FBI Betting Column: Back Mirallas to shoot down Swansea

 

Kevin Mirallas to score first v Swansea is a top tip at 15/2 this weekend. The Belgian trickster claims he is still finding his feet at Goodison football-wise, and that he still needs a few more games to be fully fit. However, he has looked very promising for the Toffees in his first few appearances and will no doubt gain sharpness as each match comes along. So far he has averaged 3 shots per game which ranks him 15th in the league for shooting frequency.

Also in the score first category, StanJames give a shockingly overpriced 18/1 for Leighton Baines to break the ice. Some other great Bainesy odds include the 6/1 price for him to score at any time, and also the huge 12/1 from Boylesports for him to get the first assist.

Paddy Power are offering some great odds for this game including 17/2 offered for Victor Anichebe to be the last scorer. Plus, Paddy Power offers an extremely generous 6/4 just for Everton to win. For more Swansea v Everton related betting tips check out Paddy Power’s Everton betting zone.

Dead certs…..

  • Everton to win and keep clean sheet
  • Mirallas to score anytime / Everton win double

Selected Odds from Paddy Power

  • 8/11 Under 2.5 goals
  • 9/2 Draw H/T, Everton F/T
  • 17/2 Anichebe last goal

Over 2.5 Goals Treble:

Liverpool v Manchester United, Manchester City v Arsenal & Blackburn v Mboro. A £5 stake returns £28 at Willie Hills.

Under 2.5 Goals Treble:

Wigan have seen under 2.5 goals in their last 8 home matches against Fulham in all competitions.  Up in the decaying SPL, Aberdeen cannot score but are solid defensively, with 5 of their 6 games so far under 2.5 goals. West Ham have kept 3 clean sheet from 4 and Sunderland average the fewest shots in the league so….

A £5 stake on Wigan v Fulham,  West Ham v Sunderland, Aberdeen v Motherwell all to finish with under 2.5 goals returns £23

Goalscorer Treble:

A £5 stake on Robin Van Persie, Dimitar Berbatov and Jermain Defoe all to score at any time returns £49

Good luck!

Tom Clarke – @TomClarke40

Scout Report: Moyes Tactical Blueprint for Swansea

Saturday’s early kick off sees us head to Wales to take on a Swansea outfit who have made a bright start to the season with the same points tally as the Toffees so far. Against a side who keeps the ball like Swansea there is perhaps a plan A and Plan B you can use. ‘Plan A’ is to let them have the ball, block off angles for forward passes, conserve energy and  only press when they approach 20 yards from your goal. Plan B is to stop them playing from the source – their top keeper Michel Vorm – recruited from Utrecht as much for his ability on the ball as for his goalkeeping prowess – however this is a physically draining strategy. This preview will take a look at probable tactics, formations and setup plus intel on the best odds in premier league betting .  First up, lets take a look at last seasons’s meeting for clues on how Moyes will setup…..

At Goodison….

The Blues won 1-0 in a very entertaining game at L4 just before Christmas. Swansea had the bulk of possession ( 54%) and kept the ball better than the Blues (82%) but we looked more incisive in the final third than our opponents and secured the points when Osman rose ‘like a salmon’ to head home Drenthe’s delicious cross. Moyes looked to close out passing angles from Vorn to Swansea ’s defensive distributors and key midfield link Britton. If there is a critique of the Swans its that their domination of the ball is mostly in their own half and they lack penetration to force their way into the final third. Crucially in the game at Goodison, of the successful passes made 27% of ours were made in the final third whilst only 16% of Swansea’s occurred in our final third.

At Swansea……

Our hosts had most of the ball again (62%) kept it better (86% v 76%) and made more passes (585 v 359) but again lost without scoring.  The key factor again was us disrupting their fluidity in playing through us. Swansea’s key man last season was arguably Leon Britton. He is vital to Swansea’s rhythm and linking defence to midfield. Our game plan from the off was to position ourselves to block off the angles from Vorm to the defenders with Osman and Pienaar positioning themselves high up the pitch as shown below .

The Blues average position / touch heatmap for the away game is above;

Cahill was asked to basically stand on Britton’s toes and ensure the midfielder had no space or angles to distribute forwards when the ball was played into him (expect Fellaini to be given the same job this time out). This tactic really frustrated their key midfield man and one of the key themes of the game was him constantly moving around the midfield zone looking for space, closely followed by Cahill. Unsurprisingly the duo covered the most – and almost exactly the same – distance in the first half from players on either side; Britton 2.78 miles and Cahill 2.76 miles respectively.

