Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

The Road to Riches Weekend of 13th-14th October

Posted on 12 Oct 2018 09:04 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

- Football, the International break features Nations Cup matches including Croatia v England tonight.

- Racing, On the flat at Newmarket, York and Chelmsford City and over the jumps at Chepstow and Hexham

- NFL, Week Six of the 2018 Season

- Rugby Union, the start of the 2018-19 European Rugby Champions Cup

- Cricket, the Sri Lanka England ODI series continues with the Second ODI in rainy season Dambulla on Saturday

Golf, the British Masters at Walton Heath and TPC Kuala Lumpur.

Tennis, ATP Shanghai


NFL 2018 – Neil’s Picks

Seventeen weeks of Neil’s NFL write ups for the 2018 season continues this week costing £100 see here

 


Free tip

European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 4 Ulster v Leicester 5.30pm Saturday

The 2018-19 ERCC pool matches start this weekend and this match sees the two outsiders in the Pool 4 meet at Ravenhill, Belfast

I have first hand knowledge of Leicester, I watch them frequently. I also have, a few years removed, experience of Ulster’s mighty home advantage at Ravenhill. I had been working in Belfast and due to bad weather my Friday afternoon flight back had been cancelled, and I faced an extra night in the Europa hotel. My colleague and I decided to take in Ulster v Llanelli (now the Scarlets) that evening in what was then the Heineken Cup. We went to the bar and in our nice English accents asked for a couple of pints. Time froze as eyebrows raised and the atmosphere quietened.  We drank up quickly and proceeded to watch the match (mouths shut) agog at the ferocity of the crowd and the very basic conditions. Since then the ground has been redeveloped but the home advantage is real. Last year in a group containing Wasps and Harlequins, Ulster didn’t come close to qualifying for the knock out stages they won their three home matches including versus the pool winners La Rochelle.

Ulster are currently third in their Pro 14 group and whilst they haven’t been in the vanguard of the re-invention of the Irish provincial game with the agreement between the National Union and the sides helping increase performance and Academies churning out young talent they are still a solid side led by Irish captain Rory Best and with last year’s Six Nations Player of the Year Jacob Stockdale (11 tries in 11 tests at the age of 22, six in last year’s six nations) the finisher on the wing.

Leicester have been rebuilding for ages, and after losing 40-6 at Exeter to start the season sacked coach Matt O’Connor. That rebuilding is affected by the tight salary cap. This is a side that can field when at full strength Ben Youngs, George Ford, Jonny May, Manu Tuilagi and Dan Cole but squad depth is an issue.

Leicester won 1 of 6 games in last season’s ERCC and have won 3 of 6 in the Gallagher Premiership this season. They key issue that interim coach Geordan Murphy has to fix is the defense. In their first four games of the season they conceded 158 points! (40 at Exeter, 33 against Newcastle, 41 at Wasps and 44 at home to Worcester). Things have improved slightly, holding bottom club Sale to 15 and then Northampton to 15 on a wet Saturday last weekend at Wembley.

The essential issues are that George Ford can be attacked in the 10 channel and the back row lacks solidity. Not a great combination heading to Ulster and Stockdale in particular.

Ulster should be comfortable favourites here, more comfortable than an outright price of 4/5 and -3 on the handicap implies

I like them to win by a couple of scores in the Winning margin market in what weather permitting should be a high scoring match but as yet markets and prices are yet to fully form, should be around a 7/2 shot. So for the first time in about 300 columns I am going to put an odds on outright winner bet up (feel I should say sorry!)

20 points Ulster to win at 4/5 William Hill 1.78 Betfair 1.74 Matchbook


A butterly flaps its wings

The NFL has been in an accelerating process of change since the 1990s when studies showing a connection between head blows and brain damage emerged and the existence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, moved into the public consciousness.

The NFL instituted rules to salvage both its players and its business. The game is changing to survive, and it’s happening in real time. This season those rules were altered again, and the result has been big changes to the way games are refereed in the first few weeks of the new season. At issue is change to an 80-year-old rules infraction.

Widespread confusion was foreseen when in the off-season the NFL created a rule to penalise any player lowering his helmet to initiate contact and indeed it was the source of much angst in the pre-season. However it is a different rule that has thrown the NFL into chaos.

