Friday, 12 September 2014

Football Form Labs - Big Weekend preview

Football betting has evolved in recent years, it is big business now and gut instinct and opinion have mostly been replaced by databases and algorithmic trading models. Are you missing out by letting your heart rule your head? One of the very best of those is Football Form Labs who have shared their wisdom with a preview of some of this week's action. You can also follow Football Form Labs on Twitter, @footballformlab

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PREVIEW: Arsenal v Man City (Sat, 12:45)

Arsenal have gone 19 games without defeat at home but this Saturday they face the ultimate test as they host the champions, who have won 10 of their last 16 away games with just one defeat.

It’s matches like these that have proven to be Arsenal’s undoing in recent years as since 2009/10 they’ve lost 18 of 30 games against top-four finishers. At home they are much harder to beat of course, with a W6-D4-L5 record compared to W1-D1-L13 on the road but those still aren’t stellar stats.

In contrast City, if anything, raise their game against the best teams and have won 15 of 24 matches against top-five finishers in the past three seasons including half their 12 away matches (W6-D2-L4). City have led at half-time in each of the last four meetings between these teams but Arsenal have twice fought back to draw and that has been the result in this fixture in three of the past four seasons.

City certainly look a better bet than Arsenal here but we’d want some cover on the draw and would consider the Draw No Bet at 1.8. However, it is worth noting that 10 of their 11 away wins since the start of last season have been Win/Win doubles and Arsenal have conceded first in four of their last six home games, and in two of three matches this season. So the City/City double at 4.0 looks a good bet while the Gunners excellent second-half record suggests it is worth taking some cover on the City/Draw at 16.0 if you fancy the champions to start fast and lead at half-time.

In terms of goals the stat that stands out in this game is that all seven of Arsenal’s home matches against the top eight last season finished with fewer than three goals as have all of their last 10 home games against top-six sides. However, both teams have scored in each of City’s last seven trips to top-six finishers and 6/7 have had at least three goals. Given Arsenal’s main signings since last season have been in attack, with the additions of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck, and that all three of their matches this term have seen both teams score, we would side with Over 2.5 Goals at 1.83.

PREVIEW: Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid (Sat, 19:00)

This is the third meeting between these teams this season and the seventh in 2014. Atletico edged the Spanish Super Cup last month and won this fixture in the league last term on their way to the title. However, Real were clear winners in their two Copa Del Rey legs and most importantly won the Champions League final 4-1 after extra-time.

Neither side have been particularly convincing in the opening two games as Real lost 4-2 at Sociedad last time out having taken an early two-goal lead while Atletico failed to beat Vallecano and only narrowly got past new boys Eibar at home.

Real’s goal threat is phenomenal and they’ve only once failed to score at least twice at home since the start of last season. The team that stopped them however is the same side they face here. Atletico will try to frustrate and they have a superb second-half record with seven of their 13 away wins since the start of last season coming after drawing the first half. Therefore, if Real are to win they may need to start well and with that in mind it’s significant that 10 of their last 11 wins have been Win/Win doubles and at 2.7 we prefer that to the home win at 1.7.

Over 2.5 Goals is being given as a coin toss here in the battle between Real’s attack and Atletico’s defence. That is probably fair given the away side’s record against the Big Two in all competitions over the past 12 months. All six of their games against Barcelona last season finished with fewer than three goals as have five of seven games against Real. However, Real’s record of at least three goals in 13 of their last 15 home games and four or more in 10/15 suggests the value may still lie with the ‘overs’. Furthermore, five of Real’s last eight home games against top-six finishers have had at least six goals.

One key component that is hard to quantify here is the impact of the touchline ban for Diego Simeone. An early goal or injury could lead to greater confusion than normal and allow Real to capitalise. We’d recommend backing Over 2.5 Goals at 1.95 and it’s probably worth a bit on Over 5.5 at 15.0.

Player Analysis:

Using Form Lab Black’s player analysis tool we’ve looked around Europe and found three teams who will be missing important players in this round of matches and without them they look set to struggle.

N.B. Appearances mentioned below relate to starting and completing an hour unless otherwise specified.

Liverpool v Aston Villa
Daniel Sturridge, Forward, Liverpool
Sturridge has played 29 of Liverpool’s 41 games since the start of last season and with him their win rate has been 72% but without that has fallen to 58%. Furthermore, this is the first time that neither Sturridge nor Suarez have started since the beginning of last season. It's hard to see Liverpool not winning but Aston Villa on the Asian Handicap +1.5 at 2.07 has some appeal.

Dortmund v Freiburg
Mats Hummels, Defender, Dortmund

Hummels has missed 15 games since the start of last season and Dortmund’s win rate has gone from 76% with him to just 47% without as they’ve conceded 40% more goals per game. Furthermore, they’ve conceded at least twice in six of the last nine matches he’s missed and this could be a good time to back Freiburg on the +1.5 Asian Handicap at 2.15.

Juventus v Udinese
Andrea Pirlo, Midfielder, Juventus

Pirlo has missed 11 Juventus games since the start of last season and without him they’ve scored exactly one goal on seven occasions with six 1-0 wins and eight clean sheets. Their defence is better without the ageing maestro but they go from scoring at least twice in 72% of games with him to just 36% without as 8/11 matches he’s missed have had -2.5 goals, which can be backed at 2.05.

Golden Rose preview

Sydney's big race of the spring, the $1m Group 1 De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose Stakes, takes place tomorrow at Rosehill. The sharp fellas at Premium Punting (@premiumpunting, website) have taken the time to share their expert preview of the big race. Even if Aussie racing is not your bag, take a look at the detail and analysis they use to form their preview - important elements of form study to improve your punting!

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Golden Rose Stakes
Group 1, 1600m
Rosehill Race 7,
tomorrow at 4:25pm Sydney time, 0725 London.


Analysts are faced with an immediate conundrum as 9/15 come out of the same race that was on a heavy surface and only Bachman who resumes didn't compete on a heavy rated track at their last start.

Rosehill has had quite some time to dry over the past few days and the weather on the day predicts no showers, so by this race we may have a Dead 5 or Slow 6 at the worst.

