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!


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Stoke City vs Manchester United Preview

Stoke City and Manchester United will square off on September 9 live on BT Sport and, if you're a fan of the former, it could be a tough watch.
With 10 goals and maximum points in the first three games of the Premier League, José Mourinho's United look like an unstoppable force this season. If that's not enough to give City fans something to worry about ahead of the TV showdown, United have dominated in previous encounters. Looking through the stats, Stoke have won just 28 times from 106 games. To add another layer of salt to the already gaping wound, the latest 18 Premier League battles between the two sides has only resulted in a win for Stoke on two occasions.
Hughes Has Hope, But Not Much Else on His Side
Put simply, if history is any indication of what's going to happen in the future, The Potters could get smashed on September 9. However, as always, there's a glimmer of hope and manager Mark Hughes certainly won't go down without a fight. Of course, the first helpful insight Hughes could have in the upcoming Stoke vs. Manchester United may be his familiarity with the Red Devils. Yes, the United that will turn up at the bet365 Stadium is very different to the team he played for between 1980 and 1995. However, there is a certain comfort that comes from knowing the spirit of a club and that could work in Hughes' favour.
Beyond this, the last two matches between the two have ended in 1-1 draws. On those occasions, Stoke's stifling brand of football allowed them to overcome any skill differential there may have been on paper. Now, things may not go the same way this season as United are playing better and City have remained fairly consistent. Indeed, from three Premier League matches, Hughes' men are one, one and one on wins, draws and losses. This could suggest another draw is on the cards, but only if United slip.
In addition to the keeper not conceding a goal, Romelu Lukaku (three goals), Anthony Martial (two goals) and Paul Pogba (two goals) are looking very slick this season. Beyond the individual stats, United have a shooting accuracy of 33% from 60 on target, a pass accuracy of 86% and a tackle success rating of 69%. Basically, wherever you look, Mourinho is getting the best out of his players and this looks like it will spell trouble for Stoke.
United Dominating the Betting Markets
If we take this line of thought and apply it to the betting markets on SunBets.co.uk, there are plenty of value bets out there. For the risk averse, a straight away win for United is currently marked at 1/2 and looking every bit like a dead cert. However, if you believe that things come in threes, a third draw could be a solid bet. Yes, as we've said, Manchester's finest will have to have an off day for this to happen. However, if there's one team that could cause a dip in form, it's Stoke (especially at home). For a draw, you'll currently receive 16/5 courtesy of Sun Bets' odds makers.

Of course, the online sports betting world is always awash with options and to stick with a straight result prediction isn't the best way to get the most value out of this game. Looking at the current dynamics, there's a strong possibility there will be goals in this game. If the game plays out as the formbook suggests, 5/4 on a Manchester United win and more than 2.5 goals is solid. Stoke could well pinch a goal, but it's unlikely they'll be able to stop the onslaught for too long. Of course, the counter to this is that Stoke won't score at all. United's 69% tackle success is impressive (even after just three games) and you'll currently find 11/8 on the away team winning without conceding.
For those that like to push their luck and rake in better returns, one of the most attractive wagers out there this weekend could be Lukaku to score first and United to win 2-0. Even though scorecasts are tricky to win, there's a ton of potential in this. The Belgian international is on red hot form and United haven't scored fewer than two goals in their last three Premier League games. Basically, if you're looking to take a punt on Stoke vs. Manchester United this weekend, the smart money would go on the latter. Even though you can't ever discount the grit and determination of Stoke, it seems as though their opponents are going to be too strong this time around.


Author bio
Dan Smyth is a freelance sports and betting writer with almost a decade of experience in the industry. From football and boxing to MMA, Dan now covers a wide range of high profile events with previews, reports and advice articles.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Mayweather vs McGregor: Final Thoughts - Sun 27th August

I have discussed the Mayweather vs McGregor fight previously, and while most of what I say still stands, a couple of noteworthy change have emerged. The gloves the fighters will be wearing have been changed from 10oz to 8oz, which in theory benefits McGregor, since these are now closer to replicating UFC gloves. This has seen McGregor's odds of pulling off a victory drop down to just under 4-1 from 6-1 (and Mayweather 1-4 down from 1-7) so it's clearly given punters pause for thought. At the weigh in Mayweather tipped the scales at 149.5lbs, surprising some, to McGregor's 153lbs yesterday and so that's a possible advantage too, as well as the fact that Mayweather is coming out of retirement. Is his heart still in it? Find out at 5am!

McGregor looks pumped for the fight, but reality often bites, and Mayweather has a faultless boxing career behind him, so it's hard to beyond a Mayweather win. If it's an easy win, it may be that these UFC vs Boxing match ups become a thing of the past, which probably isn't a bad thing. Realistically any world class boxer should be able to put away a UFC fighter is the boxing ring, and any world class UFC fighter would likely do the same in the Octagon. Some cynics see the theatrics of the run up and wonder if it will extend to the ring and result, with a controversial or unusual result and a huge money rematch on the cards. Let's hope nothing of that nature occurs though, since boxing doesn't have the best reputation as it is!

Other sports...

