Nuno’s dream fast becoming a reality

If you have had the pleasure of watching Wolves play, whether it be at home or away, at some stage you will hear their fans singing about how their manager Nuno Espirito Santo had a dream. The start of it goes, ‘Nuno had a dream, to build a football team,’ other notable points in the song refer to their wealthy Chinese owners as well as a wonder kid from Porto who is Ruben Neves.

After Wolves’ impressive start to the season, it’s fair to say that this dream of Nuno’s is fast becoming a reality if it hadn’t already after they blitzed the Championship last season. The Portuguese manager has arrived in the Premier League with his Wolves side and instead of just trying to survive by frustrating the opposition, he has instead taken the game to the established teams in the top flight and isn’t only bloodying a few noses but leaving teams knocked spark out on the canvas.


The Wanderers are playing an exciting brand of football and the results are paying dividends with wins over Southampton and West Ham, and a draw at Manchester United all in the month of September. This fine form has seen Nuno named September’s Manager of the Month which is just reward for an exceptional run that has seen Wolves collect 10 points from a possible 12.

Right now, Wolves lie in seventh position in the league table and only five points behind league leaders Manchester City. When assessing the Premier League odds for the 2018/19 winner you instantly see City are favourites at 4/6 but could Wolves be considered realistic title challengers? It’s a question that is likely to be scoffed at but no one would have predicted Wolves would have only lost once after eight games having played the likes of Everton, Man City, and Manchester United.

Nuno’s men were able to hold Guardiola’s City to a draw at Molineux in August and it was then that those who didn’t already know what Wolves were about would quickly find out. Vincent Kompany waxed lyrical about Wolves after that game and said that they would take points off City’s rivals. It looks like Kompany was on the money with his assessment and Wolves aren’t likely to fall off the pace dramatically like promoted teams seem do after they hit the ground running in the Premier League, only for the wheels to fall off.


In fact, the only impending disaster at Wolves could be Nuno being poached by a bigger club. There were whispers that the board at Manchester United were massive admirers of the 44-year-old and would like him at some stage to take over at Old Trafford.

With chaos reigning at Old Trafford, you just never know what could happen next. There’s very little chance that Nuno would be out of his depth either and his straight-talking style would leave few in any doubt as to who was boss. For now, the Wolves dream goes on with their leader Nuno steering them towards big things.


Leading 2018/19 Champions League contenders

This season’s exciting Champions League group stage has reached a pivotal point and there are plenty of top European giants still battling hard to edge closer towards achieving the greatest feat available in club football.

All of the leading contenders and key names are still very much on track for outright supremacy this current campaign but there can only be one victor who gets their hands on that world famous trophy come next year.

So, here are the main contenders for this season’s Champions League crown after such a dramatic start to proceedings in Europe’s elite club competition.

Real Madrid

Los Blancos are the reigning and defending champions, after rallying to an incredible three consecutive European Cup crowns in recent years, and they are 10/1 with bet365 in the football betting to prevail again for a fourth straight season.

That monumental success came under former boss and club legend Zinedine Zidane though, and it’s now the turn of previous Spain international coach Julen Lopetegui to help guide Real Madrid to even more glory.

They are also without all-time club top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who left for Juventus during the summer transfer window, but they can still call on the likes of Gareth Bale, Isco, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos to help battle for more honours throughout the season.

Manchester City

Josep Guardiola 0525 by Thomas Rodenbücher (CC BY 2.0)

Manchester City rallied to a dominant Premier League victory last season under the guidance of Spanish tactician Pep Guardiola, who has instilled a dynamic attacking approach at the Etihad.

The European Cup still manages to elude the Sky Blues, despite their domestic dominance in England’s top-flight division.

Will this finally be their season in the Champions League? They have plenty of star-studded talent capable of going all the way, that’s for sure.


There’s one key component that makes Juventus worth backing during this current term in the Champions League and that’s the fact that they signed arguably the greatest player ever to feature in the competition. That being the capturing of all-time Champions league hitman Ronaldo, who sensationally arrived in Turin for a huge transfer sum.

Alongside the likes of Paulo Dybala and co, the Portuguese ace has enough quality around him to win the competition for a remarkable fourth term in a row.


Can French giants PSG finally end their long wait for European glory? They have long been known for their financial power, but they want to put that to bed and become regarded for their dominance on the pitch instead.

Brazilian star Neymar is always the top dog within their squad, but they also have the biggest young talent in world football in the form of 2018 World Cup winning France frontman Kylian Mbappe. Watch this space.


With a certain Lionel Messi still within their glittering attacking ranks, Barcelona can simply never be written off.

The Catalan club will have an even bigger incentive to prevail outright with the current holders being bitter rivals and La Liga opponents Real Madrid. This could well prove to be Barca’s season if they continue their fine form.

