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19.01.2018
England Premier League
 

Everton 2.16 v West Brom 4.20; The Draw 3.20

(Significant Opta Stat: West Brom have failed to score in 10 of their last 16 league visits to Goodison Park, including three of their last four.)

It's been a tough few weeks for Everton with boss Sam Allardyce admitting that his 'honeymoon' period is well and truly over following four straight defeats.

The narrow away loss at Bournemouth was perhaps a slight surprise but subsequent losses to Manchester United, and away at Liverpool and Tottenham were to be expected, though the concern for Big Sam was the fact that his men barely had a shot on target in a few of those games.

The Toffees have splashed the cash again, bringing in £27m striker Cenk Tosun from Besiktas and this week signing Theo Walcott from Arsenal for £20m. With the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Rooney, and a fit again Yannick Bolasie in his attacking ranks, Allardyce easily has one of the best group of players to work with outside of the 'big six'.

And with no cup football to concentrate on Everton could well enjoy a great second half of the season, starting with a win over West Brom on Saturday.


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Prior to their recent poor run the Toffees were unbeaten in eight games that included three consecutive home wins over Huddersfield, Swansea, and West Ham, scoring nine goals in the process and conceding just one. They face a similar test this weekend, and I'm very surprised that they aren't trading at odds-on to beat lowly West Brom.

The Baggies recorded their first league win in 21 games seven days ago but it came at home to a Brighton side that are really struggling on the road, now not scoring a single goal in any of their last six road trips.

Alan Pardew's men may well have gained some much needed confidence from that victory but they haven't exactly become world beaters overnight and on all known form, and ability within each squad, I have to put Everton up as the best bet of the day at an odds-against price.
source:betfair

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Back Everton @ 2.16 to beat West Brom

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Leicester 1.90 v Watford 4.60; The Draw 3.90

(Significant Opta Stat: Leicester have won seven of their last nine home league matches against Watford, including each of their last two Premier League clashes.)

It's been a mixed bag of results for Leicester since Claude Puel replaced Craig Shakespeare but it's largely been a successful return to the Premier League for the former Southampton boss.

Four straight wins were followed by a run of five games without victory, and in recent weeks the Foxes have gone four matches without defeat, all without conceding a single goal. At the King Power Stadium Leicester have only really suffered one bad result under Puel and I fancy them quite strongly to add to recent home wins over Tottenham, Burnley, and Huddersfield.


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Jamie Vardy should return to the starting line-up for the visit of Watford after playing just a few minutes against his former club Fleetwood in midweek, meaning Puel can name his strongest side possible with only Wes Morgan definitely ruled out.

The Hornets have a poor record in Leicester, losing seven of their last nine league visits there including the last two Premier League outings, and they will travel north on Saturday in quite poor form having taken just five points from a possible 30 in their last 10 league games.

Boss Marco Silva also has a mounting injury list too with no fewer than eight players ruled out through while midfielder Tom Cleverley faces a late fitness test.

Silva's men showed some fighting spirit to come from 0-2 down at home to Southampton last week but in their current form it's hard to see them going to Leicester and coming away with anything but an eighth league defeat in 11 games.
source:betfair

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Back Leicester @ 1.90 to beat Watford


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West Ham 2.02 v Bournemouth 4.20; The Draw 3.65

(Significant Opta Stat: The Hammers have scored 15 goals in their last six Premier League matches, one more than they'd scored in their opening 17 league games this term.)

West Ham were going through a really tough spell towards the end of Slaven Bilic's reign and I have to admit that I was extremely doubtful about the chances of their fortunes turning around under new boss David Moyes.

But the former Everton and Manchester United boss has so far proved his doubters wrong, guiding the Hammers to four wins and four draws since his arrival. The major difference has been their ability to put the ball in the back of the net, with Moyes getting the best out of Marko Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini, while Andy Carroll - as he always is - has been a real defence un-settler when able to play.


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Unfortunately for Hammers fans Carroll is out injured again, which probably ends any chance of him going to Chelsea in a surprise transfer, and Moyes has a few other injury concerns with the likes of Winston Reid, Cheikhou Kouyate, and the seemingly unwanted Javier Hernandez rated doubtful for Saturday's visit of Bournemouth.

The Cherries suffered a shock 3-0 defeat to Wigan in the FA Cup in midweek, and although boss Eddie Howe fielded a fringe team that night it can't have done anything for confidence and morale suffering such a heavy defeat to a team two leagues below.

And away from home it's no wins in six games now for Bournemouth, while just last month they needed a highly controversial stoppage-time goal to snatch a draw against West Ham in a thrilling 3-3 outcome.

We should probably wager high on goals when these two meet at the weekend given the fact that in their last five meetings a total of 23 of them have been scored, that's an impressive average of 4.6 per match. But the gut feeling is that Moyes' men will continue their recent good form and make it seven games without defeat by taking all three points.
source:betfair

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Back West Ham @ 2.02 to beat Bournemouth

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19.01.2018
England Championship
 

Reading 3.30 v Brentford 2.30; The Draw 3.50

Brentford are one of the form teams in the Championship, and after a dreadful start to the season they are now bang in the play-off picture.

In fact Dean Smith's men perhaps have more momentum than most of the clubs around them after winning four of their last five in the Championship. They started the season without a single win in their first eight games and were in and around the relegation zone for much of August and September.

But now the Bees are up to 11th, but more crucially just three points behind Sheffield United who occupy the final play-off position.


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One of the keys to their revival is having a goalscorer constantly in form. While it was promising youngster Ollie Watkins scoring the goals earlier in the season, with his form dipping of late it's the likes of Lasse Vibe (six goals in his last seven appearances) and Florian Jozefzoon (two in last three) who have picked up the baton of late.

Brentford travel to Reading on Saturday who are in a worrying slump. The Royals managed to get the better of League Two Stevenage in their midweek FA Cup third round replay but prior to that they'd failed to win any of their previous eight games, dropping to 18th in the table just four points above the drop zone.

Worryingly Jaap Stam's men have lost back-to-back home league games, and with those defeats coming against Burton (22nd in the table) and Birmingham (23rd) then in-form Brentford should be more than capable of taking all three points.
source:betfair

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Aston Villa 1.58 v Barnsley 6.40; The Draw 4.20

The Match Odds suggest that Villa ought to win comfortably but that might not exactly be the case and I can see this being an entertaining affair.

Over 2.5 Goals is available to back at Evens on the Sportsbook so we should get matched at 2.10 or even higher on the Exchange nearer kick-off and I believe that bet is worth chancing.

If Villa do turn up in top form then as their short price suggests, they are likely to win comfortably and they themselves are more than capable of scoring at least three times. They were at their very best in their last league home game when they thrashed promotion-chasing Bristol City 5-0, which just shows how good Steve Bruce's men can be on their day.


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But when matters on the pitch don't go as expected then Villa usually concede once or twice. Although they made changes for the visit of Peterborough last time they were far from at their best and lost the game 1-3, while before that they drew at home to Sheffield United 2-2.

That means that Villa's last three home games have witnessed a total of 13 goals, and that makes backing Over 2.5 Goals at above even money a value wager in itself.

But when you consider that Barnsley conceded four at Millwall in their last away game, and that in three consecutive games last month the conceded three at Reading, three at Bolton, and three at home to Derby, then you don't need me to tell you that Paul Heckingbottom's side don't exactly have a rock solid defence.
source:betfair

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Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.10 in Aston Villa v Barnsley

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Leeds 2.26 v Millwall 3.50; The Draw 3.40

There's no love lost between these two teams, and with both needing a win for very different reasons then this might turn into a very feisty affair.

Leeds have failed to win any of their last three league games meaning they've fallen out of the play-off positions. They are still very much in the picture being level on points with Sheffield United in sixth, but psychologically you'd prefer to be in the top six rather than just outside of it.

Thomas Christiansen's men are a difficult team to predict; they started the season with an unbeaten run of nine games in all competitions but they then lost eight of their next 11 matches. Five wins in six games then followed to move them back up the table but they've been frustrated of late, losing to Birmingham and Ipswich and only managing a home draw with Nottm Forest.


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Leeds picked up six yellow cards and one red in those three winless games, and the visit of Millwall could end up being another game where the cards are dished out.

The Lions themselves are very in and out; their last nine league games have produced three wins, three draws, and three defeats, and although they've been mid-table for most of the season they can ill-afford to go on a bad run being just seven points above the relegation zone.

When these two sides met last season a total of five yellow cards were shown; a repeat of that would land the Over 45 Points bet in the Bookings market, but in a game that should be fiercely contested in a red hot atmosphere I actually like the price of 7/2 about a penalty being awarded (to any team) during the course of the 90+ minutes.

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Back a Penalty to be awarded @ 7/2

 
19.01.2018
England Championship
 

Oxford United 2.02 v Bury 3.80, the draw 3.55

Chris Lucketti is no longer the Bury manager after a two month stint. He was sacked this week, and Ryan Lowe will take the reins until the end of the season. The Shakers have some good players, but they are rock-bottom in League One and have gone eight games without scoring a goal. They don't look like scoring either, so I am not in a mad rush to take the 3.80on offer.

There are some bad prices floating around for the weekend, and Bury is one.

Oxford meanwhile have no problems on the scoring front. In their 14 home matches this season, they have produced 48 goals (F25 A23) - which is the most of any team in the third tier. Compare that to Bury's paltry nine on the road - the fewest in this division.


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According to Opta stats, the U's have a superb record against Bury - winning each of their last three home league meetings with the Shakers by an aggregate of 9-3. So we should really be looking for the hosts to score here, and just one goal could win it considering the visitors and their terrible record. Oxford have failed to find the back of the net in just one home match in 14 this term - and that came in the 0-7 drubbing against Wigan.

You'd be pretty disappointed if Oxford couldn't score here.

Pep Clotet's men will obviously be missing the "Assist King" Jack Payne - who has swapped the Kassam for Ewood Park following a loan switch to Blackburn, but Oxford created a lot of chances last week in the 2-1 defeat at Walsall, and if they do the same here, they should pick up the points.
source:betfair

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Back Oxford United to beat Bury @ 2.02

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Shrewsbury Town 2.46 v Doncaster Rovers 3.20, the draw 3.10

There are some fascinating markets available for this weekend. The Bradford price away at Bristol Rovers interested me at 2.96, but the Bantams have got lots of injury problems and big players linked with moves away from Valley Parade. We'll swerve that bet then, but the 2.46 on Shrewsbury has got to be taken this Saturday - albeit with a risk involved, but the price compensates.

We'll deal with the risk first. Shrewsbury according to their manager Paul Hurst, were "out on their feet" after extra-time in the FA Cup defeat at West Ham. In technical terms, they looked knackered. The game came on Tuesday, so there are a few days to get over those exertions - and Shrewsbury are one of the fittest teams in League One. Hurst has a small squad, but I am hoping they can cope.


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On the plus side, you can back the second best team in League One at near 5/2. Their home record at New Meadow reads W10 D1 L4, which is better than Wigan's tally, and they have conceded just four goals at home this term - which is joint-best with the Latics.

I put up Shrewsbury last week against Blackburn as I thought they were a big price. They were beaten 3-1 at Ewood Park - a defeat that ended a run of six without a loss. It was also the first time they had conceded three in a match. Coming smack-bang in the middle of those Cup matches with West Ham wasn't ideal for Town - so we can probably excuse that under-par display in Lancashire.

Hammers' boss David Moyes complimented Shrewsbury on how well they defended (although the Londoners didn't look like scoring in a month of Sundays), and I am banking on them getting back to their defensive best. Donny are unbeaten in six league matches with half of those clean sheets - which should make for a bet at the Unders.
source:betfair

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Back Shrewsbury Town to beat Doncaster Rovers @ 2.46 
Back Under 2.5 Goals Shrewsbury Town v Doncaster @ 1.85

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Peterborough United 2.00 v Oldham Athletic 3.55, the draw 3.60

The Posh will be bracing themselves for some hefty bids for 23-goal striker Jack Marriottover the coming days. Recent reports have linked him with Aston Villa, Leeds United and Birmingham City - with a fee mentioned of £6 million. Marriott scored two goals at Villa Park in the FA Cup recently, and his star has been on the ascent for some time. Peterboroughcontinue to have this brilliant knack of unearthing strikers from lower leagues.

Hopefully Marriott starts this weekend to help the bet, as his attitude has been spot-on this term. With that in mind, Peterborough look a fair price at 2.00 to beat a poor Oldham side.

Posh are far from consistent, and need to start beating teams like Oldham if they are to have any ideas about a playoff push. Their home record of seven wins is impressive, but they have also lost five.


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However, Oldham are in a poor run of form, and since their 5-1 thrashing of Northampton back in December - they have gone seven games without a win, and have failed to score more than a single goal in any of those matches. The hosts have scored 20 at the ABAX this term - so they win that argument for me, and they are far the likelier to find the back of the net.

