Tag Archive for: Football Season preview

2021/22 Football Season Preview

After the weirdness (and, at times, tedium) of last season's concertinaed behind-closed-doors matches-every-day affair, the delayed Euro 2020 tournament has acted as a palate cleanser ahead of the return to something closely resembling normality in the upcoming 2021/22 football season.

The regular reader (thanks mum) will know this is my one-time foray into my other passion, footy, and she also knows I like to frame a bet within this virtual page. More on that in a moment but first, as is customary, how did last season's effort go?

Last Season: Nearly...

The shape of the bet has been unwavering: a perm trixie (four picks, doubles and trebles) comprised of a team for Premier League relegation, a team for Championship or League 1 promotion, and two teams for League 2 promotion (where there are three auto spots and playoff positions down to seventh).

After a total blowout in 2019/20 - it certainly won't be the last of those! - we almost got the lot last term, though it was very much a case of a first fence faller meaning we never actually had the chance of the full ticket. Here's why:

- Aston Villa 15/8 to be relegated from EPL (11th, comfortably stayed up)

- Peterborough 7/2 for League 1 promotion (2nd, automatic promotion)

- Cheltenham 3/1 for League 2 promotion (winners)

- Bolton 5/4 for League 2 promotion (3rd, automatic promotion)

The problem with this perm trixie was that Villa started in electric fashion and were all but safe by Christmas meaning the jackpot dream was sunk. That said, Bolton looked doomed early and we were hanging on for a (good-priced, in truth) double courtesy of Posh and Chelto. They got their jobs done relatively comfortably and a searing late charge from the Trotters meant we had two doubles and a healthy profit.

Last year's post is here, if you want to review.

 

2021/22 Picks

For the first time in these annual previews, I'm going to slightly change things up. Win or lose, I won't regret it because the shape of League Two this year is almost unplayable such is its competitiveness, on looks at least. So, instead, I'm going to risk a yankee (11 bets, doubles, trebles and a fourfold) across the four divisions. I'll be smaller staking it compared with previous years because, naturally, an extra leg involves a higher degree of risk (and potential reward).

It is also the case that nobody really knows how reliable last season's form will be given the genuinely unique nature of the truncated campaign and playing without fans, as well as financial implications left, right and sideways.

With more caveats in situ than a dyslexic tie seller, then, here we go...

Premier League Relegation

This looks competitive with at least two of the promoted sides fancied to swerve the trap door; and there are some weak-looking sides who have flirted with the drop in recent seasons. All of Newcastle, Burnley and Crystal Palace look vulnerable, which immediately suggests this may be hotly contested.

Burnley are tenacious and might benefit from getting fans back at Turf Moor more than the other pair, while Newcastle have a bit of class with the likes of Saint-Maximin and goals in Wilson.

Palace have a wantaway talisman who hugely over-performed on his career scoring tallies last year in Wilf Zaha. More than that, they have a big name manager completely unproven in the Premier League in Patrick Vieira. The Frenchman did well enough in New York and Nice, and obviously understands the EPL dynamic, but he's inherited a moderate squad in need of significant bolstering. The level of player turnover at Selhurst Park is borderline alarming, old heads replaced with young potential.

Their 14th position last season owed much to over-producing from their chances (41 goals scored versus an expectation closer to 35), and a reversion to the norm - where Blunteke and Zaha produce single-figure output - looks likely. The talented Eze is out until 2022 and, while I was impressed with Michael Olise at Reading last term, it's asking a chunk for him to hit the ground running in the big league.

It feels like a recipe for a very difficult season for Palace, all the more so if Zaha finally gets his wish to move away.

Championship Top Six

I'm going to get whacked for this, no doubt, but my team, Bournemouth, have a decent chance of promotion making odds against for a top six finish look pretty fair. I don't generally call Cherries geese swans so, while the expected loss of the classy Arnie Danjuma will be a blow, it is strongly mitigated by a fit again Junior Stanislas and David Brooks looking in great shape. Of course, they are two regular sick notes, and Dom Solanke's work for the team has been more of an asset than his finishing; but the sale of Sam Surridge means new manager Scott Parker will almost certainly be in for a striker.

The south coast outfit are very strong in midfield, with the likes of Jefferson Lerma, Ben Pearson, Brooks, Stanislas, and the soon-returning Lewis Cook bolstered by emerging talent Gavin Kilkenny. Even if the brilliant Lerma departs there is still a lot in the engine room.