This offseason, the league’s rules committee quietly decreed that officials would more aggressively enforce a “body weight” rider to the roughing-the-passer rule with a single word change. The original rider, added in 1995, states: “When tackling a passer during or just after throwing a pass, a defensive player is prohibited from unnecessarily and violently throwing him down and landing on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight.”

For 2018, the last part reads, “a defensive player is prohibited from unnecessarily and violently throwing him down or landing on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight.”

Now what players, commentators and fans routinely deem as legal tackles are being flagged. The Packers’ Clay Matthews was the highest profile “victim” of the change, flagged for a hit on the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins. Matthews hit Cousins just after the QB released the ball, and while he did hit him in the chest and take him to the ground, Matthews also kept his own head out of the play. Green Bay was penalised, and what would have been a game-clinching interception on the play was negated. The teams finished tied at 29. In Week 3, Dolphins defensive end William Hayes tore his right ACL trying to avoid landing on top of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr during a sack.

Through the first four weeks of the regular season there have been 38 roughing the passer calls in 63 games. In 2017 there 21 in the same number of games. Just changing one word in an old rule has changed the outcome of games.


 

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If you bet £10 per point on every recommended bet since launch you would be winning + £43,426 All bets have an ROI +3.46%

A £4000 bank betting £10 a point on all selections would now be worth £47,426.30 a 1086% increase

 

 

The Road to Riches Weekend of 6th-7th October

Posted on 5 Oct 2018 09:21 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

- Football, the Premier League fixtures include Liverpool v Manchester City.

- Racing, On the flat at Ascot, Newmarket, Redcar and Wolverhampton and over the jumps at Fontwell Park, The Prix De L'Arce de Triomphe on Sunday.

- NFL, Week Five of the 2018 Season

- Rugby Union, the final round of the Rugby Championship, South Africa v New Zealand and Argentina v Australia

- Formula One, the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka

Golf, the Alfred Dunhill Links at St Andrews and on the USPGA the Safeway Open at Silverado.

Tennis, ATP Opens in China and Japan


NFL 2018 – Neil’s Picks

Seventeen weeks of Neil’s NFL write ups for the 2018 season continues this week costing £100 see here


Free tip

2018-19 European Champions Cup Betting Preview

This year’s competition begins next weekend with he final at St James’ Park Newcastle next May

As ever the format sees 20 teams play in five groups with the group winners and three best runners up meet in seeded knock out stages. There is an advantage in being a top four seed, for home advantage in the Quarter finals and whilst this year’s tournament undoubtedly has a lot of depth a look at the groups to see potential paths through to a high seeding is important.

Leinster took the title in magnificent style in Bilbao in May beating Racing92 and are drawn against a trio of former champions in Wasps, Toulouse and Bath Rugby

Castres Olympique, who were crowned Top14 champions, will be in Pool 2 along with Exeter Chiefs, Munster Rugby and Gloucester Rugby. This looks a particularly tough group

The Premiership winners, Saracens, have been drawn in Pool 3 with Glasgow Warriors, Lyon and Cardiff Blues. As groups go, this should be a relatively comfortable passage for the English side.

In Pool 4 one of the stand out sides from last year’s competition the Scarlets meet Racing 92, Leicester Tigers and Ulster Rugby

In the final pool come Montpellier, Newcastle Falcons, Edinburgh Rugby and Toulon.

The development of and increased strength in the Irish provinces came to fruition with Leinster’s triumph with emerging Academy talent reaching maturity and the agreement with the national side to limit the amount of play of the international players undoubtedly being a help late in the season.

Saracens apart, English sides have struggled to make an impact in the competition in recent seasons and that is for structural reasons with English players undertaking punishing schedules and the combined effect of a hard salary cap and rising player salaries meaning a lack of depth in squads has been a factor. A lot of Southern Hemisphere talent, attracted by the riches on offer in Europe, goes to France and is one of the reasons why the majority of the Top 14 sides are competitive year in and year out

Ante Post odds for the competition at the time of writing are

Leinster 2/1

Saracens 3/1

Montpellier 8/1

Exeter 9/1

Munster 14/1

Racing92 16/1

20/1 Bar.

