2016/17 Football Season Preview

English Football Preview 2015/16

English Football Preview 2016/17

For many, it's already started. For the rest - those with a predilection for the Premier League - it begins this weekend. The football season is about to burst into life and if, like me, you're a fan, then it's a very welcome return for the kick and rush (and shimmy and dive) brigade.

In this post, I'll share the bets I've made (for whatever that's worth!), mention a 'just for fun' Fantasy Footy league, tell you about "Geegeez Gold for football", and highlight a few of the best silly season betting offers that accompany the curtain-raising weekend for EPL 2016/17.

My Footy Bets This Season

Let's kick off - now a single pass back from the centre circle, as opposed to a 'to you to me' effort - with the bets I've placed for this season. And it's fair to say that they have made an inauspicious start...

Last season, I struck a perm trixie consisting of a team to be relegated from the Prem (Sunderland), a team to be promoted from the Championship (Middlesbrough), and either or both of two teams to be promoted from League Two (Oxford and Leyton).

Although both Boro and Oxford were promoted, Sunderland were saved by the now England manager after Dick Advocaat, presumably named after the custard-coloured component of 80's favourite cocktail, the snowball, had been so lamentably poor that he was replaced at almost the first turn. Leyton were good on their day, but pants too often.

Still, a small profit was garnered on the wager, though not enough to stave off losses in other markets. Markets such as the Premier League dual forecast, which must have been a total 'skinner' for the bookies, with Leicester-Arsenal the sort of addled fantasy normally the exlusive preserve of hardcore psychadelic drug users (with apologies to any hardcore psychadelic drug users who only bet sober, and would never entertain such a preposterous notion!)

Enough of the past, though it does set the tone. This season's perm trixie has the exact same blueprint: a team for relegation from the Prem, a team for promotion from the Champ, and either or both of two teams for promotion from League Two (where there are three auto spots, and playoffs - possible hedge territory - down to seventh).

I'm again taking on Sunderland. They were pretty poor last season. Actually, they were largely awful. This time, David Moyes has come in for big Sam, with a reputation to repair. He's not the worst option, not by a long chalk, but his squad is moderate. Much of the dead wood has been cleared out - seven exits this summer - and in their place have come two Manchester United second/third stringers in Paddy McNair and Donald Love (who?) as well as one of the more unpronounceable new faces, Papy Djilobodji.

I have to front up and say I have no idea about Papy except that he was involved in a relegation dogfight in Germany last season. And he's a defender. Rumours suggest Kone is on his way out of the Stadium of Light, and I think this is very much the squad of light, too.

Of course, Hull look pretty near doomed, meaning there may only be two spots to battle for, but there are reasons to believe that both Boro and Burnley can survive the trapdoor. Watford and West Brom look moderate, too, but both set up well organisationally.

In the Championship, I've plumped for the deeply unimaginative option of Newcastle to be promoted. Yes, they lost their first game. But I was actually heartened by the way they played there, in the first half especially. They do look a little shaky defensively - first day nerves? - but in midfield and up front they have both ability and desire. Ignoring Shelvey, of whom I'm not a fan, the likes of Matt Ritchie - who will be a huge player for Toon - and Dwight Gayle come in with Prem pedigrees, and the core of the relegated side remains. With such as Mo Diame and Alex Mitrovic to add to the mix, they should be a powerhouse this term.

League Two is always trappier, and I've combined muggy with ambitious. At least that's how it looks after game week one when my longer-priced promotion punt, Plymouth, were whacked 3-0 at home by Luton, and then beaten 2-0 away at Reading in the Cup. At least they can now concentrate on the league...

Portsmouth, perennial under-achievers at this level, have been made favourites again, and scraped a home draw with Carlisle last weekend before losing to Coventry after extra time in their midweek Cup fixture. Onwards and downwards, lads.

So, not hugely hopeful in League Two, but both sides still have decent chances of a top seven finish, despite beginning on the back foot. Anyway, the wager looks like this:

Not a great start, but it's a long old season...

Not a great start, but it's a long old season...

Elsewhere, and I've gone with the obvious in combining Hull to finish bottom and Newcastle to finish top in their respective divisions, at a combined 10.2/1. Both ought to be in serious contention for those outcomes, so it will be a fun watch with a possible 'out' towards the end of the season.

This one should offer plenty of interest for the season

This one should offer plenty of interest for the season

 

I've yet to make a top goalscorer bet for the Prem, and will be looking to combine the top price with the best place odds and, ideally, a decent 'xyz when your man scores' concession. More on that below.

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Fantasy Football: Join the Geegeez League

Now then, the last few years, we've had a Fantasy League competition where the winner has bagged himself a free Lifetime subscription to Geegeez Gold. I've run out of time to do that this year, but if you want to play in this season's Geegeez Super League - just for fun - then here's the web address and the code you need.

Here's how to join in

Go to https://fantasy.premierleague.com

Then click 'join league' and enter this code:

2450735-573373

That should be you registered as part of the league. If we have more than 100 entries - last year there were around 300, and it looks like 200-odd are auto-eligible - then I'll rustle up a top prize which I'll notify players about next week.

So, join up, it'll be fun!! Deets above...

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Your first 30 days for just £1

Geegeez Gold, but for Football...

If you receive emails about betting, then, like me, you'll have received a bundle about various footy products and services this week. That makes sense, given it's the start of the Premier League and all. And if you're interested in tips then the message I sent at the start of the week is probably for you.

However, if you're into panning for your own gold, a la Geegeez, erm, Gold, there is really only one service I can give the full five star recommendation to.

Goal Profits is really quite like Geegeez Gold for football. Against each fixture across myriad leagues around the world, countless markets are analysed and rating values assigned to each team in each market.

Those ratings are compared against the prevailing Betfair odds and percentage 'values' are assigned. Like Gold, green is good and red is not so good, making it easy to find bets that might be the wrong price.

It's the only football data service I use for my match betting, and I'm not even using Team Stats (this part of Goal Profits) correctly!!!

Many subscribers use it for trading, and there are a good number of those who are now trading full-time as a result of the excellent and personal attention provided inside the forum area.

Steve Brown, who runs the site along with Kevin Laverick, are both very well known to me. In fact, Kevin was my first review manager about eight years ago (!) and Steve... well, I went to school with Steve in Bournemouth in 1982 - and we've been great mates ever since, even travelling around Europe together as wide-eyed teenagers!

So I can vouch for this pair like almost no other on the interwebs, and I can tell you their service is absolutely excellent if you loves you some easily digestible and puntable data. It really is like Geegeez Gold for football. And given that Gold is becoming some of a life's work for me, that is the highest compliment I can give it.

There's a special offer if you sign up this weekend, but forget that - this is either for you or it's not. If you bet in a considered fashion on football, it's for you, and you should take a look here:

Goal Profits is great 🙂

p.s. that's an affiliate link. If you like Steve's stuff and subscribe to it, I'll get a kickback. Something like £15, which I'll probably spend on more work on Geegeez Gold. Or a bit of a racehorse. Or perhaps even a cup of tea and a sandwich. Anyway, just wanted to be upfront about that.

p.p.s. you should still absolutely check out Goal Profits. So here is a 'naked' link where I won't get beer, racehorses or shiny new bobbins on Gold:

Goal Profits is still great, but no hooves or tea for me 🙁

Seriously, check it out. It's the business.

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Bookie Silly Season: The Best Two

As if this time of year wasn't awesome enough for footy fans, those of us who like a bet can avail of some of the more idiotic loss-leading offers floating around. Now, as always with such things, caveat emptor. I strongly encourage you to check out the terms and conditions.

There, you will likely find something relating to free bet tokens (i.e. not real cash), the need to enter a code (i.e. don't forget), and/or the fact the offer may be for new customers only. Despite all that - and despite my feeling that such terms should be simpler and clearer - there are some decent offers knocking around.

These are my two favourites, and both are for existing customers as well as new ones:

To win the Premier League

Bet £20 on the outright market with Coral and they'll give you a £2 free bet each time your team scores during the month of August. Click here for this offer, and its terms.

Premier League Top Scorer

Bet £25 on the top scorer market and get a £5 free bet every time your man scores up until Christmas. For Bournemouth for example (up the Cherries!), that's 17 games. And I'm backing Callum Wilson 🙂 Click here for this offer, and its terms.

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That's about the size of it for this post. Lots to get your teeth into if you're a footy fan, and I hope the above has been interesting and perhaps useful.

Good luck!

Matt

p.s. meanwhile on the racing front, two things:

  1. Really sorry for the problems yesterday with speed ratings and, earlier in the day, with comments. I won't bore you with the details but suffice it to say it was a perfect storm of enormous proportions and the odds of it ever happening again are bigger than Cherries winning the Premier League this year..!
  2. We're working on a super awesome new report for Geegeez Gold. I will have more news on it next week, but I think it's a game changer. Hope you'll agree when you see it 🙂

 

Euro 2016 Preview and Tips

Euro 2016 kicks off on Friday and, while I don't have the arsenal of data that Geegeez Gold gives me for racing at my disposal for football, I do at least have a moderately informed enthusiast's opinion. This preview is offered in that spirit and context.

I'll be taking a look at the outright market and the top scorer market in the ubiquitous quest for a value winner. Let's start with the tournament winner...

Outright Winner, Euro 2016

There's an expanded format comprised of six groups of four teams, with the top two in each group (twelve) joined by the four best third placed teams. That makes for a forgiving group stage and, it is to be hoped, some more attacking games.

It also means a team will need to progress through seven games - one more than was the case four years ago - to win. As such, squad depth, good fortune with injuries, and a disciplined team will be required.

Favourites and hosts, France, were not required to qualify, but have played a series of friendlies as a pseudo-qualifying group. And they've performed very well, winning nine of their last ten games. That sequence includes victories against Germany, Holland, Russia, Scotland and, erm, Cameroon.

The sole defeat in ten? A 2-0 loss to Roy Hodgson's England last November.

Despite Hugo Lloris' presence in goal, France have had defensive frailties exposed, conceding two against each of England, Holland, Russia and Cameroon in their last five games. That tempers enthusiasm significantly, even given the wealth of attacking options led by Giroud and Griezmann, and home advantage, a feature of their World Cup win in 1998.

It is possible that they could swash and buckle their way to a famous triumph but the balance of probabilities is that they'll be outscored before the final. At 3/1 there is no upside to a bet on Les Bleus.

The problem for those who like their top of the market options is that neither Spain nor Germany, who round out the best fancied trio, have convinced in recent times.

This is a creaking Spain, tottering on aged limbs. Iker Casillas may finally cede the number one shirt to David de Gea, but diving hotheads like Ramos and Alba could again be unhinged as they were so completely at the World Cup two years ago. A 1-0 loss to Georgia this week was hardly the confidence-booster they were after, and a propensity to concede to small teams (they've failed to keep a clean sheet in their last three, a run comprised of South Korea and Bosnia as well as the aforementioned defeat).

Up front they are at best unproven, and at worst light weight. The likes of Nolito (12 in 29 domestically last season) and Morata (7 in 34), along with 35 year old Zubeldia, were preferred to Alcacer and Sergio Torres.

Midfield still ripples with class, led by the magician that is Andres Iniesta. I've built a forcefield around him in my loathing of Barcelona FC, such is his other-worldly ability. Still, at 32 and without his right arm, Xavi, his booted wands may finally be losing some of their potency.

Cesc Fabregas will support, with Busquets doing the donkey work, but a group including wild cards Turkey and especially Croatia might prove trickier than many envisage.

As for Germany, it is impossible to discount them stepping into cyborg mode when the hour arrives - as they have done so many times before, including when winning the World Cup two years ago - but they've been inconsistent recently. Defeats by Ireland in qualifying and to France and England in friendlies were added to by a 3-1 reverse at the hands of Slovakia in their final preparations for Euro 2016.

Yet they remain World Champions. Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world. He's supported by a defence that includes World Cup winners Hummels and Howedes as well as lynchpin, Boateng; and the most attacking midfield in the world - Kroos, Gotze, Schurrle, and Ozil will all get game time but cannot all play at once... I don't think!

Up top is Tommy Muller, close to top scorer in the last World Cup (five goals) and the last Euro Championships (three). He's long odds not to hit the target here.

Of the top three, I like Germany the most - what's not to like? If they get their shape back, they'll be a threat to all and, with Northern Ireland, Poland and Ukraine in their group, they have a relatively straightforward passage to the last 16. 9/2 will shorten dramatically if they perform as they can in the round robin phase.

