The time has finally arrived….. The long wait for proper football is finally over!
No more aggressively sponsored, logistically illogical, meaningless pre-season trophies – “Welcome to the Skittles stadium for the 3rd/4th placed playoff of the Skoda cup – sponsored by SKITTLES & SKODA!! First half will be played in Bangkok and the game will be concluded next week in Chicago”.
No more stories of how ‘ard Tony Pullis’ pre-season training is – No one gives a shit if they had to run up and down a mountain in flip flops dragging Hal Robson-Kanu (at least he’s useful for something) – they’ll still get a maximum of 45 points, comfortably avoid relegation but even more comfortably be the worst footballing team to grace the Premier League.
But most of all, proper football means proper gambling. Obviously The Gambling Panel is a global phenomenon, observing the world 24/7, on the lookout for the next tip. But whilst the algorithm can’t differentiate (yet) between Newport U23’s v The Queens Head and the World Cup Final, the outcome of these pre-season games has been a little unpredictable.
But finally, this ends… Come Saturday 15:59 – expect your phone to be vibrating at a pleasurable rate for Ashley Cole & Jermaine Pennant whilst you’re being dragged around Topshop.
Whilst here at Gambling Panel HQ our bread and butter is the In-Play markets – we do however regularly have an ante post long-term bet at the start of each season, so this year we thought we’d share those with you – feel free to get involved:
Southend Utd to be promoted – 7/1, or less risky alternative – Southend Utd to make the Play-offs – 3/1.
For me, The Shrimpers look a snip at this price. Don’t get me wrong, they are way behind the big guns in the race for promotion, and probably justifiably. The resources they have available to them are much less than their League One rivals. I don’t believe they should be shorter priced to be relegated (6/1) than promoted though.
Despite the lack of resources available to them, they’ve been shrewd in the Free Transfer market. Signing up Premier League experienced players Michael Turner, Anton Ferdinand for another season and fan favourite Michael Kightly. The latter looking like a particular coup – following his release from Burnley last season he had been linked with a return to the Championship with either Ipswich or Millwall. Yet he has decided to drop down two divisions to re-join his first Football League club.
Looking back at last season, they were quite unlucky not to nick a play-off place then. Missed out to Millwall by one point and that is finishing the season with a torrid run of 4 losses in the last 6. I’ve only seen them improve over the summer and with another years experience in this division, I see them putting pressure on race for promotion.
Not to mention the 18th return of Nile Ranger. Whilst still on holiday at her majesty’s pleasure for… Internet fraud!? That can’t be right… He’s a professional footballer earning thousands a week yet still feels the need to commit internet fraud!? No, surely not – can we check this…….. So, turns out it’s true, bloody mental. (Not just The Gambling Panel committing internet fraud then…. jokes). Hopefully in the short window he has outside of prison before his next misdemeanour, he bangs in enough goals to get us well on the way to promotion.
In spite of Phil Brown being the exact definition of ‘a bit marmite’, he just loves managing on a wet & windy Tuesday night away in Rochdale. He frankly doesn’t give a fuck that his Burton suit is getting battered by the elements and he has completely ruined his Brown Clark’s shoes. That’s the sort of manager that will be celebrating promotion come May.
Bournemouth to finish top half – 15/8.
Outside of the so called “big 7” the race for a top half finish is looking particularly wide open. You could make a case for a lot of teams and if it’s anywhere near as tight as last season then only 2 or 3 more wins on the board could make the world of difference. But I see this mini league coming down to just 5 teams, West Ham, Southampton, Leicester, Crystal Palace, and Bournemouth.
It’s a big season for West Ham, they have made some good signings and the fans will expect them to improve at home after a difficult first year at the London Stadium. The pressure will be on them to get off to a good start and they will need to kick on from there.
Southampton and Palace both have new managers that the players will need to adjust to. The Saints have a Virgil Van Dijk sized cloud still hanging over them and will need Gabbiadini to find his shooting boots again. Whilst Frank De Boer will need to ensure that his Palace players adapt to his style of play much better than Inter Milan did. There are doubts surrounding both of these teams.
Leicester will be looking to move on from last season and with no European football to contend with and the signing of Kelechi Iheanacho, I expect them to do well. The problem they could face is the potential departure of Riyad Mahrez and the knock on effect that this may have on the team.
