It’s Sterling vs Gerrard in the clash of the midfielders! So has Raheem done enough to replace Stevie G as Liverpool’s most important player?

This season promises to be an extremely long one if you are a Liverpool fan. Our campaign has got off to an underwhelming start to say the least as the form that our team found themselves in just six months ago seems to be a distant memory from some glorious, much fabled past.

The departure of Luis Suarez is certainly a big reason behind that while the injuries that Daniel Sturridge has succumbed to only adds to our misery. In the absence of these two highly talented individuals, the responsibility of changing the outcome of matches has shifted to the shoulders of other players. Steven Gerrard is obviously one of them. The other name is Raheem Sterling.


The two of them are undoubtedly Liverpool’s best players at the moment. But the burning question that can be posed right now is this. Which one of the two are more important to Liverpool Football Club? Has our Captain Fantastic been finally replaced as Liverpool’s most influential player? 19 year old Sterling is currently tied with Steven Gerrard as the Reds’ top scorer with three goals apiece. The midfield pair are also on the summit of the assists chart separated by just one assist as Sterling has been credited with two while Gerrard has been credited with just the one.

As you may see, both these supremely talented individuals cannot be separated by something as limiting as numbers. In the minutes category, the story remains pretty much the same. The two Englishmen have played each and every minute of Liverpool’s two Champions League matches and they also have the same number of Premier League appearances this season after playing in all eight of the Reds’ matches this season.

Steven Gerrard however has been ever present as he lasted the whole 90 minutes in each and every single one of our League games. Sterling on the other hand played the whole game on five occasions after being taken off around the 80 minute mark twice. This is the first instance where we see clear daylight between the two. If Brendan Rodgers thought that Raheem Sterling was still needed on the pitch to keep matters in his team’s favour, he would definitely have kept the number 31 on.

That however, was not the case. It was in fact, Sterling who was taken off while our skipper was still left on because his presence was needed. This point that I just made, is the first reason that proves that it is still Steven Gerrard who is our most important player. The second reason is the timing and importance of the goals that these two scored.

SG 2

Raheem Sterling opened the deadlock while the scores were still 0-0 with goals against Southampton and Tottenham. Liverpool went on to win 2-1 and 3-0 respectively. His third goal was merely a consolation in our thrashing at Upton Park.

Gerrard’s goals were slightly more dramatic as he scored our only goal against Everton from a superb free-kick while his injury time spot kick gave us three points against a valiant Ludogorets side. His third goal was another successfully converted spot kick against Spurs which gave us a 2-0 lead in the game that ultimately finished 3-0 in our club’s favour.

The point that I am trying to make here is that most of Steven Gerrard’s goals swung the result in our favour by either getting us a win or a draw. Sterling’s goals of course were important as well, there are no such things as unimportant goals. But what I mean to say is that Raheem’s goals did not have that big an outcome on the result.

Keeping these facts in mind, I would say that Steven Gerrard is still the biggest fish in the Liverpool pond at this point of time and his influence on the outcome of matches are still invaluable although Raheem Sterling is starting to have an immense impact on games and it should be a matter of time before he replaces Stevie G as our most important player.


Football betting and accumulators – insider tips

Online sports betting is a massive global industry. According to research collated by Statista, the size of the online gaming market has grown significantly in the last decade – from $7.4 billion in 2003 to $37.6 billion 2013, and with forecasts to pass the $40 billion mark in 2015.

Sports betting is increasingly forming part of the fan experience. Sure, there are professional gamblers, those who have spent years and years honing their craft and can genuinely make a living from the industry. But there are millions of others who just love watching sport, and see online betting as a fitting accompaniment to that experience – for example, a football fan with a good knowledge of the game identifies the chance to transfer that knowledge to a betting platform and perhaps earn a bit of money in the process.

What follows is by no means an exhaustive resource of insider tips and knowledge, but a bit of advice for the newcomer to online football betting.

You may actually get as much success from randomly guessing the outcome of football matches but that misses the point of online sports betting. It’s about applying insight and analysis. So, make sure you do some research before placing any bets and if you’re looking to lay money against weekend games in the Premier League, check on form. Not just current form either, but historic form.

