Posts Tagged ‘ Wigan Athletic ’

O’Neill Names Ireland Squad For Upcoming Games

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Martin O’Neill has named a provisional 36 man squad for Ireland’s upcoming games against Scotland and USA.

Starting away, Scotland host Ireland in a EURO 2016 qualifier on Friday, November 14 at 7.45pm, before Ireland take on the USA in Aviva Stadium in a Three International Friendly on November 18.

The squad will be shortened ahead of meeting up on November 10. Continue reading

Ireland To Deal Erik’s Swedes A Hamr’ Blow

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Richard Dunne is back at the heart of the Irish defence for tonight’s crucial FIFA World Cup qualifier against Sweden at the Aviva Stadium (7.45pm) .

The Queens Park Rangers defender will win his 78th cap after recovering from the injury which forced him to miss almost all of last season for club and country. Continue reading

Five Irish Players Who Need A Move This August

kdAs all football fans know, the summer transfer window is a time of upheaval with fresh starts, new challenges and last chances for managers and players alike. However, sometimes there is a select few players that may be in need of a move to rekindle or enhance their international career.

Here we take a look at five Irish stars who all need a move before the transfer window slams shut at the end of August. Continue reading

Explosion In Online Gaming Results In Sponsorship Opportunities

Over the last decade, the online gambling industry has exploded and this explosion in popularity has presented new opportunities for football teams in the forms of sponsorship.  Below are some of the squads who are
currently sponsored at least in part by online gaming companies.

English Premier League

At least seven EPL squads are sponsored by online gaming companies.  League champion Manchester United was the beneficiary of bwin’s decision to discontinue their association with Real Madrid.  In August the team announced that bwin.Party is the team’s new online betting partner. Continue reading

A League Of Its Own – A Tribute to English Football’s Second Tier…

bdLet’s face it, the Premier League title race is over. There will be no Manchester United collapse. There will be no squeaky bum time. There will be no Agueroooooooooo. The crown sits squarely on Sir Alex’s crusty head, and we’re yet to breach the vernal equinox.

But fear not, there is still entertainment to be had watching Sky Sports desperately trying to inject excitement into the proceedings. Flailing like a wounded goliath, they insist that Chelsea and Spurs are locked in a death battle for 3rd place. Hmm. That would be a battle to avoid a couple of extra games in the Champions League next August then. Tense stuff. Continue reading

Clark V Carroll The Key Battle In Our Accumulator

ccInternational matches took centre stage on Wednesday night and some notable results were recorded. Both Ireland and England may have registered wins but the two teams will draw very different conclusions from the results. Whereas the two goal win against Poland left Giovanni Trapattoni with a deepening conundrum about his starting eleven for the remainder of the World Cup Qualifiers, the English media would have you believe that Roy Hodgson has little on his managerial agenda other than to sit back, relax and bide his time away until his team are crowned champions in Brazil in 18 months time. These matches could also have implications for our pockets, and regarding our 14/1 accumulator, it is important to be wary of players who could be affected by fatigue or minor niggles picked up during the course of these matches. Continue reading

Four Uncapped Players In Irish Squad For Poland Clash

jhNorwich City’s Anthony Pilkington has been named in the Republic of Ireland squad to face Poland next month.

Pilkington, a standout performer in the Premier League this season had been capped at Under-21 level back in 2008. The decision to call up the 24 year old will go down well with fans who feel it should have happened a lot sooner. Continue reading

Chelsea To Overcome Home Blues Against Gunners

FELLAINIFor all the exciting build up to last weekend’s fixtures, many of the matches turned out to be dull spectacles with disappointingly unsurprising results. In the most anticipated matches, United looked comfortable for most of the match when dispatching Liverpool, while City were easy victors against Arsenal after Laurent Koscielny had been sent off early in the game. So looking at the table going into this weekend, the two Manchester clubs have distanced themselves further from the also-rans, with Chelsea hanging onto their coattails six points adrift of second place and a depressing thirteen points off top spot. So on Sunday, for the good of the league, let’s hope that Tottenham can claim three points against Man United and thus complete the double over them, having beaten them already at Old Trafford earlier this season.

For the good of our pockets however, we’re going to have a look at a 12/1 treble, kicking off at the DW Stadium where Wigan host a rejuvenated Sunderland side, who have been quite good this season in beating the teams around them at the lower end of the table. Since December, they have recorded important wins against West Ham, Fulham, Reading and Southampton, consequently improving their league position steadily. Both sides have only 4 days to recover from their Tuesday night FA Cup replays, but whereas a weakened Wigan side overcame Bournemouth, Sunderland had an altogether different experience as their full strength team succumbed 2-0 at home to Championship side Bolton. However a major boost for the Black Cats during this game was the substitute appearance of Lee Cattermole and he should return to the team against Wigan at the weekend and he should bolster their defensive play even further. Contrarily, centre-back Ivan Ramis has suffered a knee-ligament injury and is out for the rest of the season for Wigan. Sunderland, erratic as they may be, have been strong in recent games against bottom-half teams, and I will be backing them at 5/2 to win.

