcastle have brilliant attacking options in the shape of Ba and Ciise, whereas Spurs attacking options are limited, with Defoe looking the only real threat. Siggurdson looks set to make his debut and will cause problems, but Modric being left out is a huge blow for their hopes this year. Defensively, Spurs look to have a solid back line, with a perfect mix of pace and power, unlike Newcastle who always seem to look prone to conceding. This being said, I think the brilliant attack of Newcastle will be thwarted by the solid back-line of Spurs, and although Newcastle’s defence is often a bit shaky, Spurs’ attacking threats don’t look up to really troubling them. It looks set to be a low-scoring affair, and it is worth taking a punt on the draw at this stage of the season.

Reading/Stoke and Newcastle/Spurs – Draws – 10.22/1

Acca:

Athough I’ve stated it is not the way to make money, it is the unwritten rule that every male must place an accumalator on a Saturday morning, in the hope of a free night out in the aftermath. So we have to have a crack at it.

Everton predominantly start the season slowly, and United will be out to prove a point with their new strike-force. The 10/11 on offer seems fair and looks one to be thrown into any accumalators.

Arsenal have had a tricky transfer window, losing their captain and talisman RVP, but Santi Cazorla has gone under the radar and is arguably the signing of the window. They should comfortably brush Sunderland aside at The Emirates. 2/5 is a banker.

Add these with the already chosen treble and you have yourself a SkyBet special, currently an 8/1 enhanced accumulator.

Arsenal, United, Liverpool, City, Chelsea – 8/1. SkyBet

Arsenal, United, Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Fulham and QPR – 32/1 SkyBet

First Goalscorer’s:

The first goalscorer market is always a popular market, and with good reason. There is often tremendous value to be had and this weekend is no different, with some seemingly massive prices.

Robin Van Persie has hit the headlines after his big money move to Manchester United, and will be out to prove his worth. He is currently 5/1 with Coral, which looks massive, when you take into account the service he is going to receive. With a selection of brilliant wide players, Young, Valencia and Nani, they will be able to attack Baines and Hibbert who are not the quickest full-backs. This will ensure they can get deliveries into the box for RVP to attack, and he is usually deadly in front of goal. With Rooney and Kagawa sitting behind him, he is sure to be given the best possible chance to get off the mark and 5/1 seems massive.

Fernando Torres seems to have found his scoring touch again after collecting the Golden Boot at the Euro’s and netting in the Community shield. He is up against a poor Wigan defence who lack pace and he should have a field day, 4/1 looks value.

Finally Luis Suarez has looked as tricky as ever during pre-season and his nimble footwork will cause all kinds of problems for West Brom’s usually static defence. He looks set to play as the main striker in a forward three and will torment the Baggies all afternoon. 11/2 looks huge.

RVP/Torres/Suarez FGS treble – 194/1 

RVP/Torres/Suarez any-time treble – 13/1 

 

Bets advised:

2 points: Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool – all to win – 5/2 – SkyBet

1 point: Reading/Stoke and Newcastle/Spurs – Draws – 10.22/1 – SkyBet

1 point: Arsenal, United, Liverpool, City, Chelsea – 8/1 -SkyBet

0.5 points: Arsenal, United, Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Fulham and QPR – 32/1 – SkyBet

0.5 point: RVP/Torres/Suarez FGS treble – 194/1 – Coral

1 point: RVP/Torres/Suarez any-time treble – 13/1 – Coral

 

Liverpool – Premier League 2012/13 – Preview and best bets.

Last season was one of bitter disappointment on the domestic front for everyone involved with Liverpool football club. Not even managing to win the Carling Cup and reaching the F.A Cup final could mask just how much finishing 8th and behind rivals Everton had hurt the fans.

Going into the season, the team had high expectations after big money signings Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Jose Enrique all arrived Anfield. It was thought that the team now had the perfect balance and had acquired a high-class winger, something which had been lacking in the past, but it wasn’t to be as many of the big money signings disappointed.

Andy Carroll had a dreadful start to the season and found goals extremely hard to come by, before managing to turn it around and become a fan favourite with his gritty, determined performances and managing to score the winner in the F.A Cup semi-final against rivals Everton. Stewart Downing managed to go throughout the whole season without scoring a goal or even getting an assist in the Premier League. Henderson and Adam both struggled to impress the fans and it looked destined to be ‘one of those seasons’ as Liverpool struggled to pick up wins at Anfield.

