Friday, December 17, 2010

Chelsea receive much needed Lampard boost

Frank Lampard is a man who could rightly be described as cutting a frustrated figure for much of this season, since he's been forced to miss the majority of Chelsea's campaign with a series of injuries that have kept him sitting on the sidelines. For a man who has been a mainstay in the Chelsea starting line-up along with John Terry since the Russian revolution started under owner Roman Abramovich, this season hasn't been an easy one for the prolific midfielder so far, but neither has it been simple and smooth sailing for the Blues.

With Chelsea's form sliding dramatically since their early season exploits, more than a few sighs of relief could be heard today around Stamford Bridge when it emerged that the midfielder will be fit to start Sunday's game at home against Manchester United.

Those looking at the betfair free bet code report that the news came after Lampard followed up a quiet cameo against Spurs at the weekend with a 60-minute practice game at the club's training ground. Carlo Ancelotti and the Chelsea fitness staff will monitor Lampard's fitness closely over the next 48 hours to ensure no ill effects result from today's match but, if all goes as expected, the midfielder will come into the first eleven to provide some attacking thrust and leadership to a Chelsea midfield that has been lacking both at times this season.

United are three points in front of Chelsea with a game in hand, so the importance of winning this crucial fixture is clear for all Blues fans, who must also watch their team take on Arsenal away before the year is out.

If Lampard can inspire the Blues to victory this weekend with a goal scoring performance, then those looking to place a free sports bet this weekend believe it may yet be a Happy Christmas for Ancelotti and co.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Durkan Chase set for Fairyhouse Wednesday card

Irish racing fans starved of National Hunt racing in the main for the last two weeks due to the persistent freezing weather, received bad news and good news on Monday with the abandonment (again) of the Punchestown fixture that was scheduled to stage the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase, writes Elliot Slater.

That, of course, was the bad news. The good news, is that the four-time re-arranged Fairyhouse fixture that is now scheduled to take place on Wednesday, has stepped in to save the race and has agreed to add it to what is already a potentially outstanding card that already includes three other Grade 1 events.

As long as the weather doesn’t take a turn for the worse, those assessing the latest horse racing tips believe that Fairyhouse is set to present an eight-race card that as well as the ‘John Durkan’ will include the Royal Bond Novices’ Hurdle, the Drinmore Novices’ Chase, and the feature Bar One Racing Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, where live Cheltenham Champion Hurdle contenders Solwhit, Hurricane Fly, Donna’s Palm and Voler Le Vadette, take each other on.

Time and again the Fairyhouse card has been planned, abandoned and re-scheduled, and it is testament to the quality of the racing in question that the Irish authorities and the executive at Fairyhouse are determined not to let these key events in the 2010/11 racing calendar be lost without doing everything in their power to save them.

The Drinmore Novices’ Chase is another race sure to add plenty of racegoers to the gate, with the prospect of the high-class Mikael D’Haguenet’s chasing debut worth travelling a long way, (despite the weather), to see. Willie Mullins’ triple Grade 1 winner hasn’t been seen since trouncing Cousin Vinny at the Punchestown Festival in May 2009, but is reported to have schooled well and is a leading Cheltenham Festival fancy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wales looking for Speedy resolution

With the bookmakers slashing the odds of Gary Speed being the next Wales manager from 40-1 down to 2-1, it seems somebody knows something. The rumours are getting stronger that the Welsh FA are about to approach Sheffield United regarding their manager.

Wales have been on the look-out for a new gaffer after John Toshack stood down in September and they are now weighing-up a move for the former midfielder. The 41-year-old has only been a manager since August, when he took over from Kevin Blackwell at Bramall Lane.

In that time the rookie gaffer has had a decent start to his managerial career, winning six of his 17 matches in charge of the Championship side. With Wales struggling in the early stages of their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, the Welsh FA will be aware that Speed's appointment would be a hit amongst the few fans that actually turn up to watch the national side. During his stellar career, Speed earned 86 caps for Wales and is held in high esteem by the Welsh public. Having said that, whoever they appoint you won't get many people placing football bets on Wales reaching Euro 2012.

The Wales job would be a full-time gig and it would seem unlikely that Sheffield United would be keen on having to look for their third manager of the season. Any move would probably be down to whether Speed thinks he is ready to take the role at the age of 41. The former Leeds, Everton and Newcastle midfielder is remaining calm over the whole situation.

"I've not heard anything - it's nothing, just speculation so I have nothing to say on that," he said.

Speed still isn't the favourite for the job in the football betting, however, former Sweden boss Lars Lagerback still leads the way. The experienced manager took his country to two World Cups during his nine years in charge and most recently Nigeria this summer in South Africa. Largerback certainly has the experience needed to take the job but the Welsh FA know how important it is to start getting the public back on side and that could sway any decision.