Premier League – Opening Weekend Preview

Alas the Premier League is back, and so is the unbridled faith that this OUR year. Our team will outperform their odds, and in doing so, help us make it a profitable year.

Well, I can’t ensure your team do the business in their respective leagues, but I can certainly attempt to you help you make it a profitable year. Whether it eases the pain on a Saturday evening or adds that extra bonus for a few beers toasting your team’s success, the lure of the accumulator is back.

We hear the monster success stories, often alongside the hashtag #bookiebashing (revolutionary, I know..) but these are fairy-tale bets, which require mass amounts of luck. There is no harm in throwing ‘a life-changer’ on, but small stakes are required, with trebles, doubles and singles looking the best way to make money this season.

Opening Day Treble:

The first bet of the season is a fair value treble, in the shape of Stoke, Tottenham and Everton, which pays 8.62/1 with Sky Bet.

Stoke have had a solid pre-season, and have improved their squad with the perfect balance of Premier League stalwarts with a wealth of experience at the top level and young exciting attackers, who could cause havoc among defenders this season. They face a rather disjointed Aston Villa, who look as though they may well struggle in the Premier League this year. Paul Lambert faces a stiff task and his sides are often slow starters, with Villa’s 3-1 win over Arsenal last season the only time he has picked up three points on the opening day. Stoke are unbeaten on the opening day at the Britannia, and 22/23 looks a good price.


Tottenham struggled against West Ham last season, losing on all three occasions they faced the Hammers, however this season they are in a good position to get off to a flyer. A solid pre-season has gelled the side and there is no longer the ruggedness that appeared towards the early parts of last year, with so many players to integrate. This is in contrast to Sam Allardyce, who has the pleasure of being one of very few managers whose fans have called for the sack solely on pre-season performances and should Spurs play their game, they should be able to compile big Sam’s misery and turn up the pressure on David Gold.  Tottenham performed well away from White Hart Lane last year, winning 10 on the road (only Arsenal won more, with 11), so the venue shouldn’t be a factor. They are shades of odds-on in places, so the 11/10 with Sky Bet comes as a welcome surprise.

It will come as a surprise to many that Everton are trading at such a big price on the opening weekend, as they travel to newly promoted Leicester. Injury worries to Lukaku and Mirallas have plagued their pre-season, however they still have class in abundance and Roberto Martinez is one of the best in the business at making sure his systems are performed to a tee. Leicester will attempt to control the game, as they did on plenty of occasions last season during their climb to the Promised Land. However should Gareth Barry and James McCarthy manage to break up the play, and cut off the passage between midfield and attack, Everton should be able to make their class tell and win the game, even without some of their big names. The atmosphere will be electric at the King Power, however take the 13/9 for Martinez’s men to get off to the best possible start.

First Goalscorer Patent:

Manchester United entertain Swansea at Old Trafford in the first game of the new Premier League season, and Wayne Rooney will be leading the side out for the first time since being given the armband permanently by Louis van Gaal.


The 28-year-old will be given a more attacking role in the absence of the injured Robin van Persie and he could well lead the line. He needs two more goals to join Thierry Henry at third in the table of all-time Premier League scorers with 175, and he could well have done that come Saturday afternoon. His fantastic accuracy and intelligent position means he is a nightmare for any defender and he will be out to prove his manager was right to make him the new skipper. The 7/2 with Ladbrokes looks fair, and this is the first selection in the patent.

The second selection comes in the late kick-off, with Arsenal taking on Crystal Palace. Alexis Sanchez will be the centre of attention in the build-up to the game following his big money move from Barcelona; however it is Olivier Giroud who is the selection. The Frenchman has netted six times in his last six appearances at the Emirates and has started pre-season well, netting in the 3-0 win over Manchester City in the Community Shield.

Sanchez will be a valuable provider for the forward line, and Giroud should be able to capitalise. He is a stand-out 9/2 with Boylesports to net first, and this looks massive value.

It will be an edgy wait to Sunday if the first duo deliver, as the final selection doesn’t line up until early Sunday afternoon, as Daniel Sturridge completes the patent.

The 24-year-old is set to spearhead the attack with Luis Suarez no longer at the club, and he is 4/1 to net first, as he did on the opening weekend of last season. He has slowly been hitting some form towards the end of pre-season and with the service he will be getting from the midfield/attacking wingers, he is sure to get the opportunity to terrorise a rather depleted Southampton defence. The patent pays a best-priced 114.5/1 with Boylesports, while the any-time scorer treble of the same trio is also worth a small bit of interest 7/1 with Bet 365.

Win-to-Nil Double:

Manchester City travel to St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon, a place they have a fantastic record in recent years. Although their Community Shield loss to Arsenal showed very few signs of positivity, they will be aiming to come out and prove a point to those raising questions of their class. They are 11/5 with Coral to win-to-nil against a Newcastle side that look rather weak defensively. Add this to Chelsea to win-to-nil on Monday night against new boys Burnley, and you have yourself a tasty 5.88/1 double.


Win Treble: Stoke/Spurs/Everton @ 8.62/1 (Sky Bet)

FGS Patent: Rooney/Giroud/Sturridge patent @ 114.5/1 (Boylesports)

Any-time Treble: Rooney/Giroud/Sturridge @ 7/1 (Bet365)

Win-to-Nil Double: Manchester City & Chelsea @ 5.88/1 (Coral)

World Cup – 32 Best Bets

The World Cup is fast approaching, and it is often the one time that punters really splash out, with such brilliant value occurring during the quadrennial event.

So, in this piece I am going to offer 32 fantastic odds-against bets, one for each team taking part in this year’s World Cup, ranging from a wide variety of different markets.

Group A:


The hosts are in scintillating form, and for the first time in a long time, have a fantastic balance, with both exceedingly strong defence and attack. They should coast out of the group comfortably, and they will prove extremely hard to peg back in the latter stages. Neymar and Hulk are often used as the wide-men as part of a front three, and this gives freedom to Fred to take up the typical ‘number nine’ role. He is 7/2 to finish top scorer for Brazil, and this looks like a brilliant bet.

Fred to be top Brazilian scorer @ 7/2 (Coral)


Croatia enter the tournament in good spirits, after a solid qualifying campaign, finishing runners-up to group winners Belgium. They comfortably beat Iceland in the play-off to enter the tournament, and they should have enough about them to get the points needed against Mexico and Cameroon to get out of the group. However, they will then come up against the winner of Group B, containing Spain, Chile, Netherlands and Australia, so you would fancy any of the big trio in the that group to see off the Croatians. So for this reason, take the 11/5 with Ladbrokes about Croatia exiting in the second round.

Croatia to exit in the second round @ 11/5 (Ladbrokes)


Javier Hernandez will be attempting to impress new boss Louis van Gaal, or potentially put himself in the window for clubs who may be tempted to bid for the 26 year old. He is currently trading at 9/2 to be his nation’s top scorer in Brazil, as Oribe Peralta is clear worthy favourite. It is worth taking a chance on Chicharito showing his magnificent tactical awareness and predator like finishing from inside the box, at 9/2, as with Mexico likely to find it difficult to get out of the group, two goals may end up being the top scorer for El Tricolor.

