Cardiff’s Steady Improvement

January 20th, 2017 | Ian Carnaby's Sports News

All bar one of the selections went in last week, with Bristol City paying us out twice, managing to score at home to Cardiff and then winning their FA Cup 3rd Round replay at Fleetwood. Preston stopped Brighton’s gallop, as I rather thought they would, and Fulham maintained their steady progress. The one disappointment was Sheffield United, who just seemed to have one of those mid-season days at home to Walsall. I still think they will be promoted this time around.

It’s a fascinating Premier League programme once again but the ‘good things’ at home – Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool – are too short. The other day I was thinking about my dad, gone these many years who studied the Long List, as it was called then, when six results anywhere on the coupon paid at least 7/1. This was guaranteed.

When you take into account that Rangers and Celtic both won week after week, that was a fair offer. Looking at the homes mentioned above – 1 to 4, 2/9,. 1/5 approx, I wonder what sort of risks you’d need to take to get anywhere near 7/1. Yet it seems youngsters are sucked in and you hear them discussing their acca in pubs just before kick-off time.

Everton v Manchester City last week taught us a few things. The Premier League has taken Pep Guardiola by surprise to a degree and Manchester City will not be winning the title. Everton were good value for an emphatic 4-0 win and I now believe they will make significant progress under Ronald Koeman quicker than I originally thought.

He didn’t want to commit himself to Southampton for more than another year, of course. The powers that be would not have allowed him to spend £24m on a player like Morgan Schneiderlin (not a great example, I know, given that he used to be at St Mary’s) without asking a few questions. Now he can do more or less what he wants and Everton may join the elite next season. If they win at Crystal Palace on Saturday it will spell trouble for the home team, though Sam Allardyce has been in this situation often enough to sort things out.

I’d leave that game alone and I wouldn’t bet on City v Tottenham, either, though there is no doubt Spurs are far and away the better team at present. The one nagging worry, apart from the Europa League, is the continuing absence of Lamela (hip) and the likelihood that Vertonghen will be out for several more weeks. To me, Tottenham are easily the most exciting team in Britain but Chelsea will not let the gap close without making a supreme effort and should beat an improving Hull. The Costa situation is more than a nuisance, however. No bet on these games.

I feel for Claude Puel, who is following not one class act but two at Southampton – Koeman and Pochettino. Norwich came for a two-hour goalless draw on Wednesday and when you play five across the middle against a struggling side you deserve what you get – defeat via a scruffy late goal in a dreadful game.

The Saints will bring back two or three faces for Leicester on Sunday and I make them favourites but odds-on makes no appeal at all.

Therefore I shall let the top section go this weekend and the only bet is CARDIFF to beat Burton in the Championship. Neil Warnock can be something of a wild man and some of his comments in the heat of the moment are inexcusable but he shows time and again that he knows the game inside out and can lift teams out of the doldrums almost as a matter of course.

Burton are slipping towards the foot of the table and have not scored in their last four matches. If I were a bookmaker Cardiff would be 8/13 or 4/7, especially after the excellent result at Ashton Gate, so the 10/11 with Hill’s looks vert attractive. In this instance I’d accept 4/5, but no shorter, and we all know the prices in Friday’s paper sometimes bear little resemblance to those we’re offered on Saturday morning.

CARDIFF 40 units at 4/5 or better to beat Burton

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