Go with a smile!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Football Betting Season 2 Weeks 12

Usually I would write about the times when I did not put down a bet, and congratulate myself on my prescience because a lot of predictions I made would have been wrong. This time, though, I have to talk about how I passed up some opportunities to make money.

Take last week’s matches for example. I would have supposed that Man U would have beaten Bolton, but I’m not sure. I would have supposed that Tottenham were better than Portsmouth, but I’m not sure. I would have taken Man City to beat Wigan, but I’m not sure.

Then there were matches I wasn’t sure about. Liverpool vs Sunderland, Chelsea vs Aston Villa, Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid, Mallorca vs Barcelona and Arsenal vs Birmingham. Except for the last one, the stronger team on paper won. And the last one was the one I had the most doubts about. So I could have ended up with a lot of money if I had bet on all these matches, and picked the stronger team to win. Except that I wasn’t sure about Chelsea, and had probably overestimated Aston Villa. Chelsea are very inconsistent but they are top of the table – says a lot about what the league is like this season, really. Well – more accurate to say that Chelsea’s form comes in spurts, with bad streaks alternating with streaks where they are just banging them in for fun.

This week, though, I reverted to the ultra cautious approach and only bet on Man City to beat Burnley. The match isn’t over as we speak, but I should be safe: Man City are up 0-4 after 20 minutes. It would be one of biggest upsets of all time if Man City fail to win this match. I might bet on Real Madrid to win Racing Santander, and why not, since they no longer have the Champion’s League to distract them from La Liga.

This week provides some evidence that you’re never completely sure that matches will go according to the form book. Aston Villa, so abject against Chelsea last week, managed to beat Bolton 0-1. Bolton were supposed to be more improved under Owen Coyle but they seem to be losing a lot of matches recently. Sunderland were thrashed by Liverpool but they broke Tottenham’s winning streak by beating them 3-1. Portsmouth were supposed to be relegated by now, but they held Blackburn 0-0. This is the same Blackburn which held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw a few weeks ago and made me lose $20. And Arsenal had to play 5 minutes of injury time before beating Wolves? No wonder they don’t exactly inspire confidence.

About the outcome of the Premier League, at the moment Chelsea are ahead. People used to say that Arsenal had the easiest run-in, but that’s no longer true. Man U, Chelsea and Arsenal no longer have to face each other, and each of them has to face exactly 2 of the 4th place contenders – (Liverpool, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Man City). Man U has lost Rooney. Arsenal has lost Fabregas, Gallas, Van Persie and Arshavin. The good news is that Barcelona will probably knock them out of the champion’s league and they can concentrate on the EPL. Chelsea should win the EPL if they don’t cock up between now and the end (and you know, that is a very big if). Man U can win it if Berbatov can perform (but he can’t). So it will be very close between the 3, although Arsenal is the least likely of the 3 to win it.

You know that the EPL is an absurd thing when one of the most compelling things is who will end up 4th. The favourites are Tottenham and Man City, but both of them have difficult run-ins. Which means that Aston Villa and Liverpool are still in it, although both of them have relatively lousy form at the moment.

Among the relegation candidates, it looks straightforward. Portsmouth and Burnley will be relegated. The last relegation place will most likely go to either West Ham or Hull, but it’s possible that Wigan and Bolton could make a “late charge” for the championship. It’s very amusing that West Ham is threatening to sue Fulham for not fielding their best 11 against Hull, because they had to pay 30 million pounds to Sheffield United a few years ago for illegally playing Carlos Tevez, who did more than any other West Ham player to avoid relegation.

There's one more thing that puzzles me about the EPL, and that is how a lot of Singaporeans use "we" to talk about their favourite team. To be fair, a lot of EPL club fans all over the world also talk about "we" too. If you're a Scouser and you go to the Kop every weekend, if you're the owner of a season pass, you can say, "we". But if you're just watching something on TV, then what gives? You wouldn't identify so closely with Chen Liping on your channel 8 serials, you're not even sure, when you watch Home United (oh the irony of that name) and you see a Brazilian pass the ball to a Camaroonian, whether they are "we". (But let's be fair to Home United - I just looked at their squad and it seems like they have comparatively few Singaporeans.)

I was at a gathering of a few classmates, and I wasn't a football fan when I was in school, so this was the time for me to find out for once who was with who. Well at least people follow the English tradition of having your own "club" and being a fan for life. There was an Everton fan, a Tottenham fan, a Man U fan and a Liverpool fan. You have to give them credit to sticking to English football after 1985 when English teams were no longer the best in Europe. But still, "we?" If you were talking about Fandi Ahmad and company, yes you could say "we". If you talked about the 90s when it seemed that Malaysia was going to catch up with Singapore, when people still went to Johor without the fear of getting beaten up, you could see Singapore vs (some State team) as a natural thing, you could have the wonderful Malaysia Cup where every match was a derby match.

In England, locality is very important. Especially if you were one of two teams that made up the same city (Manchester derby, Northeast derby, Merseyside derby, Birmingham derby, East Lancashire ie Blackburn- Burnley derby) you identified yourself by which tribe you belonged to. How do tribe affiliations measure up when it's a bunch of youngsters huddling in a pub thousands of miles away, or some old men pencilling some boxes onto an optical sheet, and then bringing those chits to a coffeeshop with a cable subscription?

I think there's so much talk about football - you don't really want people to talk too much about politics in Singapore, neither do you want them to be talking about religion, unless in a church or a mosque. You don't want them nosing around and talking about the economy, so what do they talk about? Ever noticed that they're a lot of people talking about football in Singapore, Thailand, Dubai - relatively prosperous countries which aren't really that democratic?

People talk about football because they want to avoid all these things. Because we were also talking about the integrated resort to these same guys, and one of them mentioned about the first law breaker at the casino. I said, "well they have a jail cell there, isn't it? The same one they used to put Chia Thye Poh in, just dump him there." There was a short, abrupt silence for a 1-2 seconds, and then the conversation continued somewhere else, but it was long enough, and noticeable enough for me to conclude that that wasn't quite something people wanted to comment on.



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