A lot rested on the shoulders of star-man Luis Suarez who had started the season brightly, but following a controversial race-row and subsequent eight-game ban, it took him a while to regain his form and the team had succumbed to a disappointing eighth placed finish. This was enough to convince the Anfield board to get rid of manager and fan-favourite Kenny Dalglish, a decision which was not taken lightly.

New Manager:

However, it was the right decision, regardless of how much sentiment the fans all have for Dalglish. He was never a master tactician, and this was something which Liverpool desperately needed. Step forward, Brendan Rodgers. The former-Swansea manager was renowned for playing attacking free-flowing football and administering the tiki-taka football seen at the illustrious Barcelona. He was a major part of the surprising success Swansea achieved last season and in June 2012, he signed a long-term deal to become the new Liverpool manager.

New Signings:

His first steps in pre-season have been to bring in the highly-rated Fabio Borini who has worked with at both Chelsea and Swansea and former Swansea midfield general Joe Allen.

Borini looks the type of player Liverpool were crying out for, a poacher. He certainly knows where the net is, scoring 9 in 24 games during a short loan spell at Roma last season, and he has already opened his Anfield account on his first game on Merseyside, opening the scoring against FC Gomel in the Europa League qualifying game. He is a tireless worker and works well off the ball, tracking back and creating space for other players to run into. He is a brilliant addition to the squad, and due to his relatively small transfer fee in today’s market of just over £10 million, means there is little pressure on his shoulders, which is sure to help him.

Joe Allen has followed his former manager to Anfield and he has said working with Rodgers’ was one of the main factors that finalised the deal.

To join back up with him was definitely a big pull for me,” said Allen. “Brendan is so passionate about his football. He works day in, day out to improve the team and everyone individually. Everyone wants to work alongside someone who has that way about them. One of his best things is his man management. He commands the respect of everyone. I have a lot of faith that Brendan can bring success. I wanted to be part of this project and I’ve really got a good feeling this football club is going to go from strength to strength in the next couple of seasons.”

The Welsh-man has raised many eyebrows with his £15 million price-tag but it looks set to be a wise investment over years to come. The 22 year-old had a 91% success rate last season, higher than Barcelona and Spain star Andres Iniesta. His ability to keep the ball in tricky situations and look to build moves from a deep-lying role, is something Liverpool have missed since the departure of Xabi Alonso three years ago. Last season he managed to make 110 tackles, the third-highest in the division, and he looks set to take some of the defensive pressure off Lucas, and free-up Steven Gerrard, allowing the skipper to revert to his favoured free-role.

Goalkeepers:

Pepe Reina was rather disappointing last season, by his own high standards. The Spaniard began to allow silly mistakes to creep into his game for a spell around the middle of the season, but managed to shake it off and began towards like his old self coming into the latter parts of the year. However he got sent-off in a league game against Newcastle, which resulted in him missing the F.A Cup semi-final against Everton, which Liverpool went on to win 2-1. He returned for the final, which Liverpool lost, but was also in goal for the Carling Cup final victory against Cardiff. This taste of silverware is sure to inspire him next season, and wet his appetite for more success and although he was part of the Spanish Euro winning squad, he didn’t take part in a game, so will return to Anfield fresh after a nice break. On his day he is in the top 5 goalkeepers in the world, without a doubt, so the team can have the faith in Reina bailing them out of sticky situations. Brad Jones, Doni and Peter Gulasci are competing for the second spot behind Reina, although unless Pepe gets injured or suspended, it is likely they will be competing for appearances in the earlier rounds of cup competitions, and none look set to threaten him for a first-team position just yet.

Defence:

Liverpool have always been renowned for their imperious centre-half partnerships and this year looks no different. There hadn’t been a stand-out partnership since the days of Hyypia and Henchoz, but now Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger have struck up a partnership that will be key to any success Liverpool have this year. Both players were reported to be City-bound, but with Daniel Agger’s recent tattoo of ‘YNWA’ across his knuckles and the £27 million price-tag slapped across his head, it looks as if he will be staying at Anfield for at least another season.

The football that Rodgers is looking to be playing next year will suit Daniel Agger perfectly. He is one of the greatest footballing defenders on the planet, and always looks comfortable with the ball at his feet. He has always liked to bring the ball out from the back, and never been scared to get forward, something Rodgers will be looking for his defence to do. Skrtel has began to follow suit and could often be seen making forward runs towards the end of last season, and also frequently during pre-season. The pair are disciplined when they need to be, brilliant in the air, powerful, quick and arguably the best centre-half partnership in the league.