Swansea’s passing is often not going anywhere specific but the retention enables them to rest before building up another attack (i.e its easier to rest on the ball than chasing it). With containment achieved, the Blues kicked on and got the key goals late in the game before shutting up shop. Crucial to the win was the fact that we are physically capable of endurance in being able to withstand being off the ball for such long periods, mixed with some quick counter attacking play.

Whats changed?

Danish legend Laudrup was chosen as the new boss to develop the continuity the club have had from Martinez to King Brenny. The playing style remains the same possession based game, patient passing and looking to wear opponents down.  Key personnel have gone since our last duel; Sigurdsson opted for a massive bucket of Spurs cash instead of King Brenny’s offer of a ‘vision’ at the tin mine, whilst Joe Allen, a player whose type you could pick up for a few million in Spain went across the park for £15m. Great business.  Wannabe wideboy Scott Sinclair also buggered off to Citteh’s development squad on a 12 month sabbatical to play u-21 football before signing for QPR next season. The crucial incomings at either end of the pitch have been Chico and Michu, and their role has been to beef up Swansea’s aerial power. Last season this was a major weak spot (Osman’s headed winner at Goodison for example) as the Swans won fewer aerial duels per game (5.9) than any side in the top flight. This season the change has been colossal with 17.3 aerials won per game – 6th best in the top flight – with the new duo the top two for headers won per game at their new club.  So they are no longer a soft touch to the high ball into the box.

Team News

Swansea have a problem at left back with Neil Taylor out for the season with ressie fullback Ben Davies who started last week against Villa likely to continue.  Mirallas is very direct and I’d expect Moyes to probe him to test the rookie out early on. Chico is banned for his GBH style head chop on Saha so Tate will fill in.

Moyes is without injured Nikica Jelavic for a few weeks so boo boy Victor Anichebe will most likely deputise. Gibson is still out so expect Neville to continue in the middle of the park.

Betting Forecast

Paddy Power are offering 6/4 on the Everton win, with the draw at 9/5 and a Swansea win at 23/10. Last season, Everton won both games without conceding; both games were level at half time before the Blues went on to get the winning goal(s). Both games also featured under 2.5 goals. View more of EB’s weekend tips here

Dead certs…..

  • Everton to win and keep clean sheet
  • Mirallas to score anytime / Everton win double

Selected Odds from Paddy Power

  • 8/11 Under 2.5 goals
  • 9/2 Draw H/T, Everton F/T
  • 17/2 Anichebe last goal

For more Swansea v Everton related betting tips check out Paddy Power’s Everton betting zone.

EB

Everton 2-2 Newcastle – Tactical Deconstruction

Formations 

Newcastle lined up in a 4-3-3 with Cisse through the middle, Ben Arfa high up the pitch and Marveaux deeper with more defensive responsibility to drop and support the right side to shut down Baines/Pienaar. Everton were pretty much as you’d expect with Neville in for Gibson and Mirallas starting in place of Naismith who had been on the periphery of the action in his first league starts.

Left side

The game again showcased the interplay between Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar; unquestionably the most lethal left side in the top flight. In total they made 33 combinations and created 7 chances with a goal and two assists. It was surprising that Pardew opened up in a 4-3-3 given that with our width we usually prosper against sides deploying a narrow 3 man midfield (our games vs Ancelloti’s Chelsea sides are a good example of this). It was doubly peculiar given that Perch was given an absolute chasing in the last game of the season here when Pardew had to take him out of the firing line at half time as happened again here.

With Gutierrez ball watching and his run not checked, Baines exploited the alley between fullback  and centre half to lash home the game’s opening goal after a great one two with the South African schemer.

With Distin picking up Cisse, Jagielka was often left with no man to mark and with Gibson injured this was crucial. The centre back was able to step out of defence unmarked and distribute to the flanks in the way the former Man Utd man has made his trademark since joining the club. The below image shows this;

The thought at half time was that despite our dominance of the game, one goal wasn’t really much to show for it and wouldn’t be enough for three points given that Newcastle had carved us open a couple of times at the end of the half.

Newcastle 4-3-3 becomes 4-4-2

Pardew had by now seen the error of his ways and went 4-4-2 for the second half, sending on Ba and taking Perch (by now on a yellow card) out of the Bainaar firing line and into midfield with the more mobile Anita and Gutierrez in front of him tasked with shutting down our left side.

