Monday, January 30, 2012

Cardiff number two the hero in shoot-out

Cardiff City keeper Tom Heaton was the hero for the Bluebirds as they edged out Crystal Palace in an absorbing cup clash at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Heaton saved two penalties in the shoot-out to send Cardiff to the Carling Cup Final at the expense of Dougie Freedman’s spirited Palace side.

Having taken a 1-0 lead into the second leg, Palace were up against it early on when Anthony Gardner put through his own net. Don Cowie was played in down the right and his cross was headed in by the hero of the first leg.

The home side went on to dominate and threatened to take the tie away from the visitors. Kenny Miller – an outsider in the Championship top scorer betting - went agonisingly close twice just before the break but Palace survived. Their biggest threat came on the break, with Wilfried Zaha showing plenty of pace and purpose.

Cardiff continued to have the bulk of the chances in the second half and Patrick McCarthy did well to clear Anthony Gerrard’s goal-bound header off the line.

Things soon turned sour for McCarthy when he received a second yellow card for an ill-advised challenge on Miller. The skipper’s dismissal left Palace to face the last 12 minutes of normal time with ten men.

Cardiff pressed but couldn’t find any way past a stubborn Palace backline and the game went into extra time.

The Bluebirds again dominated but found the woodwork in their way. Substitute Filip Kiss clipped the top of the bar, before Aron Gunnarsson headed a gilt-edged chance against the bar.

Palace held out for a shoot-out and after Miller missed the first penalty, Heaton, number two to David Marshall in the Championship, became a hero with saves from Jermaine Easter and Sean Scannell to send the fans who Watch Football Live at the Cardiff City Stadium delirious and book a place at Wembley to face either Liverpool or Manchester City.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Beckham’s interest in owning a MLS franchise proves soccer is on the up

Although you can't argue with the fact that David Beckham decided to turn down an awful lot of money and the lure of several major clubs in order to continue pursuing a career in the MLS, proving a number of soccer betting tips wrong in the process, that fact fades into insignificance when you realise that not only does Becks want to stick around because he enjoys playing in North America, but also because he has a vested interest in staying for the long term in order to take advantage of the clause in his contract that means he could become the owner of an MLS franchise once his deal expires.

With Beckham clearly deciding that he wants to own a franchise, but with that franchise extremely unlikely to be the Galaxy, it looks like the former England captain will be applying to own a new team in preparation for the next round of MLS expansion.

This, combined with the fact that more punters are watching and wanting to bet on soccer games, and more MLS sides are now building and then playing in their own stadiums that are clearly fit for purpose rather than designed to be shared with NFL and College Football franchises, proves that the future of the MLS looks far, far brighter than anyone could have hoped for when David Beckham first joined the LA Galaxy.

If this rate of growth continues, we can only hope that soccer will get bigger and better in Canada and the USA and will perhaps eventually stand a chance of rivalling the traditional sports that we have enjoyed for so long. This may seem unlikely at the moment, but the fact that the MLS is expanding and improving in such a drastic manner means that it may not be that long before it can rival the top European soccer leagues.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Leeds snap up striker

Leeds United have signed MLS star Robbie Rogers on an 18-month contract from Columbus Crew.

The 24-year agreed personal terms on January 10 but had to wait for his work permit to be approved before he could become officially part of the squad at Elland Road.

Rogers was given a taste of football in England in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Newcastle last week but was unable to feature for the reserves because not all of his paperwork had been completed.

Leeds currently sit ninth in the Championship, one point outside the play-offs. On Tuesday they take on sixth place Birminghamb and could leapfrog them in the table with a win against Chris Hughton’s side, who are favourites in the live soccer betting. Rogers is expected to be on the bench for the first time in a competitive game in England.

Rogers started his professional career at Dutch side Heerenveen, but didn’t appear for the first team in the two years at the club. The American did play for the reserve team though, and won the reserve league championship during his spell with the side.

Following an unsuccessful spell in Holland, Rogers returned to America to sign for Colombus Crew where he has spent the last four years and established himself as one of the best defenders in the league.