Speed Map


Click on the Speed Map to enlarge

Speed looks to be a moderate gallop, not overly quick but the front runners will not be granted a holiday at the front. There is unlikely to be much change from their positions in the Run To The Rose. Despite fading poorly, jockey Jason Collett has no other option than to cross the field and lead with Yrigette again on his heels.

Almalad faces a challenge, more so does Tommy Berry. Gai won't take any chances and will more than likely give Tommy instructions to race very handy, however the two jockeys drawn on his immediate inside will ensure that he isn't granted the run to slot in front of them.

The barrier position of Bring Me The Maid, although appearing suitable, can potentially be detrimental to her winning hopes shall she not jump well which she does have the tendency to do. The possibility looms for her to be back and wedged waiting for a run. But provided she is well away it would be unlikely she concedes too much ground. Hearts in mouths for backers of her in the first 50m.

Almalad
Expecting the old Almalad to return, for a horse with only four career runs the term old appears strange but the difference between his last start performance figure and what we saw when he won the G1 J.J.Atkins look like a different horse. He was depleted carrying 60KGs on that bog ground last run and the vet also found him to have "aggravated superficial abrasions to the off hind cannon." Provided the track is no worse than a Slow 6, he is going to return to his near peak which is good enough to win. Do your shopping and you will be able to back him as an overlay - track the key so pay close attention to the rain radar.

Hallowed Crown

Despite conceding Bring Me The Maid 2KGs, the current difference between himself and her is inaccurate. He bloused the field easily in the Run To The Rose and her final 200m sectional time was quicker than that of the fillies. Again, she has drawn wide but doing so over 1400m races at Rosehill is of no concern and jockey Hugh Bowman will have no reason to panic cornering as he can patiently wait and then accelerate - he has the horse to produce the fastest finish. His performance rating spiked when presenting second up last campaign and the Cummings are most patient with their horses upon resumption, so we can expect that he may have further improvement into this than his counterparts.

Kumaon

Was most gallant in defeat to Hallowed Crown last run in his return from a spell. Settled well back after being slightly awkward away and then he really did attack the line. His career PB was when he ran third in the G1 Champagne Stakes over 1600m, thus, an expectation for him to return a better performance over this 1400m trip has merit. Importantly, he has drawn an inside gate and we anticipate that jockey Kerrin McEvoy takes the trail behind Nostradamus and follows his pth in to the sprint. Provided the rail is of no disadvantage, he is in for a cheap run.

Bring Me The Maid

As mentioned before, her speed map is of a concern and it is a surprise to see her backed early in betting. Of course, with even luck she is most capable of winning this race; she is already a G2 winner and an excellent 3rd in the G1 Golden Slipper. But she faces adversity from her mid race position and her trainer Peter Moody, as honest as he always is, has indicated that there is nothing between her and stable-mate Better Land in track work. Long term you will be in front taking on favourites with a speed map that she may have shall she begin awkwardly.

Our Market



The market shown is set to 100%, eliminating horses priced over $20. Premium Racing Services clients get a market <100% to gain a wagering edge and to help find the stronger overlays to be wagered upon.

RECOMMENDED BETS:

Follow our market closely in comparison to the public's throughout the day, feel there will be a bit of change and we will get a perfect gauge on the track.

At this stage, a Win bet Hallowed Crown and place ticket on Kumaon and play close attention to the track condition, happy to back Almalad if no worse than slow 6.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

NFC East preview

Ian Steven's divisional previews now switch to the NFC - first up, it's the East. Follow him on @deevo82.

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NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles

NFC East – my division, let’s get this on.

I felt last year that the Eagles would have a great offense and a woeful defense and I was right – but I thought Mike Vick would be the featured QB in Chip Kelly’s fast-paced system. I was wrong as Nick Foles surprised everyone by taking on the mantle when Vick went down to a hamstring injury to the Giants to post one of the best season’s by a signal caller in NFL history with a 119 rating, throwing 27 touchdowns to only two picks.

Part of the reason that Foles excelled was the depth of talent on the rest of the offense. Shady McCoy is the most electrifying player in the NFL since Barry Sanders and he led the league in rushing. Opening holes were three of the best players at their position in the NFL. Jason Peters, Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce are all blue chip talents and simply blow people away on the left-hand side of the line. Todd Herremans was inconsistent last season and Lane Johnson will miss the first four games of the season with a PED suspension on the other side of the line.

It looks like the Eagles have been depleted in their receiver ranks as DeSean Jackson was sensationally released by the Birds and picked up by rivals Washington. The pint-sized wide out had blazing speed but also a massive salary attached to his titanesque ego. He did not really fit the system. Jeremy Maclin returns from season ending knee injury and will be the go-to guy if healthy. Riley Cooper went from racist pariah to unexpected star, earning a contract extension. Rookie Jordan Matthews should get a lot of passes thrown his way in the slot and could be in line for Offensive Rookie of the Year. He is the SEC’s leading receiver and tough as they come. It does not end there as Brent Celek and Zach Ertz are a pair of tight ends that can get open in the middle of the field. It is clear the Eagles are stacked on offense.

On defense, they are actually not that bad but the offense is so quick in time of possession that the defense spends a lot of time on the field and the yardage stats are slightly skewed. After an opening four horrible games, Billy Davies’ unit settled down and became very good against the run. It is defending the pass which is the biggest problem as the Eagles lacked a consistent pass rush despite having Trent Cole and Connor Barwin on the roster. DeMeco Ryans returns at middle linebacker after playing more snaps than any other player on defense last season. His worth to the Linc faithful cannot be ignored.

The secondary was immediately upgraded by releasing Patrick Chung who was terrible. Malcolm Jenkins comes in from the Saints for a massive upgrade to a unit that are quietly quite good.

Washington Redskins

Washington will be Philly’s biggest challenger this year but are embroiled in the scandal of their persistent use of the “Redskins” moniker which has upset a lot of people in the USA, with some papers refusing to refer to them by that name. I suggested to Daniel Snyder that he change their name to the “Foreskins” but he has not got back to me on that on yet.