Whereas before with no real target man, Newcastle tried to play out from the back and were more often thwarted by our pressure high up field, with Ba on the pitch they had the option to play longer balls in behind which they did excessively – and very effectively – with 27% of their total passes going long.  After the break their long balls attempted went up by 33% and crucially there was a 20% increase in those finding a man now they had someone capable of holding the ball up. It was the second most long balls attempted by a team in a top flight game this season.

This is by no means dismissing our visitors as a long ball side; they were the better team in the second half and the ‘out- ball’ of Ba enabled them to hold things up in our half and get more of a foot hold in the game. Whereas in the first period Jagielka was able to step out of defence he was now occupied with Ba pushed right up. With the service drying up, Baines and Pienaar created just 2 chances in the second period after 5 in the first 45 mins. The below shows how Newcastle’s switch to 2 strikers occupies both centre backs and forced Howard to go long more in the second half.

Newcastle’s first equaliser came about when Cabaye capitalised on a rare poor touch from Leon Osman to thread a superb pass to Ba who slotted past a strangely wrong footed Tim Howard who will feel he could have done a lot better. Although the volume of Baines forward forays had been reduced his mate Pienaar was still causing havoc and his lovely through pass was gleefully cushioned home by Fellaini in what the home side thought was a clear goal before being chalked off in the officials opening gambit of buffoonery.

Victor Anichebe had come on for Jelavic and in fairness he did everything that was asked of him to the best of his ability; he held the ball up ok and occupied Newcastle’s defence as much as he could and linked up with the wide forwards.  Mirallas too showed he had plenty of graft to compliment the significant craft in his game. If anything his commitment was a tad too much and he made 7 fouls which was the most of any player on the pitch.

Anichebe should have got off the mark shortly after as he headed in from a set piece which following some aerial pin ball in the Newcastle box. Again the goal was chalked off for only going 1 yard over the line. To compound the official’s woes, the free kick which led to Anichebe’s ‘no-goal’ was also an incorrect decision. Jones had completely lost control of the game by this point and the way he pulled play back following Newcastle’s immediate break up field (which looked likely to yield a goal) was a clear admission of guilt for his calamitous actions that preceded it.

Unperturbed, the much maligned Anichebe kept his composure shortly after to slot a class strike past the static Harper, courtesy of another cute assist from the diminutive Pienaar’s back catalogue of impish brilliance. With the second goal the Blues had been relentlessly searching for finally in the bag our usually resolute defence again failed to deal with a long ball up field. Ameobi demonstrated superb chest touch to trap the ball in the air and supply Ba who slotted past Howard. In the build up to the stoppage time goal Fellaini had dropped deep into the DMC position and thus vacated his AMC role which meant there was no pressure on the ball up field. With Fellaini caught under the ball we were left two on two. You could perhaps point the finger at Jagielka for not challenging Ameobi or Distin’s lack of anticipation.

Conclusion

Against a major rival and with the significant personnel they had missing it was hard to look at the game as anything but two points lost. The display was excellent however and it’d be harsh to apportion blame in what was a committed display interspersed with some superb passing football by the Toffees against a very capable side.

EB

The mighty toffee’s return to action on Monday night for a tasty looking fixture against the very watchable Newcastle United in the first ‘mini league’ game of the season against a side like us looking to challenge for 4th spot.

Newcastle intel

The Geordies are looking in very good shape these days. Granted, Alan Pardew may look like a disgraced Geography teacher, but you couldn’t deny he has done a first class job since taking over the Tyneside hot seat. He has provided steady, incremental evolution in the last 18 months, aided by FSG’s generous £35m donation and combined with some astute scouting/trading (with the exception of Dan Gosling). Its this continuity with gradual change which makes them a more credible threat to ourselves than Spurs – whose personnel is in a constant state of flux – in the chase for 4th spot. Arsenal would have to be regarded as favourites…

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The FBI Column: Champions League Preview

 

By Andrew Younger of Oddslife.

 

In what seems the blinking of an eye, we are ready to welcome Europe’s elite back on to our television screens four months on from Chelsea’s victory in Munich.

The draw for the Group Stage’s have been made and the first round of fixtures are just around the corner, but the question on everyone’s lips is who will walk up the Wembley steps on May 25th and lift the Champions League trophy aloft.

John Terry and Frank Lampard had that honour last May and the England stalwarts would give anything to lift the trophy again on home soil. To do so, Chelsea would become the first team to ever retain the Champions League in its current format, putting into perspective the task they have on their hands.

