Jones Knows betting column: Manchester United 5/1 for top four finish? Yes please!
Last Updated: 14/11/19 11:42am
What betting opportunities are out there? If anyone knows, Jones Knows.
There was a time where backing a 25/1 winner would have triggered dangerous levels of carnage.
Like the infamous 'double-dip' day where after landing the Placepot at Sandown racecourse in the afternoon, a beer-fuelled decision was made to try and double the winnings pot at Kempton that evening. Things didn't go exactly to plan. We left penniless and I ended up waking up in the back seat of my car, alone.
Or when I landed my first football accumulator win as a student and decided to spend the lot that night hiring a pink limousine from Bedford to London, in order to impress a young lady. Although the limousine broke down on the way home, it was an investment that had long-term benefits as she would eventually become Mrs Jones Knows.
So, when the final whistle sounded at the King Power on Saturday that confirmed the 25/1 winner of Jamie Vardy scoring first for Leicester in a 2-0 win for Jones Knows, I was expecting my brain to run wild with ways to celebrate.
What actually transpired shocked me. My brain instantly went to a dark place. Somewhere that scared me.
My brain quipped: "Get in. I can now splash out on that air freshener wall plug that smells like Christmas."
I think I'm slowly becoming an adult....please make it stop.
At least Vardy's having a party...
Another goal for Vardy was also good news for those on the 2pts recommendation at 16/1 pre-season that he'd top the top Premier League goalscorer charts.
In fact, on the whole, our ante-post picks are sitting pretty. Excuse more trumpet blowing here but Leicester to finish top six (1pt at 4/1) and Norwich to finish bottom (1pt at 11/2) do leave us in a strong ante-post position at this stage. Although, in the fairness of balanced reporting, it's probably right that I mention I also tipped Tottenham to finish second in the Premier League behind Manchester City. Whoops.
With confidence oozing from the ante-post picks, it seems the perfect time to add another longer-term bet to the portfolio as I haven't been selected for international duty.
Read on for the selection.
Remember, whatever I tip, I back. We're in this together, comrades. Do check out the Profit & Loss record for full clarity on the results. Current returns are: +13 pts.
Dim the lights, it's time to see if Jones Knows...
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has gathered control of the Manchester United wheel once again. And he's certainly driving them forward.
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Yes, United currently sit nine points off the Champions League places but at the current prices offered, they are certainly worth backing to chase down Leicester and Chelsea in the next six months. High-profile defeats away from home against Newcastle and West Ham United have set the public tone on Solskjaer's side. Crisis this. Crisis that.
However, if you take an overall view on United's first 12 games, there is plenty to be positive about.
Unlike two of their big-six rivals, Arsenal and Tottenham, who are strangely shorter in the betting to finish in the top four, Solskjaer has a philosophy that is yielding results. If you asked Maurico Pochettino and Unai Emery to name their best eleven, my guess is you'd be greeted with blank faces. In comparison, Solskjaer could reel his off in a blink of an eye.
Top four odds (Sky Bet)
United's philosophy of being defensively solid without the ball and super speedy in transition with a front-line full of pace, trickery and quality has been too much for both Leicester and Chelsea this season, winning all three meetings across all competitions.
Despite this parish tipping the Foxes for a top-six finish at the start of the campaign, the 1/2 on offer for them to sustain a top-four push does look woefully short on some of their performance data which tells the story that Brendan Rodgers' side are over performing on what those numbers would usually expect.
Charlie Nicholas' international predictions
England, Scotland, Rep of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales all in action this weekend
You can flip that when it comes to United, who are underperforming in terms of points picked up so far.
The performance data suggests that United can feel a little bit hard done by to be nine points off the top four. A look at the expected goals data shows that a total of 20.71 'expected goals for' is the fourth highest in the Premier League. I'd expect that increase over the coming weeks, too, judging on the swagger and confidence on show in the 3-1 win over Brighton on Sunday, where Marcus Rashford and Daniel James looked in top form.
And this level of performance has been achieved without Paul Pogba in the engine room - he's expected to be fit next month. With him back and fully focused, United do have a strong spine.
It's the defensive data evidence that makes me rate their chances of catching the top four much shorter than 5/1, hence my interest in investing.
In their 12 matches, their 'expected goals against' is just 11.84, which is the second strongest record in the division, only behind runaway leaders Liverpool.
In Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, especially, they possess genuine quality in their own half and it was not long ago that David de Gea was without question the best goalkeeper in the world. His form has dropped slightly but over the course of the season, he'll win more points than he loses for Solskjaer's men.
When you throw in the serious possibility of Solskjaer strengthening in January and the natural improvement from the younger members of his squad through the experience of playing first-team football, I'm happy to take a swing at the 5/1.
Leicester and Chelsea, watch your backs. Ole is coming up the rail.
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