Sunday, January 31, 2010
Last week I had a long list going into the weekend of eleven matches, all of which won, although I finally settled on just five, so that is how it is at present, feast or famine. The odd day with one winner, one loser would be nice !
Keeping things simple today, I am keen on Manchester City and Egypt, going for the bigger handicap and better odds in each. Both teams look to have too much firepower for their opponents, in addition to which, it is hard to see how much more could have gone wrong for Portsmouth this week, or season for that matter. City will also be boosted by the return to action of Toure and Adebayor, which will freshen up the squad after the midweek disappointment of conceding a late, late winner to their cross town rivals.
The Pharaohs meet a very youthful Ghana side who have huge potential, but one lacking in experience and Egypt have no World Cup to look forward to this summer, today is do or die for them and a chance for a piece of history, with a third straight ACN title and their seventh in total on the line. They are full of goals, with 14 already, at least two in every start, Ghana have scored exactly one in each of their games, if they fall behind like in their opener against the Ivory Coast, doubts remain about their ability to bounce back. Anyway, after yesterday, these two selections come with a wealth warning, so treat with care.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I have a bit of a dilemma, having promised to put a preview online today, I am left with not a lot to choose from.
After much deliberation, I settled upon three games this morning, one was an "over" selection and I have no wish to go down that route in the blog after yesterday, another was Luton, who I took at -1/4 ball @2.05 , also advising this to a couple of others (!) and they are now trading at 1.77 which is of no interest at all. Therefore, I am left with just my third choice, which was a first half bet on a SPL game, very compelling I hear you cry !
Anyway, very briefly, I took Motherwell off level ball in the first 45 minutes at circa 1.84, away to basement club Falkirk. This is a bet I have taken in a couple of Falkirk games recently and it has worked well, the Bairns have had a season they would like to forget with just two wins, yet their record before the break is , arguably, even worse, having not drunk their half time cuppa holding a lead of any description this campaign and with only five goals in 19 starts, or 855 minutes of football.
To say they are slow starters is a bit of an understatement and I do not see them having too much joy this evening facing what is sure to be a motivated visitor. Motherwell are currently in 6th spot and very keen to hold on to that place and the increased revenue that comes with it over the final five games of the season. They currently lie two points ahead of Aberdeen, having played a game more and travel to play the Dons on Saturday, so would like to have these points in the bag ahead of that far more difficult looking fixture.
This is a traditionally close game, with six of the last eight h2h meetings here being decided by a single goal, with the other two drawn. Taking Well off level ball in the HT market, given the hosts record looks a bet to nothing (dangerous and famous last words !) and is still reasonably priced at around 1.80.
Ouch ! Disappointing pair of results yesterday, little unfortunate with the Ipswich game which was an incredibly open affair, with 17 corners and 40 attempts on goal, 25 of which were on target. Those are exceptionally big numbers and on another night, we would have landed that bet with ease.
Elsewhere, Brentford again had enough chances, including a missed penalty to have seen off one of the better Division 1 sides and the Bees are growing in self belief and into life at the higher level. Think the 1,800 Saints supporters would have been a little frustrated that Alan Pardew decided to sit on his team's 1-0 lead after dominating the opening exchanges, they have enough quality to go and finish off matches even on the road.
Fantastic night for Norwich who came from behind at the break to snatch all three points at Walsall and open up a three point lead at the top of the table. This is a very strong, mentally tough side that Paul Lambert has assembled, they do not know when they are beaten and fitness levels are through the roof, with the Canaries winning an eyecatching 19 of 28 second half's. That's four more than Leeds and eight more than any other team at this level, when the going get's tough ................
I will be back later with a quick look at some of tonight's action, looking to recover some of yesterday's losses.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I am not fully convinced about the overall standard of the Championship this season, but a number of teams in the "second division" play the game the right way and I have seen a lot of entertaining matches. Hopefully, the quality will improve next season, as Division 1 is probably the strongest in recent history and if Norwich and Leeds go up, along with one of Southampton, Huddersfield or Charlton, it will give a couple of the smaller (though better loved) clubs in the third tier a chance next time round.
Anyway, back to the Championship, goals have definitely been on the increase there recently which was welcome after last season, when the average dropped to 2.44 per game. This campaign started in a similar vein, but after six low scoring opening rounds, the average has risen to 2.73, over a third of a goal up over the last 230 games, which is a pretty big increase over a valid sample. I have done well in this division with "over" bets in recent weeks and I think the oddsmakers have been a little slow in making the adjustment.