Next in is England, at 9/1. I'd not be a romantic - backing one's opinions on a regular basis is an infallible cure for such follies - but I do think England have a shot at this. Yes, defensively we're only marginally above average. But going forward, we're crammed with speed, 'tekkers', and goals.

Which European defence will relish coming up against Kane, Rooney, Vardy, Sturridge and/or Rashford? And, with further pace and potency from Delle Alli and Raheem Sterling, this is a wild card squad that might just hit the target.

In beating France and Germany (and Portugal) in recent months, Hodgson's side has proven to itself that it can prevail against the best. Sure, we have to also consider defeats to Holland and Spain, but there isn't a team in the tournament with an unblemished record against the top sides going into Euro 2016.

That attests to the openness of the competition, and to the unimaginitiveness of backing a short-priced team, regardless of whether they ultimately go on to lift the trophy.

England can be backed with a bunch of bookmakers keen to offer concessions related to their progress. It's a bet worth taking. Some of those offers are flagged in this post.

Ignoring that Wales will want with every sinew to crush England , with respect they ought not to be good enough player for player. And though Russia and Slovakia are both technically capable, the Three Lions should again have too much. Then it's three games to the final. Let's see, but they're not as wildly under-priced as has normally been the case, to my eye at any rate.

The three sides next in the list are all degrees of opposable. Belgium have a glittering array of - largely Premier League - talent. But their performances as a unit have been underwhelming. Losing to Wales in qualifying, they've also conceded against Andorra (!), lost to Portugal, drawn with Finland, and scraped home against Cyprus.

I think the sum of the Belgians' parts is greater than the whole: they have great players but they don't make a great team. Central defence could be the main problem with Vincent Kompany's latest setback meaning he misses the gig.

Further forward, they're blessed with the likes of Hazard, Fellaini, de Bruyne and Mertens. But who is doing the kicking while these are all trying to score? Dembele most likely, and we've seen how he can be wound up - he'll probably be a marked man after the gouging incident against Chelsea's Diego Costa, too.

Lukaku and Benteke promise goals up front, if they see enough service from a shot-fancying midfield. Their wild card is a young forward called Batshuayi, who scored 17 in 36 for Marseilles in the French League last term, and who already has two in five at international level. He's their Rashford, so we'll see what impact he can have.

Portugal can't win, surely. Any side that still calls on the services of Nani as a key player is going to struggle. The defence includes serial diving whingers, Pepe and Carvalho, as well as below top class Fonte and Soares. Midfield has Moutinho as its main star in a largely un-stellar constellation.

And, get this: Moutinho apart, the other nine midfielders named in Portugal's squad have collectively played just 67 times for their nation... and have failed to score between them. Even Moutinho only has four goals from 83 caps. Yikes.

Up top, they have the brilliant Ronaldo. He is essentially their team - even more so than Bale at Wales, in my opinion - and he will again be trying to single-handedly take the fight to the oppo. During the group stage, he might be able to do that. But Portugal cannot possibly win this tournament with that defence and midfield.

As for Italy, this is a moderate Azzurri, sadly. Buffon is a legend in sticks, and Chiellini and Bonucci are hard core centre halves in the classic Italian mould: a pairing around which to work a catenaccio.

But from where do the goals come? Chelsea manager-elect, Antonio Conte, has named seven forwards but I doubt he knows which are his preferred options. Southampton's Pelle is probably the go-to guy, and the smartest barnet in the division has a decent fledgling record of five scores in 13 games so far for the national team.

It's 25/1 bar, which brings in the wise guy picks of Croatia (25/1), Austria (40/1) and Poland (50/1).

Croatia have been pretty well touted, and for good reason. They are defensively solid - they've conceded more than one only once in 18 matches in the last two years, against Argentina - and they have bundles of attacking talent. Midfield maestros such as Modric, Rakitic and Perisic have the tools to unlock any side, though their tendency to overplay can be a touch frustrating.

In Mario Mandzukic they have a potential star: it's not that he's a new boy on the scene but rather that he is mercurial. Even if he fails to fire, coach Cacic has two upwardly mobile alternatives in Kalinic and Kramaric. They should have too much for the Czechs and the Turks in their group, and can gave Spain a fright, especially if the Spanish need a result going into this third rubber in the section.

Austria looked promising but have somewhat fizzled out in recent weeks. They scraped past Albania and Malta 2-1 in friendlies, and lost by the same score to Turkey and Switzerland. A 2-0 reverse against Holland was also disappointing - indeed the Dutch have the best form coming in to the tournament. Oh wait, they didn't qualify. Hahaha...

Still, Austria is in probably the easiest group, alongside Portugal, Hungary and Iceland. The likes of Arnautovic and Bayern's David Alaba offer star quality in midfield, and in Marc Janko, they have one of the potential golden boot stars. He is a massive (6'5") presence who scores goals for fun.

The Viennese, and their countrymen, could waltz through this group (laboured pun, moi?) and Janko might have three goals before the last 16 matchups. But it's unlikely they'll have enough in the rearguard to prevent classier sides from outscoring them.

Poland also possess firepower. Robert Lewandowski was the overall top scorer in qualifying, his 13 goals there usurped only by a monstrous 30 in 32 for his club, Bayern Munich, last season. Lewandowski will be well supported by both Milik and the wide man, Grosicki; and the Polish have a reliable steely midfield unit.

In goal, Fabianski will probably get the nod ahead of Szczesny and Boruc (Bournemouth's only player at Euro 2016, and unlikely to play a single minute), behind a functional but vulnerable back line.

The Poles have more than enough to escape a section including their great mates - ahem - Germany, as well as Northern Ireland and Ukraine. Thereafter, it's a matter of how far they can go, and 50/1 has a sliver of appeal.

Very few others worthy of mention, though Switzerland are almost on home soil and have plenty of goals in their ranks. Defeats in five of their six friendlies since qualifying confess to a problem at the other end, and that's obviously not group-qualifying, let alone tournament-winning, form.

But they're better than that. The likes of Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, and Valon Behrami will be ably supported by Gelson Fenandes across the middle of the park. They're a little lightweight up front, and I'm really really hoping that means game time for the 19 year old superstar-in-waiting, Breel Embolo. This lad is strong, quick and very technically gifted: he's the young player I'm most looking forward to seeing in Euro 2016, so here's hoping he scores from the bench in the opening game against Albania.

Euro 2016 Outright Pick

Accepting that any of France, Spain or Germany could win the tournament is a given. Of the three I'm least keen on Spain and slightly favour Germany over France, but this is a tournament for surprises. Remember Denmark? They were only in because Yugoslavia - remember Yugoslavia?! - were out. Remember Greece? They couldn't possibly win. They won.

So it's probably better to stake small money on a rag or two.

Croatia are a very good side. They have a weakness for overplaying, and they can self-destruct from a discipline perspective. But there's little doubting their talent, and they have goals everywhere. With a shot of qualifying top from their group, they look too big at 25/1 even if we've missed the 33's.

Backing them with Betfair (£25+) will get a free £5 bet each time they win a game. Skybet has the same offer, except it's a £3 free bet with a minimum qualifying stake of a tenner.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Bet them with Coral for money back as a free bet (up to £25) if they're knocked out on penalties. bet365 will match that 'penalty pain' offer, only they'll return stakes as cash, and there's no £25 limit.

Those offers apply to any team you fancy - not just Croatia - and all customers are eligible for them.

And I wouldn't put anybody off backing England either. Stop sniggering at the back!

Selection: Croatia 28/1 bet365, Skybet (for your pick of the above concessions, though price available generally)

Click here for all the best Euro 2016 bookie offers

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Euro 2016 Top Scorer

The top scorer market at major tournaments can throw up big surprises. James Rodriguez at the last World Cup is a great example. He was 150/1 for the Golden Boot before a ball was kicked. And there was a four way tie in World Cup 2010 that included two 100/1 pokes and a 66/1.

In Euro 2012, there was a six way tie (on just three goals). That included two 100/1 shots, a 28/1, a 20/1, 14/1 and 8/1. Euro 2008 threw up a 20/1 winner and a 150/1 joint second, while back at Euro 2004, Milan Baros was an unconsidered 50/1 chance.

No wonder bookmakers are excited about this market!

Let's look at the recent history of the top scorer charts in search of any possible clues. The table below lists the top scorers from the last two Euro's and World Cups.

It shows, from left to right, tournament, player ranking, player, team, pre-tournie odds, goals scored, his team's knockout stage, team goals, team's biggest single match goal tally, player's goals in the group, and the percentage of goals scored by the player in the group.

Green rows indicate tournament top scorer winners and ties.

 

Euro 2016: Recent tournament scorer stats

Euro 2016: Recent tournament scorer stats

 

The first thing to note is how many ties there have been. Expect a dead heat rule to apply to your bet, as it has happened in two of the last four competitions, and been just one goal away from happening in the other two.

It is possible that the expanded format, offering both one more game and the chance to play a lesser side, might 'loosen things up' a little, but for me, this chart says one thing above all others: back a player at a price. The average odds of a Golden Boot winner and/or joint-winner has been a whopping 57.5/1 across those twelve players.

[Incidentally, the NQ in the odds column means 'not quoted'. In other words, bigger than the biggest odds in the bookmaker pre-tournament odds chart - so probably 200/1+]

With the extra match here, it may be more pertinent to look at the World Cup than the Euro data, perversely. It is more likely that the top scorer will net five or six times than three or four, and that your player will need to have struck twice or more during the group stage.

Pretty interesting is that the average number of goals that the teams of winners and ties (green rows) scored in their high scoring matches was 3.33. That means you'll need to be backing a player from a team you fancy can cut loose in at least one of their matches.

And, in the expanded format competitions, i.e. the World Cups, all winning players got to at least the quarter-finals, which means their team played at least five games.

So, we're looking for a player at a price, whose team is capable of whacking a side and who can get to at least the quarter-finals.

The weakest group, according to the betting at least, is Group F, which comprises Portugal, Austria, Hungary and Iceland. Portugal don't score enough goals as I've alluded to already, which means Austria could be interesting.

Marc Janko is a unit, and his goal scoring record for both club and country has been very good (seven in qualifying and 16 in 17 games in the Swiss League, for whatever that's worth). Austria are capable of cutting one or both of Hungary and Iceland open, and can top this group, perhaps on goal difference if they draw with Portugal.

A last 16 tie most likely with one of Belgium or Italy is a worry, but Janko is 50/1.

France are a side who figure to go deep and score goals. They may struggle to get past a defensive-minded Romania in the opening match of the tournament, but should find Albania and Switzerland more accommodating in the goals conceded department.

They will then face one of the third placed teams - assuming they top their section - which is another opportunity to ratchet up the goal tally. This has not been lost on bookmakers, who have Antoine Griezmann as their third favourite.

But Griezmann's scoring record at international level - 7 in 27 - is unspectacular. And so too is that of his co-striker, Olivier Giroud, who has 17 in 49. Giroud is 14/1 having been 20/1, and he might be more appealing if failing to find the net against what I expect to be a stubborn Romanian side in match one.

Here in Blighty we know all about Dimitri Payet, and he could be the surprise man in a team where goals ought to flow. He's the main free kick taker and could take penalties as well. With Les Bleus playing up to Giroud, and with speed on both flanks, Payet will also get open play chances from cut backs to the edge of the area. 66/1 is moderately appealing for a team who should go far.

The likes of Tommy Muller and Robert Lewandowski and Harry Kane all have credible cases to be made for them; but all are priced accordingly. History has shown that going 'Hail Mary' in this market can reap a dividend.

Although Group D includes Spain, it also has the Czech Republic and Turkey, which could mean goals for the Croatians. There is a problem in identifying a standout scorer in their side, but this is the country that gave us Davor Suker and Mario Mandzukic in their short existence as an international footballing nation, so they have a fine pedigree in producing Golden Booters.

A fast start will be vital for Croats when they come up against Turkey in Paris on Sunday, and the man doing much of their recent scoring has been Ivan Perisic. He notched six times in qualifying from his wide position, against five different opponents, in nine games.

Two goals at the last World Cup, when the unlucky red-and-whites were stitched up against Brazil and failed to exit the group stage, show that Perisic is capable at the big tournaments, so odds of 100/1 (150/1 win only with bwin.com) appeal.

As well as backing this trio in the top scorer outright market, they are worth a tiny trixie to be their nations' top scorers, at 15/8 (Janko), 14/1 (Payet), and 5/1 (Perisic) with Paddy.

