Archive for month: November, 2012

Premier League betting : November 28th

27 Nov
November 27, 2012

Manchester United vs. West Ham

Player Markets

Back Van Persie to be first goalscorer (EW) @3-1

Manchester United are short odds to see off West Ham at home on Wednesday evening. There has been much debate over United’s best eleven and United backers are clear as to the desired composition of the midfield. Anderson or Cleverley have to play in the centre to lend their energy to the United cause. With a better balance to the side Van Persie is more likely to make an impact in the forward line and he is a better proposition than an even money shot to score against mid table opposition. The 3-1 about him breaking the deadlock pays well enough for a player, at his best, who requires few invitations to score.

Southampton vs. Norwich

Game Markets

Back Norwich (+1) on the Asian handicap @2-5

Norwich will again look to steal a point or more on their travels following their sterling effort at Everton on Saturday. This is the form that will see them safe from the drop zone with something to spare. Chris Hughton has his team well organised and the fact that the defence has only shipped 1 goal in its last 4 outings is testament to its efficiency. The numbers back up the visual impression of a defence in which everyone knows where they are meant to be playing. Southampton will have to post one of their better performances of the season to beat Norwich by 2 clear goals.

Stoke vs. Newcastle

Game Markets

Back Stoke @Evens

Stoke again have the good fortune to face a team that is missing key personnel and the management team will be acutely aware of the opportunity to bag another three points on Wednesday night. Cabaye and Ben Arfa are too important to Newcastle to go unnoticed in their absence. Cabaye lends as much to the defence as to the attack and his all round play will be missed. Stoke are just starting to build some momentum, especially at home, and will look to defeat a team that would have been favourites to beat them at the start of the season. Adam has re-found his scoring touch and Stoke have one or two players with the pace to worry a sometimes cumbersome Newcastle backline.

The central issues surrounding United’s form

26 Nov
November 26, 2012

Team Analysis

Manchester United find themselves at the top of the table with more than a third of this season’s fixtures completed. They’ve made their progression harder for themselves than might usually be the case. In fact, they have conceded the first goal on no less than 9 occasions in their opening 13 encounters. Before the season started this eventuality would have been greater than 50-1 to come to pass. The question now is whether this situation is down to random events or is there a systemic reason at play behind these results.

A simple explanation that could be forwarded is that Ferdinand no longer has the pace in central defence that he used to have and that United lack the options for rotation in that position due to the long term injuries to Vidic, Jones and Smalling. Indeed, Ferdinand was badly exposed for pace against Bale in Tottenham’s win at Old Trafford. However, the situation is probably more complex than can be explained by a one dimensional analysis of events.

It is now virtually a given that Premier League clubs have an analytical team of some description, even if it only comprises of the scouts reviewing video material of the opposition. Aston Villa had come to the conclusion that we had had a suspicion about for a few weeks prior to United’s visit to Villa Park. Namely that there is not only a lack of pace in the centre of United’s defence but more crucially that there is a lack of recovery pace in the centre of the midfield when the likes of Anderson and Cleverley don’t play. It seemed that every time Carrick was caught in advance of Scholes at a turnover of possession, there was a Villa player prepared to gamble by running off the back of Scholes to join the attack. Therefore, briefly United were found to be undermanned to deal with the numbers in Villa’s attack. The situation didn’t improve for United when they played at Carrow Road and there were occasions when Scholes was the covering midfielder running back trying to halt the counter attack . A mission that he never looked like fulfilling. Another observation from the Villa game was that the United attackers looked nervous in possession, probably in the knowledge that defensively the team would be vulnerable to the counter attack. At 2-0 down they were forced to gamble and their reticence left them.

The visit of Q.P.R. to Old Trafford further highlighted United’s difficulties in the central areas and even a change in the starting line up did little to remedy the problems. Fletcher is clearly still getting back into the rhythm of things as he too looked slow in chasing back towards his own goal. Only with the arrival of Anderson did United’s fortunes turn for the better and the level of home side’s mobility in the middle of field increase. Before the Anderson substitution , Rooney was forced to make a last ditch tackle in front of his own goal. Things are clearly not right if one the side’s most offensive players are forced into the role of the covering defender.

