Friday, 18 September 2015

Weekend Preview Round 3

Last weekend two of my picks came in with Charlton failing to win but AZ and Monaco winning their games. If you’ve been following the tips so far this season (and placing the bets as singles) you should still be in profit (£2.05  profit if you put £1 on each bet), so let’s hope to keep that going this weekend.  

Swansea vs Everton: Over 2.5 goals @ Evens

This game should be really entertaining, both sides play attractive football and there’ll be plenty of attacking talent on show. Swansea will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat away at Watford whilst Everton should be full of confidence following their convincing win over Chelsea.  I think there will be at least three goals required for this bet to win.

Werder Bremen vs Ingolstadt: Werder Bremen win @ 2.05

Ingolstadt have had a solid start to life in the Bundesliga and will be looking to build on that when they visit Werder Bremen this weekend. After successive wins Werder Bremen should be full of confidence and have the crowd behind them, and that home advantage could be key as Ingolstadt have proved tough to beat, only Dortmund have managed it so far this season. I think the home side will just edge this one.

Willem II vs Utrecht: Utrecht draw no bet @ 2.10

Utrecht are unbeaten since the opening day of the season and will be looking to build on their good run of form when they travel to play Willem II. Utrecht also have history, as well as form, on their side, having won four of the six meetings between the two sides. Willem have started poorly and are yet to win this season, but they have picked up points against AZ and Vitesse. I don’t see Utrecht losing this one and the odds for draw no bet are really good.  

Odds correct at time of writing from Bet365.
Statistics courtesy of

Friday, 11 September 2015

Weekend Preview Round 2

I said I was going to do weekly tips but the last few weeks have been hectic and I haven’t had chance to. My first round of tips were pretty successful with two of my three tips winning, I’ve gone for another three tips this weekend and hopefully they’ll all come in.

Charlton vs Rotherham: Charlton win @ Evens

Charlton have won all three of their home games this season (two in the league) and face a Rotherham side who have picked up just one point so far this season. Charlton lost their unbeaten record last time out away at Wolves and will see this as the prefect chance to bounce back.  Rotherham last won away in mid March and I can't see them doing that this weekend. I fancy Charlton to continue their good start and pick up another home win.

GFC Ajaccio vs Monaco: Monaco win @ 1.90

GFC Ajaccio have had a torrid start to life in Ligue 1, they haven’t scored a goal in their opening four games and have picked up just one point in the process. Despite losing Martial and Kurzawa in the transfer window I think Monaco should have more than enough quality to see off Ajaccio and get back to winning ways.

De Graafschap vs AZ Alkmaar: AZ win @ Evens

Much like GFC Ajaccio in France it’s fair to say De Graafschap have struggled in the Eredivisie so far this season, they are yet to pick up a point and have only managed to score once. AZ are also yet to pick up a win, having drawn two and lost two, despite a poor start they will still be hoping to challenge for a European spot this season. In order to do so these are the kind of games AZ must win but they will fancy their chances of getting all three points this weekend and kick starting their season.   

Friday, 7 August 2015

Weekend Preview Round 1

It's the weekend we've all been waiting for, the opening weekend of the Premier League, Football League and also Ligue 1 in France. This season I'm going to offer weekly tips and I've picked three games for this weekend, one from Ligue 1 and two from the Premier League. 

Nice vs Monaco: Monaco win @ 2.05

This is probably the most glamorous derby in the world, with two sides from the south of France meeting for their Ligue 1 opener. Monaco hammered Young Boys 7-1 on aggregate to reach the Champions League play offs where they’ll meet Valencia. Monaco have made some exciting signings and with a number of key players departing Lyon this summer they’ll fancy themselves as being PSG’s main rivals for the title. Monaco have won four of the last six meetings between the two including the same fixture last season. Having relied on a solid defence last season Monaco will look to be more expansive going forward this season, especially with the signings they’ve brought in.  I think Monaco will be dark horses this season and can push PSG all the way, they’ll need to start with a win and should do so on Saturday.

Arsenal vs West Ham: Arsenal to win to nil @ 1.95 

Arsenal have had a really impressive pre-season, winning all their games and conceding just one goal. Their performance in the Charity Shield has caused much optimism amongst Arsenal fans who feel they can offer a sterner challenge for the title this year. West Ham’s season started early because of their involvement in the Europa League, they lost on Thursday in Romania meaning they will not reach the group stage. West Ham fielded a youthful side on Thursday to have a full strength side for Sunday, there are issues up front with Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia both long term absentees. Arsenal have won the last six meetings between these two clubs and will be looking to get off to a winning start here. Given how strong Arsenal’s defence has looked and West Ham’s frailties up top I fancy Cech to keep a clean sheet on his debut too. (This is the same as Arsenal to win and BTTS: No, you might need to look for that instead!)

