Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The world goes on

Last night in Manchester was predictably dramatic, albeit slightly tarnished as a spectacle. There are plenty of unbalanced opinions doing the rounds at the moment, so I won't add mine. It is a bad year for English football however, with potentially no teams in the quarter finals (unless Arsenal can produce something incredible) since 1996, and that is a shame considering we have some very good sides this year, as well as the holders. The Betfair market Champions League winner market is currently suspended, but the bookies have Madrid as favourites at around 3.5, and I'm sure Munich's price of 4.2 won't last a great deal longer. It will depend on the draw, and whether Barca can pull their tie back.

Back to the Premier League and QPR continue to be unpredictable in their campaign for safety. They have been matched as low as 1.15 and as high as 7.8 throughout the season, but their victory away at Southampton has put them four points adrift of safety, and they are back out to 1.37 for the drop. This week they have a winnable game at home to Sunderland, while Villa and Reading play each other and Wigan play in the Cup. I would like to say that if they lose this weekend and there is a victor in the Villa-Reading match then it really is over for QPR, but there is just no telling. There are 10 games to go and this is more than enough in a relegation battle where 2 wins on the bounce take you out of trouble.

The race for the top 10 is hotting up nicely as well. Swansea and West Brom, you would think, have 8th and 9th sown up, which leaves 10th spot for feasibly any team down as far as Southampton. Six points separate 16th and 10th and a little run for any of these teams could secure a top 10 spot. Stoke are the favourites to take this place at 2.84, while the current 10th placed team Fulham are second favourites at 3.4. At the moment goal difference is separating Fulham, Stoke and West Ham, and a race as close as this could come down to such fine margins on the last day. I wouldn't like to call this one, so I will stick with my pre-season pick of Fulham.

Further up the table and if the markets are anything to go by, then the race for the top 4 is all but done. Spurs' huge victory over Arsenal at the weekend saw them shorten to 1.33, their lowest price of the season, while Arsenal are out to 3.25. Chelsea are at 1.26, despite sitting in 4th place currently. Like most things however, I still feel this has a long way to go and the 5 point gap between Arsenal and Chelsea is not insurmountable. Tottenham have the toughest fixture list out of the three, playing Liverpool, Everton, Chelsea and Man City in the next month or so, along with a 2-legged tie against Inter Milan. It is advantage Spurs at the moment but a lay at 1.33 would not be the worst decision in the world, the main difficulty would be how well Arsenal could put the pressure on. If, like me, Arsenal do not fill you with hope but you still think Spurs will drop some points, then backing Chelsea to finish top 3 at 1.96 could be a more appealing option.

At the top United appear to be running away with things. 1.05 for the title and with a 12 point lead it is hard to disagree with that price. I would not go as far to say it is over, but it is looking good for Fergi and co, and I decided to take a big loss on my lay of United to win, rather than let it run. If United lose to Chelsea on Sunday then we might see a small amount of panic creep in, but it is difficult to see them losing such a lead, regardless of what happened last year. Man City are at 21 to win the title incidentally.

We are into the final stretch of games once more, yet it only seems like yesterday I was preparing some preseason trades. How time flies. Cheltenham starts next week and I will be looking to take advantage of a few bookie offers, while also enjoying the festival. Keep your eyes peeled for free bets because there are normally a fair few about, with a potential to win decent amounts. Good luck with your bets and enjoy.

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