Is there any point to this one? Well it is the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy I guess…
I suppose it does give France a chance to feel better about themselves following their defeat in Ireland two weeks ago.
To bounce back from their defeat against England, with a win against the Scots but then to lose against Ireland just proves that the French are as consistent as my bowel movements and trust me, that’s not a good thing…
They’ll surely have enough to beat the whipping boys in Rome, but this does look like Italy’s final chance to get any points on the board because they don’t stand a chance at Murrayfield next week.
Oh, who am I kidding, another wooden spoon is in the post!
It’s Calcutta Cup action at Twickenham and I’d put my daughter’s new pony on England to continue their march towards back-to-back Grand Slams. My life wouldn’t be worth living if I lost that one, so trust me when I say it’s going to happen!
I could not think of a better opponent for England to secure a record equalling 18th consecutive victory against…
The Scots could actually win the Triple Crown on Saturday afternoon but there’s more chance of that happening than Donald Trump telling the truth.
Yes, they’ve picked up wins against Ireland and Wales but England aren’t Ireland and Wales. Thank god!
Eddie Jones’ side haven’t even put in a good performance yet and they’ve won every game. It’s been like taking candy from a baby…
By Archibald Newton, My Club Betting Cricket Correspondent
First Series (Friday 3rd March @ 13:30)
England are in the Caribbean and that means one thing, it’s time for the ODI Series against the West Indies!
It should be a stroll in the park for Eoin Morgan’s side shouldn’t it? Well, yes it should but nothing’s ever straight forward with the English. Brexit springs to mind…
To start with, England’s bowling attack looks as bare as my fridge! Mark Wood, David Willey and most likely Jake Ball are all missing, so the responsibility could be handed to Tom Curran who was “giddy” after receiving his first senior call-up. It’s not a holiday young sir!
The batting order should be pretty clear but then again, Sam Billings performed like a wet squid in the warm up games.
Jonny Bairstow made 86 at the top of the order in the second of those pre-series matches, but that isn’t his role… It’s all got a little confusing!
Alex Hales is the man England will turn to but can you trust a man who declined the tour of Bangladesh at the end of last year? One thinks not… You too Morgan!
Now… where to start with the West Indies? It’s a good job that I have an hour or two to spare…
To put it bluntly, their preparation for this series has been an absolute shambles!
Players can only feature for the West Indies if they have played the relevant format domestically in the Caribbean since 2010. What a load of old tosh!
Missing the likes of Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Johnson Charles, they’re squad is as experienced as my grandson’s pre-school class.
They do however have Carlos Brathwaite in their ranks, who hit four successive sixes in the final over from Ben Stokes last year. Stokes hasn’t slept a wink since that World Twenty 20 final…
The England all-rounder will hopefully be able to keep his eyes open in Antigua, but it would also be appreciated Ben if you manage to deter from punching any lockers and clashing with any opposition players!
With nine victories from their past 10 ODI’s against the West Indies, that streak will continue but it certainly won’t be a walk in the park…
England’s game against Argentina at the weekend became tougher than initially expected after an early red car. However, the Eddie Jones’ men were still able to shrug off their opponents and record a 13th straight victory.
Australia didn’t get such a positive result. The Wallabies suffered a narrow loss to Ireland last weekend, which was their first of the Autumn Internationals.
Having whitewashed the Wallabies in their summer tour of Australia, England will fancy their chances on Saturday.
That said, they won’t need reminding of Australia’s last visit to Twickenham.
Australia won 33-13 last October, knocking England out of the World Cup in the process.
Despite the Wallabies’ loss at the weekend, the two sides are going into Saturday’s game in good form and both will be wanting to end 2016 on a high.
While we see England’s unbeaten run continuing on Saturday, we see the 80 minutes being a lot tighter than many are expecting.
The season’s first El Clasico is upon us, with Barcelona hosting their bitter rivals Real Madrid on Saturday afternoon.
Despite losing Gareth Bale to a serious injury, Real Madrid will be full of confidence ahead of this game. Los Blancos are leading the way in La Liga after an unbeaten start and are currently six points clear of Saturday’s opponents.
