Premier league – 2018/19

Premier league 2018 19

As we near the Christmas period the premier league has continued to provide some stunning entertainment for fans. The Genting sports app makes the defending champions Manchester City the short odds on favourites to do it again. This is no surprise as they ominously look to have improved even further this season. This was again shown as they put on a clinic in the Manchester derby most recently, dominating United to win comfortably by 3-1.

There nearest challengers in both the league and betting are Liverpool, who have been on an upward curve in recent seasons. This was shown in their run to last seasons champions league final before being defeated by Real Madrid. They have one of the most dangerous attacking lines in world football, which was why they were being muted pre season as the big threat to City.

12 games in and Manchester City already have amassed 32 points with ten wins and two draws. This is also backed with an incredible goal difference of plus 31, having scored 36 goals and conceded just five. Liverpool are also unbeaten with 30 points, having won nine games and drew three. They have also conceded just five premier league goals so far but scored 23 putting them on plus 18-goal difference. Both sides are on a remarkable run of form as they continue to dual at the top of the table.

Is it just a two-team race? Chelsea are the only other side yet to taste defeat in the premier league. They currently sit in third and just four points off the top, with a point’s total of 28. This is due to them having won eight of their twelve games. They were held most recently to a 0-0 draw with Everton, who themselves continue to go from strength to strength. Chelsea have transformed their style of play and are a very difficult team to break down, which is why they have conceded so little goals. There passing football under the new manager has enabled them to challenge for the league again so could they surprise the top two?

The other sides in the reckoning are London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal.  Spurs are going through a difficult period with the wait for the new stadium, which now seems it could go on until next season. Arsenal have transformed under Emery following their opening defeats to the league. They are now on an unbeaten run of 16 matches without defeat in all competitions. This all sets up for a fascinating season ahead in not only the title but for the coveted champions league spots.

Will Legal Gambling Benefit the American Economy

Legal gambling is making its way across America and while many people are both for and against this for various reasons, one thing that it will do is bring a much needed boost to the economy. As gambling is legal in some parts of America, this isn’t a guess as to what may happen, but actual facts of how gambling is supporting the economy in America, and how that will grow as more states bring in legal gambling.

1.8 million jobs were supported by the gambling industry in America in 2017, that is a huge amount and something that is putting many people into work that would struggle elsewhere. The industry contributed $261.1 billion to the American economy in 2017 and when you compare that to figures from past year’s this has increased and looks set to further grow as more and more people have gambling available to them.

Casinos are bringing most of that money into the economy but the rise of sports betting is only just beginning and that is another big area that will add further money to the pot. Sports fans only just understand the sports betting industry, and some don’t even have access to it yet. As both of those change in the coming years, more and more people will be placing a wager on the upcoming events and more new betting companies will appear. This will in turn bring even more money into the economy, require more people to work in the industry and help unemployment figures further.

Whether you are for or against the legalising of gambling across the whole of America, one thing that cannot be argued with is the money that it will bring into the American economy, and that is only set to grow further.

What is a Lucky 15 Bet?

If you’ve ever been to the races, the dogs, the football, or even just walked past your local bookies, the chance are you will have heard the term “Lucky 15”, but what exactly is a Lucky 15, why are they so popular?

As the name would suggest, a lucky 15 bet is the name for a bet that has a total of 15 bets inside. To place a lucky 15 bet you need to have four selections picked out, and the 15 bets will give you full coverage on all of those four selections. One of the reasons why a lucky 15 appeals to so many people is because even if you have just one winner out of four, you are going to get a return from your bookmaker. If you currently place accumulators and you are not getting anything back from your bookmaker then a lucky 15 is a different way to bet where you will get something back.

The 15 bets inside a lucky 15 are split as follows:

  • 4 singles, one on each selection
  • 6 doubles, covering every possible combination with the four selections
  • 4 trebles, covering every possible combination with the four selections
  • 1 accumulator on all four

With this full coverage you get the best of both worlds from singles betting to accumulator betting. Those who currently place singles will get a return off any winning bet, but they miss out on the big returns if they have multiple winners. Those who place accumulator bets will get a big win if they land all four winners, but anything less and they get no return which can be frustrating. A lucky 15 combines the best of those, you get the return from one winner, but you also get the accumulator if all four win, and the chance to land winning doubles and trebles with two or three winners.

The general rule with a lucky 15 bet is the more winners you have in your bet, the bigger the returns will be. One winner will give a small return, two winners will give you a slightly bigger return, three will be a nice return and four should give you a very big return, which is what you are ultimately aiming for.

If you are looking for a way to bet that gives you the chance to win big, but also covers you if you have just one winner from four selections then look no further than placing a lucky 15 bet, what’s more some bookies will give you “double the odds” if you get just one winner by means of consolation. This is a very popular horse racing betting offer, but it can be used on any sport you like, so be sure to try one out even if you don’t bet on horse racing. With the pay out for just one winner, and the chance to win a huge amount if you have four winners, a lucky 15 has something for everyone.

Man City and FFP

Man City Owner

Another season, and another Financial Fair Play issue emerges around Manchester City. Manchester City fans accuse FIFA of striving to protect the status quo under pressure from the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, FIFA say they are following the rules! Who is to believe? What is the true purpose of the Financial Fair Play issue? Are Manchester City Innocent? The issue is complex…

Actually, to say that the Financial Fair Play Regulations are complex is the understatement of the century. You may require degrees in Economics, statistics and business just to even get a grasp of what  is actually allowed or denied under the regulations! Even the purpose of the Financial Fair Play are disputed.

One understanding is that the Financial Fair Play rules are there to stop clubs outspending income and going into trouble and then being forced to disappear.  Far too many clubs in recent years have been forced to start again after going out of business and the many feel the basis of the Financial Fair Play rules should be to target these clubs, stop this happening and making sure clubs are only spending within their means, wherever this spend comes from!

However, another line of thought is that the Financial Fair Play rules are there to stop wealthy owners ploughing endless cash into clubs and giving them an unfair advantage in leagues and cup competitions. One argument would be that this is to stop the likes of Manchester City rising to dominance based on having a wealthy owner, but the counter argument would suggest that as long as the money is available to the club and they aren’t crippling with debt, why should they be forced to play by Financial Fair Play?

Manchester City fans have a very very different view of the aims and motives of Financial Fair Play and it was clear that when the latest Financial Fair Play/Manchester City story broke this week. Fans piled online, social media and radio phone ins to express their view that all Financial Fair Play is set out to do is to make sure that no “new” clubs break into the elite and that the interest of the established giants of Europe, assumingly those likely to be part of the all new European Super League when it emerges. Is this fair to say?

Manchester City fans may feel aggrieved indeed if the club are punished again under Financial Fair Play and there is a suggestion that perhaps they just are less wise to how to play the system than the other teams. Looking at the likes of PSG and their spends, as well as the likes of Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona, its hard to fathom how they would not fall foul of Financial Fair Play yet City would.

Either way, there is no prove, no concrete judgements and with all sorts of issues arising including image right payments, pre-contracts and alike…..it could get very messy before Financial Fair Play and Manchester City are settled.

It would appear that ultimately something has to give. Incidentally have you ever wondered what the difference was between a Private Bookie and a Traditional Bookmaker? I suggest you look for yourselves to see the difference.

 

What we expect to see from online football quizzes

Football Quiz

After originally using the internet to look up the next set of fixtures or place a bet on a tip you’ve picked up somewhere along the way, a lot of people are now using it for entertainment, where they will spend a lot of their spare time testing their wits with online football quizzes. Although it might sound like a waste of time to some, these football brain teasers are extremely addictive, and they always use up any time where you were trying to run down the clock over a boring afternoon, or left waiting for a delayed train.

As the demand continues to grow, more football fans opt to get involved with online football quizzes rather than merely placing bets, and they certainly know what they want from what they’re attempting to identify.

Statistics-based footy quizzes 

In visiting your favourite football betting website for a quiz, it’s likely that you’ll be met by a lot of options that are built on statistics. Not only does this include things like the number of goals in specific competitions and how many goals specific players were able to score compared to others, but also things like having to identify past nominees for the Ballon d’Or, World Cup runners-up, and the current top scorers from all major leagues.

Starting XI or squad 

Despite not appearing on most football sites, the starting XI quiz is a way of pointing out which players featured in a memorable or notably poor team from the past. Online football quizzes come in many shapes and sizes, but this is one that arguably comes as the most difficult, as you need to remember every single player – both obvious and vague – or you won’t be able to successfully complete the quiz. 

Individual players or managers 

Also dipping into the line of statistics-based football brain teasers, the individual players and managers are a factor that most football fans are interested in, so it’s unsurprising to see them covered in so many quizzes. This can include the specific players who’ve scored in a popular fixture over past years, or the managers with the most first division wins throughout Europe, with a lot of top 10s being made to amuse visiting guests. 

Football trivia 

It’s hard to not mention the option of football trivia quizzes, as it’s easily where the concept of online football quizzes first started. Through playing a football trivia quiz, you’ll be pitted with a variety of questions based around Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United managerial career, Steven Gerrard’s playing days at Liverpool, and famous moments that occurred in the last Premier League campaign.

Lampard vs Gerrard: who will fare better?

Gerrard Lampard

As many new football managers begin to get to grips with the challenges facing them in their respective roles, there is high interest in two particular individuals. In their playing prime, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were two of England’s finest; goalscoring central midfielders who performed at the very highest level – the World Cup, European Championships, the Champions League, the Premier League. Two of the finest midfielders of their generation, almost certainly.

In managerial terms however, both men are novices – and the 2018-19 season sees them making their debuts in the dugout (or technical area, if you will). Lampard was appointed manager at Derby County; Gerrard hired at Glasgow Rangers. Two big clubs, in their own right, each with their own demands and challenges. Neither man has any real track record in coaching and management to speak of – though Gerrard had a spell as Liverpool U18s manager prior to arriving at Ibrox – so these are testing assignments for the newcomers. The question is, who’s going to fare better?

Lampard made a great start to life at Derby, when his team beat Reading with a late winning goal on the opening day of the season, but in the immediate matches following that he got a taste of how difficult the Championship can be. Derby were heavily beaten, 4-1, at home by Leeds, before a 2-1 defeat at Millwall that left Lampard under no illusions regarding the size of the task ahead. A 2-0 home victory over Ipswich a few days after helped to redress the balance.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” he told the Independent. “I knew that for a fact, and it will continue not being easy, and that’ll be the fact for every manager in this league this season.”

Against Millwall, Derby were caught out by the fast start made by the hosts. Millwall were positive and strong, and went straight at Lampard’s side, who were 2-0 down and as good as beaten before they even got going. That was a lesson for Lampard and his players; a realisation that they won’t always – or often – be afforded the luxury of settling into a game at their own pace.

Like many new managers, Lampard has a honeymoon period – that stage, at the start of his time in charge, when he’s given time to settle in, to shape his squad, and get his ideas across. He’s seen as a bright, young and ambitious coach although of course, those opinions are based on judgement, not evidence. No-one actually knows what he’s like as a manager. And Derby are not a club merely content with occupying a comfortable place in the Championship league table. A mixed run of results and a midtable finish probably isn’t going to be considered good enough for the Rams, who clearly have intentions of returning to the Premier League.

They’ve fallen short in recent seasons and churned through managers – Lampard is their seventh since Steve McClaren left in May 2015. The club’s previous dealings suggest Lampard may not have a longer shelf life than a season, unless that season is a successful one. That won’t be easy – the Championship is intensely competitive and Derby, according to Betway, are among a large group of clubs tipped to finish in the top six.

At Rangers, meanwhile, Gerrard has a massive task. The Glasgow club has a clearly defined goal – to get back to the very top of the Scottish football summit, and that means toppling city rivals Celtic, who have dominated in recent years. Historically, Rangers have always gone toe-to-toe with Celtic, but were demoted to the third tier of Scottish football in 2012 and have been fighting their way back up again since. You can test your knowledge of Rangers and its history here.

The club has rebuilt and returned to the SPL in 2016. In 2016-17, Rangers finished third, 39 points behind Celtic and Aberdeen. Last season, that gap was 12 points behind Celtic and three behind Aberdeen. At the very least, Gerrard has to push his team much closer to Celtic, and push them harder for the title; leapfrogging Aberdeen and into second place is also surely required.

“I feel as though I have players that want to go out there and give everything,” he told the Sunday Herald. “But I can’t control the expectations of the supporters. Fans are fans and they’re going to get excited. They are supporting a huge football club and are used to seeing success.”

Ultimately, success for Rangers means winning the SPL. Celtic have won the last seven titles straight, so it won’t be easy. For the course of this season, a genuine title challenge from Rangers would certainly give Gerrard some credit in the bank, and if the Gers can score some silverware in one of the cup competitions, he’ll have made a great start.

Five Common Mistakes to Avoid When Betting on Football

If you are new to betting you are bound to make mistakes, yet even experienced punters fall into the same traps, and they could be costly. More often than not, you make these mistakes at a price.

Instead, you can now learn some common mistakes to avoid without costing you too much money.

Loyalty to one bookmaker

We all have our favourite bookie or just a betting site we have got so used to we can’t imagine changing. Firstly, you are missing out hundreds of pounds worth of great betting offers as a new customer.

Secondly, if you use odds comparison services to find the best odds. You will notice the range in which betting sites actually have the best odds for events. You can get more value for money (through betting offers) and the best odds by using more than one bookmaker.

Betfair and Bethard have some of the highest odds for Premier League matches out there. In fact, Betfair even cites the proof on their promotions page.

Placing Bets Without Doing Any Research

A good place to start, but don’t get me wrong. You can win plenty of bets by what you feel could come in. However, it is a sure way to rack up heavy losses over time. Be meticulous in your research and don’t just blindly follow tipsters.

You will still lose plenty of bets, that’s just the way it is. But, it certainly won’t do any harm, and will more than likely increase the chances of your bet winning.

Placing Unrealistic Acca’s

You have just come from Twitter (tip: follow BettingLounge on Twitter) on a Saturday evening. After seeing hundreds of people posting their huge wins from their long-shot acca’s, and naturally, you get jealous.

You try to emulate their big wins by placing a number of six-fold plus acca’s or simply follow the tipster’s that keep retweeting these images. But, what you don’t see is most people who bet on sports, lose.

Bookies are still making disgusting amounts of profit even with these tipsters/people smashing their longshot acca’s. Try stick to manageable, winnable doubles and trebles, and aim for sustainable profit.

It’s fine to place a longshot, high odds acca every now and then for fun. But, do not kid yourself into thinking it’s a good way of making money. Betting just isn’t. Instead, use it to enhance the sporting experience.Chasing Losses

We all know that optimistic feeling as the build-up to kick-off gets closer. “I am going to win big today”. 45 minutes later and everything has gone wrong.

A team that hasn’t won in six matches is smashing the top of the league 3-0, and your bet is losing.

“Oo, I could put a fiver on this team to come back and win, or maybe a half-time acca to try and recover my losses”. Ignore this voice with a passion. Just ignore it. Never attempt to recover losses at any point in your betting life. It just doesn’t work.

Bet with money you are prepared to lose, and take it well if it does. When the fun stops, stop.

Betting Emotionally

This can seem like a straight-forward rule to follow, but sometimes it is hard. I often want to bet on my own team because I feel they could get the win. Just avoid it. It hurts that much more when both your team and bets lose.

The same goes for your betting preferences for who you like or dislike. Emotional thinking will often lead to misjudgement for your bets. Just because you hate Leeds doesn’t mean they are going to lose.

 

 

 

World Cup Quiz

Everyone knows the big dogs when it comes to the World Cup, with teams like Brazil, Germany, Italy and Uruguay winning an incredible 15 tournaments (75% of the competitions) between them. But what about the smaller teams? Underdog nations such as Iceland and Panama are making their debut this year, whilst other nations such as Japan and Iran who’ve never won, have made to another of many World Cups. Whilst most people’s Odds on who will win World Cup 2018 will lie with the bigger teams, remember those champions had to make their debut at some point! Take this quiz to find out who your second pick should be this year!

Share it with your friends and let us know who you got!

Copy the following shortcode to your page:

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Asian Chances at the Fifa World Cup 2018

Russia 2018

Other than the magical South Korean Semi Final run when they hosted the finals in 2002, Asian teams have always struggled. Yes there have been memorable moments (who will ever forget the Saudi Arabian goal in 1994) but more often than not they fail to make it past the group stage and are home before the serious competition starts. What about this year? Will they fair any better? Let us take a look……

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia have had one shining World Cup moment, when they scored perhaps one of the finest goals in World Cup history in 1994 with a solo effort that you need to check out now on Youtube. However, other than that they have been something of the boys to beat with some heavy score lines against them. Even though in 2018 they have been handed a fairly tame group, they would probably have to beat hosts Russia and get something out Egypt to progress which seems unlikely. 0 points and 0 goals is more likely.

Iran

Saudi Arabia may have a nice draw, Iran have the worst this years Fifa World Cup 2018. There is very little to say about the uninspiring Iran line up, other than that they will likely be on the end of convincing defeats to both Spain and Portugal. Again, they face a battle with Morocco to get 3rd in the group, but even that seems a stretch. Another Asian team who is more likely to get 0 points and 0 goals than anything else.

Australia

….well we may as well include them! With an ever impressive Peru, a robust Denmark and a star studded France, Australia cannot have been happy with the draw they faced. They lack experience, lack quality and they lack a chance.

South Korea

Always remembered for their run in 2002, they can expect little in 2018 as the draw was not kind. Germany will be looking to dish out a beating, and with a Swedish side that seem to hitting form at the right team and an ever robust Mexico, I am struggling to see where these points will come from and sadly for the Korean’s an early exit seems inevitable.

Japan

Always outsiders when it comes to the finals, but with an impressive qualification record, the draw will have pleased Japan. I don’t think they will fear Poland, Colombia and Senegal and this appears one of the most unpredictable groups in the contest. Picking up one win and holding on for a draw elsewhere may be enough to send them in the next round and out of all of the Asian teams, although I think none will qualify, if I had to choose one it would be Japan.

Hence, just like the African nations, I forsee very little hope for the Asian nations and they too could all find themselves down and out of the World cup after the group stage.

Why not check out our free World Cup Quiz?

Infographic – Best 11 at the World Cup

So we’re a few games into the World Cup now and as expected, it’s been really hard to predict the outcomes, as it usually is, going massively against the expected predictions. We’ve seen Argentina really struggle against a resolute Iceland, Germany bested by a rampant Mexico and as expected and England struggle to come through a game they should have breezed through.

Big tournaments throw up some surprises but even before this World Cup there were a few when it came to the players going into the tournament. Most fans and pundits would have selected a team they thought would have done well but what they probably didn’t know is the exact form of the players coming in to the tournament. WhoScored.com has a unique system for rating players and based upon these, the best 11 at the World Cup looks completely different to what would be expected.

If you’re as intrigued as we were, see our infographic below and try not to be too shocked at some of the players. Spain to win world cup odds are 9/2 which comes as no surprise as they continue to play some of the most attractive football in the tournament and have all but secured there progression to the knock out stages.

The Best 11 at the World Cup

African Chances at the World Cup

World Cup

Pele one famously said that he believed an African nation would win the World Cup by the year 2000. That has never really come close to being a reality, and 18 years later we still await the first real African contender. Will 2018 be the year this finally comes through for Pele, or will we see the African nations fail to materialise once again. With a strong duo from South America and 3-4 European nations having their best teams in years it may prove difficult but let us have a look at each team and their hopes…

Egypt

Two words define the chances of Egypt…Mo Salah. If he is fit and playing well, they may stand a chance of getting out of the group. If not….they won’t. It is a rare thing for them to qualify for a World Cup and to be fair they have been handed a group that is passable. Uruguay will be the favourites of course, but if Egypt can counter the home advantage of Russia they may well make it through. The last 16 meeting with Portugal or Spain should see their end…

Morocco

Speaking of Portugal and Spain, Morocco find themselves in the group with the two European giants.  It would take a miracle for them to progress out of this group, but if they do a tame Last 16 may await with Uruguay. Iran are the third team they will face at the group stage and with both teams knowing a 3 point win is what matters in that meeting, it is too lose to call. An exit at the group stage beckons.

Nigeria

Not the force they once were, and looking very week in the build up, Nigeria may also struggle to get past the group stage. Argentina should coast a relatively easy Group D and Croatia have been looking solid enough to clinch second. If Nigeria want to contend they will have to overcome an unpredictable Iceland. Lacking the stars they once had, this will be a tough ask to get out of the group.

Tunisia

Faced with England and Belgium in the group, I don’t imagine Tunisia will be seeing the latter stages. Never looked impressive in qualification and nor have they improved since. A bottom of the group clash with Panama is their only hope of scoring any points.

Senegal

If I was a betting man and had to pick one African team with the best chance of making it out of the groups, my money would be on Senegal. Poland and Japan are not the most intimidating of opponents, and even group favourites Colombia are not the team they were 4 years ago. Senegal have some really player for player quality and a good team ethos.  I don’t see them making it past the Last 16 where England of Belgium will await however.

All in all, 2018 does not mark a high point for the African nations. Anyone of them will be overjoyed to make it past the group and I think it will be nothing sort of a shock if any of them are still around come the Quarter Finals.

A Closer Look at England’s World Cup Opponents

England World Cup

As we have now just passed the 50-day mark until the World Cup, can we officially say it is time to get excited? For England fans, so disheartened by the last few major tournaments, let’s say that any excitement is also mixed with a little trepidation. However, there are some good signs coming from the recent performances of Gareth Southgate’s men that suggest they could leave a more positive impact in Russia.

Before getting into the possibilities of how far England could go, they will, of course, have to navigate the group stage. When the draw was made, Southgate would have been reasonably happy with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. However, it might be a little trickier than it looks. Here is a quick run-down of those three opponents:

Belgium

They are the favourites (5/6) to top Group G, and even the most ardent England fans would find that difficult to argue against. There is so much to like about this Belgium side: a world class keeper in Courtois; brilliant defenders in Vertonghen and Kompany; the midfield of De Bruyne, Nainggolan and Hazard; the attacking options offered by Mertens and Lukaku. In fact, Belgium’s stock has risen so much in recent years that they are considered the value bet at 12/1 to win the World Cup. You can check out thebookiesoffers.co.uk for the latest free bets to back them, England or anyone else.

Key man: Kevin De Bruyne – it’s his time to stake a claim to be the best player in the world.

BelgiumThis Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY

 

Tunisia

England play Tunisia in their opening fixture and they may be in for a tougher game than most believe. The North African side are now ranked as high is 14th in the world, England by comparison are 13th. It would be nevertheless a huge shock if they beat England and went on to qualify from Group G (5/1 odds). However, don’t be completely shocked if the Tunisians come away with a point from that first game. They are hard to break down and could sucker punch England if they are not careful.

Key man: Wahbi Khazri – something of an enigma at Sunderland, but now much improved at Rennes (on loan). He is one of those players who can make a goal from nothing. Beware.

Panama:

Panama have qualified for the first World Cup in their history, so it is likely their biggest aspiration will simply be to avoid being the group whipping boys. Can they cause an upset? Probably not. They are priced around 50/1 to win the group and up to 2000/1 to win the World Cup. However, they will likely draw inspiration from fellow Central Americans, Costa Rica, who confounded the odds to reach the quarter finals in 2014. That, of course, came at the expense of England, so you can guarantee that Southgate won’t take the Panamanians lightly.

Key Man: Gabriel Gomez – 143 caps and counting for the midfielder whose main job will be to screen the defence. He will likely be very busy in Russia.

And a quick note on England:

KaneThis Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-ND

 

England should qualify with Belgium to reach the Last 16, where one of Colombia, Poland, Japan or Senegal will await them. After that (if successful), they are likely to come up against the likes of Brazil or Germany. The question for many fans is what will constitute success? You could argue that a run to the quarters would give Gareth Southgate’s young side something to build on. 16/1 if you fancy the Three Lions to go all the way.

The World Cup -What would be a “good result” for England?

Russia 2018

Following England at the World cup over the course of my lifetime has been nothing but frustration, pain and disappointment. With the national team on something of a decline, and arguably devoid of any of the World Class players we used to have, the 2018 World Cup has England fans in a mixed frame of mind. In the likes of 1998, 2002 and even 2006, anything short of winning the whole tournament would have been a let down. But what actually constitutes success and failure in the 2018 version?

Obviously, not making it out of the group would be a disaster, Last time around, we had a dicey group and could be partially forgiven for not making the knockout stages. This time however, a failure to progress would surely mean the end of the Southgate era. Belgium provide tricky opposition, and despite being on a 17 match unbeaten run, England should not fear a side who have yet to prove themselves on the biggest of stages. Tunisia and Panama, you would expect without an disrespect, are not on the same playing field as England and anything sort of convincing wins would be a cause for concern.

Then that would leave England in the last 16 possibly with meetings against Senegal, Poland or Colombia (or  Japan if they can cause a surprise). Again, none of these are opposition England should fear, Colombia are not the team that they once were and Poland are something of a one man team. Again, whatever your feelings are on England, you have to believe that, when you look at the teams here, an exit at the Last 16 stage is also something that must be considered a failure. Even if Southgate is “planning for the future”, and I do believe in giving managers a chance, there has to be a line drawn and if he can’t manage this out of the group and past the 4 teams  that are an option in the Last 16, then time for a change.

The Quarter final must be considered  a success. Being one of the Top 8 in the world, and in with the likes of the teams who will be in is a result. A valiant loss to one of the big boys is nothing to be ashamed of. Anyone who reaches the World Cup Quarter Final is a quality side. The Semi Final would be something England have not done for 28 years, and a Final appearance….well, let us not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Either way, this should be a very interesting Summer and with a likeable collection of young, hungry players, playing a likeable style of football, I am sure the nation will be behind the team. What will happen? It is too hard to tell but I for one have a certain degree of optimism that this could be a very happy summer and we may hear those three lions roaring once again. One thing that will happen…..is drama!

Golden Boot Contenders

World Cup Golden Boot

One of the most popular bets placed prior to the World Cup is regarding which player will walk away with the Golden Boot, for netting the most number of goals in the tournament. Usually anyone who nets 5 or more can be hopeful of winning it but let us take a look at some of the leading contenders and assess their chances . Who is your money on?

Lionel Messi – Always likely to lead the betting, and the out right goal machine has a nice easy group to start racking up goals. Although Argentina are happy with a 1-0 win, unlike his club, Messi should be able to push on add to his tally. But will he get enough?

Antonie Grizmann – The closer it gets, the more I am thinking 2018 may just be Griezmann’s year. In an attacking French team, he is the main man and with his current form he is going to be troubling defences. Will France get far enough to allow him to score the 5 or 6 needed though?

Neymar – Proven himself to be one of the worlds best players and almost justifies his price tag, and with a big money move again looming, as well as his desire for revenge on last World cups humiliation, this man may just be the one to watch.

Harry Kane – A goal machine against weak opposition in the Premier League, Harry Kane may just well fill his boots with the matches against Panama and Tunisia. A brace in those games will set him up nicely, and with a price tag of 25/1 in some places, he may well be the man. But you will need to check around and perhaps take a look at football acca tips.

Gabriel Jesus – If Neymar doesn’t deliver for Brazil, then Jesus will be the man too. Whether they both play, and whether there is enough in the team for them both the net enough goals to be contenders. A cheeky bet may have been placed on Jesus by this writer.

Cristiano Ronaldo – A list cannot be a list without the main himself on it. However, as great as he is, carrying this Portugal team to enough wins to make Ronaldo a contender the award may just well be a step too far!

Romelu Lukaku – Similar to the comments on Harry Kane, with a nice easy group, this may play into Lukaku’s hands, a man who traditionally does well against weaker opposition!

If you are betting person, this is going to be a very tough call to make. I don’t see an Italians, Germans  or Spaniards netting enough to contend but all it takes, as happened in 1994, is one hat trick plus in a game and then you are well on your way to nabbing the award. Who are you picking? Who are the outsiders? Any tips for underdogs? Let us know

 

Will Belgium’s golden generation finally come good?

belgium-world-cup-squad-official

Every so often, a nation unearths a golden generation of footballers – not just one or two talented players but a whole group of them, all peaking at same time in terms of ability, experience and availability.

It’s important to capitalise on a so-called golden generation. Spain did, in winning the 2010 World Cup. Germany did by triumphing in 2014. Further back, France’s best squad of players for a generation won the tournament in 1998. It doesn’t always work out, though. Despite a team that included David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney, England couldn’t get past the quarter-finals in 2006.

Now it’s Belgium’s turn to cope with such lofty expectations. Belgium’s current crop of players have been lauded for some time, and make no mistake, it’s the best squad they’ve had for years. Trouble is, now they have to deliver and make a serious impact on the tournament. In 2014, they reached the quarter-finals (losing to Argentina). Two years later, at the European Championships, it was another quarter-final finish, this time exiting at the hands of Wales.

Surely, this Belgium squad is better than simply reaching the last eight of a tournament? That’s the pressure that sits on the shoulders of team coach Roberto Martinez. He may not get another World Cup from this group of players – some of them definitely won’t be around in four years’ time. This, then, is surely the nation’s optimum time for glory. If you’re betting on Belgium with williamhill.com, 888sport.com, unibet or another online provider, you’re sure to find them among the favourites.

Or at least they should be. Belgium’s big build up to the tournament hasn’t exactly been smooth. Martinez took the controversial decision to omit Radja Nainggolan from his squad, citing ‘tactical reasons’. On the face of it, this could be a mistake. Nainggolan is not a conventional player – he’s a bit of a loose cannon – but he could have given Belgium a vital edge in terms of attacking creativity. He’s exactly the type of wild card player who could win a game with a decisive goal from nowhere, and he’d have gone into the tournament off the back of a successful season with Roma.

That’s a strike against Martinez even before a ball was kicked. Then there’s the omission, from the final squad of 23 players, of Christian Benteke. The big striker had a rotten season with Crystal Palace but has a decent international goalscoring record of 12 goals in 34 matches. Without him, Belgium are light in the centre-forward area, with just Romelu Lukaku and Michy Batshuayi (just back from injury) as recognised strikers, though Dries Mertens, primarily a wide player can add support. Nevertheless, it feels like a gamble from Martinez.

There’s also concern over the fitness of captain Vincent Kompany, who suffered a groin injury in the pre tournament friendly against Portugal. This is nothing new of course; Kompany is the wrong side of 30 years of age and his last few years have been blighted by injury. He’s still in the squad but when Belgium’s other central defenders include Thomas Vermaelen, perhaps the only centre-back in world football with a worse injury record than Kompany, Martinez should be worried.

The group draw has been relatively kind on Belgium, who are odds-on to top their table, though England could push them for that. Other group opponents Panama and Tunisia shouldn’t hold any fears. Once into the knockout stages, opponents will come from Group H – Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan. Then, into the last eight – which is the very least Belgium should achieve – a meeting with Brazil or Germany is highly likely.

That’s when we’ll really see how good this Belgium is.

 

 

England at the 2018 World Cup

In my life time of watching football, I am used to pundits, fans and the press hyping up the England teams chances of excelling at a major tournament. But this time around things are different….with new players, a new manager and a long term plan seemingly in place, there is a feeling this World Cup is a stepping stone to greater things. But I assure you not one fan, player or management staff will be thinking that come the big day….just how will England do?

Despite the relative inexperience of the players and manager, England breezed through the qualifiers and whilst never being outstanding, rarely looked troubled. It is the same old story you may say, but the qualifiers can give you a hint. England struggled in the run up games to Euro 2016 and looked vulnerable at times, but not in this campaign.

Gareth Southgate has been to the big tournaments in the modern era and understands what they are all about. The little touches he will bring, as a man of experience, may be the difference in keeping the squad focused. He has quietly built his own system, introduced his own players and got a team functioning as a team. The criticism always levelled at the previous “Golden era” was that we have a collection of individuals rather than a unit….that can no longer.

