Betting at the Bottom Can Be Fun

A near full set of football games this weekend and another chance for extremely enjoyable – at least I think it is – Premier League betting.

The focus of my betting tips is largely on the strugglers, many of whom meet in proverbial ‘six-pointers’.

Bournemouth vs Newcastle United (February 24, 23:00 GMT+8)

After an impressive spell which saw the Cherries run rampage at the reigning champions and then see off Stoke on the south coast, Bournemouth’s disappointing display at Huddersfield prompted boss Eddie Howe to apologise to supporters – many of whom had set off in the early hours to travel to the game.

It ended a seven-match unbeaten run and Howe will demand a response.

At the same time as that game, Newcastle were in dreamland as they defeated Man Utd at a raucous St James’ Park.

Indeed, the Geordies are now only three points behind Saturday’s opponents.

I feel an attacking game is in prospect, which is why my 🌟 tip is of over 2.75 goals @ 2.25.

Burnley vs Southampton (February 24, 23:00 GMT+8)

That Burnley’s defeat at Swansea last time out was described as a setback only goes to show the high standards set by manager Sean Dyche.

The Clarets welcome a Southampton side to Turf Moor, buoyed by their FA Cup win at West Brom, that hopes to take the momentum into their Premier League survival battle.

The Saints are in the bottom three and need the points, but Burnley will certainly not want to let their high standards slip.

That is why I’m plumping for a 🌟🌟🌟 tip of 1X2 Burnley @ 2.92 and another 🌟🌟🌟 suggestion of Asian Handicap 0.00 Burnley @ 2.09.

West Bromwich Albion vs Huddersfield Town (February 24, 23:00 GMT+8)

It’s a must-win for the Baggies,

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that failure to collect all three points will let Alan Pardew’s side begin the countdown to life back in the Championship after an eight-year absence.

West Brom have lost all four of their matches since beating Liverpool in the FA Cup last month, conceding at least twice in each game.

After the ‘Cab Four’ incident on a team trip to Barcelona, wags have suggested rock-bottom West Brom are carrying too many passengers!

Not so this weekend.

A 🌟🌟 prediction from me is Asian Handicap -0.75 West Brom @ 2.31.

A short explanation on how our (🌟) bets are worth :

🌟🌟🌟 = £20
🌟🌟 = £10
🌟 = £5

Head over to the betting tips section and see how our writers perform in their predicted bets.

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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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It’s Time for a Sports Betting Spectacle

Carabao Cup Final: Arsenal vs Manchester City

It is the first showpiece occasion of the season.

Silverware is at stake, the first trophy of the 2017/18 campaign up for grabs and, fittingly, football games between these two clubs are usually exactly that – football games!

The two managers involved like their sides to play the ‘beautiful game’, so Wembley could witness a sports betting spectacle for that reason alone.

Wembley is a happy hunting ground for Arsenal, who start this final as underdogs.

Aside from a league reverse at Spurs earlier this month, the Gunners have enjoyed a 10-match winning streak at the home of English football, including a 2-1 defeat of Manchester City in last season’s FA Cup semi-final en route to their record 13th success in the competition.

As Wenger prepares to take his side back for his 13th final with the club, there is mixed news with Aaron Ramsey only a ‘possibility’ to be ready and Mesut Ozil also in a race to prove his fitness. But, at least there is a chance both men can make it.

The long-serving Frenchman is chasing a victory which would mean a win in every domestic trophy during his tenure at the club and will not need reminding of his frustrations after League Cup Final defeats to Chelsea (2007) and Birmingham (2011).

Much has been written about Manchester City’s style and superb form this season, but boss Pep Guardiola will be well aware they have won nothing yet.

In fact, despite an incredible outlay, he is still chasing his first silverware at the Etihad Stadium some 20 months after his arrival.

This presents an opportunity for the club to seal a second League Cup success in three years and a chance to bounce back from their extraordinary FA Cup defeat to Wigan.

