There were ten close matches in the opening weekend of this season’s Premier League, including a seven goal thriller at Arsenal and a late winner for 2015 champions Chelsea.
There are some great games to look forward to this weekend, including a North East derby and a clash between last season’s top two. Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
After four years of scrapping against relegation, the appointment of David Moyes as manager was designed to see Sunderland move into mid-table and to establish themselves as a decent top flight side.
The Moyes era at the Black Cats began with a slightly unlucky defeat to Manchester City last weekend, with substitute Paddy McNair handing City a win with an unfortunate late own goal. Sunderland play their first home match of the season on Sunday and it looks set to be a cracker, as they welcome North East neighbours Middlesbrough.
Aitor Karanka’s side secured a point against Stoke in their opening match and look to have a squad which could stay up this campaign. It’s early to judge the quality of either side, but with home advantage Sunderland look terrific value at 6/4 to secure three points this weekend.
There is an intriguing match in Saturday’s early kick-off as Stoke City host title favourites Manchester City.
City followed up their opening day win with a 5-0 thrashing of Steaua Bucharest in midweek and are just 4/6 to win. Stoke can be a frustrating team to back at times, but the 9/2 on them to get their first win of the season will tempt many.
It took Burnley until November to secure a Premier League win last time they were in the top flight and the Clarets face a tough match this weekend against free-scoring Liverpool.
Sean Dyche’s team went down 1-0 at home to Swansea in their opening match; a disappointing result considering it was a fixture they perhaps should have won. Liverpool looked excellent in putting four past Arsenal at the Emirates and are 4/7 to make it six points out of six.
Swansea City and Hull City were both unfancied winners on the opening day of the season and they meet at the Liberty Stadium. Despite their win over the champions, Hull’s problems have not gone away in the last seven days and the home side should be backed at 5/6. Tottenham are just 4/9 to beat Crystal Palace at White Hart Lane while Watford played well last week and are a standout 7/2 to beat Chelsea at Vicarage Road.
West Bromwich Albion began their campaign with a very Tony Pulis-esque 1-0 win at Palace and they welcome Everton to the Hawthorns on Saturday. This is a tough one to call but the Baggies are tough to beat and the 19/10 on a home win looks decent value.
Saturday’s late kick-off features last season’s top two, both of whom started the season with a disappointing defeat. Leicester City face Arsenal at the King Power Stadium and considering the visitors’ defensive woes this could be a great opportunity for the Foxes to grab a win. Claudio Ranieri’s side are 19/10 with Arsenal available at 7/5.
There’s a rare Friday night fixture this weekend and it sees Manchester United welcome Southampton to Old Trafford in Jose Mourinho’s first home league match.
United top the table after the opening weekend thanks to their comfortable 3-1 win at Bournemouth. Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened his league account with an excellent strike and with world record signing Paul Pogba available, it could be an attacking side that takes to the field on Friday night.
Southampton were held by Watford in Claude Puel’s first match in charge and may need to add to their ranks, particularly up-front where they look a little short of goals. Mourinho has enjoyed a superb home record at all of his clubs and so it’s just 4/9 that United make it two wins out of two.
West Ham United start their league era at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday as they welcome bottom of the table Bournemouth. Both teams lost their opening fixture last weekend and with the Hammers in midweek Europa League action there could be some value in the Cherries at 7/2.
The 25th Premier League gets under way this weekend and there are ten intriguing fixtures to look forward to.
The Manchester sides are the favourites for the title and have winnable fixtures while Arsenal take on Liverpool in the weekend’s big match. Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
The Premier League season begins at the KCOM Stadium this Saturday lunchtime as new boys Hull City take on the champions Leicester City.
It’s been a tough summer for the Tigers who lost their manager Steve Bruce last month after the former Manchester United defender become frustrated with the lack of investment at the club. With a number of the players having also departed, Mike Phelan will struggle to put out a full senior side on Saturday lunchtime and so the smart call has to be to back the champions to get their season off to a winning start.
The Foxes were excellent in last weekend’s Community Shield and really should have got something out of the match. Claudio Ranieri has made some shrewd additions to his squad and Leicester should have too much for Hull at an excellent price of evens.
The favourites for this season’s Premier League title look to have a winnable opening fixture and the Pep Guardiola era at Manchester City begins with a home tie against Sunderland.
Having spent heavily in the summer much is expected from City this season and they face a Sunderland team who will be looking to avoid a fourth successive relegation battle. The home side should win this at 2/9.