In terms of full-backs, Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique are both quick attacking-minded players who will join in with attacks which is important when playing a rather compact midfield three. They will offer width when the midfield and attackers get sucked into the centre, as-well as being quick enough to track back and make sure they fulfil their defensive duties. Johnson managed to get on the score-sheet against FC Gomel and Rodgers seems keen to allow both him and Enrique the freedom to go forward which will benefit the team, by being able to attack in numbers which didnt happen often enough last year.

Midfield:

Liverpool look set to play a three-man midfield for the first time in a long time, which is already pleasing the fans. Gone are the days of the rigid 4-4-2 or defensive minded 4-5-1, Rodgers  looks set to play a free-flowing attacking 4-3-3. Joe Allen and Lucas are expected to be the sitting pair, who will slot in to defensive duties when Agger or Skrtel begin to attack. Their discipline and range of passing will be major assets to the team after Livepool have attempted to play attacking-minded player in a defensive position in the shape of Gerrard, Henderson, Shelvey and Aquilani (when played), with very little success.

With the pair likely to sit deep, this will give Steven Gerrard his favoured free-role back, which is where he has had the greatest success so far in his career. The last time he was given the free-role with Didi Hamann in the squad, Gerrard made his name, getting forward and scoring double figures consistently each season. In the fixture against FC Gomel, Gerrard was often found drifting wide allowing the attacking players to cut inside and turning the formation into a fluid 4-2-4.

Their is substantial strength in depth in terms of central midfielder’s with Shelvey, Henderson, Adam and Spearing all able replacements in the centre, yet it is likely one if not two of these players will be sent on loan to gain some first team experience.

Forwards:

Luis Suarez is the key-man for Liverpool this year, after signing a new long-term contract at the club to quash any lingering doubts about his future on Merseyside. El Pistelero has already scored 15 Premier League goals for Liverpool alongside numerous assists, but will be hoping for a bigger return next year, playing at the head of a front three.

Last year he was often the lone striker, short of support but he looks set to have Borini and Downing alongside him to help create chances this season.

Each of the three can play anywhere along the front, with the players likely to drift between positions during the game, which will keep the opposition defence on their toes. Downing has had a lot of unfair flack due to his performances last season, in which his failure to score or get an assist was well-documented. He created the second highest amount of chances in the Premier League, behind only Leighton Baines. It was the final attempts from Carroll/Suarez etc which let down Downing and made his statistics look a lot worse than his performances warranted. He has began to attack defenders a lot more and isn’t scared to get the byline and get the ball into box, as-well as cutting inside and firing in shots from distance, which is how he got his first goal of Brendan Rodgers’ reign as manager, away in Belarus.

Borini’s movement and quickness along the ground, as-well as his touch and finish means he is likely to be selected ahead of Andy Carroll, who sadly doesn’t fit into the mould needed for tiki-take football. However he will still be a key member of the squad, as there are times when tiki-taka won’t suffice, such as on a cold Tuesday night at the Britannia. His height and power in the air will be a huge asset when coming up against tiring legs in the last 20 minutes of games also.

Overall:

Considering the bitter disappointment of last year, Liverpool fans will be heading into the new season with a new found optimism courtesy of Brendan Rodgers’ free-flowing attacking football that he is trying to implement. This was seen to an extent during his first game at Anfield, against FC Gomel, with two touch football seemingly being the aim.

Suarez looked on great form, and next year he will have lots of support, so the current 40/1 for him to be top assist maker in the league looks massive. His creativity often means he can find space where others wouldn’t, and now with the poacher Borini next to him, he will have someone to help convert the chances.

This leads on to the next stand-out bet, which is Borini at 5/1 to be Liverpool’s top league scorer. It looks set to be a two-horse race between Suarez and Borini for the crown, and the odds should be a lot closer, with Borini looking likely to be the furthest forward for most of the season, with Suarez being allowed to drift out wide.

With the added bonus of playing competitive matches before the Premier League has started, due to the Europa qualifying, it is likely that Liverpool will be able to start the season in good fashion and get off the mark quickly. September looks a difficult month with both Arsenal and Manchester United at home, and Norwich and Sunderland away, but Liverpool will have the added bonus of being much fitter. BetVictor are offering Liverpool to pick up over 7 points at 12/5 which looks massive. Rodgers will be disappointed if he can’t get his side to beat Norwich and Sunderland, which would mean only a point would be needed against Arsenal and United. Both have gone through a transitional period and the Anfield crowd can make such a difference, so a draw is the minimum expectation from both games, with both seemingly being there to be won.

