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Saturday Premier League Preview – Leicester vs Arsenal

Saturday Premier League Preview – Leicester vs Arsenal

August 20, 2016 17:30pm – King Power Stadium

Recent Form in all competitions

Leicester City: LLLLW

Arsenal: LWWWW

The reigning Premier League champions and last year’s runners-up will battle it out for supremacy on Saturday evening as Leicester City kick off their home campaign against Arsenal, with both sides looking for their first points of the season.

Leicester City’s title defence got off to the worst possible start when they were defeated 2-1 away to newly promoted Hull City last weekend. Despite that slip up, it is far too early to suggest that the Foxes will struggle to maintain their status as a force to be reckoned with in this year’s Premier League campaign.

They now have the perfect chance to get their wheels back on track when they face last season’s second place side on home soil in Saturday’s late kick-off game. Boss Claudio Ranieri should have a full-strength squad to choose from for the visit of the Gunners.

Opponents Arsenal also drew a blank in their maiden game, losing 3-4 at home to a rampant Liverpool side. The Gunners have once again been plagued by injury issues, particularly in the defensive area, and will face a similar problem this weekend. The only positive could be the return of Laurent Koscielny who, despite not being fully fit following his post-Euro 2016 rest period, may be called upon to provide some experience in the back line.

Arsenal’s current injury list includes key players Aaron Ramsey, Alex Iwobi, Gabriel Paulista, Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson.

Prediction

With both sides going in search of their first points of the season, this should be a fascinating game. Leicester wasted their chances against Hull and will looking improve in that area while also tightening up at the back. Arsenal have some defensive issues of their own but will need to commit players forward if they are to come away with all three points. With plenty hanging in the balance even at this early stage, the drawn looks like a decent bet for this game.

You can back the Draw at 5/2 with Betfair.

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2015-16 Premier League Predictions

2015-16 Premier League Predictions

Last season was one of the most unpredictable in Premier League history as pre-season relegation candidates Leicester City defied all the odds to romp to the title by 10 clear points over nearest rivals Arsenal. But the Foxes’ triumph wasn’t the only surprise of the 2015-16 season.

Reigning champions Chelsea suffered a monumental collapse that resulted in the sacking of Jose Mourinho, while 20-time former league winners Manchester United once again finished out of the top four, despite a mammoth spending spree.

Tottenham Hotspur also raised a few eyebrows by remaining in the title race before falling away in the last few weeks, while Manchester City fell well below par with a 66-point haul that left them in fourth place.

So can this season live up to the excitement of last? And will it be any more predictable for those punters looking to enter the Futures or Ante Post markets?

New faces set to have an impact

Well at first glance, it may seem easy to suggest that Leicester City will struggle to retain their title. After all, Manchester City now have former Barcelona and Bayern Munch boss Pep Guardiola at the helm, while their cross-city rivals have replaced Louis van Gaal with the controversial but successful Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho.

Over on Merseyside, Jurgen Klopp will start his first full season as Liverpool gaffer with a team that has been enhanced by his own signings, while down in London, Chelsea have recruited three-time Serie A-winning coach Antonio Conte.

Add to that the stable presences of Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur and we already have seven realistic contenders for the top four places.

Outside of those seven, there is a strong argument to suggest we can also add last season’s sixth and seventh placed teams, West Ham United and Southampton, into the equation as potential top-four challengers.

West Ham have strengthened their squad with half a dozen new signings and will also be playing their first season in their new stadium in Stratford. Meanwhile, Southampton have improved on their league position in each of the last four seasons despite consistently selling their best players and working with different coaches.

First Predictions

So let’s start with a few predictions. Firstly, Leicester City will not retain their Premier League crown, in fact, they will not even finish in the top four. Claudio Ranieri’s team performed something akin to a footballing miracle last year and as much as it would be satisfying to watch the Foxes secure back-to-back titles, all common sense suggests that it won’t happen again. With Champions League football now on their agenda and a host of world class managers snapping at their heels, the heat will be just too much for the defending champions.

Secondly, Chelsea will not finish as low as 10th place. The Blues’ fall from grace was almost as shocking as Leicester’s rise and once again, the chances of that happening again are slim. With a new world class coach at the helm, the London club should be right in mix for a top four finish this season.