New signing George Cooper from Crewe could feature this weekend. He was the second Peterborough addition in this January transfer window to go alongside Joe Ward. Chairman Darragh MacAnthony has landed two assist-making players who will fit in will.

Indeed, if you are looking at Over 2.5 Goals, this fixture historically has been high-scoring according to Opta stats. Both teams have scored in each of the last eight matches at London Road - with Peterborough hitting 16, and the Latics at 14.
source:betfair

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Back Peterborough United to beat Oldham Athletic @ 2.00


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13.01.2018
England Premier League
 

 

Chelsea 1.32 v Leicester 12.50; The Draw 6.00



(Significant Opta Stat: The Foxes are winless in their last 12 Premier League away games against 'big six' opposition, losing each of their last five.)

Leicester are in mixed form at present and they probably won't relish the trip to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon where they have a very poor recent record.

After four league wins on the spin Claude Puel's men have won just one of their last seven games in all competitions, that coming at home against a Huddersfield team with a relatively poor away record. The Foxes have also lost 12 of their last 14 games against the Blues, and away to 'big six' sides they haven't won in 12 games and have lost five on the spin.


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It's understandable then that Leicester are rated as big outsiders in the Match Odds betting, but with Chelsea trading at around the 1.30 mark we obviously need to look elsewhere for a recommended wager.

Antonio Conte's men - as the odds suggest - ought to win, especially given their recent form at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have won seven league games on the spin in front of their own fans and they've conceded just three goals in the process. In fact Chelsea have won without conceding a single goal in five of their last six league games at the Bridge.

We can get 6/5 on the Sportsbook that Chelsea Win to Nil and that's the bet that appeals most. Their current home form is reminiscent of that golden spell they had last season when they won 13 league games on the spin and recorded 10 clean sheets in the process.
source:betfair

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Back Chelsea Win to Nil @ 6/5 (sportsbook) v Leicester

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Crystal Palace 2.08 v Burnley 4.40; The Draw 3.40

 

(Significant Opta Stat: Burnley have won each of their last three Premier League games against Crystal Palace.)

Third time lucky anyone? We're talking of course about backing Burnley away from home at what appears an overly-generous price.

It's a bet that we risked when the Clarets played away to both Brighton and Huddersfield; both games ended 0-0 but on another day they could easily have won either or both of those games. They might easily have lost them too, but the key is that they recorded clean sheets and they continue to perform well on their travels.


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On Saturday Sean Dyche's men are away to a team that are lower in the league than both Brighton and Huddersfield, yet the Clarets are the biggest price they have been in the Match Odds market in any of those three matches.

The reason for that is Crystal Palace's much improved form of late but it's important to remember that the Eagles go into this game with a plethora of injuries and that the best of their recent good form has been away from Selhurst Park.

In fact in front of their own fans Roy Hodgson's men have won just one of their last four, and although the likes of star names Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke are fit to play, key midfielders Andros Townsend and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are major doubts while the Palace boss has a long list of injuries in defence with all of Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Mamadou Sakho, and Jeffrey Schlupp all ruled out.

It should mean that we're in for a very tight game between two very closely-matched sides, but at the odds, and given their excellent defensive record, I'm definitely in favour of backing Burnley to win rather than any of the two other Match Odds options.
source:betfair

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Back Burnley @ 4.40 to beat Crystal Palace

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West Brom 2.18 v Brighton 4.40; The Draw 3.10

 

(Significant Opta Stat: West Brom have faced Brighton in more home games without defeat than they have any other Football League side in their history.)

It takes a big leap of faith to back a team to win that hasn't tasted success in 20 consecutive league games but if ever West Brom are going to get back to winning ways then they won't get many better chances than the one they have this weekend.

The Baggies host Brighton on Saturday, a team that they can drag right into the thick end of a survival fight if they take all three points. They won't lack for incentive.

But the main reason for siding with Alan Pardew's men is that they have put in some very encouraging performances of late and the gut feeling is that they have enough ability in their ranks to pull away from the relegation zone. Away draws at Tottenham and Liverpool were excellent results, while at the Hawthorns they've held Everton and Arsenal in recent game and lost just one of their last five.


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The Seagulls aren't exactly in flying form either having won just one of their last 11 Premier League games, while away from home Chris Hughton's men haven't scored a single goalin any of their last five matches, taking just one point from a possible 15.

This is an enormous game for West Brom, and coming off their first win under Pardew - albeit a FA Cup win against lower league opposition - they should have plenty of confidence that they can take all three points, especially if the learn of the Opta stat above that tells us they've never lost at home to Brighton in their history.
source:betfair

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Back West Brom @ 2.18 to beat Brighton


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13.01.2018
England Championship
 

Cardiff v Sunderland
Saturday 13th January, 12:30 GMT
Live on Sky Sports

Cardiff's dip in form

Two days before Christmas, Cardiff sat four points off leaders Wolves with fans daring to dream of automatic promotion. But following four consecutive defeats over the holidays after just three losses in the previous 22 league games, the Bluebirds trail Wolves by 14 points and have dropped to third in the table.

Injuries have hit Neil Warnock's squad hard and the City boss was dealt further blows when Joe Ralls and Sol Bamba pulled out of last weekend's 0-0 FA Cup draw with Mansfield. The Bluebirds enjoyed the better chances at their Cardiff City Stadium base but home goalkeeper Brian Murphy made the save of the match.

Joe Bennett and Sean Morrison both returned against the Stags and Ralls and Bamba should both recover to take part on Saturday with Warnock desperate for the Welsh outfit to re-find their winning formula fast.

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Rock-bottom Sunderland

Sunderland manager Chris Coleman felt his patched-up side were too naïve and nervous during last weekend's 2-0 FA Cup defeat at near neighbours Middlesbrough. Josh Majaheaded off the crossbar for the Black Cats whilst Tylar Browning's header was expertly tipped over in a meek performance.

Goalkeeper Jason Steele was arguably at fault for both goals but with few options, Coleman can't make wholesale changes this weekend. The ex-Welsh boss said, "We're in a dogfight and you don't go into a dogfight with kittens" and his pleas for reinforcements at least led to Chelsea defending Jake Clarke-Salter arriving on loan.

Elsewhere, leading goalscorer Lewis Grabban has been allowed to cut short a season-long loan spell and the rock-bottom visitors will surely miss his presence in the final third as they fight to avoid back-to-back relegation


Cardiff attractive home favourites

Cardiff have been chalked up as attractive 1.81 favourites as they bid for a first Football League double over Sunderland since the 1970/71 season. The Bluebirds may have lost their last four Championship outings - Neil Warnock's worst run as a manager since 2009 - but they remain fiercely competitive.

The hosts have always proven difficult to score against and blessed with a happy knack of turning potential defeats into draws and routine draws into unlikely wins, City have the quality in their threadbare squad to seal a 12th home success in 18 outings here.

Sunderland may have kept clean sheets in three of their last four away league games - as many as in their previous 40 combined - but the Black Cats are also in the midst of a major injury crisis and have picked up only three points from a possible 30 when facing the division's top-eight clubs this season.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Neither Cardiff nor Sunderland are the most proficient or consistent in front of goal and although the visitors were amongst the league's more entertaining outfits earlier on in the campaign, only two of the Wearsiders' last eight Championship clashes have seen surpassed the two goals line.

With Cardiff's 26 contests in 2017/18 averaging a total of 2.35 goals per-game, plus the Bluebirds delivering 17/31 (55%) Under 2.5 Goals in home games under Neil Warnock's watch, opposing goals would be the obvious selection.
source:betfair

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Nottingham Forest v Aston Villa
Saturday 13th January, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports

Nottingham Forest's new era

Nottingham Forest registered a surprise 4-2 win over Arsenal in the FA Cup. The Tricky Trees axed Mark Warburton as manager on New Year's Eve but caretaker boss Gary Brazilguided the group to a famous City Ground triumph with Eric Lichaj notching a rare brace, plus Ben Brereton and Kieran Dowell scoring from the spot.

The club have now appointed Aitor Karanka as manager - Forest's boss 10th full-time boss since Billy Davies' dismissal in June 2011 - and fans will be hoping the Spaniard can steer towards a more positive position following a run of just one victory in their last seven league outings.

Joe Worrall was shown a red card in the closing stages against Arsenal and will be banned on Saturday evening whilst seven-goal striker Daryl Murphy should be fit enough to return to the squad after failing to recover in time for the FA Cup contest.


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Aston Villa aim to bounce back

Steve Bruce said, "the best team won by a country mile" as Aston Villa suffered FA Cup elimination at home to Peterborough last weekend. The Claret & Blue boss made 10 changes and even saw his side take an early advantage through youngster Keinan Davis before conceding three late goals.

The League One club fired in 20 efforts at goal, a statistic that irked Bruce, in a match that saw John Terry make his long-awaited comeback from a broken metatarsal. Striker Scott Hogan missed the tie but is hoping to be fit for Saturday's league game but Andre Green and Henri Lansbury aren't yet available.

The Villans are hoping to enter the transfer market for a striker and a central midfielder but Bruce might not be able to spend large transfer fees with the visitors now under the Financial Fair Play spotlight.

Win or bust for Forest

Aston Villa 2.50 beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 at Villa Park earlier this season although the Villans haven't achieved a league double over the Tricky Trees since the 1992/93 Premier League campaign. In fact, the guests haven't claimed maximum points at the City Ground since 1995 (W0-D3-L1).

Nevertheless, Steve Bruce's boys will fancy their chances having lost just twice in 10games, winning their last two against Bristol City and Middlesbrough by an aggregate score of 6-0. Indeed, fifth-placed Villa have also W5-D3-L2 on their travels when excluding the current top-three.

This match has the potential to be a case of After the Lord Mayor's show for Nottingham Forest 2.92. The hosts have lost three of their last four Championship encounters here, failing to score in each defeat, and are winless in their last five league fixtures.

It's been either win or bust for the Tricky Trees at the City Ground this term, with Forest claiming seven wins but also six defeats in 13 games and their one point return from a possible 21 against top-six sides is obviously concerning.

Entertaining affair on offer

Nottingham Forest have failed to find the net in each of their last three league matches, last enduring a longer run in December 2011, and although Aitor Karanka is renowned for his ability to organise his defence and keep clean sheets, the trends suggest goals will be on the agenda on Saturday.

There have been 34 goals plundered in 13 City Ground matches this season, making Over 2.5 Goals an attractive proposition at around 2.20. Considering Aston Villa rarely draw a blank - netting in 10 of their last 12 league dates - supporting a goal-heavy game appeals.
source:betfair

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13.01.2018
England Leagues
 

 

Doncaster Rovers 1.69 v Plymouth Argyle 5.10, the draw 3.80

 

We roll the Plymouth dice again on Saturday, and I cannot quite believe you can back the Greens at a massive 5.10.

Yes, Doncaster are in decent nick at home at the moment, but not many are going as well as Argyle currently. I've made the point time-and-time again in this column how Derek Adams' side are overlooked in the market, and it's all about seeking the price. And quite frankly, 4/1 is the wrong price.

Plymouth are now in 12th position with an unbeaten tally of seven (W5 D2), and they really turned on the style with a 3-0 drubbing of Bury recently. That was Toumani Diagouraga's final game at the club, and he has now made the somewhat surprising move to Fleetwood. Minus him, the Greens can cope considering some of their attacking play is more potent these days. The addition of Ruben Lameiras has really clicked with Graham Carey, and those two can cause Doncaster some grief this weekend.


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The hosts picked up the maximum points in the reverse fixture back in September (3-0), and Darren Ferguson's men are winning games at the Keepmoat - with recent successes against Rochdale (2-0) and Northampton (3-0).

However, those two are not exactly in flying form at the moment, and Doncaster were expected to beat the pair. This will be far more of a stern examination of Donny's credentials, and good luck if you are paying 1.69 to find out. I wouldn't entertain that for a bet on the likes of Wigan or Blackburn, so quite why we would take those odds for a mid-table side is beyond me.

Argyle's previous faults of not being able to score are a thing of the past. They have netted in all of their previous nine matches, and have suffered just one defeat on the road in their last seven - and that was a 0-1 at Portsmouth (who are looking very good these days).

Sometimes a price looks plain wrong, and here is a perfect example of why League One can offer great value.
source:betfair

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Blackburn Rovers 1.85 v Shrewsbury Town 4.80, the draw 3.45

 

Shrewsbury are a bigger price for this than they were for last Sunday's FA Cup match against West Ham. I mentioned in my preview for that regarding Salop's figure of 3.80 which offered no value at all - but Saturday is a different matter, and they are a massive price for the trip to Ewood Park.

With the 0-0 against the Hammers, Paul Hurst's side displayed once again how to "hang on in there". In fact, they were the better team last weekend and David Moyes bemoaned the lack of steel advertised from the Premier League outfit. Lack of steel is certainly not something that can be directed at Shrewsbury.

