Watching Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund slay Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Champions league this week (they’ve always got the footy on in the back room at Stringfellows), I was reminded of that Gary Lineker quote: football is a game played by 22 players and at the end of 90 minutes, the Germans win.
Well, after this week, I’ve got an updated version: football is a game played by 22 players, and after 90 minutes, the Long Shot has picked another winner. Catchy, eh?
Yes, that’s right Long Shotters, Norwich’s eventual win over Reading after a drawn first half gave us yet another winner, and the kitty, based on putting a tenner on each of the three selections each week, now stands at £157.
With just four weeks of the season left, it means that no matter what happens from now on we are guaranteed a profit over the course of the entire season, which (blows own trumpet) is good going if we do say ourselves.
But we are not satisfied with that – we want more! And we reckon this week’s selections have at least one winner among them, so get on…
Manchester United to beat Arsenal and over 2.5 goals @ 4/1
It isn’t very often that a Manchester United victory will feature in the Long Shot – they are normally far too short for that – so we’re going to have a go on the 4/1 that they go to Arsenal and win a game that produces over 2.5 goals while we have the chance.
United look value to win at 9/4 – Arsenal have seemingly been priced up as skinny as 11/10 because they need to win – but Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are better in every department and we reckon Fergie will keep his players at it, especially when they can set a new Premier League points record by winning all their remaining games.
United have won seven of the last eight meetings and 11 of the last 15, so to say they have the edge over Arsenal is an understatement, and with all the pressure on the Gunners an away win looks good at 9/4.
But let’s take the 4/1 on there being over 2.5 goals as well. Games at the Emirates this season are averaging 3.71 goals per fixture, while United’s away games are averaging 3.12 goals per game.
Eight of those 11 United wins have seen at least three goals scored, and at the 4/1 on a repeat is the way to go.
No goalscorer in Stoke City and Norwich @ 25/4
We wouldn’t be the Long Shot if we looked at Stoke v Norwich and thought ‘now there is a goal-fest, somebody get that match on the telly!’ In fact, you wouldn’t be anybody, and the 25/4 that there is no goalscorer at the Britannia has to be taken.
Only Queens Park Rangers have scored fewer goals than both of these sides, with the Potters netting just 30 goals in their 34 games and with the Canaries managing a slightly better 33, it is fair to say goals have been scarce for both these teams this season.
No side have drawn more blanks that Stoke’s 15, while Chris Hughton’s side have failed to score 12 times, and this has all the hallmarks of a low scoring affair.
I make the draw highly likely given that no team have drawn more often than Norwich (14) and Stoke are just one behind on 13, and 0-0 has to be the shout. Both sides have been involved in six goalless draws this season, a record in the division, and we have to be on
But remember, make sure you back No Goalscorer rather than 0-0: that way if the only goal is an own goal, you will still get paid out.
Gareth Bale to score first in Tottenham Hotspur v Wigan Athletic @ 4/1
A more obvious choice, maybe, but while he is still priced up the sort of odds that make the Long Shot sit up and take notice, then we have to getting on Gareth Bale for first goal when Tottenham go to Wigan.
Bale showed that he is back and firing after his injury lay-off with a wonderful goal in Spurs’ win against Manchester City last week, and that clincher in the 3-1 victory extends his run to 14 goals in his last 16 games for club and country – eight of which have been the first strike of the game.
And he will fancy his chances of bagging against Wigan’s porous defence. Only QPR (them again) have won fewer points at home, but no team has conceded more home goals than the Latics, who have let in 35 goals on home turf, keeping just one clean sheet in their 16 home fixtures. With stats like that, Bale has to a bet to open the scoring at 4/1.