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

 

 

 

Liverpool FC – Season Review

The 2013/14 season ended in a daze of bittersweet disappointment for Liverpool fans, as Brendan Rodgers allowed supporters to be seduced by the illusions of grandeur once more.

If you had imagined reading that statement before a ball had been kicked this season, you would have guessed Liverpool had suffered final day heartache, being pipped to the final Champions League spot by neighbours Everton.

However the strides taken under Rodgers meant that Liverpool went in to the final day this season with title aspirations still (just about) intact. It wasn’t meant to be as Liverpool ended the season with a 2-1 victory over Newcastle after going 1-0 down, whilst City strolled to a comfortable success over West Ham at the Etihad.

It has been a magnificent season under Rodgers as the manager has managed to stamp his style on the club, and adopt a free-flowing attacking style reminiscent of the old days. His ability to incorporate young British talent into the side has been beneficial to the chemistry of the side, and gained many plaudits from across the media. Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Jon Flanagan and Dan Sturridge have been excellent for the most-part, and have provided hope of a solid base for the future.

Beginning to Believe;

Liverpool’s first game of the season was against Stoke in the 12:45 kick-off of the opening weekend. A Dan Sturridge goal and a late Simon Mignolet penalty save allowed Liverpool fans to indulge in the old ‘We are top of the League’ jokes until the later games got underway. However as two more Dan Sturridge goals, resulting in two more 1-0 victories, over Aston Villa and Manchester United respectively, Liverpool endured their best start to the season in living memory, even without the services of talisman Luis Suarez for the first six games and the future looked bright.

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Fans were enjoying heading to games, a stark contrast from the Hodgson and Dalglish days, were some games felt like chores (being there for Blackpool doing the double over us in the ‘10/11 season springs to mind), and there was plenty of faith in Rodgers as a long-term prospect.

Champions League qualification was the aim and fans were in buoyant mood as the season began to progress, with only defeats at Arsenal and a 3-3 draw at Everton leaving bitter tastes in the mouths of Reds before the Christmas period.

The Everton result on paper, wasn’t a bad result, however Joe Allen’s miss from six yards to put the game to bed at 2-1 up is a haunting image, which did linger in the mind for a while after result. Everton battled well and probably should have gone on to win the game but for the magnificence of Simon Mignolet, and a late Dan Sturridge header rescued a point for Liverpool and meant supporters went away with a silver lining.

Two defeats in three days during the Christmas period put paid to Liverpool fans getting ahead of themselves, yet the performances allowed fans to take some solace in defeat. They led in both games against Manchester City and Chelsea, before going on to lose 2-1 in each encounter. A dubious offside for Raheem Sterling against City, and an individual error from Simon Mignolet left the fans feeling frustrated at the Etihad, and a blatant foul on Luis Suarez in the box at Stamford Bridge left many feeling aggrieved, and questioning how they came away from both games without a point.

However the turn of the year would be kind to Liverpool, as they would only go on to lose one game during in 2014, racking up eleven straight wins in the Premier League.

A key game that really kick-started the progress was the 4-0 win over neighbours Everton, who at the time rivals for the final Champions League spot, as it signified the season was going in the right direction and the victory typified what Brendan Rodgers was string to instil in his players. Fast-paced, free-flowing attacking football, as Liverpool got out of the blocks early and managed to get a goal, meaning Everton were forced to attack and were then torn apart on the counter-attack. This is where Liverpool fans began to think Champions League was a definite, and confidence was bounding through the veins of the players.

The unbeaten run gathered pace, as teams were swept aside with consummate ease. Then leaders Arsenal were beaten 5-1, in a game that sent a message to the rest of the league, that Liverpool were to be taken seriously as title contenders. The Reds travelled to Old Trafford on the cusp of starting the game as favourites for the first time during the Premier League era, and United were quickly dispatched thanks to a Steven Gerrard brace from 12-yards, and one from the magician Luis Suarez.