But while this season will not be as shocking as last, it could prove to be even more exciting. With so many top coaches now gathered in the league, we could see one of the most fiercely-contested title battles in years.

The Main Contenders

We predict that this year’s Premier League champions will come from a group of six teams: Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool.

Three of those clubs (City, United and Chelsea) have new managers, and of those three, only Jose Mourinho at Manchester United has previous Premier League experience. However, both Pep Guardiola (at Barcelona and Bayern Munich) and Antonio Conte (at Juventus) have shown previously that they know what it takes to win titles at the first time of asking.

Veteran Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will be kicking himself after finishing above all of his usual rivals last season but still missing out on the title. It has now been 13 years since the Gunners bagged the league crown and last season must feel like a massive missed opportunity. It will be interesting to see how the North Londoners react to that disappointment.

Likewise, last season must have felt like a wasted opportunity for Spurs who remained in contention for the title before fading away. However, Mauricio Pochettino seems to be building something special and White Hart Lane and his team will once again prove difficult to beat this year.

It’s impossible to ignore Jurgen Klopp, the German made an instant impact at Liverpool last season leading the Reds to two finals in his first eight months on charge. He has expressed his satisfaction with the squad now at his disposal having made significant reinforcements over the summer, and they laid down an ominous marker by cruising to a 4-0 win over a strong Barcelona side at Wembley last Saturday.

Top four predictions

Jose Mourinho will give Manchester United an instant boost and guide them to a top four finish – but can he land the title at the first attempt? Pep Guardiola has won six league titles in his seven seasons as a coach – the only exception being a second-place finish behind Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid. These two will battle it out for the ultimate prize with City just pipping their rivals to the title.

Jurgen Klopp has no European football to worry about this season and will have the chance to prepare his side properly for every game. Liverpool could be this season’s surprise package and look a good bet for one of the other two Champions League spots.

The final place in the top four will be straight battle between Chelsea and Arsenal with Wenger’s men just edging out their fellow Londoners who could take a while adjusting to a new system under Italian coach Antonio Conte.

  1. Manchester City
  2. Manchester United
  3. Liverpool
  4. Arsenal

Betting odds

  • Manchester City to win the league can be backed at 5/2
  • Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool Tricast can be backed at 33/1
  • Liverpool to finish in the top four can be backed at 11/8

For the best betting options and great prices, we recommend Betfair. New customers can get enhanced prices on Manchester city or Manchester United to win the Premier League. Visit Betfair for more details.

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Sunday Euro 2016 Portugal vs France – Final Preview

Sunday Euro 2016 Portugal vs France – Final Preview

July 10, 2016 20:00pm – Stade de France, Saint-Denis

Finals

Recent Form (all comps)

Portugal: WWWDD

France: WWWDW

It may not have been a classic tournament in terms of overall quality but Euro 2016 has still produced some memorable moments. On Sunday, Portugal and France will get one last chance to put on a show as they go head-to-head for the European Championship crown.

France will be aiming to win their third major tournament on home soil, while Portugal will be hoping to win their first ever major trophy 12 years after their debut finals appearance.

Both sides have adopted very flexible tactical approaches to the tournament so far and have ended up with remarkably similar statistics. From shots on target and corners, to possession and passing accuracy, both sides come into this game very evenly-matched.

With so little to separate them, this game will come down to the small details and on that score, France just have the edge. Firstly, they have home advantage – although the huge Portuguese population in Paris should be out in force – and secondly, they have the tournament’s top scorer leading the line. Antoine Griezemann already has six goals to his name and looks all set to become the recipient of this year’s Golden Boot.

Meanwhile, Portugal will need to continue where they left off against Wales by making the most of their chances. They may get even less opportunities against France so will need to avoid the wastefulness that plagued their early games.

Both coaches may decide to stick with their successful semi-final starting line-ups, although based on their tournament policy so far, there could be at least one or two changes on either side. Fernando Santos will have to decide whether William Carvalho or Danilo gets the nod in defensive midfield, while Didier Deschamps faces the dilemma of whether to include N`Golo Kante in a front three.

Match Facts

  • Portugal have reached at least the semi-final stage in four of the last five Euro finals
  • Portugal were beaten finalists in 2004
  • France won this event in 1984 and 2000
  • Portugal have won just one game in 90 minutes at this tournament
  • France have not lost to Portugal since 1975
  • The winner has kept a clean sheet in the last three European Championship finals

Prediction

France have dominated head-to-head meetings between the two sides, have home advantage and possess a greater goal-scoring threat.