The wing back system Southgate seems to favour, is one that will be unique in the tournament. Southgate saw that system function superbly under Glenn Hoddle and seems to be set on imitating it. Opposition may not be used to such a style and we say indeed see it work to England’s advantage. The core of the defence remains strong, the wing backs we have offer great potential both defensively and going forward and the system is very flexible.

Even the most pessimistic England fan must sense qualification is likely. Tunisia and Panama are weak sides, and lack the quality and experience to frustrate England for long. The Belgium game will be key and that will tell us all we need to know. Playing against a team unbeaten in 17 matches, with world class players in every position on the big stage will test any team. A victory in that match may allow England to dream big! That will get the nation dreaming and probably thinking about having a flutter perhaps even on NetBet Sport World Cup Betting

Should the group stage prove passable, Senegal and  Colombia await in the Last 16, both of which England would start as favourites. If that occurs and England earn a Quarter final berth, then that will be mission accomplished for Southgate and company. Anything before the Quarter Finals will be labelled a disappointment, anything after it will be an over achievement.

With Kane, Ali, Sterling and co, along with a solid defence and a dependable set of goalkeepers, any of the opposition who England may face in the latter stages would have to take them as a serious threat.

Will going into a tournament without the hype, as something of an underdog, help the team achieve? Only time will tell

If you have a little time on your hands in the build up then why not check out our England or  World Cup Quiz

Russia as a World Cup venue

Russia 2018

The selection of Russia as a venue for the World Cup 2018 was met with much criticism at the time, and as the political dynamic in the world changes, the criticism continues to grow. Never in my lifetime can I remember as much debate about whether a nation is worthy to host a contest in the run up the finals. Well for now anyhow – l suspect it will equally as controversial in 4 years time in Qatar 2022.

Russia itself is a vast vast country and it goes without saying that there is going to be a lot of travelling involved. Russia is the biggest nation ever to host a World Cup and the distance between the furthest two stadiums is equivalent to a continent. For many players and teams it won’t even feel like playing in the same country. One can’t help but feel some ground rules should have been made about which Stadiums should be used, but alas….fans can expect 14 hour train journeys and multiple flights to get across to games. Not ideal? Part of the fun? And what about the affects on players. If you play into the latter stages the air miles these guys will rack up is going to be huge. Travelling across a country will have wear and tear on the bodies and minds of the players. Perhaps we may be surprised by the mental resilience of some of the smaller nations.

There is no doubt the Stadiums are all high tech, with the first final to played on a plastic pitch due this year, the facilities are second to none. Putin and Russian want to impress, they want to showcase Russia to the world and the best way to do that is going to be how  it looks on TV. I expect a huge spectacle, a lavish opening ceremony and a huge focus on the greatness of Russia.

Concerns have been raised with the LGBT community about their safety fears. The last think Russia wants is to have negative press so I hope that they are prepared!

There has been concern about Russian fans, their hardcore hooligans and crime rings. Russian authorities promise big punishments if they are caught and hopefully that will keep things at bay. But I fully expect come June, to see police battling with drunken fans and riots in the streets….a  sad state of affairs in the modern game.

All that aside my favourites will be the French and if you are interested in their odd at this years World Cup check out: https://www.signupbonuses.co.uk/ – why not get a cheeky bonus!

Who will replace Arsene Wenger?

The day seems to be drawing ever nearer when the whole Wenger In/Wenger Out camps will subside and the great man steps down from his throne. Some will dispute labelling Arsene as a great man, but only a fool would downplay what he has done. No other club has qualified in the number of consecutive Champions Leagues that he has guided Arsenal too….yes, they have more often been out of the title picture than in it, but in this day and age when all the top sides improve regularly, to keep that Top 4 placing was a task no other could have achieved.

Arsenal fans should think about what they wish for….there are not many examples in History of clubs who part from long term managers going straight onto to success, and I can’t help but get the feeling that in 12 months times, whoever is in charge at Arsenal will be subject to the same In/Out debates. But let us take a look at some of the contenders….

Carlo Ancelotti  – This seems to be the name of most Arsenal fans lips and given the players at the club, the style of play and the pressure of the role, he ticks all the boxes. Available and with something to prove in the Premier League, backed up with the wealth of experience he could well be the logical choice

Eddie Howe – Will Eddie Howe suffer for being an Englishman and lacking the top level, continental experience of others? Arsenal would be a fool not to consider this man considering the monumental, almost unbelievable job he has done with Bournemouth. One day, Eddie Howe will be in charge at a top 4 club and managing in the champions league, and perhaps Arsenal will be that team.

Antonio Conte – The more the weeks go by the more it appears that Mr Conte will be the latest in a long time of managers to depart Stamford Bridge. Unable to build on last years success, Conte has had many a controversy and seems unsettled, as do the club seem unsure of him.  Maybe a trip across the capital would be happy, but I cant imagine the Arsenal fans being overawed with this appointment?

Mikel Arteta – One of the bookies favourites at Novibet Sports, but to get rid of a man who has guided Arsenal to all those Top 4 places and trophies and replacing him with a guy who has never managed a club before, let alone one the size of Arsenal, would seem rather foolish and short sighted.

Jochiam Loew – Now we are talking, fresh eyes to the Premier League, a novel approach, a proven winner…what more could you want as an Arsenal fan?

Whatever happens, Wenger’s departure is going to take time to recover from and time to put right. Arsenal fans may have to accept they will suffer similar to the immediate post-Fergie Manchester United (who some may argue are yet to recover fully) but whoever takes the job at the Emirates will have to also accept the pressure and expectations that are going to follow.

Manchester City – Is this the start of a dynasty?

Finally, after months of it being inevitable, Manchester City were eventually crowned the 2018 Premier League champions when Manchester United failed to beat bottom side West Brom. Indeed, the title race has been considered over for so long, that the papers for the past few months have been filled with articles looking at the current Manchester City side, whether it can be considered to greatest team of all and what the future folds.

The question we should be asking needs to look more toward the future….is this the start of a dynasty? What are the odds of Pep emulating Sir Alex Ferguson? Have a look at Big Free Bet Predictions to see what they think! Manchester City have dominated this season in the Premier League but fell short in the Champions League. Ever since that first Premier League title since the influx of the billions of pounds, they have always been on the verge of taking that next time from title winners to greatness. In that time period they have lost league titles to Leicester, failed to ever really be taken seriously as Champions League contenders and not been able to translate the league form into the dynasty building dominance that will lead them to a dynasty building future.

The fact remains, and what history tells us is clear….you cannot build a dynasty based on one season and usually a dynasty is built up over a course of multiple season, with an ever evolving squad. What City need to do therefore is take this bunch of players, hold onto the core and build around them. There is no reason why the leading stars of the team should move to another club, but the lure of the major Spanish clubs will always pose a threat to any logic. Keeping a team together and retaining players is key!

In addition, the management structure has to remain. The most successful teams in the Premier League, and the only real team you can class as  a dynasty was Alex Fergusons Manchester United which was built around the manager. Manchester City, to repeat that feat, need to stick by their head man, even if next season doesn’t produce a Champions League trophy or indeed retains the Premier League…but is Pep a man to stick around to build a dynasty? History would suggest not.

It is not a stretch to say that next season is crucial for Manchester City in terms of what the future lies. Are they destined to be the big money team who only gets it right once every few years and spends the rest of the time trailing? If was refreshing to see that the immediate reaction of Vincent Kompany upon winning the league title was a call to retain it next year. After all, it takes a good team to win the title and a great team to retain it.

Manchester City have everything they could possibly need to build a dynasty….great players, a winning mentality, a growing fan base  and the manager any club would want at the helm. It will be a fascinating journey to see where this team can go and whether we are at the start of a new era or merely another false dawn.

 

FIFA World Cup – Win or Lose

As the football calendar is quickly ticking off the passing days towards the summer event of the year, we going to take a cheeky little look at the ways to make this cold Russian hosted tournament a little more heated.

We take a look at the ways of betting inside an online casino because when the tournament kicks off the TV will be littered with hundreds of casino adverts with offers of free bonuses and betting ways to win extra cash, which is a good thing, right? So where to begin? Well, the big companies will pay top dollar to get their voice out there but they may not be the best deals so always begin with a comparison site that offers you several casinos with sports betting options, the best ones are often the British and Canadian online casino sites which the latter may surprise you but it’s testament as to how nuts the Canadians are for their sports, so credit where credit due. Now the Canada team may be out of the tournament but their casinos won’t stop giving you a huge deluge of betting options when the event kicks off!

Tactical Betting for Hot Summer Wins 

Now, predicting outcomes in these events is possible the hardest gamble, teams across the groups are very much unknown as most punters follow their own national leagues, so it’s very hard to grasp an understanding of the teams and how they perform, even England have seemed to turn the corner recently of actually scoring in the first half of games. During the qualifying rounds, the number of 0-0 draws at half time would have brought back a pretty penny if you had betted on the consistent trend of England’s first-half performances.

Outright win bets will come with very minimal returns when you have the likes of Germany, Brazil, Spain, and Argentina all playing teams with less experience and, arguably less talented players. When it comes to the games you need to be entertaining the idea of in-game bets. Options of total corners where, for example, you can select a total of over 8 corners before the kickoff and double your money with a 2.00 odd. Even during the game, you can gauge the total corner amount. Now with these high odds better than selecting a 1.50 winner, imagine the return if you select 6-9 games with a £$5 bet. With mighty teams playing minnows, it’s a guarantee the box will be bombarded and thusly increasing the corner count.

The penalty choice always comes in high, to score a penalty in a game carries anything between 8.50 to 10.00 odds. Again with clever players out on the pitch, the invisible sniper will be out to pick off players as they display acrobatic twists and turns mid-air to win a chance at an easy goal.

World Cup

Fact or Fiction 

Knowing your facts about a team can assist your betting, being a quiz site, those more attune to the facts of football often come up trumps when betting. Learn about certain player behaviours, for example, did you know Lionel Messi averages a goal a game for Argentina? However, did you also know only 5 have been scored in World Cup tournaments? Now the bookies will trick you into putting money down on him to be top scorer this year, opt for a less conventional bet that Messi will get less than 3 goals and let the fact pay off.

Don’t thing outright and look at the game pattern to select your ways of winning this summer so you can lift you bank balance whilst the teams fight to lift the trophy.

Liverpool’s Champions League Chances

With the hunt for the league title now gone, and a top 4 place all but secured, Liverpool will be focusing the latter stages of the Champions League, and whoever lies next in wait will not wanting to be playing a Anfield in the next round.  But how far can Liverpool go? Are they genuine contenders for Champion League glory?

If everything falls into place, Jurgen Klopp has one of the most dynamic, fluid and dangerous attacking line ups in the Champions League. Despite the sale of arguable their most unique player, Mo Salah is coring for fun and when  Mane and Firmino hit top stride, there is very little defences can do to cope with them. But can they sustain these over 2 legged affairs with the very best sides in Europe?

Liverpool have shown far too often, in the biggest of games, that Klopp’s style does not win out on a consistent basis and there have been several times this season, including the 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford this past weekend, when the team have failed to click and looked rather pedestrian and average. If a defence can unite to keep Salah and Mane under wraps, Liverpool over very little else with the midfield struggling to create. This may help them against the lower end of the Premier League sides, but on the biggest stage of them all, it will cost them. Their win against Porto in the Last 16 was very impressive but bigger, tough sides await and even the English teams they may face during their run can cause them problems.

When you add in the state of the Liverpool defence, even with the addition of Virgila Van Dijk, it doesn’t provide a very positive outlook. Yes, to give credit where it is due, Liverpool have reached the quarter final stage, and as they have proven in the past anything is possible at this stage, but watching Liverpool does not inspire you with confidence they can beat 3 better teams to lift the trophy.

Getting to the final will be the harder task than winning it…if they do reach the final and Salah,  Mane and Firmino hit strides, they can trouble anyone and outscore any team. But beating one of the remaining teams over 2 legs, with a suspect defence and goalkeeper may be out of their reach. Is there a team remaining in the last 8 who you would expect Liverpool to beat? Perhaps not…Juventus have proven they have the defensive capability to keep Liverpool quiet, the remaining English sides would all fancy their chances over two legs and Real Madrid and Barcelona will relish playing against that back four at Anfield.

If Liverpool fans had a realistic head on their shoulders, they should recognise that a season ending in 3rd place in the league and having made the quarter finals of the champions League, is certainly an achievement in itself and certainly something to be proud of. Yes there is no silverware to cherish, but in a season when a club have sold their best player, and have had to contend with impressive Manchester teams, then that is no small achievement at all.

The England Outsiders Who Could Still Make The World Cup Squad

Gareth Southgate’s recent England squad caused quite the stir among Three Lions fans and pundits alike. There were a few surprise additions to the team and some faces missing that really didn’t warrant the snub.Glenn Murray

It’s all making for an interesting end to the Premier League season as Southgate looks to pick his final 23-man squad. His side didn’t do themselves any harm against the Netherlands on Friday night, with the likes of Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire and Kieran Trippier all getting ever closer to booking their spots on the plane. But who’re missing? And who could be the outside shots to make it to Russia 2018?

Jack Wilshere

 It was a huge shame for Jack Wilshere, who had to pull out of the recent squad due to injury. He’s worked so hard to get back into both the Arsenal and international fold and fully deserved to get a start in the heart of England’s midfield.

He’s certainly one of most pundits World Cup tips to go still if he’s fit as almost every England manager he’s played under has appreciated his quality with the ball. It’s something they could very well need, with Eric Dier, Jake Livermore and Jordan Henderson the other likely contenders for that central midfield spot.

Gary Cahill

While Gareth Southgate said he’d only pick players who were playing, it was still a surprise to see Chelsea’s Gary Cahill miss out on a place in Southgate’s recent squad. He’s struggling to get a game at Chelsea but his leadership and experience could be a valuable asset to England.

Managers of the nation do usually pick an experienced man within their squad and with only Joe Hart having more than caps than in and around the England set-up, Cahill could be the likely choice.

Glenn Murray

 A lot of fans were hoping to see Glenn Murray put on an England shirt in the recent friendlies but instead Southgate opted for Danny Welbeck. What Murray offers is something different, but it will now take great courage from the manager to drop someone in place of a player who is yet to be tried or tested at international level.

The England strike force does currently look a little one dimensional though. They have Kane as an all-round talent and then on top of that just a number of pacey forwards who like to get in and behind defenders. What happens when England need to go direct? Or Southgate needs someone to hold the ball up at the other end of the pitch? It’s a worry and Murray could be the answer.

Ben Mee

 James Tarkowski was given a call up in the recent squad by Gareth Southgate and it can be argued Ben Mee deserves one just as much. The centre half places are well and truly up for grabs in this squad and Mee could be an outside bet if he continues to shine.

He’d be an ideal replacement should any injuries occur as he’s been a shining light at the heart of Burnley’s defence all season. We’re sure many would love to simply pluck both Mee and Tarkowski from the Clarets back line and place them straight into the England team they’ve been that sound defensively. Of all the players England fans may argue about being in or out of the squad, we doubt any would argue against Mee warranting a place.

 

 

Where now for Liverpool?

LFC

Liverpool fans will be waking up after a weekend which saw them firmly put in place by a Manchester United team driven, motivated and with a returning Marcus Rashford to punish a lacklustre defence. Jurgen Klopp must be heading to training this morning frustrated that he was unable to make up a plan to break down a resilient Untied defence and that the free flowing, heavy scoring football of recent weeks just did not click. United have presented a blue print of how to deal with the feared front line of Liverpool and made Mo Salah, who has not been able to stop scoring, nullified into a passenger.

Although Everton is the local derby, the games against Manchester United always define where Liverpool are and even the most hardened fan of the Reds must admit that at the weekend, they were a long way behind Manchester United in terms of tactics, clinical finishing and big match experience. Salah and Mane have excelled at ripping apart lesser teams, but faced with a well organised defence and a tactic aimed at stopping them, they failed to shine. The rest of the team lacked inspiration and did not look like a patch on the team that could be considered one of the most attractive in world football. Klopp must take some responsibility…arguable the biggest match of his 2018 went with a whimper and now he must look to settling for 3rd at best.

The question lingers after the performance at the weekend, will a 3rd place finish and no trophies represent a success for Liverpool. Of course, a good run or unlikely win in the Champions League would change the season altogether, but in realistic terms it looks like the 3rd place finish is the best they can hope for?  Avoiding 4th and a playoff means they would have some time to try No Deposit Casino Bonuses before their campaign starts.

In a season where 6 teams began with Champions League qualification hopes, it must be outlined that the 4 teams who manage to qualify have at least achieved the minimum. As March began, the league title was sown up, Arsenal looked to have dropped from contention and baring a disaster Liverpool are safely in.

Surely fans must expect more? Selling your finest player is never going to produce immediate returns, but the emergence of the attacking line has been a revelation but for all the positives that are talked about the Klopp revolution and the Klopp way, the simple fact remains that Liverpool are as far away from the title as they have ever been. They can easily dominate the teams below them, they can score freely when the game is going their way but when their backs are against the wall and they come up against a resilient defence,  there is no Plan B and they team fizzles out.

If the season ends with Liverpool lifting the Champions League trophy Klopp and this team will be hailed as legends and talked about in the same manner as the 2005 team who failed in the league yet won the biggest prize. If they remain trophiless and 3rd, questions will be asked. Can they accept another season of getting no closer to the league title?

 

Man United V Liverpool Post Match Analysis

Liverpool v Man Utd

The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United takes on an especially more reverent tone when the two teams are within close proximity in the league. With the league title out of reach, and both teams looking secure in the top four, the match up on Saturday was perhaps the biggest domestic game the teams had left.

Prior to the game, the focus had been on the tactics of Jose Mourinho…what approach would he take? Would he park that ever popular bus? He surprised everyone from the off by giving Marcus Rashford his first start of 2018 and boy, did that pay off!

Manchester United see Liverpool as their main rivals, and the Old Trafford faithful seem to have really played this up the further Manchester City become out of reach, and hence Old Trafford was louder than it has been for some time. It can be quite demotivating to a fan base, used to winning, to be so far behind their city rivals in second,  but to beat Liverpool is a must for any Manchester United Manager.

United looked strong throughout and Liverpool rarely threatened, evidenced by the fact that it took a rather comical own goal from Eric Bailly to give them hope. Mo Salah, prolifically free scoring all season, was marked out of the game and Mane, Firmino and Milner failed to get control. Liverpool looked out of ideas and the fast, free flowing fizzing football they have been playing under Klopp was attempted, but had no chance of breaking down a resilient United.

The pressure applied to the known weakness of Dejan Lovren paid off and the ever imposing threat of Roman Lukaku bullying the back for was just too much. The goals United scored showed a tactical awareness of these defensive weakness and both goals emerged from long balls aimed at the weak centre backs, of which Rashford was able to take control.

With England manager Gareth Southgate watching on, his eyes must surely have lit up seeing the electric form of Rashford, causing problems for the defensive, clinical finishing and an eye for goal.  If this form continues, surely he has to be in the world cup plans as a starter? You can check out his odd with Mobilebet Voucher Code 2018 An on for Rashford may also be the key to United sticking with 2nd place.

But will 2nd place be satisfying to United fans? Even the most hardened pro-United anti-City resident of Old Trafford must admit that they are by far the second best team in the league this season, and that coming 2nd is an achievement. With 6 teams now competing for the top 4 spaces, United remain ahead of everyone who-is-not-Man-City. The worry will be how they can move on an breach that gap? Seville come to Old Trafford in the Champions League this week in what will be another test for this emerging team. Could a run to the final of the Champions League be the spur to set United up for a title challenge next season? Only time will tell…

 

Struggling Arsenal managed to win against Newcastle

footy

The recent performance of Arsenal has not been good so far. After being beaten by both the Manchester teams, they could not even earn the valuable points in their recent matches against Southampton and West Ham. That is the reason they are placed at the fourth spot after Manchester United and Chelsea in the Premier League table.

Therefore, the recent win against Newcastle must be a huge relief for Wenger whose team is currently five points lagging behind Chelsea. Mesut Ozil did the magic in the 23th minute of the game for the struggling Arsenal and remained till the end of the game. It was a brilliant first half volley that got them the lead.

However, this game also showed the problem which has been recurring throughout the season for Arsenal- not being able to take the chances which they create. Seeing the huge quality difference between the two teams, the dominance from the Arsenal side should have been complete. However, we did not see that happen. Though the win was not as convincing as it should have been, however a win is still a win and the Arsenal’s celebration is not out of place.

The Arsenal side would now be playing against West Ham in their next match. That game is expected to be easy for them. However, the game after that could be a real challenge for them as they will be up against the stronger opponent Liverpool. That is a game which might be of interest for both fans and punters around the world. If you are punter, you could avail from free bets and get bonus codes and know sign up offers from all the top rated UK betting sites. Read reviews for the valuable information or follow the tips for becoming a smart punter. Closely follow all the latest offers of Betfred, Paddy Power, Betway, Coral and all the others, so you can choose the one that fits you the best.

The experiments of Arsenal coach Wenger seemed to work well against the Newcastle team. He brought in Ainsley Maitland-Niles while Alexandre Lacazette was placed for Olivier Giroud.

Although Alex Iwobi and Alexis Sanchez became close to scoring, however the lead came only after the 20th minute of the game. Ozil showed a perfect combination of grace and power to give his team a lead early in the game. When the ball came to Ozil, he used his left leg to deliver the volley past Rob Elliot despite the fact that he was off balance and that he had the time to bring the ball down.

Later, Wenger appreciated that goal calling it “superb” and further commending him in such words: “Usually, he is the guy who 99 per cent of the time in this position, controls the ball and gives it someone else.”

Arsenal were looking very good in the first half of the game. However, by the second half their game looked more defensive. It felt like they had secured the win, and therefore the point of urgency was devoid from their game. Ultimately they prevailed, yet one could see that it was a lot tense towards the end of the game than it should have been.

If we talk about the Newcastle team, the situation for them is looking pretty grim now. Rafa Benitez would definitely have been dissatisfied with the performance of his team. But looking at their performance so far, it was not to be expected that they would win this game. It is been their eighth defeat of the previous nine games, and therefore has seen them drop down to the eighteenth position of the Premier League table, ahead of West Brom and Swansea City only. Benitez has been trying to bring his team up by imploring his players to strengthen their attack and exploit the weaknesses of the opposite team, but so far they have not worked.

 

 

The Newcastle Problem

In the mid 1990s Kevin Keegan performed something of a revolution at St James Park and against the odds www.bettingsitesnow.co.uk turned Newcastle United into title contenders. Not only that, but during the 1995-1996 season he led Newcastle unto a 12 point lead, so convincing that many bookmakers paid out on them lifting the trophy.  They went onto to several 2nd place finishes and had a good run…but then it all went wrong! The nights at the Nou Camp and the consecutive Cup Finals seem oh so long ago now for the toon army faithful and seemingly for the last decade a spiral of decline has been in place. Many blame Mike Ashley….but have the fans got a role to play in this?

The issue can be dated back to that 1995-1996 season when Newcastle thought they had the title won. The 12 point lead was broken down, the title was lost and in my eyes the club never recovered. It was at this stage that fans began to view the club as bigger and more important that it actually was on a national scale. Other than Alan Shearer, Newcastle failed to capture big name players, those players to take them to the next level, and the fans couldn’t understand why and turned on the manager, the club and the director. The simple fact is, that without a winning history, without those trophies and without that special appeal Newcastle were not able to attract who they needed to stay in place….they joined a long list of the teams who have had 2-3 seasons of wonder and faded away.

This “big club” mentality feeds down and the fans got impatient with managers, proven guys like Sam Allardyce were pushed out when in all fairness, better jobs could have been done with time. Newcastle couldn’t understand why two relegations occurred and, more of an issue perhaps, the 6 back to back defeats to local rivals Sunderland.

It all foes down to what I call the Newcastle Problem…..that the club and the fans see them as bigger than they are. Yes they have a loyal fanbase with a huge stadium that is sold out whoever the opposition is…but this doesn’t put them on a par with the top 6 teams in the Premier League.

If Newcastle can just get to grips with the fact they are a middling Premier League team, expect the odd relegation battle and perhaps a drop in division and build from there, they can function much better than they now do. Rafa Benetiez has crafted a team for the Championship which they won, but then wasn’t given the support to make them a Premier League team. And what has this been hampered by? All the sale talks…..which hinge on the factor I have mentioned before, Newcastle are not the club they believe they are and that is why they are not getting the right buyer with the right price.

A whole new mentality is needed at St James, more akin to local rivals Sunderland, or selling clubs like Southampton, if they are to turn themselves into Premier League mainstays once again. Until then, I pity the Toon Army as they will continue to be just a footnote….

Who will finish in the top 4?

If someone would have told me at the start of the season when writing this article that one team would be running away with the title, I wouldn’t have believed it. But here we are with 2018 beginning and every football fan with any common sense must sense that the league title race is over. Manchester City are not only picking up the points, but doing so in a style that suggest they will never be stopped. I hear fans from time to time hark back to the days when Newcastle, in the 1995-1996 season, where 12 points clear at this stage only to lose out to Man United……we are talking about different teams. Keegan’s Toon Army were a attacking machine but lacked the quality Manchester do. Newcastle got results by outscoring, not necessarily outplaying, teams whereas Manchester City are dominating every game from the first to the last moment. It would take a brave betting man www.bookiesbettingoffers.co.uk to think they will blow it from here!

In a nutshell, assuming it is over let us take a look at the 5 teams aiming to fill the other 3 places in that top 4…

Manchester United – Somewhat a fall from grace as 2017 came to a close. As the season began it was United getting the rave reviews and plaudits and many predicting they would run away with the league but it simply hasn’t happened, and with several players form up and down, unless something major clicks they are going to struggle to hold on to second. Still, I believe they have enough firepower to secure that Top four place. Prediction – 2nd

Arsenal – Amidst all the Wenger out chants and contract disputes, Arsenal have kept on winning game, including some against top 4 rivals. Quietly, but surely, Arsene Wenger has got his side singing off the same hymn sheet and it all seems to be going well. Although the extensive demands of the Europa League may play into matters, Arsenal look good and if they hit form at the right time of the season could have a very happy fan base when the season ends . Prediction – 3rd

Chelsea – Solid, secure and pick up wins when they need to. Without having that X factor that City and United possess they are vulnerable to the odd shock but Conte should find himself in the Champions League next season. Prediction – 4th

Salah

Liverpool – Free scoring and fun to watch but the rate of goals and impressive results will fade. The champions League will take a toll and Van Dijk is not enough to make that defence work. Prediction – 5th

Spurs – Anything is possible when Harry Kane lines up in your side, but Spurs stuttered at the start of the season and have stuttered ever since. Already playing catch up, the fixtures don’t look kind to Spurs and they will have to endure another season without Champions League football next year…let us just hope thus doesn’t turn Harry Kane’s head

Is Van Dijk the answer for Liverpool?

LFC

One of the longest running, and lets face it, most tedious transfer sagas of the Summer has dragged over into the January Transfer window and it appears that finally, Jurgen Klopp has his man and Virgil Van Dijk is on his way to Anfield and boy it is one hell of a big bet www.mybestbettingsites.co.uk. Whether it has became a matter of pride and Liverpool have paid over the odds to make a point and get their man, or whether Virgil Van Dijk is going to be the man to transform Liverpool…..only time will tell!

Liverpool ‘s problem this season has been two fold….the defence and the goalkeeper. They have had no issues scoring goals and tearing teams apart with their attacking might. Indeed, Salah, Firmino and Mane provide a front three to rival any team in the world, and add Coutinho into the mix an you have one of the most potent attacking forces in world football. Indeed, the midfield has ben able to provide the support the front line needs and watching Liverpool you always get a feeling they are moments away from scoring. However….the defence is another story.

The very first game of the season set the standard, with shoddy defending and marking being a feature of the campaign since. Is it just down the players? Is it bad management? Whatever the story Jurgen Klopp has no excuses now as to why his team are leaking goals. He has Virgil Van Dijk, his world record defensive purchase, and he has the man he has touted for almost a year…..if they still fail with arguable one of the worlds bets centre backs at the core of the team, then it has to be the coach to blame.

But that is not the only problem they have. It is all well and good splashing out bug bucks for but the issue a lot of fans, and pundits see, as much deeper than that is the man between the sticks. Many teams have struggled over the years with goalkeepers and any defence is only as good as the keeper, and Liverpool are finding this out the hard way. Constant errors and mishaps….as well as the comment you here time and time again watching Liverpool games “he should have saved that” are a worry for all concerned. Will Klopp dip into the transfer market and reinforce the goalkeeping position? Who is actually available and with the £75 million already spent on Virgil Van Dijk is there any more money in the transfer fund!

Only time will tell, and January will be a very interesting month to see if Liverpool are going to put all their defensive woe eggs into one basket and hope Virgil Van Dijk is the answer. But then the bigger questions will come….how will Virgil Van Dijk cope under the new pressure he will find himself under? Being the worlds most expensive defender he is going to have to quickly get used to the fact that every single move he does in every single game will be under the microscope. Can Virgil Van Dijk take Liverpool back into the champions league and beyond? It is going to be interesting to find out…

London Stadium V Wembley Stadium

Manchester City have dominated the Premier League this season, however it is in London where the most impressive stadiums are, with West Ham residing in the London Stadium and Spurs currently playing their home games at Wembley Stadium while they wait on their new stadium to be completed.

West Ham have seen recent improved performances and results, while Spurs have been struggling as of late, meaning that the best Premier League odds on a Spurs win are likely to be now.

For West Ham, they only had a short move to their new stadium, with the new ground being around four miles from their old Boleyn Ground, while Spurs have twelve miles to travel to reach their temporary Wembley home. We have compared the two stadiums to see which stadium is the best value for their fans in the following infographic.

PP (FOOTBALL) Stadium Comparison

Test your knowledge of Premier Leagues Top Scorers

Delli Ali Spurs Quiz

Since the inception of the league in 1992, the Premier League has been home to some sensational and clinical goal scorers. English striker Alan Shearer currently leads the way with the most Premier League goals, but there have been multiple players that have made it into the ‘100 Club’. The performances of these goal scorers competing in the league means that many Premier League odds bookmakers now allow betters to guess what players will score during a match.

Football is not an easy game to predict, so it can be quite difficult to guess who will score during a match. However in certain scenarios it can be quite easy to make a calculated guess on who will score. By trying this quiz, you can test out your knowledge on Premier League goal scorers and whether each player has scored more or less goals than the number given?

Check out the Quiz here.

Which team will in this year’s Champions League

As investment in the game rises and new clubs come to the fore, the influx of world class players and clubs previously not deemed contenders for the Champions League, the elite competition in Europe, and interest in the game reaches fever pitch….the Champions League becomes more important than ever. The qualification is over; the group draw is done and after the international break the competition itself. Each year there are shocks, surprises, classic games  and world class football….but the questions is, in one of the most competitive seasons in living memory, just who will win the Champions League.

I think it is fair to say that the Champions League winner this season is likely to come from only a handful of countries so let us look at each nation step by step and see what they can offer. Also, on the off chance you’re a gambling man and you enjoy betting on the Champions League then a great site to take a look at is Footy Accumulators as they offer daily football tips for all of the biggest games.

Starting in Spain, look no further than Real Madrid as the odds on favourites. Easily the best team in the contest last season, and deserved winners, Real look solid and have the attacking flair and defensive might to defeat any team on their day. Barcelona have been rocked by the departure of Neymar, breaking up the MSN partnership, but they still have enough quality and experience to make a challenge. They may have missed key transfer targets and lack the “galactico feel” of Madrid but they should never be counted out.

Over in France, with Monaco losing the majority of their top players, the only Champions League winner potentially comes in the form of mega rich PSG who have boosted their attacking might with Mbappe and Neymar and will be irresistible in attack. They still have a lot to prove on the big stage to show they have the steel and grit to compete, but rule them out at your peril.