Games were coming thick and fast and the media were suggesting ‘they will falter soon’, however with every game that passed, Liverpool managed to ensure they returned to Anfield with three points and confidence to ‘go again’.

A 4-0 win over Spurs and chants of ‘Now you’re going to believe us’ bellowing around the ground, was extremely fitting. Members of the older generation seemed to be genuinely happy their children were in the process of witnessing Liverpool returning to their perch, and in the process of witnessing something special.

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West Ham were the next port of call, and after going 1-0 up after yet another Steven Gerrard penalty, things were seemingly going to plan. However Andy Carroll had other ideas and after a ludicrous challenge with Simon Mignolet just before half-time, Guy Demel swept in the equaliser and left players, fans and manager all aghast at what they had just witnessed.

It was a fifteen minute interval that had Liverpool’s chances in the balance. They had to put their sheer frustration and anger behind them and keep going to try and get the vital three points. They did that and the skipper stepped up and swept home another penalty to take Liverpool to the top of the league.

Manchester City travelled to Anfield in a must-win clash for Liverpool, if they were to stretch their advantage at the top, and put down a marker for both Manchester City and Chelsea to attack at the tail-end of the campaign.

It was all going to plan for the Reds as they raced into a 2-0 lead before half-time thanks to Sterling and Skrtel, as-well as the imperious Yaya Toure limping off with a minor injury. However City did what champions do and fought back to level the game up at 2-2 with over 20 minutes remaining. It had the feel of something special was needed to resurrect Liverpool’s flailing title ambitions and his name is Philipe Coutinho. The Brazilian wizard popped up with a magnificent curling effort from 18-yards, capitalising on a rare Vincent Kompany mistake, and sending the Anfield faithful into raptures.

They believed.

After coming through the difficult encounters home and away, they saw off Norwich in a thrilling 3-2 victory, and all eyes turned to the Chelsea clash.

It was avoid defeat, and Liverpool would have one hand on the title.

It wasn’t meant to be.

A Steven Gerrard slip allowed Demba Ba sweep in and score on the stroke of half-time, to the shock of the Kop, after Liverpool had dominated the early proceedings without creating much. It was a weakened Chelsea side to add insult to injury, and after Iago Aspas had been brought on to try and get a late equaliser, his poor corner allowed Chelsea to break and ex-Red Fernando Torres rolled the ball to Willian to make it 2-0 Chelsea in the dying embers of the game, and hand the initiative back to City.

After City had did all they had to, Liverpool travelled to Palace knowing a win was needed, and any big margin would keep the extremely feint hopes of catching the Citizens superior goal difference. As Sturridge made it 3-0, then was urged to get back to the centre-circle as opposed to celebrate suggested Liverpool still believed. Fast-forward twenty minutes and a calamitous collapse has seen Palace claw back the deficit and Tony Pulis’ men were celebrating a 3-3, which all but ruled Liverpool out of the title race.

Going for a draw at Chelsea and shutting up shop when 3-0 up against Palace might well have seen Liverpool win the league, however it isn’t Rodgers’ style. This will be a massive learning curve for the manager, and the players who just lacked that ability under immense pressure in the closing three games. It was a step into the unknown for Liverpool, which will serve them well into the future and next season.

Analysis of the season;

Fast frenetic starts were the flavour of Liverpool’s success this season, as the Reds scored 57 of their 101 goals in the first-half of the game, smashing the Premier League record. The side managed to net 15 goals in the first 15 minutes of games and it is a trait which has served them well so far under Rodgers.

However it often masked Liverpool’s inferior fitness levels to other sides towards the later part of the season. The squad consisted of around 13/14 players that looked comfortable in the top level games, however Reds fans could never really feel confident with Victor Moses and Iago Aspas as impact players, who were to be relied on to get a late goal. Rodgers factored this in to his game-plans, and ensured that Liverpool flew out of the blocks early, and built up a lead to fall back on later in the game.