The behaviour of Guardiola during that defeat left much to be desired and he was fortunate to escape censure from the Football Association.

There is no doubt this time he will be on his best behaviour as he looks to put a frustrating night behind him and guide City to what would also be their third League Cup triumph in five years.

Wembley holds a special place in Guardiola’s heart for it is where he won the European Cup with Barcelona as a player in 1992 (the club’s maiden triumph in that competition) and as manager in 2011.

It also seems the perfect venue for Kevin De Bruyne, the clear favourite to be named footballer of the year, to show his array of gifts.

We’re all set for the first major final of the season and, if as exciting as last year’s when Man Utd edged past Southampton in a five-goal thriller, we are in for a treat.

The VAR system (video assistant referee) will be in use at Wembley, but let’s hope it is just the football that is being talked about long after the final whistle after recent controversies.

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Silverware a must for Guardiola

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola accepts that he and his side will be judged by the number of trophies they win, as they prepare for a League Cup final appearance.

Guardiola has yet to claim any silverware with the Citizens, although they are currently well on course to claim the Premier League title this season.

However, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach is aware that trophies are the ultimate indicator of how he is doing at City, with his side set to face Arsenal at Wembley on Sunday.

He told reporters: "We have to win titles to give more value to what we have done.

"In the beginning of August, we said we will be judged by how many we win. It is the same for the five or six big contenders."

City are 4/11 to lift the League Cup on Sunday and are 8/13 to do so in 90 minutes, while the men from Manchester are 12/1 to prevail after extra-time.

Meanwhile, Guardiola also confirmed that forward Raheem Sterling is a doubt due to a leg muscle injury, while Claudio Bravo will start in goal in preference to Ederson, having impressed in the competition so far this season.

He added: "Raheem has a problem in the muscle. He had the problem against Basel and right now, I don’t know (if he will be fit for Sunday).

"If it wasn't for Claudio, we would not be in the final. He deserves to play the final and he will play.

"Without him, we would not be here."

City have been beaten in their last two Wembley clashes with the Gunners, losing 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-finals last season and 3-0 in the Community Shield in August 2014.

The league meeting of the two sides earlier this season ended in a 3-1 win for the Citizens at the Etihad Stadium.

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Benitez confirms Slimani setback

Newcastle United will have to wait a little longer to hand a debut to January loan signing Islam Slimani, after the striker suffered another injury setback.

The 29-year-old Algeria international joined the Magpies from Leicester City on deadline day, but has not yet featured for the Tynesiders.

And Magpies head coach Rafa Benitez has now confirmed that Slimani sustained a thigh problem in training earlier this week and is set to be sidelined for at least another fortnight.

The Spaniard said ahead of a Premier League trip to a resurgent Bournemouth on Saturday: "Slimani had a setback the other day, so he won't be available and it will be at least a couple of weeks.

"We hoped he would make the difference, but against Manchester United we showed we have enough quality in the squad.

"Was it a risk bringing him in with an injury? When it comes to the last day it is always a risk, but now we have to manage the situation in the best way possible."

A 1-0 home win over the Red Devils last time out moved Newcastle two points clear of the relegation places and also gave them a first victory in five league games.

When Newcastle visited Dean Court two seasons ago they claimed a 1-0 win thanks to an Ayoze Perez goal shortly before the half-hour mark.

Earlier this season the meeting of the two sides at St James' Park ended 1-0 to the Cherries, with Steve Cook netting a last-minute winner.

A 1-0 Bournemouth win on Saturday is priced at 15/2, while a 1-0 victory for the visitors is available at 12/1 and Newcastle are 10/3 to keep a clean sheet.

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Conte ready for massive clash

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte admits the Premier League meeting with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday is a 'massive game' for both teams.

The Blues currently trail the second-placed Red Devils by three points, with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur the other main contenders in what promises to be a tight fight for a top-four finish come the end of the season.

And Conte is only too aware of the importance of the Manchester showdown on Sunday, with the Blues arriving in the knowledge that they have only lost one of their last 14 meetings with United.

