Monday, January 30, 2012
The 33-year-old made the revelations on the ‘Real Sports’ show and freely conceded that he had received regular shots of Toradol, which is an anti-inflammatory which can ease injuries, especially in physical sports such as American Football. Even people looking at the in-running Super Bowl odds will have been shocked by the revelations.
"It's normal," Urlacher told "Real Sports." "You drop your pants, you get the alcohol, they give you a shot, put the Band-Aid on and you go out and play."
The news came as quite a shock to interviewer Andrea Kremer who appeared to know a lot more about the side effects of the drug than the veteran middle linebacker.
Toradol has previously been proven to cause kidney failure and gastrointestinal bleeding.
However, Urlacher seemed quite unconcerned about the possible damage he is doing to his body, admitting he didn’t know that they were the side effects and freely admitted that he didn’t mind them, as long as he could still play.
"First of all, we love football," Urlacher said. "We want to be on the field as much as we can be. If we can be out there, it may be stupid, it may be dumb, call me dumb and stupid then, because I want to be on the football field."
Later in the interview he also said he has faked injury in the past after suffering a concussion to allow him to refocus just so he wasn’t replaced.
"If I have a concussion these days, I'm going to say something happened to my toe or knee just to get my bearings for a few plays," he added. "I'm not going to sit in there and say I got a concussion. [Then] I can't go in there the rest of the game."
Friday, January 27, 2012
Here is a short guide that will help you understand the differences between the types of races and obstacles that you would see at the Cheltenham Festival over the course of the 27 races and four days.
The first thing to differentiate is what are hurdles and steeplechase fences. Hurdles are smaller, more flexible obstacles typically about 3½ feet in height, and a minimum of eight of them are jumped in races which range from 2M to just over 3M at the Festival. Those looking for tips for racing should remember this.
Steeplechase fences are larger, rigid obstacles a minimum of 4½ feet high and are run over distances of 2M to 4M at the Festival, once again a minimum of eight obstacles are jumped per race.
The Champion Bumper is the only flat race run at the Festival and it regularly showcases some of the most exciting young horses in training, who subsequently go on to make big names for themselves over hurdles or fences. The term "Bumper" comes from the fact that in the past, only amateur riders were allowed to compete and they typically had an ungainly "bumping" style in the saddle in comparison to the professionals.
Now we have established what is jumped in a race, let's take a look at the types of race that you could see at Cheltenham. Many of the races will be for novices, so what is a novice? A novice is a horse who has not won a race under a particular code (hurdling or chasing) before the current season. They generally race against their own but there is nothing to stop a novice running in normal hurdles or chases. The last novice to win the Gold Cup was Captain Christy in 1974, whilst Alderbrook was still a novice when capturing the Champion Hurdle in 1995. People who bet on racing should bear this in mind.
Moving on we then come to handicaps of which there are 11 at the Festival – some over hurdles and some over fences. The horses in handicaps are allotted different weights assessed on their abilities over past races, the idea being that the different weights will equalise their ability and allow then to finish together. Of course that never happens but if there is a very close finish involving three or four horses you will often hear pundits/commentators say that "is a victory for the handicapper".
Although most handicap races are not for the very best horses, this is not true in all cases, and some of the biggest races in the world are handicaps, such as the Grand National. The most prestigious handicaps run at the Festival include the William Hill Chase for staying chasers and the County Hurdle for speedy 2M hurdlers.
All races are graded at the Festival are graded - the most prestigious contests are, in descending order of importance, Grade 1s, Grade 2s, Grade 3s, Listed contests, Handicaps to Bumpers - the least prestigious. The more highly graded races attract more prize money and better horses – the most important race at the Festival is the Cheltenham Gold Cup worth £500,000 and the prizes run right down to the one with least money on offer the Foxhunters, worth £40,000 but that race is more about prestige that prize money.
The Cheltenham Festival is one of the year's sporting highlights and it moves ever closer.
