Wolves 2.66 v Middlesbrough 3.00; The Draw 3.30
It would be remiss of me not to start with arguably the biggest game of the opening weekend fixtures - from the perspective of title contenders at least - especially given that, despite showing three live games, Sky Sports have snubbed it. A baffling decision.

Wolves are trading as the joint third favourites in the Championship Winner market, Middlesbrough have overtaken Aston Villa as the favourites; both clubs have spent fortunes in an attempt to return to the Premier League, it's a mouthwatering opening day clash that's for sure, and it's a tough one to call.

Wolves were an almighty gamble to win the title last term, having been matched at 100.00 before the off they eventually started the season at around the 20.00 mark. I wasn't keen on their chances, simply because they'd brought in so many players that it seemed impossible that they'd gel quickly and get off to a good start. That proved to be the case, and my thinking is much the same this time around.

They've been backed again, from 19.50 into around half those odds, and like last year they've made a plethora of signings, 12 at the last count including six Portuguese players. The significance being that Wolves' new boss - Nuno - is also Portuguese. Ruben Neves is the stand-out signing, costing the club close to £16m, showing that Wolves really do mean business this term.

But I have my doubts about Wolves' chances. It's fine to bring in five or six players when most of them have experience of English football - Middlesbrough for example - but bringing in a dozen players when at least half of them have never played in England. Well, it's a big ask.

As alluded too, Boro have spent big, and all bar one of their signings has experience at this level and/or English football. Fifteen million pound signing Britt Assombalonga is a proven Championship striker, full-back Cyrus Christie played in this division for Derby last term, midfielder Jonny Howson has played at this level with Norwich and Leeds, while £5m goalkeeper Darren Randolph and £6.5m striker Ashley Fletcher have been brought in from West Ham.

My gut feeling is that Middlesbrough's new recruits will settle much quicker than those at Wolves, and that if Nuno's men do develop into a promotion-chasing team then this could well be the ideal time for Boro to face them.

Garry Monk's men are title favourites let's not forget, yet they are the outsiders to win this match at 3.00, so with Opta telling us that Boro have a terrific recent record against the Molineux outfit - winning their last four clashes - then a chance is taken on the away side to live up to the early hype.

Recommended Bets
Back Middlesbrough to Win @ 3.00

Fulham 2.10 v Norwich 3.85; The Draw 3.70
From a betting perspective some people love the start of a new season, and I can understand that. If you have the time, and you put the work in, you can gauge better than most how best prepared some teams are, how organised they're looking, how fit they are etc.

Unfortunately, as someone who has very little time to scrutinise more than just a handful of clubs, and someone who - I'll be honest with you - detests friendlies at the best of times and therefore takes little notice of pre-season results, I'm a bettor who keeps stakes relatively low in the early weeks as I try to assess the abilities of each club.

So apart from a quick internet search to see who has signed who, and a brief look to see if any patterns have emerged in those mostly meaningless friendlies, much of my analysis is based on how clubs performed last season.

Fulham did remarkably well to finish sixth last term and despite them being joint third favourites for the title this season I believe they'll do very well to finish in the top six. The Cottagers' squad is largely the same and I just feel that they over-achieved last term. They have signed striker Aboubakar Kamara, and what I love about that is that he'll wear squad number 47 so that he can be known as AK47!

But we can't make a case for a bet based on that bit of trivia, though we can make a case for goals being scored if Fulham are anything like the team they were last season.

Slavisa Jokanovic's men were among the great entertainers in the Championship last term with their matches averaging over three goals per game. They were involved in 142 goals during last season's 46 matches (85 scored, 57 conceded), the only club who were involved in more were Saturday's opponents Norwich with 154 goals (85 scored, 69 conceded). No guesses for where I'm going with this.

And if, unlike me, you are interested in pre-season friendlies then Fulham's last five played all produced at least three goals, in fact 20 goals were scored at an average of exactly four per game.

I'll speak more about the Canaries in future previews but right now I'm just interested in backing Over 2.5 Goals in this clash. Both of last season's meetings between these two sides produced exactly four goals per game, and the meeting before that ended 4-2 to Norwich.

Recommended Bets
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.86 (best bet)

Preston 3.00 v Sheffield Wednesday 2.70; The Draw 3.40
I gave Sheffield Wednesday a favourable mention in my pre-season preview and I believe they are worth backing at Deepdale against a Preston side that lost boss Simon Grayson to Sunderland during the summer.

Alex Neil is the new man in charge of Preston, and he's more than capable of carrying on the good work started by Grayson, but the club have done very little transfer business leading up to the new campaign and I just sense an on-form Owls side should be too good.

Declan Rudd has replaced Anders Lindegaard in goal for the Lancashire outfit, and right-back Darrell Fisher has come in from relegated Rotherham, but other than a few players from Cork City and a former Manchester United youth player it's hard to argue that Preston have actually strengthened their squad.

Wednesday finished fourth last term and they've added to their squad by bringing in the excellent George Boyd from Burnley. Jordan Rhodes has been signed permanently from Middlesbrough, and he has been one of the Championship's leading goalscorers for a number of years now. If Carlos Carvalhal can keep star man Fernando Forestieri focused and motivated than I strongly fancy the Owls to have a very good season.

We'll get first evidence of just how good they are on Saturday, but on a weekend that is full of trappy fixture I'm willing to wager that they'll start their campaign with a victory.

Recommended Bet
Back Sheff Wed to Win @ 2.70

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