Wednesday, September 30, 2009

MLS Preview and Handicapping: New England at FC Dallas

By El Chupa

We hesitate to post lest we distract our readers from the crisis surrounding Nordecke outlined by El Luchador below. But duty calls.

Take Dallas at +110. New England is making a run at the end of the season but Dallas is tough at home and NE is hurt...bad. Dallas is also scoring like crazy. They are very close in the Luchametric and Dallas at home in need of three points to keep their play-off hopes alive is good bet.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Go Ahead and Hate Your Neighbor

By El Luchador
Near the end of Billy Jack, as he is holed up against the authorities and the Man is closing in, Billy asks: “In what remote corner of this country – no, entire God damn planet – is there a place where people really care about one another and really love each other? Now, you tell me were such a place is, and I promise you that I'll never hurt another human being as long as I live.”

El Luchador knows of such a place. It is called the Nordecke. It is on the northeast corner of Crew Stadium. And just as Billy Jack’s commitment to pacifism often was challenged, so too does El Luchador find himself wanting to go berserk when he sees what Crew General Manager Mark McCullers is determined to do to the beloved Nordecke.

Wednesday’s disappointing CONCACAF match against Saprissa was noteworthy for more than just the fact that the referee was clearly intent on influencing the outcome.

Look at the video accompanying this article.

Crew General Manager Mark McCullers’ jack-booted thugs were gathered two and three abreast at each entrance to the supporters’ sections. El Luchador was barred entrance more than once because he did not hold a ticket to that section. Meanwhile, one could sit anywhere else in the stadium with no problem.

And look at the crowd barriers on the railings of the Nordecke. This is unprecedented. Several security guards interviewed for this article were afraid to go on camera because Crew General Manager Mark McCullers would fire them if he found out that they had spoken the Truth. They said they were under strict orders not to let anyone into the Nordecke who did not have a ticket for that section. They said the barriers will be a new feature at Crew Stadium to keep people from the rails of the Nordecke and the Nordecke alone.

One of the beautiful things about a night at Crew Stadium has always been the experience of wandering the terraces and watching the match from the rails above the Nordecke. Now we can’t even do that because of Mark McCullers’ obsessive need to control? His obsessive Red State compulsion to tell us how to live our lives? The unresolved control issues with his overbearing father? His sense of sexual inadequacy? His fear of abandonment?

Billy Jack fought to protect the kids at the Freedom School from the redneck townspeople.

El Luchador stands ready to defend his pacifist brothers and sisters of Nordecke against the totalitarian tyranny of Crew General Manager Mark McCullers.

I leave you with this simple question: What self-respecting football club on the planet literally erects barriers to keep their own fans out of the supporters' section and prevent them from even standing on the terrace? Keeping out Toronto's knuckledraggin, mouth-breathing cave men? Ok, but the Crew faithful?

Sung to the tune of "O My Darling Clementine"

Who's your father? Who's your father? Who's your father, Mark M'Cullers?

You don't know him, never had one, you're a bastard Mark M'Cullers.

UEFA Champions League Handicaping: Wednesday's Tips and Previews

By El Chupa

Wednesday's matches offer a bit more for both the fan and the wagerer than today's matches. Here's our skinny:

Zurich at AC Milan - This should prove to be an entertaining match, although the odds don't really make it a promising match to throw some money on. The nod here goes to Milan playing at home, but Zurich will play them tough. Gamblers looking to get lucky might go for the draw here, as a Zurich win is unlikely, and the odds for Milan not worth the risk.

Juventus at Bayern Munchen - This should prove to be another great match for the fan. And for the wagerer this may be the best match of the day. Juventus has the edge in our view in terms of being the better side and are being given +230, which is seductive to say the least. But Bayern is 3 and 2 in its last 5 matches and they're playing at home. After last year's debacle in the knock-out stage, which resulted in Klinsman's exit as coach, you can be sure Bayern is looking to do better, which means they need to get out of the group stage. They are currently in 7th in the Bundesliga behind Wolfsburg. We think the draw here is the best bet. Juventus will be happy to come away with one point.

ATL Madrid at Porto - This should be yet another entertaining match. But punters should stay away. It could go either way very easily, in our view.

Marseille at Real Madrid - Real is the team to beat this year in the Champions League, along with Barca and Chelsea. We already have the Barca v. Real Madrid match on our calendar as a good day to call in sick and quaff some home brew. Take Real as one half of a parlay. It's as good as in the bank.

Wolfsburg at Man U - This could be an entertaining match, but as we said yesterday, we look for Man U to break through and dominate in the second half, especially at home against a Wolfsburg side struggling to match last year's form. Take Man U as part of a two game parlay with Real Madrid and enjoy a truly outstanding day of European football. We hope you have your DVR ready.

UEFA Champions League Handicapping: Tips and Previews

By El Chupa

We love the Champions League, especially once it gets to the knock-out rounds. Tuesday's matches, however, don't offer any obvious sweet action, nor really any eye-popping matchups for fans of the beautiful game. Here are a few suggestions for those looking for some early and mid-week wagers.

Inter at Rubin Kazan - At -153, Inter is probably a value bet here, as we think the books have it wrong. This will be either a tough away draw, which Inter would be happy with, or Inter will win. Period. Go with Inter as one half of a parlay or put up money for nearly a 70% return.

Dynamo Kiev at Barca - This is a mismatch. Barca is in excellent form and Ibrahimavic is settling in. Give me a break. Barca will dominate if not crush Kiev at Camp Nou. But good luck making any money off this one. Barca was at -800 last we looked.

Sevilla at Rangers - We have a soft spot in our hearts for Rangers, and they surprised us by drawing with Stuttgart. And at home at +285 it's tempting to take them for the win (cue Bill Murray). But. . . . we think their Cinderella run in Europe will end with group play. Sevilla at -111 is probably a decent, high percentage wager. But if you want to bet your heart and root for the home team, this offers some good, clean fun.