The only Italian hope is really Juventus who already look solid in the season, with a well-grounded squad, defensively the best set up in the continent and a wonder goal machine in the form of Dybala. They are my outside bet to life the trophy and even the finest attackers around may struggle to penetrate the Old Lady.

In terms of the German teams, I am sorry to say, that Bayern simply have not kept up with rivals. They have not spent big, they have not improved and they risk falling behind the European elite. The Germans always prove us wrong and seeing them in the Semi Final would not surprise me, but I rate their chances of making it all the way very slim.

Finally, the English clubs have 5 teams in this year and the only one I would rule out as contenders are Spurs. Lacking in experience and the poor home form at Wembley mean it could be a very short run. As for the others…Chelsea have been there before and have added plenty of quality, Manchester City are as strong as ever in attack but again need to prove it on the big stage and Liverpool have a front three to rival any in the word. But the one big contender, especially with his second season streak, is Manchester United and the Special One. Deep squad, plenty of goals, solid at the back….I can see Manchester United taking some beating in this year’s Champions League!

 

Prediction: Manchester United

One to Watch: Juventus

What happened to Wimbledon?

I am just about young enough to remember a time when a Wimbledon side, led by Vinnie Jones and a hard hitting squad of English players, was topping the Premier League table. Indeed, the fabled cup win from 1988 is still fresh in the conscious as is their dramatic rise from obscurity to the top flight. But within a few years of that triumphant run to the top of the Premier League Wimbledon had collapsed, were out of business and reformed under the banner of two new clubs! MK Dons are essentially the team Wimbledon were but the AFC Wimbledon club is the one with the heart.

So what happened and can another other teams learn a lesson from this demise?

Wimbledon found them in the Premier League at a time when the money was starting to grow. It was nothing in comparison to what a middling team can earn in the division today, but still the money was flooding in and everyone around was investing in cheap foreign players with a new technique, new skills and a raised standard. The league began to be graced with the finest players in the world and with a push to getting in the Champions League the top half a dozen Premier League clubs began to invest. Wimbledon didn’t….even in the season they looked on for a top 6 finish; they did not spend the money. The club had been built on the premise of hard hitting English players with a certain style of play that worked well in the 1980s but was not compatible with the modern day game. They did not change with the times and that was one of their major issues!

They didn’t learn the earlier lesson from 1988 when they shocked the world and won the FA Cup, taking down Liverpool on their way, and were the talk of the nation. At that point they could have set aside time to build for the future and establish a club that could repeat the feat. They were the most talked about team in England and yet they did not back this up by going after players to improve.

The relocation issues did not help. Crowded in London, being an unfashionable team and not able to draw crowds who would rather flock to the more fashionable and successful clubs, drove the clubs owners into the controversial move to Milton Keynes which killed the heart of Wimbledon.

At the end of the day, a lack of ambition killed Wimbledon. This probably comes from always being the underdog and always being “the little club done well”. But that can only last so long in an industry where money talks and the game moved beyond what Wimbledon were all about.  They failed to adapt to the changing game, stuck to their roots of old fashioned English players and it backfired. There will never be another club like Wimbledon, and the absence of the club is sadly one of the many casualties of the modern game in the Premier League mega-money era of English football.

List of Premier League Main Sponsors

EPL

The Premier League is one of the best things that ever happened in the realm of football. Apart from World Cup, this is the other football league competition that attracts every football fan out there. It does not matter which team you support, the Premier League is relevant to every person who enjoys watching football.

Every year, it runs from the months of August after the FA Community Shield to May. However, unknown to many is that the world’s most popular football league competition normally works closely with a select group of partners as well as licensees to bring to us the event. Below are some main Premier League sponsors;

  1. EA Sports 

EA Sports

EA Sports is a household name when it comes to video games. In fact, it is one of the leading video games companies globally. The entity together with the Premier League has had a long term partnership since 2010. Last year it announced that it had expanded the partnership deal with the Premier League, becoming its biggest partner through to 2019.

  1. Barclays Bank

Barclays is one of the biggest banks in the world with presence in nearly every country. It is one of the main sponsors of this football league contest, which is currently in its second month. Over the last one and a half decades, the bank has enjoyed a great partnership with the Premier League as their financial services provider and title sponsor. It remains the banking partner of the League until the end of the next season. Whether or not Barclays will renew its commitment to support the League after 2019, it is something we are looking forward to finding out soon enough.

  1. Cadbury

Cadbury along with the Premier League have come together to begin an incredible partnership, starting from the beginning of this season. This move brings together two major global brands that have tremendous popularity across the globe.

For Cadbury, which is one of the world’s favourite chocolate brands, this adds to the brand’s history of important partnerships, and offers another opportunity for it to bring moments of excitement to millions of Premier League fans. The entity is expected to execute this exciting partnership with Premier League in many different ways that will entertain both players and fans

  1. Nike

Nike Football

When it comes to the Premier League, one of the key partners that come into mind is Nike. This American brand has been the official match ball provider to the Premier League for more than a decade and a half. This year it will be the 16th time for which the sports items and sportswear company has provided match balls for the League.

Conclusion

Although we have only listed four, there are many other key sponsors to the Premier League this season and the subsequent ones. From Carling and TAG Heuer, through to SportingiD and so on, the list of brands that sponsor this top football league event today is endless. Do not forget to visit the Euro Palace Casino for exciting Premier League betting.

Lightning Start from Napoli Gives Them a Chance to Win Serie A

Napoli

SSC Napoli Logo” by Tanzen80 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

When you think about who will win Serie A, Napoli aren’t the first team you always think of and they have often remained in the shadow of the bigger clubs. However, a lightning start has taken them to the top of the league after seven games, and with some big clubs in behind them, they are in the driving seat right now. It remains to be seen whether they can stay there, but after watching them play this season, the signs are good, and they look set for a strong Serie A challenge.

Napoli have put together a hugely impressive start at both ends of the pitch to lead the chasing pack in Serie A. They have scored an impressive 25 goals from their seven league games, giving them the best goal scoring record in the division. Couple that with the fact that have conceded only five goals, giving them the joint-third best defensive record in the division, it is easy to see why they have caught the eye of many Serie A fans.

The big guns have all started well. Juventus and Inter Milan are both unbeaten, while Lazio and Roma have lost just once this season. Napoli are leading the way and overshadowing them, however, and if they can continue this run then all eyes will be on them as they look to lift the league title for the first time since the Diego Maradona-inspired 1989-90 season.

The latest Serie A betting has Napoli at 11/8 to win the title after their impressive start, although Juventus remain favourites with the bookmakers. That is sure to change if Napoli can continue their good run and are able to pull away from Juventus even further over the coming weeks.

Mertens

Dries Mertens” by Youri165 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The shining star so far this season for Napoli has once again been their striker Dries Mertens. After scoring 28 goals in 35 games for them last season, he currently has seven goals from seven games this season in an electric start. If Napoli are to land the league title they have been building towards for a number of years then he is going to be a key piece in their challenge, it is vital that he remains healthy and in-form.

The next few weeks are going to be fascinating to watch in Italy, with a number of huge games coming up. In October, Napoli will travel away to face Roma and then face Inter Milan at home, while Juventus will face both Lazio and AC Milan in the coming weeks. We also have a Milan derby to look forward to later this month, a game that is always a great spectacle for fans to enjoy, and this year is sure to be no different.

The start of the Serie A season has been a fantastic spectacle and with Napoli laying down a marker, it is time for Juventus to respond. These two look set for a battle all season long that is going to be great for neutrals and invested supporters alike.

Who has done the best business in this transfer window?

Transfer Window

The mad rush of the summer transfer window is finally over and we can now start to assess which teams have had the greatest of successes in the transfer window. Clubs will never be able to please all of the fans all of the time, and hence you may disagree with the choices, but these are the 5 Premier League clubs who have had the best transfer window –

  1. Manchester United – Jose was sitting relaxed on transfer deadline day as all his business was done early and done well, as proven by their thumping start. Lukaku is a goal machine, a striker with a proven hit record and a game changer. But the most important signing may well prove to be Matic who completes the United jigsaw and will be there in the engine room to drive the team onwards to glory on many fronts.

 

  1. Everton – Not only can you class the return of a motivated and England-free Wayne Rooney as one of the best singings of the summer, but bringing in someone with proven premier league experience such as Mr Sigurdsson and you have a team who are solid from 1-11 and with good back up. Holding onto Ross Barkley may also prove to be a useful move once the later stages of the league and Europa League hit.

 

  1. Liverpool – Staying on Merseyside and with Mo Salah and the Ox firming up the team they have improved in the quality of their attack. Holding onto to Coutinho may prove to be handy should he start to be included in the team, but Mo Salah creates a front line three with Firmino and Mane that looks unstoppable. Yes not tempting VVD away from St Marys is disappointing and there are defensive questions, but Liverpool should be pleased with the window.

  1. West Brom – Not the most fashionable of clubs but look at who they have brought in and you will see why WBA are being talked about as contender’s for a Top 10 finish. Proven Premier League players such as Gibbs and Barry to add to the new blood in the team makes for an exciting prospect indeed.

 

  1. Chelsea – Finally landed Llorente to add to the fire power provided by the arrival of Morata gives Chelsea chance to move away from reliance on want away Diego Costa. But one of the best signings of the window may indeed prove to be Danny Drinkwater. Reunited with Kante the Chelsea midfield, with Bakayoko involved in the mix, makes a solid team who will be hard to beat.

What about the worst business? One of the contenders must be Newcastle United who have not invested to match the ambition of the fans or indeed Rafa Benitez. With a lack of proven premier league quality and a slow start to the season, nerves must be shaking at St James Park and without a huge recruitment in January, they will have a long season.

What has though been odd about this window is the battle for players to leave clubs, and their insistence to stay…never before have we seen such sagas together as Coutinho, VVD and Sanchez. It has made for a rather uncomfortable and, at times, dull series of events,

So the transfer talk can subside for the time being and we can look forward to the start of the Champions League, the Premier League to start taking shape and all the usual dramas that come with a football seasons. Buckle your seat belts as its going to a bumpy ride…

 

25 YEARS OF PREMIER LEAGUE: HOW HAS IT EVOLVED?

EPL

25 years ago, a new Era of English football began. At that time, there were still a lot of lapses in the game although it was exciting nonetheless. However, in the last 25 years, English Football has changed beyond recognition and is regarded as the most successful league in the world with the most number of fans spread across the world.

One way where the English Premier League (EPL) has undoubtedly grown is the financial power which it wields as before now, it was on par with the other major leagues across Europe. However, in the last 25 years, its financial might has peaked, and in a recent report by Deloitte, 12 of the EPL’s 20 clubs are featured in Deloitte’s list of top 30 clubs by revenue released in January 2017.

Some other changes which the EPL has witnessed is an increase in the number of teams that participate in the league. The premier league first began with 22 teams in 1991-1992 but was later reduced to 20 teams after three seasons for the start of 1995 to 96 season. Also, there has been a visible increase in the numbers of foreign players, of the 273 players who participated in the commencement of the League in 1992 for the 22 teams only 55 came from countries outside UK and Ireland. However, today, the story is different because in 2017, of the 277 who played in the League only 86 were from England while 191 were from countries outside the UK.

Another area where rapid changes have been noticed is in the number of Foreign Managers coaching in the EPL.  In 1992, 18 of the 23 Managers who were in charge of EPL clubs were from England while in 2017, only four of the 20 managers are English, and this contributes to the competitiveness of the EPL. Expectedly, the number of fans following EPL teams have witnessed a tremendous and steady increase in the number of followers, with fans from across the world showing serious interest in various teams.

The officiating of the EPL has also changed as evidently, referees give stiffer punishment to players who disobeys the rules of the football game. For instance, in 1992 only 23 yellow cards were issued to players with no red card while. In 2017, there were 34 yellows cards in just ten games with ten red cards.

For a League that has been up for up quarter of a century, it will not be devoid of some dramas for instance, in 2013, Luis Suarez a striker who has been known for so many controversies bite Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in a match which led to his ten match ban.

Another remarkable event in the Premier League took place on August 3, 1999, when Arsenal signed Thierry who became the best player in the league for years, he spent eight years in the team scoring remarkable goals and winning two League titles. Anyone who has followed the League will forever remember how Ronaldo delivered one of the best free kicks ever seen in the history of Premier League when Manchester United played against Portsmouth in 2008.

Along side this there has been a proliferation of new betting sites tapping into the love of fans to twin football and betting.

A lot has changed in the EPL in the past 25 years, and as we enter into a new era of its existence, there is so much more which is expected to change. We can only fold our hands and enjoy.

1990’s Football Quiz

Coventry City Players

Here at Footie Quiz we like to think of ourselves as the go to place for free football quizzes. However we recently came across a cracking 90s football quiz that a) was a big challenge and b) is worthy of a mention in our blog.

So credit to My Betting Sites for: The Hardest 90s Football Quiz

Being in my late 30s the 1990s was ‘my era’ so to discover this quiz was great and an absolute joy. I found some of them easy, esp my old favourite player Rob Jones.

Rob JonesAs a player his career was cut brutally short due to persistent shin splint problem. However after his move from lowly Crewe Alexandra he spent 4 solid seasons a Liverpool going on to win England caps along the way. In my opinion one of the best right backs of the 1990s.

Other easy ones: Ian Marshall, Julien Dicks (oh why oh why did Souness buy him for LFC?), Choccy, Batty, Sirnicke (sp?),  Stevie Stone, Dublin and Tim Flowers.

While there are some easy ones there are also some really tough ones. I can’t for the life of me remember the chap from Sheff Wed – I think he was Dutch! Or the Arsenal player – think he is also foreign.

Wimbledon’s Dean Holdsworth (possible run close by the Spurs chap) was clearly the best looking chap of 1990s football and the prize for the ugliest footballer went to this chap – no idea who he is:

Bolton FC

Only because there was no Iain Dowie or Beardo in the quiz!

What I also like about the quiz is the array of old kits, as a Liverpool fan I can recall our old kits but over time you forget about other teams. Spurs had some nice kits, so did Chelsea but that Kasey Keller Leicester top is shocking!

If you have 15 minutes spare and are prepared to get frustrated by not remembering ‘what a thingys’ name then you really should play this quiz.

 

 

A High, a Low and a Close One: Brighton’s First Top-Flight Adventure

The 2017/18 Premier League season will be Brighton’s first in the top flight since 1982/83. Back then, Margaret Thatcher was preparing to embark on a second term of office, Spandau Ballet’s True sat proudly atop the charts, and a future king was only just learning to walk. Although 1983 signalled the start of a drab era in the club’s history, the previous four years had been a very remarkable story of defiance.

Having been tipped for promotion last year by Sports Predictor, Brighton & Hove Albion (if nothing else) already boast a story which has produced material perfect for a pub quiz. To that end, three events from the club’s first top flight adventure stand out prominently from the rest…

Between the Goldstone Ground and the Falmer Stadium, Brighton played at the Withdean Stadium, which has become synonymous with some of the club’s darkest moments from the past three decades.

  1. The opening act

Brighton are scheduled to open the club’s second top-flight adventure with a home match against Manchester City. The two-time Premier League champions are the bookies’ favourites to lift the domestic game’s biggest trophy again, and as such, there are distinct echoes back to Brighton’s very first top flight season. Alan Mullery’s men opened the 1979/80 First Division with a match against giants Arsenal at the Goldstone ground – and duly received a 4-0 roasting.

Difficult though the 1979/80 proved to negotiate, Brighton’s first ever away win in the top flight came against none other than reigning European champions Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

  1. Anfield rapped

The Seagulls held their own in the interim years, but by the 1983 New Year, Brighton were in the throes of a dismal season that would end in relegation. Unsurprisingly then, nobody gave Brighton a prayer when a beleaguered squad travelled to Anfield in February 1982 to take on reigning league champions Liverpool. Then managed by the apparently invincible Bob Paisley – who was, in fact, six months from handing the reins over to Joe Fagan – the Reds dominated proceedings. However, the day would be Brighton’s.

By now under the stewardship of Jimmy Melia, Brighton performed with the sort of spirit that had been sorely lacking in the league. A Kop End goal from Gerry Ryan gave Brighton the lead, before Craig Johnston equalised. In a perfect climax, former Anfield hero Jimmy Case leathered the ball past Bruce Grobbelaar for the winner.

Brighton’s FA Cup adventure of 1983.

  1. Wembley heartache

High on the pomp that only a win at Anfield can ever create, Brighton dispatched Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday to set up what remains the club’s most recent cup final to date. Brighton’s opponents were Manchester United, and though the Red Devils were not yet the colossus they would become in due course, they were nonetheless heavy favourite to lift the cup.

In a spirited performance worthy of the Rocky film franchise, the blue half of a 99,000-strong Wembley erupted into raptures when Gordon Smith opened the scoring on 14 minutes. Goals from Frank Stapleton and Ray Wilkins put Manchester United ahead, but Gary Stevens equalised just three minutes from time to take the final to a replay.

No doubt exhausted by their superlative exploits, Brighton were collectively crushed in the replay, going down 4-0 with two goals from United captain Bryan Robson. It was a sad, and perhaps unjust, end to a season that would precipitate 34 years of misery and frustration in the wilderness of English football.

Unsurprisingly, upon supporting their side to promotion this year, the Brighton faithful beheld their club’s return to the English top flight with tumultuous adulation, showing in no uncertain terms that they are ready to leave the past exactly where it belongs.

Trailblazing Tottenham Trivia: Up for the Cups

Delli Ali Spurs Quiz

Admittedly, there is a considerable amount of ground to cover before Tottenham can even dare to envisage equalling Arsenal’s haul of three Premier League titles. However, as key moments in Tottenham’s history will indicate, records are there to be set – and broken. Founded in 1882, the club took only 19 years to rack up its first major achievement, and establish itself as a potential goldmine of trivia and ‘pub ammo’.

1901 – Tottenham become first FA Cup-winning amateurs

In winning the 1901 FA Cup final, just seven years before becoming a professional club, Tottenham became the first amateur team to win England’s flagship knockout tournament. The Lilywhites are still the only team to win the cup as a non-league side, and barring a miracle far greater than Leicester’s title win of 2015/16, they will remain so until the very end of time.

Under player-manager John Cameron, Tottenham’s very first FA Cup match of the twentieth century was played on 23 February 1901 against Bury at White Hart Lane. A 2-1 victory saw Tottenham proceed to the quarter-finals, where another home tie – against Reading – yielded a 3-0 win. West Bromwich Albion awaited Tottenham in the semi-final, but the Baggies were somewhat distracted by a relentless fight to regain the club’s top flight status. A 4-0 win for Tottenham set up a final with first division Sheffield United.

The final was played at what is today known as the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. The Blades had only recently secured mathematical survival against relegation, and appeared jaded against a Tottenham side playing without pressure. Despite taking a tenth-minute lead through Fred Priest, Sheffield United eventually buckled, with a brace of goals from Sandy Brown either side of half time giving Tottenham the lead.

Hence the club motto, Tottenham had dared to do, and with 51 minutes played, could now dare to dream. On 52 minutes, Tottenham dared to dwindle, and paid what could have been the ultimate price. An equaliser from Walter Bennett proved to be the last goal of the match, with Tottenham barely clinging to the hope of becoming FA Cup winners.

At 20 stone, William ‘Fatty’ Foulke proved a towering presence in the Sheffield United goal.

Burnden Park was only closed as recently as 1997, but in hosting the replay, it had the privilege of witnessing a unique piece of history. The second encounter was every bit as gruelling as the first, but a well-conditioned Sheffield United went in as 1-0 leaders at halftime, with Fred Priest once more the opening goalscorer.

One can only imagine the rousing speech uttered by John Cameron, but Tottenham came out as an indefatigable force after the break. High on half-time oranges, Cameron himself scored the equaliser just eight minutes into the second half. Further goals, from Tom Smith and Sandy Brown, sealed victory and an F.A Cup win that would echo through the generations to come.

1963 – Tottenham triumph in Cup Winners’ Cup

Tottenham would set another notable record in 1920, when (as a second division side) the Lilywhites gained promotion with a total of 70 points. In today’s second tier, that tally would barely scrape a playoff place – but this was back when only two points were awarded for a win. Tottenham won 32 games from a possible 42 and scored 102 goals, and like the club’s FA Cup win of 1901, it is a record that is now guaranteed to stand the test of time.

Though crowned English champions in 1951, the dawn of the 1960s truly represented Tottenham’s most recent golden era. In 1960/61, the club became the first to win a domestic double, but it was at the end of the 1962/63 season that Tottenham would accomplish that which no other English club had dared to do.

In Jimmy Greaves, Tottenham boasted a striker very much in the mould of present-day hero Harry Kane, who is surprisingly priced at 3/1 and tipped to once more be the Premier League’s top goalscorer next season. After successfully defending the FA Cup in 1962, a Tottenham side managed by Bill Nicholson found itself making a short journey north. The destination was Ibrox, with Glasgow Rangers awaiting the Lilywhites in what promised to be a ferocious cross-border battle.

Already 5-2 up on aggregate, the Tottenham squad that took to the Ibrox pitch on 11 December 1962 could not rest on their laurels. With Tottenham drawing first blood, all realistic fears of a comeback from Rangers were quashed. Beaten though the Rangers squad must have collectively realised they were, the Scottish Cup winners fought a brave and defiant battle to the last:

Now safely through, Tottenham were drawn against Slovan Bratislava in the quarter finals. In front of a 32,000-strong Tehelne Pole Stadion, Nicholson’s side were stunned 2-0 by the Czechoslovakian heavyweights. Humiliated and wounded, Tottenham would be brutal in their vengeance for the return leg. Jimmy Greaves scored twice en route to a 6-0 win over Slovan Bratislava, and there were also goals from Dave Mackay, Bobby Smith, Cliff Jones and John White.

After a brace of relatively straightforward semi-final wins, yielding a 5-2 aggregate victory over Yugoslavian side OFK Beograd, only Atletico Madrid stood in the way of Tottenham and ownership of an unprecedented piece of history. Though Tottenham only had a 2-1 lead by the hour mark, the navy and white section of the Feijenoord Stadium in Rotterdam erupted three times without reply, with a brace of goals from Terry Dyson sandwiching an obligatory Jimmy Greaves goal to give the final scoreline a deceptively slanted look.

With a 5-1 rout of the Spaniards, Tottenham duly became the first ever British team to win a major European cup.

2010 – Tottenham ‘two good’ under Redknapp

Tottenham would go on to win two more European cups, lifting the UEFA Cup in 1972, and again in 1984. The first of those triumphs saw Tottenham become the first British team to win Europe’s secondary club competition. After remaining one of football traditional giants throughout the 1980s, the 1990s and 2000s saw undulating fortunes for the men from the Lane. After a dismal start to 2008/09, Harry Redknapp took the reins and guided Tottenham to mid-table respectability.

The following season, Redknapp’s side defied the odds and finished fourth, to qualify for the Champions League. Tottenham survived the qualifier, against BSC Young Boys, and proudly took their place amongst the European elite for the first time since the competition’s rebranding in 1992. Nobody expected Tottenham to get anywhere near the final – and they didn’t. However, Tottenham had one more record to set.

5th May 2010 – Tottenham beat Manchester City to fourth place with a win at the Ethiad Stadium.

In a group containing the reigning cup holders Inter Milan, Tottenham were a potent force. The Lilywhites scored ten goals in three home matches, including a famous 3-1 win over the holders. Curiously, Tottenham scored eight times in their away matches, but took just two points from nine. In doing so, Tottenham became the first team in history to score two goals or more in every Champions League group game.

Seven years on, Tottenham fans have every reason to be excited ahead of the 2017/18 Premier League season, with the club having now finished in the top three for a second consecutive year. Nobody is in any doubt as to which record Tottenham want to smash next. Chelsea’s record title-winning tally of 95 points is impressive, and is likely to remain unbeaten forever. Yet, as the famous motto goes: “to dare is to do” – and attempting to become the first Premier League side to hit 100 points is as big a dare as it gets.

Can Everton Break Into the Premier League Top Four Next Season?

Source: Everton Football Club via Facebook

Everton have been quite busy in the summer transfer window so far. The Merseyside outfit are on a spending spree like never before and have recruited a number of players in order to reinforce their squad for the 2017-18 Premier League campaign. Among the players that the Toffees have signed are attacking midfielder Davy Klaassen from Ajax, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from Sunderland, defender Michael Keane from Burnley, and forward Sandro Ramirez from Malaga.

England international forward Wayne Rooney has also returned to Everton after leaving Manchester United, while right-back Cuco Martina has switched to Goodison Park following his release from Southampton at the end of the 2016-17 season. There are talks that Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud could make a move to the Merseyside outfit before the summer transfer window shuts.

It seems that Everton are determined to have a very successful 2017-18 campaign. During the 2015-16 season, Koeman’s side ended up seventh, as many as 15 points clear of seventh-placed Southampton. The Toffees are better than the rest of the teams in the Premier League, but are they good enough to merit a place in the top six or even the top four? Given the amount of money the Blues have spent so far this summer and the ambition of the club’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, it would not be far-fetched to suggest that they have their eyes on the Champions League places.

Bookmakers, though, do not seem to be giving Everton too much of a chance of finishing in the top four. According to many bookies, the Toffees are only 10/1 to end up in the Champions League places. One can understand why the odds are so high. The Premier League top six is one of the most competitive in the world, with Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arenal and Tottenham Hotspur all expected to fight for the Premier League title next season. Given the signings that Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs have already made this summer, it is only going to be more competitive next season than it was in 2016-17.

However, bookmakers do not always get things right. After all, they had Leicester City at 5000/1 to win the Premier League title back in the 2015-16 season. A cheeky wager on Everton to sneak into the top four of the Premier League next season ahead of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur may not be a bad idea, especially with free bets for 2017-2018 already available. Everton ended up only eight points behind sixth-placed Manchester United last season; this time they have a stronger squad, which will enhance their chances of a top-four finish.


Goodison Park walls” (CC BY 2.0) by Ben Sutherland

Arsenal slipped out of the Champions League places last season for the first time in 20 years, while Liverpool just about managed to sneak into the top four. Both the Gunners and the Reds should be in the sights of Everton, who should also be aiming to leapfrog Tottenham next season. True, the North London outfit ended up second in 2016-17 and third in 2015-16, but they do not have a good record at Wembley and could struggle next season.

With players such as Rooney, Morgan Schneiderlin, Barkley and Klaassen in the team, Everton fans should be optimistic about a hugely successful 2017-18 campaign. Big things are happening at Goodison Park at the moment, and one should not be surprised if the Toffees break into the top four next season.

Football moments that defied the odds 

Although the bookmakers usually get it right when offering odds on major football matches, the beautiful game wouldn’t be loved by billions around the world if it didn’t produce the odd upset, the odd miracle or its fair share of fairy tales. 

 Here we take a look at just some unlikely triumphs of days gone by that have sent shock waves around the world! 

Leicester City win the Premier League

Leicester City Quiz

Potentially the greatest upset in the history of professional sport. After spending the majority of the 2014/15 Premier League season fighting to stave of relegation, Leicester City started the following campaign amongst the favourites to be relegated. Boasting one of the league’s lowest budget and with the appointment of the much-ridiculed ‘Tinkerman‘, Claudio Ranieri, few expected anything but another relegation dogfight for the Foxes. 

The bookies got this one completely wrong! Offering pre-season odds of 5,000/1 cost them millions when Leicester lifted the Premier League trophy aloft at the end of one of the most unbelievable seasons ever witnessed. 

Greece win Euro 2004 

Greece had only taken part in a major football tournament twice before, losing every game in both the 1980 European Championships and 1994 World Cup. In the build-up to Euro 2004, many experts had predicted the Greeks to suffer a similar fate in Portugal, especially after being named in the same group as the hosts and European giants, Spain. 

The signs were there that an upset could be on the cards when Greece beat Portugal 2-1 in the opening game of the tournament. Despite not scoring more than one goal in any other game throughout the competition, Greece made it past France, the Czech Republic and then Portugal in the final to seal a famous triumph. 

 Denmark – 1992 Kings of Europe 

Incredibly, Denmark won the European Championships in 1992 despite failing to qualify for the tournament. The Danes were late replacements for Yugoslavia who were disqualified due to the ongoing conflict in the country.  

Euro ’92 was dominated by the ongoing turmoil affecting the political landscape across Europe. As well as the disqualification of a war-torn Yugoslavia, the tournament welcomed a CIS football team (Commonwealth of Independent States) to replace the recently dissolved Soviet Union and also saw a unified Germany compete in a major tournament for the first time in their history.  

After failing to win either of their first two games, Denmark escaped from the group by beating the 1984 champions, France. After beating hosts, Sweden, in the semi-finals, the Danes pulled off a huge shock to beat world champions, Germany in the final by two goals to nil.  

Wimbledon win the FA Cup 

Liverpool, the dominant English side of the 1980’s arrived at Wembley in 1988 with their sights set firmly on a second league and cup double in three seasons. Their opponents that day, the Wimbledon ‘Crazy Gang’. 

The final came just eleven years since Wimbledon were playing in the Southern Football League – the seventh tier of English football. In their second season in the top flight, Wimbledon’s seventh place finish was deemed to be a major over achievement and few gave them a hope of toppling giants, Liverpool at Wembley. 

Vinnie Jones’ crunching challenge on Steve McMahon early in the game set the tone and a solitary Lawrie Sanchez goal was enough to see Wimbledon lift their first ever major trophy in one of the FA Cup’s greatest ever shocks. 

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The greatest ever football comebacks 

 
With less than one month to go until the start of another football season, we take the opportunity to delve into the archives of some of the sport’s greatest comebacks, highlighting why so many of us love the beautiful game.  

 Manchester United vs Bayern Munich – 1999 UEFA Champions League final  

On one famous night in Barcelona, Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United team etched their names into English football history as they completed an unprecedented treble in the most dramatic fashion.  

With yet another Premier League and FA Cup double already secure, United arrived at the famous Nou Camp aiming to become the first English club to win Europe’s premier competition since 1984. With 90 minutes on the clock, United were 1-0 down and looked destined to fall agonisingly short. Two stoppages time goals from Teddy Sheringham and then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turned the game on its head and sealed a famous win for The Red Devils.  

Liverpool vs AC Milan – 2005 UEFA Champions League final  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl-_NuDxiFQ

That famous night in Istanbul – another magical European night for an English team. Milan were sensational in the first half. A first minute goal from defender, Paolo Maldini and a brace from Hernan Crespo saw the Italians race into a 3-0 half-time lead.  

However, in six crazy second half minutes, Liverpool scored three goals to level the match. The Reds managed to hold on heroically in extra-time before emerging victorious after a penalty shootout to seal a fifth European Cup triumph.  

Barcelona vs Paris Saint Germain – 2017 UEFA Champions League quarter final, second leg  

In one of the most one-sided defeats in Barcelona’s illustrious history, PSG eased to a 4-0 win in the first leg of their quarter final clash. Few believed Barcelona manager, Luis Enrique, when he insisted his side could still qualify for the next round.  

With 50 minutes gone in the second leg, Barcelona had reduced the aggregate deficit to 4-3, but a goal by Edison Cavani against the run of play seemed to end the Spaniards’ hopes of qualification.   

Goals by Neymar (88), (90+1) and Sergi Roberto (90+5), gave Barcelona a 6-5 aggregate win and capped one of the greatest comebacks ever witnessed.  

Manchester City vs Queens Park Rangers – 2012 Premier League final day  

With Manchester United locked in a battle for the Premier League title with rivals, Manchester City, the ‘Noisy Neighbours’ knew they would be champions if they could match United’s final day result.  
 
Manchester United, in a professional manner, left Sunderland’s Stadium of Light with a 1-0 win, meaning City needed three points at home to QPR.  

