Like many readers, as well as horse racing I love football. So, in this quiet week post-Glorious Goodwood, I thought I would share my idea of some value bets with you. Although there are no retirement acca's in here, there are some pretty tasty plays, any one of which would cover all the losers and then some.
Also in this post is news of a great free competition where you can win a Lifetime subscription to Geegeez Gold, plus a bonus prize of £1 for every entry into our league (there are already nearly 100 from previous seasons, so this could get expensive for me!!). More on that below.
First, to my football thoughts, and before I start let me qualify myself as an enthusiast rather than an expert. I bet based on high level data and 'feel' rather than minutiae and mechanics so, if that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, you won't be following me in (and no dramas, as they say in Oz). If you do feel moved to strike a copycat wager, caveat emptor!
Right, health warnings out of the way, let's kick on, because it's very nearly time for the big kick off...
Premier League Outrights
This is the market that has by far the most money invested in it, and it's the one the bookmakers are most confident about being correct with their prices. Luckily, setting the prices is a game of supply and demand and, within that, there is sure to be plenty of demand for Manchester City.
That, for me at least, is great news because I absolutely cannot have them. Pellegrini has been underwhelming and the team really tailed off towards the end of last season. Defensively they're poor so, while they have an abundance of attacking riches, they'll need to outscore teams: all very well if you're playing Leicester at home, but not so good if you're away at Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal.
Yoyo Toure - (mis)named (by me) after his up/down weight - looked disinterested for most of last season and has been hankering for an 'out' since - or because of - birthdaycakegate over a year ago.
Aguero is obviously one of the very best players in the division, but his fitness record is worrying. And anyone who reckons a change of diet can lead to a resolution to tweaky hamstring problems probably needs a change of medical advice. [As with everything else in this post, there's little substance to my totally unqualified statement above...!]
If he stays fit, and Sterling can keep a lid on the petulant little
sh toad that he is, and they can sort out defensive frailties, and Delph can slot in where Milner has slotted out, and the manager can instil a bit more fire in their collective belly, they have a chance. No thanks.
I actually don't think it would take too much imagination to see this team fall apart and finish fifth. Team spirit is hardly their core asset.
The teams I do like are Chelsea (shock) and Arsenal (shocker). The champions were miles better than the rest last year, and they will surely be in the top two again this time around despite not spending much. They've replaced Drogba (four goals in 28 appearances, most from the bench) with Falcao, and the latter will surely be better than he was last term at ManU, without necessarily being the player he was a couple or three seasons ago.
Defensively they're sound, even allowing for the ageing John Terry. Azpilicueta, Ivanovic and Cahill are very solid options and Courtois is arguably the best cat in the league.
Their biggest title rivals this season could end up being London rivals, Arsenal. Wenger is now reaping the rewards of the fiscal prudence that had Gunners fans whining (even this time last year many/most were saying they wanted him out, fickle buzzards). With the stadium paid off, and more space for paying fans now to attend, cash is rolling in, but despite that, Monsieur W. has still been quiet in the market thus far.
He needed a new 'keeper, and in bagging Cech from Chelski he might have played a trump card. If Sanchez can stay fit and, more to the point, if at least most of Ox, Walcott, Ramsey and Wilshere can stay fit, Arsenal must be a runner this term.
I'm expecting a lot more from Liverpool this season, with last year a write off after Sturridge's injury carnage and the loss of Luis Suarez. Benteke scored a lot of goals in a terribly goal shy team the last two years, and he is a genuine top goalscorer prospect to my eye. But they shipped a shedload at the back and that remains the worry.
Nathaniel Clyne is a good signing, but they still look lightweight in the prevention department.
LVG's time is now, Manchester United fans hope, and with the cash he's splashed in the transfer market over the last two seasons, it needs to be. Schneiderlin and Darmian look very good recruits, and Depay has a big future though might struggle to adjust this term. As for Schweini, well he may be a legend - and the sort of player I absolutely adore - but for Munich to let him go to United suggests he isn't the player he was (which of us is?!).
