Betting Week in Review: Premier League & FA Cup
Bookmakers enjoyed a good weekend with some profitable results. In the Premier League, Everton and Tottenham drawing and a win for Newcastle was beneficial for operators. In the FA Cup, favourites Manchester City were beaten by Chelsea, ending their quadruple dreams.
Stalemate in Friday Night Thriller
In Friday night’s opener to a packed weekend of football, two teams who are vying for European football went head-to-head at Goodison Park.
With Everton and Tottenham almost neck and neck, three points at this stage of the season could be the difference between Champions League, Europa League or even no European football at all next season. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if the game had been a nervous dour affair with so much at stake, but thankfully there was plenty of action and talking points in the entertaining 2-2 draw.
Tottenham struck first in the game after 27 minutes, Harry Kane taking full advantage of a mistake by Michael Keane, whose misjudged header allowed the England captain to score. Although it was a lead that only lasted four minutes as Everton were awarded a penalty after Sergio Reguilon had fouled James Rodriguez in the area. Gylfi Sigurdsson converted the spot-kick emphatically to bring the Toffees level.
In Everton’s previous game, a dull goalless draw with Brighton, the Merseyside club lacked firepower upfront. With top scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin (14 goals) missing this game through injury, the main goal threat came from James Rodriguez and Sigurdsson.
It was Sigurdsson that gave the home side the lead after 62 minutes. The Icelandic international scored a well-executed goal, finishing with a left-footed shot that found the bottom corner after fine interplay between Seamus Coleman and Richarlison. However, like Tottenham’s opener, it was a lead that only lasted minutes as shortly after Kane scored his second of the game. Everton was the more adventurous of the two sides at the end but was unable to find the winner.
It was a draw that neither team wanted, and the point came at great cost for Tottenham after Harry Kane limped off at the end with an ankle injury. Kane has been prolific for Tottenham this season, having thirty-four goal involvements in the Premier League alone (21 goals, 13 assists). They will be waiting nervously to see if their talisman will be available to face Manchester City in the EFL Cup final on Sunday. As the player has missed twenty-five games due to similar injuries in his career so far, the chances look slim.
For Everton, the draw means their long wait for a win continues. They last won a Premier League game at the beginning of March, an uninspiring 1-0 win against West Brom. Since then, they lost two-in-a-row (Chelsea 2-0, Burnley 1-2) and are now on a three-match sequence of draws after a 1-1 with Crystal Palace and a 0-0 with Brighton, both games they were expected to win.
The only winner in this fixture was the bookies. Tottenham was heavily backed @ 23/20, with Everton priced before the game @ 127/50. The successful draw bet was available @ 62/25.
Jose Mourinho certainly wasn’t a winner; Sky Sports News on Monday morning confirmed the 58-year-old had been relieved of his duties at Tottenham after seventeen months in charge at the club. Strange timing with the cup final just days away.
Early Game Curse Strikes Again For Punters
The first game on Saturday has become a graveyard for punter’s bets. Last week, Leeds United stunned champions-elect Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium, with Leeds scoring with their only two shots on goal. And the week before, Chelsea was soundly beaten by relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion 5-2 at Stamford Bridge. The curse of the early kick-off continued this week with struggling Newcastle United beating West Ham United 3-2, who before kick-off occupied fourth place, the last Champions League spot.
It was an exciting clash at St James’ Park, the hosts taking the lead thanks to Issa Diop’s own goal after 36 minutes. Moments later, the Hammers were reduced to ten men after Craig Dawson was sent off for two bookings. Newcastle took a two-nil lead into the break, a Joelinton tap-in doubling their advantage four minutes before the interval.
David Moyes’ team-talk at the break appeared to have worked when the Hammers drew level. Diop made amends for his earlier own goal by scoring in the 73rd minute. Jesse Lingard continued his incredible renaissance, scoring from the spot to make it 2-2 with ten minutes remaining. Although a man short, it seemed inevitable that the visitors would snatch the win, but it was the Magpies who had the final say when substitute Joe Willock headed in the winner with eight minutes left.
It was a costly defeat for West Ham; results over the weekend saw them slip out of the Champions League spots into fifth. For Newcastle, the win took them to 15th with a nine-point cushion over the last relegation spot. It was another good result for the bookies. West Ham was priced @ 121/100; the draw was 121/50 with Newcastle priced @ 123/50 for the win.
In other games in the Premier League, Wolves ensured Sheffield United would be playing Championship football next season by beating the Yorkshire club 1-0, which confirmed their relegation. With six games yet to play, Sheffield United equalled the record for the quickest relegation from England’s top-flight.
Manchester United kept their faint title hopes alive with a 3-1 win against Burnley. Sean Dyche’s men had been a bogey side for the Red Devils at Old Trafford, but two goals from Mason Greenwood and a late tap-in from Edinson Cavani secured the win. Another great result for bookmaker’s this weekend was the 1-1 draw between Arsenal and Fulham. Fulham looked like they had secured a vital win thanks to Josh Maja’s second-half penalty. Arsenal controversially scored in the 97th minute, Eddie Nketiah bundled the ball home, but the Cottagers were unhappy as Arsenal defender Rob Holding was stood in an offside position.
Chelsea End City’s Quadruple Bid
Manchester City’s quest to become the first club to win the Premier League, Champions League, EFL and FA Cup in a season is over after losing a closely-fought FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea.
The game was far from a classic with little goal-mouth action in the first half, and the tie was ultimately settled when Hakim Ziyech connected with Timo Werner’s pass in the 55th minute. City almost forced extra time at the death, Kepa Arrizabalaga getting fingertips to a header from Rodri late on.
Pep Guardiola made eight changes to his team and paid the price as his team looked short of ideas, and to make matters worse, they lost Kevin De Bruyne to an injury which might see the influential player sidelined for a while. Their hopes of an FA Cup and Champions League double are still on for Chelsea, providing they are not sanctioned for their participation in the proposed breakaway super league proposal. We will cover that topic in our society betting article tomorrow.
Chelsea will play Leicester City in the final after Leicester overcame Southampton in the other semi-final. Kelechi Iheanacho’s second-half goal was enough to give the Foxes their first FA Cup appearance since 1969.
The result might be a blessing in disguise for Southampton. In 14th place, they are nine points ahead of Fulham in the relegation zone. The Saints need nine points to make sure of avoiding the drop with seven games left to play,