UK Football Ante Post 2022/23
Here are my ante posts for the 2022/23 football season:
- Premier League (24/7/22) - Harry Kane top goalscorer 6/1 William Hill (4 places, 1/4 odds), each-way
- Championship (24/7/22) -Teemu Pukki top goalscorer 8/1 Bet 365 (4 places, 1/4 odds), each-way
- Championship (24/7/22) - Sheffield United outright 10/1 Bet 365 (4 places), 1/4 odds), each-way
- Championship (24/7/22) - Sheffield United to be promoted 3/1 William Hill
- League One (24/7/22) - Sheffield Wednesday outright 9/2 William Hill (3 places, 1/4 odds), each-way
- League One (24/7/22) - Sheffield Wednesday to be promoted 6/4 Paddy Power
- League Two (24/7/22) - Bradford City outright 7/1 Coral (3 places, 1/4 odds), each-way
- League Two (24/7/22) - Bradford City to be promoted 13/8 Paddy Power
- League Two (24/7/22) - Bradford City top Northern Club 11/10 Bet 365
- League Two (24/7/22) - Mansfield outright 11/1 Paddy Power (3 places, 1/4 odds), each-way
- League Two (24/7/22) - Mansfield to be promoted 9/4 William Hill,
- League Two (24/7/22) - Mansfield top seven finish 11/10 Paddy Power
Acca 1 - pays 7.95/1 with Paddy Power
- Arsenal top six finish (Premier League, 4/7), Sheff Utd top six finish (Championship, Evs), Sheff Wed top six finish (League One, 4/7), Bradford top seven finish (League Two, 4/6)
Acca 2 - pays 20.49 with Paddy Power
- Man City to win outright (Premier League), Sheff Utd top six finish (Championship), Sheff Wed top six finish (League One), Bradford top seven finish (League Two), Wrexham to win outright (National League, 7/5)
Acca 3 - pays 2.88 with Bet 365 - Man City, Sheff Weds and Bradford are season match bets
- Man City vs Liverpool (Premier League, 4/9), Sheffield Wednesday vs Barnsley (League One, 4/7), Bradford vs Doncaster (League Two, 8/11) and Wrexham top 3 finish (National League, 2/7)
Man City let Liverpool back into the title race last year before securing victory by a point on the final day, but they've been crying out for a new focal point in attack ever since Sergio Aguero left for Barcelona and since they missed out on landing Harry Kane last season.
The arrival of Erling Haaland looks the final piece of the jigsaw for Pep Guardiola's men and I am expecting them to win the league by a greater margin this year.
Liverpool have lost a key man in Sadio Mane, and although Luis Diaz started brightly after arriving midway through last season and Darwin Nunez has arrived from Benfica in a £64m switch, both may take a little time to adapt to life in the Premier League.
Haaland just looks a monster and I am expecting him to score goals from the off. City have moved on Jesus, Sterling and Zinchenko this summer but none were guaranteed starters and this could also be a season where Jack Grealish, after a quiet first season at the Etihad, starts to repay his £100m transfer fee from last summer.
I've not backed Haaland for top scorer as he did pick up injuries at Dortmund and Pep will no doubt rotate his men later in the season when they advance to the Champions League knockout stage.
I've backed City to win the title in a few small accumulators and also in a match bet with Liverpool - again in a small acca.
One man who seemed immune from rotation last season was Harry Kane at Spurs. He started the season dreadfully under Nuno Espirito Santo after failing to secure a summer move to Man City. He struggled in the early stages of the season, and his head probably wasn't in a good place, but took off under Antonio Conte in the second half of the season and if he's feeling settled at the club again, another big haul could be on the cards and he could be rivaling Salah and teammate Son for the golden boot.
I like the business Arsenal have done this year, luring attack-minded left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabrial Jesus from Man City. It sounds like Mikel Arteta may still be looking to reinforce his squad further before the window is out, but they blitzed Chelsea 4-0 in a pre-season friendly in Florida this weekend and look to have a bit of momentum going into what looks a favourable start to the season.
