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Betting preview's




14.01.2017


 

England Premier League

 

Burnley 3.75 v Southampton 2.26; The Draw 3.40

I mention regularly in my previews the word value, or 'perceived value' as I call it because that's exactly what it is; one person's perception of what is a value price. I perceive Burnley to be value at 3.75 to win this match, and therefore they have to be the selection.

I'm not overly confident that the Clarets will bag yet another home win on Saturday, but what I am confident about is that if these two sides met 11 times under the exact same circumstances then Burnley would come out on top at least three times.

And that makes a price of 3.75 about a home win a value one.

The reason I mention 11 above - a rather strange sample you may have thought - is because not only is it the perfect number to use to explain why Burnley are value at their current odds, it's also the number of games they've played at Turf Moor in the league this season.

Yet remarkably Sean Dyche's men have won seven of those games including victories over top-nine clubs Liverpool (2nd), Everton (7th), and Bournemouth (9th). They've also defeated Palace and Watford who were both comfortably in mid-table at the time of playing.

Southampton are also a mid-table side - currently sitting 10th to be precise - but they travel to Lancashire on the back of three consecutive league defeats, conceding nine goals in the process. The Saints also failed to beat Norwich in the FA Cup last weekend, and although they defeated Liverpool in the EFL Cup in midweek the Reds were very much out of sorts that night and I'm happy to dismiss that result as a sign that Claude Puel's men have bounced back to form.

I do fancy Burnley to win this, I just don't think you can ever be too confident about a 3.75 shot in football - the outsider of the three Match Odds options may I add - and I do have this worry that the Clarets' home form will desert them sooner rather than later.

Mind you I've been saying that for the last six weeks and regularly been proved wrong, so let's stick with Dyche's men at an attractive price.
source:betfair
Recommended Bet
Back Burnley to Win @ 3.75

 


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Swansea 7.20 v Arsenal 1.53; The Draw 4.80

Swansea did win with new boss Paul Clement in attendance - a 2-1 victory over fellow strugglers Crystal Palace - but it was 'business as usual' when the former Derby boss officially took charge for the first time as the Swans were dumped out of the FA Cap by Hull last weekend.

Clement expressed his surprise at the quiet nature of the crowd, stating that it was different to what he's been used to recently. He's arrived at Swansea, and travelled to relegation candidates Hull, having been assistant manager at Bayern Munich. What was he expecting?

Clement's only previous managerial job of course was at Derby, where he flopped and was sacked after winning just 14 of the 33 games in which he was in charge of the then Championship title favourites. I have serious doubts about his ability to guide Swansea to Premier League safety.

Immediately before the league win over Palace Swansea had lost back-to-back games at the Liberty Stadium by an aggregate score of 1-7, losing by three clear goals on both occasions, to West Ham and Bournemouth respectively.

Arsenal are a far better team than those two outfits so it's easy to expect another heavy defeat for the Swans.

The Gunners were the big losers over the Christmas period, picking up just seven points from the 15 available, but prior to that they were in excellent form and I expect them to get back to that sort of level on Saturday afternoon.

Arsene Wenger's men are the third highest goalscorers in the Premier League while Swansea have conceded more than any other club in the division so it's not difficult to envisage the Gunners not just winning at the Liberty Stadium, but winning with plenty of room to spare.
source:betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Arsenal -1 to Win @ 2.50
 

 


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West Ham 2.44 v Crystal Palace 3.25; The Draw 3.45

Saturday's six 3pm kick-offs hardly set the pulses racing; 11 of the bottom 12 clubs in the Premier League are in action and there are some very tough-looking fixtures.

This game became slightly more interesting with the news that Dimitri Payet no longer wants to play for the club. The Frenchman now looks set for period in limbo with boss Slaven Bilic standing firm and declaring he's going nowhere, but until his attitude changes Payet won't be considered for the first team.
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I'd like to say the situation is one of disbelief, but unfortunately it isn't. Players generally hold all the aces these days and more often than not will get what they want.

West Ham without Payet are a considerably weaker team, that's for certain, and at the London Stadium they look slightly vulnerable against Crystal Palace. The Hammers have already lost six times at their new home in all competitions and they've just conceded seven goals in back-to-back home defeats to the two Manchester clubs.

Facing Palace looks a much easier assignment as the Eagles concede a lot of goals away from home. In fact since the beginning of September Palace's nine Premier League away games have witnessed a total of 38 goals - 17 for, 21 against - at an average of just over four per game.

All bar one of those nine away matches resulted in both teams getting on the scoresheet and that's the bet I fancy here.

Sam Allardyce is sure to tighten the Eagles defence up in time but until we see evidence of it I'm prepared to wager that they'll concede at least one at the London Stadium. And given the magnitude of this game, and the fact that West Ham have been pretty poor on home soil this term, I expect Palace to get on the scoresheet themselves.
source:betfair
Recommended Bet
Back Both Teams to Score @ 1.85

 

 


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Charlton Athletic 3.05 v Millwall 2.50, the draw 3.55
Both of these teams met just before Christmas, and Millwall took advantage of a woeful Charlton performance that day with a 3-1 victory. Unsurprisingly judged on that, the away side head the market as the favourites here.

Considering the inconsistencies of the duo, there could be some mileage in backing the home team for this derby, especially at odds of around 2/1 or bigger. Their home record at The Valley is good enough (W5-D4-L3), and their defensive record of conceding just ten goals in their own backyard is amongst the best in League One. 

But you have to excuse the shocking defensive lapses they produced in the heavy loss to their London rivals just a few weeks ago.

Millwall will be buoyed by the fantastic 3-0 FA Cup success against Bournemouth, and their Christmas was rather productive with ten points gained from four matches. They are going better after a wobbly period. 

The Over 2.5 Goals or the BTTS are bets worth considering, as we are counting on Millwall's poor record of conceding goals on the road. The Londoners have shipped in 27 on their travels, and have failed to keep a clean sheet away from The Den this season. 

Both are patchy though; Millwall were beaten at home 1-0 by Shrewsbury before their decent run, whilst Charlton have only showed brief glimpses of 'Karl Robinson football', and for that reason I'll chance the away team. 

OPTA STATS: The Addicks have not beaten the Lions in the league since 1996, drawing four and losing five of their last nine meetings. Millwall have conceded just two goals in their last eight league matches against Charlton (keeping six clean sheets in that run). 
source:betfair
Recommended Bet 
Back Millwall to win @ 2.50

 


 

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Shrewsbury Town 4.90 v Bradford City 1.91, the draw 3.60


My record in successfully tipping a Bradford victory is fairly atrocious - so it's fair to say I'll be leaving alone the 4/5 on offer for the Bantams this Saturday. 

One place I will be heading though is the Under 2.5 bet. City's away record in 12 games reads F12 A12, whilst Shrewsbury's home ledger for goals stands at F12 A16 - so if we can get anywhere near 1.85 for that, that is the call. 

The Bantams have some terrific players and are a decent side, but they draw too many games. Correct scores of 0-0 have popped up on four occasions for Stuart McCall's men, whilst the 1-1 has fared even better with seven appearances. Both bets are worth looking at to trade in-play. 
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Shrewsbury managed to haul themselves out of the relegation recently for the first time in what seems likes years. Manager Paul Hurst deserves a lot of credit for that, and under his watch, they have conceded just one goal in six home league matches. 

Added to that stat, the Shrews have managed to stay in games against the better teams in the division, and they will simply have to see this as a 90 minute duel to keep the Yorkshire side at bay for as long as possible. And remember, Bradford are not a free-scoring team, as 17 of their League One matches this term have hit the Under 2.5 line. 

OPTA STATS: The Bantams have not won away in the league at Shrewsbury since September 2009; drawing one and losing three of the four trips. The Shrews have kept three clean sheets in their last four home league matches - the same amount as their previous 27. 
source:betfair
Recommended Bets 
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 
Back The Draw @ 3.60

 


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Port Vale 4.40 v MK Dons 1.95, the draw 3.65


The brief flirtation with a European experiment at Vale Park failed, and the patient (and often slow and painful) passing of the previous incumbent's 4-2-3-1 has been ditched in favour of a more urgent, pressing game. Vale's caretaker manager Michael Brown has put his new plan to good use in his two League One games since Bruno Riberio's departure - gaining a 0-0 draw at Oldham, and a 1-0 victory against Chesterfield. 

I have a feeling that's how Brown will be approaching Saturday's match, although surprisingly the home team are three places above the MK Dons. 

The Buckinghamshire outfit were dumped out of the FA Cup at Brighton last weekend, and their previous 0-0 clash with Chesterfield was a game of very few chances. Dour in fact. 
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New Dons' boss Robbie Neilson arguably has greater strength up front, and he fielded a 'forward three' in the match against Chesterfield. They will be the side capable of the moments of brilliance, but the MK Dons away from home have only scored 11 times this term - and they have hit the Under 2.5 target in three of their last four matches. 

Vale have just snapped up former Manchester United winger Chris Eagles, but Brown's style might just be a bit more defensive. 

OPTA STATS: The last four league games between these teams have produced just three goals; each of them helping in victories by a one-goal margin. MK have failed to score in consecutive away matches for the first time since December 2015. 
source:betfair
Recommended Bet 
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.80

 


 

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Cheltenham 2.84 v Accrington 2.76; the draw 3.40

"Don't tell him yer name, Pike!" said Captain Mainwaring in a famous line from Dad's Army. Or, if you've just signed for a new side, perhaps you shouldn't tell anybody what you can do so the opposition can't find out. I'm sure Gary Johnson will want to keep the skills of West Ham's Alex Pike a secret from Accrington, now he has hooked the defender on loan.

Equally, he will hope to use Carl Winchester, brought in from Oldham, as a surprise element as Cheltenham seek to prove former Southampton and England striker Matt Le Tissier right, that they shouldn't be sat as lowly as they are in League Two.

Pictures of robins looking proud in snowy scenes abound at this time of year. With snowy scenes still possible, it is time for the Robins of Cheltenham to flourish. I rarely base anything on Checkatrade Trophy results, but they will have gained a huge amount of confidence from their 6-1 win over Leicester U21s. Yes, they faced a young side, but they scored six goals.

Johnson will be delighted with new loan signing Diego De Girolamo's hat-trick - will the 21-year-old be in the frontline for a regular starting place? The Bristol City striker seems to have dislodged Billy Waters, one of Cheltenham's better performers this season, from his striker's position. But Waters has a licence to thrill from the centre of midfield. 

Cheltenham have reserved their better performances for the Checkatrade Trophy and have only won once in seven league games - at Morecambe, who are struggling for their very existence. It has been hard to give them the vote against many teams, but Accrington might just be one - because they, too, have been struggling for form. 

Victory against Luton in the FA Cup last weekend, putting them in the fourth round for only the second time, was against the grain of form. 

Can Sean McConville and Omar Beckles produce that magic in the league? Or Billy Kee find his scoring touch again? Arguably, both sides will fancy their chances of a point or three here, with John Stanley of Accrington bemoaning for several weeks how his side have not gone away from games without their just deserts. Opta emphasise they have failed to score in six of their last nine games.

Whichever side can build themselves up and puff their chests out best could win here - and I'm going for the Robins.
source:betfair
Recommended Bet
Back Cheltenham @ 2.84

 


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Crewe 3.80 v Luton 2.10; the draw 3.65

The boot was on the other foot at Accrington last Saturday, where Luton manager Nathan Jones was moaning that his side didn't get what deserved and were committing the same old errors - rather than it being the home side's boss. 

No doubt the Hatters will still be smarting and therefore eager to push back up into the playoff places, having slipped out of the top seven by a point.

Their away form is pretty solid, their eight goals conceded the best in the division, alongside Plymouth. They have conceded one goal in their last four away games, losing at Portsmouth. 

Competition for places is stiff, with Craig Mackail-Smith saying he might seek a loan elsewhere if he can't nail down a striker's berth and Jones admitting he can't hold back defender Jack Senior much longer from a starting place.
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Could he start against Crewe? With Glen Rea sent off in the FA Cup, he might be able to keep his place and make his full league debut. He is an attacking defender, too, which will help his and Luton's cause.

Crewe have really started to struggle, taking two points from seven games and not scoring in the last three games. Alex Kiwomya and Chris Dagnall need to find their scoring touches again.

Crewe do not change their manager often, so they must have thought long and hard about parting with Steve Davis, but have a man who knows them well in David Artell, 36, a former club captain, to take over. He says he will make mistakes - but at the same time "bleed" Kenny Lunt and many others for their knowledge. 

It's a steep learning curve when you step up to management. It is hard, however, to see that his "fresh start" can start with a victory against a team who have tangible ambitions to gain promotion, with Danny Hylton looking to celebrate his new contract by finishing chances from a new enthusiast like Jack Wright.
Opta point out that Luton have lost just one of their last eight away games while Crewe have won just one in eight at home.
source:betfair
Recommended Bet
Back Luton @ 2.10

 


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Grimsby Town 2.60 v Exeter City 3.00; the draw 3.55

Goalkeeper Dean Henderson, and his defence, earned rave reviews after Grimsby's 1-0 win at Hartlepool. In fact, they have conceded just one goal in four games, beating Carlisle and Accrington while drawing with Blackpool.

Adi Yussuf has also proved a useful addition up front, scoring in consecutive victories to take some of the weight off Omar Bogle's shoulders. Opta state that Bogle has been directly involved in a higher share of his team's goals than any other player in the top four tiers this season (70%).

For all that, the Mariners might just meet their match in Exeter, whose away points haul is second to none in League Two and whose ability to finally find form at home has propelled them from the bottom three to 12th in a matter of weeks. They are also fresh from not having played last weekend.

Paul Tisdale's men are seven games unbeaten, have conceded just two goals in that period and banged in 14. Ollie Watkins is just one of several players full of confidence and whom the Grecians will be desperate to keep in the transfer window. He scored eight times last season, having only started 12 of the final 13 games, and the academy product has eight goals to his name already this season. Reuben Reid, an experienced hand along side him, must be teaching him well.
The price is good on an away win and given the visitors' record on their travels this season, it is too big to ignore.
source:betfair
Recommended Bet
Back Exeter @ 3.00

 


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Newport County 3.65 v Colchester 2.22; the draw 3.60

Graham Westley clearly has been champing at the bit for the transfer window to open. Having made a few initial inroads into improving the Exiles' form, the manager has released six players and signed eight since January 1.

He wants winners - those who have won promotions before, because they know how to keep winning. Unfortunately, one who has done so, defender Mickey Demetriou, released from Shrewsbury with whom he climbed out of League Two, is unlikely to be fit to start against Colchester. And how Newport could do with some quality defenders! They have conceded twice or more in teach of their last six matches - 19 in total.

Five of those signings began against Stevenage, who won 3-1, with the other of the six at the time, much-travelled striker Craig Reid, coming on as a substitute. Not even he could arrest a slide of eight straight defeats.

Given all these transitions and that bad run, Colchester should be red hot favourites with their record of five straight wins and eight games unbeaten. Kurtis Guthrie will be on a high after his first hat-trick and while John McGreal doesn't want United to "get above themselves" there is every chance they are thinking they can reach the top seven.
source:betfair
Recommended Bet
Back Colchester @ 2.22

 

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07.01.2017


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FA Cup third round

 

Birmingham 4.50 v Newcastle 1.94; The Draw 3.75

Predicting the outcome of a FA Cup Third Round tie 48 hours in advance is pretty much a case of the blind leading the blind.

In fact, the only thing we can wager on confidently during the new few days is that we won't hear a manager declare in his pre-match press conference that, "We've been looking forward to this game for weeks, having a good cup run is our priority and I'll be fielding my strongest side possible."

Unfortunately that just doesn't happen anymore. League titles, qualifying for Europe, avoiding relegation, achieving promotion; those are your priorities these days. They always have been of course, but they used to go hand-in-hand with managers still taking the FA Cup seriously.

But not anymore, and you can rest assured managers up and down the country will be making a plethora of changes to their starting XIs this weekend.

Newcastle have easily the strongest squad in the Championship and Rafa Benitez hasn't been afraid to rotate his men for league games, so he'll no doubt freshen his side up for the trip to St Andrew's after a hectic Christmas schedule.

But given United's quality we can be confident that whoever Benitez starts with should be good enough to progress to the next round. The Magpies have been excellent away from home this term, and facing an out-of-form Birmingham side should present few problems.

The Blues have taken just a single point from a possible 12 since Gianfranco Zola replaced Gary Rowett and I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Italian juggled his side here, more in the hope of trying to find a few players he can trust for league games ahead than anything else.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Newcastle to Win @ 1.94 

 


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Everton 1.92 v Leicester 4.60; The Draw 3.75

Everton have hit a bit of form in the Premier League, winning three of their last five matches including a 2-1 victory over Arsenal, an impressive 3-0 win over Southampton, and a 2-0 triumph over Saturday's opponents Leicester.

However, Ronald Koeman's men find themselves fully nine points behind sixth-placed Manchester United in the league so a good cup run would be very welcome on Merseyside.

I can see Koeman fielding a strong side, and given Leicester's dreadful away form backing the home win carries a lot of confidence.

The Foxes have yet to win a single league game away from home this season, and with a relegation battle ahead, and the club losing a few players to Africa Cup of Nations duty during the next four weeks or so, I envisage Claudio Ranieri resting some of his more important players for the trip to Goodison Park.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Everton to Win @ 1.92

 


 

 

Hull 2.66 v Swansea 2.88; The Draw 3.60

At least one boss will commence his tenure at his new club by progressing to the fourth round of the FA Cup, but don't expect it to be at the first time of asking.

Both Hull and Swansea are in such poor form that it's impossible to make a confident selection in the Match Odds market, though given the Draw is trading as the outsider of the three options at a quite appealing 3.60 then that's the call from a value perspective.

I'm pretty confident that if these two clubs met under the exact same circumstances three matches in a row then at least one of them would finish in a stalemate, and that would be enough for us to make a profit.

It's also impossible to know exactly how new managers Marco Silva (Hull) and Paul Clement (Swansea) will approach this tie given Premier League safety is undoubtedly their priority.

It could be that both managers will simply go all out for the win given that a replay is probably the last thing they'll want, and I'm not surprised that the Over 2.5 Goals options is a shade of odds-on at 1.98. When these two sides met in the Premier League earlier in the season it was Under 2.5 Goals that was favourite. Hull ran out 2-0 winners at the Liberty Stadium.

If you're thinking of having a decent wager on this match it will probably mean you waiting for the team new. Unfortunately I don't have that luxury but at this stage I just feel that the draw is slightly over-priced.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back The Draw @ 3.60

 

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Norwich 3.50 v Southampton 2.26; The Draw 3.50

There could potentially be a minor shock at Carrow Road on Saturday afternoon given Southampton's poor run of form.

Many will argue that with the Saints safely in mid-table then boss Claude Puel may as well play his strongest side possible and go for FA Cup glory. It's certainly a possibility, but his strongest side aren't exactly playing well at present.

And with club captain Jose Fonte handing in a transfer request on Thursday a few cracks might just be starting to appear within the Southampton squad.

Puel's men have lost three league games on the spin now, conceding nine goals in the process. That's quite an alarming statistic for a team that recorded six clean sheets on the spin earlier in the season.

Norwich haven't exactly been in great form either, in fact I've been keen to take them on recently, but on Monday they recorded a superb 3-0 win over in-form Derby, and with Alex Neil still under pressure I'm confident he'll send out a strong side to try and gain some more momentum against a vulnerable Premier League outfit.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Norwich to Win @ 3.50

 


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West Brom 1.86 v Derby 4.80; The Draw 3.60

click here for more info...A meeting of two in-form teams though it's unlikely we'll witness a high-scoring classic when the Baggies host the Rams on Saturday afternoon.

Tony Pulis' men are enjoying a fantastic season, currently sitting eighth in the table with a four-point cushion over those below them. They've just recorded back-to-back wins over Southampton and Hull but I've got a feeling that the visit of Derby will present a very tough challenge.

Steve McClaren's men have been on a terrific run of form in the Championship, winning eight of nine games prior to Monday's defeat at Norwich, and they've recorded a very impressive seven clean sheets from their last nine matches.

At the Ipro Stadium Derby haven't conceded a goal for over three months, and although this tie is away from home it shows how organised and defensively tight McClaren's men have become.

West Brom will have plenty of possession but if they don't make an early breakthrough I envisage a very tactical affair with both defences coming out on top. Don't be surprised if this game remains goalless for long periods.
source: betfair

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Back Under 1.5 Goals @ 3.00

 

 


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 England football leagues

 

Swindon Town 2.22 v Shrewsbury Town 3.50, the draw 3.55

A glance at the footballing runes will not be top of the 'must do' list for Shrewsbury manager Paul Hurst, as according to Opta, his club have lost their last five away games against Swindon in league competition.

