September 28, 2012
Guangzhou’s influential captain, Zheng Zhi, has played down talk that his team are feeling the pressure put to them by the club’s ambitious owners.
A 4-2 defeat to Al Ittihad has now given the Chinese champions an uphill battle to prolong their stay in the Champions League betting odds when they line-up against the second-leg of their quarterfinal.
Marcello Lippi’s star-studded squad twice held the lead against Ittihad, only to allow the Saudi’s get back into the game, before scoring two late goals to put themselves in the driving seat for that semi-final place.
Now, it looks as though anything other than a progression into the last four of the competition could cost the World Cup winning coach his job at the club, showing just how ruthless Guangzhou’s owners appear to be in their quest for success.
Midfielder, Zheng, who has played at the highest level in both Asia and Europe, has made it clear the team are not feeling the pressure and remain determined to become only the second Chinese club to reach the Champions League semi-finals.
“The results of the past are in the past, but we can change the future and we are ready for that challenge”
“Guangzhou Evergrande would be unable to achieve anything without the support of the Evergrande Real Estate Group and the support of our fans. As a player, I think that we should think about the challenge and achievement rather than a sense of pressure,” added the former Celtic and Charlton star.
There is more than enough talent in this Guangzhou squad to overcome the deficit in the second-leg, but Lippi will know it will take more than just eye-catching quality to see off this determined Al Ittihad side.
Attention will shift towards the Premier League, this weekend, with a match between Spurs and Manchester United, and a potentially close-fought encounter between Arsenal and Chelsea.
September 19, 2012
It was the perfect sound-bite to herald a new chapter in the distinguished career of Alessandro del Piero.
“I am not here for the end of my career, I am here for the start of a new career,” was the pledge from arguably one of the finest players of his generation on touching down in Sydney to an estimated crowd of 500 hysterical fans and fanatics who enjoy premier league betting and have an interest in other European leagues like Serie A.
It was the kind of entrance that Hollywood A-list celebrities have become accustomed to at international airport, but del Piero dealt with the fuss and adulation like a natural and with the swagger which has followed his career.
The 37-year-old has agreed to join Sydney FC on a two-year deal worth an estimated $4m.
Not a bad pension, though he will aim to help the club to success in the AFC Champions League.
A World Cup and Champions League winner, del Piero has also won six Serie A titles in a trophy-laden career with Juventus.
The club has taken a gamble shelling out a reported $70,000 a week for his services, but this was a punt worth taking.
The one-club icon is the kind of marquee signing that A League fans feared had dried up and his arrival is certain to generate untold publicity for a division that was in danger of becoming a forgotten out-post.
Sydney have three training sessions before a final pre-season trial match against Newcastle on Saturday and club officials have said it will be left to del Piero to decide when he has fully recovered from the flight to Australia.
If his arrival was anything to go by, they can be sure the wait will be worth it.
September 18, 2012
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert must have breathed a huge sigh of relief last weekend as his side recorded their first victory of the season against Swansea at Villa Park.
Matthew Lowton’s strike and new signing Christian Benteke’s debut goal sealed a 2-0 win over the Swans and sees Villa leap away from the relegation zone early in this Premier League campaign. The relief on Lambert’s face at full time was evident and there is potentially more to come from Villa after Benteke’s 19 minutes off success.
“I thought Christian was unplayable, he was an absolute threat,” Lambert said after the game. “The great thing is he’s only 21, only a kid and still learning.
“The goal will give him confidence. The crowd will go with him. You heard the crowd’s reaction when he came on.”
Villa fans are in need of a favourite after witnessing key players leave the club over recent years. They have devolved from European challengers to relegation battlers in just two seasons, with Gareth Barry, James Milner, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young all departing the club in search of trophies elsewhere.
Darren Bent has struggled to carry the side up front and Charles N’Zogbia only shows glimmers of the ability that made ex-manager Alex McLeish pay £9.5m for the former Wigan winger.
In Benteke, Villa potentially have a new star that can pull the club out of its dire situation; and he will need to hit it off with Bent in order to steer this team away from the bottom three and into mid-table safety.
Many football bets suggest that relegation is very much on the cards at Villa Park and if Lambert isn’t careful this Premier League institution could go the way of Blackburn Rovers come May. He will be hoping for more from Benteke and Bent in the coming weeks to allay Rovers-style murmurs of crowd discontent.
Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson’s quest to bring the Premier League title back to the red half of the city appears to be picking up pace. Get the latest insight from Bet Victor, and check out the latest Manchester United betting markets.
September 17, 2012
Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel says he has no intention of relinquishing his position to new signing Hugo Lloris and is looking forward to fighting for his place.
The 41-year-old has been one of the Premier League’s top stoppers for over a decade now and the veteran is showing no signs of slowing down as he continues to marshal the Spurs’ defence.
However, his age has understandably caused concern at White Hart Lane, as the club know he cannot go on forever, prompting them to bring in France captain Hugo Lloris from Lyon on the final day of the transfer window.
Although the highly-rated Frenchman joined for £12 million and most Premier league predictions tipped him to be first choice, boss Andre Villas-Boas has already told him he will need to fight for his place and backed Friedel as his number one.
This has understandably troubled the younger goalkeeper, who after being ranked as one of Europe’s top stoppers for a number of years, had understandably expected to walk straight in the side.
Friedel admits that although he respects his new rival, he has no intention of giving up his place in the starting line-up.
However, he insists he fully intends to help the former Nice man continue his development and doesn’t want his ambition to get in the way of his personal relationship with the25-year-old.
“It’s great to have competition,” he told Sky Sports Goals on Sunday. “I’m 41 right now; when I signed the contract at Tottenham I signed as a stop gap while they looked for a long-term No 1 goalkeeper.
“Hugo Lloris is France’s No 1 and he’s going to want to come in and play; it’s a friendly competition, if you like. You have to understand Hugo Lloris is going to be a team-mate, not an enemy.”
Spurs are among the contenders for a top four place according to the latest sport betting, and look well set to compete at the top of the table after putting their shaky start behind them.
September 7, 2012
Wayne Rooney’s future at Old Trafford was never in doubt, despite the striker infamously handing in a transfer request back in September 2010.
In a snippet of his new autobiography, Rooney pointed to manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s intervention as the deciding factor behind him staying at the club, a resolution that has saved his career.
An extract from his new book summed up the situation: “Then the manager has his say: ‘Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you have in your own field. And it never really works that way’.”
Ferguson was right to suggest that the Manchester United cow is ambitious enough to meet Rooney’s desire of grazing the greenest field football has to offer, but what were his other options?
Many pundits, such as those on Betfair, claimed that Rooney would head to Spain and either battle with a Catalan fighting bull in Barcelona or head to Madrid for a rare slab of tudanca steak.
Neither option materialised. Further rumours emerged that he was heading to the luxurious dairy fields below the Italian Alps, but a move to Milan or Turin faltered early on.
There were even suggestions that Rooney would join the blue herd of Manchester, a rare mix of northern-bred heifers and Middle-Eastern Damascene cattle that has more milk to splash in football that the whole of France’s pastoral plains put together.
But the striker remained in United’s field and has done wonders on the Old Trafford grass ever since.
He was instrumental in guiding United to the Champions League final later that season and his magnificent acrobatic strike against rivals, City, a year after the transfer request, sealed his legendary status in a Red shirt.
Rooney should never feel the need to leave Ferguson again and, with a cow that produces the goods year on year, why should he?
In related news, Lee Dixon is discussing whether the arrival of Robin van Persie at Manchester United will have a detrimental effect on Danny Welbeck’s young career.
September 5, 2012
Dirk Kuyt has intimated that Holland’s much-publicised collapse at the recent European Championships in Poland and Ukraine was no mere accident; it was the end of an era for the Dutch footballing machine.
The Netherlands, a perennial sweepstakes dream team, limped out of Euro 2012 without a single point to their name, an outcome that few fans betting on sports would have dared place a wager on, and even fewer would have anticipated.
Defeats to Denmark, Portugal, and bitter rivals, Germany, in the group stages produced a tournament experience in stark contrast to Euro 2008, when the Dutch reached the quarterfinals, and 2004, when an Arjen Robben penalty powered the Oranje into the semis.
A loss to Belgium, just a few weeks later, added to the Netherlands’ misery, and gave rise to the notion that the Dutch, once the terrors of Northern Europe, are very much a team in flux, struggling to rebuild from their recent humiliation in the East.
“The fear of our opponents is gone,” Kuyt said. “We have to rebuild. It is important that we regain our confidence.”
