Chelsea’s Unbeaten Run in Context

Chelsea’s defeat at Newcastle United on Saturday may have seen their quest to become ‘invincibles’ and go the length of the Premier League season unbeaten come to an end but their achievement should not be underestimated. In starting the season in such fine form the Blues have opened up a three point cushion at the top of the table and, despite Saturday’s defeat, they will still be confident of winning the league for the first time since 2009/10.  A quick look at the odds would suggest that most punters still fancy the Blues too, with Betfair offering 1/2 and, if you stake £10 now, you could earn £30 of free bets.


Image by: In Mou We Trust 


We all know that Arsenal were the last team to be crowned ‘invincibles’ in 2003/04 and that they went on to win the league that year by 11 points from Chelsea but, after 15 games they were actually in a worse position than Chelsea are now. Despite not having lost, Arsenal were second in the table after 15 games, one point behind Chelsea, and they had only amassed 35 points. Chelsea are currently sitting on 36 points.

No Repeat for Arsene

Since the ‘Invincibles’ of 2003/04 two teams (other than Chelsea this season) have managed to start the campaign with a run of 14 unbeaten Premier League matches. In 2007/08 Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal were at it again, this time managing to go on a 15 game unbeaten run before, like Mourinho’s side, coming unstuck in the North East, losing 2-1 at Middlesboro. That season the Gunners tailed off, eventually finishing third behind Manchester United and Chelsea.

Everything to Play For

If Jose Mourinho is looking for inspiration he would do well to avoid looking back at Arsenal’s 2007/08 decline and should, instead focus on a more recent season. In 2011/12 Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City went 14 games unbeaten before a 3-2 defeat at Stamford Bridge. Unlike Arsene Wenger’s team, however, City were able to recover and eventually won the Premier League on goal difference from Manchester United. Whilst Mourinho will certainly be hoping that this season is not as tight a finish, he should take comfort in City’s achievement and remind his players that although the record may have gone, they still have everything to play for.


As It Stands: Who Are The Favourites And Do The Stats Back Them Up?


Are the stats in favour of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea?

cc by  Ronnie Macdonald 

It’s still relatively early days in the Premier League but, as we run up to Christmas, we can take a lot from some of the performances so far. We might be just about a third of the way through, however, a lot of what the teams are already telling us could dictate positions after 38 matches.

As with any league in football, things can quickly change. The Premier League isn’t known as one of the most exciting in the world due to constant one-horse or two-horse races. There is always competition for the top, be it from the old guard or a new team trying to break into the English elite.

As we’ve seen so far, many of the bigger clubs are already asserting themselves but surprise packages – such as Southampton, West Ham and Swansea – are also vying for top-four places. Whether they can maintain or improve their form into the murky depths of the season remains to be seen, whereas we know the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal, for example, can use their strength in depth when push comes to shove.

Top-spot holders Chelsea are firm favourites and the obvious choice. Don’t just listen to me though, the betting tips that can be found at betting.betfair agree. They’re 3/10 on, with closest rivals and current title holders City way back at 9/2. United are at 20/1, Arsenal at 49/1 and the odds get more and more distant from there.

Looking at the current league, will the biggest scorers get the chance to run away with it or will those with a tight ship be able to come good in the New Year?



The Champions League places are in perfect order of goals scored. Riding high are Chelsea with 30, City with 27 and Southampton and United joint with 24. Eleventh-place Everton are an anomaly with 23 goals putting them joint-fifth with West Ham in the ‘goals for’ stakes. But typically goals mean points.

Diego Costa

Chelsea’s Diego Costa scores goals for fun

ccby  cfcunofficial

City’s Sergio Aguero leads the individual stats with a stunning 12 goals so far and he is closely followed by Chelsea’s Diego Costa with 11. The top-two teams have the top-two finishers and again that shows the correlation between finding the net and league success.


Keeping them out

Third-place Southampton have kept themselves in the running by not conceding many up until a 3-0 drubbing by City last weekend. In 13 games, they haven’t yet reached double figures in goals against, with only nine getting past their defence and first-choice goalkeeper Fraser Forster. This is indicative of how they’ve played and how deserving they are of the spot. Top-place Chelsea have conceded 11, with second-place City conceding 13.

Oddly, neither the first-place nor second-place teams feature in the top three for clean sheets. Southampton’s Forster rides high with seven in the league, meaning he has conceded in less than half of his matches so far. Swansea are holding on to a decent spot with six clean sheets. The fractured nature of clean sheets shows that while defence is key, it is goalscoring that is the main player in 2014.

Chelsea are scoring in abundance and keeping their goals against tally down low. Though it’s not always a clean sheet, they can rely on their firepower to deliver when they need it to get them out of trouble. An uninspiring performance recently against Sunderland shouldn’t change things too much. What they’re doing is working and the smart money would be on the London side this year. It just so happens that the numbers agree.

The Scottish football stat that proves competition there is dead

It has gone somewhat unnoticed and under the radar this week but a quick check of the Scottish Premiership table reveals a couple of surprising names at the top.

Celtic, surely?  I hear you ask. Well, no. Sitting pretty in first place after 12 games are, in fact, Dundee United. A point behind in second is, of course, Celtic… Got to be, right? Well, er, actually, wrong again.

The mighty Hamilton are in second place with Celtic having to settle for third at the moment.

