Van Gaal ready for a devil of a job!


Can van Gaal get Manchester United back on track?

After coming up just short at the 2014 World Cup with the Dutch national team, ex Oranje-coach Louis van Gaal has wasted no time in throwing all his energy into his next big task – getting Manchester United back on the road to success.

After suffering their worst season for 24 years under Ferguson-successor David Moyes last year, United are looking to the experienced Dutchman to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford. Van Gaal has vowed to leave no stone unturned as he attempts to banish the ghosts of 2013/14 and his reign has got off the perfect start with his squad winning the prestigious International Champions Cup in the USA.

Ok, everyone knows that this was just a summer tournament with as much emphasis on marketing opportunities as football itself, but straight victories over Roma, Inter Milan, Champions League winner Real Madrid and, of course, bitter rivals Liverpool in the final will certainly have given every player at the club a real boost as the start of the Premiership season looms large.

Van Gaal is a man confident in his own footballing beliefs and is not afraid to rub stars up the wrong way if he feels they are not 100% behind the cause. It will be interesting to see if the current harmony continues to prevail around Manchester when the season gets underway, but with no European football to distract them this year, the Red Devils look certain to once again play a major role in the destiny of the EPL title!

Who will win the Premier League title?

Chelsea                              2.85
Manchester City              3.0
Manchester Utd              5.5
Arsenal                              7.0
Liverpool                          11.0
Tottenham                       67.0

All odds provided by are correct as of today but subject to change. 

CHRIS I. (tipsterchris) is a European sports blogger who’s hooked on football — both NFL American football and European football.  Chris discusses betting tips and trends and includes betting odds in his regular posts at BI.


Manchester United vs. Manchester City: United doomed as Rooney lob comes too early

Should Rooney have held a bit back at the weekend?

Should Rooney have held a bit back at the weekend?

David Moyes may have enjoyed watching his team win by routine against West Ham, but in truth it was a Pyrrhic victory for the visitors at Upton Park. Now Manchester United must somehow rally to face Manchester City in midweek, burdened by the knowledge that their last remaining hope has been extinguished by the lustful boot of Wayne Rooney.

What a goal his opener at the weekend was: a thwacked, searching goblet of an artillery round that looped over the scrambling Adrián’s head and into the goal. It was so good, Steve Bruce had to call a break mid-press conference to indulge himself in its execution.

Yet though it may well go down as a strike for the ages, it arrived three days earlier than expected, like a missed delivery to a house you haven’t quite moved into yet, or a cavalry charge through the wrong battlefield before the right war has been able to break out.

Manchester United v Manchester City Betting Odds:

Manchester United win – 3.15

Manchester City win – 2.10

Draw – 3.30

(All odds provided by are accurate as of today and subject to change)

And now Rooney’s energies are spent; his special move wasted on a relatively meaningless fixture, leaving nothing left in the tank for taking into the City game. I mean, did you really think that shinned, upside down bicycle kick goal from a couple of years back was merely the product of good fortune, timing and a bit of creativity? Of course not.

Ryan Giggs, misunderstood by the football press to be sulking and scheming behind Moyes’ back, has actually been spending the last few weeks hidden away in a Carrington backroom, using his tantric yoga abilities to build up a reservoir of karma to fuel another derby day weapon for Wayne.

Unfortunately, just as when faced with the temptations of unattended, high-calorie pastry products, and red-lit establishments catering to a more mature demographic, Rooney’s lack of self-control saw that potential match-winner go off in his right sock as Big Sam & Co. looked on bemused. Now United will have to resort to trying to best their crosstown rivals at football, which will only end one way: defeat.

After all, City have now assimilated the Moyesian United model and bested it in every category. They have the better quality manager with spooky eyes and a haunted face, a fancy new way of spelling and saying “United” (Etihad), a more evil and successful brand of distant, foreign owner, and a slightly greater meaningless trophy win this year (Not sure the Community Shield even counts as a trophy – ed.). They’re also quite good at scoring goals and generally being more than just one-dimensional when going forward.