Consulting football website Soccerbase prior to the match between Leicester City and Manchester United in September tells us that United have won their last four fixtures at this venue. The riskier and more lucrative bet would be the hosts to win, then, but a safer wager would be United to win again. If you’re serious about building up a decent ‘pot’, it’s about small gains. Historical performance is always worth checking. Aston Villa’s 1-0 win at Liverpool earlier in September might have surprised the masses but a quick look on recent scores would have shown that Villa drew 2-2 at Anfield the season before after leading 2-0, and won 3-1 there the year before. A surprise result that was actually no surprise.

Accumulators are popular and can yield strong results. This is where bets are placed against the outcome of several games, and the more matches included the better the odds and the higher the payout. Yes, you need more results to go your way than just a single encounter but don’t be daunted by thinking accumulators must be ten games. You could bet on Chelsea, Barcelona and Bayern Munich to win their matches every weekend throughout the season. It’s highly likely that this will happen on more than a few occasions, and these three are among the strongest teams in their respective leagues in England, Spain and Germany. Stay on that track and you could generate decent profit come season end.

In September, Vernons offered an enhanced multiple on Juventus, Liverpool, Olympiakos and Real Madrid all to win their Champions League fixtures. With Juve, Liverpool and Real at home, against Malmo, Ludogrets and FC Basel, this would have been an enticing bet; only Olympiakos, against Atletico Madrid, looked an unlikely result from the outset. Then again, the Greeks were at home – and betting on the home side is always a good rule to remember.

If you want to rise above the occasional, casual football betting stakes and get into regular weekend forecasting, it pays to spend time reading and researching so that you feel confident of all the options available. The Betting Expert is a blog and resource which is highly recommended and provides worthy reading.




How smoking can affect your sporting performance

High sports performance depends on a whole range of factors: fitness, training, determination, skill, and physical capability such as lung capacity and muscle strength.

It’s well known that smoking impairs lung function, so why do some sports men and women still smoke and how does it affect their performance?

During the 2012 Olympic Games in London, newspapers delighted in catching golden boy Bradley Wiggins sneaking a cheeky cigarette while on holiday. Elite athletes, such as Wiggins, who have super-efficient lung functions, shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Although their lungs may clear smoke more quickly, traditional cigarettes still reduce potential performance as Professor Stephen Spiro, deputy chairman of the British Lung Foundation explains:

“It’s wrong to assume that if you’re an athlete and have super lung function, smoking doesn’t matter,” he said. “You’re making such demands on your lungs that any impairment will affect performance. These guys work at 120 per cent of normal, so a few percentage points off their lung function could be the difference between a gold and a bronze.”

That’s all very well, but most of us aren’t professional competitive sportspeople, so surely smoking doesn’t matter that much in terms of our everyday fitness? Numerous studies have shown that during exercise smokers get fatigued before non-smokers, and that smokers may experience a number of limits on their physical capability. They may get less benefit from a training session, have less muscle strength and flexibility, and get short of breath quickly. Here’s the ‘science bit’ – the blood pumping around your body needs to be chock-full of oxygen in order for you to function properly. Sporting performance is lessened if oxygen levels are reduced because carbon monoxide from tobacco is readily absorbed into the bloodstream. You simply can’t do as much, or as well.

On top of this, smokers are more likely to get injured while playing sport and then take longer to recover. This is because smoking does not just affect your lungs, it also has a negative impact on bones and joints. Furthermore, sleep patterns are also affected by smoking. A study published in the Daily Mail found that smoking disrupts the body clock in the lungs and brain, preventing restful sleep – a cycle which in turn, could lead to mood disorders, depression and anxiety.

E-cigarettes and eliquid are an alternative, and an increasingly popular one with stockists such as Phoenix eliquid offering a range of different flavours and models. These types of devices are healthier than traditional tobacco, as detailed in the information on the EL Science website.

In conclusion, smoking may not stop you taking part in sport, but it’ll feel harder, you’ll achieve less and if you get injured you’ll take longer to recover. For professional sportsmen and women, smoking is an absolute no-no and for committed amateurs, at least consider quitting or trying alternatives.