Beyond the above offerings, this week's games don't look especially enticing. The best match will undoubtedly be Wolfsburg at Man U. But we think, alas, the press has their heads up their collective asses if they think Wolfsburg, sixth place in the Bundesliga currently and not up to last year's form, is going to go into Old Trafford and make a game of it, let alone threaten to come away with one let alone three pts. Look for Man U to dominate in the second half and win pulling away.

Monday, September 28, 2009

MLS Power Rankings: Crew Sees Daylight

By El Chupa
El Luchador's MLS Power Rankings have been fully updated, and the Crew now enjoys over one-half of a StandDev over it's nearest rival, Chicago. LA has dropped to third followed by Seattle and Houston who are neck and neck for fourth.

The Crew's important victory over the Galaxy is significant, especially in light of the rest of the games this weekend, in that the boys in Black and Gold are clearly the premier team in the league. COL is beat up and can't win at home or on the road against a lesser opponent. DC is simply toothless. CHI can't protect it's home turf and is as inconsistent as is the rest of the league--that is, except the Crew. Only the Crew win when they are supposed to win and draw when they play a tough team on the road (CHI). The Crew have only one loss in their last 10 games. No on else in the league can say as much. The loss to NY now looks like a little bump on the road. In short, only the Crew has been consistent, and only the Crew consistently shows up and gets it done.

The win against LA is also significant in that the boys beat the Galaxy without even running out its best 11. This speaks to their depth and the genius of Sigi Schmid. He is keeping the team rested but getting as much out of them as is needed. We look forward to the playoffs.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

EPL Power Rankings Updated: Luchametric 3.0

By El Chupa
The Luchametric EPL Power Rankings have been fully updated through Sunday's match between Sunderland and Wolves. We've simplified the chart to make it easier for our loyal readers. The chart now provides the Luchametric score, the number of Standard Deviations above or below the mean (Z Score) of the club's Luchametric score, and finally, the actual number of points the club has earned thus far to allow for comparisons.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We are now making the Luchametric data available to our readers as an Excel spreadsheet. Look at the top of column two to the right to find the link. The MLS data will be available later today.

No real changes this week, except that Man U is gaining on Chelsea, and there is now little daylight separating the two clubs. Also, Spurs are lower than both Man City and Arsenal, in spite of being ahead in the actual standings. We stand by our rankings.

Finally, we have some bad news for Burnley fans, something we've observed for the last few weeks but have held back commenting on. In spite of their nine points, Burnely lag far behind the rest of the league in the Luchametric's overall measure of production. In our view, Burnley actually are in grave danger of being relegated. We don't see them earning many points the rest of the year given the overall numbers unless things start to pick up for them and toot sweet. They are far below the league averages for Shots, Shots on Goal, and Goals Scored. You heard it here first.

Friday, September 25, 2009

MLS Handicapping: Preview and Betting Tips for This Weekend's Fixtures

By El Chupa
Overall, we're not too excited about this weekend's matches from a wagering standpoint. But we offer these humble suggestions.

LA at Crew - We think this is a likely draw. A VERY likely draw. And at +215, a very good wager. But we love the Crew too much not to hope for a win. Betting our mind and not our heart is not in our makeup, however. Look for El Luchador to put it all on the line in this one.

Seattle at New England - We like NE here, at home, fighting for a playoff spot. At +105 it's a decent wager. As far as we're concerned, both teams have been inconsistent and are part of the parity problem in MLS. This is also one worth avoiding as it could be low scoring and all it will take is an odd bounce or call to decide the match. But if we had to choose, we'd choose NE.

COL at KC - At +210 and a full STDEV above KC in the Luchametric, we very much like COL here. They need three points and have already beaten KC this year. We don't expect a lot of goals out of either team, however. Check COL's roster to see who's in and who's out. COL was all over SJO on Wednesday and were screwed by yet another bad call. Imagine that! Crappy officiating in the MLS. What a surprise. Update: COL is beat up pretty badly. This one is now too close to call.

RSL at DAL - We like DAL at even odds here. They are tough at home and teams wilt in the heat. For those of you in the North or Northwest of the country, take it from someone who lives on the GA/FL border. It's still hot as F down here.

Pick of the Week - COL to win at KC

Thursday, September 24, 2009

EPL Handicapping: Betting Advice on this Week's Fixtures

By El Chupa
It's probably worth pointing out at this point that El Chupa and El Luchador have slightly different betting strategies.

El Luchador likes to go for the big fish. He trolls the deep water for the big catches, i.e., low percentage wagers with high payouts. His balls are large.

El Chupa lacks the intestinal fortitude of his mentor and instead looks for high percentage wagers that pay less-than-even odds. This can still be a substantial percentage of the original wager (50-90%) but certainly not double the money or better. Slow and steady is his motto.

This tends to result in El Luchador going for parlays that will pay big when they come in, while El Chupa looks for parlays that are virtually sure things (if there is such a thing) but offer less of a reward. It also means El Chupa is VERY judicious about the straight bets he makes. El Luchador? Not so much. . .

This also means that El Chupa often uses his statistical acumen, such as it is, to identify matches one should AVOID, as well as matches that look like high percentage wagers. When he can find a match he think is both a solid wager AND +100 or better odds, he is VERY happy.

So, on to this week's picks.

Everton at Portsmouth - This one is intriguing as Everton is being given only -115, practically begging you to put $15 on what looks like a mismatch. We don't like Everton's defense at all, they're giving up too many goals. And they haven't earned a single point away from home. But Portsmouth looks so freaking helpless that it's hard to predict when they will break out of their funk. It certainly will be at home, right? But against Everton? We think not. This match could also make one game of a parlay, as the -115 will help boost your payout if you pick a DEFINITE mismatch like Burnley at Spurs, which we think will result in Spurs demolishing the visiting side. Currently, our book is paying +140 on a two-game parlay of Everton and Spurs.