Hurst has said on plenty of occasions this term how Town like to stay in games, and they showed their abilities to nullify the supposed better team on Boxing Day with a 0-0 result at Wigan. There were hardly any chances in that, and that draw meant that Shrewsbury have taken four points off the league leaders.


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Regarding Blackburn, it's a fairly similar scenario to Sheffield United last term - although perhaps not quite as short as some of those Blades' matches in the second part of the season.

Rovers will always go off a shorter price due to their name, but they are unbeaten in 14 league fixtures - and that is their longest run without losing since 2014 according to Opta.

They have recorded easy home successes lately against Rochdale (them again) and Charlton, but Shrewsbury will offer up more defensive mettle given their record in League One of conceding goals away from home currently stands at 11 in 13 games. Only Wigan have conceded fewer away.

The Under 2.5 Goals could be the answer, likewise the 0-0 Correct Score - as I see this going the same way as Shrewsbury's 0-0 at Wigan on Boxing Day.
source:betfair

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Gillingham 2.64 v Rochdale 2.74, the draw 3.50

 

According to Opta stats, Rochdale are one of just three sides in the top four tiers of English football yet to win a game away from home (the others are Millwall and Bury). That is now 14 matches without a victory on their travels for Dale - who last won on the road back in April 2017.

Bury wouldn't be 2.74 for this match, and I have no interest in backing Rochdale this weekend at cramped odds. They should be much bigger.

Gillingham are just about fitting into the category of an improving side; and they showed that with a rather splendid win at Charlton on New Year's Day. They have now moved up to 16th, and are just three points away from the comforts of mid-table.


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Historically the Gills have enjoyed a decent record against Rochdale, winning their last three matches at the Priestfield without conceding a goal - and goals have been in short supply for Keith Hill's men this term away from Spotland; scoring just 12 times.

We can back the hosts with a bit of confidence here. Their recent home run of DDWDDLD has a few too many draws in it, but they did hammer Bristol Rovers 4-1 in that sequence, and the price of 2.64 offers up the opportunity to take a bit of insurance with the Draw No Bet.

However, the return to fitness of Gillingham midfielder Scott Wagstaff will be a huge boost if he makes the team for Saturday, as he was playing very well in the run to Christmas. Whilst Josh Parker has doubled his stats from last term according to Opta - he now has scored seven goals with one assist this term.
source:betfair

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Crawley Town 2.50 v Barnet 3.20; the draw 3.60

Two sides who had a week off because of the FA Cup last weekend return refreshed. Who will benefit most from the break? Barnet, who Opta state have lost seven of their last nine League Two matches, or Crawley, who the stats men emphasise have lost just once in six at home?

On that basis, Crawley look pretty good value. Boss Harry Kewell says he wants five new signings in January. He's got a lot of catching up to do with Forest Green, because he hasn't nailed one yet.


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Whether the Reds boss really has the resources to match Mark Cooper is the question. He'd love to keep Ibrahim Meite on loan from Cardiff, if player and club agree. But he'll be urging him to score a few more goals, to add to his two in six starts and 13 substitute appearances.

Crawley's top scorer is midfielder Jordan Roberts with six. Winning three matches from four has given them breathing space away from the relegation zone with Enzio Boldewijn netting three recently after a long barren spell.

Barnet, bottom of the league, have a more pressing need for victory. Fuad Sule, a recruit in midfield from Bohemians in Ireland, might well get his chance to impress. Shaquille Coulthirst and John Akinde could do with finding the net for Mark McGhee, who has a fight on his hands to keep the Bees buzzing in the Football League. A poor away record is set to continue at a team who now have some confidence at the Checkatrade.
source:betfair

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Exeter City 3.00 v Coventry City 2.60; the draw 3.40

Rarely do clubs like to spill internal targets. So it was interesting to read this week, finally, the confession from the Exeter City camp that the players have had the target of automatic promotion drummed into them. Funny, because within a couple of days I read articles which pretty much said the same from the Coventry camp.

The Grecians have slipped from the top three. The next six games will really test their metal: Coventry, Notts County, Luton, Wycombe - all the in the top five - then revitalised Port Vale and another promotion contender, Mansfield. Paul Tisdale couldn't have picked a stiffer start to the year.

Now without Reuben Reid, who has switched to Forest Green, and without the FA Cup to dream about any more, Exeter can concentrate on gaining third spot. They seem to have their eye on Ryan Loft, 20, a Tottenham striker described as in the Duncan Ferguson mould by Darren Sarll, who had him on loan at Stevenage last season. They need someone to support Jayden Stockley, whose eight goals make him top scorer.

As competent as the Devon side are, they just might need a battering ram, or a fresh face or two, to kick start a push for the top three spot they so covet after losing in last season's play-off final.


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If I was an Exeter fan, I wouldn't be thinking that my first priority would be to sign another keeper - Paul Jones, on loan from Norwich, has come in but surely as a senior understudy to Christy Pym. A bit of creatively going forward, to take opponents by surprise, might be a better option.

The hosts also need to make the most of their recent run at St James Park - where they have won the last four and scored exactly twice in each one, state Opta. Nine wins overall is a great mark up on this time last year.

Coventry still have the distraction of the FA Cup and even if their minds are not yet on the trip to MK Dons, their bodies will be exhausted from the euphoria of defeating Stoke. Much of the responsibility for scoring now falls to Mark McNulty now that Duckens Nazon has returned to Wolves after a loan spell, although after the cracker that sent Mark Hughes' men crashing out of the cup, Jack Grimmer showed a rivalry in the scoring department.

This match could easily finish level, but if Tisdale has real ambitions to finish in the top three this season his side must kick start their charge at the start of a tough run of games.
source:betfair

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Morecambe 2.60 v Stevenage 3.20; the draw 3.40

Jim Bentley was no doubt absolutely thrilled with Morecambe's away performance at Grimsby, who seem hit and miss at present.

Six points from two games is a bit of a rarity for the Shrimps, achieving it for the first time since February last year, report Opta. Three in a row was last achieved in August 2016.

I believe they have they have the opportunity to match that now, for a couple of reasons - and not just the fine form of Kevin Ellison and Steven Old.


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Stevenage not only have an FA Cup replay at Reading to preface their minds, but their away form is terrible. Opta emphasise that they have lost their last eight league games on the road, scoring in just two.

Undoubtedly Darren Sarll will look on a trip to lowly Morecambe to rectify that, but home keeper Barry Roche will not want to pass up what seems the strong chance of a clean sheet. He has kept three in the last five matches the Lancashire side have won.

Matt Godden, Dan Newton and Tom Pett are capable of scoring, but opponents always seem to be finding a way to defeat Boro away from the Broadfield. It might not be a classic, but the hosts deserve the vote for their momentum.
source:betfair

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Port Vale 1.80 v Yeovil 6.00; the draw 3.70

The last thing Yeovil needed ahead of the trip to Port Vale was to see a striker added to the ranks alongside the prolific Tom Pope. A striker from higher levels this time, rather than the rawer Dior Angus from Redditch, whom Valiants boss Neil Aspin believes is one for the future.

Of course, there is no guarantee that Donovan Wilson, from Wolves' under-23 squad, will prove the perfect fit with Pope, but Aspin says he has had recommendations from people he trusts at the Championship leaders to say that the forward is ready for league football.

The home manager doesn't seem to be taking any prisoners - or chances - as his side attempt to climb safely away from the relegation zone, while surely a top seven spot is a bit of a stretch.


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This should, however, be the sort of fixture where they have the confidence to press for goals as they seek a bit of revenge for December's 3-2 FA Cup defeat.

Yeovil have scored 13 goals in their seven games since defeating Port Vale, including in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday, while only failing to score once - in the 0-0 draw at Mansfield.

Nobody will want to miss out on the FA Cup fourth round match at home to Manchester United, which gives Francois Zoko and Fela Olomola with the perfect excuse to flex their scoring muscles. This shouldn't be a game that lacks goals.
source:betfair

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FA Cup 3rd Round
Saturday January 6, 15:00 GMT


Brentford 1.54 v Notts County 7.00; the draw 4.80

I can't remember the last time 10 League Two sides reached the FA Cup third round - yet incredibly none of them have attracted the attention of live mainstream TV coverage (Newport are on regional BBC Wales on Sunday). Not even the division's only FA Cup winners in the last 125 years, Coventry could entice the producers, 31 years after they triumphed at Wembley, as they host Premier League Stoke whose manager's position seems tenuous.

So where will the upsets come, to make the cameras regret not focusing on League Two? Striker Jon Stead seems to be feeling pretty relaxed about Notts County's trip to Brentford, which would admittedly be more interesting if the Magpies were at home.


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Brentford have been beaten just once at home this season, but have seven draws, which gives any opponent hope of securing a draw. County have no reason to fear anyone says Stead - and the pressure is off. They have already beaten a side from a higher division, Bristol Rovers. Their away statistics are sufficiently impressive - five wins and four draws - to suggest they won't fall apart against the Bees, who are mid-table in the Championship.

Jorge Grant, on loan from Nottingham Forest, will be eager to impress. As long as the Magpies can find a way of containing Lasse Vibe, who has four goals in four games, Kevin Nolan's men can set their sites on gaining something from this match, possibly a replay.
source:betfair

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Wycombe 4.20 v Preston 2.10; the draw 3.60

I'm not sure that manager Gareth Ainsworth would have appreciated the revelation this week by Wycombe keeper Scott Brown that Bayo Akinfenwa barely trains, because he turns up when he likes. It's hardly a very good public message when the likes of captain Matt Bloomfield are the total opposite.

Whatever the attitude of their most high profile striker, Akinfenwa produces the goods. How good would he be if he was fully dedicated? At the end of his career, perhaps he has other aspects of life to concentrate on - like Bloomfield has all his coaching badges and clearly eyes a job in coaching or management.


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No doubt Akinfenwa leads the banter and so he can afford to with 12 goals this season. Craig Mackail-Smith - something of a forgotten man by higher division teams - will be eager to show his worth, too, against a Preston side themselves in good form.

Alex Neill's visitors don't look obviously vulnerable. They have won five and drawn three of their last nine games, Jordan Hugill leading the way this season with eight goals.

Chinks in the armoury include rarely scoring more than once in that time and drawing with struggling Barnsley. Arguably they could be one of those teams who really have their eye on the big prize of reaching the Premier League and won't care too much about the cup.

Wycombe, however, have the memories of narrowly losing to Tottenham this time last year and would love to take down a different Lilywhites this year. That, combined with a strong home record, could be enough incentive to earn them a victory.
source:betfair

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Forest Green 4.00 v Port Vale 2.04; the draw 3.70 

In the shadow of FA Cup weekend, teams can steal a march on their rivals at various ends of the table, out of the limelight.

Forest Green would love to be able to leapfrog Barnet and possibly Chesterfield, but it will be a tall order. Is the fact that Rovers have not sacked Mark Cooper a sign of decency and loyalty, or a reflection of their expectations in League Two?

This is their first ever season in the Football League. Rovers have been patiently waiting to bring in reinforcements in January. Any side who had been in it before and found themselves bottom at New Year would have sacked the manager by now. Usually we would have had six or eight new managers in League Two by Christmas, but this year only two - at Barnet and Port Vale.


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Weston-super-Mare midfielder Dayle Grubb and York defender Alex Whittle have already been signed, while owner Dale Vince says four more could be brought in by Saturday.

They looked down the pyramid rather than up for the first two players. Dangerous or inspired? Grubb is giving up his job as a sports teacher, but has an impressive record of 29 goals in the calendar year. Christian Doidge, Rovers' main striker, has 35 but will surely be happy to have someone to share the burden - especially from a non-specialist striker. The third and fourth players were Derby's Farrend Rawson for an undisclosed fee and Port Vale's Gavin Gunning, much to the chagrin of Saturday's opponents.

The advantage of lots of new faces could be that the opposition are disorientated. But I don't think it will take Port Vale long to adjust. Having collected five points from their first 11 games, the Valiants have reaped 29 from their subsequent 15 League Two fixtures since Neil Aspin was appointed manager. One more win will give them two points a game.

Tom Pope has scored 10 of his 11 goals this season under Aspin, who has worked with the same set of players as his predecessor. It would be stretching it for the visitors to make up the 11 point gap to the play-offs, but I don't think that will stop them trying, or stop Aspin trying to motivate them, especially if they can keep the inspiring Ben Whitfield on loan from Bournemouth.
source:betfair

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Grimsby 2.00 v Morecambe 4.50; the draw 3.60

It seems astonishing that Grimsby are evens - or even anywhere close to that low - to beat anyone. They can't score, let alone win!