Two of the European contenders meet at Goodison Park on Saturday as Everton meet Tottenham.
Ronald Koeman is the new man in charge of the Toffees who are likely to improve their squad in the coming weeks after the departure of John Stones. Spurs have been quiet over the summer but have added Vincent Wanyama and Dutch striker Vincent Janssen to their squad.
This could be an interesting match and the home side are 9/5 to win.
The last time Burnley were in the Premier League they had to wait until November for their first win of the season. They could get up and running much sooner this time around as they face Swansea City at Turf Moor.
Neither club has spent heavily in the summer and both are expected to spend most of the season in the bottom half of the table. Sean Dyche has done a great job at the Clarets and they look great value at 13/8.
Stoke City look terrific value at 5/2 to win at promoted Middlesbrough while Southampton should beat Watford at St Mary’s.
Crystal Palace started last season really well and have a squad that should be able to secure a comfortable mid-table finish. They face West Bromwich Albion at Selhurst Park and are 10/11 to win.
After three disappointing campaigns, much is expected of Manchester United this season under new boss Jose Mourinho. The club have broken the world transfer record this week to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus and he joins big-name signings Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan at Old Trafford.
United head to Bournemouth in Sunday’s early kick-off where they lost 2-1 last season. Eddie Howe has spent wisely this summer and it will be a tough job to improve on last season’s finish. United are 8/11 to win and the home side are 4/1.
There’s a huge fixture at the Emirates on Sunday as Arsenal take on Liverpool. Arsenal can often be guilty of starting the season slowly – they have lost to Aston Villa and West Ham on the opening day in the last three years – and so the visitors look decent value at 2/1.
After last season, the only way is up for Chelsea and Antonio Conte’s side take on West Ham United in Monday evening’s match.
Both sides have spent heavily over the summer and this could be a really entertaining match. Chelsea are 8/13 to win with the Hammers available at 9/2.
Two of the world’s best managers go head-to-head in this year’s Premier League at clubs just a few miles apart. Pep Guardiola is the new man at Manchester City and City are the 21/10 favourites to win the title in the Spaniard’s first season.
With plenty of money already spent and an almost bottomless war chest for new signings, City are worthy favourites. There might be a question mark about where the goals would come from in the event of an injury to Sergio Aguero, but City fans should expect a decent campaign both domestically and in Europe.
Jose Mourinho is a serial winner and his Manchester United side are the 7/2 second favourites to win the title for the first time since 2013. United have also spent heavily, with the Portuguese manager strengthening the spine of the team with the arrival of Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba.
After a couple of seasons of dull underperformance it might be too soon for Mourinho to transform United into a title-winning side and so a better bet might be Chelsea at 13/2. New boss Antonio Conte has an excellent managerial record and he inherits most of the squad that cruised to the title two seasons ago.
With the additions of Michy Batshuayi and N’Golo Kante Chelsea look like a stronger side than last season and look a decent each-way bet. London rivals Arsenal were last season’s runners-up and are 6/1 to win the league in what could be Arsene Wenger’s last season at the club.
Tottenham were the closest challengers to Leicester City last season but there is a feeling that Spurs may have stood still while their rivals have all improved. Spurs are 10/1 while the Foxes are 33/1 to retain their title.
Can Jurgen Klopp lead his Liverpool side to their first title in 27 years? The German has spent heavily in the summer and with a full pre-season behind them the Reds look decent value at 11/10 to secure a top four finish this season.
The promoted clubs are often the favourites to make an immediate return to the Championship but after a difficult summer it’s hard to see Hull City retaining their top flight status. Manager Steve Bruce left the club after a lack of investment and the club have a threadbare squad going into the first couple of weeks of the campaign.
Even with Bruce at the helm and significant investment in the squad the Tigers would be one of the relegation favourites and with neither being the case, the 4/6 on City being relegated looks too good to ignore.
Burnley were relegated after just one season last time they reached the Premier League and they are another club that hasn’t invested heavily during the summer. Sean Dyche is a great manager and they won’t be a pushover but the 10/11 on the Clarets to make an immediate return to the Championship looks tempting.
Middlesbrough have attracted some quality signings in the summer and could be the one promoted team to survive. That could mean trouble for Watford who have yet another new manager and could suffer from ‘second season syndrome’ having finished in mid-table last season. Ex-Inter Milan and Napoli boss Walter Mazzari is the new boss at Vicarage Road but the Hornets look value at 21/10 to go down.