Such is the quality of United’s attacking players that they have been able to score their way out of trouble against mid-level opposition. Against sides good enough to make it through to the second round of the Champions’ League, United’s powers of recovery may prove to be less apparent should they not take care to protect their back four from the outset. Indeed, it could be argued that a midfield without Anderson and/or Cleverley isn’t equipped to ensure that United remain favourites throughout the ninety minutes of a game and it will be interesting to note the composition of United’s midfield for the bigger games to be played this season.

Premier League betting : November 24th

23 Nov
November 23, 2012

Sunderland vs. West Brom

Game Markets

Back both teams to score @8/11

Sunderland had the good fortune to play ten man Fulham last Sunday and atypically took full advantage of the situation. It was the first occasion this season that Sunderland had found the net three times in the same fixture. They will be hoping that last weekend’s result will provide a springboard for the rest of the year. Fletcher remains efficient in front of goal and Martin O’Neill will be relieved to see Sessegnon back on the scoresheet after a prolonged barren period. West Brom’s efforts have brought both significant praise and league points since the start of the season. While they have been formidable at home, they have enough assets to be a threat on their travels also. Long and Odemwingie have the pace to worry the home defence on the break. They also have other avenues of attack in front of a defence that has performed adequately. Both sides have similar defensive records but West Brom have scored nearly twice the number of goals. Both sides are full of confidence at present and should one of them fall behind it is unlikely that they will fold up entirely.

Everton vs. Norwich

Game Markets

Back Norwich (+1) on the Asian handicap @Evens

Much has been made of Norwich’s home form against some of the division’s better sides. It is very possible that they can translate some of this to their efforts on the road. Manchester United didn’t play particularly well at Carrow Road last Saturday but Norwich were organised in their defence and United rarely got behind them. It was clear that Norwich were content to defend with two banks of four with little space between their lines. In view of Fellaini’s absence from Everton’s team it is very possible that Norwich can contain the home side. The Belgian has been Everton‘s outstanding attacker this term and it will be informative to see how they are able to cope without him. In any event it looks less likely that Everton will beat Norwich heavily, if even at all.

Stoke vs. Fulham

Game Markets

Back Stoke @6-5

Stoke have picked up a very useful 4 points from their last two outings and will look to continue their good run when they host Fulham. The away side remain a potent force in attack but the absence of two key attackers in Ruiz and Kacaniklic may stretch their resources. More significant is the likely effect of Hangeland’s suspension. Fulham’s first choice centre back is a towering presence in the air and without him Stoke will target the away side’s goal from set pieces. It is highly likely that Stoke will have enough opportunities to score the goals that they will require in order to secure the three points.

Premier League betting : November 17th

16 Nov
November 16, 2012

Arsenal vs. Tottenham

Game Markets

Back Arsenal @Evens

Both these sides find themselves a little way off the pace in the title race and it is becoming apparent what their respective shortcomings are. Arsenal have been unwilling to commit players to the attack in order to maintain defensive solidity but when they were drawn into an open game against Fulham they did at least demonstrate that they could score goals. The downside was that they were not defensively effective. Even so, Giroud did at least show some form to bring his total to 5 goals in his last eight outings. Crucially however, Tottenham’s inability to hold on to winning positions has cost them dearly in the past month. Having led both Man City and Chelsea they ended up with nothing on both occasions. Worryingly, Defoe is doubtful for the encounter and is needed to lead an attack which has only scored more than twice in two league fixtures this term. Simply, Tottenham are likely to give Arsenal opportunities to score and the home side may show enough form to take advantage of the situation. Arsenal are not at the top of their game defensively but last weekend’s result must be put in the context of the quality of Fulham’s attack which is proving productive against most sides.