Aston Villa at Blackburn - This match is intriguing as we have Villa rated very high in the power rankings, and the +120 odds are attractive. However, our data also tells us that Blackburn doesn't give up shots, doesn't give up shots on goal, and doesn't give up corners. They are right at the league average for GA with 8. So Villa has their work cut out for them. El Chupa will be very tempted to look at this one closely and take a straight bet on one of these two teams.

Arsenal at Fulham
- It's tempting to think Fulham will play Arsenal tough at Craven Cottage (coolest freaking name ever), but we think Arsenal will overpower the homeside and quite possibly when by a two-goal margin. We've been unimpressed with Fulham so far, and think that they look like goals will be hard to come by. They only have 16 SOG all season and only Burnley is worse with 13 (the league average is 27). The over is not paying well, and we can't see Fulham winning a goal-fest. This would be a good match for a parlay.

Upset of the week: Man U at Stoke - Do we think Stoke will beat Man U? No. But at +675, wtf? Put up $5. Man U is going to give up goals this year, and they will lose one or two more matches to the likes of Burnley. So, trust your gut, or not, whatever. Fuck Man U.

LA at Columbus Preview: Offensive Statistical Insights

By El Chupa
First off, I know you can't see the data given the technical limitations of free blogging, but if you click on the image at the left you'll be able to see a much larger version of it. Here's the skinny.

The chart gives us a break down of each team's leading offensive players. And as we've explained elsewhere, Pro and Pro/GM are Luchametric numbers that allow us to compare the overall offensive contributions or production of individual players. As you can see, Garey leads both teams with 4.05/GM, followed by Beckham, Schelotto, Buddle, Donovan and Lenhart. In Overall Production for the season, Schelotto is on top followed by Donovan, and both are light-years ahead of the rest of the players on both teams. This is not only a reflection of their individual ability, but also their role on their respective teams (the fact that their job is to score and create scoring chances for others so they will naturally have higher numbers than, say, the goalkeeper). Notice also that Schelotto leads both teams when it comes to how many minutes it takes him before he produces either a Goal or an Assist with 105. Garey is second at 110.5 followed by Donovan (115.31) and then Beckham (124.6).

And as we've discussed elsewhere, we think one of the leading indicators of the quality of a scorer is the percentage of Shots on Goal that player turns into actual goals, as a scorer's merit is determined not simply by how many opportunities he either creates on his own or are given to him by his teammates, but the rate at which he actually converts those opportunities into goals. And in this category, Schelotto is the winner, as over one-half of his SOGs turn in to actual goals. Give him an inch, he'll take a freaking mile. Donovan is second at .40.

The numbers tell us what most of us already know: these teams match up extremely closely offensively. Both Beckham and Garey lead their respective teams in Pro/GM but both have played only just over 600 minutes. This suggests that given more playing time, their numbers would drop back down a bit closer to the standard set by Schelotto and Donovan, if not lower. But clearly each team can get goals out of a number of different players and from a number of positions on the field.

One thing we like about the Crew, however, is that they have more players with over two goals each. This confirms what we've already known for a while: that the Crew is very balanced and deep when it comes to putting players on the pitch who can pressure the other team and get the ball in the back of the net (case in point: Lenhart coming off the bench). In a tight game, especially late in the game, this gives the Crew a definite advantage over the rest of the league and over LA, especially at home. It also speaks well for the team's prospects in the playoffs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

MLS Handicapping: San Jose at Colorado (Updated)

By El Chupa

Well, we blew it again. And lost money to boot. SJO obviously has COL's number and has gotten so deep in their heads that COL can't even manage a win at home. Beyond the obvious bad voodoo however, it's clear that COL has problems scoring, and that all it takes is a bad call here, a fluke hand-ball there, and you end up with a mere four goals from four PKs across two games and a mere two points earned per team. Even if COL makes the playoffs, we don't expect them to figure much in the road to the championship. And that's not sour grapes, we bear no ill-will to the Rapids. We just don't see how they'll get very far in the MLS's second season when they have to grind out wins even when they're home. Defense keeps you in games, but eventually you have to start scoring more goals then your opponents.

This is coming a bit late in the day and will be short and sweet. Take Colorado at -118 if you don't mind risking a bit for what we think is a high percentage wager (El Chupa hopes to make 50% tonight). Colorado is tough as hell at home. They don't allow goals, they don't even allow shots on goal, a category in which they lead the league with a shockingly low 81, WELL below the league average. The difference in the Luchametric is high and Colorado needs 3 pts to stay in the playoff picture. We thus think it's high time for COL to break through against San Jose and that they will. Pickens and Clark are probably still out, but Mastroeni will be back. The loss of Pickens is most troubling, but again, Burpo shouldn't face many shots, especially at home. San Jose is going from sea-level to a mile high, and their "resurgence" has been at home, not on the road. They absolutely stink on the road. Their recent form is not as good as you might think either. If you're worried about Pickens being out, take the draw.

Our prediction: SJO 1 Col 2.

To the Nordecke Hordes: Cheer Suggestion Number One

Sung to the tune of "We Support Columbus."

Beckham can go suck it, go suck it, go suck it
And Posh Spice can go suck it, go suck it, go suck it
The Galaxy can suck it, can suck it, can suck it,
O way-o, way-0, way-o, O way-o, O way-o etc, etc. . .

LA vs Crew Preview: To Parity and Beyond!