Swansea City flirted with relegation for the first half of last season before Francesco Guidolin came in to steady the ship but the Swans could struggle this season and are 7/2 to finish in the bottom three. Sunderland have been flirting with the drop for a few years now and are 9/4 to go down while there will be a few takers on Leicester City to follow up their fairytale league title by coming down to earth with a large bump. The champions are 14/1 to go down.
Despite playing around a thousand less minutes than his two English rivals last season, Sergio Aguero finished just one goal behind Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy in the top goalscorer table.
If he can stay fit than Aguero should be there or thereabouts this campaign and he is the 7/2 favourite.
With each-way bets paying out on the top 6, it’s worth looking at some of the candidates at longer odds. Last season you’d have benefited from a payout on Lukaku, Mahrez and Giroud if you’d backed them each-way and so there is value in some of the longer priced forwards.
Daniel Sturridge has suffered with injury problems over recent seasons but if the England forward stays fit he could easily bag 20 goals for Liverpool at tasty odds of 25/1. Charlie Austin is likely to be the focal point of Southampton’s attack after the departure of Graziano Pelle and looks good value at 50/1 while if Christian Benteke signs for another Premier League outfit he could suddenly be a big price at 33/1.
We’ve all heard the likes of Christiano Ronaldo, Pelé and Sir Bobby Charlton – who are considered some of the greatest players in footballing history, but what if you’ve got some hidden talent in the form of your own pampered pet pooch?
With an estimated 8.5 million, 30 million and 42.5 million owned in the United Kingdom, United States and Brazil, it’s clear we’re a serious bunch of dog lovers; meaning you could have the next four-legged football star right under your nose.
Thanks to wonderful world of the internet, many of that undiscovered canine talent has been unearthed and shared for our eyes to see. From keepie uppies to headers and even saving goals, it seems there’s no limits to the intelligence of our delightful doggies. Who knows, perhaps we could have a dog team in time for Euro 2016?
Check out some of the most amazing hounds that have mastered ball play beyond a mere dribble.
Purin the Super Beagle All the way from Japan, Purin the Super Beagle is certainly a contender to knock Iker Casillas off his goalkeeping throne. Sporting a fabulous football shirt, Purin impressively manages to save all the shots her owner takes at the goal, she even catches some of the balls in per paws. Recently, Purin also broke the Guinness World Record for the most balls caught by a dog’s paws in one minute – reaching a whopping total of fourteen! She’s got her own Facebook page too with over 9,000 likes.
Irie and Julio Brazilian duo Julio Precioso and his dog Irie have taken Sydney’s Bondi Beach by a storm with their epic paired passing skills. Irie – a Staffordshire Terrier/Australian Kelpie cross was rescued seven years ago as a puppy by Julio from a dog pound where she was facing certain death. Her talent of hitting the ball back without it falling on the floor has earned her over a million views on the original footage and a hoard fans along the beach. Apparently they can last for up to five minutes without dropping the ball.
Man vs Dog Street performer Séan Garnier is notoriously known for his freestyle football abilities, but even he was blown away by four-legged Chien’s energetic and highly competitive skills. Whist performing in London, Séan and Chien seemed to engage in a football-off; depicting man against his best friend. Much to his surprise, Chein the dog actually managed to retrieve the ball from Séan several times. It was certainly a crowd pleaser, for the video has managed to receive a phenomenal eleven million views.
"Alfie Ronaldog" On me ‘ead son. Nicknamed ‘Ronaldog’, Alfie, who was recently rehomed by Dogs Trust with the Simpkins family from Cheltenham could easily play for many positions in a team. His repertoire ranges from the basic dribble to the more advanced keepie uppies and headers; with his owner Pete Simpkins stating: “He’s incredible, especially as we’ve never trained him. It’s all natural skill”. Learn more about the one and only Ronaldog here.
So, who is your favourite? Who do you think has a chance at the big leagues? Or, perhaps you have a waggy companion yourself that could give these a run for their money.
This summer sees the 15th European Championships and 24 teams will head to France in an extended tournament. From 10 June to 10 July there will be 51 matches to look forward to, and our preview looks at the main Euro 2016 betting markets.
This year’s tournament favourites are France and while they are a talented side, the fact that they are hosts seems to have shortened the odds beyond what might be expected. Home advantage is not a huge factor at this tournament, with only one home nation reaching the final since 1968 (coincidentally, that was also France). The 3/1 looks very short.
World champions Germany look to have a decent draw and the last eight should be a minimum requirement. Their recent form has been mixed but they boast a talented squad and look decent value at 4/1. Spain are 5/1 to win their third consecutive European Championships while England are fourth favourites at 8/1.