Arsenal finished fifth last season, 11 points clear of Man Utd and a further two points clear of West Ham. They have an improving young squad and although they may find it tough to break back into the top-four - all of whom have greater strength in depth for balancing European demands - I am hopeful they can at least finish in the top six.
Relegation wise, I was tempted to back Leeds, as I do not fancy them to improve this season under Jesse Marsch and following the departure of their two best players - Kalvin Phillips to Man City and Raphinha to Barcelona.
Leeds looked awful last season, though they did suffer horrendous luck with injuries in fairness and if Patrick Bamford rediscovers his form from two years ago, that might just give them an edge for survival over newly-promoted trio Fulham (a typical yo-yo club that struggle at the top level), Bournemouth and Notts Forest, who return to the top-flight after a 23-year hiatus.
Norwich drop back down to the second tier after a limp attempt at survival in the Premier League last season and should be thereabouts, as ever, as they are another typical yo-yo side.
The Canaries don't spend beyond their means when they go up, so although they are ill-equipped to bridge the gulf in quality every year, they at least don't need to rip apart their squad to offload ridiculous high earners when they are relegated.
Dean Smith, who replaced Daniel Farke in November, has won promotion out of the division before with Aston Villa and I expect they'll play some good football and finish among the top scorers in the league.
I haven't backed them for promotion but I have backed Teemu Pukki for top scorer - he's a best-priced 8/1 with Bet 365. He lashed in 26 league goals the last time he competed at this level and is similar to Mitrovic at Fulham - he does well to score more than 10-12 a season in the Premier League (he bagged 11 last term) but can at least double, and possibly treble, that in the Championship.
Isaac Hayden has arrived on loan from Newcastle but Norwich haven't done a great deal of business this summer, which was to be expected. Pukki has been told he is staying put, which is the most important transfer news of all for them, though.
The team I fancy to surprise those at the front of the betting this year is Sheffield United. They made the mistake of appointing Slavisa Jokanovic last season and although the Serbian had done well at Fulham earlier in his career, he won only six of his 19 games prior to his sacking in November.
U23's coach Paul Heckingbottom, who had been in the running for the job following a stint as caretaker manager after Chris Wilder was sacked the season the Blades were relegated from the Premier League ('20/21), was appointed his permanent successor and guided them to a very respectable fifth-placed finish last season.
United gave Forest a good run for their money in the playoffs and ranked among the top six for xGF and xGA over last season as a whole.
Centre-half Ciaran Clark has arrived on loan from Newcastle and brings with him a wealth of experience, while they have secured Tommy Doyle on loan from Man City and also made another Scandinavian raid and captured Bosnian centre-back Anel Ahmedhodzic from Malmo.
It sounds like Hecky is also confident in landing Reda Khadra on loan from Brighton. The winger did well on loan in the division at Blackburn previously and would nicely fill the void created by Ollie Burke leaving for Werder Bremen.
The Blades' other departures were only peripheral figures from what I gather. Luke Freeman played 15 times and has now gone to Luton, while 34-year-old frontman David McGoldrick contributed only two goals from 19 appearances and has now moved to relegated Derby.
The Championship, as ever, looks a fiercely competitive league. Watford have Premier League quality lingering in their squad and teams like Chris Wilder's Middlesborough and Steve Bruce's West Brom have to be respected.
I think Huddersfield and Blackburn will drop off this year - the former have lost key players following their play-off final defeat to Forest and Blackburn have lost several key men and haven't been very active in the transfer market under new manager Jon Dahl Tomasson.
I think Rovers could have a fight on their hands to keep hold of Ben Brereton Diaz in January too - the club activated a contract extension option for the Chilean in the summer but Rovers ran out of steam last season and he could be off when the Premier League clubs inevitably come knocking in January, if Rovers are not in play-off contention.