Mike Shanahan has gone and Jay Gruden becomes the latest head coach to try to resurrect the flailing franchise. Hope are pinned on the shoulder of Robert Griffin III who struggled to find form last season after reconstructive knee surgery. He is one year fitter and should be a force to contend with, not just with his mobility but his arm strength as well. He does have a reputation as a bit of a diva however and will have to be managed carefully.

Alfred Morris will be relied on heavily to carry the load in the running game and could end up with the most carries in the NFL this season. He is a fantasy league gem.

Griffin has a couple of legitimate deep threats in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon but RG3 will have to move in the pocket quite a lot to find his targets as the offensive line is pretty poor apart from left tackle Trent Williams.

On defense, Jim Haslett’s system pretty much emulates the Eagles 3-4 - both good against the run, setting the edge well with a couple of book end linebackers in Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo but porous against the pass.

New York Giants

This is going to be a long season for fans of the Big Blue. Eli Manning looks like he is regressing, throwing for 27 interceptions last season and struggling to shake off his funk in the preseason this year. To be fair to the Ole Miss grad, the Giants do not have a lot of talent to help him out on offense.

Rashad Jennings is hardly elite at running back and the G Men have a very week offensive line with Will Beatty charged with protecting the blind side of Manning. There is a chink of light in the receiver group as Victor Cruz is talented and rookie Odel Beckham Jr looks like he could become a quality receiver in the league but might take a while to develop. Jason Pierre Paul is the top talent on a shaky defense and he can be a force if healthy – which he has not been for a couple of seasons.

Tom Coughlin’s men are weak up the middle with Jameel McClain, Devon Kennard and Jacquian Williams at linebacker and will be punished heavily by the run-heavy Eagles and Redskins.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has arrived from Denver to boost the secondary but he developed a reputation at the Eagles to be allergic to contact and is not ideally suited to the division.

Dallas Cowboys

It is if America’s team have become a parody of themselves as it emerged that Jerry Jones was set to draft Johnny Manziel only for his son, Stephen, to snatch the pick off of him at the last moment and select offensive lineman Zach Martin.

It is the ego of Jones that has ruined this franchise and he is quickly matriculating into the league’s biggest front office laughing stock since Al Davis. Jones is insistent that he is a “football man” and refuses to hire the general manager that the franchise desperately need as they sink into the basement of the NFC East.

Quarterback Tony Romo is injury prone and typecast into a choke artist when the pressure is on. He was guaranteed $55 million at the start of 2013 which makes him expensive to move on and the Cowboys are effectively tethered to him despite Jerry’s compulsions.

DeMarco Murray managed to gain over 1,000 yards in only 14 games and should feature heavily in the Dallas offense. Dez Bryant is a very talented wide receiver if not a bit drama prone whilst Jason Witten has been Romo’s security blanket for what seems like 20 years.

The offensive line has got three very good young players in Tyron Smith, Zach Martin and Travis Frederick and will become bedrock of the franchise (until the end of the season when Jason Garrett is fired and the system is changed.)

The defense, already terrible, was made worse by the pre-season injury of their best player, middle linebacker Sean Lee. DeMarcus Ware was allowed to join Denver and I can’t see where the Cowboys will generate a consistent pass rush from.

Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are two very talented cornerbacks but the safety play is below par and the Cowboys will give up a lot of yards in the air. Expect a lot of games to finish in the region of 38-35…..in favour of the opposition.

Verdict

The Eagles have four of the best players in their position in the NFL in McCoy, Peters, Kelce and Mathis and are going to run the ball for fun again in Chip Kelly’s (literally) breath-taking system. I can’t see anyone in the division being able to keep up with them although the Redskins could run them close.

5 points on the Eagles @2.2 with Bet Victor. This is ridiculous value - the Eagles should be around 1.5.

AFC West preview

More NFL divisional analysis from the astute Ian Steven, @deevo82.

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AFC West

Denver Broncos

The Broncos were an offensive juggernaut last season until they came up against the road hump that was Seattle in the Super Bowl. It certainly helps any team to have the best quarterback to have ever played the game taking the field and in Peyton Manning the Mile High club have a first ballot hall of fame candidate.

In fact – I probably don’t need to elaborate too much – they have Peyton = division winners. Just as key to Denver’s success is left tackle Ryan Clady. The all-pro lineman went down with a Lis franc injury last year and he was sorely missed in the Super Bowl as Manning was mauled by a pressure heavy Seahawks defense. The rest of the line is average but Manning is so good at reading defences and releasing quickly that it does not become a factor.

Losing Knowshon Moreno in free agency was a blow to Denver’s running game and Eric Decker’s departure to New Jersey left a vacancy at wide receiver that free agent Emmanuelle Sanders looks to fill. The ever-reliable Wes Welker will miss the first four games of the season due to a drug suspension, giving him time to recover form yet another concussion, but Jacob Tamme and Julius Thomas should be able to pick up a lot of the underneath work.

On defense the Broncos have spent big bucks in an effort to tighten up with DeMarcus Ware, Aquib Talib and TJ Ward joining Von Miller for what should be a fearsome defense on paper. The Colorado outfit are near enough locks to win the division but are they good enough to get back to the Super Bowl?

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs were one of the big surprises of last season. Most people believed that Andy Reid would help turn the franchise around but nobody foretold the resurrection would be so imminent. The Arrowhead outfit won their first nine games before losing focus after the bye week to “slump” to an 11-5 record.

The bulk of the success was down to the conservative play of quarterback Alex Smith who threw for 23 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions with a passing attack that featured a lot of play action, thanks to the constant threat of running back Jamal Charles.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has been suspended for the first game of the season for marijuana possession and he needs to wind his neck in as the Chiefs don’t have anyone else in the same stratosphere as him talent-wise at the skill positions.

The offensive line are serviceable with former first overall pick Erik Fisher settling into his second season. The fact that the Missouri franchise are keeping six running backs on the roster gives you a big hint about what their plan of attack will be this season.