Mickelson, at 14/1, is the fourth-favourite to win the Masters Tournament at Augusta, in April, behind Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Lee Westwood. However, if his performance at Torrey Pines is any kind of indicator, the bookmakers have been a little too generous to the 41-year-old American. People following the best US Masters odds online need to remember this.
With seven bogeys on the opening day, Mickelson starts the second round on the back foot. He made just two shots under par, yesterday, at the 6th and 17th, as his accuracy with the driver fell to under 50 perfect. His putting, often described as his forte, was decidedly average; he made 32 attempts with the stick, over the course of the day.
Mickelson's nightmare in the first round is disappointing for the left-hander, in more ways than one. The HSBC Golf Championship in Abu Dhabi has drawn a number of 'big names' away from the Farmers Open, this week a development that leaves Mickelson as one of the few household names in California.
While it would be unfair to the other golfers at Torrey Pines to suggest that this year's line-up poses less of a challenge to Mickelson, the absence of Tiger Woods, the 'poster-boy' of the Farmers Open, had presented Lefty with an opportunity to rack up some points without Woods breathing down his neck.
Tiger, who is currently tied for third in Abu Dhabi, chose to play in the HSBC Championship, alongside Rory McIlroy, due to the larger prize offered by the organisers, both in terms of money and rankings points. Woods is hoping to stake a claim on Luke Donald's no.1 slot on the Rankings, in time for the start of the Masters Tournament.
Bogut joined the Bucks as their number one pick in the 2005 draft, becoming the first Australian player to be drafted top of the list. The 27-year-old has had a painful time in the NBA, since then, succumbing to injuries on a semi-regular basis. He has not had a problem-free season for at least four years. Those placing an NBA bet online need to remember this.
Speaking after Wednesday's game, Bogut said that he "knew he was in some trouble" when he landed from his block attempt: "Everything's fine with the X-ray [but] tomorrow's the day of reckoning where I go under the MRI machine, and find out my fate." Bogut added that, due to his history of injuries, he is "not optimistic".
The Melbourne-born player has already missed one game this year, Bucks vs. Dallas, on January 13, due to a suspected concussion. His absence was particularly galling for Milwaukee, given that he had been missing on (presumed) compassionate leave for the previous four Bucks' fixtures.
Bogut's list of problems extends back to 2008, when he sustained an injury to his back, an ailment that cost him 43 games. However, his on-court accident in 2010 is his most famous – and painful – problem, to date; he broke his hand, dislocated his elbow, and sprained his wrist in the same fall.
Writing on his Twitter account he said: "I will get back from this. Injury was beyond my control. First step: walking again."
NHL picks star Alexander Ovechkin has endured a pretty difficult season so far, despite finding himself selected for his fifth All Star game, and there are now signs that he might just be starting to think seriously about the state of his career in hockey, with the player posting online images of him rapping in Russian!
Although it is of course up to individual players to determine their own fates in whatever sport they choose to compete in, surely the likes of Alexander Ovechkin have a responsibility to the game of hockey to maintain a clear and intense focus on their own performances if they wish to stand a chance of pushing hockey back into the limelight for all the right reasons, especially after a year in which the sport has been blighted somewhat by big hits, concussed superstars, and more cash problems than it would care to admit.
With hockey, much like the rest of North American sport, being built on the basis that every franchise is looking to support every other one, rather than strive to achieve individual glory for itself at the sake of others, the same must also be true of players who know that they are part of a united front that hockey tries to present to the world.
If the future of hockey and the NHL is going to be bright and spread beyond these shores. Harnessing the ability of supporters from across the world to tune in and watch hockey online, the likes of Ovechkin will need to ensure that they maintain their focus and start getting back to the top of their game rather than looking to seriously pursue their off rink exploits, leaving the sport looking amateur in the extreme.
Stan James Champion Hurdle
Horses that won last time out are very strong statistically in this race and just following those types of horses that were successful last time out landed the one-two again last year. Only four horses in the last 28 runnings of this race have won without winning on their previous outing. A powerful statistic to consider in the Champion Hurdle when attempting to find the winner. Fans of the Cheltenham betting should remember this.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
Previous Festival form is a recurring theme in the championship races at the Festival, notably the Queen Mother Champion Chase and 20 of the last 27 winners have won or finished placed at this meeting in the past. Those looking for 2012 Cheltenham betting tips need to bear this in mind.
