Archive for month: February, 2012

Racing Preview : February 25th

25 Feb
February 25, 2012

The betting for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival is likely to be shaken up over the course of this afternoon seeing as the first three in the market put their credentials on the line. First up is MINSK who makes his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse. Much has been said and written about his prospects and he’s yet to jump a flight in public. He was clearly progressive as a three year old as he ended up winning his last three efforts on the level. Only those closest to him probably have an idea how this afternoon will turn out but he probably has to win well enough to hold onto his position at the head of the Cheltenham market. SADLER’S RISK picks up the mantle at Kempton in the graded Adonis Hurdle which has an impressive record of providing the division champion. I am just getting the sense that this year’s group will have to go a fair way to proving that they are as strong a generation as last year’s vintage. With this in mind the race at Cheltenham may end up being surprising uncompetitive with only a handful of runners with a genuine chance of winning the title. As things stand, SADLER’S RISK is my fancy to prevail in March and 6-1 may not be available at close of play this evening. He ran in a classic trial as a three year old and clearly was held in some regard at that stage. Stamina appears to be the long suit seeing that he was usually aggressively ridden on the flat and it is very often a stayer of sorts that wins the Triumph. He probably merits to be considered as one of the contenders for the Cheltenham contest and 6-1 represents a fair bet. GRUMETI probably has a less exacting task by running in the Dovecote hurdle as suggested by the fact that he is an odds on shot to prevail. He’s on a hiding to nothing essentially. If he wins impressively he’ll receive little credit. If he is less than impressive he’ll slide in the Triumph market but this looks an easy grade two for him to be picking up.

Recommended bet: Triumph Hurdle, Cheltenham: Back SADLER’S RISK, Each Way (6-1).

Premier League Preview : February 25th

25 Feb
February 25, 2012

Weather conditions at present should make this a particularly enjoyable weekend for sport and there will be little need for the appearance of gloves and neck warmers up and down Premier League grounds this afternoon. The quality of the football should be decent unless the curse of the bobbly pitch resurfaces.

Newcastle vs. Wolves

Contrary to many predictions Newcastle are hanging in there in the fight for a Champions’ League spot and have far more convincing form of late than the likes of Chelsea or Arsenal. Their current form has them on target for around a 60 point finish in the table based both on their season total so far and the points accrued over the last eight games. The 4-7 about them to beat Wolves this afternoon looks at least fair. Simply based on the two teams respective table positions the quote doesn’t look mean and current form is certainly on the side of the home team. Demba Ba seems to have picked up where he left off in terms of goalscoring and overall play since his return from the African Cup of Nations. He remains the major goal threat and with quotes as low as 4-7 in the anytime scorer market, the layers have run scared of him. He would need five genuine efforts at goal to come even near to justifying that price but only his usually 3.3 (!) to make evens a workable bet.

Recommended bets:

Back Newcastle to beat Wolves

Back Demba Ba anytime scorer at Evens (Boylesports).

Manchester City vs. Blackburn

City continue to go from strength to strength and their progress has been well documented but their victory in Portugal and subsequent demolition job in the second leg of their Europa League tie are particularly meritous efforts. They must be kicking themselves that they are not in the main European competition where only a handful of teams have genuine claims for glory. This is a game that City obviously need to win and very probably will do so. I’ve give the fixture mention here in light of the various bookmaker concessions that are available. Correct scores and first/last goalscorer bets are those that are refunded with Powers if there are four or more goals in the match. By their own reckoning it’s marginally odds on that the concession will be triggered. To have a reasonable chance of the four goals being scored there needs to be around 26 efforts at goal. There will be plenty in the City squad willing to impress as the season draws towards the pivotal games, so it’s unlikely that the home side will let up at any stage. Ladbrokes’ refund concession is enacted should Yakubu score at anytime. Their own odds compilers have him down as a 9-2 shot to hit the net. Essentially they believe he’ll have one or less serious effort at the target which is a very possible reality given the amount of possession that City are likely to have. It’s clear who is offering the better value special on this occasion.