Newcastle vs Southampton: Over 2.5 goals @ 2.10 

 Newcastle look set to field a centre back pairing of Mike Williamson and Steven Taylor, which is calamitous to say the least. In pre-season the results haven’t been good for Steve McClaren and the defence has looked particularly shaky, but there are some positive going forward, most notably Wijnaldum looks like he should get a few goals. Southampton fielded a strong side in the Europa League on Thursday but won comfortably to advance to the next round. Southampton are a side who will score goals and seem to like doing so against Newcastle, scoring ten in their last three meetings. There have been at least three goals in four of the last six meetings between the two and with Newcastle’s defensive frailties I think we should see goals.

Statistics courtesy of
Odds correct at time of writing with Bet365

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Stoke Continuing to Evolve under Hughes

Stoke’s signing of Ibrahim Afellay was their eighth of the summer and Afellay is now the fourth player to swap the Nou Camp for the Potteries. It is testament to how far Stoke have come in recent years, a few years ago Stoke and Barcelona represented to polar opposites in football aesthetics but under Mark Hughes the two are less removed from one another.

Under Tony Pulis Stoke where optimised by Rory Delap’s long throws, they were a physical side, difficult to break down, strong from set pieces and favoured long balls. That is a reputation that has been difficult for Stoke to shake and whilst elements of the identity under their former manager still exist Mark Hughes has added other dimensions to their play.

That is most clearly observed from looking at how Stoke’s possession has changed over the last six seasons. We can see that in the last two seasons Stoke’s share of the ball has increased and in fact last season they actually averaged more possession than their opponents (with 50.4% of the ball per game). What is interesting is that this increase had begun under Pulis’ reign and has continued to rise at roughly the same rate. It could be argued that it is harder to continue to increase the share of possession, ie it is harder to go from having 30% to 35% than 40% to 45%.

Stoke have continued  to be a physical side under Hughes, shown by the fact that they continue to win over 50% of their aerial duels, a trait they established under Pulis. The values are around a similar level to the last two seasons Pulis was in charge for, with averages of 59 and 58.5% under Pulis and Hughes respectively.

Interestingly though Stoke have scored fewer goals from set pieces and have become much less reliant on them under Mark Hughes. Stoke have also scored more goals in each of Mark Hughes’ seasons at the helm, despite getting fewer from set pieces. This indicates Stoke’s shift towards becoming a side that plays on the front foot and offers more attacking intent.

Stoke continue to be strong at home, in each of their seasons in the Premier League the majority of their points have come from their games at home. Last season despite winning fewer points at home Stoke managed to win more away, and so still improved on their total in Mark Hughes’ debut season. Given that Stoke have been consistently winning the majority of their points from home games if they are to improve their points tally and league position they need to try to get more from away games and there’s signs from last season that they’re trying to do that.

Whilst Stoke fans will be forever grateful to Tony Pulis for leading them to promotion and securing their status as a Premier League team in order for them to move forward a change was necessary and Mark Hughes has provided that. The future at Stoke looks bright, whilst we shouldn’t expect to see Leo Messi gracing the Britannia with his presence any time soon don’t be surprised if Stoke challenge strongly in both cups this year and push for a Europa League place.

Statistics courtesy of

Friday, 24 July 2015

What should Liverpool expect from Milner?

Liverpool’s acquisition of James Milner on a free transfer is one that looks like a very good deal. Milner has vast experience, internationally, in the Premier League and also in Europe. His work rate is exemplary and throughout his career has shown he can play in almost any position.

For Milner the move makes sense, he wants to get more game time and specifically more time in the centre of the park. Milner is, at this time anyway, a shoe-in for the England squad for the Euros and he will be hoping he can show he deserves to be in the starting line-up.

It’s strange that City couldn’t make promises to give Milner more time, Fabian Delph has been signed as his replacement but whether he is an improvement is another question. Milner had his best goal scoring season since 2010/11 when he was at Aston Villa, as he scored five goals. He also provided seven assists, again his highest total since his move to City.  

Milner scored more goals than Nasri and Dzeko in the last season and provided as many assists as David Silva. Liverpool will be hoping he can replicate that kind of form at Anfield.  In fact Milner provided more assists than Lallana and Coutinho last season and with a consistent run in the side you’d expect Milner to surpass that total.

In many ways you know what you’ll get from James Milner, he’ll always put in the effort and he’s very consistent. He doesn’t catch the eye in the way that someone like Coutinho or Silva does but based on last season there’s evidence that Milner can provide Liverpool with much more that hard graft. Milner is someone who’s technical abilities are still underrated, I think there’s a tendency to overlook those qualities in his game.

A midfield of Jordan Henderson and James Milner will have plenty of energy and commitment but will be one that can also be a creative force and provide both chances and goals.   