As the full-time whistle went at Sunderland, news came through the City were trailing 2-1 at home and United players and fans knew they were on the verge of winning the title.  

Ironically, in a never-say-die attitude that had become the ‘United way’, City scored twice in ‘Fergie Time’ to win 3-2 and seal a first ever Premier League title.  

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Alexandre Lacazette Signing Makes Frenchman Arsenal’s Highest Earner

Alexandre Lacazette Signing Makes Frenchman Arsenal's Highest Earner

 Alexandre Lacazette Signing Makes Frenchman Arsenal's Highest EarnerSource: Arsenal via Facebook

It has been one of the most anticipated deals of this year’s transfer market, and Arsenal fans can now officially celebrate as their side have completed the signing of French forward Alexandre Lacazette.

The club stated that the 26-year-old striker had agreed to a “long-term contract” for an undisclosed fee, which was later revealed as a five-year deal and a record signing for the club, worth £52m. This smashes the previous record of £42.5m set back in 2013 when Mesut Ozil made the jump from Real Madrid.

Not only that, but the French forward will become the club’s highest earner, with his contract worth a reported £200,000 per week.

Speaking to the club’s official website, he said: “I am of course delighted and very proud too because Arsenal is a legendary club. Throughout my childhood, thanks to Thierry Henry and other French players, I always dreamed of playing for this club so today that dream has been fulfilled.”

With Arsenal last tasting league success back in 2004, Arsene Wenger will be hoping that this new addition can help bring back the glory days to the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 20 seasons last year, which will also be a major driving force for them in 2017/18 – the side are currently placed at evens in the football betting markets to secure a berth into Europe’s elite competition.

Many are saying that with the explosive attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and now Alexandre, this could be the year for the Gunners.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=gI6YOhbT6H0

Sanchez still has one year on his contract at the Emirates and there has been much speculation surrounding the player and his desire to remain at the London club. He was most definitely the standout player for the Gunners last season, with a very impressive tally of 24 goals and 11 assists. This latest addition to the squad could be the deciding factor in the Chilean’s decision to stay. Everybody is well aware of his hunger for trophies and thirst for success, and Lacazette is certainly the kind of player that can help make those dreams a reality.

Arsenal secured the FA Cup and took the club’s only trophy of the season, defeating Premier League champions Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley. It was a testament to the resilience of the team after heavy criticism from the supporters for both manager and players. Arsene Wenger described the wins as one of the proudest moments in his career. The win saw him lift his seventh FA Cup and become the most successful manager in the competition’s history.

Lacazette scored 37 goals in all competitions in his final season at Lyon and has become one of Europe’s most prolific goal scorers. Now the real question is, can he bring that unique touch and blistering pace to the Premier League and use it to bring the title home for the Gunners?

6 Things About The World Cup You (Probably) Don’t Know

World Cup Quiz

The football World Cup unites the planet like no other sporting event and Russia 2018 is getting closer and closer. The football extravaganza comes along every four years and now is a great time to get your statto-geek World Cup facts and trivia in order. Who knows when there’ll be a mate you need to bore/dazzle in the pub?

Our friends at FootballBettingHub have put together six interesting (or “interesting” perhaps) pieces of World Cup trivia together. Strap yourselves in…

Best Attended – The 1994 USA World Cup, which England decided they’d best not bother with, is the best-attended World Cup ever. The average attendance was 68,991. Max out your geek points by telling anyone who’ll listen that this is a whopping 30% higher than the next best (Brazil 2014).

3 x 5You don’t get any quizzie kudos for knowing your five times table. If, however, you instantly knew we were referring to the fact that three players have played in five different World Cups, then well done! Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal, Italy’s Gigi Buffon and German great Lothar Matthäus are your men!

Hungary for Goals – Three of the most goal-laden World Cup games ever have seen Hungary go goal crazy. Their legendary 1954 team beat Germany FR 8-3 and Korea 9-0, whilst the 1982 side thrashed El Salvador 10-1. That gives Hungary three of the top seven World Cup goalfests.

Stamps Worth More – You probably know that the Jules Rimet trophy (incidentally it was originally called Victory and was renamed in 1946) was stolen in 1966. You also probably know that Pickles the dog found it. But did you know that the thieves took it from the “Sport with Stamps” display at the Stampex exhibition? And that stamps valued at £3 million were ignored in favour of the £30,000 trophy?

Klose The King? – Germany’s Miroslav Klose is arguably the greatest player in World Cup history. He’s played in four World Cups and only three men have played in more. Only compatriot Matthäus has played more games but nobody has scored more goals or won more games at the World Cup than the former Lazio forward. In his four World Cups, he never finished worse than third! Essentially he’s miles better than England all by himself.

Italy, Germany or Brazil – If you want to bet on the World Cup, just back Italy, Germany AND Brazil to win it. Ignoring the first World Cup (1930, held in and won by Uruguay – as you knew!) when only 13 teams took part and there was no Italy or Germany, these three nations have been dominant. There have been 19 World Cups since then and this glorious trio have won 13 of them! That’s a 68% strike rate!

If you do indeed fancy a bet on the 2018 World Cup in Russia, check out FootballBettingHub’s brilliant World Cup betting offers. Their listings of the best enhanced odds, free bets and bookie offers will help you cash in next summer!

A look back at Cristiano Ronaldo’s records at Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo’s relentless scoring has added a few more records to his magnificent résumé this year, including becoming the all-time top scorer across the top five leagues in Europe.

The man, who many consider to be the greatest player in the world, and one of the greatest in the illustrious history of the sport, now has a record of nearly 600 goals and over 200 assists for three clubs that feature in three different leagues and Portugal.

‘Christiano Ronaldo’ – Ludovic Peron via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Having played in three games, sealing one assist, in the 2002/03 season for Sporting Lisbon, then-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson signed the Portuguese winger for – what now looks to be one of the deals of the century – just £16.15 million. Cristiano Ronaldo then used Old Trafford as his stage to set the world on fire; his slick feet, speedy runs, elegant shooting, and lightning free kicks securing his fate as a Manchester United legend.

In 2009, Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid for a world-record fee, but now he might be on his way back. To the excitement of many United fans, Ronaldo is 3/1 to link back up with the Red Devils (second-favourite behind staying) following reports of his displeasure at being the focus of a tax scandal. So, let’s take a look at the records that Ronaldo set in Manchester – a list that he could be adding to if a transfer comes to fruition.

Ronaldo’s records from his time in England

‘57457319’ – Yoca91 via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cristiano Ronaldo holds the ‘first and only’ title for a Manchester United player with many FIFA awards. In 2008, he won the European Golden Shoe with his 31 league goals. He beat Klass-Jan Huntelaar and Rhys Griffiths by virtue of the value of Premier League goals.

He also won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in the same season, as well as the FIFA Puskas Award in the following campaign for this goal against FC Porto in the Champions League:

In 2007/08, Ronaldo scored the joint-most goals to earn the Premier League Golden Boot award in a 38-game season at 31 goals; tied with Alan Shearer (Blackburn 95/96), and Luis Suarez (Liverpool 13/14). The Portuguese marksman blazed past Fernando Torres and Emmanuel Adebayor, who came second with 24 goals each. That also marks a Manchester United record for goals in a single 38-game Premier League season.

He’s also the first player to win all four of the major Professional Footballers’ Association and Football Writers’ Association awards. Ronaldo was the PFA Young Player of the Year in 2006/07,  the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year in 2006/07 and 2007/08, the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2006/07 and 2007/08, and won the FWA Footballer of the Year in 2006/07 and 2007/08.

Finally, the transfer fee of £80 million which took Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid obliterated the former record transfer fee of £46 million for Zinedine Zidane from Juventus to Real Madrid. Despite being 32 years old, a potential transfer of Ronaldo could very well demand a fee close to the record-breaking one which moved him to Spain.

He’s still got a few more years left of playing in him, so there’s no doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo will continue to add to his remarkable stash of footballing records, be it for Manchester United or Real Madrid next season.

Amazing Football Trivia

Footie Quiz

Football Trivia

Sometimes you hear a fact about a footballer, or a team, or an occasion and it just astounds you so much you have to tell everyone. For your pleasure and mine, let us look at a few examples of football trivia that will BLOW your mind….

*The last time that the Netherlands played any international match without a ‘van’ in their starting line up was way back against France during Euro 2000. 17 years! (There was an unused “van” sub that day!)

*Look away now fans at Pride Park – Derby hold the record for the biggest FA Cup Final defeat (6-0 by Bury), and the biggest home defeat by a non-league team (6-1 by Boston).

*Andy Selva holds the rather impressive distinction of being the only man to ever score a winning goal for San Marino, having scored in their 1-0 victory against Liechtenstein in 2004 (in 121 games, San Marino’s record is 1 win, 3 draws and 117 losses). The nation celebrated….their only other notable football moment was their 18 second goal against England in the famous 1994 World Cup Qualifier!

*Yossi Benayoun is the only to have scored a hat-trick in the Champions League Premier League and FA cup – what a career this guy had!

More Football Trivia

*No country has ever won the World Cup during the papacy (term) of a Pope from the same country – That’s Argentina not winning in 2018 then!

*More than 80% of the world’s footballs are manufactured in Pakistan. – admit it, 200 guesses and you still wouldn’t have known that! Test your mates down at the pub

*Perhaps an apt fact considering Father’s day has just been and hone – Eidur Gudjohnson is the only player to come on in an international game as a substitute for his own father, Arnór, in a friendly vs Estonia.

*Prior to 2017, there were only four players who have won consecutive Champions League titles:

Marcel Desailly (Marseilles and AC Milan)
Paulo Sousa (Juventus and Dortmund)
Gerard Pique (Man Utd and Barcelona)
Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona and Inter Milan)

Real Madrid proceeded to ruin this bit of brilliant trivia!

*In Mexico’s 2002 World Cup squad, numbers 2,3 and 4 were Gabriel, Garcia and Marquez

*Swindon Town is the only league football club in England or Scotland that doesn’t contain any letters that appear in the word mackerel. This is one of the oldest pub quiz questions in the book so well work remembering!

*Two players have scored Premier League penalties with both feet: Bobby Zamora and Obafemi Martins. Whoever worked this out needs some credit!

*Speaking of the dreaded penalty…Alan Shearer has missed the most Premier League penalties (11). In fairness, he’s also scored the most (56).

*Darius Vassell scored in 46 different Premier League games – and didn’t lose any of them (still a record). Remember good old England superstar Darius!

*Ryan Giggs is the most substituted player in Premier League history!

* Gareth Bale and Kevin Davies are the only players to score, assist and score an own goal in a single Premier League game.

 

Can the EPL teams Challenge the European Status Quo?

UCL

Although often touted as the greatest league in the world, perhaps more on entertainment than quality, and despite paying out the biggest wages, world record transfers and commanding TV money no other league can come close to, the English Premier League (EPL) teams have struggled to establish themselves in the Champions League era. It is a given that the La Liga’s best teams will make the final stages and Bayern Munich always seem to reach the Semi Finals. No English club has come close to matching that and it is still a novelty rather than regularity when an English team reaches the final 4 let alone the final. So can this season see a change in the waves? With 5 teams in the Champions League there is every chance…

Chelsea are of course going in as Champions and were a cut above the rest in 2016-2017. They have a manager with vast experience, a squad deep enough to go well and a system of playing that will suit the big European Nights. The advantage of a season off from the Champions League may also serve to boost and under Conte. But how much will he gamble on prioritising Europe? Chelsea have a real chance to make themselves a force in Europe. Even at the peak of their powers, they have never set their stamp on this contest with just the 2 finals and 1 win. Now is the time to change…. Arsenal on the other hand will be spending time free on Wednesday probably looking for best online casino to play slot machines while they contemplate the first season in over 20 where they are not in Europe elite footballing competition!

Manchester City are the team I can see establishing themselves more than the others. Of course detractors are going to claim they have never done anything in the Champions league, they have never made an impact etc etc but with the resources they have, the roots they are building and the manager they have at the helm, there is every chance of them breaking it. They are basing themselves and their entire backroom set ups and youth systems in accordance with what the big clubs have achieved and this will set them up nicely the more time goes on. They dream big and that’s what will get them where they need.

Over at the other side of Manchester, they have a manager who has been there and done it all before. But can he build a dynasty like Red Flush online casino? As a man with a reputation of not sticking around it is hard to see Jose being able to do what even Alex Ferguson couldn’t and making united mainstays in the final 4 of the Tournament. But who knows….

It may be too early for Liverpool. I do hope the Klopp era is a long and prosperous one as his brand of football is enjoyable and he seems to be able to get the most out of his players. Can he take them back to the summit where they once were in the 1970s and 1980s? He will need time and money but with a new era on the helm, a burst of young players and a new drive about club…maybe they can?

It is too early to talk about Spurs being able to breach the gap as they are just about settling themselves as contenders in England and there is no Arsenal this year!

In short, can the EPL teams go and make themselves the best they can possibly be and get into the status of being regulars in the latter stages of the Champions League? In time yes, but at the moment, as the last season showed there is still much to work on.

How can Wenger turn things round and make Arsenal Champions?

Arsene Wenger out

Sanchez

Last season seemed to be dominated by discussion over the future of the longest serving manager in the Premier League Arsene Wenger. Despite 20 years of success, consistent top 4 finishes and memorable moments, the pressure began to mount as it became clear Arsenal were going to miss out on the Top 4. With no Champions League football and unease around the club, just how can Wenger turn things around and make Arsenal Champions?

One key thing he needs to do, which is easier said than done, is turn the fans negativity away. Nothing breeds failure and defeat at a club more than negativity, and speaking as a Sunderland fan I have seen this first hand. Whether it be bold tactical decision or major signings Wenger needs the fans back on board. A winning start would ease these….

…but then again Arsenal always start well. One thing Wenger needs to do is work out how to stop the mid season slump that has hit them in recent years. The typical post-xmas fade needs to be eliminated….a bigger squad, bringing in a different kind of player??? Whatever it may be he needs to address it.

Indeed, bringing in that player who can “do it on a wet Tuesday night in Stoke” is something to consider. Although Arsenal have some of the world’s finest players in their ranks, they have often missed that Tony Adams/Patrick Vieira type figure who is not only a leader on the pitch but can take a testing game by the scruff of the neck and grind out winds. The invincible did this time and time again so Wenger has it in his DNA, he just needs the players who can carry out his wishes.

Speaking of those world class players…..Wenger needs to not only keep the likes of Ozil and Sanchez, but make sure they are singing off the same hymn sheet. Is Alexis Sanchez motivated by making Arsenal the best he can or does he want to shine to force a move away? If the latter is true then cutting losses may be an option but a motivated and driven Sanchez may just be key.

One thing Arsene Wenger will certainly have to do is balance the tricky Europa League commitments where they will no doubt be favourites to lift the trophy. Although he is used to European Football, the Europa League is vastly different from the Champions League with a fuller schedule, more tricky places to go and indeed the Thursday night games messing up weekend fixtures. Wenger needs to decide quickly his approach…does he go all out to win the contest and ensure Champions League football, or does he treat it as a second priority until the latter stages? Manchester United have shown the blueprint of how to win this tournament, Arsenal would be wise to follow and should they you would get enhanced odds on them being victorious in Amsterdam next summer.

This could be the hardest season of all for Wenger. If he thought that last season was tough, the reaction to him should Arsenal start badly could be even worse. What he needs is to turn the negativity into positivity and there is no reason, that with a couple of key singings, they could be challenging for the title again in 2017-2018.

 

Why is Footie Quiz the best football quiz site on the Internet?

Football Quiz

For years, Footie Quiz has been providing avid football fans with the very finest in trivia and football quiz questions and as the site continues to grow and grow, its time you hopped on board! Why should you use Footie Quiz ahead of the other sites out there? We are going to tell you why!

The internet is awash with all sorts of Trivia sites and non-more so popular than football sites. The problem is with various sites out there the quality differs greatly so you need a site you can know and trust. Footie Quiz certainly firs that bill!

The most important thing about any trivia site is the quality of the questions. You can have all the glitz and all the glamour, fancy headings etc (which Footie Quiz indeed also has!) but the site will soon become dull if the questions are boring, repetitive and lazy. You don’t get that problem with Footie Quiz. The questions are updated constantly, written by trivia experts with vast experience in the field and produced with YOU the user in mind. With excellent variation, and a vast database….why should you try anywhere else when it comes to football trivia? Why try the rest when you have the best right in front of you….Footie Quiz! Having a focus helps, so unlike sites such as Quiz Factor, you get a focused attention on football meaning the trivia is more fun, entertaining and unique.

The site looks good, is easy to use and navigate from the first experience to the last. This functions superbly on all devices whether it be a laptop, a tablet or your mobile phone. This means Footie Quiz can be there, to challenge, test and entertain you at all times.  Unlike rivals including Football Site the presentation does not put you off!

Throw into the mix that Footie Quiz also has links to Facebook accounts to make the sign up page and level of interaction high. In addition, there are leader boards to measure yourself against the other players. And indeed, this is another key factor….the range of players. Leader boards only work when there are plenty of people to play them and Footie Quiz has competitors across the globe. This doesn’t even happen on major sites like Four Four Two so you are very lucky indeed!

The site will even show you the most popular quizzes so you can see what others are playing and join in with the most active games. This means every day, logging into the system, you will see something new and fresh to play. You can’t say any fairer than that!

At the end of the day, when it comes to football trivia websites then there can be only one that is worth your time…Footie Quiz. The best trivia, the most impressive questions and a huge variety to keep you entertained for hours on end. There really is no reason to look anywhere else! Don’t delay, get on board and start using Footie Quiz today for your football quiz question fix….you won’t regret it!

Do Spurs Have What It Takes to Win the Title?

Delli Ali Spurs Quiz

Delli Ali Spurs Quiz

Source: Tottenham Hotspur via Facebook

For the second year in a row, Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur fell short in the Premier League title race despite challenging near the top of the table for the most part of the campaign. On paper, Spurs have the talent required to emerge victorious at the top level of English football but it may all come down to whether the north London side are made of the right “stuff”.

Some teams have it, others don’t. In recent years, Tottenham have come under scrutiny for succumbing to pressure at the worst moment; that cannot happen if Pochettino’s men want to win the title. With some good fortune and astute activity throughout the summer transfer window, Spurs may get their hands on England’s top-flight crown for the first time in the Premier League era.

Defensively, Spurs are arguably the strongest side in the Premier League. According to news outlets, Kyle Walker looks set to join Manchester City for an estimated fee of £60 million this summer and Tottenham fans will be preparing for life without the England international.

However, Kieran Trippier is capable of stepping up to the plate in his absence. The 26-year-old was a regular for Spurs at the backend of last season and there is no need for Pochettino to invest heavily in a new right-sided defender at the present moment. WhoScored statistics show that Trippier ranked as Tottenham’s seventh-best performing defensive player last season – ahead of star centre-back Toby Alderweireld.

Harry Kane Spurs Quiz

Source: Tottenham Hotspur via Facebook

With Alderweireld and co. standing strong in front of Hugo Lloris, Tottenham are blessed with a title-winning defensive unit. In the 2016/17 campaign, Spurs conceded just 26 goals; the second-best record in the Premier League. Following the 7-1 victory over Hull City on the final day, Pochettino’s men also had the best goal difference in England’s top flight. Their tally of +60 was eight clear of Chelsea and Tottenham will be keen to build on their success ahead of next season.

Preparation ahead of the new campaign will be key and Pochettino will have one eye on the International Champions Cup in July. If Spurs, priced at 10/1 to win the title as of June 8th, want to compete with the best teams in the world, it might be wise for the north London side to take the competition very seriously indeed.

Throughout the summer, football fans can keep up with the latest odds, scores, and tips via Footy Accumulators’ Acca Tracker. This app allows punters to track the results of their bets and, with big games against Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, and Roma fast approaching, there are plenty of opportunities for Spurs fans to get involved, especially with an array of free bets from bet365, BetVictor, and others to choose from.

If Spurs can prove their worth against some of Europe’s biggest sides, many will fancy Pochettino’s team to lay down a serious marker for the title. And Harry Kane will head into the new campaign knowing that his goals may turn out to be decisive in the title race. The Spurs man won the Golden Boot award for the second season in a row despite missing over three months through injury and it would take a brave man to back against Tottenham if Kane is fully fit and firing on all cylinders.

Harry Kane Tottenham Quiz

Source: Tottenham Hotspur via Facebook

In 38 appearances, Kane scored 35 goals and Pochettino knows that he must continue to build around the England international in order to keep Spurs in contention. Dele Alli, one of the most talented youngsters on the planet, has formed a solid partnership with Kane and another acquisition could give Tottenham a new dimension in attack.

Bayern Munich’s Douglas Costa could be on Pochettino’s radar and he is certainly gettable for the right price. The Brazilian has struggled to impress since Carlo Ancelotti arrived at the Allianz Arena and a move to the Premier League would appeal. Tottenham’s involvement in the Champions League will certainly help them to attract elite talent this summer…

Ross Barkley has been linked with a move to Spurs for the past few months but Tottenham don’t really need any more creative midfielders. Pochettino wouldn’t turn the England man away but upsetting the balance of this solid Spurs midfield could have an adverse effect in the long run. If nothing else, his impact and drive to perform better could push Tottenham’s existing stars to improve further.

Signing a couple of players will help to keep everybody on their toes and Tottenham’s stock as potential champions will be bolstered by any arrivals. With Kane leading the line, Spurs are in with a decent chance of lifting the title next season. Pochettino is building a monster and Tottenham could finally fulfil their potential with a bit of luck.

EPL Spending Power in the Transfer Window – Summer 2017

Transfer Window

As summer begins to hit, the cheque books start to come out as the clubs in the EPL begin to splash the cash on players from around the club. Whether they have ambitions of league titles, champions league success or indeed merely staying in the division, the budgets that some of the EPL clubs will be toying with this transfer window are larger than ever. But what can we expect from the money flowing in the league? Who will be the big movers and shakers? And what are the odds that the world transfer record may be surpassed – maybe more than once? So who has the capital to back up their desires and dominate this transfer window.

Eyes must begin in the City of Manchester where the two rival clubs will be amongst the biggest spenders. The spending power of Manchester City seems to be unrivalled but there is every chance Manchester United will smash their own transfer record with the addition of a much needed striker, now that a certain Swede is no longer leading the line. Manchester City’s owners have made to clear to Pep Guardiola that he should set his sights no lower than a unprecedented quadruple haul of trophies and this will mean the cash will have to come out. It is unlikely any other club will match the spending power at City. Over at Manchester United “The Special One” has had time to build and after qualifying for the Champions League, the temptation to join the legendary red devils may be too much. Griezman, Bale…..all rumoured and I would imagine a £100 million player into Old Trafford is not unlikely.

What about the Champions? They certainly have money to spend but in the past that hasn’t always helped them. Last year Chelsea were such a force as they had no European football to occupy their midweek time, but this year they will be back in the Champions League and will need to add a range of players for back up. I don’t expect anything major but a few £20 million plus players should arrive. Liverpool have been throwing ridiculous prices around for the likes of Virgil Van Dyke and Jurgen Klopp clearly has big deals in mind. Anfield has struggled in the past few seasons to be the attractive place it once was but with the Champions League money, the lure of playing for a club with an impressive a history as any and the chance to work with Klopp, I imagine Liverpool will take up this chance with big spending power to match.

The team that will be very interesting in terms of spending power is Arsenal. The lack of Champions League may prove problematic in attracting the very best, but with money in the bank there could still be big moves to the Emirates. Wenger will know he has to buy to keep up and get back in the top 4 and they should still have the spending power to back it up!

Outside of the major clubs in the league, it will be interesting to see how the new boys cope. St James Park should see big money deals taking place as the boss has made it clear the team don’t have enough to secure a decent finish. Even when you look at clubs like Bournemouth, throwing £120,000 a week at Jermain Defoe to sign shows how much money is kicking around at all clubs. At the end of the day, the spending power of the clubs in the EPL has never been greater and although some will show caution, I expect the newspapers will be full of tales of big money buys and records will be broken. Which in turn, should lead to even more excitement for fans!

Premier League Sponsorship Deals – The Rising of the Betting Companies

9 shirts in the Premier League today are sponsored by bookmakers and gambling websites. Just let that sink in for a second….

Indeed, it is very true that if you watch live coverage of any sports event these days you can truly see the impact that the gambling industry has on the world. Every advert you are told odds, enticing offers for new customers and unique bets. Is this right? Should we be exposing people to this much temptation to Gamble? How should Shirt sponsorship be used?

The gambling aspect is worrying and the Premier League have taken steps to ensure that kids sized T shorts do not carry betting logos. That shows the people at the top have realised there is some sort of moral issue here and indeed there is. Kids, and even vulnerable adults, have come to associate sports with betting in a way that was never done before. This is all due to the ease at which one can now place a bet…gone are the days of having to trudge to the book makers and place a bet, now with the touch of a button, an app, an interactive tv and a mobile phone you can bet until you have ran out of money. And that’s dangerous….there is only ever one winner and that is the bookmaker and the way in which sponsorship has come to be dominated by gambling is a worrying trend. What next?

The sponsorship of Newcastle United raised some questions when Wonga took over. A company known for praying on the poor, the vulnerable and the desperate with noted rip off rates and noted dubious practice sponsoring a team in a sport viewed by, and dependant on the very people the company exploits. Something  doesn’t sit right?

Should we have more rules, should there be more in place to determine what is seen by millions of eyes every day and paraded round on shirts in cities up and down the country? Indeed the big clubs follow suit and tend to have the bigger deals with Airlines and car makers etc. You have to go down to the 7th biggest sponsorship deal (West Ham United – Betway) to see the influx. So…outside of the top 6 “big money clubs” 9 of the 14 have gambling sponsors….this shows that the League, if they truly want to address it, need to help these clubs find more deals, make them a more attractive package and perhaps make the financial strains less binding. Otherwise, the gambling offers will always be too tempting to take!

There is also an interesting school of thought that suggest shirt sponsorship money should be pooled and divided between all clubs which had the backing of 11 teams in a recent Premier League meeting, but when the vast differences in what is paid to Manchester United and Stoke City for example are compared, you will understand why this will never happen!

How are England shaping up for Russia 2018?

England Manager

England Manager12 months ago in Nice, England suffered arguably their worst humiliation since 1950, losing 2-1 to the spirited underdogs of Iceland. Feelings of cynicism and mistrust towards the England team, which have festered for decades, became even more prominent. Fans felt alienated that such well-paid individuals could not stand up for their country and show a fraction of the desire that we saw from Strákarnir okkar. Throw in the Sam Allardyce debacle that followed within three months of Roy Hodgson’s inevitable resignation and Gareth Southgate was dealt a rough hand.

And yet, his first nine months in charge have provided encouraging signs. We have seen the team ease towards qualification for the 2018 World Cup, with many issues from the regimes of Roy Hodgson and others seemingly put to bed.

Previous managers including Sven Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren all at times shoehorned in big-name players, without considering the tactical balance of the side. Hodgson started Wayne Rooney at the Euros, but he also wanted to play Dele Alli after the season he had enjoyed as well as two strikers, due to the strength in that area. The outcome was a disjointed side with too many players trying to do similar jobs, which was partly responsible for the hesitancy the team showed when approaching the final third.

For Southgate to loosen the shackles on England’s younger (bar Jamie Vardy) and best attacking players, it was clear Rooney had to be dropped from the squad. That was not an easy decision to make about the team’s most recent captain, who for 12 years has been untouchable, but it was the right one.

The Three Lions, who as of 08th June are 20/1 to win the next World Cup with Betway, will have more width with Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who both started the 2-0 win over Lithuania, included in the squad. They enjoyed good 16/17 seasons at top clubs and have the versatility to attack the flank at pace, when too many players at the Euros only wanted to operate in central areas.

If there was one criticism of the team’s first six games under Southgate, it would be the need for better finishing. England perhaps shaded their friendly with Germany but failed to net and were undone by a fitting Lukas Podolski screamer and could have netted more than two against Lithuania. Some of this profligacy can be attributed to the absence of Harry Kane, a complete striker who has scored 99 goals in three years, leading some to dub him world-class.

Joe Hart’s status as a world-class goalkeeper has been tarnished somewhat by an unconvincing end to his Man City career and a mixed spell on loan at Torino. However, he has only conceded one goal in 585 minutes since the Euros and could have done little about Podolski’s strike in Dortmund. By contrast, Tom Heaton has had a better season at club level, but struggled in his 45-minute outing against Spain, letting in two goals that saw England throw away a comfortable lead.

Joe Hart Man City Goalkeeper

Were Heaton younger than Hart, patience may be needed but he is one-year older at 31. Southgate is better off persisting with a goalkeeper who is at home playing for his country and has experience of winning titles, something perhaps lacking in the squad.

Gary Cahill has won six major honours as a regular with Chelsea and, after leading last year’s Premier League champions commandingly, is deserving of the captaincy. The best partner for Cahill could be Eric Dier or Rob Holding, possibly both with each of the trio used to playing in a back-three.

The wing-back system showed potential against Germany and suits the skillset of the full-backs in the squad. Kyle Walker is used to playing in a 3-4-3 for Tottenham and while club teammate Danny Rose is less familiar due to a coinciding injury, he has the energy to adapt. The same can be said of back-ups Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand, the latter often positioned further forward than central midfielders at Southampton.

Providing the licence for these players to attack, either as wing-backs or full-backs, could be Jordan Henderson. The 26-year-old has missed the last four months through injury but when fit, he has proved a consistent and dependable performer at Liverpool. Bar Idrissa Gana Gueye, Henderson won more tackles per game (3.7) than any Premier League player last season and averages by far the most passes per game (85.7), according to WhoScored. Though number of passes does not tell you everything, a player who can gain a steady handle on the midfield is useful when entwined with more creative types.

One of those is club teammate Adam Lallana, who has also impressed for the Reds this term with his intelligent movement and clever footwork in tight areas. Lallana has looked at home against the might of Spain and Germany, but faces competition for the same position in Alli, the Premier League’s highest-scoring non-striker last term with 18 goals.

At least one of Chamberlain and Sterling, who can fit into many different roles, are likely to start in Russia, which means one of Alli and Lallana may have to miss out. Alli has age and goalscoring statistics on his side, but Lallana is more adaptable and tends to have greater influence in the middle third.

Thanks to a resurgence in English talent over the last three years, the Lallana or Alli debate demonstrates the wide array of impressive players England now possess. Added to that, we now have a manager we can trust to pick out the players that will give the team the best balance, not necessarily those of the highest-profile. The current national mood of weariness towards England is understandable, but if we look in the right places, there may be room for a little cautious optimism.

If Wenger Makes a Big Statement in the Transfer Market will Sanchez Be Tempted to Stay?

Arsene Wenger out

Arsenal Sanchez

Source: Alexis Sanchez via Facebook 

The long and lingering transfer speculation around Arsenal superstar Alexis Sanchez is still ongoing, but one Spanish journalist has sensationally claimed that the Chilean will be named as a Manchester City player later in the week. Arsene Wenger, on the other hand, has insisted that the goal machine with a year left on his current contract is perfectly happy at the Emirates and will not be on the move this summer.

Sanchez’s dismay over the lack of success during his time with the Gunners has been plain to see, and he desperately wants to be somewhere he can claim silverware. If Wenger makes some serious waves in the transfer window for world-class players, could the Frenchman persuade his number one forward to stay?

Wenger endured a dismal Premier League campaign last season which resulted in a finish outside of the top four for the first time in his English career. As such, at the time of writing Arsenal have football odds of 11/1 to win the league next season.

If the Gunners were to lose the likes of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, those odds would doubtlessly grow even larger. But if Wenger manages to attract strong reinforcements this summer it could, in fact, give his star players the belief that Arsenal are able to challenge for the top prizes.

