A new season awaits us, which can only mean one thing: Roker Riches is back! Over the course of the 2013/14 campaign, our writers will go head to head to try and pick out some winning bets week in, week out. As reigning Champion, I'll be looking to defend my crown, but I'll face stern competition from my fellow writers, with the exception of head honcho Simon Walsh, who is terrible at betting.
For those unfamiliar, we each start with a virtual £10, which we spend on two bets each week. The first bet must involve Sunderland's game, while the second bet can be placed on any other football happening in the world that weekend. The winner at the end of the season will be the tipster who's made the biggest profit.
So, with further ado, let's see who we've plumped for during the first week of Sunderland's season.
Continuing my trend from last season, I'm plumping for two singles today. Sunderland start off their campaign against a Fulham team that looks unbalanced, and who certainly won't match the home side for effort. Therefore I'm putting my hopes in a Di Canio's 'revolution' getting off to the best possible start.
Nice got off to a horrible start last weekend when they were beaten 4-0 at Lyon. However there 4th place finish last season shows they're a better side than that, and I'd expect them to kick-start their season with a win at home to Rennes.
- Sunderland to beat Fulham - 5/4 - £3 stake
- Nice to beat Rennes - 13/10 - £5 stake
I vaguely remember having a modicum of success with some bets on the Argentinian Primera División last season and since their season is under way, there is some sort of form to go with when carefully selecting - or as I like to call it, guessing randomly - which way the results might go. San Lorenzo have won their opening two games and have a touch of quality up front and should have far too much for relegation strugglers Argentinos Juniors at home. Although Newell's start their campaign late, they're up against a thus far poor Belgrano side who have midweek action in the Sudamericana to contend with. Arsenal de Sarandí should prove to be too strong for newly promoted Olimpo despite starting this season with two rather drab draws.
As far as Sunderland are concerned, I fancy Fulham to struggle this season despite possessing quality in the form of Dimitar Berbatov. Last season, despite the rather negative management of O'Neill, 8 goals were scored across the two meetings between the two sides and with Di Canio's more cavalier approach there should be goals. For that reason I'm going for Sunderland to win with 5 or more goals in the game.
- Sunderland to win and 5 or more goals in the match - 10/1 - £1 Stake
- San Lorenzo, Newell's Old Boys and Arsenal de Sarandí to win - 4/1 - £5 Stake
I was all ready to kick off the new season's competition with some in-depth research into this weekend's opening fixture for Sunderland, I really was. I delved deep into the various markets, perusing the likes of under 2.5 goals, time of first goal etc. in a bid to unearth some real value. Then it hit me. It was so obvious. With odds of 5/4 for a Sunderland win, one which is well within the grasp of a Di Canio side that is surely champing at the bit to get going, there was no need to look any further. Home win for me.
Elsewhere I am going to keep things simple with a small odds double, starting with Liverpool who start their campaign with a home tie against Stoke. While Suarez's future hogs all the headlines I believe they will have too much for a Stoke side which could well struggle this term. My second selection is Nottingham Forest, who have started well this term and I would back them to just come out on top in a tight encounter with Bolton Wanderers.
- Sunderland to win - 5/4 - £2.50 Stake
- Liverpool & Nottingham Forest both to win - 3.17 - £2.50 Stake
We have to witness some trivial 2-0 wins at home this season. The ones where you turn up and see what should be a textbook home performance against an average Premier League side. I've forgotten what they're like. Off to a flyer on Saturday.
Elsewhere, I think all the 'top' teams will fancy their title chances this year because of Ferguson's retirement, and Man Utd themselves will want to portray things as business as usual. All should come straight out the blocks.
- Sunderland to win 2-0 - 11/1 - £5 Stake
- Chelsea, Man City, Spurs and Man Utd all to win - 5.30 - £5 Stake
With lots of new signings comes lots of uncertainty, to an extent. Whilst there has been noticeable improvements in Sunderland's style of play and physical conditioning in pre-season, how that translates to competitive action remains to be seen. So, we'll go with one of the new boys to get us off and running.
In other football, we're looking for goals - well at least twelve.
In West Bromwich Albion, Southampton, Swansea City, Manchester United, Bournemouth, Wigan Athletic, Reading and Watford we have teams that are all capable of finding the net, and rather than opting for the 'Both Teams To Score' market, there is a little more value in there being more than 2.5 goals in the respective fixtures.
- Emanuele Giaccherini to score at any time - 11/2 - £5 Stake
- West Brom/Southampton, Swansea/Man Utd, Bournemouth/Wigan, Reading/Watford, all games to have over 2.5 goals - 9.84 - £5 Stake
Luke did leave a lovely holding note here for me and was ready to publish it, however I have returned from Julio's house and unfortunately he won't be signing for us on a free transfer as I had wished (and as per Luke's little paragraph). However he does occasionally wander his house with his bathrobe open, which is a delight for anyone in a neighbouring bush with a telescopic lense on their camera.
Anyway, back to the real business of losing money. Luke's comment in the opener is certainly accurate as I am abysmal at this, although I'll still partake.
Fulham always seem to give us a bit of bother. So I'm going for a draw. A high-scoring 2-2 draw, which comes in handily priced at 16/1.
Elsewhere a treble on some of the big boys appeals at odds of 5/1. Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham all to win please Mr Bookkeep!
- Sunderland Vs Fulham 2-2 Draw - 16/1 - £5 Stake
- Liverpool, Manchester United & Tottenham Hotspur all to win - 5/1 - £5 Stake
Now, I'll just start this off by saying I'm really really rubbish at betting; I hardly ever bother gambling, so if some of my picks look like they were made by someone picking bets at random, that's probably cause they were.
So, with confidence in my tipster credentials doubtless now sky high I've decided to go for Sunderland to beat Fulham 2-1. With Paolo Di Canio having informed the Sunderland squad that scoring goals is now an activity that they are allowed to participate in, I'm actually going to put money on the lads scoring not one but TWO whole goals. Just to balance out that craziness, I'm also predicting we'll concede one. With a talented, if incredibly flaky, bunch of attackers Fulham do seem likely to score goals, even if I doubt they'll ever avoid conceding them.
Away from Sunderland, I've decided to lump some more money on Spurs winning away at Selhurst Park. Crystal Palace looked pretty ordinary in the Championship last year, so I'm hoping that a well-strengthened Spurs (even without Gareth Bale) should be able to thump a few past them. Are the odds good? With my maths I literally don't know. I suspect not, but I'll put £3 on it anyway.
- Sunderland to win 2-1 - 9/1 - £5 stake.
- Tottenham to win and over 2.5 goals to be scored in match - 17/10 - £3 stake