Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Which Premier League club needs Huntelaar the most?

It’s safe to say Klass-Jan Huntelaar guarantee’s goals!

The Dutch forward is the personification of a ‘fox in the box’ and has scored wherever he has been. After falling out of favour at A.C Milan, Schalke brought Huntelaar and since his arrival he's not stopped doing what he does best!
Huntelaar has scored 67 goals in 94 Schalke matches
With his contract at the German club coming to an end in July, surely Huntelaar has a Premier League move in him.
His build up play might not be the best, but at the end of the day goals win games, and the Dutchman does the business in that department. Here is an assessment of what Premier league sides need him most.
Everyone saw Liverpool coming right? Since the departure of Fernando Torres the Merseyside club have been crying out for a 20 goal a season manager, and at Anfield Huntelaar would do that and some.
The amount of chances that came and went last year was ridiculous and there is only so long you can say 'at least they are creating chances', they've got to be put away.
Huntelaar is far from the stereotypical Brendan Rodgers player, but Fabio Borini is, and that's hardly worked for them. I know its easy to say it, Huntelaar would score loads for Liverpool, but he would, and Rodgers should jump at the chance to sign him.
Most of the Premier League have at some point been linked with Huntelaar
After getting rid of their old guard, Chelsea have only found themselves with one out and out striker at the club, Fernando Torres. Despite the Spaniard scoring more goals, he's still not re-found the form that made him the best striker in the world, and the addition of Huntelaar would mean they could rotate their forwards around, and take the pressure of Torres.
Chelsea will always create chances with the likes of Juan Mata, Edin Hazard and Oscar in the side, and they just need a preditor in the penalty area to convert them, which Huntelaar would do.
How many times have we heard, if only Arsenal have a fox in the box! Well, Arsene Wenger has no excuse not to look at Huntelaar, especially after the Dutchman helped Schalke to a win at the Emirates on Wednesday.
Granted Wenger doesn't go usually chase a player whose gone 27, but after a slow start, they need someone to replace Robin Van Persie, which so far Olivier Giroud is yet to do.

Arsenal undone at home by Dutch duo

Late strikes from Klass-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay brought an end to Arsenal’s incredible home Champions League record.
With 15 minutes remaining and the scores level, the predatory Huntelaar blasted past Vito Mannone before a swift counter attack saw Jefferson Farfan cross perfectly for the impressive Affelay to seal an incredible win for the German side.
The two Dutch Schalke scorers celebrting the all important first goal
The three points was the perfect end to a brilliant week for Schalke, whom won away to Borussia Dortmund domestically on Saturday, and they now find themselves in pole position to top the group.
In truth Arsenal were poor throughout, and for a second successive match they struggled to break down their opponents, with the usual classy Santi Cazorla quiet.
In a game of very few chances Arsenal’s only shot on target was registered in injury time, meaning Arsenal will have to improve in a fortnight’s time in the Gelsenkerchen otherwise they face the realistic prospect of an early exit.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Premier League Tips

Last weekend's returns - Loss of £2.04
Overall returns - Profit of £12.32

Weekend accumulators:
Winners: Arsenal, Reading, Manchester City, Everton and Newcastle. Fiver returns £117.73

Goals Galore: Arsenal, Reading, Wigan, Everton and Southampton. Fiver returns £60.24

Saturday 27th October

Aston Villa vs. Norwich
Saturday's early kick off see's Paul Lambert come up against Norwich for the first time since leaving the club in the summer. It's fair to say the way Lambert departed Carrow Road has left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of the Norwich fans despite the amazing work he did with the club in the three years he was there.

Aston Villa are slowly getting there under Lambert, and drastic change was never going to happen overnight. Norwich were superb in their surprise victory of Arsenal last week, and will have to be as good if they are to register their first away win of the season on the weekend.

I don't fancy many goals at Villa Park, however Lambert should get revenge over his former employers in a narrow victory.

Aston Villa 1 Norwich 0 - 8/1 with Betvictor - Lose a fiver

Other tips:
Under 2.5 goals - 13/12 with 188bet. - Returns of £10.41
Aston Villa to score first - 4/6 with Ladbrokes - Returns of £8.33
Darren Bent to score and Aston Villa to win - 13/5 with BlueSquare - Lose a fiver

Match returns - Loss of £1.46

Arsenal vs. QPR
Back to back defeats for Arsenal have turned a promising start into an average one. Mark Hughes and QPR would've settled for an average start, and after eight Premier league games they are winless and bottom of the pile.

Against the bigger sides this year QPR have competed well, earning home points against the likes of Chelsea and Everton, but away from home they've been poor since their return to the top flight. Arsenal need a win to keep in touch with those above them, and three points aren't a given especially when you consider they've dropped five points at the Emirates already this year.

On their day Arsenal can beat anyone, and they should have too much for a disjointed QPR at home on Saturday.