By El Chupa
As the numbers to the left reveal (click to see a larger image), the Crew and LA are tied in virtually every category. The Crew have a narrow lead in total points, and points earned per game. And they have more home wins (HW), but they have only one more win overall than the Galaxy. The Crew have 38 Total Goals to the Galaxy's 35, and they both have virtually the same number of Shots and Shots on Goal. They also are basically tied when it comes to Shots on Goal per Game, Corners Taken, Shots on Goal Allowed, and Corners Against. QSHT is a raw measure of the number of SOGs above the league average that each team has created that were indeed high quality scoring chances, and again the difference is negligible. Most importantly, the Luchametric has them separated by a mere .3 of a STDEV. That amounts to a deadlock. Finally, it must be noted that LA's numbers don't reflect a full season with Beckham in the lineup.

This game will come down to tactics, individual match-ups, home field advantage, and whether each team performs to its full potential. We fear the Crew are staring another draw in the face, with which they should probably be satisfied. The pressure to send a message to LA and the league by earning a full three points is high, however, and the Crew are running out of home games. The pressure not to give up three points, however, is even higher. We'll be doing a comparison of each team's scorers later today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

EPL Statistics: Chelsea's Dominance by the Numbers

By El Chupa
We're going to try and dedicate the rest of the week to providing as much insight into the Crew's epic match with LA as possible, including suggested cheers for the Nordecke Hoards to unleash on Beckham and his fellow swine from the Galaxy. But today, were offering a few insights on Chelsea's dominance of the EPL.

First, they lead the league in PTS obviously, but also in Wins, and Fewest Goals Allowed (tie with Man City at a mere 3). They also have allowed the fewest Goals Against per Game (.5), and lead the league in Goal Differential at 12. They have put 8.33 Shots on Goal per game, which is well over the league average of 5.17 and behind only Man U and Liverpool (8.5 and 9.5 respectively).

Finally, they've allowed only 17 Corners Against (the league average is 32.8) and perhaps most telling of all, they've allowed only 9 Shots on Goal Against all year. The league average is 29.10. That's right, people, over six full games, or 540+ minutes of play, six teams have managed to create a mere nine SOGs. That means each team really only managed to produce one serious chance at a goal in each game. How the F do you beat a team when you can't manage more than one or two decent chances while they are literally ASSAULTING your goal? Overall Chelsea has allowed only 33 Shots Against all season. Compare this to the league average of 78.65 and you realize just how dominant are their midfield and back four. Another useful point of comparison is second-place Man U, who have allowed twice as many Shots overall at 66.

My friends, it's not simply that Chelsea can score, the numbers suggest that their midfield and defense are the best in the league, hands down. If you give up a goal to Chelsea, you are behind the eight-ball. Yes, it's early, and yes, Chelsea has not faced all the top teams yet. But over one month of play and six games, they've been incredibly consistent and incredibly difficult to beat. Even if Man U is still a contender, they're no longer the team to beat in the EPL. The rest of Europe better look out when it comes to Champions League play.

Finally, Chelsea leads the rest of the league in the vaunted Luchametric by 2.24 STDEVs in overall production, and 2.13 STDEVs in Pro/GM. Man U is second with 1.67 and 1.57 respectively. This puts Chelsea one-half or .5 STDEVs ahead of Man U, which is rather close but still a significant difference, and a minimum of one full STDEV over their next-closest rivals: Man City, Aston Villa, Liverpool and Arsenal. This means they have played a serious cut above not just the rest of the league, but the very best teams in the league. Word.

Monday, September 21, 2009

EPL Power Rankings: Duh

By El Chupa
Seriously. Chelsea. Duh. Look for some statistical insights tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have time. Blog life. Columbus 'till I die. Go Crew. Huge game Saturday. Get you ass there if you can. Tell Beckham to suck it.

MLS Power Rankings: Crew on Top with Game in Hand

By El Chupa
El Luchador's MLS Power Rankings have been fully updated through yesterday's Crew draw at CHI. No time for analysis right now. Just bask in the beauty of the numbers. Columbus has a game in hand and maintains at least .79 of a STDEV above everyone in the league except for LA and CHI. We think the top three will certainly figure in the final four teams competing for the championship. Word.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Man City at Man U: The Thrill! The Abject Despair! The Orgasmatic Rush of Confliction!

By El Chupa

El Chupa and El Luchador LOATHE Man U. But El Chupa found himself in emotional turmoil as his wager on Man U went from won to lost to won to lost to won in the freaking final minute of extra time. Holy shit. The only thing better is sex...but just barely. With Man U's win and a win on a last-minute wager on LA over TOR El Chupa had a good weekend. But I still hate 'em.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

EPL Results: The Thrill and the Agony

By El Chupa

Well, Burnley crushed Sunderland. We aren't afraid to admit that we got that one wrong. But El Chupa won his Parlay of Arsenal and Aston Villa, Liverpool won, and he has put his money on hated Man U in tomorrow's Manchester Derby as well. Two things: it's early in the season and the numbers will shift as the data comes in. We're about 1/8 th of the way through the season and Dr. Bumba and El Chupa have concluded we probably need to get to somewhere between 10 and 15 games before the Luchametric becomes a bit more stable. Second, we've decide that any game where the two teams are separated by .5 of a standard deviation or less is to close to call. If one STDEV or higher separates the two teams, we're fairly confident that it marks a significant separation. Accordingly, El Chupa looks for Parlays involving games between teams separated by 1.0 STDEVs or higher, especially when the favored team is at home. He also looks for games where the higher ranked team is going into a venue where the bookmakers are giving too much credit to the home team. Of course, Sunderland was one such instance. But we maintain that once we get enough data in, upsets like the one today at Turf Moor will be fewer in number.

Friday, September 18, 2009

EPL Predictions and Handicapping: It's Parlay Time!

By El Chupa

We've already told you about Sunderland at Burnley. Here's the rest of our offerings for this weekend's matches.

