Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy new years The review of 2013.

It was a great year of sport but then again I am going to say that every year to the day that I die. Here are the highlights and lowlights which got people fascinated in 2013.

Team of the year- New Zealand Rugby Team To go all the year unbeaten with a little bit of luck on the way The All Blacks were dominant from start to finish in this calendar year and with fans and pundits pretty much agreeing that this could be the greatest rugby team the world has ever seen, we shall wait and see what this team can produce from 2014 and onwards. It will be fascinating to watch.

Honourable mentions: The British and Irish Lions for producing an amazing series against Australia, Bayern Munich for dominating German and European football and then somehow halfway through this season under Pep Guardiola being even better than they were last season. Clare Hurling team for providing everyone with thrills in what was widely regarded as one of the best Hurling Championships Ever and Red Bull F1 Racing Team for dominating the sport for the fourth successive season.

Match of the year- All Ireland Hurling Final 8th September 2013 Clare 0-25 Cork 3-16
The two games between these two counties were absolute drama from start to finish but at a toss of a coin I would have to go for the first effort between the two. The weather was good, the championship was one of the best ever and the final lived up to what all that it had preceded. Clare should have won it the first time around but eventually they did get their day in the sun in the replay. Fantastic stuff and hopefully next year can provide the thrill and spills that this year did.

Honourable Mentions: Dublin's victory over Kerry in the All Ireland Football Semi, The Lions 23-21 win in the first test against Australia and because of the madcap finish, Watford beating Leicester in the semi-finals of the championship play-off. If you do not remember the ending here it is for a reminder.

Shock of the Year: Oscar Pistorius arrest, The poster boy of the Paralympics had everything going for him good looks, great girlfriend, admiration from his home nation South Africa until the early hours of February 14 2013 when he shot girlfriend Reeva Stenkamp through hos locked bathroom door killing Stenkamp immediately. Pistorius has always claimed that he thought it was a burglar coming into his house and he shot in self-defense when infact it was his girlfriend he allegedly mistakenly shot. His trial is set to start on the 3rd of March next year. Whatever happens now,  bladerunner has had a remarkable fall from grace.

Honourable Mentions: Alex Ferguson's retirement although looking at it now it was well timed and also the question has to be asked how much power does he still wield at the club. It is certainly not doing David Moyes and favours that is for sure. Lance Armstrong even though it was not that much of a shock, he still admitted to all the doping and the breakdown of how he did it to avoid getting caught was more shocking than the revelation itself. Micheal Schumachers accident and as I type this he is till in critical condition after having two operations. Get well soon Schumi.

Documentary of the year: Keane-Vieira This documentary which was aired on ITV4 was meant to give insight of the rivalry between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira when they were playing for Manchester United and Arsenal respectively. It did give us great insight into that rivalry but what was more impressive was Keane's honesty and personal admittances in the documentary which gave the viewer the chance to see personals side which we rarely get to see and whomever watched it probably respected at least Keane more after watching it than they might have before. Keane's admission he should have played at the World Cup was startling and it all brought flashbacks to what might have been in the World Cup in 2002. I still would have picked Denis Irwin instead of Ashley Cole in that combined 11 though. Come on Pat!

Sportsperson of the year: Plenty of candidates for this one Anyone from the New Zealand rugby team deserve a mention especially Kieran Reed who was their stand out player. Zlatan Ibrahimovic for scoring outstanding goals and generally being Zlatan, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for bringing mens tennis to new heights in 2013. The four majors winners in golf deserve a mention Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson and Jason Dufner alongside Henrik Stenson who topped both money lists this year which was an incredible achievement, Chris Froome for his Tour De France victory, Cristiano Ronaldo for overtaking Lionel Messi as being the best player in the world this year, Shane O'Donnell for that incredible performance in the All Ireland Hurling final replay, Sebastian Vettel for dominating the Formula One season in style winning the last nine races in a row is an amazing achievement by anyone standards and still only 26 which is scary, but the winner has to be an Irishman, Rob Heffernan take a bow son after missing out on a medal at the Olympics the previous year, Rob responded with character and at Moscow won the 50k walk and a gold medal for Ireland. The Corkman deserves his spot as the number one guy this year.

For 2014: My hopes are  The Premiership race to be just as exciting the second half of the season as it did the first and for Arsenal to win it of course!Still think Man. City will win it though. For Ireland on the back of the New Zealand to show the same commitment and heart going into the six nations and to try and win it from the outset. We now know what we are capable of and that should be a springboard for the six nations.

Finally I wish everyone a Happy new Year and see everyone in 2014!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A fantastic weekend of Sport!

The title says it all. A fantastic weekend of sport including the return of the Premiership, the top two clash in the Bundesliga, A huge domestic fight in Britain, the return of Manny Pacquaio and if you are into it the Ashes and the last of the Autumn internationals are also taking place in the Rugby. Here is what is on the box this weekend with predictions.

Everton Vs Liverpool (BT Sport 1 12.45 KO)
Everton's recent run in the Merseyside derby is dreadful and Liverpool have made a great start to the season. Roberto Martinez has mad a decent start to his Everton career and he will look at this as a platform for the rest of the season. I fancy that Everton could give Liverpool a really good game here and might nick the victory especially if they can neutralize the service to Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge and also get the service to their own star striker Romalu Lukakau. A narrow home win.

Prediction: Everton 1 Liverpool 0

Arsenal Vs Southampton (Setanta Sports 1 3.00 KO)
Arsenal will want to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to Manchester United last time out and I think they will although it will be difficult against a Southampton side who are third place in the premiership on merit. Problem is for Southampton away from home especially they have struggled to score goals and that is why I think the might come undone here. Also Theo Walcott and possibly Lukas Poldolski will be back for this game which will be a boost for the Gunners. Another narrow home win.

Prediction: Arsenal 1 Southampton 0

West Ham Vs. Chelsea ( Sky Sports 1 5.30 KO)
West Ham are badly struggling and Jose Mourinho is under fire a little bit for the way he has handled some of his players and also some of the results Chelsea have accumulated this season. West Ham are badly missing Andy Carroll and seem to be lost mainly in what they are trying to do and have been mainly terrible at home. Chelsea should have too much for them but I have been wrong about them before in this blog. Will go for them here though.

Prediction: West Ham 1 Chelsea 2

Man. City vs. Tottenham (Sky Sports 1 1.30 KO)
City have been Jekyll and Hyde this season mainly away from home truthfully. One thing they do not struggle to do is score goals in Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo they have a very potent partnership up front. Spurs this season have struggled to score goals from open play when they have been in the front foot and questions have been asked as to why Jermain Defoe or Eric Lamela have not been given more chances in the first team at the expense of Roberto Soldado who has struggled since he joined the North London club at the start of the season. This game will suit them ore but I see City who are still invincible at home to have too much for Spurs.

Prediction: Man. City 2 Spurs 0

Cardiff Vs Manchester United (Sky Sports 1 4.00 KO)
Man. Utd. have found a way to win under David Moyes. They rely heavily on their two wingers and two strikers to get the goals and be very compact and tight behind them while pressing. This worked very well against Arsenal. Cardiff after their win against Swansea will be in a better place than they were before the Swans game and also should give United problems going forward. I do still see United winning although Robin Van Persie might be out which will be a blow. A tight away win.

Prediction. Cardiff 1 Man Utd. 2

West Brom Vs. Aston Villa (Sky Sports 8.00 KO)
A midlands derby of sorts which is very important for both teams. West Brom were rightly aggrieved with the poor penalty decision against Chelsea which cost them two points.Villa have been hit and miss but are better than they were last season. I fancy West Brom to win this and by a couple of goals as they generally do well at the Hawthorns when they are on a run. Home Win.

Prediction: West Brom 3 Aston Villa 1.

Quick Predictions for the rest of the games.
Fulham 2 Swansea 2
Hull 2 Palace 0
Newcastle 3 Norwich 1
Stoke 1 Sunderland 1

Which leaves us then with the big two in the Bundesliga!
Borussia Dortmund Vs Bayern Munich (BT Sports 1 5.30 KO)
Fantastic that this is on and I think this will be a barn burner sorry for the cliche. I do have Munich as slight favourites but this is really hard to predict. Dortmund have serious problems as they have none of their first choice defenders while Munich have Bastian Schweinsteiger (ankle), Claudio Pizarro (thigh), Xherdan Shaqiri (thigh) and Holger Badstuber (knee) on the sidelines. Whatever is left of Munich's attack though should fancy going after the depleted Dortmund;s defence and are favourites to nick an away victory.

Result: Dortmund 1 Munich 2

Carl Froch Vs. George Groves (Sky Box Office Fight approx 10.15 p.m.)
George Groves has given a good account of himself in the thrash talking before the fight but he will he cause a shock on the night? I think Froch will win out because his experience and his jab will counter Groves' power shots and his constant movement which he will try and employ like he did against James DeGale which was Groves biggest fight to date. Froch will eventually find his target and wear Groves Down.

Prediction:Froch by UD 12.

Manny Pacquiao Vs. Brandon Rios (
Even though Rios and his camp have talked up his chances in this fight the centre of attention as always has been on Manny Pacquiao. Does he have enough hunger left and does he have enough in the tank to counter the speed and aggression Rios does have. Rios lost a rematch to Mike Alvarado last time out while Manny was famously knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth bout together.
"The fight should be pretty even for about the first six rounds. Pacquiao should be able to win early as Rios settles in. Then the underdog should settle in and start using that power to level things out heading into the second half of the bout.
From there, Pacquiao's big-fight experience should prove vital. He knows how to pace himself to go the distance while Rios is going to use a lot of energy looking for the knockout. Pac-Man should take advantage of that to score a late KO of his own." (Reference: Daniels, Tim Bleacher Report, 20th November 2013).