Taking their first-half performance in a 1-0 defeat against Fleetwood on Bank Holiday Monday, you are likely to say those stats won't be broken, as they produced a fairly forgettable 45 minutes. With three defeats on the spin and just two victories on the road all season; Salop do not exactly stand out as a bet this weekend at 5/2.

This match pits 23rd against 19th, and it's a must-win game for both. Swindon's home form could just make them the bet here however, with only one defeat from their last seven at the County Ground.

I have fond memories of Swindon's home. I interviewed the gigantic goalkeeper Bart Griemink many years ago, and following an in-depth chat, I realised I hadn't turned on the record button on the hard-to-carry Marantz tape machine. It was a corker too.

I also haven't erased from my memory the out-of-the-blue performance from the Robins when they trounced Charlton 3-0. They have kept four clean sheets in that run of seven home games, and they also beat Rochdale 3-0. If they produce that, they win.

Shrewsbury have plenty of industry but lack creation going forward, but eight of their 13 away games have finished Over 2.5 Goals. Hopefully the hosts will have Nathan Thompson and Yaser Kasim fit, as those two are big players. And with Town conceding just 11 goals on their own patch in 12 matches, they just shade it here for me.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet 
Back Swindon Town to win @ 2.22

 


 

Bristol Rovers 1.98 v Northampton Town 3.95, the draw 3.75

click here for more info...Both these sides are consistent for their inconsistency - so they're in the right division! Although you can count on one thing with Bristol Rovers - and that's goals. 

The Christmas period highlighted how teams can go from one extreme to the other. Rovers lost 4-1 to Charlton on Monday, but won 4-1 against Coventry previously. Throw in a 4-2 success against Bury and another heavy loss to Charlton (1-5) from the past six weeks, and you've got a ready-made angle for the Over 2.5 Goals. 

In fact, 11 of their 13 matches in Bristol have hit the target for the Over 2.5 bet, whilst backers of the BTTS would also have collected on 11 occasions. 

According to Opta, both sides have scored at least two goals in each of their last two meetings in league competition (Bristol Rovers 5, Northampton 4), so it's a fairly obvious way to be heading for Saturday. 

Rovers score plenty, and with 24 at home this term, only Rochdale and Scunthorpe have netted more. The Gas will also be missing the injured Ryan Hartley, and the centre-back is a big threat at set-pieces with six goals. 

Northampton themselves are wonderful in their patchy form - which is unlike a Rob Page side - as he likes a tight defence. They picked up a couple of wins on the road in December, and recently managed to stay in the game against in-form Sheffield United (losing 1-0 at Bramall Lane). They are worth an outside punt here.
source: betfair

Recommended Bets 
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.90

 

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Southend United 4.40 v Sheffield United 1.95, the draw 3.70

Backing odds-on away from home is not always the best way to go. I did for this column when Sheffield United beat Coventry 2-1 at the Ricoh in mid-December, and I had to thank Billy Sharp for an 87th minute winner. Sometimes I've been the pigeon, sometimes I've been the statue, and the Blades scraped that victory. 

Talking of statues - they'll erect one at Bramall Lane one day for Sharp, as the forward has been brilliant this campaign. Actually he's been brilliant most seasons, and he's a smashing player at this level. 

Sharp has hit 17 goals this term for the league leaders, who are now 1.56 in the League One winner market. They have won their last five on the spin and conceded just two goals in that run. Things are looking good for Chris Wilder's men. 

However, Southend do not deserve to be 4.40 shots here, and they are genuine play-off contenders at the moment. 

Their record at Roots Hall since defeat to Fleetwood back in August has been excellent, and they have carved out an unbeaten ten-match run. Phil Brown's side have conceded just ten in that sequence, with three clean sheets as well. 

The run of fixtures coming up for Southend will show us a bit about their mettle; with games against Rochdale, Bolton, and Scunthorpe.

The Shrimpers looked shattered in their Monday 0-0 against Swindon, so the latest batch of days' rest will be most welcome. Striker Nile Ranger featured over the Christmas period from the bench following injury, and I hope he starts this weekend. They look overpriced to me.
source: betfair

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Back Southend United to win @ 4.40

 

 


 

 

Colchester 2.60 v Carlisle 2.80; the draw 3.70 

click here for more info...'Clean sheet! My kingdom for a clean sheet!' That seemed to be one battle cry from Keith Curle this week after 12 games without one. Could it be 13th time lucky?

It would seem unlikely for many reasons. Firstly, his other strong public uttering was that he thinks some of his key players could do with a rest and he might give them one. Oh, how many managers would love the luxury of such thoughts when sitting third in League Two with a healthy goal difference, and a squad of sufficient quality to offer some genuine rotation opportunities. Derek Asamoah is desperate to force his way back in - and who wouldn't want to return to a generally winning team?

Curle is offering new contracts to several key players - top scorer Jason Kennedy, Luke Joyce, keeper Mark Gillespie, captain Danny Grainger and Michael Raynes - and awaiting their decisions before making major incursions into the transfer window, but he has been "bugging" Cardiff boss Neil Warnock about Rhys Healey, who was on loan at Newport. He'd also love to keep Macaulay Gillesphey on loan from Newcastle.

Carlisle have lost only once in their last 15 away games in League Two, point out Opta, winning six and drawing eight - and that's where this game could end up. The initial odds have shifted slightly from 2.70 apiece to Colchester's favour, but one important stat in Carlisle's favour is that, in those 12 games without a clean sheet, they have scored in all but one (26 goals in total), winning seven matches.

Colchester are seven games unbeaten, taking 19 points, after a 10-game winless streak. They are now eighth and eyeing the play-offs in a serious way. Right wing back Richard Brindley says it feels like everything is clicking, and his fellow wing back Brennan Dickenson would have to agree in their new 3-5-2 formation. Dickenson is now joint leading scorer, with Chris Porter, on seven, pleasing boss John McGreal that goals are coming from many quarters of his squad.

Colchester have kept five clean sheets in their last seven games, scoring 16 goals, which is the more important clue to both sides going hell for leather and producing a result with over 3.5 goals. You can go for 0-0 as an antidote to all known statistics as a correct score if you like at 15.00 but I think over 3.5 goals is much more likely to be rewarded at 2.84.
source: betfair

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Back the draw @ 3.70

 

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Hartlepool 3.10 v Grimsby 2.50; the draw 3.60

I seem to remember writing in the past that I expected the Hartlepool keeper to be the busiest in League Two - and two seasons later little has changed.

Whether it was Scott Flinders, as then, or Trevor Carson, as now, the position of Pools' stopper is a vital one. Just how crucial a custodian is can often be overlooked: but it was underlined by the local media's headline "Hartlepool star man out injured for rest of season" with a picture of Carson, who is due to have a shoulder operation after soldiering on manfully for some time, it seems.

With a goal difference of -9, the fifth worst in League Two, it will take a lot more than even an experienced goalkeeper to help Pools stave off the threat of relegation. This Craig Hignett well knows, having signed Fulham defender Sean Kavanagh, 22, a versatile left-footed defender who can play in midfield, too.

The manager still believes his side need to tighten their ship, even after a 0-0 draw at Portsmouth. The case against the defence was again put in their 2-2 draw at Accrington, secured at the last minute, much to the displeasure of opposition boss John Coleman. They also conceded two against Morecambe (but scored three to win).

With three defeats in six, conceding 12 goals and not managing to score in four of those, victory or even a point against Grimsby looks somewhat unlikely.

New boss Marcus Bignot seems to be taking the line that many people do in life: stick largely to what you know but don't be afraid to learn. According to reports, he is returning to his former club, Solihull Moors, to sign Jamie Osbourne and striker Akwasi Asante while also looking at other non-league players.

What is certain is that his first signing, Adi Yussef, scored in the remarkable 3-1 at Carlisle - remarkable only because it marked the Cumbrians' first home defeat. Bignot must hope this week's recruit, defender Gavin Gunning from Greenock, makes just as big an impact on his debut.

Clearly the Mariners' manager also has an eye on development and experimentation because Andrew Boyce admitted the squad was surprised when they changed to a 3-5-2 formation (what is it with managers in this division?) for the Carlisle match.

It meant Boyce returned to the team, so it was a welcome surprise for him. They seem to have hit one of their winning streaks, with two wins at a draw and I can see another win for them here and they can still eye the playoffs. All this transfer activity talk will surely inspire the likes of Omar Bogle to continue his scoring spree. Opta say he has 56% of his team's league goals (18 of 32) this season - the highest proportion of any League Two player.
source: betfair

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Back Grimsby @ 2.50

 


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Leyton Orient 2.60 v Barnet 3.00; the draw 3.50

Another day, another key player ruled out for the season - Robbie Weir, the Leyton Orient captain this time - completing the wreckage that was the 4-0 defeat at Exeter.

The troubles don't get easier, with Jay Simpson now asking to leave the club six months before the end of his contract. Southend could be interested. With changes of manager and fans still upset with the running of the club, Simpson saying he wants out will hardly help Andy Edwards, nor will the continued absences of Teddy Mezague (groin), Sandro Semedo (knee) and Sam Dalby (ankle).

Even if Orient have taken seven points from three recent home games, Barnet seem in a far happier place, despite two defeats in four. A win over Plymouth, however, will have really boosted confidence, especially for debutants Simeon Akinola and Ricardo Almeida Santos. Dan Sweeney and David Tutonda, also recent recruits, will be pushing for full debuts.

The Bees have scored in all five of Rossi Eames' games in charge and chasing a top seven spot seems their aim and, in fact, Opta point out that Barnet have scored in their last 21 away games, setting a club record in the Football League. They are a nice big price to oblige.
source: betfair

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Back Barnet @ 3.00

 

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02.01.2017


 

Man City 1.19 v Burnley 19.00; The Draw 8.80

I've repeatedly wrote in recent weeks that it doesn't matter who the opposition is, sometimes you can make a call on a football match simply by assessing one team.


In this case that one team is Burnley. Or if you prefer, that one team is the away version of Burnley.

At Turf Moor, what Sean Dyche's men are doing is nothing short of phenomenal, and they deserve enormous credit for it. Saturday's 4-1 thrashing of Sunderland took the Clarets' home points tally to 22 (from a possible 30). After the game they were sitting third in the Premier League table for home form. That's some achievement for a newly-promoted club.

But away from home Burnley are hopeless. They sit rock bottom of that particular table having taken just a single point all season, and they've scored just two goals on their travels which is by some distance the worst return in the Premier League.

On Monday the Clarets travel to Manchester City, who incidentally are one of the two teams that defeated them at Turf Moor. If you're still searching for your first away win of the campaign five months into the season, the Etihad Stadium isn't likely to be the place that you'll get it.

But then this Manchester City team don't exactly look bomb proof, especially on home soil where they've dropped points to Chelsea, Everton, Middlesbrough, and Southampton in the last few months. And following Saturday's defeat at Liverpool the mood in the camp won't exactly be sky high given they now trail league leaders Chelsea by fully 10 points.

The way I see this game going then is that Dyche will feel he has nothing to lose, and perhaps his best chance of getting anything from that match is by having a go against Pep Guardiola's men.

I wouldn't be surprised if Burnley got on the scoresheet in a similar type of game to how Chelsea v Stoke panned out at the weekend, but ultimately I think the home side will be too strong and take all three points, possibly by scoring at least four goals which is how I'm going to wager on the game.
source: betfair

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Back Any Other Home Win @ 3.20

 


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Sunderland 10.00 v Liverpool 1.37; The Draw 5.50

There's a bit of a pattern emerging with Liverpool. For all that they've been involved in some highly entertaining games, scoring three or more goals but often allowing the opposition to get on the scoresheet, in their most recent 'key' games they've kept it very tight and played out some low-scoring affairs.

Since the start of October they've scored a massive 28 league goals in games against Swansea, West Brom, Crystal Palace, Watford, Sunderland, Bournemouth, West Ham, Middlesbrough, and Stoke, recording just two clean sheets in those nine games.

All those clubs are (or were at the time of playing) 10th or lower in the table. Even looking at September's games against similar-placed teams, Jurgen Klopp's men beat Leicester 4-1 and Hull 5-1; another nine goals scored, two more failures to keep a clean sheet.

Yet in games against much stronger opposition recently, games that had a lot more riding on them, Liverpool have drawn 0-0 with both Manchester United and Southampton, and defeated Everton and Man City 1-0. That's just two goals scored and a 100% clean sheet record.

It's perhaps something to think of going forward. Klopp's men appear to be fully focused in the 'big' games, but against the teams that they find it easy to score against and should beat, they'll often switch off and allow the opposition to score.

With all this in mind, and given my opinion that Liverpool should easily beat a Sunderland team that are now appearing to be hopeless, the 2/1 on offer about an away win with both teams getting on the scoresheet makes plenty of appeal.

The stumbling block of course is the Black Cats finding the back of the net, but with Jermain Defoe in the side they've always got a chance. And if Liverpool find this game a bit of a stroll and take their foot off the gas then Sunderland must have a chance of doing what so many other bottom-half clubs have done against them by scoring at least once.
source: betfair

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West Brom 1.78 v Hull 5.70; The Draw 3.70

I think this has the makings of a good game, and I fancy we'll see a few goals.

That's a bit of a bold shout given we have a Tony Pulis side against one of the worst away teams in the division who struggle for goals on the road, but I've been quietly impressed with both teams in recent weeks, and I expect both managers will fancy their chances of taking all three points.

For Hull they're almost at the 'go for everything' stage and you can see in their play that they aren't holding back. They were excellent at West Ham in their last away game and could easily have scored two or three, and they took the game to Everton on Friday night, scoring twice and being slightly unfortunate not to score one or two more and win the match.

Mike Phelan has plenty of belief that his side can get out of trouble and nobody within the Tigers camp appears to be panicking just yet. If they keep doing what they're doing, which is to put more emphasis on attack, I think they'll get amongst the goals sooner rather than later and pick up a few wins.

The Baggies are eighth in the table after an excellent win at Southampton on Saturday so they'll be full of confidence at home to a side in the bottom three on Monday afternoon.

I've mentioned a few times now West Brom's excellent record against the teams that are expected to finish mid-table and lower; it's as if Pulis targets these type of games so we can be confident the Baggies will be up for this one.

I expect the home side to edge it, but I don't think it will be straightforward, especially if the away team can get on the scoresheet, which will of course go a long way to help land the recommended bet.
source: betfair

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Norwich 2.44 v Derby 3.20; The Draw 3.40

A cracking game in prospect here between two very good sides on their day, but just like I did a week ago I have to express my amazement that Norwich are such strong favourites.

On Boxing Day the Canaries - who had lost seven of their previous nine Championship games - were favourites to win away from home at in-form Reading. I didn't understand that one bit, and thankfully it went in our favour as the Royals ran out relatively easy 3-1 winners.

That meant Alex Neil's men had lost eight of their previous 10, and they've since been held to a goalless draw with Brentford, so how on earth can you back a team that has won just two of their last 11 as hot favourites against arguably the Championship's most in-form team?

True, Derby were disappointing in drawing 0-0 with Wigan on Saturday but hopefully that was merely a small blip. The Rams were still recording their eighth consecutive clean sheet on home soil, and from their last 10 games in the Championship they've won eight, drawn two, and prevented the opposition from scoring on eight occasions.

That run of excellent form entitles Steve McClaren's men to be at least a similar price as Norwich - who incidentally six points and five places behind Derby in the table - but given the dire form of the hosts we'd be forgiven for expecting to see the away team trading as favourites.

Derby aren't favourites, far from it, and we simply have to take a punt on them at odds of 3.20.
source: betfair

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Back Derby to Win @ 3.20

 



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Bristol City 2.26 v Reading 3.50; The Draw 3.85

For the second week in a row I'm genuinely amazed at the price of Reading, in fact this is the third time in the space of about six weeks that they appear to have been dismissed in the market.

I must be missing something. But then again, am I? Jaap Stam's men have won eight of their last 10 matches, sit third in the table, and are playing away to a team that has dropped to 17th in the Championship after losing eight of their last nine.

I'm genuinely staggered - but delighted at the same time - that we can back the Royals at 3.50.

To put those odds into perspective, Ipswich Town, who are 14th in the table and not in any great form, are away to a team just one point worse off than Bristol City, and yet the Tractor Boys are just 3.00 to win.

I'll repeat what I've just said above. Reading are third in the table, are in tremendous form, and they're playing a side that sit rock bottom in the 10-game form table. Stam's men have taken 24 points from the last 30 available, the Robins have taken just four.

Let me just check that Reading actually are available to back at 3.50. Yes they are. Wow!

They may lose of course because as anyone who knows me will know too well I'm a huge believer in the 'anything can happen in football' factor. On any given day, any team can beat anyone, and no more so than in this division. But betting is all about being happy with the price, backing at odds you think are too big.

If you stick to that philosophy you will generally profit in the long term, and odds of 3.50 about Reading just seem incredibly generous.
source: betfair

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Back Reading to Win @ 3.50 

 

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Nottm Forest 2.50 v Barnsley 3.10; The Draw 3.50

Games involving Nottm Forest continue to witness goals, so let's chance our arm on seeing at least four of them at the City Ground on Monday afternoon.

No team in the bottom half of the Championship has scored more goals than the 37 Forest have managed, and only Rotherham (52) have conceded more (Forest have conceded 44). The 81 goals seen in their games this term mean each match averages just shy of 3.5 per match.

We can back Over 3.5 Goals at 3.10 here, and that seems like a value wager.

Of course, it takes two teams to make a football match but we should have no worries about Barnsley being able to get on the scoresheet or concede themselves, as their league matches this term have witnessed 79 goals, just two fewer than Forest's games.

The Tykes' last seven league games have averaged exactly four goals per game, including Saturday's 2-2 draw with Birmingham, while for Forest their last seven league matches have averaged 3.43 goals per game.

And of course, when these two side last met six weeks ago we were treated to the net bulging seven times in a live TV match. I'm not expecting that amount of goals this time but given the stats for each team outlined here I think a price of 3.10 about witnessing at least four is more than fair.
source: betfair

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Back Over 3.5 Goals @ 3.10

 


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Gillingham 2.56 v Oxford United 2.60, the draw 3.50

Monday 2nd January, 15:00

Keeping up with the festive League One games is a job-and-a-half so never mind playing twice in three days. Whether the extra day of rest for Gillingham is crucial I am not sure, but the hosts do not look a bad price for the first home game of 2017 at Priestfield.

Gills' boss Justin Edinburgh will face a selection poser, as Bradley Dack and Paul Konchesky were both red-carded against Millwall on Friday. They lost 2-1 at The Den, but that part of London has never been a happy hunting ground for the Kent club. They played well for much of the game with ten men, and were a bit unlucky not to take something from the match. But like so many affairs in this division, the cutting edge up front proved critical.

Oxford have only scored 12 on the road this season, with just two victories away from home. That slightly tempers the Both Teams To Score market, as Gillingham's home matches involving that particular bet has hit nine out of 11 times. Which is an improvement on the Over 2.5 stats for games at the Priestfield - which is just six from the same amount.

Gillingham are nowhere near a play-off side, but neither are Oxford. Edinburgh's team have at least picked up their home record recently - going five unbeaten including wins against Rochdale (3-0) and MK Dons (1-0). And lest we forget - clean sheets have been the problem for them all campaign.

The Gills have conceded 28 away and just 11 on their own soil, and with the extra day of rest, I'm prepared to give a chance to Gillingham at what looks a fair price.
source: betfair

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Back Gillingham to beat Oxford United @ 2.56

 

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AFC Wimbledon 2.58 v Millwall 2.60, the draw 3.55

Monday 2nd January, 13:00

Millwall's festive form cannot be faulted - a maximum of nine points with victories against Gillingham, Swindon, and Charlton has pushed the Lions once again into the play-off picture.

The men from The Den scored seven goals in those three matches, and front duo Steve Morison and Lee Gregory are doing the business. Their combined total for goals in 2016 stands at an impressive 43 between them. Good sides have good partnerships, and they work ever-so-well together.

Neither of those two played when these two teams met in November - playing out a 0-0 draw at The Den. Both teams cancelled each other out on that occasion, and there's an argument to say that Wimbledon will have to try and do the same here as the Lions are scoring.

However, Millwall on the road have a shocking defensive record - conceding 25 in all, which puts them on a par with the leaky duo Bury and Coventry. Only Gillingham have the worst tally in terms of shipping goals at 28.

The hosts conceded three at Southend on Boxing Day, but they are one of the form teams of the division. At Kingsmeadow, the Dons have a recent couple of big wins including a 5-1 and a 4-0 (against Port Vale and Bury), but they are two poor sides at the moment.
source: betfair

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Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.85

 

 


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Oldham Athletic 2.02 v Port Vale 3.60, the draw 3.6

Monday 2nd January, 15:00

This is unlikely to be a classic, but that's not a reason to avoid this game. In fact, out of some of the tricky matches for Monday, this was the one that stood out for me as a bet.

