Northern Monkey Punter

UK Football ante post 2021/22

Here are my ante post football bets for the forthcoming season;

  • (2/8/21) - Championship - Bournemouth to be promoted 3/1 Coral
  • (2/8/21) - League One - MK Dons outright 20/1 Paddy Power, 18/1 Hills, Bet Victor, EW (3 places, 1/4 odds)
  • (2/8/21) - League One - MK Dons to be promoted 6/1 Paddy Power, Bet Victor, 11/2 Hills
  • (2/8/21) - League One - MK Dons top six finish 9/4 Coral
    (2/8/21) - League Two - Bradford City outright 14/1 Bet 364, 12/1 Bet Victor, 11/1 Coral, EW (3 places, 1/4 odds)
  • (23/7/21) - League Two - Bradford City to be promoted 10/3 Bet 365, 3/1 William Hill, Paddy Power, Betfred
  • (6/8/21) - League Two - Andy Cook top goalscorer 20/1 Bet 365 EW (4 places, 1/4 odds)
  • (23/7/21) - National League - Wrexham to be promoted 11/4 Bet Victor, 5/2 Betfred, 9/4 William Hill


Acca 1 (pays 36.53/1 with Coral) - (2/8/21)

  • Crystal Palace to be relegated (Premier League)
  • Bournemouth top six finish (Championship) 
  • MK Dons top six finish (League One)
  • Bradford top seven finish (League Two) 

Acca 2 (pays 34.66/1 with Coral) - (2/8/21)

  • Brentford top promoted team (Premier League)
  • Bournemouth top six finish (Championship)
  • MK Dons top six finish (League One)
  • Bradford top seven finish (League Two)

Acca 3 (pays 298/1 with Coral) - (2/8/21)

  • Bournemouth to be promoted (Championship)
  • MK Dons to be promoted (League One)
  • Bradford to be promoted (League Two)
  • Wrexham to be promoted (National League)

Acca 4 (pays 5.41/1 with Bet 365) - (6/8/21)

  • Chelsea top London club (Premier League regional bets)
  • West Brom top Midlands club (Championship regional bets)
  • Bradford top Northern club (League Two regional bets)

Acca 5 (pays 10/1 with Bet 365, all seasonal match bets) - (6/8/21)

  • Aston Villa to finish above Wolves (PL)
  • Brighton to finish above Palace (PL)
  • Bournemouth to finish above Millwall (Championship)
  • Fulham to finish above QPR (Championship)
  • Sheff Utd to finish above Barnsley (Championship)
  • Reading to finish above Bristol City (Championship)
  • Accrington to finish above Morecambe (League One)
  • Charlton to finish above AFC Wimbledon (League One)

Acca 6 (pays 9.38/1 with Bet 365, all top team goalscorers in PL) - (6/8/21)

  • Aubameyang (Arsenal), Toney (Brentford), Bamford (Leeds), Maupay (Brighton), Wilson (Newcastle) & Pukki (Norwich)

Acca 7 (pays 8.52/1 with Coral) - (6/8/21)

  • Chelsea top London team (Premier League)
  • Bournemouth top six finish (Championship)
  • Ipswich top six finish (League One)
  • Bradford top seven finish (League Two)

Acca 8 (pays 14.23/1 with Coral) - (6/8/21)

  • Leicester top six finish (Premier League)
  • Bournemouth top six finish (Championship)
  • Ipswich top six finish (League One)
  • Bradford top seven finish (League Two)

Acca 9 (pays 18.99/1 with Coral) - (6/8/21)

  • Leicester without the big six (Premier League)
  • Bournemouth top six finish (Championship)
  • Ipswich top six finish (League One)
  • Bradford top seven finish (League Two)

Premier League

CRYSTAL PALACE fared really badly on xG stats last season - only Sheff Utd and West Brom (both of whom were relegated) fared worse - and it has been an unsettled pre-season with Roy Hodgson leaving along with a long list of experienced PL players who were out of contract.

Eze, one of their star attacking assets, picked up a six-month injury in May and Wilf Zaha is regularly linked with higher-profile moves and could potentially exit in January if the London club make a tardy start..

Patrick Vieira has taken over from Hodgson but his time in charge of Nice hardly set the pulse racing before he was sacked before Christmas, and he appears to be putting faith in the youth system at the club - perhaps there may be too much change taking place too quickly this summer.

Hodgson did a great job there on a budget in my opinion. Was he the glue holding it all together? We'll soon find out.