There are two matches tonight, where I expect plenty of entertainment and let's start in darkest Suffolk, where Roy Keane's Ipswich Town take on highflying and resurgent, after two very encouraging performances against the league leaders , West Bromwich Albion. We have discussed Town recently, they are an improving team, saturday's cup blip at Southampton aside and that defeat means they can now concentrate solely on the league. Despite hovvering just above the drop zone, they are only 11 points off the playoff places with a game in hand on several teams and after outplaying Blackpool, Leicester and QPR in recent weeks, all of whom were top 8 at the time, they have not yet given up on a late push for a top six finish. That will be a tall order, but if they continue to play at this level and look for the three points instead of settling for one , something which several very late recent goals have clearly indicated, then they have a chance.
Tonight they host an Albion side cock-a-hoop after scoring six in a week against Newcastle United, who also boast the best road record in the Championship. They only know how to play one way and that is pushing forward, Albion fans have seen a division high average of 3.12 goals per game and that is even higher (3.17) away from the Hawthorns. They will be looking to hold on to Nottingham Forest's cattails,whom they trail by three points, with the second placed team hosting QPR tonight and will be going all out for the win, as will Mr Keane's men, who are "over" in six from seven starts. The visitors have conceded two or more in six of their last ten outings and are not your archetypal, tight defensively, promotion chasing side, this could develop into a real thriller.
6.5 points Ipswich-WBA "over" 2.75 goals 2.17 asian line..... now 2.08
So, you get the gist of my thinking. At the very foot of the table, Peterborough's starts are averaging 3.08 goals, a number only beaten by WBA, although with most of these coming in the Posh net, their fans will be less thrilled by the entertainment offered. At home, that average rises to a massive 3.69, although this was helped greatly by the eight goals shared with Cardiff City recently, when the hosts game back from 4-0 down at half time to earn a share of the spoils, more about this shortly. They know that, nine points adrift of safety, a draw has little value and having conceded 15 in their last five, infact, they only have one cleansheet since Methuselah was a toddler, they are not geared up to do anything but attack, which is where most of their quality (keeper Joe Lewis aside) lies. Lewis has saved them from some real thumpings this season and without him, goodness knows what their goals against column would read !
Tonight they host Preston who scored nine in their first two outings of 2010, before losing 2-0 to Chelsea at the weekend, they were unfortunate not to score at least once in that game and are clearly a side with goals in them at the moment. They are going to relish facing the far weaker Posh backline and newbie Danny Welbeck who has signed from Manchester United until the end of the season will be out to impress and fancy his scoring chances big time. He is the first loan signing for new boss Darren Ferguson, who is expected to be phoning "dad" on a regular basis to ask who is available from the United reserve team. DF will be very motivated for this game and out to beat his former employers, who gave him very little time to turn things around this season, following consecutive promotions. Several of the home side are said to be begging him to sign them for the Lancashire club, their motivation might be questionable tonight and I would take PNE to win a high scoring affair.
More about that four goal comeback for Boro at home to Cardiff, that was exceptional of course, but Posh have performed extremely solidly in the second half of games this season, with a 8-12-6 record after the break, which would see them 10th in the table for the second 45 minutes. To put that into context, only Forest, Newcastle and Swansea have lost fewer second halves and these are stats worth bearing in mind if betting on any of their games "in running".
6.5 points Peterborough- Preston "over" 2.5 goals 2.02 asian line..... now 1.85 !
These have both been well supported, especially the Posh-PNE game, but sometimes the quotes drift again later in the day and as the previews still contain some information of value, at least IMO, I feel they are still worthwhile posting. 1.90 + on this game is acceptable, which you will get if shopping around.
I will take a brief look at a couple of games on the blog later in the day, but am going to watch the Murray-Nadal match up first, so please check back later.
Monday, January 25, 2010
The New Orleans Saints reached the Superbowl last night for the first time in their franchise history with a spine tingling 31-28 win over the Vikings.
Not only does this land the place portion of our 25-1 pre season bet, but also the large "cover" bet advised this time last week (LINK), which was to take the Vik's plus 4.5 points, which ensures a profit on the two bets of 27.4 points and we are freerolling for another 65 points in Miami on February 7. That's a potential payout of over 92 points and at no time have we risked more than 5 points ! This was the only long term selection advised on the NFL and I was also 6 from 7 (including the cover bet) on match bets during the regular/post season an 86% strike rate. On top of the three winners advised on Saturday, this has made for a fantastic weekend and I am available at great expense for weddings, birthdays, christenings and bar mitzvahs, or any other business proposal (email..... email@example.com).
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Very pleasing three from three yesterday and to be honest, once Accrington were down to ten men late in the first half, all were very comfortable winners. Once again one of my selections was a big drifter, with Fulham out to 2.25 giving up the full goal an hour or so before kick off. I am about 7 from 8 with these selections in recent months and not for the first time, this "drift" was very hard to comprehend. Roy Hodgson was taking the competition seriously and named his strongest available side, it just drives me crazy to bet and then see the odds increase, anyway, that is all history now.
