Firstly, to clarify, the Picture of the leArned teacher above is not me, I never profess to work out my tips by logarithms, algebra and cosines; if you are so minded you can see my live broadcasts on our website every weekend (very profitable to date!), but at this time of year with half of the football season gone it might be politic to see who to back for success before next April – thus the image above. There is no juice in the Premiership win market, but there certainly is on who will be relegated and a standout bet to finish in the bottom three is crYstAl PAlAce at 11/2.
They look like a side who won’t be up for a dogfight, a viewpoint you cannot give to Cardiff, Burnley or even Huddersfield and a shade over 5/1 will do me nicely. In the Championship, one team with a turboboosted rocket and a wet sail is Aston villA, who under their new manager Dean Smith are certainly causing waves and the 11/4 currently available (general) about the Villains being promoted is a must. Remember, although it is unlikely they will secure one of the two automatic places to the promised land, I believe they are top six material and would be favourites in the play-offs. Over to the English League One and layers still seem to be unsure as to the credentials of runaway leaders – PortsMouth. Maybe it’s the presence of Sunderland lurking in second place (games in hand) but to my mind Portsmouth concede very few and that will always ive you a head start in whatever division you are playing in.
They certainly can bank on a strong support, have a good manager, used to this division with other promoted sides in Kenny Jackett and maybe their fans are dreaming of a south coast derby with Southampton next year! In any event I think the 7/4 to win Division One is value. Finally, in Division Two and with seven places available to get into the play-offs, if not outright promotion, small stakes are advised on oldhAM at a whopping 12/1.
They currently lie in 12th position but for a team that last year was playing in the higher division and who always seem to get results against the teams at the top of the division, it only takes a decent run to propel them into the top seven. This weekend sees one of the seminal weekends in the English football calendar – it’s Third Round Cup Day in the FA Cup. Readers of my December column will have seen that I quite fancy ArsenAl at 10/1 for a first piece of silverware for Unai Emery and their third round draw, away at Blackpool or Solihull Moors will have propelled them to the last 32.
I think the manager’s half-term report would show mainly B+’s mingled with the occasional A- but this sort of cup where the luck of the draw can keep you apart from a big six opponent is ideal for Arsenal. In the Champions League my headline tip back in September was the Old Lady – Juventus at 8/1 and now we are at the business end of the competition with the last 16 being played in early February, nothing has altered that opinion.
They are currently joint third favourites at 6/1, however new punters could do worse than backing Atletico MAdrid at 14/1 with Bet365 as a hedge. The final is played in their stadium which may or may not be an advantage but Diego Simeone always has his players ready for battle. The caveat is that they have drawn Juve in the last 16! In the NFL I am still hopeful of my headline tip, before a ball was kicked this year, in a Los Angeles derby in Atlanta of the rAMs versus the chArgers with the Chargers likely to be away at Pittsburgh or Baltimore this weekend. Get through that and it’s full steam ahead. I hope you took the 11/1 and 20/1 advised. So there’s our half-term report for January.
In next month’s bumper Bernie the Book we will be looking extensively at the championship races at Cheltenham for the Festival in March, but to whet your appetite for the first day, take a price about lAurinA for the Champion Hurdle. At 5/1 I think this is the horse to topple dual champion – Buveur D’air and so deny him of immortality with the likes of See You Then and Istabraq.