It was often referred to as ‘taking their foot off the gas’ but in most cases, they just couldn’t keep up their high intensity levels for more than 50 minutes at most. This is something that needs to be looked at over the summer, and although the World Cup will be a hindrance, the fact that Liverpool have cemented Champions League football means they are much more of a pulling power than in previous years, and if Rodgers is to be believed, he is attempting to bring in six new faces to help bulk out with the squad and share the weight of pressure and intensity out between the players.

Another aspect that needs to be looked into is the defence.

Sakho was signed as the saviour; however he never looks comfortable on the ball for the style of play Rodgers likes to practice, with Mignolet rolling the ball out to his defence. He has shown signs of tactical awareness and is an intimidating unit in the air; however he needs to work on his ball-work massively if he is to figure. He is only young and will improve, yet he needs to show signs of improvement to feature as a starting centre-half.

Kolo Toure. The less said, the better.

Aly Cissokho. See above.

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Skrtel and Agger had previously cemented their place at the heart of the defence with great effect in previous years, and when they were paired up this season, they looked the best partnership the Reds had at their disposal.

The lack of consistency surely paid its part in the poor defensive performances, with so much pressure on the back four. There seemed to be very little confidence in Mignolet, who often failed to command his box and as a result Liverpool conceded a large amount of their goals from set-pieces.

Flanagan has been a revelation at left-back and looked strong for the majority of the season, however he looks set to be a short-term solution in that position as he was the most dribbled past player in the entire league. He has a tendency to show players inside onto his stronger right-foot, and they glide down the touchline and more times than not, manage to get a cross into the box. He possesses the ability to be a top Premier League full-back in the future, but he looks a lot better at right-back, which looks set to be for the best judging by Glen Johnson’s terrible season.

He’s always shaped as a better right-winger than a right-back, and his inability to defend has been costly on plenty of occasions this season. He has never looked overly interested and with his contract nearly up, it would be a surprise if he was to stay on next season.

Steven Gerrard answered plenty of critics (including myself) in the best possible way this season, putting to bed the ‘he’s lost his legs’ claim, excelling in his new deeper role.

He has been dictating play and pulling the strings for many of his side’s attacks this season, often dropping in between the centre-halves to allow freedom to the full-backs and the ever impressive Jordan Henderson.

He has offered the stability in the centre that Liverpool had been lacking since Lucas suffered his injury two seasons ago. Gerrard’s technical ability is second-to-none and his clinical finishing from set-pieces has been ultra-impressive. He still has another season or two left in him, and he has made that holding midfielder role his own this season.

gerrard lirdThis has allowed Jordan Henderson to shine, and show off his outstanding engine. His box-to-box role has been one he has been crying out for since joining the Reds, and he has slowly became one of the first on the team-sheet. He is technically gifted and has the ability to progress into a very special player if he begins to believe in his own ability. He is prone to panic in the final third, however he is definitely improving in this area, and is sure to be keep his place in the side next year. If he hadn’t had been sent-off against Manchester City, would Liverpool have won the league?

Coutinho starred yet again, showing glimpses of his skills-set when given the chance in an attacking role; however he has been overshadowed this season by Raheem Sterling.  The 19-year-old has matured into a valuable first-team player, either out wide in a front-three or as the spearhead of a midfield diamond where he has thrived, scoring plenty of valuable goals. He looks set for a bright future, and the World Cup will be a fantastic learning curve for him to take into next year, as the squad begins to strengthen once more.

The attacking duo of Suarez and Sturridge took the league by storm, and were the most impressive strike partnership the Premier League has seen in many a year. Luis Suarez missed the first six games of the season following a suspension, and there were question marks of whether or not he will be putting in his upmost efforts after taking to the media to air his desire to leave Anfield. However those rumours were quickly dispelled as Suarez took to cutting down Premier League defences instantly, bagging two at Sunderland on his return to the side. He ended the year with 31 goals, taking the PFA Player of the Year, Golden Boot and Football Writer’s accolades, and Liverpool must be prepared to receive plenty of offers for their Uruguayan superstar.

