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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Football Action for 30 Jan 2007

( All odds taken from Ladbrokes )

West Ham v Liverpool
Is Alan Curbishley the right man to keep West Ham up? Is Nigel Quashie really the answer to a midfield lacking fight? Is Lucas Neill worth a reported £70k a week?

West Ham fans will be hoping these questions are answered sooner rather than later but the Hammers are priced at 8/1 (9.00) to snatch a 1-0 win against Liverpool .. which tells you what the bookies think !!

Portsmouth vs Boro
Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth (5/6 or 1.83) continue to punch above their weight this season and currently sit in sixth position in the Premiership.

Pompey take on Middlesbrough at Fratton Park on Tuesday and are 7/1 ( 8.00) to win 2-1.

FA Cup Favourites
So Manchester Utd will face Premiership opposition once again. The Red Devils have drawn Reading in the fifth round of the FA Cup and, as a result, they are now 5/2 (3.50) to go all the way.

However, Chelsea, who meet Blackpool or Norwich in the 5th round are the 2/1 ( 3.00) shortest favourites.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Paddy Power - Worth a look !!

Just scanning over the internet today looking for the days betting blog when I came across this entry at the Sports Bookie Blog.

They've taken a look at all the CASH BACK offers on at Paddy Power and found that the mad Irish bookie does actually pay out quite often.

Did you know about their "Necks on the Line” offer on the horses?
If your horse finishes second and is only beaten by up to and including a neck in a specific race then Paddy’ll refund your losing stake.

Apparently according to the LabRats he's paid out of 46 different occasions in the last six months on the nags.

I know nothing about horses - other than I've noticed that the fastest horses all have a leg in each corner - but that seems like some pretty good insurance - and well checking on if you're regularly punting on the races.

What I did know was their regular football bets ... and I see that they're offering a cash back offer on Wednesday night if Julio Baptista scores the last goal against Spurs (assuming he gets over a groin injury).

All-in-all We've found PaddyPower a pretty good bookie (you can find our detailed Paddy Power review here on the main site) and they're in my top 10 bookmakers.

A recommended bookmaker if you're looking for a fair site - that rewards loyal punters again and again and again.


Here is a beer link to Paddy Power Bookmakers that gives you £25 in free bets if you join up - and we get a free beer too

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Sheet - Italian Football - Jan 27th/28th

(Click image to see the full sheet)

With the English Premier League taking a week - and the FA Cup always a bit unpredictable - we have to turn our attention to Italy to find quality league action.

Fortunately the sheet has responded with quite a few picks.

Most likely wins :
The sheet has come up with six games where the home team is considered to be the most likely result - and here is a list of the sides who are at 55% or better :
- AS Roma (58%) to beat Siena at Bet365
- Cagliari (55%) to beat Reggina at EuroBet
- AC Milan (85%) to beat Parma at Bet365
- Fiorentina (86%) to beat Livorno at Interwetten
- Atalanta (60%) to beat Catania at PaddyPower
- Chievo (56%) to beat Empoli at EuroBet

Value punting :
However, I'm a big fan of looking for value when taking a punt - and so I'll only have a shot on those home teams where they've got green ink in the value column - meaning that the odds being paid are better than the risk that I'm taking.

I see four home sides that are worth a shot :
- Sampdoria 22% @ 6.00 to beat Inter Milan (132% value)
- Cagliari 55% @ 2.15 to beat Reggina (117% value)
- Fiorentina 86% @ 1.55 to beat Livorno (133% value)
- Chievo 56% @ 2.40 to beat Empoli (135% value)

Staking suggestion for value bets (using a Kelly Criteria variant) :
- Fiorentina 200 units
- Cagliari & Chievo 100 units each
- Sampdoria 25 units.

Handicap options :
For punters that prefer taking thea asian handicap style of betting - the sheet also has four selections - although the calculations are not shown - so I'll list them out here.

Saturday :
Take Udinese +0.25 @ 1.86 to beat Torino

Sunday :
Take Chievo -0.25 @ 1.93 to beat Empoli
Take Fiorentina -1.00 @ 2.05 to beat Livorno
Take Cagliari -0.25 @ 1.93 to beat Reggina

(all handicap odds from PinnacleSports)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Betting 101 - Do your homework

Just as there is no fountain of youth, there is no secret betting system that is an easy path to riches.