Things aren’t exactly going to plan for Barcelona this season. Luis Enrique’s men have already lost two league games and looked frustrated during their disappointing draw at Real Sociedad last weekend.
Goals and dismissals have both become synonymous with recent El Clasico fixtures. In fact, Barcelona and Real Madrid have shared a staggering 24 goals and three red cards in their last six clashes.
It is also worth noting that the first half has ended with more than one goal in four of the those six ties.
Due to the kick-off time clashing with UK television laws, you won’t be able to watch this one live. However, you can expect plenty of action when tuning in for the highlights.
West Ham were a thorn in Arsenal’s side last season. The Hammers took four points from their two league games against Gunners – scoring five times in the process.
Last season’s clash at Upton Park was among the most exciting in the entire 2015/16 campaign. After seeing his side fall 2-0 behind after 35 minutes, Andy Carroll took matters into his own hands. The big centre forward got an eight-minute hat-trick to put his side ahead, however, a Laurent Koscielny equaliser eventually gave Arsenal a share of the points.
Whenever West Ham host Arsenal, goals are a near certainty.
The sides have shared 27 goals during their last seven meetings in the East End, with every clash ending with more than two goals.
It is also worth noting that Arsenal have managed to score in all but one of their away games in the Premier League this season.
Things aren’t going too well for Jose Mourinho at present. The Manchester United manager was sent to the stands during last week’s game against West Ham and has now overseen just five league victories since taking in the summer.
The same can also be said for Ronald Koeman and Everton. Despite a strong start, the Toffees have slipped to seventh place after just one win in their last eight league games.
Everton are unbeaten at home this season, and while this may make for good reading, it is worth mentioning that they have only faced one of the current top ten at Goodison Park so far this season.
In fact, the Toffees have dropped points at home to Swansea and Crystal Palace, who currently occupy two of the bottom four positions on the Premier League table.
Manchester United beat Everton on all three of last season’s meetings between the clubs, including a convincing 3-0 win at Goodison Park.
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Friday night sees two of the most bitter international rivals going head-to-head in a vital World Cup qualifier.
England (4/11)host neighbours Scotland(17/2)at the world famous Wembley Stadium in a tie that could have huge implications when it comes to qualification from Group F.
To say it has been a turbulent few months for the hosts would be a scandalous understatement.
As we all know, England suffered embarrassment at Euro 2016 with their exit to Iceland, and the well publicised incident with Sam Allardyce seemed to add salt to the already deep wounds.
Gareth Southgate (below) was given the task of stabilising the situation, and while England have managed to avoid defeat in his two games in charge, they have hardly set the world on fire.
Without causing offence, a home tie with Malta should be a given victory. On the other hand, facing Slovenia away is never easy, so in all fairness, four points from those two games is no disgrace for Southgate.
However, when it comes to the England national team, results are never enough.
Southgate’s side were extremely negative in both encounters, scoring on just two occasions during the 180 minutes of football.
No matter who is in charge, England always seem to take an eternity to move the ball from back to front, and constantly seem to be too deep when in possession.
This was particularly evident during the Malta game at Wembley last month, when Southgate’s men completely ran out of ideas in the second half – reverting to a direct, long ball style during the last half an hour.
Jordan Henderson (below) was named man of the match that day – and rightly so.
However, in a game against a side like Malta, attacking players should be making the headlines rather than your deep lying, holding midfielder!
One thing that cannot be argued with is England’s defensive record.
The Three Lions are yet to concede in this qualification campaign and only let three goals during their ten 2016 European Championship qualifiers.
Things haven’t exactly been plain sailing for Gordon Strachan and his Scotland side of late. In fact, everything seems to have gone downhill for the Scots since their impressive 5-1 win in Malta on the first Group F match day.
In last month’s home game with Lithuania, Scotland needed a last minute James McArthur goal to rescue a draw. They followed that poor result with a crushing 3-0 defeat in Slovakia.
This has heaped the pressure on Strachan, who many people expected to leave after the Slovakia defeat.
Much of the negativity towards Strachan (above) has been created by his choice of central strikers.
The Scotland boss has constantly overlooked Leigh Griffiths in favour of the lesser talented Steven Fletcher and out of form Chris Martin, which is beginning to infuriate large numbers of the Tartan Army – some of which made their feelings known in the two recent qualifiers.