Aston Villa, Liverpool, Arsenal, Man U, - Parlay some combination of these four teams. Right now, a three team parlay of Aston, Liverpool and Arsenal pays +150. We think that's a great return on a very high percentage wager.

Stoke at Bolton - El Chupa thinks this one is too close. Dr. Bumba says take Bolton as they've got a great coach and they're at home. El Chupa thinks a draw is likely and must admit that it pays well at +250, but he hates to wager on draws.

Spurs at Chelsea - Chelsea has to draw or lose eventually, and eventually they will draw or lose at home. Is this the weekend? We thought Spurs looked very good vs Man U and that with a bounce here or there it could have been a draw or even a Spurs win. Can they go into Stamford Bridge and come away with one to three points? If you're a gambler, you might throw the dice on this one. But we still have not seen very many signs that Chelsea is vulnerable, especially at home. It might be low scoring, but El Chupa predicts a Chelsea win.

Blackburn at Everton -Everton is favored but we think this might be closer than the books think. Whether it's worth a toss at +360 is the question.

The rest are too tight for El Chupa's pocketbook.

MLS Handicapping: Nothing for Certain; Pick Your Poison

By El Chupa

El Luchador has made his opinions known about COL at SJO. In looking over the rest of this weekend's matches, El Chupa can only add that there are few if any high-percentage wagers. He can offer some advice, however.

We like NY at home, but only because it's offering the best cash line for a reasonable roll of the dice. They are 2-0-2 at home in their last four home games, and depending on which NY Red Bulls team shows up, they could either win or lose. We certainly expect there to be fewer than three goals, but the line on the under is rather lame.

We like SEA at home against CVS at even odds. SEA is due for a home win and although don't need three points, a win would send a message that they can beat someone other than DC.

Finally, we like the two-game parlay of HOU and LA. Both are at home, and both could use three points, as there aren't many games left and every team needs to get points at home if they hope to earn as many points as possible out of the few points available this late in the season.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

EPL Handicapping: Sunderland over Burnley

By El Chupa

We LOVE Burnley. We fell in love with them the night we watched them beat Man U (F Man U) in their first home game since being promoted to the Premier League at the end of last season. However, we think taking either Sunderland or the under may prove to be the highest percentage wager of the weekend in the EPL.

Sunderland is +145 and Burnley is +155. If you look at any current EPL table, Sunderland is in 6th place with 9 points and Burnley is in 12th with 6. BUT! The Luchametric has Sunderland at 2.46 Pro/Gm with a Z-score of -.03 or nearly at the league average. Meanwhile, Burnley is at a Pro/GM of -3.29 or nearly -1.46 standard deviations below the league average. This is nearly one and one-half standard deviations BELOW Sunderland. We think this is significant. We predict either a Sunderland win or an under draw.

Burnley is 2-0 at home giving up only 2 GA total. Sunderland averages 1.6 G/GM, which is above the league average of 1.37. But Burnley averages only .4 G/GM. As such, with Sunderland on the road where they've only scored 1 goal in two games, we think the under is virtually a sure thing. Both home wins for Burnley were 1-0. $15 currently earns you $10 on the under while $10 on Sunderland to win earns you $14.50. Roll the dice and bet Sunderland to win or take the under and earn 67% on what we consider a very safe, high-percentage wager. This match could also make one-half of a promising two-match parlay as well. Do it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UEFA Champions League Tips II: Liverpool and VFB Stuttgart

By El Chupa
El Chupa's parlay yesterday of Man U, Real Madrid and Chelsea came through and ended up paying +150. Nothing to shout about, but nothing to sneeze at either. He now is flush with misplaced confidence and offers the following advice.

The best match of the day from a fan's perspective is without a doubt Barca at Inter. And of course, FSC isn't showing it live because they have their heads up their asses and are slaves to the EPL. But I digress. In any case, I wouldn't touch this one. Either team could win, and it could also very likely end up being a draw. Eto will be inspired to score on his old club, and Inter looks very good this year so far. They destroyed AC Milan a week or so ago. Barca is Barca. They have Messi and Henry up front. They have Pujols. They have Alvez and Iniesta. Take the under at even odds if you want. We think this will be low scoring, perhaps a 1-0 or 1-1 affair. But now that I've just read what I wrote about Barca's roster, I may just take Barca. The brain says no; the heart says "F#$% it!"

The best wager is without a doubt a two-team parlay of Liverpool and Stuttgart. Both are at home, and although Stuttgart has the tougher match, we think they will prevail. This parlay is currently at -170 or $7 on a $10 wager: a 70% return on a high percentage wager.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

San Jose Over Colorado. Yeah, You Heard That Right.

By El Luchador

Statistics are fine, but they lie. This Friday’s San Jose v Colorado matchup is an example. With the Luchametric showing COL with season production at +55 and SJ at -52, one would think the safe money would be on COL. Wrong.

El Luchador will be betting $100 on San Jose using one of his many favored off-shore gambling sites. The line is currently set at +145. The masked one isn’t saying you should make this bet too. He’s just saying.

Why, you ask? Why should you forgo the cold comfort of El Chupa's precious numbers?

Colorado will be without play-making midfielders Pablo Mastroeni (Disciplinary Committee decision) and Colin Clark (L ACL tear) as well as goalkeeper Matt Pickens (R knee sprain).

San Jose is almost 100 percent, with the important exception of forward Darren Huckerby (R hip surgery). But their recent form has been decent even without the tattooed white trash British scorer. San Jose have not lost at home since a hard-fought defeat to Toronto FC on July 11, with the lone exception of a 3-0 drubbing Aug. 8 at the hands of our beloved Crew. Who doesn’t lose to the Crew?

Since the All-Star break, the Earthquakes have destroyed the previously impressive Seattle 4-0, beat KC 1-0, barely lost to New England on the road 2-1, and last week made visiting amateur Bay-area MLS-wannabe Copa Alianza All-Stars look like school girls with a 6-0 bitch slapping.