Prediction Pacquiao by KO 11

Ireland Vs New Zealand (RTE 2 2.00 KO)
Ireland at the moment are in a cross roads so to speak. Difficult decisions need to be made now to benefit the team for later on. Some players are on the last legs including Brian O' Driscoll, Gordon Darcy and Paul O' Connell but also the problem is where are the replacements for these three legends. The other problem is the modern game has passed Ireland by a little bit especially in our forward line. We have players like Sean O'Brien and Cian Healy who are great especially at the breakdown but are not particularly mobile and you have England for an example who have those same type of players but who are also skilled ball carriers who can make huge yards just by running with the ball and help their back line get the ball in more advanced areas. Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood and the captain Chris Robshaw being prime examples. And Ireland's opponents on Sunday who by far and away are the best examples of this with players like Owen Franks, player of the year Kieran Read and longtime captain Richie McCaw.Ireland will no doubt put up more of a fight than they did against Australia but expect the All Blacks to run rampant especially in the second half it won't be pretty.

Prediction: Ireland 9 New Zealand 50

An amazing weekend ahead and I will leave you with the Zlatan and Ronaldo show from during the week in the World Cup Play Offs. To next time.



Friday, October 18, 2013

Premiership Weekend Preview

Apologies for not posting up positions 11-20 in my mid term review of the Premiership. I will do review of those teams on a future date. After the exciting international break and the layout of who is going to the world cup and the talk of potential winners has already started. Club football returns this weekend hurrah! After Noel King shooting himself in the foot in the post match interview after Ireland's win over Kazakhstan and Roy Hodgson's joke about monkeys which gave the P.R. brigade another chance to spout off the weekend is here and It cannot come soon enough. Also fingers crossed for Iceland in the play offs next month. What an achievement just to get there.

So for the matched this weekend.

Newcastle vs Liverpool (BT Sports Ko 12.45 p.m.)

This will be an intriguing affair. Liverpool riding on a crest of a wave at the moment and Newcastle have been very Jekyll and Hyde. If Suarez and Sturridge click like they have so far in their short run partnership surely they will be too good for Newcastle but if Newcastle can produce a performance like they did against Cardiff last time out and if Remy and Ben Arfa are firing Newcastle can be a threat but I think Liverpool will have to much for them here.

Prediction Newcastle 1 Liverpool 2

Man. Utd. vs. Southampton (Setanta Sports 1 Ko 3.00 p.m.)
If Man. Utd. are serious about about doing anything in the league this season then they have to start winning  and performing consistently which they have done yet under David Moyes and Southampton and they way they have started their season will be no easy touch. I expect Southampton to give United a really tough game and will not be surprised if they get a result at Old Trafford.

Prediction: Man. Utd. 1 Southampton 1

Arsenal vs. Norwich (Ko 3.00 p.m.)
What Arsenal were really good at when they were in their pomp were dismissing inferior sides especially at home and if they are to be serious about the title they need to dismiss Norwich and teams like them in similar ilk if they are going to have a tilt at the title. Norwich have very poor away form and if they can't stifle Arsenal early on and stop them getting into their natural rhythm then their is only going to be one winner.

Prediction: Arsenal 3 Norwich 1

Chelsea vs Cardiff  (3.00 p.m.)
Chelsea were lucky to win against Norwich last time out but they should be thankful that they are playing a Cardiff side that are in turmoil behind the scenes at the moment. Whatever has happened behind the scenes there is now disharmony between the Cardiff chairman and manager and you get the sense that if you were a betting man than Malky Mackay will be the next one to get the chop. I expect Chelsea to win comfortably here.

Prediction: Chelsea 3 Cardiff 0

Everton vs. Hull (3.00 p.m.)
Hull have been impressive so far this season and Steve Bruce has done an excellent job as manager. Everton lost their unbeaten record last time out against Man. City and want to get back to winning ways as on as possible. Hull will Everton a difficult time but with Lukaku being in the Everton side he can always make a difference and I think he will be difference between the two sides here. Home win.

Everton 2 Hull 0.

Stoke vs West Brom (3.00 p.m.)
Stoke are playing good football under Mark Hughes but are struggling to score goals. West Brom after a shaky start are putting results together again. I fancy that this could be a prime contender for a draw if anyone is backing it.

Stoke 1 West Brom 1.

Swansea vs. Sunderland. (3.00 p.m.)
Gus Poyet's first game in charge for Sunderland is not an easy one against a Swansea side who have been a bit inconsistent probably due to the Sunday-Thursday axis of playing in the Europa League. They though should be too good for Sunderland here who will be trying to find their feet under Poyet.

Swansea 2 Sunderland 0

West Ham vs. Man. City. (Sky Sports 1 K.O. 5.30 p.m.)
West Ham had a terrific result against Spurs last time out and that was without playing any strikers. At home they might get caught out with that system though as they will be expected to be on the front foot a bit more and leaving themselves vulnerable to counter attack. Kompany is out for City again but they should cope without him for this fixture. Away win although I said that for the Cardiff and Villa games and was wrong there. Surely that won't repeat itself here and don't expect it do so.

West Ham 1 Man. City 2

Aston Villa vs Tottenham  (Sky Sports 1 K.O. 4 p.m.)
Villa can be really good once teams are actually on the front foot against them but are not so good when they are on the front foot. Spurs will be looking to recover from their shock home defeat against West Ham last time out and they should have too much quality from them but they need to start scoring more from open play which for some reason they have struggled to do on a regular basis. Still going for an away win on this one.

Aston Villa 1 Tottenham 2

Two other managers who are in the sack race , Martin Jol and Ian Holloway really need a win to keep of the pressure for at least this week. Palace probably bought too many players in the summer and are struggling to integrate them all in while Fulham have some very gifted technical players but at the same time would not run their socks off for the team so to speak. A very high score draw I reckon for this one which neither manager really needs or wants at this stage of the season.

Fulham 2 Crystal Palace 2

And Finally a tribute to one of the greatest Irish players of all time, Ignore some of the spelling mistakes in the links though. Very annoying indeed. Till next time.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Premiership Review Positions 6-10

Here are the next five continuing from yesterday.

6. Tottenham Hotspur Pts. 13 GS:GA 6:5 Top Scorer Sigurosson (3)
Tottenham with all the quality players they have at their disposal rightly think that they have a chance of not just qualifying for the champions league but to actually go for the league title itself. Until the weekend loss to West Ham the defence was water tight but a second half collapse against the Hammers proved a setback for Andre Villas Boas' team before the international break. They will recover from what happened to them at the weekend but the big problem has been scoring from open play with the two goals scored against Norwich the only two they have scored from open play so far in the league this season. They need more creativity from the midfield and also a settled eleven when it comes to the big games. The players are there for them to mount a title challenge It is up to Villas-Boas to make them believe that they can do it.

7. Everton Pts. 12 GS:GA 10:9 Top Scorer Lukaku (4)
Everton with Roberto Martinez definitely have mad a positive start to the season. Martinez probably would have thought Christmas came early when he got Gareth Barry and especially Romelu Lukaku both on loan on transfer deadline day. Both have had an immediate impact with Barry excelling in a defensive midfield role and Lukaku being the striker that Everton has solely missed over the years already scoring four goals in his first few appearances. Everton did get a marker as to where they are compared to the rest of the big teams when Ma. City beat them at the weekend but under Martinez they should improve throughout the season and a top four place can be within reach for sure.

8. Hull City Pts. 11 GS:GA 6:7 Top Scorer Brady (3)
Hull have surprised many people with the start they have made but in Steve Bruce they have an experienced Premiership Manager who can guide his young squad through all the pitfalls and give them belief that they can be an established Premiership Side. Robbie Brady has made a great start to life in the Premiership and also bring in Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone from Spurs have been great additions to their inexperienced squad and have added a touch of Quality to their side. Whether they can maintain their impressive start remains to be seen but under Bruce's guidance there is no reason why the newly christened Tigers cannot survive and indeed thrive in the Premiership.

9. Manchester United. GS;GA 10:9 Top Scorer Rooney, Van Persie (3 each)
Man. Utd. have had early teething problems under David Moyes but stuff about Moyes out from some sections of United fans and media types is way off the mark. He has two main problems he does not have a probing central midfielder who joins up with his attackers and can contribute to scoring goals as well. Cesc Fabregas would have been the answer but he stayed at Barcelona maybe a raid of the Bundesliga in January might sort that out. The other since he plays 4-4-2 is that generally his wingers which are a huge part of that system have generally been rubbish. So bad in fact that Moyes decided to take a chance on young eighteen year old Adnan Januzaj. Thankfully he delivered to great goals and delivered three much needed points for United before the international break. He will play more often and will be interesting to see how he does now he is under the spotlight. United will eventually click but the question is will it be too late to do anything by the time they do? Will be interesting to watch that is for sure.

10. Astoin Villa GS:GA 9:8 Top Scorer Benteke (4)
Villa are going to have a better season than last. They can be frustrating but also exhilarating. Inconsistency which will carry on but no chance of relegation. With enough attacking talent in Wiemann, Agbonlahor and Benteke they will always been a threat but defensive wise and also if they have to be on the front foot most of the game Villa are found wanting. Villa fans after last season wont be complaining too much if they finish the season around where they are now and maybe a decent cup run as well.

Positions 11-15 tomorrow.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Premiership Review Positions 1-5

After another round of Premiership action and with the final round of World Cup Qualifiers coming up now is a good time to see how the table is looking after seven games and see where all the teams are at going into the international break. Starting with the top 5. Positions 6-10 tomorrow

1. Arsenal  Pts. 16 GS:GA  14:8 Top Scorer Giroud, Ramsey (4 each)
After the Aston Villa debacle earlier in the season Arsenal have recovered remarkably well and the arrival of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid on transfer deadline day has given the whole club a lift. After a tough draw against West Brom where they should have lost if Nicholas Anelka's boots were on Jack Wiltshire's deflected goal saved Arsenal's blushes and continued their fine form. After the players come back from international duty the two main concerns are if Oliver Giroud gets injured can anyone replace him (Maybe Ozil as a false No. 9 perhaps) and also they have only kept one clean sheet which needs to improve if they want to keep their title ambitions in check but after the Villa defeat it is a good time to be an Arsenal fan with Aaron Ramsey's, Oliver Giroud, Mathieu Flaimini's and Ozils form in particular Arsenal can be in title contention for sure.

