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A season of Two Halves?

The Premier League's half-term report shows it to be a league of two halves, with already a seemingly insurmountable divide between those teams chasing Champions League glory and those likely to immersed in a relegation dogfight, and any attempts to predict the outcome at either end are likely to be about as accurate as a Jason Puncheon spot kick.

For probably the first time in Premier league history, the breakaway pack at the top comprises arguably the "Big Eight"" in terms of success, tradition, fanbase and financial clout: namely the two rivals from Manchester and Merseyside respectively, the London glamour club triumvirate, with plucky Newcastle tugging desperately at their shirt tails like a needy child.

Perhaps the only club missing that could possibly feel it has a claim to gatecrash that elite party might be fallen giants Leeds United, but their decade of decline into lower division obscurity has dulled the memory of their history and potential for now.

The top of the Premier League is excitingly and refreshingly tight, with Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal each occupying top spot at some point over last weekend, while Liverpool and Everton are constantly leapfrogging over each other in their quest to turn a promising first half of the season into long overdue tangible success. Manchester United still lie behind Tottenham (themselves with genuine European aspirations), and The Chosen One, although looking like a deer in the headlights at times when watching his team underachieving on the pitch, will no doubt cling onto the fact that United have overturned an 11-point deficit before at this stage (albeit not with six clubs ahead of them), and clearly any team missing the quality of Rooney and van Persie can only hope for an upturn in fortunes upon their return.

Of the twenty Premier League clubs, it would appear that only Newcastle United and Southampton are destined for that stale marriage of midtable mediocrity and meaningless games, both settled in that safe pocket of 30+ points in the bag without ever looking likely to upset the big boys above them, although both would argue that they are only a sustained good run away from muscling themselves back into the title-chasing pack.

At the other end, the tightness of the bottom half can be shown by the fact that Southampton in 9th place lie 7 points clear of Hull City in 10th, a margin that is actually larger than the meagre six points separating the Tigers from the Eagles in bottom spot, and while no doubt happy to be currently in the top half, Steve Bruce will be well aware that he is only one bad month away from slipping towards the bottom three precipice.

Never has the division between top and bottom halves been so distinct, and never has the fight to stay up been so interestingly poised, littered with teams with recent Championship experience, and indeed with more established teams that wouldn't be out of place in that division either. All the usual suspects are back in the fray again, although after their relative successes of last season, the bosses of Swansea and West Brom might be scratching their heads in befuddlement at where it all went wrong so far this campaign.
With an 11-club struggle for survival to go with a 7-team battle for Champions league glory, there are going to be thrills and spills and six-pointers galore, and just about every game (with the possible exception of Southampton v Newcastle) seems likely to have some bearing on title and/or survival hopes.

With such an exciting second half to the season in prospect, it is likely to get uncomfortably warm in some of the managerial hot seats between now and May, but it's should make great viewing for us from the stands or the comfort of our armchair.

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Cash Out? A Feature for the Bookmaker

Several bookmakers now offer and heavily promote their 'cash-out' feature on TV and online, and big sports accounts often open up the debate when followers send in their 'cash-out dilemmas'.... Should someone cash out after winning 8 of their 9 games in an accumulator or should they take the risk and see if the final team can win too. The answer is simple, but is becoming less and less clear due - NO, you should NEVER use the cashout option.

The Situation

Using the example in the image above, you can see that this guy has done a £500 five fold. The first four bets have won, leaving him with Arsenal to win tonight at Aston Villa - at a price of 1.57. Betfair have been generous and said "you know what, we'll give you £2674.44 and settle the bet right now". Wow, the bookmaker is willing to pay out on his bet before he won!

Also, as anyone who bets on sports will know, there is no such thing as a banker, and should Arsenal struggle and not get the win at Villa Park, the guy will end up with absolutely nothing except the regret of not cashing out when he had the chance. This fear of regret is the reason this is proving successful with the bookmakers that use this facility. People see a decent number and take it, but a serious bettor should know to look a little deeper.

Say No - Work it Out

You don't have to be a whizz kid at maths, but you should be looking at whether or not the bookmaker is actually offering a good deal. Like anything in life, don't be dazzled by the big numbers or promise of something exciting, delve deeper and have a proper look. Is what they are offering good value for money, or are there any alternatives?

You have three options at the end of the day...

