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