2. Liverpool Pts. 16 GS:GA 11:5 Top Scorer Sturridge (6)
Liverpool have room to improve but like Arsenal they are riding on a crest of a wave at the minute. Brendan Rodgers saying that Liverpool have not hit peak form at the minute is paradoxically a good sign as there is room for improvement in the team. Mainly the problem has been trying to dominate teams for the ninety minutes and finishing teams off. Still with the return of sixteen points from their first seven games is a good return and Liverpool can also say with no irony at all that they have a chance of doing something this season

3. Chelsea Pts. 14 GS:SA 10:4 Top Scorer Oscar (3)
Few teething problems, Mourinho not knowing what his best side is yet. The Juan Mata and striking situations yet after seven games they are only two points behind and apart from the forwards there is strength in depth everywhere else and Juan Mata looks as though he is actually back in the side now as well. After the win against Norwich which was hard fought Chelsea are in good shape and have to be considered to be one of the favourites.

4. Southampton Pts. 14 GS:GA 7:2 Top Scorer Lambert (2)
What a brillant start to this season for Southampton. Very solid base with Arthur Boruc in fine form and a defence of mainly Dejan Lovren, Jose Fonte, Luke Shaw and Nathan Clyne Southampton are a solid team and things can even get better with the developing of the strike partnership of Dani Osvaldo and Ricky Lambert things are good for Southampton. Mauricio Pochettino has been brilliant for them and no disrespect to Saints fans but by the end of the season if this continues he will be head hunted for a bigger job. Until then the Saints should definitely enjoy the ride.

5. Man. City Pts. 13 GS:GA 17:8 Top Scorer Aguero, Yaya Toure (4 each)
Another one of the favourites for the title who have had a bit of a dodgy start. Man. City know where they are at in Europe as Bayern Munich completely outclassed them for ninety minutes. They have had also dodgy results in the premiership away from home as they have lost to Cardiff and Aston Villa. They will figure how to balance defence and attack eventually and a lot of goals have been scored so there is no problem there. Once that balance is addressed and also Joe Harts form needs to be sorted or he needs to be dropped. He has been very poor so far this season. If those problems can be solved then City can still win the title a;though possibly not Europe as the Bayern game proved.

Positions 6-10 tomorrow.

Results from the weekend: Man City 3-1 Everton, Cardiff 1-2 Newcastle, Fulham 1-0 Stoke, Hull 0-0 Aston Villa, Liverpool 3-1 Crystal Palace, Sunderland 1-2 Manchester United, Norwich 1-3 Chelsea, Southampton 2-0 Swansea, Tottenham 0-3 West Ham, West Brom 1-1 Arsenal.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Di Canios sacking the silly season begins.

For all of his faults and Sunderland's poor start to the season Paola Di Canio did not deserve the sack. His poor start is not what allegedly cost him his job it was infact after one too many arguments with his own players they were the ones who said to chairman Ellis Short than the game was up less than six months and thirteen games into his Sunderland tenure it was over.
A lot of people have said that including Hull boss Steve Bruce is that Di Canio's methods were outdated and the modern player does not react favourably to them. The other reason is that Sunderland transfer regime was all wrong in the summer. The clubs director of football Roberto De Fanti made all the signings and signed a whopping fourteen players which was asking for disaster from the start. Of those 14 players only five had previous Premier League Experience and thirteen were foreign and it always takes a bit of time for foreigners to settle into a new league and culture. There was too many signings and the one player Di Canio really wanted Tom Huddelstone ended up at Hull and has made a great start for them.
Player power did win this battle as Di Canio gave one tongue lashing too many but Ellis Short should have realised this could have happened the day he made the appointment back in March. If the results were better at the start of this season and this came up from the players Short probably would have backed the manager and let him continue on but instead the results were poor and the players had had enough of him, Short pulled the trigger and let him go.
Sunderland are in a mess now at the moment and it is their own fault for causing it. Who will take over? Roberto Di Matteo and Gus Poyet are early favourites for the job and neither would be a bad choice. Whatever happens whomever comes in now needs to find a settled team quickly and stamp their authority on the side. Also encourage De Fanti to be patient and try and get the right signings in Quality rather than Quantity in the January transfer window to save their season.

Manchester City laid a marker down in their 4-1 victory over Man. Utd. They look a different team when their leader and Captain Vincent Kompany is in the team and he was simply magnificent on Sunday. People are already starting to question David Moyes as his early big game record has been poor. He still needs time and the other thing is when Manchester City are on song they are simply better than Manchester United in most areas. United were always more consistent but that might change this season if Moyes can't figure out how to win the bigger games. They were also missing Van Persie and that was huge as well.

Arsenal top of the league. Mesut Ozil settling in nicely and provided the three assists at the weekend and the continued goalscoring form of Aaron Ramsey is great to see as well.

Brendan Rogers had a day to forget as his action of playing four centre backs backfired and also Liverpool lacked creativity with Coutinho missing. At least for Liverpool Luis Suarez will be back in the Capitol One Cup against Man. Utd. which will lift the Pool again no doubt.

Tottenham were very good against Cardiff and somehow did not manage to score until the last kick of the game but the goal was worth the wait with Paulinho's finish for the eventual winner. Former Spurs keeper Erik Thordvest came up with a great line saying we might have sold Elvis but we bought the Beatles. It is a huge season for Spurs and they definitely have the squad to deliver not just the Champions League Qualification but quite possibly the league itself.

Last but not least the most amazing thing happened, Yes Mario Balotelli finally missed a penalty in Milan's two-one home defeat to Rafa Benitez' Napoli. It was a mixed night for Mario as he missed the penalty also hit a stunner against the crossbar scored Milan's goal that nearly got back into the match late on and finally got sent off after the match for dissent and totally lost the plot by kicking, screaming and taking off his shirt after abusing the ref incessantly. Napoli under Rafa though are a very good side who bought well in the summer and have a hundred percent record so far in the league along with Roma. It has the makings of a good season in Italy.

PL Results: Norwich 0-1 Aston Villa, Liverpool 0-1 Southampton, Newcastle 2-3 Hull, West Brom 3-0 Sunderland, West Ham 2-3 Everton, Chelsea 2-0 Fulham, (Sun) Arsenal 3-1 Stoke, Crystal Palace 0-2 Swansea, Man City 4-1 Man Utd, Cardiff 0-1 Tottenham

I will eave you for now with the two free kick crackers Everton's  Leigton Baines scored against West Ham. Ronaldo eat your heart out!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Last Trap

So Giovanni, Marco and Manuela have gone and the dust has settled since the back to back defeats against Sweden and Austria with the announcement that Trapattoni has left by mutual consent in this brief blog I want to delve into whether his reign was a success, where the national team is now after he leaves and what does the next manager need to do to try and take Ireland to the next level and qualify for Euro 2016.

I generally believe that with a few quibbles which I will mention Trapattoni did well in general as manager of Ireland in his five  and a half year spell at the helm of the national team. Ireland were a Thierry Henry handball away from qualifying for the World Cup in South Africa and then brought us to our first international competition in ten years by bringing Ireland to Poland for Euro 2012. Unfortunately this is where things started to wrong for Trap as his team floundered in what was admittedly a very tough group but in the way we surrendered matter of fact in the defeats to Croatia, Spain and Italy caused a lot of the Irish Public even then for Trap to go. Ireland in this world cup qualification campaign have been essentially a disaster , a team which have no ideas and have meekly surrendered to teams who in essence are not really that much better than us (with the exception of Germany of course) and that if Ireland paid more to their full potential we instead of Sweden would be sitting pretty second in the group.

Trapattoni's critics, me included have said things like the negative play, falling out with certain players, not going to games to see how certain players were doing and all things he should be doing while earning two million a year on his contract which was reduced to 1.2 million by the time the job was finished. My biggest criticism of him as well as the above points I have stated was the fact that he never bothered to learn English properly. I cannot imagine what it would be like on a training ground with all the players speaking English and the coach does not speak perfect English. Team talks would have been more difficult to come across than they should have and I would like to think if the team were struggling in a match how would Trppattoni get across his instructions to the team as to how to come back into a match tactically more than anything else. It was a big failing in my view. Overall though he did get us to the Euros and for that I would like to thank him as it gave me personally my best holiday ever in Poland which will probably never be replicated. Thanks Gio.

Who comes in and what needs to be done? Well there are players that were exiled under Trappatonis reign like Anthony Stokes and Andy Reid that can come into the side. Surely they are better options then for instance Simon Cox or Glen Whelan? The team the new manager will inherit though is not one that would exclude confidence. Shay Given and Damien Duff have retired and there is nothing much behind them. Robbie Keane and Richard Dunne surely are playing their last games for Ireland as well and it is up to the new manager to see who can be unearthed. Of the players that who are there at least Seamus Coleman has made the breakthrough which should have probably happened eighteen months earlier. James McCarthy can flourish at Everton under his boss which he had at Wigan Roberto Martinez and hopefully then can replicate that in the Irish side. A lot to prove from him for sure but it is probably the best we got in that position unless Andy Reid does get that recall. He definitely deserves his chance again after playing really for Nottingham Forest the past twelve months. Wes Houlihan deserves his chance as well. Why Trapattoni stubbornly stuck to his guns and not pick him when it was obvious he should have been in the first team is beyond me but he should get a chance under whomever gets the job. Others like Robbie Brady, Shane Long, Anthony Stokes, Anthony Pilkington, Ciaran Clark and Kieron Westwood and there is still a good basis for a good team that can play decent football is well which would be the other thing that the fans would want if possible as most of the football under Trap's reign was terrible to be fair.

Who is going to get the job? Martin O' Neill is the favourite to get the job and if nothing else O'Neills greatest asset is his man management skills and to convince the team that they can beat anyone and play without fear although the flip side to that is that his Sunderland reign ended in tears and some of the football they were producing was quite frankly terrible,. I would welcome his appointment but would approach with cautious optimism as well. Roy Keane has been mentioned but could he get on with the F.A.I. after their past? Probably not I would reckon. Mick McCarthy has also been mentioned and most Irish fans would welcome Mick back in the fold as apart from the Saipan debacle Mick mostly did do a good job first time around and has experience of getting Ireland to a world cup while playing some good football as well. Brian McCdermott and Chris Hughton are definitely future Irish managers but too soon for both as they have big club jobs at the moment with Leeds and Norwich but their time will come down the line. The bottom line is the team definitely is not as good as it one was but there are still enough good players for Ireland to be a threat to qualify for Euro 2016 and it does help that 24 instead of 16 qualify for the tournament and fans are hoping that we can go to Germany in three years time for another big tournament and to do it in a style that is somewhat pleasing to the eye. Over to the F.A.I. to appoint the right man.