You can get 9/4 Janko and 11/2 Perisic for a cheeky 20/1 double with Coral.

This is a market every bit as wide open as 9/1 the field suggests, and it could pay to go 'off road' a little with players from sides expecting to score freely. The above trio are sporting wagers who could be hero or zero material, so stakes should be placed accordingly!

Euro 2016 Top Scorer Selections:

Marc Janko 50/1 1/4 1-2-3-4 general

Dimitri Payet 66/1 1/4 1-2-3-4 Coral (bet £20, get £5 free bet each time he scores - first bet on the market only)

Ivan Perisic 100/1 1/4 1-2-3-4 Boyle (bet £25, get £5 for every match in which he scores)

 

There are plenty of other special offers for the Top Scorer market, so do take a look at the link below, which features some of the best.

Click here for all the best Euro 2016 bookie offers

Good luck!

Matt

p.s. who do you fancy, and why? Leave a comment below and let us know 🙂

Weekend Football Tips, 7/8 December 2013

Pressure's on for Moyes...

Pressure's on for Moyes...

It's now 20/1 about Manchester United retaining their Premier League title following their shock midweek defeat to Everton at Old Trafford but they don't have to wait long to try and bounce back as they welcome Newcastle to the Theatre of Dreams in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday.

Everton were ending a run of 21 years without a league win away to United but Newcastle's wait is almost double that, with the Magpies' last success coming back in 1972.

So anything less than three points for the Red Devils will crank up the pressure on David Moyes a notch or two further as they've already got 12 points to make up on leaders Arsenal and, perhaps more significantly, five to Liverpool who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot.

And while Moyes' side had gone 12 games without defeat before Wednesday, they've been anything but convincing, especially at the back. They've kept just three clean sheets (only Fulham and Sunderland have fewer and they are both in the bottom three) and that defensive record is likely to be put under the microscope again by a Newcastle side which had won four on the bounce before a midweek defeat at Swansea.

That run included victories over Chelsea and Tottenham so, despite their outstanding home record against the Magpies, United make minimal appeal at no better than 8/15. However this is a game we expect to feature goals (it's not just United who are shaky at the back as Newcastle have let in 21 goals, the highest tally in the top 15) and with that in mind there could be plenty of scope in backing Patrice Evra to score anytime for the Red Devils at a generous 11/1 (bwin).

The left back has been in superb form recently, making the most of the licence given to him to get forward as much as possible. Having the full backs maraud down the wings is something Moyes excelled with at Everton and in the last three games Evra has scored from a corner against Cardiff and gone close against both Tottenham and Everton (when he was denied by a brilliant Tim Howard save).

The Frenchman was on the three-man shortlist for United's player of the month for November (won by Wayne Rooney) which underlines his current well being and against a Newcastle side which can still struggle at set-pieces 11/1 looks too big. The icing on the cake is the fact that Evra netted from a flagkick against them at St James' last season and repeated the trick in the 4-3 win at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

The one dilemma is whether to take the 11/1 with bwin or accept the 8s chalked up by Hills who refund stakes if a player doesn't start the game. I'll be opting for the former as there's nothing to suggest Evra won't be in the starting XI.

We're aiming for a third successful banker bet in a row this weekend and it's the clash between Crystal Palace and Cardiff which catches the eye, with under 1.5 goals at 85/40 (Stan James) the market in question.

Building from the back was the Tony Pulis method at Stoke and his arrival at Selhurst Park just happens to have coincided with Palace conceding just the one goal in their last four matches.

That's all the more eyecatching given that they didn't manage a single shutout in their first 10 matches and while Pulis can only take part of the credit (as he's only been in charge for the last two games), they are clearly much harder to score against now than they were a few weeks ago.

They picked up a vital 1-0 win over West Ham on Tuesday to boost their survival hopes and Cardiff will be the latest side to discover that Selhurst Park is starting to become a pretty intimidating venue.

The Bluebirds have struggled on their travels in any case, firing blanks on their last three away trips - at Stoke on Wednesday, Aston Villa and Norwich, none of whom are in the higher reaches of the table.

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Palace's last four matches have all dipped under the 1.5 goals mark while Cardiff have scored just four times in total away from home this season so there's a strong chance that one goal will be enough to nick what is a crucial game for both clubs.

Our final recommendation involves another team who are struggling horribly to find the net and that's West Ham. They've got an excuse of sorts in that key striker Andy Carroll has missed the entire campaign through injury but if they are not careful they are going to be in desperate trouble by the time he's fit to return.

Manager Sam Allardyce knows the importance of clean sheets and their seven in 14 games has only been bettered by Everton. But up front they look toothless and average less than a goal a game, with the latest setback coming on Tuesday night as they lost at Palace.

They now face a much more daunting trip to in-form Liverpool and while the Reds are no better than 3/10 to take the three points, they can be backed at 6/5 to win to nil with Paddy Power which looks much the better option.

West Ham's recent record at Anfield shows they've failed to find the net in their last five visits and they are running into a Reds side which has become far more ruthless this season against the top flight's strugglers.

The latest example of that came on Wednesday night when Luis Suarez inspired a 5-1 thrashing of Norwich and it's now six wins out of six for Liverpool when they've played teams from the bottom eight. West Ham start the weekend in 17th place and incidentally we wouldn't put anyone off backing the Hammers to be relegated at the current 11/2 (BetFred, Bet Victor and Sky Bet) because that price might not last long.

It's going to be a while before Carroll is fit and firing and if the likes of Crystal Palace, Sunderland and even Fulham continue to improve under their new managers than West Ham could be right in the mire as we head into 2014.

Selections:

Weekend banker - under 1.5 goals in Crystal Palace v Cardiff at 85/40 (Stan James).

Next best single - Liverpool to win to nil against West Ham at 6/5 (Paddy Power).

Value - Patrice Evra to score anytime for Man Utd v Newcastle at 11/1 (bwin).

Long-term advice - West Ham to be relegated at 11/2 (BetFred, Bet Victor and Sky Bet).

Weekend Football Tips, 30 Nov/1 Dec 2013

More goals when the ladies play...?

More goals when the ladies play...?

Our resident football tipster, Jonathan Turner of bettinglive.com, gives his expert opinion on the weekend’s Premier League action…

It may not be the most glamorous game of the weekend but Norwich v Crystal Palace provides our banker bet, with under 2.5 goals at 4/5 the confident call.

There was some 10/11 and 5/6 around earlier in the week and it's no surprise that's been hoovered up as this looks set to be a tense, attritional battle between two sides short on goals and desperately struggling at the wrong end of the table as a result.

Starting with the Canaries and the pressure is mounting on boss Chris Hughton as plenty of transfer activity in the summer has so far failed to generate improved results, with just 11 points garnered from their opening 12 fixtures.

Their cause hasn't been helped by an injury to striker and record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel who again sits out this weekend and he's now been joined in the treatment room by midfield pair Anthony Pilkington and Robert Snodgrass.

All three have got on the scoresheet this season yet Norwich have managed just 10 goals and they now face the team with the lowest tally in the top flight, the Eagles having mustered only seven.

Normally when going low on the goals there would be a worry about both sides' leaky defences but Norwich - despite hammerings against the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal - have only conceded three goals in total in five games against bottom-half opposition while Palace have suddenly found some much-needed steel at the back.

They've kept their first two clean sheets of the campaign in the last two and now have Tony Pulis in the dugout, a manager renowned for building from the back at Stoke.

Norwich are usually pretty decent on their own patch but Palace ended Hull's unbeaten home record last weekend and we wouldn't put it past them producing another smash-and-grab raid at Carrow Road on Saturday.

And if Norwich do fail to take maximum points in this then the 10/1 currently chalked up about Chris Hughton being the next Premier League manager to part company with their club could soon start to look massive.

This market has been completely skewed by a gamble on Tottenham's Andre Villas-Boas which appears to have spiralled out of control.

AVB was a 33/1 chance a week ago but is now as short as evens and while Spurs' 6-0 mauling at Manchester City was far from ideal he surely deserves more time given that he's had to rebuild his side following Gareth Bale's departure and they are only four points off second spot.

It all means that Fulham boss Martin Jol, who should surely be favourite given their struggles, is out to 2/1 while Hughton has been eased to a double-figure price.

Norwich had their AGM this week and the open Q&A session afterwards was reported to be a far from comfortable ride for Hughton.

They play all of the bottom three between now and Boxing Day and while that's an opportunity to try and get back on track, those relegation six-pointers also put them very much in the spotlight and if things don't go their way then the pressure will quickly be cranked up.

But back to the here and now and we're keen to double up wins for Aston Villa and leaders Arsenal on Saturday afternoon at just under 9/4 (Bet365, Coral and William Hill).

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The Villans, fresh from fighting back from 2-0 down to grab a share of the spoils in Monday night's Midlands derby at West Brom, welcome bottom club Sunderland to Villa Park and it's hard to fathom out why they are on offer at as big as evens.

Paul Lambert's side have had a desperately tough set of opening fixtures and while only mid-table it's worth pointing out that they are actually eight points better off compared to the same matches in the 2012/13 campaign. That's an improvement of 0.75 points per game and only Southampton have progressed more.

Villa have also had to do without one, two or all three of their biggest goal threats in Christian Benteke, Gabby Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann for chunks of the season but they are all fit again now. And remember that trio combined for five of the six goals as Villa thrashed Sunderland 6-1 in this fixture in April as both sides battled against the drop.

And while Sunderland have won two massive games under new boss Gus Poyet - with victories over Newcastle and Manchester City - their away form shows no signs of picking up as they've lost five on the bounce and not even managed a goal on their travels since August. Multiple red cards haven't helped and, though they should be close to full strength on Saturday, that indiscipline is an added concern.

So why then are Villa an even money chance? A poor home record might go some way to explaining it but if we look more closely a very different picture emerges as all four of their defeats at Villa Park came against sides from the top 10. Against clubs in the wrong half of the table - and Sunderland prop it up - they are actually unbeaten this season.

We also like the chances of pacesetters Arsenal collecting another three points to extend their fine start to the season. On the face of it they've got it all to do away to a Cardiff side who have already beaten Manchester City on home turf and who last weekend twice came back to draw 2-2 with Manchester United.

However those results owed much to the shortcomings of the Manchester duo away from home. City have lost four out of six and were without skipper Vincent Kompany at the heart of their defence while United have long been vulnerable on their travels and last Sunday was no exception.

Cardiff could find it altogether more difficult against an Arsenal side which is getting better and better - they've been superb going forward all season but have now improved markedly at the back as evidenced by five clean sheets in the last six in all competitions.

They are also set to welcome Theo Walcott back after two run outs from the bench and he adds both pace and natural width which will make them even more of a threat on the pristine surface at the Cardiff City Stadium.

One other point to bear in mind for this game is that just three of Cardiff's 11 goals this season have come in the first half which means they've tended to fall behind and you simply don't want to be chasing the game against the Gunners as no team in the country is more dangerous on the counterattack.

Moving to Sunday's action and while there are some fascinating match-ups, there's limited appeal from a betting point of view.

Given the open nature of this Premier League season it would be no surprise to see Spurs bounce back from last Sunday's hiding at Manchester City by taking something from their home clash with the red half of Manchester.

However history is very much against them as they've not won any of the last 12 matches against United at White Hart Lane - and last season's 3-2 success at Old Trafford was their first there since 1989.

We're therefore going to sit that one out - as well as the other three games - and leave the focus instead on the more appealing betting opportunities on Saturday.

Weekend selections:
Banker - under 2.5 goals in Norwich v Crystal Palace at 4/5 (Bet Victor, Boylesports and Sky Bet).
Double - Aston Villa to beat Sunderland (evens) and Arsenal to win at Cardiff (8/13), double pays 2.23/1 (Bet365, Coral and William Hill).
Value - Chris Hughton to be next Premier League manager to part company with his club at 10/1 (Coral, Stan James, Sky Bet and William Hill).

Get a full break down of all the Premier League games this weekend at bettinglive.com 

Weekend Football Tips, 23/24 November 2013

Game Face!!!

Game Face!!!

Jonathan Turner of bettinglive.com remains in fine form, and gives his expert opinion on the weekend’s Premier League action…

The Premier League returns after the latest international break and it looks a set of fixtures on which to tread carefully.