The tournament looks as close as ever and so I have a real feeling a team may emerge from the pack, just as Greece did in 2004 and the Czech Republic did twenty years ago. I fancy Austria to make the knockout stages and they could be an interesting pick at 40/1 while Turkey look hugely underpriced at 75/1.
The opening matches of a major tournament can be cagey and nervous affairs and the favourites are often overpriced in the betting. Romania have a terrific defensive record and the 4/1 available on them drawing with France in the opening match looks great value, as does the 5/1 on Albania to upset Switzerland.
The Czech Republic are an enormous 13/2 to beat Spain in Toulouse while Ireland look well priced at 2/1 to beat Sweden which, in a tough group, could be a crucial win.
Italy look absolutely terrific value at 2/1 to beat Belgium while Slovakia are a very underrated side and represent good value at 19/10 to beat Wales.
Top Goalscorer betting
With goals coming from all over the pitch these days, the top goalscorer market is wide open this year. It’s worth also remembering that it may not take a hatful of goals for a decent each-way payout in this market, considering that the top scorers at Euro 2012 scored just three apiece.
Picking an attacking player from the side you expect to win the tournament is always a decent place to start, and so it’s no surprise that Olivier Giroud is one of the favourites this year. The Arsenal striker has 17 goals in 49 internationals including a brace in their most recent friendly win. Antoine Griezmann is a 9/1 chance but it could pay to consider the talented youngster Kingsley Coman.
The Bayern Munich star is just 19 but has already scored a senior goal for France and could become one of the players of the tournament. A couple of goals could grab an each-way payout at 100/1.
Thomas Muller averages just under a goal every other game for Germany and is an 8/1 chance while Portugal look to have one of the more straightforward groups and Cristiano Ronaldo could grab a few goals at 13/2.
Croatia will expect to qualify for the knockout stages this summer and so it could pay to back their big striker Mario Mandzukic. The Juventus striker has 24 international goals and was the joint-leading scorer at the 2012 tournament with three goals. The 33/1 looks good value.
Manchester City’s impeccable start to the season came to an unexpected end last week as they conceded their first goals of the campaign in a 2-1 home defeat to West Ham. The two Manchester clubs lead the way after United’s win at Southampton while the two North East clubs are still without a win and prop up the table.
Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
Hard to beat and winning by the odd goal has long been the Tony Pulis way and his West Bromwich Albion side climbed to mid table last weekend with a win at Midlands rivals Aston Villa. With Saido Berahino seemingly reintegrated into the set-up it should be a comfortable season for Baggies fans and they can grab another three points on Monday night when they welcome Everton.
The Toffees have lost just once this season and are unbeaten away from home in all competitions. It’s been a bright start to the season for Roberto Martinez’s men but I fancy West Brom to win this in front of their home faithful at a standout 2/1.
Manchester City‘s 100% record fell last week and they face a tricky away tie this Saturday as they travel to Tottenham in the early kick-off. Spurs have kick-started their season with a couple of wins and there will be plenty of interest in the 3/1 about the home side. City are 10/11 to win.
West Ham United ended City’s unbeaten run last weekend, climbing to third in the Premier League table as a consequence. Slaven Bilic’s side have won at the Emirates, the Etihad and Anfield this season and if they can start to replicate that form at home they could be set for a great season.
The Hammers welcome Norwich City this weekend and look terrific value at 6/5 to continue their excellent start.
Manchester United should beat struggling Sunderland at 1/4 while Chelsea ought to see off struggling Newcastle United at 4/6 in Saturday’s teatime kick-off. Liverpool are desperately in need of a win and are 4/9 to beat Aston Villa at Anfield.
Leicester City‘s impressive start to the season continued with a hard earned draw at Stoke last time out but the Foxes face a real test of their credentials this Saturday as they welcome Arsenal. A win for the home side would leave them five points ahead of the Gunners in the table and they look terrific value at 3/1. Arsenal are just 5/6 to win.
There’s an attractive looking fixture on the South Coast as Southampton meet Swansea City. Both teams have aspirations of European qualification and this could be an entertaining draw at 12/5. Stoke City sit in the bottom three after a poor start but can get their season up and running with a win over Bournemouth at 13/8.
There’s just one match on Sunday this week and it sees Watford take on Crystal Palace. Promoted Watford have made a very solid start to their Premier League season and come into this fixture sitting 10th in the table after two successive wins. They have been pretty strong defensively, conceding fewer goals than Liverpool and Southampton – and in Odion Ighalo they look as if they have a real goal threat.