In 2008 Rogers was nominated in the MLS Best XI players of the season as he helped his side win the MLS Cup and MLS Supporters Shield double. He has played on 18 occasions for his national side, scoring two goals in those games. Rogers was one of a number of soccer betting tips  recommended by United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann to Leeds boss Simon Grayson

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Youngsters to look out for at Euro 2012

Once again there will be certain names talked about at this year's European Championships, with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and the other usual suspects likely to be grabbing the headlines.

However there are some lesser known players who be looking to impress on the big stage and really announce their presence on the international stage.

One youngster who is receiving plenty of attention from some of the top clubs from across Europe, including Premier League champions Manchester United, is Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen. Those looking at the Euro 2012 betting online need to remember this.

The highly rated 19-year-old is being touted as one of the next big players to come out of Scandinavia and the youngster, who is currently playing his football with Dutch side Ajax, certainly has a bright future ahead of him.

Eriksen is one of those players who can pick a pass at will and his award for Danish Football Player of the Year in 2011 was well justified.

He will certainly be a player to look out for but Denmark look like they could struggle this summer as they have been drawn with the likes of the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal.

Another youngster who could make headlines at the upcoming European Championships is Borussia Mönchengladbach forward Marco Reus, who has been impressing in the Bundesliga this season.

The 22-year-old is being reportedly tracked by giants Bayern Munich along with Mario Gotze, who is another player to come through the Germany youth system and already has 12 caps to his name despite being just 19.

This duo are part of a German side expected to well once again in this upcoming major tournament and don't be surprised to hear the names of Reus and Gotze in Poland and the Ukraine this year.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Will Spurs' success also be their downfall?

What a time to be a Tottenham Hotspur fan! Sitting third in the English Premier League and very close to being able to topple the current league leaders should they win this weekend at the Ethiad Stadium in Manchester, the chances are that some of the more hardened and cynical Spurs fans may well be thinking that something dodgy is going on!

This train of thought would, of course, be completely untrue, but those cynical fans may still have a point in that the good may not be as good as it currently feels.

With Tottenham defying the soccer betting tips  to stay in the title race, they are now attracting a global soccer-watching audience. The likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, and AC Milan might just start hovering around White Hart Lane waiting and ready to swoop for players who they feel would be a welcome addition to their team.

For those of you who doubt that would actually happen, I would cautiously point you in the direction of the great Ajax team of the mid-1990s, who went even further than Spurs and utterly dominated their league and eventually found themselves European Champions to boot, only for their team to be absolutely destroyed by bids from around Europe that financed a new stadium (much like Spurs want) but left Ajax as a far smaller team that could not ever be taken seriously by other top clubs again.

With Spurs proving they are not a team to be trifled with last summer in the transfer window, the live soccer betting is still tipping a number of their stars players to be targeted by top clubs over the summer.

Plus with England rumoured to be interested in appointing Harry Redknapp after Fabio Capello quits after Euro 2012, it could be a summer of change for the White Hart Lane club. The reality is therefore that they need both the success they have been enjoying to continue and to maintain their nerve in a transfer environment that will be out to swallow up poor old Spurs.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pardew gets his man

Senegal striker Papiss Demba Cisse will team up with international team-mate Demba Ba at Newcastle United after signing from Freiburg for a fee thought to be around £10m.

Cisse has signed a five-and-a-half-year at the club and will wear the much-coveted number nine shirt. The 26-year-old will have to wait for his Newcastle debut due to his involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Cisse said: "I would like to thank everybody for their welcome, and for inviting me to sign for the club. I want to pay back the confidence the club have shown in me and give the supporters something to be proud of."

The striker said he understands the tradition of the club and is "aware of the huge importance of the number nine shirt".  Cisse has scored nine goals in 15 league games in the Bundesliga this season.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew insisted Cisse was always his first choice replacement for Andy Carroll, who left to join Liverpool last January, and was delighted to have finally landed his man who will no doubt have a great impact on their football scores between now and the end of the season.

Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias echoed the manager’s thoughts: "We are very pleased to bring Papiss to the club. It is a signing which perfectly complements the type of side Alan is building, and we are sure he will prove to be an excellent acquisition going forward. "

Cisse signed the deal before flying back out to rejoin his new clubmate Demba Ba in the Senegal squad. The new Newcastle strike pairing may have to wait until the middle of February before they play their first Live Football together in a black and white shirt, depending on Senegal’s progress in the competition.

Newcastle fans will have to wait to see their new favourite in the famous number nine shirt.

Leeds skipper set for Norwich

Championship side Leeds United have accepted a bid from Norwich City for their club captain Jonny Howson.

The midfielder, who is out of contract in the summer, is a product of the Leeds academy and has made 225 for the club. The Leeds skipper is currently on the sidelines through injury, but it is thought he will open contract talks with the Canaries this week.

In a statement, Leeds United said: "The club has been in discussions with the player about a new contract at Elland Road for more than 12 months, but he has been steadfast in his position that he would like the opportunity to play Premier League football and on that basis Jonny hasn't felt in a position to commit himself to Leeds United at this moment in time."

Howson would join former Leeds team-mate Bradley Johnson at Carrow Road, should the deal go through. The signing of Howson would be Paul Lambert’s first of the transfer window.

For promotion hopefuls Leeds, Howson’s impending departure is a bitter blow and one punters who bet on the Championship would take note of. They have fallen away in the Championship during the last month, coincidentally in Howson’s absence, and were understood to be looking to add quality to their squad before the transfer window shuts.

Selling their captain and longest-serving player is seen as a backward step among the club’s fans. Howson would join a long list of recently departed stars. There is already talk of another protest against chairman Ken Bates.

Norwich and Leeds were going head-to-head for promotion in League One just two seasons ago. Now, Norwich are looking to re-establish themselves in the Premier League – with their odds on the relegation betting lengthening with each impressive result - with the help of a couple of Leeds old boys.

Mario in trouble again

Manchester City could be without striker Mario Balotelli for four games after he was charged with violent conduct by the Football Association.

The controversial Italian appeared to stamp on Scott Parker’s head during City’s dramatic 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and despite the incident going unpunished at the time, has been charged retrospectively.

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was seething after Balotelli went on to scoring the winning penalty.

He said: "Why you should backheel someone in the head when they are lying on the floor is beyond me. It's not a nice thing to do. He reacts to challenges like that at times. Scott has got a cut on his head."

The usual punishment for violent conduct is a three-game ban, but Balotelli – an outside bet for punters who want to bet on the Premiership top scorer -  faces an additional one-match suspension having seen red against Liverpool at Anfield in November.

The Italy international has until 1800 GMT on Wednesday to respond to the charge. An unsuccessful appeal could result in a longer suspension. If he pleads guilty, Balotelli will miss the Carling Cup semi-final second leg against Liverpool on Wednesday evening.

As well as missing the game at Anfield, Balotelli would miss another trip to Merseyside when City take on Everton, a home game against Fulham and Aston Villa away. His next game could come against FC Porto in the Europa League on February 16.

The 21-year-old has played a big part in City’s impressive Premier League season with nine goals, but the striker is never far away from controversy and often spends more time watching live football from the sidelines than on the pitch.

City boss Roberto Mancini will need the brilliant Balotelli if they are going to lift the Premier League trophy for the first time. Mad Mario could well cost them it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

North London sides looking to turn tables

There is a long way to go in the Premier League title race, but the battle between Manchester and north London this weekend could prove pivotal.

Top plays third and fifth plays second as competition at the top hots up. Manchester City put their 100 per cent home record on the line when they take on Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, while cross-city rivals Manchester United travel to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal just hours later. Pride is at stake for Spurs and Arsenal after humbling early-season defeats.

Two north London victories would be the order of the day for neutrals and give the premier league odds a real shake up. A Manchester City win would see them go eight points clear of Spurs and United would stretch their lead over Harry Redknapp’s side to six points with a win over Arsenal. Even with 16 games to go, that could prove insurmountable.