On defense, the linebacker trio of Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson are the most talent packed unit in the NFL. You can even throw Frank Zomba in there without too much of a drop off. As talented as the linebackers are – the Chiefs were terrible last year in terms of giving up yards. How did they manage to win 11 games? Quite simple – they were 5th in the league in points conceded, 19 per game, which is a trait Reid borrowed from his days in Philly with the late Jim Johnson marshalling the defense. Expect a lot of ball control on offense and a lot of field goals scored against on defense as the Chiefs flirt with the wildcards for the second straight season.

Oakland Raiders

Who’s next? The Oakland Raiders?! Dear, Lord. Let’s get this savaging over with.

Two rookies have instantly upgraded this roster by increasing the amount of talented players in the Black Hole to….two.

Derek Carr is a big-armed quarterback from Fresno State and is the brother of David Carr, the former number one overall pick by the Houston Texans. He has been anointed the starter for the Raiders after beating out Matt Schaub for the top job and it is a bold move by Dennis Allen as he has no one to throw to and no-one to block for him.

He does have a couple of big name running backs to hand off to in Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden but Jones-Drew is showing signs of wear and tear and McFadden is so often on the treatment table he does not get the chance for any wearing of tearing to manifest. It’s going to be a tough rookie year for Carr.

On defense, Khalil Mack was the top draft choice of Reggie McKenzie and the outside linebacker from Buffalo is highly thought of with the potential for being moulded into a blue chip player.

And Charles Woodson is back – but he’s 37. That’s about it really. The Raiders could well end up with the worst record in the NFL @ 4.00 with Ladbrokes.

San Diego Chargers

You have to feel sorry for Philip Rivers. He led a top-five offense last season and defeated the Bengals in Cincinnati to reach the divisional playoff game against the Broncos but he still does not get the same sort of fanfare as some of the more established quarterbacks in the league. He is immobile to the point of being compared to a Scottish central defender; he has an awkward throwing motion and is an irritable trash talker. But he is tough, respected by his team mates and compiled a 105 QB rating whilst throwing for nearly 4,500 yards last season. He is the QB the cognoscenti picks in his fantasy draft.

With such a talented quarterback you have to wonder what Tom Telesco is thinking of protecting his top asset with King Dunlap – an offensive tackle the same size as Mount Everest with the same 40 yard dash time.

Keenan Allen came from nowhere last season to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and he will become a huge comfort blanket. If tight end Antonio Gates can stay healthy, expect the eight-time Pro Bowl selection to post over 100 receptions this season.

The rest of the line’s pretty good however with Nick Chadwick a Pro Bowl talent and they should open a lot of holes for Donald Brown and Ryan Matthews.

It’s defense that is the biggest problem for the Bolts. They gave up a huge chunk of yards in 2013 and have brought in the ageing Dwight Freeney to add some much needed pass rush. Mike McCoy will hope inside linebacker Manti T’Eo makes a big leap in his second season and becomes the sort of lynch pin on defense that made the Hawaiian such a big hit at Notre Dame.

Expect Kansas City and San Diego to duke it out over a playoff spot as Denver pulls away for the division title.

Verdict
1.3 for the Broncos to win the division is just not tempting enough. They will win it – there’s no doubt in my mind –the big question is – can they get to the Super Bowl and avenge their demons?

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Aviva Premiership preview

A new face on the blog this week, to mark the start of the English domestic rugby season. Danny Till, @dannyjt10, has done the hard yards and produced this excellent piece of work. His blog's a bit thin on content, a few more readers might make him more active...

Back Bath for Premiership Glory
by Danny Till.
Original article posted here.

This weekend sees the return of domestic Rugby Union as the Aviva Premiership hits our screens, and this season has the potential to be the best in the history of the competition. With nine months of pulsating action, hard hits, scorching tries and gut wrenching tension in store as the major powers try to wrestle the title away from Northampton. Here is my betting guide to the 2014/15 season.

It is likely to be a similar scenario at the top of the table this season to the one we have seen for the last five years. Saracens, Northampton and Leicester will all be strong candidates to take home silverware. They are the powerhouses of English rugby and have the proven pedigree to last the long trip of an Aviva Premiership season.

But for my money Bath look a great value bet to claim their first premiership title since 1996. Last year they missed out on the play-offs in agonising fashion on the final day of the season. Owner Bruce Craig has once again splashed the cash in an effort to bring the glory days back to the Rec. England prop Henry Thomas has arrived from Sale and full-back Luke Arscott has arrived from the Exeter Chiefs.

But the biggest signing of them all is Rugby League superstar Sam Burgess who will arrive from the NRL in October. Burgess has been smashing down defences in Australia for the past five seasons but has switched to Bath in a bid to help England win the 2015 Rugby World Cup. His sheer size and power aligned with his deft hands and sharp rugby brain will make him a star in union both domestically and internationally.

He will be joining a team full of other exciting English talent including George Ford, Anthony Watson, Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph who have all the attributes required to take on the likes of Saracens, Leicester and Northampton. With the disappointment of last season still fresh in the mind and the recruitments made in the off-season I can see Bath being a force to be reckoned with this season. At a juicy 10/1 they are a great value bet to go all the way, for the more cautious of you I'd still advise a top four finish at 11/8.

The top tryscorer market is littered with a number of players who could light up grounds up and down the country. Leicester Tigers back Niki Goneva claimed the award last season with 12 tries and he is currently 7/1 favourite to regain his crown. But with all the talent in the league it is better to look for some larger prices.

Fijian flyer Asaeli Tikoirotuma was snapped up by Harlequins after spells with the Chiefs and Manawatu in New Zealand. His raw pace and finishing ability will be a real asset to Quins and with Marland Yarde almost certain to be away with England for long periods of the season, Tikoirotuma will feature heavily and could be one of the stars of the season.

Mark Cueto is one of the greatest players in the history of the Aviva Premiership,his tally of 86 career tries make him the top scorer in the history of the competition. Last season the veteran winger finished the season with eight tries to his name leaving him joint fourth on the list. Despite his age Cueto remains one of the best finishers in the land, and will be a key player for his beloved Sale Sharks and at a big price he could be worth taking an each-way punt on.

Jonny May is another finisher with a proven record at this level, while it may not have always worked for him with England his predatory instincts at Gloucester have never been in question. Last season he registered nine tries in a team that performed well below its best, but with powerful signings in the pack I expect the Cherry and Whites to have a much better platform to release May and it would be no surprise to see him to top the charts come the end of the season.

