Saturday, December 31, 2011

Brisbane desperate for Broich return

Thomas Broich’s importance to Brisbane Roar was always fairly clear but the club’s recent losing streak has more than highlighted just how urgently they need the German back fit. Broich’s absence from the team has coincided with a run of defeats – as predicted by numerous soccer betting tips  that has the potential to undo all the hard work the club did on their way to a record 36-match unbeaten run.

Despite looking dead certainties in the live soccer betting to go on and defend their title, the Roar’s recent form has seen them drop to third in the table – in real danger of losing touch with the league’s two form teams Central Coast and Melbourne Heart.

While head coach Ange Postecoglou hasn’t been helped by a number of injuries to key men, it has been the absence of playmaker Broich that looks to have had the biggest impact on the team. The German’s ability to control the game from the middle of the park has been badly missed by a Roar side that has struggled to create enough chances.

Broich’s heel injury was at first thought of as nothing more serious than bang, maybe resulting in a week out. Further scans revealed more damage than first thought, though, and it looks as if it could be the middle of January before the Roar will be able to welcome back their influential midfielder.

Despite being down to the bare bones in regards fit players, Postecoglou has admitted he isn’t in a position where he can just go out and spend money on new players, backing the current squad to pull together and put an end to their poor form. It’ll remain to be seen just how quickly that happens.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Arsenal looking to bounce back

Although it's fair to say that Arsenal have enjoyed a rather strange season, lurching from one extreme to another, the fact remains that they have somehow managed to get themselves back in contention for a Champions League place, something that seemed like a distant dream after the crushing 8-2 defeat they suffered against Manchester United early in the season. In fact, some soccer betting tips suggested a season of mid-table mediocrity for the Londoners.

That said, the Gunners know all too well that they need to make sure that their season gets firmly back on track after a draw earlier this week against lowly Wolves, two points dropped in domestic competition that they really couldn’t afford to let slip.

With their North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur proving that their hot streak can run for some time yet (proving those who bet on soccer games wrong at every turn in the process), Arsenal surely know that their only real hope of showing they can still be one of the top soccer teams in London is by getting ahead of rivals Chelsea. Should they want that to become a reality, they know that they will have to make sure that they not only start winning soccer games, but win them convincingly, bringing belief and confidence back to a side that had previously looked like it was going to flounder badly this season.

In spite of this need to succeed being so prevalent, the fact that head coach Arsene Wenger has managed to calm the fans down after an enormous level of rage sent in his direction earlier in the season is testament to  how well he is running the club. With this in mind, it is key to remember that the Gunners have a man in charge who knows how to pull off miracles when others lack faith, something that he will once again need to do come the end of the season.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Carling Cup: Can Crystal Palace go on to win the Carling Cup?

Crystal Palace are one of two Championship sides that remain in the 2011/12 League Cup. Out of the two Championship sides, Crystal Palace remain to be the team that have performed at a lower level than their Championship counterpart and League Cup semi-final opposition Cardiff City.

In the Championship Cardiff are in 5th position with 38 points, whereas Palace currently reside in 8th position with 33 points. The Eagles have never won any form of silverware, but the last time they came close was back in 1990 where the London club managed to get to an FA Cup final. The final of the FA Cup was played over two legs with the first leg ending in a 3-3 draw after extra-time. The second leg, unfortunately for Crystal Palace fans, ended in a 1-0 defeat against the legendary Man United.

So, to answer the question in the title: “Can Crystal Palace go on to win the Carling Cup?” The answer to this particular question would have to be no. The Eagles are certainly not up to the standards of the other semi-finalists and Premier League outfits Manchester City and Liverpool. People looking at the Carling Cup betting should remember this.

Plus, they have to undertake the difficult task of fending off the Welsh side in the semi-finals of the competition. My match prediction for the first leg of the matchup between Crystal Palace and Cardiff City, hosted at Selhurst Park, will be a 1-1 draw. This result will benefit The Bluebirds more as the away goals rule applies in the League Cup.  Those looking at the odds carling cup final should bear this in mind.

Palace's best player, or the player that will have the biggest impact in the League Cup semi-final first leg matchup, has to be their top goal scorer so far this season, Glenn Murray. The Eagles' striker has so far made a total of 23 appearances and scored a total of 6 goals.