This weekend will be a big test of Tottenham’s title credentials. They were held at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers last Saturday and will have to do what no other side has managed to do this season, take points away from the Etihad Stadium.

They can take comfort in the fact City haven’t looked as assured without their African stars and will have taken note of the way Liverpool stifled the leaders in the League Cup.

Arsenal, too, have a good home record and will fancy their chances against a nervy United side. However, the Gunners have been off colour themselves of late and will need to cut out basic errors at the back if they are to come out on top. It should be an open game, a great spectacle for the neutral but a tough one to call for punters looking at the premier league betting.

To keep the title race going outside of Manchester, the north London clubs need to produce.

Clubs start life without African stars

Losing key players at any stage of the season is far from ideal, so when clubs lose in-form star men during the Africa Cup of Nations it must be particularly frustrating for Premier League managers.

The turn of the year is notoriously difficult for clubs – with injuries, suspensions and fatigue playing a part after a busy festive period. The the premier league odds of sides can be decided during the opening months of a new year.

Robert Mancini will be hoping his Manchester City side can cope without the Toure brothers, although the early signs aren’t good. Yaya and Kolo are on duty for Ivory Coast and City have lost both games in their absence.

Ivory Coast are favourites in the soccer betting for the competition in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, so the Manchester club could have to make do without the influential brothers until the middle of February.

Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou will also feature for Ivory Coast, which is a blow to Chelsea’s top-four aspirations. Despite being in the twilight of his career, Drogba is still an influential member of Andre Villa-Boas’ squad and will be sorely missed.

Perhaps the club most affected by the mid-season tournament are Newcastle United. Demba Ba has been the surprise package this season and has been at the heart of all things good for Newcastle with 15 Premier League goals. Cheick Tioté is also on international duty. It will be a tough month for Alan Pardew’s men.

At the other end of the table, Wigan have lost Mohamed Diame and Mark Hughes will have to work without Adel Taarabt and Arman Traore during his first few weeks at the helm at Queens Park Rangers.

How those sides cope in the absence of some key men may dictate where they finish this season.

FA Cup heartbreak for cash-strapped Wrexham

Wrexham were denied a lucrative tie with Newcastle United after a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat to Brighton in an enthralling FA Cup third-round replay.

Craig Mackail-Smith scored the decisive penalty after Peter Brezovan had denied Dean Keates to set up a fourth-round home clash against Alan Pardew’s Newcastle.

It was tough on Wrexham, who had taken a first-half lead through manager Andy Morrell. The club have had well-documented financial problems so to miss out by such a fine margin will be tough to take. The televised tie against Brighton did earn the Welsh club £62,000.

Non-league Wrexham had given the Championship club a real scare in the original tie on the south coast and punters who bet on the FA Cup had tipped an upset in the replay.

That seemed likely when they picked up where they left off at the Racecourse Ground on Wednesday night.
Morrell had already had a shot blocked when he gave the home side the lead after 23 minutes. Danny Wright found the boss on the edge of the box and Morrell curled his shot into the top right-hand corner of the goal.

Wrexham gained confidence from the opener and went on to dominate large parts of the game. However, the game became stretched towards the end and with the FA Cup betting starting to favour the non-leaguers, Brighton struck a vital blow with just over ten minutes to go. Ashley Barnes put the visitors on level terms with a header from a Matt Sparrow cross.

Both sides had chances to win the game in normal time and again in the 30 minutes that followed, but the game was decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Brezovan saved Wrexham’s first penalty from Keates and Mackail-Smith kept his nerve after both sides had successfully converted their next four penalties to seal the win and a place in the fourth round.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Torres rumours re-emerge

Fernando Torres has certainly been putting in the hard work on the training pitch for Chelsea, with this hard graft appearing to pay dividends in recent games during which he has almost been able to capitalise upon the absence of Didier Drogba by displaying a few good performances up front, but Torres has still failed to win over the Chelsea fans by doing the one job that is expected of him: scoring goals.