Palace have been inconsistent this season so far – three wins and three defeats – and this is the sort of match the Eagles need to win if they are going to push on for a top 10 finish. The visitors are 15/8 but I fancy the home side to win again at 6/4.
Five matches, five wins and no goals conceded. Manchester City fans could barely have wished for a better start to the Premier League season although their European challenge has already faltered with defeat to Juventus in midweek.
Manuel Pelligrini’s side can put that defeat behind them and record another win this weekend while there’s a big London derby as Chelsea face Arsenal.
Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
At the start of the season there were many people that believed Stoke City would be challenging for a European place. Some exciting arrivals at the Britannia Stadium have raised expectations but things haven’t quite gone to plan for Mark Hughes’ side yet this campaign.
The Potters are one of three teams yet to win this season but they can bag their first three points this weekend as they welcome Leicester City.
Leicester sit second after their excellent comeback last Sunday and are the league’s joint highest goalscorers. Unbeaten this season, the Foxes arrive in excellent form but I think that Stoke will get their season up and running sooner or later and look good value to win at 7/5.
Chelsea sit 17th in the early season table and face another tricky match this weekend as they welcome London rivals Arsenal in Saturday’s early kick-off. Arsene Wenger finally got the better of Jose Mourinho in this season’s Community Shield and the Gunners will believe it is a good time to play their title rivals considering Chelsea’s poor form.
Chelsea put six past Arsenal in this fixture in 2014 but that looks unlikely this Saturday. The home side are 7/5 and you can back Arsenal at 19/10.
Aston Villa haven’t won since the opening day of the season and welcome Midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion this weekend. Villa looked comfortable for the first 70 minutes against Leicester last time out before contriving to lose the match while West Brom have been hard to beat but low scorers. The 0-0 is available at 13/2.
Sunderland look a huge price at 9/2 to get their first three points of the season as they travel to Bournemouth while their North East rivals Newcastle United can register their first win of the season against Watford at 13/10.
Manchester City can make it six wins out of six with a victory over West Ham United at 1/4 while in-form Everton look a great price at 21/10 to beat Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.
Could Crystal Palace supplant Tottenham as London’s third club this season? Their initial form suggests that they can and the pair meet at White Hart Lane in Sunday’s early kick-off.
Palace were unlucky to lose to table-topping Manchester City last weekend while Spurs were fortunate to nick a 1-0 win at Sunderland. The home side are 19/20 favourites but there will be a lot of backers for Alan Pardew’s side at 14/5.
It’s been a mediocre start to the season for Liverpool and manager Brendan Rodgers is the 6/4 favourite in the Premier League ‘sack race’ market. Having lost their last two league matches the Reds can steady the ship this weekend as they welcome Norwich City to Anfield.
The Canaries were comfortably beaten at Southampton in their last away match and Liverpool should win this at 8/13.
Sunday’s late kick-off sees Southampton face Manchester United. Both teams have struggled to find their best form this season and United were dealt a double blow in midweek when they were beaten by PSV and lost ex-Saints full back Luke Shaw to long term injury.
It could be an entertaining match at St Mary’s and the home side are 2/1 to win.
The Premier League is back and there were plenty of talking points after the first games of the new season. Arsenal and Chelsea’s title challenge faltered in the starting blocks while there were surprisingly good results for the likes of West Ham, Leicester and Watford.
Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
You’d struggle to find anyone other than a die-hard West Ham United fan who put big money on their side winning at Arsenal last Sunday. Just a few days after a limp exit from the Europa League, many pundits expected the Hammers to be on the receiving end of a big defeat at the Emirates but Slaven Bilic’s side capitalised on two Petr Cech errors to win 2-0.
West Ham have the opportunity to capitalise on the win on Saturday when they welcome Leicester City. Leicester were well worth their 4-2 win at the weekend and it was a positive result for another team that many thought will struggle.
However, Leicester’s win was against Sunderland – a team who ‘scared’ their manager with their performance – and I still expect the Foxes to struggle this season. With home advantage West Ham look terrific value to make it two wins from two at 13/10.
Could this be the season that Stoke City make a sustained European challenge? With the signing of Xherdan Shaqiri, Stoke now boast five Champions League winners in their ranks and if Mark Hughes can find the right blend it could be an exciting season in the Potteries.
Stoke travel to Tottenham on Saturday, a side who looked far from Champions League challengers in their defeat to a very ordinary Manchester United side last Saturday. Stoke are an outstanding price of 4/1 to win at White Hart Lane.