Dan Sturridge also played his part in the success of the side, as his prolific nature in-front of goal helped the Reds rack up plenty of points, especially during the opening stages of the season when Suarez was missing. He enjoys dropping deep, and drifting wide to make diagonal runs behind the back four of the opposition, which works well with Suarez’ direct nature. He went off the boil towards the end of the season, following an injury he picked up against Manchester City, however he is still set for a starring role for England at the World Cup, and with the acquisition of one more striker over summer, he will be able to have a breather at stages next season, to ease his workload.

Overall;

The season has been a massive success regardless of the fact there was no silverware won for the Reds. Brendan Rodgers has given faith and belief back to the fans and the players, who mixed it at the top level for the first time in many a year. They battled it out with the richest side in the league at the death, with a far less talented squad. So, with money at his disposal in the summer, and the Champions League pull should help attract top quality players to strengthen the squad, and Rodgers’ tactical nous should help ensure Liverpool can balance the pressures of Europe with a solid league campaign once more.

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He is already ahead of the projected target, with the promise of Champions League football being delivered a year ahead of schedule and a title challenge showing just how far the club has come under his guidance. There players that need to leave the side, such as Glen Johnson, Aly Cissokho, Kolo Toure, Victor Moses, Iago Aspas and the dead wood. Then new additions will be important to the side, with plenty of rumours flying around about Michel Vorm, Ashley Cole, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Yevhen Konoplyanka and Marcos Rojo, potentially joining the ranks.

The summer transfer window is going to be extremely exciting for Liverpool, as for the first time in a long time; they look a really attractive proposition for many footballers. A young side, playing attacking football with young British talent. The future looks bright for Liverpool.

Liverpool Odds for 2014/15:

Premier League: 11/2

Top 4 Finish: 4/9

 

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.

barkley

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 http://sports.williamhill.com he goes into the treble.

shinj

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.

Selections;

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.

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

Premier League 2013/14 – Preview with Tips

The 2013/14 Premier League season is approaching rapidly, and we can finally indulge in our footballing feasts once more.

There will plenty of thrills and spills along the way, tears will be shed, but where else can you experience the ups-and-downs that 90 minutes of football offers?

There is a new look and feel to this season, with Sir Alex Ferguson finally giving up his mantle as the greatest Premier League manager of all-time, handing it down to the extremely consistent David Moyes.

There has always been plenty of questions of how Moyes, would do with money, and this is where we find out.

Last year’s Champions looked imperious, romping the league by a cosy 11 points with very few worrying moments along the way.

Robin van Persie looked sensational, settling in to his new surroundings and bagging 26 league goals, finishing top scorer in his first season at the Red Devils.

Yet, pre-season has not gone very well for Moyes so far. It is only pre-season, and too much shouldn’t be read into the performances, however it’s always nice to begin your reign as boss with a steady few wins.

The players have looked lacklustre, and this could be a big factor in whether or not Moyes will be able to draw in the high-calibre players he needs to, to ensure they stay ahead of the competition, with both Chelsea and Manchester City improving their squads over the summer.

United haven’t managed to bring in any high class players to help boost their side, after failed bids for Cesc Fabregas and Thiago, and non-existent efforts to sign Fellaini and Baines from former club Everton.

There used to be a massive pull to United, to play under one of the greatest manager’s to have been involved with football, Sir Alex, but now there are many who are not feeling the same about playing under someone who failed to win a trophy on his 11 years on Merseyside.

Players are deciding to head elsewhere, and this could play a factor in Manchester United falling behind both Manchester City and Chelsea.