Port Vale parted company with Bruno Ribeiro recently, and following a promising start, results dipped as they slipped to 17th in League One. Ribeiro's patient, passing style will be ditched by caretaker boss Michael Brown - who is going to opt for a more aggressive, high-energy game judged on his first in charge on Boxing Day against Chesterfield.

That was a much-needed 1-0 success. Both teams had just five shots in total on target, and the match was sparse in quality. The Burslem side's away record reads LDLLLW, and have suffered some heavy defeats against the better clubs.

Oldham are not one of the form teams in the division, although I made the point in Saturday's column that they are a better footballing outfit than a team who are bottom of the table.

The Latics just cannot score at home, and a record of just four there means we should be looking at a low-scoring game. Indeed, the Under 2.5 Goals at Boundary Park this term is flying - with nine games out of ten successful. The 0-0 Correct Score has also come up trumps a few times for Oldham's home matches - with four in total ending that way.

Defensively Athletic have shipped in just 11, which is not bad for the league's worst team. This will be low on quality, and Vale looked very tired after their exertions on Friday.
source: betfair

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Back Oldham Athletic to beat Port Vale @ 2.02 
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.77

 

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30-31.12.2016

 

 

Chelsea 1.28 v Stoke 14.50; The Draw 6.40

click here for more info...Twelve straight wins, 10 of them without conceding, there are a few people starting to argue that what Chelsea are doing is boring. But there's nothing boring about a winning bet, and while the Blues are in such good form and not conceding goals, then backing them to Win to Nil is virtually a no-brainer.

But perhaps there's a better way to profit from this game on this occasion.

The reality is that Antonio Conte's men really should make it 13 league wins on the spin, so the question we have to ask ourselves is do we expect Stoke to get on the scoresheet?

Mark Hughes' men are capable of course, as five league wins in seven games from mid-October prove, and even allowing for a confidence-damaging 4-1 loss at Anfield on Tuesday night Stoke still managed to find the back of the net for the seventh consecutive away match.

In fact the Potters have only once failed to score on the road this season, and that came at an in-form Everton in August. They've since found the back of the net away to the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool.

The worry of course is Stoke's recent form which now reads no wins in four games, and against a Chelsea defence in superb form they'll find it difficult to get on the scoresheet at Stamford Bridge. But I'm not prepared to wager that they won't do it.

Instead I believe backing Chelsea to win by at least two clear goals is the bet to have here. I can easily see Conte's men winning two or three nil, but if Stoke do get on the scoresheet then the Blues scoring at least three, and probably more, shouldn't be beyond them given the form they're in at present.
source: betfair

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Back Chelsea -1 to Win @ 1.90

 


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Manchester United 1.27 v Middlesbrough 17.00; The Draw 6.60

click here for more info...Although I always go with what the head says I'm never overly keen to recommend a wager on a game that involves the club I support - Middlesbrough - but given Manchester United are in such good form, and in the Saturday afternoon non-TV game slot, it would be pretty negligent of me not to mention them.

Jose Mourinho's men are unbeaten in their last 11 league and cup games and have won their last four Premier League matches, conceding just two goals in the process.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Paul Pogba appears to be finding his stride, and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in such great goalscoring form - 11 scored in his last 11 matches - and Henrikh Mkhitaryan adding some real quality to United's attacks in recent weeks, I can see the Red Devils continuing this good form as they approach a crucial home match against Liverpool in just over a fortnight's time.

Boro can be a very tough nut to crack on their day, as they proved with terrific away draws at Arsenal and Manchester City, but the concern I have is that you can probably ask someone on the other side of the world how Aitor Karanka will set his side up and they'll be able to tell you.

The Boro boss will go with a traditional back four, put three defensive midfielders in front of it, and expect two wide attackers and lone-striker Alvaro Negredo to get some goals. It's a decent system if Middlesbrough can go a goal up and have something to hold on to, but if they go a goal behind then there isn't a single manager in the Premier League who would be worried about being pegged back given Karanka' reluctance to change things up.

There's a reason why Boro don't carry much of a goal threat but the former Real Madrid assistant - who will face his friend and former mentor for the first time on Saturday - appears defiant that it's the way to play with the personnel he has. Who am I to argue?

United are starting to play with a bit of swagger and I don't expect them to slip up at Old Trafford in this one, but given Boro's defensive mentality I expect Karanka's men to avoid a big defeat. And while there's only one or two goals in it United should stay focused enough not to let Middlesbrough's weak attack to get on the scoresheet.
source: betfair

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Back Man Utd Win to Nil @ 1.80

 

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Swansea 2.96 v Bournemouth 2.62; The Draw 3.50

Like a few other people it seems, I was very surprised that Swansea were the favourites on Boxing Day to beat a West Ham side that had just won back-to-back league games without conceding a goal.

As I said seven days ago Swansea were probably favourites on the back of two home victories, but those wins were recorded against Sunderland and a massively out of form (at the time) Crystal Palace team, and yet Bob Bradley's men still conceded four goals against the Eagles.

Swansea are far better judged on their overall form was my opinion, and that's still the case now. Only we have the home defeat to West Ham to emphasise that this Swans team really are a poor outfit and huge candidate for relegation.

Unless a new manager can make a difference of course. And following Bradley's sacking there's every chance that whoever takes over the Welsh outfit will have some money to spend in January and eek out the improvement needed to survive.

But in terms of Saturday's game Swansea have no manager, and the playing staff remain the same, and that means we have to take them on.

Bournemouth are extremely inconsistent and aren't exactly the most reliable team in the division, but on their day, as recent wins over Liverpool and away to in-form Stoke testify, they are more than capable. And a repeat of any of those performances would be good enough to beat Swansea in this match.

But sometimes you can make an assumption on how a match will go based mainly on one team, and that's a case in point here as I just can't have Swansea to win any game at the moment given their current form and the amount of goals they're conceding.
source: betfair

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Back Bournemouth to Win @ 2.62

 

 League One

 

Southend United 2.52 v Charlton Athletic 3.15, the draw 3.55

This market looks remarkably similar to Southend's Boxing Day encounter with AFC Wimbledon - in fact the Shrimpers were a touch shorter a few days ago, and ran out impressive 3-0 winners. At a bigger price now, they should be backed.

I'm kicking myself for ignoring them in the match versus the Dons, and that win continued a blistering run of form. The Essex side last tasted defeat in early October at the hands of Rochdale. Since then, Phil Brown's in-form men have picked up seven wins from 11 to put themselves firmly in the play-off picture.

Charlton are a mid-table side, and in truth, I have no idea what to expect. I tipped them for the trip to a poor Swindon team for their live Sky game, and they were thumped 3-0 back in November. They duly won their next away fixture 5-1 at Bristol Rovers. It's that sort of league.

Karl Robinson is now in charge at The Valley, but his famous free-flowing style has not been evident in the seven games under his management. The Londoners were 1-0 winners at MK Dons on Boxing Day - a performance that was more grinding and ugly rather than one with style and panache, and not totally deserved, according to reports.

Star forward Ademola Lookman could be set to join Everton for a reported £10m, and it was his moment of quality that settled the victory in Buckinghamshire.

Southend have kept six clean sheets in their 11-match unbeaten run, but have scored three or more goals on five occasions. Charlton's form is too inconsistent, and they were awful in recent matches against Millwall and Peterborough.

Opta Stats: Southend are winless in their last five league encounters with Charlton. The Shrimpers are currently on the longest unbeaten run in League One - it's their best run since November 2011.
source: betfair

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Back Southend United Draw No Bet @ 1.88

 


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Fleetwood Town 2.02 v Oldham Athletic 4.10, the draw 3.75

click here for more info...Stats are often broken here, but I was in disbelief on Boxing Day. Bury, who had lost 12 on the spin without keeping a clean sheet in 24 games, managed a 0-0 draw at Fleetwood. I tipped Uwe Rosler's side in this column, who to add insult to my misery, drew a blank by not scoring for the first time in 22 League One matches.

It presents a big question here. Town are a bigger price on Saturday and they face the division's bottom club. Do we take the 2.02?

Oldham are not as bad as their numbers appear. Quite a few opposite managers have commented that they are good footballing side, notably Grant McCann of Peterbrough and Chris Wilder of Sheffield United.

Athletic were beaten 2-0 at Bramall Lane a few days ago, but didn't play like the lowest-ranked team in the third tier. They packed the defence and showed up well on the counter-attack. The three at the back system worked for manager Stephen Robinson.

Fleetwood are normally a good passing side that play at a quick tempo. Their performance against Bury resembled a collective that had anchors attached to their boots, and Rosler described their technical play as "awful". However, his choice to play wing-backs backfired, and the German should take some of the blame.

We shouldn't give up on Town after one dodgy performance, and so often in this league we see freak results. I tipped them at 1.74 in my previous stint, so I cannot ignore that 2.02 for Saturday. I would also lean towards Under 2.5 Goals, and would have a small bet on the 1-0 Correct Score.

Opta Stats: Fleetwood have fired in nine goals from outside the box this season, only Scunthorpe have more (12). Oldham are the first team in League One to score just 12 goals after 22 matches since Stockport County in 1969/70 - they were relegated at the end of that season.
source: betfair

Recommended Bets 
Back Fleetwood Town to win @ 2.02
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.85 

 


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Oxford United 1.85 v Walsall 4.50, the draw 3.60

click here for more info...These two mid-table dwellers have exactly the same number of points this term with 30, so I am not totally convinced about Oxford's price this Saturday. And given my record with their results, I'll give them the swerve.

Walsall look big odds considering they beat Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane last month, and they have collected 14 points on their travels this season. Manager Jon Whitney was probably under a bit of pressure earlier in the year after a poor start, but he has some good players in his squad who should be higher in the table.

Whitney is playing an old-style 4-4-2 these days, with Florent Cuvelier out on the left. I've always loved 'Flo', but the Belgian has never really settled anywhere despite a couple of big moves. He's a lovely footballer, it's just a shame he's never had a clear run with injuries.

The system is working, but of course it's not always about systems. Walsall might be worth a punt here, coupled with a low-scoring affair. The Bescot men have drawn four 1-1s and one 0-0 on the road, so look to those in Correct Scores.

Oxford suffered a home defeat on Boxing Day to Northampton in front of 11,790 fans. Town went and parked the bus with a robust sort of approach. United's run of form reads LDWWL, so I am not sure they should be 1.85 shots.

Opta Stats: Oxford have won six and lost just one of their last eight league matches with the Saddlers (D1). Walsall haven't netted more than once in any of their last nine League One games - scoring exactly once on seven occasions.
source: betfair

Recommended Bets 
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.85 
Back Walsall to win @ 4.50

 

 League Two

 

Friday December 30, 19.45
Cheltenham 3.30 v Wycombe 2.50; the draw 3.50


Trepidation. For managers and tipsters. That's what the spectre of January brings. The transfer window can't come soon enough for Cheltenham, whose manager Gary Johnson says several of his team are not up to this level.

Teams promoted from non-league have done very well in recent years in their first season in League Two. The Robins are bucking the trend.

For all the optimism of Jack Munns about making the most of their home form, Cheltenham lost at home to Barnet, as predicted, and will surely struggle again against in-form Wycombe, who followed seven straight wins with a 3-3 draw at Plymouth, where they fought back from 3-1 down.

Reason for trepidation: How many teams take six points over the Christmas period with back to back wins? Not many. But then, usually, teams play twice in three or four days. 

Wycombe's methods continue to upset opponents, with Derek Adams the latest to complain about over physical tactics - "rugby tackles" - on his players.

Not many teams, said Gareth Ainsworth, will go to Plymouth and earn points. Well, in fact they have. Six teams, out of 12 this season. But if that is what he believes and tells his players, they can improve their away record of three wins, four draws, and five defeats plus minus four goal difference. It is the worst among the top nine teams.

The reason the Chairboys are full of confidence is that those three away wins happen to have come in their three games on their travels before the Plymouth draw - and they conceded just one goal. Recently, they have kept six clean sheets in eight games.

They have also found a goal machine which keeps on giving in Scott Kashket, who has nine league goals now and seven in the last five matches (Opta point out it is 12 goals in all competitions).

Keep giving him the experience of Adebayo Akinfenwa and Myles Weston to feed from and Wycombe, who scored from all three shots on target at Plymouth, can take another victory. It would be best to back against Cheltenham now, before trepidation for tipsters takes hold, in the form of wholesale changes in January, which can upset a gambler's rhythm.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Wycombe @ 2.50

 

 

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Yeovil 4.50 v Portsmouth 1.98; the draw 3.60


Paul Cook is delighted with Pompey's away form but is determined to "please the 17,000 we get at Fratton Park". He has reason to rejoice in Portsmouth's strong away record, because his side have not lost on their travels since September.

Three straight wins, including a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down at Newport on Boxing Day, will have heightened his players' sense that they can achieve anything away. Kai Naismith has scored in all three of those victories - and missed a penalty in Wales. Danny Rose was as much the architect of victory.

Yeovil, by comparison, did not register a shot on target against Exeter, although they might have hit the bar (statisticians don't seem to count that!). So, it won't be hard for a Pompey to add to what Opta emphasise is a league high nine clean sheets this season. Keeper David Forde will be delighted with that, as will Enda Stevens and Christian Burgess.

The Glovers might have lost only once in eight at Huish Park, say Opta, but they have failed to score there in their last two and firepower is not their strong point - certainly not as strong as Portsmouth's current attack.

There is just about enough in the price to back Portsmouth.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Portsmouth @ 1.98

 

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Saturday December 31, 15.00


Leyton Orient 3.30; Cambridge 2.50; the draw 3.40



click here for more info...Shaun Derry's side have won five matches in a row, scoring 13 goals and conceding three, a run which has propelled them into the top seven.

And yet they are 2.50 to win away to a team who are on their third manager of the season, have a trigger-happy owner hiring and firing and who are only three points clear of the relegation zone.

Yes, Orient have won two of their past three games - and both were at home - but Andy Edwards still has much work to do to convince people he can be their saviour. A bit like Derry at Cambridge only a few weeks ago. He had plenty of doubters, including me, in several ways, especially when United were bottom of League Two. Doubtless a couple of defeats and the former Crystal Palace midfielder will have certain sections on his back again.

Edwards can't keep pulling unknown rabbits out of hats, like he did when giving Sam Dalby his full debut on Boxing Day, just a few days after the striker who turned 17 just a week before. It is fantastic, of course, that Edwards has promoted youth when it is ready and not left the player to earn his stripes in the youth and reserve teams. Many managers would not have allowed this type of development.

He can learn much from his senior colleagues such as Paul McCallum and Gavin Massey. Orient are clearly responding to their latest manager with two wins in three games, but in my opinion there has to be some caution after their opponents for those wins were Accrington and Crawley, who have not been in the greatest of form. Opta point out that Orient scored as many goals against Crawley (3) as they had done in their previous eight home games.

On current trends, the hosts would have to score more than once to beat Cambridge, and possibly even to earn a point. Cambridge have netted at least twice in their past five league and FA Cup games.

It would be interesting to know whether Piero Mingoia thinks he is in a better team now than when he was at Accrington - but he has clearly learnt how to battle and scrap and bring that "Accrington" attitude to the Abbey Stadium. It's about time Uche Ikpeazu scored again and there is enough left in the away team's price to make it worth backing them for a sixth straight win.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Cambridge @ 2.50

 

 


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Notts County 3.30 v Carlisle 2.30; the draw 3.40

Where does the shock of this set of fixtures come from? In the last round, it came as Morecambe won at Mansfield. It had been possible and it was on my short list of results to tip but in the end I plumped for another game. The Shrimps' game at Hartlepool offers both sides an opportunity for points, so is best left alone.

Carlisle's trip to Notts County is, however, a nailed on win for the visitors, right? Well, maybe. The Cumbrians' pattern of results has gone WDWDWD. So the next in the sequence should be a win. Except those three draws have all been away games, except the visitors have seven away draws and except the Maggies have four draws at home (where they only have one win).

It has been a miserable season for John Sheridan, whose side have a single point from seven League Two matches.

Elliott Hewitt has scored their only goal in three league games and they have drawn a blank in six out of eight league games. Jon Stead and Jonathan Forte need to find the openings to convert if Sheridan is not to carry out his threat to find a whole new team. It is only at the precipice that we change. Perhaps the threat of new signings will help Notts County up their game.

The team's last win was against Portsmouth, promotion contenders, as are Carlisle. So is it possible that Shaun Miller, Charlie Wyke and others can fail to outscore their hosts? I'm prepared to take a punt that the hosts could scrape a draw. Opta state that Notts County have not lost eight in a row since April 2011. They will not want to match that now.
source: betfair

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Back Notts County and Carlisle to draw @ 3.40

 

 


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26.12.2016

BOXING DAY

 

Arsenal 1.36 v West Brom 11.00; The Draw 5.60

From a footballing point of view, the week before Christmas couldn't have been more disastrous for Arsenal.

Second in the table, and second favourites for the title, the Gunners opened the scoring against both Everton and Manchester City but went on to lose both games. In the same rounds of fixtures Arsenal's main five rivals - Chelsea, City, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Spurs - all took six points from a possible six.

It means that Arsene Wenger's men go into the post Christmas triple header nine points behind league leaders Chelsea, and they simply can't afford to slip up at home to West Brom on Boxing Day.

The Baggies have enjoyed a very successful season to date though their current position of eighth is owed much to the fact that they've performed well against the bottom half teams - as recent wins over Burnley, Leicester, Swansea, and Watford testify. Their record against the big sides isn't anywhere near as impressive.

Tony Pulis' men lost at home to Man United last Saturday, and that defeat came hot on the heels of losses to Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool. It's a typical Pulis set of resuls; target and win against the clubs likely to compete against West Brom for those mid-table positions, but struggle against the big boys.

On that basis then, and as the odds suggest, Arsenal should win this game comfortably. Wenger's men have an excellent record at home to the Baggies, winning the last five Premier League meetings at the Emirates and conceding just one goal in the process.

I fancy the Gunners to come out of the blocks firing here, put those recent defeats behind them, and lead at the interval before taking all three points. Pulis will already have his sights set on his club's home game against Hull next week.
source: betfair

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Back Arsenal HT/Arsenal FT @ 2.00

 


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Chelsea 1.40 v Bournemouth 10.00; The Draw 5.20

After recording 11 straight league victories, nine of them without conceding a goal, you would have been forgiven for expecting to see Chelsea trading at shorter than 1.40 at home to an inconsistent Bournemouth side.

The reason they're not shorter of course is because of the suspensions to N'Golo Kante and Diego Costa, who have both been instrumental in Chelsea's recent brilliance.

But this is a Blues side that don't lack strength in depth. Cesc Fabregas should come in for Kante while Antonio Conte isn't short off attacking options in the absence of Costa. Michy Batshuayi is the obvious choice should the Chelsea boss stick with his recent formation, but you feel whatever the starting XI on Monday the home side ought to be good enough to take another three points.

The Cherries are impossible to predict at present. In the last two months they've lost to lowly Sunderland, Middlesbrough, and Burnley, but in the same period they've defeated an in-form Stoke side away from home as well as recording that memorable 4-3 win over Liverpool.

But it's the defeats that I believe give the best assessment of Eddie Howe's men; they're a mid-table side at best, capable of producing the odd shock - like when they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge 12 months ago - but in the main a team that will struggle away to the top clubs.

Even without Kante and Costa I don't envisage Chelsea not taking all three points from this game, and I'd wager that once again they achieve the win while keeping a clean sheet.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Chelsea Win to Nil @ 2.40

 

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Manchester United 1.25 v Sunderland 16.50; The Draw 6.80

Manchester United are starting to find their full stride and look one of Boxing Day's banker selections at home to lowly Sunderland.

Confidence should be high at Old Trafford; Jose Mourinho's men are unbeaten in eight Premier League games, and in all competitions they are now on a four-game winning streak. They've conceded just a single goal in that time.

Wayne Rooney is playing well and appears to be key to every meaningful United attack, Paul Pogba is looking like the player he was in Italy, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is scoring regularly. What's more, Mourinho is smiling. 

Sunderland remain in the relegation zone but they've actually won four of their last seven, which is more points collected in that amount of games than any of the bottom 12 clubs. Or put slightly differently, if looking at a seven-game form guide the Black Cats would be in the top eight in the Premier League.

The concern is that all of those four victories for David Moyes' men came against clubs in the bottom half of the table, and that in their last away game they were thrashed 3-0 by a very poor Swansea side.

The general consensus is that United will have to be patient here, that Sunderland will park the proverbial bus and probably wheel clamp it at the same time. But my big worry about backing Under 2.5 Goals - if Sunderland do set out to kill the game - is that it only takes one early (or first half) goal from Mourinho's men and Moyes will have to change his game plan.