The current European Champions have hit the ground running in the Premier League with 3 wins on the spin, but came crashing back down to earth after suffering a 4-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the European Super Cup.

Overall, Chelsea have looked a more dynamic and sharper team this season compared to last. It is no surprise, though, to see them out as far as 16/1 with BetVictor given the quality of the sides competing with them for European glory.

Manchester City are the shortest priced English team but the Premier League champions have a battle on their hands getting out of their group before they can start setting their eyes on Wembley. ‘The Group of Champions’ sees City pitted against the Spanish, German and Dutch number one clubs so odds of 10/1 from Bet365 may not be as appealing as first thought.

It is no surprise to see Spain’s top two clubs placed as favourites for the Champions League crown, as they continue to look the strongest teams on paper. After knocking Barcelona off their perch last season, all eyes in Madrid will turn to the Champions League and although odds of 9/2 may not represent the best value, it would take a brave man to bet against Mourinho masterminding another Champions League success.

Fellow Spanish giants Barcelona are accustomed to starting the tournament as favourites after winning the competition in 2009 and 2011. Jordi Alba and Alex Song have bolstered their squad and after being handed a relatively straight forward group, a route to the knockout stages is already paved. You can find best odds of 5/2 with various bookmakers including William Hill, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power for Barcelona to win a fifth Champions League title.

An all Spanish final may also be worth a flutter with Skybet offering odds of 4/1. Spain’s other representative in the competition, Valencia, are more than able to make it out of their group and as Chelsea proved last year, the knockout stages can provide major twists and turns.

Which other clubs will take inspiration from Chelsea’s success and cause an upset this season?

Italian champions Juventus have set down a marker in Serie A by winning their opening two games, including a 4-1 away hammering of Udinese, to show that they may be a force to be reckoned with in this year’s competition. Betfair’s odds of 19/1 represent good value with The Old Lady containing enough talent in their squad to trump any side on their day.

Making their first appearances since 2004-05, PSG will also be looking to make an impact in the tournament after spending big over the summer. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi are among the best players in Europe but despite their high profile stars, they have made a slow start to their domestic campaign.

This disjointed start to the season is reflected in the odds on offer for PSG to win at Wembley in May. Betfair have them way out at 23/1, but if Carlo Ancelotti can get his team to gel and start firing, there isn’t a side in Europe that will fancy facing them.

Click here to read more of his articles on the Oddslife Blog.

The FBI Column: Deconstructing the weekend football betting odds


I’ve only picked out the best of the bets for you guys this week, as well as a sections list on a William Hill coupon. All of the below prices are from William Hill.

Firstly, here’s the sections list. If it is successful, a £1 stake would return £90.39, and a fiver on the same bet would return a whopping £451.95. The first match listed is from section 1, the second match from section 2 etc.

Annan v RANGERS

Queens Park Rangers v CHELSEA

STEVENAGE v Crewe

MIDDLESBROUGH v Ipswich

Dundee v MOTHERWELL

Oldham v NOTTS COUNTY

Aston Villa v SWANSEA

 

Over 2.5 goals

If you fancy betting on goals then the following five fold 2.5 goals + option looks decent from Willie Hills;

Norwich v West Ham Utd, Man Utd v Wigan, Sheff Utd v Bury, Middlesbrough v Ipswich, AFC Wimbledon v Rochdale

£5 stake wins £70

Premier League Weekend Double

Sunderland have a very impressive home record against King Brenny’s Liverpool. The new Mike Walker finds himself in the bottom three with no goals from open play in the first three games. You can get 5/1 on Sunderland to win without conceding with Willie Hills. Why not double up on Everton to win without conceding against Newcastle – who have lost 12 of their last 14 trips to Merseyside – £5 stake cleans up £80 at Willie Hills on this punt.

Goalscorer Accumulator:

Michu, Tevez, Van Persie and Steven Fletcher all to score returns £27.92 from a quid’s stake, with a fiver paying out £139.60. Add Torres to that list if you’re feeling lucky and £1 could return £55.84, with a great £279.20 for a fiver!

Two in the bag

Rickie Lambert to score first v Arsenal appeals to me at 10/1, and the 11/5 for a very much in-form West Brom side to beat Fulham also looks decent.

By Tom Clarke – Follow Tom  @TomClarke40

Tactical Preview: Why Fellaini & Set Pieces will be key to slaying Newcastle

The mighty toffee’s return to action on Monday night for a tasty looking fixture against the very watchable Newcastle United in the first ‘mini league’ game of the season against a side like us looking to challenge for 4th spot.