  1. Accept the Cash-Out from Mr Betfair, enjoy the £2674.44. You'll be annoyed if Arsenal win, but delighted with your choice if Villa get a result.
  2. Reject the cash out and let it ride. You backed Arsenal because you think they're going to win, just because you've got the option to cash out half your winnings shouldn't change your opinion on the game. If Arsenal win, happy days! If they draw or lose, you lose the £500 stake.
  3. Reject the cash out from Betfair, and cash-out yourself. Go the the Betfair Exchange and LAY Arsenal at a price of 1.53 for £1,568.25 liability and GUARANTEE yourself £2958.96.

Option three is the manual version of what Betfair (and other bookmakers) offer on the cashout feature. The manual version earns you an extra £284.52 profit, which equates to an additional 13.1%. 

Betfair have taken 13.1% of your profit for doing nothing, don't let them do it! In this instance, the best value is actually option three, as the price you are opposing Arsenal is less than the price you backed them at...

THINK TWICE BEFORE CASHING OUT

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New Design for 2014

After a long drawn out process, with dozens of delays, hurdles and problems, we can finally announce the launch of our new look website! It's early days, and with anything new like this, we could have some teething problems, but we're hoping everything works perfectly right from the get-go!

 

 

What's New?

Well, there are several new aspects at the minute, and we have another backlog of updates that we will be adding over the coming few weeks.

New Now

  1. Automated odds. This industry is growing at a huge rate, with hundreds upon hundreds of new tipsters sprouting up left right and centre. Many will be good, but you have some trying to pull wool over people's eyes in order to seem better than they are. We have added automated odds that come directly from the bookmakers (21 in total) in REAL TIME! When we publish a tip, you can be sure that the odds are accurate and available.
  2. Automated resulting. We have created formulas within our database to work with the fixtures and results to calculate when a bet wins/loses automatically. Again, this eliminates human error. What about 1/4 handicaps? don't worry, the formulas will reduce the profit accuratley if the bet is a half win/half push - and will reduce the loss if it is a half push/half loss
  3. Easy to use interface. Perhaps the best feature of the new site will be the user-friendly aspect of it. You can join us by simply entering your email and creating a password. Simple. You get your own profile where you will be able to add youw own image, add personal info, review your membership status amongst other things. 
  4. Browse tips. The new site makes it much easier to browse tips. Just go to the 'tips' page, and you can see the tip archive. We have added banners that will say if the bet is active (game not started or in play), if it has won, pushed or lost. You will even be able to filter by sport. If you like the football tips, click football, if you only want basketball tips, click basketball!

After listening to customer feedback we had to think about how we could please everyone. It was tough, and means we have a big list of things to do, but we will get them done! Here are a few things coming soon

Coming Soon

  1. Tips via Email. Many of you will be pleased to know we will soon be adding a feature that sends our tips via email. We still aren't sure what the format will be (tip only, tip and reasoning etc), but we will be firing them to your inbox as well as publishing them on the site. Many of you have been after this, so hopefully this ticks your boxes!
  2. "LIKE" our tips. You may already see the "like this tip" button on the betslip on the tips we publish, but we will be making the most out of this in a few ways. Firstly, we can see what kind of tips people like and tailor our service to you. Secondly, members will be able to see the hottest tips by the number of 'likes' they have received. If we tip Man United to win the league, I don't expect many likes, but I imagine Bayern to win the Bundesliga would be more popular...
  3. Track Your Bets. Want to know how much we have made you whilst you've been a member? Usually, this will require you to tirelessly fill out an excel file with your stake information. Instead, we will be integrating a "bet on this tip" button that helps you keep a log on your bets all within the site. This isn't quite ready yet, but should be a nifty feature when we launch it!
  4. Competitions. Not the be all and end all of our service by any means, but we want to interact with our members as much as possible. We are sorting out loads of competitions with prizes ranging from memorabilia, match tickets, free bets and cold hard cash. 
  5. Forum. Live Chat was good on the old site, but a forum would be better. We have hundreds of members on board and between us I think we should be more than capable of starting a great betting community. We can help eachother out, share team news, big wins, narrow losses and anything else. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we want to hear from you! What do you think, is there something else you'd like to add to the site? Get in touch by or TWITTER and we will try our best to add any viable suggestions to our back log of things to add!

Enjoy the new site

Terry

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Will Solskjaer thrive under Tan?