Nevertheless, his shadow will be a long one in the dressing room, and the boy is an unequivocal winner: that's something recent Reds teams have lacked.
The squad has been trimmed somewhat - it needed it, and probably still needs more - with Nani (finally!) and RvP exiting the stage. I'm not sure they can get second but, given my disinterest in Citeh, I think third - and Manchester bragging rights - is theirs for the taking.
So where does that all leave us? For me, there's little point in backing Chelsea or Arsenal to win the division. But because of a strong opinion about City under-performing, there are plenty of 'forecast' opportunities worth reviewing.
The either order Chelsea-Arsenal dual forecast at 7/2 (PP, 888sport) looks a very fair bet to me.
Building on that, Skybet have a 'combination tricast' market - pick the first three in any order - and they make Chelsea-Arsenal-Manchester United 4/1. That's playable if you agree that City are in trouble. If you don't, you obviously won't, but - barring a serious Liverpool resurgence - we're basically betting that Manchester blues will be out of the three at 4/1. I'm happy enough to do that.
Finally, though it's pushing my luck somewhat (assuming I've not already done that), I'll have a couple of chuck away shillings on the correct order four-timer, again with Skybet.
Chelsea/Arsenal/ManU/Liverpool is 80/1
Chelsea/Arsenal/Liverpool/ManU is 150/1
Arsenal/Chelsea/ManU/Liverpool is 150/1
Arsenal/Chelsea/Liverpool/ManU is 200/1
It's probably asking way too much, but spreading a tenner or a score across that quartet of eventualities ought to be fun.
Incidentally, this is a great speculative market, as it's 16/1 the field, and you only need one reasonable opinion from which to get a fair run at a big price. So go ahead, fill your boots regardless of how you see it!
Premier League Relegation
At the other end of the division, relegation betting is interesting. The first thing to note - contrary to how the market shapes up - is that the average number of promoted sides to go straight back down over the past decade is 1.2. With Burnley and QPR dropping back last season, that was the first time since 2007/8 that two of the promoted sides slipped back.
I think all three teams have a chance to stay in a division with some really weak units, notably Leicester, Sunderland and Aston Villa. The Black Cats were only three points off relegation last year, and they look extremely vulnerable. 9/4 Sunderland to be relegated over-estimates their survival chances in my book - I reckon they're more like 6/4 shots - and they've made my annual trixie.
They're getting heavily bet to finish bottom, but that's a market in which a nice price can be achieved 'in running', so I'll sit tight for now.
Premier League Top Scorer
As cracking a market as ever, this is one that just keeps on giving for backers. Sergio Aguero is an obvious favourite, injury seemingly the only way he won't be thereabouts. But 3/1 in a field where triple digit odds placers are not uncommon doesn't float my boat, especially when Kun's hammy is so tight.
Diego Costa is another about whom fitness (and hotheadedness) is an issue. He ought to score plenty again, but 6/1 can pass me by. Wayne Rooney has never won the Golden Boot and it's pretty hard to see him starting now. He'll score more in a better United team this term, and he's allegedly being given a run up front which will also help. But he's unlikely to get the 25+ required to land the win part of a 14/1 wager, and 7/2 about the place becomes 5/4 when you've paid for the losing win bet.
Spurs wonderkid Hazza Kane was simply amazing last year. From relative obscurity, he bagged 21 goals as a 250/1 shot. That's rootin' tootin' shootin'. Expecting him to replicate it is a big ask and, even though he's a lot more proven than a year ago, 14/1 is a LOT shorter than 250/1.
So much preamble and excuse-making to justify my pick, Christian Benteke. Bentekkers has already bashed a monster strike in pre-season, showing little more than that he has immense technique for such a unit. Having snaffled 42 goals in 89 games for a woefully blunt Villa side during the last three years, he could be ready to cut loose this term, with oodles of attacking support every which way he turns.