Teams have been affected to differing degrees by international call-ups, with some players having far more extreme travel plans to deal with than others. Near the top of that list is Liverpool's Luis Suarez who played the full 90 minutes late on Wednesday night in Uruguay as his side became the 32nd and final country to qualify for next year's World Cup finals.

Suarez, even with the use of Liverpool owner John W Henry's private plane to speed up his return, only arrived back on Thursday night so has less time than most to readjust as his Liverpool team make the short trip to Goodison Park to face Everton, with the 221st Merseyside derby kicking off the weekend's action on Saturday lunchtime.

It's always one of the biggest games in the domestic calendar and all the more so this season as both sides have made excellent starts to the campaign, with the Reds in second place in the table and their arch rivals just three points back in sixth. It's also a first derby clash for Everton boss Roberto Martinez, who was strongly linked with the Liverpool job in 2012.

But from a punting point of view it's littered with pitfalls - Liverpool have had much the better of this fixture in the last few years, yet Everton are unbeaten at home in the Premier League in 2013. And the one thing you could usually bank on in this fixture was a red card (9/4 with Bet Victor on Saturday), yet the last four clashes have failed to produce a single dismissal.

It was honours even in both matches last season and everything - including the betting - would suggest another tight contest is in prospect on Saturday and the good news is that there may be a slightly unorthodox way to try and take advantage.

And that's by backing Everton's Gareth Barry to be the highest rated player in the game at 12/1 with Ladbrokes, with the bet settled on the rankings on stats website www.whoscored.com.

He's the same price to be man of the match but that's a far more arbitrary market whereas whoscored's rankings are - to quote them - based on "each event recorded in the game calculated live automatically using our own algorithms, which comprise of over 200 raw statistics. All events are valued based on a researched perception of the effect on the outcome of the match. Positive events are valued against negative events". Crucially that means we have form to go on as we can delve back and look at the ratings for each individual player on both sides for every match so far this season.

And they underline that Barry has been something of an unsung hero for the Toffees this term since joining them on loan from Manchester City.

The seven games which Barry has started have seen Everton go unbeaten, claiming 17 points out of 21, while when he’s missed out it’s been just three points out of 12. His absence also coincided with their only loss – and most subdued performance of the campaign – as they went down 3-1 to his parent club Manchester City. Putting those stats another way, they have a 63% win rate when he starts and 0% when he doesn’t.

All of which illustrates his importance to the Toffees so it's no wonder that he tops Everton's whoscored.com average ratings for the season as a whole at 7.65/10, ahead of more obvious contenders such as Phil Jagielka (7.50), Leighton Baines (7.39) and Romelu Lukaku (7.35), all three of whom are shorter in the betting than Barry this weekend.

Perhaps just as crucial though is that journey back from South America for Suarez as this is a market - especially when Liverpool take three points - where you can usually mark him down as banker bet material. He's had a couple of 10.0 ratings in recent weeks and is nearly a full point clear (8.71 to 7.78) of his closest challenger at Anfield in the season-long figures.

But the Reds striker looked increasingly frustrated as Uruguay failed to break down Jordan on Wednesday night and this is a rare opportunity to oppose him, with Barry standing out as the outstanding candidate, especially as we give Everton a decent chance of getting something out of the game to extend their unbeaten home record.

For if Liverpool's stellar front two of Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are kept in check then the chances are it will the experienced Barry plus midfield partner James McCarthy who will be responsible as the pair form the shield in front of the back four.

And don't be too concerned by the fact that this is Barry's first taste of a Merseyside derby - he played in Manchester City's historic 6-1 win over United in 2011, and also in Aston Villa's 5-1 mauling of Midlands rivals Birmingham in 2008 so has prime form in these sorts of showdowns.

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As we suggested at the start this isn't a weekend to be overly bullish - and this may be a market which holds little appeal to some - but 12/1 should give us a decent run for our money.

Elsewhere we can't help feeling William Hill are taking a chance offering 10/1 about no first goalscorer (effectively 0-0, with any own goals in our favour) in Hull v Crystal Palace.

The pair have had contrasting fortunes since last season's promotion from the Championship, with Hull collecting 14 points from their opening 11 games whereas Palace prop up the table after suffering no fewer than nine defeats and are still waiting for manager Ian Holloway's permanent replacement to be named (though there's a chance Tony Pulis could be in place in time for this).

But one common theme has been their lack of goals - Hull may be the UK's next City of Culture but creativity on the football pitch has been relatively limited this term as they've managed to find the net just nine times, with their five matches at KC Stadium producing just five goals, easily the lowest tally in the top flight. Not surprisingly the Eagles are the league's lowest scorers with six and, just for good measure, this duo have played out a goalless draw against each other in each of the last three campaigns in the second tier of English football.

This season has seen a marked dip in goals - especially in matches between bottom-half outfits - and this looks a prime candidate for the latest bore draw.

We're hoping for something very different in the live game at 4pm on Sunday which features the other promoted team as both sides to score at 4/5 in Cardiff v Manchester United is our banker bet of the weekend.

Rather than be fazed, Cardiff seem to have relished playing in front of the Sky cameras in their first season in the Premier League as they've notched their two most significant results so far in front of a live TV audience - a 1-0 success in the first-ever all-Welsh top-flight derby against Swansea and a memorable 3-2 defeat of title favourites Manchester City.

Next up are United and, like their noisy neighbours, the Red Devils continue to be worryingly vulnerable on their travels for a club with title ambitions.

In every single one of their away games in the league this campaign they've conceded, which includes one trip already to Wales to face Swansea as well as matches against struggling pair Fulham and Sunderland.

It's a problem which goes back way before David Moyes' arrival (just six clean sheets in 26 away matches last season in all competitions) and is unlikely to be reversed in the short term, especially as they've now got to do without influential midfielder Michael Carrick because of injury.

Their display last time out against Arsenal at Old Trafford was uncharacteristic as after taking the lead they retreated into a defensive shell in order to eke out a vital three points but Sunday's game is likely to revert to type and be far more open, meaning 4/5 about both teams finding the net is the way to go.

Selections:

Weekend banker - both teams to score in Cardiff v Manchester United at 4/5 (Bet365, Sky Bet and Stan James).

Value bet 1 - Gareth Barry to be highest rated player in Everton v Liverpool at 12/1 (Ladbrokes, market settled on www.whoscored.com figures).

Value bet 2 - No first goalscorer in Hull v Crystal Palace at 10/1 (William Hill).

Get a full break down of all the Premier League games this weekend at bettinglive.com 

Weekend Football Tips, 9/10 November 2013

Man Utd - Arsenal is THE big game this weekend

Man Utd - Arsenal is THE big game this weekend

Jonathan Turner of bettinglive.com remains in fine form, and gives his expert opinion on the weekend’s Premier League action…

There's little doubt about the game of the week in the Premier League as Manchester United and Arsenal lock horns at Old Trafford and the Super Sunday offering might just live up to the hype.

The blockbuster showdowns so far this season haven't always hit the heights, with the dour 0-0 draw between United and Chelsea earlier in the campaign one of the more forgettable encounters. But it should be a different story this weekend as there's an array of attacking talent on both sides - and also some potential defensive weaknesses for them to exploit.

Arsenal's stellar midfield - with Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey to the fore in recent weeks - has helped them create more goalscoring chances than any other side in the top flight while United's strike duo of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney have both been knocking in the goals themselves lately.

Former Gunners hero van Persie has netted in each of his last three Premier League games and Rooney has struck in eight of his last 14 for club and country.

But it's the vulnerability of the two sides at the other end of the pitch which makes backing both teams to score at 8/13 such an appealing bet.

Only five clubs in the top flight (including all of the bottom three) have conceded more than United's 13 goals this season and they've managed just two clean sheets so far under David Moyes. And in fairness to Moyes that's a problem which was partly inherited for even under Sir Alex Ferguson they conceded in every single Premier League away game against top 10 opposition in both 2012 and 2013.

That's an astonishing stat and while their record is a little better at Old Trafford they've still let in far too many goals at the Theatre of Dreams - Stoke, Southampton and West Brom combining for five between them over the last month or so.

And while Arsenal are starting to look like they can maintain a title challenge, they too have struggled to keep it tight at the back, with just three clean sheets in their ten games so far.

Attack as the best form of defence sums up their campaign so far as they've opened up a five points gap at the top of the standings and they could hardly head into this with more confidence following victories over both Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in the last week. They were both achieved without conceding but given the current form of van Persie (who has scored against his former club on both occasions since moving to Old Trafford) and Rooney, they'll do well to extend that clean sheet sequence.

Recent history is also on our side with the last four meetings between this pair seeing both teams score and, more significantly, the underlying shots-on-target data gives plenty of encouragement with both sides creating plenty but also - especially in the case of United - allowing the opposition far too many chances.

Conversely goals could be in short supply in both Norwich v West Ham and Swansea v Stoke, with the under 2.5 goals double paying a fraction under 2/1.

This has proved a profitable area for us in recent weeks and all the indications suggest these are the two games to focus on this weekend in terms of low goals make-ups.

Norwich were hammered 7-0 last week by Manchester City and have also suffered heavy defeats by Manchester United (in the Capital One Cup), Chelsea and Arsenal but West Ham don't present anything like that sort of threat.

On their travels Sam Allardyce sets them up to keep things tight and they've carried out his gameplan superbly as they've conecded just once in five away games, the joint-best record in the top flight.

Three of those matches have finished 0-0 (at Newcastle, Southampton and Swansea) but scoring at the other end has been their big problem as striker Andy Carroll has spent the season in the treatment room and it all meant they had to settle for another 0-0 last week at home to Aston Villa.

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The danger in going low on the goals on Saturday is that some of Norwich's defending last time at Manchester City was shocking but that's sure to have been the focus of attention during the week for under-pressure manager Chris Hughton and their last match at Carrow Road (against Cardiff) a fortnight ago ended goalless.

So given the fact that Norwich's three main front men have managed just one goal between them this season (and only a handful of efforts on target) plus the absence of Carroll from West Ham's line-up, it's hard to see where the goals are going to come from.

It was 0-0 between the pair last season and 10/1 about a repeat looks generous. Be sure to take the 'no first goalscorer' option at 10/1 with Coral rather than the 0-0 correct score in case the only goal(s) of the game is an own goal, just as it was in Hull's 1-0 win over Sunderland last weekend. Those small percentages in your favour will make a difference over the course of a season.

Going back to the under 2.5 goals double and the the key to Swansea's match with Stoke is the fact the Welsh side were in Europa League action on Thursday. That game was in Russia against Kuban Krasnodar who again netted a late equaliser to draw 1-1 just as they had two weeks ago at the Liberty Stadium.

Playing on a Thursday/Sunday hasn't adversely affected the Swans' results but it does seem to have led to far fewer goals. The five times it's happened so far this term has seen the Sunday games feature 1, 2, 2, 2 and 0 goals which is in stark contrast to the make-ups when they've had a midweek off.

Throw in the fact they are also now missing last season's top scorer Michu and the goals expectation is dampened down further, especially as Stoke's ten matches average out at 1.8, with the Potters scoring just seven themselves.

Finally it may pay to back the second half of Sunderland v Manchester City to produce more goals than the first at 15/13.

The Black Cats will be doing everything they can to keep things tight early on against a City side which smashed seven past Norwich last weekend and then hit five in the Champions League in midweek.

And there's been a real pattern to City's away games under Manuel Pellegrini, with four of the five seeing the bulk of the goalscoring action come in the second 45 minutes. It's seven more pronounced if we look at the actual goals scored - just three in the first half and 14 after the interval.

Few sides are more dangerous on the counterattack so if Sunderland have to chase the game the potential for goals in the second period is obvious but even if they've managed to keep a lid on things then City's superior class should eventually tell. Either way it points to odds against looking decent value about the second half goals trend being extended. Note that if the first and second halves both produce the same amount of goals then this tip is a loser rather than stakes refunded.

Selections:

Weekend banker - both teams to score in Manchester United v Arsenal at 8/13 (Bet Victor, Ladbrokes and Sky Bet).

Next best single - highest scoring half in Sunderland v Manchester City to be the second at 15/13 (bwin).

Double - under 2.5 goals in both Norwich v West Ham at 8/11 and Swansea v Stoke at 8/11 (both with Boylesports, double pays 1.98/1).

Value bet - no first goalscorer in Norwich v West Ham at 10/1 (Coral).

