Posts Tagged ‘ Steven Fletcher ’

Fenlon’s Selection Headache for Cup Semi-Final

A dejected Pat Fenlon bemoaned his team’s lack of commitment following yesterday’s 3-0 defeat to Celtic at Parkhead, which continues a poor run of form which has seen Hibs win only one league game this calendar year.

Fenlon has always insisted that a top six spot was his objective this season, and for long spells it looked as if this would happen. In fact Hibs sat top of the SPL on two occasions earlier in the season, but recent results have condemned them to the bottom half of the table for the third year running, a situation which has seen some fans questioning the ethics of the club from top to bottom. Continue reading

Away Teams To Bag Us A Treble This Weekend

berbaOur last treble was a single goal away from landing our 12/1 winnings, so we’ll be aiming to go one better with our 14/1 accumulator this weekend. There isn’t a lot of value available on home team prices on either Saturday or Sunday, so we’re going to avert our attention to the travelling sides. Continue reading

Super Sunday Should See United Pull Clear As City Slip Up

Robin van Persie of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal of the gameTwo huge games on Sunday see four of the biggest names in the Premier League come up against each other. Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to play the table toppers at 1.30 and at 4pm Arsenal host Man City. Man United should come out on top of the earlier tie, the match at the Emirates is harder to call. Yaya Toure’s departure to the African Cup of Nations is going to leave a massive hole in the City team over the next few fixtures, and Arsenal can prosper from this. However, Arsenal’s defensive frailties should be exposed by Man City’s attacking threats. The bookies are offering shortened odds on the draw for this match, and I can’t help but agree that both sides will earn a solitary point.

We’re going to invest our accumulator interest in the Saturday fixtures however, starting at the Madejski Stadium. Fulham stuffed West Brom and so too our bet in the previous round of Premiership matches, and I don’t think the Baggies’ away tie against Reading will be a fruitful endeavour either. They come into this game on the back of three games without a win and are seriously depleted; Youssouf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob are unavailable and the sad news that Zoltan Gera will miss the rest of the season will resonate like a death bell for Albion. Reading on the other hand are showing signs that they have shored up their defence. Narrowly beaten by a late Gareth Barry header against City, their next two home games saw them preventing both Swansea and West Ham from scoring. If they can continue this sort of defensive performance on Saturday, I think that 9/4 are generous odds for the home side to earn a draw.

Next off to Carrow Road, where two teams on a dismal run of form come up against each other. Both teams have lost their last three Premier League games but there can be no doubt which side are cowering in the darker realms of depression. Languishing two points above the drop zone, injury ravaged, knocked out of the FA Cup by Brighton for the second year running and having just lost their one beacon of hope light to Chelsea, Newcastle’s season just seems to relentlessly continue to go from bad to worse. The one lonesome positive of the winter is the signing of French right-back Mathieu Debuchy, but I can’t see him dragging his new teammates to victory on Saturday. Chris Hughton will be out to get one over on his former club who senselessly sacked him months after he had inspired the Magpies to promotion back to top flight football. His Canaries should overcome their opposition whose hopes now rely on Papiss Cisse, who may prosper from his fellow countryman’s departure. Norwich are available at 6/5 to win.

The final leg of our accumulator finds us focusing on the match between Sunderland and West Ham, two teams who are looking somewhat busy during the current transfer window. The Hammers have welcomed back one of their many long lost sons in the figure of Joe Cole and he made an instant impact in his homecoming match, creator of both goals in a 2-1 victory over Norwich. West Ham will be heartened by their 2-2 draw with Man United in the FA Cup, whereas Sunderland’s identical result with Bolton should have the opposite effect. The home side are lacking in defense but still pose a threat up front with the exciting Stephane Sessegnon and Steven Fletcher always dangerous. I think this one will end up in a draw; it’s available at 9/4 and means that this week’s accumulator packs odds of about 22/1.

