Monthly Archives: October 2013

JD’s Betting Blog: Ballon d’Or odds and weekend tips

After the shortlist was announced this week, JD takes a look at the odds for the Ballon d’Or and believes Franck Ribery could scoop the coveted prize in January

It has been a very busy week in the world of football with a midweek programme in Spain and Italy. There has also been Capital One cup action in England.

Chelsea were perhaps most eye catching team in midweek during their disposal of Arsenal 2-0 and displaying impressive squad depth in the process.

They look a solid 3/1 (4.0) selection to win the competition. Chelsea as a club have a strong winning mentality and this allied with their squad’s depth and quality make them an attractive bet.

Ballon d’Or nominees announced

The Ballon d’Or nominees were announced this week and there has been a very significant move for Franck Ribery to win this prestigous prize.  

He was 20/1 (21.0) at one stage but a stream of money for him has seen him cut into odds on favouritism with some bookmakers.  

He is now Evens (2.0) with Lionel Messi at 8/5 (2.60). The football world is set to recognise the great achievement of Bayern Munich’s historic treble winning team by awarding World Coach of the Year to Jupp Heynckes and Ribery must feel he has a great chance to win Ballon d’Or to make it a double of awards for the Bavarian side.

This weekend’s tips

Looking ahead to the weekend, Arsenal look a very decent price to overcome Liverpool in London. The Gunners have been in wonderful league form since March and appeal at 5/4 (2.25) .

Liverpool like to gain control in midfield and get into a passing rhythm and win games.

Arsenal have the numbers and quality in midfield to take the initiative and prevent their visitors from taking control.

The Gunners were a similar price when hosting Borussia Dortmund recently in the Champions League and Liverpool are not as accomplished as the German team.

In the Bundesliga, free scoring Hamburg can overcome Borussia Monchengladbach at 13/10 (2.30) who dont travel well.

Bert van Marwijk is the new coach of Hamburg and he will bring order to a talented group.They have scored 13 goals in four matches and should out score Monchengladbach who have lost 9/12 away matches.

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‘It’s a challenge you have to relish’ – Allen targets Liverpool recall

The midfielder has just returned to the first team following two months out injured and is now looking for on-field action as he improves his fitness

Joe Allen is determined to force his way back into Liverpool’s side but the midfielder knows he may have to bide his time.

The Wales international came on as a late substitute against West Brom last weekend after two months on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

Allen is expected to be on the bench again at the Emirates Stadium, but has vowed to do all he can to earn a recall.

“It’s a challenge you have to relish as a professional footballer,” he told the club’s official website.

“There’s always competition and there’s always someone out for the same spot as you.

“It’s been a great start to the season and we’re playing really well, so that makes the competition even harder.

“The atmosphere is great. We’re towards the top of the table and that’s where we want to be. We know it’s a massive competition up there and there are some very strong clubs.”

Allen understands Brendan Rodgers’ decision to slowly re-introduce him into the first-team squad, and hopes to be afforded more minutes as he looks to regain some match fitness.

The former Swansea man added: “I think when you’ve had a little bit of a lay-off, you miss a little bit of that sharpness and your match fitness is obviously a little bit down, but I’m working on that and I’m getting back to where I want to be.

“The idea is to get more minutes on the pitch. I’ve just got to make sure I train hard and put my name forward for selection as much as I can.”

Sturridge: Partnership with Suarez is telepathic

The in-form attacker has explained that his relationship on and off the pitch with the Uruguayan is key to the 14 Premier League goals they have scored between them

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has revealed that his partnership with Luis Suarez is telepathic and believes that their impressive performances together have come naturally.

The two forwards have been in lethal form of late, scoring 14 Premier League goals between them as the Reds look to mount a genuine challenge for Champions League football.

Liverpool ran out as 4-1 winners against West Brom in last weekend’s game, with Suarez scoring a scintillating hat-trick and Sturridge bagging his eighth league goal of the season.

“It’s a natural partnership between us – it’s almost telepathic,” Sturridge told the Metro.

“We get on really well on and off the pitch and I think that makes a huge difference to how we play together.

“The relationship we have means we know when to pass to each other and when we’re going to make runs. It’s just a totally natural thing.

“It means we can do more off-the-cuff and instinctive things – because we’re on the same wavelength.

“I think it’s only going to improve the more we play together.”

The 24-year-old has also moved to heap praise on his manager. After featuring intermittently for both Manchester City and Chelsea, the Premier League’s top scorer believes the faith that Brendan Rodgers has shown him is beginning to pay off.

“He’s given me something I’ve never had before – and that’s a chance to prove myself,” he added.

“A lot of people have passed judgments on me based on five minutes here and there at different clubs.

“But now I’m getting the run of games I’ve always wanted and I’m building my confidence. I know now there’s not the constant pressure to deliver all the time and that’s helping me develop.”

The England international was speaking ahead of Liverpool’s trip to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, where both teams will be looking to continue their impressive start to the season – the Merseyside outfit sit in third, two points behind league leaders Arsenal.

“It’s a massive game for both teams and we’ll get a great match for the neutrals to watch,” he said.

“It’s going to be a great occasion and we’re hopeful of going there and getting a victory.”

Why teams should start taking the Capital One Cup seriously

Derided and ridiculed, the tournament, very much in the shadow of the FA Cup, is often ignored by England’s elite but victory could provide a title-deciding psychological boost

By Ewan Roberts

Once facetiously dubbed the Mickey Mouse Cup, the Capital One Cup is not the nuisance that it used to be. Last season the tournament was infected with a fantastical glee, an abundance of goals drawing pleasant surprise and affection, but an age of increased competition means that the ‘bit of fun’ may have to be taken rather more seriously.