Javier Hernandez to be top Mexican scorer @ 9/2 (Various)


The Indomitable Lions managed to snatch a 2-2 draw with Germany in the build-up to Brazil, and this will give them tremendous confidence they can mix it at the top level as they head into the tournament mammoth underdogs to get out of their group. They are 5/1 to get 0 points during the group stages, and this could well appeal. They look certain to lose to Brazil, and Mexico in the opener looks their best chance of getting a result, as Croatia are also looking very sharp in the build-up. So it is essentially getting 5/1 for Mexico to beat Cameroon, which would look a sensational bet on a coupon.

Cameroon to get 0 points @ 5/1 (Paddy Power)


Group B


The Spanish have been utterly dominant in the last three major international tournaments, winning the last two renewals of the European Championships, and entering the tournament as current World Cup holders. They still have plenty of class flowing through their side, and the addition of Diego Costa is a massive bonus as they are set to battle it out in a tough group with Netherlands, Chile and Australia. They should manage to come out on top, and then they have a fairly decent run to the semi-finals, are they are likely to play Croatia and then possibly Colombia or (here’s hoping) England in the quarter’s. They should manage to breeze through to the semi’s where they will face a big South American side. This is where they are set to come unstuck, and the 11/2 for them to exit in the semi-final’s looks a bet worth chancing.

Spain to exit in the Semi-Final’s @ 11/2 (Bet365)


There have been plenty of injury troubles for Oranje in the build-up to Brazil, as they bid to go one better than their runner-up finish back in 2010. They disappointed massively in the Euro Championships two years ago and will be aiming to prove they still have something to offer at the top level in van Gaal’s swansong. Robin van Persie is still the talisman, and everything will be based around his finishing in and around the 18-yard box. He is 13/8 to be top Dutch scorer and this looks the safest bet surround the side this year.

Robin van Persie to be top Dutch scorer @ 13/8 (Sporting Bet)



The Chileans are set to be the entertainers of the tournament, with their free-flowing attacking football, and magnificent pressing game. They are likely to surprise many, and I think they should be too strong for the Dutch, and potentially score more against Australia which could be the difference between qualification. It’s 9/2 for Spain/Chile/Netherlands/Australia quadcast, which looks an attractive proposition.

Spain/CHILE/Netherlands/Australia @ 9/2 (Betfair Sportsbook)


Australia have been very unfortunate to be placed with three very high quality teams, and they will be hoping to amass at least one point during the group stages. This is not very likely however, and the 7/5 for Australia to fail to gain a single point, looks one of the safest bets of the tournament.

Australia to get 0 points @ 7/5 (Paddy Power)


Group C


News filtering through that their talisman Radamel Falcao will be missing the World Cup through injury is obviously detrimental for Colombia’s chances, however they should still have too much about them to qualify comfortably. Ivory Coast, Japan and Greece make it an intriguing group and with the absence of Falcao, Jackson Martinez can step up and take the crown of top Colombian goalscorer, at a tempting 7/2. He has been in fine form, scoring 20 in 30 for Porto, and he will given the role of goal poacher, where he should be served by the creative influences of James Rodriguez and Carlos Bacca.

Jackson Martinez to be top Colombian scorer @ 7/2 (Various)

Ivory Coast;

This looks to be the final chance for Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure and Gervinho to leave their mark on the World stage, and they will be giving their all to get out of the group at the very least. They will be aiming to get something out of their first two games to give themselves something to fight for going into their final group game against Greece, who could well be out of the competition by then. The 7/5 for the Ivory Coast to beat Greece looks a solid bet, as if this is the case, they will be a lot shorter come the day.

Ivory Coast to beat Greece @ 7/5 (Ladbrokes)



The Japanese have been impressing many football fanatics with their all-action style, attacking in numbers which makes for high-scoring games. They are currently 7/2 third-favourites to score the most goals in Group C, and this appeals thanks to the emergence of Osako has helped, with that clinical edge. Their high-pressing game often pays dividends, and as Colombia, Ivory Coast and to an extent Greece, all try and play attacking football, expect Japan to score plenty on the counter.

Japan to score the most goals in Group C @ 7/2 (Various)


Greece had a successful qualifying campaign, only just missing out on automatic qualification on goal difference, finishing level on points with Bosnia-Herzegovina.  They may struggle against the speed of Japan and Ivory Coast, whilst Colombia’s class is sure to prevail. They will set up to contain, and although this may work defensively, they are going to find it hard to score many, and this means the 13/10 with Paddy Power for Greece to fail to win a game appeals massively.

Greece to fail to win a game @ 13/10 (Paddy Power)


Group D


Roy Hodgson surprised many by picking a youthful and exuberant squad, in an attempt to make a deep run in the tournament, although for once there is very little expectation from the English media. Daniel Sturridge is expected to take the starting lone striker role, after impressing in the build-up to the tournament, and the 3/1 for him to be top England scorer looks a solid bet, with favourite Wayne Rooney set to play a deeper role.

Dan Sturridge to be top England scorer @ 3/1 (Various)


Mario Balotelli is key to Italy’s chances, as the eccentric striker has magnificent ability combined with an impulsive side that often is to his and his sides detriment. He is 13/8 to be top scorer, which is fair, however the value is with the 5/1 for him to pick up the most card points for Italy. He has the tendency to throw in a rash tackle when things are not going his way, and also the opportunity to be carded when celebrating in a ‘Mario manner’ means he is the logical choice.

Mario Balotelli to gain the most card points for Italy @ 5/1 (Bet Victor)



Uruguay are boosted by the inclusion of star man Luis Suarez, who will help his side battle through to the latter stages, as they have the benefit of being used to the South American climate. They lack pace in defensive areas however and they were the most carded side during the CONMEBOL qualifying, by some distance. They are prone to fouling, to save their weary legs in their defensive third, and they look a tasty proposition at 12/1 to be the most carded side at this year’s World Cup. A lot is riding on them making a decent run in the tournament, which looks plausible, and should they get out the group, the 12/1 will crumble, considering it is already 6/1 in places.

Uruguay to be the most carded side in the World Cup @ 12/1 (Bet Victor)

Costa Rica;

Costa Rica come into the World Cup as massive underdogs, and should live up to their name, showing little in qualifying to suggest otherwise. They are 7/4 to fail to collect a single point, and this looks as fair a shout as any.

Costa Rica to get 0 points @ 7/4 (Sky Bet)

Group E


The French are often hit-and-miss at major international tournaments, which spells danger to plenty of gamblers. However the team really seems to be gelling under Didier Deschamps and a bit tournament is expected, even without a fully fit Frank Ribery, who may yet miss the competition with an injury. Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras is a slightly tricky group, but with the balance France have, the 9/2 for them to collect 9 points looks a bet worth getting involved with.