City and Chelsea have both been involved in manager changes as-well, with Mancini leaving Manchester after failing to win a trophy in his final season (the current state of modern football, where money is involved), being replaced by former Malaga manager, Manuel Pelligrini.

Jesus Navas, Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Stefan Jovetic have all been bought in an attempt to bolster the squad at Eastlands, and look to have a great chance of doing so.

They could add the extra spark that was missing at certain parts last season, and on paper, it would seem that City have the stronger side in Manchester. This leads us to believe the Evens currently on offer for City to finish the season as the highest North-West club, looks a solid bet.

However, in terms of winning the league, I do feel they will fall slightly short, due to the magic that one man can work in London.

Step up, the Special One..

mouinho

Jose Mourinho makes his return to the place he once made his own, Stamford Bridge, and has inherited a brilliant squad which he looks set to round off in his own special way.

Romelu Lukaku returning is almost like a new signing in itself, with the 20-year-old returning from a successful loan spell at the Hawthorns, proclaiming his time there ‘made him a man’.

He adds depth to an already strong Chelsea attack, with Torres, Matam Hazard, Ba and the newly signed, and highly-rated Andre Shurrle.

The only thing that was lacking last season for the Blues was a calm head in front of goal, and with Mourinho extremely interested in Wayne Rooney, he could offer the missing link that Chelsea needed to become the complete unit.

They have a brilliant goalkeeper in the shape of Petr Cech, a solid defence, and sensational attack. Another holding midfielder would be the only position that really needs taking care of, however in the shape of David Luiz, they have a more than able deputy, who could slot in their when needed.

His fast feet, surprising pace, and brute strength make him an ideal candidate for the holding role, and playing him centre-half has often caused problems when the Brazilian neglects to curb his attacking instinct.

He is a great passer of the ball and has tremendous vision, so if he is played in what looks to be his best position, he could set the world alight.

This leads me to believe that Chelsea should just about prevail in the race for the title, after a strong battle with Manchester City, while Manchester United take a season to adjust under David Moyes, back in third.

Advice: Chelsea/Manchester City/Manchester United @ 10/1 (Bet365)

Robin van Persie is a worthy favourite for the top goalscorer market, but 4/1 looks far too short to get involved in, so we have to look elsewhere for each-way value.

With Luis Suarez banned for the opening six games, and maybe even venturing to Madrid before then, Daniel Sturridge is set for a more central role, the kind of which he’s always dreamed of.

With Suarez banned towards the end of last season, Sturridge spearheaded the Reds attack, with great effect.

Liverpool opened up defences with great team moves as opposed to just getting the ball to Suarez and hoping the Uruguayan would create some magic.

sturridge swans

Sturridge scored ten goals in fourteen games, and seemed to strike up a great understanding with the midfield trio of Gerrard, Henderson and in particular Phillipe Coutinho.

He is 20/1 for the top goalscorer prize, and this looks tremendous each-way value, with the Reds seemingly set for a big season.

At a bigger price, Olivier Giroud appeals at a surprisingly large 50/1.

The Frenchman began to hit form towards the back-end of last season, managing to bag 17 goals in his maiden Premier League campaign.

At the moment he looks set to be the central figure of the Arsenal attack, with the Gunners failing to bring any other attackers so far this summer.

They are still attempting to bring Luis Suarez to the Emirates, a move welcomed by Giroud, but even if they are successful with the move the Uruguayan could easily play behind the Frenchman, or on either side of an attacking trio.

Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta are two of the best at threading through balls, and with Jack Wilshere returning to fitness, Giroud is sure to receive to impeccable service.

All in all, the 50/1 looks far too big on a player who will know a lot more about the Premier League, having been here a year. 11 goals in his first season is a solid base, and he now has the ability to kick on, and must be key if Arsenal are to make a bold challenge for fourth spot.

