Dyche welcomes Scottish test

Burnley's return to the European stage after a 51-year absence will see them locking horns with Scottish Premiership outfit Aberdeen next month.

The Clarets, who finished seventh in last season's Premier League to earn a shot at the Europa League qualifiers, were paired with Derek McInnes' team in Wednesday's draw for the second qualifying round in Nyon.

Sean Dyche's men will travel to Pittodrie on 26th July, before the Dons come to Turf Moor a week later.

Their trip to the north coast of Scotland will be Burnley's first taste of European action since they went out of the Fairs Cup to Eintracht Frankfurt at the quarter-final stage in 1967.

While their fans might have been hoping they would land something a bit more exotic, Dyche is welcoming the challenge of facing the second-best team in Scotland's top flight.

"Everyone knows it could have been anything, looking at the draw with the amount of different teams from different countries involved, and lo and behold we get someone just up the road," said the Burnley boss.

"But we've worked hard to get here and we'll look forward to the challenge it brings.

"We know we won't be travelling far, so it won't be too unfamiliar, and it brings focus to the end part of the pre-season now that we know who we've got."

Burnley are 10/3 to finish in the top-half of next season's Premier League. Aberdeen meanwhile are 31/20 to beat Rangers on the opening day of their new season on 5th August.

New Ibrox boss Steven Gerrard will kick-start his tenure by facing Macedonian minnows FK Shkupi in the first qualifying round next month, with either Moldovan outfit Petrocub or Osijek of Croatia awaiting the winners.

Neil Lennon's Hibernian were paired with NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands in the first qualifying round.

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Dyche aims to get balance right

Sean Dyche has promised that he will not be making a raft of signings this summer even though Burnley will be involved in the Europa League next term.

The Clarets qualified for the competition after finishing seventh in the Premier League this season. They will be involved in the second qualifying round of the Europa League, which is set to take place in July.

Dyche is unfazed by a possible fixture pile-up though and is focused only on ensuring he does not upset the balance of his team.

"We have to be mindful not to overfill the club, because you lose some of the attention and detail we want to put on players, for them to continue maturing," he said.

"We're still working at 23 outfield players, which is quite high for us, so we don't want to overfill it, but the main thing is the quality of the players.

"There's a fine balance. I spoke to managers at bigger clubs and they had to thin down their squads. I don't think we're there yet, but you do think 'how many do we actually need?'"

Burnley are 4/1 to be relegated in 2018/19, while Brighton are 2/1 to go down, Huddersfield Town 6/5 and Bournemouth 5/1.

Now This Has Been Another Year to Remember

Put all the betting odds into the mix.

Remember the betting tips that went right…and the ones that went wrong!

Add nine months’ worth of football games into the equation and what have you got: another never-to-be-forgotten season in the English Premier League.

It was the season that Manchester City were in a class of their own.

Runaway champions, the first top-flight club to reach 100 points, the first Premier League club to score more than 100 goals (106) and the highest winning margin (19 points clear of their nearest challengers) since 1897.

Yes, they have spent more than any other club in world football over the last decade—it is 10 years this summer since Sheikh Mansour took over and changed the landscape of English football—but their football over the past nine months has been simply scintillating.

No longer is this club best known for the black comedic history which peppered its modern existence before the Abu Dhabi revolution began.

Despite their collective and individual brilliance, one man deservedly took all the individual accolades.

In Mohamed Salah, Liverpool had the player of the season on all levels.

He is the first player to score 32 league goals in a 38-match Premier League season—more than Cristiano Ronaldo, more than Alan Shearer, more than Luis Suarez.

And there will be few greater individual campaigns if he can inspire the Merseysiders to Champions League glory.

However, as English football admired an Egyptian king, it said farewell to a French maverick, precisely 1,235 games after his first at Arsenal.

While there is no doubt it is the time to move on for both club and coach, the Gunners said farewell in style and with a salute that oozed class and dignity.

Away from the top six, on a different league financially to the rest, the emergence of Burnley provided one of the stories of the season.

Sean Dyche and Burnley finished 7th in the Premier League betting

Sean Dyche reacts during the FA Cup match against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium

They finished 16th a year ago and sold their best two players—Michael Keane to Everton and Andre Gray to Watford—ensuring they were among the bookies’ favourites for the drop.

Thanks to Sean Dyche and Co., they have finished seventh and qualified for European football for the first time since 1966.

Unlike some others, anyone who pulled on a claret shirt this season was beyond reproach when it came to commitment, pride and focus.