Ill leave you with a montage (of sorts) to Traps reign:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Premiership Preview Super Sunday

I had a nightmare with the predictions last week so hopefully this week ill get back on track!


Man. City Vs Hull (BT Sport 1 12.45 ko)
Hull will be buoyed by their battling win against Norwich and with a lot of the game with ten men but they wont be kidding themselves about how hard a task it will be going to the Eithad even though Man City suffered a shock loss to Cardiff last week. City looked ill at ease without Vincent Kompany and also the continuing poor form of Joe Hart who was to blame for at least two of the goals. City should still have too much for Hull at home and go into the international break in good stead.

Prediction: Man City 3 Hull 1

Cardiff Vs Everton (Setanta Sports 1)
Cardiff had an amazing win over Man City last weekend and they should carry that confidence coming into this weekend against an Everton side who have yet their find their feet under new boss Roberto Martinez and the shadow hanging over the potential departures of Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines. They are playing nice football but have yet to to find their cutt9ng edge and if Cardiff especially at set pieces can replicate their win from last week you could fancy them for the win again this time although I think a draw would be more likely.

Prediction: Cardiff 1 Everton 1

Newcastle Vs Fulham
Newcastle need something good to happen and it could happen here. Doubts still linger about whether Yohan Cabaye is going to be at the club by the end of the transfer window but rumour has it he will be playing this weekend and could be the difference here. Fulham have been branded the laziest team in the league. They were very poor against Arsenal but also in Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Bent they could score a lot of goals as well. Think there could be a load of gals here and maybe a point is the best either can expect.

Prediction: Newcastle 2 Fulham 2

Norwich Vs Southampton.
Could be a really good game this one. Norwich were very poor against Hull last week but at home they will get a load of pints. I like the look of Southampton and it will be interesting to see how Osvaldo fits into the picture. He should have been sent off last week and will need to keep his temper in check but there is no denying his talent. I think Southampton will nick this one but would not be one hundred percent confident on it.

Prediction: Norwich 1 Southampton 2

West Ham Vs Stoke
West Ham look a very good outfit and have made a good start without conceding a goal as well which is a bonus. They wont be easy to beat at home but a lot of what they can achieve this season will be the fitness of Andy Caroll. He provides the focal point of their attack and if he is not there I think in certain games West Ham will struggle to score. It will take time for Stoke to adapt to Mark Hughes style of play and early on I fancy they will not take too many points early on in the season and also need a few more bodies up front. I see a comfortable afternoon for West Ham.

Prediction: West Ham 2 Stoke 0

Crystal Palace Vs Sunderland (Sky Sports 1 5.30 ko)
Palace and Sunderland have not made the best of starts to the premiership. Palace under Ian Holloway are already struggling and Ian Holloway has already has his odds slashed to be the first manager sacked in the premiership. It is going to be difficult to get out of the malaise they are already in even if it is two games down. Thankfully they are playing a Sunderland side who are trying to find their feet with all the new players that are in the new squad Palace might be able to sneak three points here.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 2 Sunderland 1


Liverpool vs. Man. Utd. (Sky Sports 1 1.30 ko)
Big game for both. I do fancy Liverpool in this one. They have made a very good start and I can see them taking advantage of a United side still trying to find their feet under David Moyes. Pressure will be on Moyes more than Rogers and even though Wayne Rooney's performance was a source of relief for Moyes the lack of chances they created against Chelsea would cause alarm bells and I can see Liverpool keeping it tight and catching United on the counter and with Daniel Sturridge on the form that he is in there is no reason why he can't continue his form into this game and get the three points for the Pool.

Prediction: Liverpool 2 Man Utd.1

West Brom Vs. Swansea
West Brom have made an indifferent start to the season and missing the presence of Lukakau has hurt them for sure but with Nicolas Anelka and Matej Vydra available for this game against Swansea they might get their first win of the season. Swansea have struggled so far this season but it has been a difficult start for them but I see West Brom picking up the three points here.

Prediction: West Brom 1 Swansea 0

Arsenal Vs. Spurs (Sky Sports 1 4.00 ko)
Spurs have spent around 100 million as of today. They broke their transfer record for the third time this summer with the signing of Eric Lamela from Roma. It will be too late for him to play in the derby but that and also the impending arrival of Christian Eriksen from Ajax and AVB has built up a formidable squad for the forthcoming campaign which rightly has Arsenal fans worried. Arsenal still need to add but Arsene Wegner's press conference ahead of this game he seemed relaxed and the belief is he will get signatures before the transfer window closes which will strengthen the squad which is needed badly. This game will have loads of goals as usual but I do give Arsenal the edge simply because of the previous two games between these two at the emirates have finished 5-2 to the home side and the crowd will probably carry Arsenal through on this one as well.

Prediction: Arsenal 3 Tottenham 2

Next blog has the review of the weekends action and also a review of the super cup between Bayern Munich and Chelsea which should be a fasinating match between the two best friends of the world Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.

Goal of the Week: Daniels Sturridge's effort was probably a better goal for Liverpool against Aston Villa but I love chips over the keeper and Danny's effort for Zenit St. Petersburg against Pacos Ferreira was one of those sweet efforts you can replay again and again.


Talk next week enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Premiership Review Chosen One vs Special One.

Yes it was the big game this weekend but it failed to deliver the fireworks that a lot of people were expecting. The ploy of playing without a recognised striker was a weird choice as Chelsea ended up for an hour of the game with four attackers and no real focal point. The United defenders had no-one to mark most of the time. Jose was trying with his attack to move the united back line around and keep them guessing but I do not think after this game Kevin De Bryune will play centre forward again any time soon. The big news for United was the inclusion of Wayne Rooney and he was the best player on the pitch involved in nearly all the good moments on the pitch for the Red Devils. The one thing that struck me was even when Torres came on Chelsea were still very negative but United struggled at the other end to create anything either but at least it seemed that they were more going for the victory than Chelsea were. You would fancy Jose and Chelsea were more happy with the point but it will be more interesting to see if Chelsea experiment again without a recognised striker. More good news as it seems Rooney won't be handing in a transfer request to force a move to Chelsea and with Jose imposing a forty eight hour deadline for Wayne to decide it seems more likely Rooney will stay with United and if he keeps producing performances consistently like he did in the Monday Night Game then it will be a boost for David Moyes and also the Manchester United support were fully behind him in the stadium even if Chelsea fans were cheekily cheering for him as well as if he was going to them!

The shock of the weekend was Cardiff's 3-2 victory over Manchester City and questions over the absence of Vincent Kompany and the alarming poor form of Joe Hart. The second and third goals from corners were very poor defensively from a City point of view and would not be surprised if they go back in for a central defender before the window shuts as I do not think Javi Garcia is the answer in that position. Great victory for Cardiff nonetheless passionate crowd and Frazier Campbell's two goals would certainly have gone done well at his former club Manchester United. Cardiff City Stadium will be a hard place to go this season.

Results: Fulham 1-3 Arsenal, Everton 0-0 West Brom, Hull 1-0 Norwich, Newcastle 0-0 West Ham, Southampton 1-1 Sunderland, Stoke 2-1 Crystal Palace, Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool, Cardiff 3-2 Man City, Tottenham 1-0 Swansea, Man Utd. 0-0 Chelsea.

Next Blog Friday League Cup and Champions League Reviews plus Preview of the weekend including the Euro Super Cup between Bayern and Chelsea and the big double header on sunday Liverpool Vs Man Utd and The North London Derby between Arsenal and Spurs.

Last but not least Romario and his best goals for Barcelona.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Premiership Preview


Fulham Vs Arsenal   (BT Sports 12.45 ko)

After their loss last weekend to Villa and all the negativity about their lack of signings at the club fans and manager alike were relived of the three-nil win against Femerbache which will get Arsenal into the champions league proper for the sixteenth time in a row which is some sort of achievement. The problem over lack of signings is still there and business will need to pick up next week if there is any chance they will win anything this season. They face a tricky tie against a Fulham side which recorded a rare away against Sunderland and with Dimitar Berbatov in their side against a patched up Arsenal defence in particular they will prove a threat and traditionally these are tight derby matches. I would still fancy an Arsenal win though but it will not be easy.

Prediction: Fulham 1 Arsenal 2

Everton Vs West Brom (Setanta Sports 1 3.00 ko)

Everton should be favorites for this one as they would have been disappointed about dropping two points to Norwich last weekend. West Brom struggled last week in losing to Southampton and even though it was a last minute penalty and goal they conceded it was deserved victory for Southampton and Roberto Martinez's first home game in charge the Everton team should be motivated and too good for West Brom.

Prediction: Everton 2 West Brom 1

Hull Vs Norwich (3.00 ko)

Hull would not have probably learned much in their loss to Chelsea last week except maybe the much higher quality of the better teams in the Premiership. They will be up for this, their first home game against a team they will probably think they can beat . A good draw for Norwich in their first game with Ricky Van Wolfswinkel scoring on his debut and also the arrival of Johan Elmander has boasted their striking options even further. A high scoring contest is on the cards I would reckon here.

Prediction: Hull City Tigers 2 Norwich 2

Newcastle Vs West Ham (3.00 ko)
Newcastle's first home game of the season should be interesting with the turmoil over Joe Kinnear's appointment, and the absence of Yohan Cabaye after Arsenal's bid and subsequent improved bid from Paris St. Germain raises questions as to if Cabaye is staying at the club. They need a win here to get the fans on their side and the way the fans react to to the team could be important in this match. West Ham got off to a solid start against Cardiff last weekend and looking to extend their good run this weekend. Their away form was poor last season and with only one fit striker at the moment they could struggle to score at St. James Park. I do think West Ham can win this one simply because Newcastle have worst problems.