Rovers need to replace Darragh Lenihan (Middlesborough), Ryan Nyambe (Wigan) and Joe Rothwell (Bournemouth), all of whom have departed Ewood Park this summer.
Burnley surprised everyone last season when sacking Sean Dyche and Vincent Kompany has arrived at Turf Moor after managing Anderlecht in Belgium. They could feasibly be live contenders but drop into the Championship without Nick Pope, James Tarkowski, Nathan Collins, Ben Mee and Wout Weghorst, all of whom have moved back into top-flight except the latter, who has headed for Turkey.
Scott Twine did well at MK Dons last year and bolsters their attacking options, while Josh Cullen follows Kompany from Anderlecht and oozes class in central midfield. However, the Clarets still look a bit weak defensively for now, given their summer departures, so they are a team I'm cautious about for now. Let's not forget they also sold their talismanic striker Chris Wood to relegation rivals Newcastle during the January transfer window.
All in all, I've just backed Sheffield United to finish top six and to be promoted, with a small each-way on them in the outright market. Fingers crossed they are in the mix again under Hecky and can hit the ground running this season.
My strongest fancy of the teams I've put up in these ante post previews is Sheffield Wednesday. I've backed them to win the league (each-way), and gain promotion, while I've also got them in match bets with newly-relegated Barnsley and to finish top six in various accumulators.
Like with Paul Heckingbottom at City neighbours United, Wednesday are managed by a former Bradford City defender - Darren Moore.
'Bruno' as he was affectionately nicknamed during his time at Valley Parade, cut his managerial teeth at West Brom in 2018, taking over on a caretaker basis, after the departure of Alan Pardew, with the Baggies 10 points adrift of Premier League safety.
He was later made permanent manager there but was harshly sacked in March, with the Baggies sat fourth in the Championship.
The Jamaican man mountain then moved on to Doncaster and had them in the League One play-offs places before he moved across South Yorkshire to take over at Wednesday.
In his first full season at Hillsborough, last season, Moore guided the Owls into the play-offs, and although they came up short against Sunderland, their underlying stats over the course of the season were decent - they were in the top six in terms of xGF and xGA.
Importantly, they look to have made a couple of tasty acquisitions over the summer. Beanpole striker Michael Smith netted 19 times for Rotherham, who finished runner-up and were automatically promoted to the Championship. That Wednesday have managed to convince the 30-year-old to remain in League One next season, rather than take up the option of a contract extension and compete in the Championship at the Millers, is notable.
Poor old Rotherham have also lost experienced centre-back Michael Ihiekwe to the Owls this summer, and Will Vaulks, another ex Miller, has joined Wednesday after an intermediate spell at Cardiff.
They look to have bolstered the spine of their team excellently and I would prefer to back them over Ipswich, on whom I had my fingers burnt last season, even though the Tractor Boys improved drastically following the arrival of Kieran McKenna last season and, at one point, went on an 11-game unbeaten run.
A NMP pre-season preview wouldn't be complete without a rose-tinted bet (or three) on my team, Bradford City, would it, lol?
The way last season petered out was an absolute disgrace, as things started well, following a good pre-season under new boss Derek Adams, who ditched newly-promoted Morecambe to take the job, but nosedived from October. xG stats which had looked so good in the opening six weeks of the season, soon fell into line.
I don't want to dwell too much on what went wrong, but Adams never really built up much trust with the fans and he was quick to chuck his players under the bus at the first hint of trouble. He was sacked in February, by which time he'd destroyed too many relationships at the club (he even had the audacity to suggest, in one of his awkward radio interviews, the club could find no one better than him), and the club sought a replacement to see out the remainder of the year - with promotion no longer achievable.
Remarkably, Mark Hughes applied for and got the job. Sparky had been out of work since being fired by Southampton in December 2018. He'd applied for jobs higher up the pyramid, unsuccessfully, before the pandemic started, but spoke of the potential he sees in the League Two club. Before arriving in West Yorkshire he had not managed outside of the Premier League, so his arrival was/is a real coup for a League Two side.