With this in mind, it is clear that until he starts to do this consistently, soccer betting tips will label the striker as a potential transfer target for any club willing to take a punt on a striker who has looked a very different man since his journey down from Merseyside to London.

Had Torres managed to put away that spectacular volleyed effort at the weekend against Sunderland, then surely the statement made today by Carlo Ancelotti would have been dismissed as a bit of stirring by a man who might want to get some revenge against a club that treated him so badly, but because his shot fell kindly to Frank Lampard rather than in the top corner of the net, the rumours regarding him being touted for transfer and the live soccer betting that comes with it, have gained an additional level of credence.

That said, at least Torres seems to possess the one thing that doomed Andriy Shevchenko when he joined Chelsea, with that yard of pace that is so crucial in the Premier League still inherent in the Spaniard. As a result, it is clear that Torres can still be a success in the Premier League and, should he so desire, could still go on to be a fans' favourite at Stamford Bridge by recreating some of the form that made him such a legend at Anfield.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Unlucky Gonzalez suffers serious injury

Omar Gonzalez will return to LA Galaxy after suffering a serious injury in his first training session while on loan with German side FC Nurnberg.

 The 23-year-old defender will have surgery for a left ACL rupture after colliding with right-back and fellow American Timothy Chandler. He has officially been recalled from his loan spell by the Galaxy to undergo treatment.

“The team doctor in Los Angeles is doing the operation,” confirmed the German side’s press officer Arndt Sonneck. “Then we will see if he can come back to Nurnberg, but the most important thing is that he is better. That is the first thing, that he can recover in good time."

The soccer betting tips are anticipatating that Gonzalez, who is the reigning MLS Defender of the Year, will be out of action for up to six months.

Gonzalez started 29 regular-season games and all four post-season matches for Galaxy last year as they won the MLS Cup. Those who like to bet on soccer games may well think twice about backing Galaxy without their influential defender.

He moved to LA in 2009 after previously playing for the Dallas Texans, the IMG Soccer Academy and Maryland Terrapins.

His first appearance for Galaxy came against DC United almost three years ago and he scored his first goal for the club in the 3-2 defeat to Colorado Rapids in April 2009.Gonzalez was named the MLS Rookie of the Year at the end of his first season in the league and was included in the 2010 MLS All-Star team. Last season he played a key part in Galaxy having the best defence in the league.

Gonzalez has a Mexican passport, but represented the USA at Under-17 and Under-20 levels before making his senior debut against Brazil in August 2010.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry was the hero for Arsenal on his return to English soccer.

After training with Premier League Arsenal during the MLS off-season, Henry signed a two-month loan deal with the North London club and made his debut against Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium in the FA Cup third round. He showed why he is considered an all-time great with a trademark finish just minutes after his introduction.

The Red Bulls striker and former French international rose to prominence at Arsenal while scoring a club-record 226 goals in 370 appearances. He left the Gunners for Barcelona with a heavy heart in 2007. Two clubs and five years later, he was back and it was as if he had never been away.

All the pre-match hype and soccer betting tips were built around Henry, so it was a disappointment to many when he was named amongst the substitutes for the FA Cup tie.

Leeds, one division below Arsenal in England, frustrated the home side during a first half of few chances. Arsenal pushed forward with more purpose after the interval and threatened to break the deadlock on a number of occasions, only to be thwarted by Leeds’ last line of defence. The stage was set for the Frenchman.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger introduced Henry on 68 minutes and after a quiet ten minutes on the field, the 34-year-old lit up the occasion with a wonderfully composed right-footed finish past the despairing dive of Andy Lonergan and into the bottom corner. Those who bet on soccer games and had backed Henry to make such an impact were sent home happy.

The Arsenal fans were sent home happy too as Henry’s goal was good enough to win the game and signalled an outpouring of emotion, both on and off the field. Fans of the New York Red Bulls will be hoping Henry doesn’t become too comfortable in the place he likes to call home.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mariners continue to dominate

Central Coast Mariners showed the true qualities needed from a team capable of winning the league – the ability to win ugly. An Oliver Bozanic goal in the opening 10 minutes was enough to earn the league leader a narrow 1-0 victory against a lacklustre Sydney FC – who slumped to their third straight defeat in the process.