My hunt is for value outside the front two, who are reasonable enough favourites but not a lot of value for a six month bet.

This is where an analysis of the groups comes in. I wanted before the draw to look to back Exeter, a really well coached side perennially challenging Saracens domestically with players that aren’t over-worked as most don’t play Internationally and who are very tough to play against. However the combination of a skinny price and their tough group (Castres and Munster have demonstrable home advantages, such that even if Exeter get through its unlikely to be with a top seed points haul) put paid to that

My next candidate was Montpellier under former Scotland coach Vern Cotter and despite middling top 14 form their Southern Hemisphere talent should have them as contenders notably Cruden and Nadolo. They also have a very winnable looking group. What put me off again was the dingle figure price, these factors are already in the price

I backed Munster last year and they made the semi-finals at a double-digit price but its that group again. Castres and Exeter: they are no certainties to get through.

Which led me to Racing 92. The Paris side are a real thrill to watch in Europe and marmalised sides on their way to the final last year and should get through a group where two of the sides, Leicester and Ulster, are not the forces they once were. Either Racing or Scarlets should top the group with the other a good shot at one of the runners up spots given lack of depth in the group. Of course the presence of Scarlets accounts for Racing being 16-1 ante post not the 8-1+ Montpellier, behind them in their domestic league, are.

This season they have supplemented their strong squad with the likes of Finn Russell and Simon Zebo and its not a team that is going to die wondering. Bonus points should be on the agenda in high scoring games, key if they are to have the fall back of that runners up spot to get through but hopefully they win the group. They are 7/4 favourites to do so ahead of Scarlets at 2/1.

10 points each way Racing 92 to win the 2018-19 European Champions Cup at 16-1 Skybet, Betfred, Ladbrokes/Coral


Howzat?

The end of the 2018 County Championship season has come and gone and soon enough England will be back in action on their Sri Lanka tour.  The 2018 domestic season was a remarkable one, and not always for the right reasons mainly on the batting front where all sides have struggled for runs. Take for example Kent, who ran Warwickshire close to the Division two title despite only gaining 16 batting bonus points in 14 matches. Six of the ten sides in the division won less than 16 batting points.

In the final round of matches last week only one match went to the final day, that after Champions Surrey had been knocked over for 67 in their first innings. Overall the season had the lowest runs-per-wicket average of any season since 1974. Since two divisions were instigated in 2000, only twice has the runs-per-wicket average fallen below 30 — this year and 2012. What is striking is that it was a very good hot summer, conditions in which you would normally expect batsmen to make hay -  this gave me a wrong steer in the India/England test series where with the exception of one game the red Duke ball moved a lot all series and the Indian batsmen never coped. 

Incredibly in 2018 only two batsmen passed 1,000 runs in the season, a milestone that in the days of more first-class cricket could occasionally be achieved by the end of May. Only two batsmen Ian Bell and the heir apparent to Alistair Cook’s test opening spot Rory Burns did so. Back in 2008 40 batsmen reached 1,000 runs in the season (in two matches more).

So what gives?

Firstly there are constant complaints that pitch quality is poor around the country. Better pitches are saved for the big crowd, high revenue and desired high entertainment T20 matches in the height of summer. Championship pitches have invariably been result pitches.

Secondly The shape and structure of the season has an impact, with most four day matches played early and late in the summer in seam bowling friendly conditions.

Thirdly batting technique has been possibly irrevocably altered by the amount of one day cricket players play. Run rates rise but “stickability” has fallen with comparatively few batsmen willing or able to grind it out in tough conditions. Often there has been a “play-some-shots-because-one-will-have-my-number-on-it” attitude.

Probably as soon as the Sri Lanka tour on what will be big turning pitches we will see how little the County Championship prepares our batsmen for the longer form of the game, something that has been evident for several years especially in the top three of the batting order. 

Then we come to the bigger question, how far does the county gamet exist to feed the national team and how far to be an entertaining competition in its own right? For the past two decades the argument for the former has held sway but as smaller counties feel increasingly marginalised by their exclusion from the Hundred, they are under pressure to become more financially self-sufficient, which means results, and the need to attract bigger crowds.

