If you’re betting on sport, you need the right data. With so much information bandied around in the press and social media these days, how much of it is actually useful? How do you filter out the noise? How do you quantify the absence of a key player? How does the absence of a striker, a midfielder or a centre-back translate to goals and results?

Put some stats behind your gut instincts and work out when to lump on and when to steer clear of a sucker bet. One of the very best in the business is Football Form Labs who have shared their wisdom with a preview of some of this week’s action. You can also follow Football Form Labs on Twitter, @footballformlab

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Premier League Week 6

Chelsea v Arsenal, Sat 12:45

Chelsea were about 1.70 for this fixture last season but are 2.40 this time around. Have they really got that much worse or are Arsenal that much better? They have the worst defence in the league at the moment but a midweek stroll past Maccabi Tel Aviv may have given some degree of a confidence boost.

The Blues have won only five of their last 11 home matches as they’ve scored more than once on just three occasions and also kept only three clean sheets. Arsenal, in contrast, have won seven of their last eight away matches. Of course when it comes to these games we can’t ignore the Gunners record away to top-four finishers; they’ve lost 14 of 18 such trips since 2009/10 while conceding 45 goals. However, they did show some improvement last term, picking up a win at Man City and a draw at Utd, while conceding just three times in their three such matches.

To read the rest of this preview plus detailed previews of all the televised Premier League games this weekend and a round-up of the rest of the matches head over to the Oddschecker website.

PREVIEW: Dortmund v Leverkusen, Sunday 16:30

Dortmund’s excellent start under their new manager Thomas Tuchel means that they are likely to return to being Bayern’s main challengers in the Bundesliga, with the likes of Monchengladbach and Leverkusen languishing in the bottom-six. Leverkusen did however pick up a much needed home win against BATE Borisov in the Champions League, whilst Dortmund also won at home against Krasnodar, whilst managing to rest some of their players. Leverkusen won this fixture on the opening day of last season and that defeat set the tone for Dortmund’s season, as they conceded the fastest goal in Bundesliga history and while they rallied to finish seventh after 19 games they were bottom of the table.

Dortmund have now won eight of their last 10 matches and indeed eight of their last 10 at the Westfalenstadion, with seven of those wins by a margin of at least two goals. At home against top-six finishers last season Dortmund’s record was W2-D1-L3, with the defeats coming against Bayern, Augsburg, and Leverkusen. This season, they’ve beaten last season’s third place Monchengladbach at home, though ‘Gladbach have lost all of their matches this season. The outstanding Marco Reus missed the win over Hannover and the Europa League game, but he was back in full training on Friday and could play here, which will be a bonus for Dortmund as their PPG drops 30% in the 17 games he’s missed since the start of last season and they also score 22% fewer goals without him in the starting line-up.

Leverkusen also got off to a disappointing start last season that saw them win only eight of their first 22 games before a seven game winning streak pushed them into the final Champions League position. That run means they’ve won 11 of their last 16 games, though only three of their last seven. Dortmund’s start to this season suggests they look nailed on for a top-six finish this time around, and Leverkusen’s record on the road against such teams last term was W1-D1-L3, with all three defeats against the top three and the win coming over sixth placed Schalke. The departures of Son, Gonzalo Castro, Josip Drmic, and Emir Spahic have weakened the team and though the return of Christoph Kramer from a two year loan has stiffened the midfield, an injury to their main summer signing Charles Aranguiz hasn’t helped.

Though it is still very early in the season, Dortmund look to have returned to being the second best team in Germany while Leverkusen appear to have regressed with the sale of a number of important players and a subsequent slow start to the season. Since Leverkusen have lost without scoring against Bayern already this season and last, as well as losing by three goals at Monchengladbach and Wolfsburg last term, backing Dortmund -1 on the Asian Handicap looks a solid bet here at 2.3, particularly since they’ve won their last six at home and seven of their last eight home wins were by more than one goal. As Dortmund have led at half-time in their last five at home, while Leverkusen have trailed at half-time in five of their last seven away defeats, the Dortmund Win/Win double also appeals at 2.85.