Champions League Preview : February 21st

21 Feb
February 21, 2012

Napoli vs. Chelsea

Naples would be a tough place to go and get a result at anytime but if you are on a run like Chelsea’s at the moment, now would not be a good time. The Blues would be nearly a 25-1 shot to have only won one of their last six fixtures in all competitions. Clearly things are amiss and statistically verified as such.

Chelsea are obviously suffering defensive mainly due to the absences of stalwart defenders, Terry and Cole. Cole is certain to be absent and even if Terry does play it’s hard to make a case for backing the London side such is the lack of cohesion higher up the pitch. Drogba has been excellent in the Champion’s League this season and it would be surprising if he doesn’t get the nod upfront with Sturridge. Torres continues to misfire and there would be little joy for him up against Napoli’s packed defence.

The Azzurri set themselves up most usually in the formation of an away side with a deep lying defence. They have won remarkably few offsides in Serie A this season, mainly due to the fact there is little space behind their backline. Cavani is the main source of goals assisted chiefly by Hamsik, who incidently has excellent ball retention numbers. Napoli will be ready to exploit any weakness on Chelsea’s left flank with the aid of Maggio who has contributed well on the assist front throughout the league program. This is in addition to Lavezzi who finds himself as the side’s primary playmaker.

The Italian representatives have had significant amount of their games ending as draws and if neither side are willing to commit men forward, we could be in for a cagey start to the game. Even so, Napoli will be looking for some kind of lead to head to Stamford Bridge with. In the interim between the two legs, Cole could well become serviceable again. With all this in mind backing Napoli to win the first leg, draw no bet is the preferred option.

Recommended bet: Back Napoli, draw no bet at 4/6.

Navan Preview : February 19th

19 Feb
February 19, 2012

Flyingbolt Novice Chase

The Flyingbolt Novice ‘Chase at Navan this afternoon catches the eye from a betting standpoint. There are only three likely winners in the field of seven runners and one of the main contenders, NEAREST THE PIN, is a horse that I’ve been keeping a close eye on this season. There was no attempt to hide his ability at the Christmas Leopardstown meeting where he was competitive against highly rated opponents in a novice ‘chase. He’s a horse with plenty of gears and it can only be hoped that the ground isn’t too testing this afternoon. On a genuinely good surface he would be a 6-4 shot. The other two likely protagonists are CARLOSWAYBACK and FOILDUBH. FOILDUBH had shown a high level of consistency before finding the heavy ground at Leopardstown not to his liking. He has been competitive against a good grade of runner for much of the season and cannot be discounted in a grade two race. CARLOSWAYBACK, I confess is a horse I don’t know too much about but he appears progressive clearly stays further than the minimum trip. He was only a 7-1 shot to win the grade one Royal Bond in his novice hurdle days. The opposition includes DONNAS PALM who has looked far from comfortable over the larger obstacles since his switch to fencing and FAR AWAY SO CLOSE. The latter just doesn’t seem to see the trip out and has traded at very short odds on more than one occasion before finding less than expected. By also betting in the without the favourite market two of the proposed bets can be winners.

Recommended bets:

Navan 4:00 Back NEAREST THE PIN

Navan 4:00 Without the favourite, Back FOILDUBH

Navan 4:00 Without the favourite, Back CARLOSWAYBACK.