Without his supply of mojo, Rooney will be reduced to running around and playing well for his team, which we all know is an anathema to his best work in such high profile fixtures. There’s little chance that he will trudge about the field all sullen for 80 minutes before fluking the goal of the season, as the script requires during these encounters. No one ever won a derby, cup final or title decider with the necessary dramatic clout by being really good and consistent, and even if they did, who would want to watch that?

So, United fans, sadly it all looks to be over for the foreseeable. Rooney spurted away his load a stroke too early while well out of range of Manuel Pellegrini’s men, leaving his teammates high and dry, and ready for a beating. City can now travel to Old Trafford without fear of an unlikely bombshell cascading down from on high via the laces of the home side’s star forward.

Not even the planned blood sacrifice of Tom Cleverley to the old gods can help them now, though as a form of half-time entertainment that wouldn’t go amiss.

Betting Instinct Tip – City’s Yaya Touré is in fine goalscoring form after netting a hat-trick at the weekend, and Touré is 4.80 to score first in tomorrow’s derby with


Greg avatarGREG JOHNSON (gregianjohnson) is a freelance football writer based in London and contributor to FourFourTwo, Squawka, Drowned In Sound and Mirror Football. He also co-edits The False Nine football blog and podcast.

Juan Mata to make the difference at Old Trafford tonight?

Manchester United record signing Juan Mata likely to debut at Old Trafford tonight

Manchester United record signing Juan Mata likely to debut at Old Trafford tonight

The roar from the Old Trafford faithful at the start of tonight’s Manchester United v Cardiff Premier League clash is going to be a deafening one as they welcome one new and one old face to the Theatre of Dreams this evening. Juan Mata has signed on for a club record fee of £37.1m and David Moyes along with the Man Utd fans will be hoping that the diminutive Spaniard can create chances and goals for the strikers to lead them back towards the top of the table.

One man that will be hoping that Mata does not succeed for tonight at least will be the man in charge of the opposition, and one half of the pairing that brought the European Cup to Old Trafford in 1999 with that late, late comeback against Bayern Munich at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium, in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He’s guaranteed a massive cheer from the crowd, but will he manage to direct his side in such a way that that sees Cardiff City take points away Manchester United this evening? don’t see it happening and their Man Utd v Cardiff match odds see Juan Mata and co. running away with things tonight.

Man Utd v Cardiff Odds:

Home Victory – 1.22

Draw – 6.20

Away Victory – 14.00

(All odds provided by are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Cardiff are the massive outsiders for victory this evening with good reason and this is that they have managed to secure just a single point in their last six Premier League games, at home to Sunderland in a 2-2 draw. They have won just once in their last 12 matches, again at home as they defeated West Brom 1-0, and their away form in the league has seen six defeats in their last eight matches. The other two saw them draw 0-0 at Stoke and Norwich, while this eight game winless streak has seen just four goals scored.

United are in equally poor form as they have lost four of their last six games, beating only Swansea and Sunderland in this time. The second of these two wins came in the Capital One Cup Semi Finals, but they still were eliminated from the competition in a penalty shootout. This run of form will have United short on confidence, but David Moyes will hope that the big name signing of Mata this week will have the desired effect of boosting morale, while Marouane Fellani, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie all returned to training this week so are likely to at least make the bench tonight. This is sure boost confidence even further, but will it see them take all three points tonight?

Cardiff last won at Old Trafford in 1954, but they did manage to take a point at the Cardiff City Stadium earlier this season as they scored a late, late equaliser. However, with the return of the trio of Rooney, van Persie and Fellani adding to the arrival of Mata tonight I really see United cruising to victory in front of their own fans this evening.

Back Manchester United to win and there to be at least three goals in the match @ 1.69 in the GR88 Sportsbook!

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at

Can Man United overturn a 2-1 deficit in the Capital One Cup tonight?