Weekend Team News Analysis

Who is injured and who is suspended? Using Form Lab Black’s player analysis tool we’ve looked around Europe’s major leagues to find some important players that are going to be missing this weekend. For more player analysis from our analysts or to do your own player analysis try a Form Lab Black subscription.

Wolfsburg v Hertha Berlin

Roy Beerens, Winger, Hertha

Beerens is one of several injuries for Hertha and since the start of last season they’ve won none of their 12 games when Beerens has failed to start. They’ve scored just five goals in those games with nine defeats and seven of the matches have had fewer than three goals. Hertha will probably play for the nil-nil but Wolfsburg should win and are 2.60 to do so to nil.

Real Madrid v Granada

Gareth Bale, Attacking Midfield, Real Madrid

Bale has missed nine games since the start of last season and Real have won every single one. Furthermore, they’ve scored at least three goals in each match, including a 4-0 win at Granada last term. Real are 1.92 to cover the -3.0 Asian Handicap and they should at the very least get a push.

Marseille v Lyon

Nabil Fekir, Attacking Midfield, Lyon

Lyon drew nil-nil last weekend and they’ve now scored just twice in the last five matches Fekir has missed. Marseille sold several key attackers in the summer – most notably Andre Ayew, Dimitri Payet and Andre-Pierre Gignac – so don’t expect goals here. Another 0-0 is a massive 10.5.

Could this be the swansong for Peyton Manning? The old gunslinger about to walk into the sunset as his time is drawing nigh.The Bronco’s on-field general has turned 39 and it seems that the effects of Father Time have caught up with the quarterback.

Having already endured a lot of speculation about the power of his grip after extensive neck surgery, the Tennessee grad suffered a thigh injury in 2014 that left him badly hobbled, with the laser-like accuracy of his passing dropping off noticeably towards the end of the season. Manning needs to be protected and left untouched during the game if the Broncos are to have a productive season, and that is a task made all the more difficult with All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady suffering an ACL tear, ruling him out of the 2015 season. Second round pick Ty Sambrailo has been given the job of protecting Manning’s blind side, which sounds like a recipe for disaster as Manning is about as mobile as Susan Boyle in a darkened broom cupboard.

Offensive tackle issues aside, the Broncos have a lot of talent on offense. John Fox’s men picked up free agent Evan Mathis, who left Philly wanting a raise, but bizarrely signed for the Broncos for less than he was making, as he badly misjudged the market. Mathis consistently graded out as one of the best guards in football and he is s steal at this point.

CJ Anderson and Montee Ball should continue to share carries in the backfield whilst Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas form possibly the best receiver partnership in the league.

The defense returns Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware at outside linebacker. The duo combined for 24 sacks last season and are a constant nightmare for opponents to scheme for.

The talented secondary returns three starters from last season in Aqib Talib, Ryan Harris and TJ Ward – although Ward will miss the first game due to being suspended for allegedly throwing a beer mug at a lady in a strip bar – no confirmation as yet if the said beer mug contained beer at the time.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs disappointed last season with a 9-7 record, which perhaps shows you the level of the turnaround since Andy Reid took over the franchise.

KC famously did not have a touchdown reception by a wide receiver last year and the Arrowhead franchise immediately took care of that issue in free agency, splashing out to sign Jeremy Maclin to reunite the Missouri product with his old head coach.

Wearer of the largest smile after free agency was Alex Smith, the Chiefs quarterback, who must be relishing the upgrade at flanker. The only other real target for Smith is Travis Kelce who is tuning into an excellent tight end.

For the passing game to click into action, the running game needs to gain yards early. Jamal Charles is one of the biggest breakaway threats in the league, forcing opposing defences to respect the run and opening up passing lanes in the process for Smith to exploit.

The biggest story of the Chiefs offseason was the return to training camp of Eric Berry after the safety was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in November. Berry was given the all clear to play on July 28th and has contributed in the pre-season. More of Berry later on in the week when I tackle the player props.

An injury doubt for week one is nose tackle Dontari Poe who has had surgery for a herniated disc in his back. For a man as large as Poe, it is unlikely he will immediately be back to his best, which will hurt the run defense.