France to get 9 points @ 9/2 (Various)


Josip Drmic has been in fantastic form this year, netting 17 times for the relegated Nuremberg, with little service. He has been snapped up by Bayer Leverkusen, and has continued to emerge as a big talent, netting three times in six appearance for his country. He is set to get the nod up-top and the disparity between bookmakers in-terms of odds for top goalscorer is staggering, so get stuck into the 7/2 with William Hill for Drmic to be top scorer for the Swiss.

Josip Drmic to be top Swiss scorer @ 7/2 (Ladbrokes)


The South American outfit have a real chance of getting out of the group due to their aptitude to the climate, and magnificent pacey athletic players such as Enner Valencia, who will be a key-part of their success. He has been in magnificent form playing in the ‘Number 10’ role for Pachucha in Mexico, netting 18 times in 22 appearances. He will be given his familiar role once more, and with his pace, power and brilliant finishing, he looks a massive danger to opposition defences. He is 10/1 to be top Ecuadorian scorer, and this looks a massive price for someone who is going to be hot property in the aftermath of the World Cup.

Enner Valencia to be top Ecuadorian scorer @ 10/1 (Sporting Bet)



Los Catrachos are going to find it extremely difficult to mount a real challenge to get out of the group, as France are extremely classy, Switzerland have been in great form, and Ecuador are adept to the climate. This all points to Honduras struggling, and for this reason the 13/5 for Honduras to fail to get a point looks fair.

Honduras to get 0 points @ 13/5 (Ladbrokes)

Group F


La Albiceleste are current second-favourites to win the tournament, and look set for a massive run. This is the time for Lionel Messi to step up and put in a performance everyone knows he is capable of, to answer critics who constantly mention the fact he is yet to show his true colours in a major international tournament. They should sail out of the group comfortably, and then ease into the final where they are likely to come up against Brazil. They may fall just short, so the 18/1 for a Brazil/Argentina straight-forecast looks a definite play.

Brazil/ARGENTINA straight forecast @ 18/1 (Sky Bet)


The side have enough quality in the shape of Dzeko, Pjanic, Ibisevic etc, to ensure they get out of the group. Argentina will have too much class for them, but you would have to fancy them to get the best of both Nigeria and Iran, so the 4/1 for Bosnia-Herzegovina to finish the group with six points seems a solid bet.

Bosnia-Herzegovina to finish on six points @ 4/1 (Bet365)


Nigeria have had a successful qualifying campaign, and the heat will be no bother to them as they line up in Group F. However, they have plenty of defensive frailties, which will be exploited by both Argentina and Bosnia. This means their only major winnable tie looks to be against Iran, so take the 7/2 for Nigeria to end up with three points.

Nigeria to finish on three points @ 7/2 (Bet365)


A rather boring final selection for Group F, but it is one to maximise profits if the others do fall into place. Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina should get the better of Iran, which means that Nigeria v Iran is going to be a massive tie for who finishes third and fourth. There is 14/5 on offer for Iran to get 0 points, which would fit with Bosnia getting six points, and Nigeria getting three points, resulting in a decent pay-day.

Iran to finish on 0 points @ 14/5 (Sky Bet)

Group F


Joachim Low has been incredibly brave, and selected only one out-and-out striker to take to Brazil, in the shape of World Cup specialist, Miroslav Klose. He will be the pinnacle of a magnificent German attack, which encorporates fantastic young creative talent, that will be relying on the calm shoulders of Klose to finish off the chances they will be making throughout the tournament. He will have plenty of opportunities to net, and the 9/2 for him to be top German scorer appeals massively.

Miroslav Klose to be top German scorer @ 9/2 (Sporting Bet)


Cristiano Ronaldo will have the hopes of Portugal on his shoulders, as he lines up in Brazil and at 1/2 he is no value to be top Portuguese scorer, so attentions turn to a tri-cast bet, with Portugal fancied to finish runner-up in the group, with Ghana taking the third spot ahead of the USA, which pays 19/5.

Germany/PORTUGAL/Ghana tri-cast @ 19/5 (Betfair Sportsbook)



Asamoah Gyan was integral in the success story of Ghana back in the 2010 World Cup, and yet again he is the talisman as they head into the 2014 tournament. His goals have helped Ghana qualify, including a brace against Egypt in the play-off. All attacking play will be based around him receiving the ball in a shooting position, so for this reason, the 100/30 for him to be Ghana’s top scorer is fair.

Asamoah Gyan to be top Ghanaian scorer @ 7/2 (Various)


Jurgen Klinsmann has his work cut out massively, is if he is to get out of this difficult group, and the first game against Ghana is massive. He knows realistically they need a result in order to progress, and even a draw may not be enough. If he attacks, Ghana’s pace and power will be too much, and for this reason, take the 7/1 for USA to get no points during the World Cup campaign. The games against Portugal and Germany are going to prove very difficult, and Ghana have never lost against the US at a World Cup and that trend looks set to continue.

USA to finish with 0 points @ 7/1 (Sky Bet)

Group H


The Red Devils can no longer be labelled as ‘Dark Horses’ as they enter the tournament fifth favourites, after their magnificently talented young squad have matured over the past four years. They are likely to top their group, and should be able to progress past the runner up of Group G, which looks set to be Portugal. It will be then they are really tested against the elite of the world, and they look as though they may fall just short against Argentina, should they progress as expected. It will be a big learning curve and the 4/1 for Belgium to exit in the quarter-finals looks worth a go.

Belgium to exit in the quarter-finals @ 4/1 (Coral)


Fabio Capello will be hoping to improve on his efforts with England back in 2010, as he lines up again with Russia who look set to qualify from the group, securing the runner-up spot. They should be able to get three points against both South Korea and Algeria, but may fall short against the mighty Belgium. This means the 4/1 for Russia to end with six points is a decent bet to side with.

Russia to finish on six points @ 4/1 (Various)

South Korea;

The South Koreans will be content to show the world their attacking game, when lining up against quality opposition. They don’t look to have the quality to replicate their 2002 performance and get to the semi-finals, and they may well depart in the group stages, finishing in third place. The tri-cast of Belgium, Russia and South Korea is also at 4/1 and looks a solid bet.

Belgium/Russia/SOUTH KOREA @ 4/1 (Betfair)


To complete Group E, and the surprising 4/1 selection for each team, Algeria to end the group stages with 0 points massively appeals. They will certainly struggle against Belgium and Russia, which leaves a key battle between Algeria and South Korea which looks set to go the way of South Korea. Algeria managed to get one point back in 2010, at the expense of England, but that doesn’t look likely to happen again this year, so get stuck into the 4/1 for Algeria to end the tournament with 0 points.

