Best Premier League Bets 16/17

The Premier League returns in just over a week and having finally settled down in the aftermath of France’s disappointing Euro defeat (see last post); we’re back and ready to look forward at domestic football once again.

Antoine Griezmann’s heroic effort has ensured we should be heading into the new season with a bit of extra cash to use, so why not make the most of the ante-post markets and try and snaffle some season-long value?

There are a whole host of markets, more than we’ve ever had to enjoy before, yet it may pay to stick down the traditional route and cover Premier League title winner and Top Goalscorer markets to begin with, before moving on to special markets at a later date.

Cup competitions can often be a huge question mark, which each individual manager having their own opinion on how to set-up their sides in-terms of strength, so it may be best left until we see how the new managers bed in during the early rounds.

So, without further ado, onto the Premier League 2016/17 season!

Premier League Outright – Chelsea @ 13/2 (Various)

Firstly, we’ll start with the Premier League outright market in what looks the most competitive season in possibly the history of the league. Usually, there will be a short-price favourite with perhaps one or maybe two sides that could realistically challenge them.

(Excluding last season, which was just an anomaly for so many reasons…)

However this season we have Manchester City, worthy favourites with the addition of Pep Guardiola and recent strong signings in Gundogan and Sane.

Then, ‘The Special One’ returns with the unenviable task of returning Manchester United to their perch, yet the signings of Ibrahimovic, Mkhitaryan and Bailly with the potential for further (cough *Pogba* cough), as well as the emerging talents of Rashford and Martial.

They have to be serious contenders for the title, while Arsenal and Spurs are always there or thereabouts and both Chelsea and Liverpool can concentrate on solely the Premier League, with no European football as a distraction. Oh, and Leicester could retain the title? Though, not for me.

For me, the prices reflect the Manchester side’s chances fairly well at the head of the market but the value may lie with Chelsea.

Liverpool’s tremendous title challenge when they last had European football showed the benefit of having a week to prepare for games and this is what they and Chelsea will get to enjoy this year. Klopp’s Reds are a work-in-progress and he may need another year until he fully beds in his philosophy.

However Chelsea’s new manager, Antonio Conte, is walking in to a solid unit, who began to realise their roles towards the back-end of last season. They lacked discipline at times and their key players struggled to make an impact early on, however with time to prepare for their big weekend games and the new regimented approach from Conte, Chelsea have to be real challengers,

Michy Batshuayi adds an extra dimension to the side, as does N’Golo Kante, while the potential move for Kalidou Koulibaly and Romelu Lukaku would further add to the strength of the side. There is less emphasis on depth this year, without Europe to focus on, and as we seen with Conte’s Italy side during the Euros, he can form a side that are extremely hard to break down and very hard to contain on the counter.

Nemanja Matic was rather underwhelming in the system used by Chelsea last season but given Conte’s love for a holding midfielder, it would be no surprise to see him build on his earlier promise in a Chelsea shirt.

He is fantastic at breaking up play and provides the stability for the creative midfielders, such as Fabregas and also box-to-box midfielders, such as Kante, to go about and complete their roles to the best of their ability.

Diego Costa is a solid enough striking option, those it would be no surprise to see him used in the same way Pelle was for Italy, creating for the likes of Eden Hazard who will be coming from midfield/out wide.

Last season’s transitional phase will have been a real wake-up call and now with a solid base to start from and no European football to take precedence, Chelsea look value to win the Premier League  at 13/2.

Premier League Top Goalscorer – Daniel Sturridge @ 25/1 (Various)

Next up is the Top Goalscorer market and as usual, it’s headed by Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero. If the awesome Argentinian stays fit for the entire season he is sure to be there or thereabout come the end of the year, yet with his fitness issues, is it worth taking a rather short price?

It is often worth taking a gamble on fitness, given injury can strike at any stage, yet with our selection, that eventuality appears to have been factored into the price.

The man, of course, is Daniel Sturridge.

Liverpool’s main man has a record of injuries and fitness issues but given when fit, he will almost certainly be Liverpool’s lone striker (supported by two wide men) he looks outstanding value at 25.1,

There is no doubting his superb finishing and natural goalscoring ability and now that Liverpool can focus solely on the league, Jurgen Klopp wont have to balance out his playing time between league and European games. He can manage his star striker, with only one game a week in-store and this may well be key to getting the best out of Sturridge,

There is no questioning his best season came back when Liverpool came within touching distance of winning the league (scoring 21 PL goals) and it was that season when he enjoyed his most consistent spell of playing time.

Liverpool weren’t in Europe and he had a nice break between games which seemed to bode well for his fitness. If Klopp can reproduce this again, now the Reds aren’t in Europe, then Sturridge could be the man to guide Liverpool bac into the Champions League.

Coutinho, Firmino and Origi, as well as the new signings, all offer a creative talent that is likely to ensure Sturridge receives plenty of service and as such, he should be able to make his presence felt towards the top of the goalscorer tables.

At 25/1 he looks big enough to take a chance on and if he stays fit for a large part of the season, it would be a surprise if he were not to at least go close to landing each-way money.

Selections:

Chelsea to win the Premier League 16/17 @ 13/2 (Various)

Daniel Sturridge to be Premier League top goalscorer (each-way) in 16/17 @ 25/1 (Various)

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:

Brazil;

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;

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)

Mexico;

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)

Cameroon;

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

Spain;

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)

Netherlands;

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)

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Chile;

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;

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

Colombia;

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)

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Japan;

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;

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

England;

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)

Italy;

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)

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Uruguay;

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

France;

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)

Switzerland;

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)

Ecuador;

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)

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Honduras;

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

Argentina;

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)

Bosnia-Herzegovina;

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;

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)

Iran;

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

Germany;

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)

Portugal;

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)

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Ghana;

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)

USA;

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

Belgium;

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)

Russia;

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)

Algeria;

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)

Overall;

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

 

 

 

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.

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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.

lallana

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.

Selections;

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

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.

barkley

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.

Selections;

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

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

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 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

 

 

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.