Weekend Long Shots is back, and it must be said that although we didn’t have any tangible success last week (that is a euphemism for ‘we didn’t win a bean’), I was reasonably happy with how it went and I urge you all to keep the faith. This week I’ll be looking to the Liverpool v Arsenal, Hartlepool v Scunthorpe and Swansea v Sunderland games. CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH?! Please? I think I need one.
I went big on Newcastle last time and I’ll admit I ended up looking more crestfallen than Harry Redknapp without anything to do on transfer deadline day, but my other tips came close: Southampton’s Adam Lallana hit the bar with a great strike at 0-0, going within inches of giving us a 12/1 winner, while Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen missed a good chance while up the field in open play, and I would advise you all to keep an eye on the Belgium international as the season goes on – he is going to score goals at big prices.
But as one weekend fades into a distant memory, another one is upon us and it gives us another chance to get a long shot in and here are three tasty bets at 13/1, 8/1 and 8/1.
Liverpool v Arsenal: Liverpool half time/draw full time @ 13/1
Liverpool and Arsenal have played out seven draws in their 13 meetings in all competitions since the start of 2007/08 season, meaning even Arsene Wenger might be able to see another one coming (especially with his snazzy new specs). With this in mind, a play on the Reds to be beating the Gunners at half time before the match ends in a draw is worth a go at 13/1.
Liverpool may have been more Kenny Dalglish The Manager: Mark II against Hearts in the Europa League than Brendan Rodgers would have liked, but a showing more like the one against Manchester City can be expected when the Gunners visit Anfield, especially in the first half, where I expect them to start quickly against an Arsenal side still finding their feet in the post you-know-who era.
But Liverpool have a habit of throwing away leads at home to Arsenal, and it could be worth betting on them to do so again. The Reds have been beating Wenger’s team at some point in each of the last five Premier League meetings between the two at Anfield, and failed to win every one. In three of those games, Liverpool were leading at half time, and as I think the game could well end in a draw, that 13/1 chance could be a way of making it pay quite a bit more.
Hartlepool and Scunthorpe to draw 0-0 @ 8/1
Poor old Jeff Stelling must be pulling his perfectly bequiffed hair out when he looks at Hartlepool this season, and there is reason to believe their clash with Scunthorpe United, which already has the look of a League One relegation six-pointer, is going to be a drab affair. This makes the 8/1 on it remaining goalless well worth a play.
Nevermind the Monkey Hangers, Hartlepool are in desperate need of a goal hanger if they are going to avoid relegation to League Two: Jeff’s beloved side are yet to find the net in three games (a 5-0 thrashing in the Capital One Cup at the hands of bottom tier Crewe Alexandra; and a goalless draw at home to Swindon and a 2-0 defeat away at Notts County in the league) and lie in the dreaded drop zone.
But at least they have one more point than Scunthrope, who have lost all three league games to leave Alan Knill fighting for his job. And in what is sure to be a tense match, the 8/1 on 0-0 would be tempting enough anyway, but a look at last year’s stats makes it a must-bet long shot.
The Iron were involved in eight goalless draws last season, more than any other side in the division, six of which came on their travels. Hartlepool were involved in six nil-nils, four at Victoria Park, and boasted the worst home goalscoring record in League One, finding the net just 21 times. All the signs are there: Hartlepool have had one 0-0 draw already this campaign, and at 8/1 it has to be done.
Steven Fletcher to score first for Sunderland against Swansea @ 8/1
He may have been overpriced, he may look like he had one hell of a paper round when he was a kid, and he may possibly be the most Scottish man to have ever been born in Shrewsbury, but Steven Fletcher gets goals at Premier League level and he can open his Sunderland account by bagging the first goal against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.
Swansea have had a terrific start to the campaign under Michael Laudrup, but have been blessed with two accommodating opponents in the form of Queens Park Rangers, who they thrashed 5-0, and West Ham, who they beat 3-0 in equally comprehensive fashion. But the Black Cats will provide a sterner test, and buoyed by some new signings, most notably Manchester City’s Adam Johnson, Sunderland will travel to Wales in confident mood, especially now they possess the striker they so desperately needed.
Fletcher scored 12 goals in 26 starts for woeful Wolves last year to go with the ten he bagged in 15 starts the year before, and even if £14 million looks a lot of money he knows where the net is and will get his fair share again. The Scot scored on his Premier League debut for Wolves, and at 8/1 can do so again for Sunderland.
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