Whether or not you would want to work under an owner such as Vincent Tan, I am sure that any manager working outside the top 5 European leagues would jump at the opportunity to work at a Premier League club. Taking over at any club will ultimately come with difficulties, whether it be the current league position, a threadbare squad or a non-existent transfer budget. Despite everything that has gone on in the press, working under Tan might not necessarily be the biggest issue on reflection. Managing a Premier League side that is averaging 27,500 fans and has a transfer budget for the January transfer window would be seen as a great opportunity by many.

Solskjaer has always seemed destined for big things in his managerial career. He is only 40, but is already in his 6th season of management having previously managed Man Utd reserves and then Molde in Norway's top flight. Whilst at United reserves, her was offered the chance to coach the Norweigan national team. He declined (probably the right move), saying he wasn't ready. 

One thing he did as United reserves manager was work with young gifted players. This has been highlighted by his first signing as Cardiff boss - Magnus Eikrem from Heerenveen in the Dutch Eredivisie. Eirkem played under Solskjaer at United, and followed him again to Molde (also his home town). He signed for Heerenveen  at the beginning of this season but the lure of the Premier League and working again with Solskjaer was too great. I expect him to get a lot of game time at Cardiff.

The next signing expected to be made by Solskjaer is Mats Moller Daehli. He is just 18 years old and again spent time at Man United in their youth set up and in the reserves. This time it was not under the new Cardiff boss, but Solskjaer's connections meant he saw a lot of him and eventually brought him to Molde earlier this season. Daehli played with Adnan Januzaj, and impressed MORE, as it was he who won the coveted player of the year award at United. In fact, OGS suggested that Daehli would have been in the United 1st team by now had he not gone to Norway to play at Molde.

Solskjaer will bring something to the Premier League, and to Cardiff City - enough that I expect they will survive the drop this season at least. His signings will be astute and calculated. I don't expect any big signings, at least not in January, but he will instill confidence in the squad and get them to believe they belong in the top flight. 

The fact that Solskjaer turned down the Aston Villa job 18 months ago goes to show that he thinkg he can deal with Tan, and that the prospect of managing Cardiff City is an appealing one.

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Will Walcott Be Missed by Arsenal? or England?

Nearly eight years ago, the England manager Sven Goran Eriksson made arguably the bravest (maybe the only brave) decision of his England tenure when he named 17-year-old Theo Walcott in his 2006 World Cup squad. Sadly, such a bold move was then negated by his subsequent short-sighted failure to give his young protégé a single minute on the field, making his presence in Germany totally futile and a mockery of the whole argument for his initial inclusion.
Four years later, Fabio Capello contraversially failed to include Walcott in his squad for South Africa, and now, as England's campaign in Brazil looms ahead, a cruciate ligament injury has apparently ruled Walcott out of the tournament, meaning that he will not get the chance to grace a World Cup till Russia 2018, by which time this promising young talent will be 29.


But how much will England miss him, and more immediately, how crucial will his absence be in Arsenal's attempt to claim their first premiership title for a decade? Despite his early introduction his England career has been sporadic rather than prolific, his five goals in 36 appearances highlighted by his hattrick in a World Cup qualifier in Croatia in 2010. He has, however, only come off the field twice as a loser in an England shirt, both in meaningless friendlies, so maybe he could claim to be something of a talisman.
Arsenal can claim him to more than that, as his impact for the Gunners can be seen to be a lot more impressive. Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Walcott can finally be seen to be coming of age, scoring 21 goals last season, to go with a further 6 between niggling injury layoffs this year.


In the 18 games in which he has featured this season, Arsenal have won 14, losing just two, while in the 13 matches without him, four have ended in defeat to go with two draws and seven victories. Of course, everything is relative:  three of those four defeats without him were against the might of Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea, against whom his impact might have been limited anyway, so it is all statistical conjecture. However, there can be no doubt that his five goals and five assists have been important, especially as Aaron Ramsey's early season purple patch is momentarily fading.


The final conclusion is perhaps that Walcott's injury is more of a cruel blow for him personally than a devastating blow for club or country. The emergence of Andros Townsend at the end of England's qualifying campaign put Walcott's starting position in doubt anyway, while the return to training of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is the boost Arsenal needed that might prevent them panic buying in the January transfer window, and I think Mr Wenger would be more concerned with keeping Ozil and Giroud on the pitch than replacing Walcott, as it is they who seem to hold the key to turning Arsenal's early season promise into actual silverware.


For Walcott it is long haul back to fitness, and he'll be hoping his contribution to the season will be remembered for more than his cheeky 2-0 gesture to taunting Tottenham fans while being carted off on a stretcher.

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