BRENTFORD ranked as the best team in the Championship last year - despite finishing third - and I fancy them to finish best of the three promoted teams this season.

Leeds had a similar profile xG-wise last season and comfortably 'won' in the corresponding market. I have faith in Brentford's recruitment process as they look to bridge the class gap to the top flight.

The likes of Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma moved on and were effectively replaced last year (Ivan Toney smashed in 31 after signing from Peterborough, breaking the Championship scoring record) and now the recruitment model has shifted to bringing in players who can perform at the next level up.

Norwegian centre-back Kristoffer Ajer has signed from Celtic and Danish boss Thomas Frank has headed back to his homeland to recruit Nigerian central midfielder Frank Onyenka from FC Midtjylland.

In the 'top promoted club' market The Bees are up against Norwich, who traditionally struggle defensively at the top level, and Watford, who go through managers rapidly (they have the fav in the sack race market) and whose instability in the dugout is a big turn off.


Derby look a club in crisis in the Championship this year and I'd be all over them to go down if they were included in the relegation market. They only have nine senior players in the squad, two of whom are goalkeepers, with the new season only days away.

Off-the-field distractions with manager Wayne Rooney hardly help galvanize the camp, and with a transfer embargo also in place, things look bleak for the Rams. However, with no firms offering relegation prices I've had to look elsewhere for a bet.

Barnsley had a superb season last year in making the playoffs and come out well on xG but losing manager Valerian Ismael to league rivals West Brom isn't ideal so I'm putting faith in BOURNEMOUTH, who were linked Thierry Henry but have instead appointed, sensibly, Scott Parker.

Parker took Fulham up through the playoffs (finished fourth that year) two seasons ago and although he was unable to keep them in the Premier League last year and left by mutual consent at the end of the campaign, he was always facing an uphill task in truth.

Bournemouth have retained a core of strong Championship players following their own relegation from the Premier League the year before last, and having parachute payments reduces the urgency to move on any residual high earners.

I was unsure on Eddie Howe's replacement, Jason Tindall, last year, and he only lasted until Feb, with Jonathan Woodgate taking over as caretaker thereafter. With that in mind the Cherries did well to finish in the playoffs.

Their xG data suggests their league position was very much warranted, so with a promotion winner now taking charge you'd like to think another top six finish could be on the cards at the very least.

Sheffield United have a double Championship promotion winner (Slavisa Jokanovic) in charge and also tempted me given they knew their fate long before relegation from the Premier League was confirmed last year and should be adequately prepared for the task in hand. 

I narrowly prefer Bournemouth though, based in their solid xG last year.

League One

As Ben Mayhew's excellent xG scatter plot for League One showed last season, it was a lack of creativity that held back MK DONS last season.

Under Russel Martin they finished 13th overall in the table proper but their xG stats suggest they had one of the top six defences in the division - behind promoted pair Peterborough and Hull and also Blackpool and Sunderland (who both finished in the playoffs). They were closely matched with Fleetwood and Ipswich.

By contrast, attacking wise, they were around 10th best. Going into this season you'd therefore want them to bolster their attacking options and that they have, with Mo Eisa arriving from Peterborough and Max Watters (Cardiff) and Tottenham youngster Troy Parrott also arriving on loan.

Eisa has scored goals at this level for Peterborough in the past, albeit last season wasn't his best, while Watters was bagging with regularity for Crawley in League Two before Cardiff took him to the Championship in January and could also weigh in to improve their offensive output.

Martin has been strongly linked with the vacant Swansea job but hopefully all is in place for a productive season, now the recruitment is done, even if he departs for Wales.

League Two

BRADFORD CITY endured a nightmare start to last season and were heading for the drop before Stuart McCall was sacked. Caretaker bosses Mark Trueman and Connor Sellars were handed the reins on a permanent basis, after a red hot run of form catapulted the Bantams on the verge of a play-off tilt, before the results towards the end of the season petered out.

That timid end to the season meant the youthful duo in the dugout were moved aside (Trueman has since taken up a new assistant manager position) this summer and Derek Adams, who won promotion out of the division with Morecambe last season, has subsequently arrived as the main man.

The Scot had been linked to the vacant position after McCall's departure but completed an impressive promotion-winning season at the Shrimps, who were expected to be in for a relegation scrap before last season started.

