THE BIG KICK-OFF – your essential Community Shield betting guide

Arsenal community shield
Reigning champs: Arsenal won the Community Shield in 2014


By Calum Chinchen

It’s that time of the year again. The Community Shield is the curtain-raiser for the Premier League season and it takes place this Sunday (3pm) at Wembley Stadium.

Premier League Champions Chelsea take on their fierce local rivals and FA Cup winners Arsenal, who are also the defending champions after demolishing Manchester City in last year’s showpiece.

wenger mourinho
Upper hand: Mourinho (right) holds an Indian Sign over Wenger (left)

Prior to 2004, Arsenal had the upper hand over their West London counterparts. The arrival of Roman Abramovich’s billions have most definitely changed that and allowed Chelsea to be dominant over The Gunners in recent years. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has never managed to gain a victory over a Jose Mourinho-managed Chelsea and the Gunners have not beaten the Blues in a competitive fixture since 2012.

Chelsea (Odds: 2.48) are coming off a fantastic Premier League campaign, where their defensive solidarity allowed them to romp to the title with a few games to spare. Mourinho is a tactician of the highest quality and often tends to favour not losing over going all-out for the win, particularly against the bigger sides in the league, and we expect Sunday afternoon to be no different.

Radamel falcao PNG
Great signing: Radamel Falcao

The Champions have added Radamel Falcao to their ranks this year. Some may have raised eyebrows after his unsuccessful loan spell at Manchester United last season.

However, there is no doubting that the Columbian is a natural predator, who can provide both competition and support to Diego Costa once he manages to settle in England.

Arsenal (2.88) really look as though they are going to contend for major honours this season.  After years of battling with a lack of finance (due to stadium repayments) they are now able to compete in the transfer market.

They spent big money when adding Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to their squad in the last two summer transfer windows, and have signed world-class goalkeeper Petr Cech from their opponents this summer – something that many Chelsea fans are far from happy about.

Petr Cech
Key signing: Petr Cech

Cech appears to be the missing link in the Arsenal puzzle, with predecessors Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina costing the side numerous points last year.

Prior to their last campaign, Arsenal had a wretched recent record against the so-called big boys.

However, last season they had impressive victories against Liverpool and Manchester City, as well as battling for draws against Manchester City and Chelsea.

We consider these two to be in direct competition for the Premier League title next year.

The two Manchester sides will, of course, provide stiff competition, but we will not be surprised if these two occupy first and second place next season.

There is no doubt that Sunday’s game will highlight a clash in styles. We expect Arsenal to have the majority of the ball and possession, while the organised West Londoners will soak up attacks with their remarkably strong defensive unit.

Although it may not please some, we think the game will be a tactical battle and may lack any sort of excitement. The last four meetings between the two have only contained a total of eight goals, with one of those games alone containing six.

We just can’t see anything changing on Sunday and fully expect to see extra time and penalties being played.

VERDICT: DRAW (90 MINS) @ 3.30


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NFL SEASON PREVIEW – with Mike Carlson and Nat Coombs

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Get in the swing with our Open Championship preview

St AndrewsIt’s that time of the year again! Open Championship week is one that excites every golf enthusiast on the planet.

Not only do we get to see the world’s best battling with the tough conditions on the country’s finest links, we also get to watch it at a reasonable time rather than staying up until the early hours, as is usually the case with the other three major championships.

This year’s tournament will be staged at the world famous, home of golf – The Old Course at St Andrews.

The Old Course can, in truth, be a very easy track for the modern professional on a fair, still day. However, when the conditions turn nasty, there really aren’t many more challenging major championship layouts.

The course itself is links personified. The two main components any potential winner must have is an ability to shape the golf ball and have a steely nerve on the greens.

Tiger Woods (29.00) has a phenomenal Open Championship record, especially at St Andrews where he won in 2000 and 2005.

Jordan Spieth
Major winer: Jordan Spieth

Many a fickle punter will fancy him after a good showing at the Greenbrier Classic, but we just feel that the St Andrews layout will be a far greater test to his wayward long game than the target-golf style he faced and reasonably mastered in West Virginia.

Tiger’s friend and practice partner Rory McIlroy has damaged ankle ligaments, and will miss the entire championship. Silly boy!

Jordan Speith (6.50) is the tournament favourite and is looking to complete the third leg of a world famous Grand Slam.

We expect him to go well, we just don’t think the links will suit his high ball flight and short-game shot preference – he usually favours tends to favour floaty pitches over low-running chip shots.