Defensively, things are more concerning, especially with Parker's high intensity high press looking like we'll be a 'both teams to score' sort of outfit. Leif Davis has been signed at left back, Steve Cook is a fantastic (and grossly under-rated) player - but is injured currently, Adam Smith has signed on again having been linked with the top division, and Lloyd Kelly continues to develop. In sticks, Mark Travers may have an opportunity to assume the number one position. But there's very little in reserve: additions are undoubtedly needed.

For all that, Cherries have bundles of quality and a failure to make the top six would be seen as a very poor season.

League One Promotion

No big surprise pick here - as if the first two were - as I agree with seemingly every pundit on the planet that the combination of an excellent manager, a decent squad from last season, ambitious signings and money in the kitty from new owners makes Ipswich Town look good value to get promoted to the Championship.

Paul Cook is the man in the hot seat, stepping in for the final two months of the last campaign: long enough to run the rule over his inheritance and establish where funds required investing. Cook decided an overhaul was necessary and no fewer than 15 players have since left the club (as well as two loanees), while eleven have come in (including one of the loanees).

Macauley Bonne gets support up top from Joe Pigott (20 goals in 45 league games for AFC Wimbledon last season) and Conor Chaplin, who registered a lot of minutes - if not a lot of goals - for Barnsley in his most recent campaign. Rekeem Harper has been recruited in centre midfield: I don't know much about him but he has 44 games in the Championship to his name, including 18 last term, so this is an easier grade.

A goalkeeper, Vaclav Hladky, and plenty of defensive cover have also been added. The worry, as with Bolton last season, is that it often takes time for large influxes to gel. The Tractor Boys have been notably fast starters in the last two seasons but faltered towards the finish; it's just possible this will see the converse transpire and, if they're within eight points at Christmas, they'll be a runner.

As usual, Sunderland help make the market and, as usual, I want to be against them. They'll get the job done one of these years but, boy, are they expensive to follow.

League Two Promotion

I normally like to take two for promotion from this division given the three automatic places and the playoffs keeping us engaged down to seventh place. But this season League Two looks inscrutable. Salford, and their famous ownership, head the lists with double-figure odds available about any other you like. In truth, I don't especially like any other, a faintly credible case possible for at least a dozen teams.

Having toyed with Tranmere Rovers, I eventually plumped for the consistency of Exeter City. Perennial play-off participants prior to uncharacteristically falling three points short last season, manager Matt Taylor is one of the most ensconced in the division. Taylor has retained most of last term's playing squad, with the primary exceptions of Randell Williams who has gone up a couple of divisions and a couple of hundred miles, to Hull; and Ryan Bowman, 14 goals last time around, to Shrewsbury.

He's brought in bundles of experience - the likes of 'keeper Scott Brown (36), Jonathan Grounds (33), and Timothee Dieng (29) - as well as some promising youngsters, such as Aston Villa youth product Callum Rowe and former MK Don, Sam Nombe.

It doesn't look a world-beating squad, but with captain Matt Jay capable of reprising his 20-goal season, and plenty of quantity if perhaps not top quality in support, they ought again to be in there pitching.

 

The 2021/22 Wager

As mentioned, I'm breaking with perm trixie tradition and instead playing a yankee to slightly smaller stakes. It's asking a lot to hit all four, or even three, but a double will recoup much of the stakes and a treble with three doubles will well reward the ambition. Catching the lot will be good times.

Betway don't let me wager horses with them but they'll happily take my footy punts, and they are the best price - just - on this quirky quartet. The acca with them amounts to 99/1 with the same play paying 96/1 with bet365.

It's a season's worth of entertainment for £5.50 if you want a 50p slice of the action, or whatever stake suits your budget and your gullibility/conviction* (*delete as applicable) in my selections.

Here's hoping...

 

Other interesting bets

I have no special in on football (or racing, for that matter) but I do think that Man City are a bit of value even at 4/6. Much has been made of their slow start last season, but less of their middling finish with the silverware already in the bag. Specifically, they lost at home to Leeds and Chelsea and away at Brighton. They also struggled to get past Newcastle in that run.

Even without signing one or both of Harry Kane and Jack Grealish, they're standout contenders and two-thirds of your stake is more than I'd personally want to lay. I've stuck them in a chunky double with an unspecified horse racing special market!