You can back France to lift the trophy at 4/9 with Betfair.

Antoine Griezmann can be backed at 6/4 to score anytime.

Betfair is our recommended bookmaker for all your Euro 2016 bets.

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Thursday Euro 2016 Portugal vs Wales – Semi-finals Preview

Thursday Euro 2016 Portugal vs Wales – Semi-finals Preview

July 07, 2016 20:00pm – Stade de Lyon, Lyon

Semi-finals

Recent Form (all comps)

Portugal: WWDDD

Wales: WWWLW

Seasoned Euro campaigners Portugal will line up in their fifth tournament semi-final on Wednesday night when they face a Wales team who are enjoying a dream debut at this event.

Having never previously qualified for a European Championship finals, few could have predicted that Wales would be one of four teams left standing at the semi-final stage in France. Standing in their way of a dream appearance in the final is a team that they have yet to face in a competitive environment. The last team to reach the semi-final stage at the first attempt was Sweden back in 1992.

In the three previous friendly meetings between the two sides, Portugal claimed two wins and Wales one. Remarkably, Portugal have yet to win a game in 90 minutes during this tournament, having drawn their three group stage matches and been taken to extra time and then penalties in their two knockout stage encounters. Despite their uninspiring performances, Cristiano Ronaldo’s men will start the game as clear favourites.

Unlike Portugal, Wales have won four matches in normal time since arriving in France. Their only disappointment came in the last minute defeat to arch-rivals England.

Match Facts

  • The teams last met in a friendly 16 years ago when Portugal won 3-0
  • Portugal have reached the semi-final stage in four of the last five Euro finals
  • This is Wales’ first semi-final appearance at any major event
  • Gareth Bale is joint-second in the race for the Golden Boot with a total of three goals

Prediction

Portugal may have the pedigree but Chris Coleman’s men have looked the better side at this tournament. If they can cope with the ever-mounting pressure, their improbable journey could continue into Sunday night.

You can back Wales to progress at 13/8 with Betfair.

Betfair is our recommended bookmaker for all your Euro 2016 bets.

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Thursday Euro 2016 Germany vs France – Semi-final Preview

Thursday Euro 2016 Germany vs France – Preview

July 07, 2016 20:00pm – Stade Vélodrome, Marseille

Semi-finals

Recent Form (all comps)

Germany: WWWDW

France: WWDWW

Germany and France have never met in a European Championship finals event – however, they have met four times at the FIFA World Cup with Germany having prevailed in the last three meetings. France’s solitary win came in Sweden way back in 1958 when they ran out 6-3 winners in the third-place play-off match.

The teams will clash again at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille on Thursday night with a semi-final place against Portugal or Wales at stake. Both sides have won four and drawn one of their five tournament matches so far.

Germany have enjoyed a huge share of the possession in all their Euro 2016 games with an average total of 63% compared to France’s 55%. Nonetheless, it is France who have been sharper in front of goal having scored 11 times from 87 attempts compared to Germany’s ratio of 7 from 91.

The other statistics have been remarkably similar suggesting that this will be a tight contest with the French happier to see slightly less of the ball and strike on the counter-attack.

France have the better record in overall meetings between the teams but Germany have the edge where it counts – at competitive tournament level.

France have three players in the race for the Golden boot with Antoine Griezmann on four goals, and Olivier Giroud and Dimitri Payet on three apiece. Mario Gomez leads the scoring for Germany with a total of two.

Match Facts

  • Both teams come into this game unbeaten at Euro 2016
  • First Euro finals meeting between the two teams
  • France unbeaten in their last nine games, having won eight and drawn one
  • France have hit the woodwork six times already
  • Germany were 1-0 winners when the teams met at the quarter final stage of 2014 World Cup

Prediction

France have not beaten Germany at a major tournament since 1958 but they look well-placed to push their neighbours all the way here. They have three strikers in form, are unbeaten in nine matches and have home advantage. With that in mind, we are backing this one to go to all the way to extra-time.

You can back the draw at 2/1 with Betfair.

Betfair is our recommended bookmaker for all your Euro 2016 bets.

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