 


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The Road to Riches Weekend of 29th-30th September

Posted on 28 Sep 2018 07:43 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

- Football, the Premier League fixtures include Chelsea v Liverpool.

Golf, the Ryder Cup in Paris

- Racing, On the flat at Chelmsford, Chester, Haydock, Newmarket and Ripon and on the jumps at Market Rasen

- NFL, Week Four of the 2018 Season

- Rugby Union, the penultimate round of the Rugby Championship, Argentina v New Zealand and South Africa v Australia

- Formula One, the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi

Tennis, ATP Opens in China at Chengdu and Shenzhen


NFL 2018 – Neil’s Picks

Seventeen weeks of Neil’s NFL write ups for the 2018 season continues this week costing £100 see here


 

Free tip

Rugby Championship Round Five

South Africa v Australia (Port Elizabeth) 4.05pm GMT

These two teams experienced contrasting fortunes in Round 4. South Africa achieved the huge surprise result of beating New Zealand in Wellington while the Australians lost at home to Argentina

South Africa do not lack individual talent but in a new coaching set up and a predominantly young team consistency has been a problem. Key individuals raised their game in Wellington notably Malcolm Marx but also Du Toit, Dyantyi, Mostert and Whiteley were all brilliant particularly defensively.

Few had given the Springboks any chance of winning the game, having lost their last two matches and seemingly dropped below the standard that drove them to a 2-1 series win over England in June. Mindful the All Blacks have scored 38 or more in each of their Rugby Championship games this season, they knew they would need to score more than 30 themselves to have a chance.

Returning home for this match, in second place in the championship with confidence up they should be favourites to consolidate the Wellington win albeit they have five changes enforced through injury.

At home to Argentina, Australia missed lots of opportunities including a late chance with an overlap to score a try to win the game and they slumped to a fifth defeat in seven tests this season, and with it to the bottom of this Championship league table. At least here they have captain Hooper back into his back row partnership with David Pocock.

The upshot of these results is of course some recency bias in prices. South Africa are 7 point handicap favourites here having been five point underdogs when the teams met in Australia three weeks ago, a match Australia won. I was tempted to pick Australia outright but I do think this this match will be close. What is in their favour is that the match is at sea level in Port Elizabeth, travelling to play at altitude in the grounds inland on the high veldt is a tougher task.

10 points South Africa to win by 1-12 points at 11/5 Ladbrokes/Coral, 7/4 Betfair Sportsbook, 13/8 Skybet


Against the head.

A £275m offer tabled by the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners to buy 50% of Premiership Rugby was rejected at a meeting of the leading club owners. A unanimous vote is required for the bid to succeed but it is understood a significant minority of owners are firmly against the plan. a new offer from CVC could come under consideration.  CVC previously bought a 70 per cent stake in Formula One in 2006 for about £1.3 billion and last year sold it to Liberty Media for around £6.2 billion, growing market for sports right and under-marketed potential in a well heeled sport. in 2014 CVC Capital Partners made a play for the 2015 World Cup as part of a global sports strategy,back then it thought scale n club rugby was insufficient

CVC is keen to buy more sports assets. In the past it has looked at Manchester United and Liverpool and was interested in buying into Chelsea last year. After making about £8 billion from its decade-long ownership of Formula One, CVC wants to buy into baseball, Wimbledon and the America’s Cup. It once owned William Hill, the bookmaker, and tried to buy Betfair. In 2012 it came close to acquiring IMG but was outbid by William Morris.

the view is that the offer undervalues the league by a considerable amount. industry valuations of £800 million for the league.PRL will instead look to attract fresh investment from other sources and seek to retain a bigger share of a business. The decision will not delight those owners of smaller clubs keen for an immediate cash injection to offset collective Premiership losses of £28.5m in 2016-17.

still substantial financial growth in the game, not least via increasing television rights.

PRL has already seen revenue rise by 88% in the past five years to £70m. Last season saw an 11% rise in live audiences on BT Sport and a cumulative audience of more than 10 million people watched live Premiership matches on the same channel last season.

The Premiership has also become the first club rugby union tournament to air on national television in China following the signing of a four-year contract with the Chinese free-to-air sports broadcaster CCTV5+.