Algeria to finish with 0 points @ 4/1 (Various)


Group A:

Fred to be top Brazilian scorer @ 7/2 (Coral)

Croatia to exit in the second round @ 11/5 (Ladbrokes)

Javier Hernandez to be top Mexican scorer @ 9/2 (Various)

Cameroon to get 0 points @ 5/1 (Paddy Power)

Group B:

Spain to exit in the Semi-Final’s @ 11/2 (Bet365)

Robin van Persie to be top Dutch scorer @ 13/8 (Sporting Bet)

Spain/CHILE/Netherlands/Australia @ 9/2 (Betfair Sportsbook)

Australia to get 0 points @ 7/5 (Paddy Power)

Group C:

Jackson Martinez to be top Colombian scorer @ 7/2 (Various)

Ivory Coast to beat Greece @ 7/5 (Ladbrokes)

Japan to score the most goals in group C @ 7/2 (Various)

Greece to fail to win a game @ 13/10 (Paddy Power)

Group D:

Dan Sturridge to be top England scorer @ 3/1 (Various)

Mario Balotelli to gain the most card points for Italy @ 5/1 (Bet Victor)

Uruguay to be the most carded side in the World Cup @ 12/1 (Bet Victor)

Costa Rica to get 0 points @ 7/4 (Sky Bet)

Group E:

France to get 9 points @ 9/2 (Various)

Josip Drmic to be top Swiss scorer @ 7/2 (Ladbrokes)

Enner Valencia to be top Ecuadorian scorer @ 10/1 (Sporting Bet)

Honduras to get 0 points @ 13/5 (Ladbrokes)

Group F:

Brazil/ARGENTINA straight forecast @ 18/1 (Sky Bet)

Bosnia-Herzegovina to finish on six points @ 4/1 (Bet365)

Nigeria to finish on three points @ 7/2 (Bet365)

Iran to finish on 0 points @ 14/5 (Sky Bet)

Group G:

Miroslav Klose to be top German scorer @ 9/2 (Sporting Bet)

Germany/PORTUGAL/Ghana tri-cast @ 19/5 (Betfair Sportsbook)

Asamoah Gyan to be top Ghanaian scorer @ 7/2 (Various)

USA to finish with 0 points @ 7/1 (Sky Bet)

Group H:

Belgium to exit in the quarter-finals @ 4/1 (Coral)

Russia to finish on six points @ 4/1 (Various)

Belgium/Russia/SOUTH KOREA @ 4/1 (Betfair)

Algeria to finish with 0 points @ 4/1 (Various)


Obviously I am not suggesting that you should bet on every selection, however I hope that the reasoning and pricing of the selections have helped you decide on your own bets for this World Cup. Best of luck with your punts, and if you have any bets you would like to share, tweet me @JoshBradley10




Punchestown Festival – Day One

Arguably there is only festival in the world that comes close to matching the Cheltenham Festival for it’s raucous atmosphere, and that is the Punchestown Festival. Fortunately for us, it is that time of year once again and the countdown is nearing it’s end, as action gets underway on Tuesday afternoon.

After a record-break 2013 festival, Willie Mullins will be hoping to go close to matching his 13 winner figure, and his best chance of doing that on day one looks set to be with Faugheen.

The high-class gelding managed to keep his unbeaten record in tact despite noticeable jumping errors in the Neptune at Cheltenham, and came away from the week as one for the notebook. He showed his massive engine when powering away from the field by four-and-a-half lengths, and he is going to be extremely hard to beat on Tuesday afternoon.

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He looks a magnificent prospect for the future, and should he win impressively his price will shorten for next year’s Cheltenham Festival, as in 2013, this race was won by this year’s Champion Hurdle winner Jezki.

He is bidding for back-to-back Grade One glory, and already has course form, having beaten Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up Josses Hill by a mammoth 22-lengths on his debut at the track last year. This form has been franked plenty of times, and he should take all the beating back in Ireland.

His 4/5 price seems very fair, and he is more than likely to go off around the 4/7 mark, with the Irish punters backing Mullins from the very start. However, it is another one of his runners that could go very close to matching Faugheen, in the shape of Wicklow Brave. We need to forgive his last run where he went out like a light, but earlier on in his career he had threatened to be a high-class hurdler, before fading away in his last two runs. He is an interesting contender, and should definitely be considered to make the placings at 14/1.

The Champion Chase looks a very hot race, with Hidden Cyclone topping the market at 4/1. He has finished in the placings on his last six starts, including a valiant second behind Dynaste in the Ryanair Chase on his last visit to the track. He should go extremely close, but just seems to lack the required quality to get a win at the top level, consistently falling just short.

This means, we should side with Module, with Tom George’s runner bypassing Aintree when well-fancied, to have a crack at the Punchestown feature. He has been in great form this season, landing the Game Spirit Chase in tremendous fashion, before finishing a fair third behind the highly-rated Sire De Grugy at Cheltenham, in the Champion Chase.

A repeat of that run should see him go extremely close, and the decision to pull him out of his engagement on the day, at Aintree, suggests he holds high hopes of a big effort here at Punchestown. The in-form Barry Geraghty takes over from Paddy Brennan, and his mount should go extremely well in the flat track in Ireland, with the current 5/1 looking more than fair.

The final Grade One of the day could well make it a double for connections of Faugheen, with Djakadam looking set to hold a real chance.

He was travelling extremely well in the JLT Novices’ Chase, before coming down four from home, and he will be out to atone for that error on Tuesday. It is significant that Ruby has opted for Djakadam over RSA Chase favourite Ballycasey, as he must be performing with some vigor at home.


The five-year-old receives nine pounds off his rivals, and this could be the difference between him and favourite Morning Assembly who comes into the race off a respectable third in the RSA. He is a high-class chaser in his own right, and is the worthy favourite if we’re going on form in the book. However Djakadam looks open to vast improvement, and the master handler Mullins should go extremely close to notching another winner, should his mount be none-the-worse for his Cheltenham fall.

The last selection of day one, is The Game Changer for Gigginstown Stud, whose runners have been in fine form of late.

The five-year-old was traveling extremely well before being hampered two out, behind the highly-rated Josses Hill in a Grade Two at Aintree. He ended up finishing well down the field after failing to recover from the mishap, but you can guarantee if he had managed to get a clear run, the result would have been a lot different and he would not be 16/1 for Tuesday’s handicap hurdle.

Davy Russell takes over the reigns, and should the gelding manage to settle early on, he will be able to mount a real challenge in what looks a very open race. The trip and ground look no bother to him, and with a clear run this time around, he should go very close at an attractive price.


Win Patent: 42.2/1

4:20 Punch: Faugheen  @ 4/5 (Boylesports) 

5:30 Punch: Module @ 5/1 (Various)

6:40 Punch: Djakadam @ 3/1 (Boylesports)


E.W Singles & Double: 254/1

4.20 Punch: Wicklow Brave @ 14/1 (Betfred)

6:05 Punch: The Game Changer @ 16/1 (Bet365)

Cheltenham Festival – Day Four Preview

For the second time this week, we return with two good priced places out of three, but still no winner.

Friday looks a good day to end the festival in style, and there is plenty of value flying around.

The Triumph Hurdle looks a typically competitive curtain raiser, and the vote in this goes to the highly rated Calipto. Paul Nicholls hasn’t been in the greatest form, but has talked very highly of his four-year-old who remains unbeaten in Britain, winning twice since coming over from Ireland.

He oozed class when winning at Newbury both times, beating the highly-rated Activial (subsequent Adonis winner), in the process. He looks a likely improver, and should take all the beating according to trainer Paul Nicholls, who seemed rather bullish when describing his geldings chances in the opener.

