Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Liverpool beat United to stay in touch

Well what a weekend that was for Liverpool fans, going into the game against Man Utd on the back of four successive defeats and with pressure mounting on Rafa Benitez, it had to go and happen didn’t it?

In a weekend that saw just one other team in the top eight recording victory, Liverpool beat Man Utd 2-0 thanks to goals from Fernando Torres & Michael Ngog, but United were simply not good enough on the day, and Liverpool took full advantage of it, and fully deserved the win, however, questions on whether Jamie Carragher should have remained on the pitch after he hauled down Michael Owen when he would have been through on goal.

Two players who did see red though were Man Utd’s Nemanja Vidic, and Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano, who were sent off for second bookable offences in separate incidents.

So United failed to climb back to the top of the table, and Chelsea will be more than happy with that outcome as they keep their lead at the top, thanks largely to a 5-0 hammering of swine flu hit Blackburn Rovers. Frank Lampard grabbing a couple there, and as mentioned two weeks ago, he was worth a punt on the betting front following his recent goal drought.

Arsenal failed to take advantage of a two goal lead at West Ham as two goals in the last 16 minutes were enough to pull a point out of this affair, Carlton Cole & Alessandro Diamanti were the heroes for the Hammers, after Van Persie & Gallas had put the Gunners two up.

Tottenham were another club to not take advantage of a chance to go top on Saturday, as they fell to a home defeat, 1-0 against Stoke, with Glenn Whelan grabbing the winner just 4 minutes from time.

Man City were yet another one to mess up at the weekend, a 2-2 draw at home to Fulham, who produced a great fightback for the second season running. City had taken a two goal lead thanks to Joleon Lescott & Martin Petrov, but goals from Damien Duff & Clint Dempsey put Fulham right back in it in a mad 15 minute spell where all four goals were banged in.

Aston Villa were on their way to recording a derby day win at Wolves, but Gabi Agbonlahor’s goal 11 minutes from time wasn’t enough, as a Sylvan Ebanks-Blake penalty pulled Wolves level just four minutes later.

Sunderland also slipped to defeat, and no beach balls to help them out this week, as Birmingham took the points through goals from Liam Ridgewell and James McFadden, but made life difficult for themselves when an own goal from Scott Dann made it an uncomfortable end to the match, but the men from St Andrews held on.

Burnley’s fantastic home form came to an end, as Roberto Martinez guided Wigan to victory at Turf Moor, Hugo Rodallega scored twice, whilst Emmerson Boyce scored the other, after Steven Fletcher had originally given the Clarets the lead early on.

In the big game at the bottom of the table, the match was devoid of goals, as Hull took on Portsmouth, and Pompey remain at the foot of the table.

Finally, a bad week for Everton as they followed up their 5-0 defeat at Benfica in the UEFA Cup, with a 3-2 defeat at Bolton, this after they had come back from a 2-0 deficit to Wanderers. Chung-Yong Lee had set Bolton on their way before Gary Cahill put them two up, before a spirited comeback from Everton saw Louis Saha hit a cracker, followed by Marouane Fellaini’s belter, but it all meant nothing as Ivan Klasnic picked himself up from what looked a serious injury, but scored moments later to net the winner for Bolton.

That’s it for the review of the week, to come next weekend, it’s the North London derby as Arsenal face Tottenham at the Emirates, could it end 4-4 again?

Friday, 23 October 2009

Mouthwatering clash at Anfield as United face Reds

This weekend sees one of the most anticipated fixtures on the Premier leaguer calendar, when Liverpool clash with Man Utd at Anfield.

It’s set to be an important battle for both clubs, as Liverpool face the embarrassment of losing their fifth successive game, which would be their worst sequence for over 60 years, it would also heap the pressure that is building on manager, Rafa Benitez.
Liverpool are sweating on the fitness of Steven Gerrard & Fernando Torres as they bid to end the rot suffered recently, in both the Premier League, and Champions League.