What seems certain now is that investment, whether by selling a minority share in the league or taking a loan, will happen this season in order to release capital for the clubs to improve infrastructure and clear debts.


Brodders Football Analysis

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Betting Emporium results

The detailed results page has been updated as have the spreadsheets with the detailed bets. They can be found by clicking RESULTS

If you bet £10 per point on every recommended bet since launch you would be winning + £42,635.30 All bets have an ROI +3.53%

A £4000 bank betting £10 a point on all selections would now be worth £46,635.30 a 1066% increase

All bets have an ROI +3.53% with horse racing +7.86%, as at 8th August.

 

The Road to Riches Weekend of 22nd-23rd September

Posted on 21 Sep 2018 09:27 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

- Football, the Premier League fixtures include Arsenal v Everton.

- Racing, On the flat at Ayr, Catterick, Chelmsford City, Newbury, Newmarket and Wolverhampton

- NFL, Week Three of the 2018 Season

Tennis, ATP Opens in Metz and St Petersburg

Golf, on the European Tour the Portugal Masters and on the US Tour the US Tour Championships at East Lake GC


NFL 2018 – Neil’s Picks

Seventeen weeks of Neil’s NFL write ups for the 2018 season continues this week costing £100 see here


Free tip

NFL New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons 6pm Sunday SkySports

These two NFC South teams go into this divisional game with 1-1 records the Saints on the wrong end of Week One’s shock result, losing 48-40 at home to the Bucs before scraping past the Browns in Week 2. Atlanta meanwhile lost at the Eagles before beating Carolina by 7 points at home last season.

With these occasional write ups through the NFL season for this column my aim is not to discuss point spreads and totals, that’s the territory of Neil’s analysis every Thursday and Sunday. Instead the aim is the higher variance markets such as First touchdown scorer looking for the combination of circumstances where that market might be offering some value

In this match I wanted to look at the Saints second year running back, and last year’s NFL Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara. In the first two weeks of this season he has 21 rushes for 75 yards and 15 catches for 165 yards. In touchdown markets the fact that he can score in the rushing and passing game regularly has him on my radar.

In Week One Kamara had 8 carries for 29 yards, 9 catches for 112 yards, three touchdowns and a two point conversion. He played a career high 52 snaps in the game, with the suspension of the “workhorse” back Mark Ingram at the beginning of this season a factor in that.

It is worth noting that all four of Kamara’s scores came inside the ten yard line, so in no way has another back been used to replace Ingram’s “short yardage” production. Kamara is being used in all areas of the field

Kamara’s 17 touches in Week 1 tied for the third highest of his career in a single game. In Week 2 Kamara had 19 touches for 99 yards, equalling his single game high in his rookie season when he averaged 14.5 touches in 13 full games.

What also aids Kamara’s role and potential is that the Saints vertical game, especially via wide receiver Michael Thomas has been working well so far this season, this makes the “underneath” areas less packed than they would be defending a team without that passing threat.

Over a now 18 game career Kamara has 841 rushing yards on 141 attempts and 991 receiving yards on 96 attempts. In those 18 games he has 16 touchdowns

The Kamara angle for the Saints in isolation looks rock solid, a big touchdown threat in rushing and receiving with his main competitor for carries suspended.

What provides the cherry on top is that the Falcons have a couple of key injuries in the defensive back seven. Pro bowl Linebacker Deion Jones was placed on injured reserve last week with a foot injury sustained in the season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Then last Friday, the Falcons also announced that safety Keanu Neal would miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Both are recent high draft picks and provided the speed in the intermediate defensive areas, key in head coach Dan Quinn’s “Seattle Seahawks type” system

Without both the Falcons gave up 14 receptions for 102 yards to the Panthers’ receiving back Chrstian McCaffrey last Sunday. Kamara should have a huge game Sunday

12 points Alvin Kamara First touchdown scorer New Orleands Saints at Atlanta Falcons 11/2 Ladbrokes/Coral 5/1 Betfair/PaddyPower

(Full range of prices for al firms will be available over the weekend.)


What might Brexit mean for the Premier League?

Premier League clubs will have to significantly increase the number of British footballers in their official 25-man squads under plans being formulated in talks between the league the FA and the government.