San Jose seal Chavez swoop

The San Jose Earthquakes have snapped up FC Dallas striker Marvin Chavez for allocation money.

The 28-year-old Honduras international scored six goals in 31 appearances for Dallas last season, having previously played for Victoria and Marathon in his homeland.

He also scored the decisive goal in Dallas’ 1-0 victory at Pumas UNAM in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League in August, the first-ever victory by an MLS side in Mexico in any competition, and has been popular among the soccer betting tips ever since.

Those who bet on soccer games will note that San Jose struggled to find a settled attacking line-up last season with head coach Frank Yallop trying many different options with only limited success.

Chris Wondolowski led the line last term, scoring an impressive 16 goals in 30 matches but Yallop may now look to use Chavez as his main striker.

“Marvin is one of the most exciting players in MLS," said San Jose’s General Manager John Doyle. "I can’t wait to see him in an Earthquakes uniform."

San Jose have been very busy in the off-season, adding Jean Alexandre and Shea Salinas to their midfield while allowing the former Reading star Bobby Convey to join Sporting Kansas City.

Meanwhile, FC Dallas have allowed Jeremy Hall to join Toronto FC while head coach Schellas Hyndman has admitted that Maicon Santos also looks set to leave.

Hyndman believes Chavez’s departure will be good for the team in the long run, saying: “Marvin was always an outstanding player and we certainly will miss him, but this move allows us to better balance our team.

“We are losing a solid player, but it’s for the overall benefit of the team. We can strengthen our team in both our back line as well as up front where we really missed having that player who could finish the plays we generated up front last season.”

Anderson admits to first-round struggle

World number four Gary Anderson has admitted he was far from at his best in his scrappy win over the relative unknown German Jyhan Artut in the first round of the Ladbrokes PDC World Darts Championship.

Last year's runner-up was made to fight all the way to make it into the second round after eventually winning the closely-fought clash at Alexandra Palace on a final-leg shoot-out.

The inexperienced Artut, making just his third appearance at the Ladbrokes PDC World Championships, stormed into a 2-0 lead to set up a potential huge shock in the first round before Anderson responded to level the tie at 2-2. The best PDC darts betting reflects this.

Anderson then missed three darts to seal the win in the sixth, before Artut amazingly levelled the match again with a stunning 102 checkout to make it 3-3.

With a a two-leg margin needed for victory, Artut missed a great chance to progress when off target with four darts and Anderson proceeded to take the match into a sudden-death leg. Anderson, finally playing at somewhere near his usual level then hit bull twice in a row to take the darts, before an impressive two-dart 76 finish handed him the hard-fought victory.
Afterwards, Anderson conceded he had been pushed all the way by his German opponent and described the laboured win as a "wake-up call".

He told Sky Sports: "It was a get out of jail free card tonight. He did play well but the first two sets I couldn’t hit a double to save my life, but I managed to nick a few here and there."

Bluebirds looking to send Eagles crashing out

Cardiff City are enjoying a good start to the 2011-12 season, and whilst the priority for all clubs in the Championship will always be to make it to the Holy Land of the Premiership, this season a rare opportunity has opened up for Malky Mackay’s side. 

Having defeated Blackburn Rovers in the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup, they now find themselves just two games away from an appearance at Wembley in what would be their second run-out at the famous stadium in the last four years – not a bad record for a side that has been stranded outside the top tier of English football since 1962. 

Currently sitting comfortably within the play-off spots in the Championship, Mackay will understandably be preoccupied by thoughts of promotion, but the lure of Wembley – as well as the added bonus of guaranteed European football next season should they make the final and the team they play qualify for next year’s Champions League – will ensure that strong line-ups are fielded by both sides.  Those looking at the best Carling Cup odds should bear this in mind.

Before this weekend’s 3-2 loss to Middlesbrough, Cardiff were enjoying an unbeaten run which stretched right the way back to mid-October, and the task that now lies ahead of Mackay will be to reaffirm that invincible spirit in the four matches that lie between now and the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final at Selhurst Park on January 10th – and f this can be done, then Cardiff will surely go into the tie as strong favourites to progress to the final in February.