Our women's national sports teams have been really putting the men to shame of late, and there's no better example right now than the England women's rugby team. They have brute forced their way through to what could be a compelling final against New Zealand tonight at 19:45. England are 5/6 and New Zealand 6/5 so really there is nothing to seperate them. I can't confess to being an expert on women's rugby, so I'm just be cheering on our girls. Let's have a bit of good news this Saturday!

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Netherlands vs England - Women's European Championship

I'd long since giving up on the men's England football team achieving anything of note and so it makes a change to once again be able to get excited about England's internationals, via support of our women's team in the UEFA Women's 2017 Euros. They've put up a stellar performance so far, undefeated in their group through wins against Spain, Scotland and Portugal (though the latter performance was their weakest), then a 1-0 win against France in the quarter finals. Next up they take on a tough Netherlands side.

The Netherlands, like England, were undefeated during the group stages and swept Sweden aside in a 2-0 win in the quarter finals. This certainly sets up an intriguing semi final match up. Some would argue that the Netherlands receive a boost due to being hosts of the tournament and Karen Bardsley out with a leg fracture. Just look at the England goal tally though and the performances of the likes of Jodie Taylor and Toni Duggan.

In many ways the teams are very evenly matched, and the odds certainly suggest this with England at 11/8 to win, Netherlands 2-1 and the draw 2-1. From a betting point of view the jury is very much out but I'm confident the England girls can put away a couple of goals even against this standard of team. I'm not usually one for a patriotic punt, but I'd love our girls to make it through to the final (and then to lift the trophy) so for once I can't bring myself to look too far elsewhere!

With Germany out of the competition (amazingly they had won the previous six consecutive Euros Titles) via an early exit, there is huge opportunity ahead for England if they can make it past the Netherlands. Austia barely made it past Spain in the quarter finals - while England dispatched of Spain handily in the group stage - and although Denmark beat Germany in their quarter final match, they weren't exactly a goal scoring force in their group and in fact lost to the Netherlands. It's England's for the taking!

Netherlands vs England is on Channel 4 at 19:45, 3rd August.

Suggested Bets: 

England women to win -  13/10
England women to score both halves - 7/2



Saturday, 22 July 2017

Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor

The circus has come to town, or at least you'd be forgiven for thinking so based on the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor publicity tour. It's been a feast of bombastic showboating and vulgarity, but none of that should surprise us really. It's all about grabbing the headlines and selling tickets and PPV. With the fight purse thought to be around the $300 million dollar range, it's no wonder both fighters are going all out to maximise their earnings, for what in reality is very unlikely to be the fight of the century.

McGregor has more than done himself proud in the UFC. He's had a real rags to riches story and there is no faulting his talent or dedication to MMA. However, boxing is a different beast altogether and when I first saw the odds for this bout, I have to say that I was surprised McGregor wasn't a bigger price. He has so much counting against him going into this: his lack of boxing experience, the weight of the gloves, the unrivalled abilities of his opponent. On the surface it really is mostly bad news. He has youth on his side though, and he has bravado. I think he'll 'go for it!', but he's facing possibly the best defensive fighter in boxing history.

All of this results in McGregors only real hope in my view being a powerful combination early on (the gloves are 10oz rather than the typical UFC 6oz gloves - so punch power will be reduced). Other than that Mayweather not being in prime condition since he's back from retirement, is a potential issue, or maybe the 'fire is gone'. I don't see sign of any of that though. The betting odds echo my doubts that McGregor will win (though I'm surprised he's only 6-1).

Shock result aside, the only question left to ask is how will Mayweather win the fight? There's not much value in 1/7 for the win, round betting is a bit of a shot in the dark too. Mayweather to win by KO TKO or Disqualification is 4/6, and a win by Decision or Technical Decision is 2-1. Honestly, it's a difficult one to call. While Mayweather is used to 10oz gloves and will have an easier target than usual, it's worth noting that he hasn't knocked anyone out since Victor Ortiz in 2011 (and that was a sucker punch!) and before that Ricky Hatton way back in 2007! Still, even with that in mind, McGregor isn't a boxer and I think he'll get caught enough to stop the fight at some point. 50-0-0 for Mayweather by the end of  26th August!

Bet: Floyd Mayweather Jnr - Win by KO TKO or Disqualification -  4/6

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

France vs England - International Friendly - 13th June


France and England will play a friendly encounter in Paris on June 13th. Both teams had less than stellar performances in their recent 2018 World Cup qualifier matches,  so this friendly match in the Stade de France will be a good chance of redemption for them both. Also, bearing in mind that the decisive games for the World Cup Qualifiers are a few months away, a test against a strong opponent could be useful for both teams.

The late Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain goal that resulted in a 2-2 draw against Scotland can’t cancel out the poor game played by the England team. Although the two goals from the Scots came from the excellent left foot of Leigh Griffiths in two consecutive free kicks, it’s also true that the team managed by Gareth Southgate had a really bad performance, especially up front. Joe Hart was under the spotlight too after the last match, as he is being blamed for the free-kick goals, and now he will be replaced. Tom Heaton and Jack Butland will step up instead. Oxlade-Chamberlain earned the chance to start in the line-up, with Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane possibly joining him in the offensive line.