Kuyt’s comments come just a day after AC Milan’s Urby Emanuelson indicated that the Dutch are “working for a new start” – the introduction of new coach, Louis van Gaal, into the side ostensibly forming the groundwork for that new horizon.
Holland must now build towards World Cup 2014, an event that Kuyt is viewing as the stage on which to unveil the rejuvenated Dutch side. What form that side will take remains to be seen, however.
It is unlikely that the Netherlands will start as strong favourites in the online gambling stakes for the contest, following their recent mishap, but the lack of pressure on their collective shoulders could benefit the Oranje.
After all, it would be difficult to deny that Roy Hodgson’s ne’er do wells, England, achieved a much more respectable position in Euro 2012 than fans had expected, once the media monkey had been extricated from the camp.
A reshuffle in the ranks, however involuntary, is exactly what the Dutch needed, ahead of the start of Brazil 2014.
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August 31, 2012
New Liverpool boss, Brendan Rodgers, has promised that the Anfield club will secure at least two more signings before the summer transfer deadline closes, according to Premier League news sources.
For the sake of his future at the 18-time league winners, Rodgers had better hope his words transform into deals.
The 39-year-old manager is already under intense pressure, as many Liverpool faithful do not believe the ex-Swansea gaffer is a ‘big’ enough name for the club.
So far this summer, Rodgers has watched Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt exit Anfield, two players with 18-years Premier League experience between them.
With a turbulent season ahead for the Reds, losing players who have topflight mileage is not a wise decision.
The pressure on Rodgers at Liverpool will be ten-fold the norm, considering the high expectations from the Anfield faithful.
Yet 2012-13 will be another season where the club will fall further behind England’s elite.
Manchester City are turning in to a true juggernaut that could dominate football, while Chelsea have brought in fresh talent and Manchester United remain superior to their oldest rivals.
Rodgers needs his next two signings – players that he has declared areon their way to Merseyside – to be players of real stature.
The recent acquisition of Joe Allen from Swansea for £15million is a good buy for the future, and the player clearly has talent, but he is not a Premier League winner, yet.
Liverpool fans will yearn for a time – which was not all that long ago –when the Reds had Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano flanking Steven Gerrard in the midfield.
Both players now ply their trade at the two best sides in Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Rodgers already has a mountain to climb just to prove his naysayers and the cynics wrong. Right now, he will fail unless he has two special talents tucked up his sleeve.
Liverpool betting markets place the Reds as lively outsiders in the Premier League betting odds, coming in at 33/1.
August 21, 2012
August 20, 2012
With the 2012-13 season underway, goalkeepers will once more play an important role in their respective clubs’ fortunes. With some sides counting on experienced campaigners as a steady hand, others dipping into the transfer market to sign a new face and other brave teams putting their faith in a young prospect and their new Adidas football gloves, these men between the sticks will have a chance to prove their worth in 2012-13.
August 20, 2012
Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, admits that the club have taken a gamble in selling Robin van Persie to Manchester United, but insists that the Gunners can cope without the prolific striker.
The Netherlands international had entered the final year of his contract and declined an offer to extend his eight-year stay at the Emirates Stadium, signalling his intention to leave the club.
The former Gunners skipper completed his £24million move to Old Trafford on Friday, and is set to make his United debut in Monday’s season opener at Everton, an event that likely to generate a great deal of interest on the Bet365 Youtube website.
Arsenal fans are disgruntled by the loss of last season’s Premier League top scorer, the latest in a long line of key players to have left the north London club.
Wenger says that he understands the frustration of supporters who have seen the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Thierry Henry depart in recent seasons.
“I know it is a massive gamble, but I feel that we have the quality to deal with that. I can understand people are hurt,” said Wenger.
It is not all doom and gloom for Arsenal and their fans. Wenger has added quality to the squad in the shape of Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud, and Santi Cazorla, sensing the imminent loss of Van Persie.
“We anticipated this might happen so we bought Giroud and Podolski. If you look at the number of players, we have a massive squad. We have what is needed to be ambitious,” added the Arsenal boss.
“We bought players who can provide, we bought players who can score. We have lost world-class players before and we have always survived.”
Wenger has confirmed that Thomas Vermaelen will replace Van Persie as Arsenal captain this season. He will lead the side in Saturday’s clash at home to Sunderland.
Direct your browser to the Bet365 Ray Winstone video on YouTube for the best odds and tips for this weekend’s match.