BILLY BUNTER

Weblog: The football punter

Better late than never
for title contenders

Crucial late goals were a feature of Euro 2016 and that trend is continuing in early Premier League fixtures.

Marcus Rashford struck in injury-time to deny Hull a point against 1-2 favourites Manchester United while title rivals Chelsea, against Watford and West Ham, and Manchester City (against Sunderland) have also scored vital late winners.

Jose Mourinho praised the intensity with which United kept attacking the massed ranks of Hull’s defence on Saturday and Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola seem to be instilling similar attitudes at their new clubs – something that in-play punters, as well as opposition managers, should note.

2 Tykes taking step up in their stride
Barnsley have enjoyed a marvellous 2016, winning the Sky Bet League One playoffs after a sensational run of results, and after five games in the Championship they are the division’s highest scorers.

Saturday’s 4-0 win over Rotherham made it three out of three at Oakwell, with nine goals from nine different players. Defeats at Ipswich (4-2) and Huddersfield (2-1) were also high-scoring and they look a team to follow for goals backers.

3 Championship jollies starting to motor
Another team finding their feet in the Championship are Newcastle, whose 2-0 home win over Brighton was their third in a row after two early setbacks.

It was a good day all round for the 15-8 title favourites as the next three in the betting (opponents Brighton, Norwich and Aston Villa) all lost and they confirmed the signing of Daryl Murphy – top scorer in the second tier in 2014-15.

4 Potters struggle to sparkle in open play
Stoke scored 41 goals in 38 league games last season – comfortably the lowest tally of any top-half team – and their struggles are continuing.

Their only goals this season have been a free kick from Xherdan Shaqiri and a generously-awarded penalty converted by Bojan Krkic against Manchester City.

5 League One looks a competitive heat

Millwall, thumped 5-1 at Peterborough, have won their next two games while Gillingham, thrashed 5-0 by Scunthorpe, earned ten points from their other four matches.

And Southend, who were 3-0 up inside 15 minutes in their win at Sheffield United, have taken just one point from the other 12 available.

The division is a real puzzle for punters at the moment. 

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Match in Focus

19:45 We 31Aug BT2

Germany v Finland

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Finland have scored just three goals in their last eight games
Expert verdict
Germany kept clean sheets in three of their five matches in Euro 2016 but they don’t have a great track record of shutouts against Finland. The Scandinavians have scored against their illustrious hosts in four of their five meetings since 2000. That said, the current Finnish outfit are without a win in eight games and haven’t scored in five of their last six outings.