Champions Linfield will have are the final club in our 2019/20 Irish League profile series. Having pulled away from the chasing Ballymena after the split, Linfield will be expecting a sterner challenge in their quest for the Gibson Cup this year.
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Linfield’s title winning credentials were on display from game one. A 1-0 away win at Mourneview Park showed the team’s defensive prowess and clinical frontline. Linfield would win 11 of the next 14 league games, scoring 29 goals and conceding just 6. After an indifferent November, Linfield would return to form, losing just twice before the end of the season. Despite the season-ending injury to Roy Carroll in January, Linfield romped to the League championship. The Blues finished 7 points ahead of challengers Ballymena and with a +50-goal difference. Individually, striker Andy Waterworth scored 17 throughout the campaign while the form of centre-back Jimmy Callacher (who scored 9 goals from defense) earned him the Ulster Footballer of the Year award.
Linfield have continued to develop upon a winning squad this season. Mercurial midfielder Bastien Hery may prove to be the standout acquisition across the league this season while former Everton front-man Shayne Lavery and Mathew Shevlin of Ballymena have been signed to bolster Linfield’s attacking threat. Goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson has also been signed on-loan from Kilmarnock- he has already made a series of strong European performances. Linfield have seen the release of experienced goalkeeper Roy Carrol, as well as the return of Conor Mitchell, Marek Cervenka and Kyle McClean to their parent clubs. Fan-favourite Michael O’Connor will return to Linfield at the end of the League of Ireland season when his loan deal at Waterford will expire.
The appointment of David Healy as Linfield manager in 2015 raised eyebrows throughout the country. While a legend in the international game, Healy was an untested candidate for the job however a League and Irish Cup winners medal in his first full season in charge proved Healy’s class as manager. While the 2017-18 season was wrought with disappointment, the board’s faith in the manager was repaid last year with a League and League Cup double. Healy’s popularity has seen high profile signings welcomed to Windsor Park- Roy Carroll, Sammy Clingan, Jordan Stewart, Josh Robinson and Shayne Lavery are just a few of the players attracted by the manager. This season may prove his most challenging yet, but the ambitious Healy will be eager to secure his third championship at Windsor Park.
Linfield are favourites to lift the Gibson Cup once again this season. Having amassed a strong and versatile squad, the side are sure to be there, or there about, once again. Crusaders will be expected to mount a much more sustained challenge throughout this season, while Larne, Ballymena, Glenavon and Glentoran will be a dangerous chasing pack. Alongside Crusaders however, Linfield look best placed to go all the way this season.
Linfield are priced 6/4 to win their second league title in as many years. If they’re to retain, they will be relying once again on the goals of Andy Waterworth- he’s 4/1 to win the golden boot this year. New man Shayne Lavery is a slightly bigger price at 6/1, while value can be found with Joel Cooper and Jordan Stewart who are both 25/1 to be this year’s top goalscorer. All odds are available in store or via our dial-a-bet service.
Check out all of our Irish League odds here. Catch-up with our previous club profiles here: Warrenpoint Town, Institute, Carrick Rangers, Dungannon Swifts, Glenavon, Glentoran, Larne, Ballymena, Crusaders.