A spell of three straight wins, starting in late November, sits in the middle of a run of 12 games in which the Mariners have otherwise scored one goal. A solitary Mitch Rose strike against Mansfield is all they have to show on the scoresheet from the past five games.

Russell Slade's men have dropped away from the play-off picture and the fans are on his back about his strikers not being able to score. Even Siriki Dembele, highly sought after, has stopped scoring.


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By contrast, Morecambe have actually scored in their last six games, even if they have won two and drawn one. Callum Lang, 19, on loan from Wigan, has really found his feet, having scored five goals in as many games. He has in fact only made two starts, scoring three times, with 11 other substitute appearances.

Boss Jim Bentley says Morecambe fans shouldn't expect too much from the transfer window, although he seems determined to do some business after freeing up some money sending out Rhys Turner on loan.

While the Shrimps have only actually one once away, even the statistics suggest they can earn a draw, again making a mockery of Grimsby's short price. The visitors have five on their travels while Grimsby have five at home. Morecambe have four goalless draws. Grimsby have five. When the teams met in October neither of them scored. What other evidence do we need that both of them will fancy their chances? I think laying the hosts, covering the draw, is the way to proceed.
source:betfair

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06.01.2018
England  League One

 

 

Plymouth Argyle 2.44 v Bury 3.00, the draw 3.55

 

You might have priced-up me talking about Plymouth again for this Saturday, and the chances are you would have chalked that up as long odds-on. But such is the run of the Greens at the moment (and they have done us plenty of favours recently), they are impossible to get away from this weekend - especially as they are playing the division's worst team.

Caveat warning as always in League One - anyone can beat anyone. However, Bury have lost five in a row and cannot buy a goal. They meet a fast-improving team, albeit one that is likely to wave farewell to midfielder Toumani Diagouraga. The Parisian powerhouse's short-term deal is coming to an end at Home Park, and after a string of impressive performances, he is destined for the Championship. This could be his final game.

The home team really should be skinnier than the 2.44 on offer here, especially given that Charlton are shorter to beat Oxford at 2.24 - and the Addicks haven't won a game in eight.


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If you are a Bury fan, look away now. The Opta stats are horrible regarding your team. The Shakers have scored just four in their last 13 matches in the third tier, and they have failed to score in any of their last six matches. To add to the doom and gloom; Bury have lost six of their last seven trips to Home Park.

Plymouth meanwhile rattled up three wins over Christmas, and should have had four - had it not been for the 94th minute equaliser from Blackpool. The Pilgrims are scoring too, from their last eight matches they have netted 13 times. From the eight games before, they had scored seven.

Now up to 16th and with a run of just two defeats in their last 13, they must be backed at nearly 6/4.
source:betfair

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Oxford United 2.82 v Blackpool 2.64, the draw 3.60

 

Blackpool earned a 2-1 win at Rochdale on New Year's Day, and that ended a run of eight league matches without a success. Oxford also picked up three points with a convincing 3-1 home victory against the MK Dons - so I am quite surprised to see the Tangerines trade as favourites here. In fact, I would have the pair flipped around.

The U's needed that win on Monday after a poor run of results, and maybe that is influencing the price. But the same comments are applied to Blackpool.


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I highlighted in my preview for the New Year's Day matches that Oxford have got players back fit again, especially their forwards, so it was good to see Gino van Kessel having a big influence in the game. In fact, he has started the last three, and his pace out wide gives manager Pep Clotet more to play with. The 24-year-old is a player of some pedigree as he was with Ajax as a youngster, and you feel he can cause opponents plenty of damage when on song.

Oxford do score, which is why we need to keep them onside. According to Opta stats, only Rotherham with 28, have found the back of the net more times at home than Oxford (24). Although on the flip side, the U's have conceded 23 at home - which is more than any other team in the division.

Blackpool's away record of just three wins is fairly slim pickings, which makes that favourite price for this Saturday off-putting. They may have that morale-boosting win under their belt from the Rochdale game, but Keith Hill's men are struggling for points at the moment.

The hosts have been involved in some high-scoring affairs, but I am not sure this will be one, as Gary Bowyer's side have conceded just four in their last six away. I will swerve the Under or Over markets here, and the price on the hosts is big enough to utilise the Draw No Bet.
source:betfair

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Northampton Town 3.10 v Southend United 2.46, draw 3.60

This might not be a classic.

These two teams are hopelessly out of form at the moment, with Northampton collecting just one victory in their last nine. Southend are faring no better; with an awful run of six losses in their last seven. The Shrimpers lost 2-0 at Wimbledon on Monday, and that result prompted manager Phil Brown to say that he was fearing the sack.

I'm disappointed with Southend, as I feel they have some good players and are a better team than their position of 17th. However, they are slipping quite badly, and it's hard to make a case for backing them this weekend. You wouldn't on their away record anyway, which has been their Achilles heel. They have won just twice on their travels this term, compared to their promotion form at Roots Hall of W6 D5 L2.

Northampton's home record is hardly the stuff of dreams either, with seven losses and just four wins. They have only scored nine at home all season - which is the worst in League One. However, they might have a chance of scoring this weekend as Southend have the worst away defence in the division, having shipped 30 goals.


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Brown summed this match up by saying: "It's a good time to catch a team at the bottom that are in bad form, but they will be looking at us thinking the same."

In truth, I want to back neither team here. If Southend were above 3.10, I would be interested. But their away record is a problem, plus they have a few injuries to deal with. Midfielder Josh Wright has torn a hamstring, whilst centre-back Anton Ferdinand is deemed not fit enough. In other news, striker Nile Ranger has been sacked for disciplinary problems.

Their record according to Opta at Northampton isn't great either; winning just one of their last six visits, so it leaves me with the option of backing the Draw outright at the biggest price. I think both managers will probably take that given their current form.
source:betfair

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30.12.2017
England Premier League

 

Huddersfield 2.46 v Burnley 3.50; The Draw 3.20

A couple of weeks ago I was amazed that Burnley could be backed at around 3.30 to win away at Brighton. True, they could manage only a 0-0 draw that day but the Clarets actually had a poor recent record against the Seagulls, so you can probably sense my amazementthat Burnley, who have a very good record against Huddersfield, can be backed at 3.50 to win.

As I always say, when something looks too good to be true then it probably is, but I maintain that from a value perspective then Sean Dyche's men have to be the call.

If these two sides met, three times, under exactly the same conditions as they will meet on Saturday, could you see Burnley winning at least once? If the answer is yes, then you have to back Burnley, it's as simple as that.

And the reason I'd say yes to the above question is because Burnley have a superb record away from home this season and there's absolutely no reason to believe it is going to end soon. Dyche's men have accumulated more points away from home this term than every Premier League club bar Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool, and they actually remained unbeaten in away games to the latter three.


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The Clarets have lost just twice away from home all season, and one of those defeats was to unbeatable Man City, while the other was a narrow reversal at then in-form Leicester. And up until two games ago Burnley had the joint-best defensive record in the division, along with Man City, and even now they have the fourth best.

Huddersfield will be a tough nut to crack, I know that and the odds tell you that. But I maintain that Burnley, on all known form, would win at least one of three clashes under the exact same circumstances as they'll play on Saturday.

It's not as if the Terriers are in stunning form either. David Wagner's men have won just two of their last nine, and just one of their last four at the John Smith's Stadium, and in recent years, Burnley have won three, and drew one, of their last four meetings.
source:betfair

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Liverpool 1.32 v Leicester 11.00; The Draw 6.40

(Significant Opta Stat: The last three Premier League meetings between these two have seen 14 goals scored (4.7 per match).)

Liverpool have become the must-watch team in the Premier League, more so than Manchester City simply because teams feel like they can get at them, and that usually results in a wide open affair with the Reds' 'Fab Four' coming out on top more times than not.

Man City are exciting, and quite brilliant at times, of course they are, but it's usually 90 minutes of attack against defence when they are in action, whereas with Liverpool it's a lot more end-to-end.

But when Jurgen Klopp's men hit you on the counter attack, or they are in full flow, then they are absolutely breathtaking to watch. And against Leicester City, another team that likes to attack at pace and hit teams on the counter, then we could be in for a cracking game.


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I'm not surprised at all to see Over 2.5 Goals trading at just 1.44, but we obviously can't put that up as the recommended bet here so instead I'm happy to take a chance on Over 4.5 Goals at 3.60; that's an outcome that would have paid out a remarkable 12 times already this term in games featuring Liverpool.

The Reds' last three league games have witnessed a total of 15 goals, so when we consider that the last five league games involving the Foxes have witnessed exactly 20 goals, then it's not difficult to envisage another high-scoring affair on Saturday afternoon.

And of course, there's the Opta stat above that tells us there's usually goals when these two sides meet; the last three Premier League clashes have finished 2-3, 3-1, and 4-1, while there's also been a 2-2 and 1-3 between Liverpool and Leicester since 2014.
source:betfair

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Watford 1.74 v Swansea 6.00; The Draw 3.80


You'll notice that there isn't a significant stat in the usual place ahead of this preview, and the reason for that is because there isn't really one that I can include to support the recommended bet.

And the reason for that is because I fancy Over 2.5 Goals. Unfortunately so do quite a few other people it seems as the price has been steadily decreasing from the early 2.30 that was available.

It's not much of a selling point when you fancy something just on a hunch, but I really do get the feeling that Swansea over the next few weeks will be doing a pub crawl from one last chance saloon to another until they string a few wins together.


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The Swans are already five points adrift of safety which probably means they are going to have to win at least five or six of their remaining 18 games to have any chance of survival. The appointment of Carlos Carvalhal - sacked from Championship side Sheffield Wednesday earlier this week - doesn't really inspire, and the club can only hope that they get an immediate 'new manager bounce'.

Carvalhal will surely target a game against Watford as one that his side can get something from, and I sense we might see a different approach from Swansea over the coming weeks, a more attack-minded one hopefully

It may work in their favour, but to do so they'll need to start scoring more regularly, but it may work against them, and if that's the case, and they defend in the shambolic way that they did at Liverpool earlier this week, then Watford could score at least three on their own.

The Hornets haven't exactly been defensively solid themselves of late either, having gone seven games without keeping a clean sheet, and in their last four home games they've conceded an alarming 10 goals, but scored six of their own. That's an average of exactly four goals per game, so I think a chance has to be taken that we'll witness at least three goals on Saturday.
source:betfair

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30.12.2017
England Championship
 

Bristol City v Wolves
Saturday 30th December, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports

Robins continue unbeaten streak

Bristol City extended their unbeaten streak to seven (winning six in that sequence) with two second-half goals to beat Reading on Boxing Day. City moved into second thanks to goals from Jamie Paterson and Lloyd Kelly following an opening 45 minutes in which neither goalkeeper had to make a save of note.

Johnson's interval team talk did the trick as the Robins could have rubberstamped the success in more convincing fashion had the hosts been more clinical in forward areas. And now the League Cup semi-finalists are determined to keep up their hot streak on Saturday evening.


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Home manager Lee Johnson says his side "need to do a job for the league" by beating Wolves in this first against second clash at Ashton Gate and claimed the contest was much more important than their quarter-final League Cup triumph here over Manchester United earlier this month.

League leaders in fine fettle

Nuno Espirito Santo's pacesetters are now eight points clear at the top of the Championship despite being held to a 2-2 draw at Millwall on Boxing Day. Wolves have picked up eight wins from a 10-match unbeaten spell (W8-D2-L0) since late October and look the real deal.

The Old Gold had not conceded a goal in four matches prior to their trip to The Den but Wanderers fans can shrug off the result, knowing the last 12 teams to top the second-tier on New Year's Eve have all gone on to win automatic promotion.

Nuno has no new injury or suspension concerns for Saturday and the division's top scorers and meanest defence should be well set-up to collect another positive performance in their Premier League promotion push.

Match Odds

Bristol City 3.00 have beaten Wolves 2.54 in their last two meetings at Ashton Gate and the Robins have also found the back of the net in their last 10 encounters with the Old Gold. Lee Johnson's troops also gave their visitors one of their sternest examinations this season, back in September.

City twice came from behind, then briefly led themselves, before having to settle for a 3-3 draw at Molineux and home supporters will hope to see another keenly-contested contest on Saturday evening.

The duo have both lost just three times this season in 24 Championship matches - but two of the Robins' defeats have arrived at Ashton Gate against top-eight sides Leeds and Preston. It's fair say those two aren't in the same calibre as Wanderers and the league leaders are fair 1.80 shots in the Draw No Bet market.

Goals

Both Wolves and Bristol City represent the Championship's two top goalscoring teams this season and with a collective average of 2.65 goals per-game, Over 2.5 Goals backers will be keen to support a repeat around the 2.10 mark.

Indeed, Over 2.5 Goals has banked in eight of the hosts' nine outings when welcoming top-six clubs of late while four or more goals plundered in six of those fixtures.