STUDY - Understand the sport that you are betting on
Success in gambling is directly related to study.

You should understand the sport and league that you are betting on - and have access to basic statistics and team news if you seriously thing that you can beat the bookmakers lines.

They have put in time, resources and committment in setting an accurate price - so you have to at least have the basic sports knowledge in place to spot a soft line.

SEARCH - Check reliable sites for information
However, you're unwilling to commit to excessive hours of study, then at least become a student of the markets and take advantage of what happens, even if you don't know why it's happening.

As a good example I've regularly seen the Pinnacle Sports Sharp Report on places like The Sports Bookie Blog which often report which side of a game sharp players are on in line moves.

By my reckoning - simply following their advice on these price movements provided a winning 31-15-1 record since we started checking them out this years - and that's an impressive return for a simple piece of websurfing.

SELECT - Always get the best price
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it repeat my mantra once more ALWAYS OBTAIN THE BEST AVAILABLE PRICE.

For those Sports Bettors outside the US, still offers -104 (1.96) lines on NFL sides which saves players up to 60% of the "juice" other books charge with traditional -110 (1.90) pricing.

They have a similar over-round on their asian handicap prices in European football, regularly offering odds of 1.96 on each side - and should be a preferred destination for most handicap punters.

Put simply, you have to win close to 53% of bets to break even with -110 (1.90) , while at odds of -104 (1.96) you only need to win 51% of your plays to break even.

Pinnacle Sportbetting's recent decision to voluntarily exit the American market brings the importance of this maxim sharply into focus for US residents.

The vacuum that Pinnacle Sports leaves is a hard one for any book to fill and the number of questions on the betting forums is a reflection of this.

If you are outside the US then you have a huge advantage and you SHOULD be using for your American sports bets and Asian Handicap bets.

If you are NOT - then you are LOSING MONEY !

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Arsenal Odds on for Carling Cup Final

Arsenal celebrate comeback
Two goals from Julio Baptisa - who was obviously motivated by scoring an own-goal earlier - enabled the Arsenal kids to battle back for a 2-2 result in the first leg ot the Carling Cup final at White Hart Lane.

The bookmakers have reacted by slashing the odds on Arsenal reaching the final of the Carling cup with Will Hill making the Gunners 2/5 (1.40) favourites while Spurs have drifted out to 7/4 (2.75).

In the overall market Chelsea are 1.66 at BetFair and are strong favourites while Arsenal are best priced 3.75 at SportingOdds and Spurs a staggering 11.00 at VCBet.

As usual there is wide variation at the bookmakers, with Arsenal as low as 2.50 and Spurs quoted at 5.50 at one bookie, so make sure that your getting the top prices as indicated if you're having a punt.

I've taken a slice of that SportingOdds price - as I'm sure it won't last.

Good luck.

Spirit of 1987 : The Littlewoods Cup Victory

Blood hell - is it really 20 years since The Arse beat Liverpool in the Littlewoods Cup thanks to a pair of goals from Champagne Charlie Nicolas?

The League Cup was a big thing back in the 80's of course. English Clubs had been kicked out of Europe and so only had the three domestic competitions to play for and both knockout competitions were full on.

And I remember that the win over Liverpool in the final was a big thing - maybe not a massive event - but it was Arsenal's first trophy since the FA Cup in 1979 - it was done on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Wembley on national TV (still a novelty back then) and it was enough to convince Gooners that George Graham was on the right path.

Remember that Liverpool were the domiant side of the 70's and 80's and seemed to have an iron grip on this competition - winning it four seasons running - and they'd never lost when Ian Rush had scored for them ... until Perry Groves and Charlie Nicholas conjured up the winner.

Two years later Arsenal delivered the League Championship to the Highbury faithful in the most dramatic of circumstances at Anfield (see the post below) - and later on the players said that the confidence and belief stemmed at least in part from that particular day at Wembley.


But of course that all may not have happened if Arsenal had not got past Spurs in the semi-finals.

Tottenham won the first leg at Highbury 2-1, and were leading 1-0 in the second leg at halftime for a 3-1 aggregate lead ... it all seemed over for Arsenal until a cheeky Tottenham stadium announcer decided to fill in the silence during halftime telling supporters where they could queue for final tickets after the game.

Big mistake. The players heard it. That insult helped launch an Arsenal comeback, with the Gunners winning 2-1 to force a 3rd replay three days later - which Arsenal also won at White Hart Lane with two goals in the last 7 minutes.

