Below is Gerry's Premier League football betting preview for the forthcoming 2007/2008 Premier League season.
The views expressed are solely those of the author.
On reflection, my decision to take a couple of weeks off to rest was flawed from the outset. The wife went completely Stefan Postma on me; she was constantly on my back. The evil one demanded that the bedroom receive a full makeover. As nothing has been done in there for a number of years, I wasnt overly upset with her having the decorators in. Tidying up the garden was the hardest job. I was absolutely knackered at the end; the incessant drone of the lawnmower completely ruined my afternoon nap. I did manage to wash the car myself. I say wash, but drove in the rain would probably be a more accurate description. In my defence, I have been busy putting together a collection of ante-post football bets that are so tasty, Nordic babe-magnet Sven Goran Eriksson has been trying to get his hands on them.
Manchester United are a confident pick for Premiership glory. United were clearly the best team in the league last season, and their summer transfer dealings have been nothing short of exemplary. United are available at 7/5 in a two-horse race: I suspect foal play.
Liverpool are the betting equivalent of Lenny Henry: every year they receive massive support for no apparent reason. I like the look of Arsenal at 2/1 in the betting without Man U and Chelsea.
Ive got a lot of time for lets do it again Sven. England rose from 17th to 4th in the FIFA world rankings under the Swedes tutelage, and he managed to orchestrate this transformation while planting his pole more than Sergey Bubka. The 2/1 for Manchester City finishing the season in the top half of the table is the most surprising offer since Ulrika Johnson offered the ageing Lothario a little slice of Swedish fish pie.
I always try to gain an edge wherever possible, so I asked the wifes computer-savvy sister to run a series of simulations on the Premiership handicap. After a significant number of entries last Saturday night, she has reached the conclusion that Manchester City will finish on around the 100 point mark (they receive a 41 point start), making them an each-way steal at 15/1.
The Golden Boot is a tough market to crack under normal circumstances, but with Didier Drogba (the clear favourite) on African Nations Cup duty for up to two months, a little dabble may prove pleasantly prudent. Eduardo netted 71 goals in 100 games in Croatia; if he settles early at the Emirates, the 28/1 will prove the greatest gift since Chers offering to a young Franck Ribery in the tear-jerking chick-flick Mask.
There are a number of season match bets available where the probability of success is greater then the odds-makers have calculated. Man City to finish above West Ham at 11/8 is the standout, and Middlesbrough to finish above Sunderland at evens is a close runner-up. If bets were birds, these two would be on Svens to do list.
I love to have a pre-season accer on the four divisions, but its normally about as successful as a Frank Skinner sitcom. Theres always one team that lets me down; even when I just have a single. This year, its all about to change. Im siding with Manchester United in the Premiership, Southampton in the Championship, Leeds in League 1 and the MK Dons in the basement. A £1 each way accer will return £2,206 if all prove successful, Ive already entered the £46 return for all four to place on my spreadsheet.
It all kicks off in Scotland this weekend, and there will also be a few football matches. I cant be having Celtic at 1/4 without Boruc and Nakamura; Ill take Killy at evens with a 1½ goal start. Rangers will be oozing confidence after a pre-season victory over Chelsea and a Champions League qualifying stroll in midweek. Ill be celebrating like a true Scot if the Gers take the points against Inverness at 1/2; ive even bought the skirt.
As a spectacle, last seasons FA Cup final was possibly the dullest piece of television ever, if we choose to ignore David Beckhams Soccer USA. Manchester United have a chance to redeem themselves against Chelsea in the Community Shield, Ill happily play at 13/8. United have quality throughout the pitch, but Ill put forward Wayne Rooney as the most likely first scorer at 7/1. I would have plumped for the outstanding Carlos Tevez if it wasnt for the delay in his transfer; hes still tied up filming Mask 2, its got a whole lot worse.