However, only three of Wolves' last 10 matches have produced Over 2.5 Goals winners with only two of eight trips to teams in 17th and above returning profit for goal-heavy punters.
source:betfair

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Burton v Norwich
Championship, Saturday 15:00

Burton suffered an eighth straight home defeat against Leeds on Boxing Day, having held the lead for 30 minutes either side of the break only to then concede twice in the space of four minutes. It was the sort of demoralising setback that would generate a sense of foreboding at most clubs but the Brewers will carry on regardless.

There's arguably no team in the country that picks up themselves up from the canvas better and keep coming back for more. Burton are cast-iron relegation fodder in terms of budget and personnel but Nigel Clough has made them ultra-resilient, able to brush off each disappointment and go again.

They are dogged and consistent, generally reducing games to fine margins, and it has reaped big rewards on the road over the past couple of months with wins at Millwall, Bolton and Reading, plus a draw at Brentford. According to Clough, performances at the Pirelli have been no worse, his players have just made more individual errors at key moments.


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However, their persistence on home soil can finally pay off against an unconvincing Norwich side this weekend. Last week, alleged discontent behind the scenes at Carrow Roadreached the mainstream media when the Independent carried a report on player mutiny over the training methods of Daniel Farke.

The Norfolk club were well beaten at home by Brentford in their next outing but responded with a much-needed win at beleaguered Birmingham, although that result probably said as much about the state of play at St Andrew's. This ought to be a bigger barometer of their character and Burton are worth chancing.
source:betfair

Recommended bet:
Burton to beat Norwich at 3.85

30.12.2017
England Leagues

Blackpool v Plymouth
League One, Saturday 15:00

No single player has had a bigger impact on results in the EFL this season than Toumani Diagouraga. Plymouth were bottom of the table with five points from 12 games when the French midfielder rocked up as a free agent in October, they've since taken 22 points from the next dozen outings.

So it was inevitable that the Pilgrims would alter their stance on the length of a permanent contract ahead of the January window and table an 18-month deal for the 30-year-old Frenchman with his current one due to expire in the next few weeks. But the market seems a little slower to react to his impact.

'Expected Goals' probably goes a long way towards explaining why Blackpool have made it into odds-on territory for this clash. The Seasiders are posting mid-table numbers over the entire 24 matches, whereas Plymouth remain the second-weakest team in the division by that metric.


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But it seemingly makes few allowances for the turnaround in between, the fact that Argyle are now consistently keeping 11 men on the pitch -
they picked up five red cards before the end of September - because Diagouraga is patrolling things in the middle of the park and anticipating situations where they might otherwise become stretched.

By my reckoning, these two teams have posted almost identical numbers in terms of shot count and chance creation in relation to quality of opposition faced over the past eight matches and Argyle represent another lively runner at a big price. These two teams were promoted together and they are currently separated by just one point.
source:betfair

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Southend United 2.56 v Shrewsbury Town 2.80, the draw 3.20

Saturday 15:00

Shrewsbury continue to defy the odds in League One, and produced a 0-0 Boxing Day draw at Wigan - and not many keep Will Grigg and co quiet. The Shrews remain in second place and four points behind the Latics, and they face another test of their credentials against Southend.

The Essex side earned three points with a comfortable 3-1 success against Charlton. By all accounts, the Addicks didn't fancy the pitch much when taking a look at the surface before the game, and Phil Brown's men continued their impressive home form.


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Indeed, at Roots Hall, they could be a top six outfit. They know how to play on the terrible surface, and it's working to their advantage. However, their away form is not nearly as impressive as their home record of W6 D5 L1.

This will be another good atmosphere, as nearly 10,000 turned up for the Shrimpers on Boxing Day, but Shrewsbury have the second-best defence in the division - and have conceded just ten goals on their travels. Mind you, they have only netted 13 on the road. Salop beat Southend 1-0 back in September - and it could be that sort of Under 2.5 game.
source:betfair

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Blackburn Rovers 1.82 v Scunthorpe United 4.50, the draw 3.50

Saturday 15:00

It's quite difficult to argue with Blackburn's price this Saturday following a brilliant run of picking up 22 points from their last 24 available. Their Boxing Day 2-0 victory over Rochdale prompted Spotland boss Keith Hill to describe Tony Mowbray's side as the "Kings of Savile Row". The numbers they are racking up are very impressive; seven wins in eight, unbeaten in 12, and now third in League One.

A price of 4.10 is available to win the title, but Rovers are some way behind the current favourites Wigan at 1.35.

The match is third and against fourth, and Scunthorpe are scoring again. Therefore the price of an away victory is far too large to ignore for this weekend.


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The Iron got off to a brilliant start to beat Blackpool on Boxing Day, which adds to their recent away record of winning four from their last five matches. Goals were the problem not so long ago for Graham Alexander's men, but now they cannot stop - they have netted 11 in their last five matches.

Alexander's back three will be tested here against the space that Rovers' schemer Bradley Dack likes to operate in, and they have generally been a good side away from home in terms of conceding goals (with just 11 shipped on the road).

The Both Teams To Score angle is one to explore here, as the hosts have hit 20 at Ewood this term - failing to score in just one match. However, the away price leads me to have a small go at the Draw No Bet.
source:betfair

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Chesterfield v Colchester
League Two, Saturday 15:00

Chesterfield's revival under Jack Lester has hit the buffers since captain Ian Evatt sustained a knee injury in the first half at Stevenage last weekend. Suddenly, they are looking stretched and disjointed, and the transfer window cannot open quick enough.

The Spireites had picked up 15 of their 20 points in the nine games prior to Evatt's absence but they've since had to change shape to 3-5-2, which isn't a system they want to play, and they've been comfortably brushed aside by the Boro (1-5) and Crewe (0-2), two teams who have been hardly setting the division alight in recent months.

Lester might strike upon a solution of sorts on the back of those two humbling defeats but Chesterfield would surely need a huge hike in standards to be suddenly ready for Colchester, who climbed up to fifth with a 2-0 away success at Crawley on Boxing Day.


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That was their ninth win in the last 14 league outings and fifth out of seven on the road. Now McGreal is fixating on the recovery of his players ahead of the trip to the Proact, confident that not much work needs to be done on the training ground in their current form.

The former Ipswich centre back still considers himself a rookie in management terms but Colchester picked up maximum points from five games between December 17 and January 7 last season, and they've already taken 10 points from a possible 12 this month, so we should trust him to have the U's prepared right.
source:betfair

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Grimsby 2.60 v Accrington 3.10; the draw 3.60

If Jim Bentley is as frustrated as he's ever been, so must Accrington boss John Coleman be. Four defeats in a row is not what the long-serving Stanley boss is used to.

A fifth straight loss would be unthinkable for a team who have regularly striven for promotion in the past few years.

Midfielder Callum Johnson says he wants to add more goals to his game and there is no better time than the present. Since beating Barnet 4-1 at the end of October, Stanley have scored five goals in seven games and not scored in three. Scoring twice against Crawley is hardly motivation to back them, either. They were 3-0 down at the time.

Johnson might also want to show Billy Kee how to do it from open play. Opta say four of the striker's last five goals have come from the penalty spot. Coleman is another who can't wait for January to strengthen his squad. It looks like being a seriously busy time for League Two.


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With that in mind, perhaps the visitors can stall the juggernaut of Grimsby. At least, it seemed like the Mariners were on a roll when Russell Slade's men won three in a row.

After that, they reverted to not being able to score, until Mitch Rose notched his third goal in six games against Mansfield. Siriki Dembele continues to motivate from midfield, but how long will he stay in the division?

Grimsby's five goalless draws have occurred in their last 14 games since the end of September. Rose only has five goals this season. Jamille Matt could do with turning menacing displays into goals, but for the time being this game has the potential draw factor.

It might seem risky to tip two draws in one set of fixtures, but the average for the division remains high: Usually a division will have a draw once every four matches: League Two's return is about 30%.
source:betfair

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Wycombe 2.20 v Mansfield 3.80; the draw 3.60

A perceived lack of goals dented Mansfield's late push for the play-offs last season and strikers were recruited in the summer. However, it is one who was already at the club, Danny Rose, who has flourished with 10 goals in 17 matches.

More is expected from Kane Hemmings and Lee Angol. The goals have dried up somewhat in recent weeks for Steve Evans' men, who failed to score against Yeovil and lost at Crawley. One win in five games was not what the board ordered. According to the side they did beat, Morecambe, it was a fortuitous victory. It should be said, however, they have only actually lost once in 11.

Wycombe have won their last four games at Adams Park, three without conceding. It is probably the reason their price is nudging towards evens but definitely the reason they are creeping towards the top three.


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Gareth Ainsworth was delighted to be in fifth place the other week and he would love it if the Chairboys could gain a fifth straight home win for the first time since February 2011, point out Opta, to put them in the top three and make more of the three point gap above Mansfield. A week away from league action looms with their FA Cup match at home to Preston.

Bayo Akinfenwa will love that opportunity to promote himself, but would love a third promotion out of this division just as much. Craig Makail-Smith will want the chance to prove himself and Ebe Eze is relishing the ones he gets now. The hosts have plenty of incentives to win.
source:betfair

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26.12.2017
Boxing Day

 

Millwall v Wolves
Championship, Boxing Day 13:00

Wolves stretched their lead at the top of the Championship to seven points with a narrow win over Ipswich on Saturday and you'd have to search far and wide to find somebody who doesn't think they will be crowned champions at the end of the season. The Old Gold have now taken maximum points in 11 of their last 13 matches.

However, recent games have been played in the realm of fine margins and positive results have largely been a product of Nuno's tactical nous rather than the free-flowing brilliance of their best players. In the last four matches, they've only scored three goals but four successive clean sheets have been rewarded with 10 points from a possible 12.


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The likes of Ruben Neves (20), Diogo Jota (21), Ivan Cavaleiro (24) and Leo Bonatini (23) are fairly new to the rigours of incessant competitive first-team football, let alone the gruelling English lower league schedule, so it would be dangerous over the next seven days to expect a continuation of the standards set up to this point.

And a game against a rugged, high-tempo Millwall side might be just the sort of unforgiving physical challenge where fate conspires against them. Neil Harris' men have won five out of six home games against teams above them in the table and kept clean sheets on the road at Cardiff, Bristol City, Aston Villa and Preston. They don't pander to reputations.

The Lions were well beaten at Derby (0-3) last time out, where they uncharacteristically shipped three goals in the space of five first-half minutes. But that game was effectively done and dusted inside half an hour, which might work in their favour here, if they played the remaining hour without investing too much either physically or emotionally.
source:betfair

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Millwall to win at 4.10
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Hull 2.88 v Derby 2.66; The Draw 3.50


Derby are one of the division's most in-form teams having won six of their last seven to move up to third in the table, just three points behind an automatic promotion place.

What has been very impressive about the Rams' current form is their excellent defensive record; all six of those latest wins were achieved without conceding a single goal, and they've only conceded twice in their last eight matches.

Away from home Gary Rowett's men are unbeaten in seven, and they've taken 13 points from the last 15 available, including recording wins at the likes of Norwich, Leeds, and Middlesbrough, impressive form indeed.


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Derby travel to Hull on Boxing Day and I'm slightly surprised that they're not a bit shorter in the Match Odds market given the form of the hosts.

The Tigers were seven games without a win prior to Nigel Adkins taking over, and although the new boss got a much needed win in his first game in charge - a 3-2 victory over Brentford - he has since seen his men lose back-to-back away games without scoring a goal.

And quite the opposite to Derby's defensive record, Hull haven't kept a clean sheet in front of their own fans since beating then hapless Bolton in August. They've conceded an alarming 13 goals in their last five home games, so I'd be shocked if the Rams don't get on the scoresheet on Tuesday, and with their excellent defence then that should result in taking all three points.
source:betfair

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Cardiff 2.32 v Fulham 3.50; The Draw 3.50


Cardiff are in such good form on home soil that they have to be backed when they host Fulham on Boxing Day.

True, the Cottagers have improved of late, winning four of their last six league games, but that is also thanks to their form on home soil. Away from home Slavisa Jokanovic's men have lost four of their last five with their only victory coming in a freak nine-goal game against Sheffield United.

The Bluebirds have made the Cardiff City Stadium a bit of a fortress this term, remaining unbeaten there in the league, winning eight - including their last four on the spin - and drawing three of their 11 home games.


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What's impressive about that terrific home form is that Neil Warnock's men haven't just been playing the whipping boys of the division so far in front of their home fans. They've actually hosted the likes of Aston Villa, Derby, Sheff United, Leeds, Brentford, Norwich, Hull, Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday, all clubs who were expected to, or are, challenging in and around the top six.

Cardiff also have a decent record against Tuesday's visitors, losing just one of their last nine league clashes in the last four years, that coming away from home.
source:betfair

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Middlesbrough 1.54 v Bolton 7.60; The Draw 4.40


It would probably be a bit remiss of me not to mention Middlesbrough in this column given the Teesside club have just got rid of manager Garry Monk.