United meanwhile, can put Liverpool 10 points behind them should they be victorious at Anfield on Sunday, and are also hoping that key players are fit, with both Wayne Rooney & Rio Ferdinand battling injuries.

The main talking prior to the game will I’m sure be beach balls, following last Saturday’s madness at the Stadium of Light, when Darren Bent’s shot was diverted in off a stray beach ball in Pepe Reina’s area, and stewards are under strict advice to stop anyone going in with beach balls, particularly away fans!

Before all that however, the weekend is kicked off tomorrow at lunchtime with a another battle, this time between Wolves & Aston Villa, as they meet at Molyneux – there is certainly no love lost between the two teams, and Martin O’Neill will be keen to see his side continue their good form after their win over Chelsea last Saturday at Villa Park, whilst Wolves got a creditable draw at Everton.

Second placed Chelsea take on Blackburn at Stamford Bridge in the Saturday evening kick off, and will be hoping to bounce back with a win, whilst Rovers will be looking to build on their 3-2 victory over rivals Burnley last weekend.

Steve Bruce takes his highly placed Sunderland side to St Andrews to meet Birmingham, hoping to continue their good form, this time perhaps without the aid of the beach ball which must surely have been given pride of place in the Black Cats home!
Alex McLeish with new owners behind him, will be anxious to get some points on the board after last week’s defeat at Arsenal.

Another north west encounter for Owen Coyle, as his Burnley side look to net another home win over Wigan, who picked up a good point last week against man City.

A crucial battle at the bottom where Hull City take on Portsmouth, with both sides desperate for the points, with Pompey routed to the foot of the table, and Hull unable to break out of the bottom three.

Tottenham take on Stoke at White Hart Lane, knowing a heavy 5 goal win could actually put them top of the Premier League before Chelsea’e evening game.

Everton make the relatively short distance to Bolton on Sunday hoping to bounce back from last night’s mauling in Benfica.

Man City face Fulham on Monday night, still without Robinho, who faces a delay in his return to action thanks to a stress fracture. Fulham meanwhile are still rueing the last minute equalizer for Roma in last night’s UEFA Cup tie.

Arsenal then finish things off on Sunday afternoon as they face a local match in the capital, taking on West Ham at Upton Park.

That's your footy preview for this week then!!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Premier League is back!

After the international break that saw England lose in the Ukraine, but victorious at home to Belarus, we return back to the Premier League, with the top four expected to win their respective games.

Leaders Chelsea have possibly the difficult game as they travel to Aston Villa, who currently occupy 7th place in the League, and will have Gabi Agbonlahor in their side following his outing in the England team last week. One stat of note to betting fans, is that Frank Lampard hasn't scored in the last six Premier league games, and nine matches in all competitions, so he is surely set for a goal.

Two points behind the leaders are Man Utd, and they have a home tie against Bolton, with the Old Trafford side expected to take points, although Bolton have proved a menace in United's back yard in the past. United could see the return of Edwin Van der Sar & Michael Owen, after the pair are now fit after recent injuries, although Wayne Rooney will miss out.

An interesting game will be at Fratton Park, where Harry Redknapp returns to Portsmouth, with his Tottenham side. Avram Grant has been brought in as Director of Football, and I think we all know what that means for manager Paul Hart very soon - the sack! It's also a return to Pompey for striker Peter Crouch, who notched two goals in the England win over Belarus, another ex-Pompey player Jermaine Defoe is still expected to miss out through injury.

Man City are away to Wigan on Sunday, in what could be a tricky game, but I would still expect Mark Hughes' men to have too much in the bank for Roberto Martinez's side.

Arsenal have the chance to net more points as they take on Birmingham at the Emirates, with the Blues of course now under new ownership after Carson Yeung purchased the club from David Sullivan. The Gunners meanwhile will be looking to extend their excellent run of late.

Liverpool make the trip up to the Stadium of Light, where they face a Sunderland side big on confidence, following their recent results that have pleased Steve Bruce. The scousers could even face an ex-red in the Black Cats line up, as Bobo Zenden signed for the rest of the season, but is currently awaiting international clearance before he gets to make his bow.