The day would have been complete if my beloved Bees had picked up a point at highflying Norwich and one or two big names were getting excited when City were reduced to ten men in the first half. Brentford had chances to win the game, but both keepers, were on top of their game and all credit to the Canaries for finding the winner which took them to the top of the table, something which seemed unthinkable after the opening day 7-1 home loss to Colchester. Paul Lambert's stock continues to rise and he has done an incredible job in double quick time.
Bees on loan Polish international goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, will remain at Griffin Park until the end of the month, the 19yo is regarded by many as the best keeper in living memory at the West London giants and will surely be pushing the top two at Arsenal in the coming season or two. Personally, I think Arsene Wenger should do the right thing once more, keep Vito Mannone at the Emirates for now and let the hero worshiped Pole stay at GP Towers until the end of the season ! Arsene are you listening ? By the way, if there is a better teenage keeper in world football, I would like to see him !
Massive day today with the NFL Championship games taking centre stage and a 25-1 voucher on the New Orleans Saints burning a big hole in many pockets. We have covered our stakes, see below, but having come this far .............
Elsewhere, we have the first two African Cup of Nations quarter final games , a full football league programme in Italy /Spain and in Australia, the first grand slam tennis event of the year which is warming up nicely, so something for everyone. I do not think I will be previewing anything on here today, cannot see any value in the ACN matches atm and whilst I have very strong views on two games in the UK, I want to take "in running" positions on both. However, we have almost a full midweek domestic programme ahead, so I am certain that there will be plenty to interest us in the coming day or two.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I am having some computer/server problems today, so will type this as quickly as possible..... just in case !
Quite strongly involved in six matches today, already discussed the SPL game and I also took one from the Bundesliga and two lower level Football League fixtures, but will stick to the FA Cup for the blog, so very briefly.........
Like most english teams and that includes many in the EPL, the finances at Accrington Stanley are in poor shape, whilst we are not talking huge sums it is all relevant to income and Stanley's is minute. They have done well in the cup competitions this season, which has helped increase revenue and they were incredibly focused in the midweek game 3rd round game with Gillingham, knowing that it would not only produce a high profile game with Fulham and possibly a gate maybe three times bigger than one for normal Division 2 outing, but also some much needed prize money.
However, they are a mid table level 4 team, that have if anything have overachieved this season and I doubt that they will be able to raise their game a second time inside four days, at least not sufficiently to trouble an EPL team for 90 minutes. The visitors look assured of a top flight mid table finish, probably without troubling the european spots, therefore, I expect them to be fully focused on their Europa League and FA Cup campaigns in the second half of the season. Boss Roy Hodgson is old school and for him, like all of us of a certain generation (although I am MUCH younger), this competition and the promise of a Wembley final remains an exciting prospect.
Fulham arrive here on the back of consecutive road losses at Stoke, where they did not play for the opening 45 minutes, before coming on very strong after the break and Blackburn, where they enjoyed the better of the game. The Lilywhites will not want to suffer a third defeat, especially one which would go down in cup folklore. Hodgson will rotate his squad a little but knows that this will not be easy and I expect the fringe players that do come in, to be looking to impress him, or maybe another boss, remember, we are still in the transfer window.
Hosts can be far too gung-ho for their own good at times, especially on home soil and Stanley will come out fired up, but I do expect them to tire and the superior fitness levels of the EPL side ( it is clear to me that the game is played at an increasingly higher tempo as you progress through the FL) to eventually win through with some ease.
6.5 points Fulham -1 ball 2.01 asian line.
West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle produced a four goal Championship thriller on Monday, that was real end to end action and we could have seen more goals. Albion will have felt they were worth more and will doubless fancy their chances back at the Hawthorns, although recently they have had more success on their travels. I doubt either will want a replay, promotion is all they are interested in and an automatic spot is a priority. We can surely expect both to carry on where they left off earlier in the week and again, goals should be on the cards.
6 points "over" 2.5 goals circa 2.0 asian line.
Friday, January 22, 2010
I do not have any news for today's fairly uninspiring football programme, but have already placed a number of bets for tomorrow's action. All being well, I will post 3-4 of these in the blog in the next 24 hours and will start with a few words about one of them today.
First, a word of warning, this bet might seriously damage your wealth ! "Under"bets and me go together like oil and water, it is just not a good mix, which normally results in two goals before I can get to my seat after switching the television on. Therefore, I keep them to a minimum and try to resist the temptation, but sometimes it is too much !