Aston Villa to be relegated is no back number. The play is predicated on Jack strutting elsewhere, so much of Villa's goodness emerging from his boot and brain double act. SkyBet are 9/1 which, even allowing for the volume of drop contenders, is mildly appealing.

Burnley or Palace to score the fewest goals at 6/1 and 15/2 respectively is also attractive inasmuch as non-scoring football teams can be attractive.

And in the top scorer market, dutching 10/3 Kane and 9/2 Salah at better than 11/8 combined will be hard to beat. If Harry goes to City, the play looks stronger for him; while if Kane stays at the Lane, Mo's prospects are improved.

It's quite hard to make a case for the rest who are either too profligate (Werner, Sterling, Mane) or too old (Vardy, Cavani) or too irregular a starter (Jesus). If Aubameyang stays at Arsenal and stays fit, it wouldn't take a huge leap of faith to see him back near the top of the charts. But he'll be 33 at some point during the season so teetering on the brink of the 'too old' category.

I love a finisher from a promoted Championship side in this market, and Ivan Toney is a 50/1 sore thumb in that context. He has snaffled 55 goals over his previous two seasons, in League One and the Championship, granted, but he will be the focal point through which all Brentford work flows. And he takes the pens. He's got some quality, too.

*

So that's where I've splurged my footy cash. Who do you fancy for the season ahead? Leave a comment below with your best bets.

Matt

2019/20 Football Season Preview / Bets

2019/20 Football Season Betting Preview

As has become traditional, each season I share my long-term positions for the new footy campaign. And in this post I'll reveal the teams which carry my hopes - and cash - for 2019/20. Also, further down, you'll find details of the Geegeez Super League Fantasy Football competition for those of you who like to get involved with such things.

Before all of that, though, how did last season's wagers fare? You can review last year's post here

And the returns were as follows:

I actually did two trixies last year, meaning I duplicated the Huddersfield relegation/Sunderland promotion double. On the face of it that didn't end well, with the Black Cats suffering stoppage time heartache in the playoff final. But the situation had presented an easy hedge opportunity, which was taken. A loss of £62.50 on the £400 stake for both trixies became a decent profit of £300, thanks entirely to Sunderland taking the lead in that Wembley disappointment.

 

This is exactly why I love the promotion markets: even if you're only nearly right, you still have a solid chance of a hedge during the playoffs. Obviously it's easier if your team makes the playoff final, and easier still if they go in front, but you get the idea.

**

To this term, and my approach remains the same: a team from the Premier League to be relegated, a team from League One to be promoted, and one or both of two teams from League Two - where there is an extra promotion place - also to go up a division.

Those four teams are played in a perm trixie, that is doubles and trebles (seven bets).

Here's who I'm siding with...

Premier League Relegation

Brighton have the dubious honour of being my pick to get dumped from the top league. I know a lot of Seagulls fans and am unlikely to be endearing that tiny subset who care a jot for my opinion on round-ball-related wagering; but the facts are clear:

- Manager Graham Potter's only exposure to English football management is one season at Swansea where he steered the Welsh side to tenth place. Given that they were one of the favourites and he had almost the entire pre-season to assemble his squad, that's hardly stellar.

- Top scorer last season, with a perfectly respectable 13, was Glenn Murray. The former Bournemouth (and many other clubs) front man will be 36 next month.

- Brighton's 14 points in the second half of the season was better only than Huddersfield (relegated, bottom) with the next two poorest teams in that 19-match ranking also getting relegated.

The untested in Britain Leandro Trossard looks an interesting acquisition, as does former Championship striker, Neal Maupay; but they have zero Premier League experience between them, a problem which proved beyond recent big name signings such as Andone, Jahanbaksh and Balogun. That trio could improve for their first season in the top English flight, but the south coast side were woeful in the latter part of last term, almost getting collared by Cardiff at the death.

As always, it's how you feel about the promoted sides that makes the market, and I'm fairly positive about both Villa and Norwich: the former has spent liberally and - in places - shrewdly, the latter I feel has a fair amount of under-rated class even if they will need to be not nearly so reliant on potential one season wonder, Teemu Pukki. Sheffield United may try to play a very attacking style of football - they've certainly acquired plenty of forwards - and, while that could go calamitously wrong, they've a chance of dodging the drop.