Swansea City got their season off to a terrific start with a draw at Chelsea and they look excellent value at 10/11 to register their first win of the season at the Liberty Stadium with a win over Newcastle United. On the evidence of their first match Everton could be in for a tough season and Southampton can beat the Toffees at 10/11 while West Bromwich Albion look overpriced at 2/1 to beat promoted Watford at Vicarage Road.
Sunderland will need to pick up as many points as possible from the teams around them and they can start this Saturday with the visit of Norwich City. Dick Advocaat’s side were awful at Leicester and are 13/8 to win at the Stadium of Light while Norwich are 2/1 to record their first win.
Policing issues mean that there is an unusual Friday night kick-off in the Premier League this week as Aston Villa welcome Manchester United. Both sides started the season with a 1-0 win at the weekend although Louis van Gaal’s side will struggle to play worse than they did last weekend.
The home side are 4/1 to win but United have a great record at Villa Park and should outclass their opponents at 4/6.
The first big match of the season is at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday as Manchester City take on Chelsea. After a comfortable win at West Brom it could be a great time for City to face the champions who will be without their first choice goalkeeper.
Manuel Pelligrini’s side look excellent value at 23/20 to inflict an early season defeat on the Blues.
Arsenal will be looking to bounce back from an opening day defeat but they face a tricky away tie at Crystal Palace. Alan Pardew’s side won at Norwich last weekend and look terrific value at 7/2 to capitalise on the Gunners’ poor start and make it six points out of six.
Promoted Bournemouth face a daunting task in their second match in the top flight as they head to Anfield on Monday to face Liverpool. It would be a fairytale result if the Cherries could get something from the match but Liverpool should be too good at 4/9.
As ever, picking a winner of the Championship is a perilous affair with at least two thirds of the teams boasting genuine promotion credentials.
Middlesbrough lost last season’s play-off final and have been gradually improving under manager Aitor Karanka. Replacing the goals of Patrick Bamford could be crucial to their chances although the £5.5 million signing of Stewart Downing is a statement of intent. Boro are 6/1 to win the title, as are Derby County who, for long periods of last season, looked to be on their way back to the top flight.
A late season collapse saw the Rams finish outside the play-offs but new boss Paul Clement comes with a big reputation and there have been a number of high quality signings. Tom Ince, Chris Baird, Jason Shackell, Andreas Weimann and Darren Bent have all arrived and this could well be the year that County finally return to the top flight.
There are few better managers at this level than Mick McCarthy and so Ipswich Town look good value at 13/2 to be promoted. Their recent progress resulted in a play-off appearance last season where they were beaten by local rivals Norwich but I fancy the Tractor Boys to make a sustained top six challenge this campaign.
If Brentford‘s owners can replicate their success in Denmark then it could be a great season. Using analytics the management team guided unfashionable Midtjylland to their first Danish Superliga title and if their methods work as well in England the Bees could be great value at 7/2 to go up.
Considering their budget is, according to the chairman, “five times more than anyone else in League One” it’s perhaps no surprise that Wigan Athletic are the 6/1 second favourites to win the title. Having graced the Premier League just three years ago it’s been a dramatic fall for the Latics and Gary Caldwell is the man charged with stopping the decline.
With a large turnover of players and some poor pre-season results it could be a harder season than expected for Wigan and fans of Sheffield United can attest to how tough a league it is. The Blades are the 9/2 favourites to win the title and new boss Nigel Adkins’ CV includes three promotions during his stints with Scunthorpe and Southampton. Billy Sharp and Connor Salmon could fire United to promotion this season.
Swindon Town were last season’s beaten play-off finalists and could go well at 20/1 while Keith Hill guided Rochdale to their highest ever league finish last season and look absolutely terrific value at 17/2 to be promoted, perhaps through the play-offs.
The points difference between the top and bottom of League Two was the smallest of all the divisions last season and so it is the most volatile and difficult division to predict.
Portsmouth could end their stay in the bottom tier under the stewardship of the experienced Paul Cook although the former Chesterfield boss has warned his nine new signings will need time to gel. Luton Town finished outside the play-offs last season after an end of season wobble but should go well again while Leyton Orient‘s relegation was a surprise and the Os could bounce straight back at the first attempt.
Northampton and Notts County are two yo-yo sides that seem to be often too good for League Two but never quite good enough for League One. Ricardo Moniz is the new man in charge at Meadow Lane and his signings are a cosmopolitan mix of foreigners while Chris Wilder’s Northampton look good value at 4/1 to be promoted.