So, here we go. I like the "under" 2.75 goal line in the Glasgow Rangers-Hearts SPL game tomorrow.The hosts have horrendous problems upfront with Boyd, Miller, Novo, Naismith and Beasley all carrying knocks, Lafferty is set to play as the lone striker and he missed out on the midweek cup tie against Hamilton with flu ! Rangers could not find a goal in 90 minutes that night, although, to be fair, they had plenty of chances and did notch two in extra time. However, the squad has played a lot of football recently and is severely stretched at the moment.
Unless one of the above named players makes a late recovery, the men available to Walter Smith have contributed just 5 of Rangers last 33 goals in the SPL.
Hearts like to keep things tight, it is 20 games since they have been involved in a match containing more than three goals and they have not conceded more than two in any domestic outing this season. Given the team news, this looks a very solid "under" bet to me.
6 points "under" 2.75 goals 1.94 asian line ......1.88 + is good enough.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I know that many punters like to follow the money on the asian markets, but anyone that tracked the line on the Manchester derby game last night, would have had their fingers well and truly burnt.
Having started the day favourites for the first leg, City drifted all day long and once the team news was confirmed, were absolutely friendless in the market. I saw them trade briely at 2.72 level ball pre kick off, they may have even gone higher and for such a high profile game, this is one of the biggest drifts (from circa 1.85), I can remember in recent times.
Of course, anyone that took United off level ball, were unfortunate not to at least get their money back, they controlled much of the game, City got a fortunate penalty and were running on empty in the last quarter, but somehow managed to hold on. I did not bet on the game personally, but it made for great viewing and sets up the second leg nicely, where I am certain that Carlos Tevez will be "warmly" welcomed on his return after last night.
Elsewhere the Bees are out of the FA Cup for another year (one day !), Doncaster left it late to find a winner, but had chances to put the tie to bed very early and were probably deserved winners overall. The pitch, as I explained earlier in the week was in poor condition and after the opening 5-10 minutes, "under" backers were never in too much trouble. Tough seven days ahead for the Bees with games against Norwich and Southampton, two of the better Division 1 teams, but both matches are eagerly anticipated by supporters.
I do not feel much like writing match previews at the moment, so will not be putting a bet up today, but I am sure that this will wear off soon enough and definitely before the weekend. However, I can tell you that I am reasonably keen on Benin today, getting a handicap start against Egypt . The Pharaohs have already secured progression as group winners and will rest a number of key players today, there has also been in a virus doing the rounds at their headquarters and given the tough conditions in Angola, they will welcome the opportunity of an easy day. If the Squirrels can eliminate some of their defensive errors, they have the attacking threat to take a point and who knows, maybe even seal a famous victory, which even if it wasn't enough to secure a quarter final place (and it won't be), would send them home happy.
Monday, January 18, 2010
OK, the title of this post might be a little misleading, as I am writing this only for former subscribers to the email service, who have the possibility to ensure a profit on our only long term bet on the NFL this year.
On September 13th I sent the following preview on the newsletter and also reproduced it in the blog several weeks later. Here I suggested betting New Orleans each way at 25-1 to win the Superbowl and they are now down to the final four and we are looking at a bumper payout. Saints looked back to their best on Saturday with a 45-14 thumping of Arizona, all of their points came in the opening two and a half quarters, after which they switched to auto pilot and began to prepare to host their first championship game in franchise history.
Effectively we have 2.5 points on the Saints to win that game @ 13.5 and they are a 1.5 shot on most books. The real bonus is that we can take their semi-final opponents with a handicap start to tie up some profit and hope that our team could win by four or less points and collect on all of the bets ! Which is the dream scenario.
I would advise you taking 16.35 points Minnesota Vikings +4.5 pts -109 Pinnacle Sports...... circa 1.90 is freely available across the board.
This means that if Saints lose the championship game we will win 10 points in total (15 on this bet, less the 5 originally staked), if they win but lose in the Superbowl game we will profit by a minimum 12.4 points, should they go all the way, we will be sitting on a whopping minimum 77.4 points ! I say minimum for the last two figures as, if Saints beat the Vikings by 1-4 points, you can add another 15 to those numbers.
I will finish with a few words about the African Cup of Nations, where we see the conclusion of Group A, hosts Angola only need a point to ensure progression to the next stage, but could do so even with a narrow loss. All four teams can still qualify for the knockout stage, Mali can only do so with a win, for the rest it is a little more complex. I am not putting a bet up here, but do feel that Angola will do whatever possible to win the group, this would mean they would remain in the capital Luanda and not move the 400km or so to Cabinda, where the much smaller stadium (20,000 capacity opposed to 50,000 sell out crowds in the Estádio 11 de Novembro ) and slightly unfamiliar surrounding will negate some of their home nation advantage. Doubtless both they and Algeria will have one eye on the other game and it would not surprise anyone if the Angola game was a little "delayed" in starting........... just in case. OK, I admit I am a cynic, but that is the way of things in football.