San Jose are coming in fresh at home having not played an MLS match in two weeks. And they sit dead last in the West with no realistic possibility of making the playoffs. They have nothing to lose and will fight like the Taliban.

Meanwhile, COL have been on the road for almost two weeks and have lost 3 of their last 6 matches, including a 3-2 loss Saturday to sucky Toronto. Look for the Earthquakes to beat the Rockies. Do it.

Champions League Tips: Chelsea, Real Madrid, Man U,

By El Chupa

All three of these clubs (Man U, Chelsea, and Real Madrid) could win the Champions League and all three are in very good form. Real Madrid will prove simply too much for Zurich. Ronaldo, punk that he is, wants very badly to bring glory to the club he's idolized since childhood. And Madrid spent millions of Euros in the summer to send Madrid back to the finals of possibly the most respected of all the European championships. Chelsea is at home against a respectable Porto club, but as we've pointed out, no team in England, and very few in Europe, are in Chelsea's league at the moment. Being without the suspended Drogba hurts but this is a deep, world class club. Finally, as much as we loathe Man U, we think this is a mismatch as well, even at Beskitas. We've gone with a three game parley.

EPL Power Rankings: Chelsea Maintains Dominance

By El Chupa
The metric for the EPL has been tweaked and updated. As with the MLS we've added a metric for "Quality SOGs." Chelsea sits atop the EPL by nearly one full standard deviation above their nearest rival: Man U. Man U, Spurs, and Man City are virtually deadlocked and round out the top four. Liverpool has maintained a very competitive rate of production, as has Arsenal, despite the latter's two losses in a row.

Chelsea has allowed only nine shots on goal against (SOGA) over five games, easily leading the rest of the league which has averaged 31 SOGA. They have also given up only 14 corners as compared to the league average of 28. Only Blackburn with 12 has given up fewer (the Blues are tied with Man U who also have only 14). If this keeps up, teams will find it very hard to create chances let alone score on the Blues. Did I mention that Chelsea has five wins in five games? I would not want to be Spurs who head to Stamford Bridge this weekend. Neither would I want to be FC Porto, who face Chelsea in UEFA Champions League Group play later today. Given the controversy over last year's loss to Barca in the semi-final of the Champions League, I'm sure the Blues will be motivated.

Monday, September 14, 2009

MLS Power Rankings: Crew and LA Still Headed for Showdown

By El Chupa
We've tweaked the metric and updated the rankings through last weekend's games. The Crew are still on top. Regardless of LA's embarrassing loss at home to bottom feeders DAL, they maintain their hold on second place. CHI and DC round out the top four.

One obvious oddity: DC is ranked higher than SEA. Look, DC has lost to SEA twice in the last two weeks and yet DC is ranked higher. Get over it. SEA has DC's number and obviously match up better against DC than DC matches up against them. But in terms of overall production week in and week out (wins, losses, goals, etc) DC is slightly better. We stand by the rankings in spite of the head-to-head results. Right now DC's recent form is +2 while SEA's is -2. That's a big part of the difference in the rankings.

In terms of the tweaks to the metric, we think we were weighting away wins too high and losses too low. We also took out Assists and Shots entirely, and we added a measure we call "Quality Chances" or essentially "Quality SOGs." This is a measure of the percentage of SHTS and SOGS a team creates which were actually good chances to score rather than crappy shots that had no chance at all. We've noticed that overall, the sheer number of SHTS a team generates is not a useful way of distinguishing one team from another in terms of actual goals scored. The ratio of SHTs to Gs varies hardly at all across the league. But we HAVE noticed that the best teams have a slightly higher percentage of Goals to SOGS. In other words, the best teams get more goals out of the sheer number of SOGs they create. Another way to think of it is that not all SHTs or SOGs are created equally, so the metric needs to address this. A lame-ass SOG that has absolutely no chance of going in the net ends up in the box score as a SOG and so gets weighted in the metric just as heavily as an SOG that was in fact a true quality scoring chance. The new category attempts to address this by distinguishing teams in terms of how many actual quality scoring chances they create relative to the rest of the league. We'll break the numbers down in more detail later in the week. Right now. El Chupa has to get back to work.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

EPL Picks: Spurs over Man U

By El Chupa
Ok, El Chupa and El Luchador have done the Vulcan mind-meld with Dr Bumba, and have the following picks for our loyal reader(s).

Man U at Spurs: Take Spurs to win at +200. Man U is NOT the team they were with Ronaldo. Sir Alex Le Douche has not figured out how to bring this team together. They look unorganized when attacking. Spurs are off to a hot start and they are especially tough at White Hart Lane. Their defense is loosey goosey. But we still like Spurs here, at these odds, at home.

Parley: Liverpool and Chelsea to win: The return on this is rather dismal: around $13 for a $20 bet. But it's as close to a sure thing as you're going to get this weekend. El Chupa took LA in the MLS plus Liverpool and the Blues in a three game parley. Yee haw.

El Luchador's Sleeper of the Week: Wolves at +320 over Blackburn at Blackburn. Do it. Do it.

The rest of the games are all rather too close for comfort. If you can, catch Arsenal at Man City. Holy shit. That's some serious football people. El Luchador likes the draw on this one. El Chupa and Dr Bumba say stay the hell away but watch and catch some beautiful football. Arshavin is out for this game but Fabregas is back. Man City is out to prove they belong in the top four. Aresnal wants three points after having one to three STOLEN at Old Trafford.