Yeovil and Plymouth could offer a strong South West challenge whilst if you’re looking for a relegation bet you could do worse than consider Mansfield at 5/1 who struggled to a 21st place finish last season.
It looks like being another four horse race for this season’s Premier League title and it’s no surprise that the reigning champions are this year’s 13/8 favourites.
Chelsea were comfortably the best and most consistent team in the league last season and despite a lack of high profile arrivals this summer they are clear favourites again. Jose Mourinho is clearly happy with the quality of his squad although the Blues could run into trouble if Diego Costa were to miss a period of the season through injury. Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao are the back-up strikers and the question mark would be about whether either can score enough goals in Costa’s absence to propel Chelsea to the title.
Manchester City were Chelsea’s nearest challengers last season but it could be a year of transition for the 2014 champions. With Manuel Pelligrini essentially a lame duck and the defence showing signs of creaking it could be a tough season, although the arrival of Raheem Sterling improves the club’s attacking options.
Could this be the season that Arsenal finally make a sustained title challenge? The signs are good after an FA Cup and Community Shield win and the arrival of Petr Cech could be crucial. Arsene Wenger has plenty of attacking options and the 4/1 on the Gunners to win their first title since 2004 will tempt many.
Louis van Gaal steadied the Manchester United ship in his first season and his job is now to turn his side into genuine title contenders. The Dutchman has added quality to his squad in the form of Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin but United still look short of a ball playing centre half and a world-class striker.
It looks like it could be a make or break season for Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool. After their title challenge in 2014 they finished sixth last time out, 25 points behind the champions. The new additions to the squad look promising but a poor start could see the end of the Irishman’s reign on Merseyside and the Reds are just 2/9 to finish outside the top four.
Tottenham finished above Liverpool last season but Mauricio Pochettino has work to do to match their fifth place finish. His side conceded more goals than relegated Hull City last time out and there have been more departures from White Hart Lane than arrivals.
Spurs are 4/7 for a top 6 finish but with excellent clubs behind them it could be a difficult year.
After two consecutive 9th place finishes could this be the season that Stoke City grab a Europa League spot? Gone are the days of long balls and log throws and two of the Potters’ summer arrivals are from European champions Barcelona.
Mark Hughes has done a terrific job at the Britannia and if they can manage to score enough goals (only Mame Biram Diouf got into double figures last season) they could continue their improvement and they are 11/1 for a top 6 finish.
Southampton and Swansea City are also likely to be among the European chasing pack while if Crystal Palace can replicate their form from the second half of last season they could also be in the mix.
As ever, the promoted sides are amongst the favourites for the drop and it’s no surprise that Watford are 4/5 to go down. In their two previous seasons in the Premier League the Hornets have won a total of 11 matches and finished rock bottom on both occasions although they look better prepared this time.
Quique Flores’ side do have a sprinkling of quality although it looks likely to be a tough season. The same can be said for Norwich City who bounced back after just one season in the Championship under young boss Alex Neil. Scoring enough goals could be the problem for the Canaries who are evens to go down.
Leicester City performed a miracle escape last season although May’s optimism soon evaporated with the departure of manager Nigel Pearson and the arrival of the much-travelled Claudio Ranieri as his replacement. I actually think the Foxes could really struggle this season and the 3/1 on them slipping back into the Championship looks excellent value.
Aston Villa have flirted with relegation for three seasons and the departure of Christian Benteke leaves Tim Sherwood’s side frighteningly short of goals. It could be another relegation scrap for Villa who are 3/1 to go down, while Sunderland may need a third consecutive ‘great escape’ to remain in the top flight.
It is the sixth season since UEFA rebranded the UEFA Cup to the Europa League. While there have been long conversations between Spurs and Liverpool fans about whether qualifying for the competition is a good idea, the prize for either Sevilla or Dnipro this Wednesday night is a place in next season’s Champions League.
The Spanish team are looking to retain the trophy as they did in 2007 but will face tough competition from the Ukrainian outfit who will take their place in the 2015/16 Champions League with a win in Warsaw. Keep reading for our 2015 Europa League Final preview.
With half an hour of the La Liga season to go last weekend, it looked as if Sevilla would secure their place in next season’s Champions League by finishing fourth in their domestic league. Only a very late comeback from Valencia denied them a top four finish but all that will be immaterial if they can win Europe’s second-tier competition for the fourth time in ten seasons and benefit from UEFA’s new reward for the competition winners.