There's a danger the goals could be shared around, but that was the case when Suarez and Sturridge went 1-2 in the top scorer charts two seasons ago. With four places to go at, I think Christian Benteke is the bet at 16/1. The caveat, as with all players, is a bit of luck with the treatment table, but this boy has it all: pace, power, great aerial ability, and two good feet. He's a beast just waiting to be unleashed!
At the other end of the spectrum, I have to make a first mention of Bournemouth and specifically Callum Wilson at 80/1. This lad is a very, very bright prospect and, in my opinion, will play for England. He's like an intelligent Jermain Defoe (just imagine the player Defoe could have been if he'd trained on!)
21 goals for Coventry in League Two two seasons ago were followed by 20 goals for Bournemouth in the Championship last term. That progression has come with maturity and development (he's still only 23), and in a team that will live and die by the sword of attacking football - and win millions of fans as a consequence - Wilson could get to the 18 goals he'll probably need to reward the 20/1 place part of an 80/1 each way bet.
The market has Derby and Middlesbrough as joint-jollies at 6/1 (some 13/2 on the latter), but there's little doubt that Boro were the better team for most of last season. Steve McLaren has to cop some flak for Derby's capitulation, I agree, but they fell well short in the finish and that's down to the playing staff more than the coaching crew.
McLaren has been replaced by Clement and the squad has some real class about it with the recruitment of Andreas Weimann and Tom Ince amongst others, so Derby ought to improve and may well get promoted.
I still prefer Boro as a promotion bet at 2/1. It's unlikely there are three sides in the division as good as Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich this time, with Boro unlucky not to be the third side elevated. They need to replace Patrick Bamford, who scored a lot of their goals, with Jordan Rhodes trading at 5/4 to join from Blackburn. They have signed a guy from Uruguay, but I've no clue about how well he'll perform: 18 goals in 71 games for Espanyol is not in the prolific category.
Boro's great strength is a very mean defence, which saw them concede just 37 goals last season. They'll again build from the back and with the likes of Stuart Downing rejoining and (hopefully) a proven scorer in Rhodes, they look like going very close. 2/1 for promotion makes my trixie.
Not a division in which I have a strong opinion, I can see the cases for and against both Sheffield United and Wigan. The Blades were pretty awful last term - when I'd backed them - and I'm loathe to go in again at 5/1.
Promoted Shrewsbury are of more interest than many in a division lacking depth, with 9/1 being tempting about promotion to the Championship, a double jump that a number of clubs have achieved in recent years.
I might have a small single interest in 9/1 Shrews for promotion, but otherwise this is a division I'm happy to leave alone, for now at least.
The fourth tier is also somewhat unpredictable, with the favourite having an awful record, and for that reason I'm taking two lines in my trixie here. First in is Oxford United, a side who finished better than they started last year.
Indeed, the Racing Post pullout tells me they lost just four of their last twenty games, and tightened up considerably at the back. Kemar Roofe, who scored six in 16 in that end of season push while on loan from West Brom, has made his move permanent, and he could nudge towards 20 goals this season.
A more hopeful than confident selection, Oxford at 2/1 for promotion is only half of my League 2 cover. To them I've added another risky proposition in the form of Leyton Orient.
Leyton were 11/4 to get promotion last year, and they're the same price to achieve the same objective this time around. The difference? They actually got relegated last season, having been insipid for most of the campaign.
Formerly West Ham first team coach, Ian Hendon has decided to sup from this potential poisoned chalice, and he has adopted a revolving door policy since his arrival. Out have gone thirteen (!) players, and in have come nine, most of that business done reasonably early, with the side looking cohesive in pre-season wins against Southend and Colchester.
The most notable signing, however, may prove to be Andy Hessenthaler, brought in as Hendon's number two. Having spent two decades at Gillingham, both as a player and a coach/manager, Hessenthaler's strength is a dogged determination and will to win that was so obviously lacking in Orient last season. If he can help Hendon translate the squad's ability into a hunger to win games, the O's could join the U's in going up.