West Brom vs. Chelsea

Game Markets

Back both teams to score West Brom vs. Chelsea @8-13

Steve Clarke faces the side that he had great success with as part of the coaching team but the defensive side of Chelsea’s game probably plays second fiddle to their attacking ambitions these days. West Brom remain a formidable proposition on their home patch having recorded 5 victories already at The Hawthorns this season. The reintroduction of Chris Brunt following injury will provide further options from the left hand side but it is the centre of the team, that has been largely ever present, that has enabled them to build a solid base for their forward play. It is hard to imagine that they will not be able to engineer enough opportunities to enable them to fashion some very decent scoring chances. Chelsea remain an enigma. On occasion’s they have been both entertaining and effective but in the game against Liverpool they appeared to run out of steam late on in the game. Juan Mata remains at the hub of Chelsea’s creative play and in an attacking game the away side’s midfield will be able to give as good as they get. Hazard and Oscar have impressed, albeit fleetingly, but they do have the ability to open the most organised of defences.

Fulham vs. Sunderland

Player Markets

Back Berbatov to be first goalscorer (EW) @4-1

Game Markets

Back Fulham @3-4

This proposition revolves around the fact that Fulham’s attack is proving to be highly effective and seemingly hard to pin down by concentrating on any single player. They took time to find their feet against Arsenal and would have been unlucky not come away with something having scored three times on the road. They face a team in Sunderland that is struggling for goals of their own as a total of 7 from the opening 10 games testifies. Fulham’s attacking play will invite Sunderland to have a go at them on the counter attack but it has to be remembered that on the occasions that Sunderland have played against ten men this season they haven’t capitalised on the situation.

Berbatov remains close to being a Champion’s League quality striker and has settled in well at Craven Cottage. He has attempted, on average, nearly 4 shots per ninety minutes of play and has been rewarded with 5 goals already this term. He is also his team’s nominated penalty taker. If it can be assumed that he can maintain a rate of scoring 21 goals in a 35 game season he is likely to score in just under half of the games in which he plays. The each way part of the bet pays at nearly 11-8 and the Sunderland contest would qualify as a game of average difficulty or less. The 4-1 on him opening the scoring could yet appear to be a generous offer.

Premier League : Early Season Analysis.

09 Nov
November 9, 2012

With most sides having completed 10 rounds of fixtures there is the opportunity to review and to determine which teams are living up to expectations and which teams are not. Plenty of goals appear to have been scored in the early part of the season but it seems that things have settled down whereby there has been an average of 2.83 goals per game for the first 99 matches. The last 2 seasons have each returned an average of 2.81 goals per game. It appears, therefore, that this season is far from being atypical.

Early relegation favourites Southampton are living up to their billing largely due to their inability to prevent the opposition from scoring. If their goal scoring performance was to determine whether they escaped the drop or not, they would look a safe bet to stay up. The manner in which they have conceded some of the goals must be equally worrying. Reading are another side looking likely to ship plenty of goals but their situation isn’t as desperate as The Saints. They look as if they can match their relegation rivals for scoring goals and are on course to concede only two thirds of the goals that Southampton are likely to let in. Still, at a projected 70 goals against they need to move up a gear. Q.P.R. appear to have problems at both ends of the field. Their inability to keep clean sheets is going to prove costly. They appear to be particularly vulnerable at set pieces. There doesn’t seem to be a weekend that passes without Rangers coughing up a goal from a crossed ball. While they have only picked up one real hiding it is their consistent conceding of goals that is causing them problems. Particularly in view of the fact that the attack is scoring, on average, less than 1 goal a game.

There are four other teams in the division that have managed, on average, less than a goal per game. Paul Lambert’s present and most recent clubs face the same predicament. Aston Villa for the second season in a row are struggling to score. Darren Bent is available for selection but is currently out of favour and as a result the Villa attack is virtually non-productive. A major step forward was widely predicted for Villa but without the acquisition of any top class personnel it was always unlikely. Norwich haven’t found their scoring touch of last season and remain vulnerable at the back. To their credit they have held the opposition to a goal or less on 7 occasions this season but there have been 3 games in which they have collapsed. Goal difference could be crucial at either end of the table come the end of the season so it would be in their interest to exercise damage limitation when the need arises. Stoke and Sunderland have emerged as the division’s draw specialists. Both sides are struggling for goals but clearly are not willing to sacrifice defensive solidity in pursuit of rewards higher up the field. Sunderland have found themselves in the situation of playing ten men on no less than 3 occasions this term. They have singularly failed to take advantage of this situation and have been particularly shot-shy in the later stages of games.