Best Bets
Bath to win outright 10/1 (Paddy Power) 2pt win
Bath top four finish 11/8 (Bet Victor) 4pt win
Asaeli Tikoirotuma top try scorer 20/1 (Ladbrokes) 2pt win
Jonny May top try scorer 10/1 (Bet365) 2pt win
Mark Cueto top try scorer 66/1 (Hills) 0.5pt e/w

Dato' Tan Chin Nam Stakes preview

Courtesy of the sharp operators at @PremiumPunting, it's the first big mile race of the Melbourne spring. Formerly known as the Feehan Stakes, it's now named after the long-term owner for Bart Cummings, Dato' Tan Chin Nam. Find out more about the work of PremiumPunting on their website.

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Dato' Tan Chin Nam Stakes
Moonee Valley, Group II, 1600m
Saturday, 4pm local (0700 BST)


Although run a week earlier than previous this season, as always it will still be a key race to look back upon when analysing the major races in the spring.

Speed Map



As expected in any race that involves The Cleaner you can expect a very genuine speed. He obviously produced some immensely fast mid-race sectionals when leading with company to his outside by 7-8L to the rest of the field. Doubt he will replicate those tactics up in trip in an inferior race but he will still roll along at a quick tempo. Star Rolling & Mourinho to be in the second line pairing up.

Key Historical Factors:
There are only three interesting historical factors been identified in this race which have been categorised into two groups:

INTO THE RACE:
- 10/15 winners have won at $3.30 or shorter SP.
- One double-figure odds winner in last 15 years.

OUT OF THE RACE:
- No Caulfield Cup winner has come out the race since 1981. (Alarming for The Offer)

PP Market:
As always, our markets are set to 100% with every runner rated >$20 eliminated. Premium Racing Services clients get a market <100% to gain a wagering edge and to help find the stronger overlays to be wagered upon.

Foreteller (GB) First up performance in PB Lawrence good. Produced some good last 400 & 200m splits when considering he wasn’t fully wound up for the race. Second up pattern over his whole career (including Europe) is a bit scattered, but last spring second up at mile won the G1 Makybe Diva beating home the, at the time, ‘invincible’ Puissance De Lune. In the autumn second up was 1.3L behind Fiorente in a grinding effort before doing his strongest work in last 100m. Certainly appreciates a genuine speed which is certainly what will be given to him here and with the expected advancement he has the highest predicted rating of all the runners which are all carrying the same weight meaning he is our market favourite and a backable overlay.

The Offer (IRE)
First up . Early cups favourite. Trialled well recently at Kensington in Sydney with the other trial also being good. Sydney Cup winning figure last start extremely impressive and one of the highest rating performances for the year. Will certainly rate much superior over further ground. The question is, why would Gai have him wound up for this race with there still being so much time towards the Cups? It will be interesting to see how the market assesses this runner and at this stage due to the short trip and likely lack of conditioning for this affair I am not prepared to wager on him this early into the campaign.

The Cleaner
Freshened off an immensely brave win last start when leading the third runner by 7-8L upon settling. As tough a horse as anyone has seen. Do think Noel Callow not riding is a big concern, his strength as a rider is his best attribute and perfect for a gelding like this one. And although we have a high jockey rating of Steven Arnold, his best attributes are his patience and soft hands, which are not required for this runner. As always, will be hard to run down but he does need to find another level up to this G2 race.

Pakal (GER)
First up off an abbreviated autumn (the new in-thing for horses with big spring targets, Ed.), both runs good. Jumpout and trial both even. First up last spring won by 6L producing an immensely impressive rating for an Open handicap. Rated more like a ‘G2 ½’ race. Is very unlikely in this G2 he will be able to replicate a similar performance than that here and is currently an underlay on our market.

Lidari (FR)
First up performance even when having the run of the race, some would’ve thought he should have produced more. Second up pattern is excellent including winning a G2 last autumn when receiving a soft lead all the way. Maps ok just behind speed in this race exerting no energy to find that position and with the expected high advancement on that PB Lawrence rating he can produce a winnable figure in this race. Backable at the current price offered.

Star Rolling
=PB rating first up producing a tough, grinding effort winning the PB Lawrence. Although second up pattern is excellent it is hard to see him holding that figure; generally our systems would suggests for a lightly raced 5YO that he has simply come back this preparation at a higher level but due to the tough/grinding performance needed it is hard to for most racehorses to be able to advance on it. Although he likely rates down he is still capable of running very well with the cosy run but isn’t a betting proposition as favourite in the race.

Recommended Bets:
Back the overlays FORETELLER & LIDARI in the race. Both will significantly advance on their 2nd up runs and are strong enough to fight out a likely tight finish.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

AFC South preview

More shrewd advice from NFL devotee/tragic Ian Steven, @deevo82.

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AFC South

Houston Texans


I was convinced that last year was going to be “the year” for the Texans as they looked balanced on offense and defense and an AFC Title game against the Broncos looked a likely scenario. Much like the ending of The Crying Game – boy, did I get that one wrong.

The Texans finished with the worst record in the NFL which has turned out to be both a good and a bad thing. The drop off in play can be attributed to injuries and most importantly, the loss of mojo of one-time starter Matt Schaub. The former Falcons signal caller suffered from a couple of early interceptions that led to touchdowns and his confidence quickly eroded. As is the way in the NFL – a team is only as good as its quarterback and the Texans endured a 14 game losing streak which prompted owner Bob McNair to give head coach Gary Kubiak his jotters with Bill O’Brien coming in from Penn State to reverse their fortunes.

The good news for Houston was that securing the league’s worst record provided the opportunity to draft the possibly the best defensive player to enter the NFL since the legendary Lawrence Taylor left North Carolina for the Giants.

Jadeveon Clowney is a monster. He has speed, power, instincts, burst and physique that is put together in a once in a lifetime package to form the perfect defensive end. The Texans really needed a quarterback but Clowney was just too good to pass up and will form an awesome tandem with JJ Watt who has just signed a $100 million package contract extension.