See also:

MLS Weekend Early Line: House of Pain

By El Chupa
El Chupa gazes into his crystal ball and sees only darkness and pain. The MLS matches this weekend offer few opportunities for high percentage wagers. All the matches, other than DAL at LA, are too close for comfort. LA will be favored heavily over DAL, but coming up with even one other team (let alone two, which is El Lucha's preference) for a parley might be difficult. If you put his cojones in a vice, El Chupa would probably take either TOR or his beloved Crew to win along with LA. But although he doubts COL can win in TOR, he has little faith in TOR's ability to score the win. And HOU scares the bejesus out of him, even at home. Ay mi cabesa!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

For the Punters: KC at DC

By El Chupa
DC is favored here, no surprise. They're better and they're at home. Odds are -153 for DC; +330 for KC to win. KC may have exploded against NE, but we don't think they'll sustain it for two road games in a row and not against DC. DC has not lost at home yet this year. They also need three points. $15.30 on DC to win earns you $10. We think that's a very good return, on a pretty safe bet.

MLS Power Rankings Updated: Crew Rule - Rapids Rising

By El Chupa
The MLS Luchametric Power Rankings have been fully updated through last weekend's games. The Crew and LA remain one and two respectively from last week. Colorado, however, has inched their way into the top four replacing CHI in the third spot with Houston rounding out the top five. The top five teams have a respectable Z-score of .69 of a standard deviation or above, which creates some significant separation between them and the rest of the league. Dallas, SJO and NY remain at the bottom. Relegation anyone?

Catering to the Masses: Not!

By El Chupa
Just a quick note before I try to get the MLS stats updated for release later today. As we noted last week, and as Eric Wynalda pointed out last night on Fox Football Fone-In, the MLS has got to quit trying to lure American Sports fans away from NASCAR and SEC football and start catering to American Soccer fans. Period. Wynalda goes even further, asking pointedly: why cater to soccer moms who don't know anything about the game when you can cater to the millions of knowledgeable football fans and thus build both the game and the league's marketshare? El Chupa is 42. He went to an NASL playoff game between New England and Rochester in the late 1970s. He played nothing but soccer from the time he was 8 until he graduated high school, MVP of his high school team. He grew up not in California or the Northeast corridor but deep in the midwest. In short, soccer is not "new." Everytime he hears an undereducated and overpaid sportscaster describe American soccer and the MLS as emergent he reaches for a gun but usually pops a Xanax instead. Seattle sells 24,000+ tickets a game not because soccer in the Pacific NW is a new fad, but because it's deeply ingrained in the psyche of its people. The MLS doesn't understand this and needs to rethink its business model.

Friday, September 4, 2009

For the Punters: Choice World Cup Qualifiers (updated)

By El Chupa

Czech Republic at Slovakia
: [What can we say? A GREAT match. The draw was probably more likely, but we like to throw the dice as much as anyone, as long as it's within reason. Hats off to the Czechs for coming back and salvaging the draw]. We think this may be the best bet of the weekend. The Czech Republic absolutely must win this game to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for South Africa. They are at the bottom of their group with a mere 8 pts, while Slovakia sits atop the group with 16. Yet the Czechs are rated higher than the Slovaks in the FIFA rankings, in spite of the fact Slovakia has already beaten the Czechs on the road at Prague. Dr. Bumba says the Czech rating is a result of previous efforts and does not reflect where the team really is at this point. The Slovaks now get to face the Czechs at home. Lest you think the Slovaks with 16 pts in the bag are unmotivated, remember that these two countries were once a single nation, and only a fool would underestimate just how tense the rivalry is between these two countries. This is war by another means, folks. The Czechs must attack, which might make them vulnerable to a Slovakian team that can clearly score. Currently, the books have + odds for both teams, with a bet on Slovakia to win coming in at +160. Folks, it doesn't get much better than this. If you can somehow watch this game, watch it; it should be outstanding football. For the Punters, honestly, this is some sweet action. Slovakia to win. El Chupa prefers IPAs and Porters, but would certainly enjoy a good true Pilsner while watching this match. Word.

Brazil at Argentina - This is another bitter rivalry. Security at the match will be crazy. Argentina needs a win badly both to keep them in the top four and for national pride. Dunga will most likely send Brazil out in a formation Maradona has never seen before. Dunga has pointedly built the Brazilian team to forgo beauty for defense and for results, but Brazil can and will score, and they will not concede three points easily, or even play for the draw unless they are behind late in the game. Messi chose not to play in Barca's first La Liga match so he could prepare with the Argentinian National Team. But Argentina has clearly not gelled yet under Maradona. Dr. Bumba thinks a Brazilian win is a good bet.

El Salvador at US - Dr Bumba is unequivocal in his belief that the US will beat El Salvador and beat them badly. The El Salvador is playing a US team that is motivated both to make up for the last two games against Mexico, and to make up for their poor performance in a draw down in El Salvador in the early summer. Take the US to win as part of a parley, and quite possibly take the over if it pays well.

For further analysis, check out our friends at http: //

For the Punters: MLS Fixtures (Updated)

By El Chupa
Three games this weekend in the MLS and a whole slew of World Cup Qualifiers. Let's take the MLS first.

KC at NE and TOR at COL. We think the best bet this weekend is a two game parlay of NE and COL to win. COL has quite possibly the stingiest defense. Although they've allowed 27 Goals Against, which puts them only two below the league average of 29 (HOU leads the league with only 22 GA), they've allowed a mere 74 Shots On Goal Against, well below the league average of 111 and currently the fewest SOGA in the league. And they are extra tough at home.
Meanwhile, NE has a +2 recent form (Wins minus Losses in the last four games) and is hosting a weak KC team. (What can we say? Home field advantage in the MLS doesn't mean dookie. And as we've already quantified, the parity in this league is unparalled. At least we got the COL game right).

This two game parlay is paying 2-1 currently.