There were scenes of wild celebration after that semi-final win .... yes that's right - for a league Cup semi-final - it was seen as a major win.


So think about it, the 1987 Littlewoods Cup win, then the 1989 Anfield Miracle, followed by the 1991 Championship and the 1993 Cup double. It all might never have happened.

Dennis Bergkamp might never have been enticed over, Arsene Wenger might never have joined and we may never have seen Theirry Henry playing in the red and white shirt ...

If only that Spurs announcer had kept his trap shut ...

Hmmmmmmm - It makes you think ...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

'89 Remembered : Liverpool v Arsenal
It's up for grabs now ....

I stumbled across this video clip at YouTube and thought that I'd better post it to the blog for viewing when I need cheering up.

I still get chills when watching this one - and like most Gooners who are old enough to remember the game I can remember exactly where I was watching the game.

Moments like this, goals like this and results like this are a once in a lifetime moment - and it's become a "shared memory" that Gooners everywhere will hold onto until the grave.

Just magic !!

Incredible to think that this happened 18 years ago eh? Where does the time go. Although looking at the shorts on the players - some things have changed for the better!

And at the final whistle ....

Arsenal 2-1 Man Utd review with video

Arsenal produced a stunning late comeback to beat Premiership leaders Manchester United 2-1 on Sunday and breathe new life into the title race.

Thierry Henry headed a superb winner in stoppage time after Robin van Persie had netted on 83 minutes to cancel out Wayne Rooney's opener.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side started the game confidently and dominated the early possession. And twice they almost went in front in the dying seconds of the first half.

Both times they were denied by superb Jens Lehmann saves - the first to tip over a Rooney volley and the second to push away a Henrik Larsson header.

United did break the deadlock eight minutes into the second half as Patrice Evra went on a superb run down the left before crossing to the far post where the unmarked Rooney headed home.

Arsenal refused to give up though, and United seemed to be sitting back protecting the 1-0 lead, which allowed Arsenal to keep getting the ball into dangerous areas.

On 83 minutes Cesc Fabregas and Tomas Rosicky battled hard to win the ball back before the Czech crossed low into the box. And a faint touch from Henry diverted the ball to van Persie at the back post, who crashed the ball into the roof of the United net.

Then deep into stoppage time Henry sent the Emirates faithful wild with delight, beating Edwin van der Sar with a superb header from an Emmanuel Eboue cross.

If you prefer the live match coverage - here's Henry's injury time goal and celebration.

Cesc Fabregas named in UEFA 2006 side

Normally I'd ignore this entirely as these sort of fan voted awards tend to be a bit of a bun-fight with all the big do-nothing names getting included in the side purely on their fan base.

But I was surprised and pleased to see that our midfield dynamo Cesc Fabregas has also been included as one of three English based players - along with Theirry Henry (of course) and Liverpool's captain fantastic Steven Gerrard.

No sign of anyone from Chelsea, Man United, or Real Madrid and the only Italian based player was the Brazillian Kaka.

Uefa team of the year (4-4-2) :

Buffon (Juventus) — Zambrotta (Barcelona), Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Puyol (Barcelona), Lahm (Bayern Munich) — Gerrard (Liverpool), Fabregas (Arsenal), Kaka (AC Milan), Ronaldinho (Barcelona) – Henry (Arsenal), Eto’o (Barcelona).

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Spreadsheet :
England Premier League Picks

( Click the image to see the full sized sheet )

You can see that the sheet is basically betting against the teams with woeful away records this week.

There are three likely winning recommendations :
- Portsmouth to beat Charlton @ 1.60 at Interwetten
- Newcastle to beat West Ham @ 2.00 at PaddyPower
- Aston Villa to beat Watford @ 1.65 at Globet

There is plenty of green ink on the sheet as well this weekend - with six home bets looking like they're worth a play :
- Middlesbro (52%) @ 2.55 to beat Bolton (134% value)
- Newcastle (65%) @ 2.00 to beat West Ham (129% value)
- Fulham (45%) @ 2.88 to beat Tottenham (129% value)
- Liverpool (43%) @ 2.88 to beat Chelsea (124% value)
- Arsenal (43%) @ 2.60 to beat Man United (112% value)
- Portsmouth (69%) @ 1.60 to beat Charlton (110% value)

Note that technically there is also some value indicated on Watford winning away from home - but so far I've found bets on away team underdogs are not paying off - although the draw might be an option.