Prediction: Newcastle 1 West Ham 3

Southampton Vs Sunderland (3.00 ko)
Southampton had a good win over West Brom last weekend and have since added Daniel Osvaldo from Roma which could be a very good signing indeed. Sunderland were poor against Fulham and Paolo Di Canio might take a while to figure his best team out since there are a lot of new faces at the Stadium of Light and I think Southampton can take all three points in their first home game of the season.

Prediction: Southampton 2 Sunderland 0

Stoke Vs Crystal Palace (3.00 ko)
Stoke were decent and compact in their 1-0 defeat to Liverpool but were lightweight upfront. Palace struggled against Spurs and one-nil was quite flattering to them. Stoke if they reproduce their intensity of the Liverpool performance with a bit of better quality in the final third will surely win this one out.

Prediction: Stoke 2 Crystal Palace 0

Aston Villa Vs Liverpool (5.30 ko Sky Sports 1)
Villa have been good in the first two games and look a very decent side judging by the first two performances. Liverpool were also good although they should have put the game to bed and nearly lost two points but a Mignolet save, saved the win for the reds. Villa could have a real good chance of getting the three points but if Liverpool do improve in the finishing department it could be a very good game indeed. Villa to edge it but I could not say that to a reasonable degree.

Prediction: Aston Villa 2 Liverpool 1


Cardiff Vs Man City (4.00 ko Sky Sports 1)
Cardiff had a bit of a struggle last weekend against West Ham not registering a single shot on target. Their new signing Andreas Cornelius might get a run out this weekend and could help them up front. City were very good against Newcastle and I think if they play to the same level against Cardiff there is only going to be one winner.

Prediction Cardiff 0 Man. City 3

Tottenham Vs Swansea (4.00 ko)
Tottenham had a good European victory during the week to go along with the victory against Crystal Palace and they are in good shape. With the inevitable departure of Gareth Bale Spurs are planning the future without him although it looks as though Willian deal has fallen though which will be a blow to them although if they do get Eric Lamela it will still be a boost to them. Swansea want the transfer window to end now as there is a still a threat of them losing both Michu and Ashley Williams which will be a blow to them. They were unlucky losing 4-1 to Man Utd last weekend and a good European victory has showed what a good team they are but I do think Spurs will be too good for them on the day.

Prediction: Spurs 3 Swansea 1

Man Utd. Vs Chelsea (8.00 ko Sky Sports 1)
I always hate the fact that big games like these are on very early on in the season as I do not think they mean as much as if they played it lets say middle of October. A loss for either side wont really do either any harm. United have Robin Van Persie on fire as usual. Chelsea might jig their team a little bit. It will not surprise me if this is a draw and both teams move on a quickly as possible.

Prediction: Man Utd 1 Chelsea 1

Goal(s) of the week. Real Sociedad scored two crackers in Lyon to nearly guarantee them qualification into the group stage in the Champions League.


See ya Monday enjoy the action over the weekend. Also looking forward to the return of Formula One as well. I hope Fernando Alonso pulls something out of the bag but it is probably between the Red Bulls and Mercedes again.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Midweek Blog Episode 1 Yes It is About Arsenal

First of all my apologies for the delay in the last two Premiership Previews of the season being done after the season actually started and in this blog it will be the first of the midweek blog which will concentrate on last leagues action. This will usually be done on a Monday and then the weekend blog will be done on a Friday previewing what is coming up at the weekend.

So this first one is dedicated to Arsenal. I was at the game at Aston Villa and you all seen the game or highlights of it and seen the negative reaction after the 3-1 loss. This was my seventh time at the ground and any little thing that goes wrong in a match some of the supporters really can turn on the team and this was when at times we were winning games comfortably! This was the first time I have experienced a loss when seeing Arsenal live and the negative reaction this time sadly has been justified. When Ivan Gatzidis said in a statement at the start of June that Arsenal had money to spend all us supporters presumed wisely that there were deals for players that were just about done for and will bring this team back to where it should be and that is challenging for the Premiership and the Champions League. What has happened instead is that the club has got rid of a lot of the fringe players and dead wood but have not replaced them with better quality players which has left the squad very thin indeed and a few injuries and Arsenal will be struggling to field a first team never mind the bench.

Have Arsenal completely lost the ability to sign decent quality players altogether? From the Luis Suarez saga to letting Gonzalo Higuain slip trough our fingers to be let go to Napoli, to the half halfheartedness of bids for Luis Gustavo and Yohan Cabaye fans must be wondering what is going on? Arsene Wegner has always payed what he though the value of a player is and that is not necessarily what the seller thinks the player is worth. It is an admirable quality no doubt but what has handicapped Wegner in trying to come up with valuations this season in particular is the fact that Gatzidis said the money was there to spend and now clubs are always going to demand more money than what the player is necessarily worth because they know the money is there for Arsenal to spend. Whatever signings Arsenal make between now and when the transfer window closes if any at all will seem to be a desperation signing no matter what way you look at it. If Arsenal fail to beat Fenerbache in the Champions League play offs there will be more pressure on him and it could be the beginning of the end for him at the club which will be sad if he does bow out like that. The man who transformed Arsenal football club from top to bottom would deserve a better dignified ending than the one that many are predicting for him at this present time. Hopefully Arsenal can still get the recruitment we need and get the results needed especially in the Champions League in particular and things will go back in the right direction.

PL Results Week 1:(Sat) Liverpool 1-0 Stoke, Arsenal 1-3 Aston Villa, Norwich 2-2 Everton, Sunderland 0-1 Fulham, West Brom 0-1 Southampton, West Ham 2-0 Cardiff, Swansea 1-4 Man. Utd. (Sun) Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham, Chelsea 2-0 Hull, (Mon) Man City 4-0 Newcastle (Wed) Chelsea vs Aston Villa

Ill have a few tidbits on Friday about last weekend and also preview this weekends games talk then!

Premiership Preview: West Ham

West Ham

Razvan Rat (Shakhtar Donetsk) Free
Adrian (Real Betis) Free
Andy Carroll (Liverpool) Undisclosed
Danny Whitehead (Stockport County) Undisclosed
Stewart Downing (Liverpool) Undisclosed

Carlton Cole Released
Gary O'Neil (Queens Park Rangers) Free
Robert Hall (Bolton Wanderers) Undisclosed

Positives: West Ham are always going to be a difficult side to beat under Big Sam Allarydce and also with the permanent signing of yes Andy Carroll they can cause mayhem in the opposition back line any time he is on the pitch. Problem is how many times can he play as if he is not playing they do not have many other options up front. The signing of Downing is an interesting one. Can Big Sam resurrect his career like he has Joe Cole's? West Ham will do well to get into the top ten but would not rule it out.

Negatives: The lack of options up front and their back line is suspect to pace although the arrival of Razyan Rat from Shaktar might solve that problem.

Prediction: 12th

Premiership Preview: West Brom

West Bromwich Albion

Nicolas Anelka
Goran Popov (Dynamo Kiev) Loan
Diego Lugano (Paris St Germain) Free
Matej Vydra (Udinese) Loan
Zoltan Gera (Unattached) Free

Marc Antoine-Fortune
(Wigan Athletic) Free
Gonzalo Jara (Nottingham Forest) Free
Jerome Thomas (Crystal Palace) Free
James Hurst (Crawley Town) Free

Positives: A very good first season from Steve Clarke would have brought a bit of optimism to the Hawthorns for the coming season. A solid base of players which includes Ben Foster in goal and Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson at centre-back, with Claudio Yacob and Youssouf Mulumbu shoveling the coal in the midfield engine room with Shane Long a constant menace up front. They have the ability to finish top half this season with the acquisition of Matej Vydra the one to watch out for since he was voted championship player of the year last season with Watford.

Negatives: Romelu Lukaku is a loss to them. He scored 17 league goals for them last season and even though they have replaced him with Vydra and also the Nicolas Anelka they don't offer the brute physicality that Lukaku offered which was a lot of times last season their main focal point of their attack. Also a genuine lack of pace may hurt them in some games when they would not offer a genuine counter attack to teams who would have a lot of the ball for example. Still 10th place I think is a good reasonable bet for them.

Prediction: 10th

Friday, August 16, 2013

Premiership Preview: Sunderland


Cabral (Basle) Free
Modibo Diakite (Lazio) Free
Valentin Roberge (Maritimo) Free
David Moberg Karlsson (IFK Goteborg) Undisclosed
Vito Mannone (Arsenal) Undisclosed
Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar) Undisclosed
El Hadji Ba (Le Havre) Free
Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus) Undisclosed
Ondrej Celustka (Trabzonspor) Loan

Titus Bramble Released
Matthew Kilgallon (Blackburn Rovers) Free
Ryan Noble Released
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool) Undisclosed
Ahmed Elmohamady (Hull City) Undisclosed
Danny Graham (Hull City) Loan
Alfred N'Diaye (Eskisehirspor) Loan
James McClean (Wigan Athletic) Undisclosed

Positives: With all the Ins and Outs that has gone on over gthe summer at Sunderland this is Di Canios team and they have made some good signings with the most eye popping one the signing of Emanuele Giaccherini from Juventus. No dount Di Canio and his Italian connections made that one possible. With stories emulating from their pre-season camp abiut some of their fitness training they should be the fittest team in the premiership if nothing else. Also should be motivated by the sheer presence of Paulo Di Canio and lack of motivation has hindered Sunderland teams of the recent past.

Negatives: Paulo Di Canio can snap at any moment and his temper has lead him into trouble several times as a player and as a manager while he was at Swindon.His unpredictable volatile nature could affect the team in the worst way and players could lose confidence in their manager pretty quickly from there. If he can reign in himself from such tantrums than it should not be an issue. It could take time ti blend in all the squad as well since there are many new faces in so expect a slow start. Overall though I think Sunderland with Giaccherini especially in the side can finish top half and get a decent cup run as well.