Mali at least know what that their minimum requirement is three points, so will be forced to take the game to Malawi, who will be happy to sit back and try and retain the point which will be enough for them, unless Algeria produce a shock win. So there you have it, three teams playing cat and mouse and a fourth going all out for the win. An early goal in Cabinda, especially for Mali would really open that game up and make for a much better spectacle, but 15-20 minutes in, we should know everything about the respective motivation of all four teams and I would suggest possibly waiting until then.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
I am really looking forward to the Everton-Manchester City match tonight, which is bound to be the kiss of death and certain to herald a scoreless draw, but I think and hope not.
Come kick off time the visitors seem certain to have lost their fourth spot in the table and will come out all guns blazing in an attempt to win it back. Offensively, they are on fire with 14 goals in five starts and Tevez could hardly be in better shape with an incredible eleven goals in the last six weeks ! He and they will surely fancy their chances against an injury hit defence with a couple of players playing out of position and one which can boast just one clean sheet in 16 outings, conceding an eyepopping 28 times in that sequence.
Having said all that, they have some key players back in the team now (at least offensively) and Tim Cahill in particular, is clearly approaching top form, along with the underated Steven Pienaar. They took the game to Arsenal last week at the Emirates and were unfortunate to not collect all three points. David Moyes side were equally as ambitious at Stamford Bridge in a recent 3-3 draw and if they approach this in a similar manner today, we might well be in for a thriller. Both teams are happier going forward and whilst Roberto Mancini has obviously worked on City defensively and not just sauntered up an down the training pitch looking good in a scarf, this is a work in progress and they are far from the finished product. Unless Everton throw Mancini off his stride by removing all mirrors from the visiting changing room, it will be goals for me !
6.5 points "over" 2.5 goals 2.0 asian line.
I discussed Ipswich Town several times early in the season, defensively they were in a mess back then, but given time Roy Keane was always going to sort that out and thankfully, the board at Portman Road do not make too many hasty decisions and have stuck with the Irishman.
They are now starting to reap the benefits and in several recent starts Town have looked as good as anyone in the Championship to these old eyes. How they didn't collect all three points at Leicester City last week remains something of a mystery and they completely outplayed the promotion chasing Foxes.
Even in those dark early days of the Keane era, alright, it might be a bit soon to call it that yet, Town were creating plenty of goalscoring chances and continue to do so. Whilst they have lost just once in 14 starts , there have been an awful lot of draws and I feel that they remain a side with huge potential for improvement and we also like them as they loan Brentford lots of players (Balkestein, Bowditch, Rhodes, Clarke and Smith) !
Coventry will surely be drained, at least mentally if not physically, after a heartbreaking FA Cup loss to EPL side Portsmouth in midweek, not only did Pompey equalise as the 90 minutes expired, but scored the winner in injury time of extra time ! It will be very hard for Chris Coleman to raise his troops today and although they have been getting good results recently, they have ridden their luck at time, especially in the home tie with Barnsley for example, when they were battered for long periods. Several injury concerns for them today too and I strongly favour the home team, who will be well rested and desperate for three points to move away from the drop zone and then, who knows how far they could go in 2010.
6.5 points Ipswich Town -3/4 ball 2.09 asian line.
Emmanuel Eboue demonstrated perfectly the tackle described in the blog yesterday, taking out Agyemang Opuku with a brutal two footed lunge from behind. The tackle was completely senseless, as the ball was in the opponents half of the field, in a non threatening situation and could have cost his country a quarter final place. He left the field embraced by a fatherly arm from Didier Drogba, when what he should have got was an almighty bollocking ! I very much doubt that Arsene Wenger whilst watching on television would have seen the tackle !
The Ivorians worked incredible hard with ten men and somehow eventually won 3-1, once again the standard of the match officials, the sending off aside and Ray Charles would have given that, was abysmal.
The promised thaw has arrived in the UK, at least in the south east, where underfoot conditions are incredibly wet. I am not sure how some of these lower league pitches are going to stand up today, for example I saw some photos of the hallowed turf at Griffin Park last night and it looked in good nick, but it cut up badly in the last home match and with the battering it has taken in the last 3-4 weeks, who knows what will happen after 22 burly footballers, or semi burly in the Bees case, have trampled all over it for 20-30 minutes . Think that will be a similar story at many grounds today, so keep that in mind when placing your bets.
