Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Movement in the markets

The opening weekend lived up to its billing and provided us with a number of interesting results, causing certain markets to yo-yo. The outright winners market saw City drift to around 2.5 after their unconvincing 3-2 victory against Southampton, before slamming back down to 2.3 after United followed up with a 1-0 loss at Everton. This caused Everton's top 6 price to plummet to odds of 3, while backing them for the top 4 can still be seized at 9.2. I spoke about their potential in my last post and, having seen off United and seemingly dispelled their start of season demons, many will be hoping that they can continue in such a form. Questions remain about their squad, but they have strengthened wisely and have a relatively generous run of games approaching, which could see them in a good position come Christmas.

Elsewhere, the biggest victors were Swansea and Fulham. I must say I anticipated the Fulham result but, like nearly everyone else, never saw Swansea's result coming. I had read up on Michu and was interested to see if he could continue where he left off in Spain, and based on Saturday, it certainly seems like he is going to prove another bargain buy for the Swans. Swansea's relegation price leaped from around 2.8 to 4, while Fulham shortened for a top 10 finish from 2.5 to evens. Recipients of 5-0 thrashings QPR and Norwich showed us that it might be a tough season for last seasons new boys, and their prices for relegation dropped to 4.8 (from 7.8) and 2.16 (from 2.6) respectively. While this was quite an emphatic start from a number of teams, I cannot help but consider the movements in each market a slight overreaction after one match. I guess it is because previously punters had nothing to base their opinions on, so now the market is just reforming in the shape of the first round of fixtures. Expect all to change very soon however.

The weekend was a good one for me, and the majority of my bets got off to a flyer. As previously stated, I had Norwich for relegation and Fulham for top 10, placing my eggs in one basket some might say, but it paid off. Norwich have a tough set of games (after this weekend) so I will be hanging on with that trade for a bit. The price I got on Fulham (2.62) I consider far too high, so I will be sticking with that one too for a while. The only bet which didn't quite go to plan was Stoke to be relegated, and they saw a slight drift to 7.8 after their draw with Reading. It wasn't a disaster, but I have decided to reduce my liability on that one after reassessing their coming fixtures. The United/City straight forecasts remain around the same odds, the market knows United won't continue how they began, and that is how I view the situation too. No panic with that one. In addition to my current bets, I have placed a large lay bet on Arsenal to finish in the top 4, with a view to their upcoming fixtures and the fact that Spurs have a very easy set of fixtures, and have finally signed the striker I wanted them too. It is a risky bet with Arsenal possibly not finished in the transfer market, but even so I feel that they will struggle in the next few months. Furthermore, I have added Reading to my relegation list.

In normal trading I took a tiny £5.56 profit (which you can see in my all new P&L on the side), but I was just happy to take any profit in a weekend where I kept my stakes low. As weeks go on I will increase my trading but only once I have a better feel for the new season.

Olympics? What Olympics?

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Everton slow starters: Myth or Truth?

Everton are famed for their slow starts, particularly in recent years, but I have always been unsure as to how drastic these slow starts actually are. The footballing world is quick to hand out labels to teams or players, so I was interested to investigate just how justified this particular accusation was. The results were laughably resounding however, and it would appear completely justified that they have been labelled thus. The graphs below demonstrate the proceedings from the last 4 seasons, clearing showing a chaotic run up until Christmas when things seem to settle down. I particularly enjoyed the part (around the same time each season) when David Moyes must have decided that they were going to try and actually maintain a position, and they horizontal lined to the finish.

In spite of this overwhelming evidence however, experts are more hopeful than ever that Everton may be able to get off to a roaring start, after one of the most productive transfer windows in their recent history, (purchase-wise that is). Having only lost the aging Cahill and youngster Rodwell so far, bringing in much-needed reinforcements in the process, Moyes' men do certainly look to be able to push the top 6 or 7 from an early stage. They don't have the easiest of starts at home to Manchester United, but after that they have a more favourable run, facing only Liverpool and Newcastle (both at home) from the top 8 clubs until late November. They are currently 4.2 for a top 6 finish and 14 for a top 4 finish on Betfair, but don't be surprised to see those prices fall between here and Christmas. This is probably a (potentially lucrative) bet for the more daring folk however, as the stats below speak for themselves.





Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Plan

So I've given you my thoughts and previews on the upcoming season, but now it's time to say what I am personally planning to do for this year. As previously mentioned, I will be looking to the long term markets primarily this year, and will be using a bank of £500 to fund that. I will be trading in many different markets throughout the year when the opportunities present themselves, and for each I have set a target of 10% return on each investment. By May, I hope to have made 100% profit on my £500 investment, any more would be welcome of course! This is the first time I have ever tried anything like this before so it could go wrong of course, but I have high hopes for it and will keep you posted all the way. A season of transition if you like, think of me like Liverpool. I was going to start the season with my entire bank in play, but poor liquidity issues and concerns about start of season unpredictableness has meant that I have left £200 on the sideline. This will work out quite handy in the coming weeks however, as I am sure further opportunities will crop up fairly soon. For now, I have chosen to spray my money around a few options:

  • Top ten finish: Fulham 
  • Straight forecasts: both City/Utd, Utd/City
  • Relegation: Stoke
  • Relegation: Norwich
  • Rock bottom: Norwich
I'll add a new bit on the side of my blog which lists all the bets I'm doing at any point in the season for clarity. In addition to this, after the success of my first proper season of trading, I will be doing week by week trading geared towards a target. It will be on a much smaller scale than I was doing last season, mainly because I don't have enough money to fund everything! But I will be working towards making £500 profit over the course of the season, which should cover my action in the long term markets should stuff go pete tong (hopefully not). So that's my plan for the season. Obviously £500 profit target over 38 weeks doesn't equate to much each week, which means my targets will be slow and small, something which suits me and allows for a smaller liability.

That's all for now. I won't be getting involved on a big scale today as there isn't any form to go on and no one knows what's going on. One thing is for sure though, I cannot wait. Here's to a great season, it's going to be BIG.

Good luck everyone.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Top 10 and Relegation review

I was going to do a post on the top 10 market, and then another on the relegation market, but I appear to be running out of time before the big kick off! Luckily, the guys at Sports Trading Life have covered the relegation markets, and their analysis pretty much resembles my thoughts. You can read their post here to save me a job:  http://sportstradinglife.com/2012/08/premier-league-relegation-markets-preview/
There are however, some bits which I'd like to add my thoughts to, as well as a couple of mid-table battles I’d like to mention. So, here goes.

The Top 10 market:

This is a team which I feel really has the potential to push on and cement their place in the top 10 teams, particularly after making smart signings over the summer. They finished in 9th place last season (joint with Liverpool in 8th, and 5 points clear of 10th) and Martin Jol really looks like he is getting a hold of the Cottagers now, bringing in the exciting Petric and Rodallega which is sure to provide a necessary boost to the Fulham attack. They have, so far, been able to hold together the core of their team, though I wonder if they can hold on for Dempsey for too much longer. Even without him though I think they should be able to make their way into the top ten quite comfortably, with the impressive Dembele, Ruiz and Diarra forming the heart of their midfield. My only worry is the loss of Murphy and how much that will affect them. Although he was aging, he still made 33 appearances last year and undoubtedly provided a calm experienced head in the middle of the park. The team has enough to step up to the plate though, and should Dempsey leave we could see another signing before the end of the window. The defence which kept 11 clean sheets last season remains the same, with the addition of right back Reither on loan. As with the top 4 market, expect much chopping and changing. But for now, 2.62 on Fulham to finish in the top 10 looks like a steal. Especially when you consider that since 08/09 they have finished 7th, 12th, 8th, 9th. Those bolder might fancy taking on them for the top six at 12 for a back to lay option, but my concern would be the better teams could push away from the middle pack early doors. If we look at the graph of Fulham’s positions last year, we can see that although the general trend is upwards, the middle of the table is so tight that any run of losses will drop you down a number of places.