Prediction: 9th

Premiership Preview: Stoke


Erik Pieters
(PSV Eindhoven) 3.6m euros
Marc Muniesa (Barcelona) Free

Dean Whitehead (Middlesbrough) Free
Matthew Upson (Brighton & Hove Albion) Free
Rory Delap (Burton Albion) Free
Mamady Sidibe Released
Carlo Nash (Norwich City) Free
Matthew Lund (Rochdale) Free

Positives: I am going to try and be positive to Stoke fans but there is not a lot of joy to be had at the Brittania. With Mark Hughes' appointment as Stoke maannger it did not get anyone on the edge of their seats and it is going to be a hard act to follow what Tony Pulis did there for the years that he was at Stoke. I think I will go to the negatives now sorry Stoke fans.

Negatives: Stoke regressed rather than go forward last season and that was worrying given the amount of money that was spent in those two seasons. Tony Pulis probably saw the writing on the wall and decided to leave at the end of last season. Since Mark Hughes took over he has signed tow defensive minded players and no-one else. They badly need someone creative in the midfield and a striker who is going to score 15-20 goals a season for them. Considering Mark Hughes transfer market record when he had the money at Q.P.R. in particular would cast doubt on whether he is going to get the support or not from the board to get those type of players that Stoke need to survive essentially. The aura of how they were tough to beat and hard to play against especially at the Brittania disappeared last season and if Hughes can't revive that then Stoke could go down and I predict they will go down due to lack of goals more than anything else.


Premiership Preview: Southampton


Dejan Lovren
(Lyon) Undisclosed
Victor Wanyama (Celtic) Undisclosed

Frazer Richardson (Middlesbrough) Free
Danny Butterfield Released
Dan Seaborne (Yeovil Town) Free
Ryan Dickson (Colchester United) Free
Ben Reeves (Milton Keynes Dons) Free
Sam Hoskins (Yeovil Town) Free
Richard Chaplow (Millwall) Free
Vegard Forren (Molde FK) Undisclosed
Steve De Ridder (FC Utrecht) Free

Positives: Southampton are proving to be big spenders and with Dejan Lovren and Victor Wanyama coming in for relative big money Southampton and Mauricio Pochettino are putting their money where there mouth is. A top 10 finish is the goal and if they don't suffer from second season syndrome as so many clubs have suffered in the past then top ten could be a realistic possibility. They are good going forward and if Rodriguez, Ramirez and Ricky Lambert repeat the form of last season they can give anyone a game.

Negatives: Southampton fielded the youngest back four of anyone last season and the inexperience showed last season as their defence was very leaky at times last season. They have signed Dejan Lovren but they might need one or two others to try and stem the amount of goals that they did concede last season.

Premiership Prediction: 14th

Premiership Preview: Norwich


Ricky Van Wolfswinkel (Sporting Lisbon) Undisclosed
Javier Garrido (Lazio) Undisclosed
Nathan Redmond (Birmingham City) Undisclosed
Carlo Nash (Stoke City) Free
Martin Olsson (Blackburn Rovers) Undisclosed
Leroy Fer (FC Twente) Undisclosed
Gary Hooper (Celtic) Undisclosed

Chris Martin (Derby County) Free
Simeon Jackson (Eintracht Braunschweig) Free
Lee Camp Released
Marc Tierney (Bolton Wanderers) Free
Elliott Ward (AFC Bournemouth) Free
Tom Adeyemi (Birmingham City) Free
Jed Steer (Aston Villa) Free
James Vaughan (Huddersfield Town) Undisclosed
Grant Holt (Wigan Athletic) Undisclosed
Andrew Surman (AFC Bournemouth) Loan
Leon Barnett (Wigan Athletic) Undisclosed

Positives: Norwich have had a busy transfer window with lots of comings and goings. The two most intresting signings coming in are Gary Hooper from Celtic and Ricky Van Wolfswinkel from Sporting Lisbon. Both strikers who have the potential to score loads of goals for them if they get the service. This was to offshoot the departure of Grant Holt to Wigan which surpised some Norwich supporters as Holt was a hero to them but after requesting a transfer at the start of last season after one good season in the Premiership maybe his days were numbered.

Negatives: Even with all the ins and outs over the summer realistically Norwich will still do well to avoid a relegation battle. If Hooper and Van Wolfswinkel start scoring on a regular basis then possibly they will avoid it but a top half finish seems out of reach.


Premiership Preview: Newcastle


Olivier Kemen
(Metz) Undisclosed
Loic Remy (Queens Park Rangers) Loan 

Steve Harper
(Hull City) Free
Danny Simpson (Queens Park Rangers) Free
James Perch (Wigan Athletic) Undisclosed
Mehdi Abeid (Panathinaikos) Loan

Positives: Not many I am afraid for Newcastle. Pardew staying is a plus even though Newcastle were extremely poor at times last season I do think Pardew is a good coach and was very unlucky last season with injuries. The players apart from Demba Ba that got him to fifth place in the Premiership the season before are still there and if they can keep fit and be consistent this time around with a few good signings Newcastle could have a good season.

Negatives: The appointment of Joe Kinnear as Director of Football has to be Mike Ashley's idea of a joke or in coded language trying to force Alan Pardew out of the door. How will these men co-exist I do not know but it has the potential to implode very quickly and the relative lack of signings so far implies that they are struggling to find the players that they need to improve the squad which they badly need if they are not going to flirt with relegation. The dressing room has been rumoured to develop cliques so to speak between the french speaking players and everyone else which won't help the morale of the squad either. If there is a split in the dressing room as reported that also needs to be sorted out quickly or Newcastles season can go downhill very fast. Also need to curb injuries if that is possible. Nearly got them relegated last season a fit team will help them not getting dragged into the relegation battle.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Premiership Preview: Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur

(Corinthians) Undisclosed
Nacer Chadli (FC Twente) Undisclosed
Roberto Soldado (Valencia) Undisclosed
Etienne Capoue (Toulouse) Undisclosed

Nathan Byrne (Swindon Town) Free
David Bentley Released
John Bostock Released
William Gallas Released
Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) Undisclosed
Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders) Undisclosed
Tom Huddlestone (Hull City) Undisclosed
Jake Livermore (Hull City) Loan

Positives: A lot of money has been spent and in Roberto Soldado and Paulinho they have two world class players that will definitely add in the striking and midfield departments respectively. This is a hugely important season for Andre VIllas Boas and don't be surprised if one or two more names come in before the transfer window closes.

Negatives: The Gareth Bale saga in which the big will he or won't he go to Real Madrid has dragged on now. If Madrid are serious in breaking the works record transfer fee they might wait to the last few days of the window to lower the price. It is inevitable that Bale will go and will be a huge loss for them considering the way he carried the side for a lot of last season. Clint Dempsey being sold to Seattle was also a bit mistfying as he probably had more to offer Spurs than the season he did do with them. It's 4th or bust with Villas Boas this season and if Bake is sold even with the recruitments they have bought they just might miss out again on a Champions League place but it will be close.

Prediction: 5th

Premeriship Preview: Swansea


Jose Canas
(Real Betis) Free
Jordi Amat (Espanyol) £2.5m
Jonathan De Guzman (Villarreal) Loan
Gregor Zabret (NK Domzale) Undisclosed
Alex Gogic (Olympiakos) Undisclosed
Alejandro Pozuelo (Real Betis) Undisclosed
Jonjo Shelvey (Liverpool) Undisclosed
Wilfred Bony (Vitesse Arnhem) £12m
Jernade Meade (Arsenal) Free

Mark Gower (Charlton Athletic) Free
Kyle Bartley (Birmingham City) Loan
Kemy Agustien (Brighton & Hove Albion) Free

Positives: Swansea will be an exciting team to watch this season with a new trio of signings from La Liga (Camas, Amat and Pozuelo) the permanent signing of Jonathsn De Guzman and the signings of Johnjo Shelvy from Liverpool and Wilfred Bony from Vitesse Arnhem who lit up the Ervidesse the last two seasons.Swansea is a good place to be at the moment and are pushing for possibly a top six place and a run in the Europa League. Keeping Micheal Landrup and Michu will also have a positive impact for the club.

Negatives: My only negative on them is do they have a big enough squad for the amount of games they have to play this season. I am sure Michael Landrup will want to have a go for it but will it affect their league form in the meantime. It will be fascinating to watch that is for sure.

Prediction: 7th

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Premiership Preview: Manchester United

Manchester United.

Guillermo Varela
(Atletico Penarol) Undisclosed


Positives: A new era , a new dawn. Nearly every United from my generation at least would not have know another manager running them and now David Moyes has the unenviable task of following Sir Alex Ferguson who in this era is the most successful club manager of all time. The positive is that the club and Sir Alex himself will give him the full backing he needs even if he starts off slow in his job. He still has all the Premiership winning team on his books that ran away with the league last season so that is a solid foundation to start.

Negatives: The Wayne Rooney saga has not helped things. I do not think Rooney was the player he was a couple of seasons ago but United would rather keep him then say see him to Chelsea for example but with no bids coming from some of the bigger clubs in Europe for example United are going to be stuck with an unhappy player which also might disrupt the dressing room. They have not made a signing yet which would help Moyes and the squad in the way Robin Van Persie did last season for Sir Alex. There is still time to go with the central midfield maybe a winger and another forward the priority for David Moyes. With Moyes at the helm there are so many questions that he needs to answer the main one being can he handle the pressure of managing a huge club like Manchester United? It will be fascinating to watch that is for sure.


Premiership Preview: Manchester City

Manchester City

Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk) Undisclosed
Jesus Navas (Sevilla) Undisclosed
Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla) Undisclosed
Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina) Undisclosed 

Kolo Toure (Liverpool) Free
Wayne Bridge (Reading) Free
Roque Santa Cruz Released
Carlos Tevez (Juventus) Undisclosed
Karim Rekik (PSV Eindhoven) Loan
Jeremy Helan (Sheffield Wednesday) Undisclosed
Maicon (AS Roma) Undisclosed

Positives: The negative stigma of Balotelli and Tevez is gone. Roberto Mancini going was good for the club at the right time and Manuel Pelligirni seems to be a good choice for the job considering his C.V. with Villareal, Real Madrid and Malaga in Spain. They have bought well with Fernandinho and Negredo in particular. Fernandinho was excellent in the Confederations cup for Brazil and will add steel in the Midfield mixed with a bit of Brazilian flair as well. Alvaro Negredo scored thirty- one goals for Sevilla last season and is a proven scored in La Liga and it will be interesting how he does in the Premier League. Jesus Navas provides width and pace which City did lack last season and will help them in games in which they are expected to win in breaking down teams who have all men behind the ball. City were laboursome in those type of games last season. They still have the best squad in the premiership and if Silva, Argeuro, Yaya Toure and the like reproduce their title winning form from two seasons ago City have a great chance of winning the league.