As for Bournemouth, so far they have had a great transfer window. The signing of Jermaine Defoe to add to the goals of Josh King looks a great bit of business. Asmir Begovic is a step up on Artur Boruc and record signing Nathan Ake was having a great season prior to being recalled by Chelsea. After Ake left, Bournemouth went on an 8 game winless run and this is where the 2 or 3 additional wins that cement a top 10 finish could come from. As well as the signings made, they’ve also managed to hold onto all of their top talent. A number of players have signed long term deals, Lewis Cook will be full of confidence after leading England to the U20 World Cup, Tyrone Mings will be hoping to avoid injury (and Zlatan) and live up to the high expectations, and Ryan Fraser will be looking to build on a promising end to the season. Finally to their manager, Eddie Howe is winning fans throughout the game and is being tipped as a successor for some of the biggest jobs in the country. If only Arsene Wenger wasn’t so stubborn and masochistic we may have seen Howe down at The Emirates this season. Begovic recently described Howe’s work ethic as “second to none” and that “his attention to detail is huge. He does not leave any stone unturned.” This is a man who’s past two managers were Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, men well known in the game for their work ethos and attention to detail, so not a bad comparison.
All of this bodes well for The Cherries and if they can finish within the top 3 of this 5 team mini league I feel that this bet will be a comfortable win, even if it’s not at a huge price.
Arsenal to finish top London club – 11/4 or a more risky alternative – Top 3 any order; Manchester City, Manchester Utd, Arsenal – 10/1.
Now I know Chelsea are 2nd favourites to win the league but I’m not so sure it will be as smooth a ride for Conte’s men this time round. Costa is a massive blow – Morata deal is great in the circumstances but I don’t think you can stroll into the PL and be anywhere near as effective an arsehole Costa was easily.
Tottenham have had two fantastic, unprecedented seasons but now there is clear expectation to challenge again and perform better in the Champions League – together with Wembley to deal with. Pochettino really does for me have to take so much credit for getting this decent team reaching for the upper echelons but I can’t see them doing it again unless Daniel Levy starts shadowing Florentino Perez before deadline day. I also feel this disappointment could lead to being the last season for Poch before he’s finally poached by a top club elsewhere.
And for Arsenal… Well I am aware of the saying: NEVER bet on Arsenal, but I do think they’ll escape those classic cycles of choking you could set your watch to without CL knockout stage to deal with. I also don’t think they’ll succumb to pressure from pushing for the title simply as I don’t think they’ll be there – I can see the Manchester clubs both dominating this year as many expected them to do last. Pep’s another season into coaching his players and Jose been installing his nice mix of technical and physical players which he’s always done successfully at his PL teams.
However with Sanchez looking like he’s running down his contract I think he’ll continue to lead Arsenal from the front and with even more decent depth in the squad it will be all in all a good season with CL re-qualification.
QPR to be relegated – 3-1.
The Championship is a cruel league. It’s swallowed up former Premier League sides before in Bolton, Blackburn, Charlton and Wigan in recent years and QPR could easily suffer the same fate.
The signs don’t look good. They lost 7/8 at the end of last season and that saw them slide within 2 points of relegation. Only a win against similarly shoddy survivors Nottingham Forest sealing their Championship status.
The man at the helm now? The man that jokingly claimed “I might be in a bit of a Skoda garage rather than a Mercedes garage, but I am telling you some old bangers don’t half polish up great” when in charge of last successful side Blackpool – back in 2009-2012.
But this Skoda has ran out of juice. Since Ian Holloway’s Blackpool success, he’s posted a derisory win rate of:
2012-13: Crystal Palace: 31.91%
2014-15: Millwall: 22.58%
2016-Present: QPR: 33.33% (Most of those wins during his ‘Honeymoon Period’)
Not exactly inspiring.
So maybe the transfer market will help? Well since Flavio Briatore, Bernie Ecclestone and Tony Fernandes got bored of football, the money dried up. Long gone are they days of splashing out £12.5m on Christopher Samba. This window has been a little more subdued. Just Josh Scowen (Who?) on a freebee from Barnsley in to get the fans buzzing for the new season… Ian Holloway even papering over the cracks in claiming having a troubled Steven Caulker back after a public order offence, alcohol problems and a gambling addiction as a ‘new signing’.
And how did pre-season go? Terrible is the answer. 6 games, 5 loses against low key opposition (Fulham, Reading x 2, Union Berlin, Lokomotive Liepzig, Peterbrough).
It just feels a little too doom and gloom right now down at Loftus Road. We’ve seen clubs in a rut like this struggle to bounce back and this could be season they succumb to the 3rd tier of English football.
Give us feedback of how legendary/shit you think these bets are and let us know any bets you think are worth a look!
The Gambling Panel