Goals have undoubtedly been a problem for the Scots recently. Take away the Malta victory and Strachan’s men have scored on just one occasion during their last four games.
That coupled with England’s recent defensive record leads us to believe that Friday’s game will be a low scoring encounter.
While some may point to the fact that England and Scotland have shared a staggering nine goals in their last two meetings, the more educated football fan will take into account the fact that both of those games were friendlies.
In fact, Scotland have failed to score against England in five of the last six competitive meetings between the sides – including that famous Euro 96 tie at Wembley.
It is also worth noting that the Tartan Army’s last victory against England came in the second leg of their Euro 2000 play-off decider at Wembley.
However, the 1-0 score line that night was not enough to overturn England’s 2-0 aggregate lead they took into the crucial game.
Everything points to a narrow home win on Friday night, and we find it very hard to disagree.
The Premier League is taking a break this weekend, with the Euro 2016 Playoffs and International Friendlies taking its place.
But don’t fret, that hasn’t stopped our tipping team, who have researched all the weekend action to provide you with these top tips.
All the odds provided are an average from across the industry and were correct at the time of publish.
BOSNIA v REP OF IRELAND
These two sides had very similar Euro 2016 qualification campaigns. Both sides started slowly, but eventually recovered to finish third in their respective groups and claim a playoff place. Bosnia (2.05) were pipped to qualification from Group B by Belgium and Wales, while the Republic of Ireland (4.10) successfully fended off neighbours Scotland to claim the Group D playoff spot.
The two sides have only met on one previous occasion, with Shane Long scoring the winner at The Aviva Stadium three years ago.
Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic are the heartbeat of this Bosnia side. Both men are currently plying their trade with Italian giants Roma, with their link-up play becoming equally lethal for club and country.
Martin O’Neil will be hoping that experienced Stoke pair Jonathan Walters and Glenn Whelan can continue their recent impressive club form while on international duty.
Bosnia only lost one game at home in qualification, and we don’t see that changing on Friday night. We are going for a home win here.
KICK OFF: FRIDAY 13TH @ 19:45 (SS1)
BEST BET: BOSNIA TO WIN @ 2.05
SPAIN v ENGLAND
It may surprise many, but England are currently in better form that their Spanish counterparts. Roy Hodgson’s men won every single game in Euro 2016 qualification and are unbeaten since their World Cup loss to Uruguay back in June of last year.
That said, Spain (1.85) also sailed through qualification. However, they did lose in recent friendlies against Holland, France and Germany.
England (4.75) were 1-0 winners in the last meeting, with Frank Lampard netting the winner at Wembley back in 2011.
International friendlies usually mean squad rotation and experimentation. We certainly expect that to be the case on Friday night and expect both sides to blood some more youthful options.
Tottenham pair Dele Alli and Erik Dier were both called up by Roy Hodgson and we anticipate both playing a part after equally impressive performances against rivals Arsenal last week.
We can see an open game in Alicante and really fancy both sides to get on the scoresheet.
KICK OFF: FRIDAY 13TH @ 19:45 (ITV)
BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 2.10
WALES v HOLLAND
Chris Coleman has done a fantastic job since taking over as Wales (4.20) manager in 2012. The Dragons successfully qualified for Euro 2016 after coming through a very tough group that included Belgium, Bosnia and Israel. Along with this, they also made their way into the top ten of the FIFA World Rankings for the first time.
It has been a completely contrasting story for Holland (1.95) since their third place finish in last year’s World Cup. After a disastrous start to their Euro 2016 qualification campaign, Guus Hiddink vacated his managerial position. However, his successor Danny Blind was not able to turn things around, with Holland failing to get even a playoff spot after finishing fourth in Group A, meaning they won’t be present at Euro 2016.
Aaron Ramsey will miss this one with injury, while Real Madrid star Gareth Bale has been rested. The two men were instrumental in qualification, contributing to a vast number of their countries goals during the campaign. That said, senior players such as Joe Ledley, Chris Gunter and Ashley Williams will play, with all possessing the ability to stabilise the side in their absence.