Get a full break down of all the Premier League games this weekend at bettinglive.com 

Weekend Football Tips, 2/3 November 2013

Villa take on West Ham this weekend

Villa take on West Ham this weekend

Jonathan Turner of bettinglive.com was in excellent form last week, and gives his expert opinion on the weekend’s Premier League action…

There are some fascinating showdowns in the Premier League this weekend but it's one of the lower profile matches which might just provide the best betting value.

And that's Aston Villa at 5/2 to come out on top in the battle between the claret and blues when they square up to West Ham at Upton Park.

It's not just the kit which links this pair - just one place and a single point separates them in the table but that doesn't fully reflect the fact that Villa have made the more encouraging start.

No team in the top flight have had a tougher opening set of games - they've played all of the top seven apart from Southampton - so it's no wonder results have been a little up and down.

The high points have been victories over both Arsenal and Manchester City and the only defeat on their travels was a closely-fought 2-1 reverse at Chelsea.

And don't read too much into last weekend's 2-0 loss to Everton - Villa had a penalty brilliantly saved by Tim Howard early on and the Toffees keeper denied them again and again in the first half before they were made to pay for their profligacy in the second period.

That match also saw the first start in over a month for top scorer Christian Benteke following his injury and in horse racing parlance he should come on massively for the run.

That also highlights one key difference between Villa and West Ham as the Hammers are still missing Andy Carroll, with the striker on the sidelines for at least another couple of weeks because of a heel problem.

In his absence they've struggled badly for goals - just eight all season and that includes a 'freak' 3-0 success at Spurs.

And what was once something of a fortress at Upton Park is now anything but as they've lost three on the bounce in front of their own fans.

All of which suggests the layers are paying West Ham far too much respect in making them no bigger than 6/5 for the three points and were happy to oppose them with the Villans at 5/2.

Another side at a similar price who could prosper on their trip to London on Saturday are Liverpool.

The early table shows it's first v third when Arsenal welcome the Reds to the Emirates but the view that both teams have improved in leaps and bounds this term is worth contesting.

There's been a definite upturn for Liverpool as they continue to blossom under Brendan Rodgers and their progress has been all the more impressive given that Luis Suarez sat out the start of the campaign through suspension.

Since his return the striking partnership with Daniel Sturridge has become arguably the best in the top flight and they combined brilliantly again last weekend as they bagged all four goals between them in the 4-1 win over West Brom.

All initially looks rosy for Arsenal too as they proudly top the table with 22 points out of 27 but if you compare their results to the identical fixtures last season they are actually five points worse off (Liverpool are +5 using the same method).

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The Gunners have played just one top eight outfit but things are suddenly starting to get a lot tougher and the signs must be a little worrying for their fans as the last couple of weeks have seen them come off second best to first Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and then Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, both of those matches taking place at the Emirates.

Liverpool's visit is followed by the return with Dortmund and then Premier League clashes with Manchester United and surprise packages Southampton so this is a key period for Arsene Wenger's men and we're keen to take them on.

They may have an embarrassment of riches in midfield but Mathieu Flamini is probably the hardest to replace as he offers a vital defensive shield in front of the back four so the injury he picked up last week at Crystal Palace couldn't be worse timed.

Liverpool have won one and drawn the other two in their last three at the Emirates and 12/5 about them notching the three points on Saturday evening looks positively generous.

An identical comment could apply to the 13/10 chalked up about Wayne Rooney finding the net for Manchester United when they face Fulham at Craven Cottage.

While United have endured a seriously shaky start under David Moyes, they should still have way too much for a Fulham side which has been abject for the bulk of the campaign.

Martin Jol is favourite in the 'Sack Race' and understandably so as their three wins have all come against teams in the bottom four and they’ve managed just one point from the other 18 available.

They are still conceding way too many scoring chances while creating little at the other end of the pitch and that's a combination which usually leads to relegation.

So there's got to be a strong chance that Rooney, who has been in fine scoring form for both club and country in recent weeks, is able to extend his record of having netted in each of the last five games he's started against the Cottagers, including the only goal of the game in this fixture last season.

Finally we're going to suggest a double on under 2.5 goals in both Hull v Sunderland and Stoke v Southampton at a fraction bigger than 17/10. Starting with the KC Stadium clash and it may pay not to get carried away with Sunderland's first win of the season last time out against Newcastle in what was Gus Poyet's second match in charge. Those derby games are invariably one-offs and the bottom line is the Black Cats have managed just one point and two goals in four away trips while Hull's four home fixtures have generated the grand total of four goals.

A tight contest therefore looks on the cards in that one and also at the Britannia where Stoke's last three results have been 0-0, 0-0 and 0-1. Visitors Southampton boast the meanest defence in the land (just three conceded) and, while they are flying high, their nine games have produced an average of under 1.5 goals.

Selections:

Weekend banker - Aston Villa to beat West Ham at 5/2 (BetFred, BetVictor, Coral).

Next best singles - Liverpool to beat Arsenal at 12/5 (BetVictor and Sky Bet), Wayne Rooney to score anytime for Manchester United at Fulham at 13/10 (Bet365).

Double - Under 2.5 goals in both Hull v Sunderland and Stoke v Southampton at 1.71/1 (Sportingbet).

Get a full break down of all the Premier League games this weekend at bettinglive.com 

Weekend Football Preview / Tips, 26/27 October 2013

mouringopellegrini

Mourinho and Pellegrini lock horns again

Jonathan Turner of bettinglive.com was in excellent form last week, and gives his expert opinion on the weekend’s Premier League action…

Sunday sees the biggest match of the Premier League season as title favourites Chelsea and Manchester City lock horns at Stamford Bridge but the best bets this weekend look to be elsewhere.

Those keen for a wager on the title showdown could do worse than backing Yaya Toure for man of the match at 10/1 as he's a player who thrives on the biggest occasions and one who positively relishes playing against Chelsea.

The City midfielder's power-packed style of play has caused the Blues all sorts of problems in the recent past and, with the personnel at Stamford Bridge largely the same this season despite the change of manager, there are strong grounds for expecting that trend to continue.

Toure landed the man of the match bubbly in the league clash between this pair at the Etihad where he also scored the opening goal and repeated the trick when they met again in the FA Cup semi-final. And just for good measure he was also on the scoresheet when they squared up in the Community Shield.

So in a game which we expect to be tight, with little between the sides, another pivotal display in the middle of the park should put him right in the reckoning.

However the banker bet this week comes in another 4pm kick-off on Sunday - under 2.5 goals in Swansea v West Ham at 21/20 with Bet Victor.

Both the Swans' home form (last week's success over rock-bottom Sunderland was their first league win at the Liberty since the start of March) and West Ham's results on their travels (just two wins in nearly 12 months) are seriously suspect.

And the way Sam Allardyce sets up the Hammers away from home has led to a paucity of goals. Even taking their 'freak' 3-0 victory at Spurs into account, there have still been just four goals in their four away matches this season.

Another resolute display from them is likely on Sunday but with striker Andy Carroll still on the sidelines through injury their attacking options are massively limited.

And added good news for those going low on the goals is the strong pattern to Swansea's results this term when they have played the Sunday after a Europa League match.

The Welsh side's heavy workload - they've played 16 games compared to West Ham's 10 - may not yet have led to a decline in results (they've won two and lost two after playing in Europe) but it has definitely sparked a decrease in goals.

If we separate out Swansea’s matches on a Sunday after a Europa League tie (they played Kuban this week) the goals make-ups have been 1, 2, 2 and 2 compared to 5, 4, 3 and 4 when they weren’t in European action.

All of which suggests getting odds against about less than 2.5 on Sunday is a decent bit of business.

We expect a very different story at Villa Park on Saturday, with over 2.5 goals in Aston Villa v Everton at 20/21 kicking off our weekend double.

Recent history between this pair is very much on our side - it was 3-3 last time they met and 42 goals have been scored in the last 11 games between them.

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But more important is the fact that both sides are set up in a positive manner this season, Villa starting to flourish under Paul Lambert while the Toffees have made a hugely encouraging start for new boss Roberto Martinez.

Each also has a top-notch striker - Christian Benteke returned from injury last weekend for the Villans while Romelu Lukaku has hit the ground running for Everton ever since his loan move from Chelsea.

And the icing on the cake for backers at over 2.5 are the suspect defences of both teams, especially at set-pieces. Villa have managed just two clean sheets in the league in 2013 while Everton haven’t shut a side out since mid-September – with West Ham, Fulham (in the Capital One Cup), Newcastle and Manchester City all putting at least two past them in that period.

Pair that up with Southampton to beat Fulham at 8/13 at St Mary's, with the double coming in at a touch under 11/5.

Comparing results to the identical fixtures last season, Southampton are the most improved team in the top flight by a big margin and it's 10 points from the last 12, with the latest fine display coming in a thoroughly deserved 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last Saturday against reigning champions Manchester United.

The Saints have conceded a Premier League-low of just three goals and they face a Fulham side who allow the opposition a worryingly high number of chances (15 shots per game, the highest in the top flight this season) while creating little at the other end.

Everything fell perfectly for the Cottagers on Monday night against Crystal Palace - highlighted by a goal of the season contender from Pajtim Kasami - but the underlying figures mark that out as a fluke rather than a game changer and they'll find things altogether more difficult against Southampton.

Finally we're keen to get with West Brom for their trip to Liverpool, with the Baggies 11/2 in the 'draw no bet' market at Stan James.

Steve Clarke's men have stepped up several levels in recent weeks, winning at Manchester United and drawing with Arsenal and they simply look overpriced to carry on the good work on Merseyside.

They've won their last three league matches against the Reds - all to nil - including a 2-0 success at Anfield in February and while Liverpool sit third in the table they still don't fully convince.

They've already lost on home turf to Southampton, were held 2-2 by ten-man Newcastle last week and definitely aren't as creative without the injured Philippe Coutinho who again misses out this weekend.

Weekend banker - under 2.5 goals in Swansea v West Ham at 21/20 (Bet Victor).

Double - over 2.5 goals in Aston Villa v Everton at 20/21 and Southampton to beat Fulham at 8/13 (both prices with Ladbrokes, double pays 2.15/1).

Longshots - West Brom to beat Liverpool in 'draw no bet' market at 11/2 (Stan James) and Yaya Toure to be man of the match in Chelsea v Manchester City at 10/1 (Bet Victor).

Get a full break down of all the Premier League games this weekend at bettinglive.com 

Weekend Football Tips, 19/20 October 2013

Towsend for most shots a standout bet

Towsend for most shots a standout bet

Jonathan Turner of bettinglive.com gives his expert opinion on the weekend's Premier League action...

Andros Townsend has been making plenty of headlines for England over the last week, with superb displays against first Montenegro (on debut) and then Poland as the Three Lions booked their place at next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil.

And the Spurs youngster can stay in the spotlight and hopefully land us a nice 5/1 return when his side travel to Aston Villa for Sunday's televised game in the Premier League.

The market which interests us is the player to have the most shots in the match, a new one for this season which is offered by Bet Victor and settled via the stats site www.whoscored.com.

Anyone whose first real viewing of Townsend came in those World Cup qualifiers will probably think he's one of the most lethal long-range marksmen around - he scored a 25-yard stunner to cap off his debut and only the woodwork denied him a repeat against the Poles in midweek.

However those who watch Spurs week in, week out might have a slightly different viewpoint as, while he rarely needs a second invitation to shoot, the accuracy and penetration of those efforts can sometimes leave a little to be desired - to see what I mean just take a look at this graphic posted on Twitter on Friday morning by @ColinTTrainor.

There's been plenty of chat in the stats/analytics community about Townsend - only Arsenal's Olivier Giroud with 27 has had more than his 26 shots this term (and that from a game more) but whereas the Frenchman has four goals and two assists, Townsend's tally is zero in both those columns.

The main reason for that is surely the positions from which Townsend is shooting (often in the less dangerous areas outside the penalty box, though as a winger the comparison to out-and-out striker Giroud is possibly a little unfair) but for the purposes of this market it doesn't matter whether his efforts fly into the top corner or balloon into row Z.

And as the player with the highest number of attempted shots per game in the top flight (4.3) and one who is now buzzing with confidence after his heroics in an England shirt, there are strong reasons for expecting the shoot-on-sight trend to continue on Sunday. As if he needed a further incentive, team-mate Aaron Lennon returned to full training this week and could soon be pushing Townsend for a spot in the side.

Townsend has won this market outright in one of his six games (he had nine shots against Norwich when the next best was four) and also dead-heated with one other player twice (against Cardiff and West Ham) so that's a return 50% of the time.