On the other side of things we have Sunderland, who look like a struggling team to me. They came 13th last season and appeared to be slipping back into their frail ways toward the end of the season, despite the burst around New Year after the appointment of Martin O’Neil. They have failed to really strengthen during the summer, and up until last week had only swapped centre back Turner for Carlos Cuellar. This week has seen a flurry, and a desperate looking one at that, of transfers, bringing in Steven Fletcher for silly money and the hapless Louis Saha earlier today. Fletcher is a good striker and proven finisher, but will only really fill the big hole which Bendtner left when he returned to Arsenal. Saha is another good striker, but only when he is fit, which he rarely is, sadly. He has only managed over 25 appearances once in the last 10 seasons, and I seriously question his ability to carry the Sunderland front line.
Depressed Sunderland fan and Betfair blogger Jonathan Wilson has been lamenting the Mackem squad this week, which I was (a tiny bit) annoyed about because his (apparently large) influence has caused a drift on the Sunderland price for top 10, as well as shortening for relegation. I don’t think they will be in the relegation mix, as he tipped, mainly due to the quality of players such as Sessegnon and Larsson, but I cannot see them finishing in the top 10. The competition is too high this year and there is no room for Sunderland. If they buy a few more players in the next few weeks I may reconsider, but for now, 2.26 for the lay of top 10 looks great to me. 

Reading are currently second favourites for the drop, but I will be surprised if they remain at their current price for long. They were the best team in the Championship last season after a remarkable second half of the season, and have strengthened considerably in a bit to cement their place in the top flight. Pogrebnyak is an excellent signing for free, after we all saw his potential at Fulham last year. Elsewhere they have brought in some experienced and talented faces, and I think there are quite a few teams worse than them this time round. They can be layed for the drop at 2.52, and backed at 7.2 for a back to lay trade if you are feeling more confident. They don’t have the easiest of starts however, so waiting a couple of months for their price to rise might get you better value.

These are my biggest tip for relegation this year. They surprised everyone last year by having an exceptional season and producing performances a lot higher than the quality of their squad, but I cannot see them keeping that up this year. They have lost their very influential manager and replaced him with Chris Hughton. I have nothing against Hughton but I question his ability to keep a very average squad in the Premier League, especially so soon after Lambert's departure. Last year, they relied on Holt and Morison for goals, two strikers who ordinarily would not have provided such a tally, but were riding on adrenaline which I would be surprised if they kept up this year. I think it is telling that Holt was not picked for the England squad, I for one was not wishing for him to play for us vs the likes of Italy or France. Not that I hate the guy by the way, I like him and hope he does well this season, but I just think last year was a small fluke. But anyway, they haven't strengthened quite as much as I think they need to - Turner is a good buy and much needed as their defence was awful last year.
Towards the end of last year they began to lose their form and I expect them to continue that into the new season. And baring in mind their tough start (Spurs, Newcastle, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal) in the first couple of months, 2.58 for the drop looks tasty. You might even want to take a bit of the 6.8 for rock bottom.

And finally...
Just a word on Stoke. I'm not sure what to think about Stoke. I've heard quite a few people now say that they think Stoke might struggle in the league this year, and I think there's a chance they might be right. I think they have too much firepower (and too good a home crowd) to actually go down, but I think they will struggle. The graph for last season shows how their results waned towards the end, and I think maybe their small squad is being found out. The biggest thing though is that their start consists of playing Arsenal, Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United before the end of October, so backing them for relegation at 6.6 with a view to laying it off looks good.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Top 4

The top four poses an exciting dilemma this season, as the uncertainty of last term looks set to continue. By my reckoning, the top two spots should be filled by the Manchester boys, leaving only two places up for grabs. As I mentioned yesterday, Chelsea look stronger this year and look a good bet for 3rd place and currently sit at 1.79 to finish in the top 3. However they did finish in 6th place last year, and determination to defend their European crown may cause domestic aims to be ignored just like last time, meaning that anything could happen in there. But this really only leaves room for one other team from either Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Newcastle to take the holy grail that is a place in Europe's top competition. Other teams could be in the mix, Newcastle surprised us all last year, but with such competition this year, it is unlikely any other team will be able to mount a serious challenge. Incidentally, if you fancy the Manchester clubs to dominate up top, they're available on the straight forecast at 3.9 (City/United) and 5.5 (United/City), both of which are likely to trade lower throughout the season, therefore representing good value.