The likes of Stoke and West Brom, both relegated, used to be like this but lost their way. The owners at those clubs also panicked in changing manager mid-season, especially the Baggies, while drifting Southampton acted just in time to bring in sacked Stoke boss Mark Hughes for Mauricio Pellegrino.

Carlos Carvalhal restored belief and results for a while at Swansea, but ultimately the club fell short after failing to replace key departures last summer.

In contrast, all the promoted clubs didn’t panic and were rewarded with survival, with Brighton and Huddersfield particularly triumphing against the odds.

Crystal Palace entrusted a pensioner to work with modern day millionaire footballers and took them from potential despair, from no points and no goals in their first seven games to a very good campaign.

And then there was former Everton boss David Moyes ending the season at West Ham and former Hammers manager Sam Allardyce ending the season at Everton.

It’s unlikely both will linger too long at their respective clubs, particularly Allardyce, but that is the nature of modern day football and the desire for instant results.

There will certainly be new faces in the dugouts and on the pitch next season, there will be more success for the haves over the have-nots, there will be more stories to warm the heart and more casualties and record-breaking attempts along the way.

That is inevitable in the most exciting league in the world.

That was 2017/18.

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Wenger says farewell in style

Arsene Wenger's last home game in charge of Arsenal served as a reminder of some of his glory years at the club as they put five past Burnley.

After 22 years in charge at first Highbury and then the Emirates Stadium, the Gunners rolled back the years to pay tribute to the Frenchman who will leave the club at the end of the season.

Arsenal got the perfect start with a goal after 14 minutes, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang getting on the end of a cross from strike partner Alexandre Lacazette.

The Gunners got their second on the stroke of half-time, Lacazette turned from provider to scorer, with a neat finish after Hector Bellerin played him in.

Two more goals in 10 second half minutes ensured the send-off for Wenger with Saed Kolasinac and Alex Iwobi getting on the scoresheet. There was still time for Aubameyang to score his second and Arsenal's fifth.

The result means that Arsenal and Burnley will finish the season sixth and seventh respectively and both will therefore qualify to play in the Europa League next campaign.

Meanwhile, at Stamford Bridge Chelsea could yet book a place in the top four with it a place in next season's Champions League after they beat Liverpool 1-0.

The Blues took the lead after about half an hour, Olivier Giroud getting up to head home from a Victor Moses cross. It was the Frenchman's fifth goal in six starts against Liverpool.

Liverpool stay third on 72 points with Spurs fourth on 71 with Chelsea now just two points behind.

The race for a top four place continues in midweek with Chelsea entertaining Huddersfield Town on Wednesday night and on the same night Tottenham are at home to Newcastle.

Then, on the final day of the Premier League season next Sunday Liverpool are at home to Brighton, Chelsea are away to Newcastle and Spurs are at home to Leicester.

Chelsea are now 7/2 to finish in the top four with Liverpool 1/10 and Spurs are priced at 1/12.

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No change for Dyche

Burnley boss Sean Dyche insists that he and the team will stick to their own style as they look to finally confirm European football for next season.

A place in the top seven will be enough for the Clarets to compete in the Europa League next campaign and, with two games remaining they are almost there.

Burnley have a six-point cushion over Everton in eighth and a much better goal difference. A point against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday will finally secure seventh spot.

However, despite the prospect of some memorable European nights at Turf Moor, Dyche says little at the club will change.

Speaking ahead of the Arsenal game he said: "There are certain things – timings and planning of a different sort but we try not to go for radical change.

"We try to look at how we are moving forward, how we are adapting and are we changing things for the right reasons?

"You have got to be careful I think to not change everything because it can be for the wrong reasons. Stick to the basics of what we do whilst looking at the challenge that is likely to present itself."

Arsenal are 1/2 to win Sunday's game with Burnley 6/1 and the draw is priced at 18/5.

Burnley are 20/1 to win the game 1-0 while Sam Vokes is 9/1 to score the first goal.

The game will be full of emotion as it is Arsene Wenger's last home game in charge of the Gunners after 22 years in charge.

The new man in charge at the Emirates will see Arsenal join Burnley in the Europa League next season with the Gunners sixth in the table though Burnley would move level on points with them if they win Sunday's game.

Burnley end their season at home to Bournemouth next Sunday.

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Could These Be Four of the Best?

Four midweek football games, four sets of betting tips; and every single match has some added sports betting interest.

The race for Europe and the bid to beat the drop is reaching a thrilling climax.

Brighton & Hove Albion vs Tottenham Hotspur (April 18, 02:45 GMT+8)

In the race for a coveted top-four spot, the declining fortunes of Chelsea have given wriggle room to those directly above them.