Europe’s Professional Football Leagues: A Layman’s Guide

Despite the fact that soccer has often be thought of as a British game, Europe has certainly caught football fever far beyond the English Channel. With the likes of France, Germany, Spain and Italy all having their own major professional football leagues, keeping up with which is which and what you can expect from the teams and the players is a struggle for more casual fans. Whether you’re looking for a quick overview or you’re looking to get involved with European soccer, we’re taking it back to basics and exploring Europe’s best leagues, below.

Premier League

The Premier League first formed in 1992 when 20 of England’s best teams came together to play a league of their own. With the top four teams qualifying for the UEFA Championships and the fifth qualifying for the UEFA Europa League, it remains the most important domestic league in the UK. From the introduction of World Cup goalscorer Harry Kane to the fame of Newcastle’s investment in Michael Owen, the Premier League has seen its fair share of highlights and remains one of the most watched leagues in all of Europe to date.

Ligue 1

Ligue 1, also known as ‘League 1’, is France’s answer to the Premier League. In fact, it even works on the same 20-club promotion and relegation system as the aforementioned British offering. Teams will play 38 matches each, split between home and away matches in a face -to-face in the leading football competition in the country. Ligue 1 has provided us with the successful AS Saint-Etienne, and Paris Saint-Germain, current league champions.

La Liga

As one of the top leagues in Europe, La Liga has attracted millions of viewers from all over the globe. With the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating the league table on a regular basis whilst showcasing extraordinary skill, it’s easy to get caught up in the Spanish alternative to the Premier League. Even shock losers Betis aren’t to be ignored, with the potential to soar through the rankings with a few good goals on their belt.


Bundesliga is the German equivalent to the other domestic leagues on this list and features some of the best teams Europe has on offer. From Dortmund to RB Leipzig, the Bundesliga has offered the Europa league some star teams worthy of a place amongst the ranks. This season’s champions are currently Bayern, but Wolfsburg and Hertha certainly aren’t far behind. The league even has one of the highest stadium attendance records worldwide, a worthy title to hold considering that football has quickly become a TV-based sport for most.

Serie A

Serie A is the Italian equivalent of the aforementioned leagues, playing in a round-robin format against one another twice. Serie A has seen format changes aplenty, with the league switching between 18 clubs in 1929-1934, through to 16 in 1934, 20 in 1946, 21 in 1947, 20 in 1948, 18 in 1952, 16 in 1967, 18 in 1988 and finally, 20 in 2004 which is the state it remains in to this day. The table leaders Juventus have dominated the league with 34 titles to their name and with the recent signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, it is clear that Juventus will continue to dominate the league for years to come.

Despite being the domestic leagues, the Premier League, Ligue 1, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga offer millions of fans some nail-biting gameplay every single year. Patching up the time between the UEFA Championships and the UEFA Europa League, domestic football gives local fans the chance to stand behind their favourite teams and players and cheer them all the way to victory for the chance to get their hands on European championship cups. Which will you watch?

5 Sep, 18 | Posted in: Articles | Comments Closed

Arsenal v City – More than just an Opening Day Blockbuster

Even though it has been several weeks since the release of the fixture list, the gravity of some opening day fixtures is not lost on anyone. It seems somewhat fitting that – albeit alphabetically – Arsenal vs. Manchester City should stand proudly atop the list.


City to ruin Emery debut

Despite Arsenal having home advantage, with an atmosphere bolstered by the presence of Unai Emery on the touchline, City are odds-on, or at least at evens, across the board to take the points. In one case, the champions are a mere 13/2 to beat Arsenal by at least three goals.

With Manchester City also having ‘trophy specials’ prior to 2018/19, there are no prizes for guessing which team the bookmakers have their own money on.

Unquestionably, from a betting perspective, this match will be the main draw of 2018/19’s opening weekend, especially those that want to use a free bet calculator after including the match in an accumulator. The match will mark the twentieth time that Arsenal FC has opened a Premier League (PL) season on North London turf.

Goals galore at the Grove?

Openers at Arsenal seldom want for goals, and with an outcome yielding over 2.5 goals odds-on across the board, this could easily be a classic. Only one of the nineteen Highbury/Emirates PL openers to date has produced a 0-0 draw; namely, when the Gunners hosted Sunderland in 2012.

A repeat of that 0-0 scoreline, between Arsenal and City, is priced at an average of 352/25 in current correct score markets. By contrast, three or more goals will see Arsenal become the first Premier League club to host over 100 opening day goals.

Though Arsenal F.C has been granted an extraordinary number of home openers in the PL era, it has not always gone to plan for the Gunners.