The bizarre aspect of the sacking was the timing. And I use the word bizarre lightly as there's no doubt in my mind that Monk had to go, but as I say, the timing was weird. Not least when it was reported that Monk had earlier in the week held talks with the board about his January targets.

So for Monk to be axed on Saturday night, 36 hours before Christmas, and just hours after recording a morale-boosting 2-1 win away to Sheffield Wednesday thanks to one of Boro's best performances of the season, was indeed quite surprising.


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It also quickly emerged that Tony Pulis was a leading candidate to take over from Monk, so perhaps Steve Gibson acted before the former West Brom and Stoke boss was snapped up by another club.

Whatever the reasons behind the timing of the sacking there's no denying that Middlesbrough - pre-season title favourites remember - have been very disappointing this season. True, they are now just three points behind the play-off places, so hope is not all lost yet, and hosting Bolton on Tuesday afternoon gives them a great chance of picking up another three points.

The Trotters are second bottom in the table and they've conceded an alarming eight goals in their last two away games. I fancy Boro will be up for this in the same way some clubs get that 'new manager bounce', and I have to back the home side to win by at least two clear goals.
source:betfair

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Bristol City v Reading
Championship, Boxing Day 15:00

Lee Johnson was gushing with pride at the efforts of his Bristol City players as they came from behind to snatch a point at QPR on Saturday, laughing in the face of suggestions they would be running on empty after their Carabao Cup heroics against Manchester United. But fatigue has surely got to catch up with them at some point and now Reading look best placed to take advantage.

Three blank midweeks since the end of November might have helped the Robins go to the well once more at Loftus Road - and we should acknowledge that Rangers have been in dreadful form since the beginning of November - but this will now be City's third game in six days and it might not have their full attention with promotion six-pointers against Wolves and Aston Villa to follow.


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Reading are no great shakes but they do have a way grinding down the more expressive teams in the division and they also boast a fine record at Ashton Gate, where they have triumphed on each of their last three visits. It's a curious hoodoo that includes twice coming from 2-0 down after 70 minutes to win 3-2 with the decisive goal struck in stoppage time.

Jaap Stam's men suffered a shock reverse at home to minnows Burton in their last outing, when they created very little of note from 76 per cent possession and were punished by a freak Tom Naylor goal. So they should be eager to atone for that embarrassment in a game where the shoe is on the other foot and they can sit back and put the onus on the hosts.

It's a strategy that has served them well enough in previous games against top-six opposition. Aston Villa, Leeds and Derby have all been turned over by the Berkshire club, while Cardiff needed two late goals to snatch a point at Madejski a fortnight ago.
source:betfair

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Southend United 2.42 v Charlton Athletic 2.88, the draw 3.55


Neither of these two are in good nick at the moment, although Southend's home record at Roots Hall this season has been excellent with only one defeat - and it's not often you would get around 2.50 on a team to win with those home stats.

That might be good enough here against a Charlton outfit that is without a win in five, and have been suffering from quite a few injuries. Indeed, many first-team regulars were missing for their 1-1 draw against Blackpool on Saturday. To add to the injury woes, striker Leon Best hurt his hamstring and is set to miss the festive period of games.

Addicks' boss Karl Robinson will be without Jason Pearce and Chris Solly for Boxing Day, and Christmas is not a good time to have a thinner squad with the volume of matches.


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Southend were beaten by a revitalised Scunthorpe on Saturday, but manager Phil Brownwas fuming with his team's inability to defend a corner. They lost 3-1, and all three Iron goals came from corner kicks.

However, they showed a bit of attacking intent, and we shouldn't forget that the Shrimpers have conceded just nine goals at home all season. That ranks up there with the best.

The home team struggled with set-pieces on Saturday, but Charlton's Achilles heel for much of the season has been their defending from free-kicks delivered into the box - that is an area that Southend can have some joy.

Brown's side have lost three on the spin, but form in League One often goes out of the window anyway, and you will often see teams bounce back after a few defeats.
source:betfair

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Walsall 2.46 v Bristol Rovers 2.34, the draw 3.60


Little things sometimes make a difference in football. Walsall have got Christmas Day off and have a home match to look forward to, although Bristol Rovers might be relieved to get away from their pitch at the moment at the Memorial Stadium - as the surface again was criticised on Saturday following a 1-0 defeat to Doncaster. Whilst the basis of the bet is certainly not centred around a day off and a home match - every little helps.

In fact, the selection of Walsall is more a case of avoiding Bristol Rovers at the shorter price. They are simply not a team to trust. Yes they can win, any team in the third tier can beat anyone, but Rovers are racking up the losses at the moment in a sequence that reads: LLWWLLLWLLL.


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Would you want to back as a side as favourites with so many defeats in that run? I won't.

The Saddlers are seven points adrift from the top six, but I doubt they are a playoff side. I may be proved wrong.

But they are not a bad team at the Banks's Stadium; and have only lost two matches there this season - both by one goal to nil, to Gillingham and Southend. In fact, those were the only two games they have failed to score in this season. So this will be a tough match for Rovers.

Walsall line up with a 4-2-3-1, and their best player is the proper No.10 Erhun Oztumer. He is their leading scorer with 11 in 27 this term, and might get a bit of joy in between the spaces - as that is an area that Bristol Rovers have struggled with defensively.

The visitors have shipped 24 goals on the road this term, which is the third-worst in the division, and another good reason to oppose the Gas
source:betfair .

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Gillingham 2.60 v Oxford United 2.80, the draw 3.45


Oxford were on the wrong end of a 7-0 thumping at the hands of the league leaders Wigan on Saturday, which might have a small impact as to how this game is priced up. Oxford have been hovering around the playoff places (or just below) for a while, whilst Gillingham are five points inferior and are down in 18th - but they are still worth a bet this Boxing Day.

The Gills are much like Plymouth recently, and playing like an improved team.

Saturday's 2-0 victory away at Fleetwood was an excellent performance in all areas. Gillingham boss Steve Lovell injected a bit of width to the team with his attacking full-backs, but more importantly they defended very well. Granted, Fleetwood are not playing with much success at the moment, but the Gills controlled that match for 90 minutes.


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That discipline is serving the Kent club well, and they have suffered just one defeat in their last eight League One matches. Saturday's victory followed on from the 4-1 home win against Bristol Rovers.

Oxford boss Pep Clotet has issued the usual "crucial time for the Christmas games" call, but most managers do. I just wonder if Pep has sacrificed a bit of flair lately - as Oxford have scored just twice in their last four matches - and that might be a struggle against a disciplined team these days.

The visitors are a bit patchy on the road with four wins and four losses, and Gillingham look a fair price to take in the Draw No Bet.
source:betfair

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Swindon v Luton
League Two, Boxing Day 15:00

League Two has probably never known a team as dominant as Luton before, yet they have underwhelmed at various points when up against fellow promotions hopefuls - and never more so than in the reverse fixture at Kenilworth Road last September when Swindon ran out worthy 3-0 winners. Few who witnessed that game would have the Robins as such rank outsiders on home soil.

David Flitcroft's men do have an enigmatic streak; they can be brilliant one week and abject the next. But with so much being made of their dismal home record - just three wins in 11 matches - a visit from the runaway leaders with the County Ground faithful in festive spirit might bring a change of dynamic that suits them.


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At the very least, they will be granted licence by the locals to approach this like an away fixture and play on the counter. It's a strategy that not only worked a treat against the Hatters but also yielded comfortable wins at Mansfield (3-1), Port Vale (3-0) and in their last outing at Crewe (3-0), all of which contributes to the best away record in the division.

Luton cruised to their ninth win in 11 matches against Grimsby at the weekend and have tasted defeat only once in 22 matches but such is the ease with which they are dispatching the lesser opposition, they can be caught off-guard when suddenly required to raise their game and the Wiltshire club are worth chancing at the price.
source:betfair

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23.12.2017
England Premier League
 

Man City 1.13 v Bournemouth 30.00; The Draw 12.00


Manchester City continued on their merry way with another impressive victory last weekend, and at this rate they'll have the title wrapped up - mathematically that is - by the end of March. They'd need to be at least 19 points clear with six games to go for that to happen.

City's domestic dominance means there's barely anything to say about them that hasn't already been said, or that we don't know already. Put simply, they are quite brilliant on their day.

So this game is as much about how Bournemouth approach it as anything else. And unfortunately for the Cherries - but luckily for the neutrals - they will probably go to the Etihad Stadium and give it a right go, but ultimately cop a heavy defeat.


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That's not a criticism, it's rather refreshing in fact as Eddie Howe's men don't really know how to keep it tight and they always feel that their best form of defence is to go on the attack. But when you play that way, you need absolutely everything to fall into place and you need the opposition to underperform. When it doesn't then a big defeat - like they one they suffered against Liverpool last week - is always likely.

So I have to back a comfortable home victory here. Even at this busy time of the year I'm not sure the City players have it in their nature to take the foot of the pedal, so if they get their noses in front with time to spare then I can easily see them recording a similar scoreline to their two previous Premier League home games against the Cherries - 5-1 and 4-0 victories.
source:betfair

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Southampton 1.66 v Huddersfield 6.60; The Draw 4.00


I've spoke a lot this season about Southampton's poor form at St Mary's, and that they rarely score in front of their own fans, while it was only last week that I was informing the world that Huddersfield hadn't scored an away goal since the opening day of the season.

So I dare say no-one would be surprised if I was to put up the 0-0 as my recommended bet in this game. But that's not going to be the case, quite the opposite in fact, as I really fancy an entertaining game to be played out on Saturday afternoon.

Mauricio Pellegrino's men should take confidence from their decent showing at Chelsea last week, but more importantly they'll know that this is a very winnable game, and with back-to-back away fixtures to Tottenham and Man United to come, taking three points here is crucial.


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I'm not sure the Saints will change their style or go more attacking because of the circumstances, from what I've seen of them at home they've generally played very well and created many chances but just had little luck in front of goal, so there's probably no need to change anything. I just sense that everyone will be on their game and know the importance of taking all three points.

But we can also expect a confident Huddersfield side to turn up at St Mary's after David Wagner's men ended their goalless run away from home in emphatic style by putting four past Watford last Saturday.

And a bit like Southampton, the Terriers will see this as a winnable game, knowing that Pellegrino's men don't have the best home record in the world.

My gut feeling is that this will be an entertaining affair, and that witnessing three or more goals is far more likely than the odds suggest, especially given the Opta stat above that tells us that the Saints have now gone nine consecutive league games without keeping a clean sheet.
source:betfair

 

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West Ham 2.22 v Newcastle 3.90; The Draw 3.40


I have to admit that I wasn't totally convinced by West Ham's appointment of David Moyes, but the early signs have been very encouraging.

It started with a pleasing performance at Man City, where they only lost late in the game by a narrow margin. But the three league games that followed - against Chelsea, Arsenal, and away to Stoke - resulted in seven points taken and three clean sheets. A magnificent return.

The Hammers have to take confidence from that recent run but they mustn't get complacent against struggling Newcastle. If Moyes' men reproduce the kind of performance they've been putting in lately then it's impossible to look beyond a home victory.


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Even when the Hammers were out of form they still recorded wins without conceding at home to other clubs expected to be in a relegation battle - Huddersfield and Swansea - so they really shouldn't have nothing to fear from the Magpies.

Rafa Benitez's men have dropped into the relegation zone following four straight defeats, and they've now taken just a single point from the last 27 available to them. They've also gone seven away games without a win, and the only victory they recorded on the road this term was at Swansea, and that form hasn't exactly worked out with the Welsh side now rock bottom of the Premier League.

So this looks like a bit of a home banker to me, as long as West Ham don't think they just have to turn up, which is always a worry when you're on a good run and hosting a team in dire form.
source:betfair

 

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23.12.2017
England LeagueS
 

Aston Villa v Sheffield United
Saturday 23rd December, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports

Aston Villa losing momentum

Steve Bruce believes Aston Villa are still in the automatic promotion hunt despite dropping points in the last three games. Villa were beaten by in-form Derby last Saturday after drawing with Millwall and Leeds in their previous two outings.

The Derby defeat was only the Claret & Blue's third reverse in 19 Championship games but Bruce's boys are now clinging to their play-off place with momentum gained during a run of nine wins from 12 now lost.

Bruce accused his team of 'gifting' the game to Derby with an error-strewn performance but the Villans were also forced to start without a recognised striker due to injury and illness. Scott Hogan, Gabby Agbonlahor and Keinan Davis are all available again although Jonathan Kodjia and John Terry remain sidelined.


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Sheffield United stalling

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admitted the club are "in a hole" after suffering a fourth defeat in five at Preston last weekend. The Blades were without four key components for the 1-0 reverse at Deepdale but Wilder said there were "no excuses" for his side's third straight loss.