Wenger is thought to have a budget of around £100 million to spend in the transfer market, and he could also generate a significant amount of spending money if Barcelona snap up Hector Bellerin. The Spanish giants are rumoured to be lining up a whopping bid of £40 million for the pacey full back.

This would leave Wenger with a significant war chest to bolster his squad in an attempt to win the top flight while all Arsenal’s main rivals are busy in the Champions League. One of the most coveted players in the world right now is Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe, and Real Madrid are believed to be preparing a staggering bid of around £117 million for the 18-year-old.

Wenger, however, has advised the wonder kid to seek a move to a club where he is going to be assured of regular game time. With the Champions League winners having the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Gareth Bale in the attack there are question marks over how frequently Mbappe would start.

Arsenal are in desperate need of a prolific striker and have been for the past few seasons. If Mbappe wanted to grow into a global star and follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Thierry Henry, then a move to North London could be the ideal platform for him to rise to the next level.

With Arsenal also showing interest in James Rodriguez, it looks as though the three-time Premier League winning manager is well and truly on the hunt for star quality this summer. Whether the Gunners will manage to secure the signatures of these world-class players remains to be seen. If their potential signatures manage to tempt Sanchez to stay is another question entirely.

 

Five Football Players Who Had The Worst Gambling Problems

Footballers have lots of spare time and lots of spare cash – it can be a recipe for disaster.

Many players have succumbed to gambling addiction over the years, losing vast amounts of money and jeopardising the future of their families as a result.

Research from former footballers charity XPRO suggests as many as two out of every five ex-players face bankruptcy within five years of hanging up their boots and retiring from the game. Another report found more than six per cent of sportsmen are classed as “problem gamblers”.

The rise of the internet and betting websites have made betting easier than ever before. Long away trips with team-mates also offer players plenty of temptation to get involved. 

While there is nothing wrong with having a bet or two, it can be tough for some people to stay in control. Here are five high-profile footballers who have struggled with their gambling problems.

Joey Barton

Premier League player Joey Barton opened up about his gambling addiction after receiving an 18-month ban from all football activity after being found to have placed over a thousand bets.

Barton was even caught putting bets on his own team to lose and while there was no suspicion of match-fixing as he was not involved in those fixtures, the affair has effectively forced him into taking an early retirement from the sport.

“I have fought addiction to gambling and provided the FA with a medical report about my problem,” said Barton in response to his charge.

Barton – whose club Burnley are sponsored by a betting firm – says he has been able to stop betting on football since being caught but it is clear he is still struggling to control his addiction.

Wayne Rooney

England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has often been pictured having a gamble at casinos and newspaper stories recently claimed he lost a whopping £500,000 in one night.

While Rooney can afford those losses – he makes a reported £300,000 per week – it is still a phenomenal amount of money, more than most people will make in many, many years of work.

It was also previously claimed Rooney ran up a gambling debt of some £700,000 via a betting ring that involved some of his England team-mates –  including Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Michael Owen and Frank Lampard – in the build-up to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

 

Did he really lose 2 weeks wages?

Matthew Etherington

Matthew Etherington is among the footballers to have come clean about their addiction, with the ex-West Ham United and Stoke City winger claiming to have lost £1.5 million from betting.

Etherington bet on greyhounds, horses and poker, with the former player explaining how he managed to spend his week’s wages playing poker against his fellow pros on the team coach.

“There were card schools at West Ham and it did get a little bit out of hand,” Etherington revealed in a newspaper interview. “People were taking three, four, five grand on the bus with them.”

Etherington said the gambling was good for team morale but accepted it acted as a distraction for his playing career, as he would be checking the results of horse races in the dressing room.

He would also be pursued by people he owed money, who turned up at his club’s training ground, and he used loan sharks before being helped on to the road to recovery by manager Tony Pulis.

 

Keith Gillespie

Former Newcastle United star Keith Gillespie had a gambling problem that grew to be so serious that it led to him being declared bankrupt.

Gillespie claims to have lost as much as £7 million on gambling during his career, losing as much as £100,000 a day at the height of his addition.

“You’re always chasing the next winner.” said Gillespie. “I would have bets on every race going.”

The former Northern Ireland international even wrote an autobiography – titled How Not To Be A Football Millionaire – that went into detail about how gambling contributed to his financial woes.

Paul Merson

One of the footballers best known for having a gambling problem was Paul Merson, who was one of the best players in English football at the top of his career.

 

Now a pundit for Sky Sports, Merson’s addictions to drugs, drink and betting ruined his life, with the former Arsenal and Aston Villa star estimating he lost around £7 million due to gambling.

At one point Merson’s problem was so great he lost his house and was forced to move back in with his parents, while he even tried to break his own fingers so he could not call his bookie.

Like many ex-pros, Merson had support from the Sporting Chance clinic, established by his former Arsenal colleague Tony Adams.

“I’ve stayed away from drink and drugs but gambling has beat me, spanked me all over the place,” Merson once said. “Every day it would go through my head about committing suicide.”

Similar to Gillespie, Merson opened up about his problems in an autobiography, How Not To Be A Professional Footballer, and fortunately he has since been able to turn his life around.

What is wrong at Liverpool?

Earlier in the season, the Jurgen Klopp revolution over at Anfield was in full swing. The team played a unique brand of football, were easy on the eye and racking up the points and looked like serious contenders for honours across all fronts. It is a common joke amongst football fans that the Liverpool faithful claim “it is out year next year”  but for once it truly felt like it was and Anfield had so much optimism.

Roll the clock forwards to the first months of 2017 and how things have changed. On the pitch the team have lost the spark, the result have been poor and rivals seemed to have found simple ways to stop Klopp’s taruhan bola system. But it is the same system as always…..Liverpool can take down the bigger teams but cannot pick up the points against the strugglers.

The 1-1 draw at Old Trafford and home point against Chelsea are results that fans should not grumble too much about, and indeed the emphatic wins over Arsenal and Spurs are proof that Liverpool can truly live it up with the best of teams. The big occasions bring out the big performances and the top sides in the Premier League fear playing Liverpool as they know these performances can be destructive

But the teams struggling at the bottom of the table can see Liverpool as a potential chance to pick up points. Away defeats, and comprehensive defeats at Hull City and Leicester City are evidence  that this team, this year, with these players are NOT title contenders. As March began the team were 14 points off the title pace and seemingly destined for a battle to get a Champions League spot.

If Liverpool and Klopp fail to get a Champions League spot this season then it is clear that something needs to be done to address why they can perform in the bigger games and not defeat the smaller teams. Who does the blame lie with? Jurgen Klopp indeed is much more animated and involved when he knows he is on  TV in the bigger games and does this translate to the players. Does Klopp’s tactics need called into questions? Indeed….there have been many times during his reign that he has shown tactical naivety when it comes to dealing with teams who place 11 men behind the ball.

What about the players? Do they struggle to get motivated for the away trips to the less glamorous locations in the Premier League? The blame could also lie with Klopp. In this writers opinion, Jurgen Klopp is enticed by the glitz and glamour of the big occasions  and has neither the support, or players with the right mentality to be able to truly get the results against the team who shuts up shop. Does Klopp need help from staff around him with more experience of Premier League teams who are tricky to play against or does he need to rethink his whole system? Whatever the case something needs to be done fast!

Online Sports Betting Money Management

Sports betting can be an interesting way to pass the time and have some fun while watching your favourite sport. You might even win some money occasionally. Additionally, it can turn into a profession, if you want the profits to be your main source of income. Either way, there’s more to it than simply throwing 20 bucks over the counter, hoping for the starts to align.

In online sports betting, you have to consider several aspects of the matter before risking your money. Namely, knowledge about the sport and the team may be useful, and combined with the odds provided by bookmakers, you might be able to make a solid prediction. However, even when combined with pure luck, there’s a need for actual planning if you don’t want to get carried away.

You might be comfortable using certain real money bonuses at Bet365 without a deposit requirement or attractive promotions from similar betting sites, but such short-term solutions will only keep you entertained for so long. Therefore, more experienced bettors have publicly expressed the need to construct a bankroll whenever you’re planning on taking up sports betting.

Setting Up A Bankroll

This term basically signifies the amount of money you are willing to separate from your usual funds and spend them on betting. Bear in mind that professional bettors always keep to their chosen amount, while amateurs tend to pick the minimum, later adding money from your regular fund which ultimately makes you spend even more.

The bankroll should help you get a clear preview of the exact amount of money you’re planning to spend. However, if things go well, you won’t be spending money as much as you’ll be winning them. Once again, a separate fund for sports betting allows for a precise record of all profits and losses.

How Much to Bet

The eternal question has been answered, and rash bettors are not going to like it. Experts recommend betting 1%-3% of your total bankroll, with 2% being both a risky wager, but a fulfilling one.

In this regard, you may choose to go with a fixed plan. This can go both directions, the first one being level staking which basically means that if 2% of your primary bankroll is $30, you would keep that wager for all bets. Percentage staking, however, accounts your funds and for each bet calculates 2% of the current bankroll.

A variable plan will let you shift between wagers depending on the expected value, the potential profit, or simply your level of confidence about the bet.

Go All The Way

Make sure you don’t lose focus mid-bankroll and start betting compulsively. Considering the fact that even the most experienced, professional sports bettors lose about 35%-40% of the time, keeping any strategy at hand is much better than letting money go to waste.

Keeping your bets low is bound to bring some return from time to time, while fluctuating bets might make you chase loses or even worse, stop just before the major hit.

Who Will Win the Premier League?

The race is on with only two months left in the 2016/17 Premier League regular season and matches are of all importance at this late stage in the year. The Blues seem to be in control of the table at the moment, ten points above second place Tottenham, but there is a real battle going on between the Spurs, City, the Gunners, the Reds and United, which will unfold as these last few weeks are played.

Chelsea

are in strong form and hold on to first place in the league with 63 points, as we head into Matchday 27, but they have a real test coming on April 5 against Man. City, on April 16 against United and on the 30th of April at Everton. Chelsea have a chance to complete a double, if they can hold on to win the league and continue their excellent form in the FA Cup. They face United on March 13 in the FA Cup quarterfinal, which should give a good picture as to their league matchup a month later. Chelsea are favored to win the league this year as mentioned here.

Tottenham

The Hot Spur are in good form, except for a loss to Liverpool at Anfield on February 11. They are also in a position that they could technically take over first place from Chelsea if they stick to winning. Tottenham have also made it to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup and face Millwall on March 12, but they will most-likely get passed Millwall with little difficulty, which will take them to the semifinals.

Man. City/Arsenal

Rounding out the current top four are City and Arsenal. With just two points separating them, City with 52 and the Gunners with 50, this battle could be the most interesting to watch. Both teams have a tough last couple of months to deal with the Champions League still on their minds, and one has to think what that will do for their league chances, as the teams get tired.

The race is definitely on, and from what it looks like, Chelsea is the best bet to win the title.

The Premiership Returns

Football Quiz App

The Premiership returns this weekend after a fortnight break and the battle to avoid relegation can therefore rage on. With Chelsea running away with the title, it is the relegation scrap that is currently providing the most intrigue, with several teams at the bottom improving drastically in recent games, so here we have run through the leading contenders for the drop:

Sunderland

A Ladbrokes review of the odds shows that Sunderland are the heavy favourites to go down at 1/5. They are bottom of the table but it is very tight indeed: Sunderland are level on points with 19th placed Crystal Palace (but with a worse goal difference), a point behind 18th placed Hull, and just two points behind last season’s champions Leicester City, who are hovering one place above the drop zone. Middlesbrough, Swansea and Bournemouth are all looking precarious too. But what makes Sunderland favourites to go down is their recent capitulation against Southampton, where they lost 4-0 at home. 

Crystal Palace

Palace are 4/6 second favourites in the Ladbrokes review, and that looks a very good set of odds. This was not supposed to happen: when Sam Allardyce took over, everyone thought he would galvanise the struggling squad and they would finish mid-table. It has not happened and they are just as bad defensively but worse in attack than they were under Alan Pardew. Back-to-back defeats against Sunderland and Stoke have left them in trouble. On paper they look far too good to go down, blessed as they are with the talents of Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha and Yohan Cabaye, but many teams that looked to good to go down have done just that and it’s not looking good for Palace right now.

Hull

Hull are 4/5 third favourites with Ladbrokes, but they look like they have a fighting chance of staying up. They have been resurgent since Marco Silva took over and, despite the small squad and lack of investment, they have the requisite pluckiness to make a good fist of it. At those odds it looks a risky bet as they are much improved since the turn of the year.

Middlesbrough

At 5/4 Boro look a great bet to go down. After a strong start they have been slowly but surely sucked into the relegation dogfight and the reason is a lack of goals. They miss having an out and out goal scorer, like Jermain Defoe at Sunderland and Benteke at Crystal Palace, and that could ultimately cost them. They defend very well and have ground out strong results against the likes of Man City and Arsenal this season, but at this stage of the campaign goals get you out of trouble and it is hard to see them finding the net many times between now and the end of the season.

Leicester City

Surely Leicester cannot go from winning the league last season to relegated this time around? They defied logic and odds of 5,000/1 to win the Premier League last season, but now they are just 13/8 with Ladbrokes to be relegated. The stars of last year have waned, the cohesion, unity and fighting spirit has evaporated and manager Claudio Ranieri has gone from genius to clueless in a matter of months, with some fans even calling for him to get sacked. Still, when you look at their team, they have plenty of goal scorers: Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and so on should be able to fire them clear of the drop zone, but they really need to start picking up points soon as they are in woeful form. 

Swansea

Swansea have already changed managers twice this season but seem to have finally clicked under Paul Clement and have shot up to the giddy heights of 15th after winning three of their last four. Keep it up and they will be fine, but odds of 10/3 still look interesting on them.

Bournemouth

At 7/1 the Cherries look a great outside bet to go down. They have not won in 2017 and have been defending horribly. They have a six-point cushion over Hull but the way they ship goals you would fancy them to get sucked deep into the battle.

 

Arsenal look to bounce back from Bayern Munich humiliation

Arsene Wenger out

Arsene Wenger’s team travel to the 5,000 capacity Borough Sports Ground to face Sutton United in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday evening.

Sutton United, the National League side, have already eliminated Wimbledon and Leeds United en route to their first ever fifth-round appearance and were awarded with a dream tie against The Gunners. They will be looking to become the first non-league team to reach the sixth round of the FA Cup in its current format.

Arsenal suffered humiliation in their crushing defeat to Bayern Munich during the mid-week Champions League fixture and the FA Cup remains their most realistic chance of silverware this season as the Premier League title looks like it’s out of reach – however you can check out the live odds for the Premier League title if you feel Arsenal will close the 10 point gap between them an Chelsea.

Arsene Wenger has come under intense pressure this week, however has stated that he will be managing next season. He said, “no matter what happens, I will manage next season, whether it’s here or somewhere else. That’s absolutely for sure.”

When discussing the 5-1 defeat in Germany, he goes on to say “on a night like that, of course I hate defeat and I hate to lose games. I want to do extremely well for this club and I feel a big responsibility.”

“It is difficult to take, but I have the strength and experience to respond. It all went wrong for us after half-time. I think we looked quite defensively solid in the first half. We lost Laurent Koscielny in the second half and after that we lost our structure and our organisation. We were a bit naive for the goals we conceded. At 3-1 I felt we were mentally affected by the result and much more vulnerable.”

He goes on to say “everyone focuses on the next game, to take care of the consequences a disappointing result can have on everybody’s spirit and to make sure we bounce back and focus on the next game.”

“We have to deal with the media and our job is to and analyse with clarity what happened. We can’t influence the last result.”

“I always had in my head that it was a very important game. In my head I have had a team that will start and play there, for a week or 10 days now. That result we had at Bayern Munich will not influence that selection.”

“The FA Cup is one of our targets. It’s te next game and for us to bounce back after the game we just had, it becomes a very important game. But it always was, in my head.”

Arsenal, who could reach the sixth round for the fourth season in a row, must be wary of a potential cup upset. However, Sutton United manager Paul Doswell is remaining cautious. “There’s two ways of looking at it” says Doswell. You either get the likes of Ozil and Sanchez and Giroud – and you can just keep naming them – in which case we would lose the game comfortably but the lads would get the experience of having played a Premier League giant.”

“If you see Ozil and Sanchez on the team sheet our chance doesn’t come beyond nought. Or you go the other way and you play a team of under-23s that are still internationals mixed in with one or two of their squad players, and that gives us that one percent chance that we’d be after.”

World’s Top 4 Richest Football Clubs

Football, the king of the sports, has witnessed quite a fortune during its long reign. Staggering amounts of money are passed between clubs and players alike, as transfers are a common phenomenon in this sport. Along with other income from the live matches, the TV broadcasts and the ad campaigns, these clubs hold a world’s treasures in their footballers’ leg techniques.

Still, there are distinctions among teams as total revenues are counted at the end of each season. The Deloitte Football Money League has published their annual ranking according to the three primary income criteria mentioned above. Results may be surprising for sports fans, but they are definitely shocking for normal, middle class people.

#4 – Bayern Munich (€592.0m)

Going one place upwards, the German team from Munich made it to the fourth place on the Deloitte charts. This is mainly due to their 25% rise in annual income as opposed to last year.

Due to recognitions about their professionalism in Germany, this team has managed to win yet another Bundesliga title and DFB-Pokal Final. They even reached the semi-finals in the Champions League, facing some of today’s best football players.

#3 – Real Madrid (€620.1m)

After an 11-year streak of holding the top position on the aforementioned Deloitte ranking, this team fell to third position. They were ultimately toppled by their well-known rivals, but a tenth fraction of a million Euros kept them from keeping a strong second position.

In any case, the 11-year streak is still on when speaking about the European Cup. In all regards, a positive season for ‘Los Blancos’ still got them a positive revenue gain of 7%, enabling them to finally break through the €600m limit which remained unreachable up until now.

#2 – Barcelona (€620.2m)

Holding the firm second position on the Deloitte Football Money League, the Spanish team has kept its nation proud. Along with some of the world’s most loved football players, they maintain an impeccable public image.

What kept them in second place was their 11% revenue growth, in part due to their frequent advertisement appearances and improved attendance to their games. However, the main reason for such progress had been noted due to Bruce Springsteen’s two concerts held at their stadium Nou Camp. As part of ‘The River Tour’, the singer brought the club a staggering €8m in just two nights.

#1 – Manchester United (€689m)

With a strong return to the Champions League, the football team Manchester United finally climbed the top position on the list of wealthiest football clubs. Being used to the spotlight, they barely handled the 11-year long dominance of their Spanish rivals Real Madrid.

In any case, a strong ad campaign benefited The Red Devils just like any other football club, especially their deal with the brand Adidas.

After this preview, all we can do is use our instant sports money from the many betting bonuses and try to topple their record. Careful analyses and a little luck might get you a long way, who knows.

How to Bet on Horse Racing

How to Bet on Horse Racing

Right at this moment, as you are reading, thousands of people around the country will be lining up in betting sops, logged into online bookmakers and attending racecourses to place wagers using their hard earned cash on Horse Races. At first all the technical terms can be a little off putting and knowing where to start can be a little intimidating but there are plenty of options out there. Don’t be put off by people who seem to be talking the big talk….essentially if you have money and a race to watch. You can place a bet.

Betting On Line
Betting on line has changed the entire market and if you simply google “online bookmakers” you will see a rather lengthy and some what intimidating list. Whether it be companies that have an online presence online or those with retail outlets, you will be spoiled for choice. If you are betting for the first time on horses then take a look at who has the best offers as many online bookmakers will offer free bets and incentives to get you signed up. You are actually far better off placing your first series of bets with a variety of bookmakers to ensure you can take advantage of all the deals. Certain sites also offer live coverage of the races you can watch and many have much more extensive information so shop around make sure it’s a site you can trust and get gambling!

Many also have great apps these days so make sure you make the right one to suit your needs

Betting in shops

I would also suggest this as a good avenue into the world of betting. Go to any local street and chances are you have a range of options….the variety in prices and odds is very slim but what you actually want, if you are new to the betting world, is a store that is going to actually help you and guide you through the process and staff on hand tend to be very knowledgeable. It can be off putting having a room full of people hurrying to place bets, playing on betting machines and such like but taking it slow and easy, using the help on offer can ease you into the world of betting.

Betting on course
It is probably going to take some building up for you to be up to this level. What you have to bear in mind is that for your first few forays into the gambling world, the race course is perhaps not the best place to do so. Not only are entry fees high but there is also minimum bets, a general hustle and bustle about the place and it may put you off for life!

The best place to start, if you have some basic understanding is certainly online, and get those offers taken advantage of. If you need help get into the stores but at the end of the day, when it comes to betting on horse racing, the sooner you get confident in doing it, the more profit you are able to make.

The Premier League Run In – Who will come out on top?

EPL

Once the festive period is over and people begin to embrace the New Year, the eyes of the footballing world turn to the Premier League title race. All the pre-xmas jousting for position and gathering of posts turns into a serious battle as teams look to pull away and cement their position. With up to 6 teams in the running this year, let us have a look at who will come out on top in the Premier League Run in.

Liverpool

Already showing signs of cracking under pressure, the lack of big time experience in the Liverpool squad could come back to haunt them. The consistent problem of throwing away what should be easy wins as well as general lack of depth will come back to haunt Liverpool. It’s the big games they thrive in, but the bread and butter points they miss more often than is acceptable for title challengers. Looks like the Premier League title will allude them for another season.

Prediction: 6th

Manchester City

Oh dear Pep, things have not only went wrong…but dived off the cliff. The 4-0 defeat to Everton was not just a bad defeat, but a culmination and expression of everything wrong with the club. So much talent, such a big squad but on the pitch a lack of unity, a tactical nightmare and a squad who don’t seem as motivated as the rest will ensure the freefall continues. 5th will be very disappointing to City fans but with big games and a ton of potential banana skins against teams fighting at the bottom, something City are prone to, this is going to be a lone run in.

Prediction: 5th

Manchester United

Football is all about timing, timing on the pitch and timing in terms of form and if one team has hit form when it mattered that is Manchester United. Zlatan has proved a sensation, Pogba is getting better with every game and Jose seems to have a team he is finally happy with. Solid at the back, create up front and hungry for success, United will launch back into the Champions League spots at the expense of their rivals.

Prediction: 4th

Arsenal

The same pattern emerges for an Arsenal side you play attractive football, but fail to perform when the serious pressure is on. With an unsettled squad due to contract issues, a manager with an unsure future and already too many easy points lost, Arsenal fans will have to make do with a consistent 3rd yet again.

Prediction: 3rd

Chelsea

Title favourites throughout the season, Chelsea have started the season the strongest with an incredible unbeaten run that only came to an end at the hands of an in form Tottenham. But, just as Conte looked like he had the league in the bag that defeat, and upset star players such as Diego Costa, could lead to a stumbling point. It will take all of his coaching ability but if anyone can do it, Conte can.  With visits to Liverpool and Old Trafford on the cards there are some tough games ahead.

Prediction: 2nd

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs have started to come into form at the right time and have proven themselves to being capable of winning the key games. With Harry Kane and Delle Ali being two of the most inform players in the league at present, a real belief about the side and that hunger for the first Premier League title, as  well as less pressure than the likes of big money Man City and Chelsea,  we predict this will be the year that White Hart Lane receives its first Premier League Trophy

Prediction: 1st

Whatever happens it is sure to be an exciting end to the season with many head to head duels between the chief protagonists. If your struggling to figure out who to put your money on the check out footballbets.tips for expert analysis and predictions.

The Importance of Treating Children’s Sports Injuries Correctly

Cuts and bruises, scrapes and grazes… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Children inevitably experience injuries at various points, even more so if they’re sporty. So, whether you’re a parent who doesn’t know what to do about your child’s swollen ankle, or a teacher who knows where to buy sports equipment from (here, for instance), but hasn’t a clue about treating injuries on the pitch, here’s what you need to know…

Children’s bodies are particularly susceptible to injuries

Due to the fact that children’s bodies are still growing, they’re more likely to incur serious injuries than adults.

This is due to the fact that children have something called ‘growth plates’ in their bodies. These growth plates are areas of developing tissues at the end of long bones, and they’re only found in children and teenagers. These growth plates are eventually replaced with solid bone once a child has reached adulthood, but the ‘flexible’ nature of their skeletons in the mean time can result in sports injuries that are particularly serious.

If the long bones of your child’s hands, fingers, forearms, upper legs, lower legs or foot bones appear to be injured, be sure to have your child examined by a medical professional. These are the areas where you’ll find growth plates in children, and are therefore very important to treat correctly.

Also, children’s bodies become less ‘flexible’ when they’re having growth spurts. When bones grow, the muscles become tighter. The muscles respond by stretching constantly, and as a result, injuries to muscle groups can be more likely to occur. Take complaints of muscle pain seriously too, and make sure that children do the stretches recommended by their physiotherapist if an injury does indeed turn out to be more serious. 

It’s better to be safe than sorry

For the reasons above, it’s important to take children’s sports injuries seriously. Bangs to the head (especially if a child seems confused, dizzy, nauseous or sleepy) should always be checked out by medical professionals, immediately. Head straight to your local A&E if your child is in severe pain, or something is obviously broken. If your child seems to be OK but is later complaining of pain, consider booking an appointment with your family’s GP.

If an injury doesn’t look too severe, use PRICE therapy.

Sprains and strains aren’t usually very serious, so they can be treated at home using PRICE therapy.

Protection: make sure your child stops playing sport for the time being, taking weight off the injured area.

Rest: your child needs to temporarily stop exercising, and should skip some normal daily activities. For instance, a sprained wrist is the perfect reason to be excused from emptying the dishwasher!

Ice: apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas to the affected area for twenty minutes at a time, once every three hours. Do not hold ice over the area constantly, and ensure that ice packs and frozen peas are contained within a clean bag or a clean plastic covering so that your child doesn’t receive an ice burn.

Compression: use elastic compression bandages to reduce swelling. However, it’s only advisable to do this once your child has been examined by a medical professional – compressing an area that needs to swell a little can do more harm than good, as the excess liquid causing the swelling in an injured area is there to protect your child’s body.

Elevation: keep the injured part of the body elevated up in the air or on a cushion or pillow when possible. The aim is to keep the injured area above the heart whenever possible. As a bonus, this will hopefully help to reduce swelling too.

Hopefully, your child will have recovered within a few days. If their injury seems to be causing them pain for longer than this, take them to your GP as they may need referring to a specialist for assessment and treatment.

However, once your child is better, it’s important that you encourage them back into sport. Exercise will help to reduce their chance of obesity, and will help to ensure their body is generally functioning as well as it can be. Just make sure that you’re not pushing them too hard, and that your child knows the preventative measures they can take to avoid being side-lined with an injury in future. If your child seems to be going through a growth spurt, consider talking to their coaches and sports teachers to see what they recommend.

Dribble Down Economics

 

If you were to calculate the amount of money floating around in the Premier League in this day and age, the sum would be a scary one. From lucrative TV deals, sponsorship, ticket prices and merchandise sales, there is more money in the game than ever before and this shows no sign of slowing down.  Most of this money is finding its way into ever more increasing player wages and fans have become numb to being surprised at the amount of wages being offered to star players.

Let us just start with one scary figure….the total wage bill for the Premier League in the 2014-2015 season was just a shade over £1,600,000,000. That is 1.6 billion pounds….enough to buy 17 million shares in Apple, buy three football stadiums and still have change or give 22p to every person in the world. Players earn more in a week than many fans will earn in ten years of work and the scale of millionaires the game is making is beyond comprehension. If fans were to take a closer look at the picture and see just how much that reserve goalkeeper is earning for sitting on the bench, or that striker who plays 5 times a season, it is truly beyond believe. Clubs seemingly have money to waste and whilst that is all well and good, when fans are paying through the roof for TV subscriptions, ticket prices and merchandise, it just doesn’t seem fair.

Let us take a look more closely at what this money can bring. Manchester City are notorious as big spenders and have several players, including the likes of Ivorian Midfielder Yaya Toure and striker Sergio Aguero, who earn upwards of £12 million a year. In fact, their wage bill that season was £168 million which netted them second place and a spot in the Champions League. A cost of almost £2.1 million per pound earned! Did these see the club make a profit? Of Course  not….

But does money buy success. The highest wage bill in the league was £198 million and guess who that went to? Chelsea of course who took the title in that 2014-2015 season. In fact, the top 3 teams in the league were the top spenders and extending that the top 6 were all the highest spenders on wages. Barring Tottenham who finished ahead of Liverpool, despite Liverpool’s wage bill being £60 million higher, it just goes to show the teams paying the bigger money are reaping the rewards.

Does the same rule apply to those who struggle? The lowest wage bill in the 2014-2015 Premier League was Burnley, and sure enough….they were relegated in 19th. The £50 million spent by Hull City was the third lowest total in the league and sure enough they went down too. QPR splashed out £60 million and were relegated.  Leicester, Newcastle and Crystal Palace all surived despite spending less than QPR on wages. But the differences, in relative terms, are small and the league table doesn’t lie.

The clubs who pay bigger, finish higher and until a cap is introduced or some sort of Fair Play initiative that is more effective than we have now,  this will always tend to be the case.

If you love this sort of way of looking at football then check out Dribble Down Economics  

 

 

Life After Arsene Wenger: A Tough Act to Follow

Arsene Wenger out

Being at a single Premier League club for two decades is a remarkable achievement, but even that isn’t enough to stop some Arsenal fans complaining about Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman has transformed the London club from a defensively-minded outfit into a team that plays one-touch football with flair.

However, for all the success Wenger has brought to the club, he still has his detractors. A lack of action in the transfer market when it counts coupled with a lean spell in the Premier League and Europe over the last decade has hurt his credibility. But, even though his recent spell has been something of a disappointment, there’s no denying that his first ten years at Arsenal were impressive.

Time Will Force a Change of the Guard

With time waiting for no man, there will come a day (and possibly soon) when Wenger will wave goodbye to the Emirates Stadium faithful and sail off into the sunset. In fact, with Wenger’s clock starting to run low, the odds makers are already offering betting lines on his potential replacement. Sun Bets, the official bookmaker of football-mad newspaper The Sun, has already got in on the action.

According to its team of experts, Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe is currently the betting favourite to replace Wenger, at 5/2. Despite having only moved away from his position at Bournemouth for a year to coach Burnley, the weight of public opinion seems to suggest the 39-year-old is the man for the job at Arsenal. Of course, given Arsenal’s history of giving relative unknowns a chance, we could see a surprise appointment in the form of Thierry Henry. Currently priced at 10/1 behind Ralph Hasenhuttl (5/1) and Joachim Low (8/1), Henry could solidify his legendary status at the club by taking the current crop of stars to new heights.

Of course, whoever replaces Wenger will have a tough act to follow. Regardless of how you feel about his lack of signings or major trophies in recent years, the stats suggest that Wenger has been a proverbial talisman for Arsenal, and life after he leaves could be tough. OK, so in his first ten years at Arsenal, Wenger oversaw 566 games and won 327 of those. Those wins include the infamous unbeaten 2003/2004 season.

Trophies, Wins and a Whole Lot More

That first decade yielded 11 trophies, including three Premier League titles. Following this, decade two has seen the Frenchman take charge of 563 games (to the end of September) and win 320. Although trophies have been sparse in that period (four in total), he’s still well on the right side of the win/loss divide.

Beyond the cold hard facts, Wenger has also turned rough diamonds into international stars during his time at the club. Although he’s often failed to lure the “big names” to North London, Wenger has picked up the best unknown talent and rising stars and used them to good effect. Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie are just some of the players Wenger has brought in for a relative pittance.

Essentially, if anyone wants to follow in Wenger’s footsteps and keep pace with him, they need to be smart with the club’s budget, have a knack for finding hidden talent, and importantly, get the tactical best out of players. Wenger, for all his faults, is a managerial great. When history tells the story of the best Premier League managers of all time, there will be a chapter on Mr. Wenger. With this being the case, the next Arsenal manager will have to work extremely hard if he wants to avoid the post-Alex Ferguson slump Manchester United are currently experiencing.

