Lee Phelps looks at the latest soccer news affecting the betting odds & shares a few free picks. Champions League, Barcelona, Hazard's future & the Ice man all make it into this edition of Football gossip.
It’s been relatively quiet on the domestic front, whilst nations around the world were either trying to gather points towards qualification for major tournaments or playing friendlies. The internationals have reminded us about a few stories and a few betting markets associated with them.
Iceland’s start to the Euro 2016 qualifiers has been perfect, with three wins from three and one of the most influential men in the start has been Swansea’s Sigurdsson scoring four goals in the games, including two against the third best team in the world, the Netherlands.
The Icelander is widely regarded as the Swans’ best signing bringing him back from a spell at Tottenham, where he melted into the throng of quality players. His form in the Premier League and for Iceland got me wondering how many goals he would score this season. His best goal scoring season was back in 2009/10 playing in the English Championship. He bagged 16 goals in 38 games, the following year he got nine goals in 29 Bundesliga matches for Hoffenheim. Since he came back to the English top flight he has scored 16 goals in 83 matches so averages a goal every five matches.
This season he has scored one in his first seven games, let’s say he plays a full season of matches, that means he will play another 31 games and if he scores his usually ratio he will amass seven goals in total. You can get a price of 10/11 for over 6.5 goals and that’s what I would play. I actually expect him to score more than that, because he’s the centre of the team and will get plenty of opportunities the way Swansea play.
The chat about the Belgian playmaker leaving Chelsea resurfaced this week, it just won’t go away despite his performances this season for Jose Mourinho’s team. It may well be media chat, but there’s seldom smoke without fire. Interestingly the bookmakers make PSG the favourites to sign him next, but I’m considering placing the soccer pick here at the price of 11/2 for Barcelona to be his next club.
Here’s what Hazard said about the rumours: “I’m not a top-five player yet. Maybe I’m close to it, but I still have to work on some aspects. You can only be part of that group if you are decisive in the top games. I start doing that, like I did against Manchester City and Arsenal.
“Who are better than me? The two extra-terrestrials, Ronaldo and Messi, Ibrahimovic, Ribéry and Robben. They make the difference almost every game.”
Hazard also played down speculation linking with a move to big spending French side Paris Saint-Germain. “I’ve always been clear - I feel good at Chelsea,” the former Lille man said. “Every week I repeat the same on PSG. It’s a big team, but an inferior league. I don’t want to return to France, because I’ve won everything over there - the league title, cup, best player, best young player.
“I don’t want to say PSG is a step backwards, but it would be returning to something I already know. I’m always in for new challenges. When I will leave Chelsea one day, it would be to discover something new.”
Now Barca clearly said they would go for Hazard if Suarez turned them down and the Belgian himself is reported to have said the Catalans club would be his preferred choice. 11/2 for Barca looks a nice bet.
This week Bolton hired former Celtic boss Neil Lennon, with his first job to steady the ship and pull them away from the relegation zone in the English Championship. It’s been an almighty fall from grace for Bolton who were a Premier League fixture not so long ago. For anyone who doesn’t know the second tier of English soccer, it’s a tough division with very few clubs capable of stringing consistent unbeaten runs together, that means gaining a few places is achievable. Lennon is experienced and once saw his Celtic team beat Barcelona in the Champions League. He's a no-nonsense guy and will get the players on side (they were at the wits’ end with former boss Dougie Freedman) and Bolton are priced up at 11/1 to finish in the top half.
They are 10 points below that position now, but they have been unlucky not to pick up an extra two wins and that was under Freedman. It’s definitely a possibility and at 11/1 soccer odds it is certainly a big enough price.