Tevez dominates City conversation

The Carlos Tevez saga continues to overshadow all potential transfer dealings of Manchester City in the transfer window. City have rejected a loan offer from Milan for the want away striker while there are rumors that Spurs might make an audacious bid for the Argentinian.

The issue of course is not the size of the transfer fee; Tottenham can afford that, but rather Tevez’s wage packet, which would break the salary structure at White Hart Lane. Would City sell to another Premier League club and would Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric accept a vastly disproportionate wage earner on their club? Those are two questions that would have to be answered.

Meanwhile the soccer betting tips are connecting City with numerous players, very few of whom will make sense, a bi-product of having enough money to purchase any player that the club wish. Players such as Eden Hazard and Alessio Cerci continue to be linked, the latter not least because Roberto Mancini has spoken of his interest in the Fiorentina winger. Mancini has also praise Daniele De Rossi as the Roma midfielder comes to the end of his contract. Should City pry the Italian international away on a pre contract it will signify a shift in City’s ability to attract top talent from just a pure financial deal to one based around trophy opportunities.

Attackers and midfielders galore are linked with the club each day yet it is in defense that City need to strengthen. They may be regular favourites when you bet on soccer games but that may change with the departure of the Toure brothers for the African Nations Cup, leaving City very thin at the back should Vincent Kompany or Joleon Lescott be suspended or injured. A long term solution at left back would also be helpful as Gael Clichy is the latest not to work out for the club who at least seem to have returned Micah Richards to his form of a couple of years ago as the former England international makes the right back slot his own.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Race to sign Ream hots up

Bolton Wanderers and West Brom have stepped up their interest in the highly-rated New York Red Bulls defender Tim Ream.

The 24-year-old USA international has spent time recently training with both Premier League sides and was impressed with what he saw.

He said: “I really enjoyed both clubs and I was treated very well. It was certainly good to get a feel for the environment in England and the day-to-day routine there. The level of play is very high and each day was a challenge.”

Baggies boss Roy Hodgson and Bolton manager Owen Coyle have both expressed their interest in signing the former Chicago Fire Premier defender who remains one of the most popular soccer betting tips for the future, although Red Bulls’ sporting director Erik Soler insists Ream is going nowhere.

The Red Bulls signed Ream in 2010 and he made his first-team debut for the club in March of that year when he starred in the 3-1 pre-season friendly victory against Brazilian side Santos. He quickly become a familiar figure with those who bet on soccer games.

His first MLS appearance came later that month in the 1-0 win against Chicago Fire and he has gone on to feature in 58 matches for the club.

Ream represented his country at the CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier this year after making his international debut in the 1-0 friendly victory against South Africa in November 2010.He featured in the Gold Cup games against Canada and Panama before being dropped for the last four matches in the tournament after conceding a penalty in the 2-1 defeat to Panama.

In October it was reported that Arsenal were keen to sign Ream and the Gunners had the player watched in the Red Bulls’ play-off clash against FC Dallas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Soccer fans over the festive season stuck with the EPL – but is that a bad thing?

For those of you who are soccer fanatics and love to bet on soccer games, the only real chance you will get during the festive season to watch any soccer will come early in the morning (especially if you are on the West coast!) watching the English Premier League. Although the league does not feature the two unrivaled stars of soccer – Ronaldo and Messi – is it still worth watching?

Simply put the answer is – sometimes! Sure, the EPL lacks the skills of Messi, and there are a lot more players who look like they want to kick players off the field rather than show off their skills with the ball, but it also has an intensity that many of the other leagues in the world lack.

With the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City playing some really awesome football, and teams such as Arsenal and Chelsea not far behind them in terms of style, there are still sides out there who can display some fantastic soccer performances and provide interesting soccer betting tips.

Despite this, the fact that the games are on so early in the morning, and can also sometimes be very, very boring (Stoke City are one team to really try to avoid watching!) can mean that fans of soccer are not always necessarily fans of the EPL.

Whatever you decide on, there is one truth that cannot be ignored: the only soccer that is going to be on your TV during the festive season will be coming from England, whether you love it or you hate it! So, if you are a soccer fan, you better get used to a few early mornings!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fulham’s effort all in vain

Martin Jol was trying to take the positives from his side’s Europa League group stage exit, but the reality is, there are very little.