Only a seven year history to work with here but the one standout statistic is that all six winners and five of the runner-ups in that period have previously won at Cheltenham. If there is a race where course form counts this is it.
Ladbrokes World Hurdle
With Big Buck’s likely to dominant here there is little chance of the Irish breaking their 17 year hoodoo in this race or a five-year-old being a major challenger as they haven’t won the race since its inception in 1972.
Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup
A fascinating clash this year between Kauto Star and Long Run will be the major storyline in the race but the fly in the ointment could be Grands Crus – a novice. if he takes his chance, no novice has won since 1974 but, arguably of more relevance, is that only a true great in Dawn Run, who was having only her fifth start over fences when winning an historic renewal in 1986, has won the Gold Cup for horses with less than six chase starts since Mill House in 1963 who had five previous chase starts to his name. This will be Grand Crus’ fifth chase start if he lines up to here, assuming he has a prep-run between the Feltham and Festival. He would add another dimension to what is already a fascinating head-to-head clash.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
City are reportedly looking for a permanent transfer for their asset, who is worth £30 million in their valuation.
The Argentine has not played for the club since refusing to come off the substitutes’ bench for manager Roberto Mancini in a Champions League tie against Bayern Munich back in September. The Manchester club failed to reach the knockout stage of the competition after finishing third behind the German champions and Napoli.
French side PSG were one of the favourites in the live soccer betting football who were actively involved in trying to sign Tevez. The Parisian club are now managed by former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti and have Brazilian Leonardo as their director of football, have decided against making an improved offer.
Inter, on the hand, used their official website to confirm they has ruled themselves of the running for Tevez, though the soccer betting tips suggest they may yet come in with a late offer.
Club director Tronchetti Provera said: "Does Tevez still interest us? He no longer does as he (Tevez) is looking to take a different path. Inter have rediscovered their champions and we don't need to have him (Tevez) or anybody else. But he (Tevez) remains a great champion."
The latest development means AC Milan are now strong favourites to land the player’s signature, however, the Italian club may look to initially loan Tevez with the view of a permanent deal in the summer.
Tevez joined Manchester City in 2009 from their neighbours Manchester United, after he played 63 games for the Reds including their Champions League final win against Chelsea in Moscow.
Despite being faced with unsuitably testing ground hopes were fairly high that the Vida Bingham-owned 12-year-old would put up a good performance at the Lancashire track having run a cracker on his previous start at Cheltenham on New Year's Day when he found only the lightly-weighted Mostly Bob (received 16lbs) too good for him in the very competitive Raceodds Handicap Chase. That run had been on 'Good to Soft' ground but Mon Mome found the heavy underfoot conditions at Haydock all beyond him, regular pilot Aidan Coleman reporting that the veteran was never travelling in the bog-like conditions and that he pulled him up at the 12th when it was clear the horse was simply not enjoying himself and struggling to go the pace. People looking at a Stan James review should remember this.
Trainer Venetia Williams was quick to admit that it might not have been the wisest move (in hindsight) in letting the popular staying chaser run at Haydock, and insisted that he remains on course for a return visit to Liverpool, the scene of his stunning 100/1 success in the 2009 Grand National where he defeated the previous year's race winner Comply Or Die by 12 lengths. Fans of Betvictor racing will remember the event.
Third in the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup (to Imperial Commander), Mon Mome returned this term after missing last season through injury and still looks capable of making his presence felt in the top staying handicap chases given the right conditions. Bookmakers currently rate him a 33/1 shot to win back his crown on April 14.
However, Brady recovered from the shattering blow to spike the ball and punch the air in celebration as he scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter to help his side beat the Ravens 23-20 in the AFC Championship game. Those looking at the pre Super Bowl NFL betting will have been impressed.