A nifty hurdler who travels like a dream, should appreciate the stiff finish, and the ground should hold no worries. It is a very open race, but his current price strikes value, especially when there are firms offering money back for second and third placed finishers.

Daryl Jacob was extremely emotive when finishing a nose second behind Fingal Bay on Thursday, and this looks the ideal opportunity to land a big prize to ease the pain of missed chances so far. He will have his fair share of supporters, and the current 9/2 shouldn’t last too long.

Elsewhere on the card, Fingal Bay’s team of Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson team up with the interesting Cheltenian who landed the Champion Bumper back in 2011.

He is lightly races over hurdles, having only had four runs, but he showed he still possesses plenty of ability when finishing a close fourth in the Betfair Hurdle last time out. The form of the race has worked out well with Dell’ Arca and Smashing finishing right in the mix in the Coral Cup.

The eight-year-old is running off a very generous mark of 137 and should go extremely well on his preferred better ground. The 10/1 looks a cracking each-way bet taking all things to account, and he will more than likely go off a single figure price.

Another interesting runner in the Martin Pipe is Don Poli. Willie Mullins five-year-old has improved with each run, which culminated in a smashing victory in a Grade Three at Clonmel.

The trip looks a tad on the sharp side on Friday, but his ability to maintain a solid gallop may be deadly if Fogarty decides to take him from the front.  He looks a likely improver, will be staying on best of all and the vibes from the stable have all been positive, with a big run expected.

He is currently 12/1, which looks a solid each-way bet given the form Mullins has been in so far this week.

The final selection of the day, and meeting looks to be the best of the bunch. Ned Buntline has been a talking horse from the Noel Meade stable from day one.

The six-year-old has solid form in the bag, including finishing a very close runner-up in his maiden behind none other than the Champion Hurdle hero, Jezki.

He has never finished outside of the first three, and has a bold jumping style which looks suited to the obstacles at Cheltenham. He is ridden by his perfect match in the ultra-calm Paul Carberry who has a sixth sense when it comes to producing his mounts at the perfect time.

JP McManus has had a fantastic week so far, and Ned Buntline could round it off in the perfect manner. He is on an extremely generous mark, and if he can replicate his best form, he should go extremely close. The 10/1 with Boylesports will not last long, and he is sure to be one of the biggest gambles of the day, especially if JP’s go well earlier in the day.


Triumph Hurdle: Calipto @ 9/2 (Boylesports or 4/1 with Paddy Power, money back if second or third)

Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle: Cheltenian @ 10/1(Bet365)

Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle: Don Poli @ 14/1 (32Red)

Grand Annual: Ned Buntline @ 10/1 (Boylesports)

Cheltenham Festival – Day Two Preview

Following the roller-coaster opening day of the festival, we can expect more of the same as we approach day two. It was a case of ‘close but no cigar’ for us, as we had two decent priced places, but no winner. Hopefully that will change on Wednesday.

Ligeonniere’s a Champion:

Fast and frenetic was the theme of Tuesday’s racing, and that trend looks set to continue, with the two mile Queen Mother Champion Chase headlining the card.

The race is sadly missing arguably the greatest chaser of the last decade, as last year’s winner Sprinter Sacre misses the chance to retain his crown following a heart problem, as his trainer Nicky Henderson feels the eight-year-old wasn’t 100% in the build-up to Cheltenham.

However, there is still a stellar cast, headed by the horse that just keeps on improving, Sire De Grugy. Gary Moore’s charge has had a fantastic season so far, winning four out of his five starts, including two group one’s. Yet, he is seemingly less effective going left-handed (which of course, Cheltenham is), and this is a major worry to any punters steaming in at around 2/1. He is officially the best horse in the race, but there are too many question marks to be taking such a short-price.

So, elsewhere there is plenty of value in the race, and the horse that really takes the fancy is Arvika Ligeonniere from the Willie Mullins stable, who is currently trading around the 7/1 mark.

The nine-year-old is a consistent sort, that has been plying his trade at the top level for many years, and comes into the race in good nick, having comprehensively trounced the useful Toner D’oudaries at Punchestown, in what will serve as a solid prep.

He disappointed in last year’s Arkle, when failing to show any signs of his usual form, as Ruby Walsh was forced to pull him up before two out. However, he has came back stronger than ever, and looks real each-way in a rather condensed field.

Captain Conan is going to be a real danger, but it tends to pay to stick with the Walsh and Mullins combination, so Arvika Ligeonniere looks the selection at 7/1.

Tough for Lough:

Elsewhere on the card, there is yet another strong Irish chance as a big field lines up for the RSA.

carlingford lough

Arvika Ligeonniere’s connections, are seen in force, with the warm favourite Ballycasey, however it may pay to side with Galway Plate winner, Carlingford Lough.

The eight-year-old has been on the boil all-season, and has put together a string of big performances in both handicap and graded company. He warrants his place near the head of the market on the back of a comfortable success in the Group One, Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown, and then travelling nicely before falling at the last, in a race won by Ballycasey last month.

John Kiely’s gelding looks to have a real chance with his mix of stamina and sharp jumping, in what looks to be an extremely open race. It often pays to side with consistency, and Carlingford Lough is as consistent as they come. Couple that with the added bonus of Tony McCoy in the saddle, and this makes a very attractive 10/1 shot.

Go go Golantilla:

The last selection of the day falls in the bumper, and goes the way of Golantilla. Tony Martin’s six-year-old was third in last year’s race behind the highly rated Briar Hill, and it was thought then that he would go on to have a big year.

Yet, he has only been seen once on a racecourse since, when finishing a distant second at Naas last month. He traveled beautifully through the race, but failed to see it out, staying on one pace towards the death on soft ground. He will certainly have come on for the run, and the vibes from the stable are seemingly positive, which makes the fact he was pushed out from 8/1 to 14/1 following his last run, a slight overreaction.

Tony Martin always has his horses in top nick entering the festival, and the fact that the patience has been shown to have another crack at the bumper as opposed to go over hurdles speaks volumes, and he looks a cracking each-way bet at 14/1 to end the second day.


Champion Chase: Arvika Ligeonniere @ 17/2 (BetBright)

RSA: Carlingford Lough @ 9/1 (Coral)  

Champion Bumper: Golantilla @ 14/1 (Various)

E.W patent @ 1169/1

Cheltenham Festival – Day One Preview

The home of National Hunt racing takes centre stage next week, as all eyes turn to the biggest jumps meeting in the world, the Cheltenham Festival.

Be Brave with Wicklow:

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle always acts as a very apt curtain-raiser, and this year is no different with an array of talent lining up to try and get their names on the winners board at the very first attempt.

Irving represents the best chance of a winner for the home side in the opener, as Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old heads in to the race as a warm favourite following two comfortable Grade Two victories. He looks a solid prospect for the future, but there has to be doubts over his stamina and at 2/1 he is no value at all.

The Willie Mullins pair of Vautour and Wicklow Brave are next in the market, and look the biggest dangers to Irving. Vautour landed the Grade One Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown last time out, beating The Tullow Tank, after dictating the pace from the off.

