Monday, 13 November 2017

England vs Brazil - Tuesday 14th November

To be fair to England, after a fairly rocky start they didn't have an entirely abysmal performance in the Germany game on Friday. In the second half especially they showed promise, and of course in true England style, there was a golden opportunity to win at the very end of the game - and we ballsed it up! Jordan Pickford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek really impressed, and there is certainly some cause for optimism since this is a largely inexperienced team compared to previous incarnations.

Just days later, on Tuesday they now take on another top world team, this time Brazil. Despite being another home game, punters seem confident that this task is a bridge too far for England, and as such they're currently 7/2 to beat Brazil. Brazil are 4/5 to win and the draw is 5/2.

Gareth Southgate, no doubt buoyed by the Germany draw, is not holding back from further mixing it up and England Under 21 side Lewis Cook, Dominic Solanke,  and Angus Gunn may well feature. Eric Dier is expected to remain captain. Phil Jones is injured. Many fans will be pleased to see new blood given an opportunity at this level though, rather than some of the 'big names' who have let us down more times than not in recent memory.

Brazil have a good run of competitive friendlies ahead (England, Russia, Germany) after an easy World Cup qualifying group and so are clearly going to give this maximum effort. Coming off the back off an effortless win against Japan, coach Tite is expected to field a top class side. Neymar and Paulinho must be up there as potential goal scorers with the latter available at 7/2. That would probably be my bet here if I was to show an interest. Enjoy the game!

Monday, 30 October 2017

Crystal Palace to Stay Up – Yay or Nay?

Wilfried Zaha played a crucial role in rescuing a point for Crystal Palace this weekend in their premier league match up against West Ham. At half time Roy Hodgson's side were 2-0 down in what was fast looking to be yet another disappointment for the beleaguered London side. An impressive second half comeback saw Milivojevic score 50 minutes in though and Zaha clinched the draw with a last gasp 96th minute effort. In what could be seen as a touch of good fortune during a dire start to the season, it's surely left many punters seeing Palace's chances of staying up this year as something that's still very much in the balance.

Current odds with most major bookmakers have Crystal Palace at around even money to be relegated and so this pretty much confirms that their chances of staying up are something of a coin toss. The West Ham comeback coupled with their surprise win at Chelsea has created an air of optimism in some quarters. It's in stark contrast  to their shockingly bad, 'record breaking' (in a bad way – 731 minutes without scoring!) performance of early season, and may signal better things for the under siege team.

In the bigger picture, it's still early days and with several teams struggling to truly get into gear (Bournemouth, Everton, Swansea, Westham Leicester... the list goes on) a couple more wins in their upcoming fixtures would likely see their relegation odds shorten considerably. Personally, if you're in the 'staying up' camp I would hold off placing a bet until after the Tottenham game as Palace are really up aganst it there. Their next fixtures are Everton, Stoke, Brighton, West Brom and Bournemouth , none of whom are flourishing so far this season, and all of whom are beatable. It's a period that signals a real opportunity for Palace to show the best of what they're capable of rather than the worst.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Liverpool v Man Utd - Saturday 14th October

With the Internationals currently providing a break in Premier League action, it won't be long until we're jumping straight back into things with what is surely set to be one of the more noteworthy fixtures of the season. Both teams will be looking to claim a top tier scalp and use that as a springboard, going forward.

Liverpool have had something of an uneven and faltering start to the season, and so will be eager to show that they that can put that behind them. Their 4-0 masterclass against Arsenal at the start of the season impressed many, but it was swiftly followed by a 5-0 drubbing to Manchester City, though admittedly Liverpool did get a player sent off early in the match. Manchester United on the other hand may well see this as a good chance to stake an eventual claim for the top of the table, by dispatching of a higher quality of team than some of their early season fixtures.

A number of factors make this game a potentially less predictable affair than current form and odds of winning the league suggest (Man Utd are currently 3-1 to top the table vs Liverpool at 33-1). For one, Liverpool have a home advantage, which often brings out the best in the team. A more immediate issue though, for both teams in fact, is that a number of players will be dealing with fatigue from Internationals - or worse. For United Fellaini has already been ruled out of the game, due to picking up a knee injury in the Belgium game. Pogba is also out. Jurgen Klopp's side have also had their fair share of Internation action, with 11 of the 18 players in the Newcastle game having been called up for International duties. This all adds up to an unpredictable game, and that's factored into the odds.

Currently Liverpool are 8/5 to win the match, Manchester United are 13/8 and the Draw 12/5. That's one way of saying that betting wise this game is seen as something of a 'crap shoot'. With no shortage of goals under their belt I can see United scoring, but also think Liverpool will be desperate to put up a good fight at home. It's a difficult game to call, so I'm inclined to go the speculative bet route just to have an interest. Therefore I'll have a small bet on Manchester United/Liverpool 30-1 and Liverpool/Manchester United 35-1  HT-FT results. Here's hoping for an unpredictable and action packed game. Enjoy the match!

Monday, 18 September 2017

Champions League of Darts: Mensur Suljovic

Well, this year's Champions League of Darts tournament was certainly an unpredictable one wasn't it? I was way off with this one, and it seems so were most others considering Mensur Suljovic was getting on for 50-1 with some bookmakers to lift the trophy (and generous odds even to get out of his group). He did have a degree of good fortune with the opponents he faced, and his three dart average in the final was far from impressive at 87.85 (but he hit his doubles!), but he thoroughly deserved the win. It was touching to see what it meant to him and the struggles he'd faced in getting to where he is now. An entertaining two days by all accounts. The BBC must have been pleased with it!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Champions League of Darts

On 16th and 17th of September on the BBC, the big names of darts (so no, it's not a BDO tournament! :P) all come together in the Champion League of Darts. First held in 2016 and won by Phil Taylor the participants will all be after the £100,000 top prize. Taylor will be of course see this as an opportunity to defend last years win - possibly against Van Gerwen once again - in what is his final year in the sport.

Last year saw Taylor crush Van Gerwen 11-5 in the final with an average of 109 per throw and while he clearly still has a lot in the tank, I'd argue that the 57 year old is on the decline and so stands less chance of winning the title this year. That's reflected in the odds, as he's currently 6-1 to win the tournament,  with Gary Anderson second favourite at 5-1 and Van Gerwen favourite at 8/11. The bookies have this one about right I'd say, when you factor in a combination of current form and proven ability. The likes of Dave Chisnall and Adrian Lewis are long odds, but I'm not overly tempted in that they have gone off the boil somewhat.

The set up of the competition dictates that two players go through in each group, to a knock out stage. With that in mind I'd be tempted to have a punt of Peter Wright, who at least has upped his game a lot this year (even if he himself has had a shaky couple of months). He faces the aforementioned Chisnall, Lewis (and Suljović) in his group and I can see him making it through, and beyond that who knows. At 8-1 it's worth a punt. Aside from that I'd have to go with Van Gerwen this time around at 8/11 to win the tournament. He's had some impressive averages of late and on the night has the tools and talent to lift the trophy!