Newcastle intel

The Geordies are looking in very good shape these days. Granted, Alan Pardew may look like a disgraced Geography teacher, but you couldn’t deny he has done a first class job since taking over the Tyneside hot seat. He has provided steady, incremental evolution in the last 18 months, aided by FSG’s generous £35m donation and combined with some astute scouting/trading (with the exception of Dan Gosling). Its this continuity with gradual change which makes them a more credible threat to ourselves than Spurs – whose personnel is in a constant state of flux – in the chase for 4th spot. Arsenal would have to be regarded as favourites but given their own on field transition its certainly not a given.

Previous Meetings

Both meetings last season provided goals and drama. In a closely contested tussle at St James the home side shaded a 2-1 win whilst at Goodison the 3-1 scoreline didn’t really reflect our own dominance. The key differential in recent games has been set pieces with the Blues scoring in each of the 3 meetings since Pardew took over from a dead ball cross / header combination. In the most recent meeting we carved out 6 goalscoring chances to Newcastle’s 0 from set pieces so expect Pienaar and Jelavic to be on the lookout for cheap fouls on the edge of Newcastle’s 18 yard box.

In last season’s fixture James Perch was deployed at right back however he and fellow fullback Santon both struggled badly before being  hooked at half time. Our territorial dominance equated to the Blues making 95 final third passes compared to Newcastle’s 61. For the most part Newcastle sat deep and looked to counter; luckily for us the clearly ace Ben Arfa had a bay day at the office whilst play maker Cabaye was otherwise distracted.

Likely line-ups

Newcastle (4-4-2)

 

Newcastle have problems at the back with Tim Krul out after cutting short his international break due to injury. Perennial bridesmaid Steve Harper will step in.  Coloccini is also definitely out as is first choice right back and tattoo enthusiast  Danny Simpson. New signing from Ajax Anita will most likely be tasked with policing the marauding Bainaar axis from right back whilst  James Perch will deputise in the centre of a makeshift defensive unit.

Tiote is rated as doubtful so in experienced ex Coventry defensive midfielder Bigirimana could step in to play alongside Cabaye in a 4-4-2. Pardew tinkered with a 4-3-3 last season with Ben Arfa further forward with Ba/Cisse and Gutierrez tucking inside to form a midfield 3. This lack of width would certainly be appreciated by Baines.

Up top, Cisse is a colossal threat and will look to play on the shoulder of Distin – he’s been caught offside more than any player in the top flight so far – so don’t expect us to play too high a line.

Everton (4-4-1-1)

Whilst Anita will be better equipped to deal with the rapid interplay of Pienaar/Baines on the floor, he is the shortest man in the visitors squad at just 168cm. Its more than likely Moyes will instruct diagonals to be dropped in and around him for Fellaini (194cm) to attack. For this reason its unlikely Fellaini will drop deep to cover Gibson’s injury. More likely is Neville coming into midfield and Hibbert slotting into right back. The only potential tinker would be Mirallas for Naismith given that – whilst promising – the Scot has been largely peripheral in his 2 starts, both of which he was subbed off.

Betting forecast

History would point to a toffee win in this fixture; Moyes has only ever lost one game to North East opposition at Goodison in ten years whilst the Geordies have lost 12 of their last 14 visits to Merseyside.

As noted above set pieces will be our most likely route to goal especially with key defender Coloccini not available. At the other end we’ve only conceded 4 league goals at Goodison all year so the win without conceding market is always a fertile one for games at the old lady.

In terms of trends, in the last 4 meetings the side leading at half time has gone on to win. In the goal markets, Jelavic and Cisse will dominate the first goalscorer selections so for value you could look at the fact that last season we scored an own goal in each game with Pienaar’s goal at Goodison also deflected. In terms of actual goals, both teams have scored in each of the 3 games since Pardew took over with all 3 games over 2.5 goals.

Everton are 5/6 with coral with the draw best priced by Pinnacle at 54/19. Newcastle fans will see 17/4 as great value from Boylesports considering they picked up great awayday results at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge last season.

5 to ponder;

15/8 Everton to score only (bet365)

14/1 Baines first assist (boylesports)

17/2 Ben Arfa anytime /Newcastle win double (Willie Hills)

19/5 Fellaini anytime/ efc win double (Willie Hills)

8/1 Anytime own goal (Willie Hills)

EB

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New on EB Today: Darron Gibson Awayday Blue – Read it here