Either way, I reckon there are two established Prem sides treading on eggshells and I'm betting that Brighton are one of them.

League One Promotion

I'll keep this (a little) briefer. Portsmouth are my pick. They were arguably the best attacking team in the division last season, with the possible/probable exception of champions, Luton. But their second half performance was sub-par. They've lost key players (notably player of the season, Matt Clarke) but look to have recruited well, especially in the wide positions.

An opening day 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury barely tells the story: they had 15 shots compared to the hosts' three, and 61% of the possession to back it up. Of course, you need to hit the goal to score so a 20% on target ratio tells the tale. The late dismissal of new boy Ross McCrorie wouldn't have helped either, but they steadied the ship - and how! - in midweek with a 3-0 thumping of Birmingham City (50% shots on target) in the League Cup.

They ought to be a force.

I'm against Sunderland who I don't believe have nearly enough creativity. They were woefully unimaginative last term and are reliant on 33 year old Aiden McGeady to an alarming degree. Relegated Ipswich may find this level far more to their liking but it's hard to pick out another side with similar credentials to those referenced already. Which is not, of course, to say that there is not one, or indeed many.

League Two Promotion

Three auto promo places and another via the playoffs means it makes sense to have two stabs at the promotion market in this division. Salford are well (and famously) financed by the ex-ManU mob and their mates, and the Conference runners-up were tempting to make a double jump which has been achieved a number of times in recent memory. Graham Alexander is a top manager at this level, too.

But I ended up siding with Plymouth and Mansfield, the best of last season's relegated sides and the best placed un-promoted side from this division respectively.

There's a fair chance Plymouth are just too good for these even allowing for the loss of a handful of their best players, particularly Ladapo. But they've got ready made L2 experience in the form of last season's second placed team's manager, Ryan Lowe, and a number of his promoted players. That mob have 'stayed behind' because of the saddening financial issues at Bury. It is to be hoped that club can be saved - as a Cherries fan I've been there and it's horrible, but where we are now shows what is possible if fending off the immediate - but right now they're being asset stripped as players look to secure their career futures. Argyle got their season off to a flyer with a clinical 3-0 away win at Crewe, though the game was a good bit closer than the scoreline suggests.

Mansfield were favourites to win this section last campaign and ran a meritorious fourth. However, the manner of their failure to get promoted - beaten on the last day by MK Dons, who went up at the Stags' expense; and then losing on penalties in the playoff semi-final - may have left some wounds. Nevertheless, it is hard to escape the feeling that a repeat of last season's efforts will be enough to get them in the three this time around. They have goals galore in their line up and showed resilience to come back from a 2-0 deficit at half time and grab a 2-2 draw on opening day, all the more so when down to ten men for most of the last half hour. Again, though, they were second best on the match stats and will need to step forward. That should happen as the new faces familiarise themselves with their team-mates and tactics.

The wager

All teams are around the 2/1 mark - or were before last weekend. They remain similar prices overall.

It's a bit of faff to separate out the constituent bets in the perm trixie but it does make a significant difference to the bottom line should they all, or even any of them, cop.

[Note, I split the treble into £20 and £30 bets as a small odds boost was available up to a score]

 

 

 

Total stake of £350 which, for a whole season of entertainment, is a sum I'm prepared to invest; especially as in the last three seasons I've managed one all-correct perm trixie which returned £3,500 and last year's profit of circa £300 from the hedge. But obviously you can do £5 lines (£35) or 50p lines (£3.50) or simply laugh at my terribly bland selections... 😉

**

Fantasy Football: Geegeez Super League

With the Premier League starting on Friday night - gotta love a bit of Friday night Prem action - it's time to mention the Geegeez Super League Fantasy Football...

If you've entered in previous years, and you've got a team in the official FFL game, you'll be automatically entered into the league (there's already 200 odd teams in the league!) - do check though, just in case.

Here's how to join in

Go to https://fantasy.premierleague.com

Create your team, then...

Go to https://fantasy.premierleague.com/leagues/join/private and enter this code:

ohc84f

That should be you registered as part of the league. And there's a prize!

The winner will receive the indescribable kudos of being the Geegeez Super League Champion 2019/20.

Oh, and an annual Gold subscription, worth £297. Whoop!

So get yourself entered today - remember, the season starts this FRIDAY EVENING, not Saturday lunchtime as usual.

Good luck!

Matt