Middle linebacker Brian Cushing returns after breaking his leg to provide some leadership with Jonathan Joseph the best player in the secondary. This could be a good defense as Clowney begins to mature.

The Texans will start the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick as the incumbent quarterback. He is mobile and he's intelligent after graduating from Harvard but doesn't have the biggest arm in the league. He is a very good tutor however and will help Tom Savage make the transition from the college level to the NFL. Ryan Mallett has been brought in in a trade with the Patriots as he is familiar with Bill O'Brien's offense and should duke it out with Savage to see who backs up Fitzpatrick.

The running game of the Texans was the strong point of the offense under Gary Kubiak which had the same zone blocking scheme as the Denver Broncos under Mike Shanahan. Arian Foster once led the league in rushing but he has been hampered with injuries in recent seasons. Rookie running back Alfred Lewis has had an impressive pre-season and he could well get significant game time and prosper.

At wide receiver the peerless Andre Johnson still takes the field and he looks like he could well earn entry to Canton. DeAndre Hopkins line up beside him for what should be an explosive receiving duo. There's a lot of talent and skill positions for Houston but that is not the main issue.

They are very weak on the offensive line. Duane Brown is a Pro Bowl tackle but the rest of the offensive line has questions. This is very much a team in transition and I do not expect them to challenge for the play-offs this season.

Indianapolis Colts

Whilst the Texans can bemoan their quarterback situation there is no such issue in Indianapolis as the Colts have possibly the best quarterback to enter the NFL since Peyton Manning. Andrew Luck is simply outstanding, having every measurable and immeasurable needed to compete at the most important position in the sport. The issue for the Colts is has Luck made them too good to soon?

The running back situation still looks to be in flux with the trade with the Cleveland Browns last season for Trent Richardson looking very dubious. The former Alabama standout struggled to get above four yards per carry last season. Veteran Ahmad Bradshaw has been brought in to add some support to a running game that needs to excel.

Wide receiver Reggie Wayne may well be the best route runner in the NFL but it looked like the offense would struggle when the veteran went down with a torn ACL last October. Up stepped TY Hilton to become the comfort blanket for his young quarterback amassing over 1,000 yards receiving despite only starting 10 games last season. The free agency capture of Hakeem Nicks makes wide receiver a position of strength for the AFC South champions.

The offensive line remains mediocre and the Colts do not have a standout left tackle with which to protect their highly valued young quarterback. Anthony Castonzo is the starter but he's not an elite talent. The position could definitely be upgraded.

The defense really surprised last season with the forced transition into a 3-4 system. Robert Mathis was a standout player last year. He amassed 19.5 sacks despite being asked to change from defensive end to outside linebacker to fit into the new system. He has been suspended for the first four games of the regular season for performance enhancing substances. He claims that the suspension was due to him taking unapproved fertility drugs. I don't even know where to start with that one. Without Mathis, the defense is merely functional. It looks likely that the Colts will have to outscore their opponents in a lot of matches. Indy still have the potential to win 9-10 matches looking at the schedule so they should be pencilled in as the returning champions.

Tennessee Titans

Do I have to talk about the Titans? They are about as inspiring as an Alan Titchmarsh lecture on Rhododendrons.

Jake Locker has never lived up to his billing as a starting NFL QB and is very much a weak link in the side. Zach Metternburg, the rookie from LSU, is bearing down over his shoulder and with a new head coach, Locker needs to excel in the first four games or he will be yanked quicker than a hot dog platter at a Chippendales show.

The backfield is woeful with Shonn Greene a back-up at best and there is little talent at wide receiver. I simply can’t see how the Titans can put points on the board.

The offensive line is in complete contrast to the skill positions. They may have the most talented unit in the NFL as Michael Roos, Andre Levitre, Brian Schwenke, Chance Warmack and Michael Oher are all road-graders and this is before rookie first round draft pick Taylor Lewan fits into the picture.

One defense the Titans are switching to a 3-4 and look like they have the personnel to make this work. They are a bit light on the defensive line but Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimberly should force a lot of plays back into the inside with Zach Brown and Wesley Woodward looking to mop up.

Michael Griffin and Bernard Pollard are two experienced Pro Bowl safeties and this could well be a top-ten defense in the making.

It looks very much like the Titans will keep a lot of games close but will struggle to put points on the board and should finish with roughly a .500 record.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jags fans had their heads in their hands last season. As bad as they were, they just weren’t bad enough. 2014 was meant to be the year that Jadeveon Clowney went to Florida but Gus Bradley’s men inexplicably beat the Texans twice late on in the season to assure Houston of the first pick in the draft.

Blake Bortles was their consolation prize. The UCF quarterback was the first signal caller selected and the hopes of a franchise who are persistently linked with a move to London rests on his shoulders. Bortles joins a team very much still in transition and he is going to have a patchy rookie season due to a very weak offensive line coupled with star receiver Justin Blackmon being suspended indefinitely for marijuana possession.

Chris Clemons and Red Bryant have been recruited onto the defense as Bradley attempts to recreate the successful system he had in Seattle. Paul Posluszny is a competent middle linebacker but they are still a long way away from escaping the basement of this division. Expect another high draft pick for the Jaguars in 2015.

Verdict

2 points on the Colts to win the division @1.67 with Coral.

Read Ian's other previews here - AFC East and AFC North.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

BetButler goes bust

No shock here, another UK-facing bet brokerage has gone under. Customers have complained about withdrawal delays for over 12 months, while the UK Gambling Commission sat there and did nothing. They only appear to be interested in sustaining that overrated, self-perpetuating industry called compliance. Gotta make sure those boxes on the fancy forms are ticked!

Earlier in the year, BetButler were even allowed to take over the debts of Bodugi, the failed social gambling site of Dave Nevison, whose customers had already suffered cash flow problems - talk about a double hit!

Hat tip to BettingTools.co.uk for the article

BetButler ceases trading

Remember BetBrokers back in 2008? A very familiar tale.