The Manchester City of 2018 is an entirely different entity from what it once was but, for what it is worth, this is the second time the fixture computer has fated City to open at Arsenal in the PL era. The first occasion was in 1994 when Arsenal strolled to a 3-0 win against a club about to embark on a Lucifer-esque fall from grace through the leagues.

With the tally currently at 97, the average per game is 5.10. An aggregate score involving seven or more goals will also make it the third season in succession that the Emirates has seen such a goalfest unfold – unheard of in the age of offside and (now) VAR!

Curse of the champions – a new phenomenon

Despite finishing 2017/18 with 100 points, Pep Guardiola’s nigh-unplayable Manchester City squad has plenty of reason to be wary. The reigning PL champions from a previous season have now lost in successive years for the first time ever. Indeed, it was not until 2016 that any champion (Leicester) lost a PL opener.

A failure for City to win will make it four years in a row that a reigning champion has failed to win an opener, with three already a record in any case. Regardless of the newly-impoverished record of reigning champions on the opening day, the club is on a run of seven straight opening day wins.

Pep Guardiola can also take encouragement from City’s recent PL record in away openers under the Khaldoon Al Mubarak regime.

City squads have scored twice as many (10) as they have conceded (5) on away openers during that time. If the 4-2 away defeat to Aston Villa (August 2008) is taken out of the equation, City squads have conceded just 0.2 goals per opening day road trip since 2009.

The 5 Best Squads Ever to Play in the Premier League

There can be no denying Manchester City were the deserved winners of the 2017/18 Premier League title.  Not only did they win the league, they did it in style, playing some fantastic football and ending the season on 100 points.

Pep Guardiola’s team finished with 106 goals to their name, 19 points ahead of 2nd placed Manchester United and with 22 more points than Liverpool, who have been praised this season for their excellent attacking play.  Not only that, Manchester City conceded fewer goals than any other team in the Premier League, finishing with a plus 79 goal difference.

Therefore, it is little wonder many fans of football, including the contributors of this recent article on the Betway blog, have lauded the 2017/18 Manchester City team as being up there with the best we have seen since the league was formed in 1992.

Statistically speaking, the newly crowned Premier League champions certainly seem to be the best ever to play in the league.  They won more points, scored more goals, had the best goal difference, won by the greatest margin and picked up the most wins of any title winning team to date.

Yes, this was a manager and group of players put together at huge cost but throwing money at a team does not guarantee success and the way Manchester City have played this season has been superb.



However, they have lost games, including a defeat at Anfield against Liverpool and at home to local rivals Manchester United.  This is perhaps their one main failing of the season and why the Arsenal team of 2003/04 is regarded by many as being the best to every play in the Premier League.

That was the only time since the turn of the 19th century a team has gone the whole season without tasting defeat.  The defence must take huge credit as this is where many long undefeated runs are based but Arsenal were an incredible attacking force, with Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp forging a great partnership up-front.  Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg also had major roles to play from wide midfield and Sol Campbell was the key man at the back.

To go a full Premier League season unbeaten, along with other commitments in the domestic cups and Europe, is a phenomenal achievement and one we may not see again for a very long time.

When assessing Manchester City’s point haul for this season, one cannot help but look back at the Chelsea squad of 2004/05.  This was Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge at Stamford Bridge and the defensive quality of the team was astounding as they went on to set the record for the highest points total of 95 prior to the 100 achieved by Manchester City this season.

Claude Makelele was the fulcrum of this team and allowed the forwards to break with freedom while providing cover to the defence when necessary. Chelsea conceded only 15 goals in winning the title that season, keeping 25 clean sheets in the process.  For those who enjoy the defensive side of the game, this Chelsea team was a masterclass.

When discussing the 5 best squads to every play in the Premier League, it is impossible to ignore Manchester United.  The Red Devils tasted great success under Sir Alex Ferguson and two squads in particular come to mind, starting with the 2007/08 team.

This is a team who had a bit of everything, a top goalkeeper in Edwin van der Sar, the central defensive partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic plus Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez further forward.

Ferguson came into his own with his tactical brilliance throughout the season and while Manchester United only finished 2 points clear of Chelsea, they went on to lift the Champions League.

Finally, we come to the 1998/99 Manchester United squad who swept all before them at home and abroad.  They finished above Arsenal to win the Premier League title on the final day of the season, coming from a goal behind to defeat Tottenham 2-1 on the final day of the campaign.  A 2-1 win over Newcastle United in the FA Cup followed before the dramatic injury time victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.

It was the first time in history an English team had completed the treble and with the level of competition so high in the Premier League and Champions League now, we may never see the likes of it again.

Chelsea fans may feel they have another squad who should be included in the list and Leicester City produced the biggest upset we have seen in years to win the title in 2016/16.  However, the 5 squads mentioned above must be considered the best ever to play in the Premier League.