True, it now means his side are free to concentrate on improving their league position, currently a below par 14th.

But given their participation in the competition began in June and incorporated 14 matches it does seem like a huge waste of time given they are now out of it before Christmas.

But such were the fine margins of the game they were on their way through heading into stoppage time at Craven Cottage.

They were leading 2-1 against Danish side OB Odense, who were already eliminated and as such were outsiders in the football betting.

However, with the final attack of the game Espen Ruud whipped in a cross from the right for Ejiby Fall to head home and grab a dramatic point that sent Fulham crashing out of the competition.

It was a harsh way for the Cottagers to exit, especially since they have shown a real desire to progress in the tournament which is derided in other circles – they still have fond memories of their run to the final in 2010.

"I think it is a big blow but every disadvantage has an advantage," said a defiant Jol. "There were positive things in the first half, like how much we put them under pressure."

It is scant consolation though for Jol, with the club racking up 30 live football games already this season for no tangible reward bar plenty of air miles.

He can only hope that the extra games don’t hinder his side in the second half of the season as performances so far suggest it will be a bumpy ride.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Can Rooney fire England to glory?

England's Euro 2012 hopes were given a boost last week when Uefa reduced Wayne Rooney's suspension to two games.

The Manchester United front man was originally handed a three-match ban after being sent off for kicking Miodrag Dzudovic during England's 2-2 draw with Montenegro in October. The ban was reduced on appeal. Rooney will now be available for England's final Group D game against joint hosts Ukraine.

There was some debate over whether England boss Fabio Capello would take the controversial 26-year-old to Poland and Ukraine. It appears the debate is now over following Uefa's decision. Those looking at the England Euro 2012 odds should remember this.

Rooney is arguably England's only world-class player and will be keen to make amends after losing his cool in his last competitive outing for his country. If England need a result against Ukraine, they will be confident of getting it with a fired up and fresh Rooney at their disposal.

The draw itself was relatively kind to England. They avoided the “Group of Death” and a group stage meeting with Spain. The real threat to their hopes is France, the same France side which played them off the park at Wembley last November. Ukraine and Sweden bring with them their own dangers.

Ukraine will be a difficult proposition in front of their home fans, particularly in the final group game, while Sweden have been something of a bogey side for England over recent decades. Although, England's friendly victory over the Swedes last month broke a 12-match winless run and will have given England and Capello a good look at their game two opponents.

It won't be easy, it never is in a major tournament, but with a revitalised Rooney in their ranks, England have an outside chance.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Boost for England as Rooney ban reduced

England’s chances at Euro 2012 have been given a boost after UEFA decided to suspended the third game of the striker’s three match ban following his sending off against Montenegro in October.

It now means that the England striker can play in his country’s final group stage game against Ukraine, though he will definitely miss the first two games against France and Sweden.

England’s reliance on the Manchester United striker was shown in the soccer betting, which took a swing in their favour upon the news of his one game repressive.

In sharp cost to a generation ago, when the Three Lions were blessed with the likes of Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand, Andy Cole and Robbie Fowler, the current crop have a distinct lack of world class goal scoring talent among them.

Darren Bent has made great strides at this level in recent months, and he looks likely to lead the line in England’s opening two group matches - barring injury.

But he is a completely different player to Rooney, with Bent much more the predatory striker in the box with Rooney ale to drop deeper and dictate play. That said if you want to bet on the Premiership top scorer, Rooney is never far away from your thoughts.

Fabio Capello and the FA knew this, so pulled out all the stops in their attempts to get the ban educed, including whipping Rooney across from Basel less than 12 hours after Man United’s Champions League defeat to attend the hearing in person. It worked.

Adrian Bevington, the Football Association director of communications and Club England managing director, said: "We've had a very fair hearing.

"Wayne and Fabio are both very pleased. Wayne will head back to Manchester as a matter of priority.

"Wayne has always made clear that he accepted it was a red card offence.

"We arrived with the possibility of him missing the entire group phase - it would have been a huge challenge for Fabio and the team, so to have him available for the final group match against Ukraine is clearly very positive."