Ruby Walsh has opted to ride Vautour after feeling he will stay the best of the pair, and will be more suited by conditions. He isn’t likely to get his own way at the front like he did last time out, but Mullins has been very bullish about his chances and he is sure to have many backers at the current 3/1.

However, Wicklow Brave looks like the real deal, and although Walsh has opted to ride the stables supposed first-string, at 7/1, he looks to be tremendous value. He is a very strong traveler which is key in these types of races, and although there are doubts about his jumping (valid after a shaky round last time out), the faster the pace, the better he will jump.

He has a sensational turn of foot, and used effectively this could be the difference, as Vautour is going to be ridden prominently and keep the race at a solid tempo, settling up a late swoop for Wicklow Brave.

Patrick Mullins has been talking very highly of the horse recently, and there are plenty of trends which suggest he is the horse to get on.

The last nine Supreme Novices’ winners have gone off at 5/1 or bigger, and ten of the last eleven winners of the race have been aged five or six (Wicklow Brave is five). The last ten winners had won at least 50% of their hurdles starts (WB is 100%), and as Wicklow Brave shares the same sire as 2012 winner Cinders and Ashes, there is plenty of positivity going into the festival.

The likely firm ground at Prestbury Park should bring out the best in five-year-old, and with Paddy Power offering money back if your horse finishes second, third or fourth, Wicklow Brave surely has to be a solid bet at 7/1.

Time for Trifolium:

The Racing Post Arkle is a race of the highest quality and this year’s renewal has the potential to add another magnificent name to the illustrious list of previous winners.

Champagne Fever heads the market after winning at the festival for the previous two years (Bumper & Supreme Novices’), and he is currently trading at 3/1 to make it a third successful year.

His performance at Leopardstown in December has added an element of doubt into the minds of the backers, as the lackluster display was the first real sign of weakness from the grey.

He didn’t go one yard, and was beaten fair and square by defy logic with Trifolium (who is also Cheltenham bound), ahead of him in second.

Trifolium was the one to take out of the race, as Davy Russell traveled very strongly on the seven-year-old, and looked to be traveling best of all coming to the last where he failed to pick up Defy Logic.

Since then, he has came out and landed the Irish Arkle in tremendous fashion, showing his tremendous jumping and high cruising speed to full effect. He has the best form to offer going into the race, and the 11/2 on offer looks a lot more value than the 3/1 for Champagne Fever.

My Tent or Yours?

The Champion Hurdle is one of the most anticipated races of the entire year, and this year’s renewal is set to be a cracker. Hurricane Fly who has won two of the last three Champion Hurdle’s is back to try and retain his crown, but faces stiff opposition as the young pretenders enter the scene.

tony mccoy la

Hurricane Fly is uber consistent, and loves Cheltenham. He has had a solid build-up, and Ruby Walsh seems very keen on the ten-year-old’s chances, and he should prove very hard to beat.

However The New One is wrestling for favouritism with The Fly, with the pair inseparable at 11/4. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ six-year-old burst onto the scene when landing the Neptune at last year’s festival, in impressive style.

The manner in which he bounded up the hill suggests he will thrive once more, come Tuesday afternoon and he is sure to have a legion of supporters screaming his name over the last.

Yet, My Tent or Yours beat The New One at Kempton, albeit on a flatter track, and looks sure to come on for the run. He is a very strong traveler and looked the likely winner when failing to get past Champagne Fever in last year’s Supreme Novice’, and Tony McCoy will now know how to produce My Tent or Yours, albeit against higher opposition.

He has all the characteristics to suggest he is going to make a bold bid for the big race, and McCoy has highlighted him as his best chance of a winner for the festival. The speed horse has overcame a late injury scare, and if McCoy manages to settle him early on in the race, the late burst of speed he possesses may tip the scales in his favour, meaning the 9/2 on offer, is surely worth a dabble.


Supreme Novice’ Hurdle: Wicklow Brave @ 7/1 (Various)

Arkle: Trifolium @ 11/2 (Boylesports)

Champion Hurdle: My Tent or Yours @ 5/1 (Winner)

E.W Patent @ 263/1 (William Hill)

F.A Cup – Fourth Round Best Bets

Following a rather disappointing third round, with very few upsets, attention turns to the fourth round of England’s most prized cup competition.

Sticking with the trend of last rounds predictions, it may pay to delve into a mixture of outsiders and goalscorers, with teams now stepping up the hunt for glory and putting out as strong a starting eleven as they can muster.

Double Delight;

Tony Pulis has done a fantastic job since taking over at Crystal Palace, and his side travel to holders Wigan on the back of a solid run of form which has seen them climb out of the relegation zone to 16th place.

Wigan on the other hand have found themselves floundering in eleventh place in the Championship, way below expectations. They have struggled to show the spark which seen them win the trophy last year, and it took a replay to see of MK Dons in the last round.

All this added together, means the current 27/10 for Crystal Palace seems exceptionally large. Usually it pays to steer clear of bottom-half Premier League sides travelling to Championship opposition, with questions asked over desire and commitment.

tony pulid

However, you can guarantee Pulis will have his men completely motivated and up for the challenge, and he will hope to improve on his record in the competiton, having guided Stoke to the final in 2011, before being beaten by Manchester City.

They should have too much class to see off Wigan, and they become the first selection in an enticing double.

The second selection is ironically, also a bottom half (relegation threatened) side, travelling away to a Championship side.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken over the reigns at Cardiff City and guided his side past Newcastle in the previous round, and he has pinpointed a cup run as important to instilling confidence around the club, which will help them fight against relegation later in the season.

His side travel to Bolton, who are currently struggling in the Championship, and come into the game on the back of a 7-1 defeat at the hands of Reading.

You can be certain confidence will be extremely low, and Solskjaer’s men may well be able to take advantage of this. The Bluebird’s should realistically be favourites, yet are currently being offered at 9/5 to beat Dougie Freedman’s men.

Cardiff have managed to take the scalps of many big Premier League sides this season, and although they are currently sitting at the foot of the table, they have the belief and ability to be able to beat any side in the league on their day, which should mean they can surpass Bolton Wanders, and it is worth chancing at the prices.

This means that the double pays 9.36/1 and is definitely worth a small punt.

Any-time scorer double;

Any-time goalscorer bets are becoming increasingly popular with punters, and it is easy to see why. It gives hope throughout the entire game, as you know regardless of the score, if your player is on the pitch, you have a chance of winning your bet up until the ref blows the full-time whistle.

The first member of the elite duo we are going to back, may well be a surprising choice. The early kick-off is between Bournemouth and Liverpool, in which Liverpool are firm favourites to go through.

However, the Reds always look prone to conceding of late, and with Simon Mignolet’s current form being questioned, it would be no surprise to see the magic of the cup occur, and Bournemouth net a goal at some stage of the afternoon.

This means siding with Lewis Grabban (7/2), to net any-time could well be a profitable venture. The striker recently celebrated his 26th birthday by holding talks with Brighton about a potential move to the fellow Championship side, however he turned them down and signed a new contract at the Cherries.