So, whoever the next manager is, good luck to you sir, you’re going to need it.

AUTHOR BIO

Daniel Smyth is a freelance writer with interests in the sports and betting worlds. From football and boxing to poker and MMA, Daniel now produces articles for a range of games, sports and betting discplines.

 

Germany & Denmark get off to winning starts in World Cup qualifying

This week saw the start of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign across Europe, with four times winners Germany among those to claim an opening victory in their respective group. Bayern man Thomas Muller found the net twice for Joachim Low’s side during a comfortable 3-0 win over Norway, with fellow Group C contenders the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland playing out a goalless Prague.

As the reigning World Cup holders, Germany are unsurprisingly the Betser freebet to finish at the top of the group, securing an automatic passage to the finals in Russia, with Euro 2016 participants Northern Ireland hoping to earn a second successive spot at a major tournament. Elsewhere in the group, Azerbaijan claimed an opening victory over minnows San Marino, with Pierangelo Manzaroli’s men having lost 13-0 to Germany back in 2006.

Meanwhile, in Group E, Denmark narrowly saw off Armenia thanks to single goal from Tottenhams’s Christian Eriksen, while there was late drama in Kazakhstan. Despite holding a two goal half-time advantage, thanks to goals from Robert Lewandowski and Leicester City’s Bartosz Kapustka, Poland conceded two goals during the second period to allow the home side to claim a famous point. Elsewhere in the group, Romania and Montenegro both found the back of the net in the closing stages to secure what could be a valuable point. Former Manchester City man StevanJovetic cancelled out Adrian Popa’s striker, with NicolaeStanciu dramatically missing a penalty for the hosts in the seventh minute of added time. If the first round of fixtures is anything to go by, Group E looks set to be one of the most competitive in Europe.

Group F was certainly not short of drama also, with a 95th minute Adam Lallana goal ensuring that Sam Allardyce got his England tenor off to a winning start in Slovakia. It had looked like being a frustrating evening for England, despite former Liverpool man Martin Skrtel receiving a deserved red card in the second half, however Lallana scored his first goal at international level to secure all three points. England will certainly be favourites to qualify for the finals with Betser, with only Scotland likely to cause any real problems for the Three Lions.

Elsewhere in the group, Lithuania threw away a two goal lead against Slovenia, with former West Bromwich Albion loanee Bostjan Cesar equalising for the visitors in the final seconds. Gordon Strachan was delighted with his Scotland side’s performance against a potentially tricky Malta outfit, with Hull City’s Robert Snodgrass scoring a hat-trick in a comfortable 5-1 win. The home side finished the game with nine men following two second half sending’s off. Scotland will see this as a good opportunity to qualify for their first major tournament since the World Cup in 1998.

Premier League Weekend Preview

Leicester City Quiz

After a short international break, the Premier League returns this weekend with what should be a fascinating array of fixtures at both the top and bottom of the League. Let’s take a look at the games played this weekend, a crucial point in the season as the race to the top and bottom of the league starts to take shape. Although we will give you an insight into the upcoming games, be sure to check out what the professionals think over at SBAT, after all, we are just humble footie quiz enthusiasts.

Manchester United vs Arsenal

The weekend kicks off with a bang with a fixture that always throws up excitement. Arsenal have made the usual confident start to the season they tend to make, and there is a quiet confidence at the Emirates that this could well be the finest team they have assembled in years. The Special One however finds himself under pressure at Old Trafford and loosing to bitter rivals Arsenal will not do his cause any favours.

Prediction: 1-3

Crystal Palace vs Manchester City

Manchester City should find victory at Selhurst Park easy to come by as Palace’s shaky defence will surely not be able to withstand the powerful attacking might City will bring. Expect a convincing win for City as they keep on their push for title glory.

Prediction: 0 – 3

Everton vs Swansea

Both teams find themselves lower in the league then would like, and would be aiming to put together a winning streak over the festive period to kick start their route to the top. Swansea look on course for a long hard season, so parking the bus and aiming to frustrate Everton may be their aim, but the Toffees will be looking for  all 3 points.

Prediction: 1-0

Sunderland vs Hull

One of the most interesting games of the weekend takes place up at the Stadium of Light where David Moyes began to ease the pressure on himself with a victory over Bournemouth, but needs to follow it up with the first home win of the season to get the Mackem faithful back on his side. Hull will provide stiff opposition but the Roker Roar should guide the hosts home.

Prediction: 2-1

Southampton vs Liverpool

The Anfield faithful are once again proclaiming that this could be their year, and with Jurgen Klopp getting the best out of the whole squad so far, a title challenge does look likely. But as the result to Burnley showed, these type of fixtures prove tricky for teams in form and the Saints could well pull off the surprise of the weekend!

Prediction: 3-2

Watford vs Leicester City

Last season Leicester were the talk of the League every week as there seemingly impossible run continued week after week to become Premier League Champions. This year, their slide down the league into a potential relegation battle is as much of a talking point for casual fans, and Ranieri’s side may face further gloom this weekend with an inform Watford sensing blood.

Prediction: 1-0

Other games this also being playing this weekend –

Stoke City vs Bournemouth (Prediction 2-0)

Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United (Prediction 3-1)

Middlesbrough vs Chelsea (Prediction 0-2)

West Bromwich Albion vs Burnley (Prediction 0-0)

 

La Liga vs The Premier League

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La Liga vs The Premier League

Football fans, for whatever odd reason, endlessly debate which of the world leagues is the finest, which provides the best entertainment and which has the higher quality? Whilst there is no sure fire way to determine which league is the best, let us look at some of the deciding factor.

Where the big boys play? 

The best players in the world are undoubtedly in La Liga and for the foreseeable future that will remain the league that attracts the worlds best. When a star emerges, talk does not concern them heading to Chelsea or Arsenal these days but as to whether they will go to Real Madrid or Barcelona. It has been that way for some time! Think of who are generally considered the world best players during the past few years….Ronaldo, Zidane, Messi, Bale, Suarez, Neymar…..all ply their trade in Spain. That is not to say that the Premier League does not attract World Class players, as we all know it does, but the world’s elite still tend to drift over to Spain.

Unpredictably

This is one area in which the Premier League has the upper edge. Need I say more than two words… Leicester City. The 2015-2016 season will remain one of the biggest shocks in World Football when little known Leicester ascended to the top and stayed there all season. Challenger after Challenger fell and they crowned one of footballs biggest upsets with games to spare. Indeed, with Blackburn, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester all having won the title since the inception of the Premier League since 1992 and Liverpool and Spurs being perennial contenders, there is a much wider scope for unpredictability than occurs in La Liga where the dominance of the big two tends to make for fairly predictable fair.

Goals

The stats do not lie…the Premier League produces more goals on average per game than La Liga. This figure shoots up if you don’t include the Champions of each year (as Real and Barca tend to net big wins regularly). If you want to see Goals galore the Premier League is the place to be

Managerial Duels

Due to the more open nature of the Premier League and the money at hand, it is no wonder that some of the worlds top managers end up in England. Indeed, whilst it would be fair to say that the worlds best players are in La Liga, the finest managers on the planet are currently in the Premier League. Any football fan who would say a league in which Klopp, Mourinho, Conte, Koeman and Guardiola is secondary to anyone would have a hard argument. Have a look at the best predictions at betting tips 4you to see the best odds.

But it will always be each to their own, if you prefer technical and highly tactical football with the circus of the Galaticos and Barca coming to town, then the La Liga option is for you. If you prefer more raw, hard hitting and unpredictable football then tune in to the Premier League. Either way, we can all agree we are blessed to live in an era where quality leagues from top to bottom exist across the continent.

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR FOOTBALL BETS

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Online betting is a very popular pastime, especially for all the sports fans out there who enjoy their weekly routine of going through the fixtures and picking out which teams they think will be picking up a win that weekend.

There are so many thrilling games and sporting events that punters can place bets on, whether its pre-match or in-play to make things more exciting, thanks to the rise in popularity of smartphones it now means that more of us are able to place a quick bet from whenever we might be, so we’ll never again miss a split second of action.

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If you happen to be new to the world of online betting then perhaps the realm of sports betting could be perceived as being a little overwhelming.

There’s a lot of information to absorb and if you’re not familiar with the setup, the process and the various ways in which you can place your bets, deposit and withdraw winnings then things can get a little complicated.

Each sport and event comes with its own selection of betting options, accumulators and other various ways in which you can place a bet or indeed the actual types of bets you can make. So if you happen to be an avid football fan what exactly do you need to get started in order to get the most out of your bets?

Once you have picked up the basics and familiarised yourself with the fundamental ins and outs of placing online football bets, then it’s certainly worth looking at how you place your future bets on a little more closely.

There are sites out there such as Best Betting Websites which will firstly help you find the very best, reliable sports betting sites and apps around. Not only that but you’ll be able to gain a better insight into the workings of each of the websites as well as discover what the latest offers, welcome bonuses and other special sign-up benefits are available at the time.

Many successful horse racing gamblers are able to study the past and present forms of both the jockeys and the horses in order to make an informed judgement as how a particular race may end.

From reading about each horse and its recent form, as well as being able to read up on expert opinions and predictions you should certainly be able to make a more educated guess as to how a result may go. The same principal can be applied to that of football betting.

By studying recent results and keeping a close eye on other potentially game-changing aspects such as the injury list you’ll be able to select teams and choose between certain fixtures where your money may be better placed. Even other external forces, as well as match-based aspects, that could influence a team’s ability to perform or may affect a result or score line is well worth researching in-depth before committing to a particular decision.

Early Contenders for Player of the Season

Player of Year

Player of the Season

The season is barely two months old, but as always, football fans look ahead to what is going to be the final table, the top scorers and perhaps the player of the season. Who has impressed you so far? Who look like they are going to be making a huge different for their team? Let us take a look at some of the early contenders.

Jordan Henderson

Liverpool under Klopp already look like a menacing force and sitting in the engine room of the team is English Captain Jordan Henderson. With a pacey determined play, sharp passing and an eye for goal, Henderson has been at the heart of Liverprool’s impressive start to the season. A couple more strikes like the wonder goal he hit against Chelsea and his name surely will not be far off the end of season lists.

Diego Costa

Chelsea have proven they are back with a bang, and finally have found a manager to tame Diego Costa. With less rash moments and a raft of goals already, if Costa fires Chelsea to the top of the table and to silver ware, he may be wearing crowns of his own by the end of the season!

Romelu Lukaku

If goals are going to win any player the Player of the Season award then the big Belgian at Goodison Park cannot be overlooked. Not only have the goals flowed but Lukaku finally looks motivated and has been central to the attacking force of a team that Ronald Koeman has crafted into a unit that could challenge the top 4.

Paul Pobga

No player can ever live up the Price tag attached to him, but Pogba has started to find his feet now the initial pressure and learning curve has gone. Mourinho is still tweaking at United to find the balance but when he does, United will soar and driven by the worlds most expensive player, he could be the one to turn United into title contenders once again.

Theo Walcott

Season after season Walcott has promised and failed to deliver what is expected but this year, in an Arsenal side that looks more dangerous than in recent memory, he is proving a vital link, not only with his soaring runs down the wings and terrorising defenders, but with his range of goals. If Arsenal do go on to win the title Walcott is going to play as a big a part as any and he must be considered an early contender for player of the season.

More will spring up between now and then…David De Gea has already shone, Eric Bailly at United is one of the finest defenders to come to the league in recent memory, James Milner is settled and running the show at Anfield, Harry Kane is going from strength to strength to strength at Spurs and lets not forget the likes of Sergio Ageuro, the form of whom could tilt the balance of the season. Who will win, who knows but you can check out betbind for great football odds.

Who knows where the Player of the Season trophy will end up when the season draws to a close, but I for one cannot wait to find out!

 

 

Chelsea’s 2017 Summer Signings Rated

Following their procession to the Premier League title last season, many felt that Chelsea had one of the strongest squads in the division. By all accounts, Antonio Conte had devised a winning formula and the Blues appeared to have strength in depth all over the pitch.

The 2017 summer transfer window, however, proved problematic for the Blues, with Nemanja Matic departing for Manchester United and Diego Costa falling out of favour and manufacturing his desired move back to Atletico Madrid.

Despite missing out on primary target and former striker Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea still parted with over £170 million during the offseason.

It’s still very early days, but here are the six first-team summer signings ranked this term by Blues blog Chelsea FC Online:

6. Danny Drinkwater – £34m from Leicester City

The three-time capped England midfielder is ranked in sixth place purely due to the fact he is yet to feature for the Blues this season. The England international has been acquired from Leicester in an attempt to rekindle his potent partnership with N’Golo Kante in central midfield, and only time will tell if moving to Stamford Bridge was the correct move for him and the Blues.

5. Willy Caballero – Free Transfer from Manchester City

The Argentinian shot-stopper was brought in to provide cover to Thibaut Courtois following the departure of Asmir Begovic to Bournemouth. In his only appearance, against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup, he looked assured and is a logical backup to the Belgian number one, who will be able to impart some of his knowledge and experience.

4. Davide Zappacosta – £22.5m from Torino

The Italian right wing-back looks a tailor-made fit for Conte’s 3-4-3 system. His energy up and down the field is essential and he looks very comfortable in forward areas – scoring a goal against FK Qarabag on his home debut. Victor Moses currently occupies the RWB slot but Conte will be delighted to be able to rotate in his back line should he wish to do so.

3. Tiemoue Bakayoko – £36m from Monaco

As an integral part of Monaco’s success last season, much had been made of Bakayoko’s move to West London and the imposing Frenchman has delivered. With time on his side (aged 23), he looks to have all the attributes of a top midfield player and looks well set to fill the void left by Nemanja Matic in the middle of the park.

2. Antonio Rudiger – £31m from Roma

The German centre-back has thoroughly impressed since his arrival from Roma and has looked composed in his seven appearances in all competitions so far. The emergence of Andreas Christensen, as well as the arrival of Rudiger, has given Conte food for thought in the centre of defence, with David Luiz and Gary Cahill’s places in the team under threat.

1. Alvaro Morata – £56m from Real Madrid

The Spanish hitman has instantly delivered on his large price tag by bagging seven goals already this term. Conte will be delighted with how his marquee summer signing has performed and his recent injury will be a big blow to the Blues in the short term. On his return, he will be looking to continue his strong start and fire his team back up the league, keeping them in contention for trophies on four fronts.

 

Liverpools Transfer Dealings

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It would be more than fair to say that Liverpool’s transfer kitty has been splashed around, wasted and splashed around again over the past decade in a quest to help them climb back to the top of the Premier League tree. Many an expensive player has been bought and sold on for a loss without making an impact. But what of their Transfer Dealings in the 2016 window. Is it enough to drive Jurgen Klopp’s team into that top 4 where they feel they belong or will it result in another season of frustration at Anfield? According to the TransferMarkt Liverpool have only spent £501,000 on a net basis!

Sadio Mane arrived for £35 million in the latest of a long line of players to make their way from the South Coast to Merseyside. The Price beggars belief in certain extents, but with Mane’s potential to up his game, and his proven track record in the Premier League, it may be worth the gamble. I suspect he will beat his tally of 11 goals last season. Check here for other football betting tips

But one transfer everyone, especially those in the North East questioned, was the £23 million splashed out on Georginio Wijnaldum from Newcastle. In one or two game last season, he shone in a bad team but to justify that price tag is bizarre. If one transfer this season showed there was far too much money kicking around in the Premier League it is perhaps this one!

Are these signings to inspire the Anfield faithful? Do they get you dreaming of title glory and booking tickets for Europe next year? Or does the lack of ambition and high prices played for these places resign you to another season of “also rans”?

However, Liverpool accountants can justify themselves by pointing to the £15 million taken in for Jordan Ibe. When I first saw this story, I was convinced it was a misprint and was supposed to be £1.5 million…but now. Bournemouth, a team who were several leagues lower only a matter of years ago, paid a whopping £15 million for an unproven player who Liverpool were glad to see the back of. Now you have to say…that’s good business. In fact, the £13 million for Joe Allen and the £26 million received for Christian Benteke, despite being a total flop, were very smooth bits of business on Liverpool’s behalf and meant that, rather shockingly, despite all the new TV money coming in and available to spend, and despite the over inflated figure they paid for their transfers coming in, they ended up making a profit at a time when most clubs cannot spend their money quick enough! Even the £3 million gained for the unknown Brad Smith is a figure that you have to stop and look at twice. Football has officially gone off the wall in insanity!

It would take a betting man to make any sort of bold predictions for or against the likely success of Jurgen Klopp this season, but it sure will be an interesting ride. Champions League contenders or battling for 5th? Who knows where the Kop will be taken this season…

 

Man City Destined For Glory – Bet On It!

Man City Quiz

Man City Destined For Glory – Bet On It!

We are only a month into the 2016-17 Premier League season and have already seen some fantastic matches. The league table is starting to take shape and it looks like Manchester City is the team to beat. Can anyone stop Manchester City from winning their third Premier League title in six season?

Let’s take a look at the frontrunners for the Premier League title, while dissecting the performances of a few teams we believe, based on the opening handful of matches, will be entrenched in the unenviable relegation battle.

Manchester City: -145 (7/10) to win the Premier League

Man City Quiz

Have you watched any of Manchester City’s games this season? They are a phenomenal team, right? While it is true that City have had an easier start to their campaign, take nothing away from their five wins from five games, in which they’ve scored 15 goals while only conceding four.

Man City’s 66-point haul from the 2015-16 campaign was their lowest since the 2008-09 season, which ultimately cost Manuel Pellegrini his job as manager. Pep Guardiola was appointed as City’s manager and the Spaniard has visibly reignited the passion that was missing from City last season.

Sergio Aguero looks like he’s in the form of his life, while Guardiola heaps praise on Kevin De Bruyne, claiming only the great Lionel Messi is currently better than his young Belgian star. We can see why he’s touted so highly.

City are odds-on favourites to win the league this season, and we think it goes without saying that whoever finishes above them will be crowned 2016-17 Premier League champions. That’s doesn’t look like happening, though.

Prediction: Champions

Liverpool: +550 (11/2) to win the Premier League

LFc Quiz

Liverpool has won English football’s top-flight title 18 times in its history, but you’ll need to peer all the way back to the 1989-90 season to find when that last occurred, which is far too long for a club the size and stature of Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp has injected the team with confidence, belief and a childlike sense of exuberance and, at times at least, look like they could be genuine title contenders. Liverpool were awesome going forward when they beat Arsenal 4-3 on the road and scintillating in the 4-1 demolishing of defending champions Leicester in front of 53,075 fans — Liverpool’s highest attendance since 1977. Oh, and let’s not forget about Liverpool’s last performance, a 2-1 away win at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool, with a few more additions including a direly needed left back, will be set to challenge for the title. Unfortunately, they’re not quite there yet. Not playing in Europe is going to help keep Klopp’s squad fit, but we can’t see them, or anyone for that matter, pipping City at the top. It’s an exciting time for Liverpool fans, though. Look out for Liverpool in the F.A. Cup.

Prediction: Top four and a Champions League place

Manchester United: +1200 (12/1) to win the Premier League

MUFC

What a difference a week makes. Manchester United were, with odds of around +500, second favourites for the Premier League title last week. But after being outclassed at home to Manchester City and losing to Feyenoord in the Europa League, followed by a dismal 3-1 away defeat at the hands of Watford, United’s odds have drifted to +1200.

Self-proclaimed “Special One” Jose Mourinho has now lost a staggering 14 of his last 32 games; it previously took 105 games for Mourinho to lose as many games, a quite telling statistic.

The odds of a United title have drifted so wildly in the last week, but we have to remember that only a month of the season has transpired so the +1200 odds still represents decent value. Mourinho, though, has to fix whatever is wrong at Old Trafford very quickly.

With so much talent in the Man United squad, and the board’s willingness to support Mourinho in the transfer market, we think this latest blip in form is exactly that, a blip. Manchester United will qualify for the Champions League this season but fall short of their title aspirations.

Prediction: Top four finish and a Champions League place

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Relegation Predictions:

At the other end of the table, the bookmakers have Burnley as hot favourites (-137 or 8/11) to be relegated back to The Championship. Burnley has absolutely no attacking threat, which is cause for grave concern.

Sunderland already look doomed. They can’t rely on Jermain Defoe to score all their goals and don’t have a strong enough defense to keep enough clean sheets. David Moyes has an extremely difficult task on his hands to keep the Black Cats in the top flight.

Finally, keep an eye on Stoke City, currently +200 (3/1) to be relegated after their dreadful start to the campaign. Mark Hughes guided Stoke to a respectable ninth place last season, but they only have one point this season and have already conceded a staggering 14 goals.

They should have enough talent to stay up, but if the slump continues and Hughes loses his job, Stoke could find themselves in a real relegation scrap.

Prediction: Burnley, Sunderland & West Brom Relegated

Can Sunderland pull off the Great Escape again?

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As a Sunderland fan, still fresh in my mind, is that glorious night at the Stadium of Light in April when victory over Everton confirmed Premier League status for another year (and lest not forget condemned arch rivals Newcastle to a place in the Championship). The mood amongst fans was the most positive I can remember, Big Sam Allardyce dancing around the pitch, a promise of new signings to build on the sturdy deals done in January and the realistic hope that at long last the days of last minute survival were behind the club.

Roll on the start of the 2016-2017 season and how things have changed. England crashing out at the Euro’s was doubley bad news for Sunderland fans as it resulted in the loss of the most popular manager the club has had since Peter Reid. The merry go round continued and David Moyes, with a point to prove, became the latest addition to the managerial ranks. Transfers failed to materialise and Moyes brought in questionable players for his United days. Suddenly, all those hopes had dashed.

When it comes to Sunderland the pattern has been the same for years…..struggle throughout the season – sack manager – survive. Its worked for Di Canio, Poyet, Advocaat….Allardyce left of his own accord but the trend is worrying. Surely, there comes a time when these last minute acts of great escape will run out! I remember as a young boy Southampton and Coventry always “just” survived and eventually they fell away. Is it the turn of the Black Cats?

A lot will rest of the fitness and form of Jermain Defoe. Without his goals last year Sunderland will have started this year playing in the Championship and with no real back up/partner to assist him, an injury or loss of form would be very worrying. Can he rescue the team again? Form suggests he may well, but teams at the lower end of the league relying on an ageing striker…..could be a recipe for disaster. It would take a gambling man to bet against Defoe! have a look at the odds on Free Super Tips

Kone is another vital tool in the cog as without him, considering the departure of Kaboul, the defence looks a little tame with an aging John O’Shea and a lot of unproven talent. Sunderland also need to ensure the core that drove the team last year, with Cattermole and Kirchoff (and hopefully a returning M’Vila) can power the team through. But, a wise betting man would look at the squad and see the lack of depth and quality to drive the team onward. You wonder where the goals will come from, where the creativity will emerge from and how they can get those much needed wins.

It would take a betting man to gamble against Sunderland escaping from relegation no matter how far they fall behind  but it looks likely to be a very long season on Wearside and potentially the season in which Sunderland finally give up their Premier League status.

Turning football into your second income

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Image: bucurestifm.ro

There’s lots of advice about how to turn a hobby into a second income but what about us football fans who spend too much of our free time consumed by events surrounding our clubs?

It had never occurred to me, until reading about making money on Matched Bets, that I could actually indulge in my favourite pastimes and earn enough to fund the cost of my hobbies and more.

Earn a second income from matched betting

Like most supporters, I love following my team and enjoy a harmless flutter on the weekend fixtures and live televised games.

Now that I understand matched betting and have access to the special tools, I’m making enough profit every month to pay for my season ticket, away days and recover the losses on accumulators and my woeful live match predictions.

Putting some thought to it, there are other things football nuts can do to top up their income while indulging in this lifetime passion. Who is better placed to review and talk about matches, players or the running of the club than we fans who follow every word printed, tweeted or posted on Facebook?

Make money writing about your hobby

There is money to be made writing articles for websites and blogs, and informed content from experts in the field is much sought after.

You could create your own fanzine but that could be a risky venture as it requires start-up capital and running costs. With most people devouring content on the web and social media these days, you might be better served starting your own blog or forum. These can be monetised by a variety of advertising methods and don’t require such a big initial outlay.

Make money from your hobby on social networks

Popular twitter handles and Facebook pages can also make money. If you have the social network skills to make friends and gain lots of followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or other large social platforms you may be sitting on gold.

Do you ever rant and rave about events after the match? Capture your passion on video and set up a YouTube channel. Successful Vloggers are coining it in from ads, sponsorship and re-selling merchandise to their subscribers, so why not you?

Create and sell handmade items on eBay and Etsy

I’ve seen some imaginative use of football paraphernalia, from beautifully framed items like old programs and photos of past glories to t-shirts with screen prints of slogans and imagery closely associated to the club. This type of thing proves popular on online auction sites like eBay and along with other club collectables, can fetch enough to make the effort worthwhile.

Club shops sell some fairly generic badged merchandise like mugs, coasters, mouse mats, key fobs, wallets and wall art. You’d have to be careful not to breach copyright, but those with a talent for handmade crafts, and can do better, will find a ready made market place on Etsy where people buy and sell all manner of unique handmade items.

Sell your photos of your match day experience

Photographers who enjoy chronicling the match day experience through their lens’ can submit photos for resale to sites such as iStock photo, Stockxpert, Fotolia, Dreamstime and even Getty images via their Call For Artists Group on Flickr.

While it may not offer a breakthrough into full-time professional photography, you can pick up royalties based on the number of times your images are downloaded.

If you ever feel like following your club is too big a drain on your time and bank balance, and most of us do at some point, turn your talent to making money from your favourite pastime and it will make the inevitable disappointments much easier to swallow.

 

Germany & Denmark get off to winning starts in World Cup qualifying

World Cup Quiz

This week saw the start of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign across Europe, with four times winners Germany among those to claim an opening victory in their respective group. Bayern man Thomas Muller found the net twice for Joachim Low’s side during a comfortable 3-0 win over Norway, with fellow Group C contenders the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland playing out a goalless Prague.

As the reigning World Cup holders, Germany are unsurprisingly the favourites at Betser to finish at the top of the group, securing an automatic passage to the finals in Russia, with Euro 2016 participants Northern Ireland hoping to earn a second successive spot at a major tournament. Elsewhere in the group, Azerbaijan claimed an opening victory over minnows San Marino, with Pierangelo Manzaroli’s men having lost 13-0 to Germany back in 2006.

Meanwhile, in Group E, Denmark narrowly saw off Armenia thanks to single goal from Tottenhams’s Christian Eriksen, while there was late drama in Kazakhstan. Despite holding a two goal half-time advantage, thanks to goals from Robert Lewandowski and Leicester City’s Bartosz Kapustka, Poland conceded two goals during the second period to allow the home side to claim a famous point. Elsewhere in the group, Romania and Montenegro both found the back of the net in the closing stages to secure what could be a valuable point. Former Manchester City man Stevan Jovetic cancelled out Adrian Popa’s striker, with Nicolae Stanciu dramatically missing a penalty for the hosts in the seventh minute of added time. If the first round of fixtures is anything to go by, Group E looks set to be one of the most competitive in Europe.

Group F was certainly not short of drama also, with a 95th minute Adam Lallana goal ensuring that Sam Allardyce got his England tenor off to a winning start in Slovakia. It had looked like being a frustrating evening for England, despite former Liverpool man Martin Skrtel receiving a deserved red card in the second half, however Lallana scored his first goal at international level to secure all three points. England will certainly be favourites to qualify for the finals with Betser, with only Scotland likely to cause any real problems for the Three Lions.

Elsewhere in the group, Lithuania threw away a two goal lead against Slovenia, withformer West Bromwich Albion loanee Bostjan Cesar equalising for the visitors in the final seconds. Gordon Strachan was delighted with his Scotland side’s performance against a potentially tricky Malta outfit, with Hull City’s Robert Snodgrass scoring a hat-trick in a comfortable 5-1 win. The home side finished the game with nine men following two second half sending’s off. Scotland will see this as a good opportunity to qualify for their first major tournament since the World Cup in 1998.

Battle of the Big Gun Managers

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Battle of the Big Gun Managers

The 2016-2017 Premier League season is still well within its infancy, but the focus of the season remains of the big gun managers who have came from all corners of the globe to manager within the Premier League this season. With the flood of investment from the new TV deal and several key positions at major clubs opening, the stars aligned, and arguably, we are left with the finest collection of managers to ever start a Premier League season. But sitting on top of the pile are the Big Guns…the major clubs have major names behind them and what can we expect?

Jose Mourinho will cause controversy, will make headlines and if the early season is anything to go by, will be guiding Manchester United back into title contention. Mourinho is, and always wil be, one of footballs most high profile managers. He built his reputation on success and every club he has been to, he has achieved the highest accolades winning major trophies before departing in the “3rd season blues”. Mourinho takes the heat of his players by grabbing the headlines and when the battle really begins and nerves start to come into play, only a fool would gamble on his next move!

Pep Guardiola comes with perhaps the highest expectation of the lot. Laden with trophies and winners medals, Guardiola was appointed well in advance of the season and the cloud of Pep has been gathering over the Etihad well before he arrived. With a club that invests so heavily in players, and all the trouble that over paid stars bring, the club needs an experienced guiding light with big-club experience to steer the team in a uniformed direction. Pep may well be that man. Already making impressions by dropping the long standing number 1 keeper Joe Hart, Pep has proven that nothing will get in his way of creating the team he wants,

Jurgen Klopp is entering another season with Liverpool and now has had the time to build a squad that he can call his own. It takes time to build a dynasty but Liverpool fans are notorious for having the highest of expectations. The question is if the season starts badly, and the defeat to Burnley showed some worrying signs, how much patience will they have? Klopp is a proven talent but how can he cope with the pressures of the Premier League and perhaps the most expectant fans in the league, have a look at the latest odds on Big Free Bets tip’s.

Then of course we have title winning Claudio Ranieri, will the pressure of defending the title lead to a growth or an implosion? What about Arsene Wenger…when the “Arsene Out” signs start appearing which they inevitably will, will the Frenchman continue to ignore them or will this finally be the season he gives up on the club? Lower down the league we have David Moyes back, dangerous when he has a point to proof and a wealth of managers in the league for the first time!

Either way, with so many personalities and larger than life characters in the dugouts, this season is likely to bring as much drama off the pitch as on it, and football fans are fascinated to see how it pans out!

Early predictions for Championship promotion

Championship

ChampionshipThe 2016-17 Sky Bet Championship is underway, and predictions as to who is likely to make their way to the promised land of the Premier League come May have been made. Coming into the new season, Newcastle United were considered favourites to reclaim their place in the top flight, with many experts declaring them champions elect before the first game was played.

However, once the season started, it quickly became clear Newcastle won’t have it all their own way, and that they may have some unexpected competition for the automatic promotion places, as well as the title itself.

So, let’s take a look at the main contenders for promotion from the Championship this season.

Newcastle United

The overwhelming favourites, Newcastle United seemingly have everything going for them this season. Having spent more than any other club in the division in the transfer market, and with the most high-profile manager in the league in Rafa Benitez, the Magpies have put themselves in a good position to bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of as king. Industry experts such as 888 Sports believe anything other than winning the Championship title would be failure for the club.

While Newcastle sold and loaned out a number of key players during the transfer window, the acquisition of Matt Richie, Dwight Gayle, Grant Hanley, Ciaran Clark and other has only strengthened the perception that the club is set to dominate this year’s Championship.

Derby County

Derby County have been among the favourites to win promotion to the Premier League for the last two or three seasons, but have flattered to deceive. However, the Rams certainly have the talent on the field in the form of players such as Will Hughes, Ikechi Anya and Tom Ince, and under the direction of new manager Nigel Pearson, they have a decent chance of finding themselves among the frontrunners at the business end of the season.

