Football betting: The big lads at back are worth a second look

First goalscorer punts might well be speculative ones, but when they come off you certainly feel the benefit.

Last week Robert Huth did the business for us at 22/1 and it just goes to show that the bookies are wrong occasionally, with this particular market a perfect example.

As the in-stadium betting operator at 20 English football clubs – including 13 Premier League ones – I can certainly tell you who the fans are backing on a weekly basis around the country and I'll use this week's column to share a few trade secrets of who is perceived as hot.

First of all there's James Collins at Villa, a player who can be backed at 28/1 despite the fact that he hurtles forward from his defensive position to join the attacking line at every given opportunity.

He's big, he's strong in the air, and he's Villa's biggest threat at set-pieces.

Far too big at the quotes and the same applies to on-loan Leicester defender Curtis Davies who, at a whopping 33/1 to score first, must feel insulted – he towers above everybody when the ball is whipped in from corners and free-kicks.

Next on the list is Liverpool's Sotirios Kyrgiakos, a Greek centre-half who might epitomise Keystone Cop defending at one end, but suddenly comes alive when he sees the whites of the eyes of the opposition goalkeeper.

At around 25/1 there's major value to be had and the same sentiment applies to the odds of 33/1 that can be found about Derby's Shaun Barker breaking the net first.

Certainly the 1m that the Rams paid Blackpool to secure his services wasn't just for his stopping abilities and every now and then he pulls a bullet header out of the bag to confirm his status as the club's secret attacking weapon.

More centre-halves to keep an eye on are Christopher Samba at Blackburn, though he's slightly exposed as a good run a couple of seasons ago saw his price drop from 40s down to around the 20s mark.

It's still value though because the 6 ft 4in Congolese international soars like a bird whenever a cross comes in and with Michael Turner possessing the exact same ability – when the Sunderland player recovers from a knee injury that will keep him out for at least another couple of months – he needs to be punted at massive odds of 40/1.

Finally – and probably the best backed of the lot – you've got to keep on the right side of not only the man who did the business for us last Saturday, Huth, but also his defensive partner Ryan Shawcross.

With Rory Delap's throw still the favoured route one option, both find themselves with opportunity knocking on many occasions during a game – and both have proved that they don't need showing twice where the back of the onion bag is.

They nudge markers, they intertwine runs and they not only look to rise above everybody else, but also get in first when there's a loose ball.

There's an art to scoring a goal you know and while all the above don't do an end product that's as pretty as a Lionel Messi run or a Didier Drogba piledriver it has to be said that these boys have mastered it.

Small stakes for big returns? You bet!

Something for the Weekend

3 homes: Stoke, Norwich & Carlisle (4/1)

3 aways: Liverpool, Port Vale & Crewe (11/1)

Steer clear of: Man Utd (10/11 at home to Arsenal)

? Odds supplied by Taylor's Bookmakers and Betfair exchange, LS28 6PA and may vary. For enquiries telephone 01132 568268 during office hours.

Thomas Christiansen

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