My gut feeling is that United are in good enough form to get an early goal, and hopefully that will mean the floodgates open. Backing the home side to win by scoring at least four goals seems worth a punt at a decent price.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Any Other Home Win @ 4.20

 

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Swansea 2.70 v West Ham 2.90; The Draw 3.50

One of the most noticeable aspects of the bottom half of the Premier League table is the number of clubs that are performing dreadfully away from home and can't buy a win on their travels, yet are picking up enough points in front of their own fans to ensure they're not getting cut adrift from safety.

The likes of Burnley, Hull, and Leicester are all good examples, but perhaps no better example in recent weeks has been Swansea.

Bob Bradley's men have won their last two games at the Liberty Stadium, scoring a hugely impressive eight goals in the process. However, away from home they've lost their last three, being thrashed each time in conceding 11 goals in total.

But I'm going to contradict matters here by backing Swansea to lose on home soil, and the reason for that is because those two recent victories I mention at the Liberty Stadium came against a Crystal Palace side that were bang out of form - and Swansea actually conceded four in that game - and a Sunderland team that would finish the day bottom of the table.

I'm much more inclined to judge Swansea on their away form. They were hammered 5-0 at Tottenham recently in one of the worst away performances you'll ever seem before being soundly beaten by West Brom and Middlesbrough, conceding three goals each time.

West Ham haven't exactly been brilliant of late, in fact some will argue that they were extremely fortunate to beat Hull last week, but the history books show they've just won back-to-back games at the London Stadium without conceding a goal.

Slaven Bilic's men have generally struggled on home soil whereas they've performed much better on their travels. The Hammers' last three away performances have all been creditable, narrowly losing at the death to Tottenham before drawing with Manchester United and Liverpool.

A reproduction of that form at the Liberty Stadium on Boxing Day and West Ham should make it three league wins on the spin.
source: betfair

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Back West Ham to Win @ 2.90 

 


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CH

Reading 2.88 v Norwich 2.70; The Draw 3.40

Whether Reading win, lose, or draw this game at home to Norwich the Championship will never cease to amaze me when it comes to some Match Odds.

How the Canaries can be priced up as favourites to win this is an absolute mystery to me.

True, Norwich are perceived to be, and undoubtedly are the better team when at their best. But even then, with the Royals having home advantage and being a decent side themselves I'd still have Jaap Stam's men as marginal favourites.

But not only are Reading a decent side with the advantage of playing on home soil, they are also seven points and seven places above Norwich in the Championship table, and they go into this game in terrific form whereas their opponents are in a right mess, far from being at their best.

In fact if this game had have been played a few weeks ago we'd have a match up between a Reading side that had just won five on the spin, at home to a Norwich side that had just lost five consecutive league games.

Nothing much has changed recently, Reading's form reads seven wins from their last nine matches, whereas it's the complete reversal for Alex Neil's men, seven losses from their last nine games. And at the Madjeski Stadium it's four consecutive victories for the Royals; away from home it's four straight defeats for the Canaries.

There isn't really much to add. I'm just very surprised to see Norwich trading as favourites to win this game given their current form, and especially their away form, so that means that the price about a home win for Stam's in-form side is too big, so we have to back it.
source: betfair

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Back Reading to Win @ 2.88

 


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Huddersfield 1.77 v Nottm Forest 5.40; The Draw 3.85

Huddersfield deserve enormous credit for getting back into the title race - or race to secure a play-off slot given Newcastle and Brighton's dominance of the Championship - but I think they are ridiculously short to win for the fourth game running on Boxing Day.

David Wagner - who has reportedly turned down the opportunity to manage Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg - has seen his side climb back up to fourth following three straight victories.

Prior to that however the Terriers went five games without a win in the Championship and I believe this is a fairer reflection on their abilities. Perhaps that is a tad harsh because it seems unlikely now that Huddersfield will finish any worse than mid-table, but I still feel that they're overachieving slightly and will struggle to remain in or around the play-off places.

In those five games that Wagner's men went without a win they were thrashed 5-0 at Fulham, lost at home to lowly Wigan, lost at Cardiff, and failed to beat struggling Blackburn. There's plenty of evidence in that recent form to suggest that they are too short at 1.77 to beat Forest in this match.

Philippe Montanier's men haven't been in great form of late themselves but you only have to go back to the beginning of the month to see that Forest won three on the spin, including wins over Ipswich and Newcastle, scoring nine points in the process.

Following the 2-0 home defeat to Wolves last week both Montanier and defender Joe Worrall have questioned the desire of Forest, and that just might spark an improved performance good enough to avoid defeat at least against a Huddersfield team that can be pretty poor when not on song.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Lay Huddersfield to Win @ 1.78

 

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Rotherham 3.00 v Wigan 2.50; The Draw 3.50

The likelihood is that Rotherham will very much be playing League One football next season. The reality is they're not dead and buried just yet.

But put simply, if they lose at home to Wigan - the club immediately above them in the table - on Monday then the South Yorkshire outfit may as well start planning for next season.

Already 12 points adrift of safety the Millers are rock bottom of the Championship and fully 10 points behind Wigan. They have conceded more goals than any side in the division and they have the worst goal difference. They've won just one of their last 18 league matches. It doesn't get much bleaker.

But they still have a tiny bit of hope, and the first step in what would be a miraculous escape should they achieve it is to beat Wigan. I don't see any other option to Paul Warne than to send his side out to attack. Goals, and three points, are a must.

The Latics themselves are in poor form having just lost four on the spin. They lost three consecutive games without scoring a single goal, prompting manager Warren Joyce to admit that his side need to be more attack-minded.

Wigan then lost at home to Ipswich last Saturday, another disappointing result, but Joyce was true to his word and his men battled bravely in a 3-2 defeat. He will feel that getting at Rotherham is his side's best chance of getting back to winning way so hopefully we'll be set up for an entertaining game.

It's a brave shout to wager on goals when you have two of the lowest sides in the division in opposition, but given their current league positions, and the fact that neither side can defend, the banking on the net bulging a few times might just be the way to profit here.
source: betfair

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Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.12

 

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 L1

Bradford City 2.26 v Scunthorpe United 3.45, the draw 3.55

League One leaders Scunthorpe United are priced at 4.40 to win the title, and yet are just a point shorter to pick up victory against Bradford on Boxing Day - and that looks a decent bet.

After all, the Iron top the table with 47 points, and have scored the most amount of goals in the division. Their defence isn't too bad either - conceding just 20 goals so far, which is third behind Bolton (13), and the Bantams (19). 

The odds make more appeal considering the inconsistency of the hosts. City can play some terrific football at times, but I've been on the wrong end of a couple of Bradford tips at short prices. They recently were held 0-0 at home by struggling Charlton, and their form coming into this game reads DDLWL. Last weekend was another classic example of their inability to 'put away' teams as they were held by Walsall. 

Bradford draw too many games (at home W5 D6), so the in-play trade in backing the draw at 3.55looks a fair shout. 

The visitors have won seven times on the road this term, scoring in all but one game. They displayed their potency in front of goal last weekend in a 3-0 victory against Millwall. Striker Paddy Madden bagged a couple to take his tally to seven for the season. 

The one bet I am not interested in here is backing Bradford to win. The draw looks the trade, but Scunthorpe do look overpriced. 

OPTA STATS: Bradford have lost just one of their last 14 home league games against the Iron (W7 D6). After scoring in eight successive league encounters with Bradford, Scunthorpe have failed to find the net in each of the last two.
source: betfair

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Back Scunthorpe United 3.45

 

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Southend United 2.36 v AFC Wimbledon 3.10, the draw 3.45

Both of these teams have been reasonably kind to the column in recent weeks, and this represents one of the more even matches for Boxing Day - given the rather lopsided markets for some of the other games.

Southend's rise up the table has been impressive. The Shrimpers are now in 7th, holding an unbeaten run in the league of 10 games. On that alone, the price of 2.36 is more than fair. 

Wimbledon lost their nine-game unbeaten run on the road at the MK Dons recently, a match I gave them a chance in the preview. Unfortunately, they produced their dullest performance of the campaign to lose 1-0. But they are much better than that, and they duly bounced back last Saturday when thumping Port Vale 4-0. 

Unfortunately the hosts will be missing striker Nile Ranger. A calf injury sustained last weekend against Oldham is likely to rule him out for up to two weeks, and his absence will be a major loss. Manager Phil Brown will have to tweak his team, as David Mooney, Ryan Inniss and Ben Coker are all sidelined. 

Can we still back Southend without Ranger? 

Well they are not a one-man team, but he does add something extra to their attack. Southend's home form is strong (they haven't been beaten since August at Roots Hall), but Wimbledon have picked up decent results on the road. 

I am more interested in backing the draw as I am struggling to split the pair. The Londoners have drawn five away from home, and from their last four matches they are keeping it a lot tighter than they were at the start of the season (L 1-0, D 0-0, D 0-0, W 0-1). 

OPTA STATS: Southend have failed to score in each of their last three league games against AFC Wimbledon (D1 L2), last scoring against the Dons on Boxing Day 2013. The Wombles have won on each of their last three trips to Roots Hall in the league - winning 1-0 in their last two visits.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet 
Back the draw @ 3.45 


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Fleetwood Town 1.74 v Bury 5.20, the draw 4.10

The miserable sequence of results for the Shakers continue, and it's a club-record 12 game losing run following last Saturday's 2-3 defeat at Oxford. The beleaguered club are dropping like a stone in League One, and they'll face a Fleetwood team that are very good at home come Boxing Day, and there's an argument to say that the Cod Army look a good price - despite being long odds-on.

Bettors in this division however will be looking out for Bury now for three things - losing, both teams to score, and overs. 

Why? Because their record of conceding goals is the most alarming in Britain right now. They've shipped in 34 from their previous 12 matches, and that excludes the two FA Cup matches versus AFC Wimbledon (and they let in seven). Bury haven't kept a clean sheet in 24 games - with the similar pattern of individual costly mistakes appearing time after time. 

Backing the Over 2.5 Goals here looks the soundest bet at around 1.77, although there's an argument to say that the home win at similar odds is equally appealing. 

Town have only lost one game at Highbury this season, and have beaten Walsall, Chesterfield, Gillingham, and Peterborough recently. They have also scored 21 on their own patch - which is amongst the higher-scoring types such as Scunthorpe and Rochdale. 

Considering Sheffield United are 1.44 to win at home on Boxing Day, there's more value in backing Fleetwood here, especially with Bury's terrible record - who are one of the worst teams in the division at the moment. 

OPTA STATS: Fleetwood are unbeaten in four league clashes with Bury (W3 D1), racking up 10 goals and scoring two or more in each encounter. Bury took the lead twice in the reverse fixture last season at Gigg Lane - although they failed to hold on and lost 4-3.
source: betfair 

And Merry Xmas everyone! 

Recommended Bets 
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.77 
Back Fleetwood Town to win @ 1.74

 

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16.12.2016


 

17.12.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Stoke 2.64 v Leicester 3.00; The Draw 3.40

 

Stoke collected just one point from their two recent games against Arsenal and Southampton but there was no shame in either result; they took the lead at the Emirates and performed well but couldn't hold out against an in-form side, while the goalless draw against the Saints has to be seen as a positive considering they were reduced to 10 men midway through the first half when key player Marko Arnautovic was dismissed.

Prior to those games Mark Hughes' men had been steadily climbing the table thanks to five wins in seven matches, three of which came on home soil.

The Potters have lost just one of their last six at the bet365 Stadium, and in that time they've been miserly at the back, conceding a total of just three goals. They've also won three from three in the league at home against clubs below them in the table.

Leicester's title defence has been nothing short of disastrous. The Foxes are currently 14th in the table, already a massive 24 points behind league leaders Chelsea, giving them the unwanted tag of statistically putting up the worst defence of a title in the Premier League's 25-year history.

We know what Claudio Ranieri's men are capable of, as they demonstrated last Saturday when romping to a 4-0 lead over Manchester City before eventually winning the game 4-2. But their overall form is very inconsistent; last week's win was preceded by a 5-0 hammering at Porto in the Champions League and in midweek they lost 1-0 at Bournemouth.

In fact it's Leicester's away form in the league that is deeply worrying. The Foxes have played eight times away from home this term but have collected just a single point from the 24 available, with defeats at the likes of Hull and Sunderland reading particularly bad.

So given this awful away form, and Stoke's strong home record against clubs below them in the table, a home win is advised with odds of 2.64 appearing very generous.
source: betfair

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Back Stoke to Win @ 2.64

 

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17.12.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Sunderland 2.72 v Watford 3.00; The Draw 3.40

 

click here for more info...After winning three out of their four previous games Sunderland were hugely disappointing when going down 3-0 to relegation rivals Swansea last Saturday. It was a performance that went against their current form, and it is one that is hard to ignore.

Admittedly the Black Cats performed much better in midweek against Chelsea without ever looking like scoring until a superb Thibaut Courtois injury-time save denied Patrick van Aanholt. They have to take heart from, and build on, that performance otherwise they'll almost certainly be relegated.

I mention Jermain Defoe a lot in this column but that's because I believe he's without doubt Sunderland's main chance of survival; with him in the side I always feel that the Wearsiders' have a chance of getting on the scoresheet, especially against the lesser sides.

Despite Watford sitting comfortably in mid-table I'd class them as one of the 'lesser' sides that Sunderland are capable of scoring against, and I think this is a crunch match for David Moyes' men. Another home defeat would be bordering on disastrous, and I sense the Black Cats will be up for this.

But equally, Watford are a team that you always fancy to get on the scoresheet against this type of opposition. Along with Defoe I regularly make reference to Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo because a strike partnership like those two is like gold dust for a team that are generally expected to cut little ice in the Premier League.

The Hornets have found the back of the net in five of their away games this term, and of the bottom 10 clubs in the division only Crystal Palace have scored more goals than Walter Mazzarri's men. In a game that both managers will fancy their chances of winning, backing both sides to score is the call.
source: betfair

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Back Both Teams to Score @ 1.90

 


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17.12.2016/16:00
England Premier League
West Ham 1.66 v Hull 6.20; The Draw 4.10

 

West Ham recorded a much needed win against Burnley in midweek, this coming just days after a terrific 2-2 draw with Liverpool at Anfield so Slaven Bilic's men appear to be finding a bit of form.

Wednesday's 1-0 victory doesn't really tell the full story; the Hammers dominated in many areas, recorded more than twice as many shots as the visitors, registering seven on target, and they could easily have won by a bigger margin.

The Hammers meet a similar-ability team (to Burnley) in Hull on Saturday afternoon, and Bilic's men have an excellent chance to record back-to-back victories at the London Stadium.

Hull have been in awful form, but away from home they appear hopeless. Mike Phelan's men have lost six consecutive league games on their travels by an aggregate scoreline of 19-2. They haven't scored on the road since losing 6-1 to Bournemouth more than two months ago.

As I said in midweek, West Ham haven't exactly been brilliant on home soil but sometimes evaluating a game depends more on the opposition. I couldn't see the Hammers not beating poor travellers Burnley on Wednesday night and I'm even more confident about Bilic's men beating Hull, who are equally bad as the Clarets when playing away from home.

But the bet I like most here is for West Ham to win without conceding. The Tigers have lost their last four away games to nil and I wouldn't be surprised if that run stretched to five on Saturday afternoon.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back West Ham Win to Nil @ 2.80

 

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17.12.2016/16:00
England League One
Swindon Town 2.80 v Fleetwood Town 2.68, the draw 3.55

 

My last attempt involving a Swindon game went a bit skew-whiff, and for sheer inconsistency; some might say it's a bit foolish getting involved with them again this Saturday. 

The home form of the Robins is perfect in a symmetrical sense. Played 10, won five, lost five. I opposed them against Charlton in the live Sky game earlier this month - and they duly found their best performance of the season in winning 3-0. However, they reverted to type last weekend when producing a calamitous show against Sheffield United. They were completely bullied, and lost 4-0. 

Head coach Luke Williams has recently questioned their mental toughness and attitude, and they do tend to fold against the top teams when conceding. 

It would be stretching it to describe Fleetwood as a top team, but they are pushing for a play-off place in 7th. The Cod Army are superb at home (winning seven), but are not so good on their travels (just two wins), so it makes it a slightly risky bet. 

The safer option could be to head to the Both Teams To Score market - as backers of Fleetwood away games this season would have collected in nine out of the ten games so far. Bizarrely they have also lost six times to a 2-1 scoreline on the road. 

Uwe Rosler's side have only kept one clean sheet away from, so we should look to goals.

OPTA STATS: Swindon have won three of their last four league games on home soil, losing the other.The Cod Army are unbeaten in four (W3 D1), netting two or more goals in each game.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet 
Back Both Teams To Score @ 1.75

 

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17.12.2016/16:00
England League One
Bury 3.30 v Oxford United 2.60, the draw 3.5

 

click here for more info...Peterborough have always been known as 'The Goal Kings' in these parts (well by me anyway), and in the old days you could always rely on the Posh scoring a few when they were an Over 2.5 side. Bury are one of those nowadays, for very different reasons.

With an 11-match losing streak, Bury's defence is all over the place at the moment. Their last four league defeats read 4-2, 3-2, 5-1, and 4-1, and that's without their cup games. 

November was a truly crazy period. In Bury's eight matches that month, 34 goals were recorded at either end (mostly Bury's), at an average of 4.25 goals per game. Therefore it's no surprise they have the worst defensive record in the division. 

Oxford have only gained one victory on the road all season, so I'm not sure they should be backed at 2.60. That price is more to do with their opponents' struggles rather than their own gifts. 

But we need to focus on the stats for Bury. They haven't kept a clean sheet in 23 games, and fielded a 16-year-old in a makeshift backline last weekend. To make matters worse, midfielder Neil Danns was sent-off. That's now four red cards in three games for the hosts, who are currently being managed by caretaker Chris Brass. 

With too many youngsters and a cobbled-together team, Bury could be about 7.00 the way they are playing at the moment. 

OPTA STATS: Bury have won just one of their last seven home league games against Oxford, whilst the visitors have won three of their last four against the Shakers. The U's have fired in more shots on target than any other side in League One (126).
source: betfair

Recommended Bet 
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80

 

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17.12.2016/16:00
England League One
Northampton Town 2.40 v Rochdale 3.20, the draw 3.50

 

It's been a mixed few days for Northampton. Saturday's much-needed 3-2 success against Port Vale was the first time Town had scored in the league for 350 minutes. That victory took them back up to the comforts of mid-table, but the good-feeling disappeared on Tuesday as they were dumped out of the FA Cup by non-league Stourbridge - a victory that was thoroughly deserved by all accounts. 

Town boss Rob Page labelled his side's performance as embarrassing. Their form in November was nothing to get excited about either as they were slipping down the table.

The match against Rochdale will be a different sort of test for Northampton. Their victory last weekend against Port Vale was as much down to their lack of attacking intent rather than their own skills. The Valiants are a neat and tidy possession-based team, but they don't really hurt anyone. 

Dale are different altogether. They are physical, bomb forward and they don't mind a tackle. The slight worry in backing Keith Hill's side is their away form; in which they have conceded far more than they have scored. Plus, they have only won twice away from Spotland all season. 

The price of 3.20 is factored in though, and it's worth the risk. After all, the visitors have been flying at home in their move up the table to 5th place, and they were involved in a thriller against league leaders Scunthorpe recently. 

OPTA STATS: Rochdale have scored in all of their last 11 league visits to the Sixfields Stadium against Northampton, last failing to do so in April 1993. The Cobblers have conceded in each of their last 12 league games. They last went on a longer run without a shutout in January 2012 (20 games).
source: betfair

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Back Rochdale to win @ 3.20

 


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L2 

17.12.2016/16:00
England League Two
Exeter 2.26 v Mansfield 3.60; the draw 3.50



Managers come out with odd things don't they? This week, Paul Tisdale compared Craig Woodman to German legend Franz Beckenbauer! Well, I know Dutchman Edgar Davids played in this division for Barnet, but it would seem a bit late for 33-year-old Woodman to develop into an international superstar.

The point is, Tisdale believes strongly in his full back, especially after a depleted defence helped Exeter win 3-1 at Cheltenham, their seventh away win this season.

The Grecians are now unbeaten in three and all Tisdale surely wants for Christmas is a home win, having achieved none in League Two this season.

He says he is impressed with how his team have performed at St James' Park in recent attempts, and adds that there is no ego, no selfishness in his team and they are the most receptive and committed bunch he has worked with at the club. Which is saying something after 10 years in the job!

Surely it is just a matter of time before Darren Wheeler, who scored a late brace at Cheltenham, Lee Holmes and Reuben Reid start hitting the net regularly at home, to build on their last performance there - a 0-0 draw with Luton.

Mansfield took their own draw with the Hatters a few weeks ago, 1-1, which was their fourth successive away draw at the time. Since then, they lost twice, Steve Evans took over as manager and they have won twice at home and drawn 0-0 with Colchester, while losing at Carlisle.