It would be perfectly fitting for him to show his loyalty to the fans, by netting a goal against such esteemed opposition and his pace and prowess are sure to give Liverpool defenders a torrid time at Victoria Park, and he is definitely worth chancing at odds of 7/2 to score any-time.

The second part of the double comes in the shape of Adam Lallana, with the Englishman likely to be starting in an attacking role against Yeovil, on Saturday.


His ability to find the right spaces and class to choose the right pass or finish, has led the 25 year-old to be given his first chance in an England shirt this season. He will be looking to try and barge his way into Roy Hodgson’s plans for Brazil, and he knows the F.A Cup is one of the best ways to do it.

He netted in the previous round against Burnley, and will be hoping he can do the same against a weaker defence. The bookies are split with his odds ranging from 11/8 to a top-priced 2/1, and this should be exploited and added to the other selection of Grabban to form a 12.5/1 double.

Highest Scoring Game;

It is always difficult to predict the highest scoring game in an F.A Cup weekend, with thrillers being played out left, right and centre.

However, this particular market looks of great interest this round, due to a rather generous price on Manchester City taking on struggling Watford.

City have been sweeping all before them at the Etihad this season, and they have already registered over one hundred goals so far this season. They may not play their first string against Watford, but they have class in abundance and could well run riot.

Aguero will be given the nod to continue his return to fitness, and he alone will cause Watford some serious problems. They are 5/1 to be the highest scoring game, with Southampton v Yeovil at the same price. The Saints may well rest a few players, and take their foot of the gas when they establish a decent lead, whereas you can be certain City will be out to knock up a massive margin.

So, the 5/1 does look extremely tempting, and should be taken on City v Watford to be the highest scoring F.A Cup game this weekend.


Crystal Palace & Cardiff both to win @ 9.36/1

Grabban & Lallana to score any-time @ 12.5/1

Man City v Watford to be the highest scoring game @ 5/1

Premier League Football Preview – 14/12/13

One of the biggest games of the season so far kicks off at 12:45, Saturday lunch-time, with leaders Arsenal travelling to Manchester City who are currently sitting in fourth place.

Arsenal have been in great form this year, with the re-emergence of Aaron Ramsey proving pivotal, as the Welshman has been in impeccable form. They are managing to overrun teams in the centre, using three strong midfielders, and two wide man, that can turn into a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1 when defending. It is more than likely going to have to be a 4-5-1 tomorrow, as they come up against a City side who are imperious at home.

They have won every Premier League game they have played at the Etihad this season, and will be looking to carry on the tradition in the manner in which they dispatched of Arsenal’s north-London rivals last month.

The fact Arsenal suffered a defeat in Napoli midweek might have been irrelevant in terms of their Champions League qualification, but the mental implications may well follow through into their Premier League performance, and with City beating Munich 3-2 away midweek, momentum is definitely with the Manchester side.

For this reason, we must add the 5/6 on offer for the first part of the treble.

The second selection to go in to the treble is Everton at home to Fulham. Roberto Martinez’ side has been surprising everyone (apart from Everton fans) this season, as they continually play brilliant attacking football, something not seen under David Moyes.


The front four of Barkley, Mirallas, Deulofeu and Lukaku has the potential to put any team to the sword if they are all given the chance to play. Whereas Fulham have been exceptionally disappointing, failing to fire under Martin Jol. They showed glimpses of hope against Tottenham going 1-0 up before conceding two second-half goals to crumble to a defeat. René Meulensteen did manage to get off the mark at the second time of asking, beating an Aston Villa 2-0, that just failed to turn up.

Everton should have far too much class at Goodison, but at 4/11 they are no value. However when you take into account Fulham’s failure to fire on the road this season and the fact that Everton have kept nine clean sheets in their last twelve league games at Goodison, the 5/4 for Everton to win-to-nil looks great value.

This goes into the treble, with City, and our final selection plays at 4pm on Sunday, in the shape of Tottenham.

Liverpool have been surpassing expectations, flying high in fourth place but with recent injury worries, going to Tottenham and getting something is going to be a difficult ask. Gerrard, Sturridge, Enrique and Henderson (possibly), are all out, and it paves the way for a make-shift midfield of Joe Allen and Lucas, who will find it hard to cope with the strength that Sandro and Paulinho offer in the centre.

Spurs’ attacking full-backs will give Johnson and Flanagan endless amounts of trouble, and with Soldado finally finding his shooting boots midweek, he looks sure to be testing Mignolet on a regular occasion.

Liverpool do have the players to get something from the game, but there will be a lot of pressure on Luis Suarez to keep up his tremendous run of form, averaging a goal every hour (15 goals in 10 games). But Liverpool’s poor record at White Hart Lane looks set to continue, and the 6/4 on offer for Tottenham boosts the price up to 9.31/1.

Midfielders’ any-time scorer patent;

Any-time goalscorers are extremely enjoyable, as as long they’re on the pitch, it doesn’t matter what score it is, you still have a chance of landing your bet. Midfielders’ prices are often great value, and a combination of three to score anytime in a patent (could even add a small first-scorer one to, if feeling adventurous), often result in great odds.

The first midfield maestro to go into our patent is Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko, who is priced at 10/1 to score first, and 7/2 to score any-time. His box-to-box prowess will be key if Newcastle are to win the game, as his direct running style is something that will constantly haunt Victor Wanyama.

Wanyama is used to man-marking attacking-midfielders out of the game, but with Sissoko the king of late surging runs, and efforts from distance, it is a whole new proposition for him to deal with. He will be in confident form, after netting against the Saints’ last season and having recently scored a magnificent strike against West Brom to win his side the game. He goes in at 7/2.

The next man to be added is Ross Barkley of Everton, who is continually attempting to cement a place on the plane for the World Cup in the summer.

He knows a big run of games is all he needs to prove his worth to Hodgson, and by showing he can score goals adds a key part to his game, with the potential to play behind the striker proving his versatility.

Fulham are rather poor defensively on the road, and Everton should be able to control the game in the way they want it to be played. Barkley is young and fearless, and loves nothing more than running at the defences. He will put fear into an aging Fulham defence, and he should manage to get himself on the scoresheet, so at 15/8 at he goes into the treble.


If these pair manage to net, then we shall be waiting until Sunday for the final leg, as hopefully Shinji Kagawa can do the business against Aston Villa.

He hasn’t had a consistent run of games in the number ten role to be able to prove his worth, but now with RVP out, he may well get his wish in behind Wayne Rooney. He is undoubtedly brilliant on his day, and if he is able to replicate his Dortmund form, the 11/4 for him to net any-time against an inconsistent Villa side, looks a great bit of value.

That rounds off the treble, which pays 47.51/1  or if you wish to be extremely adventurous, the first-goalscorer treble pays a whopping 741.5/1.


Treble: Manchester City & Tottenham to win, with Everton to win to nil @ 9.31/1

Patent: Sissoko, Barkley & Kagawa to score first @ 741.5/1

Patent: Sissoko, Barkley & Kagawa to score any-time @ 47.51/1

World Cup 2014 – Ante-post Selections

At the time of writing it is 185 days until the World Cup begins in Brazil. This means we have plenty of time to rack our brains, trying to select what look ‘absolute certs’, and watch the monster gambles unfold.