TIPS:

1 point e.w – Luis Suarez – Top Premier League Assist Maker- 40/1 Boylesports

2 points – Fabio Borini – Top Liverpool Premier League Scorer – 5/1 SkyBet/Bet365

2 points – Liverpool to gain more than 7 points in September – 12/5

The Premier League Season – 2012/13.

With just under two weeks until the 2012/13 Premier League season kicks off, the bookmakers are still in the midst of finalising their current prices, and this is often the period of time in which value is there to be had.

Some clubs are yet to finalise transfers, so there is a still a slight gamble in hammering into anything with great force, but there are still some seemingly great odds on offer.

Firstly, this year looks like a three-way challenge for the title in my opinion. Reigning Champions Manchester City look set to hold a big hand in the title-race, as do runners-up Manchester United and last seasons F.A Cup and Champions League winners, Chelsea.

Manchester City have been surprisingly quiet in the transfer window so far, but when you look at the strength in depth of every aspect of their squad, I suppose new faces aren’t really needed. They played some brilliant football under Roberto Mancini last year and look set to carry that on, after impressing during pre-season so far. The spine of the team, in the shape of Hart, Kompany, Yaya Toure and Aguero, are four of the best players in the world in their positions, and with all four looking set to stay with the club for the foreseeable future, it is not out of the question that City will come to dominate English football in the manner in which Manchester United have done in recent years. The current price of 13/10 seems fair, but having the patience to wait so long for such a short price, is something which many find difficult.

Manchester United will have to regroup after the heartache of losing out to their arch-rivals in incredible circumstances last year. Leaving the pitch at Sunderland they thought they had their 20th title wrapped up, until Aguero popped up at the Etihad in the 94th minute and sent the title to Eastlands for the first time. Ferguson has since came out and stated his side will be doing everything in their grasp to wrestle back the title, and has gone about doing so in the best way possible. He has aquired the highly-rated Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund, who looks set to make a big impact on the Premier League. He is highly skilled, and does his best work from just behind the striker, but can also play on the wing if needed. He has all the makings of a great, and his creativity is something United desperately lacked last year, he will definitely make a big difference to the side. Ferguson has also lined up a £50 million swoop for Lucas Moura and Robin Van Persie, which will definitely boost their title credentials if he can finalise the deals. Rooney and Van Persie would undoubtedly be the best strike-partnership the League, possibly even the World if it came to fruition, and with the creativity of Kagawa, Moura and Young behind the front two, they are sure to consistently get goals. The 13/5 won’t last long if the £50 million swoop does happen.

Chelsea are the team I am most interested in betting-wise. The bookmakers have seemingly underestimated their chances, offering 5/1 for the London giants to win the league. But it’s not this bet I am particularly interested in, it’s the range of match-bets that are on offer. Chelsea have arguably been doing the best bit of business during the transfer window so far, in 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. This is what cost them dearly in the earlier parts of the season under AVB. Roberto Di Matteo changed the fortunes of the blues’ season last year, coming in at a difficult time in the season, and guiding them to both the F.A Cup and Champions League success. He is clearly a great man-manager and the players look up to him, this hasn’t been the case for Chelsea managers since Jose Mourinho, and Di Matteo could be the man to guide Chelsea to a brilliant domestic season, something which their fans crave desperately. 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 players he was at Liverpool. He never managed to get a decent run in the 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 abscense 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 he can guide them to success.

Arsenal and Tottenham have failed to strengthen their squads with enough force to really challenge for the title this year. Arsenal have captured Santi Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski are all class players, but will not make up for RVP if he does leave, which looks likely. They haven’t performed on the big stage for many years now, with the fact they haven’t won a trophy in seven years, proving this. They look set to be in a scrap with their North-London rivals, Spurs, for fourth-place , and it certainly won’t be easy for either side.

Spurs look set to lose their key man to Real Madrid, with Luca Modric expected to sign for the Spanish giants this week. On top of this they are losing patience with Adebayor who had a major impact following his loan move from Manchester City, which means their choice of striking options look very limited. At the current time, they look set to be in a battle for fourth place with Arsenal, but unless they make two or three new signings, they look set to lose out. The fact that although they finished in 4th, they didn’t get Champions League football, means that big targets are choosing to go elsewhere so that they can play in Europe’s elite competition. The latest rumours are that Spurs are interested in Luis Damiao, which would be a tremendous aquisition, as the young Brazilian looks set to have a massive future.