The undeniable strength of the Chiefs is the linebacking corps with NFL sack leader Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson making up arguably the best personnel grouping at this unit in the league. The pass rushing ability of Houston coupled with the injury to Denver’s Ryan Clay could well be enough to swing the balance of power in the AFC West.

San Diego Chargers

It’s a tumultuous time in Southern California with perpetual rumours that the Chargers are considering a move to Los Angeles, prompting franchise quarterback Philip Rivers to stall over signing a new contract. The veteran eventually agreed to a four-year extension but will the city of San Diego still have an NFL franchise by that time?

Rivers has to be enthused about the immediate future of the Bolts as first round selection Melvin Gordon was added to the backfield. The rookie rushed for 2,587 yards last season for Wisconsin. I’ll type that again in case you think it is a typo – 2,587 yards. That was in 14 games with an average of 7.5 yards per carry. Only one player in the history has rushed for more yards and that was a guy called Barry Sanders – and he was kind of good. Gordon won’t get that type of room to run in the NFL but he is a carbon copy of Jamaal Charles and could push for a 1,000 season in his rookie year.

As much as Gordon will make Rivers giddy for actually having a running game since LaDainian Tomlison left town in 2010, there must be some concern that his perpetual safety blanket in Antonio Gates is suspended for the first four games of the season due to performance enhancers. Gates is the go to man in the redzone and Rivers will miss his presence.

Malcolm Floyd and Keenan Allen return at wide receiver giving Rivers a duo of dependable talents that should see the quarterback eclipse the 4,000 yards passing mark once again.

The Chargers have strengthened their offensive line by signing Orlando Franklin away from Denver. It is just as well that Rivers is 6’5” as left guard Franklin is 6’7” and left tackle King Dunlap is a whopping 6’9”.

Defense is usually a struggle for San Diego but the unit finished ninth overall in total yards last season. Linebacker Melvin Ingram has really impressed in the off season and looks to be the cornerstone player on the defensive side of the ball. Eric Weddle and Brandon Flowers provide experience in the secondary.

Oakland Raiders

December, 2002 is the last time the Oakland Raiders had a winning record. That is a long time for a franchise used to success, winners of three Super Bowls and general thorn in the side to the establishment figures in the NFL.

That record will likely extend for another season as there are too many holes in the roster for head coach Jack Del Rio to be able to savage but there is a glimmer of hope beginning to emerge in the Bay Area.

Quarterback Derek Carr was the 36th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the fourth quarterback selected but a case could be made for Carr outperforming the three signal callers selected above him. Carr had no real talent surrounding him but he still managed to post 3,270 passing yards with a 21-12 touchdown-interception ratio which is impressive for a rookie.

Reggie McKenzie set about addressing the lack of options in the off-season, signing diva wide receiver free agent Michael Crabtree whilst drafting Amari Cooper from Alabama who looks like he was born to play the receiver position.

It is doubtful that the Raiders will get much out of their running game with Latavius Murray their starter so it looks likely that most of the pressure will be on the arm of Carr in 2015.

Another bright spot for the silver and black is on defense as Khalil Mack has lived up to his hype out of college and is a dominant force at outside linebacker. Mack looks like the sort of player the Raiders can gradually build a defense around and could well get into double digits for sacks this year.

Ultimately, as talented as Carr and Mack are, the rest of the Raiders roster struggles to keep up and it will be another long season in Oakland, but they should do well enough to finally escape always picking in the top five in the draft.


Denver are 1.57 to win the division and I think those are pretty short odds considering the issues on the offensive live. Manning is the ultimate professional player and if he can stay healthy – big if – then the Broncos have enough playmakers to win the division. They may even turn into a run first unit in a bid to keep Manning upright.

The real value is with Kansas City. They are priced at 6.00 with Stan James to win the division. They could well pip the Broncos as they are a well-coached outfit but with a price of 3.00 with Skybet to make the playoffs, that is by far the better option. The Chargers are also worth a consideration as well and could push for the second wildcard spot, but the Chiefs are more likely to take a game off the Broncos which could be the difference in the divisional standings.

2 pts on the Chiefs to make the playoffs @ 3.00 with Skybet.