Now, before you think I’m going to be making a case for a shock winner of the title north of the border this season and talk enthusiastically about the demise of the Hoops, I’ll stop you right there.

Yes the table has an unfamiliar look about it and, yes, things have not quite gone as well as Celtic boss Ronny Deila would have liked so far in 2014-15 but this is no time for either the Terrors or the Accies to start celebrating finally breaking the Old Firm SPL monopoly because, sadly, unromantically and simply put, it aint gonna happen. It’s a safe verdict that a quick check of the Scottish football betting odds will back up.

So, that damning statistic that hopefully drew you in in the headline is this:

No other club, apart from Rangers or Celtic, has triumphed overall in the Scottish top flight since 1985.

That’s 29 years. Twenty-nine. A whole generation has grown up, probably got married, bought a house and is now worried about some unwelcome grey hairs as they approach their third decade since someone other than the big two from Glasgow came out on top. Aberdeen’s victory back then came during what must surely be looked back upon as a ‘golden age’ for Scottish football with the Dons also securing the title the year before, while United had won it in 1983.

However, since then, nothing. Nothing for Motherwell, Hibs, Hearts or even Inverness Caledonian Thistle to get overly excited about because, as most football fans know, the title ‘race’ in Scotland has been contested by just two horses since then and, since Rangers’ recent demise in 2012 due to financial problems, only one.

Celtic are that far ahead of the rest of the pack – both on and off the pitch – that they will eventually go on to win the title, probably in April, by a margin in excess of 10 points. And they will achieve this without ever really needing to be at their best with a squad full of some journeymen European players, a sprinkling of genuine young talent and a smattering of experienced old heads who know what it takes to see off the ‘challenge’ of other clubs to finish top. Namely, not an awful lot.

Yes, football is unpredictable at times. Celtic may even lose 1-0 at home to St Johnstone, Partick or St Mirren in January and for a brief moment other clubs might fancy their chances. Then reality will bite and normal service will be resumed.

Because normal service in Scotland means that only either Celtic and Rangers ever win the title nowadays. That damning stat proves it. Dundee United and Hamilton might be enjoying their week in the top spots but even they know it won’t last.

Pogba to become world’s best midfielder

Paul Pogba has used the World Cup in Brazil as opportunity to shine on the global stage and establish himself as one of the most talented young players in the sport.

The Juventus midfielder will be hoping to help his side win the competition for only the second time in their history, in which they are now just single figures to do so with Betfair.

In two years’ time France will host Euro 2016, and along with Pogba, should be at their peak. The 21-year old may possibly be the best midfielder in the world, if he continues to improve. Les Bleus could be a good bet to win that tournament in their own back yard, especially if they go all the way in Brazil as their odds will shorten with Betfair.

There have been comparisons with Pogba and his French compatriot Patrick Vieira due their height, however, the Juventus man is much better player with the ball at his feet.

After the World Cup, the Frenchman will have to make a big decision about his future as there are a number of clubs queuing up to put an offer on the table for his services. One of those interesting parties is thought to be Chelsea who won’t be put off by his £50 million price tag.

A move to the Blues would see him to return to England as he spent four years at Manchester United as a youngster. Limited first-team opportunities under Sir Alex Fergusons forced him out of Old Trafford, a decision the former United boss must regret, even to this day.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is in the process of rebuilding a team at Stamford Bridge after their trophyless season last year. He has already added Cesc Fabregas to his squad but he won’t be afraid to spend more cash if he believed Pogba was interested in the move as it would be a smart investment for his club.

Juventus will be playing Champions League football next campaign where they can be backed with Betfair so a move is not necessary for Pogba to play at the highest level. A lot will depend on whether he fancies another shot at the Premier League or if he is currently happy in Italy. Mourinho has a good record of improving younger players so he may see the opportunity as a way of developing under the Portuguese coach.

No quick fix for Sunderland problems – Poyet (Guest Article)

The Unibet mobile betting news has reported that Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has warned the club’s fans they need to be patient but has assured them they will be happy in the long run.

Poyet took over from Paolo Di Canio in October after the eccentric Italian was sacked for overseeing a poor start to the season. The Black Cats lost four of their first five games to sit bottom of the Premier League.

Poyet watched Sunderland lose 4-0 at Swansea in his first game in charge, a result which left them stranded on one point eight games in.Gus Poyet

The Uruguayan quickly endeared himself to the Sunderland faithful with wins over bitter rivals Newcastle and Manchester City. However, his side continue to struggle away from home.

Poyet is trying to introduce a new way of playing, with an emphasis on retaining possession. He insisted Sunderland’s problems would not disappear overnight.

“We need everyone’s patience because the players are playing a different way,” the former Brighton manager said.

“I want the team to learn to be calmer, to pass the ball better. It is going to take time to get this way of football going but trust me, the fans will like it in the end.”

Sunderland ultimately picked up in August where they left off last term, when they finished just a place above the relegation zone.

Poyet aimed a dig at his predecessors, the likes of Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill.

“Whatever style has been used here for the last two years has not worked well because the club has just done enough to not be relegated,” he added.

“I know the fans want us to come out flying and score in the first five minutes of the game, but that is not going to happen. We have the players here to pass the ball and retain possession and that is what I am wanting them to do.”