France thre away an incredible opportunity to stand out from the rest in their qualifier group. A mistake from the goalkeeper Hugo Lloris cost them the game against Sweden, who are now sharing the top of the group with the French side with 13 points each team. With Netherlands on 10 points and improving their performances, the next encounter between them will be a fierce one, and this match could be the preparation needed for that encounter. That’s why Didier Deschamps will put out a strong line-up, with most of the best players starting, such as Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet. Some of the young promises of the team may make an appearance, such as the wonder-kid Kylian Mbappé and the Borussia Dortmund player Ousmane Dembélé. Deschamps has a lot of options in the offensive line, which makes the French team a concern for any defense.

At 4/5 with most bookmakers, the odds are in favor of a win for France. The offensive power that the home team can display is fierce, and the poor recent display by England helps this decision. Still, at 7/2 (average) an away win has some solid value. If we analyze both teams, it’s not an unlikely scenario: England have the players to beat almost any team, it's just that often it doesn't quite come tiegther for them. Finally, at 11/10, the odds for a match with three goals or more seem decent. The friendly nature of the encounter may free some creative players, and both teams might have a more offensive display than in a nervy competitive match. I envisage a tough encounter, but with a good number of chances for both teams.

With all of this in mind, I'd advise a 2.5+ Goals bet and if you're one for the patriotic pound, then a punt on England to win!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Republic of Ireland vs Austria - World Cup Qualifier - 11th June

Republic of Ireland and Austria will clash on June 11th in the Aviva Stadium. Both teams have their chance to qualify for the next World Cup, with Ireland fighting for the first position with Serbia. Austria are currently in fourth place with 7 points so could really do with the win. If they do, they'll have 10 points to Ireland's 11, putting them in a fairly good position for the coming matches.

The Republic of Ireland are a solid team, with good defensive style. With only 3 goals conceded so far in their 5 group games, the team managed by Martin O'Neill have the lowest count of goals against them. The absence of the center back Keving Long due to injury could harm the team, but they have suitable alternatives. The offensive line could be a weakness though. The Irish have showed some flaws in this  respect, with only 7 goals scored so far.

Austria are a younger team. With David Alaba as a key player (playing in midfielder for the national team), the team relies on an attacking style assisted by the veteran Martin Harnik and support on the wings. They've scored 8 and conceded 7 in the group so far, so something of a mixed bag.

Although this could be a tough match, Ireland remain as the favourite to win, with 13/10 odds available. A draw, at 11/5, is not out of the question either. The average odds for over 2.5 goals is a decent 7/5, which could give us some value, as both teams needs to win and in the potential for an open match. On top of that Austria's defense isn't the best and this could provide decent scoring opportunities for Ireland.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Scotland vs England - World Cup Qualifier - 10th June

Hampden Park will host another clash of one of the most historical derbies in football on June 10th. England and Scotland will face each other in Group F of the UEFA qualifiers for the next World Cup. The first encounter ended with a 3-0 bashing from England, who continue to lead the group with 13 points (4 wins, 1 draw). Scotland, on the other hand, are lagging behind fighting for the playoff spot, with 7 points (2 wins, 1 draw, 2 loses).

England are riding the qualifiers with ease. Gareth Southgate’s team is a solid one in defense. They haven't conceded a single goal yet, and although their offensive power may be lacking (with only 8 goals), it’s sufficient to beat most opposition. Harry Kane will attempt to repeat his amazing performance this season for Tottenham with the national team, where he hasn't quite replicated that level of play. Not only that, he will be replacing Wayne Rooney as the captain for the first time. Although the starting lineup is not yet confirmed, we shouldn’t be surprised to see Adam Lallana, Dele Alli, Sterling or Oxlade-Chambers back Kane up front, making this a powerful team capable of hurting any defense. Eric Dier will probably start as the only defensive midfielder.

Scotland are well aware of their position as the underdog in this match, as their manager Gordon Strachan said at the pre-match press conference: “We'll have to play at our very best, at the top of our capabilities. If we do that then we give ourselves a chance”. This to me shows that they are up for the contest. Leigh Griffiths will most probably be starting as the main striker. Griffiths closed a great season with Celtic, but this likely won't be enough against elite defenders such as Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling. 

Scotland usually demonstrate a decent defense and a combative midfield. Their lack of creativity against stronger teams is usually their main issue. Robert Snodgrass will be key to providing Griffiths some chances. If the West Ham midfielder has a good performance, there might be hope for the local team. Their fragile position in the qualifiers will force them to try to win the match at any cost. It's 'go for broke' territory!

With that being said, the clear favorite for this encounter is England. At 8/11 for a win I foresee a probable win for the team. At 6/5, a Harry Kane goal is also a viable betting option. An interesting market that some bookmakers are offering is “Win both halves” for England. At 15/4 this looks like a decent bet. It's certainly a plausible outcome. If England manage to score in the first half, Scotland will have to be be more attacking as they need a win, opening up spaces for counterattacks in the second half.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

UEFA Champions League Final - Juventus V Real Madrid

The match we are all waiting for is finally here. On June 3rd, Real Madrid and Juventus will clash in the final match of the 62nd UEFA Champions League. The Millenium Stadium in Cardiff will be watched by football fans around the world, as the two best teams in Europe fight for glory. Real Madrid aim to be the first team in history to win the Champions League twice in a row, while Juventus hope to win this title for the third time in their history (the last time in 1996) and take revenge for the 1998 finals.

