Manchester City favored for title, Kane for top scorer on EPL odds

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Manchester City enters the English Premier League season as the favorite to top the table at the end of next May.

With the EPL season kicking off Friday, Man City is listed at +185 on the odds win the Premier League championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Defending champion Chelsea (+325) and Manchester United (+325) are the closest contenders, before a big drop-off to Tottenham Hotspur (+900).

Manchester City have made major roster upgrades and manager Pep Guardiola has had a full season to get a better read on his players’ capabilities. But what’s probably going to make or break the Sky Blues is the health of defender Vincent Kompany, who’s struggled to stay healthy for the last three seasons.

Chelsea remains a solid play, particularly after adding Alvaro Mota to their front line. Odds of greater than 3/1 on a defending champion are hard to pass up. The price on Manchester United, which was sixth last season, might stem from their popularity and the fact that manager Jose Mourinho delivered titles during his second season with each of the other four teams he’s guided (including twice with Chelsea).

Tottenham has been faded in the preseason prognostications, mostly on the assumption they will be thrown off due to using Wembley Stadium as a temporary home due to stadium construction. However, one of the league’s most explosive offenses will be moving to a bigger pitch, and they still have their airtight back line with Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen as centre-backs.

Tottenham’s Harry Kane (+275), the two-time reigning Golden Boot winner, is the chalk pick in top scorer futures. But it is possible the Spurs’ move will affect the volume the chances Kane gets in home games.

Man United’s Romelu Lukaku (+400) should have the supporting cast to have a big season. Man City’s Sergio Aguero (+550) and Gabriel Jesus (+800) could end up cancelling out each other. With Arsenal out of Champions League, Alexandre Lacazette (+1100) might have the extra energy to take a shot.

In first week matches of note, Arsenal (-210) faces Leicester (+550, draw +350) in the lone game on Friday. Arsenal has just one win in its last seven season openers, but it should be different this time since they had a confidence-builder in the Community Shield game against Chelsea last weekend.

Tottenham (-155) opens on the road against Newcastle United (+400, +290 for the tie). Newcastle added little during the transfer period and Tottenham should be capable of beating the 1.0-goal line, which pays +120.

Manchester City (-325) should have a full complement of talent when it takes on Brighton and Hove Albion (+900) on Saturday. City is -110 on the goal line.

Crystal Palace (-130) gets the privilege of welcoming Huddersfield Town (+380, +250 for the draw) to the top flight. This might be an instance where taking the newcomers Huddersfield to eke out a point pays out.

Man United opens at home against West Ham United on Sunday. The Reds are -110 on the goal line (1.5 goals) and will be looking to make a statement with a decisive victory.

World Cup Odds: Portugal offers value against rival Spain

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With each team dealing with distractions, it might be worth taking a chance on Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo against rival Spain in the big matchup on the first full day of World Cup action.

Spain is listed as a +105 betting favorite on Friday’s World Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com with Portugal coming back at +305, while the draw is priced at +225 on the three-way moneyline and there is a 2.0 total.

Favored Spain had a shake-up on Tuesday when manager Fernando Hierro was airlifted in after the shock firing of Julen Lopetegui. Spain’s defensive strength is also touch-and-go with right-back Dani Carjaval (hamstring).

That said, form in international play over the last year points to Spain, which is 7-0-3 (wins/losses/draws) in its last 10 international games whereas Portugal is 1-2-2 in its last five.

Being in Group B with the aforementioned European squads means Morocco (+120) and Iran (+280, draw +195) will each need to play to win in their matchup in St. Petersburg. The over on the 2.0 total is enticing at even money.

Uruguay (-185) faces Egypt (+600, draw +275) in Yekaterinburg. Egypt has failed to win any of its last six outings and might not have a fully healthy Mohamed Salah (shoulder), suggesting a likelihood of Uruguay grinding out a result in a game that finishes under the 2.5 total.

Argentina (-300) will ride the Lionel Messi effect against Iceland (+900, draw +400) in a Saturday World Cup betting matchup in Moscow. Iceland, with an attack built around Johann Berg Gudmundsson of Burnley, won’t roll over easily and the over on the 2.5 total should hit.