Following the incident, Brady says he is fine and so are the patriots as they now head to the Super Bowl to face the New York Giants on February 5th. However, Kraft thought their dreams may have been over when Brady received the hit from linebacker Ray Lewis and thought that the playmaker may have suffered a life threatening injury.
"We all shuddered up in the box," he said. "We thought that his back might have been broken."
When touching it down, Brady had his head pointing towards the ground and Lewis who had been lining up behind the line made the last ditch tackle as he looked to send Brady back over the line.
The 34-year-old however got up straight away from the incident and none of the players on either side rushed in to have their say.
Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater says this is the way the game should be played and says Lewis had every right to try and tackle Brady.
"That's the way the game should be played, physical," he said.
"This game is not a noncontact sport. So there's going to be hits. We knew that going into the game with those guys. They play physical football and we knew we had to match that going in. I didn't see it as a dirty hit at all."
Despite the setback last season, it is unlikely to stop connections from having another shot at the feature race at Aintree this year, as Paul Nicholls bids for his first Grand National success.
The run in Merseyside last April was the first time he failed to complete a circuit in his 31 career runs and those looking at the 2012 Grand National odds should remember he has shown he has what it takes to get around some tough courses.
Tidal Bay's seasonal reappearance this time came at Cheltenham on New Year's Day when finishing third in a Class Two handicap hurdle at Prestbury Park. The Graham Wylie-owned runner was behind the impressive Houblon Des Obeaux and Kayf Aramis.
Although Tidal Bay has had 11 wins over hurdles, it is over the biggest fences that he has shown his best potential. He started his novice career by winning the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2008. He followed that up by winning the equivalent novice contest at Aintree a month later.
Tidal Bay's class as a chaser was shown even further last season when he finished sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It was one of the hottest renewals of the blue riband event at the festival, with Long Run, Kauto Star and Denman all involved in the 3m contest.
Before his second shot at the Grand National, he is like to feature at the Cheltenham Festival once again. He has an entry in both the World Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with connections undecided at this stage about which race to bid for with their mount.
Four particular stars worthy of a Kauto Star, Frankel, Goldikova and Rapid Redux. The first three are pretty much household names but the last named my not be as well-known to you all. So let's start with Rapid Redux who broke one post-1900 US record and equalled another while winning 21 races in succession since 2010 (since then victory 22 has been added) – including all 19 starts in 2011. The all-time US record is 23 consecutive victories by Leviathan (1797-1801) and the world record is 56 by Camarero in Puerto Rico (1953-55). Trained by David Wells, the ultra-tough and consistent front-running Rapid Redux is no champion having scored all his victories in lowly company but that should not detract from his superb record this year. Fans of on line racing should remember this.
Kauto Star needs no such introduction and his win on the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day made him the greatest steeplechaser since Arkle and the first horse to win Kempton's mid-season championship race five times, beating the record that he had previously shared with Desert Orchid. When Kauto Star won the Betfair Chase on November 19 he became the only horse, Flat or jumps, to win two different Group/Grade 1 races four times each, as he had already landed the Haydock prize in 2006, 2007 and 2007 – a remarkable achievement. Those looking for a horse betting how to need to bear this in mind.
Frankel bestrode the Flat season and this colossus of a horse and on most rating systems he was a record breaker, his wins in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and his spectacular four-length victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on the inaugural British Champions Day being performances that will long live in the memory and his record breaking feats look sure to be continued in 2012.
Finally, no equine list of record breakers for 2011 would be complete without the inclusion of Goldikova. She won two Group 1 races in her final year of racing which extended her tally in very top-level races to 15. The six-year-old mare trained by Freddie Head, retired with a total prize-money total of £4,364,886, a record for a filly or mare trained in Europe.
Four very different horses but all ones from whom 2011 was a record breaking year.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The British number one certainly looks in good shape at the moment as he aims for glory at the Australian Open. He moved into the last eight on Monday after his latest opponent, Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin, was forced to retire when two sets down due to a hip injury.