FA Cup 5th Round Preview : February 18th

18 Feb
February 18, 2012

Chelsea vs. Birmingham

Chelsea are a short enough price at home to Championship side Birmingham to win this lunchtime’s F.A. Cup fixture. The home side looked particularly demotivated for their away trip to Everton last weekend and there is clearly unrest in the camp. The possible absence of Ashley Cole is significant as Chelsea do not have a workable replacement in the position and on the occasions he has been absent the backline has looked a shambles (no wins in his 5 absences from the starting lineup this season). John Terry is also likely to be absent particularly with a Champions’ League fixture in the offing. Had you asked Birmingham which one player would they like to see absent from the team sheet and the captain would have been the most likely reply. In these situations we have to ask whether the underdog has the ability to take advantage of the favourite’s predicament. Birmingham’s games against Wolves earlier in the competition were described at best as dire. They looked like two Championship sides in a contest of brawn rather than guile. Nathan Redmond is rare ray of light and looks a skillful player of much potential. His impact will depend on whether Birmingham can release him quickly enough and allow him to run against an isolated defender. Even so it remains that Chelsea have the better players. For all their woes it is easy to forget that Essien, Sturridge and Mata will line out for the home side and the issues for Chelsea are motivational and organisational rather than questions of ability. For the reasons stated it is impossible to make a forecast before kick-off and for those wanting to be involved in the betting, an in-running wager is probably the best course of action.

Norwich vs. Leicester

Norwich have been a revelation in the Premier League this season and currently lie eigth in the top division. In contrast Leicester find themselves just in the bottom half of the Championship. Paul Lambert clearly has his team well organised and combined with a fair efficiency in front of goal Norwich are set for a comfortable mid table finish at the least. Grant Holt has been in excellent form this season and was far too much for a lauded Swansea team to handle last weekend. He is ably assisted by the likes of Pilkington and Morison and the home team isn’t solely reliant on him to score the goals. I’m finding it hard to explain the apparent generosity of the layers in offering 10-11 on a Norwich victory. The better team is at home and playing very well. Leicester will be no pushovers but Norwich are the same price to beat them as Man. Utd were to beat Liverpool last weekend. It has to be argued that United and Liverpool are closer in ability than the opponents in this cup tie who find themselves a division apart.

Recommended bet: Back Norwich at 10-11.

Everton vs. Blackpool

This is potentially one of the more lively contests to be played this weekend. Indeed the over 2.5 goals market suggests there will be around 27 efforts at goals during the game. What will count ultimately is which side proves to be the more ruthless in front of goal. Everton’s new recruits have seen them to be more purposeful and therefore the absences of Pienaar and Donovan will be a loss. With the two aforementioned players along with Cahill and Gibson, Everton had the makings of a vibrant midfield that would, over ninety minutes, been too much for Blackpool. In contrast there is not a lot of pace at the back for Everton and this is why I suspect that Blackpool will engage in an open attacking game to facilitate situations where Everton’s midfield cover are out of place. Blackpool are certainly in confident mood having won four of their last 5 games but surely Everton’s form at home in their last three fixtures of beating Chelsea, Man. City and Fulham amounts to more. Again the Premier League team probably has more ability and it is only the fact that the absentees are likely to prove significant that I will not be backing Everton at 8/15. Equally I wont be taking them on.

Sunderland vs. Arsenal

Arsenal need to come with a wealth warning attached to them at present. When they fancy playing they can still be hugely effective but when the mood doesn’t take them, they can be abject. On the face of it their league victory at the Stadium of Light looks a decent bit of form but I suspect that the result had more to do with Sunderland’s limitations rather than Arsenal’s ability. Swansea probably should have left the North East with a result having dominated a recent league fixture up there but they were caught chasing the game and couldn’t finish their own chances. Van Persie is having to carry the away side virtually single handed. Many of his goals he has created out of very little and typically not because the service has been conducive to goalscoring. Arsenal have been shorn of their centre backs which didn’t look to be too much of a disadvantage in midweek until we witnessed how inept the replacements were and how out of practice the fullbacks appeared to be. But wishing to remain objective they are unlikley to come up against the quality of Ibrahimovic and Robinho this evening and I do suspect they made Boeteng look a bit better than he actually is. Sunderland will no doubt play a pressing game to test the confidence of this Arsenal side but should they over stretch themselves Arsenal’s counterattack players could cause them some damage. The over goals markets do suggest an open game. Again this is a contest where before kick off it is hard to have a definitive view. It has to be remembered that Sunderland will not be able to sustain a pressing effort for the entire game and if Arsenal are still at parity they could yet again land a late blow.

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