Arsenal 3 QPR 1 - 11/1 with Stan James - Lose a fiver

Other tips:
Over 2.5 goals - 1/2 with Paddy Power - Lose a fiver
Thomas Vermaelen anytime goal scorer - 6/1 with Ladbrokes - Lose a fiver
Both teams to score - 4/5 with Skybet - Lose a fiver

Match returns - Loss of £20

Reading vs. Fulham
After seven win less games, at home to Fulham is a must win match for Brian McDermott and his Reading side. Fulham were very patient in their win against Aston Villa on the weekend, and despite dominating the game had to wait until the 84th minute for their winner.

The Championship winners are in need of their first three points of the season
Reading have improved over their last three games, and were unfortunate not to beat both Newcastle and Swansea, so back them to register their first win of the campaign here.

Reading 2 Fulham 1 - 11/1 with Betfred - Lose a fiver

Other tips:
Both teams to score - 4/6 with Bluesquare - Returns of £8.33
Reading to win - 17/9 with Pinnacle - Lose a fiver
Pavel Pogrenyak anytime goal scorer - 5/2 with bwin - Lose a fiver

Match returns - Loss of £11.67

Stoke City vs. Sunderland
The game at the Britannia see's the battle of the draw masters. Between them they've drawn 10 out of 15 Premier league matches, so it's safe to say the draw is the bet I've gone with here.

The additions of Charlie Adam and Steven N'Zonzi have brought an extra bit of quality to the Stoke midfield and if either side are to win it'll probably be Stoke given their impressive home record; however I can't separate these two sides.

Stoke City 1 Sunderland 1 - 6/1 with Betfred - Lose a fiver

Other tips:
First team booking Stoke - 5/4 with bet365 - Returns of £11.25
Draw - 12/5 with Skybet - Returns of £17
Both teams to score - 21/20 with Coral - Lose a fiver

Match returns - Profit £8.25

Wigan vs West Ham
Another borderline decision went against Wigan on the weekend, with Arouna Kone's header ruled out for offside, with replays suggesting the Ivorian striker was onside. If the correct decision was made then Roberto Martinez's side would've had all the momentum heading into the final 15 minutes of their game with Swansea, however the Welsh side managed to prevent a Wigan equaliser.

West Ham impressed again last weekend, and they were extremely clinical at home to Southampton in a 4-1 win. Sam Allardyce's side head to Wigan in form and full of confidence, and an away win could be on the cards.

Wigan 1 West Ham 2 - 11/1 with Totesport - Lose a fiver

Other tips:
Both teams to score - 4/6 with Ladbrokes - Returns of £8.33
Andy Carroll anytime goal scorer - 9/4 with Stan James - Lose a fiver
Draw or West Ham - 4/7 with Skybet - Lose a fiver

Match returns - Loss of £11.67

Manchester City vs. Swansea
Manchester City will be wanting to put their Champions league nightmare behind them in the form of a fourth consecutive Premier league victory. Swansea had struggled since their early victories, but their 2-1 win over Wigan was a huge one for the club.

Mancini has said City need a miracle to progress from their Champions league group

Roberto Mancini's side will have too much for Swansea at the Ethiad and will win comfortably.

Manchester City 3 Swansea 0 - 15/2 with Bet Victor - Lose a fiver

Other tips:
Sergio Aguero to score and Manchester City to win - 6/5 with Ladbrokes - Lose a fiver
Over 2.5 goals - 11/21 with Betfair - Lose a fiver
Manchester City to win to nil - 12/8 with Skybet - Returns of £12.50

Match returns - Loss of £7.50

Sunday 28th October

Everton vs. Liverpool
The first Merseyside derby of the season comes along with both teams finding their best form of the year. Everton have lost just the once in the league this campaign and have made their best start to a season since 2004/05. Liverpool are unbeaten in three Premier league matches, their best run of the season, collecting seven points from nine.

Gerrard with his match ball after Liverpool's 3-0 derby day victory at Anfield last year

Everton don't have the best record in this derby, however I fancy them to edge it here by the narrowest of margins.

Everton 2 Liverpool 1 - 10/1 with Stan James - Lose a fiver

Other tips:
Both teams to score - 8/11 with Bet 365 - Returns of £8.63
Everton - 17/10 with Betfred - Lose a fiver
A penalty to be awarded - 15/8 with Paddy Power - Lose a fiver

Match returns - Loss of £11.37

Newcastle vs. West Brom
Both of these sides conceded late leads last weekend, with West Brom eventually losing at home to the ten men of Manchester City, whilst Demba Ba scored a late own goal in the Tyne-Wear derby to help Sunderland rescue a late and probably undeserved point.

Newcastle are yet to find top gear yet this year, winning just twice in the league. West Brom's have been fantastic, and would've been disappointed to lose to City last week, just showing how far they've come under their new manager Steve Clarke.