They will assess that these heavy defeats away, 5-2 in Cumbria and 4-0 at Portsmouth were against strong sides, while Exeter do not seem to be as strong, certainly at home.

Evans will tell his side - and the media - that graft beats skill. He will look to get the best out of Matt Green while encouraging Pat Hoban and Danny Rose to live up to aspire to Green's top scoring standards. But the Stags, emphasise Opta, are six games without a win on the road (drawing four), the longest wait in the division.

If Exeter can pull on the compliment paid to Woodman and instill a few Germany footballing traits - discipline, work rate and efficiency in taking chances - they can take a long overdue home win.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Exeter @ 2.26

 

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17.12.2016/16:00
England League Two
Barnet 2.70 v Stevenage 2.80; the draw 3.70



By all accounts, Barnet were extremely lucky to win at Yeovil last weekend, Alex Nicholls scoring late in the game with their only shot on target. Temporary boss Rossi Eames was delighted with the hard work over the previous eight days after Martin Allen upped and left for Eastleigh. 

He can't have been delighted with there only being one shot on target, but it did leave the Bees eight games unbeaten with three straight wins.

They really need to get the ball to John Akinde more in scoring positions than they did last weekend then, as the big man has 15 league goals already this season.

And although the hosts have only conceded in one of their four most recent games, could they be vulnerable to Darren Saarl's side?

Possibly, on the basis that Stevenage have won their last five away games, including at Portsmouth, and drawn the previous one 0-0, meaning they have kept clean sheets in three of their most recent six away matches.

That makes them the form away team, with players such as Tom Pett and Matt Godden playing a crucial role. It gives them a strong of taking something from the game and makes their price slightly on the large side and worth a punt.

Opta state Barnet are looking for their four straight win at this level for the first time since January 2012, while Stevenage's five straight away wins is their best such run ever.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Stevenage @ 2.80

 

 


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17.12.2016/16:00
England League Two
Accrington 2.84 v Plymouth 2.66; the draw 3.60



Derek Adams has already stressed his hope that he retains his best players in January, in a week when Plymouth were caught up in an odd sort of cross fire about a target of their own.

Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock wasn't best pleased that Newport allowed their loanee Rhys Healey to talk about possible interest from other clubs, namely the Pilgrims. 

Once Warnock had his moan, Carlisle were also outed as possible suitors, having enquired about the player's availability. So it seems that Plymouth and Carlisle are not only rivals in the race for the title, but in the race for Rhys. 

Healey certainly isn't as finished a product at Graham Carey, whom Adams most fears losing. It is not surprising: Opta point out he has played a direct part in more goals than any other League Two player, scoring nine and claiming seven assists. He has proved himself in this division, while Healey is still learning. He'd hope that any player would want to finish the job and earn promotion, but managers in League Two recognise that players are ambitious to progress - as are they, for example Gary Rowett and Justin Edinburgh jumping up levels - but have a shorter career than a manager.

Plymouth have scored in 89 per cent of away games but lost on their last away trip, to Morecambe.

While they won their previous three away, they also conceded in each. One wonders if Accrington, struggling well below where John Stanley wants them to be, can prize open the door. They have only scored once in five league games, Romuald Boco's goal enough to earn a home draw with Yeovil.

Coleman insists his side plays better against the better teams. But it still doesn't mean they beat them. They are winless in seven, the worst current run in the division, points out Opta. They will have to manage without Sean McConville after his red card in the defeat at Leyton Orient. Defender Zak Vyner is due to return after collpsing against Yeovil and Billy Kee is back in training. If he plays, Accrington have a hugely increased chance of scoring, but Plymouth can take the points here.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Plymouth @ 2.66

 


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17.12.2016/16:00
England League Two
Wycombe 2.14 v Leyton Orient 3.90; the draw 3.50



When I read the headline that Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth lives in "fear" over Pierre, I knew it couldn't be that he was afraid of him. It was the sort of Daily Mail headline where you might be reading about an axe murderer in the family of the person being interviewed!

No, it was merely that he fears losing Aaron Pierre, his out of contract defender, in the January transfer window, having turned down a bid for him in August. He knows the player wants to progress his career, but also says the "best centre-back in the league" gives his all when selected which has been 127 times so far.

It would appear the Chairboys, who have floated into the playoff spaces, have another winnable game on Saturday, against a Leyton Orient side coming to terms with yet another manager, now facing his second game.

The hosts are on a fantastic run: five clean sheets from six games, one goal conceded, 14 goals scored. They should be odds-on to beat Lee Edwards' side, whose 1-0 win over Accrington last weekend brought them their first points in four games.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Wycombe @ 2.14

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10.12.2016


10.12.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Arsenal 1.37 v Stoke 10.00; The Draw 5.60

 

Arsenal have been playing some great football in recent weeks but they'll be very wary of the threat that in-form Stoke will bring to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

But hopefully that will help the Gunners focus right from the kick-off and help land the recommended wager.

Arsene Wenger's men can be guilty of over-playing it at times - how they weren't three or four up at the interval against West Ham last week I'll never know - but they've been scoring plenty of goals in recent matches and scoring early too. The Gunners have scored 12 times in their last three victories and they took the lead early in each of them.

Stoke, as they did last season, started this campaign in very pedestrian fashion but they've improved a lot of late, winning five of their last seven Premier League matches, so you can be sure they'll be confident of troubling the Gunners.

But although you can do no more than win, Mark Hughes' men have had an extremely kind run of fixtures in the last two months with those five victories coming against clubs currently in the bottom half of the table, including the bottom three.

A trip to in-form Arsenal will be an altogether more difficult task and I envisage the home side bursting out of the blocks again, leading at the interval and going on to take another three vital points.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Arsenal HT/Arsenal FT @ 2.00

 

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10.12.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Burnley 3.55 v Bournemouth 2.30; The Draw 3.45

 

There will be plenty of punters willing to back Burnley on the back of their terrific home form this season, and usually I'd be one of them. But I've always been of the opinion that the Clarets would struggle this term and I think it's inevitable that their home form will dip.

So far at Turf Moor Sean Dyche's men have recorded wins over Liverpool, Everton, Watford, and Crystal Palace, while they performed with great credit in narrow defeats to Arsenal and Man City, so on that basis alone, 3.55 about a home win against a mid-table side does have some appeal.

But I'm just not getting the same vibe about Burnley when on home soil as I was six weeks ago.

With such a terrible away record - just one draw in seven games played and just the solitary goal scored - the pressure to win at Turf Moor intensifies each week. And it's worth remembering that Burnley have played more home games (8) than any other club meaning they've got just 11 league home games to come. Unless their away form massively improves they'll need to win six or seven of those home games to survive. That's some pressure.

Bournemouth are inconsistent admittedly, but if they can't take confidence from last Sunday's dramatic comeback win over Liverpool then they never will.

That victory was the Cherries' second in three games with the other one coming away at Stoke, so the fact that Eddie Howe's men have recently defeated two in-form sides and now occupy a place in the top 10 in the table means they thoroughly deserve to be favourites to win this match.

The Clarets have lost three on the spin for the first time this season and my gut feeling is that their home form is about to be severely tested.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Bournemouth to Win @ 2.30

 


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10.12.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Swansea 2.18 v Sunderland 3.75; The Draw 3.55

 

Even allowing for a victory mixed in with some poor form Swansea have conceded 16 goals in their last five games, which is quite alarming, especially when you consider almost a third of Premier League clubs are yet to concede that many in the whole season.

I've said it many times previously, and I'll say it again; players don't deliberately stop trying for their manager but subconsciously performances can drop if they are not buying into what the boss is asking them to do.

That might not be the problem with Swansea but from the outside looking in I can definitely see an element of that being the case under new boss Bob Bradley. Yes the Swans will have the occasional decent game and things will go well on the field - like it did to a certain extent when they beat Crystal Palace recently - but in the main I think the Welsh side are really struggling under their American coach.

Bradley may simply need a bit of time, but I fear he may not get it. A victory over relegation rivals Sunderland will buy him a lot more time that's for sure, but a defeat might be the beginning of the end.

On current form it's hard to fancy Swansea against anyone and I certainly can't make a case for them being strong favourites to win this match. They were absolutely dreadful against Tottenham last week and it will take a huge improvement on that performance to take the points on Saturday afternoon.

Sunderland have generally been poor themselves but their recent form is very encouraging. Three wins from their last four games has seen David Moyes' men climb off the bottom of the table and a victory at the Liberty Stadium is likely to move them out of the relegation zone, so they won't lack for incentive.

The key for me however is that in Jermain Defoe the Black Cats have a player who will always score goals. He has eight to his name in the league so far this season making him the division's leading English goalscorer, and with Sunderland gaining in confidence with every game I have a strong feeling that he will shoot his side to all three points in this encounter.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Sunderland to Win @ 3.75 

 

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10.12.2016/16:00
England Championship
Barnsley 3.45 v Norwich 2.28; The Draw 3.55

 

Nottm Forest (3.52 goals per game), Norwich and Rotherham (both 3.37 goals per game), and Barnsley (3.21 goals per game) are statistically the top four Championship sides that you want to be watching this season if it's goals that you want to witness.

The good news here then is that two of those sides are in opposition on Saturday afternoon.

Barnsley have been very inconsistent this term - then again, so has virtually every club at this level - but in recent weeks they've lost just one of their last five matches, so hopefully confidence has been restored.

Paul Heckingbottom's men produced a great performance at St Andrew's last Saturday in scoring three goals and beating a decent Birmingham side, but the week before that they were thrashed 5-2 by Nottm Forest. These two games alone sum up the Tykes in a nutshell - poor one week, excellent the next - and the five goals scored/five goals conceded in those two matches highlights why they are an attractive proposition for 'Overs' backers.

As mentioned in my intro, Norwich ended a five-game losing run by thrashing Brentford 5-0 at Carrow Road last week and you wouldn't be in the slightest bit surprised if Alex Neil's men now go on a good run of form.

I fancy the Canaries will need to score a couple at least though to take all three points from Oakwell, but with both sides being amongst the highest scorers in the division, as well as conceding their fair share, then that's quite possible and I fancy we could be in for a bit of a goalfest here.
source: betfair

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Back Over 3.5 Goals @ 3.10

 


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10.12.2016/16:00
England Championship
Huddersfield 2.36 v Bristol City 3.45; The Draw 3.40

 

This is a game in which I really expect to see the ball hit the back of the net a few times and I'm delighted that we can back Over 2.5 Goals at 2.18.

Huddersfield enjoyed a great start to the season but from the moment they hit the top of the table - after just a few weeks - I've been expecting them to drop like a stone. That decline is coming a bit later than I expected if I'm being honest, but it's now happening.

The Terriers are down to eighth after winning just one of their last eight matches, and I sense there's a lot of frustration in the camp.

David Wagner's men have conceded 12 goals in their last five matches and if they go on the attack against Bristol City in an attempt to get back to winning way, I can see them quite easily conceding a few at the other end.

And that's because I've always had Lee Johnson's men down as one of the most attacking sides in the division. They allow the opposition the ball but as soon as they win it themselves the Robins love to get it forward and attack.

A lot of Bristol City's games were high scoring at the start of the season but they've since witnessed fewer goals, but that's mainly because they struggled to score themselves. In a game in which I expect the home side to go on the front foot I can see Johnson's men causing Huddersfield lots of problems at the other end.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.18

 

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10.12.2016/16:00
England Championship
Newcastle 1.49 v Birmingham 8.00; The Draw 4.70

 

Given Newcastle's current form, and my tendency to back Birmingham away from home, I'm sure some of you would have expected me to put up the away side as a speculative punt this weekend. But it's goals that I fancy at St James' Park on Saturday, not an away win.

Newcastle won nine on the spin in all competition before losing their last two, but Rafa Benitezwas confident enough to make a host of changes for the game against Blackburn - it backfired - and we have to be honest and say the Magpies were extremely unfortunate to lose at Nottm Forest last week.

During their nine-game winning streak Benitez's men scored 25 goals in total; five of those matches were on home soil and all of them witnessed at least three goals.

The Magpies will be desperate to get back to winning ways on Saturday afternoon and I expect a very good performance, one that should see the hosts getting on the scoresheet a few times at least.

But Birmingham away from home remain of interest and they might just trouble Newcastle in this encounter; not enough to get the win, but certainly enough to hopefully get on the scoresheet.

If Gary Rowett's men do find the back of the net then our wager will look in great shape as I fully expect a home win, but if Newcastle do manage to keep just their second clean sheet in seven outings then there's every chance they'll score at least three themselves.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.88

 


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10.12.2016/13:00
England League One
MK Dons 2.24 v AFC Wimbledon 3.40, the draw 3.60

Saturday 13:00


Back in October, AFC Wimbledon collected a brilliant 3-1 victory at Oxford. The game was televised on Sky (I tipped Oxford incidentally), and the match proved significant in the history of the London club - who on that day overtook the MK Dons in the pyramid for the first time - astonishingly just 14 years after they were formed. That capped an incredible rise through six tiers of the game. 

Saturday at 1pm will be the first Football League meeting between the two, and in truth, probably the game that the neutral would have been searching for when the fixture lists were revealed. I am not sure I'll be particularly neutral myself here, as I'll be taking the odds on Neal Ardley's side to win - or at least the Draw No Bet. 

This was always going to be a pretty tricky match to price up. The MK Dons have failed to win any of their 15 matches at home this term (D4 L11), whilst Wimbledon are unbeaten in their last nine league matches on the road - which is why those odds of 3.40 are too big on those stats alone. 

The hosts announced a new manager last Friday, and the surprising name of Robbie Neilson (and not Steven Gerrard) is now charged with the corrective surgery after a poor start to life back in the third tier. And what a game to welcome the 36-year-old....

Ardley's team however are playing well; away successes at Peterborough, Bury, Oxford and Charlton highlights their knack for picking up results on the road. They have also kept four clean sheets from their away days this season, and have conceded just six goals in 10 away from Kingsmeadow. They defended superbly at Millwall in gaining a 0-0 recently - their third 0-0. 

Life certainly isn't dull with the Londoners at the moment. Their 4-3 victory at Curzon Ashton was one of the comebacks of the season on Sunday, and the Dons have been kind to this column in recent weeks so I won't desert them. With an FA Cup tie against Sutton in the next round, all we need is for Ardley's men to draw Liverpool in the fourth round.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet 
Back AFC Wimbledon Draw No Bet @ 2.00

 


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10.12.2016/15:00
England League One
Southend United 2.28 v Coventry City 3.40, draw 3.50

Saturday 3pm


I have a gut feeling that Southend look a bit overpriced this weekend. Maybe I'm 'chasing' them a bit, as they have appeared in this column for their last two league matches against Swindon and Walsall. But 2.28 looks a decent enough figure considering they are eight unbeaten in the league and have picked up 16 points from their previous eight matches. 

The recent 0-0 draw at Walsall was definitely a case of two points dropped, as they looked they classier team who created the better chances. Striker Nile Ranger had two shouts for penalties; and one looked a certainty according to manager Phil Brown. 

Ranger has been a real handful for opposing defences, and now he is fit, he's looking a bit of a star at this level. The 25-year-old recently signed a contract to keep him at Roots Hall until 2020. With his pedigree, he'll pose problems to any defence. 

Southend are undefeated when Ranger has played this term (W5 D3). 

They also have a fearsome stat from Opta on their side. The Shrimpers last failed to score in a home league match against Coventry in April 1936, netting in 13 games consecutively (scoring 27 times). It would take some doing to get that beaten! 

I just cannot back Coventry at the moment. They have lost four on the spin, and were ripped apart by Cambridge in last weekend's 4-0 defeat - in a truly embarrassing display. 

The hosts are seven unbeaten at Roots Hall, and they can keep it going this weekend.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Southend United to win @ 2.28

 


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12.12.2016/20:00
England League One
Bolton Wanderers 1.71 v Gillingham 5.00, the draw 3.80

Monday 20:00, live on Sky Sports 1 



A host of League One home sides will be short prices this weekend. Bristol Rovers are 1.75, Millwall 1.60, Peterborough 1.68 and Sheffield United 1.45 complete a shortie quartet, and we have similar cramped odds for Bolton on Monday evening. 

Historically the Trotters tend to do well against Gillingham, and according to Opta stats, they have won four of their last five home league games against the Kent club, and they are priced up to win here with a minimum of fuss at 1.71. 

This presents a fascinating match-up, as Bolton are an 'unders' team, whilst Gillingham are very much an 'overs' outfit. 

The well-worn stat of Gillingham's lack of clean sheet action is well-known. With just one all season, they are hardly bankers for that particular market. Backers of the Over 2.5 bet however would have done rather well this term with the Gills; with 14 of their 20 games so far hitting the target. Bizarrely eight of those matches have ended with a 2-1 score. 

Bolton are a different cat altogether, a clean sheet cat in fact. Manager Phil Parkinson likes his teams to be tight, and his men haven't let him down with a superb defensive record of just 12 conceded all season - only Brighton have let in fewer (11) in the Football League. Incidentally 10 of their games have finished 1-0 either way. 

The hosts are bidding for their fourth win on the spin, and the live wire Zach Clough is the player to look out for. He's hit seven goals this season, and now the striker is fit, it's no surprise he is banging them in. His all-round game is a very high standard, which is why a host of clubs are reportedly after him in the January transfer window. 

Backing Under 2.5 Goals with Bolton this term would have yielded success in 16 out of 20 games, and they also have five clean sheets at the Macron, but Gillingham's leaky defence worries me for this bet - so I'd rather just take the short price on the home win.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet 
Back Bolton Wanderers to win 1pt @ 1.71

 

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03.12.2016


 

03.12.2016/13:30
England Premier League
Manchester City-Chelsea


Manchester City - After three away games on the spin in all competitions, it's back to the Etihad for Pep Guardiola's side, who are eyeing a win that would lift them to the summit of the Premier League table - at least until Liverpool play Bournemouth on Sunday.

After a troubling run of form in October, City have rediscovered the winning formula over the last month. There has been pleasing variety to their recent performances: fireworks in the wins over West Brom and Barcelona, gritty determination against Crystal Palace, Borussia Monchengladbach and Burnley. 

The latter will probably be required against in-form Chelsea, but a number of Guardiola's key men will at least be well rested: David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan were given the afternoon off at Turf Moor, while Kevin De Bruyne only played a handful of minutes. All three will expect to start here, meaning that Yaya Toure may have to content himself with a spot on the bench despite having impressed since his return to the fray.


Chelsea - The Blues' recent league form has been unimpeachable (seven consecutive wins, 19 goals scored and only one conceded) but what's most impressive is that they've put that run together over a tough sequence of fixtures: Manchester United, Southampton, Everton and Spurs have all been brushed aside.

Confidence in the camp is high, with players clearly enjoying Antonio Conte's 3-4-3 system. The fact that the Italian tends not to rotate his side too much - he has now named the same XI in six straight matches - has allowed previously unsung squad men like Victor Moses and Pedro to come out of their shells, while David Luiz and Marcos Alonso have slotted in well.

Conte will know that a win in Manchester would put down a real marker in the title race. Can Chelsea make it eight wins in eight?


Match Odds

City have not lost at home since March and won both Premier League games against Chelsea last term. But their recent form at the Etihad has been patchy: their last three domestic assignments there - against Everton, Southampton and Middlesbrough - have all ended in 1-1 draws. It is a touch surprising, then, to see Guardiola's charges as short as 2.18 to see off the league's in-form side.

The draw and the Chelsea win hold more appeal at 3.60 and 3.70 respectively. Those odds bring the Double Chance and Draw No Bet markets into play: Draw or Chelsea can be backed at 1.83, Chelsea DNB at 2.72.


Half-time/Full-time

Both of these sides have a fairly even split as far as goal times go. Chelsea's aggregate first-half scoreline is 13-6; City's is 15-6. Chelsea's aggregate second-half scoreline is 14-6; Chelsea's is 16-4. 

Not much to go on, then, but if you do fancy Conte's men to find a way past their hosts, Draw/Chelsea tempts at 9.60.


Over/Under 2.5 goals

City have managed just two clean sheets in their 13 Premier League games under Pep Guardiola; click here for more info...only three sides have kept fewer this season. It is hard, therefore, to see them stifling a side as buoyant as Chelsea.

The visitors have been far more frugal since switching to a back three and it took a stunning long-range strike from Christian Eriksen to end their resistance at White Hart Lane. But have any of the sides they have faced in the last eight had City's firepower? Probably not.

Given that City will be aware of their fragility, they will want to go on the attack, meaning the overs looks the better pick at 1.81. But we prefer the look of Chelsea to Score 2+ Goals, which is available at 17/10 on the Sportsbook and would have paid out in six of the last seven Blues matches.