The absence of Paul Coutts and John Fleck, compounded by the loss before kick-off of Mark Duffy and David Brooks, affected United's rhythm. And post-match, despairing Blades players held an inquest in the dressing room to decipher what's going wrong.

Sheffield United were top of the table following their 3-1 win at Burton on 16th November but they've now slipped to sixth place and 10 points adrift of the automatic promotion places. Duffy and Brooks are both expected to return whilst Coutts remain absent long-term and Fleck serves his final match ban.

Little to chose between promotion-chasers

Sheffield United haven't won at Villa Park since 1966 (W0-D3-L7) but Saturday night's trip to the Second City will be their first league encounter with Aston Villa for 10 years.

The Blades' 3.60 only point from a possible 15 (W0-D1-L4) came against rock-bottom Birmingham but the visitors have claimed 27 triumphs in 2017 - a club record - and should be expected to give their hosts a difficult contest.

Aston Villa's 2.12 12 home wins in 2017 is their best calendar year return since 1996 and Bruce's boys have suffered a sole reverse in 11 on home soil this season. In fact, the Claret & Blue have bagged five victories in their last seven as hosts.

The Villans boast a W5-D6-L1 record when welcoming top-10 opposition since the start of last season although a two-point haul from five fixtures against top-seven clubs this campaign is enough to put me off with the stalemate most appealing at 3.35.

Back both sides to oblige

Aston Villa have a strong trend for low-scoring home ties under Steve Bruce with 18/29 (62%) paying-out for Unders backers. In fact, 11 of their 12 tussles here against top-10 teams since the beginning of 2016/17 have featured two goals or fewer, as have 5/11 (45%) of Sheffield United's away days.

However, the market is already expecting a low-scoring duel and so there might be mileage in instead backing Both Teams To Score at more generous 1.83 quotes. The Blades are without a clean sheet since October - a 10-game run - but have notched themselves in all but two of their last 14 league outings.
source:betfair

 


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Rotherham United 2.00 v MK Dons 3.90, the draw 3.90


On early season form at the New York, Rotherham would probably have been priced up around the 1.85 mark for a game against 17th placed MK Dons, but they have lost three of their recent four matches on home soil - which is why you can get evens on the Millers this weekend.

Is that a bet? I do prefer the Draw No Bet angle I must admit, and I got stung with the Scunthorpe loser last week. But surely the hosts will have too much here for an underwhelming Dons team.

Rotherham were held 1-1 by Plymouth last weekend, but the Pilgirms are resolute and much improved these days. United boss Paul Warne once again found a team that sat deep and defended for 90 minutes, but he was encouraged by an attacking display that warranted more than the point.


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The visitors have kept only three clean sheets on their travels this term, and conceded two against the shot-shy Scunthorpe last week. Their away record this term is not particularly encouraging either; with a last success in September against Bury. And the Shakers were awful at that point.

I am really banking on Rotherham scoring here, as befits a side with the best attack in the division at home with 25 goals.

According to Opta; the home team's last nine league fixtures has seen both teams score, which is certainly a bet to explore at around 1.80.

However, when Rotherham get going they can really fire, so the Over 2.5 bet gets the nod here.
source:betfair

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Plymouth Argyle 3.05 v Oldham Athletic 2.30, the draw 3.55


I have held the belief for a while that Plymouth are much-improved following a horror start to the season. And in true Rafa Benitez facts style, they have picked up 14 points from their last eight league matches - which is double the amount from their opening 14 matches according to Opta. Those are the facts.

Oldham are also a better team nowadays, and are unbeaten in five visits to Home Park, but I would want a much bigger price than the 2.30 on offer. I would take that for the Draw No Bet, but not to win outright.


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The back of the Draw outright is appealing, as Oldham have drawn five on the road and that looks the in-play trade here if that's your thing. However, the price on Plymouth is big considering the Opta stat of 14 points and their recent run.

The two losses for the Green Army in their last ten matches have come away at Portsmouth (who are rock solid at Fratton Park), and the debacle against Oxford (a match Plymouth had a man sent off), so there are excuses for the two blips.

The key to Argyle has been the holding midfielder Toumani Diagouraga. When he starts, they are generally hard to beat. He masks the lack of invention and attacking intent in the side, which has prompted criticism of manager Derek Adams. But his argument should be you can only work with the tools, and he just doesn't have a goal-scoring forward. The lack of peak form for chief creator Graham Carey is also a worry.

However, whilst we are not getting a cavalier outfit, Plymouth are solid, and solid does it for me at the price.
source:betfair

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Oxford United 4.30 v Wigan Athletic 1.90, the draw 3.50

 
There are matches that just scream goals. Oxford have scored 21 at home this season, but Wigan can match that with the same amount on the road.

Most impressive of all, though, is the stat courtesy of Opta. The U's have scored in their last 18 home league games spanning over two seasons; which is their best streak in the Football League since 1996.

There have also been a few high-scoring affairs with Oxford at home this season; notably the 2-4 loss to Blackburn, and the 3-3 draw with Rotherham. It could be the sort of game, although Wigan do hold the best away defence in the division with just eight goals shipped this term.


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In fact the Latics rarely get a mention in this column, much like Sheffield United last term. Maybe it's because the price is squeezed so tight, there isn't much need for me to tip and back a team that is usually around the 1.70 mark at home. This weekend is different, and the 1.90 on offer for the league leaders is fairly attractive, although sometimes in League One the apparent gifts are not always so lucrative.

It is hard to get away from the quality of Paul Cook's side, with the attacking talents of Nick Powell, Max Power and Will Grigg, with Grigg currently on seven goals from 24, and he usually warms up around Christmas time.

Wigan blow away and dominate teams on a regular basis. According to the local Observer; they have 14 more points at this stage than Gary Caldwell's title-winning side of two years ago.

The visitors have some impressive away results recently with big wins against Wimbledon (0-4), Rotherham (1-3), Blackpool (1-3) and Scunthorpe (1-2). Therefore it's difficult to get away from the best team in the third tier at a fair price. If you want slightly bigger, Wigan -1.0 on the Asian Handicap can be found at 2.30.
source:betfair

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Forest Green 3.40 v Carlisle 2.20; the draw 4.00

Carlisle's FA Cup replay victory over Gillingham in midweek suggests they have the ability to rekindle their fine away form at Forest Green.

Jamie Devitt and influential captain Danny Grainger returned to the side, while Luke Joyce and Elvin Etuhu missed out, with manager Keith Curle not inclined to give any reasons for the latter pair's absence.

The Cumbrians' progress since Curle was appointed does seem to have stalled. He has won 69 of his 181 games in charge, drawing 50. They have flirted with promotion. He's steadied the ship and put them on an upward trajectory.


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The former Sheffield United player - whose side now face Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup - says he will have to do some wheeling and dealing in the January transfer market with Jason Kennedy also now on the injured list, adding to Nicky Adams' season-long absence. Curle also says he knows he has to get more out of his existing squad. He'd love to find another Charlie Wyke on loan - who scored lots of goals in the first half of last season.

The Blues have only two home wins - the worst record in League Two - and five wins and two draws away. One thing in Carlisle's favour is that they have scored in all but five matches this season.

Forest Green boss Mark Cooper also can't wait to get into the transfer window. He is eyeing five new recruits, some of whom he seems close to signing already, he indicated. Unfortunately for him, his son Charlie Cooper, 20, is on Middlesbrough's radar, so there could be exits, too.

Jordan Morris and Jordan Stevens featured against Luton as the threadbare hosts were forced to promote youth.

Forest Green are bottom where the league is very tight, but Carlisle, with one defeat in seven away games point out Opta, should reap three points in the first league meeting between the clubs, if they can successfully blunt Christian Doidge's 12-goal attacking instincts.
source:betfair

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Yeovil 3.60 v Exeter 2.24; the draw 4.00

Yeovil are the latest club where there's a story lurking that they could be sold, although the club denies it. The idea comes because they have asked a company to think about their long term future. Every club is up for sale for the right price, of course, but it comes when the team languish fourth from bottom and Darren Way intermittently repeating that, given the budget, keeping the club in League Two is an achievement. That statement isn't much to inspire the fans.

The manager was delighted with a point at Mansfield, believing it showed progress. He points to losing just two out of eight games in all competitions but that is also looking strongly for positives: their only two wins in 90 minutes in 10 have come in the Football League Trophy. As Opta point out, they have just two points and three goals in their last six matches.


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A draw with Notts County at home is proof that Francis Zoko, who scored, can live with top teams at Huish Park, where they also beat Port Vale in an FA Cup replay in extra time.

Exeter seem to be back on the climb for this Somerset/Devon after some sporadic results. Victory over Stevenage put the Grecians back into the top three, where they have spent a lot of the season as expectations rise. Short trips (also to Forest Green) are a bonus over the festive period, says boss Paul Tisdale (pictured).

Exeter could do with Jayden Stockley (6) or Reuben Reid (7) and others reaching double figures for goals pretty quickly, to make automatic promotion a reality. A +5 goal difference is the lowest among their promotion rivals. Points wise, their tally of 39 from 22 games is their best Football League points tally since 1989-90, when they won the fourth tier, point out Opta.
source:betfair

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Newport 2.60 v Lincoln 2.90; the draw 3.60

Matt Rhead and Matt Green are turning into a right double act. They are great friends, says boss Danny Cowley, and so are extra delighted when each other score, which has happened in the last two matches. Rhead is also entering his prime, says his manager.

The Imps had a decent start to the season after promotion, although perhaps Cowley expected more after investing their FA Cup money from last season in the squad. Now, they have won three games in a row and sit sixth just three points off third. But the manager is all too aware that a couple of defeats could put them back in mid-table.

Whether Ricky Miller, from Peterborough, is a target or not seems a delicate point to Cowley, who says he merely enquired about which players from Posh might be available.


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That's just a distraction from the job of defeating Newport, whose victory at Cambridge was sweet for Joss Ladabie who described it as their "worst performance", after netting the injury time winner.

There was a double celebration because it was announced that Shawn McCoulsky, who scored the first, will be staying for the rest of the season after Birmingham agreed to extend his loan.

The Exiles have hit a winning streak and, with the sides having relatively similar relevant records - home to away - and it seems there is every chance of a draw between two sides with ambitions to reach the play-offs.
source:betfair

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Colchester 2.40 v Port Vale 3.40; the draw 3.60

If only Colchester could score more goals away, they would be pushing for automatic promotion instead of wrestling for a place in the play-offs.

On home turf, they have won three of the last unbeaten four and seem all the better for the return of Sammie Szmodics at the start of November, since when he has scored five times, emphasise Opta. One defeat in six, plus a couple of wins in the FA Cup, has set them up nicely for the New Year. Beating out-of-sorts Swindon demonstrated how far they have improved in recent weeks.


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Port Vale haven't quite kicked on as I expected from early results under Neil Aspin. Opta point out that they have won six from 10 since the manager's appointment, but every time I have tipped them of late they haven't won!

Tom Pope will be the key man for them for the rest of the season. Scorer of nine goals, it is unlikely he will be on the radar of clubs at higher levels in January - he is 32 - but he will be keen to help the Valiants rise and then perhaps help them push for the play-offs next season.

With 20 goals scored and only nine conceded at home, the odds favour the U's here, seeming somewhat generous.
source:betfair

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16.12.2017
England Premier League
 

Brighton 2.68 v Burnley 3.35; The Draw 3.10


It's not very often that a price in the Match Odds market stands out like a sore thumb, but that's exactly how I felt when I saw Burnley trading at 3.35 to beat Brighton on Saturday.

As I often say in football, when a price looks too good to be true then it probably is, but on this occasion I just don't see any reason why Brighton should be favourites to win the game, and why Burnley are the outsiders of all three options in the market.

The obvious starting point is league positions. The Clarets climbed into the top four on Tuesday night with a 1-0 victory over Stoke (subsequent results knocked them down to sixth), while Brighton's defeat to Tottenham left the Seagulls just three points above the relegation zone.


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Chris Hughton's men are also on a six-game winless run; the only two points they collected in that time were home draws to teams below them in the table, Stoke and Crystal Palace. And their only two home wins this season were against West Brom and Newcastle, two clubs that we now know are destined to be in a relegation battle for the rest of the season.

So there's absolutely nothing in Brighton's current form or home form to suggest that they should be favourites to beat highflying Burnley, and yet when you consider the Clarets' away form it makes even less sense.

Sean Dyche's men have won at Chelsea, Everton, Southampton, and Bournemouth already this term, while they've also held Liverpool and Tottenham to draws away from home. They also have a tremendous defensive record; the 12 goals they've conceded this term is the third best in the division, just one more than both the Manchester clubs.