Despite their Europa league mid-week match, I fancy Alan Pardew's side to win here.

Newcastle 2 West Brom 1 - 8/1 with Stan James - Returns of £45

Other tips:
Demba Ba anytime goalscorer - 6/4 with Coral - Returns of £12.50
Newcastle to win - 68/67 with Pinnacle - Returns of 10.07
Both teams to score - 13/19 with 32 Red - Returns of £8.42

Match returns - Profit of £55.99

Southampton vs. Tottenham
Southampton were poor last week, with their second half showing in particular not good enough, whilst Tottenham and Andre Villas-Boas was left to curse their selection problems as Spurs lost 4-2 at home to Chelsea.

One thing is for sure, there will be goals in this game. Between them they've just one league clean sheet this year, and both don't have a problem finding the net, just keeping them out.

Back Tottenham to win here in a classic.

Southampton 2 Tottenham 3 - 25/1 with Stan James - Lose a fiver

Other tips:
Over 3.5 goals - 11/8 with Paddy Power - Lose a fiver
Both teams to score - 4/7 with Ladbrokes - Returns of £7.85
Jermaine Defoe anytime goal scorer - 6/4 with Boyle Sports - Lose a fiver

Match returns - Loss of £12.15

Chelsea vs. Manchester United
Neutrals will be hoping for a repeat of last year's classic encounter, as Manchester United came from three goals down to rescue a point at Stamford Bridge. But this Chelsea side is a much stronger one then the one that lost the said lead back in February.

Just two points dropped from eight games represents a brilliant start for Chelsea, however their performance in Ukraine on Tuesday wasn't up to scratch. United have scored for goals for fun this year, but also have problems at the back, and have missed their injured captain Nemanja Vidic heavily.

I can't see too much between the sides so back the draw here.

Chelsea 2 Manchester United 2 - 13/1 with 188bet - Lose a fiver

Other tips:
Double chance: Draw or Manchester United - 8/15 with Paddy Power - Returns of £7.67
A red card to be awarded - 17/10 - Returns of £13.50
Manchester United HT/ Draw FT- 14/1 with Sporting Bet - Lose a fiver

Match returns - Profit of £1.17

Weekend returns - Down £20.41
Overall returns - Down £8.09

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Alba breaks Celtic hearts

Jordi Alba scored the latest of late winners to deny Celtic the most unlikeliest and deserved of points, away to the Champions league favourites Barcelona.

The Scottish champions gave their illustrious opponents a run for their money, and more then matched the 2011 winners for the most part, and only goals in the last minute of either halves prevented an amazing result.

Javier Mascherano deflected a Georgios Samaras header into his own net to silence the Nou Camp and give the Hoops a shock lead. Neil Lennon's side almost went in at half-time ahead, however Andres Iniesta weaved his magic and finished off a typical Barca team goal in calm fashion. Despite being camped in the opponents half, Lionel Messi and co struggled to break Celtic down, however Alba scored in the last of four added minutes to steal the win in the cruelest of fashions.

Alba's late strike means Barcelona only need a point to progress
Defensively through out Celtic were brilliant, with Kevin Wilson and Efe Ambrose in particular superb. Lennon's side put in a ridiculous amount of last ditched tackles in and around the penalty area, as they so nearly left the Nou Camp with a priceless point. 

Four points from six meant anything from their trip to the Nou Camp would've been a bonus, and Celtic were fortunate to avoid going behind within two minutes as Iniesta found Alexis Sanchez with a precise throw ball and the Chile international chipped over Forster, but narrowly wide.

Unsurprisingly Barcelona were dominating possession, however against the run of play Celtic took the lead. Charlie Mulgrew's delivery was perfect and Samaras's header was deflected into his own goal by Mascherano.

Celtic caused Barca problems from set pieces
Celtic's approach didn't change, and they defended courageously to keep the Catlan giants a bay for the majority of the first half; however they couldn't see it through as Iniesta finished off a sublime team goal. Iniesta, Messi and Xavi all combined with the latter setting Iniesta up who beat Forster with a calm finish.

The first chance of the second half was Celtic's as another set piece caused Barca problems, but a combination of Vincent Wanayama and Ambrose failed to make a meaningful connection with the free kick.

Barcelona were starting to create clear cut chances, and only the heroics of Foster prevented a third goal. The former Newcastle man denied Sanchez and Messi in quick succession, with the save from the little Argentine's header in particular world-class.

David Villa was a late substitute, and in the first minute of added time he appeared to have won the game for Barca, but his curling effort beat Forster, but not the post. In the end Villa's miss was irrelevant as Alba broke Celtic hearts.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Can anyone stop Bayern?