Adams knows League Two very well and also won promotion out of the league with Plymouth in 2016/17. He seems to have adopted a no-nonsense approach since arriving at Valley Parade and has been reunited with a couple of familiar faces who have performed well for him previously.

Experienced centre-half Niall Canavan - who is potential captain material - arrived last January and knows Adams from their time together at Plymouth. The impressive summer capture of Morecambe's Yann Songo'o, the midfield enforcer City have been crying out for since Gary Jones moved on five years or so ago, really catches the eye given he was one of the star performers in a functional Morecambe side last season.

Alex Gillead and Abo Eisa both arrive from Scunthorpe to bulk up City's wide options and experienced hitman Andy Cook, who netted eight times in 21 appearances during a loan spell from Mansfield last season, arrives permanently to compensate for losing the injury prone Lee Novak.

Other new arrivals at Valley Parade this summer include Liam Ridehalgh (from Tranmere) at left-back (to replace the Orient-bound Connor Wood), Oscar Thelkeld (from Salford) to fill the vacant RB slot (was never really nailed down last season), Fiacre Kelleher (Wrexham), who is a big unit at centre back who replaces Anthony O'Connor (gone to Morecambe in League One) and should offer a physical presence alongside Canavan, and experienced striker Lee Angol (from Orient), who provides an alternative option to battering ram Cook.

City's pre-seasons in recent years have been a bit of a farce and we've stumbled into the season proper looking unprepared and unfit. Adams took the squad to a training camp in his native Scotland this time and has embarked on a low-key programme against the local non-league clubs and also faced a weakened Doncaster side. The Bantams have won all four friendlies so far, with Blackburn our next visitors tomorrow, but Adams essentially looks like he has a plan and with all of the summer business being wrapped up early, after the pessimism surrounding the club last year, there is a quiet confidence about the forthcoming campaign.

Salford are 13/2 favourites to win the division and have made some strong summer additions - most notably Connor McAleny from Oldham. However, the rest of the division looks wide open and City must have viable promotion credentials, at a fair price (10/3 with Bet 365) given Adams' record in this division. 

Prices of 14/1 to win the division (Bet 365, 1/4 odds on three places) also look fair, but given the improvement needed to bridge the gap from last season (finished 15th) to become genuine title challengers, I think 'promotion' is the most sensible bet as a heaviest main bet.

11/10 (Sky) or Evs (Bet 365 and Betfred) for top Yorkshire/NE club in a market with Harrogate, Hartlepool and Scunthorpe looks ideal for any accumulators.

League 2, as we've come to learn in recent years, is all about having an astute manager who your players want to play for. As Cambridge and Morecambe showed in gaining promotion last year, you don't need a fancy budget if everyone is singing off the hymn sheet and buys into the manager's plans. 

Here's hoping that's the case at City this year.

I've also backed Andy Cook (Bradford) for top League 2 goalscorer at 20/1 (4 places, 1/4 odds).

The front two in the betting - Henderson and McAleny - both play for Salford, but for all he's a good manager at this level, Gary Bowyer sides are cautious and not typically free-flowing attacking sides - my fellow Bradford fans found this out when Bowyer was unable to get goals out of Eoin Doyle here, loaned him to Swindon, and he won the Golden Boot and fired the Robins to promotion in the same division. There is thus potential value in opposing both Salford strikers.

I think Bradford will be challenging at the right end of the table this year and that Cook will lead the line in a much-improved Bantams side. The powerful striker netted 8 times in 21 loan appearances after arriving in January along with Danny Rowe, who soon slipped down the pecking order and was swiftly sold to Chesterfield.

The arrivals of Alex Gillead and Abo Eisa give Adams wide strong options to mix it up with Crankshaw and Vernam and improve the supply line. It'd be good to see Cook, who has now signed permanently, take pens but it remains unclear yet who the designated taker is (Angol has taken a few in pre-season but, along with Caolan Lavery, isn't certain to start for now).

Cook has netted regularly in pre-season, including twice in the 2-0 victory at Accrington last weekend.

National League

I confess to not following the National League as closely as the top four divisions and, at first glance, this looks a competitive division with big clubs like Notts County, Stockport and Grimsby all big fish in the pond.

However, Salford did us a star turn during that memorable 2019 season after investment/splashing the cash and I see a few parallels with WREXHAM, who were bought last Autumn by American actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and appear to be investing serious amounts of money in the club.

The Welsh side are filming a two-year documentary following the club on and off the field and have just announced a lucrative sponsorship deal with Tik Tok.