Going to put a couple of (very) basic match previews on the blog today, so please check back later.
Friday, January 15, 2010
The big thaw has started in the UK, temperatures have risen considerably and the forecast is set for wind and rain. Obviously this will set up a whole new set of problems, with many pitches in danger of being waterlogged, but this should not be too big a concern at the bigger stadiums and elsewhere, we will take what we can get !
With almost all the major european leagues also underway now, we have a terrific weekend in prospect and I am hopeful of some decent returns. I will definitely be posting several previews on the blog, so please check back in on a regular basis.
Not writing anything much today, although I am keen on the Ivory Coast . I understand the arguments that they lack a true playmaker, but despite drawing their opener against Burkina Faso, they look as strong as anyone in the tournament and man for man, definitely have the best squad, starting with six senior players from the EPL, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga on the bench on matchday one . Ghana are a team of immense promise, but might come up a little short today and their need is not as great as The Elephants, who need the win to progress. We can talk about the benefits (or otherwise) of coming into the match fresh or having played a match previously, albeit in tough conditions, personally, for what it is worth, I would rather have a match under the belt at this stage. Hopefully the Ivory Coast will get a little more help from the match officials today, the Tunisian referee in the opener was only going to give a spot kick if someone had been taken out with a forearm smash followed by a head stamp and raking of studs and even then it would have been 50/50 !
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Not much luck in the St Mirren game yesterday, Aberdeen had plenty of the ball (53%) and won the attempts on goal count 12-3 , but could not find a breakthrough goal. I also personally backed Portsmouth off level ball, so perhaps things levelled out a little there with a VERY late strike saving my stake.
The snow has returned overnight to most of the UK, but before you get too downhearted, the forecast for the rest of the week is pretty good in most parts, with temperatures set to rise considerably, which should see most of the white/grey/brown stuff disappear in the coming days.
On to slightly warmer climes and I am keen on goals in the Sevilla- Barcelona Copa Del Rey tie tonight. Hosts hold a 2-1 lead from the first leg, which means that Barce will have to attack virtually from the off, in order to turn this tie around. Whether they want to progress in this tournament is open to question, with La Liga and the Champions League being a priority of course. To be honest, I am sure that they would trade a win here for three points in the league meeting between these two at the weekend, when Sevilla have to travel to the Catalan capital. Having said that, we are talking about the european champions here and if they put their best foot forward, there is no reason why they cannot win both.
Pep Guardiola certainly appears to be taking this seriously and has named the following squad, who are flying south this morning :
Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Puyol, Piqué, Milito, Txigrinski, Abidal, Maxwell, Busquets, Jonathan, Thiago, Xavi, Iniesta, Bojan, Pedro, Henry, Ibrahimovic and Messi.
That is pretty much full strength from all the available first team squad (17 from 18) and it appears we are in for a treat.
Sevilla have a terrific squad of players that has been assembled by director of football Ramon 'Monchi' Rodriguez, who is incredibly highly rated in the game. I am amazed that some big spender and it would take a big spender, has not tried to poach him from Los Nervionenses, but that would also take patience and your average oligarch does not have that in abundance !
The hosts are clearly the third best side in Spain, some wise observers even consider their squad superior to the top two, but they are a bit inconsistent and some way off full strength at present, with injury and the ACN robbing them of a handful of key players. However, Navas and Navarro returned to training this week and look likely to play some part, which is a big boost. Despite their La Liga woes, Sevilla remain a threat, have continued to create chances, scoring in their last nine outings, seven times notching two or more and unlike the rest of europe, do not face Barce with an inferiority complex.
I am going to enjoy this, he said hopefully and expect end to end action and plenty of goals, clear"over" for me.
6.5 points "over" 2.75 goals 1.90 + asian line.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The group also includes the Benin Republic and Mozambique, who meet later in the day in Benguela. Neither will want to lose their opener he said, stating the obvious, but surely both will realise that to have a real chance to progress, they will have to look for all three points today, as it "ain't gonna get any easier". I was tempted by the "over" two goal line in this game, but have a clear opinion on which of these two is stronger, so will probably back them if the early pattern confirms my original thoughts.
Elsewhere, I have already bet on three UK games, the two FA Cup selections have been well backed (not just by me !) so much of the value has gone. I am also keep on the visitors in the SPL fixture, where St Mirren entertain Aberdeen. The Dons have finally found some form and a deal of confidence from consecutive wins over Hearts and Dundee United, two teams above them in the table and whom Aberdeen are very keen to catch, sooner rather than later. They have their sights firmly set on a european place and three points tonight would take them to within touching distance of fourth spot.