The Scot now meets rising Japanese star Kei Nishikori in the quarter-final - a showdown that is likely to test Murray much more than his games in Melbourne so far - after Nishikori caused an upset when beating sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in five sets.
Lendl, who became Murray's coach at the turn of the year, believes his protege is on course to win a Grand Slam sooner rather than later but, at just 24 years old, he knows the world number four still has time on his side. Those looking at the in-play betting odds need to remember this.
He said: "Part of it is maturing, he is still a fairly young player, he is 25 this year.
"He needs experience and some players learn quicker than others, I was one of the slower ones.
"You just do your thing and keep on doing it and when the door opens you have to step through it."
Murray has made it through to three grand slam finals in his career so far but has yet to taste success. He was beaten by Novak Djokovic at the final hurdle in Melbourne 12 months ago and could meet the Serbian World Number One at the sem-final stage this year.
Lendl, though, insists losing finals is all part of Murray's development and he should not be ashamed as he has been beaten by quality players like current world number four Roger Federer and Djokovic.
He added: "Everyone makes a big thing of Andy being 0-3 in finals but he lost twice to Roger (Federer), arguably the best player of all time and certainly in the Open era.
"Losing to Novak (Djokovic) here last year at the time looked like a bad loss but if that had happened at the US Open everyone would have said Novak had had a fantastic year and no-one would have been riding Andy's tail."
So we thought we would take a look at the trainers who perform well on the all-weather over the months of February and March. Many trainers are creatures of habit and looking at their patterns can unearth plenty of potentially interesting angles which will hopefully prove popular in the next couple of months.
In terms of strike-rate over the two months under consideration in the last five years, John Gosden takes the plaudits but doesn't return a level stakes profit, although due to his good strike rate 33% he should be kept on-side in the right situations. Perhaps it would be worth noting the horses that he sends to Southwell and Wolverhampton, where from a handful of runners he has a very good record. Fans of racing betting should bear this in mind.
One trainer who should definitely be kept on your side over February and March is Ed Dunlop and his record of 20 winners from just 68 runners on the all-weather over the past five years marks him down as a trainer to follow. In fact he makes a profit at three of the four all-weather tracks with Lingfield being the odd one out. He is it must be said a rare visitor to Southwell and the fibresand surface but his runners should be noted when he does go there as he has been successful with his runners on his last three visits. Those looking at the online racing need to remember this.
Another favourite to follow over the coming months would be Ralph Beckett who has a fine 23% strike rate in the period we have analysed, with 9 winners coming from just 39 runners, so Beckett is certainly selective with his all-weather runners. Once again there are tracks that are favoured out of the all-weather quartet and in this case Beckett and Kempton fit together very well, five of his winner from 16 runners coming there.
Of course profitable past performance gives no guarantees of future profits, but we will certainly be staying on the right side of the trainers highlighted here – especially under the right circumstances that we have mentioned.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Nuggets-Knicks is always an interesting match-up, on account of the two sides' on-court brawl in 2006. Fortunately, the main point of interest at Madison Square Garden, at the weekend, was the stunning display from Gallinari, who was playing against his former team, the Knicks, for the first time since February 2011.
The Nuggets' team was made up of several former Knicks players, including Al Harrington and Timofey Mazgov. Harrington netted 24 points for Denver, while Mozgov, a player who arrived from New York as part of the trade for Carmelo Anthony, alongside Gallinari, collected a career-high 16.
Anthony could not equal Gallinari's prowess on the ball, missing two-thirds of his attempts on the basket, to end on 25 points and 10 rebounds. The Brooklyn-born player was instrumental, albeit accidentally, in giving the Nuggets a layup at the death, when he tossed a pass wide, and into the hands of Gallinari. Anyone following the bookmakers NBA odds will have been astonished.
He did, however, push the game into overtime with just under two seconds remaining on the clock, to spare the Knicks a regulation defeat.
The popular Anthony has struggled with a wrist problem, in recent weeks, a condition that likely contributed to his awkward display, on Saturday. The forward, having missed a number of shots early in the game, was booed by fans. However, he managed to pull himself together in the later stages of the game.