The hosts are a huge price for this one, even without Ramsey and Bale present. We see Wales getting a draw here – at the very least.
KICK OFF: FRIDAY 13TH @ 19:45 (BBC WALES)
BEST BET: WALES/DRAW (DC) @ 1.75
UKRAINE v SLOVENIA
From an historical standpoint, it is surprising to see Slovenia (6.50) as big outsiders for their European Championship qualifying playoff first leg, since they have never lost to Ukraine in four previous meetings. Slovenia have won both meetings at home and each meeting saw over 2.5 goals scored.
Ukraine (1.65) won three of their last four group games at home, their only loss coming at home to Spain, while Slovenia lost three of five road games in England’s group.
Slovenia’s group wins in Lithuania and San Marino were expected, but it must be remembered that they scored in each game against England and in each of their last eight group games.
Ukraine conceded just four goals in their qualifying matches and are technically sophisticated, with two excellent wingers who have the ability to open up some of the best teams in the world.
We feel Ukraine should have enough to pull out the win here.
KICK OFF: SATURDAY 14TH @ 17:00 (SS1)
BEST BET: UKRAINE TO WIN @ 1.65
SWEDEN v DENMARK
The first leg of this European Championship qualifying playoff game is expected to be a tight affair.
Denmark (3.45) have won the last four meetings with Sweden, who have failed to score in the last five meetings. Nine of the last 12 meetings has seen less than three goals scored and Sweden have won three of their five home games in qualifying, against minnows Moldova, Liechtenstein and Montenegro. They also lost 1-4 against Austria and drew 1-1 with Russia.
Denmark were also far from convincing in their qualifying group, but they did post a notable away win in Serbia, and took road points at Albania and Armenia. Their sole losses in the group came against Portugal (1-0 home and away), but they failed to score in their last three group games.
We see Sweden (2.40) gaining a first-leg advantage, albeit a narrow one.
KICK OFF: SATURDAY 14TH @ 19:45 (SS1)
BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.65
ENGLAND v FRANCE
France (3.00) are the hosts of Euro 2016, meaning they didn’t need to qualify for the tournament. While some may argue that such a scenario is a blessing, others will argue that a lack of competitive action for two years can have a detrimental effect on a team.
England (2.40) have not beaten Tuesday’s opponents in any of their last six meetings, with their last victory coming back in 1997. The last meeting between the two sides took place at Euro 2012 and ended in a 1-1 draw.
Paul Pogba is the key man for Didier Deschamps side. The powerful Juventus midfielder has the ability to dominate opponents, both tactically and physically. Pogba has been instrumental for France since his debut in 2013 and has been constantly likened to countryman Patrick Vieira.
Of the last ten meetings between these sides, only one has ended with more than two goals being scored. That stat, combined with both sides evident strength in defence, leads us to believe that this one will be a low scoring encounter.
KICK OFF: TUESDAY 17TH @ 20:00 (ITV)
BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.70
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The wait is finally over! The Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday night as England host Fiji.
All roads lead to Twickenham, where the Final will be played on October 31st.
We hope our pool-by-pool betting guide, constructed by our man Calum Chinchen, can provide you with some winners along the way.
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All prices quoted are an average from across the industry… we wish you the best of luck!
Hosts England have looked more than efficient in their warm-up games and were particularly impressive in victories over France and Ireland. Anthony Watson is England’s key man at the moment and the speedy Bath fullback will be hoping to carry his Aviva Premiership and World Cup warm-up form into the tournament itself.
Home advantage will be massive for Stuart Lancaster’s men, who are second favourites to lift the famous Webb Ellis cup. We fancy them to advance as from Pool A as winners.
Australia come into this tournament after winning the 2015 Rugby Championship, a tournament involving themselves, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. The Wallabies looked terrific throughout the tournament, beating tournament favourites New Zealand along the way and finishing with a 100% record. They haven’t got the best World Cup record of late and they have not reached a final since losing to England in 2003. That said, they will have no difficulty advancing from Pool A and we fancy them to finish second behind the hosts.
Wales are not in the greatest form and we can see them struggling throughout the tournament. Key players Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb have been ruled out of the tournament, with coach Warren Gatland cursing his luck after both were injured in warm-up games.