The Italian told reporters: "We have to understand from now until the end every game is very important. Three points are very important for us and Manchester United.

"The run for a place in the Champions League is open. We must pay great attention, because in this run there are many great teams and someone has to stay out.

"When you play against Manchester United you have to know that anything can happen. They have a great physicality and there is the risk to lose the game, they are a really strong team.

"It is a massive game for us, we have to do the best to try and get three points."

Conte also confirmed that he has not new injury problems to deal with, but David Luiz, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Ross Barkley are all still sidelined by injury.

Chelsea are available at 5/2 to secure victory at Old Trafford and are 9/1 to win the game 1-0, with the Blues 5/6 to finish in the Premier League top four come the end of the season.

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Wenger seeks best from Gunners

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has admitted that his side will have to be at their very best if they are to defeat Manchester City in the League Cup final at Wembley.

The Gunners have yet to win the trophy during the Frenchman's lengthy reign at the club and Wenger is well aware that runaway Premier League leaders City will be viewed as the favourites by most pundits come Sunday.

He told reporters: "Sunday we need to be at our very best. Everyone expects a very exciting game and I feel it will be. It's a good opportunity to show that we are at their level.

"Every trophy is now difficult to win because there are so many teams ready to compete. Anything you can win is vitally important, even the Community Shield against Chelsea was important.

"What counts for me is that we go into the final with an absolute desire on winning and performing on the day."

Meanwhile, Wenger is upbeat about the prospects of German playmaker Mesut Ozil overcoming illness to feature for the Londoners on Sunday.

He added: "He had a good session on Thursday that he absorbed well. So we have to see how he responds to it, but I think he will be alright.

"You want all your best players available and, of course, he is an important player for us."

Aaron Ramsey remains a doubt, but has some chance of featuring, while striker Alexandre Lacazette (injury) and attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan (ineligible) are both definite absentees.

Arsenal can be backed at 9/4 to lift the League Cup, while they are 25/1 to triumph after extra-time and 16/1 to win out following a penalty shootout.

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Pogba earns Mourinho praise

Jose Mourinho says he has been pleased with the way Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has performed in recent games, having twice been left on subs bench.

The 24-year-old France international made his mark as a replacement in the 2-0 Premier League win over Huddersfield Town, before returning to a starting role for the 1-0 reverse at Newcastle United.

In midweek he was back among the substitutes, but came on after just 17 minutes of the 0-0 Champions League draw at Sevilla and clearly made a positive impression on Mourinho.

The Portuguese told reporters ahead of an Old Trafford league showdown with Chelsea on Sunday: "It is always more difficult to come from the bench than to start.

"A player when he is starting the game has a different kind of preparation for it and it is easier. To be on the bench and to come on without warming up and get into the pace is not easy.

"Sometimes players on the bench take five minutes to be ready to play – he took ten seconds to be ready to come to the pitch. He showed his professionalism and that, despite being on the bench, he was ready to play and to help the team.

"I think he responded in a very professional way, both times he was on the bench."

United go into the game three points ahead of the Blues in the battle for a top-four finish, with the Red Devils having won only one of their last 14 games against the Londoners.

The men from Manchester are 13/10 to secure all three points on Sunday and are 7/1 to claim a 1-0 victory, with the hosts available at 7/4 to keep a clean sheet.

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Arsenal handed mouth-watering Milan tie

Arsenal have been paired with Italian giants AC Milan in the draw for the last-16 of the Europa League.

The Gunners struggled to get the better of Swedish minnows Ostersunds in the last round, losing the second leg 2-1 at home as they advanced 4-2 on aggregate.

Boss Arsene Wenger labelled his players complacent in the wake of that shock home defeat and will need his team to raise their game when they come up against Milan next month.

The Rossoneri have been impressive since former midfield general Gennaro Gattuso was appointed manager towards the end of 2017 and have yet to taste defeat since the turn of the year.

