Hello Long Shotters, long time no see and all that. I would say happy New Year, but we are in mid-January and I know that you don’t really care, so I will just say it is great to be in your acquaintance again as we look to make 2013 a profitable one with our outsider tips on the weekend’s football. Well, maybe ‘great’ is stretching it a bit, but you get the sentiment.
A lot has happened since we last spoke: we’ve had Christmas excess, New Year debauchery and we’ve even discovered that against all evidence to the contrary, Jim Davidson might not actually be a nice fella after all. Maybe 2013 really will be the year of the surprise.
Hopefully it will, as that is our stock trade and let’s recap – or, if you’re a first time reader, introduce – what the name of the game is (I can’t get Davidson out of my head now).
Every week I pick out three big-priced tips from the weekend’s domestic coupon for you to get on: many of which aren’t too obvious and none of which are sure things, but all of them will give you a decent return on your money.
From the start of the season until now, we are £85 in profit (based on a £10 level stake on all selections) and tempting as it was to blow all the money in the kitty over the festive period – those girls at Stringfellows can be pretty demanding – it’s all there to play with (that’s the money, not the girls).
I’ll admit the two columns before Christmas were a bit like Mansfield Town CEO Carolyn Radford (they looked good but were actually useless) but if David Bowie is on the comeback trail then so are we, and the first three selections of 2013 can have us Dancing in the Street* this weekend.
* I apologise, not least because I have reminded you of the worst video in music history
Luis Suarez to score first in Manchester United v Liverpool @ 13/2
Manchester United may be strong favourites to beat Liverpool, and deservedly so, but the price on pantomime villain Luis Suarez to score first at Old Trafford is far, far too big and it is the sort of bet the Long Shot has to be getting involved with.
No matter what you think of him (probably not a lot) Suarez has been, alongside Robin van Persie, the outstanding performer in this season’s Premier League, and his 15 goals have kept Liverpool afloat. But he is no flat-track bully (he has notched against Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton already this campaign) and the form he is in I see no reason why he can’t notch first against a porous United defence.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have let in 28 goals in 21 games – more than any other side in the top 11 – and make no mistake, they will be wary of the Uruguayan on Sunday.
United have made a bad habit of falling behind in games, too, and have conceded the first goal on 15 occasions this season, a remarkable statistic. And Suarez, who scored at Old Trafford last season, is way overpriced to bag the opener given how he is performing.
Peterborough United to beat Nottingham Forest and over 2.5 goals @ 21/4
Poor old Alex McLeish is already under pressure at Nottingham Forest despite only being in the post for a matter of weeks and I like the price on Peterborough United to go to the City Ground and make like even more uncomfortable for Big ‘Eck.
McLeish’s reign has started with a draw against Crystal Palace and two defeats, one at the hands of managerless Blackburn Rovers, the other to League One Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup. But at least the Forest fans are seeing some attacking, entertaining football for their troubles. Ahem.
Attacking, entertaining football is what Peterborough do best, and Darren Ferguson’s in-form side can bag another high-scoring win against the Tricky Trees. Only Hull and Cardiff have won more points than Posh over the last six games, who have defeated the Welsh side on their own patch, as well as picking up wins at Wolves and at home to Bolton and Barnsley.
So I think the 333/100 is a decent price on Peterborough, but you may as well go the whole way and back them to win a match that has over 2.5 goals as well. United have scored 16 and conceded 13 in their last six, and have seen 86 goals scored in their 26 matches at an average of 3.31 a game, a record only Bristol City can better.
Seven of their eight wins this season have seen over 2.5 goals, so if you fancy Posh to win, as I do, you might as well take the 21/4 on there being at least three goals as well.
Draw/Chesterfield in Chesterfield v Northampton Town @ 19/4
Dipping into the bottom tier, I fancy Chesterfield to put Aidy Boothroyd’s Northampton Town to bed at the Proact Stadium, but the 11/10 about a home win is of little interest to the Long Shot.
But the match between the Spireites and the Cobblers pits League Two’s half-time draw specialists together: Chesterfield have been level at the break in 16 of their 27 league matches, the highest number in the division, while Northampton have been all square after 45 minutes on just one fewer occasion.
So everything points to this one being level at half-time, and I would think that Chesterfield will ultimately prevail. After a dodgy run at home, new boss Paul Cook has sorted out his team’s form at the Proact, winning four and drawing two of their last six in all competitions.
That is in stark contrast to Town’s away record, which reads just two wins from 12 trips all season, losing six times, and I like the look of that 19/4 on Chesterfield winning after a drawn first half.