Wales will find it very difficult to get vital results against both England and Australia, thus we don’t see them finishing in the top two.
Uruguay and Fiji are the other two teams in this pool and we see the latter possibly causing the so-called ‘big boys’ a little difficulty along the way.
BEST BET: ENGLAND TO WIN POOL A @ 2.10
South Africa are the strongest team in Pool B, and by a considerable distance. The Springboks had an extremely tough time in the Rugby Championship over the summer, losing all three games. We just feel the lack of strength within the group, coupled with the presence of experienced stars Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger will be more than enough to see South Africa top the pool and advance to the next stage with a 100% record.
Scotland won’t be too downhearted by being drawn in this pool and it looks as though it will be a straight battle between themselves and Samoa for second place. The clash between the two sides at St James Park comes in the final round of fixtures, and looks as though it will be crucial for both nations. We think it will be tougher for Vern Cotter’s men than most people expect, but fancy influential captain Greg Laidlaw and experienced hooker Ross Ford to guide the Scots to the next round at the expense of their Samoan counterparts.
We can’t see Japan or the USA troubling any of the other three teams in Pool B, and we can only see the two sides gaining points when they play each other. We see Samoa comfortably finishing in third position here.
BEST BET: SCOTLAND TO QUALIFY @ 1.67
There is absolutely no doubt who is going to come out on top of Pool C. New Zealand are the clear tournament favourites and we can see them winning every match in the pool with real ease.
The All Blacks suffered a shock defeat to rivals Australia in the Rugby Championship, which cost them the trophy. However, we don’t see that having a negative effect on them during this campaign.
Experienced flanker and skipper Richie McCaw will be looking to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, in what will be his last World Cup. Iconic fly-half Dan Carter will also be participating in his final World Cup campaign and will be looking to make amends after only playing two games of the 2011 tournament which the All Blacks captured.
Argentina would have been delighted with the draw and will more than fancy their chance of advancing. Although they will accept that the All Blacks will be too strong for them, they will also feel more that confident of beating the other three sides in the group and qualifying behind New Zealand.
Tonga will no doubt give Argentina competition for the converted second place in Pool C. Captain Nili Latu will be vital for the Tongans. The former Green Rockets star recently signed for the Newcastle Falcons and is equally capable when playing on the flank or at number 8. We see Tonga running Argentina close, but we just can’t see them doing enough to qualify.
The other two sides in the group are Georgia and Namibia, and we can see the presence of two minnows alongside the phenomenal All Blacks leading to a massive number of tries within Pool C.
BEST BET: OVER 76.5 TRIES IN POOL C @ 1.90
Ireland are favourites to win Pool D. Although they have never advanced further than the Quarter Finals in a World Cup, they do come into this tournament in good form after winning this year’s Six Nations title. Speedy winger Simon Zebo will be key for the Irish, along with fly half Jonny Sexton who has recently joined Leinster after a successful two years at Racing Metro.
France aren’t in the greatest form, but they always seem to have the capability to pull a rabbit out of the hat on the World Cup stage, as they showed in 2011 when they reached the final.
However, there have been rumours of disharmony within the camp and reports suggest that they aren’t happy with the facilities or surroundings at their Croydon base (now there’s a shock!). We fancy them to advance, but see them finishing second in Pool D, behind this Irish.
Italy area vastly improved side, and will cause both France and Ireland difficulty. Sergio Parisse is an icon amongst Italian rugby fans and will once again captain his nation at the tournament. The instrumental Stade Francais talisman is widely regarded as one of the greatest number 8’s in modern rugby, and will be vital for his side as always. That said, we just can’t see them doing enough to get a victory against the big two in the pool and can’t see them advancing to the next stage.
Canada and Romania make up the numbers in Pool D and we can’t see them causing any upsets if we are honest.
BEST BET: IRELAND/FRANCE (STRAIGHT FORECAST) @ 1.95
WHO WILL WIN?
We fancy the hosts England to make it all the way to the final, where they will more than likely be facing an incredibly strong New Zealand side.
We just can’t see the All Blacks being stopped and think they will cruise to World Cup glory on October 31st at Twickenham.
OUR WINNERS: NEW ZEALAND @ 2.30
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