Now - a word of warning - last week the handicap were rubbish as all five picks lost when the top sides decided to sweep the pitch with their opponents.

But with that said - here are suggestions for this week - game by game :
Liverpool v Chelsea -0.25 +0.00 Liverpool @ 2.00
Villa v Watford -0.75 -0.75 //
Fulham v Spurs -0.25 +0.00 Fulham @ 2.12
Middlesbro v Bolton -0.25 +0.00 Middlesbro @ 1.88
Newcastle v West Ham -1.00 -0.50 Newcastle @ 2.03
Portsmouth v Charlton -1.25 -1.00 Portsmouth @ 2.09
Reading v Sheff.U -0.50 -0.50 //
Man City v Blackburn -0.25 -0.25 //
Wigan v Everton +0.25 +0.00 Everton @ 2.01
Arsenal v Man Utd -0.25 +0.00 Arsenal @ 1.86

The Newcastle game seems to be as much as 1/2 of a goal out - and therefore is well worth a punt.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

FA Cup replay : Young Guns on Show

It's all a bit quiet for Arsenal news today - as the team have a rare midweek off after dealing to Liverpool at Anfield in the 3rd Round.

(had to get that in - sorry Duncan)

But you could still be forgiven for asking the question as to whether Arsenal's young players might steal the headlines tonight ?

Full-back Kerrea Gilbert will return to north London with Cardiff to try and get the better of Tottenham in their FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday.

And Birmingham will include two of their three Arsenal loan players at Newcastle - Fabrice Muamba and Sebastian Larsson - with Nicklas Bendtner ruled out through injury.

The BBC does a good write up on all four players - and before anyone leaps off the deep end about bloody European youngsters - I will point out that two of them are actually English as well ... although it's hard to tell with names these days eh?

( you can see the full item at BBC Sport here )

If young Gilbert could do the business tonight for Cardiff against Spurs then I'm sure he'd be the toast of Gooners everywhere on Thursday morning.

As far as betting goes - both Newcastle and Tottenham look like getting wins in 90 minutes tonight - but the prices are poor so you might want to consider HT/FT double to get better prices - rather than the outright win.

(see Chris's previews on the main site for details)

Good luck with your punts.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Robbie Savage - Whinging creep? Or just plain embarrasing?

THere's been a bit of reaction on the net today about infamous self-styled "hard-man" Robbie Savage and his rather obvious attempts to cover up his acting on Saturday when he got Gilberto sent off.

He got on TV to paint a picture - and they showed this little clip of him taking whacks and over-reacting ...

But that doesn't change the fact that Savage got three good kicks in on Gilberto - and then "played the rolling game" to get referee Rob styles to send the Brazilian off.

Of course the FA will do SWEET FA about this - despite obivously seeing that inequity that's occured and it really does make you wonder why they bother having a panel to look at contentous bookings and sending-offs.

So, as we're not going to get any form of satisfaction out of the FA - we will just have to wait and get it on the pitch ...

Oh wait - we already have ... two games - two wins - and eight goals scored !!!

Oh ... and let's not forget this little gem from Cesc Febregas who totally embarrased Savage on his way to setting up the final goal in our 6-2 win at the Emirates ...

Can you spell N-U-T-M-E-G Robbie ???

Tuesday Night :
FA Cup 3rd Round Replay Night

Tuesday night is replay night - and there are eight games to choose from around England.

We've had interent tipster Chris from Tip-Ex stop in and give us three of his best choices - two likely winners and one outsider - and you can read his choices by following the links off of the English football page on the main site.

I generally agree with all three of his picks but again I have to point out that as will all cup games it's got to be a case of keeping the stakes small.

The Premier League clubs have to be favoured at home of course - but may try to be a little "cute" and field under-strength starting line-ups knowing that by having a strong bench they can still rescue the tie in extra time.

And remember, these replays are taking place because the first match ended all square - so no matter how sure you THINK that you are - don't go overboard ok ?!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

EPL : Blackburn 0-2 Arsenal

A goal of breathtaking quality from Thierry Henry saw Arsenal make light of Gilberto's early red card to earn a valuable victory "oop North."