To Score

Sergio Aguero has scored four times in his last two Premier League games against Chelsea, including a hat-trick last time out. He has been in red-hot form recently and looks best placed to trouble the Chelsea defence at 2.08.

Of the away players, it is hard to look past Diego Costa at 2.54. The Spain international has been in fantastic form this term and has only failed to score or assist a goal in two of his 13 Premier League appearances. He could wreak havoc against City's shaky backline.


Ref Watch

Anthony Taylor takes charge of this one. He handed out seven yellow cards in a tetchy Chelsea vs West Ham game at the start of the season, but has yet to send a player off in 10 Premier League matches in 2016/17
source: betfair


Recommended Bets

Sergio Aguero to score at 2.08

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03.12.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Stoke City-Burnley

click here for more info...The Clarets have been brilliant at Turf Moor, so it's puzzling as to why they are so different on their travels and many will be willing to give them a chance to replicate their home form in this match.

I did exactly that when Burnley travelled to the Hawthorns a fortnight ago, thinking that - on paper at least - it represented their easiest away game to date. But Sean Dyche's men were awful, and went down 4-0 to an average West Brom side.

They've scored just a single goal away from home this season - a divisional low - and the four games in which they've lost they did so by margins of two, three, three, and four goals. Only a world class performance from Tom Heaton, and some dreadful finishing from Manchester Unted, prevented another hiding at Old Trafford - the 0-0 draw achieved there earning Burnley their only away point of the season.

After a slow start to this season Stoke have won four of their last six Premier League games and they've tasted just one defeat in their last eight, so they are definitely a team moving in the right direction.
source: betfair

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03.12.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Crystal Palace-Southampton

 

One of the hardest runs in any sport to break is a losing one, just ask Crystal Palace.

A few weeks ago I was praising the Eagles for not settling for a 2-2 draw at Burnley and instead going for all three points when they were on the attack with just minutes remaining. It seems I was wrong.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course, but if Alan Pardew had of instructed his men to settle for a point in that game - they fought back from 2-0 down after all - then Palace wouldn't be in their current position of having suffered six straight defeats. What's more, snatching a point might have in fact acted as a huge boost, rather than the feeling of deflation after conceding a last-gasp goal that cost them the match.

Pardew is desperate for a result, and against Southampton he's in a catch 22 situation; does he go on the attack - as he has done in recent games much to his cost - or does he instruct his men to play a patient game and hope they come out on top?

If Palace do go for it then they'll need an early goal or two I feel to see off a Saints side that are just beginning to pick up again. Domestically they've kept three clean sheets on the spin, drawing 0-0 with free-scoring Liverpool before recording wins over Everton (1-0) in the league and Arsenal (2-0) in the EFL Cup.

That is strong form, and Claude Puel's men have again proved in this mini spell that they are one of the best defensive sides in the country - the clean sheet at the Emirates in midweek was Southampton's 10th of the season in all competitions.

The first thing to say is that I believe Southampton are the better side, but my gut feeling is that Palace won't be able to resist playing their usual attacking game the longer the match goes without them getting in front, and if that's the case then I expect the away team to stay strong defensively and pick them off at the other end.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet: Southampton to Win (2.30)

 

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03.12.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Tottenham Hot.-Swansea City

 

It's hard to get encouraged by odds of 1.36 about a team that has won just one of their last 10 matches in all competitions, but everything is relative in betting and I believe the price about a home win here is about right.

In those last 10 games Spurs have played the likes of top quality European sides Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen (twice), plus Premier League opponents Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool, three of the top four in the table as things stand.

So yes, while just one win in that sequence doesn't read especially well it's important to remember that Mauricio Pochettino's men have lost just once in the league all season, and including their cup defeats they've never been defeated by more than one goal. In other words, Tottenham are an excellent team that can match anyone on their day.

Harry Kane is back fit and firing and will be buoyed by his new contract extension, and a home game against struggling Swansea should be just the ticket to set Spurs back on their way. Pochettino's men have taken seven points from the last nine available at White Hart Lane and averaged exactly two goals per game in that spell that included a terrific win over title favourites Man City.

Swansea sit 19th in the table after taking just a single point on the road from the last 15 available, and worryingly, Bob Bradley's men have conceded 11 goals in their last four matches. And although last week's last-gasp 5-4 win over Crystal Palace ensured a vital three points, will it really have done wonders for team morale and confidence (as was suggested earlier this week)?

I'm not convinced, and I'm certainly not convinced by the appointment of Bradley or the quality of this Swansea side. They look at all sea defensively without the excellent Ashley Williams and I can see them conceding at least a few at the Lane on Saturday afternoon in what should ultimately result in another defeat.
source: betfair

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03.12.2016/18:30
England Premier League
West Ham Utd.-Arsenal


West Ham - The Hammers looked like they were climbing out of trouble when they won back-to-back Premier League games in mid-October, but a run of four straight defeats has seen the bottom three gain ground on the 16th placed Londoners.

Their 1-1 draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United last weekend can be viewed as a positive, but it was followed with a midweek 4-1 thrashing by Jose Mourinho's side in the League Cup.

Much of West Ham's success last season was built on the form of Dimitri Payet. What's worrying for fans of the club is how the French midfielder no longer seems motivated, with his performance against Manchester United on Wednesday being particularly poor.

Beleaguered manager Slaven Bilic will be without the injured Sam Byram, Daifra Sakho and Gotham Tore, while Michail Antonio, Andy Carroll and Aaron Cresswell all face fitness tests.


Arsenal - November is traditionally a month in which Arsenal struggle and this season has proved to be no different.

Their only victories over the last month have come in the Champions League game away at Ludogorets and at home to Bournemouth last weekend. Arsenal have drawn tough games against Spurs, Manchester United and PSG, then suffered a defeat in their midweek League Cup tie at home to Southampton.

Arsene Wenger probably won't be losing much sleep over being knocked out of the competition, but he nevertheless put out a strong side so it was a disappointing performance. Arsenal are in need of building some momentum as they approach the packed Christmas schedule and winning a derby game would be a good place to start.

Wenger has plenty of injuries to contend with right now. Hector Bellerin, Santi Cazorla, Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck are all out, with Mohamed Elneny and Olivier Giroud both looking doubtful.


Ref Watch

Craig Pawson will officiate. He gave a red card to Bournemouth's Harry Arter on the last occasion that he took charge of a West Ham game in the Premier League. Pawson has yet to referee Arsenal this season.


Match Odds

West Ham are the big outsiders at 4.90, with the draw at 4.00 and Arsenal at 1.79.

With Arsenal having not lost away from home so far this season, this seems like an opportunity. Their swift counter-attacking style is perhaps better suited to playing on the road, with the Gunners having won six and drawn three of their away games in all competitions.


Both Teams To Score

The price of 1.69 on offer for both teams to score is not huge, but seems likely to land considering that both teams have defensive problems.

West Ham have conceded in each of their last six games, while Arsenal have done likewise in their last seven. With Over 2.5 Goals similarly priced at 1.70, this is the marginally safer call. You can combine the away win and BTTS at 21/10 on the Sportsbook.


To Score

If fit, Antonio looks nicely priced to find the net for West Ham at 3.75, having scored in the recent derby game with Tottenham.

For Arsenal there is value in both Alexis Sanchez at 2.22 and Theo Walcott 2.68, with both of the forwards scoring in the victory over Bournemouth on Sunday.
source: betfair


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02.12.2016/20:45
England Championship
Nottingham Forest v Newcastle


click here for more info...Nottingham Forest - Nottingham Forest claimed back-to-back away triumphs last week with their 5-2 Friday night triumph at Barnsley on the box standing out. Philippe Montanier's side twice fell behind but fought back impressively and move four points clear of the relegation zone.

The Tricky Trees are once again without a host of players this weekend. Captain Chris Cohen, Hildeberto Pereira, Daniel Pinillos and Armand Traore are certain absentees with Eric Lichajrated doubtful. Left-back Danny Fox remains the Reds' only available and recognised full-back.

However, Britt Assombalonga - scorer of six goals in just 338 minutes this term - has been passed fit. For the first time this season, Montanier will have the trio of Assombalonga, Nicklas Bendtner and Apostolos Vellios available although the Frenchman is highly unlikely to pitch all three men into the starting line-up.


Newcastle - Newcastle rested six players for their last Saturday's shock 1-0 reverse to Blackburn at St James' Park, a result that ended the Magpies' hopes of claiming a club record 10th straight win in all competitions.

Rafa Benitez's boys failed to score for the first time since the opening day of the campaign and followed it up with a gut-wrenching EFL Cup exit on penalties to Hull on Tuesday night. 

Toon's boss had earmarked a first major cup final since 1999 as a major aim so was understandably disappointed by their quarter-final defeat. The Spaniard has demanded his side "managed games" better as the league leaders aim bid to get back on track.


Match Odds

Nottingham Forest have claimed a sole success in 11 (W1-D4-L6) games against Newcastle but have managed to keep their sheets clean in three of the last five league encounters with the Toon at the City Ground.

No Championship outfit has lost more points from winning positions than the Tricky Trees (17) but the hosts have claimed W4-D2-L2 on home soil this season and can be backed at a bulbous 5.00 to bag a third straight win. 

Newcastle have picked up seven wins from their last eight away days, keeping clean sheets on six occasions. Include their record on Tyneside and the Toon have come out on top in 13/18 (72%) of Championship matches since relegation, making the visitors rock-solid 1.83 favourites.

As well as supporting the Magpies to triumph on Friday night, it may be worth having an interest in the Newcastle/Newcastle half-time/full-time market at 2.86. It's a selection that's proven profitable in 9/18 (50%) outings as well as 5/9 (56%) on the Toon's travels.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Friday night's fixture pits together the two top scoring sides in the second-tier. Collectively, Nottingham Forest (32) and Newcastle (36) have plundered 68 goals across 36 games, at a rate of 1.88 goals per-game.

At the City Ground, Forest's eight fixtures have produced 32 goals at a rate of 4.00 goals per-game with six paying out for Over 2.5 Goals punters. A repeat here can be supported at 1.86.

But Newcastle's stingy backline has ensured only 2/9 (22%) of their Championship road trips this term have broken the two-goal barrier as the guests have shipped only three goals in over 13 hours of action outside of Tyneside.
source: betfair


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Back Newcastle to win @ 1.83
Back Newcastle HT/Newcastle FT @ 2.86

 


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03.12.2016/18:30
England Championship
Leeds United-Aston Villa


Leeds - Injury-hit Leeds put in brave performance at Anfield on Tuesday night, exiting the EFL Cup with a 2-0 defeat to Premier League high-flyers Liverpool. United sat deep, stayed compact and looked dangerous when venturing forward after turning possession over.

Kemar Roofe impressed in the number 10 role at Rotherham last weekend and again caught the eye in his more central position in midweek, rattling the woodwork with the scores locked at 0-0. With Pablo Hernandez absent, Roofe should continue playing behind leading scorer Chris Wood, who's notched 11 goals in his last 27 Elland Road outings.

Garry Monk's men were overly relaxed and a little directionless when seeing off Rotherham last weekend but their recent form (W9-D2-l4) coupled with their strong Elland Road displays in Championship action (W4-D1-L1) should give Leeds fans hope here.

However, the hosts are sweating on the fitness of Eunan O'Kane and Liam Cooper - both limped out of action on Tuesday night. Pontus Jansson returns from suspension and illness whilst Liam Bridcutt won't feature.


Aston Villa - Aston Villa produced a gritty display to earn a third home win in four attempts under Steve Brucelast Saturday, seeing off Cardiff 3-1 at Villa Park. Dynamic duo Albert Adomah and Jonathan Kodjia put the Villans in control before substitute Rudy Gestede confirmed the result with a late penalty.

The visitors remain unbeaten after seven games of Bruce's leadership (W4-D3-L0), the manager brought in to pick up the pieces after Roberto Di Matteo's short, sharp and disappointing reign following Premier League relegation.

Having floated around in the bottom-half of the table for as long as Di Matteo survived, Villa are now just four points shy of the top-six. Bruce believes the guests are still 'a work in progress' despite their obvious improvements and reiterated his players must handle high expectations.

Meanwhile, Nathan Baker's injury last weekend means the Villa boss may have to shuffle his defensive pack for Saturday evening's trip north to Yorkshire. Club captain Tommy Elphickappears the most likely to fill in at centre-half.


Match Odds

Leeds' home record against Aston Villa isn't particularly impressive (W2-D5-L1) with the Whites also failing to score in three of their last four league meetings with the Midlanders. However, this will be the first time they've met in league competition since February 2004.

Garry Monk's men have collected 13 points from a possible 18 at Elland Road (W4-D1-L1) since early September but a return of 11/32 (34%) wins on home soil since the beginning of 2015/16 makes the Whites unappealing as 2.72 favourites.

Aston Villa 2.96 have managed a solitary success in their last 27 away days (W1-D8-L18) in league competition with the visitors consistently involved in draws since arriving in the second-tier. 

Ten of Villa's last 16 games have ended all-square, including five of their nine road trips this term. A repeat this Saturday is available at an attractive 3.30.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Only 11 (34%) of the past 32 Elland Road matches have resulted in Over 2.5 Goals winners with Leeds overcoming the two-goal hurdle on only three occasions since Garry Monk took charge.

Aston Villa have also been prominent performers in low-scoring ties this season as seven of their nine games as guests have featured Under 2.5 Goals 1.70. However, the odds on offer ensure there are better betting angles elsewhere.

For example, Both Teams To Score at 1.97. Villa haven't failed to score since Bruce arrived on the scene with six of their seven encounters paying-out in the BTTS column. Meanwhile, Leeds have only failed to score against Newcastle in their last seven Championship battles with 19/32 (59%) proving profitable for Both Teams To Score hunters.


Correct Score

Having already outlined a draw, both sides scoring and overwhelming evidence in favour of Under 2.5 Goals, it makes total sense to have an interest in the 1-1 correct score at odds of 6.80.

It's already copped in 7/18 (39%) of Aston Villa's outings, including 3/9 (33%) away from Villa Park, as well as eight of the last 10 Leeds draws at Elland Road since the start of last season.
source: betfair


Recommended Bet: Back the draw @ 3.10

 

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FA Cup

Saturday December 3
Kick offs 15:00 
Sutton United 3.30 v Cheltenham Town 2.50; the draw 3.60


Why have Cheltenham Town gone "back to school" this week? Because they want to find a suitable surface to practice on, for the FA Cup second round trip to Sutton United, whose name still evokes memories of beating Coventry City in the third round as if it was achieved yesterday. It wasn't. It was 1989. Two seasons after City won the FA Cup.

But if a lot has changed for Coventry since then, it has too for Sutton United. They now have a 4G surface and a match will be played on a non-grass surface for only the second time in the FA Cup's 129 year history.

In many other regards, stability has been key for Sutton, who are interested in gradual progression. After two successful playoff failures, the Gander Green Lane outlet earned promotion to the National League, where they sit comfortably in mid-table. Paul Doswell has been in post for what seems like an age, and several former Football League players are in their ranks, such as goalkeeper Ross Worner, defenders Shaun Cooper and stalwart Simon Downer. Roarie Deacon, lately of Crawley, might have extra determination to show off his skills after recently dropping out of the Football League. 

Striker Craig Dundas can be a real handful for opponents, especially as a physical presence and one last shot at FA Cup fame will no doubt inspire him, especially as he was in the side beaten 2-0 by Notts County the last time they had a good cup run. 

Recent form since beating Dartford in the First Round might not have been great, until they beat Aldershot 2-0 last weekend, but Cheltenham's form has not been great.

Beating Crewe in the first round was something of a surprise - especially 4-1 - and is their only win in seven league or FA Cup games. Promoted from the National League last year, the Robins might be sent back to school if they can't beat Sutton, but they might struggle to do so. The U's will have to keep an eye on Billy Waters, but might be able to cause an upset.
source: betfair

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Back Sutton United @ 3.30

 

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Luton Town 1.44 v Solihull Moors 8.20; the draw 5.20

click here for more info...Solihull might have lost a manager who had spent years building them up, after he exited for Grimsby recently, but they hope they will have found another gem in Liam McDonald. He certainly seems to have the reputation, having managed Hednesford Town at the top end of the Northern Premier League Premier Division and Redditch before that. 

With John Deehan bolstering the youth academy, the Moors clearly have every intention of building on what Marcus Bignott started before leaving for Grimsby recently.

Taking a punt on youth in the form of McDonald, alongside newly-appointed head coach Keith Bertschin, paid off in the previous round, when they defeated Yeovil on penalties. 

Unsurprisingly, there has been a dip in form in the league, with McDonald describing how he remembered his legs not moving as well as they might, from his playing days, during peak times when there was a lot of travelling involved.

All the players will be walking on air at Kenilworth Road. On occasions like these, they won't feel tired, drained or their strains. At least, not unless they are defeated. McDonald will hope striker Harry White isn't feeling a niggling injury and that Liam Daly and Jordan Gough can continue to show the same leading qualities they have since he took over.

It will be a tall order to overcome Luton Town, who have won six and drawn six of their last 13 league and FA Cup games, losing only to Portsmouth. With Danny Hylton and Cameron McGeehan spearheading the attack, they ought to have too much quality, but rather than take the skinny 1.45 on a home win (Opta pointing out that Luton have won their last seven ties as a Football League club facing non-league opposition), it is over 3.5 goals @ 2.50 that is the play, as both teams go for the jugular.
source: betfair

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Back over 3.5 goals @ 2.50

 


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Plymouth 1.94 v Newport 4.40; the draw 3.80

What, exactly, has happened to Plymouth? Steam rolling to the top of the league one minute, losing three games on the trot the next - scoring just once.

Even the return of defender Nauris Bulvitis - who has become something of a talisman - did not seem to improve matters on Saturday.

Director Simon Hallett says it is time the Pilgrims "shifted gears", five years after being taken out of administration by James Brent. It won't mean taking off the sensible financial footings, but a nice profitable FA Cup run would help.

It would seem that Newport might have a defensive crisis with Darren Jones suspended and fellow centre-back Scot Bennett an injury doubt. However, Derek Adams has potentially seven players out, including Bulvitis. Ryan Brunt and Jimmy Spencer are two who are definitely out.

Newport beat Argyle in the league a few weeks ago, Jon Parkin scoring. But he has been sent out on loan to York City by Graham Westley. It is hard to know which team will be worse off come Saturday but perhaps a sense of cup magic will lift the home side and kick start another unbeaten run.
source: betfair

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Back Plymouth @ 1.94

 

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Sunday December 4
Kick off 14:00 
Woking 4.80 v Accrington Stanley 2.00; the draw 3.60


Opta's stat that Woking have not reached the FA Cup third round since 1996-97 sent my memory spinning. Was it really that long ago that Geoff Chapple's Woking beat West Brom, causing the sacking of Brian Talbot? No! In fact it was even longer - 1991! My goodness me. 1996 was when they took Coventry to a replay.

Anyway, Woking have been eliminated by their last nine Football League opponents, but the one they might like revenge on, for a bit of limelight, would be Accrington for a different reason - Stanley secured their promotion to the Football League at Kingfield in April 2006.

Garry Hill could use that as motivation, but players like Max Kretzschmar, who made an occasional impact at Wycombe, have their own points to prove. How gutted with Fabio Saraiva have been to miss out on the FA Cup attention at his former club Merstham in the last round and want a taste of glory? 

Stanley have not been in the best of form. Last season they looked like genuine promotion hopefuls, not just play-off contenders, at times. John Coleman had plenty of detractors when he suggested they were the best team in the league (when he was dejected in defeat) but they looked strong. Now they are on a run of four points from six games and barely a goal in sight. It could be an uncomfortable afternoon. They will be grateful to take Woking back home for a replay.
source: betfair

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Back the draw @ 3.60

 

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26.11.2016


 

26.11.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Hull City-West Bromwich A.

click here for more info...Even at this relatively early stage of the season this feels like a must-win game for Hull, who now sit third bottom in the table following a run of just one win in their last 10 league matches.

Admittedly that victory came against a decent Southampton side, and a reproduction of that performance will see Mike Phelan's men go close to winning this game. West Brom have won two on the spin however and now occupy a place in the top half of the table, so this is a very tough match to call for my liking with the Baggies not easily dismissed.

But there is a bet that stands out here, and it's the Over 2.5 Goals wager at what appears to be a very generous price of 2.40.

Now that might sound a bit contradictory given that I was quite strong on West Brom's game on Monday night being a low scoring affair. But against Burnley Over 2.5 Goals was trading much shorter, and the match actually finished 4-0!

In fact taking into account every league game Tony Pulis' men have played this term they've averaged just over 2.5 goals per game, while Hull's 12 league matches have witnessed 37 goals, that's an average of over three per game.

What's more, all of West Brom's last four games have gone over the 2.5 goals mark, and the three immediately before that all ended with both teams getting on the scoresheet.