In terms of xG, Bradford ended last season ninth best for xGF and eighth best for xGA. To justify backing the Bantams again, we therefore needed to see wholesale changes in the squad this summer.....and that is exactly what we have got, with fourteen new faces arriving.
Two of the key captures look to the be permanent transfer of Jamie Walker from Hearts and Richie Smallwood from Hull. Walker ran the show in several games last season during a loan spell, while Smallwood captained Hull in the Championship and rejected a one-year extension there in order to sign a longer contract at Valley Parade.
Paudie O'Connor, Charles Vernam and Elliot Watt were key players for Bradford City last season (albeit in a poor, underperforming side) and all have moved on (first two to League One Lincoln and the latter to Salford) but their replacements actually look upgrades, if anything, when you consider the experience Chapman and Smallwood have amassed during their careers.
Big striker Vadaine Oliver also looks an interesting arrival as he boasted some of the strongest aerial stats in League One for Gillingham last season and Bradford have lacked a physical presence ever since selling James Hanson to Sheffield United several years ago.
It is going to be interesting to see how Hughes and his assistant, Glyn Hodges, can make their mark on this exciting young squad. Most of the players recruited are aged around 20-25 and the club has deviated from its usual policy and handed out longer-term deals to many of the new signings this time.
It looks like the club has a plan again, finally, and the fact they executed it so swiftly, with so many new players arriving very early in the summer, hot on the heels of the new head of recruitment (Stephen Gent, ex Middlesborough), was pleasing to see.
There is an aura of excitement around the place again as the fans really bought into Hughes' approach and are excited to see what he can do in his first full season in charge.
I've backed us to win the league (each-way), to be promoted, and also in a match bet vs Doncaster (in an acca), to finish top seven (in an acca) and in the 'top Northern' team market on Bet 365 (vs Donny, Grimsby, Harrogate & Hartlepool).
The other team I have backed is Mansfield. I rate Nigel Clough and although his side were gubbed by Port Vale in the play-off final last term and simply didn't turn up, they have retained a strong squad and look capable of mounting another strong promotion push. They were in the top six for xGF and xGA last season and have been threatening to go up for a while.
Newly-promoted Stockport have momentum and lots of financial resource behind them and have been put in as favourites by the bookies. Salford came up several seasons ago and have under performed with their excellent squad for the last few seasons but are another team you simply have to respect as they have a superb squad for this level and have just been lacking something from the dugout. Maybe the new boss may be a better fit. Northampton are unlikely to be far away and Swindon had goals from Harry McKirdy last year and command respect, for all they've lost Jack Payne to Charlton.
I'll take Bradford and Mansfield against all though.
We were on Wrexham for promotion last year and they let us down, finishing second behind Stockport and then losing to Grimsby in the play-off final.
Phil Parkinson will need to take the Red Dragons up this year to keep his job, no doubt, but it might just have been the case that too much change was needed too soon last season. The season had already started when Ben Tozer signed from Cheltenham and Ollie Palmer wasn't brought in until January, for example.
This time around the main men are already in place and Parky's had chance to suss the squad out properly. Paul Mullin smashed in 26 goals last season and has backed up his previous outstanding season in League Two for Cambridge.
Crucially, when you consider transfer activity elsewhere in the division, keeping hold of Mullin is a huge positive.
Hopefully they can start well and use last season's disappointment to drive them on under the watchful eye of their powerful owners.
Halifax have lost manager Pete Wild and main striker Billy Waters to Barrow and Notts County have lost key striker Kyle Wootton to Stockport.
Chesterfield may thus emerge as Wrexham's biggest threat, but I still expect Parkinson to do the business this time around.
This is a man that masterminded Bradford City’s journey to the Capital One Cup Final when they were in League Two, knocking out three Premier League teams en route, and has won promotion in the Football League at Bolton since leaving Bradford (and also took us up before he left).