While the competition may be much derided, Sevilla’s captain is looking forward to his fourth Europa League final in six years. Ex-Arsenal striker Jose Antonio Reyes has won three times – with Atletico Madrid and Sevilla – and the 31 year old says “It is not every day you reach a European final. We should feel proud to be where we are.”
It has certainly been an impressive run from Unai Emery’s side who have beaten the likes of Feyenoord, Borussia Monchengladbach, Villareal and Zenit St Petersburg on their way to Warsaw. In the semi-final they overcame Fiorentina, comfortably beating Italy’s fifth best side 5-0 on aggregate.
Los Rojiblancos have lost just one of their last 21 games in all competitions and are just 3/5 to retain their trophy.
Back in 2009, Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk became the last team to win this tournament in its old guise as the UEFA Cup. Dnipro are rank outsiders to emulate their more famous compatriots this week but have proved this season that they are capable of beating more esteemed rivals.
Sitting third in their domestic league, few had heard of the team from Dnipropetrovsk before this season and reaching this final is by some distance their most impressive achievement. They haven’t actually won a trophy since lifting the Soviet Cup in 1989 and they qualified for the Europa League on account of finishing second in the Ukrainian league, their best finish in over twenty years.
After scraping qualification from their group – they ended up with just 7 points from 6 matches – their road to the final has been impressive. They beat Olympiacos, Club Brugge and the Dutch champions Ajax on their way to the semi-finals where they caused a huge upset by eliminating Rafa Benitez’s Napoli side 2-1 on aggregate, Yevhen Seleznyov scoring the winner in the home leg.
Another Premier League season comes to a close this Sunday and with most of the major issues resolved the one remaining questions is who will join QPR and Burnley in being relegated to the Championship.
Keep reading for our preview of all this weekend’s action.
Premier League bets of the weekend
The big match of the day is at the KC Stadium where only a win will be good enough to save Hull City‘s Premier League status. Steve Bruce’s side need three points to stay up and even then will be relying on results elsewhere to preserve their top flight status for another season.
They face a difficult task as the visitors are Manchester United. With Arsenal having won in midweek Louis van Gaal’s side are guaranteed to finish fourth and so there’s nothing left for them to play for. Add in the fact that they have only taken four points from the last five games and many people will be tempted to back the home side at 11/5.
However, Hull are third bottom for a reason and have been pretty poor in recent weeks. A United reserve side went to Hull on the final day of the 2008/9 season and won and van Gaal will send a stronger side this time around. The 6/5 on an away win looks too good to ignore.
The battle to avoid the drop
A win for Hull on Sunday would leave Newcastle United in danger of the drop. The Magpies can preserve their top flight status irrespective of results elsewhere, however, if they can overcome West Ham United at St James Park.
With one point from the last 30 available it’s been a terrible couple of months for the home side. It promises to be a tense afternoon on Tyneside with fans planning to ‘occupy’ the pitch at the final whistle irrespective of the outcome.
West Ham have long been safe and Sam Allardyce seems to have found it hard to motivate his team for the last three months of the season. Still, the manager would like to go out with a win as well as getting one over on his former side. If you bet with your head and not your heart the 7/2 on an away win looks the value.
All Sunday’s other matches
Sunderland guaranteed their survival with their draw at Arsenal on Wednesday which is probably just as well as they go to champions Chelsea. We tipped the Blues to come a cropper at West Brom last week but it should be a party atmosphere at Stamford Bridge and I fully expect the home side to win at 1/3.
Leicester City‘s escape has been nothing short of miraculous and Nigel Pearson’s side could finish the season in the lofty position of 14th if they can conclude their terrific run with another home win. Their opponents are QPR who are already relegated and I fancy the Foxes to pick up another three points at 4/7. Aston Villa are also safe and I expect them to bounce back from their thrashing at St Marys last week with a win over Burnley at 11/10.
Manchester City will finish in second place if they beat Southampton at 1/2 while Arsenal can end their season on a high ahead of the FA Cup Final with a win over West Bromwich Albion at 4/11.
At any other time of the season – and with something to play for – the remaining three fixtures look like interesting games. Stoke City look terrific value at 5/2 to see off struggling Liverpool in Steven Gerrard’s last game for the Reds while Crystal Palace could end the season in the top ten if they can beat Swansea City at Selhurst Park at 5/4 and other results go their way.
Everton have struggled this season but can end on a high and they are 7/5 to beat Tottenham at Goodison Park.