The Tigers don't score many themselves, but they are so poor at times - as recent 4-1, 5-1, 6-1, and 3-0 defeats testify - that you always feel like they'll concede at least one or two each match, and if that's the case then backing Over 2.5 Goals at 2.40 seems a no brainer.
source: betfair

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Back Over 2.5 Golas @ 2.40


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26.11.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Leicester City-Middlesbrough

click here for more info...This is a fascinating game because, although Leicester are deserving odds-on favourites, I can easily make a case for any of the three outcomes in the Match Odds market.

And that should mean that if I'm of the opinion that the draw or a Middlesbrough win is just as likely as a home win, then I really should be laying Leicester at the current odds. But it's very marginal. A Leicester win is priced at 1.93, which means the price about them not winning is around 2.08.

The Foxes have a terrible record in games immediately before a Champions League fixture, but in the four games that followed their excellent midweek performances in Europe's elite club competition they've taken seven points from a possible 12 and kept two clean sheets.

So given Tuesday's victory over Club Brugge ensured that Leicester will top their group you'd expect them to be on a high when they host goal-shy Middlesbrough.

But Claudio Ranieri is without the services of pivotal midfielder Danny Drinkwater on Saturday, and generally, his men's domestic form has been pretty woeful of late. Leicester have won just one of their last seven in the league and that came against a Crystal Palace side that has now lost five in a row.

The one concern I have with Middlesbrough is that they don't score many goals (joint lowest scorers in the Premier League), and often don't look like scoring due to some very poor play in the final third.

But they are defensively very good - only Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Southampton, and Spurs have conceded fewer - and can frustrate teams away from home, as proved with drawing with the Gunners and the Citizens in their last two away games.

So in a nutshell I think Aitor Karanka's men can avoid defeat at the King Power Stadium, but I'm also wary that they don't score many and that Leicester have a good chance of keeping a clean sheet.

The only possible outcome where both the above scenarios come true is the 0-0 Correct Score, which can be backed at 11.00, but if that's the way the game heads then it might just open up in the last half hour, so I'll wager instead on the less chancy goalless first 45 minutes.
source: betfair

Recommended Bet
Back 0-0 Half Time Score @ 3.00

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26.11.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Liverpool-Sunderland

 

click here for more info...Liverpool are one of the shortest priced teams you'll see all season, and while they're virtually impossible to oppose do you really want to be piling in on them at just 1.19 in the Match Odds market?

The Reds face a Sunderland side that have just won back-to-back Premier League games remember, and in Jermain Defoe they have one of the division's top goalscorers.

Of course, as the odds suggest, all things being equal Jurgen Klopp's men will win, but there are surely a few other options that will enable us to profit more handsomely from a home victory.

One such wager, and the one that I prefer, is for Liverpool to win with both teams getting on the scoresheet, which is a bet that has paid out on all of the Reds' eight league victories this season; and they've beat the likes of Hull (5-1), Swansea (2-1), Palace (4-2), West Brom (2-1), and Watford (6-1) in that sequence of wins.

Klopp's men have a bit of a 'you score two, we'll score three' mentality about them so they always give you a chance, and I'd be confident that if the above five teams can score against them then a Black Cats side coming into a bit of form with a prolific goalscorer would have a great chance of scoring at Anfield also. 

I know it's not an exact science but a tenner on Both Teams to Score at 2.10 returns £20.45 (after commission), £20.45 on a Liverpool Win at 1.19 returns £24.15, so it's fair to say that a home win with both teams scoring should be priced at around the 2.40 mark, so odds of 2.60 (8/5} on the Sportsbook appear very fair.
source: betfair

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Back Liverpool Win/Both Teams to Score @ (2.20)

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26.11.2016/18:30
England Championship
Rotheram United-Leeds United

 

Rotherham - Exclude Neil Warnock's magical 16-match stint in charge at the backend of last season, Rotherham's record since the start of 2015/16 reads W8-D8-L31 - a 66% loss rate with a points per-game average of 0.68.

The Millers axed Alan Stubbs after a rotten start to the season but the shrewd capture of Kenny Jackett should prove an astute addition. Jackett is the Reds' fifth manager in 14 months and although early results (W0-D1-L3) have failed to stem the feeling of doom amongst supporters, there have been incremental improvements.

Rotherham's shot ratio and shots on-target ratio returns have both marginally increased by 3% but the Millers ragged backline continues to hamper major progress. The hosts have leaked 41 Championship goals this term - 11 more than any other side - at a rate of 2.77 goals per-game

Jackett's charges are 11 points from safety thanks to a run of just W1-D4-L12 and are without skipper Lee Frecklington, defenders Kirk Broadfoot and Kelvin Wilson plus strikers Dexter Blackstock and Jonson Clarke-Harris this weekend.


Leeds - Leeds' biggest Elland Road crowd since May 2010 failed to inspire the Whites to victory over runaway league leaders Newcastle last weekend as Garry Monk's men slumped to only their third defeat in 11 league fixtures (W7-D1-L3).

Leeds worked hard and enjoyed spells of pressure in either half against the Toon but Chris Woodappeared isolated in attack and Pablo Hernandez's ongoing absence seemed to blunt the Whites' output in the final third.

Monk must again do without Hernandez and with Swedish international Pontus Janssonsuspended, Liam Cooper will partner Kyle Bartley at centre-back. Captain Liam Bridcutt remains on the treatment table but fans will be more concerned by Jansson's absence.

Leeds have kept four clean sheets in the 12 games that Jansson's partnered Bartley at the back, only twice shipping two goals in a game. His ban leaves the side lacking height, an obvious concern considering the visitors have leaked more goals from corners (7) than any other Championship rival.


Match Odds

Rotherham might be floundering at the bottom of the Championship but the Millers boast an excellent record when taking on their county rivals. The hosts have W4-D0-L1 in their last five when entertaining Leeds as well as returning W4-D3-L0 in last seven head-to-head league duels since 1982.

The hosts - 4.00 to back - have lost four home league games on the spin for the first time since 2005 and despite making four changes at Derby last week, including a switch to a five-man midfield, Jackett's yet to find the magic formula to turn Rotherham's rotten campaign around.

Leeds, 2.10, have claimed away three league victories on the spin for the first time in 20 months and triumphs at Wolves and Norwich suggest the Whites are accustomed to picking up maximum points on their travels. Another maximum point haul should be backed here.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Rotherham's haphazard defence has led to a healthy return of successful Over 2.5 Goals selections this season with 14/17 (82%) of league outings proving profitable. The Millers have shipped at least two goals in 11 of their last 13 encounters and notched in all bar two games at the New York Stadium. 

A repeat can be backed at a very generous 1.97 although it's worth noting seven of the Reds' past 10 games at home to top-half teams have fallen below the 2.5 goals line, as have nine of Leeds' last 13 visits to bottom-six dwellers.

Nevertheless, goals appear the most likely scenario on Saturday with the Whites missing a key defensive cog and Rotherham hell-bent on improving their rotten 2016/17 record against one of their most bitter rivals.

Jackett's spoken positively about his side's offensive output and with the experienced Peter Odemwingie now up to full speed plus Joe Newell and Danny Ward offering options in attack, we should expect the Millers to grab a goal in what's likely to be another disappointing evening.
source: betfair


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26.11.2016/16:00
England League One
Walsall-Southend United

click here for more info...I'm not so sure Walsall deserve to be favourites here, especially given that Southend are only two points behind the play-off places and are unbeaten in their last seven games. So for that reason, the visitors look the call at the prices.Of course the Saddlers can bounce back here, it goes without saying in this division. But they were hammered 4-0 by Rochdale on Tuesday night, and by all accounts were dire.

Their defence remains susceptible to costly mistakes, whilst they don't supply enough ammunition to forward Simeon Jackson. Indeed, they barely had a chance in midweek.Under-pressure Walsall boss Jon Whitney has hinted at changes, and they need to address a home record that is erratic to say the least. They have conceded 16 goals in nine games at the Banks's Stadium, with just one clean sheet. Their win record is four from nine on their own patch, but they have claimed the big scalp of Bolton.Southend should have won 4-1 or 5-1 on Tuesday night according to their manager Phil Brown(ended 1-1 with Swindon), and they really went for it during the second-half.

Overall the Shrimpers had 21 shot attempts, so I can sympathise with Brown.The opening 15 minutes could be crucial here; as United have scored 11 of their 26 league goals this term in that window - which is three more than any other side in the division, and they do have plenty of power up front now. With seven points from their previous nine available, Southend can score here, which should lead to the Both Teams To Score bet. However, the Draw No Bet is the one - especially at the prices.
source: betfair

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Back Southend United Draw No Bet @ 2.40

 

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26.11.2016/16:00
England League One
Gillingham-Rochdale

click here for more info...Rochdale eased into a play-off spot on Tuesday after handing out a 4-0 shellacking to Walsall. But the Dale are a curious team; their last three games have finished W4-0, W4-0, L4-0, and the question here posed is how much do you trust them to follow up from Tuesday night?

One thing we can put almost maximum faith in, is the inability of Gillingham to keep a clean sheet. In fact, it's a while since I touched on this particular area - so in times of doubt - head to Kent. 

In 27 games in all competitions (including the much-maligned EFL Trophy), they have managed to keep just one shutout, and that came against West Brom's Under 21s.

More startling is their record at Priestfield; as both teams have scored in every single game. Not one fixture at Gillingham has produced a clean sheet for any team - and that is from 10 matches. Backing the Over 2.5 Goals in all home games for Justin Edinburgh's team would have netted you 6/10. 

The hosts have been playing Bradley Dack in a more central role, but they have shipped 32 goals this term. Rochdale have got to view this as a game they should be winning - especially with their league position, which could make for BTTS here. 

Opta stats: Gillingham have won three of their last four home games with Rochdale, and Dale are winless in five league outings with the Gills. If the hosts concede in this game, they will equal their longest run without a clean sheet in their entire Football League history - going 26 games without one between September 1992 and March 1993.
source: betfair

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26.11.2016/16:00
England League One
AFC Wimbledon-Fleetwood Town

It feels strange that Wimbledon are not playing Bury again. In November already they have beaten the Shakers 5-1 and 5-0 (drawing their third encounter 2-2). We swap Bury for Fleetwood - who arrive at Kingsmeadow in decent form. Backing Town at a generous 3.70 will attract plenty. After all, they have won their last two at home to push them towards the play-off places. However, their away form looks the problem - and they have won just twice on their travels this term - bizarrely losing 2-1 on six occasions. So if you are looking for a Correct Score bet...... 

Wimbledon are becoming a fairly reliable side at this level, and their progress since a poor opening month has been excellent under Neal Ardley. 

Tuesday's 0-0 at Millwall wasn't a classic, but it showed how they can really dig deep at the back - against a side that can throw plenty of crosses at opponents. That shutout was their fourth since the start of October. 

The hosts have lost two of their last seven at home - but they were close games with Bradford City and Sheffield United. 

Opta stats: The Dons have won both home league games with the Cod Army. The Londoners have lost just one of their last 12 league games (W6 D5).
source: betfair

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Back Wimbledon to win @ 2.14

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26.11.2016/16:00
England League Two
Accrington Stanley-Yeovil Town


click here for more info...What a Tuesday night! Real surprises that Mansfield could beat Blackpool, Hartlepool could win at home and - the biggest one - Plymouth losing at home to Barnet.

The layers, of course, will offer big odds that are fantastic value - as long as you know where to look and the signs to look for.

Take Yeovil. Theirs was the only game called off on Tuesday and the extra rest time will serve them well on the long trip to Accrington. (They have a lot of long trips in this division.)

As noted earlier in the week, they have been sneaking up towards the playoff positions relatively unnoticed - but with an average amount of goals, which will be a worry for Darren Way.

However, his team seem full of confidence despite the narrowness of their scoring to conceding ratios.

Francois Zoko and Tahvon Campbell certainly want to kick on. Will Matty Dolan return after coming off with a muscular injury against Colchester? Maybe. Way will hope Matt Butcher's suspension won't disrupt his defence too much.

A format of 4-3-3 is supposed to provide width, so the wide men will enjoy some banter with the crowd perhaps at Accrington's less than stately home. It's great to be practically in among the supporters in sport if you can handle it. That makes or breaks you.

The Glovers have an upwardly mobile trajectory while Accrington, beaten playoff semi-finalists last year, seem to be on a downward curve, having slipped to 18th for the first time in a long while. They suffered the ignominy of handing Hartlepool their first home win of the season on Tuesday and will be smarting. But can John Coleman raise them this time or not?

Refereeing decision is one of his common complaints. If his players are "seething with a sense of injustice" after that 10-man defeat. He says they won't need any motivation.

They have not won since beating Blackpool in mid-October and haven't scored for six hours of play. You can seeth all you like in defeat or against injustice, but can you turn things around?

Chances are being created, he rightly insists. But Romuald Boco and company need to take them. Yeovil can perform with the surity and confidence of a team picking up points. That has huge value - and so does their price.

Opta state that Accrington have not lost at home to Yeovil in the Football League, winning one and drawing one. The time feels right for the Glovers to give that stat the ultimate balance with a victory.
source: betfair

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Back Yeovil @ 3.80

 


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26.11.2016/16:00
England League Two
Blackpool-Newport County


Say what you like about Graham Westley - and many do - but he comes up with great lines. 

click here for more info...He blamed himself for not picking the right team for the difficult surface at Rodney Parade on Tuesday (many managers don't take the blame) and he basically said: it's our own pitch and isn't going to change, we'll have to work with it. Well, my cricket team will sympathise! A more rugged approach than a passing one was needed, he concluded.

Before Tuesday, it was nice of him to throw in that Newport need to adopt Andy Murray's winning mentality after the British player rose to become world number one. Let me throw in my own colourful analogy: many has been the time when Murray has put in a gigantic effort to win a set and then been pulverised in the next. It's the equivalent of the midweek defeat that interrupts a good formline, something I have mentioned many times.

So, forget Wycombe's slightly fortuitous win at Newport this week, the Exiles should benefit from a better playing surface at Blackpool, where Gary Bowyer has urged his side to start another unbeaten run after their own good stretch of six games was interrupted by Mansfield.

Blackpool, in 13th, and Newport, who returned to the bottom after Tuesday, have each taken the same number of points -11 - in their past eight games 11. So the odds seem unbalanced. For the Tangerines, I would have expected Jamille Matt to have played and scored more often, even if Kyle Vassell has performed well.

Westley has youngster Rhys Healey champing at the bit and experienced grafters such as Sean Rigg alongside him. Reputations won't matter. Opportunities do as Newport face the task of climbing off the bottom again. You could lay Blackpool to cover the draw, but I prefer the option of betting the game finishes level, which allows for the Opta stat that the hosts are unbeaten in their last five at Bloomfield Road.
source: betfair

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26.11.2016/16:00
England League Two
Carlisle United-Mansfield Town


Just how jittery have Carlisle become since losing at Newport? Probably not very is the answer, given their rousing comeback against Exeter, from twice behind, to win, or their 2-2 draw with Grimsby.

They were tough battles and they have much to thank young Charlie Wyke for, including three goals in those matches. Keith Curle's side are also League Two's form team over 10 games, say Opta, picking up 23 points. 

Their opponents, Opta stress, are winless in five away games - but that was before Steve Evanscame along to change their fortunes. One suspects the players don't know what's hit them and have had the Sir Alex Ferguson style hairdryer treatment.

The 3-1 home win over Crawley, followed by beaten Blackpool in midweek, indicates that they have been shocked into some improvement via the new manager syndrome. It is unlikely to be enough to beat Carlisle, whose matches average pretty much bang on a 2-1 goals ratio in their favour. Mansfield's matches have been much tighter, averaging close to the 1-1 mark.

Basically, Carlisle's 32 goals in 18 games it indicates that they are likely to score against you, making them hard to beat. Hence they have only lost once this season. So you'd be satisfied if someone offered you a draw.

Just in case Evans picks up a hat-trick of wins with his new charges and works out how to defend against Carlisle's crusading forwards, laying the hosts seems a reasonable option, covering two results.
source: betfair

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Lay Carlisle @ 1.90

 

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19.11.2016


19.11.2016/13:30
England Premier League
Manchester Utd.-Arsenal

Jose Mourinho is unbeaten in 13 matches against Arsene Wenger, but his record could be about to end. If the home side play using Mourinho's patented retreat-and-counter tactics - and lose - then it would be a major symbolic moment in the Special One's demise. Arsenal's "specialist in failure", whose new high pressing game shows adaptability, might prove that even he is moving with the times more effectively than Mourinho.

Man United's injury crisis means that they will probably line up with Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones, Marcus Rojo, and Luke Shaw across the back. Not only do these four have little experience playing together, but their confidence is bound to be low given that they know they are not Mourinho's favourites. The manager's bad temper and cliquey favouritism rarely inspires gutsy performances from fringe players.

Arsenal are pressing considerably higher this season, thanks largely to the tireless Alexis Sanchez scampering from the front. His energy seems to have rubbed off on Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott, and if these three hassle United's makeshift back four they will surely force an error - particularly since Zlatan Ibrahimovic's absence (suspended) means the home side are without a fulcrum to relieve the pressure and move up the pitch.
source: betfair

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Back Arsenal to win at 2.95

 


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19.11.2016/18:30
England Premier League
Tottenham Hot.-West Ham Utd.


click here for more info...Tottenham's switch to a 3-4-2-1 formation for the 1-1 draw with Arsenal saw a marked improvement in the final third, offering Mauricio Pochettino a solution to his team's goalscoring woes. They face a severely depleted West Ham side this weekend who will mimic the hosts' formation; without Mark Noble, the Hammers should be overrun by the newly-freed Christian Eriksen.

The Danish playmaker looked very dangerous in the opening half hour of the North London derby, where Spurs trialled the suddenly fashionable 3-4-2-1. Kyle Walker and Danny Rose stretched the pitch as wing-backs while a third central defender relieved the central attackers of defensive responsibilities - which in turn meant that Eriksen repeatedly floated into pockets on either side of Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin.

The trouble with Bilic's 3-4-2-1 is that the wing-backs threaten to drop too deep to become a 5-2-2-1, leaving just two midfield players to cover a massive portion of the pitch (neither Manuel Lanzini or Dmitri Payet track back very often). This is likely to happen even more frequently than it did a fortnight ago (when Pedro Obiang and Noble completed just one tackle and one interception between them) given that Spurs' ultra-attacking wing-backs will pin their opponents back. Noble's suspension makes the task considerably more difficult.

It is easy to imagine Eriksen's clever movement causing panic around Obiang and his partner in a desperately understaffed zone of the pitch. The home side's record of three goals in six games will surely improve on Saturday.
source:betfair

Recommended Bet
Back Spurs to win and over 2.5 goals at 2.35

 

19.11.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Crystal Palace-Manchester City

 

click here for more info...Manchester City were knocked off the top of the table after a round of Premier League fixtures for the first time this season when their home draw with Middlesbrough before the international break was followed by thumping wins for both Chelsea and Liverpool.

City could in fact find themselves sitting fourth in the table come kick-off at Selhurst Park should Arsenal avoid defeat in Saturday's early kick-off against Manchester United.

The reason behind City's descent is their failure to kill off teams at the Etihad Stadium; three consecutive 1-1 draws in front of their own fans has seen Pep Guardiola's men drop six points, and their overall form, home and away, reads just one win from their last five league outings.

Away from home the Citizens have been very strong, one of the reasons perhaps being their stunning ability to break fast and punish teams on the break. As well as beating neighbours United away from home Man City have scored 11 goals in recording three away victories against bottom half teams Stoke, Swansea, and West Brom.

And that bodes well ahead of the trip to Selhurst Park to play a Crystal Palace side currently sitting 16th in the table following a run of four consecutive defeats.

Alan Pardew's men have gone completely off the boil and it's hard to put your finger on exactly why that is. They initially looked like a team that would struggle for goals but transfer window signings Christian Benteke and Loic Remy looked like solving that particular problem.

Benteke has stuck to his side of the bargain with four goals to date and Palace as a team have scored in all bar one of their last nine Premier League matches, incredibly scoring four goals in their last two matches yet failing to pick up a single point thanks to conceding seven in total against Liverpool and Burnley.

So with free-scoring City in town it's no surprise to see Over 2.5 Goals trading at just 1.66 for this encounter. I envisage goals, and the bet I like most is an away win with three or more goals being scored. All six of City's away wins this season have been achieved in games where Over 2.5 Goals has paid out.
source:betfair

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19.11.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Southampton-Liverpool

 

Liverpool have surprised me so for this campaign. During their 4-3 victory over Arsenal on the opening weekend of the season I was thinking to myself that no team that defends like the Reds did in that game could possibly win a title.

That may still be the case, but the fact is, it doesn't matter how badly you defend or how many you concede if you keep outscoring your opponents.