For the first time in a while the Gunners have experienced a respectable amount of Summer investment, and will look to push on from the 3rd place they scraped last season. We might have to wait until the end of August before seeing what Arsenal's squad looks like however, as the Van Persie saga draws on and rumours about Song's sale are escalating. Despite the excellent signing of Santi Cazorla, and the still-to-be-tested signings of Podolski and Giroud, Van Persie's departure will leave Arsenal very thin on the ground at the top. One of their main downfalls last season was their reliance upon their captain, as the woeful Chamakh was the next best thing for them. Losing 30-goal Van Persie will be a huge loss and with Podolski and Cazorla preferring to play on the wings, it leaves only the untested Giroud as a recognised striker of any quality. Should Song depart as well, they will be in real trouble, having been Arsenal's second best player last season. Injuries will need to be kind to the team, particularly at the back where the squad is its most bare, but with Wilshere, Walcott and Oxlaide-Chamberlain all currently ruled out, it appears to have continued with a familiar trend.

Overall, I expect Arsenal to be one of the leading teams in the hunt for fourth spot, but 1.68 represents little value at the moment. I am confident that that price will trade a lot higher during the campaign as teams in and around that spot tend to be pretty inconsistent. For now though, a lay of Arsenal to finish in the top 3 looks good at 2.9.


Spurs flirted with the title for a while last season before stumbling to a 4th place finish, which unusually put them into the Europa League only. Villas Boas has stepped in and the market doesn't seem to know quite what to think about this, with a fair degree of uncertainty surrounding the man who was sacked from Chelsea in less than a year. It is my opinion though, that he will be a lot more effective in a club which he has full control over, and we have seen his true potential from his time at Porto. He will bring stability to the team and his attacking style should suit Spurs who have an abundance of attacking talent. That being said, the loss of Luka Modric will come as a huge blow (should it happen), and he will need to be properly replaced if Spurs are going to truly challenge for the top 4. Sigurdsson is a good buy and should do well, but he is not in the same league as Modric, and I expect Levy to go shopping before September 1st. They are also desperately missing a striker and, should they end up with only Defoe, their attacking threat will be significantly reduced and I would question their ability to challenge the top 4 at all.

They do, however, still possess a strong base to the team, and the signing of Vertonghen will provide stability to the back 4. Having hung on to Bale and Van Der Vaart, their starting 11 would still be one of the most powerful in the league if they were able to bring in a classy striker. They also have the advantage of not being in the Champions League, unlike Chelsea and Arsenal, so may benefit from having a fitter squad towards the end of the season (it is unlikely they will go all out in the Europa League). Overall, it is a waiting game with Spurs, as their transfer activity looks far from done. They are currently odds of 3 to finish top 4 which looks big, but should they bring in some big players, expect that price to tumble.


It will be almost like second-season-syndrome for Newcastle after their remarkable climb to 5th place last sesason. So far they have only spent £1million on new faces after a pretty expensive January presumably used up a lot of their funds. In terms of a starting 11, Newcastle's team is strong in most areas, and the likes of Coloccini and Cabaye would walk into United or Chelsea's team. In terms of their squad however, they haven't strengthened when others around them have, and they will struggle with the extra burden of Europe to contend with. Realistically, the top 4 looks out of their reach and the market seems to have realised that with their odds at 15. Although they are big odds I would be wary about taking them on for a trade as I'm unsure if they will be able to continue their form from last season. The top 6 looks like a more realistic target and the odds of 4 look very appealing for a back to lay trade.


There are some who think they will be in the mix at the top, and others who think that they will fall behind Everton yet again. I buy neither. They will be better drilled and play a lot nicer football, but ultimately their squad is not good enough to find its way into the top 4. Even with the apparent addition of Nuri Sahin on loan (apparently it will be announced tomorrow), I still don't think that their squad has the strength and depth. Not yet, anyway. I believe in Rodgers as a manager and he has a decent core in the Liverpool squad, but it will take time and I can't see it working immediately. Their attacking options look particularly bare, with the Suarez the only goalscoring striker available. Coral go 11/8 that he will be their top scorer, and that looks like a price worth taking. Despite missing as many as he could manage last season and only netting 11 league goals, the closest to him was Bellamy on 6 goals, and he is meant to be leaving this summer. Another thing is that Rodger's side is unlikely to be blessed with goals. Swansea saw the least amount of games where both teams score (14/38), and Anfield saw the least amount of goals of all the stadia in England. Put simply: Liverpool's boring style is set to get even more boring, so backing under 2.5 goals in most games looks a good shout, though I doubt you'll get much value. Lucas returning for the Reds is a huge bonus as he really started to show promising form before his injury, but it will only help to bolster an already pretty sturdy defence and I think attack will be their main problem throughout. 3.35 looks a good price to lay Liverpool at for the top 4, and I wouldn't be surprised if it traded a lot higher than that very soon.