Fabio Borini celebrates scoring the winner in the first leg of this tie at the Stadium of Light

Fabio Borini celebrates scoring the winner in the first leg of this tie at the Stadium of Light

Although United made the last 16 of the Champions League and are one of three sides remaining in the Capital One Cup at this time, most people would agree that this season has been one disaster after another for the defending Premier League champions. They are 14 points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal after 22 matches of the Premier League season and were eliminated from the FA Cup, a competition they have won on 11 occasions, at the first hurdle by Swansea City. They can reach the final of the Capital One Cup still, but they need to turn around a 2-1 deficit after losing the first leg at the Stadium of Light two weeks ago against a side sitting second bottom of the Premier League.

Can the United turn things around? They certainly have the players to do so, but does David Moyes have the dressing room motivation to get the hosts at Old Trafford this evening out of a four losses in five game slump? believe so as they favour a comfortable home win this evening, but will United, unlike on so many occasions this season, live up to expectations?

Man United v Sunderland Odds:

Home Victory – 1.28

Draw – 5.00

Away Victory – 8.80

(Odds provided by are current as of today but subject to change.)

While the 2013 portion of this season was poor for United domestically, 2014 has been an utter shambles as they have lost four of the five games played so far and they are clearly struggling right now. They have missed Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie for four and ten matches respectively and their recent form has shown how vital they are to the side despite four goals between Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez in this poor five game run. Both the English and Dutch strikers are in line for a return this evening, but will they be (a) fit enough to play and (b) able to make an impact if they play? David Moyes will be hoping for a return to form from these two players, and if they hit the ground running I feel United deserve to be the favourites to win this match. The big questions are can they do this and will the rest of the team be up to their standards if they do?

Sunderland will hope not on both counts, but even if United do come out firing tonight Gustavo Poyet’s men will still be confident about getting a result that will see them face Manchester City in the final at Wembley on March 2nd. They have won three and drawn one of their last four matches, scoring 13 goals in this time, and have suffered just a single defeat in their last ten matches in all competitions. Things were looking bad for Sunderland for much of the first half of the season, but Poyet has stabilised the ship and is turning it around, with them now sitting just one point behind Fulham in the 17th place in the league and just above the relegation zone. Victory tonight will boost their confidence even further and see them feel they can move out of the relegation zone for the first time since August, but can they progress against all the odds?

The first leg win at the Stadium of Light two weeks ago was the first time that Sunderland had managed to defeated Manchester United since 1997 and they would love to get back to back wins over the Premier League champions tonight. However, their last away win at Old Trafford came in 1968 and it was 1950/51 when they last won back to back matches against the Red Devils. United certainly aren’t the team that they once were, but will they allow the Capital One Cup to slip away from their grasp just like the FA Cup and Premier League this season?

I certainly don’t see United as being as large favourites as the match odds suggest, even less so if Rooney and van Persie do not play tonight, and with Sunderland having found some fine form of late I certainly see them doing some damage to United this evening. Both teams will realistically need to go and get goals this evening if they are to assure their place in the final and I can see both of these sides finding the net at least once at Old Trafford tonight.

Back both Manchester United and Sunderland to score in this Capital One Cup semi final match this evening @ 1.94 with

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at

Man United Favoured to Take the Advantage at the Stadium of Light


David de Gea saves late on to see United beat Sunderland 2-1 this season.

David de Gea saves late on to see United beat Sunderland 2-1 this season.

Sunderland and Manchester United meet for the second time this season in this first leg of the Capital One Semi Finals following the bursting onto the football scene of Adnan Januzaj as his 77 minute appearance brought two goals and all three points for David Moyes’ men. This has been one of the few high points for United this season and they will be desperate for a repeat of this result at the Stadium of Light tomorrow evening, but will they be able to claim the advantage in this Capital One Cup Semi Final? believe so as they favour the away win for United, who have won all of the last six meetings with Sunderland are unbeaten against them since 1997, a run of 23 matches.’s Sunderland v Manchester United match odds are as below.