BetBrokers goes broke

The concept of a bet brokerage is nothing new - in Australia there have been numerous individuals over the years doing the same thing, we call them commission agents. Either for convenience (don't have the time or energy to chase best price), anonymity (celebrity) or barred by bookmakers (not so common a decade ago), they offer a service to place bets for people. Much easier to do with on-course bookmakers in Australia are they are compelled to take a bet, unlike the corporates. Anything outside of the mainstream though becomes very difficult as it's now beancounters rather than old school bookies willing to go head-to-head against the bigger punters.

Switch that business plan to the UK and you're done before you've even started. If it couldn't work for BetBrokers several years ago, it ain't gonna swim now. You have no chance of getting big money on regularly on racing unless you lose hand over fist. The market simply isn't that deep and bookies aren't interested in handling any decent money which might be informed, regularly beats starting price, or only ever takes top price. Given that modus operandi, horse racing is always going to be the prime attraction of a bet brokerage for a punter in need of such a service. Those wanting the service will be the ones wanting to take top price regularly, otherwise they'd be happy using the likes of Star Sports who will handle the big money, but without the gimmicky offers.

For football and cricket, if you stick to the main couple of markets, there will be plenty of outlets connecting you to the vast liquidity in Asia. Beyond that, even on those sports, you will struggle - a boutique operation with limited membership might be able to crack it but a business which tries to cater for large numbers of clients simply will not work.

Now I wonder when someone will ever sort out/shut down that mob of Irish cowboys, SportsSpreads?

Saturday, 30 August 2014

AFC North preview

More from the sharp mind of Ian Steven, @deevo82.

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AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers


The AFC North is where things begin to become salacious from a betting standpoint as the bookies are split over who tops this traditionally competitive division.

The Steelers are the favourites for the division with Big Ben Roethlisberger once more the face of the franchise. He is not conventional in his play and can throw some ugly looking passes but he has bags of grit and is definitely a playmaker. Roethlisberger will win a couple of games single-handedly if he is fit and he crucially plays well once the weather turns inclement.

There has been a strong tradition of running backs in Western Pennsylvania with names like Franco Harris, Barry Foster and Jerome Bettis tripping off the tongue. Since The Bus retired however, the Heinz Field franchise have struggled to find elite talent at the position and this year will try the tandem of Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount as the offense looks to cudgel their opponents into submission.

At wide receiver, Antonio Brown is quickly becoming one of the top ten players at his position and will definitely be the go to guy for Big Ben. Rookie speedster Dri Archer will be a man to watch both on special teams but also on gadget plays as well as Todd Haley looks to get the diminutive receiver in space to maximise his effectiveness.

The offensive line had traditionally been an area of weakness for the Steeltown franchise. David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey should provide a lot of interior punch but some questions at tackle could force Roethlisberger into more of his playmaking repertoire than he would like.

The defense was shredded by the Eagles in pre-season and they are not the elite force they used to be in years gone by. They could still be a top-ten D but rookie Ryan Shazier will come under a lot of pressure as opponents try to confuse the rookie who is starting at middle linebacker. The usual script with Pittsburgh is that if Troy Polamalu succumbs to injury, the defense falls apart so Dick LeBeau will have to cross his fingers that his blue chip veteran remains off the treatment table.

Cincinnati Bengals

I prophesised that the Bengals were primed to win the division last year and miraculously I was proved correct. There was a lot of unrest in the offseason with Cincy fans as QB Andy Dalton looked out of his depth in the Bengals playoff loss to San Diego with the quarterback throwing two interceptions and also losing a fumble. Dalton does play well in the regular season however – throwing for over 4,293 yards with a 33-20 TD-Int ratio in 2013.

Critics could argue that most QBs could throw for so many yards when AJ Green is the man catching the ball. If it were not for Megatron, Green would be the elite receiver in this league as he has everything, size, speed, hands and toughness. The problem for the Ohio franchise is that Green faces a lot of double coverage with a safety high or zones rotating his way but they don’t really have the talent in other areas of the field to expoit it. Tyler Eifert could be a player to watch for people looking for fantasy drafts as the second-year tight end has the athleticism to get behind linebackers in the seam and could be due for a breakout year.

Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth are good bookends on an above average offensive line but the big grunts won’t be blocking for Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis who has just been released. Giovani Bernard should pick up most of the load in new offensive co-ordinator Hue Jackson’s offense at runningback.

The best bit of recent news for the Ohio faithful was the signing to an extension of Vontaze Burfict who could well be the best 4-3 strong side linebacker in the game. Burfict was not drafted due to character concerns but Mike Brown’s gamble has borne fruit.

The Bengals were the third stingiest in the NFL last season ranked with yards conceded per game and will rely heavily on their star tackle Geno Atkins to recover fully from last season’s torn ACL to anchor the defensive line.

Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick are joined by rookie Darqueze Dennard in the secondary, supplementing the impressive spread of talent on the rest of the roster that make the Bengals the most complete team in the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens were once famed for having the meanest defense in the NFL but times have changed and legends have migrated as the Hall of Fame elect duo of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed long gone from Maryland.

Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs are both perennial Pro Bow talents but are advancing in age. Alabama linebacker CJ Mosely was drafted by Ozzie Newsome to replace the legendary Lewis but Baltimore’s defence definitely looks porous and could give up a lot of yards in the air.

On offense, big-armed quarterback Jim Flacco is still under centre. The Delaware graduate threw for just under 4,000 yards in 2014 but his Int-TDs ratio was terrible and needs attention if the Ravens want to make the playoffs. The direction of a franchise revolves around how well a QB performs in the NFL and Flacco’s playoff form to take the Bengals to the title in February, 2013 will be forgotten of he keeps handing the ball to the opposition on a platter.

Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice courted controversy in the off-season for assaulting his wife in an elevator (or lift if you are from the UK)and received an NFL ban for the first two games of the season – which was a punishment that Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted he had got wrong after protests about the leniency. Bernard Pierce is more than capable of handling the load with Rice out and could snatch the starting sport as Rice was hardly electrifying last season.

Veteran Steve Smith absconded from the Carolina Panthers to join the Ravens in an odd move as Newsome likes to build via the draft and Smith has some questionable character traits that you would not want to influence young players. Owen Daniels was the other big name free agent signing and he should have a good tight end partnership with Dennis Pitta if he can remain healthy.

