Manchester United v Chelsea – Match Preview with Selections

The first real big clash of the season is that of champions Manchester United versus a rejuvenated Chelsea side.

All eyes will be on a clash between ‘The Special One’, Jose Mourinho, and ‘The Dubious One’, David Moyes.

mourinho

Mourinho’s Chelsea side have started with two wins out of two, with rather workmanlike efforts over both Hull and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge. With both Hull and Villa sitting very deep to try and nullify the creativity of the Chelsea front-line, it became a struggle to break down the back-four, yet they did and managed to maintain a 100% record.

On Monday evening, Manchester United will no doubt name a strong attacking force and go out to dominate proceedings. Their 4-1 win over Swansea proved their attacking prowess is still going strong under Moyes, yet for the opening part of the game they looked vulnerable against a solid passing game.

With Rooney’s future at the club still up in the air, it is unknown whether he will start the game, and he may well opt for Van Persie with Welbeck or Giggs sitting behind him. Welbeck’s pressing game, and Giggs’ experience in the big games would be extremely valuable, but in terms of actually playing football it would make a lot more sense to incorporate both Rooney and play-maker Shinji Kagawa into the side.

This will give them plenty of opportunities to cut down the defensive pairing of Terry/Cahill, but with Welbeck/Giggs, chances will be harder to find. Fortunately RVP can make chances out of nothing, and although he may not get the greatest service, his natural goal-scoring ability will come to the rescue for Moyes and his side plenty this season, and the 11/8 about him scoring anytime looks a brilliant bet.

However, United’s defensive frailties are there to be exploited, and if Moyes attempts to encourage his side to attack (something he’s never really done before), there is plenty of pace and trickery to test the aging pair of Vidic and Ferdinand.

After a poor pre-season defensively, leaking goals, they didn’t look completely confident against the Swans, and Mourinho’s Chelsea will be a completely different proposition to the side they faced last week.

Romelu Lukaku made an massive impact last year for West Brom, when on-loan from the Blues, and he could be in line to start his first game of the season after Ba and Torres have both failed to fire when given their chances so far.

He bagged a hat-trick against United in the last game of the season, rounding off a fantastic season in the Premier League. The 20-year-old, (yes, he is only 20 years old..) can lead the Chelsea front-line, and be the pinnacle of their counter-attacking strategy on Monday evening. He looks set to bully Ferdinand and Vidic, and can guarentee that the defensive nature of the two sides (Chelsea for certain, United slightly likely under Moyes) should be punished, with over 2.5 goals being a solid bet at 5/6.

It will be a great spectacle for the neutrals with so much pressure on the new managers (Moyes more than Mourinho), and the pressure on Moyes not to lose may end up costing his side dearly.

Chelsea have the right attitude under Jose, and with Ramires set to have a field day against the rather slow United back-four, he could be the difference between the two sides, and the Blues should have the class to see off United. Available at 11/5, they looks a great bet, but with the unpredictability of the Premier League, it could pay to side with Chelsea draw-no-bet at 5/4, which still looks a solid play.

So that’s three short-priced bets for the game, but there are plenty of punters who prefer to get involved with small stakes at bigger prices, and that’s extremely fair. If that is the case, the best bet I could advise is Chelsea to win 3-1.

With United entering a period of change under Moyes, this is the best time to be heading to Old Trafford, and with Chelsea feeling rejuvinated under Jose, he can guide his side to a big win (on the way to claiming the title in my opinion..).

United are always likely to score at home, but if they fail to score first and are forced to chase the game, the pace Chelsea have on the break can be deadly, and it would be no surprise to see the Blues grab a good few goals against a weak United defence.

Advice:

2 points: RVP to score anytime @ 11/8 (BetVictor)

2 points: Over 2.5 goals @ 5/6 (BetVictor)

2 points: Chelsea (draw-no-bet) @ 5/4 (Bet365)

0.5 points: Chelsea to win 3-1 @ 28/1 (Betdaq)

 

 

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)

Liverpool v Chelsea – betting preview in association with BetVictor.

Rafael Benitez returns to Anfield for the first time since leaving Liverpool in 2010.

It will be a strange atmosphere for Rafa who will most likely receive a better reception from the home crowd, than his own set of fans.

Since Rafa was last in the dugout for this fixture, Liverpool have won four of the games, and drew one, does this bode well for the red men?

On the pitch, it is all set to be a tight affair, with Chelsea going all out to try and secure a Champions League spot, from fellow London rivals Arsenal and Spurs.

Liverpool’s only remaining hope of a successful season is to finish above rivals Everton, and know that home wins are imperative to make that happen.

It won’t be easy for the reds with Chelsea looking to finish the season on a high following their exit from the F.A Cup, whilst still maintaining one eye on Europe.

Fernando Torres has looked a completely different player over the last month, as his confidence is growing, seemingly after putting on his mask.

It’s transformed him, and he has regained the ability to attack defences in the way he did when gracing the turf at Anfield many years ago.

He knows the weaknesses of the centre-half duo of Agger and Carragher, having trained with them for so long.

It would be no surprise to see Torres on the score-sheet, and the 7/1 for the Spaniard to net first looks on the large side, having previously had so much success in this fixture previously (albeit on the other side). 21/10 for him to net any-time is big enough to tempt us in to a small saver, and it all looks set for Rafa and Torres to team up again to devilish effect at Anfield once more.

There is sure to be goals in the game, with a draw being no good for either side, so the 4/5 for over 2.5 appeals massively.

Both defences have had their troubles in the past, and although Liverpool’s consecutive clean-sheets look promising, you have to take into account they were against West Ham and Reading, who haven’t got the most potent attacks.

Whereas Chelsea have an attack-minded back-four, who tend to go walkabout when their side have possesion leaving themselves exposed to the counter-attacking threat of Liverpool, with the pace of Sturridge, and trickery of Suarez and Coutinho.

Liverpool v Chelsea very rarely disappoints and the 15/1 for a 2-2 draw, makes the most appeal in the correct score market.

Advice to back with BetVictor:

1 point win: Fernando Torres FGS @ 7/1 

1 point win: Fernando Torres any-time @ 21/10

2 points: Over 2.5 goals @ 4/5 

0.5 points: 2-2 correct score @ 15/1

 Image

2013: +24.61

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

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.