That last outing against the Hammers saw Spurs beaten 3-0 which underlines Townsend's claims whether or not Spurs win on Sunday (and they are around even money to do so), so the odds of 5/1 simply look too big and we'd have him closer to 7/2.

We pointed out a similar situation a few weeks ago when Arsenal's Mesut Ozil was 7/2 for an anytime assist and the German now goes off at 2/1 in the same market. Clearly the Townsend wager may not collect this weekend for any number of reasons but in the long run this policy should pay off.

And one additional motive for getting involved on Sunday is the fact that Bet Victor's most shots market has a favourite worth taking on in the shape of Christian Benteke as the Villa talisman has been out injured for the last few weeks and may just take a little while to regain full match-sharpness.

Turning our attention to Saturday's action and our banker bet of the weekend is the 11/10 about both sides scoring in Arsenal v Norwich at the Emirates.

The Gunners - for whom record signing Ozil should be fit after limping out of Germany's win over Sweden on Tuesday - have been breathtaking at times going forward but there's also been a vulnerability at the back which has manifested itself with just one clean sheet in seven league games.

Their other six matches have all seen both teams score - and the opposition (Aston Villa, Fulham, Sunderland, Stoke, Swansea and West Brom) has mostly come from the lower reaches of the table.

Indeed it includes the teams currently in 20th, 17th, 16th and 15th so Norwich going into the match in 18th place isn't the negative it might have been.

The Canaries built up a real head of steam to equalise against Chelsea last time out before they were undone on the break and their recent record against the Gunners also provides lots of encouragement as they led in this fixture last season until five minutes from time and have scored in all four Premier League meetings with Arsenal.

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The other single which appeals is Romelu Lukaku to score anytime for Everton in their clash with Hull at Goodison as the bookies still don't seem to have fully got a handle on his scoring potential.

He has the best minutes per goal ratio in Premier League history of those players who have scored 20 or more, with one every 115 minutes, and yet he's available at odds against for a home match against last year's Championship runners-up who have conceded two goals in each of their three away games.

Lukaku maintained the hot streak during the international break for Belgium with both goals in their 2-1 win over Croatia which made it six in his last six games and his Everton side are boosted by the return of fellow loanee Gareth Barry who will be pulling the strings in midfield after he was forced to sit out their last match against his parent club Manchester City, their first defeat of the season.

It's no better than 4/9 about an Everton win but the 11/10 on offer about Lukaku looks the way to go.

Finally we're predicting goals to be in short supply at both the Britannia and Old Trafford.

Stoke and West Brom lock horns at the first venue and neither could be described as anything resembling prolific.

The Potters have evolved under Mark Hughes into a side that enjoys more possession than they did when Tony Pulis was in charge but that hasn't translated into more goals. Their conversion rate (goals from shots on target) is a league low 15% and five of their seven matches have featured under 1.5, with the last two seeing them slip to 1-0 defeats.

Counter-attacking has served West Brom well in their most recent two games against Manchester United and Arsenal but this is unlikely to be anything like as open and not a single Baggies match this term has seen more than three goals.

It was 0-0 in this fixture last season and there have been just 13 goals in the last eight between them so in current form under 2.5 at 4/6 looks a no brainer.

It's odds-against about a similar scenario when Manchester United welcome Southampton to the Theatre of Dreams but again we'd suggest going low. It wouldn't surprise us in the slightest if the Saints can cause another huge shock to eclipse their 1-0 win at Liverpool as Mauricio Pochettino's men are the top flight's most improved outfit.

They are no fewer than 11 points better off compared to the same seven fixtures last season whereas United, under David Moyes, are at the opposite end of the spectrum with six points fewer garnered from their septet of matches.

But the best approach could prove to be under 2.5 goals at 11/10 - the way Southampton set up on their travels sees them constantly press the ball and it's led to a paucity of scoring chances. It's now eight games on the trot away from St Mary's which have seen less than 2.5, with only eight goals in total in those fixtures.

United for their part have hardly been in scintillating form in their three league games at Old Trafford, drawing 0-0 with Chelsea, labouring to a 2-0 win over relegation favourites Crystal Palace and then being stunned 2-1 by West Brom.

The double pays 5/2 with Bet Victor, Boylesports and Stan James.

Selections:
Weekend banker - both teams to score in Arsenal v Norwich at 11/10 (bwin).

Next best singles - Andros Townsend to have most shots in Aston Villa v Spurs at 5/1 (Bet Victor, market settled on www.whoscored.com stats) and Romelu Lukaku to score anytime for Everton v Hull at 11/10 (Bet365, Bet Victor, Boylesports and bwin).

Double - under 2.5 goals in Stoke v West Brom at 4/6 and Manchester United v Southampton at 11/10 (double pays 5/2 with Bet Victor, Boylesports and Stan James).

Get a full break down of all the Premier League games this weekend at bettinglive.com 

Weekend Football Tips, 5/6 October 2013

Jonathan Turner of bettinglive.com gives his expert opinion on the weekend's Premier League action...

We fancy Hughes to be smiling...

We fancy Hughes to be smiling...

It was a frustrating week all round for our tips last Saturday as we hit the crossbar when Spurs failed to ram home their advantage against Chelsea and then Swansea and Arsenal combined for three goals rather than four.

But onwards and upwards and I'm putting my faith in Stoke at 9/4 (Ladbrokes and Sportingbet) to bounce back from a defeat to Norwich by winning at Fulham.

The basic league table suggests Fulham are a poor side - they've taken just one point from the last 15 on offer, with Martin Jol favourite to be the next Premier League boss out of a job.

And that first impression is rammed home the more you delve into the stats. Put simply Fulham simply aren't creating enough decent chances yet at the other end of the pitch they are proving the softest of touches.

They top three sets of unwanted standings - the most shots against (over 15 per game), the most shots on target against (seven per match) and the most corners conceded (over nine every 90 minutes) so it's no wonder they haven't kept a clean sheet in seven games since the opening day of the season.

And there are no signs at all of that situation improving, indeed the pressure is ratcheting up and there's an argument that says they'd be better off playing away this weekend.

For the patience of their own fans appears to be wearing thin, not helped by two devastating late goals in their last two league games at Craven Cottage.

The first of those came in added time from West Brom as three points were suddenly reduced to one while last weekend newly-promoted Cardiff bagged a late, late winner.

And Stoke look exactly the sort of side to take advantage as they've definitely stepped up a level this season under Mark Hughes.

He's got them playing more possession football compared to the long-ball tactics of recent campaigns so it's understandable there's going to be the odd glitch, like last week's defeat by Norwich.

But the Potters still remain formidable at set-pieces and that's arguably Fulham's biggest weakness so this looks the ideal match up for the visitors. We're keeping things simple and backing Stoke for the three points at 9/4 but we also wouldn't put anyone off the 11/1 with Ladbrokes about Ryan Shawcross finding the net at some point, with the big defender having already scored against Crystal Palace this season.

Next best on Saturday is under 10.5 corners in Hull v Aston Villa at 5/6 with bet365.

Both teams have made pretty decent starts to the campaign, with 10 and nine points respectively, but their styles of play (both very low in terms of final third passes) have produced relatively small corner make-ups. Villa have collected just under four per game, with Hull even lower at 3.5.

It's also crucial to look at corners conceded and the good news for those going for less than 10.5 is that both teams also give up a relatively low number of flag kicks - each less than five per game.

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Four of Villa's six matches have come in at under 10.5 in total and it's exactly the same ratio for Hull so taking odds of 5/6 when they face each other looks a decent piece of business.

We're also keen on a 4.32/1 double in two of the higher profile games of the weekend - Spurs to win to nil in their derby clash with West Ham (6/4 with Sky Bet), plus both teams to score in Manchester City v Everton (best of 5/6 with Ladbrokes for single backers, 8/11 with Sky Bet for the purposes of this double).

Regular readers will be well aware of the high regard we hold Spurs, especially from a defensive perspective.

They've conceded just two goals all season which came from Chelsea and Arsenal and West Ham are nowhere near that pair in terms of attacking threat. Indeed without injured striker Andy Carroll they are pretty toothless - they've not managed a single away goal yet and there's little reason to expect the drought to end at White Hart Lane.

However goals look very much on the menu in the Saturday lunchtime showdown between City and Everton.

The Toffees have a wonderful record in this fixture - no fewer than six victories in the last eight - and managed to win the latest renewal despite playing with ten men for the final half hour. They are now the only remaining unbeaten team in the top flight and face a City outfit who must be shellshocked after they were handed a footballing lesson in midweek by Bayern Munich.

Were it not for the fact that Everton must manage without on-loan Gareth Barry (who has been superb all season but can't face his parent club) we'd be sorely tempted to back the Toffees at 9/2 to extend that fantastic head-to-head record.

But City merit plenty of respect given their outstanding home record and the best way to try and take advantage is the both teams to score market. The Citizens have looked strangely vulnerable at the back at times - both Cardiff and Aston Villa have each scored three against them already this term - with England keeper Joe Hart's performances again in the spotlight after another underwhelming effort in midweek.

Finally we'd also like to give a quick mention to our comparative league table which shows how teams have fared in their matches so far this term compared to the exact same fixtures in the previous campaign.

At this early stage it can provide some valuable insights which aren't immediately obvious from the basic league table.

Arsenal for example top the current standings on 15 points but they are actually three points worse off in comparison to the same six games in 2012/13, food for thought for those backing the Gunners at no better than 9/2 for the title.

The biggest improvers (at +9) are Southampton, who take on Swansea this weekend, while the team with the largest negative figure are none other than defending champions Manchester United who are already six points worse off.

Selections:
Weekend banker - Stoke to beat Fulham at 9/4 (Ladbrokes and Sportingbet).
Next best single - Under 10/5 corners in Hull v Aston Villa at 5/6 (bet365).
Double - Spurs to win to nil against West Ham (6/4) and both teams to score in Manchester City v Everton (8/11), best price of 4.32/1 (SkyBet).

Get a full break down of all the Premier League games this weekend at bettinglive.com 

Premier League Preview & Tips, 28/29 September 2013

Chelsea take on Spurs

Chelsea take on Spurs: apprentice vs sorcerer?

BettingLive.com's Jonathan Turner takes us through the weekend's best Premier League bets.

The game of the weekend in the Premier League is the Saturday lunchtime derby clash between Tottenham and Chelsea and there are strong reasons for thinking Spurs are the value call at 17/10. 

No club had a busier transfer window, losing the talismanic Gareth Bale to Real Madrid but re-investing the world record fee and more on a host of new arrivals, so it's to their immense credit they've made such a strong start to the season. 

They are second in the early table, with leaders Arsenal only above them on goal difference, and have won eight out of nine in all competitions, keeping no fewer than eight clean sheets. 

Indeed the only goal they've conceded came from the Gunners in the north London derby so there's lots to like about their defensive qualities. 

And at the other end of the pitch Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela look to be the missing pieces of the jigsaw which Spurs required. Danish international Eriksen provides the link between striker Roberto Soldado and an ultra-powerful midfield while Lamela brings everything together.  

It's helped them create chances aplenty in their recent games and 2-0 and 1-0 successes in their last two matches against Norwich and Cardiff in no way reflected their superiority. 

Crucially too the underlying trends are also hugely positive. They've had more shots per game than any other side, the most corners and have conceded the fewest goals and shots so there doesn't appear to be any fluke about their success. 

However they've crept in a little under the radar, with attention instead focussed on early table toppers Arsenal and Liverpool plus high profile new managers at big guns Manchester City, Manchester United and Saturday's opponents Chelsea. 

In contrast Chelsea's chances appear to have been massively over-hyped by the return of Jose Mourinho and even the 'Special One' has had to dampen down expectations a little in the last couple of weeks. They've already suffered shock defeats at Everton in the league and at home to Basel in their Champions League opener, look light up front and don't seem to have yet settled on a first-choice XI, with Juan Mata's position in particular a matter of much debate. 

There's no doubting the Blues have been a level above Spurs in recent years - and they won this fixture 4-2 last season - but all the signs this term indicate the gap has closed massively and that's not fully reflected in the match prices on Saturday's game which have the two sides both on offer around the 7/4 mark despite Spurs having home advantage. 

We're therefore making the White Hart Lane side, managed by former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, our banker bets this weekend - they've got both power and guile in midfield which should be more than a match for the Blues while up front and at the back they simply look the stronger side. 

Back Spurs at 17/10 with Ladbrokes.