Gallinari found the Knicks' fans rather more welcoming. Despite being an opposition player, the Italian was applauded by New Yorkers: “It was great. I want to thank all the New York fans for the ovation they gave me”. Gallinari added that Madison Square Garden is “always special. You always find extra motivation [to play].”
The Knicks have now lost six games in a row, a tally that makes the Atlantic division of the Eastern Conference look somewhat suspect; New York are in second place, despite having significantly more losses than victories. The Knicks' win-loss ratio of 6-10 makes the 11-5 of the 76ers, in first place, seem phenomenal, in comparison.
The Saints back-rower has been ruled out of the Stuart Lancaster’s side’s first two matches against Scotland and Italy and will have to wear protective boot to aid his recovery which is expected to take four weeks following the injury he picked-up in training.
Wood was mentioned as a potential captain for the Six Nations and has admitted his disappointment at missing out on the start of the tournament. Those looking at the in-play Six Nations odd will be sad that he is missing out.
"This cuts pretty deep, because it's an exciting time for English rugby at the moment," Wood told The Daily Telegraph. "It would be good to have been part of that, to have a real fresh start.”
The 25-year-old is seen as one of England’s brightest stars and having made his debut in last season’s competition, was tipped to establish himself in the side.
Unfortunately, he has been hampered by injuries and former coach Martin Johnson’s sometimes questionable selection policy which meant he only played a minor role in the World Cup.
The former Worcester man first picked-up the injury in November but says he and the Saints’ coaching staff have been managing the problem. However, he believes it has gone on too long and after struggling with the pain, has decided to give it a rest to ensure his long term fitness.
"The injury is one I've been trying to manage for a while, but it needs rest to avoid any operations further down the line. So the foot's going to be in this boot for the next few weeks, immobilised, to give it the best chance of healing," he said.
"One day in November, I changed direction in training and felt what I thought was a tear. It was awkward. I've been in and out of the boot, managing my load and having the odd weekend off. But it's just getting a bit too much now."
Manning felt ill when he woke up on Wednesday but decided to 'tough it out' and took full part in the walk through plays before letting stand-in David Carr take over the live snaps.
However, after receiving some intravenous fluids he says he is back to 100% and is relieved that he fell ill on Wednesday and not at the weekend. Those looking at the best online Super Bowl odds will be wondering if he will be back to full fitness.
"It wasn't going well so I tried to be smart," said Manning. "It was fortunate it happened on a Wednesday and not later in the week."
Even if he had been ill, it is highly unlikely that Manning would have missed the match due to a stomach virus. The quarterback is known as one of the toughest players in the sport and is currently on a record streak of 128 consecutive starts and has overcome much more serious issue to maintain that run.
In 2007 he played through a shoulder injury while in 2009 he refused to let a foot problem sideline him.
The 31-year-old has downplayed the fuss surrounding his recent illness and says he is now fully focussed on his team's trip to California. "I didn't watch too much TV so I didn't see the attention it was getting," he said. "You know, when you get into big games like this any little thing that pops up people make a big deal about. We can put it behind us now and focus on the game."
Saturday, January 21, 2012
China Open winner Trump held the upper-hand over Robertson going into their last-four showdown at Alexandra Palace, having beaten the Australian at the World Championship last season and UK Championship last month, but his potting game suffered against his opponent's all-round game. Anyone following the pre-match snooker betting will be wondering if has what it takes to go all the way.
The former world champion Robertson led 3-1 and 5-1 before Trump rallied – only for the Melbourne cue man to jump all over a mistake by the 22-year-old to close out the match in north London.
Robertson admitted Trump was not at his explosive best and was relieved to come through a tough test of his credentials.
"I thought I played really well to go 3-1 up. I thought I played really good matchplay snooker and thankfully he missed a couple," Robertson told BBC Sport.