Spurs are one of the beneficiaries, although the North London club will rightly argue they would finish ahead of the reigning champions anyway.

With an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United just days away, chances are Mauricio Pochettino would rest a few key men in this one as some players may have one eye on the cup tie anyway.

In contrast, Brighton, managed by former Spurs favourite Chris Hughton, desperately need the points.

I think it will be closely contested and my 🌟🌟 bet is Total Goal 2-3 @ 1.98.

Bournemouth vs Manchester United (April 19, 02:45 GMT+8)

Likewise, this match may not be a priority for United as they prepare for the last four tie.

They will have 24 hours fewer to prepare than Spurs, something which can be crucial at this stage of the season.

The Cherries would love another scalp after already stunning Arsenal and Chelsea this season.

Again, I think it will be a tight encounter, so my 🌟🌟 prediction is Total Goal 2-3 @ 1.96.

Burnley vs Chelsea (April 20, 02:45 GMT+8)

Burnley are tantalisingly close to Europe.

Victory against the outgoing champions would cap off an impressive season for the Clarets.

For Sean Dyche, arguably the boss who should claim the manager of the year gong, qualifying for European football would be a ‘badge of honour’.

It would also mark their first foray into European competition since they reached the quarter-finals of the former Fairs Cup (before it became the UEFA Cup).

Chelsea will be in Europe next season, but it may not be the Champions League that the free-spending Antonio Conte and owners crave.

The difference in recent months between Dyche and Conte’s body language speaks volumes.

I do think this will be a draw, so my 🌟🌟 plump is for a 1X2 draw @ 3.35. However, I’m hedging my bets and also going for a 🌟 tip on Burnley Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.40.

Leicester vs Southampton (April 20, 02:45 GMT+8)

Does Mark Hughes rest players for the FA Cup semi-final less than 72 hours after this or does he go all out in the bid to survive?

It has to be the latter from a financial point of view, although the romantic will say a day out at Wembley should take priority.

Only problem is, the FA have devalued the opportunity by staging the semi-finals as well as the final at the national stadium.

In all honesty, the Saints would have been disconsolate after losing to Chelsea at the weekend after being 2-0 up.

Leicester are still vying for a European place, however aspirational, so they will be fired up too.

They should edge it, though the Saints may pull a surprise out of the hat.

My 🌟 tip is Leicester First Half 1X2 @ 2.93 with a 🌟🌟 bet on 1X2 draw @ 3.25.

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🌟🌟🌟 = £20
🌟🌟 = £10
🌟 = £5

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Here’s What Else to Watch For in the Big Premier League!

Manchester City may have won the Premier League title, but there’s more to play for and bet online on as the other teams try to hit their targets for the season.

Chelsea are currently out of the top four and will look to boost their slim chances of moving up in their remaining football games. There’s also Arsenal who are hoping to shift the betting odds in their favour as they battle for a Europa League spot.

On the other end, Southampton fight for survival with their hopes drifting away every gameweek.

Burnley FC vs Chelsea (April 20, 02:45 GMT+8)

After his title run with Chelsea last season, Antonio Conte seems to have lost the dressing room and the support of ownership. That was evident when he asked his players to play for the badge and not for him.

Indeed, defeat to Tottenham, draw with West Ham and near loss to Southampton didn’t help the Italian manager; and what was once a happy marriage appears to be at its breaking point.

Burnley should be able to take advantage of the chaos at Chelsea, especially now that they are on a five-game winning streak. For a 🌟🌟🌟 bet, choose Burnley 1X2 @ 3.85.

Leicester City vs Southampton (April 20, 02:45 GMT+8)

With three straight defeats and nine goals conceded in the same stretch, 18th-placed Southampton are undoubtedly in deep trouble. However, as every Premier League fan knows, there’s no more dangerous opponent than a wounded beast.

Fortunately for the Saints, they will be playing a Leicester team that has been struggling recently as well.  The Foxes did beat Southampton 4-1 the last time they met, but it should be remembered they haven’t won a league game at home since January—even sharing the spoils with the likes of Swansea City and Stoke, both bottom clubs.

I predict a low-scoring affair here, so a 🌟🌟 bet for me is goals Under 2.50 @ 1.94.

Arsenal vs West Ham United (April 22, 20:30 GMT+8)

Arsenal will be happy to be back home following their poor performances on the road against CSKA Moscow (in the Europa League) and Newcastle (in the Premier League).

The Gunners have only lost twice at home this season, both against Manchester clubs, so they will fancy their chances against the 15th-ranked Hammers.