 

And we're also going to suggest a first long-term bet of the season, namely Spurs to be the top London club at 5/1. As hinted above we're keen to oppose Chelsea on both a short and long-term basis and we're far from convinced that Arsenal will be able to maintain their excellent start to the season. They edged out Spurs by the narrowest of margins at the end of the last campaign but the balance of power in north London is changing, despite the result of their derby clash a couple of weeks ago. 

Spurs to be top London club is 5/1 with Boylesports.

Talking of Arsenal brings us to our next recommendation for this weekend - over 3.5 goals in the Gunners' game with Swansea in the teatime kick-off at the Liberty Stadium at 11/5. 

Goals haven't exactly flowed in recent clashes between the pair but plenty has changed at the two clubs in the last couple of months. 

Mesut Ozil's arrival at the Emirates has only served to make the Gunners even more positive - though potentially more vulnerable at the back too - while Swansea have latched onto a winning formula in the last few games, with strikers Michu and new signing Wilfried Bony both among the goals.  

The Welsh side have scored two or more goals in each of their last three Premier League games and the last time that happened was back in December. And the Swans haven't just been scoring regularly, they've been creating lots of other chances too.  

Stats fiends will also like the fact this pair are the only two Premier League clubs with a shots on target/total shots ratio of over 50% so there's precision and accuracy there too. And one final point - both are giving up over 10 shots each game too, the only teams in the top 10 apart from Liverpool to be so 'generous' at the back.  

All of which we believe adds up to a high goal expectation. Both teams to score is 4/6, over 2.5 can be backed at 5/6 and while they are both tempting, we're going to be a little more ambitious and take the 11/5 about over 3.5. 

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Over 3.5 goals is 11/5 in Saturday's early evening TV game, with sportingbet.

Our final advice this weekend concerns Southampton's match with Crystal Palace where Luke Shaw to score anytime at 16/1 is a longshot bet that appeals. 

The 18-year-old full-back may still be waiting for his first goal in a Southampton shirt but he's been a fantastic impression in his 26 appearances to date and has already established himself as a key member of the first team.  

His rampaging runs down the left flank caused Liverpool all sorts of problems last weekend and only an amazing triple save from Simon Mignolet prevented him getting on the scoresheet.  

It was a similar story first up against West Brom and Southampton's pressing game opens up acres of space for him to exploit, especially at St Mary's. He's now up against a brittle Palace defence which has conceded eight goals in five games and at 16/1 is well keeping a close eye on.

Try Luke Shaw to score at any time at 16/1, with Coral.

Coral Sports

 

Selections:

Weekend banker - Tottenham to beat Chelsea at 17/10 (Ladbrokes).

Next best single - over 3.5 goals in Swansea v Arsenal at 11/5 (Sportingbet).

Longshot - Luke Shaw to score anytime in Southampton v Crystal Palace at 16/1 (Coral).

Ante-post advice - Tottenham to be top London team at end of season at 5/1 (Boylesports, Sky Bet and Stan James).

 

Record so far

Weekend bankers - W 11/10, L 23/20, W 11/10, PROFIT=1.2pts

Next best singles - W 11/4, VOID, L 16/5, L 5/1, PROFIT=0.75pts

Doubles - L 9.4/1, W 11/2, PROFIT=4.5pts

Trebles - L 9.8/1, L 7/1, LOSS=2pts

Longshots - none so far

Ante-post advice - none so far

Overall - 10pts staked, PROFIT=4.45pts

You can read more about this weekend’s Premier League fixture list, and the bets to make, at www.bettinglive.com

Weekend Football Preview, 20/21 September 2013

Big match for Moyes against City

Big match for Moyes against City

www.bettinglive.com's chief football writer, Jonathan Turner, previews the weekend's Premier League action.

There's no doubt at all about the match of the weekend as Manchester duo City and United lock horns at the Etihad for both bragging rights and potential Premier League title favouritism.

However that game has limited appeal from a betting perspective. Normally it's a showdown which has everything, especially goals. Five of the last six clashes have seen both teams score but this time around we've got two new managers and plenty of new players for City so a cautious punting approach is the right way to go.

We're therefore taking a watching brief on that one and head into the rest of the action on the back of a profitable weekend, courtesy of landing the 11/4 tip on less than 1.5 goals in Southampton v West Ham last Sunday which ended goalless.This week our banker bet is under 2.5 goals at Anfield when Liverpool host Southampton.

Liverpool top the table after a fine start to the season but until Jonjo Shelvey's intervention on Monday night - when he scored early for Swansea but then gifted the Reds two goals - their matches had featured little goalmouth action at either end, having opened the campaign with three consecutive 1-0 wins.

They've now got a real problem to deal with as in-form Philippe Coutinho picked up a shoulder injury against the Swans which has ruled him out for six weeks. He's been by far their most creative player this season (with Luis Suarez still on the sidelines as he serves out his 10-match suspension) and to underline that his departure coincided with a radical shift in momentum on Monday as Swansea had nearly 70% of the possession in the second half.

In opposition on Saturday is a Southampton side whose four games so far have seen a total of just four goals and whose whose last seven Premier games away have each been under the 2.5 goals line.

It's therefore a big surprise that we can get odds against (11/10 with Coral) about that happening again, especially as Coutinho and Suarez will be watching from the sidelines. For what it's worth this fixture finished 1-0 to the Reds last season, with a similar scoreline in prospect again.

Coral Sports

We're sticking to last week's format and nominating two 'next best' singles.

First up is Sunderland to win the battle of the bottom two at West Brom (16/5 with bet365). There's no disguising the Black Cats' poor start to the campaign but there were some promising signs in their 3-1 defeat to Arsenal last week, which could have had a very different outcome had Jozy Altidore’s goal – which would have made it 2-2 – not been bizarrely ruled out by referee Martin Atkinson.

It's at the back where they look particularly vulnerable - no side has conceded more than their eight goals - but that's an area where they might just gain some respite against West Brom, with the Baggies barely offering a threat up front.

It took them no less than 360 minutes to score their first goal of the season (a Gareth McAuley header in added time at Fulham last week) and there was little in that match to suggest things are about to change.

So in a clash between two out-of-form teams we've no hesitation in siding with the one which actually possesses a goal threat and that's Sunderland, who can be backed at a fraction over 3/1 for the three points.

It's another north east side who provide the next interest in the shape of Newcastle. We opposed them last week for their trip to Aston Villa but got our fingers burnt - and while we don't like to make excuses there were mitigating circumstances.

That's because it had been unclear heading into the came whether French playmaker Yohan Cabaye would be involved for the Magpies. And not only did he start but he arguably proved the difference between the teams as he produced a superb performance to help them to a 2-1 win.

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Cabaye's on/off potential move to Arsenal saw him miss most of Newcastle's first three games but once the transfer window closed he was re-introduced to the fray late on against Fulham (galvanising them to a first win of the season) before taking centre stage at Villa.

He’s still got work to do to appease all of the Newcastle fans but he’s made a decent start and is clearly their most influential player.

They face Hull this weekend and given the Cabaye dynamic there’s an argument that they offer a touch of value at 5/6. However a better option is backing the man himself in the anytime scorer market at 5/1. He went close at Villa last week, is clearly back to full match-sharpness and netted in six of his 26 league games last term which makes the price look generous for a home game against one of the relegation favourites. We also know now that - barring injury - he's guaranteed a starting berth.

Coral Sports

Our weekend staking plan is rounded off with a double - Romelu Lukaku to score anytime for Everton at West Ham (21/10 with Bet Victor) and both teams to find the net in Arsenal v Stoke (11/10 with Bet Victor).

Lukaku, signed on loan from Chelsea, should give the Toffees a much-needed added dimension as they’ve lacked a cutting edge in their opening games. His match fitness has to be taken on trust to some extent (he’s played just 71 minutes this term) but he scored 17 goals on loan at West Brom last season, including a debut effort against Liverpool.

He's almost certain to start and looks perfectly positioned to take advantage of the numerous chances Everton have created - but rarely converted - over the last month.

We're doubling that with both teams to score at odds against in Arsenal against Stoke at the Emirates.

Recent clashes between this pair have been low scoring (1-0, 0-0 and 1-1) but there are strong grounds for thinking that could now change.

Arsenal appear to be going with an ‘attack is the best form of defence’ policy while Stoke already seem a much more expansive side compared to the last few seasons and were a touch unlucky not to beat Manchester City last week.

The bookies' don't seem to have fully latched on to the Gunners' tactics which are even more pronounced to accommodate Mesut Özil in the first XI (talking of whom, hopefully a few of you followed the closing advice last week to back him at 11/4 for an assist as he took just 11 minutes to oblige).


Selections:
Weekend banker - under 2.5 goals in Liverpool v Southampton at 11/10 (Coral).

Next best singles - Sunderland to beat West Brom at 16/5 (bet365) and Yohan Cabaye to score anytime for Newcastle against Hull at 5/1 (Coral).

Double - Romelu Lukaku to score anytime for Everton against West Ham at 21/10 and both teams to score in Arsenal v Stoke at 11/10 (both top prices with Bet Victor, double pays 11/2)

You can read more about this weekend's Premier League fixture list, and the bets to make, at www.bettinglive.com

Weekend Football Preview, Tips: 14/15 September 2013

Villa to beat Newcastle is the banker

Villa to beat Newcastle is the banker

BettingLive.com's Jonathan Turner runs the rule over this weekend's Premier League action as the teams return from an international break...

The Premier League resumes on Saturday following the international break and it looks a set of fixtures on which to tread carefully.

We've still only got three weeks worth of form in the bank and it's dangerous to make too many early conclusions. For example, plenty of pundits have lambasted reigning champions Manchester United's start under new boss David Moyes yet they took exactly the same number of points (four) from the corresponding fixtures last season under Sir Alex Ferguson.

We tipped up a United win last time out at Liverpool, feeling it offered value at the price, and while they ended up losing against the early pacesetters it's far too early to write off the Red Devils' title hopes, though there's little scope in backing them this weekend at long odds-on against Crystal Palace in the Saturday lunchtime game.

The one regret from the debut tipping piece was the downfall of a near 10/1 treble after 2.5 goals failed to come in at odds-on in Arsenal v Spurs. Looking at previous fixtures between sides can prove a useful pointer and goals had been in plentiful supply in recent north London derbies but the fact there were so many personnel changes at Spurs should have set alarm bells ringing. The match at the Emirates rarely had the feel of a clash between two arch rivals and Tottenham look a work in progress right now - a side to be watched carefully for future clues rather than included in our upcoming staking plan.

So that's who I'm not going to be backing, but hopefully of far more interest are the ones I am keen to flag up and Aston Villa top that list.

There were signs towards the end of last season, even in the midst of their relegation battle, that they were a team on the up. Indeed the only sides to have beaten them since January are Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs.

That momentum has continued this season despite them having a tougher opening fixture list than any other club - Arsenal (away), Chelsea (away) and Liverpool (home) in the space of eight days. The Villans produced battling performances in all three matches, the highlight their 3-1 victory over the Gunners at the Emirates, a result which has been franked ever since then.

On Saturday they have much their easiest assisgnment of the campaign so far as they welcome an ailing Newcastle outfit to Villa Park and it's a real surprise to see some odds against available about the home win.

The Magpies did prevail in the fixture last season but that match came when Newcastle had found a bit of form after bringing in reinforcements in the January transfer window whereas Villa were reeling from a nightmare run in the league (including an 8-0 drubbing at Chelsea) and a shock exit in the Capital One Cup semi-finals at the hands of League Two Bradford.

Since then the fortunes of Villa and Newcastle could hardly have been more contrasting, with Paul Lambert's youngsters gelling into a more-than-useful outfit and one which has been able to retain the services of powerhouse Belgian striker Christian Benteke over the summer whereas the Toon Army have at best stood still, doing virtually no business in the latest transfer window.

Newcastle's one away fixture saw them hammered 4-0 at Manchester City and though they've since picked up four points at St James' they came via unconvincing performances against West Ham (0-0) and Fulham (1-0).

They'll find Villa's high tempo pressing style altogether more difficult to contain and a home win at 23/20 (BetVictor, general) is nominated as the weekend banker.


One early trend in the first month of the season has been a distinct lack of goals. Just nine games out of 30 have gone over the 2.5 mark and six of those featured at least one side from the 'big four'.

A two-week sojourn for the internationals is hardly likely to help in terms of fluency this weekend and the match which leaps out as a likely a low goals make-up is the live Sunday offering between Southampton and West Ham.