Advice:

1pt e.w: Daniel Sturridge @ 20/1 (Various)

0.5pt e.w: Olivier Giroud @ 50/1 (Various)

The bridge between Championship football and Premiership football is something many find hard to adapt to, and Crystal Palace and Hull look set to struggle again this term.

Palace only just managed to make it to the promised land, via a very dramatic play-off final, and failing to replace their key man Wilfried Zaha looks set to come back to haunt them.

Hull as though they have failed to make enough moves in the transfer window so far to ensure survival next year, whereas Cardiff’s squad looked as though it could have stake a claim for a solid placing in the Premier League last year, and with high profile names such as Dirk Kuyt being linked, they look as though they should manage to escape relegation.

This means there is one team left to fill the bottom three, and at the time of writing the most likely candidates look to be Stoke City.

After looking as they were going to be Premier League stalwarts under Tony Pulis, the Potters finishing between 11th and 14th on four successive occasions under the Welshman.

mark hughes

However heading in to their fifth successive campaign, now under the tutoring of Mark Hughes, Stoke look as though they may well struggle over the coming season.

A massive dip in form seen the Potters pick up only five points in thirteen games during 2013, which managed to draw them into what could easily have escalated into a relegation battle. The fans were nervous before back-to-back victories over Norwich and QPR ensured Premier League survival for another year.

However they needed to improve during the transfer window just to make up for the rather dubious managerial expertise of Mark Hughes whose QPR side (30) were the only team to score less than Stoke (34) in the Premier League last season.

Goals win games, and if Hughes attempts to change Pulis’ tactical style of play too much, the Potters may well be in trouble. Stoke are not an overly footballing side, but do the basics very well. However Mark Hughes is renowned for making sides his own (usually negatively) and this could well spell trouble for Stoke City and it’s fans, with Hughes already offering a false dawn of ‘a new brand of attacking football’.

Advice: Crystal Palace/Hull/Stoke @ 20/1 (Ladbrokes)

ALL ADVICE:

2 points: Tri-cast: Chelsea/Manchester City/Manchester United @ 10/1 (Bet365)

1 point: Relegation treble: Crystal Palace/Hull/Stoke @ 20/1 (Ladbrokes)

1 point e.w: Top scorer: Daniel Sturridge @ 20/1 (Various)

0.5 points e.w: Top scorer: Olivier Giroud @ 50/1 (Various)

Merseyside Derby Betting Preview

As the season draws to a close, many may be questioning just how important this Merseyside Derby really is.

Extremely important.

There is an element of a power shift occurring on Merseyside, with Everton attempting to finish above their local rivals in successive seasons for the first time since 1936/37.

However it will be no easy feat, with the reds fighting back in the best possible way, following Luis Suarez’ ten-game ban, following the biting incident with Branislav Ivanovic.

The 6-0 victory over Newcastle will inspite the side to know that they can deliver without the Uruguayan, and it will give the chance for Dan Sturridge to steal the limelight, and stake a claim for a starting role down the centre, when Suarez does return.

His greedy style of play is something Liverpool have lacked over the years, with more selfless strikers often being employed up-top.

He is sure to receive service with Gerrard and Coutinho sitting in behind him, and he looks a great bet to score two or more tomorrow afternoon, at 15/2 with Totesport.

sturridge swans

His confidence is sky-high after his double last weekend at St James’ Park, carrying on from his magnificent 45 minutes against Chelsea the week before.

He is sure to get the chance to get on the score-sheet, and he could enhance his already budding reputation, by bagging a brace in front of the Kop on Sunday.

Everton will not be walked over however, and have the class to sit deep and make it as difficult as possible for Liverpool to break them down.

Coutinho

However, with Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool seem to have found a magician, who can see things others can’t.

His performance against Newcastle was simply magnificent, and the Brazilian showed he had the characteristics to make a massive impact on Merseyside.

His vision, dribbling ability and accuracy with his through balls make him the perfect Number 10, to sit behind the lone striker.

