76 days, 1824 hours and 109,335 minutes since a ball was last kicked in English League football and this weekend we finally get to sit back down in our arm chairs with Jeff Stelling and the gang for the return of normality. Football is back ladies and gentlemen and with that comes a whole host of betting opportunities.
At this early stage of the season it can be a tough time for punters with no real form to consider, but it’s also a tough time for those bookies out there as well. So with a bit of knowledge and research under our belts, I’m doing my best to find those teams who have improved attacking wise over the summer and those teams who have caved defensively as I hope to get my Team Goals Treble off to a winning start!
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Hull vs Huddersfield (English Championship)
I’m starting in The Championship as Hull look to start their life in a lower league with a win over Huddersfield at The KC Stadium.
The hosts were obviously expecting to lose players over the summer following relegation and having earned nearly £20m from outgoing players whilst spending just over £1m on their new arrivals, you may initially struggle to see how the bookies make Hull 3rd favourites to secure promotion back to the Premier League this season. But Hull’s transfers over the summer have been quite deceptive; in fact they have managed to retain many of the players who helped them score more goals than 3 of the other 4 teams who finished in the bottom 5 of the Premier League last season.
Jelavic, Hernandez, Diame and Elmohamady all scored 2 or more goals for Hull last season and all remain a part of their Championship squad. They have by no means escaped unscathed with the likes of Chester leaving for West Brom, Brady joining Norwich, N’Doye looking likely to head to Besiktas and Tom Ince heading to Derby amongst other transfers, but Steve Bruce has managed to sustain a strong Championship squad here and their pre-season performances have backed up that fact.
Hull are unbeaten pre-season including an impressive 4-0 win over UAE outfit Al Ain when Elmohamady grabbed a brace, but the same can’t be said for their opponents this weekend.
Huddersfield started their pre-season impressively against lower league outfits Guiseley and Leyton Orient, collecting two wins, but have since failed to beat the likes of Grimsby, Rochdale and Barnsley, losing all 3 of those games whilst conceding 9 goals in the process. Yes, this is pre-season and you take the results with a pinch of salt given squad rotations but their ability to leak goals was also apparent last season as Chris Powell’s men had the 4th worst defensive record in The Championship.
With the loss of Conor Coady at the back who has joined Wolves and with no real significant signings to boost their back line, The Terriers could well start this season as they did last year when they shipped 4 goals at home to eventual Champions Bournemouth.
Hull have won the last 4 meetings between the two sides without conceding a goal and their only previous Championship meeting here at The KC resulted in a 2-0 win for the home side. I’m backing Hull to find the net at least twice again today!
BET – Hull Over 1.5 Team Goals at 8/13 with Coral
Accrington Stanley vs Luton (English League Two)
Accrington conceded more goals than any other side in League Two last season shipping 77 goals in 46 games, an average of 1.67 per game, and I’m taking a chance on them conceding a few more today as they host Luton Town in their first game of the new season.
Luton were pretty unlucky last year to miss out of the playoffs in their first season back in the football league and the bookies go 13/2 for them to improve further on that this year and make it to League One.
The loss of Mark Cullen, last seasons top scorer to Blackpool is a loss for Luton, absolutely no doubt about that, but where manager John Still has lost players, he has replaced them in impressive fashion.
Striker Josh McQuoid has joined from Bournemouth after never really featuring in the Championship winning side last year, but he’s been a goalscorer in the past at League One and Championship level and could well be a hit here at Luton in League Two.
The same can be said for ex-Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith who’s goalscoring ability seems to have dried up over recent seasons at a higher level but back down in League’s One and Two a few years ago the Scotsman was a prolific 20+ goals per season striker and he could well make a huge impact here for The Hatters. Add to these the likes of Dan Potts, a West Ham youngster, Jack Marriot who has joined from Ipswich, Danny Green joining from MK Dons and Paddy McCourt from Brighton and it’s pretty apparent that John Still is looking to take the League Two title this year with some very experienced and talented players.
For Accrington (who had 8 different keepers make an appearance in the league this season and have now signed two more for some reason) there hasn’t been too much activity. Signings have generally been made from lower league clubs and defensively they have lost some decent players with Nicky Hunt, Rob Atkinson and Luke Joyce having all parted ways with the club.
Stanley conceded 2 goals both home and away against Luton last season and given the activity over the summer, I just have to back Luton to bag a couple here at a big price.
BET: Luton Over 1.5 Team Goals at 7/4 with Coral
Chelsea vs Swansea (English Premier League)
Let’s be honest, this kind of picks itself doesn’t it really. Chelsea scored 9 goals across their two meetings with Swansea last season and they are widely tipped take the Premier League title again this year with every bookie out there making them a hot favourite.
The transfer window is yet to “slam shut” as Jim White would say so there is still time for Mourinho to add to his squad. So far this summer he’s been nowhere near as active as other Premier League managers spending just £17m compared to the likes of Man United who have spent £68m, Liverpool £77m and Man City £58m, but with a title winning squad and no real significant departures, why would he really need to change things?
The likes of Hazard and Oscar have looked pretty impressive in their pre-season games and though the results haven’t always been convincing, draws with the likes of PSG and Barcelona put them a class above teams like Swansea in my eyes.
Gary Monk’s side have gone undefeated in their pre-season preparations, but it has to be said that 4 of those resulted in a draw. Recent results also include a draw with Reading and Notts Forest and with only 1 clean sheet during their friendlies, their defence has proved questionable, and has also yet to be really tested.
Monk’s attacking addition of Eder from Braga is a great signing in my opinion, and it does mean Swansea may offer an attacking threat themselves in this game. But with so many options for Mourinho and the strength of this side I see nothing but a few Chelsea goals here given that they had the 2nd best attacking record in the Premier League last year meanwhile only Spurs and Palace from the top half of the table had a worse defensive record than Swansea.
BET: Chelsea Over 1.5 Team Goals at 4/9 with Coral
A £20 bet on the treble returns £128 with Coral
A £20 bet on the treble returns £128 with Coral