Currently clubs must have at least eight 'home-grown' players, although 'home-grown' currently includes foreign players who spent three years between 16 and 21 in England. That figure looks likely to rise to 10 or more.

The move will reshape a majority of squads in the Premier League not least Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City among the 'Big Six'. That trio have the lowest number of British passport-holding players.

In order to persuade the Premier League to back higher quotas of British players, the FA are willing to support their call for the abolition of 'quality criteria' for any foreign player. In other words, the FA will back clubs signing any foreigner, from inside or outside Europe, with work permits guaranteed.

The number of Britons in the top flight has plunged in the Premier League era. The demise of opportunities for English players has been of most concern to the FA. The context to the 'football Brexit' talks is that all sides (not least FA and PL) actually agree the decline of the English player in the Premier League is a bad thing. That decline is as follows:

2017-18 174 of 535 Premier League players were British (33%)

Twenty years ago in 1997-98 the figure was 270 of 534 (50%)

 Of course there is a strong argument that the top clubs’ access to talented players from a global pool has played a key part in the growth of the Premier League, with match attendance and global interest increasing. Equally its difficult to argue that this trend has led to national managers having a smaller and smaller pool of players to choose from.

Logically this should mean younger British players in the top squads get more timein the top flight 18 man match squads with fewr available for seemingly never-ending loans elsewhere. Conversely, someone like Loftus Cheek wouldn’t have been in the World Cup squad if he hadn’t got a lot of starting game time when onloan last year.

Sometimes these structural changes have unintended consequences too. Be ready for a raft of passport applications from foreigners meeting the five-year residency rule. The third-choice goalkeeper will always be British to help meet the quota. And given the trade-off is to ditch the work permit criteria for other squad members, we will still see plenty of all-foreign first XIs so agents with contacts in the global game outside the EU could be in for boom times.


Brodders Football Analysis

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Please open an account with all those bookmakers on the page on this link that you do not already have an account with using the links provided.

There are literally hundreds of pounds on offer from bookmakers just for signing up through Bettingemporium.com


Betting Emporium results

The detailed results page has been updated as have the spreadsheets with the detailed bets. They can be found by clicking RESULTS

If you bet £10 per point on every recommended bet since launch you would be winning + £42,635.30 All bets have an ROI +3.53%

A £4000 bank betting £10 a point on all selections would now be worth £46,635.30 a 1066% increase

All bets have an ROI +3.53% with horse racing +7.86%, as at 8th August.

 

The Road to Riches Weekend of 15th-16th September

Posted on 14 Sep 2018 08:40 in Weekly Articles "Road to Riches" by Rich 'Tighty' Prew

Coming up this weekend

- Football, the Premier League returns including Tottenham v Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime

- Racing, On the flat at Bath, Chester, Doncaster, Lingfield and Musselburgh all weather at Chelmsford

- NFL, Week Two of the 2018 Season

- Formula One, the Singapore Grand Prix

- Rugby Union, Rugby Championship New Zealand v South Africa and Australia v Argentina

Cricket, T20 Finals Day on Saturday at Edgbaston

Tennis, Davis Cup World Cup Semi-Finals

Golf, on the European Tour the Evian Championships in France and the KLM Open in the Netherlands


NFL 2018 – Neil’s Picks

Seventeen weeks of Neil’s NFL write ups for the 2018 season continues this week costing £100 see here


Free tip

Vitality T20 Blast Finals Day Betting Preview

Finals day takes place at Edgbaston on Saturday. The semi final draw was as follows

Lancashire v Worcestershire

Sussex v Somerset

We have a pre-tournament position in play on Sussex. Outright odds tell us what a close contest this is expected to be. Bet365 are typical in being 11/4 each of four! Lancashire are marginal favourties in the first semi final, Sussex marginal favourites in the second 

Looking at each team in turn

Lancashire finished 3rd in the North Group with an 8-5 record then won a low scoring quarter-final at Kent.

The talented wicket-keeper batsman Alex Davies has scored 525 runs at the top of the order in the competition so far and Liam Livingstone is now back from injury, one of the best ball strikers in the county game. Jos Buttler, Jimmy Anderson and Keaton Jennings are available to play.