Statistics courtesy of

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Can PSV regain their league title?

PSV won the Dutch league by seventeen points last season meaning they will feature in the Champions League this season. On their way to winning the league they managed 92 goals, 23 more than Ajax, the next highest scorers and conceded just 31, two more than Ajax. PSV’s attacking style won them countless admirers and was a large part in their success last season. However, winning the league in such style will draw the eyes of the top clubs in Europe and this transfer window has seen Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum depart for the Premier League.

Depay scored 22 of PSV’s goals last season, at just 21 years old the attacking midfielder is considered one of the young players in Europe and Manchester United fans will certainly be hoping that is the case. Depay is lightning quick, a strong dribbler and has a very good long shot on him, comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo will no doubt be made and if Depay goes on to be half the player Ronaldo is United will be very pleased.  

Wijnaldum was PSV’s captain last term and the loss of their leader could hit them hard, the 24 year old managed 14 goals last season and featured in 33 of the 34 games in the last Eredivisie campaign. Newcastle fans will no doubt be excited by the signing of a top player and one they can look to provide some much needed creativity from.

Those two departures mean PSV have lost two of their starting eleven and thirty four league goals as well. Despite recouping around £45 m from the two transfers PSV haven’t made any moves for replacements, if they are to hold on to their league title that is something they will need to do. One thing PSV can be glad of is that Luuk de Jong looks as though he will remain with them for next season.

De Jong, who had an ill fated loan spell at Newcastle eighteen months ago, looked much more at home in his native country, scoring 20 goals in the last campaign. Without further additions the onus for goal scoring will fall very much on his shoulders and should he pick up an injury PSV could really struggle.

Ajax will certainly be keeping an eye on the goings on at PSV and will be feeling a lot more optimistic about their chances of winning another league title with Depay and Wijnaldum both departing.  The Eredivisie will be lacking a bit of star quality without two of its leading lights but the league should be more competitive without them.    

Statistics courtesy of  

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Who is the better signing Cabaye or Wijnaldum?

Newcastle and Crystal Palace completed signings last week meaning that every club in the Premier League has now added to their squads. Newcastle and Palace will likely find themselves subject to comparisons throughout this coming season given that Alan Pardew left the former for the latter last season. Another reason is that Palace have now added former Newcastle fan favourite Yohan Cabaye from PSG for a fee of around £10m. I’m sure many Newcastle fans would have liked to see Cabaye rejoin them instead of their former manager, however the signing of Georginio Wijnaldum for £14.5m on Saturday is an excellent alternative, but who has got the better deal?

Cabaye is a real signal of intent for Palace and it’s surprising a bigger club didn’t move for him. It’s fair to say things didn’t work out for Cabaye in Paris, the 29 year old played just 967 minutes last season, scoring once and providing one assist. Cabaye’s move is likely fuelled by getting more game time ahead of the Euro’s next summer.

Wijnaldum on the other hand had no such problem, he captained title winning PSV last season and playing 2878 minutes, almost three times more than Cabaye. He provided 3 assists and scored 14 goals, all of which came from within the penalty area.

At 24, Wijnaldum is five years younger than Cabaye, so Newcastle will feel they have secured a player they can build a team around and one with his best years ahead of him. Palace fans will argue in favour of Cabaye’s experience and he is arguably at his peak. Experience, especially in the Premier League, is one thing that should count in favour of Cabaye, we have seen countless players take time to adjust to the Premier League but this should be no problem for Cabaye.

Both players can feature throughout midfield but are probably best deployed in the number ten role. In his time at Newcastle Cabaye proved adept at breaking up attacks, averaging 2.4 tackles and 2.4 interceptions per game the season before he moved to France. Whether this is something Wijnaldum will be able to replicate remains to be seen, in the World Cup we he was deployed in a deeper midfield role, so it is possible he could.

Athletically Wijnaldum has the advantage, he is a strong runner on the ball and a very good dribbler. Technically Cabaye probably just has the edge, his set piece delivery and general creativity have been sorely missed at Newcastle. Cabaye has an excellent passing range and is likely to be involved in building attacks and creating chances rather than finishing them off. Of his 17 goals at Newcastle 10 were from outside the box, that’s a stark contrast to all of Wijnaldum’s goals coming from inside the box.

For my money Cabaye’s capture is the better one, mainly because he has proven he can do it in the Premier League, and is one of the best signings of the transfer window so far. That’s not to say Wijnaldum is a poor acquisition, but a lot will depend on how he settles in England and whether or not Newcastle can add another striker and keep hold of their best players. Despite many similarities these are quite different players, both managers and sets of fans will be hoping they can add a creative force to take their side to the next level and there is certainly cause for hope in both cases.

Statistics courtesy of