Chelsea are another team who had to play during the week, registering a miserable draw against Southampton on Wednesday evening. They face another tough test on Sunday when they welcome Arsenal to Stamford Bridge. The Blues’ away form has been outstanding of late, culminating last week with a 4-0 thumping of home rulers Stoke City. Their home form has been less consistent. Having knocked eight past Aston Villa, their next home game proved a goalless outing for the Blues and they fell victim to a Shaun Wright-Phillips goal and dropping two points against Southampton is hardly ideal. The shrewd purchasing of Demba Ba should reduce the chances of more fruitless endeavours and he will prove a handful for the weakened Arsenal defence if he once again starts ahead of Fernando Torres. Along with Koscielny, who is absent through suspension, Mikel Arteta will be sorely missed by the Gunners for this game as he is injured. Abou Diaby made a welcome return to the team and he will have his work cut out in his defensive-midfield position if he is to hinder the influence of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and the evergreen Frank Lampard. Arsenal’s performances against stronger opposition is notoriously bad, they haven’t picked up a single point from their meetings with the top three teams this season, so I’m sticking with Chelsea at 5/6 to pick up the three points.

Our three bets this weekend are all spread out, so far one from Saturday, one from Sunday and to round it up, we’re looking at the Monday night game when Southampton take on Everton at St. Mary’s. The home side are unbeaten in their last five matches, recording notable draws against Fulham, Stoke, Arsenal and Chelsea and beating Aston Villa but I think this good run will come to an end when the Toffees come to town. The away side were very unlucky not to beat Swansea at the weekend, Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic looking particularly dangerous but just failing to score. With Kevin Mirallas on the brink of return after a long spell out with injury, the situation for David Moyes’ side is only looking rosy. If the manager can hold on to his big Belgian afro-man during the January transfer window, Everton should be playing European football next season and they can continue on this prosperous road on Monday night with victory over Southampton. They are priced at even money to do so.

Top 5 Most Under Rated Footballers In The Premier League

World football is full of many talents but some never reach their through potential while others merely live in the shadow of four time world player of the year Lionel Messi and his arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

mcThe Premier League has long been regarded as one of the best if not the best league in the world, although recent events such as the world team of the year possessing eleven Spanish based players would tell you La Liga has a huge stake to that claim.

Nontheless despite the snub the Premier League is brimming with talent and here we chart the progress of the top five most underrated players currently plying their trade on English soil.

1) Michael Carrick

Six years ago the vast sum of £18 million brought Michael Carrick from Spurs to Manchester United, a team that were seen to be in a period of great decline. Carrick was handed the number 16 shirt and immediately tasked with replacing former United captain Roy Keane.

His early days weren’t as prosperous as he would have liked but nonetheless his talent was there for all to see as United went on to beat Chelsea to the Champions League title on that faithful night in Moscow.

There have however been incidents where the former West Ham ace was hounded as a scapegoat for United’s defects, none more so than the forgettable 2009 Champions League Final when Barcelona ran out 2-0 winners.

He has however moved on from then and Carrick is now having his finest season to date and is United’s second most influential player behind the potent goal threat that is Robin Van Persie.

The Newcastle born star is not known for his goalscoring ability but his ability to control a game and his precision passing have been at times comparable to the great Andrea Pirlo.

The Englishman, now 31, is the genuine complete article. A model midfielder. His influence on United’s game is more pronounced than ever before. He pulls the strings in attack – dictates the tempo, rhythm and style of their play. His short passing is equally as good as his long. His strength in defence has even resulted in featuring as a make-shift centre back when injuries and suspensions depleted United’s ranks.

It’s a damning indictment of English football that a player Sir Alex Ferguson proclaims is as good as Yaya Toure, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard has started only 16 England games in 12 years.

Is Carrick the most underrated player in world football? Arguably so.

2) Steven Pienaar

Everton have a world class left side, with Steven Pienaar combining brilliantly with Leighton Baines this season. The Toffees have been buoyed by the South Africans return from a spell at Spurs and he’s hitting form at the right time.

Pienaar has always flourished under the radar and while not been held in the same regard as other world class wingers his ability is second to none on his day. Passing, crossing and an eye for goal are all key components of his play and he has prospered since returning home to Goodison Park last summer.

3) Mohammed Diame

Diame joined West Ham last summer, opting to move to Upton Park despite many big name suitors including Liverpool. The former Wigan Athletic star is one of the brightest prospects in the Premier League and it’s no wonder that there is increased speculation about another move been on the agenda in this transfer window.

The combative midfielder covers more ground than most players and his tackling and drive have been key components in helping to re-establish Sam Allardyce’s side in the top flight. Indeed his tackling and dribbling abilities far outweigh those of Man City star Yaya Toure and the Hammers will be hoping to keep hold of their prized asset.

4) Leon Britton

30 year old Britton is the only British player whose passing and ball control abilities can ever be comparable to Barcelona magician Xavi. Last January it was revealed that Britton had the highest pass completion rate of any footballer in the world at that point of the 2011/12 season with a 93.3% rate, 0.3% better than his illustrious opponent.

His control, vision and knack for picking out the inch perfect pass make watching Swansea City a treat for any pure football fan. Although this is not to say that the Swans are by any means a one man team.

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5) Ryan Shawcross

Fresh from signing the longest contract in the history of Stoke City, Shawcross is playing the best football of his life, throwing his body on line to block shots. He leads a very stubborn back four with his brute force and physical presence.

His command and reading of the game make him a big asset to any team and Tony Pulis has done well to secure the services of Shawcross, who had been catching the eye of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

At 25 he represents the future of the English national team and 2013 will be a big year for the Stoke skipper to cement his place in Roy Hodgson’s plans.

 

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.