There are plenty of perils of ante-post gambling, yet the lure of watching your selection get shorter and shorter in the betting is something that we can never escape. There are plenty of stories of gamblers sitting on three figure prices for Belgium to win the competition, as-well as monster bets on the Columbian’s to reign supreme this summer.

However, it is not too late to get involved, and there is still plenty of value to be had.

Bark-ing up the right tree;

Let’s start with England, and the selection headache that Roy Hodgson looks set to face when sitting down to select his 23-man squad for Brazil.

The ‘to make England 2014 World Cup squad’ has been a popular market so far, and there is a surprising amount of disparity between bookmakers, with many seemingly having different squads in mind.

The battle to get on the plane looks intense for the batch of centre-midfielders Hodgson has at his disposal, with Gerrard, Lampard, Wilshere, Carrick, Cleverley, Barkley, Henderson, Morrison etc. all vying for realistically, five places.

This has meant that Ross Barkley has been pushed out to a surprisingly large 3/1 with William Hill to make Hodgson’s World Cup squad, in comparison to the 11/10 on offer with Paddy Power.

He has been played as a ‘number ten’ at times for Everton, excelling in the hole behind the striker as opposed to an out and out centre-midfielder, which automatically enhances his chances of getting on the plane, as versatility is key when there are so few places. His direct running and fearless nature are big assets to have when coming against such lorded opposition, and his style of play looks set to fit well with fellow Liverpudlian, Wayne Rooney.


With Everton continually surprising people, more and more people are taking note of his performances, and if he can continue his rich vein of form, he will certainly have to be on the short-list.

Gerrard can’t escape his hamstring troubles, and with Manchester United seemingly struggling of late, Tom Cleverley could come under serious pressure for his place on the plane. This does make the 3/1 for Barkley to book his ticket, rather large.

Straight Forecast Treble;

Predicting the winner of many of the group’s looks difficult, let alone  the top two in the correct order. However the odds on offer mean it is a difficult bet to get away from, and one that could prove very rewarding.

Group B has been heralded the ‘group of death’, with Chile and Australia joining the 2010 World Cup finalists Spain and Holland, to battle out for a place in the next round.

Spain are currently trading at 7/1 to win the tournament outright, which is the largest they have been for a long time. With Barcelona failing to light-up like they used to, with Pique, Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas looking leggy of late, the price is drifting to a rather attractive one.

They should have enough class to see off Holland and Australia, and while Chile will run them close, the 5/6 on offer for Spain to top Group B looks extremely tempting.

This means realistically it is between Holland and Chile for second place, and it may well pay to side with the South Americans.

A magnificent pressing game, mixed with a batch of flair players with tremendous technical ability mean they are going to be very hard to contain. They are already adept at playing in the climate, and with a large contingent of South American fans, they may well prove too strong for an aging Dutch side who flopped at the last major international competition.

Key man Alexis Sanchez adores the limelight, and he can guide Chile to second place, meaning the 4/1 for the Spain/Chile forecast goes into our treble.

The next selection comes from Group D, where England line up against Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica.

Uruguay will have an advantage over the other two real competitors in the group (sorry Costa Rica), as humidity, South American fans and sheer skill on the pitch should guide Uruguay to top of the group. Luis Suarez is fantastic, and if he stays fit he should have a sensational tournament, meaning the 21/10 for them to win the group looks tasty, as their defensive frailties shouldn’t be tested too much as neither England or Italy are renowned as excessively attacking sides.

Then, it looks set between Italy and England to battle for the runner-up spot. Italy are favorites to win the group outright following on from their unbeaten qualifying campaign (winning six, drawing four), and fantastic performance in the Euro’s where they finished runner-up. Andrea Pirlo and Gigi Buffon are still fantastic players, however they are not getting any younger.

Mario Balotelli is one of the most inconsistent players on the planet, and if he puts his mind to it, he could be one of the greatest around. However there are two sides to Mario and England will be going all out to rattle him, and attempt to get him out of his comfort zone. The fact that there is no real expectation on the English will only benefit them, and the mix of young fearless individuals mixed with a seasoned spine of model English consistency should mean England will be able to contain Italy in the opener, and then it comes down to the final game against Costa Rica.

Costa Rica will be comfortable in conditions, but do lack the quality of their group opposition, and with England’s attacking threats, they should have what it takes to gain the vital goal difference, which is what it may well be decided on. Uruguay/England forecast pays 11/2, and is the second leg of the treble.

The final selection comes from Group C, where Colombia line-up against Japan, Ivory Coast and Greece.

The South American’s are ranked third in the World, according to FIFA, and should prove their class against slightly lesser opposition. Falcao, Martinez and Rodriguez are three class-acts and should guide their side to top of the group.

Then it is seemingly between Ivory Coast and Japan to battle for second. Japan have looked brilliant in qualifying, and in their recent friendlies however the smart money will be siding with Ivory Coast to get out of the group.

Many will be familiar to Premier League fans, with Bony, the Toure’s and Tiote still in England, whilst Gervinho and Drogba are recent departures. They are a magnificent unit and their attacking threat should see them get out of their group for the first time in their history.

The 100/30 for Columbia/Ivory Coast forecast completes our bet and rewards us with a 139.83/1 treble.

Top Goalscorer;

In terms of the top goalscorer market, you have to find the right balance of a weak defensive group and a player in a side that are likely to have a deep run in the competition.

Group F consists of Argentina, Bosnia, Nigeria and Iran. You would have to expect Argentina to qualify comfortably, and with that they should be able to capitalise on the rather weak back four’s of Iran and Nigeria in particular.

sergio aguero

This means that it would make sense to side with one of the Argentinian forwards, and it is up to personal opinion on who to select out of a shortlist of Messi, Higuain and Aguero.

Messi has never really done it in a big international tournament, so he will be out to silence doubters that he is the greatest to ever live, and answer the questions about his international form. Higuain got more game time than Aguero in qualifying, playing eleven games to Aguero’s eight, scoring four more goals in the process.

However given Aguero’s form for Manchester City this season, and likeliness to carry on improving in a side that looks set to go very close to winning the Premier League, he is sure to get the nod come the summer.

This makes the 20/1 for him to finish top goalscorer, extremely tempting, given the creative players he will line up beside. Argentina are sure to have a deep run in the tournament, with conditions in their favour, and the fact they have such a magnificent side means the 40/1 on offer for Aguero to land the top scorer prize and Argentina to win the World Cup, is tempting enough to have a small interest bet on.


Ross Barkley to make the England World Cup squad @ 3/1 – William Hill

Straight Forecast Group Treble; Spain/Chile, Uruguay/England, Colombia/Ivory Coast @ 139.83/1 – Ladbrokes

Sergio Aguero to be top goalscorer @ 20/1 – Various

Sergio Aguero top goalscorer & Argentina to win the World Cup @ 50/1 – BetVictor