The DC at DAL game is too close and should be avoided. The books are offering + odds on either team. If you think DC is burnt from the US Open Cup loss on Weds, than throw the dice and go with Dallas to win (We said it was close, and it was a draw. We are geniuses).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

EPL Power Rankings Updated: Things Not What They Seem

By El Chupa
The metric for the EPL has been fully tweaked and updated. As you can see, our numbers offer some interesting insights. First, Liverpool is far from dead in the water. They don't have the results, but their production puts them above the league average by .33 of a standard deviation. Granted, the next five teams in the rankings are doing much better, but Liverpool is ahead of the rest of the league--they're just not doing as well as would be expected. However, we expect them to start getting results and to gain on the rest of the big four.

Note also how far down Stoke is relative to their actual position in the League table. It's early in the long season, and they have the pts, but the Luchametric suggests that they really belong in the middle of the pack.

Finally, in spite of their loss to Man U (which clearly was largely a result of piss-poor officiating [and a moronic own goal]) the Luchametric puts Arsenal ahead of Man U. We stand by this ranking. Arsenal was all over Man U and generated far more chances. Rooney the Cave Man's PK was a freaking JOKE. And the goal Arsenal scored in extra time was stolen from them by--hold your breath--piss-poor officiating.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Updated Power Rankings: Crew Still on Top Despite Loss

By El Chupa
The Luchametric has been fully tweaked and updated through last weekend's games. El Chupa has a job and a life and does not have time to discuss the tweaks right now. But I wanted to get the new rankings up for our loyal readers in time for any wagers you might be considering. A full explanation of the changes is forthcoming. The short version is that we've added a measure of Recent Form to the metric, as well as calculated the Z-Score for each measure of Production (both the season total and the Production per Game). I'll explain the Z-Score tomorrow. The only interpretive comments I have time for are to note that the Crew still rule and to note how far LA has climbed in the rankings.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

El Chupa Rants: MLS Parity, Marketshare, and Strippers

By El Chupa

As promised, here is an account of parity in the MLS this season, and my thoughts about why the MLS can go suck it.
To begin, allow El Chupa to rant. Great job MLS! You've raised the least common denominator in the league to the point where only one or two teams truly suck, but most teams are all pretty much the same. Plus, they all pretty much have the same chance of getting into the Playoffs and most of them WILL get into the playoffs. What incentive is there, then, for a team to acquire first rate talent and coaching? NONE! Parity, when it is a result of each team struggling mightily to be better than the others is one thing; parity when it is a result of an entire league rigged to reward mediocrity is something else: it's called Major League Soccer.

As the chart above indicates, through last weekend's games, 11 teams have earned 31 pts or more. The top two teams in each conference plus the next best six teams regardless of conference make the playoffs. The word on the street is that the current minimum number to qualify for the playoffs is 33. As the numbers suggest, 11 of the 15 teams in the league currently still have a shot at the playoffs. Let's think about this for a minute, shall we?

First, the playoff system is a joke. It's driven solely by the interest in generating revenue not the logic of sport and certainly not the logic of the beautiful game. Explain to me why over HALF of the teams in the league should qualify for the playoffs? Such a system insures that average and even mediocre teams get "rewarded" by additional games. Further, the EPL has no playoff system, La Liga has no playoff system, the Bundesliga has no playoff system. Why? Because it makes no freaking sense, that's why. In the MLS, after 30 games, including home and away against every other team in the league, it's clear who's the best team in the league in any given year: the team with the most points! Duh!

But it gets worse, the third column of the chart (PAA) indicates how many points above the league average (Points Above Average) each team has earned thus far. Notice that the top four have each achieved a respectable number of PAA. But notice also that seven teams are only within one or two points of the league average. No bell curve for MLS, we want everyone to be the same: average! Yay! We have the most mediocre league in the world! A bad call here (and there a lot of them in the MLS), an unlucky bounce there, and practically the entire league would be the same.

But it gets still worse. Look at the last column in the chart or points earned per game. Notice anything? How about the fact that a full 13 teams are within one point, or one draw, of each other. Read it two ways. One, the chart clearly shows that regardless of how many games each team has played (the more games, the more potential PTS, remember, so this column makes up for the fact that not every team has played the same number of games) virtually every team earns about the same number of PTS/GM as every other; indeed, the difference among 11 of the teams is negligible. Two, this means that when these teams play each other, each team has pretty much the same chance of coming away with 1 to 3 PTS as every other team. Look at the win-loss ratio. The average number of wins is 8, the average number of losses is 8. Most teams are within 1 or at most 2 W/L of the average. If the team was comprised of 15 Man Us, or 15 Barcas, it would be one thing. But we've got a league of 13 teams who would get carved apart by Portsmouth, currently at the bottom of the standings in the EPL, and two who are so awful they might get carved apart by the teams in USL 1.

The bottom line of course is, does parity equal good football? We think not. Unlike our friends at MLS.Talk, we think parity is bullshit and a symptom of just how far the MLS has its head up its ass. Allow El Chupa to rant a bit further.

The MLS has got to quit marketing to American Sports Fans and start marketing more to American SOCCER Fans. We don't drink Bud Light, we don't want cheerleaders at the games, we don't want two conferences which completely distort how the teams really compare to one another. We don't want a bullshit playoff where lame-ass teams who are incapable of playing exciting, creative, beautiful football get rewarded with more TV time and more TV revenue. Hey, MLS! You're losing TV marketshare to the European leagues. Hey, MLS! You're losing TV marketshare to the South American leagues. Why? Because we know better you twits! Why should I watch some dismal game between two mediocre MLS teams when I can watch a much better match from Europe or S.A. on FSC, GOL, Setanta, or their Spanish-language sister stations?

We want a single freaking table! We want relegation to the USL! We want at most four teams in the playoffs if we have to have a playoff just to keep the league afloat. And for the love of God, microbrews, and country, get rid of the Crewzers! High School and certainly College cheerleaders are actual athletes; professional cheerleaders are strippers without poles and far too many clothes on. Give me a break.