Gilberto's 13th-minute dismissal - for reacting to a pair of nasty fouls from Robbie Savage - put Arsenal under pressure - but the side seem to have benefitted from their recent exploits at Anfield and simply knuckled down.

(As an aside .... this is a part of the game that the FA, UEFA and FIFA have to get sorted out - while I understand the rules on retaliation - the end result here was unfair - just as it was in the World Cup 2006 final.

If a player is provoked into retaliation as the result of repeated fouls - or a foul mouth - and the referee deems that he should be sent off - then I think that BOTH players should be sent from the field.)

Anyway - Arsenal simply adjusted to a 4-4-1 and counter attacking tactics and dominated the possession from thereafter.

Kolo Toure's excellent header from Henry's free-kick gave Arsenal the half-time lead at Ewood Park .. (see video)

Uploaded by GoonerGoals

And Theirry Henry wrapped it up - starting inside his own half - tearing down the sideline and interpassing with Cesc Fabregas before sending an exquisite shot arcing past Brad Friedel into the top right-hand corner

At 2-0 the game was over - and if anything it was Arsenal who were more likely to get the third.

Next up is Manchester United's visit next weekend, then three cup games as we face Spurs in two-legs of the Carling Cup semi, and Bolton in the FA Cup.

Busy times ... but who cares when you're winning eh ?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

PinnacleSports drops US players

It's being reported on the Sports Blog at that top internet bookie PinnacleSports is leaving the US market.

I'll update this entry as more details become known.

This has been confirmed by several guys on the forum who have been sent emails from the Customer Service department of PinnacleSports.

This leaves Mansion Exchange as one of the few remaining quality sites that will accept United States based players.

(Note US players can only bet on the exchange - not in the regular sportsbook - but the exchange is a person-to-person method that actually offers better prices anyway)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Carling Cup Q/Final : Liverpool 3-6 Arsenal

Wow! I don't think that anyone expected that result.

I was very surprised to see that Rafa Benitez made so many changes to the Liverpool team - especially after he'd been recently telling the press that Liverpool don't have much strength in depth ...

... but perhaps he just wanted to prove his point ?!!

Here's video highlights of the match ..

Arsenal - away day softies - or actually quite good?!

Over the last two years the phrase "Arsenal are not good away from home" has been repeated so often that it's become a mantra for the mainstream press.

And yes - Arsenal do not win as many games on the Road as they do at Emirates Stadium - but no team does. It's difficult to win matches away from home at the top level.

Here is a case for for the defence of Arsenal's away form :

So far this season they are 5-1-5 13:11 in the Premier League - which ranks them 4th out of 20 teams in terms of overall points earned, and they are one of only THREE sides with a positive goal difference. (Chelsea and ManYoo are the others)

That is not a bad record for a team that has already travelled to Chelsea, Manchester Utd and Bolton this season.

Furthermore when Arsenal won at Anfield in both the FA Cup and the Carling Cup they became the first team to ever knock Liverpool out of both cups in the same season - at any venue.

And finally Arsene Wenger's side are now the last domestic side to win in 90 minutes against Liverpool at Anfield (Jan 9 2007), Man Utd at Old Trafford (17 Sep 2006) and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge (21 Feb 2004).

So perhaps teams should have a little more respect when Arsenal come calling eh ?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Carling Cup - Liverpool v Arsenal

We've got Chris's preview of Liverpool v Arsenal online and it really does look as for Liverpool have got more to play for here.

Liverpool were stung by the 1-3 loss on the weekend - after going about 15 months since losing a domestic competition match at Anfield, and Rafa Benitez seems to have changed his plans to take a relaxed approach to this match.

The Gunners have typically looked on this tournament as a development exercise for new players and/or players returning from injury - and that looks set to continue tonight with a significantly changed team from last Saturday.

Arsenal really don't NEED to progress any further in the Carling Cup - their fixture list looks like it's busy enough with Champions League and FA Cup action - and with a potential two-legged tie with Spurs waiting in the semi-finals that would be two more games that the fans would demand were taken seriously.

So, with Liverpool the natural favourites anyway this additional motivation means that I really do favour Liverpool to exact a small measure of revenge.

I'd recommend taking Liverpool to win in 90 minutes - but instead of accepting the 1.70-1.85 on offer make sure that you get the best odds by checking out the Asian Handicap side at Bet365.

The Internet bookie are offering 1.83 for Liverpool to win - or 1.93 for Liverpool to beat the -1/2 goal handicap - which is exactly the same bet.