He will be up against Fellaini, Osman and Gibson in the centre, with Gibson being given the likely task of sticking to the 20-year-old.

He is 8/11 to be shown a card tomorrow, which looked nailed on, but very little value. However if he is carded, he is more likely to give Coutinho more space, which will reflect even better on the Brazilian, and the 10/1 for him to be given Man of the Match, looks a solid bet.

Everton’s Croatian star Nikica Jelavic has been out of sorts this season, and it would be no surprise to see Moyes opt to start Victor Anichebe as the loan striker for the blues, in an attempt to outpace the aging Jamie Carragher.

He is a strong, pacy, old-fashioned centre-forward who will cause Carragher plenty of problems if he is given the nod to start up-top, and the 11/2 for him to be Everton’s first-goalscorer appeals massively.

In terms of the final score market, I do feel as though Liverpool have the measure of Everton, especially in front of what is sure to be a lively Anfield crowd, and with Moyes likely to be content to settle for a point, an early goal will change the entire game.

For this reason, the 3-1 Liverpool scoreline appeals, at odds of 16/1.

Everton are likely to exploit Carragher’s lack of pace, and should be able to grab at least one goal, however Liverpool’s new found attacking confidence is clear for all to see, and there are sure to be goals on Merseyside tomorrow.

Advice:

1 point: Daniel Sturridge to score two or more @ 15/2 (Totesport)

0.5 points: Phillipe Coutinho to be Man of the Match @ 10/1 (BetVictor)

1 point: Victor Anichebe to score Everton’s first goal @ 11/2 (BetVictor)

0.5 points: Correct Score: 3-1 Liverpool @ 16/1 (Various)

2013 = +29.21

Brendan Rodgers – Why he is the man to take Liverpool forward.

When Brendan Rodgers signed on the dotted line to become Liverpool manager back in June, nobody was expecting miracles. However what has since occurred, has left people questioning whether or not he is the right man for the job. He is.

rodgersunveiled

Rodgers’ philosophy of tiki-taka football takes a certain amount of time to embed in the players mind, and you also need to have the right type of players to fully get the best out of the rather niche footballing style.

When you take a look at last year’s starting eleven for Liverpool, how many could you say would have easily slotted in to Rodgers’ Swansea side? A handful at best.

Liverpool often adopted a style of play, that revolved around getting the ball launched up to Suarez’ head, and Carroll’s feet, which often left fans questioning what exactly had Dalglish instructed.

There was no fluidity in a solid midfield four that lacked creativity, cutting edge and desire for the most part. However, since Rodgers’ has taken over, he has chosen to try and utilise a 4-3-3 formation going forward, which reverts into a 4-5-1 when the side comes under pressure.

This formation holds promise for the future, as long as certain aspects are adhered to over the January transfer market. Rodgers’ has been questioned after he failed to bring in a clinical finisher, something Liverpool desperately need, with the only attacking player brought in, Fabio Borini, initially flopping then getting injured. However, given freedom in January to open the cheque-book, he may be able to get the best of the formation/tactics.

luis suarez

Huntelaar, Bent, Sturridge, Llorente and David Villa have all been names banded around, and any one of the five would make a massive difference to the squad. One of the most creative talents in the World, Luis Suarez, has been at his best this season, creating chances out of nothing and scoring goals for fun. However he can still not be called ‘a natural finisher’. To be seen to his best, he needs to be partnered by a strong, powerful, intelligent, goal-scorer.

This would mean Suarez could be pushed slightly wider, with Raheem Sterling occupying the other wing, or he could have Suarez just behind the striker, with two wide men, and two sitting midfielders. Options a plenty, all that is needed is a new striker. Simple.

Well, not quite. The dead wood needs to go, Stewart Downing, Joe Cole etc, who are stealing a massive wage. Then Rodgers can begin to build, and bring in his own touch of small, solid, fluid passers.