West Ham, however, head into this game brimming with confidence after coming back from a goal down to draw with Chelsea. Not to mention that they managed to pull off a goalless stalemate against Arsenal in their December fixture.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has produced four goals in Arsenal’s last three home games, will likely be the deciding factor here. I think West Ham can put up a fight, but it won’t last long. With that said, choose Arsenal Asian Handicap -1.25 @ 2.20 for another 🌟🌟 bet.

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🌟🌟🌟 = £20
🌟🌟 = £10
🌟 = £5

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Prospect of Europe excites Dyche

Burnley manager Sean Dyche would be ecstatic if his side had the opportunity to play in the Europa League next season.

The Clarets are seventh after beating Leicester City 2-1 on Saturday – their fifth victory in a row – and such a position will be enough to seal a Europa League spot, unless Southampton win the FA Cup.

In the past teams have complained about the prospect of playing in Europe as it gives them too many games to play, but Dyche does not agree with those sentiments.

"It can't be a negative, how can that be a negative? Five-and-a-half years ago (we were) 16th in the Championship, impossible to be a negative, impossible," said Dyche.

"For us, Burnley Football Club, even being spoken about (for European football) it is a long, long way from where we were at the end of last season.

"You get 40 points (in the Premier League) with two (games) to go and it is a big sigh of relief. This season, (we) achieved 40 and then had the mentality to carry on after that, fantastic, we will see where it goes."

Burnley are nine points ahead of eighth-placed Leicester with five games to play. Dyche's side are 13/5 to beat Chelsea on Thursday and 6/1 to draw 1-1 with the Blues.

Injury ends Iborra’s season

Leicester City boss Claude Puel has revealed that Vicente Iborra will not be able to play again this season because of a hamstring injury.

The Spaniard will not be involved in Saturday's Premier League match at Burnley, which the Foxes are 2/1 to win, while Matty James (Achilles) and Wilfred Ndidi (suspension) also miss out.

Iborra picked up the injury in the first half of last weekend's 2-1 loss to Newcastle United at the King Power Stadium.

"Iborra has an injury to his hamstring," Puel confirmed. "He will not be available for the rest of the season. We are unlucky with our midfield players at the moment, with Matty James and Wilfred too.

"I have confidence with [Adrien] Silva, of course, and the young player, [Hamza] Choudhury. It's a good opportunity for him to start the game and to play with the first team. He is a good player and he has the confidence of all his team-mates."

Puel has also revealed that Ghana international Daniel Amartey is close to a return to action as he battles back from a hamstring problem of his own, which he picked up last month against Bournemouth.

"Amartey is coming back slowly," Puel added. "He is always in the gym and hopefully he can come back on the pitch next week."

Leicester are 15/2 to beat Burnley 1-0 and 2/1 to keep a clean sheet at Turf Moor.

Handicap Betting on the Ups and Downs!

When Saturday comes we’re off again. The EPL season climax is coming into view, and fans and football betting players world-wide just love this time of year.

Some more than others of course; it’s a nerve-wracking time for those at the bottom end, while the teams that have fared well are battling it out for glory. For this week’s Asian Handicap Betting picks I’m watching a couple of relegation scraps, but first I’m going to start with a Europa League shootout.

Burnley vs Leicester City (April 14, 22:00 GMT+8)

Seventh place will probably qualify for Europe and Burnley have occupied that spot, or higher, for most of the season. Leicester are six points behind in eighth so this game could be a humdinger. Former Fox Chris Wood is on scoring form for the Clarets while the visitors’ Jamie Vardy is bound to be sniffing for goals.

Burnley has won the last four and are at odds of 1.82 to make it five, Draw no Bet, for a 🌟🌟🌟 punt.

West Ham United vs Stoke City (April 17, 03:00 GMT+8)

The result of this game week’s last fixture could decide the seasons of both clubs as West Ham, six points above the drop zone, host the Potters, who are in 19th and four from safety after four defeats. Both teams have played out considerably more Overs than Unders in their struggles, mainly as they’ve conceded a whopping 121 goals between them!

So for a 🌟🌟 bet I’m backing Over 2.50 goals at odds of 2.12.

Huddersfield Town vs Watford FC (April 14, 22:00 GMT+8)

Watford travel to Huddersfield almost safe but the hosts still have plenty to do. The Hornets have been whacked on their last two away trips, 5-0 and 3-0, but that was to Liverpool and Arsenal. Now, they face the Terriers who have scored a solitary goal in the last five matches, thanks to a gift from Newcastle last week.

Watford carry a bigger threat and so my third bet is a 🌟🌟 punt on the Hornets, Draw no Bet at 2.05

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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