Negatives: City were poor defensively at times last season and they as yet have not addressed the issue in this transfer window. Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany did not have the seasons they had previously and the defenders around them were a revolving door most of the time which did not help either. If Pellegrini has as an idea of who will be his back line from the start that would help things but bringing in a fresh face there would not harm either. If things do not go to plan at the start of the season the mentality of some of the City players could go south again and it will be up to Manuel Pellegrini to keep everybody happy somehow if they do encounter a tough period. Also their league campaign could also hinge on how much they will concentrate on the Champions League. That will be a priority for them this season and it will be interesting to see if they take their eye off the ball in the premiership when the season progresses.

Prediction: 1st

Premiership Preview: Liverpool


Kolo Toure (Manchester City) Free
Luis Alberto (Sevilla) Undisclosed
Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo) Undisclosed
Simon Mignolet (Sunderland) Undisclosed

Danny Wilson (Heart of Midlothian) Free
Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea City) Undisclosed
Suso (Almeria) Loan
Pepe Reina (Napoli) Loan
Jay Spearing (Bolton Wanderers) Undisclosed
Stewart Downing (West Ham United) Undisclosed

Positives: As I am typing this so to speak Luis Suarez has now stated he is staying at the football club. A victory of sorts for Brendan Rogers and John W. Henry. I also Believe that fences can be mended pretty quickly between club and player and when he returns from domestic suspension in October he can be pivotal in Liverpool achieving champions league qualification. After the way the club and the fans have backed him over the various controversies over the past two seasons it is the least he can do in repaying the faith back towards them. Liverpool have bought well so far in the summer Toure is a solid defensive option Mignolet to replace Pepe Reina is also a sound boy and It will be interesting to see what Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas bring to the table especially Aspas who has an equally volatile playing habits as Suarez. The return of Lucas from Injury will also be a boost as well.

Negatives: Was going to say the Luis Suarez transfer saga but seems to be over now and Liverpool can concentrate on the start of the season. Toure as I have said above is a good signing but I still think they might be short defensively in the grander scheme of things. Luis Alberto is very young and Liverpool nearly payed 7 million pounds for him and I am sure he will get game time early on as I think Liverpool could struggle top score goals early on in the season until they wait for Suarez to come back.

Prediction: 6th

Premiership Preview: Fulham


Derek Boateng (FC Dnipro) Free
Fernando Amorebieta (Athletic Bilbao) Free 
Maarten Stekelenburg
(AS Roma) Undisclosed
Sascha Riether (Cologne) Undisclosed
Adel Taarabt (Queens Park Rangers) Loan
Chris Baird
Simon Davies Released
Mahamadou Diarra Released
Mladen Petric Released
Mark Schwarzer
(Chelsea) Free
Csaba Somogyi Released

Martin Jol has made some decent business in the transfer window. Replacing Mark Schwarzer with Maarten Stekelenburg is a very good like for like replacement in the goalkeeping department. Abel Taarabt coming on loan from QPR could be a good signing if his attitude is spot on from the start and Giorgos Karagounis has now been resigned for another year after initially being released to add some steel in the midfield. Fulham also with the players that are already there are capable of scoring a lot of goals and some very pleasing on the eyes watch out for those goals of the month- season competitions I am sure they will be one or two from Fulham this season.

Fulham were leaky at home last season and still need some reinforcements at the back. Fulham also have problems in which players like Dimitar Berbatov, Brian Ruiz and now Abel Tarrabt have very little inkling of running back and helping the team defensively which makes it harder for the others when Fulham do not have the ball to keep the opposition out at the other end and their defence is not strong enough at times to cope with that hence the dodgy home form from last season. If they can get a top quality defender and defensive midfielder in before the window shuts they could go places but at the moment they could have a struggle on their hands this season.

Prediction: 13th

Monday, August 12, 2013

Premiership Preview Part 5: Everton


Arouna Kone
(Wigan Athletic) Undisclosed
Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan Athletic) Free
Joel Robles (Atletico Madrid) Undisclosed
Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona) Loan

Thomas Hitzlsperger Released
Jan Mucha Released
Jake Bidwell (Brentford) Undisclosed

Positives: Roberto Martinez will try and implement a more pleasing to the eye passing style which some supporters will appreciate who were getting drained by some of the football that was played under David Moyes. Everton needed a fresh start and Nice guy Martinez gets a chance at a higher level bigger club so to speak and a lot of neutrals would hope that he will be successful. Could be the year that Everton will become every one's second favourite second club like Wigan were under Martinez the last couple of seasons.

Negatives: There are question marks about whether Martinez can set up a team defensively, under Moyes the one thing Everton always were hard to beat and that will be a challenge for Martinez to try and keep that while implementing his style of play on the squad he currently has. Some Everton fans are sceptical as well but will give Martinez a chance since he did win the F.A. Cup with Wigan last season and that is one more trophy than David Moyes won in eleven years with Everton.

Keeping Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini is also a priority and if they do keep them Everton should be comfortably top half and a decent cup run as well. If they lose both and that can still be a possibility then it might be a struggle for them.

Prediction: 8th

Premiership preview Part 4: Chelsea


Andre Schurrle
(Bayer Leverkusen) Undisclosed
Mario van Ginkel (Vitesse Arnhem) Undisclosed
Mark Schwarzer (Fulham) Free

Yossi Benayoun
Florent Malouda (Trabzonspor) Free
Paulo Ferreira Released
Ross Turnbull (Doncaster Rovers) Free
Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid) Loan
Marko Marin (Sevilla) Loan
Oriol Romeu (Valencia) Loan

Positives: The Jose Mourinho factor cannot be underestimated as he returns to Chelsea to try and reignite the club to their first premiership in quite some time and make them competitive in Europe as well. As ridiculous as the last comment sounds as they did win the Europa League last season they did get knocked out of the champions league group stage and that is not good enough for the Chelsea Hierarchy. Rafa Benitez as unpopular as the choice was did stabilise the club and guided the squad through the packed fixture list they had and got them the Europa League and Champions League qualification and gives the special one a platform to build on this season. It seems sins from the past are forgiven from Roman Abromivich and Chelsea with the squad that they have are contenders for both the league and Champions League this season.

Negatives: If Chelsea are to succeed they badly need a striker who can bang in 20 goals a season for them and spearhead Mourinho's preferred 4-3-3 formation. If it is Wayne Rooney then that would be massive for the club and have to be rated as favourites if he does arrive but if they don't get him they do still need to find an answer with Demba Ba and Fernando Torres not doing enough last season to warrant that position so it may fall to Roman Lukaku to fill the Drogba position so to speak and recreate the form he did last season in his loan spell with West Brom. It will be a tough ask for him if they don't get someone in the transfer window to help him out but it will be interesting to see how he does this season.

Has Mourinho still got it? Will he carry the scars that inflicted his Real Madrid reign. Certainly for the first time in his managerial reign it could be considered a failure considering what the expectations were like at Madrid. Chelsea fans will give him an easier ride considering what he did for them in the past but I wonder if that will change if Chelsea don't get off to the start they desire.

Predicted position:3rd without Rooney, 1st with him.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Premiership preview Part 3- The promoted clubs

Crystal Palace, Cardiff and Hull.

Andreas Cornelius
(Copenhagen) Undisclosed
John Brayford (Derby County) Undisclosed
Simon Moore (Brentford) Undisclosed
Steven Caulker (Tottenham Hotspur) Undisclosed

Heidar Helguson Released
Stephen McPhail Released

Crystal Palace
Stephen Dobbie
(Brighton & Hove Albion) Undisclosed
Dwight Gayle (Peterborough United) Undisclosed
Jerome Thomas (West Bromwich Albion) Free
Jose Campana (Sevilla) Undisclosed
Elliot Grandin (Unattached) Free

Andre Moritz
(Bolton Wanderers) Free
Alex Marrow (Blackburn Rovers) Undisclosed

George Boyd (Peterborough United) Free
Maynor Figueroa (Wigan Athletic) Free
Curtis Davies (Birmingham City) Undisclosed
Ahmed Elmohamady (Sunderland) Undisclosed
Allan McGregor (Besiktas) Undisclosed
Steve Harper (Newcastle United) Free
Danny Graham (Sunderland) Loan
Yannick Sagbo (Evian) Undisclosed

Sonny Bradley (Portsmouth) Free
Danny East (Portsmouth) Free
Seyi Olofinjana Released
Jay Simpson Released
Andy Dawson (Scunthorpe United) Free
Mark Oxley (Oldham Athletic) Loan
Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers) Undisclosed

Positives:Going to be an interesting time for the three promoted clubs as all off them have a chance to stay up.  Cardiff seem to me at least to be the most likely to stay up as this team, most of it anyway would not have played in the Premiership before and therefore would not have a negative stigma about getting relegated or any fear about playing the big guns. Malky MacKay is a good young manager and with the support of the new owner Vincent Tan I think Cardiff with the talents of Craig Bellamy and Peter Wittingham in particular could score enough goals to stay up. It is great that Ian Holloway is back in the premiership and with their financial troubles over Palace will be well watch watching and Hull Tigers as they are now known which caused a stir amongst its supporters stumbled over the finishing line last year but it was a great achievement nonetheless and Steve Bruce has the experienced nous to lead Hull to safety this season.