Real Madrid have found a new identity with Zidane. With him, this team crushes opposition by overwhelming them at crucial moments. They may not have the best playmaking style, but they don’t need it: it’s about understanding the flow of the match. Real Madrid can make a goal in the blink of an eye and any rival will have to stay focused for the full 90 minutes. Every player has an important role. Cristiano Ronaldo is now a more box-orientated player, always well positioned and with lethal finishing touches. Benzema back him up with more movement towards the flanks to assist him, without losing his main qualities as a striker. Isco plays as an old-fashioned playmaker and adds his quality to the equation. Carabajal and especially Marcelo, who is the best left-back at the moment, regularly help in an offensive capacity too.  On top of this, Kroos and Modric have stunning accuracy in the midfield. Casemiro as their partner, fulfills the defensive duties. Ramos and Varane as center-backs are an established pairing, and Keylor Navas has proved to be worthy when needed. With such a display, it isn’t hard to see how Real Madrid became the team that it is.

Juventus is a team that reminds us of the old italian style of play. Under Allegri’s management, they have the most solid defense in the world, with possibly the two best center backs. Bonucci and Barzagli know everything about the defensive duties, and work splendidly together. If you manage to pass them, Buffon is still around to deny almost any scoring chance. He may well be in the final years of his career, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still one of the best goalkeeper in Europe. Dani Alves really adds something and one wonders how Barcelona let him go. Pjanic replaces Pogba and Pirlo with some quality displays. He’s not only a tactical player, always well positioned, but also displays outstanding technique in his touches. In offense, Allegri adds some South American flavor to the mix, with Paulo Dybala as the key player. The young argentinean is a vital part of the system not only due to his dribbling and scoring abilities, but also because he commands almost every transition from defense to attack. Gonzalo Higuaín is another important player, always ready to score when he has a chance, but also helping in the build-up. Finally, a word must be said about Mandzukic. The Croatian used to be a typical striker, but now plays as a winger, covering the entire left flank and helping in defensive duties. And when the matches are tight, Allegri can count on Cuadrado’s dribbling to solve the puzzle if needs be.

It’s hard to predict an outcome for this encounter. While Real Madrid is the clear favorite for all the bookies, with average odds of 7/8, one should take into account that the best offense in the world will clash with the best defense. Juventus is a solid team and it's not an easy task to score against them. This match may well be a close one with one team grinding out a win, so we should expect a fairly low score. At 8/13,  2 goals or less seems like a probable outcome. If there are goals, it’s hard to see Cristiano Ronaldo being without one! He's the main striker for Real Madrid and frequently scores in decisive matches. A goal from him is 11/10 with bookmakers, which seems generous. Enjoy the match!

Monday, 22 May 2017

UEFA Europa League Final - 24th May (19:45)

On May 24, the Friend's Arena in Solna (Sweden) will host the UEFA Europa League’s final match between Manchester United and Ajax. Both teams qualified in hard fought matches to qualify for the final. History is in the making, as Manchester United have never won the UEFA Europa League and Ajax haven't played an international final match since the 95-96 UCL, where they lost against Juventus. 
 
The Dutch side is an interesting one: they play with the traditional style that the team has accustomed us to with Davy Klaasen as the key in the midfield. Klaasen is a versatile player, with technique, almost every play from Ajax is built around him. The midfielders contantly pressure the opposing side, and the team has three attacking players that suits this style perfectly: Younes and Traoré on the sides provides speed, while also maintaining their defensive duties. Kasper Dolberg is a young center-forward, but with bags of potential. André Onana, a young Cameroonian goalkeeper formed in La Masia, has proved also to be a reliable goalkeeper. Their main flaw lays in defense: As overall, this is a young team, and that lack of experience often shows in big games.

Manchester United display a different style. Mourinho has had some ups and downs during the season, mainly in the Premier League, but has settled in the UEL to be the main contender for the title. In a one-by-one comparison, one could say that they have a clear advantage. Specially with the attacking players, few teams can equal a line-up with the names of Rooney, Martial and Mkhitaryan. On top of that, Marcus Rashford is in great form and performing well with the pressure of having to replace a key player such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The basque Ander Herrera is having a fantastic season and has proved to be a great central midfielder, with influence in both offense and defense. Sergio Romero will probably be in goal and to be fair, the devils haven't  missed De Gea that much during the competition: the argentinean proved to be a reliable goalkeeper when needed.