Newcastle surprised many last year, finishing in 5th, with the partnership of Ba and Cisse being one of the highlights of the season itself. They notched 29 goals between them, despite the fact that Cisse only signed for the Toon in January, half-way through the season. The pair will have to be on fine form to maintain the high expectations, but I feel that next year defenders will be more aware on how to defend against them, and Newcastle will have to make do with 7th.

Liverpool are looking to add Joe Allen to their already predominantly British side, showing the emphasis of Brendan Rodgers’ tiki-taka philosophy. Rodgers’ himself will be Liverpool’s best transfer this year, regardless of who they sign. As the Merseyside club always had the players that could attack and score goals, but they were often thwarted by previous managers defensive tactics. With Rodgers’ free-flowing attacking football, the club will flourish and he will get the best out of the likes of Suarez, Downing, Henderson etc. It is very much a building process for Liverpool and this year, the aim with be 5th place, but expect the reds to mount a serious challenge for the Champions League again in years to come.

At the bottom of the table, the newly promoted clubs, Southampton, Reading and West Ham all come into the Premier League with high-hopes of staying up, after looking at the weaknesses of some of the clubs at the lower end of the table. West Ham have invested in some Premier League talent, and with the fan-base they have being so important, I think they should safely stay up. It will be extremely difficult for both Reading and Southampton to stay up, but at extremely short-odds to go down they offer no value. The team I am most interested in, is Fulham. They have gotten rid of some of their most important players, the likes of skipper Danny Murphy, second-top goalscorer Pogrebnyak and Andy Johnson. They look likely to lose Clint Dempsey to Liverpool and if this happens, I think Fulham could be in some serious danger of being relegated. They finished an impressive ninth last year, thanks to Dempsey’s 17 goals, but they often looked shaky defensively and with the league’s newcomers looking extremely strong, the 11/1 on offer looks too big to ignore.

In terms of top goalscorer, it is extremely open as any year, but there seems to be some over-priced players across the board. Fernando Torres is my main bet of the year, as he looks as if he has regained his confidence after a brilliant performance at the Euro’s, and as he is now the first-choice striker, following the departure of Drogba. This means he will get a decent run in the side, and with the creativity of Mata, Hazard, Lampard etc, he looks set to have some brilliant service to thrive off. He is 11/1 and looks a cracking each-way bet if he manages to stay fit.

Sergio Aguero looks an extremely safe each-way bet, at 8/1. He is the talisman for the Champions, and after scoring 23 in his first season at the club, he looks sure to improve as he settles into the English game, and he will be around the top ofthe goalscoring chart come May.

In terms of bigger prices, there are two players in particular which look incredibly over-priced. Nikica Jelavic was one of the buys of the year last season, after David Moyes brought the Croatian in from Rangers in January, many were sceptical of whether or not he would adapt to the English game, but he answered his critics in style. He scored 9 goals in 13 appearances for Everton and was key in guiding the toffee’s to a seventh placed finish, ahead of rivals Liverpool. Moyes has purchased Jelavic’s former strike partner Steven Naismith from Rangers, which means Jelavic will have yet more service and the pressure will be taken off, which often leads to more goals. Signing the creative Pienaar on a permanent deal, means the Croatian will be able to link up with the South African to great effect as was seen last year, and the 28/1 for top goalscorer looks massive.

Demba Ba was outshone by Senegalese team-mate Papis Cisse in the second half of the season, as Cisse embarked on an incredible goalscoring run. This meant that many forgot just how much Ba worked, and how much of a talented finisher he actually is. He managed to bag 16 goals last year, with most of these coming in the early part of the season. If he manages to stay fit, the partnership woth Cisse is likely to come to fruition once more, and the 40/1 for Ba looks much better value than the 16/1 for Cisse. There is not that much between the pair, and it is worth taking a chance on Ba.

TIPS:

Manchester City to win league: 3 points win @ 13/10 with Coral.

Chelsea to be top London club: 2 points win @ 11/10 with Bwin.

Fulham to be relegated: 0.5 points @ 11/1 with BetVictor.

Fernando Torres top goalscorer: 1.5 points e.w @ 11/1 with BetVictor.

Nikica Jelavic top goalscorer: 0.5 points e.w @ 28/1 with various.

Demba Ba top goalscorer: 0.25 points e.w @ 40/1 with various.

Sergio Aguero top goalscorer/Manchester City to win league: 2 points @ 12/1.