We think a place will be a more likely outcome than a win.

Dustin Johnson
Putting problem: Dustin Johnson

The well-rested Dustin Johnson (13.00) is fancied by many and is one of the most talented players on the planet, despite his rather questionable temperament. He has thrown away a fair few major championships over recent years, most notably the US Open in June where he three putted the last green from short distance.

Henrik Stenson (22.00) is a man seeking his first major championship, and the Swede has the golf game ideally suited for the famous St Andrews links.

Henrik Stenson
Top tip: Henrik Stenson

He rarely hits his driver, instead favouring a three wood from the tee which he can manoeuvre both ways – something which will be vital. He has the ability to keep the ball low, which will be important if and when the wind blows. He is also composed under pressure and seldom wilts when in a leading position.

Shane Lowry (40.00) is a man who has grown up on links courses. He seems most comfortable when the conditions are at their worst, proving this when winning as an amateur in his national Irish Open in 2009 at the tricky Country Louth venue.

Shane Lowry
Each-way choice: Shane Lowry

He also tends to perform well in big events and this is due to a steely nerve and precise ability with the putter, both from long and short distance. Along with this, he has an array of short-game skills, which is crucial on a links layout.

Our Open championship selections are:

Henrik Stenson (win only) @ 22.00

Shane Lowry (each way) @ 40.00

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CHILE v ARGENTINA – your guide to the Copa America final

Alexis Sanchez
Hot Chile: Can Alexis Sanchez deliver?

After three weeks of some highly entertaining football, it all comes down to this: We are rewarded with the final bettors certainly wanted to see. Hosts and second-favourites Chile, seeking its first ever international title, takes on pre-tournament favourite Argentina for the Copa America title in Santiago on Saturday.

Chile (odds: 3.60) have massive home support and this represents its best chance of ending a long wait for glory since reaching the Copa America final 28 years ago.

The weight of expectation is on Chile’s shoulders. Brazil was crushed under the hopes of a nation in a 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat by Germany and the way Argentina (2.12) dismantled Paraguay 6-1 in the Copa America semi-final means La Albiceleste enter the Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos as a slight favourite. The draw is available at 3.30.

Yet La Roja are perhaps blessed with their best-ever generation. Players such as Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Arturo Vidal (Juventus) and Claudio Bravo (Barcelona) provide a strong spine. But it is unheralded players such Mauricio Isla, who spent the season in futile relegation battle with QPR when on-loan from Juventus, and Napoli’s Eduardo Vargas (who was also at QPR last term), who have stepped up and used the shop window to best effect.

Isla scored the only goal in the quarter-final against Uruguay, while Vargas scored both goals in the 2-1 semi-final defeat of Peru.

Chile’s pressure game is based on pressing high up the pitch and a quick-passing attack. The foundation of the style came from Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa (who is currently at Marseille, but who was on West Ham’s radar until recently). Bielsa achieved cult status in charge of Chile with his 3-3-3-1 formations and the brand has continued to thrive under his disciple and compatriot Jorge Sampaoli.

La Roja is greater whole than the sum of its parts, epitomising the ‘team’ philosophy. In contrast, Argentina coach Gerardo Martino has arguably had a much tougher job, trying to keep happy a squad that bristles with star quality and attempting to bring out the best in those mega-stars.

Argentina invariably start slowly in tournaments and come on strong. Though they drew 0-0 with Colombia (going through on penalties) in the quarter-final, Martino’s side created plenty of opportunities. Those chances were taken in the semi-final against a ragged Paraguay defence, who were pulled apart by the movement of Lionel Messi and Javier Pastore.

Up front, Sergio Aguero is one of the best finishers around and Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain looks certain to be among the Premier League’s elite should either Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool take a chance on the 27-year-old.

Pastore has had a great season at PSG and while Angel di Maria has failed to shine at Manchester United – largely because he has been played out of position and is better-suited to the right wing in the physical Premier League – he appears to have renewed confidence playing for his country.

Having lost the World Cup final to Germany after extra-time, this could be the last chance for Argentina’s golden generation to win a major title, something that has eluded La Albiceleste since 1993.

Chile has reached the Copa America final four times and has yet to taste victory, while Argentina seeks a 15th Copa title.

Argentina threw off the shackles against Paraguay, but will these highly creative individuals go into their shell? They were beaten in five World Cups without reaching the semi-finals before having a marshmallow draw in Brazil to reach the semi-finals. Then they blew that biggest-of-all chance for a title, failing to score a goal in the last five hours in the tournament.

