The Week Ahead: Five ‘must have’ bets for the coming seven days

Back Carlos Bacca to score in Europa League Final at [2.5] or better
Wednesday, 19:45
Live on ITV4

Carlos Bacca has scored five goals in the Europa League so far this season, and 26 in all competitions for Sevilla. In what is likely to be something of a nip-and-tuck affair against Dnipro, given their propensity to try and keep it tight and rely on their defensive solidity as they have in earlier rounds, it could be just one goal that settles the tie.

Bacca is, in my view, by far the most likely to hit the back of the net of all the players that’ll be on display on Wednesday night – his near post runs alone are enough to give any central defender nightmares when he’s on form, and he also takes a mean penalty. Anything around [2.5] should be snapped up on him to score within the 90. LM

Back Shane Lowry for a Top 10 Finish at the Irish Open @ [3.1]
Thursday, 07:30
Live on Sky Sports 4

Shane Lowry looks like a strong contender to win his home Open but we’ll play it safe with a top 10 bet at a little over 2/1 and even that might look a value price come Sunday afternoon.

Lowry was one good round away from genuinely contending for last week’s BMW PGA Championship – the world’s 50th ranked golfer opened with a messy two over par 74 but then produced three bogey-free rounds to finish up sixth.

More importantly for this week’s test, he can really play the links game. Last year saw Lowry finish in the top 10 of the principal links tests in golf – the Open, Scottish Open and Alfred Dunhill Links Championships. And just to underline what a solid bet he represents consider this: Lowry has finished in the top 10 of his last five events played in the UK and Ireland. JD

Back New Zealand to beat England in the Second Test at [3.75]Thursday, 11:00
Live on Sky Sports 2

I was swept up by Ben Stokes mania as much as the next man on Bank Holiday Monday – the noise at Lord’s when he bowled Brendon McCullum was something to behold – but as a punter it pays to take a hard headed approach to sport and I think the markets are once again underrating the Kiwis for the Second Test at Headingley.

While England ended up victorious at HQ, it could easily have gone the other way with New Zealand dominating a number of sessions and they won’t be downhearted about their performance, just the result.

The hosts have a poor record at Headlingley, winning just seven of the 15 Tests hosted there since 1997, and have bad memories of last summer when Sri Lanka won with just one ball to spare, so I’ll take the Kiwis at what looks like a chunky price. DT

Back Second Half in Half With Most Goals in the FA Cup Final at [2.1] or better
Saturday, 17:30
Live on BBC1

Arsenal are gunning for their second FA Cup in two years, and if they emerge victorious on Saturday evening they’ll be the first team to successfully defend the cup since Chelsea in 2010.

The Gunners are clearly the stronger team here and face an Aston Villa side not in the best form – indeed, had Hull beaten Burnley at home there’s a fair chance Tim Sherwood’s side would have been relegated. However, there isn’t much value in the match odds market, with layers viewing Arsenal as big, short-priced favourites and so it’s necessary to look further afield for a bet.

Cup finals can be cagey affairs, and a punt on the second half having the most goals looks like the shrewdest approach – it is a bet that would have paid out in four of the last five finals. It should trade at around [2.1] on the Exchange as Saturday approaches, but you can get evens on the Sportsbook now.

It’s not a huge stretch to imagine Arsenal really opening Villa up after the break after a slow first half. It’s worth a bet. LM

Back Kell Brook to beat Frankie Gavin by KO/TKO at [1.7]Saturday, 21:30
Live on Sky Sports Box Office

Although Frankie Gavin was very highly rated as an amateur and was seen as something of a prospect when he turned professional, his career has stalled and stumbled and a disastrous defeat to a European-level fighter in the shape of Leonard Bundu last year has left him languishing at a time when it seems like British boxing is on a high.

He now, somewhat inexplicably, faces the best opponent he’s ever been in a ring with by far in the shape of IBF Welterweight World Champion Kell Brook, in what is seen as something of a tune up fight for the Sheffield man ahead of bigger and better things.

We can get into the politics and the whys and wherefores of how Gavin has even landed this fight – it’s probably got something to do with the fact that they share a promoter in Eddie Hearn – but the facts are the facts. Gavin is in deep water here and it would be hugely surprising to see him get anywhere near the genuinely world class and undefeated Brook. [1.7] about a Brook win by stoppage looks the shrewdest bet. LM