One way that I like to demonstrate why a price just looks wrong is by using the 'value' example. If Brighton hosted Burnley on three separate occasions, all under the exact same circumstances as when they will meet on Saturday (current form, ability, league positions, defensive records, home form v away form etc) then do you think that the Clarets would win at least one of those games (which would return a profit if betting to level stakes)?

Considering they've already won 50% of their away games against clubs arguably better than Brighton, then the answer has to be yes. And if it is yes, then a price of 3.35 about them winning on Saturday is just wrong, and offers plenty of value.
source:betfair

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Chelsea 1.41 v Southampton 10.00; The Draw 5.20


Chelsea bounced back from their disappointing defeat at West Ham last week with a solid performance on the road in midweek, winning 3-1 at Huddersfield despite not playing with a recognised striker.

Frontman Alvaro Morata should return against the Saints on Saturday, meaning the Blues will be at full strength as they attempt to cut the gap on league leaders Manchester City in what is turning out to be a fruitless chase.

Antonio Conte's men have been much improved at Stamford Bridge since early-season defeats to Burnley and Man City - they're currently on a run of seven home games without defeat while in the Premier League they've won four on the spin - and I can see them brushing aside a Southampton team not in the greatest of form.

Mauricio Pellegrino's men have won just one of their last eight outings and they go into this game on the back of a humiliating home defeat to Leicester on Wednesday night.


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I like to judge the strength of a team based on the quality of sides that they defeat throughout the season, and in Southampton's case it doesn't make for good reading. True, they put four past Everton - who were in dreadful form at the time - but the Saints' three other league wins this term were by just a single-goal margin against West Brom, Crystal Palace, and West Ham - three of the division's struggling clubs.

I'm still not convinced that Southampton won't be in a relegation scrap as the season progresses; they're currently just four points above the drop zone and their next three away games are at Chelsea, Spurs, and Manchester United. The table could look at lot bleaker for them come the start of January.

As for Saturday's game I'm confident the Blues will win, and I quite like the price of them doing so by at least two clear goals, so that's what I'll be backing.
source:betfair

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Watford 1.81 v Huddersfield 5.30; The Draw 3.80


We've successfully been opposing Huddersfield away from home recently and I feel we have to stick with that strategy when the Terriers travel to Vicarage Road on Saturday.

The simple fact is David Wagner's men are very poor travellers, and when a team is on such a poor run you have to keep betting accordingly until something changes. Huddersfield have now played eight away games in succession without scoring a single goal. That's a damning statistic.


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And as I've said in previous weeks, it's not as if Wagner's men have had to face the top eight in the Premier League in that goalless spell. True, they've travelled to Arsenal and Liverpool, where you'd expect them to lose without scoring perhaps, but they've also had away games at Swansea, Bournemouth, West Ham, Everton, and Burnley. Not to score in any of those games doesn't read well at all.

As the Opta stat above alludes to, if anything Huddersfield's form away from home is becoming worse as the season goes on. They've lost their last five on the spin by a combined scoreline of 16-0!

So I make no apologies for suggesting Watford look a decent bet to win this at around the 4/5 mark, but to be able to back them at 9/5 to win to nil makes plenty of appeal.

Admittedly the Hornets are often involved in some entertaining games, but they did win back-to-back games without conceding recently, and as I often say, sometimes you can primarily base a wager on one team. In this case that team is Huddersfield, and their dreadful away record.
source:betfair

 

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16.12.2017
England Championship
 

Cardiff v Hull
Saturday 16th December, 17:30
Live on Sky Sports

Cardiff flying high

Cardiff extended their unbeaten streak to five games after rescuing a late point at Reading on Monday night. The Bluebirds required two late goals to scrape a draw with Joe Bennettgrabbing a goal before Lee Tomlin smashed home a last-gasp leveller.

Neil Warnock's men have now accrued the exact same number of points at this stage as the last Cardiff team to win promotion, though this time, City are being usurped by current league leaders Wolves. Nevertheless, the Welsh outfit remain four points clear of third-placed rivals Bristol City.

Sean Morrison and Omar Bogle were taken off against Reading as precautionary measures and are rated doubtful here. With Danny Ward, Aron Gunnarsson, Craig Bryson and Frederic Gounongbe all ruled out of Monday's match - joining the likes of Kenneth Zohore, Lee Camp, Rhys Healey, Kadeem Harris and Jazz Richards on the treatment table, Cardiff's options are limited.


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Adkins off to a flyer

Hull began life after Leonid Slutsky with a valuable 3-2 victory over Brentford last weekend. It was the Tigers' first taste of victory in eight and came in Nigel Adkins' first fixture in charge at the KCOM Stadium.

Adkins praised the team's resilience shown during a stirring second-half comeback, which included goals from Kamil Grosicki, Seb Larsson and Jackson Irvine, and outlined his ambition to bring stability back to the club after becoming Hull's fourth different head coach of 2017.

Eleven senior players were unavailable last weekend but Ola Aina impressed in an unfamiliar right-wing role and could continue there on Saturday. Elsewhere, Jarrod Bowenremains a major doubt, Jon Toral is pushing for a recall, whilst Ryan Mason, Abel Hernandez, Will Keane and Stephen Kinglsey remain crocked.

Bluebirds' outstanding home record

Cardiff 1.76 have lost each of their last three league meetings with Hull by an aggregate 8-0. And the Bluebirds haven't managed to silence the Tigers in their previous eight encounters, winning only once (W1-D2-L5).

Even so, the capital club boast a superb W7-D3-L0 return when welcoming Championship clubs to Wales this season and Neil Warnock's overseen W17-D7-L4 here, including seven triumphs from 10 when hosting bottom-half teams.

Considering Cardiff rank comfortably amongst the top-four across a range of performance data metrics and Hull 5.00 have picked up only two points from a possible 30 (W0-D2-L8) against top-half teams this term, the odds on a home win seem more than fair on Saturday.

Both sides likely to oblige

No second-tier team has scored more goals than Hull City this season but the Tigers have shipped 39 themselves, making the visitors the third-worst defensive side in the Championship. Indeed, the Humbersiders have seen 14 goals in total across their last three outings.

Hull's 2.54 total Expected Goals from open play average per-game is a table-topping figure in the division whilst a huge 15/21 (71%) of their league matches have broken the Over 2.5 Goals barrier. However, their Both Teams To Score numbers are even more appealing with 17/21 (81%) games seeing both sides find the back of the net.

With both sides obliging in five of Cardiff's last eight at home, and the Bluebirds emerging victorious in four of those, plus Hull managing to find the back of the net in all but one of their nine defeats this term, it may pay to have a speculative play on Cardiff to win and Both Teams To Score at 11/4.
source:betfair
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16.12.2017
England Leagues
 

Gillingham 3.40 v Bristol Rovers 2.20, the draw 3.50

Layers of the draw outright have cleaned up with Bristol Rovers this season. In all of their 21 league matches this term, the Gas are yet to draw. It's not a bet I particularly like, especially laying anything at around 5/2, but for those that have been tracking that system, this could be the ideal game as Gillingham have a Priestfield record this term of W1 D5 L4.

Despite that rather disheartening record for the hosts, they look the bet this weekend.

The thinking here is more to do with Rovers. I called them a "boom or bust" team recently, and I got them wrong against Southend last week. Yes they won, and that probably makes them a touch shorter than they should be, but they are way too inconsistent to consider backing at 2.20.


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Away from home, the Pirates have conceded a whopping 20 goals and scored just 11. They have also lost eight on the road with just two victories. They look a terrible price.

Gillingham historically have a good record at home to Rovers according to Opta; and have enjoyed a five-match winning run at Preistfield, scoring 15 goals at an average of three per game.

The Kent club were denied by a last minute goal at Plymouth last weekend to lose 2-1, but their second half display was one of the best of the season according to their manager Steve Lovell.

If you are looking for an Under/Over 2.5 bet, I would go with the former, as four of Gillingham's last five have hit the target.
source:betfair

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 Scunthorpe United 1.98 v MK Dons 3.50, the draw 3.30


The Iron did the double over the MK Dons last term, and the 1.98 on offer for another victory this Saturday is more than fair - especially given how short the likes of Portsmouth and Blackburn are this weekend.

After all, the hosts are chasing promotion or a playoff place, and are just three points behind second-placed Shrewsbury.

I am aware that all is not quite as easy as it seems in this division, and I have been stung plenty of times with this sort of game in the past. However, Scunthorpe have lost just one of their last eight league matches (W6 D1), against the MK Dons' record of just one victory from their previous ten league fixtures.


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Maybe the price of 1.98 relates to the Scunthorpe's less-than-impressive goals tally - especially at Glanford Park. With only 11 netted this term, that compares terribly to the likes of Wigan, Rotherham and even Oxford - who have all scored 20 plus. Relegation-threatened pair Bury and Plymouth have each scored ten at home, which highlights how low that Scunthorpe number is.

But, the Iron win games, and have only shipped six at home, and that could be too much for the MK Dons - a team I have never rated this term, and their position of 17th merits a question to how successful the Robbie Neilson era has been.

The key here could be Scunthorpe's Josh Morris. He has scored four goals in his last five matches in League One, having found the net just three times in his first 14 games this term.
source:betfair

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 Fleetwood Town 2.52 v Peterborough United 2.88, the draw 3.30

Sunday 15:00

With their FA Cup replay against Hereford on Thursday, Fleetwood need to find their form if they are to get anywhere near last term's playoff exploits. In fact, that form is looking a long way away at the moment, and the Cod Army are without a victory in six matches. They have failed to score in four of those too.

Last term Uwe Rosler's side were excellent on the counter-attack and were brilliant at Highbury, but their weakness so often this season has been the set-piece and their inability to defend it. Wigan ruthlessly exposed that last Saturday, and if Grant McCann and his coaching team at Peterborough have done their homework (which I am sure they have), this should be seen as a game they win.


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Posh aren't exactly the most consistent of teams, and they have never won an EFL game at Highbury. However, in Jack Marriot, the Blues have a player that has scored more away goals in League One than any other, and his total of seven on the road makes him the danger man. Although Peterborough do have a few.

The attacking talents of McCann's team were showcased in the 5-2 FA Cup drubbing of Woking recently, but then so were the other skills of defending with the 3-2 defeat to Blackburn. Posh make silly mistakes.

With only one clean sheet away from home all season for Posh, perhaps we should look to the BTTS market. The visitors have scored in six of their last seven, and have a total of 17 scored away from the ABAX all season. They could be worth chancing on the Draw No Betconsidering Town earn a few stalemates.
source:betfair

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08.12.2017

England Premier League

 
 

Back Spurs To Win and Under 2.5 goals v Stoke @ 11/4
Saturday, 15:00

Having soared early in the season, Tottenham have hit the skids in recent weeks, having not tasted victory in the League since early November. With my battle lead shrinking by the week I'm all too familiar with how Mauricio Pochettino's men are feeling but this home encounter against Stoke offers us the opportunity to get back on track.


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Spurs have won their last three encounters with Mark Hughes' side by a 4-0 score line and for all that both Harry Kane and Dele Alli have run riot against the Potters - Alli has never failed to find the net against them - we have to factor in the Wembley hoodoo.

Stoke have recorded just one win on their travels this campaign - a narrow 1-0 victory at Watford - and Saturday's task is much more daunting. I'm struggling to envisage anything other than three points for Spurs but goals have come at a premium for them at Wembley so Unders is how we'll play it.
source:betfair

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Back Liverpool Win/BTTS double v Everton @ 17/10
Sunday, 14:15

Liverpool are 1/4 to beat rejuvenated Everton, and that looks a bit short to me in what is sure to be a fiercely contested Merseyside derby.

But what is almost certain is that Jurgen Klopp's men will score. Incredibly they have averaged almost four goals per game since their 0-0 draw with Manchester United in October; they've won eight games since that fixture, scoring 35 goals in the process, and they've scored 15 in their last three matches.


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The Reds are superb on their day, and I can easily see them scoring two or three, possibly more, against the Toffees on Sunday. But can they keep a goal out at the other end. I'm happy to wager that they won't.

It's well documented that Liverpool's defence is by far the weak link to their team, and they face an Everton side on Sunday that has scored nine goals in their last three games, featuring the attacking quality of Gylfi Sigurdsson (pictured), Wayne Rooney and more. So I think the bet here is to back a home win with both teams getting on the scoresheet at the appealing price of 17/10.
source:betfair


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Back Chelsea/BTTS double v West Ham @ 12/5 
Saturday, 12:30

West Ham put on a better than expected display at The Etihad last weekend and I'm expecting something similar at home to Chelsea on Saturday lunchtime.

That means David Moyes' men should make it reasonably competitive but ultimately come out on the wrong end of the result.

If we translate that into a bet I am happy to back a Chelsea win with both teams scoring at 12/5.

The unlikely part of the wager is the Hammers finding the back of the net but they have done just that in their last five clashes with Chelsea.