While the hosts were well below-par, the Mariners themselves were way off the high standards which the club have set themselves so far this season and prompted the soccer betting tips to predict title glory. After Olyroo skipper Bozanic had edged the visitors in the lead on nine minutes, the Mariners failed to push on score that second goal, which would have made the afternoon a lot easier for head coach Graham Arnold.

Arnold admitted his side’s performance had proved that while the club were in a good place, there was still plenty for squad to work on if they are to push on this year and claim the A-League title. The gaffer, however, was delighted to have seen his team come out of a poor performance with all three points – the true sign of a championship winning team.

“That second half showed that we've got to do better.”

“I say to the players 'don't look at the table, I know it's hard not to but don't look at it and play every game on its own merit'.”

“We know how to win playing good football but we also have a quality of grinding out a win if need be if we're having a bad day.”

The Mariners are now in a position which they wouldn’t have dreamed they would be in when planning their targets – eight points clear of a stuttering Brisbane Roar, and with a game. The live soccer betting suggests that all the pressure will now firmly be on Arnold and his charges to build on this stunning start to the season and go on and claim the title.

Hughes favourite for Rangers job

Mark Hughes is the big favourite in the football betting to take over at Queens Park Rangers after Neil Warnock was sacked on Sunday.

Warnock was relieved of his duties after a run of eight Premier League games without a win. He leaves with QPR sat 17th in the table.

QPR chairman Tony Fernandes said: "Sadly, our recent run of poor form has seen us slip alarmingly down the table and the board felt it was the right time to make a change."

Warnock took charge at Loftus Road in March 2010 with QPR languishing in the lower reaches of the Championship. He saved the club from relegation and led them to the league title the following season.

After an encouraging start to life back in the top flight, his side had fallen away in recent months and are among the favourites in the relegation betting. With the transfer window re-open, the board decided a change was necessary.

QPR have moved fast to replace Warnock, with Hughes touted as his successor. The former Blackburn and Manchester City boss has been without a club since he left Fulham last June. Hughes is reportedly in negotiations with the club.

Chief executive Philip Beard expects a speedy resolution. He said: "We are working extremely hard to bring in the right person. I'm hoping we have someone in place in advance of our game against Newcastle (on Sunday)."

It is thought the new man will be given funds to improve his squad during the January transfer window, with firepower a priority. QPR have scored just 19 goals this season and only nine in ten home games.

Warnock’s replacement will need to turn the club’s worrying home form around. QPR have picked up just seven points at Loftus Road, winning once against Chelsea in October. Expect QPR and the new boss to splash the cash this month.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Henry seals Gunners return

New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry’s protracted loan move to Arsenal has finally been confirmed.
The 34-year-old will return to the Gunners on a two-month loan deal and could feature in Monday’s FA Cup third round clash with Championship side Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium.

The soccer betting tips are had predicted Henry would make a dramatic return as soon as it was announced that he would train with the Gunners during the MLS off-season.
The Frenchman is Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer with 226 goals in all competitions.

He made 370 appearances for the club and has admitted that he couldn't turn down the chance to play for Arsenal again.

He said of his return to the north London side: “It is unreal, to be honest. But when it comes to Arsenal my heart will always do the talking. Once I knew the plan behind it I was OK with it. I am not coming here to be a hero or prove anything. I am just coming here to help.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had been keen to bolster his strike options as Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho are due to take part in the African Cup of Nations later this month for Morocco and Ivory Coast respectively. Those who likes to bet on soccer games are already tipping Henry to mark his return with a debut goal on Monday.

The forward is due to return to New York in good time for his team’s opening game of the 2012 season against FC Dallas on 11th March.

The France international left Arsenal for Barcelona in June 2007 but struggled to break into the first team at the Nou Camp and featured in only 80 games for the Catalan giants in his three seasons with the club.He signed for New York Red Bulls in July 2010 and has found the net 16 times in 47 appearances.