With more experience and quality players, Manchester United are the clear favorite to win the UEFA Europa League. The odds reflect this with an average of 4/5 for a United win. Due to the quality of both teams in attack, I can also foresee few goals. More than 2 goals (over 2.5 goals) could be a good bet at 6/5. Finally, a draw at half time and a win by Manchester United at the second (HT - FT odds) is enough viable option. Since Ajax defensive game is physical (applying pressure everywhere), one  this scenario could be a possibility. It's available at 3/1

The game is on BT Sport, but is going to be free-to-all, so tune in!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Chelsea vs Sunderland - 21st May - 15:00

Chelsea and Sunderland will play at Stamford Bridge - their last Premier League match of the season on Sunday 21st. Both teams have their fate already decided with Chelsea topping the table and Sunderland at the bottom of the relegation zone. After a solid season, Chelsea were crowned champions last week with two matches remaining. Sunderland, on the other hand, will play in the Championship next season.

For the Blues, things look promising ahead. With only Ruben Loftus-Cheek injured, all other players are fit and ready to play. Antonio Conte hinted after the match against Watford that he will field his full-strength team for this match as preparation for the FA Cup final. Sunderland will play their last match of the Premier League with several injured players, with 11 players ruled out for the clash. David Moyes said that he will have to put out “a patchwork team” and didn’t specify the starting eleven, but a lot of important players like Pienaar, Denayer and Anichebe will miss the match.

Given the circumstances, with Chelsea playing a full strength team and Sunderland with a diminished squad, it’s not illogical to foresee a match that is something of a goalfest for the home team. Odds for a match to have more than 2 goals are 1.40 which looks fair to me even though I'm not typically big on odds-on shots. Chelsea have scored 2 or more goals in their last seven home matches. The likelihood of Sunderland to even score seems relatively low. They haven't scored since their 2-2 draw with West Ham on April 15 and the weakened line-up for this match doesn’t improve things. Odds for Sunderland not scoring are 1.65. It might be a more risky approach, but also could be attractive for some. Enjoy the game!

Bet: Chelsea to score 2 or more goals at 1.40

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko Fight

We're not exactly spoiled with unmissable boxing matches, but the Joshua vs Klitschko bout has even the casual boxing fan reaching for their remote to order the fight (while spitting their tea out at the cost - £19.95), or more likely going down the pub with a few mates. A boing match of this magnitude has been a long time coming, and the recent Haye fight, which was certainly a lively affair has certainly whet the appetite of fight fans across the country and the world.

Klitschko (64W- 4L - 0D), while not exactly an exciting fighter to watch, was unbeaten for over a decade (ironing out a few kinks along the way, long after his brother had hung up his gloves) before coming a cropper to part time comic and full time professional eater Tyson Fury. Fury is no bum in the ring, but at the same time, the result was a surprise which has led many to think that for Klitschko the hunger has gone. It's a fair argument, but maybe the loss will spur him on for what could well be one of his last fights.

Anthony Joshua (18W - 0L -0D) has a golden opportunity with this fight. He's had what you could call a faultless 3 1/2 year progression through the heavyweight division (Klitschko is at the tailend of a 20+ year professional career) filled with knockouts - as in all 18 fights have ended in knockouts - impressive to say the least. A win it this match up would position him perfectly to unify the belts within a couple of years. It goes without saying that for their own reasons both fighters would love this win on their record.

Both Joshua and Klitschko are available at around 7-1 to win by decision, but I don't see this one going the distance. Round betting is relatively uninspiring too. My inclination is to go for a Joshua win. Youth is firmly on his side and this is a golden opportunity that he's surely hungry to take. He has the punch power in spades and the speed, so won't be afraid to unleash. He possesses the ability to give his opponent all kinds of trouble, and although Klitschko's chin hasn't been truly tested for a good few years, that wasn't the case earlier in his career, so it's  a reasonably likely outcome in my view..

That being the case, a knockout (or TKO) by Joshua at 4/6 seems like the bet to me. I'm fully expecting Klitschko to try to keep Joshua at arms length and be very tactical throughout the fight, but I think despite his experience he's up against it here.

Selection: Anthony Joshua to win via KO at 4/6

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Eurovision Song Contest 2017 - Betting Thoughts

It's coming around to that time of year ago, where cheesy music takes centre stage and our nation fails miserably. No, I'm not talking about watching England play while in my local, I'm instead commenting on the one and only Eurovision Song Contest, this time hosted by Ukraine. I was quite impressed by last year's Eurovison song contest entries actually, there were a number of catchy tuned (is that legal to confess to?) and the winning entry at least had a message.

This year I notice that the Italian entry is close to even money so I've decided to do a quick first listen of the top 5 songs at this time according to the bookies:

Italy - (Francesco Gabbani - Occidentali's Karma): A bit unusual at first glance/listen as the singer isn't typical pop star material and doesn't have what I'd call the voice of an angel. Things get even more strange later in the performance when a man in a gorrila suit joins in!! It's a nice summery number though, an optimistic song - sung mostly in Italian - at a time where there's a lot of doom an gloom around. That's reason enough to like it really! Even Money



Bulgaria - (Kristian Kostov - Beautiful Mess ): If you could combine a James Arthur and Justin Bieber track you might end with something like this. It's instant, listenable and modern sounding. There's not much to fault with it. The video acccompanying it is good too, so maybe if they have decent visuals on the night along the same lines that might help matters! 6-1