The teams in the mix for the top 4 will chop and change drastically throughout the season, as each of these teams have proved themselves to be unreliable and inconsistent. None of them have a big enough squad to maintain form for the whole year, particularly with cup competitions and Europe to deal with also, so there will definitely be a big opening for some trading throughout. If anyone takes an early lead in the table I would advise laying them quickly.

On a side note, I have just heard the news about Van Persie to United. So that leaves us with Van Persie, Rooney, Kagawa and Valencia vs Aguero, Tevez, Silva and Yaya vs Torres, Hazard, Mata and Oscar. Wow. We are in for a treat. From the top 7, only Spurs have strengthened their defence, so we may see some goals...

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Premier League 12/13 Preview: Winner's market

Hello there and welcome back. I have not blogged for a while as there has been no betting activity on my part, but mainly because I have been busy being caught up in the Olympic spirit. I watched the majority of the events and loved every second of it, but that being said I am now pleased it is over and normal service can resume. It was like a nice holiday, but you're always pleased to go back home. The post-appocolympics has left the nation riding on a crest of optimism, and football sadly seems to be the thing which is suffering in a number of ways. The debate on 'Olympians vs footballers' is utterly ridiculous, but we will soon see how the current darlings of the nation fare with cameras constantly shoved in their faces or up their skirts. I won't go on about it, we might be here all night. The more pressing issue is the lack of betting activity in the exchanges and bookies due to the Olympic and Euros distractions. I have no doubt that the love of football will resume once the big boys get going again this weekend, but for now it is a bit of a pain. Over a million has been matched on Betfair's PL winner market, but other markets have considerably less, particularly in markets such as PL relegation, where only £57,000 has been matched. The pointless markets in Scotland, as well as the odds on favourites of PSG, Juventus, Bayern and Real Madrid have not helped rouse excitement.

So anyway, this week I shall be doing a number of betting previews of the upcoming season, featuring the different markets of England's top league. I'll conclude with my own bets and trades for the coming season before Saturday's kick off. Today I'll be looking at the Premier League outright winner market. Enjoy.

Manchester City

Clearly counting the pennies now that the Fifa Fair Play rules are coming into motion, the defending champions have been one of the quietest teams this transfer window. Despite Mancini's complaining however, I wouldn't be too concerned if I was a City fan (and I certainly wouldn't trust Mancini's press conferences, after he brought a whole new dimension to the phrase 'mind games' last season). Despite only winning on goal difference last term, they will undoubtedly come back a stronger team, buoyed by their psychological breakthrough and confident they can repeat the feat. The only position in the squad which City really needed to strengthen was cover in defensive midfield, and the excellent acquisition of Jack Rodwell should provide sufficient assistance for De Jong, Barry and Yaya Toure, particularly with Toure likely to attend the African Cup of Nations in January. They could do with another centre back to cover for their outstanding leader, Kompany, but other than that their squad is by far the strongest in the league. The return of Tevez, barring further fall-outs, should bolster an already blistering attack and he looks set to get a fair few goals along the way. The 17 on him for top goalscorer looks large considering his records when he has played a full season, and that is probably because he is likely to play behind his equally prolific Argentine pal, Aguero. Aguero might just pip Tevez to the golden boot but Tevez is likely to bag a lot, especially as Aguero will probably be given the nod in Europe over him, so the 4.3 on him to come in the top four goalscorers looks very attractive.
Overall, City look strong, very strong. They will have no problem making the top 4 or 3, reflected in the prices 1.06 and 1.14 respectively, and will most likely challenge for the title the whole way, if not win it. They should have greater commitments in Europe this time, but they should have a big enough squad to cope with the demand. 2.3 for them to take the title offers little value, so it might be worth waiting for them to slip up instead before backing.