Norwich City

Considered by many to be the biggest threat to Newcastle United’s Championship title hopes this season, Norwich City will have been boosted by holding on to the majority of their best players, such as Robbie Brady and Timm Klose, in the transfer window.

While the Canaries have not strengthened as much as they would have hoped, many experts still see them finishing in the automatic promotion positions and reclaiming their place in the Premier League following their relegation last season.

Brighton and Hove Albion

Expected to be fighting for promotion from the off this season, Brighton and Hove Albion are seen as contenders for an automatic promotion position after finishing third last season. The leadership of Chris Hughton combined with the return of striker Glenn Murray means the Seagulls have all the necessary tools to make it into the Premier League for the first time.

Sheffield Wednesday

The Championship wild card this season, Sheffield Wednesday will be gunning for a play-off place after finishing sixth last season, but a top-two finish could prove beyond them.

The Owls picked up attacking midfielder Almen Abdi from Watford in the summer, and will look to get more out of Fernando Forestieri after he refused to play against Norwich City earlier in the season as he pushed for a transfer.

With the club having signed nine new players, how Wednesday fare this season will likely come down to just how well their acquisitions gel as a team.

Who will be the Premier League Top Scorer?

Premier League Star Strikers

Premier League Top Scorer

aguero

Now that the season has began and the battle lines have been drawn, pundits and fans alike are trying to predict all manner of events….Who will win the league? Who will be the first manager to leave? Who will get relegated? One question that is being talked about a lot is who will be the top scorer in the league. Let us take a look at some of the leading contenders…

Sergio Aguero – Given that he is part of one of the most formidable attacking line ups in world football, only a fool would bet against Sergio Aguero netting a hatful of goals this season. Pep Guardiola is a fan of the Agentine and providing he features in most of City’s games, he will rack up the goals. With the service from De Bruyne and Sterling and such like, Aguero must be the odds on o favourite!

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Aged 34, Zlatan heads to the Premier League in the twilight of his career but seemingly with a point to prove. As the leading man at a club with an attacking mentality, Zlatan is going to be given all the chances he needs to win the Premier League golden boot. He has already taken over Penalty duty and with his aerial presence and hunger to go out on a high, Zlatan will, and has already proven to be, a Dangerous option.

Daniel Sturridge – An outside bet maybe, but Liverpool are in for a strong year and with a team focused around good solid ground football, Sturridge, if he stays fit is the perfect man to bag the goals Jurgen Klopp needs to take his Liverpool side to new levels.

Jamie Vardy – Last season taught us to never rule out the underdog and although he is now a proven Premier League and International class striker, Jamie Vardy is still hungry and with a desire of wanting to prove he is no “on season wonder” he could be a very dangerous opponent for defenders once again.

Harry Kane – Whilst all the focus is on the Manchester Clubs and Chelsea, Spurs have been quietly preparing for what they hope will be another great season. Their achievements at coming second in the league went under the radar last season as Leicester shocked the world, but if Spurs are to challenge again, then the multi talented Kane will be sure to bag the goals.

Other than the leading lights there are other contenders…if Arsenal prove to have a good season  Oliver Giroud may lead the line. What about Jermaine Defoe and his current form at Sunderland? The way he ended the season last year who can rule out the veteran. There could be a surprise…Negredo at Middlesbrough has a lot to prove and Roman Lukaku is always a threat.

Let us see what happens and like all football fans, especially those with footy accumulator tips, I wait with baited breath to see who succeeds and who flops in front of goal in the 2016-2017 season!

 

 

The Title Race

EPL

The Title Race

The Premiership season is now in full swing and heavyweights Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea have all got off to a flying start, making them the three favourites to lift the famous trophy in May. The betting odds on all three have drifted in after each won both their opening games, while the odds on rivals like Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Leicester have grown longer after less assured starts.

The 2016/17 season promised to showcase the most open and fascinating title in recent memory. Last season’s top three – surprise champions Leicester, Arsenal and Tottenham – were set to challenge once more. Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea had all slipped down the table and invested heavily in highly coveted new managers and some of the best players from across Europe, while Liverpool were tipped as a force under Jurgen Klopp and the likes of West Ham were even seen as being in with a chance.

That fabulous open race with eight teams vying for the title might still happen. But the early signs are ominous for all but City, Utd and Chelsea. Arsenal started as third favourites at 6/1 in the betting odds behind Man City and Man Utd. But a disastrous transfer window followed by a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Liverpool and a 0-0 draw with Leicester has seen them five points off the pace and drift out to 11/1 fourth favourites. Liverpool followed up that win with a miserable defeat by newly promoted Burnley and are 12/1 themselves. Tottenham have taken four points from their first two games, but they are out at 14/1 having not spent a great deal of money themselves in the summer.

Last season Leicester were 5000/1 to win the league but they pulled off a miracle and bet their big-spending rivals to the title. Nobody expected them to repeat the feat, especially after losing N’Golo Kante to Chelsea and having to cope with the added pressures of playing Champions League football. They started the season with odds of 33/1 and a crushing opening day defeat at the hands of crisis club Hull and that 0-0 bore draw with Arsenal has seen them drift out to 66/1 with Bet365, Sky Bet and various other bookmakers.

While it is early days it seems like those teams may find themselves vying for fourth place if Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea keep up the good work. City have been a revelation under Pep Guardiola, who has won six titles in seven seasons with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Striker Sergio Aguero is in red hot form – and a good bet at 5/2 with 888 Sport for the Golden Boot if he can stay fit – and the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva seem to enjoy playing Guardiola’s brand of possession football. They started the season with betting odds of 5/2 and were favourites to win it, despite only finishing fourth last season, and that is a reflection of the esteem in which Guardiola is held among the footballing community. They have since gone into 7/4 with Betfred, Bet Victor and Paddy Power after winning both their opening games and steam rollering Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League.

The betting odds on them would probably be even shorter were it not for the resurgence taking place at local rivals Man Utd. In Jose Mourinho they have another born winner with a fantastic track record, and they have broken the world record transfer fee to sign Paul Pogba for their midfield, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a force to be reckoned with up front and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be a much needed source of creativity. They have gone in to 9/4 with some bookmakers, but you can still get 3/1 at Betway.

Finally Chelsea, who have also started with a 100% record, although they have looked the least comfortable in doing so as they have twice had to rely on last ditch Diego Costa strikes to win 2-1 at the death, and many have suggested he shouldn’t have even been on the pitch to score their last winner due to his persistent fouling. They are now 11/2 and third favourites in the betting odds chart, and of the three they look the one most likely to be sucked back into the battle with Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool et al.

It should still prove to be a thrilling battle, but right now it is hard to look past City and Utd, and if pushed you would have to say City have enough about them to finish top of the pile come May.

 

 

Will Jose be the Answer?

Jose

When Alex Ferguson lead Manchester United to a period of dominance, unrivalled in the English game, the question over what would happen next when the great Scottish leader retired, always hung over Old Trafford.

As other clubs tried and tested managers from here, there and everywhere the consistency in the top job at the club meant that Ferguson could build team after team, develop and nurture world class talent. But when the inevitable, and to some fans unthinkable happened, and Ferguson stepped down the road became less clear.

Moyes lasted only 34 games, the cauldron of Old Trafford and an overly expectant crowd leading tohis early departure. Van Gaal was viewed as a saviour but a string of poor transfers, results andmedia quotes showed he was out of touch with the modern Premier League.

Ultimately, these chain of events paved the way for the Special One.

There was always something of an inevitability about the arrival of Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford with many bookies backing him to make the transition. As far back as February they were cutting odds to ¼ for him to take over from Gaal. Online the situation was similar with affiliate services and gambling operators offering signup deals on a number of managerial bets. Many of the free bets at Bethut for example were placed early in the managerial race when punters had the best offers on Mourinho’s new appointment.

Jose himself has openly admitted in recent years of his desire to manage at one of the worlds most renowned clubs. As soon as the pressure started to mount on Louis Van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho ‘s second tenure at Chelsea had ended, the jigsaw started to come together.

But Jose Mourinho will not have it all his own way at Old Trafford. To assess his fortunes let us take a look at five key points that will be the deciding factors in whether The Chosen One is the latest Old Trafford hero or the latest Old Trafford nightmare…

1. A Good Start

Both David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal were fighting a losing battle from the off as the United team of old withered away and the players and systems failed to gel as well as expected. United fans have grown increasingly impatient and for every United fan that welcomes Jose Mourinho, there are an equal number who aren’t at all positive about his appointment. A good start is vital to win over fans, critics and to avoid the old Trafford cauldron of hatred rising as it has so often done in the past few season!

2. Play around Pogba

Although much more lucrative options were on the table, Paul Pogba chose Manchester United and Jose Mourinho to ply his trade. The world record transfer shows how serious Jose Mourinho and United are about each other and just as he did at Chelsea with Drogba, Jose Mourinho must look to build his team around Pogba and craft a United side with his own identity.

3. Finish Above City

During most of his tenure, Sir Alex did not have to worry about the blue half of Manchester as very few seasons did they actually contend with his mighty United. But for the modern day Manchester United manager, finishing above Manchester City is a priority. Ask any Untied fan would they rather win the FA Cup or finish above City, and they will all answer with the latter! Jose Mourinho will be expected to finish above their rivals and doing so will ensure United fans are not pointing the finger from his first season

4. Get over 2-season- blue-syndrome

It is a widely known fact that Jose Mourinho tends to succeed for two seasons, start to fail and theneither walk or be pushed out of the door. United fans will want more of a legacy so Jose Mourinho will be judged not only on what he does in Season 1 but the legacy he leaves behind. United fans don’t want a two-and- done performance from Jose Mourinho! They want the next Dynasty

5. Rooney-gate

Wayne Rooney needs someone to motivate him to flourish in this stage of his career….is Jose Mourinho that man? If he can get Rooney back to his very best, which the previous two managers have failed to do, Jose Mourinho will have a player on his hands who is as good as a new signing. Whatever happened the story of Jose Mourinho and Manchester United will have ups, downs, highs and lows but I am sure we are all in for an entertaining season! One thing is for sure Jose is a winner and if I were a betting man – I wouldn’t bet against a winner!

Who will win this years EPL?

EPL Quiz

After arguably one of the most unpredictable seasons in the history of top flight football in England, can the 2016/2017 season live up to expectations? Will the big four return to dominance? Can Leicester challenger for the title? Let’s have a look at 10 key talking points for the 2016/2017 Premier League Season….

  1. The Jose factor – With Jose Mourinho at the helm, the optimism of the Manchester fans has rightly increased the fever pitch. With established new faces on the playing surface and a potential game changer in Paul Pogba, the Moyes/Van Gaal era looks to be a distant memory. Mourinho has a proven track record of producing trophies in his first season in charge and a newly motivated manager, a resurgent Old Trafford crowd and an inspired team will strike fear into fellow contendors.
  1. Leicester City – Despite retaining Jamie Vardy, against many expectations, Leicester continue to lose vital elements from the team that shocked the football world last season. Can they cope without the likes of Kante? Can they re-ignite the team morale that resulted in the greatest upset in Premier League history? With the exodus of players and the failure to attract suitable replacements, it could be a long season for Leicester….but we all wrote them off last year and look what happened!
  1. Return of Moyes – Sunderland fans had high hopes after another great escape last season under Sam Allardyce. Failure at Euro 2016 resulted in those hopes fading as Sunderland parted ways with yet another manager. The mood on Wearside improved when David Moyes was appointed, and given his success with Everton, comparable in scale and ambition to Sunderland, a motivated David Moyes, seeking to right the wrongs he endured at Old Trafford, may enable Sunderland to be a surprise package of the season!
  1. Excitement at Emirates – Every season seems to bring pressure on Wenger. A sweepstake on when the first “Wenger out” sign will appear in the stand at the Emirates would breed an inevitable winner at Xmas time when the positive start has flopped. Missing transfer targets, apathy amongst the squad and a manager at the end of his teather….this could be a season where Arsenal finally drop out of the top four!
  1. Guardiola – Controversially appointed in the middle of last season, the expectation from what Pep Guardiola can achieve when he arrives at Manchester City has been building. Arguably the strongest squad in the league, if not Europe, the one thing City have always lacked is an overall focus and drive. That lack of team work has cost them dearly in the past but Pep might just the man to turn the team of individual talent into a dominant unit!
  1. Conte and Chelsea – During Euro 2016, the passion of Conte excited Chelsea fans, some of whom had an air of doubt about the Italian’s appointment. Indeed, with only two signings with only a week to go before the start of the season, there is cause for concern. Those signings are big name, proven quality players in Kante and Batshuayi, but still there is cause for concern as the squad that failed so memorably last year is still largely in tact. But if Conte and get the likes of Eden Hazard back on form, they could rise back to the cream of the crop.
  1. Spurs Surge – The achievements of Spurs was largely overlooked last year as Leicester sold headlines but Spurs rose to their bets ever finish and their first real title challenge in the Premier League era. The team has grown and developed sine and who knows what they can look to gain this year.
  1. Return of the Reds – Since the infamous slip incident that cost Liverpool their first Premier League title, Liverpool fans have suffered a rollercoaster of emotions. The pain from Basel last year still lives long, but after a full summer of rebuilding Jurgen Klopp has been quietly building a team that are difficult to beat and can score against any side. No team will look forward to visiting Anfield this season and a Champions League spot is well within reach!
  1. Down at the Riverside – Casual football fan have a soft spot in their hearts for Middlesbrough, fondly remembering the days of Juninho, Ravenelli and Emerson. But the team crashed and burned and have struggled to reach the summit of English football in recent years, finally putting everything together last year Re-enforcing his Championship winning squad with experience from abroad gives Middlesbrough a real chance at comfortable survival, and there should be some memorable nights at the Riverside.
  1. Who will be the surprise package? – It will take some doing to outdo the achievements of Leicester last season but who will shock the nation this year. Can Sunderland under David Moyes get back into the top 10? Will West Ham crown their move to a new home with a storming run? With Southampton loosing players and West Brom failing to improve, will there be a shock “Newcastle-style” relegation?

Whatever happens, strap in because we are on for another rollercoaster ride!

And for what it is worth here are our football tips today, The 2016/2017 season –

  1. Manchester City
  2. Manchester United
  3. Arsenal
  4. Chelsea
  5. Spurs
  6. Liverpool
  7. West Ham
  8. Everton
  9. Leicester
  10. Sunderland
  11. Southampton
  12. Stoke
  13. Swansea
  14. Crystal Palace
  15. Middlesborough
  16. Watford
  17. Hull City
  18. Bournemouth
  19. Burnley
  20. West Brom

The standout stars of Euro 2016 triggering transfers for the coming season

UEFA_Euro_2016_Logo.svg

Euro 2016 didn’t exactly go the way we wanted – in fact it’s been pitiful from an English point of view – but several players in other teams have excelled. Notably, players from the so-called smaller nations have proven their mettle against the so-called bigger guns. Here are several players who might be heading for greener pastures during the 2016-17 season. And no, there aren’t any England stars in here, not even that cursed lion with no name.

Dimitri Payet

The West Ham mohawk maverick is well-known to English fans. Playing in the pressure of a home tournament is different to the Premier League, but whether fans saw his performances in the stands at the last ever season at the Boleyn Ground, or on their TV sets purchased from AO.com or elsewhere, it’s fair to say he’s lived up to his billing. With eye-catching goals and several great set pieces blended into his powerful performances it’s no surprise that the big dogs have been looking closely. Real Madrid have been linked, and the fee will probably be somewhere in the £35-40m mark – not bad for a 29-year-old.

Iceland

Where to start? The Nordic minnows saw off far bigger fish to secure a quarter final berth, with several players proving to be adept at fitting into a team structure under pressure and showing no little skill in the process. The team is formed of players from Basel, Cardiff City, Cesena, Molde and notably Charlton. The most likely to go elsewhere are probably Sigthorsson (Nantes) and Sigurdsson (Krasnodar) the scourges of England.

Adam Nagy

Surprise packages Hungary may have been dismantled by Belgium in the last 16 but the 20-year-old Ferencvaros pivot Nagy acquitted himself well with stability in the midfield alongside Zoltan Gera. Having won the title in Hungary, Nagy might be available at a good price for many of the European heavyweight and middleweight teams.

Robbie Brady

The versatile Brady scored two Republic of Ireland goals at crucial times against European giants Italy and France. Those highlight reel moments and his overall energetic play mean that the Championship surely won’t be his home next season, and according to the Daily Mirror at least four Premier League teams are in the hunt, including champions Leicester.

Joe Allen

Wales’ rise towards footballing immortality – or at least a semi-final – has been built on teamwork and plenty of quiet but vital work. Case study number one: Joe Allen, who has done plenty of the dirty stuff to feed the creative talents of Bale, Ramsey and co. Underused and seemingly undervalued by Liverpool, with just 17 league appearances last campaign, either Klopp will give him more prominence next season or he’ll be moving on.

Emanuele Giaccherini

The Azzurri acquitted themselves well for the ‘worst Italian side ever’. Bonucci has been linked with a move to join his national boss Conte at Chelsea, while most of the others will either remain where they are or command huge fees. The one figure who might move on is the diminutive Giaccherini – a Sunderland winger on loan at Bologna – who may transfer in the winter if not bagged in the next month or so.

Where these players will head is difficult to predict; within a year or two they could find themselves playing in the glorious stadiums of European giants to be viewed by millions every week on giant TV sets in bars across the world, or they could return to footballing obscurity – but at least they’ll have the memories of France.

Euro 2016 Trivia Nuggets

UEFA_Euro_2016_Logo.svg

As domestic season edge towards their closure around the continent, attention has begun to focus on the upcoming Euro 2016 tournament in France. For the first time ever, 24 teams will compete in a newly expanded tournament with 5 teams making their debuts and each and every country having realistic ambitions to progress from the first stage. We are in for a feast of football this summer and Euro 2016 will throw up the usual array of surprises, drama and moments of disbelief.  I always felt the European Football Championships went over too quickly, but with the addition of the new teams we are in for more football, more goals and more memorable moments than in any previous Euro tournament.

To get your appetite wet for the big occasions here are some interesting facts and trivia about the history of the European Football Championships Quiz

  • The tournament has gradually grown over the years and more nations than ever have had the chance to compete in the final stages. The 1996 tournament in England marked the first occasions in which 16 teams competed in the event. 22 years later this has been expanded to 24 teams making Euro 2016 the biggest international tournament of all time outside of the World Cup. Albania, Iceland, Slovakia, Northern Ireland and Wales will all as a result make their debut at the event!
  • France will be hosting the tournament for a record 3rd They held the first event in 1960 and then again in 1984. France won the tournament in 1984 which was the last occasion in which a host has actually won the tournament on home soil. The only other nation to achieve this was Italy in 1968. After winning the World Cup on home soil in 1998, can France repeat that fate 18 years later and be crowned Euro 2016 winners? Only time will tell.
  • Two teams are on the brink of history if they were to go all the way and lift the Euro 2016 trophy in July. Spain would not only become the first team to win the event for a fourth time should they pick up the trophy, but they would also be the first team to win a consecutive hat trick of titles. Germany have also the opportunity to win an unprecedented fourth title  and the reigning World Champions must be considered red hot favourites for Euro 2016!
  • Let’s look at some numbers……53 teams attempted to qualify for Euro 2016 with 24 reaching the finals. Over the course of the tournament 51 games will be played. 10 stadiums in 10 cities will host matches with over 1.3 million tickets already sold.
  • The mascot of Euro 2016 is Super Victory, a child superhero wearing a full French kit. He was debuted in 2014 before a friendly against Sweden and his name was selected in a public poll narrowly defeating Driblou.
  • David Guetta has produced the official song for Euro 2016, yet to be unveiled.
  • Gibraltar is the smallest ever nation in terms of population to attempt to qualify for the European Championships. Although unsuccessful in their bid to qualify the nation seeks to return for the 60th anniversary of the tournament in 2020.
  • Germany are the outright most successful team in the history of the European Championships appearing as winners or runners up a record 6 times. Both Czech Republic and Yugoslavia have the unwanted record of appearing in two finals without success and both Denmark and Greece have won the only finals they have appeared in.
  • Only one nation has appeared in every single tournament since 1972 and that is Germany. They have made a record 12 appearances if you count Euro 2016.
  • Spain waited a record 44 years between their titles in 1964 and 2008. Spain are also one of 4 teams
  • Goal line technology will be used for the first ever time at a European Football Championships. Euro 2016 will see its fair share of controversies but hopefully the new technology will result in fairer decision all round.
  • There are plenty of tasty derbies in the first rounds of this year’s contest with the likes of England/Wales, Austria/Hungary and Germany/Poland taking each other one. What other fixtures will Euro 2016 throw up? With the 3rd place in certain groups assured of qualification it’s a case of any rival nation facing the prospect of an encounter at some point!
  • If Grant Xhaka of Switzerland and his big brother Taulant Xhaka line up against each other on June 11 when the Swiss take on Albania, Euro 2016 will enter the history books as the first tournament in which brothers have competed against each other on opposing sides.
  • Some of the most capped players in European football history will line up against each on the big stage at Euro 2016. Iker Casillas with 166 caps for Spain recently became the most capped player of all time in Europe with Gig Buffon not far behind on 156 and the prolific Robbie Keane on 143. It will also mark the swan songs of many players at a major international tournament including Zlatan Ibrahimović.

I hope you enjoyed these Euro 2016 trivia nuggets, some more interesting than others I readily admit, but come June all will be forgotten when the eyes of the continent turn to France and to see history in the making. Who will break records at Euro 2016? Will new records be set? Will a nation win their first time or will the first 4-time champion emerge? We are in for a great summer of football that much is sure.

In the build up why not try our free Euros Quiz

Which EPL player can make a name for himself in France?

Euro 2016

The English Premier league may have come to a close with Leicester winning the title, and a major win for an anonymous better, but there won’t be a summer break for a good chunk of its players.

The EPL has a massive presence in the upcoming Euro 2016 in France. To be exact, 105 Premier League players will be attending this summer’s tournament. To put it into perspective against top European leagues, the Bundesliga has 61, Seria A has 51, La Liga has 35 and Ligue 1 has 21.

Surprisingly enough, Liverpool are the ones with the highest presence at the competition with 12 players. They are followed by Tottenham (11), Manchester United (10) and Arsenal (8).

A major portion of these players are already known well-enough for their abilities, else they wouldn’t be much of a consideration to join their nations at the Euro. Of course, success doesn’t have a ceiling, and most of them could reinforce their place in the football world, or even better – etch their names in the football hall of fame.

This is the major event for the English Bookmakers, especially with an promising English team this year. This year they did not only build their main odds around the games, but also invented a special football slot for the breaks in between.

We’ve taken a look at EPL’s most promising talent, and singled out a few key individuals that may hit the spotlight in France.

Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy – England’s prominent attacking duo

2015/16 was Leicester’s season, but for that reason Tottenham’s remarkable run was heavily overshadowed. A team that usually struggles for top four were now legitimate title contenders, up until that bittersweet end.

Kane was Tottenham’s main star, he topped the EPL goal scoring chart by hitting the net 25 times, one more than Aguero and Vardy.

He has made appearances for England’s U21 sides prior to 2015, scoring a few goals here and there. In 2015, however, he was called up to England’s senior squad. He made his debut against Lithuania during qualification, scoring in under two minutes after he was subbed in.

The story wrote itself throughout the season, and Hodgson didn’t have to overthink whether he should call him up as a striker in France. This promising 22-year-old is not only a present time threat, but a valuable asset to England’s future.

Vardy’s story is a bit different, and it’s nothing short of spectacular. It’s so rarely that a player hits his prime at this age, but this 29-year-old’s stunning campaign only began this season. He broke Van Nistelrooy’s record by scoring in 11 consecutive matches in the Premier League. In total this season, he scored 24 goals, a number which could’ve been greater if it wasn’t for his late season injury.

Vardy’s international debut ensued in 2015 against Ireland, but his first goal was on 26 March 2016 against Germany, and what a goal it was. A wonderful back heel shot that left fans in awe. Vardy scored again not long thereafter against The Netherlands, a match which England ultimately lost 1:2.

Kane and Vardy are a big part of the reason England is finally being considered a legitimate contender to take the Euro title. They add a new dimension to their attack, and we’ll certainly expect plenty of goals between the two of them.

Dimitri Payet – France, West Ham

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet wasn’t much of a consideration for the French squad when the 2015/16 season began. However, his excellent performance for his club throughout the season had him beeping on Deschamps’ radar.

This attacking midfielder’s international debut was back in 2010, when France was under Laurent Blanc. He’s been on and off for his national side since then, never impressing too much.

After he was recalled in March of 2016 to play vs Russia and The Netherlands, he exhibited two remarkable performances, which led to heaps of praise from Deschamps and fans alike.

Payet is swift, technically gifted and a dangerous dribbler. He not only scores goals, but creates them as well. Whenever France is playing, his presence on the pitch is very noticeable.

If Payet’s impressive run of form continues in Euro 2016, we’re all but doubtful that he’ll hit the spotlight when it matters most. Undoubtedly, he has the potential to play a big part in any potential French success at the competition. Then, his name will truly be heard.

Kevin de Bruyne – Belgium, Manchester City

This Belgian and Man City playmaker has been slowly making waves in the football world. The remarkable vision and influence on the field this 24-year-old possesses make him a valuable asset to any squad.

Already he’s earning heaps of praise from teammates and football fans. His performance on a club and international level has been astute, despite a mid-season injury in January.

It’s no secret that he’s a no brainer for Belgium’s squad in France. In fact, we’re certain he’ll be featured in the starting lineup alongside Hazard and Lukaku as an attacking-minded force.

His international debut was back in 2010, and so far he’s earned 39 caps and 13 goals for his nation. Belgium is a strong contender for top four at this summer’s tournament, but many also consider this talented nation to win the title itself.

Whatever happens in France, de Bruyne will be instrumental to Belgium’s success.

 

 

Atletico out for revenge in Champions League Madrid reunion

UCL

Atletico out for revenge in Champions League Madrid reunion In a repeat of the Champions League 2014, Real Madrid will face city neighbours Atletico in this year’s final.

Any game of this magnitude is guaranteed to offer up a vast range of betting offers and any nuggets of information can be useful when it comes to deciding how to use any that might come your way in the run- up to the big game on Saturday 28th May.

In addition to checking out any pre-match previews you can lay your hands on for football tips as to team news, injuries, tactics and statistics, a brush-up on some of the FootieQuiz trivia questions on the Champions League, La Liga and the two finalists themselves could also provide some invaluable insight and background.

Two years ago Real Madrid secured their Champions League decima with an extra-time 4-1 victory in the Estadio da Luz, Lisbon.  That scoreline really didn’t do Atletico Madrid justice, with Sergio Ramos only equalizing for Real deep into stoppage-time before three goals in the second period of extra-time put a hugely flattering gloss on the final score for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Atletico have been making amends ever since.  The teams have met on 10 occasions in all competitions since the 2014 final, with Los Blancos winning just once and, for all their attacking prowess, the have mustered just six goals in those games.  By contrast, the Rojiblancos have won five of those matches and certainly won’t go into this year’s final suffering from any inferiority complex.

Nobody could argue that Atleti don’t deserve their place in Milan either, with them having accounted for the two pre-tournament favourites – Barcelona and Bayern Munich – at the quarter and semi-final stage respectively.  Indeed, should they see off their city neighbours, there would be a definite argument for Atletico having overcome the most testing draw in history to secure the top prize in club football.

Then there’s the Atletico defensive record.  The one thing that you can guarantee from a Diego Simeone team is that they will be organised and difficult to breakdown.  This season’s 35 clean sheets in 56 matches in all competitions is a remarkable achievement.  It’s also worth noting that nobody has beaten Atleti by more than a one-goal margin since Celta Vigo on 15th February 2015.  The 2016 Champions League final is destined to be tight.

There are a variety of ways to stay onside with Atletico for the final. For 90-minute bets, there’s Atletico +0.25 on the Asian Handicap (in the event of a draw, half your stake would be matched at the winning price and the remaining half would be returned to your account) at 5/6 with Bet365,  the 2/1 with William Hill on Real Madrid not to score or the 0-0 correct score is 7/1 with BetVictor.  Taking any potential extra- time and penalties into account, Atletico Madrid to win the trophy is 11/10 (2.10) with Paddy Power.

 

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Tottenham contingent to spearhead England challenge this summer

The emergence of Dele Alli this season has been a real positive for both club and country.The former MK Dons man has enjoyed a stellar first season in the Premier League and having made his international debut back in November, is now one of the first names on the team sheet as England look to claim glory in this summer’s European Championships. Along with his Tottenham team mates Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, the England team could have a very familiar look to it in France.

Sitting at the top of the Premier League goal scoring charts, Harry Kane has been in prolific form in recent months, leading to many suggesting that he should be a shoe in for a starting position in Roy Hodgson’s starting eleven. With Kane competing for an attacking birth with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy, a continuation of his form from now and the end of the season could all but guarantee a start in Engand’s opening fixture against Russia. Indeed bookmakers Coral make the Spurs front man 1/12 on to do so.

Having spent his youth developing his talents at the Sporting Lisbon academy in Portugal, Eric Dier made himself a crucial part of Tottenham’s success since his arrival in London. Recent performances in the heart of midfield for the Three Lions, including a winning goal in Berlin, now look likely to ensure Dier earns a place in the starting eleven for England. His rise to fame has been long predicted, with many clubs fighting for his services upon his return to England. Another player who has seen his club form turn into international recognition is Danny Rose. The left back made his debut in the recent victory over Germany and having been criticised earlier on in his career, is now fighting back with his performances at the highest level. Perhaps still finding himself down in the pecking order for England, Rose still faces a fight to make the final squad for Euro 2016.

Tottenham’s England contingent are certainly proving that you do not need to spend mega bucks on foreign imports, with many of them having risen to fame at lower league clubs. It remains to be seen just how far they can take England this summer. With the fact that one shock win can upset the Euro 2016 odds, England will be looking to make a fast start in their opening fixture against Russia. Coral make Hodgson’s men the 9/1 fourth favourites to claim glory in France.

Tottenham meanwhile face off against Liverpool this weekend as they look to close the gap on Premier League leaders Leicester City.

Alternative National Leagues Worth your Time

Barclays Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A in Italy. When it comes to national leagues, the big four dominate in terms of attendance figures, TV revenue, column inches and champions league success. In terms of people through the turnstiles, the Premier League comes out on top with 13,746,753 tickets in the 2014-15 season, followed by the Bundesliga (13,321,531), La Liga (10,161,726) and Serie A (8,440,903). The Championship in England actually has higher figures than the Italian top league: last season, a total of 9,771,471 fans watched their team trying to make it to the top table of English and global football, all according to ESPN FC statistics.

Still, there is a world outside of these leagues. Though there is no doubt that some of the world’s best players ply their trade for clubs in them, there are definitely real and compelling arguments for focusing your attention on other, often ignored leagues.

What’s in it for me?

We should never need an excuse to learn more about the beautiful game, but why should we divert our attention away from those leagues we know and love?

This year’s EPL aside, it is often the case that in August you can make a pretty good guess who will be sat pretty in the top slots of the league next May. The bigger the leagues, the more money there is, and the more that money tends to get concentrated in a small handful of clubs. As a rule of thumb, that cycle is harder and harder to break. In most other leagues that is not so much the case. The difference in spending power between the top and bottom clubs is often not as pronounced, leading to a less static state of affairs – more unpredictability and thus more excitement.

Increasing your knowledge of a league or leagues is fantastic when it comes to niche knowledge regarding players or clubs. You will be able to astound friends, colleagues and quizmaster alike with your encyclopaedic knowledge of the Belgian 3rd division. Plus, every team from the big four leagues is looking to bring in the stars from the other leagues across Europe and beyond. So when everyone else is scratching their heads at Chelsea’s new “next big thing”, you’ll be able to speak with authority about his attacking prowess but unwillingness to track back.