Negatives: Cardiff have the best chance of the three to stay up. A good young team I do suspect they might take a few hidings but if they keep their home form up they can stay up. Holloway has moaned about signings falling through for Palace in recent weeks which indicates he does not believe his squad is strong enough to stay up in the premiership which I am sure does nit help his players either which he has currently. I think it will be similar to the campaign Holloway had with Blackpool great football but a lot of naivety as well when they are off the ball which will relegate them. Hulls big problem will be scoring they have tried to address that with the signing of Danny Graham on loan but after the season Graham had with Sunderland last season that is no sure bet. They will need one or two others up front but with limited resources that will be hard to do.

Predictions: Cardiff 17th, Palace 19th and Hull 20th.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Premiership Preview Part 2 Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Aleksandar Tonev
(Lech Poznan) Undisclosed
Jores Okore (FC Nordsjaelland) Undisclosed
Leandro Bacuna (FC Groningen) Undisclosed
Nicklas Helenius (Aalborg BK) Undisclosed
Antonio Luna (Sevilla) Undisclosed
Jed Steer (Norwich) Undisclosed

Richard Dunne
(Queens Park Rangers) Free
Jean II Makoun Released
Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest) Free
Andy Marshall Released
Brett Holman Released
Derrick Williams (Bristol City) Undisclosed

Positives: A stable summer and a few new faces even if they are fairly unknown to the casual fan at least this summer for Villa in the first time in aeons it has been a stable summer and Paul Lambert has the full backing of the Villa support as well which is also a positive.

The signing of a new contract for Christian Benteke. He contributed 49 percent of all of Villa's goals last season and after he handed in a transfer request at the summer he was persuaded to do a u-turn and sign a new four year contract instead and if the has a season like he had last Villa should be a comfortable mid-table team this season.

Negatives: Thin Squad and lack of experience in it. Any player that was along for the ride last season at Villa Park would have been battle hardened and better for that experience but I think Villa would still have been benifited of adding a two 25 plus players to their squad just to balance things out a little bit as I think this team can still be capable of  producing horror shows like the 8-0 loss to Chelsea last season. It is good that the squad is young and the investment of youth is a good thing in any club but a bit of experience would not go astray either for Villa and they still have time to rectify that of course if they so wish before the window closes. Also they might struggle to win any of their first three games as they are Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.

Predicted Position: 11th

Premiership Preview Part 1 Arsenal

The Premiership is only over a week away and here is my predictions for the 20 teams to take part in the 2013/14 season.


Yaya Sanogo
(Auxerre) Free

Andrey Arshavin (Zenit St Petersberg) Free
Francis Coquelin (Freiburg) Loan
Denilson (Sao Paulo) Free
Johan Djourou (Hamburg) Loan
Craig Eastmond
(Colchester United) Free
Kyle Ebecilio (Twente) Free
Vito Mannone (Sunderland) Undisclosed
Sebastien Squillaci Released
Sanchez Watt (Colchester United) Free
Jordan Wynter (Bristol City) Free
Jernade Meade (Swansea City) Free
Andre Santos (Flamengo) Undisclosed
Gervinho (Roma)

Positives: A lot of the fringe players are now gone and has released money for players who will demand bigger wage bills.
Jack Wilshere has had a full pre season for the first time since 2010 and this season is a key one for him as not only an important one for the club but also a World Cup for his country as well at the end of it. His fitness is a major issue for Arsenal if they are going to get back to the silverware hunt this season.
No one that you can say will be a first team regular has left the club this summer yet and no signs that anyone will be leaving either which at least has created a bit of stability in the first team.

Negatives: Wegner contract situation. After the transfer deadline closes on the 2nd of September thoughts will be immediately turn to the managers contract situation after it closes and there is no guarantee this time that the longest serving manager in the English Leagues is going to renew it this time. If there is a statement of intent as to what he is going to do early on in the season then at least everyone can get on with it but if he does not, it could create uncertainty within the playing staff and they might not perform to their best of their abilities.

The Suarez saga and the lack of transfer activity overall. Arsenal's Chief Executive Ivan Gatzidis just after the season end last season declared that Arsenal are now in a position to spend on big name players this summer to finally challenge the big guns this summer for the best talent and to challenge for major trophies once again. Nothing has happened since which has sent all Arsenal supporters supposedly into a state of panic and considering Arsenal's track record in previous seasons that has justified the panic in many ways. With the Higuain transfer falling through the cracks it looks as though Arsenal have put all the eggs in one basket to get Luis Suarez over to the Emirates. That has it's own baggage as Suarez has proven many times in his career already he has shown thuggish and also very selfish behavior as well and I am not sure if this is the type of player Arsenal should go for. If he is to come he will improve the squad tremendously without a doubt but can he be trusted to behave throughout a season I am not so sure about that. We will see how this story develops as the next month rolls on.

Arsenal also badly need a defender as Johan Djourou has gone and Thomas Vermalen is injured until at least April which means Arsenal will be only starting with two centre backs. Ashley Williams has been muted but nothing concrete has been stamped on  that story. If Arsenal are to progress and close the sixteen point gap that there was last season then they need to spend the money thiat is available to them but they way they have gone about it makes me wonder if they will spend any of it at all.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

My weekend at Silverstone

On my blog as I have stated before this will be mainly dedicated to the footy world but occasionally will delve into other forms of the sporting stratosphere like this blog in which I am going to describe my Formula One weekend in Silverstone.

My weekend nearly never happened as I missed my scheduled bus up to the airport and had to get a later bus which I knew was going to be dicey as to whether I would make the flight or not. After several panicky phone calls and finger biting I did make it by the skin of my teeth and after calming down and a bit of slagging from my mates which was well deserved we settled in to my friends house out in rural Maidenhead and set out out a battle plan for the following day. My friends decided to stock up on sandwiches and other munchies which was a good idea which I copped for the following two days and our first early morning awaited us.

We were up about 7 in the morning to head for the track. Rain was the order for most of the day and the plan was over the next two days was to see as much of the circuit as possible if not all and try and get to see as much of the racing as well in those two days. I should explain at this point that the three day ticket we had allowed us access to all the grandstands apart for the VIP ones for the Friday and Saturday and we had a specific seat for race day. Unfortunately free practice one was washed out and only Daniel Riccardio actually put in a few laps. We braved the elements and started to have a wander around. I wanted some merchandise but if anyone who has been to an F1 race weekend before knows that current F1 merchandise is very expensive indeed. I only bought the program in the end to add to the collection of programs I have purchased throughout the years. There was a GP2 Practice session inbetween first and second practices and by the time the second practice came around the weather and the track dryed out significantly enough to have a proper session and for the first time I heard the V8 2.4 litre engines in full force and the sounds were beautiful and loud I can tell you that and it will be the only time as they are changing to 1.6l turbo V6 engines for next year. I'm glad I got to hear them once.

We managed to get to see pretty much the whole track in the end and a plan was made for the Saturday to get to the main pit lane start and finish straight abbey for the Saturday but that meant getting up even earlier for the following day. After much moaning from yours truly I did agree. One thing I will mention now is that there was a village area in the Silverstone complex. That is all I will mention about the Silverstone complex. There was not a lot too it sadly so I wont bore you with details.

The Saturday we were up at six in the morning to see if we could get a place at Abbey. It was windy but at least it looks as though there was no ran. After we got our park and ride again we arrived at the track about quarter to nine and made a beeline for the Abbey grandstand. To our relief we did manage to get seats and vowed not to move until after Qualifying ended. If you add that up we got to the stand about Nine and Qualifying for the F1 was not over until after 2 so we were going to be there for the crux of over five hours. What was not helping was the wind that kept blowing in our faces. It was really cold in the stand even though at this stage the sun was out. That is what an exposed airfield which Silverstone was built on can do to you. We managed to stick it out. FP3 and the first of the tyre dramas happened as Sergio Perez' right rear completely blew up spectauarly and that was a forewarning as to what was come. Even at this stage it was obvious the Mercedes and the Red Bulls had the advantage over everyone else. We were relived once the Qualifying was over and were able to move around again. We ended up at Luffield for the first of the GP2 races which was quite exciting actually and got to see a lot of action out of it. There was the first GP3 race after this but decided to call it a day as we were all knackered and needed some food and quiet beers the Saturday night.

Sunday we got up a bit later as we decided to give the support races a miss and get in there at a reasonable time to get the build up to the race. The intricacies of the track you would not know from watching it on the t.v.. The bumps, curves, climbs and speed you would only really know once you get to a F1 race live and in person. We got to our stand which was stove corner and we got a good view of the Hangers straight and the corners after stove which lead to the main straight abbey. We got the drivers parade then we had a show from the RAF red arrows which was spectacular in all fairness even though they had to delay it for around ten minutes as an intruder as the P.A. called it invaded the airspace as it got a good laugh from the crowd. After that was over the cars came out and the race was nearly to begin with the fans favorite Lewis Hamilton on pole.

The P.A. speakers were very good actually and were able to see a screen to see what was going on throughout the race. The best moments for me in the race was the reaction to the crowd when Lewis Hamilton's tyre blew up, my mates and I had a little snigger at that and after the second safety car the sprint to the finish was quite fun as well. We had a longer than expected walk back to our shuttle bus for our park and ride as we had to go the long way around as only VIP and Club Silverstone Members were allowed into a certain section of the course which pissed us all off then all of us exhausted and sun burnt at this point were stuck in post race traffic for ages, thankfully my friend and I had more then enough time to compensate for our flight home. Pity our mate that was driving us, he had the journey back to Maidenhead which proved to be a nightmare for him poor fellah.

I would go again to an F1 race again but a different track. I have always been fascinated by Spa and Monza for example and of Course Monaco because its Monaco. The one aspect which I was disappointed about Silverstone apart from the Village was the fact the British continue to harp on about the history of the place and the fact that it is the home of F1. Even though there has been improvements in the facilities over the past couple of years I never felt that sense of History of the place whatsoever. I have been in some of the football or Gaelic Stadiums over the years and you do feel the history of the place but with Silverstone none sadly. If I was spending money on Silverstone I would build some sort of museum nearby to get people to sense how important this place is to the history of Motor Racing in Britain and to F1 and Motor Racing in General. I think it will improve it in time as they do have the track that people will come back to again and again. It was a marvellous weekend in general and I will be back hopefully to a F1 track near you soon.