Sunderland v Manchester United Odds:

Sunderland Victory – 4.40

Draw – 3.35

Manchester United Victory – 1.66

(Odds provided by are current as of today but subject to change.)

Sunderland’s progress through this tournament has been relatively straight forward for a side that sits bottom of the Premier League as they have recorded 4-2 and 2-0 wins over lower league opposition in the MK Dons and Peterborough before seeing off fellow Premier League sides Southampton and Chelsea to reach the final four stage. They were 2-0 up against Southampton before an 89th minute goal from the Saints saw them sweat before making the last eight where they trailed Chelsea until the 88th minute and despite Chelsea creating chance after chance it was the Black Cats that booked their place in the Semi Finals with a 118th minute goal to win the tie. Their league form has not been good, but they have not lost in either cup this season so will they be able to upset the odds today and move into the final?

United are not having a great season under their new management as they sit only 7th in the Premier League and were eliminated from the FA Cup at Old Trafford by Swansea at the weekend as William Bony scored an injury time winner for the Welsh side. They have now lost four of their last six matches and are certainly not striking fear into the hearts of their opposition as they once did, but with wins over Liverpool, Norwich and Stoke City in the Capital One Cup without a goal conceded they look to have fixed their attentions on claiming this trophy as a priority. Can they draw on their 17 year unbeaten run against Sunderland to see them bring an advantage back to Old Trafford for the second leg of this tie?

I am of the feeling that the odds on this match are correct as United, despite all their faults this season, are looking impressive in the Capital One Cup this season and are likely to take an advantage back to Old Trafford. Sunderland, however, are a gritty side and will dig deep in this match to ensure they are still in the running to make the final in the second leg. I can certainly see both of these sides finding themselves on the scoresheet in this match and I would not be surprised to see Sunderland get something from the game, but I feel the value is to be had on the goals market.

Back both Sunderland and Manchester United to score in this Capital One Cup Semi Final First Leg game @ 1.77 with

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at

It’s Time for a Champion to Emerge from the Premier League Contenders

Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea are all in contention

(Clockwise from top-left) Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea are all in contention

It has been a strange season so far. The aura of invincibility that has emanated from Old Trafford for over twenty years hasn’t so much been lost but decimated by a number of embarrassing home defeats. The fallibilities that Manchester United have had for a number of years have been exposed repeatedly leaving them needing a remarkable resurgence if they are to have any hope of defending their title.

So with the holders currently suffering because of their own ineptitude; who from this year’s pack of contenders can emerge as winners?

Premier League Title Betting Odds:

Manchester City – 2.20

Chelsea – 4.50

Arsenal – 5.00

Liverpool – 7.00

Manchester United – 21.00

Everton – 34.00

(All odds posted by Intertops Sportsbook are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Manchester City seems the likely option right now. Their away form has been largely dreadful however their record at home is rather terrifying. At the Etihad, City score goals for fun and have torn apart several of their rivals this year, most recently Arsenal on Saturday. However now that talisman Sergio Aguero faces a spell on the sidelines, and with no proof that their away form blues have been completely cured (they have recorded just two wins in eight away games), City still have a lot to prove if they want to be champions.

The result of last weekend came at White Hart Lane where Liverpool humiliated Spurs and saw off manager Andre Villas-Boas in the process. I liked AVB (mainly for our mutual loathing of the Daily Mail) but results and performances have been very poor this season; while he probably deserved more time, the manner of defeat last weekend sealed his fate.

As for Liverpool, with the form that Luis Suarez is in this season anything will seem possible. They don’t have the squad to match their rivals but they do have the best player in the league right now. Ending that long title hoodoo would be a brilliant achievement but finishing in the top four seems much more realistic right now.