Wigan seem to be doing just about enough to maintain a mid-table position. They are not renowned for scoring a large amount of goals but have picked up the habit of maximising the worth of their scores. Slightly worrying for them is that they have already conceded 2 goals or more on 6 occasions. It will be very hard to win games if you need to score three goals in order to collect all the points. Swansea haven’t folded up as expected following the departure to Liverpool of Brendan Rodgers. Goals at home don’t seem to be problem but teams have managed to work out how to shut out the Swans on 4 occasions already this term. While the defence isn’t lock-tight, it is performing well enough to secure a mid-table berth. Liverpool remain light in front of goal, with Suarez the sole credible goal threat. A projected total of 49 goals in the for column is not going to enable them to realise any short term ambitions. More concerning is that they are heading for a negative goal difference. A situation that would all but eliminate the possibility of a top 6 finish.

Newcastle remain efficient in terms of turning their goals into points. Demba Ba has again shown the form of the early part of last season and remains high on the wish-list of plenty of clubs. Even so, they are projected to be less productive than last term with a similar defensive performance, so on balance they are up against it in their bid for a top 6 finish. West Ham are clear in the race amongst the newly promoted teams and are performing up to spec at both ends of the field. With 4 clean sheets already on the board they are building a good platform to climb the table. In contrast, the attack has scored at least once in 7 games. West Brom have started the season at the Hawthorns in formidable fashion. Mid-table sides typically achieve around 9 clean sheets a season and West Brom have already collected 4. Their goal scoring performance has even more merit and has the profile of a team destined to remain in the top half of the table.

Everton and Fulham are the early overachievers in the division so far. Their 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage last Saturday was probably one of the least surprising results of the season so far. Both sides are on target to score enough goals to finish in the top 4 and are more likely to score 2 or more in game than less than 2. The net result is that both teams will be competitive in a great many games. Martin Jol has already expressed that he is finding it hard to determine which combination of Fulham forwards is the best that he has at his disposal. Everton have a very energetic left flank and Baines is providing many chances for the players in front of him. Fellaini is providing strength and skill in the forward line that is of Champion’s League potential. Defensively Everton give the impression of being more consistent but it is evident that both sides are paying a little for their attacking approach.

Arsenal have rediscovered some of the defensive frugality that they were once renowned for. The downside has been that there has been a deficit in the goal scoring department. Only on 3 occasions have they scored a brace or more and they face an uphill task in a league where it usually takes at least 2 goals to win a game. A major shift needs to occur if Arsenal are to be serious challengers for a top 4 position. A lack of clean sheets has curtailed Tottenham’s progress. Defensively they are not as secure as they were last season and there has not been an increase in goals output to offset this deficit. Sandro’s defensive performances have been an integral part of Tottenham’s better efforts. Defoe clearly has a licence to shoot on sight and has rewarded his manager’s faith in him.

Man City are not yet showing the form that enabled them to lift the title last May. Previously it appeared that they could score at will but an average scoring rate of less than 2 goals a game is going to see them fall off the pace sooner or later. The absence of their main playmaker, David Silva, has clearly affected their confidence. The lack of a top class holding midfielder is not helping the balance of the side and they can often be stretched on the counter attack. Chelsea have started the season brightly and their new signings have settled in well. Juan Mata is back to his excellent best and there are few reasons as to why they cannot continue to score, on average, more than 2 goals a game. Eighty plus goals will see them competitive at the business end of season. Defensively Chelsea have made a fair start and Terry’s more steady influence in place of Luiz’s more adventurous approach may yet yield greater dividends. If Man Utd could log the same level of performance in defence as they have done in attack, the league would be over by Christmas. The addition of Van Persie has given United an extra dimension up front and they look as if they could accumulate a hundred or more goals. Their numbers are yet to be skewed by any huge margin wins but are elevated due to a consistently high level of performance. Defensively their overall effort has not been much better than mid-table level and to resolve these issues may cost them something in attack.

As things stand, few sides are showing consistent form at both ends of the field and there remains the opportunity for a team to rapidly ascend the table. It is clear that the division will remain highly competitive at all levels.

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