A weak secondary and an uninspiring offensive line who only have Marshall Yanda as an example of a top tier lineman will ultimately be the undoing of the Ravens in 2014 in an unforgiving division.

Cleveland Browns

Where do you start with the Browns? The most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL in recent years, it looked like the long suffering Dawg Pound had finally found their first franchise quarterback since Bernie Kosar in Brian Hoyer but the hapless signal caller tore his ACL against the Bills and was out for the season. As Hoyer fell then so did the Browns. A seven game losing skid to end the season saw Coach Rob Chudzinski and general manager Michael Lombardi fired with Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer brought in in an effort to right the ship.

The lure of Johnny Football was too much for the Browns front office and Farmer traded up to 22nd with the Eagles to pull the trigger on Manziel. A polarising figure, the Texas A&M QB has already been fined for a middle-finger salute in a pre-season game and has not wowed observes with his displays on the field. Hoyer remains the starter but it is just a matter of time before Manziel takes the field and either saves the franchise of plunges them back into another cycle of despair.

Just as Hoyer was providing hope, Josh Gordon was assailing the Cleveland faithful with out-and-out excellence, amassing 1,646 receiving yards in only 14 games and looking like the next big thing at receiver. Unfortunately, the bone-headed player was arrested for driving whilst impaired in North Carolina and has been suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating the NFL’s substance policy. Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins and Nate Burleson will attempt to share the load with Gordon missing but it is the impressive tight end Jordan Cameron who will be the prime focus of Hoyer/Manziel and a good fantasy draft pick up.

Ben Tate should be able to carve out the yards at running back behind a good line that features Joe Thomas and Alex Mack in Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking run offense that Tate will be familiar with from his time in Houston.

The Browns actually had a top ten defense last season and added to their talent levels by bringing in Justin Gilbert in the draft at cornerback to partner Joe Haden in a solid unit. They will be a tough team to play against and will keep a lot of scores close by running the rock and using play action to move the ball down the field in small chunks – just don’t expect the spectacular plays that Josh Gordon delivered last season.

Verdict

If Cleveland get their act together and actually provide some stability at the quarterback position then the Browns might not finish last in the AFC North. The Steelers and Ravens have enough questions that one injury could derail either team’s season. The Bengals don’t really have a weak spot on their roster and should be consistent enough to win this division for the second year running. 4 pts at 3.2 with Boyle Sports.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Football Form Labs - weekend preview

Sports betting has evolved in recent years, gut instinct and opinion have mostly been replaced by databases and algorithmic trading models. One of the very best of those is Football Form Labs who have shared their wisdom with a preview of some of this week's action. You can also follow Football Form Labs on Twitter, @footballformlab

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PREVIEW: Spurs v Liverpool (Sun, 13:30)

After an unsuccessful trip to the champions last week Liverpool’s title credentials will now be tested by an away match at the early leaders. Spurs have made a perfect start to the season under Mauricio Pochettino and now they face their first serious test having been thrashed in both meetings with Liverpool last term – losing 4-0 and 5-0.

12 months ago Spurs were being talked about as serious top four challengers having made several big money signings in the wake of Gareth Bale’s move to Madrid. However, the new players failed to make the desired impact and they were a fairly disjointed outfit most of the year. Now, some of those players are starting to show some promise while Liverpool are in their position of having sold their best player.

Spurs started to show an improvement at home in the second half of last season and have now won nine of their last 11 matches at White Hart Lane. In the past two seasons they’ve won eight of 18 home games against top-half finishers whilst losing just five times. 11 of these matches have had at least three goals while 12 have seen both teams score.

Liverpool’s failure to lift the title last season can in part be attributed to a defence that conceded 32 times on the road and they’ve started off in a similar vein having let in three at Man City last Monday. They’ve won only five of their 18 trips to top-half finishers in the past two seasons with seven of the matches finishing level. However, four of those five wins came last season when Luis Suarez was tearing defences apart. 15 of the 18 matches have had at least three goals as they’ve conceded at least twice on 13 occasions.

Without Suarez we struggle to see Liverpool maintaining the 2.45 goals per game they’ve scored on the road since the start of last season and Spurs look in a far better position coming into this match. Furthermore, they’ve won this fixture in four of the past five seasons and at 1.91 on the Draw No Bet represent great value.

Early signs this season suggest that there is no need for over-goals backers to abandon Liverpool and 31 of their last 35 matches have now had at least three goals. At 1.7 for Over 2.5 Goals there looks to be some value and much like last week we wouldn’t put anyone off backing Spurs to score Over 1.5 Goals at 2.1 or to win with both teams scoring at 5.0.

Please note we'd advise keeping stakes low in the early weeks of a campaign due to the unpredictable nature of this stage of the season.

Why Form Labs? Here's just a few of the reasons...

50 Leagues of Data Equals More Betting Opportunities
The Football Form Labs software covers 50 different leagues including over 10 summer leagues. This means there will be hundreds of matches to analyse for potential betting opportunities every week throughout the year. No other football betting software comes even close to this level of coverage.

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Teams make the trend, but Form Lab Black recognises that individual players make the team. No other software can offer you the complete package like Football Form Labs and our player analysis tool allows you to compare teams with and without individual players, as well as the impact of different combinations of players.

Identify Key Betting Trends
Football Form Labs gives you the detail but doesn’t miss the bigger picture. Using all-team pre-match queries you can discover general trends which may be the basis for developing strategies and finding that edge over the bookies. Furthermore, the Football Form Labs team also research and publish various potential betting strategies which can be accessed within the software. An example is how the time of season can cause a big shift in the number of goals. This is particularly true in the high-scoring Eredivisie, where goals traditionally fall after the return from their Winter Break before seeing a marked increase in the final few games:
Since the start of 2008/09, 1872 Eredivisie matches have averaged 3.10 goals per game (gpg) with 38% having +3.5 goals
In Jan-Mar there have been 576 matches with an average of 2.85 gpg and +3.5 goals in 31%
In Apr-May there have been 342 matches with an average of 3.30 gpg and +3.5 goals in 42%