Trusting Terrible Sunderland to Share the Spoils

KJOnce again, Stoke shattered our big odds accumulator last weekend and are fast becoming our bogey team. I never thought the image of Kenwyne Jones pounding towards an empty goal would ever be a beautiful sight but that’s just what it was last Saturday, his side level with Everton at the time. Less beautiful was the subsequent image of him inexplicably putting the ball wide of the goal with his thigh and with it, our chances of winning big money. With the Manchester City and West Brom fixtures going our way,  we were left to curse this missed opportunity. Gutted as we may have been, onward we must venture and courageously reach out to grab a handful of this 16/1 shot that looks pretty tasty.
I am not of the popular opinion that Arsenal are in crisis at the minute and was happy to see Santi Cazorla destroying a hapless Reading on Monday evening. Despite the negative press they have received over the past few weeks, the Gunners climbed to fifth, have been drawn against Bayern Munich in the last 16 in the Champions League and on Saturday, they have a favorable tie against  Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium. The home side had the creative James McCarthy controversially injured in their game against Norwich City and he, along with Adrian Lopez, will miss this game. I really fancy Arsenal to breeze past Wigan and the handicap betting will get my attention for separate bets but for the purpose of our accumulator, we are going to back them to win at 8/11.
Marouane Fellaini’s brainless behaviour during the Stoke game has resulted in a quite mild punishment, coming in the form of a three-match-ban. The Belgian has been inspirational  this season and even though he has been below par these past couple of weeks, he will nevertheless be missed by Everton who travel to an erratic West Ham. Both sides are missing key players for this fixture but I figure that the Hammers could come out on top. Everton will have little to offer in the line of creativity and if West Ham can keep Nikica Jelavic and Leon Osman quiet, they should be able to claim 3 points for the first time since they beat Chelsea three weeks ago. They are 2/1 to win.
Sensible enough work so far. Brace yourself though, maybe even stick on the kettle and have a relaxing cup of tea before you read the next sentence. We’re going to take a gamble and back highly ineffectual Sunderland to earn a point away to Southampton. The Saints will be without their captain Adam Lallana and Sunderland will also be without one of their key players as well, as Steven Fletcher continues his absence from the side. Both players’ nonavailability should not be underestimated and without them on the pitch, chances could be hard to come by.  Southampton have been strong at home  recently in beating the teams around them in the table. QPR and Newcastle have been impressively beaten at St. Mary’s, but I think that Sunderland can struggle on and manage a point here. The draw is available at 5/2.

Matt Doherty enjoying his loan spell at Hibs

Avoiding relegation rather than picking up silverware was Matt Doherty’s main objective when former manager Pat Fenlon came calling on the last day of the transfer window, particularly when he realised that he was one of eight new signings for the Easter Road men.

Since then, the former Bohemians defender has won over the Hibs support with several outstanding performances in the back four, and he is now looking forward to a semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden Park next month.

Although signed by Fenlon for Bohs, Doherty never played a competitive game for the club before being spotted by Wolves in a pre-season friendly against them. Former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy was so impressed; he paid a reported £75k for the young defender, and awarded him a two year contract. So far he has played two games for the Premier League club, against Doncaster and Liverpool, and is considered a player with huge potential by the Molineux faithful.

Semi-final opponents Aberdeen are currently ten points and three places above Hibs and are enjoying a run of 13 matches undefeated but, in three games between the sides this season, only a disputed penalty at Pittodrie, for which Dons youngster Peter Pawlett received a two match ban for diving, separated the teams. The other two matches, both played at Easter Road, ended in no-scoring draws, leaving the semi-final finely balanced, with both Pat Fenlon and Craig Brown equally determined to reward their supporters for a poor season.

The Dublin born youngster told the Edinburgh Evening News: “When we came to Hibs we were all people who did not know each other, but that has worked for us. The boys have all settled in well, we’re looking solid at the back and playing with a lot of confidence going forward.

“We’ve been keeping clean sheets and even if we are not winning every match we have been creating chances in all of our games which has given everyone a boost.”

“I thought Somerset Park was great, a nice little stadium. I thought the fans, packed in and standing round three sides of the ground made for a real cup-tie feeling.

“Now we are swapping that for Hampden with more than 52,000 seats and I’m sure it will be almost full when the semi comes around. It’s something for us all to look forward to. I have to admit that it’s a real bonus.

“When I came to Hibs all I was thinking about was the league games to be played but then I found out after we’d beaten Kilmarnock that if we were to win at Ayr we’d be playing at Hampden.

“It will be my first semi- final at this level of football; we’ll be up for the game just as Aberdeen will. It’s a chance for us to win a bit of silverware this club hasn’t had in a long time and while it won’t be easy, in Cup football things can go your way on the day.”

Doherty was surprised to find himself playing at left back in the quarter final tie, after replacing Gambian internationalist Pa Kujabi who had felt ill at half-time.

He said: “I thought I’d be going in alongside James McPake with Paul Hanlon going out but the gaffer asked me how I was at left back. I just wanted to get on the pitch so I told him ‘fine’, and it worked out just that.”

If Doherty wants to know what it’s like to play at the national stadium, he need only ask Wolves team mate Steven Fletcher who reserved arguably his best performance in the green jersey, scoring twice against Kilmarnock in the League Cup Final, exactly five years ago this Sunday.

All thoughts of Hampden have been put on hold this week however as Hibs play city rivals Hearts at Tynecastle, determined to end a run of nine derbies going back three years without a victory. With fellow relegation candidates Dunfermline idle this weekend, Doherty knows that a victory would move them seven points clear and provide a huge boost in the fight against the drop.

He said: “I’ve heard all about it, it’s a massive game for both clubs and it would be even nicer to win away from home. It’s a chance to pull ourselves that bit further away from Dunfermline. We’ll be going into it with confidence.”

Midfielder Isaiah Osbourne will miss the derby through suspension as will Hearts captain Marius Zaliukas. The match kicks off at 1200 on Sunday and will be shown live on ESPN.