The leg-spin of Matt Parkinson has led the way on the bowling front with 23 wickets

Worcestershire have been one of the coming one-day sides for a couple of seasons, and finished 1st in the North Group with a 9-4 record then beat Gloucestershire comfortably in a home quarter-final

Their young talent mainly comes in the batting line up. In the bowling ranks the unheralded Pat Brown, a 20 year old medium pacer, has emerged with 27 wickets. Moeen Ali is a potential match winner and available to play. Conversely Martin Guptill who smashed opposing bowling attacks apart in the group stages as the overseas pro is missing with a hamstring injury as is the young hitter Callum Ferguson, two big losses.

Sussex finished 3rd in the South Group winning 7 of their 10 completed games but suffering weather variance with 4 rained off no results denying them a home quarter final. They travelled to Durham for their quarter final and were convincing winners

Their main strength is in the bowling ranks where Rashid Khan and Jofra Archer have combined for 35 wickets in 22 appearances. Rashid was recalled by Afghanistan after the group stages and also misses now finals day which is a huge loss.

Somerset finished 1st in the South Group with a 10-4 record and smashed 230 at home to beat Notts in their quarter final.

New Zealander Corey Anderson has hit 466 runs from the middle order (Taunton is a very hittable small ground, which helps) and the bowling line up is full of England fringe talent such as the Overtons and Gregory

Looking at the finals day afresh if I were to make a choice I would suggest Lancashire as the likely winners but not a huge view, any of the four could win and it wouldn’t be a surprise in one of the tighter looking finals days.

My suggested bet is in the Sussex v Somerset semi-final where Sussex number three Laurie Evans is 7/2 with Betfair/Paddy Power (3/1 second favourite generally) to be top Sussex run scorer

Evans has 554 runs in 12 innings in the competition this season, over 200 runs clear of the former England international Luke Wright with 327 (ten innings). He should be clear favourite and isn’t and is one of the best bets for finals day

12 points Laurie Evans Top Sussex batsman Sussex v Somerset Semi-Final 7/2 Betfair Sportsbook/Paddy Power (3/1 generally)


Indefensible

“Things ain’t what they used to be” is an old adage but one that could be said to apply to Premier League defending. Around 2010 the number of goals scored in the top flight jumped from under 2.5 to over 2.75 goals per game and since then the three highest-scoring (twenty team) seasons since the Premier League began have been recorded. 

'There's a lack of top class defenders around' has often been the first place to start in understanding why, and has been mentioned again this season when Manchester United conced three goals at unprolific Brighton. Perhaps the correct way to put it is that there are some top class defenders around but not enough. United may be better off with Alderweireld or Maguire at the back and not Lindelof. In the same way that the signing of Van Dijk transformed Liverpool’s defensive unit into one that has only conceded 14 leagues since October and one this season.

The trend towards pressing has undoubtedly increased of the past few years notably seen in England in Guardiola, Klopp and Pochettino’s coaching. High pressing requires a high defensive line. When only partially executed it can leave teams vulnerable to counter-attacks. When teams are in the process of learning to play this way, problems can result. Witness Arsenal’s much analysed recent problems at Chelsea, Emery’s team one in transition to implementing a higher press. In many teams the true holding midfielder in the team merely to protect his centre-backs and nullify the opposition, has been displaced by the deep-lying playmaker. Whilst we can still point to Kante and Matic the corrollary of deep lying midfielders now often asked to create is a lack of protection for defensive lines.  

Recently Arsenal's director of high performance revealed that sprinting within a Premier League game has increased by 64% over the past four seasons.Now defenders have even less time to make decisions on whether to pick runners up or pass them on. Attacks are now extremely well-coached with data showing players the best areas to shoot from. Mourinho's United defend using a similar strategy to the rest of his teams, with men behind the ball and little space between midfield and defence, but teams are now picking holes in their shape. Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham have led the way as well organised attacks. 

The result of the combination of these tactical trends is excitement, a steady trend to higher scoring games, and just the feeling that defending isn’t yet what it used to be and is adapting slower to the modern game than attacking is, where that area of the game is in the vanguard of coaching advances, for now.


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