Chile has won just two of its last 37 meetings with Argentina, whom the rest of South America will be against for many reasons other than football.

La Roja have been a revelation, although the cup-cake schedule en route to the final has definitely boosted confidence.

In skill terms, this final encapsulates everything good – and there has been plenty – that has been on show at this tournament, and it is a tough call to pick the winner.

We go with Argentina, as they have the fire-power to change the team’s dynamic from off the bench. But it should be close for at least an hour.



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PERU v PARAGUAY – your guide to the Copa America third-place playoff

Paolo Guerrero2
Key man: Paolo Guerrero

Paraguay were unusually ragged in their semi-final with Argentina and their 6-1 thrashing means they are slight underdogs for the Copa America third-place playoff clash with Peru in Concepcion on Friday night.

Both nations are outside the FIFA top 60, which means relatively little, and both should climb after a surprising run to the semi-finals.

Peru (odds: 2.38) were valiant in defeat to hosts Chile. Reduced to 10 men after 20 minutes when Carlos Zambrano was dismissed after a second caution, Peru only fell to a wonder strike from Eduardo Vargas, who netted twice in the 2-1 victory.

It was Peru’s second defeat in the tournament after going down to Brazil deep into injury time in their group opener.

Peru has reached three quarter-finals and two semi-finals in the last five Copa America tournaments, so they are well used to the big occasion.

The same can be said for Paraguay (2.88), who were runners-up four years ago.

They held Argentina 2-2 in their opening group game, sowing plenty of spirit, but were blown away 6-1 by La Albiceleste on Tuesday as they attempted to reach their second straight Copa America final.


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While they knocked out a Neymar-less Brazil in the quarter-finals on penalties after a 1-1 draw, Los Guaranies have managed to win just one of their last eight games since Ramon Diaz took charge following their failure to qualify for the World Cup finals.

Both nations have quality strikers. Paolo Guerrero netted a hat-trick for Peru against Bolivia in the last eight (and is 6.00 to finish as the Copa top scorer), while Lucas Barrios (9.60 to be top scorer) has netted three times in this tournament for Paraguay against arguably stringer opposition.

Paraguay have beaten Peru six times in their last 12 meetings, drawing on three other occasions and they have also won three of the last six clashes. There have been three draws and it is 3.50 for the draw this time.

Goals have not been a feature in recent clashes between the two. While the last two meetings saw three goals scored in total, the previous six meetings saw fewer and it is 2.26 for there to be fewer than 2.5 goals this time.

Paraguay were flat-out embarrassed by Argentina’s quick breaks in the semi. La Albiceleste were given far too much time playing between the lines and picked apart Diaz’s side at will.

It is arguable that neither side will match the level of intensity they showed in their respective semi-finals, but Peru are more worthy of consideration as they have been consistent from the opening game.

We feel Guerrero could be the key to victory. If he receives enough service, he will cause panic in a defence that has shown its vulnerability and one that may well be lacking in confidence after their drubbing. Los Incas can claim third place and, in our opinion, will fully deserve it.



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Argentina run riot at Copa America… but you were warned!

angel di Maria 2
On the money: Angel di Maria

We’ve been on the money throughout Copa America, with our Best Bets cashing in with alarming regularity.

Take the two semi-finals for example: We said both Peru and Paraguay would both score – and they did, cashing in at 1.99 and 2.10 respectively. Hey, we just doubled your investment. Twice.

Hosts Chile reached their first Copa America final in 28 years after seeing off Peru in a thrilling encounter in Santiago.

See the highlights:

And in our second semi-final preview, you were told:

‘We see this as being Argentina’s coming-out party, even though Paraguay will stack plenty of bodies behind the ball. An early goal will settle the favourites and will open the game up.’

And didn’t it just! Argentina ran riot. You can catch the highlights here:

So it is on to the final. Argentina are slight favourites at 2.10, with Chile at 3.60. The draw is 3.30.

You can see all the odds for both the third-place playoff and the final by going to

Stay tuned for our big-game previews and more.

MYCLUBBETTING.COM has teamed up with Premier Sports to become the Official Broadcast Sponsors for the biggest football tournament of the year, the 2015 Copa América.

Don’t forget to place your pre-match and live, in-running bets via and watch the concluding matches, broadcast live throughout the UK via Premier Sports, on SKY channel 428, Virgin 551, TalkTalk 526 and in HD via the Premier Player online.

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