They look very solid at the back at present and love to play the Buddies, whom they have met ten times since the home side returned to the top flight, winning seven and drawing the other three. Most of those have been close encounters with the victory usually sealed by the odd goal, a similar scoreline with a single goal win for the visitors is once again on the cards, although Mark McGhee has now got them playing a more attack minded game, anyway, with the draw no bet option, they look the logical choice.
6 points Aberdeen 1.86 level ball asian line.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Cardiff had plenty of chances to seal the win yesterday and could, perhaps should, have been two or three up inside the first 30 minutes of play, having said that, in the end they were perhaps fortune to hold on for a draw. I think perhaps I have underestimated Blackpool this season and maybe need to take another look at them in the next week or two.
The situation regarding Togo's participation in the African Cup of Nations has still not been fully resolved, but the competition gets underway today, with hosts Angola facing Mali. Obviously the tournament is under a very big cloud and needs a boost, with the attention, as much as possible, back on the footballing side of things.
The days of international competitions almost always starting with a series of low scoring encounters seem to have passed ( thank goodness) and the last five opening ACN games have all produced two or more goals, the last three of which ended "over" and nine of the ten teams scoring. We really need some entertainment tonight and whilst neither will want to lose, I expect this game to be fairly open and follow in the recent trend of more and more goals in the competition in general, with the last running in Ghana seeing an average of 3.09 goals per game and just two scoreless draws (one when the result ensured group progression for both) and 25 of 32 matches containing two or more goals.
These two teams have recorded some low scoring friendly results recently, but I take little notice of those and they both have most of their strength going forward, with the respective strike forces containing most of the class on the pitch. I expect both to score, but feel with the goal line set at two, that is the better option for an interest in the game.
6.5 points Angola- Mali over 2 goals 1.88 asian line..... bigger in places as I type.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
City have bent over backwards in an effort to get this game played, including using a couple of small mountains worth of salt/grit in the area around the stadium . Which explains why we have a shortage of the stuff in the south-east and half of us are housebound !
The visitors who have had to make a hazardous and extremely long journey by coach, would have been perfectly happy for this game to have fallen foul of the weather, like most of the other matches scheduled for this afternoon in the UK. Visiting boss Ian Holloway, who is normally of a "just get on with it" viewpoint, has made it clear he could have done without the trip south, but I feel that has more to do with his injury list than the weather.
The Seasiders remain without a couple of strikers, both starting central defenders (always a major concern in my book) and Hameur Bouazza who is in sunnier climes, but after the incident yesterday, probably has other and more serious matters on his mind.
Both arrive here on the back of disappointing results, two in City's case, who after losing at home to Plymouth, raced into and then blew (!) a 4-0 half time lead at Peterborough. Having stewed on that debacle for 12 days, they will not lack any motivation to put things right this afternoon.
6 points Cardiff City -3/4 ball 2.08 asian line.
The weather forecast is grim to be honest, more snow is due to fall today and the cold spell is set to continue for the forseeable future. I think all the remaining fixtures are at venues that have undersoil heating, so the actual playing surface is not a problem, just the travel issue and areas around the stadium, which are frozen in many cases.
Anyway, fingers crossed and back later, Good Luck !
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
However, things are rarely that simply in the EPL and we saw the proverbial game of two halves with Fulham changing things around and coming on strong in the second 45, almost saving the game. Thankfully Stoke held on and those of us looking to hedge a little at half time were in a terrific position, with City leading by three and backed off level, we could bet Fulham giving up 1/4 ball at 2.20 and I must admit to taking a little. The three points were all that mattered to the home side, who were always going to sit on such a lead, handing the initiative to their opponents. Sports betting is a wonderful thing when it works out this well, but those days are rare and have to be savoured.
Now back to my main topic of conversation at the moment, the weather ! Huge amount of snow fell overnight in the South East of England, of course, I am talking by UK standards, I do not need any emails from Finland, who have been basking in circa -23 all week, telling me that is not real snow ! Hard to believe the Arsenal game will go ahead, with dangerous travel conditions everywhere, but more about this later.
We have a full round of matches in Serie A and conditions seem OK at most venues, although there is fog affecting Parma and Chievo, the last named is a late morning kick off and they might yet have a problem there.
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Weather forecast across the UK is pretty dire for the next couple of days and all games must be in some doubt, even if the groundsmen do not have problems with the playing surface, the safety officer and police are likely to have an issue with areas around the grounds.
Having said all that, I am interested in a couple of matches, so will put one preview on now and keep my fingers crossed that the match goes ahead.
STOKE CITY - FULHAM
This is an important game in City's season, they are without a win in six league outings and need three points to steady the ship. After such an encouraging start to their campaign, the last thing they need now is to be dragged into a relegation battle and a victory this evening, would make an enormous difference, not only would it give them a six point cushion over the drop zone, but take them into the top ten, which would be a real psychological boost.