Also, Why limit yourself to betting on the couple of leagues you currently follow? By spreading your net across multiple countries and leagues you will be giving yourself a hell of a better chance of being able to fill your weekly accumulator with games you are actually confident about.

A total of 61 different leagues provided players for the 2014 world cup in Brazil. Of the 736 players representing their countries, 321 (43%) of those came from the top 4 leagues. That leaves 415 players who earn their corn in the world’s other leagues. What may come as a surprise is that if we only choose those players still around in the semi-finals the stats aren’t that much different, with 41 (45%) of the 92 remaining players coming from so-called lesser leagues. With the Euro ‘16 just around the corner, it is a good time to expand your knowledge to some of the other players who will be looking to shine at the second most prestigious tournament on the planet. Once again, it will only help you when it comes to placing that accumulator.

So with all those leagues out there, which ones are worth checking out?

Brasileirão – Brazil

It is hard to ignore Brazil when it comes to football conversations. The Brasileirão, or officially the Brasileirão Chevrolet, due to the American car giant’s recent sponsorship deal, is not as well-known as you would think based on the impact their international team and players have had on the game. However, the Brazilian domestic league is where all the great Brazilian players of the past have started, and clubs such as Corinthians, Flamengo and Vasco da Gama have as rich a tradition as their more familiar European counterparts. Half the fun of watching the Brasileirão is spotting the next players likely to make the move to Europe, while you are also likely to come across some of the most audacious tricks and goals you will ever witness.

Ligue 1 – France

The French top league has always been the “nearly” man of the Old Continent. Clubs like Monaco and Marseille have had success on the European stage, but they haven’t been able to maintain it for sustained periods of time. The league was more famed for its exports than for those stars joining from abroad. The rise of Paris Saint Germain – or perhaps the rise of PSG’s budget – has changed that. One of the, if not the richest clubs in the world (depending on what criteria you use), PSG are now recognized as one of the very real contenders for Champions League glory. They also have one of the world’s most genuine superstars in Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Even before we came to know Thierry Henry, there was a tradition of exciting French players lighting up the Premier league. Several more players have been touted as making a move across the channel in the summer. Top of many people’s list is Brazilian centre back Marquinhos, currently winning plaudits – and headers and challengers – at PSG.

Primeira Liga – Portugal

Ronaldowww.joe.co.uk

José Mourinho and Ronaldo are the two most famous things about Portugal at the moment, never mind Portuguese football.  But the Primeira Liga has a fine tradition, and 5th in the UEFA coefficient rankings. Sporting, Benfica and Porto are three of the greats of European football of the last 60 years. Benfica achieved back-to-back European Cup success in 1960 – ‘61 and ’61 – ’62. Sporting won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963 – ’64 while Porto have 2 UEFA/Europa League titles and 2 European Cup/Champions League trophies, most famously in 2003-4 under Mourinho.

Eredivisie – Holland

Ajax
05-05-2013 Ajax – Willem II in De ArenA. www.gxsoftware.com

Naming the Dutch league is a decent quiz question in itself. Given the history of Dutch football and its celebrated clubs and players, it is surprising that the Eredivisie (literally “the honour league”) formed in 1956, is not more famous. Though the cream of the Dutch talent do tend to leave for more profitable pastures, it is still a very competitive league and Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord can hold their heads up in any company when it comes to tradition and honours won. Since 1970, when Dutch football really burst onto the club and international scene forcing people to sit up and take note of this wonderful new style of playing the game, clubs from the Eredivisie have won no less than 16 European competitions. Other European leagues boast many players and managers who originally plied their trade in the Netherlands, but there is still a lot of talent in this league. At the semi-final stage of the 2014 world cup, no less than 10 players came from the Dutch league.

Whatever your reason for doing it, there isn’t a downside to be found in expanding your football knowledge. With today’s multiple sport channels plus internet streaming, it is possible to watch live games from everywhere in the world, and even partake in some in-play betting. By choosing leagues from different countries, and different time zones, it also means that you are one step closer to every fan’s dream – round the clock live football. I rest my case.

 

Will Leicester City finish in the top four this season?

Leicester City Quiz

After 23 games, Leicester City have a three-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. The Foxes have been superb throughout the first half of the campaign and stand a genuine chance of finishing in the top four at the very least this season.

Since taking over at the club, Claudio Ranieri has transformed this Leicester side from relegation candidates to title contenders. Here’s why Leicester WILL finish in the top four this season. Ultimately, they are fresher than their top four rivals. Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool have all been involved in European competition throughout the season and may pay the price for this towards the end of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Leicester will still be relatively fresh – especially as they were knocked out of both cup competitions in the earlier rounds.

Plenty of punters will be visiting online bookmakers, such as Coral, to place their bets on Leicester finishing in the top four this season. After their impressive start, it’s hard to see them slowing down and the Foxes are currently priced at 2/5 in the football odds markets. If they continue to dominate matches, Ranieri’s men stand an excellent chance of achieving this and some supporters will already have one eye on a dream title victory.

Ranieri has built his squad around his two top talents: Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.  Earlier in the campaign, Vardy became the first player in Premier League history to score in 11 consecutive fixtures.  The former non-league star has been an inspiration to young footballers across England and his antics – both on and off the field – have seen him grab the headlines on more than one occasion this season.

However, it is perhaps Mahrez who deserves the majority of the plaudits. Football is a team game but without individual talent, every team would struggle. Mahrez has been in the form of his life and has influenced games almost single-handedly at times this season. He has scored 13 goals, as well as assisting many others and the Algeria international is a real handful. In fact, Leicester will do well to hang on to Mahrez as Europe’s elite clubs have all been linked with a move for the winger.

Why can’t Leicester City win the title… stranger things have happened in the past. While it would be incredibly bizarre, the Foxes look as though they could last the distance this season and Coral are currently offering football odds of 8/1 on Leicester to win the league. It’s almost impossible to comprehend but on current form, there’s absolutely no reason why the Foxes cannot achieve their dream goal. This has been one of the craziest Premier League seasons of all-time and a Leicester title win would be the icing on the proverbial cake.

January Transfer Window

Transfer Window

Who will be the busiest in this January’s Transfer Window ?

The transfer window this January could turn out to be an interesting one. Even Arsene Wenger looks like putting his hand in his pocket this time. There are deals to be done as clubs strive to stay in the league and make the most of the riches on offer from the new television deal.

But it doesn’t feel like there will be big deals. It feels like a rush for quantity rather than quality. Bournemouth have added depth with three signings so far. Liverpool have taken Steven Caulker on loan for defensive cover. Leicester have got a bargain in Demarai Gray, but he looks like on for the future rather than a first-teamwork this season.

Here’s our guide to the clubs we expect to be adding to their squad the most.

Sunderland

Sam Allardyce has stated time and again that he believes the key to survival is clean sheets. But the defence that he inherited isn’t capable of this. John O’Shea and Wes Brown are fast approaching the end of their careers but still look steadier than Sebastian Coates. It looks like they need to add several more defenders to have any chance of picking up enough points to survive. Expect some typical Big Sam wheeling and dealing. Loans may be on the cards as the owner Ellis Short always seems reluctant to spend.

Arsenal

They have walked into their usual injury crisis but without any of the usual signs of young quality players breaking through. This may be the January that Wenger adds heavily to his squad. Backup central defenders, defensive midfielders (when don’t Arsenal need a defensive midfielder?) and cover for Olivier Giroud are all needed. Will Wenger see this as the biggest opportunity in over a decade to win the league? If so, will he spend to secure that title? You never know with a man as stubborn as Arsene Wenger.

West Brom

It may seem strange for a team that are 9 points ahead of the drop zone to be frantically looking over their shoulder but that’s the situation West Brom find themselves in. If they lose Saido Berahino then goals go from being a problem to a crisis. They will have to spend to plug this gap. Creativity is a longstanding issue so some midfield purchases may also be on the cards.

Swansea City

The club are in freefall. It’s not clear whether they appointed Alan Curtis as manager because he impressed or because nobody else wanted the job. Jonjo Shelvey has just left and there’s £12m from his sale ready to reinvest.

They need goals, midfield power and a partner for Ashley Williams in central defence. It will be difficult to clear all of these up in one window so some loan deals or short-term moves may be in order.

Whatever the transfer window brings, there’s bound to be some surprise deals and some late drama.

This article was produced by Steve Thompson of In Off the Post. You can read more of his articles on his blog: http://inofftheblogpost.blogspot.co.uk/

Why has van Gaal abandoned a successful formula?

Man Utd Badge
 He tried it once, it was remarkably successful and yet he hasn’t used it again, amazing!
Instead he has resorted to boring football whereby the fans, the ones who are still awake at least, have taken to calling him nasty names and wanting him to find alternative employment. Is this what it has come to?This is how it all came about.Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal fancied a shorter, more memorable monicker. He decided that what he needed to do, quite wisely, was to drop the Maria bit, not advertise too much the Paulus bit and shorten the Aloysius bit to Louis. Thus the transformation to Louis van Gaal was complete and so began his success.

Wholesale changes hadn’t been required here. This was not a case of being christened Marion, for example. Any male christened Marion should immediately, (or as soon as they are old enough, at least), change his name to John. Why he should then feel the need to change his surname from Morrison to Wayne is beyond me, but it worked out OK for him..

So obviously, the thing to do to ensure success at Manchester United was to try the name change method with his players.

The guinea-pig, it was decided, would be Chris Smalling.

Louis had deemed the name “Chris” to be ambiguous and more suitable for a girl, not a rugged centre back who plays for Manchester United and England. So, from now on, he was to be known as Mike.

If the truth be known, this experiment had been underway for quite a while. Indeed van Gaal trialled it at a press conference on the pre-season tour, but, when he referred to Smalling as “Mike”, everybody just thought he was an ageing manager with a terrible memory for names.

The fact that they have one of the best defensive records in the division is down, in no small way, to Mike Smalling. Yes, De Gea has helped, as usual, but it has been mainly through the efforts of Mike that this proud boast can be made.

So why has he now stopped? Just when everything was going so well, he capitulated and left the rest of the players with their own names! How can he expect to be successful like that?

Since reverting to type, United have gone out of the Capital One Cup and out of the Champions League. He needs to start renaming players and quickly.

If this is to happen then any new players signed by United will have to agree, contractually, to Louis being allowed to give them a new name of his choice, (usually Mike), should he think that it will be of benefit to the team. This is because, with the exception of continually selecting Wayne Rooney, everything Louis does is for the team, which is forever more important than ANY individual, (except Rooney).

Not only will this make United a shoe-in for the title but it will also mean that van Gaal will never again get a player’s name wrong, not that he did before.

So, assuming the unmitigated success of this process, (or is it a philosophy?), next year expect Mike Smalling to be playing in front of Mike De Gea and alongside Mike Blind and Mike Rojo. In front of him will be the likes of Mike Mata and Mike Schweinsteiger with Mike Herrera and Mike Depay vying for places in a packed midfield.

There will be two problems that van Gaal will face and that he needs to overcome. One is that Carrick is already called Mike, so it won’t work for him and may even destroy the collective bond the rest of the team will have built up through all being called Mike.

Carrick will need to be known as “John”. This is the only way the equilibrium of the team can be maintained.

In fairness to Aloysius and Chris, this renaming process was producing results. Louis van Gaal’s team rose to fourth in the Premier league table, only four points off the lead and they have one of the best defensive records in the division.

The other problem is Wayne Rooney. I have watched his decline for the last three seasons or more and changing his name, even if it’s to Cristiano Ronaldo Quiz or Lionel Messi, just will not work. He’s gone too far past redemption for something as simple as a name change to make any difference.

Iain Anderson

The Importance Of Teaching Sport To Under-11s

With the ebb and flow in the fortunes of the nation’s sports teams, commentators frequently assert that children ought to be involved at grassroots level – for the good of sport. And while there is much truth in that, it’s also true that getting kids into different sports from a young age is just as important for their personal development, if not more so.

Primary school children are particularly liable to benefit from the opportunity to take part in organised sport. With qualified, enthusiastic, patient staff and readily available equipment from a stockist such as Hope Education, you’ll see children come on leaps and bounds in the following areas.

Social skills

Playing with peers is a big draw, and is often the factor that motivates children to try a new sport in the first place. It means kids can spend time with their friends in safe surroundings, working together towards a common goal. They’ll develop the social skills that will help them through school and into adulthood, such as overcoming conflicts and barriers, learning to be assertive without being aggressive and communicating with one another. They’ll also get into the healthy habit of being active for prolonged periods.

Competitive instincts

There are many positives associated with being competitive, and it doesn’t need to spill over into being a sore loser. Competition is everywhere, like it or not, but teaching kids how to adapt and succeed in dealing with it through sport is to teach them the basics without them realising it. Participating in sport helps children to cope with competition in a friendly environment, and also keeps boisterous, over-competitive rivals in check. The skills they learn through team play will serve them for the rest of their lives.

Sporting behaviour

Handling winning and losing is yet another crucial life skill that sport can help instil at an early age. It helps to create a balanced outlook: success and failure will each visit us many times through our lifetime, and if children can absorb that fact and be settled with it, they’ll have a strong character for most of their lives. They’ll also co-operate better with others and use better judgement when it comes to decision-making.

Also, being able to assess why they came up short and make necessary adjustments is another useful facet of sporting behaviour. Not enough power in that penalty? You know what to do next time then. Mastering personal improvement is a great foundation to becoming a hard-working, conscientious adult.

Leadership qualities

Or, in other words, taking responsibility. When a child has the ball at their feet or in their hands, the rest of the team is waiting on their decision. In that split second, they must weigh up the options available to them and then act upon their choice as effectively as possible. Leadership doesn’t necessarily mean telling others what to do – although voicing opinions is a valid aspect of it – but showing others that you are willing to step up.

Tennis star Novak Djokovic recalls on his website why sport was so important during his childhood, and this Unicef post explains why sport is such a valuable aid for children around the world.

 

Is Mauro Biello better than Frank Klopas?

Montreal Impact Quiz

Photo Credit: Eric Bolte of USA Today

Frank Klopas was the head coach and director of player development at the beginning of the 2015 season.  This arrangement did not last until the end of the season.  Why did he not last?  Of course, the main reason is the record of 16-16-26 since he took over before the start of the 2014 season.  In addition, the players grew frustrated with his style and methods of managing.  As mentioned in the article by Lloyd Barker http://montrealgazette.com/sports/soccer/mls/montreal-impact/lloyd-barker-klopass-puzzling-moves-helped-speed-his-departure (2015):

Klopas’s lineups had been a talking point virtually throughout his tenure as Impact head coach.  True to form, it was no different against TFC.  Seven of the Impact starters against TFC were playing their third match in only seven days.  That’s a tough request.  Two of the other four starters were playing their second match in only four days — not exactly an easy task, either.  Both of TFC’s goals exposed the Impact’s high level of fatigue.  It’s not like Klopas had no other options.  In fact, he had multiple reliable and well-rested choices: defenders Eric Miller and Wandrille Lefèvre; midfielder Eric Alexander and striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel who all started on the bench.  Klopas did use Miller, but made a mind-boggling change when Miller was substituted into the game in place of Romero, an attacker, with the Impact down a goal in the 80th minute.  It was a head-scratcher, one that only Klopas could try to rationalize.  It’s no wonder the unhappiness and frustration of the players had been so evident during the past several weeks.

In addition, there was the issue with Patrice Bernier that came to the surface.  His wife posted on Facebook that Bernier’s treatment is “unacceptable and disrespectful”.  After these comments, Bernier decided to take a leave from absence from the team.  This player is one of the leaders of the team and now he was taking a leave of absence.  One cannot underestimate leadership with in the team dynamic.  After the loss to the Impact’s rival, TFC, Klopas was dismissed from his duties.

Montreal named Mauro Biello as the interim head coach.  This coach and former player is actually from Montreal.  He actually played for the Montreal Impact  on three separate occasions.  He brought the pride he had for playing for the Impact in to the coaching position.  The players noticed this but pride alone did not turn around this season.  Biello has shown an ability to navigate from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 with ease.  Once they are in a 4-3-3 this is beneficial for the Impact as they now have three central midfielders, in addition they had to cover less ground.  Against Toronto FC in last week’s playoff match they deployed the 4-3-3 with Ignacio Piatti playing at the left flank, this gave Piatti a chance to have a creative impact (pun intended) on the match.  With the addition of Didier Drogba and Biello’s tactical nuisances, let us see how far they make it in the playoffs.  For the time being, Biello they look the better fit for the Impact!

Playoffs: Major League Soccer Style!

MLS 2015 Bracket

 Image provided by mlssoccer.com

What does Major League Soccer (MLS) do differently than most of the footballing world? One word says it all: PLAYOFFS! Most soccer leagues around the world do not have playoffs. The season is played; the team at the top of table wins the league. This is not the case in Major League Soccer. First, there is not one table; there are two tables in this league. Since the league covers a vast amount of land in two countries, the owners thought it best to split the league in to an Eastern and Western conference. In addition, the majority of games played by each team will occur within their own conference. Reducing wear and tear throughout the season, as most teams travel by air to matches was the thought behind this. This means there is not a balance schedule.

With the two expansion franchises of New York City FC and Orlando City SC that entered the league this year, this takes the total amount of teams to 20. At the beginning of the season with the expansion of these new teams, the commissioner announced an expansion of playoff teams to 12. Yes, that is right; more than 50% of the league gets a ticket in to the playoffs. This caused much consternation amongst MLS circles. Even though fans were and still are wary of this many teams obtaining access to the playoffs, almost every team was still involved in the playoff hunt in to the last month of the season. From a business perspective that was the goal to ensure fans were engaged for as long as possible since there is no promotion or regulation.

Six teams from each conference get in to the playoffs. The top seed from each conference obtains home field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. The team with the best record overall no matter the conference has home field advantage for the MLS Cup if they make it to that point. This year that team is the New York Red Bulls. The first two seeded teams from each conference receives a bye while the third through six seeded teams compete in a one game knockout round match. The excitement is that once in the playoffs start anyone can win the cup. For most purest this does not seem fair as the team with the best record should be crown champion. In North American sports, this is the norm for over a century to have playoffs. The thinking is that if you really are the best then a team needs to play against the best with the highest pressure on them. The regular season is considered a ramp up to the playoffs and then finally to the MLS Cup match. There is not a right or wrong way to crown a champion; this is just another avenue to accomplish this.

Knockout round matches start October 28, 2015

For more United States based soccer content, please click on the link below to access my soccer blog.

https://wordhec.wordpress.com/

Thanks!

Hec

 

Our Quick Guide to the last 20 World Cups

World Cup Quiz

With England still the dominant force in World football, the World Cup in 1930 was set to start in Uruguay without them. Although the English FA had joined FIFA in 1906, the relationship with the British associations was fraught. In 1928, the British nations withdrew from FIFA, in a disagreement over payments to amateur players and the World Cup went on without them. Thirteen teams entered the original tournament. Many European teams chose not to compete because of the difficulty of travelling to South America. Uruguay took advantage, winning every game including 6-1 in the semi-final and a 4-1 win over Argentina in the final.

In 1934, Uruguay joined the British nations in not competing in the tournament held in Italy. They withdrew in protest that many European countries did not travel to South America 4 years earlier and are still the only champions not to defend their title. Italy needed a replay against Spain in the quarter finals (24 hours after the first match – can you imagine today’s players being asked to do that?) and extra-time in the final to see off Czechoslovakia and win the cup on their own soil.

The 1938 became synonymous with politics and the debate over the future of the tournament. Uruguay and Argentina didn’t compete because of the decision to hold the tournament in Europe for the second time in succession. The British FA’s were still at war with FIFA (reminds me of recent events with Sepp Blatter) so didn’t enter, Spain were excluded because of the civil war and Germany competed under the Nazi flag. Italy retained their crown with a 4-2 final victory over the emerging Hungary, who had beaten England 6-2 at Wembley 2 years earlier.

After a break of 12 years because of World War II, the tournament returned with Brazil as the host nation. The winner was decided by a final group, and as it turned out, the deciding match in this group is notable for the size of the crowd, with a reported 173,850 packed into the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro to see Uruguay win 2-1 and top the group as World Cup winners.

This was to be Hungary’s World Cup. 1954 in Switzerland saw them defeat South Korea 9-0 and West Germany 8-3 in the group before scoring 4 past both Brazil and Uruguay (albeit after extra-time) in the knockout stages. By the time they faced West Germany again in the final they had amassed a 32 match unbeaten run. They were undone by West Germany 3-2, after being 2-0 up inside the first 8 minutes.

The 1958 World Cup was hosted in Sweden and should be remembered for the feat of one man, who is often forgotten when the history of the World Cup is told. Just Fontaine, a Moroccan-born player for France scores a remarkable 13 goals in the tournament. He is still the fourth highest goalscorer at all World Cups, only having competed in one. To put that in context, Miroslav Klose took 4 tournaments to get his 16 goals and Ronaldo took 3 tournaments to score his 15 World Cup goals. A remarkable feat that is often overshadowed by the fact that this was Brazil’s first World Cup win and the start of the Pele era – he was only 17.

The 1962 edition of the Word Cup returned to South America, Chile and this small country hosted a tournament of 16 teams in only 4 stadiums. Brazil’s team with Garrincha, Vava and Pele starring were unbeaten throughout and took the final 3-1 against Czechoslovakia and took back-to-back wins. They were immediately installed as favourites to win their hat-trick in the next World Cup.

England fans will tell you the only thing you need to remember about the 1966 World Cup was we won it. (West) Germany fans will tell you the only thing you need to remember about the 1966 World Cup was the Russian linesman. West Ham fans will tell you the only thing you need to remember about the 1966 World Cup was the fact that West Ham players dominated the final.

Mexico 70 was a one team tournament, with Brazil even winning the final 4-1 against Italy. It was the crowning glory of the Pele Brazil era, completing their third triumph after feeling that they were fouled out of the 1966 World Cup in England. The Jules Rimet trophy was given to them permanently and a new World Cup was to be designed for the next tournament.

1974 was the start of the experiment of staging groups for both the first and second rounds of the tournament. East Germany topped the group ahead of their fierce rivals, and hosts, West Germany in the first round. They couldn’t repeat these results in the second round as group winners Netherlands and West Germany qualified for the final. Gerd Muller scored the winner as the West Germans triumphed 2-1, Muller’s fourth goal of the competition to add to the 10 he scored in 1970.

Scotland travelled to Argentina in 1978 win genuine hopes of challenging for the title, but they returned home 8 days after they started with group stage elimination. Their consolation was a win over the much-fancied Netherlands in what was the Netherlands only loss on their march to the final. They couldn’t cope with the passion of the hosts and ended up losing their second final in succession. The scoreline was 3-1.

The 1982 World Cup had many high points – the Brazil v Italy match in the second phase was a great match – but the moment of the tournament was Marco Tardelli’s celebration as he scored the third Italy goal in the final against West Germany. It captures the passion that the world feels for football. The ugly side of football reared its head through Harald Schumacher’s assault on Patrick Battiston.

The 1986 World Cup belonged to one man. Loved and loathed in fairly equal measure the world over, Diego Armando Maradona won the World Cup single-handed. In a team full of players that even fanatical football fans had forgotten a year later, Maradona was a star – for me the greatest player of all time. It’s not often that an entire tournament is dominated by a single team, let alone a single player but the best goals, the best performances and the biggest controversy all belonged to one man.

Italia 90 was nearly England’s year again, but it wasn’t to be. The dominance of Maradona from four years earlier had faded and this was a World Cup lit up by stars that hadn’t been expected to shine before it began – Paul Gascogne, Toto Schillaci, Roger Milla and David Platt. But Maradona dragged every ounce out of his teammates and the West German machine worked through the gears to face each other in the final. After a (mostly) beautiful tournament played in a beautiful country, the final was an ugly affair. Argentina decided that attrition and a penalty shoot-out was their best chance of retaining their title and the match was a horrible spectacle. Fortunately the team that came to play football were marshalled through the more by Lothar Matthaus and lifted the trophy.

The decision to take the World Cup to the USA in 1994 was seen as a positive commercial move in taking the game to a new market, unlike the furore around the new market of Qatar in 2022. The tournament was considered a success in bringing the game to packed stadiums across the country. The tournament was dominated by Brazil and Italy and it was no surprise to see them face each other in the final. What was a surprise, however, was the 0-0 scoreline and THAT penalty miss – no, not Diana Ross in the Opening Ceremony, but Roberto Baggio in the final shoot-out. Brazil win again after a wait of 24 years.

France 1998 was a World Cup to behold, with global stars at the top of their game. Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Juan Sebastian Veron, Edgar Davids and Christian Vieiri all had fantastic tournaments. The biggest drama came off the pitch as Ronaldo was seemingly overcome by nerves the night before the final. Reports circulated around the press as he was omitted from the starting lineup only to be reinstated 45 minutes before kick-off. This unsettled Brazil and France (for France, read Zinedine Zidane) took control with a 3-0 win.

The 2002 edition of the World Cup took us to new frontiers as Japan and South Korea were hosts. Defending champions France crashed out of the group stage without a win and were joined on the plane home by Portugal and Argentina. Controversy followed South Korea in winning through against Italy and Spain to set up a semi-final showdown with Germany. The old guard won through and Germany faced Brazil in the final. Ronaldo put to bed his demons from four years earlier with both goals in a 2-0 Brazil triumph.
The 2006 World Cup became notable for the number of cards issued by referees, with 345 yellows and 28 red cards issued. One match between Netherlands and Portugal saw 4 reds and 16 yellows handed out – the match becoming known as the Battle of Nuremberg. English referee Graham Poll infamously showed 3 yellow cards to the same player! On a more positive note, the French were revived by the skill and grace of Zinedine Zidane to reach the final against Italy. Zidane imploded with a head butt deep into extra-time and the Italians won on penalties.
2010 saw some more of the good side (small as it is) of Sepp Blatter as the World Cup again ventured into pastures new – South Africa. The finalists from 4 years earlier – France and Italy – both finished bottom of their groups and didn’t make it to the knockout stages, that were dominated by Germany hitting 4 goals past both England and Argentina before meeting an efficient Spain team that won 1-0 in all their knockout games, including the final against an aggressive Dutch team.
Three results in particular stand out for me as the 2014 World Cup played out.

Netherlands 5-1 Spain
Germany 4-0 Portugal
Germany 7-1 Brazil
These were defining moments in a competition that rewarded attacking football. The much-vaunted battle between the best players in the World didn’t show as Cristiano Ronaldo limped into and out of the tournament and Lionel Messi’s teammates were woefully off-colour, particularly Angel Di Maria. No surprise with the results above that Germany won the cup and are current World Champions.

Intelligent Footballers

I’ve been thinking about which players, past of present, would be top of the league in Footie Quiz? Much has been said about players such as Bobby Moore, Xavi and Andrea Pirlo being intelligent footballers, but what about intelligence off the field? Gazza had a great football brain but seemed to lack common sense and self-control off it; David Beckham is often looked upon as stupid but has managed to amass a fortune the rest of us can only dream about. What about players past and present? How do they fare in the intelligence stakes?

Current Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet may take some stopping (especially among keepers who are usually regarded as mad) as he has a Degree in Law and Political Science, and can speak four languages – English, French, Dutch and German. I think that with his experience in playing in Belgium and his national team he would probably have the Belgian Pro-League as his specialist subject-

One player that I always thought had an on the pitch football intelligence about him was Dennis Bergkamp. And Bergkamp got himself a degree in medical engineering at the University of Bath during his time at Arsenal. Known for his fear of flying, I don’t think that Dennis would like to go overseas to find the answers to his questions so I think that he would prefer to answer questions on his home town club Ajax.

When I started to look into intelligent footballers I kept coming across the name of Frank Lampard. I dismissed this as the media misunderstanding the fact that he has written loads of (children’s) books with a level of intelligence. So I looked a little further and in fact he has an IQ of 150, which puts him in the top 0.5% of the world population and marked by MENSA as the level of genius. To give you some idea of what an IQ of 150 means, Albert Einstein had an IQ of 160! Being a player that has played in 20 of the 23 completed Premier League seasons I think that his specialist subject could only be the Premier League.

I’ve seen two footballers in particular get involved with the higher-brow television quiz shows and they are Clarke Carlisle and Matt Le Tissier, and both were contestants on Channel 4’s Countdown. Carlisle made it to a third episode before being defeated and as a bit of a journeyman pro, I’d expect him to be able to answer questions on the Football League.

While Le Tissier netted another hat-trick with three wins on the show and made his name in his playing career as a one club man. That club was Southampton and I can’t see anywhere past his beloved Saints as the subject where he would score the most points.

Having an intelligence on the football pitch doesn’t always follow that the player has intelligence in real life, but these footballers have shown that they are skilled in more than just football. If I was looking at the best odds of which players would come up in my Mastermind ‘intelligent footballers’ specialist subject my money would be on Frank Lampard.

 

Klopp to Liverpool

klopp

As Liverpool FC make the announcement that Jurgen Klopp has been named their latest manager, a lot has been written about whether he will be successful. I think that Liverpool have found an identikit manager for the way the club has been directed by Fenway Sports Group since they took over.

What do I mean?
Well, I can see big parallels between the running of Liverpool and that of Borussia Dortmund during Klopp’s time in charge there. Brendan Rodgers had to deal with losing big name players, and Klopp had the same pressures at Dortmund. Liverpool will probably maintain that they only lost their players under duress but the fact remains that some big stars departed the club:
When?                         Who?                          Notes
Summer 2015                Steven Gerrard             Would have stayed if offered a coaching role

Summer 2015                Raheem Sterling          Wanted Champions League football

Summer 2014                Luis Suarez                    Wanted Barcelona

Summer 2013                Andy Carroll                   Sold for £15 million

Borussia Dortmund couldn’t compete financially with the biggest clubs in Europe, with their national rivals Bayern Munich being one of those teams they couldn’t match Euro for Euro. They simply had to sell when the price was right, or when they couldn’t match the wages when the bigger clubs came in-

When?                             Who?                    Notes
Summer 2014          Robert Lewandowski – out of contract, went to Bayern Munich

Summer 2013          Mario Gotze – scored winner in World Cup Final

Summer 2012          Shinji Kagawa – has now returned

Summer 2011           Nuri Sahin – out of contract, Bundesliga player of the season

Unless Liverpool make major changes to their income, such as a new much bigger stadium or regular progress to the latter stages of the Champions League year after year then Klopp will be working under the same conditions again. He will have to act as Klopp The Dortmund manager when he is working as Klopp the Liverpool manager. And this is the main reason that I think in the long-term he will be a success. He will be operating in the same way under very similar conditions to these he experienced when he was successful.

Similarity is how top managers thrive. Mourinho has been successful with big money clubs – Porto (big money for the Portuguese league), Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid have all afforded him petty big transfer budgets and he has generally come up trumps. One of the main reasons I think that David Moyes failed at Manchester United. He had a defensive team working under a really tight budget and working his scouting team hard to find bargains at Everton. The jump to the world’s biggest club, fans expecting attacking, flowing football and the choice of the best players money could buy was too much for him. Klopp won’t have the same issues as he is swapping like for like.

The one quote that really stands out from his unveiling was the following “If I am sitting here in four years, we will win one title [piece of silverware] in this time.” This is a man of great confidence and someone who has done it before. I think that Klopp is a manager who has a vision for how he wants his team to play and he understands his matchbook. Borussia Dortmund played hard at the transition or breakdown and to achieve this, Klopp and his team worked on fitness levels. The players were able to get back into formation quickly and break at pace when they win the ball. I think that trying to achieve this mid-season is far more difficult to do than when putting in the ground work in pre-season. Because of this, I think that Liverpool may struggle with fitness levels this season and maybe the players will not be able to apply Klopp’s methods. After this season, I think that Klopp is right that he’ll at least be challenging for the Premier League title.