The advantage in a promotion bet in this division is that there are four spots up for grabs, and the playoffs involve teams down as far as seventh place. In that context, I add Leyton Orient for promotion at 11/4 to my trixie.
I've put four teams in a perm trixie, as follows:
Sunderland to be relegated from Premier League at 9/4
Middlesbrough to be promoted from the Championship at 2/1
Oxford United to be promoted from League 2 at 2/1
Leyton Orient to be promoted from League 2 at 11/4
This equates to seven bets, and the prices quoted are all top price and all available with bwin.com, a huge sports bookmaker on the continent who do plenty of business in UK.
Any double will cover my stakes (7 x £50), while if all four are correct, it'll come to £5,887.51! More likely (though still tricky) is getting one of the two L2 teams in a trixie with the other pair of outcomes. That would net a minimum of £2,887.50.
Or £57.75 for £1 units (£7 stake). For a season's worth of interest, this feels like a pretty good bet.
Meanwhile, back in the Premier League, it's competition time. Fantasy Football competition time, to be precise.
The official Fantasy Football makes it very easy to enter a team, and to join the Geegeez Super League.
This year, geegeez is offering two prizes as follows:
The outright winner will receive a Lifetime subscription to Geegeez Gold, worth £399.60 (invaluable really, but that's the sale price when it's available). That includes Stat of the Day, the Gold racecards, form tools and reports - full unfettered ongoing access. Pretty nifty, eh?
The highest placed player to have entered the bonus competition will scoop one pound in cash for every entry in the Geegeez Super League.
Last year, there were about 250 people, and this year there are already 96 people signed up before I've even mentioned it on here! So that's £96 and rising - I'd imagine it will end up around £350, but that's no more than a guess on my part. So, how do you enter the bonus competition?
Simple - open a new account and place a bet. When you do this, you will get some free bets from the bookie in question, and some of them will compensate geegeez for making the introduction, which is hopefully good for everyone.
Of course, it's absolutely up to you whether you want to take part in the bonus competition or not. Either way, you'll be in with a chance of claiming the main prize. (If you're already a Lifetime Gold subscriber, we'll refund your subscription!)
To be absolutely clear, if you don't want to open a new account, fine. And if you have all the accounts below already, also fine. But if you do/can grab some free bet goodness from an offer that suits you, you'll be eligible for the bonus prize. Claro? Great!
OK, so here's the step-by-step for entering...
How to Enter the Main Competition
To enter your team in the Fantasy Football League, follow these (fairly) simple instructions:
2. Once you've selected your team, go to My Leagues
3. Click Join A League, then Choose 'Private League'
4. Enter this code: 1564019-365693 and click the 'Join Private League' button
5. That's it, you're in - good luck!
How to Enter the Bonus Competition
To qualify for the bonus competition, where one player will receive a shiny quid (or paper money equivalent!) for every player registered in the Geegeez Super League as at 12:45pm Saturday 8th August, please follow the instructions below:
1. Register for one of the free bet-generating new accounts below, and place a bet of at least £5
2. Email email@example.com with the name of the bookie you registered with, so I can confirm it against my records
3. Make sure you've entered the main competition above
4. That's it, you're in - good luck!
Each bookmaker in the list will offer you either a risk-free or matched first bet, but, please, do check the terms and conditions yourself.
*MBAFB = Money back as a free bet
Open an account and your first deposit will be matched up to £200 when using the banner below
2 Betfai.r Sportsbook
1. Bet £25 on top goalscorer market and get a £5 free bet for each match that your player scores in, up to October 31st
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Bet £10 Get £30 in free bets when signing up through the banner below
Get up to £30 matched bet when you open a bwin account through the link below.
1. Bet £20 on Premier League outright market and get a £5 free bet for each match that your team wins in August
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The very best of luck everyone, whether you're playing for Lifetime Gold membership, the bonus pool, or just for giggles! 🙂
p.s. what's your best bet for the upcoming football season? Leave a comment and your thinking. The more obscure the better! 😀