Shrewd Bets in the Premier League and ElsewhereSun, 18 Dec 2016 00:15
"Serie A" (CC BY 2.0) by tpower1978
Manchester United to Make the Top 4
United’s and Mourinho’s struggles this season seem to be a continuation of the Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes travails that left fans so disappointed. Although there has been an improvement in the style of play, results have not been good enough to lift them into Champions League contention. Mourinho is seemingly happy with the performances and blaming the results on bad luck, and it’s possible he has a point. Stats from Whoscored.com reveal that United are strong at creating scoring chances, have an average of 16.4 shots per game and are controlling large portions of their games through possession. However, they are let down by their conversion rate of the chances created. Although finishing scoring chances is a skill, not luck, United can be said to have been unlucky with some of the goalkeeping performances from the opposition, particularly the man-of-the-match performances by Tom Heaton and Jack Butland. So expect players such as Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial to find their scoring boots and opposition goalkeepers to be easier pray from now on and United to make the top 4.
"LCFC lift the Premier League Trophy" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by boloveselvis
Leicester to Win the Champions League and Get Relegated
Last season's Leicester story was incredible, but now the usual suspects have returned to the summit of the Premier League and the fairytale is over - or is it? Leicester just suffered the heaviest defeat by an English side in Europe as Porto put a much-changed Foxes side to the sword recently with a 5-0 rout. Yet Claudio Ranieri’s side are already through to the last 16 with a first-place finish in Group G and although they could face the likes of Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the next round they have been flying in Europe. On the domestic front things are grim with heavy losses to the top teams and narrow defeats against those around the foot of the table. A relegation battle seems on the cards. Last year’s story was great, but could the sequel be ever better?
Liverpool to Always Concede and Win
Outright bets are great, but you need to wait till around the end of the season to collect. Having a consistent bet each week on something that generally always pays out can be very satisfying. Liverpool have been amazing to watch in an attacking sense, but manager Jurgen Klopp has thus far failed to create a defence that can control games and keep the opposition out. They have two dodgy keepers and a defence that seemed to have improved under Joel Matip, but looks suicidal at times. A few quid on Liverpool to keep winning and keep conceding should equate to a tidy sum at the end of the season.
Away from the Premier League
In other sports, look for Swiss tennis sensation Stan Wawrinka to win the Men's Australian Open. He’s beaten all of the Big 4 at some point in his career and already won the Australian, French and US Opens. With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the twilight of their careers and Novak Djokovic burned out, there is a spot on the podium for a new star in world tennis. A match between the Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl 51 is already assured according to some Cowboys fans, but although New England Patriots versus the Dallas Cowboys or the Seattle Seahawks is the bookies’ choice, this is a good outsider to net some serious cash.
Bet on Ireland to overcome England and win the Six Nations Grand Slam (Rugby Union). The Six Nations is all about momentum and with runouts at Scotland and Italy followed by home games against France and then England. That momentum this time could very well be with Ireland to upset the odds.
Elsewhere, look for Sansa Stark to rule Westeros and the post-Brexit United Kingdom to win the Eurovision Song Contest.