One of the big local matches at the weekend is Blackburn v Burnley, where the two lock horns in the Lancashire derby, the first for 30-odd years, and this Ewood Park battle is a sell out, and Owen Coyle will be hoping this is where his Burnley side grab their first away points of the season.

Everton face Wolves at Goodison Park, and they'll be hoping to get back to winning ways following their last outing at home where they missed the chance to make it six successive wins, against Stoke. Marouane Fellaini is expected to play for the Toffees, after FIFA turned down the Belgian FA's request to apply the "five day rule" that can be invoked after a player misses an international match through injury but then declares themselves fit for their next club match.

Stoke meanwhile, have a home tie against West Ham, and the Hammer currently occupy one of the relegation spots at present, so a win in the Potteries is vital for Gianfranco Zola's men. Stoke Manager Tony Pulis, will be hoping his side can bounce back after home defeats to Chelsea & Man Utd.

The final match of the weekend takes place at the Craven Cottage, where Fulham take on Phil Brown's Hull City in the Monday evening match. Jimmy Bullard could make his long awaited return at his former employers after a couple of successful outings in reserve games for the Tigers.

So, to the betting then:

The top 6 all look to have potential wins in their sights, and if the odds on them all winning are 14/1, could be worth a fiver that!

For the one spoiler amongst that lot, maybe Wigan are good value at 4/1 to beat Man City, with Birmingham an unlikely 14/1 to win at Arsenal. Portsmouth are worth a look as they are 7/2 to win at home to Tottenham.

Elsewhere, Wolves are 6/1 to win at Everton, whilst there are odds of 5/2 for Burnley to secure a draw in the Lancashire Derby.

Here's a threesome for you:


Combined odds of 5/1 for all three to win.

TV Games this weekend:
12.45pm: Aston Villa v Chelsea (Sky Sports 1)
1.00pm: Blackburn v Burnley (Sky Sports 1)
4.00pm: Wigan v Man City (Sky Sports 1)
8.00pm: Fulham v Hull (ESPN)

That's it for this weekend, enjoy the football!

Friday, 9 October 2009

World Cup Qualifiers Preview

Well this week the Fantasy League takes a break as the World Cup Qualifiers roll back into town, and with England having already qualified for the 2010 tournament in South Africa, Fabio Capello can maybe experiment a little with the line up for tomorrow's game in the Ukraine.

The battle though for second place in Group 6 is still on though, and victory for the Ukraine, would put them into second position on level games with Croatia, as they don't play at the weekend, so the pressure will be on the home team to get the result they need, as they bid to make the play offs. The other match in the group sees Belarus take on Kazakhstan, with Belarus currently 5 points behind Ukraine.

It's a huge night in Group 8 though, as the Republic of Ireland meet Italy at Croke Park, and a win would put the Irish just one point behind the Italians with one game left to play, but defeat would potentially leave them in danger of being caught by Bulgaria, who travel to Cyprus tomorrow. If the Irish can avoid defeat to Italy then it should put them in a good position to qualify for a play off place.

In Group 3, Northern Ireland don't play tomorrow, but they will be hoping that Slovakia beat Slovenia as that will confirm Slovakia's place in the finals, but also leave 2nd place open to the last game on Wednesday. The Irish will also be hoping that the Czech Republic & Poland draw to give them the best possible chance of claiming a play off spot, with Northern Ireland facing the Czech's in their last game on Wednesday night.

It's all over for Wales in Group 4, but they face a Finland side in a non event really tomorrow, as both sides cannot qualify for the World Cup, but Wales will be hoping for a good show in Helsinki as their thoughts turn to planning for Euro 2012. The big game in the group tomorrow is Russia v Germany, with the Russians only 1 point behind Oliver Bierhoff's men in the table, and victory for them would leave it looking like a play off place for Germany.