The Saints have a win, a draw and a defeat to show for their efforts but it's been a lacklustre start as they had one of the softest fixture lists imaginable (West Brom, Sunderland and Norwich). Those three games also produced just four goals in total but even that is one more than those generated in West Ham's opening trio of matches.

They were effective first up against new boys Cardiff with a 2-0 win at Upton Park but since then they've been held 0-0 at Newcastle and lost 1-0 at home to Stoke. And there's no great mystery to their struggles as on-loan Andy Carroll's performances in the second half of last season were the key factor in their top-half finish.

The big striker's move was made permanent over the summer - for a fee of £15.5million - but he's yet to feature this term because of a persistent heel injury. His absence undoubtedly removes their main goal threat and their problems have been compounded by the news that winger Stewart Downing has now joined Carroll in the treatment room.

Despite all of which Coral still offer 11/4 about under 1.5 goals Saints/West Ham on Sunday and in the current circumstances that looks generous.

Coral Sports

I'll normally provide a banker, a double and a treble but this week, given the prices, I'm shelving the double in favour of a couple of 'next best' singles - the goals tip above is one of those and the other is Stoke to surprise Manchester City at 7/2 in the 'draw no bet' market.

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While mindful of the caveat about reading too much into just three games, it's still been eyecatching to see Stoke's early progress under Mark Hughes. The Potters carved out a thoroughly-deserved 1-0 win at West Ham last time and that result is put into perspective - even in Carroll's absence - by the fact that only Merseyside pair Liverpool and Everton plus north London duo Arsenal and Spurs left Upton Park with maximum points last season.

Stoke's other two matches saw them miss a late penalty as they lost 1-0 at early leaders Liverpool before beating Crystal Palace 2-1 and now could be just the right time to be playing Manchester City as they are badly missing skipper Vincent Kompany from the heart of their defence.

Manuel Pellegrini's side were undone twice by corners as they slumped to a shock 3-2 defeat at Cardiff and the Britannia Stadium isn't the place you want to go if there are question marks against your ability to defend set-pieces.

In fairness Stoke's style (certainly in possession and completed passes) has evolved markedly under Hughes and he looks to have a real chance of putting one over the club which sacked him back in December 2009.

We're going for the 'draw no bet' market (stakes refunded in the event of it finishing level) at 7/2 rather than Stoke outright at 5/1 for a little bit of insurance as this is a fixture which has ended 1-1 in each of the last four seasons.

 

Our treble this weekend focusses on the corners markets as this is an area where there can often be decent value early in the campaign as the styles of teams can undergo big changes from season to season.

Flagkicks are likely to be in almost as short supply as goals at Craven Cottage where Fulham and West Brom clash in what already looks like a relegation tussle. The two sides have made desperately slow starts to the season and show few signs of improving and that's also evident in their corner counts - just four in three games for Fulham while the Baggies have mustered seven. Bet365 go a top-priced evens about under 11 and we'll snap that up.

It should be a different story at Stoke - the Potters have won 17 in three games while opponents Manchester City have weighed in with 23 and no wonder given the threat Jesus Navas poses galloping down the right flank. The Citizens' vulnerability in this sphere against Cardiff has also been noted and that's surely something a still-powerful Stoke side will be aiming to exploit. It's 11/10 for more than 11 in that game.

The treble is rounded off with Everton to win more corners than Chelsea at 10/11 in their Goodison Park clash on Saturday evening. The Toffees did us a favour a fortnight ago when landing our banker bet by claiming more flagkicks than Cardiff. It's a market they've got a 100% record in this term, including an 11-1 verdict over West Brom in their one home match to date, and retaining the services of full-back Leighton Baines is another plus point. In contrast Chelsea have been efficient rather than expansive since Jose Mourinho's return and that's reflected in their corners won - just seven so far in total.

Finally I can't resist mentioning an area I'll be looking at closely shortly after 2pm on Saturday. It's the teamsheets from the Stadium of Light (where Sunderland take on Arsenal) which will be the focus of attention, or more specifically whether Mesut Özil is in the Gunners' starting XI.

The German looks a fabulous signing for Arsene Wenger - even at £42million - and it's surely not going to be long before this weekend's quotes of 11/4 (Boylesports) about him getting an anytime assist (the final pass before a goal is scored) are significantly shorter.

His goalscoring record may not be too special (19 in 85 appearances for Real Madrid) but his assists most certainly are, with no fewer than 47 in the same time frame. No one in La Liga had more (even Lionel Messi was only on level pegging) and it's better than one every other game whether you look at the bare stat or assists per 90 minutes (between 0.58 and 0.60 for each of his three seasons in the Spanish capital).

Clearly it's not quite as simple as saying he should be closer to evens for an assist on Saturday given that he's yet to work much with his new team-mates and is coming into a side which has scored just over 70 goals in each of the last three seasons compared to Real's 100+.

But equally he's set to line up against a Sunderland outfit which has already lost to Fulham and Crystal Palace this season, shipping three goals in the latter game against the bookies' favourites to finish bottom. And if reports this week are to be believed the Black Cats' first team (or what was left of it during the international break) lost a behind-closed-doors match to the club's under-21s.

Put simply, 11/4 just looks far too big as long as he's on from the start and that's the problem from a tipping point of view - just as it is with anytime scorer advice - as I appreciate many of you will have better things to do at 2pm on Saturday than be waiting for the Arsenal team sheet! However it's definitely one to bear in mind.

Selections:

Weekend banker - Aston Villa to beat Newcastle at 23/20 (bet365, Bet Victor, Coral and Paddy Power).

Next best singles - under 1.5 goals in Southampton v West Ham at 11/4 (Coral), Stoke to beat Manchester City in 'draw no bet' market at 7/2 (Spreadex) or 3/1 bet365.

Treble - under 11 corners in Fulham v West Brom (evens), over 11 corners in Stoke v Man City (11/10) and Everton to have more corners than Chelsea (10/11) - 7.02/1 (all prices with Bet365)

Visit Betting Live for full match-by-match betting previews.

Weekend Football Value Bets

Rodgers and Moyes go head to head

Rodgers and Moyes go head to head

In the first of a new weekly column, BettingLive.com's Jonathan Turner highlights a double, a treble, and a banker win single on this weekend's Premier League action...

The aim of this column is highlighting the best betting value on the weekend's Premier League fixtures regardless of whether it comes in the live TV matches or in the game hidden down at the bottom of the running order on Match Of The Day.

But this week there's a clear overlap between high profile and decent value as both Manchester United and Tottenham look overpriced for victories on a Super Sunday which needs none of the usual hype.

United travel to bitter rivals Liverpool and looking at the prices (Liverpool 13/8, United 19/10 and the draw 12/5) you'd think there's been clear evidence that Brendan Rodgers' men have closed the chasm between themselves and the reigning champions.

No less than 28 points separated the pair last season, with 37 points the year before that and United have run out 2-1 winners in the last three clashes between the pair.

Liverpool may go into the game with the 100% record but we've had just two games so far, with the Reds winning 1-0 against both Stoke and Aston Villa. That pair were both involved in relegation battles last season so this is the first real test against not only a top-half side but the team which finished top of the pile.

And their record in those encounters last season doesn’t make pretty reading – just two wins out of nine at Anfield against their fellow top-10 teams and three out of 18 if we add in away fixtures. It’s even worse against top-four opposition, with their results reading P8 W0 D5 L3 and in four of the five draws they were indebted to goals from Luis Suarez who sits this one out as he serves the remainder of his 10-match ban.

Plenty will argue that they are now facing a very different Manchester United side but the only real change is in the dugout where David Moyes has taken over from Sir Alex Ferguson.

The squad is virtually identical to the one which cruised to the title last season and they've started well enough too, producing some clinical finishing to win a tricky opener 4-1 at Swansea before playing out a bore draw on Monday night against Chelsea after Jose Mourinho chose to park the bus and take a point.

United are at their most lethal when able to counterattack and there should be much more opportunity to do that at Anfield, making those 19/10 quotes look positively generous.

We're doubling them up with Spurs to claim the bragging rights in north London by winning at Arsenal.

There was virtually nothing between this pair last season (just a single point) and despite almost certainly losing Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, it's Tottenham who have strengthened up over the summer.

Striker Roberto Soldado has been on the spot with match-winning penalties in their opening two games while Paulinho and Etienne Capoue have beefed up the midfield.

That physical presence is exactly how Aston Villa were able to silence the Gunners on the opening day of the campaign when winning 3-1 at the Emirates and a subsequent success for Arsenal at Fulham may have steadied the ship but actually told us very little.

A lot like Liverpool, Arsene Wenger's side have been ruthless against sides in the bottom half of the table in recent seasons but struggled to deliver against the teams around them so with no new faces at the club there's no reason why that's suddenly about to change.

Coral offer that top-price, with the double coming in at 11/1. Plus get a free £50 bet when you open a Coral account.

Coral Sports

Whoever you are backing on Sunday, it's well worth shopping around for the special offers and concessions. Just as the bookies do at the marquee horseracing festivals, they are desperate to grab your business for the blockbuster games.

Bet Victor for example will refund losing correct score, first/last scorer, scorecast and man of the match bets up to a maximum of £25 in Liverpool v United and Arsenal v Spurs if there’s a red card. And while the knee-jerk reaction is to think both matches are blood and thunder clashes, that's not quite borne out by the stats in recent campaigns.

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Jonjo Shelvey (now at Swansea) received his marching orders for Liverpool against United last season but that’s the only dismissal in the last seven matches between the pair. In the north London derby it's two red cards in the last three but Michael Oliver is one of the more lenient referees in the top flight and he takes charge of that one.

Our second piece of advice for the weekend's action is guided by the stats, starting with that Arsenal v Spurs showdown. It's a match which consistently produces goals (34 in the last seven), with the over 2.5 line collecting in every one of the last nine meetings between the pair in the league and cup.

And while there's a slight worry that Spurs tend to be more cautious away from home, this fixture appears to be the exception to that rule so over 2.5 goals at the Emirates kicks off our stats treble. Bet Victor are tops at 8/11 for those backing in singles but for the purposes of this treble we're taking the 4/6 with Sky Bet as they are significantly bigger on the other two parts of the wager.

It's to the Etihad next where Manchester City can be backed at 8/11 to keep a clean sheet against newly-promoted Hull.

The ground (called the City of Manchester Stadium in those days) was the scene of Phil Brown's infamous on-pitch half-time teamtalk on Boxing Day in 2008 when Hull trailed 4-0 at the break.

They managed to grab a consolation in the second half that day but the odds are against that happening this weekend. Manchester City have been ruthless on home turf with 34 clean sheets in their last 58 league fixtures and they can add to that tally against a Hull outfit which managed just six points from a possible 57 on their travels when they were last in the top flight, scoring only 12 goals in the process.

The treble is rounded off with under 1.5 goals in Newcastle v Fulham at 11/4.

The Magpies, who have now failed to score in five of their last six games, have managed just one shot on target so far this season (they were thumped 4-0 at Manchester City and then played out a goalless draw at home to West Ham last week).

And Fulham can be expected to set their stall out for a draw, just as they did before producing a late smash-and-grab raid when winning 1-0 at Sunderland on the opening day of the season.

Back the treble with SkyBet at 9.8/1. Plus get a completely free no deposit £10 bet if you're a new customer.

skybet.com

Our final piece of advice and our banker bet of the weekend comes in Cardiff's match with Everton. The Bluebirds stunned Manchester City last weekend but it's the corners market rather than the match result in this one which really interests us.

Cardiff scored twice from flagkicks against City but still only won three corners in total in the game compared to City's eight and it was a similar story in their first match against West Ham.

In stark contrast the Toffees, under new boss Roberto Martinez, have dominated the corner counts in their two games so far (11-1 v West Brom and 8-6 v Norwich).

It's therefore a surprise that we can get odds against (11/10) with bet365 about Everton winning more corners than Cardiff and that looks a decent piece of business.

bet365

Selections:
Double - Manchester United (19/10) to beat Liverpool and Tottenham (13/5) to win at Arsenal, 9.44/1 (Coral).
Treble - Over 2.5 goals in Arsenal v Spurs (4/6), Manchester City to keep a clean sheet against Hull (8/11) and under 1.5 goals in Newcastle v Fulham (11/4), 9.80/1 (Sky Bet)
Weekend banker - Everton to win more corners than Cardiff at 11/10 (bet365).

Visit Betting Live for full match-by-match betting previews.

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