Stake and Quips
Every Friday we deliver five sections of fodder for your accumulators - a banker, one to avoid, a treble, goals galore and first scorers. It's more-or-less all you need, but just in case, we throw in some careless quips too...
You might remember the famous unbeaten run Lee Clark masterminded at Huddersfield. The 43-game unbeaten run which glossed over results if they came in important matches. You know, that unbeaten run. Well he’s busy presiding over another at Birmingham (8/13, Totesport). His City side haven’t tasted defeat in six league outings, if you discount away fixtures against teams with the letter W in their names. Facetiousness aside for, well, maybe a sentence or so, it is difficult to look past the Blues as they seek to build on their midweek victory with the visit of Barnsley on Saturday.
Front men Leroy Lita and Marlon King - players who, if you look closely, have the word Championship written all over them – both notched on Tuesday night and they ought to have too much for the Tykes. Keith Hill’s men have lost all three of their away clashes in league action this term.
Like a wronged lover jilted at the altar, Chris Hughton returns to face Mike Ashley on Sunday. Ashley has moved on, has a new beau on his touchline, a marginally younger bit of skirt. He does things you could never do, Chris, and do you know what, we’re happy.
But Newcastle (1.84, Betfair) have been slow out of the blocks this season and Hughton is out to prove a point; the managerial equivalent of scratching Ashley’s lovingly well-kept vinyl copy of Phil Collins: Love Songs. Demba Ba is unhappy, Papiss Cisse is unwell, Cheik Tiote is likely to be missing, too – so Norwich can spring a surprise. And it wouldn’t quite be, ahem, against all odds…
Not love, but handshakes, have been on the agenda at Anfield this week. In fact the bloody things have been hanging over football like really, really big clouds spitting out tedious rain made of video recordings of the Antiques Roadshow and anything Terry Christian has ever said. But behind that fuss and the emotion which has followed the Hillsborough report, is an intriguing match. Manchester United (9/5, William Hill) are edging the favouritism but at 9/5 they look like value and get the nod in our treble.
We’ll throw two Black Country sides into the mix, as well. Continuing the amorous theme, West Brom (5/6, Ladbrokes), a typically romantic part of the Midlands - if your idea of romance is a dusky fumble in a bus depot – host winless Reading on Saturday. It looks set to be a sticky season for the Royals and their dubious defence, which could be exposed by one of their former employees, Irishman Shane Long.
Faring even worse than the Berkshire club are Championship Peterborough, who host Albion’s neighbours Wolves (5/4, Stan James). Posh, as we pointed out in this week’s Trend Bettors, are in the midst of their worst-ever league start having lost all six of their fixtures to date. At odds against, Stale Solbakken’s improving visitors are worth siding with.
Everyone’s favourite second team last spring, Athletic Bilbao, are enduring something of a choppy start to 2012/13. Not that they managed to keep La Liga and Europa League plates spinning at the same time for much of last season. But Los Leones have at least been typically engrossing, kicking off the campaign with a 5-3 home defeat and following it up with a 4-0 collapse at Atletico. After last weekend’s 3-3 draw at Espanyol, expect more of the same when Marcelo Bielsa’s men host in-form Malaga on Sunday.
From Bilbao to Burslem, Port Vale have also been worth watching this season. The Valiants have notched 14 times in three outings but both teams have scored in each of their last five fixtures and that run looks likely to continue as they entertain Gillingham, the only side above them in the League Two standings.
Watford can only dream of a top-two spot, as Gianfranco Zola struggles to mould his cast of exchange students into a cohesive unit. In fairness, most of the games we’ve played with foreign students have usually ended up with ten up front and two smoking in the six-yard box. That ploy might work briefly for the Hornets but Bristol City can capitalise at Vicarage Road.
One of Zola’s former clubs – Cagliari – are still without a win in Serie A this term but they might just be hopeful of surprising Roma in the capital on Sunday. Zdenek Zeman’s hosts have scored seven and conceded six in their three league matches so far.
Staying in Italy, the man whose most recognisable feature was his Carol-Vorderman-in-a-particularly-daring-mood haircut, has got rid of his dreadful locks and is now known simply for his goals. Sampson in reverse, Stevan Jovetic (6/1, Bet365) has netted four times in his three appearances for Fiorentina this season, landing first goalscorer odds with the opener in last weekend’s victory over Catania. And he can repeat the trick as La Viola travel to Parma.
Craig Mackail-Smith’s (11/2, Betfred) barnet isn’t much to write home about either but it hasn’t stopped him (as if it would) impressing for Brighton. The former Peterborough striker found goals hard to come by last year but he’s now managed six in four for Albion, including the opener in two of those games.
Along with the aforementioned Shane Long (11/2, Bet365), who faces former club Reading on Saturday, back Rochdale’s Dele Adebola (6/1, Bet365) to continue his encouraging start to life at Spotland. The big Nigerian looks to be a shrewd acquisition having already found the net three times for the Dale with the last two of those coming as first scorer. And with struggling Dagenham on the agenda on Saturday, don’t bet against Adebola repeating the trick.
Best of the Bets Show
- @dih_uk That's one of my favourite ever FFL sketches! I voted B-C-A, by the way. — 5 hours 26 min ago
- @dih_uk Goal of the season competition from 1987/88 (when football wasn't rubbish) http://t.co/SvO1PAuLXQ Can you spot the trend? — 13 hours 8 min ago
- @Jonathan__Hill No mate, just footy atm, although Sam's your man for such enquiries now. Not sure about the summer schedule. — 20 hours 54 min ago
- Big basketball action tonight as the Spurs meet the Grizzlies. @Heavenbet prices are available here: http://t.co/hiOy0ziDHX — 1 day 10 hours ago
- @vasman60 Yeah, well weird. Don't mind this Eastern/Western business, so long as they sort a bog-standard round-robin. — 1 day 10 hours ago