More importantly for me, however, have been the recent appointment of Phil Parkinson as manager (along with his sidekick Steve Parkin) and signing of Paul Mullin - who was top scorer in League Two (32 goals in 46 games) and won Player of the Division for Cambridge last season - on a three-year-deal today.

Parkinson's recent stint in League One at Sunderland didn't really go to plan but he wouldn't be the first boss to recently struggle there and his previous exploits at Bolton and Bradford, especially, were creditable.

Let's not forgot that, while at Bradford, Parkinson led a League Two side to a major cup final, beating Premier League sides Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa before getting thumped by Swansea in the final, as well as winning promotion to League One. The Capital One Cup run was a feat we may never see repeated again but was a fine advert of his managerial abilities.

His sides are often built around a tough defence and that is where Parkinson has begun to remould his new side already.  Centre-back signings Shaun Brisley and Harry Lennon bring a wealth of experience at a higher level and although further additions will be needed to better their eighth-placed finish from last year, they are clearly a club not short on resources and the owners will surely be keen to win League status as soon as possible.

Today's capture of Mullin sends a clear statement of intent to the division, for sure, as he could have had his pick of clubs in League Two and most in League One this summer (and was interesting Championship clubs last January given his hot run of form), and his arrival is certain to act as a magnet for other potential signings as Parkinson looks to improve the rest of his side.

The Red Dragons may take a little while to hit full stride given the recent changes at the club, and whether they can outmuscle the likes of Notts County and Stockport to the title remains to be seen, but I think the odds on them for promotion are fair and would give us a live bet even if they started slowly but finished in the play-offs to stand a chance of landing the second promotion spot.

Accumulator/miscellaneous reasoning

In the PL I fancy Brighton - massive underperformers on xG last season - to outpoint Crystal Palace in a match bet. Similarly, I like Villa against Wolves, who were dire last season after losing Jota to Liverpool and had Jimenez injured for most of the season. With Nuno since jumping ship and joining Spurs, I really fear for Wolves this year. Even though Villa have lost Grealish they have signed better than Wolves have done and look strong in the match bet.

Chelsea were underperformers based on xG last year too but with their main dangers in the 'top London club' market, Spurs, looking like they could lose skipper Harry Kane, Champions League winners Chelsea look a banker leg under Thomas Tuchel.

There is talk Lukaku may even return to the club before the season starts - the Blues could challenge Man City for the title if that were to happen.

I really do like Leicester. Jamie Vardy is another year older but Iheanacho came to life last year to split the goal output and the Foxes have a good core within their XI. I've backed them in the top six finish and 'without the big six' (Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man Utd, Spurs, Arsenal) markets in accumulators.

Brendan Rodgers' side often start well but have let Champions League qualification slip late in the season  (on the final day this season just gone). The likes of Soyuncu, Fofana, Justin, Maddison and Barnes are improving all the time though and should give these acca legs some mileage.

In the Championship 'top Midlands club' market West Brom have a strong squad as they look to outperform Forest, Birmingham, Stoke, Coventry and Derby. New boss Valerian Ismael enjoyed a fine season in the Championship last term with Barnsley, guiding them to a play-off finish, and although it is a risk to some extent expecting things to click into place immediately at the Hawthorns, even a top six finish could potentially suffice for the purposes of this bet, unless Forest or Stoke have a big season.

I've left MK Dons out of the latest accas today as Russell Martin has abandoned the project and moved to Swansea. His last game in charge was a 5-0 Capital One Cup defeat to Championship side Bournemouth on Saturday and no replacement appointment has yet been made. I'd love to see Cheltenham's Mike Duff get the job but Jody Morris and John Terry have been linked (eek).

Instead I've banged Ipswich in (top six finish) for the League One legs today. Paul Cook knows the division, they've had a change of ownership fairly recently and recruited well this summer to attack what looks a competitive division.  

I'd mentioned Bradford last week in the top Northern/Yorkshire market. They are up against Harrogate, Hartlepool and Scunthorpe. The evens was  probably the best ante post bet of the summer and has gone, but I've taken 5/6 in the latest accas today.

The top goalscorers acca is muggy but I like to do similar every year for a fun interest across the league. There's nothing groundbreaking included in that acca but we are hoping all those leading marksmen stay injury free.

The other match bet legs included were either xG-based picks, instances where relegated sides could dominate or where I expected a promoted team to struggle against their paired team.

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