Elsewhere, in Group 1, first meets second in a Scandinavian battle, as leaders Denmark face Sweden, knowing a win will secure the Danes place in the finals, whereas Sweden can move level on points with them if they win, and that would then heap pressure on Portugal, who have a home game against Hungary - who they are on level points with - so it's going to be an interesting day in Group 1 tomorrow!

In Group 2, Switzerland could get one foot in the finals if they can win in Luxembourg, and you wouldn't expect any other result to be honest, whilst 2nd & 3rd meet as Greece play host to Latvia, with both teams on level points, and more importantly three points behind the Swiss. Israel have an outside chance but they must beat Moldova at home tomorrow to have any chance, which is feasible if the Greeks & Latvians draw.

In Group 5, Spain, like England have already qualified, and can take it easy in Armenia tomorrow, whilst Bosnia-Herzegovina can wrap up a place in the play offs if they can avoid defeat in Belgium tomorrow. Should the Belgians win, then Turkey could get one point closer to the Bosnians, who face Spain in the last game.

In Group 7, Serbia could wrap the group up if they can beat Romania at home, and leave France, who play the Faroe Islands tomorrow, in the play off positions. If Serbia fail to win, then it would come down to the last game where the Serbs travel to Lithuania, whilst France host Austria.

So, it's set to be an interesting day tomorrow, but at least England can relax, they are already through, but will be looking to keep their 100% record in tact, but if I was to have a bet, it would go on a draw in this game.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Chelsea back on top as United rely on late draw against Sunderland

Chelsea took advantage of Man Utd's inability to beat Sunderland, by defeating Liverpool to head back to the top of the Premier League table.

Man Utd stuttered to a 2-2 draw at home to Sunderland, but it could have been much worse as they had to rely on another injury time goal, this time a shot from Patrice Evra which cannoned off Anton Ferdinand's leg, when had he avoided the shot, it would have gone out for a goal kick, and could have signalled Steve Bruce's first win over his former boss Alex Ferguson.

Utd had fallen behind to an early goal, when Darren Bent fired home for 20 yards, but pulled level six minutes after half time thanks to Dimitar Berbatov's spectacular scissor kick in front of the Stretford End. It didn't last long though as Kenwyn Jones nodded past Ben Foster to put Sunderland 2-1 up before United managed to pull a point out of this disappointing performance.

Chelsea then had the chance to go back to the top, but had to beat Liverpool to do so, and it wasn't a classic, but goals from Nicolas Anelka & an injury time finish from Florent Malouda meant that Chelsea went back to the summit.

Tottenham cling on to 3rd place after only managing a draw at Bolton, who had taken the lead through Ricardo Gardner on 3 minutes, but Niko Kranjcar levelled matters up just before the break Bolton went back ahead through striker Kevin Davies' headed and looked to be on for a win, but up popped Vedran Corluka to head Spurs level, and that's the way it finished.

Arsenal fly into 4th place as they came from 2-1 down to hammer Blackburn 6-2 at the Emirates, with six different scorers, as Thomas Vermaelen, Robin Van Persie, Andrey Arshavin, Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott & Nicklas Bendtner got in on the act, and all this after Blackburn had led through goals from Steven Nzonzi & David Dunn.

Burnley maintained their rather bizarre Jekyl & Hyde show as they won their 4th consecutive home match against Birmingham 2-1, thanks to goals from Steven Fletcher, and Andre Bikey, Birmingham pulling one back through Sebastian Larsson in injury time.

Everton were unable to gain their 7th straight win as they were held at home to Stoke 1-1, as the visitors took the lead through new signing Robert Huth, but the Toffees quickly levelled through Leon Osman.

Wigan, fresh from last week's win over Chelsea went down 2-1 at Hull, as the Tigers scored twice in an eight minute spell in the second half, new boy Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink grabbing his first for the club, and Geovanni soon followed up with the second. Wigan did pull one back as Scott Sinclair scored 3 minutes from time.