Don't ask me why these variances happen - they just do from time to time - so if you ARE betting on Liverpool then do yourself a favour and take the AH -1/2 play at Bet365.

Good luck.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

FA Cup 3rd Round : Liverpool 1-3 Arsenal with Video

OK - so depsite my fears and my diatribe on the FA Cup - I tuned into this game ... and I must say that by halftime I was feeling a lot better about the competition.

Liverpool dominated the first 30 minutes or so in terms of possession but the Reds really do lack and out-n-out striker in the style of say Ian Rush, Michael Owen or even Robbie Fowler.

Instead they have Peter Crouch and Dirk Kuyt and it would be fair to say that they were pretty quiet during the whole period - seemingly not brought into play by that system that Rafa Benitez prefers.

Then Tomas Rosicky appeared on the scene and wham bam - thank you maam - Arsenal were into the HT break 2-0 up.

In the second half Liverpool huffed and puffed - and did grab a goal back with this effort from a corner ...

This wound Liverpool up but their tactics were one-dimensional (perhaps because they'd scored from a corner) and Liverpool spent 20 minutes bombing in cross after cross after cross ... without getting any reward

And with 7 minutes left Thierry Henry showed that the extended break has done him the world of good as we zoomed past a slow-motion Jamie Carragher and then wound threw the rest of the Liverpool defence to score and sew up the game.

Arsenal came - they saw - and they scored three goals which is as many as Liverpool had conceded in all 11 home games this season.

That was enough to knock the holders out of the Cup - and put Arsenal's name into the 4th round draw.

Friday, January 05, 2007

FA Cup - 3rd Round - Liverpool vs Arsenal

It's the 3rd round of the FA Cup tomorrow - and I wish that I could somehow recapture the excitment I had as a kid about it all.

But I can't.

I don't know whether it's because I'm a jaded Gooner, after all I've seen Arsenal win the FA Cup 4 times in the last decade, or whether it's the knowledge the the FA Cup is pretty much the consolation prize of English football these days.

But the "magic of the cup" doesn't work like it used to eh?

I've published my preview for the game on the main site and it's not looking too rosy for the Arse as they'll have to do without both Fabregas Cesc and Robin Van Persie who are both suspended for this game.

Adebayor is also out (he should be back for Blackburn in the league next week), while neither Theo Walcott nor William Gallas will make this trip - but they might go on Tuesday for the Carling Cup.

Liverpool look strong at Anfield this season (9-2-0 23:3 in the league) and I don't think that they've lost at home since Benfica beat them their 2-0 last season to knock Liverpool out of the Champions League.

Mind you we do have Thierry Henry back and Gilberto will hold the fort in midfield too - in fact when you look at the Arsenal side making the trip I suspect that 59 or 60 of the other 64 teams still in the competition would happily make a mass player exchange - so we've got a talented (if raw) side.

So - where there is Henry there is Hope - although I suspect that Gooners will be better off betting on Henry scoring ANYTIME rather than the Arse getting a result.

Hopefully I'm wrong and you can all post "told ya so" comments on Saturday night eh?

Good luck all.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

FA Cup 3rd Round :: Outright Betting Options

Ah the FA Cup. The last bastion of the "true spirit" of the game - where romance abounds and giant killings can happen at any moment right?


Despite what you BBC commentator or Sky Sports hype merchant might tell you the winner of this season's FA Cup will almost surely come out of the short list of big 4 clubs - namely Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester Utd.

The "romance" of the cup is dead. The big clubs have the depth to win through nearly all the time now. Take a look at the results of the last 10 finals :

2005-06 Liverpool 3-3 West Ham Utd (Liverpool won 3:1 on pens)
2004-05 Arsenal 0-0 Manchester Utd (Arsenal won 5:4 on pens)
2003-04 Manchester Utd 3-0 Millwall
2002-03 Arsenal 1-0 Southampton
2001-02 Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea
2000-01 Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal
1999-00 Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa
1998-99 Manchester Utd 2-0 Newcastle Utd
1997-98 Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United
1996-97 Chelsea 2-0 Middlesbrough

So thats a full decade of dominance by the big four :
- Arsenal 4 times
- Liverpool 2 times
- Manchester Utd 2 times
- Chelsea 2 times

The rest of England has won the FA Cup exactly ZERO times in the last 10 years.