After last season’s disappointment on missing out on three pieces of silverware, you wouldn’t blame Bayern for coming out of traps slowly this campaign. It’s fair to say they’ve not started the season in disappointing fashion however though, with eight wins from eight Bundesliga games; they’ve already created a huge gap between their closest rivals. Given their incredible start, can anyone catch Bayern Munich?

Jupp Heynckes has added superbly to the Munich squad over the summer, with every position improved with a new face. The most notable signing for the club was the 40million euro capture of Javi Martinez from Athletic Bilbao. The fee was hefty one, but the German side have brought in a top quality midfielder who is equally adapt playing in front of the defence as he is off a striker. Mario Mandzukic has hit the ground running, which has been ideal timing for Munich given the injury to the prolific Mario Gomez. Defensively Dante was added from league rivals Borussia Monchengladbach, with Xherdan Shaqiri also moving to the Allianz Arena from FC Basel.
Dante joined Bayern relatively late in his career
Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Shaqiri, Toni Kroos or Thomas Muller take ya pick. They are some creative midfielders I’ve just named there. Their attacking strength in depth is up there with the very best in world football, and for me only Real Madrid and Barcelona are better than this current Munich side.
Munich are already an incredible 12 points clear of last season’s winners Borussia Dortmund, which just eight league games in, is a huge lead. Schalke are realistic title challengers, however Bayern Munich outclassed them in the Gelsenkirchen and are already seven clear of the Miners’.
Another reason nobody will catch Munich this year is the fact revenge is well and truly on Bayern’s agenda. Second in the title race, coupled with two final defeats at the hands of Dortmund in the German Cup as well as losing to Chelsea on penalties in the Champions league final means that Munich have more motivation to do well then most years.
Drogba and Co won the Champions league in Bayern's back garden
This current Dortmund side is superb and were brilliant away to Manchester City in their recent Champions league game; however despite back to back title wins, they’ll finish behind Bayern in the race for the Bundesliga this year!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Can Everton make the top four, again?

A side who have earned many plaudits so far this campaign is Everton, with their usual frustrating start to a season pleasantly eluding them. Four wins from eight games means they find themselves in the top four, and the last time they started as well as this they indeed gate crashed the Champions League positions back in 2004. Eight years on, can David Moyes’s side really do it again?
Moyes previously guided Everton the Champions league in 2005
Of all the Premier league managers, only Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have spent more time at their helm then Moyes, and despite year in year out having to sell his best players to please the finances, the former Preston manager has done an incredible job at Goodison Park. Moyes was heavily linked with the vacant Spurs job which appeared in the summer; however via whatever means a move never materialised and to his and the side’s credit they've put the rumours to one side and started this year fantastically.
Their first eleven can compete with any in the division, with their left hand side in particular dazzling this year. Leighton Baines and the returning Steven Pienaar have linked superbly, with the England full-back finding himself in the opponents half more than his own. The likes of Marouane Felliani have also been brilliant, with the Belgian midfielder adding three goals from midfield so far. For years at Goodison the home side have been craving a natural goalscorer and in the form of the Croat Nikica Jelavic they finally have one, and he’ll be in and around the league’s top scorers.
Baines has been one of Moyes' greatest ever signings
Like I touched upon earlier, Everton have far too often found themselves playing catch up following a poor start to the season, however 15 points from eight matches, which to be fair would've been two greater had goal line technology been in place, means they can be chased instead of the chasers.
Unfortunately for Moyes and Everton, unlike in 2004 when they qualified for the Champions league, there was only five clubs battling it out for the top four, realistically you can say this time around there are eight! When you consider the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham didn’t qualify for Europe’s finest club competition, all be it in differing circumstances, it goes to show the strength in depth the top eight clubs have. Newcastle finished above Chelsea last season and despite a slow start have a starting eleven capable of competing with the best in the league. In 2004 Everton didn't have to compete with Manchester City, whom over the last two years have become a regular in the Champions league spots.
Like Newcastle, Everton don’t have the greatest strength in depth in comparison to the usual Champions league suspects, which is a worry when you consider the numbers usually found on the treatment table at Goodison Park. Jelavic aside they don’t have a forward who you could realistically say will guarantee 15 goals a season. Whilst defensively they've no cover for the three centre backs, which at some point will affect them this season. Having lost the versatile Jack Rodwell and Tim Cahill in the summer, and many of the previous season’s loan additions you worry for them in case any of their bigger name players are injured.
Jelavic has 13 goals in just 19 Premier league games for the Toffees. 
You always associate an incredible turn of form after Christmas with Everton, but that can’t happen every season, and who’s to say their usual start of season slump won’t occur later on in the year. With the stiff competition for Champions league places this year, you’d have to say Everton will need to maintain their two points per game ratio over a 38 game season, which won’t be easy.
At the start of the season I didn't think they’d be able to mount a Champions league push, but after their early form you wouldn't bank against Moyes gate crashing the top four once more!