SHREWD football punter Stefan Ince (@Stefanh17) shares his thoughts on five persuasive season-long punts during the international break.
Ante-Post: Five season-long selections to support
With yet another painful international break upon us, football obsessives have plenty of spare time on their hands this week. I suggest you don’t do what my mate did during the last international break and fill the boredom by getting silly and betting blindly on the Brazilian third division!
Instead, it's the perfect time to take stock on the season so far and have a good look at the opportunities available in the season-long markets.
I'm sure many of you still have strong interests in your ante-post bets, although, I'm also sure that there are as many bets that are as good as in the bin, especially with so many well respected tipsters recommending to get on Bournemouth to be relegated.
I’ve perused the markets and think the following angles are worth backing.
Bayern Munich to win the Bundesliga (1/1 Smarkets)
Call me an unromantic cynic, but I’ve seen too many young, exciting, attacking teams blaze an early trail and then crash and burn over the years to get too carried away about Dortmund.
There’s no doubting BVB are a hugely talented squad, but only Lukasz Piszczek and Marco Reus boast any experience of closing out a title, and one or two injuries in key areas will leave them very short. I also think that Dortmund concede too may goals to churn out results when the going gets tough at the business end of the campaign.
In the first half of Der Klassiker, Bayern controlled the game and looked a far better team than Dortmund. If Niko Kovac gets pushed and they get an experienced man in (or even bring back Jupp Heynckes AGAIN) to steady the ship, I can see them putting a huge run together.
Whilst eye-catching wins against Atletico Madrid and Bayern have drawn in the kneejerk Nigel bets on Dortmund, the above reasoning and Bayern’s knowhow is probably more than enough to see the Bavarians complete a depressing title-winning comeback.
Ipswich to finish higher than Bolton (1/1 SkyBet)
There are only five points between them now, and the two clubs seem to be heading in opposite directions. Paul Lambert already seems to have improved Ipswich and has a good record at this level. Town will at least put up a fight and grind out points with the Scot at the helm.
With an ageing, mismatch squad and huge financial issues, Bolton only seem to be going one way. They are on a terrible run of form and there are no signs of it getting any better.
I expect this price to be a lot shorter by Christmas, so back Lambert’s men to rein Bolton in now.
Raheem Sterling to be PFA Young Player of the Year (11/4 SkyBet)
When checking this market, I fully expected Raheem Sterling's price to be a lot shorter.
With 44 goals and assists since the start of last season, he’s arguably the best player, for the best team in the league. In my eyes, he has a decent shout for the main award, so the Young Player of the Year should be a shoe-in.
Sterling gets a torrid time from the British press and doesn’t receive nearly enough praise as he deserves, but this an award voted for by the players, who aren’t institutionally (redacted).
The risk with these individual bets is always injury, but Raheem is rarely sidelined. I was heavily burnt and am still sore over Mohamed Salah beating Kevin de Bruyne to the Player of the Year award last season, but I’m happy to get back on the horse with little Raheem as my jockey.
Fulham to finish higher than Brighton (13/2 SkyBet)
A bit of a punt this one, but I really don’t rate Brighton.
As WLB powerhouse Dan McCulloch often points out, based on shots on-target, possession, Expected Goals etc, Brighton’s 1-0 victories have been hugely fortunate. The ageing Glenn Murray aside, the other forwards aren’t chipping in, leaving them to rely on an unsustainable source of goals from their centre-halves.
Fulham will probably trade up gaffers sooner or later and could well spend big again in January. A couple of decent defensive additions and their team on paper will look a lot better than Brighton’s.
Fulham’s remaining four home games of 2018 are Southampton, West Ham, Wolves and Huddersfield, giving them a great opportunity to put points on the board.
I think it’s worth a small stake on a Cottagers comeback.
Man City to win the Premier League (3/10 Spreadex)
I probably don’t need to sell this one and anyone who has read my previous pieces knows that I love a low-risk bet or two in my portfolio. The odds imply that there is a 23% chance that someone other than City wins the Premier League – I think the percentage chacne should be considerably lower.
City are head and shoulders above anyone else and have proven they can comfortably deal with injuries to key players. They have most teams running scared and should win the title at another canter.
Liverpool have second place written all over them. Jurgen Klopp stills seems to be deciding on what system/style to play, which would worry me if I was a Reds fan. Despite Daniel Sturridge's early patch of form, he seems to have gone back in his shell and they look short in midfield, with big money signing Fabinho looking a complete misfit.
Keep it simple and invest in City.
Bundesliga – Bayern Munich to win outright (1/1 Smarkets)
Championship – Ipswich to finish higher than Bolton (1/1 SkyBet)
PFA Young Player of the Year – Raheem Sterling (11/4 SkyBet)
Premier League – Fulham to finish higher than Brighton (13/2 SkyBet)
Premier League – Manchester City to win outright (3/10 Spreadex)