Furthermore, unlike the Carling Cup where the top sides often field "C" teams or "youth" sides - if you actually look at when the top teams get knocked out of the FA Cup then it's nearly always by other members of the big 4 club.

Best prices for these sides are :
- Chelsea 3.75 @ PremierBet
- Man United 6.00 @ BlueSquare
- Liverpool 9.00 @ Bet365
- Arsenal 10.00 @ Bet365

And so if you find yourself getting tempted by Bolton @ 35.00 at Gamebookers or Tottenham at 17.00 @ PremierBet or West Ham to go one better this year at 34.00 at BetFred then remember that at best all your are doing is placing a bet for trading purposes and hoping that they do not get drawn against any of the giants.

So while there may be an upset or two, it's likely that your underdog will go out when they meet one of the giants.

Punt with your head - not your heart - or any outdated romanic notions about "the romance of the cup".

Good luck.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Arsenal v Spurs (only the good results)

Spurs fans should click their |BACK| button now - because you're not going to like anything in the rest of this post.

Here is a selection of recent North London derbies - where the Gooners win.

2006.12.02 Arsenal 3-0 Tottenham

2005.04.25 Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham

2004.11.13 Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal

2003.11.08 Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham

2002.11.16 Arsenal 3-0 Tottenham

Arsenal - Simply untouchable - Video

Happy New Year !!

As we enter 2007 there is plenty of good things to look forward to for Gooners everywhere - even if the league may be a bit beyond us.

Theirry Henry was back today as he scored a goal and set up another against Charlton and Robin Van Persie also grabbed a brace.

But why not have a little look back at some great passing moves from recent times, as I found this 12 minute video posted on Google by an unknown Frenchman which celebrates the style that Wenger coached Arsenal sides have.

It's got a good sound track and some great goals, and I'll admit to having a tear in my eye looking at some of the old players and remembering the games.


(and I'll see if I can find the Arsenal v Charlton coverage for tomorrow)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Sheet - English Football - Jan 2nd

There are two games on Tuesday - and the sheet calculates that mathematically both of the favourites are likely to win and are also at better than fair value.

Arsenal v Charlton
Arsenal are considered 89% likely to win this game by the sheet - that might be a little overdone as Arsenal have a significant injury problems - and that could also explain the price of 1.30.

But still Arsenal do have the weapons to win this game and are obvious favourites.

PICK : ARSENAL (89%) at 1.30 at PremierBet


Aston Villa v Chelsea
Chelsea might be conceding a few goals - they have let in two goals in each of the last four games - but they are scoring plenty too - and with 10 goals scored that's impressive attacking.

In comparision Aston Villa have lost four games in a row - and if you think that Chelsea are wobbling then Villa are in freefall.

PICK : CHELSEA (69%) at 1.60 at Interwetten


OK - let's see if we can pick up a pair of wins on Tuesday eh?

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Sheet - English Football - Jan 1st

(Click the sheet for fullsize version thats readable)

8 Games being played on Monday.

Here's how the sheet reads it.

There are three games picked as likely winners :
- Liverpool (60%) to beat Bolton @ 1.65 at Betsson
- Fulham (66%) to beat Watford @ 1.70 at Interwetten
- Man Utd (53%) to win at Newcastle @ 1.62 at Bet365

Taking all three should see two winners and a small profit - although you'd have to be very convincing to get me to take ManYoo at a price of just 1.62 to win at St James's Park.

It's also to be noted that ManYoo is only picked by one half of the spreadsheet (the RES) and that could be considered a warning - reflected in the lower %

This method means ignoring the likely winner and simply betting on home sides where the potential payout is significantly better than the risk - basically where the value 110%+ and marked in green.

This method had success last Saturday gettting Sheffield Utd and Everton - while missing on Spurs - for a very tasty 300% yield !!

So we have :
- Newcastle (25%) to beat ManYoo @ 6.50 at Bet365
- Man City (50%) to beat Everton @ 2.40 at PaddyPower
- Portsmouth (49%) to beat Spurs @ 2.40 at Bet365
- Fulham (66%) to beat Watford @ 1.70 at Interwetten

Of course they won't all win but two from four will show a profit (just one winner is needed if it's Newcastle).

Over the last two months the VALUE side has been paying big dividends - but it does tend to go in streaks ...

GL with whatever you're taking.