The seven-time European champions enjoyed a comfortable route through the last-32, seeing off Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets Razgrad 4-0 on aggregate.

The last time the two sides meet in 2012 it was Milan who came out on top in the Champions League last-16 tie, thrashing Arsenal 4-0 at the San Siro before the Gunners won the second leg 3-0.

The Londoners will travel to Italy for the first leg on 8th March with the return match at the Emirates Stadium taking place a week later.

AC Milan are 6/4 to pick up the win in the first leg, while Arsenal are 7/4 and the draw is 23/10.

Elsewhere in Friday's draw, Atletico Madrid were paired with Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow while Borussia Dortmund face FC Salzburg.

Zenit St Petersburg, who knocked Celtic out in the last round, have been drawn against German out RB Leipzig.

Atletico Madrid are 5/2 to win this season's Europa League while Borussia Dortmund are 5/1 and Arsenal 6/1.

Allardyce expects Everton to deliver

Sam Allardyce says his Everton players can have no excuses for not improving their performances after a mid-season break to Dubai.

The Toffees have not had a game since they defeated Crystal Palace on 10th February and took the opportunity to get away from the winter weather by heading to the UAE.

After a hectic schedule through December and January, Allardyce expects to see his players refreshed and firing on all cylinders when they head to Watford on Saturday, claiming tiredness can no longer be used as an excuse.

He said: "I think everybody benefitted. We can hopefully reap the benefits between now and the end of the season.

"Players have no excuse anymore for not getting out there and performing. Performances have been pretty good since I arrived here.

"Who knows where we can finish now, rather than fighting against relegation."

Everton are 5/2 to win at Watford on Saturday evening with the Hornets 5/4 and the draw 12/5.

The Merseysiders travel to Vicarage Road in ninth place in the table, just two points behind seventh-placed Burnley having eased their relegation fears since Alardyce took charge.

However, one area that continues to be a source of disappointment for the ex-England boss is Everton's away form, losing their last four matches on the road, a run which includes a 4-0 defeat at Tottenham and a 5-1 thrashing by Arsenal.

Allardyce says improvements must be made when playing away and believes that is the key to securing potentially a top-seven finish, while they are 4/11 to at least end up in the top half.

“If we can improve our away results and continue our home results we can look up rather than down,” Allardyce said.

“There has been an improvement since I’ve been here, but for me it’s still not good enough. And we want to improve on that."

Everton have doubts over Seamus Coleman for the clash at Watford but should have Leighton Baines available for the first time since the end of November.

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Perth prepare for seven ‘cup finals’

One win against Melbourne City could put Perth Glory back on track for the A-League finals, insists coach Kenny Lowe.

Perth were comfortably inside the top six at Christmas, following back-to-back wins over Wellington and Brisbane Roar.

But the wheels fell off after that and they've now lost seven of their last eight games – their only points came from a 3-1 home win over Western Sydney late last month.

Time's running out for the Glory to mount a successful late run into the top six, as they're now seven points behind sixth-placed Wanderers.

There's only seven rounds left, and unless Perth can transform their fortunes they're likely to end the season in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon rather than eyeing a Finals Series berth.

They're only two points clear of bottom side Wellington and have the league's joint-worst defensive record with 41 goals conceded in their 20 games.

Lowe said the meeting with City at nib Stadium was the start of seven cup finals to finish the campaign.

"It's dead easy – win the next seven and I get manager of the month," he added. "We've gone six or seven games on a roll in every single season that I've been here so there is no reason why we can't do it again.

"We've got the players to do it, the firepower to do it. We are probably running out of games but wins change mindsets – there is a desire, there is a hunger to win the next game.

"If that happens then you go to the next one with renewed confidence and if the next one happens all of a sudden you've got momentum."

The Glory are without the suspended Shane Lowry while winger Chris Harold and midfielder Brandon Wilson both have quad injuries.

The Glory are 12/5 to beat Melbourne City, who are 1/1, with the draw 14/5.

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