Another team close to the top right now is Everton, who are playing vibrant football with several talented youngsters lighting up the league. Roberto Martinez is proving himself to be a very good manager indeed which leaves us facing the rather chilling realisation that perhaps Dave Whelan was right all along.

So that brings us to Chelsea and to this weekend when Jose Mourinho’s side travel to Arsenal. The previously ‘Happy One’ hasn’t been too full of festive cheer recently. When he hasn’t been picking a fight with his best player, he’s been pulling his hair out at his strikers’ inability to do their job and actually score. He has lost twice to Basel this season and has only clung on to his unbeaten home league record by the skin of his teeth and some extremely generous refereeing.

The common consensus is that Chelsea have been very below-par this season and yet they are just two points off the top spot. While Chelsea have been lambasted, Arsenal have been lauded; and yet the Blues can overtake their London rivals with a win on Monday night. Arsenal have been great this year but now they are in a mini-slump which could reverse their earlier impressive work. They were blown away by City last week with old defensive concerns becoming prominent once again.

This is not the Chelsea of old that would routinely swat Arsenal aside. They lack the physical threat they once had, their strikers are about as lethal as your average butterfly, and their defence looks vulnerable. Arsenal can take heart from all this as well as from their own good home form. They will fancy their chances against a side that is very much for the taking.

I do not expect another high scoring game though. Mourinho is aware of his side’s weaknesses and will set up accordingly. It is game where both sides may be a little scared of losing; a low scoring draw may be the most likely result.

Betting Instinct Tip: Less than 2.5 goals is 2.05 with

Manchester United Manager Moyes Can See Off Threat of Former Club Everton

Everton's Romelu Lukaku (left) scored a hat-trick on his last visit to Old Trafford

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku (left) scored a hat-trick on his last visit to Old Trafford

Before I start, I’d like everyone to know that only the other day I picked more than 2.5 goals in both the Manchester City v. Swansea and Hull v. Liverpool games, Sporting Lisbon and Rubin Kazan to win, and a draw in the Tottenham v. Manchester United match. Fifty whole dollars richer, I think I know a thing or two about sports betting. I’d have recommended you bet on those games, but giving tips for games that have already been played isn’t allowed. Onwards and upwards. Well, onwards, anyway.

Manchester United v Everton

David Moyes never beat Manchester United while manager of Everton, but that doesn’t matter because now he manages Manchester United. Robin van Persie should be the difference at Old Trafford, with six goals and five assists in 10 starts against the Toffees, though he is not a certainty to start. It should be a close match: Romelu Lukaku is an obvious threat, scoring a hat-trick in his last game against Manchester United, and Everton have a good away record under Roberto Martinez. Having completed a short appraisal of Everton’s credentials, United’s home record against the boys formerly known as David Moyes’ boys – no defeats in their last 20 games – points towards an almost inevitable result. United win.

Manchester United v Everton Betting Odds
Manchester United to win – 1.67
Draw – 3.75
Everton to win – 4.75
Quoted odds are posted by Intertops Sportsbook as of today.

Liverpool v Norwich City

Liverpool are odds on to beat Norwich at Anfield, but then it’s going to take a few more games in the league/seasons of Being Liverpool before we all figure out whether we’re looking at the Liverpool of 2011, or the Liverpool of a few weeks ago when they were good. Fail to beat Norwich, and we shouldn’t worry about the sky falling in – this is Liverpool, after all. They’ve conceded six in their last two games to Everton and Hull, but Brendan Rodgers’ men have a strong defensive record at home and most would expect Luis “Seven in Three Matches Against Norwich” Suarez to find the net, especially against opposition who can’t score goals, but are good at letting them in. Liverpool win.

Betting Instinct Tip: Liverpool to win and keep a clean sheet is 2.10 with

Max avatarMAX GRIEVE is Australian, but keep reading. He likes football, rugby union and tennis, though has given up on his dream of being a tri-sport athlete/exciting millionaire. He supports Liverpool, and is ashamed for doing so.