Six teams are likely to challenge for the Premier League; at most, three will win domestic silverware. Only one of those sides, Arsenal, have a boss who has been at the club for more than 18 months, with several new managerial reigns and revamped squads looking for a first title win – so often the hardest to achieve – to validate and affirm the new regime. In short, the Capital One Cup can no longer be overlooked.

After the fourth round, the Gunners have joined Liverpool in prematurely exiting the competition. Arsene Wenger, noting the need to end a trophy drought that extends eight seasons, shed his usual disregard for the tournament; the side whom he put out against Chelsea had an average age of 25.5, while every outfield player had made at least one Premier League appearance this season.

Yet they crashed out at the hands of Jose Mourinho’s men, a psychological blow for the north Londoners. The Blues, after collecting the scalp of Manchester City on Sunday, have momentum once more, while Wenger – now having overseen back-to-back home defeats in the club’s two greatest tests of the season so far – must preoccupy himself with lifting spirits and raising morale ahead of another crucial clash, this time against Liverpool. If Tuesday’s game bred confidence for Chelsea, it created only doubt for Arsenal.

Mourinho, of course, knows only too well the value of a cup win, even one that is held in such little regard as the Capital One Cup. The Portuguese’s first, highly successful stint in west London started with victory in the Carling Cup, as it was then known. The Special One played his strongest side, winning at Old Trafford in the semi-final second leg for only the second time in eight seasons, before a 3-2 victory over Liverpool in the final.

“It’s important,” he said after the Millennium Stadium triumph, three months before Chelsea would lift the Premier League for the first time in 50 years. “Especially for the players. It’s very difficult to win for the first time and, for these players, it is the first time, so it is important.” There are few stalwarts of that successful era left, while nine recent acquisitions who make up the current first-team squad have not tasted domestic success in west London, despite their European exploits.

Chelsea, like all England’s elite clubs, are in need of, to borrow a phrase from Andre Villas-Boas, a reference point to rally around; a sign of growth, a tangible signal that the club are moving in the right direction, validation of the ideas and philosophy being installed. Emirates-era Arsenal have suffered without such a trigger, the closest being that stunning and, crucially, affirming win over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. It is worth remembering that the Gunners’ first title triumph under Wenger was accompanied by FA Cup success.

Many would argue that victory over the indomitable Bavarians is worth more than the Capital One Cup, others disagree. When Patrice Evra joined Manchester United in January 2006, the club had not won the league title since 2002-03, with many of the glorious golden generation having left. Barely a month after he signed, United had secured their first trophy in 18 months and would win the league the following season.

“That first trophy is always so important for you as a player,” said Evra. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the Community Shield, the League Cup or something else. From that day you start to be a winner. You want to win more. You are hungry for more. That was a very important trophy for us. We went on to win many more after that one.”

That principle applies to so many sports and so many eras. Witness Andy Murray using Olympic gold as a springboard for Grand Slam success in tennis. Witness, in 1977, Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest winning the Anglo-Scottish Cup, beating Leyton Orient 5-1.

Though a minor and short-lived tournament, Clough explained: “It was like we’d been given a shot of something positive that only a trophy, whatever it is, can bring. You could see the lot of ’em, chests out, backs straight that night. We’d won something and it made all the difference. You’d think we’d won the European Cup that night.” Two years later, they did.

A trophy, then, of any nature, can only be a positive thing. A cup run provides a constant, round-after-round injection of momentum and confidence.

The Capital One Cup may not be the whole war but it is certainly a battle that can hold far greater significance, playing both a big role in deciding the destination of the Premier League title and in shaping the attitude and mentality of the many fledging squads still in a state of transition. Come March 2, one side’s title push will be galvanised while the rest play catch-up.

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‘Arsenal made a mistake letting me go’ – Kolo Toure out for Wenger revenge

The Liverpool defender is relishing the prospect of facing his former side, and is keen to show Arsene Wenger why he made a mistake selling him to Manchester City in 2009

Kolo Toure is keen to prove Arsene Wenger wrong when Liverpool meet Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday.

The centre-back spent seven years in north London – winning the Premier League once and FA Cup twice – before being sold to Manchester City for £15 million.

Toure has since joined Liverpool and is gunning for the win to leapfrog table-topping Arsenal, but admits he owes Wenger a debt for guiding him during the earlier stages of his career.

“I think it’s going to be a great game for me to play,” Toure told the Liverpool Echo. “I had some great times there and it was a big part of my life.
“Without Arsene I wouldn’t be here. He was the one who saw me. He’s a fantastic manager and gave me my chance to play football in this country. But now is not the time to talk about him. He knows I’ve been talking about him all the time.
“It’s always special to go back there but at the same time I want to show on Saturday that Arsenal made a mistake by letting me go. I’m going there to fight. I want to show them what I can do and help my team – Liverpool – to win.

“Right now I don’t want to think about any of the good things that Arsene did for me as I’m focused on getting those three points.”

A win on Saturday – coupled with Chelsea failing to beat Newcastle in the earlier kick-off – would see Liverpool move back to the top of the table, and Toure acknowledges the tough task but is confident in his squad’s ability.

“I’ll definitely try to do my best to show them that I’m still a great player,” Toure said. “But I need to perform for my team – that is the most important thing.

“It’s going to be a fantastic game and it’s a good opportunity for us. I can’t wait for it. They have started the season really well but Arsenal have always been a good team.
“No matter what players they’ve had there, they’re always good because they have a great manager. He’s really intelligent and knows what he’s doing.
“Of course it will be difficult but we are a strong team and we have a great manager as well. They know that we pose a threat to them too and they know it will be a tough game for them.

“We know it’s going to be a really good game of football and we will give everything we’ve got to win it.”