Sweden - (Robin Bengtsson - I Can't Go On): Another modern sounding track with a touch of funk. Shades of Justin Timberlake to this one. Sweden is never that far off the mark nowadays where the Eurovision song contest is concerned, so this will be thereabouts. Possibly a bit generic / safe but it depends what voters are looking for. 10-1








Portugal - (Salvador Sobral - Amar Pelos Dois) - This one's certainly a bit different. Another song sung in the narrative tongue. It's a pretty song by a singer who can't seem to keep his head still for long! An Elvis Costello feel. A bit slow and understated, but if it stands out from the crowd who knows. 16-1



Belgium (Blanche - City Lights) - No, not Blanche from the Golden Girls. Following the pattern of 'sounding a bit like', this one has a London Grammar sound to it. Combining aspects that (somehow) appear to sound retro and futuristic at the same time, this is a moody number that is really quite listenable. Possibly slightly repetative but I like it. 20-1



I'll give the other tracks a listen closer to the contest to select the best of the rest and attempt to make a betting selection or two in this often unpredictable and zany competition! Forced to make an early selection out of the bunch above though I'd definitely go with Kristian Kostov - Beautiful Mess at 6-1 for their first Eurovision win. Bulgaria have to compete in a semi final first though since there are so many entries. It's even money to win semi final number 2, with its closet rival being The Irish entry by Brendan Murray. Even money doesn't sound like bad odds for winning the heat!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Masters, Augusta National, Thursday, April 6 – Sunday, April 9

No favourite has won the Masters since Tiger Woods, but World No.1 Dustin Johnson (6/1) tees it up in the first major of the season having won the Genesis Open, the WGC –
Mexico Championship and WGC – Dell Matchplay on his last three starts and looks worthy of support. The 32-year-old South Carolinian finished fourth in last year’s Masters before winning his first major, the U.S. Open, in June and has since collected six trophies from 17 starts. D.J., as he’s known, drives well – he’s second only to Rory McIlroy in driving distance on the PGA Tour this season – can shape ball both ways, putts adequately and has dramatically improved his wedge play, which used to be his Achilles’ Heel. Furthermore, he’s unflappable on the course, so must have every chance of extending his winning streak.

Selection: Dustin Johnson to win outright (6/1 with Bet Stars, Betvictor, Paddy Power, Boylesports and Betfair Sportsbook)

Monday, 27 March 2017

World Championship, Saturday, April 15

The most important event in snooker, in terms of prestige and prize money, the World Championship commences at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield on Saturday, April 15 and, as ever, promises to be a test of endurance as well as skill. One player who has been fairly quiet is 2010 World Champion Neil Robertson, but ‘The Thunder from Down Under’ has looked on the way back in recent months, reaching the quarter-finals of the World Grand Prix, the Gibraltar Open and the Players Championship. The 35-year-old Australian has apparently set aside his computer games in favour of a more rigorous practice regime and, when in form, has the all-round game to beat anyone. He’s a noticeable absentee from this week’s China Open, so should arrive in Sheffield fresher than most and looks decent value at 12/1 with William Hill, Paddy Power, Coral or Betfair.

Selection: Neil Robertson to win (12/1 with William Hill, Paddy Power, Coral and Betfair)

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Republican of Ireland vs Wales (World Cup Qualifier)

Friday night will see an in form Republic of Ireland side battle it out against an unpredictable Wales side in World Cup qualification group D. Republic of Ireland currently top the group with 10 points
from 4 games and on the hand Wales sit 3rd in the group with 6 points from 4. Both sides have been playing very well on the international stage but Wales have been struggling to find wins,
although to be fair to them this could just be that luck hasn’t been on their side as they’ve drawn
their last 3 matches. However the Welsh side are unbeaten since their Semi Final loss to Portugal
in last summer’s Euros and they are scoring on average a very respectable two goals per game.
Ireland on the other hand have found winning ways and are unbeaten in 5 since they lost to France
in the Euros.

The Irish boys boast a similar record to Wales as they’ve scored 11 goals in their
last 5 games. Therefore, despite the general concensus, I see this game being something of a goalfest. With Gareth Bale on the pitch anything can happen and I certainly wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him get on the score sheet. For the Irish the pace and finishing abilities of Shane Long should never go unnoticed and so in my opinion he’s most likely to bag a goal for his team. Overall with both sides averaging 2 goals scored a game since the Euros it wouldn’t be unreasonable to take a punt on there being 2.5 goals.

Selection: Republican of Ireland vs Wales  +2.5 goals (6/4 generally available)

Monday, 13 March 2017

2.50 Cheltenham, Thursday, March 16

Despite suggestions that in the absence of Don Poli, also owned by Gigginstown Stud, Empire Of Dirt could run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Gordon Elliot’s 10-year-old will run in the Ryanair Chase on Thursday, all being well. Last year’s Brown Advisory Plate winner joined the Co. Meath trainer in October and has run just twice since, comfortably winning the Grade B Troytown Handicap by 4 lengths from subsequent Grade A winner Abolitionist at Naas in November and going down by three-quarters of a length to Sizing John in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last month. He shouldn’t be unduly inconvenienced by dropping back in distance and is fully effective on the prevailing good to soft going, so could be good value against ante-post favourite Un De Sceaux, who steps up in distance on ground that may be a shade faster than ideal.