Manchester United

Another who hasn't strengthened a great deal this Summer, but having only missed out by a matter of goals last season, they look set to be in the thick of it once again. Unlike City, United do have weaknesses in places, particularly centre midfield and full back, but will benefit from a number of players returning from injury. Anderson, Cleverley and Fletcher all return for United in the middle of the park, whilst exciting new signing Kagawa will give Ferguson greater options in attack, and could even be used as the often missing playmaker behind the striker. The biggest plus for United however, is the return of their star centre back and captain Nemanja Vidic, whose absence last season proved the difference between 1st and 2nd. The return of their captain should sure up the defence and improve their European record from last time, but make no mistake about it: Ferguson will be putting all his efforts into taking his Premier League title back. The attacking options could still be boosted by the arrival of Robin Van Persie, which would give United a strike force to rival their neighbours. Again, the odds of 3.45 represent little value, particularly with a difficult start for Ferguson's men. If United trade any higher than this in the first half of the season however, it will definitely be worth taking as they will be in the mix by May. They have not finished outside of the top 3 in their Premier League history, and they will not be starting this season.


Chelsea are a gamble this year, and that is definitely reflected in their starting price (6.4). There are some that will see the big money signings of Hazard, Oscar and Marin as a sign that the European champions really mean business this year, while others will question the ability of a team who finished 6th last time around. The biggest concern for me is the striker area where Torres is their only recognised front man, and if he continues in the same form as last year the team could find themselves lacking goals. For the record, I think Torres will finally step up to the mark this year, especially having such creative talent around him, but having no real cover for him remains a worry. The loss of Drogba is big, though perhaps it will affect them more in cup competitions. Boylesports have gone 16/1 that Juan Mata records the most assists this year, and that looks huge to me. Mata, in his debut season in England, recorded the joint second most assists last year (with Antonio Valencia who is also a huge 18/1), and looks set to benefit further from Torres actually scoring this year. At very least it looks good for an each way punt. Elsewhere they still remain an aging team in places. Terry's performances dipped last season and if he continues in such a way it will be a big blow for the team reliant upon the leadership skills of their captain. Questions still surround the manager, though I personally like him a great deal, and a poor run could see the irrational Abramovic hand out another P45.
Due to their unpredictability, bettors are warned to take caution with the large price quoted for Chelsea. City were a similar price at the start of last season, and those who took that price look inspired come the end of the season, but I don't think it is quite as clear cut this year. I don't think it is likely that they will go from 6th to 1st, whether they are European Champions or not. This said, they should emerge decent contenders for a short while at least, and taking the 1.93 on Chelsea to win without the big 2 looks a lot better value.

The Rest

Let's get one thing straight, I am pretty sure that this year's winner will come from Manchester, but I am extremely sure that it will come from one of the above. So much so that I consider the 1.14 odds, achieved by dutching the three above, an extremely good investment. If I had more money to spend I would go for it, but being a student I am somewhat lacking in capital. Those with oodles of cash however might want to consider this proposition of 14% interest on a 10 month investment as they scramble around the banks comparing their measly 4% interest offers. I cannot see a way any club other than City, United or Chelsea will win the league, and the Premier League is so grueling that shocks are rarely produced at the very top, as only the very best squads will be named champions.

Arsenal were typically inconsistent last year, but have made some decent signings over the Summer. The loss of Van Persie however, which seems increasingly likely, will be an enormous blow as he carried them to third place last time out. It will leave new signing Giroud as their main front man, and he is so far untested in the Arsenal red. Should they lose Song as well, it will effectively be game over for them in my eyes, as I rate him as one of the best midfielders in the league. Tottenham look weaker than last year, especially if they lose Modric, and there is still a degree of uncertainty over their manager's ability in England. The signings they have made are decent enough, but they desperately need a striker and even then will struggle to make the top three. Liverpool will be stronger and better drilled than last year, but they have no hope in hell of winning the title this year.

Next up I will review the Top 4 markets. Enjoy your night.