France (-425) is among the contenders on the overall odds to win the World Cup, while Australia (+1000, draw +550) will be looking to exasperate Les Bleus with defensive tactics in their matchup at Kazan. It might not come easily, but France has a strong chance to cover the minus-1.5 goals line.

Denmark (+135) is favored, but Peru (+220, +220 draw) takes a 15-match unbeaten streak into the matchup in Saransk, compared to the Danes’ four-game streak. Denmark’s last four matches have all finished below this match’s 2.5 total and a well-played 1-1 draw seems eminently possible.

Croatia (-135), paced by Barcelona midfielder Luka Modric, will be looking for a statement win against Nigeria (+400, +265 draw) at Kaliningrad. Nigeria is winless in its last four outings. Eight of Croatia’s last 10 matches and six of Nigeria’s last 10 have finished with fewer than 2.5 goals.

Defending champion Germany (-205) begins its quest for a repeat against Mexico (+575, +345 draw) at Moscow on Sunday. Since reunification, Germany is 6-0 in opening games with a 23-2 goal differential, so the form would suggest manager Joachim Low’s side can win convincingly.

There isn’t much value on playing Brazil (-245) for a likely win against Switzerland (+750, +370 draw) at Rostov-on-Don, but the favorites come in having recorded a clean sheet in seven of their last eight matches. Switzerland has also had clean sheets in five of six outings, suggesting it’s unlikely both teams will score.

The matchup between Serbia (-110) and Costa Rica (+360, +225 draw) in Samara stacks up as projection vs. past performance. Serbia and Aleksandar Mitrovic of Newcastle United fame are overdue to convert age-group success to the senior level, while 2014 quarterfinalist Costa Rica has lost key defender Ronald Matarrita (hamstring) to injury.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top World Cup betting news check out the OddsShark FC podcast with Andrew Avery, Rob Trites, and Craig Cormier. Listen to it at OddsSharkFC.libsyn.com.

Lionel Messi, Neymar Betting Favorites for World Cup Golden Boot

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Capturing the World Cup’s Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals in the tournament is not linked to being on the winning team, or even being a household name.

Three weeks before the tournament kicks off in Russia, Argentina’s Lionel Messi is a +850 favorite on the World Cup Golden Boot odds with Brazil’s Neymar a narrow second favorite at +900 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The award includes all games in the tournament, group and knockout, so it is not surprising that 18 of the 20 recipients of the award have played for a team that finished either first, second or third. Eleven of the 18 played on the third-place team, whose final game typically will have more scoring and less cautious play than the final.

Ronaldo (Brazil, 2002) is the only Golden Boot winner in the last nine World Cups who also played for the winning team.

That history might work against Messi, whose Argentina team is not being given much of a  chance to make a deep run. Neymar is also working his way back from a knee injury, raising concern about how much Brazil will turn him loose, particularly in the group games. Brazil teammate Roberto Firmino (+6600) of Liverpool fame could be worth a darkhorse pick on the Golden Boot betting lines.

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (+1200) was second in goals scored at Euro 2016 and his country is likely to make it into the knockout round, although it has to contend with being in the same group as Spain.

The aforementioned “first, second or third” theory likely strikes wagering on England’s Harry Kane (+1600). Germany’s Timo Werner (+1600), whose team is the favorite on the odd to win the World Cup, has a much stronger likelihood of playing a full seven games. Germany typically also plays with only one striker, meaning service from the midfield won’t be split between two forwards.

France and Belgium are each being touted as strong possibilities to be semi-finalists, if not more. Antoine Griezmann (+1400) is the top Les Bleus player on the board, but young Kylian Mbappe (+3300) could have more breakout potential.

Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku (+2000) has the lowest odds of any Belgium player, but Dries Mertens (+3300) of Napoli in Italy’s Serie A is worth considering as a longshot due to his speed and skill as a winger.

Colombia’s James Rodriguez (+5000) is the reigning Golden Boot winner. No player has ever won twice.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.