Selection: Cheltenham 2.50 Empire Of Dirt to win (4/1 generally available)

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Rugby Union - England's Winning Run

Later today (4pm) at Twickenham England take on Scotland in the six nations. It's bound to be an exciting encounter, and with England at 1/5 and Scotland at 51/10 to win, England are expected to come out on top.

If they do win  though, this won't be just any old win, it will mark the 18th win in a row for this England rugby union team. This perfect record under Eddie Jones will equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive wins. Here are 17 previous wins:


  October 2015
    World Cup
    Uruguay 60-3
    
    February 2016
    Six Nations
    Scotland 15-9
    
    February 2016
    Six Nations
    Italy 40-9
    
    February 2016
    Six Nations
    Ireland 21-10
    
    March 2016
    Six Nations
    Wales 25-21
    
    March 2016
    Six Nations
    France 31-21
    
    May 2016
    Test
    Wales 27-13
    
    June 2016
    Tour of Australia
    First test 39-28
    
    June 2016
    Tour of Australia
    Australia 23-7
    
    June 2016
    Tour of Australia
    Australia 44-40
    
    November 2016
    Autumn international
    South Africa 37-21
    
    November 2016
    Autumn international
    Fiji 58-15
    
    November 2016
    Autumn international
    Argentina 27-14
    
    December 2016
    Autumn international
    Australia 37-21
    
    February 2017
    Six Nations
    France 19-16
    
    February 2017
    Six Nations
    Wales 21-16
    
    February 2016
    Six Nations
    Italy 36-15



Saturday, 4 March 2017

David Haye vs Tony Bellew

Like buses it's been a while since we've had a decent heavyweight boxing match to watch and now several turn up at once. The other obvious big fight, arguably the biggest in years being Joshua vs Klitschko of course, but that's a little while off yet, so it's time to focus on David Haye vs Tony Bellew.

Predictably the build up to this fight, has been pretty firey. The theatrics may well sell tickets but they're little more than a side show really, as most fighting fans just want to see the action on the night.

The odds as of now, to win the fight are David Haye 1/5, and Tony Bellow 4-1. To me that sounds about right. It's a nice payday for both, and at a level that Haye is comfortable with, as he gradually ups the quality of the opposition in order to place himself in the gravitational field of the likes of Joshua or Klitschko, who would very likely be a level too much for him. Much in the same way, this match up may well be a level too far for Bellow, but I can't and don't blame him for taking the fight, and he'll definitely give it his all.

If I was looking to place a bet on this, it must be said that there isn't a great deal of value in the odds-on Haye win bet. Therefore, I'd most likely go for round betting of Under 4.5 rounds at 11/10. This covers both the likely outcome of an early(ish) Haye win, but also covers the outside chance of Bellow causing an early shock. It's more likely than not to go this way in my view. I'll be watching anyway, though down the pub, as I can't bring myself to shufffle £16.99 in Murdoch's direction. Cheers!


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Rugby Union: Scotland versus Wales, Saturday, February 25

Wales are marginal favourites to beat Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday in the Six Nations but, after Jonathan Davies’ misdirected clearance with less than four minutes remaining undid all the good work of the preceding seventy-six against England at the Principality Stadium, 11/10 about the home side may not be a bad bet. Scotland number eight Josh Strauss suffered a kidney injury during the spirited 22-16 loss to France at Stade de France two weeks ago and joins captain Greg Laidlaw in missing the remainder of the tournament but, even with injuries, Scotland may have enough skill and finesse to cause Wales problems. Lack of muscle, and experience, in the scrum is an obvious cause for concern for Scotland, but we’ll see.

Selection: Scotland to win outright (11/10 with bet 365)

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Coral Snooker Shootout

Some former world champions may not like it, but the Coral Snooker Shootout, which gets underway at Watford Coliseum on Thursday, is a world ranking event for the first time this year. Entries for the innovative, one-frame knockout tournament have been extended from 64 to 128 and players will wear microphones for the first time.

Betting-wise, this probably isn’t an event where you’d want to take a short price about any player, but Betfair Sportsbook quite rightly bet 25/1 the field, which brings in the likes of Barry Hawkins, Mark Allen, Shaun Murphy, Stuart Bingham and Mark Williams. Barry ‘The Hawk’ Hawkins begins his challenge against Egyptian rookie Hatem Yaseen, who failed to win a match in 2015/16, so the world number 7 should at least make it past round one. After that, anything can happen, of course, but 25/1 about a talented player – who’s carrying less, er, excess baggage than some of his counterparts – seems fair enough.

Selection: Barry Hawkins to win outright (25/1 with Betfair Sportsbook)

Monday, 13 February 2017

Wolverhampton Wanderers versus Chelsea, Saturday, February 18

No Premier League fixtures this coming weekend, as the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup takes centre stage, but league leaders Chelsea head to Molineux for the late kick-off on Saturday and can continue their serene progress through the competition. Blues’ boss Antonio Conte will, no doubt, ring the changes, as he’s done in previous rounds but, even with nine changes to the starting XI Chelsea have outclassed Peterborough and Brentford at Stamford Bridge in the last two rounds.