Fulham were denied a win at West Ham, as both teams desperate for points fought out a 2-2 draw, with the Hammers levelling the game up in stoppage time through Junior Stanislaus. West Ham had taken the lead initially on 16 minutes as Carlton Cole pounced, but Fulham hit back with goals from Danny Murphy (pen) and Zoltan Gera, before the home side snatched a point late on.

Portsmouth scored their first win of the season, with a 1-0 win at Wolves, as Hassan Yebda scored the all important goal, however, Pompey were lucky not have a penalty awarded against them for what seemed a certain handball in the second half.

Aston Villa & Man City couldn't be seperated in the Monday night game, as Villa took the lead through ex-Blue Richard Dunne, who signed for Villa in the close season, but Craig Bellamy levelled things up in the second half.

It was an interesting night for Gareth Barry, who received a crescendo of boos following his transfer to the Eastlands club.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Chelsea & Liverpool prepare for battle!

Another big fixture this weekend in the Premier League as 2nd placed Chelsea entertain 3rd placed Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, with Carlo Ancelotti's men facing the scousers without goalkeeper Petr Cech, thanks to his sending off in last weekend's defeat to Wigan.

Liverpool meanwhile will be hoping for more of the same from striker Fernando Torres, who struck a hat trick in last weekend's 6-1 win over Hull.

The match is televised, and will be on Sky Sports 1 on Sunday at 4pm.

Leaders Man Utd will also be on the tv, this time on ESPN as they take on Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday evening, kick off 5.30pm. United, fresh from their comeback win over Wolfsburg in the Champions League in midweek will be hoping to see off a Sunderland side who have made a great start under former United legend Steve Bruce.

Darren Bent will be one to watch, although if Sunderland do get a penalty you can be sure he'll be taking it following last week's outburst from his manager after handing the ball to Kenwyn Jones!

Tottenham will be hoping that follow up their 5-0 thrashing of Burnley last week, with another win at rejuventated Bolton, who are unbeaten in the their last 3 games.

A good game at Villa Park on Monday night sees Man City take on Aston Villa, with bot teams just outside the leading pack, and plenty of goals being scored by both teams, this one could be a cracker, and will also see the return of Adebayor, who has a suspended 2 match ban, and a meagre fine of £25000 to pay for his over celebrating against Arsenal - that's really going to hit him isn't it??

Arsenal play on Sunday at home to Blackburn, where I'm sure Morten Gamst Pedersen will come in for some stick (if he plays) following his dive in last year's encounter, although the Gunners fans are the last ones who should be dishing out stick about divers!

Everton have the chabce to score their 6th successive win as they entertain Stoke at Goodison park on Sunday afternoon (ko 3pm) as they now seem to have recovered from their problematic start, and following last night's UEFA Cup comeback win, they should go into the game in confident mood.

Other games tomorrow include Burnley v Birmingham, where both teams will be looking for the win, City more so, as they sit 2 points beneath the Turf Moor outfit. Hull face Wigan, with Phil Brown's men desperate for points after their disappointing start to the season, whilst Roberto Martinez will be looking for a repeat of their performance against Chelsea last weekend.

Portsmouth who have major problems right now, what with the players not being paid, added to the fact that they've lost all their Premier League games this season, travel to Wolves who will be looking add to Pompey's misery at Molyneux.

The final game to look at is West Ham v Fulham, and Gianfranco Zola is desperate for a win having seen his side drop into the bottom three last weekend, whilst Fulham's aren't that much better off, sitting just one place above the Hammers, but did enjoy a 1-0 win in the UEFA Cup last night.

So, a busy weekend in prospect then, but what's the bet of the weekend?

Beat the Bookie

Well this week, I've gone for the following:

Everton to beat Stoke ~ 4/7
Wigan to win at Hull ~ 7/5
Tottenham to win at Bolton ~ 10/11
Chelsea to draw against Liverpool ~ 11/5

Combined Odds ~ 22/1

Stick a fiver on that and take home £115 - worth a punt surely?

Here's another...

Steven Gerrard to score first for Liverpool, and the game to end 1-1 ~ 40/1 (worth a quid!)

That's it for this week, enjoy the weekend's action!