Allen was initially signed to be one of these players, after impressing at Swansea, but has struggled to find his feet during the early part of his Anfield career, but under the guidance he is set to blossom into a vital cog in the flow of the tiki-taka engine.

Gerrard, as sad as it may be to admit it, has lost his legs. Gone are the days when he would make a lung-busting 70 yard run to track back and dispossess an opponent, or start the move on the edge of his own box and end up rounding it off with a 20 yard drive, the other end of the pitch.

With his pace slowly dwindling away, he could end up seeing out his career as part of a sitting trio in midfield, alongside Allen and Lucas, who will need to be there to make sure when Gerrard does opt to go forward to join in, they have the discipline to sit and protect the defence in the event of a quick breakaway,

Liverpool’s defence has always been reknowned for being solid, conceding very few goals. However this season, the side have leaked goals, with Pepe Reina coming under pressure for the Number One spot for the first time in his Liverpool career.

brad-jones-liverpool-3rd-keeper

When Reina missed a few weeks through injury, Brad Jones put in a string of brilliant performances between the sticks and instilled confidence in Liverpool fans that if something did happen to Reina, or if his performance levels began to drop, there was an able replacement.

The decline in Reina’s performances have been alarming, and it would be no surprise if the Spaniard was to leave in January, with Arsenal reportedly interested in his services. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he were to leave in January, as long as the fee was of a considerable size, as Jones has the potential to make the number one spot his for years to come.

The defence finally seems to have solidarity to it, as after Enrique has been brought back to solidify the left-hand side (thankfully after Downing’s rather questionable spell there..) and Johnson has been pushed over to his more familiar right-hand side. The central-defensive partnership of Agger and Skrtel is one of the best in the world on their day, and now they have a more familiar wing-back pairing it is only a matter of time before the defence gels, and gets back to how it was.

There are many talented youth players emerging for Liverpool with the future looking very bright. Sterling, Suso and Shelvey all look as though they will have a major part to play in the success of the club over the next few years, as they all hold the major attributes that will slot in well to the tiki-taka style.

Extremely technically gifted, have lots of flair, creativity and the winning mentality means that they could develop into a strong trio that will link up to great effect. But they do need playing time, and if it can’t be guaranteed at Liverpool, I’m sure many fans would prefer Suso to be loaned out for the remainder of the season, to gain some valuable match experience.

youngtalent

He looks a star in the making, has the air of something special, in the way he floats passes around the pitch with seemingly no effort. His little touches, flair and ability to create chances in the final third means he is the type of player that Rodgers will get to thrive over the coming years.

Sterling has begun to assert himself into a first-team player, with Shelvey currently on the cusp of taking one of those three midfield places up for grabs. There has been controversy surrounding Sterling a new contract, but there is a lot of confidence behind the fact he will. When he does, he is set to have a massive future at the club, as his fearless, direct running skills with a decent end product are something the side has lacked since dare I say it, Michael Owen.

Whatever way you look at it, you cannot judge Brendan Rodgers just yet, as it will take the squad at least a season to fully adjust to the style of play he wishes to play. He now has the chance to chop and screw the side in the January transfer window, and attempt to kick-start a late push for a European place later on in the season. However no-one can completely judge him at the end of this season, as it is set to be a transitional period for the squad. In two to three years when he has fully influenced the club with his own style of players, training and tactics, then we can begin to judge whether or not it is ‘the Liverpool way’. But until then, get behind your manager and give him the belief that his methods will begin to pay off, in time.

Sunday 9th December – Preview with best bets.

Sunday Betting Preview

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

Manchester City v Manchester United

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

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

Manchester United's English striker Wayn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everton v Tottenham 

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

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

jelavic everton

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

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

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

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

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

West Ham v Liverpool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everton v Liverpool – Merseyside Derby Preview with best bets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Bets:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Key Men:

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

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

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

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

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

Five to watch:

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

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

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

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

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

Tips:

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

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

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