Wolves, of course, have seen off Premier League opposition in rounds three and four, beating Stoke City 2-0 at the bet365 Stadium and Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield. All credit to the men in old gold and black, and their manager Paul Lambert, but the likes of Pedro and Willian have run amok against lower league opposition in previous rounds and may do again on Saturday evening. For a change, let’s try Pedro and Willian both to score at any time at 5/1 with William Hill.
Selection: Anytime Goalscorer Double Pedro/Willian (5/1 with William Hill)

Monday, 6 February 2017

World Grand Prix Snooker

After reaching the semi-final of the UK Championship, won the Scottish Open and again reaching the semi-final of the Masters, Marco Fu has made unexpectedly early exits from the German Masters and the China Open in recent weeks. However, the vagaries of the one-year ranking list mean that the first three in the betting for the World Grand Prix, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby and Judd Trump, are all in the top half of the draw, so there may be some value to be found by backing the Hong Kong player to win outright at 18/1 with Sporting Bet.

It’s not difficult to envisage Fu, seeded 6, beating Jamie Jones in his opening match, or the winner of David Gilbert/Anthony McGill in the second round and, by then, the draw could look even more attractive depending on what happens elsewhere. In any case, the 39-year-old avoids John Higgins until the quarter finals and Shaun Murphy or Ding Junhui until the semi-finals, so looks overpriced regardless of what happens in the top half of the draw.

Selection: Marco Fu to win outright (18/1) with Sporting Bet

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Abu Dhabi Championship, Thursday, January 19

The so-called “Desert Swing” on the European Tour gets underway on Thursday, with the Abu Dhabi Championship in the United Arab Emirates. World ranked number 3, Dustin Johnson, makes his debut in Abu Dhabi but, on a course where distance from the tee is typically more important than accuracy, the reigning U.S. Open champion should make his present felt. “DJ” finished tied sixth at SBS Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, Hawaii two weeks ago and his greens in regulation percentage of 76.39% is none too shabby, albeit based on just eight rounds on the US PFA Tour so far this season.

Selection: Dustin Johnson to win outright (6/1 generally available)

Monday, 9 January 2017

Two Teams Clear Favourites to Reach EFL Cup Final

Manchester United are not having the best of times this season. The Red Devils are sixth in the Premier League table at the moment, with 21 points from 14 matches, nine points behind fourth-placed Manchester City.
With leaders Chelsea 13 points clear of United, Jose Mourinho’s side’s chances of winning the Premier League title this season looks slim.
United, though, do have a great chance of winning a major trophy this season, as they have reached the last four of the EFL Cup. The Red Devils will face fellow Premier League outfit Hull City in the semi-finals, the first leg of which will be held at Old Trafford.
In the latest bet365 EFL Cup betting odds, Mourinho’s side are backed at 6/5 to win the competition formerly known as the League Cup.
United have won the League Cup four times - in 1992, 2006, 2009 and 2010. In 1992, they drew with Middlesbrough away from home in the first leg and won the second leg 2-1 at Old Trafford.
In 2006, the Red Devils drew 1-1 with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in the first leg of their semi-final tie before winning 2-1 at home in the second leg.
United actually lost the first leg of the semi-final tie against Derby County away from home in 2009 but came back to get the better of the Rams 4-2 at Old Trafford in the second leg. A year later, Manchester City defeated United 2-1 in the first leg on 2010, but the Red Devils won 3-1 at Old Trafford in the return leg.
United clearly have not fared well in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final ties in the year in which they have won it. However, it is hard to see the Manchester club struggle against Hull at Old Trafford in the first leg in January.  The Tigers, whose odds of clinching the EFL Cup are 14/1, are second from bottom in the Premier League table at the moment and have already conceded 29 goals in the league.
Mourinho’s side should be able to get the job done in the first leg, and then they should face Liverpool in the final.
Liverpool will face Southampton in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup this season, the first leg of which will be played at St. Mary’s Stadium.
The Reds have a very strong record in the League Cup, having won the competition a record eight times - in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1995, 2001, 2003 and 2012.
The Merseyside outfit, who are second favourites to win the competition this season with odds of 6/4, lost to Manchester City after extra time in the final during the 2015-16 campaign.
2012 was the last time Liverpool won the League Cup. Back then, they beat City 1-0 in the first leg at the Etihad Stadium and drew 2-2 at Anfield in the second.
Last season, the Reds won the first leg against Stoke City 1-0 away from home but lost the second leg at Anfield 1-0 before going on to win the semi-final tie 6-5 on penalties.
      
                                         

Southampton, whose odds of winning the EFL Cup are 6/1, will fancy their chances given Liverpool’s defensive weakness. Jurgen Klopp’s side have conceded 18 goals in the league already this season.
Given that the Saints are a better team than Hull are, this tie will be more competitive, but Liverpool should still manage to come out on top as they will have home advantage for the second leg.