To be fair to them, they have faced four difficult road trips in that six game sequence, including matches at Arsenal, Villa and Manchester City, all top six sides and had enough chances to have won the two home starts against Wigan and Birmingham. They would have received a boost of sorts from a cup win at the weekend, albeit against non league opposition and remain strong at the Brittania Stadium, where they have lost just four of 18 EPL starts.
Fulham are very comfortable in their upper mid table position and it is difficult to see them finishing anywhere other than 8th-10th this season, almost regardless of what happens on the pitch, however crazy that might sound ! That and a long run in Europe or the FA Cup would be considered a fantastic campaign for well respected coach Roy Hodgson, who has just been rewarded with an improved new "rolling " contract.
The visitors still struggle to win on the road, taking maximum points just four times in 28 starts away from the capital and are without a clean sheet in 13 away games in all competitions. They will once again set out to frustrate the opposition, be happy with 0-0 and delighted to pinch a goal. I expect City to be more adventurous and to make the majority of the running, they lost just 4 of 18 here in 2009, winning a very healthy 50% of those, numbers which kept them in the top flight last season and will probably do so again, if they can get a little more good fortune in front of goal. Not many goals in prospect here, just one in the two meetings last season and I see this as 0-0 or 1-0 too, so "under"is tempting, but I prefer the home team off level ball.
6.5 points Stoke City level ball 1.94 asian line.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
I did plan to put a third preview on here today, but that selection has been very well backed and I do not feel there is too much value remaining, so I will pass on that one.
MANCHESTER UNITED - LEEDS UNITED
There is traditionally a very big rivalry between these two and one the visiting supprters will be hopeful of renewing on a regular basis in the future, with the glory days set to return to Elland Road. This will be a welcome chance for them to be the underdog for a change, after every week for the last three seasons meeting a motivated opponent, playing their "cup final" with a game against "mighty Leeds".
As soon as Brentford were promoted last season, the main topic of conversation amongst Bees fans, was the games against United and especially the trip to Elland Road (March 6 by the way !). Clubs and supporters get really "up" for these games and that is what Leeds have to face week after week and it has been mentally tough for them and something they have only really come to terms with this season.
Sir Alex will not want to lose this one of course, but will surely rotate his squad, ahead of the derby meeting with City in the Carling Cup semi-final in midweek. To say nothing of his main targets, the EPL and Champions League.
Suspect all the noise will be from the visiting supporters with circa 10,000 set to be in the stadium and the players will be looking to prove themselves, especially those (JB ?) looking to seal a move in the transfer window.
Think the home side will settle for a win of any description and will be happy to escape what might be a full blooded encounter unscathed, the visitors are going to scrap all the way and look decent value getting more than a goal start.
6.5 points Leeds United + 1.75 goals 1.95 asian line.
GLASGOW CELTIC- GLASGOW RANGERS
Not the greatest of seasons for these two so far, especally in Europe, but that just increases the pressure on both to get a result in this most intense of derby games.
Nerves are sure to play a part and I feel we might see a lot of action early, which was the case in the first Old Firm derby of the year, when we saw three goals inside 25 minutes.
Rangers will arrive in confident mood after scoring 23 times in their last five starts, average time of their first goal in that sequence has been 14.6 minutes. They have also conceded inside a minute to Hibernian and eight minutes to Sevilla in the past month. Actually each of the Gers last eleven starts have seen a goal inside the opening 26 minutes.
Celtic games have also been busy early doors, with an average of over 2.14 goals in their last seven opening 45 minutes, with both teams scoring in four of those.
Feel the "over" one goal bet in the first half offers value and we could be "freerolling" after ten minutes or so, which would be the dream scenario.
6 points "over" 1 goal first half 2.09 asian line.
Very quickly, I am going to post three selections on the blog today, but they will only contain the briefest of comment/preview, the first will be online shortly, so please check back.
Big news of the day......... Brentford are in the FA Cup fourth round draw, sometimes even a postponed game can create a little excitement !
Saturday, January 02, 2010
As I explained to all of you back in November, I sent my last daily email on New Year's Eve and I finished on a high note with two early winners for yesterday, actually my last six selections all won, so you will see that I am back in top form.
I will probably be posting a little more regularly on the blog over the next couple of weeks, but have nothing for you today. I do have three selections, one very strong, but for once, I will keep them to myself, as to be honest, I am having a semi-day off and do not wish to write a preview.Should I decide to brave the arctic conditions, I will attend the Reading- Liverpool game later in the day.
Please check back tomorrow, Good Luck with your bets today.