No team in the Premier League has scored more goals than Jurgen Klopp's men - 30 in 11 games is quite some going, four ahead of the second highest scorers - while none of the big boys have conceded more than Liverpool. In a nutshell, the Reds' 11 league matches this season have averaged exactly four goals per game.

So similar to the Man City preview I believe backing an away win with at least three goals being scored is the way to play this one, with quotes of 2/1 on the Sportsbook appearing very generous given the fact that Liverpool have won 11 times in all competitions this season, and all 11 have gone over the 2.5 goals mark.

I'm not sure I'd have been recommending the above wager about six weeks ago however, when Southampton were recording six clean sheets on the spin and looking very difficult to beat.

But it's been far from plain sailing in recent weeks for Claude Puel's men who have lost two of their last three Premier League games - a 2-1 defeat at Hull last time being particularly disappointing - and recorded just one clean sheet in their last seven matches in all competitions.

Put simply then, if you think there's a good chance that Liverpool will win this game - and they have every chance on recent form - then you may as well take the bigger odds about the victory being achieved with at least three goals in the game being scored.
source:betfair

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Back Liverpool to Win @ 2.20

 

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19.11.2016/16:00
England Premier League
Sunderland-Hull City

 

click here for more info...After finally recording their first league win of the season Sunderland are strong favourites to beat newly-promoted Hull at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon, and I rate them a decent bet to do so.

To my cost I've realised that Sunderland aren't as good as I thought they were. Don't get me wrong, I never for one second thought they were world beaters but I did expect them to do much better in some games than they actually have.

And I'm still convinced that David Moyes' men are a better side than their current league position. Undoubtedly they'll be in and around the relegation positions all season but I just have a hunch that they'll survive more comfortably than they have in recent seasons.

One of the main reasons behind my thinking is Jermain Defoe, a striker who every club in the bottom half of the table come Christmas would love to have in their side. He's already the top English scorer this season with six goals meaning he is absolutely key to the Black Cats.

Hull recorded their first league win since August when surprisingly beating Southampton before the international break, but prior to that the Tigers had collected just a single point from the 24 available which included a four-game run where they conceded an ultra alarming 17 goals.

And manager Mike Phelan has some big injury worries ahead of the trip to Sunderland with the news that strikers Abel Hernandez and Will Keane will be out for some time. Hull have lost their last three away games by an aggregate score of 12-2 and I'm confident Sunderland can make it four away losses on the spin for the Tigers by winning back-to-back Premier League matches.
source:betfair

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Back Sunderland to Win @ 2.22

 

 


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19.11.2016/16:00
England League One
AFC Wimbledon-Bury

 

click here for more info...The barmy nature of League One was again highlighted last Sunday, as Swindon (who were in a wretched run) beat Charlton 3-0. Town reverted to type just a couple of days later in losing to Eastleigh in the FA Cup, whilst Russell Slade was sacked by the Addicks. 

Everyone is beating everyone basically, and hardly a single team can hold down any sort of form, but surely Wimbledon can bag the points this weekend against Bury? 

I say this because the Dons walloped Bury 5-0 on Tuesday in the FA Cup replay, and it will take a brave man or woman to back the Shakers at the moment - who are seeking a new manager following the decision to part with David Flitcroft on Wednesday. 

The Gigg Lane outfit haven't kept a clean sheet for 19 games, are 11 without a win, and they have suffered seven league defeats in succession. Recent heavy reverses to Southend (4-1), and Tuesday's 5-0 loss means that Bury have conceded 28 goal in 11 games. They ought to be bigger than 3.95. 

This match boils down to price, because the frailties of the visitors should make the Dons nearer a 1.89 shot. Their form is chasms away from Bury, with just two league defeats in 14 games - and those were to heavy-hitters Sheffield United and Bradford. 

Manager Neal Ardley has created a meaner defence that no longer concede the sloppy goals they were shipping at the start of the season. They are resolute, disciplined, and more organised these days - everything Bury are not. 

This will be the fourth meeting this season between the two, with Wimbledon winning twice and drawing once. Scorelines of 5-0, 2-2, 1-2 means we should again be looking to the Over 2.5 Goals. 

OPTA STATS: The Shakers have lost each of their last seven league games; and they haven't lost eight successive matches since September 2001, which is their worst run in English league football. Bury have scored in all five games with Wimbledon.
source:betfair

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Back AFC Wimbledon to win @ 2.04 
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.90

 

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19.11.2016/16:00
England League One
Bristol Rovers-MK Dons

 

click here for more info...One club sits in the top six, and the other in the bottom four. Bristol Rovers are doing well, whilst the MK Dons are not - a formula that many would have had the other way around at the start of the season. The latter are still without a manager, and Richie Barker continues in charge seemingly on a day-today basis. 

Despite the poor run of form for the Dons (just four wins all season), I wouldn't put off anyone backing them at 3.95, but Rovers at home are a decent team that score goals. 

The Pirates have made it 15/17 this season in the Both Teams To Score market, and racked up a sequence of games in October that read: 1-2, 2-0, 3-3, 2-1, 2-3. They're a very attack-minded team that pass the ball well, whilst their manager is something of a brave customer. 

Indeed, Darrell Clarke saw one of his players sent-off on 16 minutes last Saturday against Millwall. It mattered not, as his side still went for it. They were beaten 4-0 by the resurgent Lions - but as we know in League One games, these sorts of results always come out of the blue. 

The MK Dons clearly should be doing better than they are, as they're a good technical eleven with some fine individual players. Therefore it was a bit of a waste they tried to cancel Walsall out last weekend in a pretty dire 1-1. That's not their bag. 

The visitors are not so hot on the BTTS; with just 10/17, but their defence is always likely to give a chance. Plus the Dons have been better away from home this term with the goals; scoring 13 at the Stadium MK in eight games - which is superior than their record on their own patch. Plus these two drew earlier in the season 3-3, which again points me towards the attackers dominating here. 

OPTA STATS: The Dons are unbeaten in their last three league games with Bristol Rovers, scoring at least twice in each of those meetings. Each of the last 11 league matches at the Memorial Stadium have seen both teams score, with the Gas winning seven.
source:betfair

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Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.85

 


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19.11.2016/16:00
England League One
Oxford United-Coventry City

 

click here for more info...The Achilles heel for nearly all teams in this division is the set-piece - and defending from it. Luckily for Oxford, their opponents this Saturday have the worst record in that particular area, with just one goal from a set-piece situation this season. 

And that gives you an idea of how this game could be going. 

The Sky Blues have a dreadful tally in front of goal this term; with just 15 scored in 17 fixtures. Striker Marvin Sordell is their top goalscorer with just four - although Mark Venus has played him out wide on occasions. 

Oxford are not exactly the 'Great Gatsby' themselves, and they've collected a mere 18 goals this term. A run of four games without a win has sucked them nearer to the relegation zone, with their manager Michael Appleton now admitting his team are in a "dogfight". 

Both clubs have 19 points, so there's an argument to say that Coventry are worth entertaining at 3.65. Indeed, City picked up a rare victory against Chesterfield earlier this month. And sandwiched either side of FA Cup action; they at least gave the league-leaders Scunthorpe a run for their money in a 1-0 defeat. 

City's run away from home is hardly compelling (D2 L5), but form is becoming irrelevant in this league - as shown by Oxford's record. They have beaten Bolton and Bradford this season, but succumbed to lowly Shrewsbury last Saturday 2-0. Up and down again. 

OPTA STAT: These two teams have met eight times in all competitions; with Oxford winning just twice.
source:betfair

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Back Coventry City Draw No Bet @ 2.40 
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19.11.2016/16:00
England League Two
Mansfield Town-Crawley Town


click here for more info...Sport throws up stories you couldn't make up - it's why we love it. Steve Evans will start his career as Mansfield manager against Crawley, the club with whom he enjoyed his finest hours before jumping ship for Rotherham, four and a half years ago, just weeks before the Sussex club completed a second successive promotion.

Tainted by financial irregularities while in charge of Boston United, Evans served an FA ban before Crawley gave him another chance. He pulled up their boot straps to seventh in the Conference before a Hong Kong based backer, who turned out to be a businessman from Nottingham, injected cash which resulted in a memorable trip to Old Trafford in the FA Cup during a season-long procession to the Conference title, then another promotion from League Two.

So, to be facing them in his first game in charge? As the man he clearly idolised, Sir Alex Ferguson, once said "Football - Bl**dy hell!"

Evans always said graft would be skill, but it is interesting that after Paul Murray left the Stags this week, John Dempster, the youth team manager, was one of those put in temporary charge of first team affairs. Evans sent him out on loan from Crawley - to Mansfield.

Now, with experience as Sheffield United and Leeds boss, Evans will feel even better equipped to deal with a team struggling at the wrong end of League Two. He's going to need all his experience to turn them into play-off contenders, if that's what is required.

Fans will be doing a double take when he emerges from the tunnel with Dermot Drummy, his Crawley counterpart. They could be twins. Matt Green, who has scored four of Mansfield's last six goals according to Opta, is clearly a star up front and has plenty of suitors, but the first problem is clearly the other end, where Mansfield have not kept a clean sheet in nine league and FA Cup games.

Their home form is pretty average - two wins, three draws - with a tight goals for and against record of 7-7.

He can take comfort that Crawley's away goals are 9-14, featuring two wins and two draws. They score a goal a game, but have conceded an average of just under two away. Matt Harrold will soon be fighting James Collins for top scorer now he is fit, but this should be Evans' day.
source:betfair

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19.11.2016/16:00
England League Two
Carlisle United-Exeter City


click here for more info...Keith Curle said Carlisle would be like a "wounded animal" after defeat to Newport (predicted here at a big price) last weekend. The spotlight will be off the Cumbrians a little now that they have suffered a first defeat of the season. There's nothing like bursting a bubble to relieve pressure.

But just how good was that run? Did it have too many draws? Seven of 15 games ended level and it shows what a draw-strewn division League Two is when that statistic left them second instead of down in a play-off position.

Now, they have an unbeaten home record to protect. So, one of the last oppositions they would want to face are Exeter, who have a strong away record. The Grecians, stress Opta, have won 12 of their last 19 away games - but drawn none. And Carlisle are pretty good at draws, as discussed.

Carlisle have only failed to score in one of their last 19 home league games, stress Opta, but Exeter have five wins away (as do Carlisle at home) and the visitors' away goals record in 14-9, marginally worse that Carlisle's 14-7 at home. The main difference is that Carlisle have three draws at home.

Visiting manager Paul Tisdale will want to continue his players' great away form, while developing new teen star Ethan Ampadu, voted Wales' best young player of the year last week. The 16-year-old would do best to develop his talents at Exeter, insists his manager, whose club recently nurtured Matt Grimes into a player for whom Swansea splashed out £1.75million.

Just how vicious will the Carlisle "animal" be feeling? Jason Kennedy (7), Jabo Ibehre (5) and Danny Grainger (4), among others, will be out to add to their goals tally.

However, with Carlisle averaging 2-1 at home and Exeter 2-1 away, a draw does seem fairly likely.
source:betfair

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Back the draw @ 3.50

 


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19.11.2016/16:00
England League Two
Notts County-Newport County

County are the team of the moment - and they will fancy their chances of extending their six game unbeaten run in all competitions to another positive result at Notts County, for several reasons.

FIrstly, they can see daylight. A win could well take them not only off the bottom of the division but out of the relegation zone. On minus 4, they have a better goal difference than the two teams above them and Notts County are only one goal better off.

Secondly, the Magpies have a negative goal difference at home of minus 2, which is the same as the Exiles' away.

Thirdly, boss Graham Westley mentioned that they beat Alfreton, after extra time, in their FA Cup replay this week while missing players. Presumably Josh O'Hanlon and Jack Jebb were unavailable, having only signed for the club a week ago, plus there are a few players close to a return from injury - Mark Randall, Jon Parkin, Marlon Jackson and Reece Grego-Cox. Even some of them returning would be a fillip. Lenell John-Lewis and Joss Labadie are still injured, while Paul Bignot is suspended.

With all the positivity emanating from Rodney Parade, anyone would think Westley would be talking about what would seem a miracle - Newport reaching the play-offs. Oh, wait, just as I had that thought, he said it. Or did he? He and the South Wales Argus are going to have a testy relationship if he is going to start relating how close the team is, points wise, to the top six (eight points away), then deny he is aiming for the play-off positions. He knows full well what he is saying.

Plus, he took Stevenage up from 18th at Christmas, having also taken them up from the Conference when that never looked realistic in February of that year.

Notts boss John Sheridan is in the nice position of being able to have sight of the top seven, but his side have drawn their last three at home, scoring just once. They need to find something after a 4-0 defeat at Blackpool last week, but Newport, the team of the moment, will be in no mood to give them any leeway and are a big price to oblige me again after toppling Carlisle.
source:betfair

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Back Newport County @ 3.40

 

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19.11.2016/16:00
England League Two
Plymouth Argyle-Grimsby Town

 

In many senses, 2.00 seems a long price on League Two leaders Plymouth, with their long run of 15 league and FA Cup games unbeaten, to beat Grimsby.

Surely they should be much shorter? However, the fact they have conceded a goal in each of their last six matches gives the Mariners a chance, as does the fact they have a new manager to impress.

Marcus Bignot, who started coaching in women's football when aged 24 and playing for Crewe, has grafted hard in non-league to bring Solihull Moors from a barely supported club to one which is holding its own in the Conference National. He has been a huge contributor, on and off the pitch.

Deservedly, he now gets his chance to manage in the Football League - unusually without having to get his team promoted. That fact is a huge measure of his stock.

Omar Bogle scored twice on Bignot's debut as manager, but it could only bring a 2-2 draw at home to Barnet. Grimsby's big price is based on securing only three points, from draws, in their past six league matches.

But equally important to not scoring at all in four of those matches, is three clean sheets. They beat Luton away earlier in the season, and only lost 1-0 at Bolton in the FA Cup to boot. They produce tight results, with little separating them and their opponents. They are unbeaten in their last six away games, winning three. That gives them a chance of keeping Graham Carey and Plymouth's attackers at bay. Plymouth are a lay. Their price has lengthened from 1.90 earlier this week, while Grimsby's is in from 4.70. Take the hint.
source:betfair

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Lay Plymouth @ 2.00

 

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12.11.2016/14:00
England League One
Swindon Town-Charlton Athletic

In a surprising twist of events this week, the Wiltshire club named Tim Sherwood as their new director of football. The 47-year-old had been linked with various jobs in the Championship - including the managerial role at Queens Park Rangers, so this is most certainly a step down. 

Town's chairman Lee Power insisted the new role for Sherwood wasn't a demotion for the current head coach Luke Williams - who is under a certain amount of pressure from the home fans.
Williams is trying to deliver a style of short passing and building up from the back, but at times the players look confused and incapable of 'digging in'. The record of the head coach in his 31 games in charge has yielded just seven wins.

The appointment of Russell Slade as manager during the summer seemed a sensible one, after all, he did achieve a certain amount of success with Leyton Orient and he looked the right fit. But they haven't really fired so far, although one suspects there is a good side in there somewhere. 

Slade has injury problems to deal with alongside the international call-ups for Saturday. He will be without the services of Ademola Lookman, Jordan Botaka and Josh Magennis. The 19-year-old Lookman has burst on to the scene this term and was linked with a move to Crystal Palace over the summer. His five goals will be missed, and so will the hold-up play of Magennis. 

There are also injury doubts with Jason Pearce, Chris Solly, and Ricky Holmes - with the latter most important as a creative force and providing width for the team. If the 29-year-old Holmes plays, he can be a real game-changer.
source:betfair

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Back The Draw @ 3.55

 


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12.11.2016/14:00
England League Two
Newport County-Carlisle United

Graham Westley has been manager at Newport for less than a month and already has been linked with Grimsby. He emphasised that if he wins games, people will come calling. As I said on his appointment, there is clearly potential in South Wales, given that one of his predecessors was Justin Edinburgh who took them into the play-offs places. The Exiles seem to have gone somewhat backwards since then.

But could they be the first team to inflict defeat on Carlisle? Their price has already shortened from 4.40 to 4.10. That was before their 2-0 win over AFC Wimbledon in the EFL Trophy. A pointless competition? Many regard it as such and I wouldn't usually consider it as a form guide, but the game wouldn't have been for Westley, despite the fact his side could not qualify. It was another chance for him to look at his players, best formation and continue momentum.

Jazzi Barnum-Bobb scored again, captain Scott Bennett showed the others how it is done. In addition, Newport have added Jack Jebb, formerly of Arsenal, to the midfield and Josh O'Hanlonformerly of Bournemouth to the strike force. The canny managers find those out of contract players who can sign between transfer windows.

Even if minimal rain seems to get a game called off at Rodney Parade (compared to most other grounds) the squad and fans will take heart from the Opta stats: they have won all four games against the Cumbrians since their promotion to the Football League in 2013. They will have to watch Keith Curle's men from set pieces, though, because Carlisle have seven headed goals this season, more than any other side in League Two.

The visitors scored five at St Albans City in the FA Cup on Sunday, but they also showed their vulnerability by conceding three. Newport might not want to attack them quite so freely and leave gaps for Jabo Ibehre and others to exploit, but Westley can do his stock a power of good if he can steer his charges to a clean sheet and what would seem an unlikely victory.
source:betfair

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Back Newport @ 4.10

 

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12.11.2016/16:00
England League Two
Hartlepool United-Cheltenham Town

Remarkably, are total of three teams yet to win at home this season - Newport and Exeter are the others - and it must be a huge frustration to Craig Hignett that his side make up the trio.

Like Exeter, they score in abundance away from home, but even then they don't always win. 

They have plenty of capable scorers, Padraig Amond among them. As Opta point out, he has scored with six of his last seven attempts on goal. What a return! So somehow Hartlepool need to give him more of the opportunities to score. He has only one goal at home though, as does Nathan Thomas whose goals have come on their travels, which is quite astonishing. It shouldn't surprise us, as Opta emphasise, that Hartlepool have lost more points from leading positions than any other team in the division. But the number of points lost, 20, is a worry. We're only 15 games into the season.

So this is why their home win price is not shorter, especially as they are playing another team who are draw heavy, with four away from home to add to their four at Whaddon Road. They are unbeaten in six games, but have drawn four.

Gary Johnson's team have a near identical for and against goals record away as Hartlepool do at home (8-10 plays Hartlepool's 7-10). In fact, Robins games don't seem to feature many goals - and when they do Billy Waters or Danny Wright seem to score them.
source:betfair

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12.11.2016/16:00
England League Two
Crewe Alexandra-Plymouth Argyle

According to Opta, these two clubs have used the fewest players each this season, a total of 19. That is surely a recipe for success, as Plymouth are proving by leading the division. Last season it all went wrong for them after Christmas, but this season the beaten play-off finalists from May seem intent on making up for that disappointment.

Derek Adams might have shed Reuben Reid over the summer but in a week when the world is full of references about and from the United States, Graham Carey puts in the claim for most valuable player: only Barnet's John Akinde (14) has had a hand in more League Two goals than the Pilgrims' attacker's 13, state the stats men. He has scored seven times. Jake Jervis has also scored four, but one of the key things seems to have been the arrival of Nauris Bulvitis. The defender had a delayed start to the season while he awaited a work permit and hasn't looked back - and nor have Plymouth.

The one downside for a fixture like this one at Crewe is that the visitors have registered just one clean sheet away to Crewe in league competition, say Opta. Their record this season (three clean sheets in seven games and only four goals conceded in total) would suggest they can buck that trend. But if they do have to score twice to win they have scored 12 in seven away games. Crewe will likely make it tough for them, having scored nine and conceded seven in seven home games.

The Railwaymen have only failed to score once in their past 11 league and FA Cup games - the 1-0 home defeat to Yeovil three weeks ago. In their past eight games they have averaged exactly a goal a game. They would love Alex Kiwomya to find the scoring touch again, while Ryan Lowekeeps marching on for the over-35s. Plymouth should have enough for another win.
source:betfair

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Back Plymouth @ 2.10

 

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12.11.2016/16:00
England League Two
Luton Town-Accrington Stanley

Can Luton come out of their rut of League Two draws with a win? Or can Accrington rekindle that magic which puts them on great unbeaten runs and makes them series promotion contenders?

At the moment, John Coleman's side seem to be stuttering in the league, with one victory in their past six games, and emphasising their role as perennial underdogs by popping up and beating Bradford in the FA Cup.

Maybe finally having a big investment and money to play with has taken away their edge. Or maybe that FA Cup victory can kick start a another promotion push spearheaded by top scorers Romauld Boco and Billy Kee.

Luton's Danny Hylton has scored in seven of his last eight starts, emphasise Opta, who are keen to point out that the Hatters have compiled the biggest number of shots on target (88) across League Two this season. Which means they should be scoring a lot more goals than five draws from the last six games would suggest (four of them finishing 1-1). So it is about time they turned those draws into wins.
source:betfair

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