Murphy beat world number one Mark Selby 6-2 to secure a Masters semi-final against world champion Higgins, who he will meet on Saturday night. World champion Higgins recorded five half-century breaks plus a 109 to beat Graeme Dott 6-3 and Robinson said he was anticipating another huge challenge.
"Hopefully I can keep my run [in finals] going and I'll be playing one of the two greats of the game. Either opponent, it's going to be a huge game," he added.
Friday, January 20, 2012
With the likes of Anderson and Alfie starting to grab the headlines for all the right reasons, and with the rest of the roster looking solid, the franchise's record streak on the road looks likely to continue, to such an extent that the Sens know they could soon become a real contender for the Stanley Cup if they can keep pulling together on the ice.
Having seen individuals like Heatley and Emery leave the franchise in recent years, and with the roster beginning to look far more balanced and natural than it has over the last couple of seasons, the citizens of Ottawa, as well as those who watch live hockey online are slowly starting to feel the same sort of vibe that was doing the rounds in the city when they took on the Ducks in a previous Stanley Cup final (albeit one that didn't end well for the Sens).
If they can manage to recapture the belief and spirit they had in abundance back then, and throw into the mix a little bit more experience and a number of players dedicated to showing that they are the best in the business, then we may just start to see the Sens firmly back to their best.
On a final note, while most Ottawa fans will be pleased to see this, spare a thought for Leafs nation, who have watched their local rivals bounce back from crisis while they remain in one themselves
Charlton Athletic moved a step closer to a return to the Championship after a crucial 1-0 victory over fellow promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Saturday.
Wednesday went into the game in fine form having lost just once in 12 games and the soccer betting was unable to separate the sides come kick-off. But Johnnie Jackson’s free-kick was enough to see the leaders prevail and consign Wednesday to their first home defeat of the season.
Wednesday would have gone just two points behind Charlton with victory. Instead, they dropped eight points behind the table-toppers in fourth place. They fell one place as Huddersfield Town capitalised on their defeat.
Town left it late in their game with Oldham Athletic at the Galpharm Stadium. It looked as if Huddersfield would have to settle for a frustrating goalless draw heading into the dying stages, only for substitute Alan Lee to head the winner four minutes from time. They moved to within three points of Sheffield United, who ran out convincing 3-0 winners at Gigg Lane.
Bury were unbeaten in the league since October but had no answer as the Blades scored three
second-half goals without reply to keep pace with Charlton at the top. Richard Cresswell, Ched Evans and Lee Williamson were the scorers for Danny Wilson’s side.
MK Dons are the only other side with realistic automatic promotion aspirations and they endured a frustrating weekend after their game against play-off hopefuls Carlisle United was postponed at the last minute due to a frozen pitch.
Charlton are in pole position however for punters looking to bet on the championship title. They are four points ahead of Sheffield United with a game in hand. Intriguingly, the top two face off at the Valley this weekend. It is a six-pointer which could prove to be season-defining.
David Beckham admits he is still passionate about playing in America after agreeing a new two-year contract with LA Galaxy.
The soccer betting tips had suggested that the 36-year-old former England captain would be returning to Europe after helping the Galaxy with the MLS Cup championship in November, with the likes of Paris St Germain and Tottenham reportedly interested in snapping him up.
However Beckham, who has been in Los Angeles since 2007, is happy to extend his time in the USA and punters can bet on soccer games knowing the former England captain will be back on the field. Beckham admitted he is keen to help the Galaxy defend the MLS Cup they secured when they beat Houston Dynamo 1-0 two months ago.
"This was an important decision for me,” said the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star. "I had many offers from clubs from around the world. However, I'm still passionate about playing in America and winning trophies with the Galaxy."
Beckham enjoyed his best season in Los Angeles last year, posting a career-high 15 assists and scoring twice in 26 games, his most appearances since joining the league.
Seven of his assists during the regular season were game-winners, and he also managed an assist in all four of the Galaxy's post-season games.
Beckham, who has also spent two loan spells with AC Milan during his time with the Galaxy, has won 115 caps for England, finding the net on 17 occasions when representing his country.
The Galaxy return to competitive action on Wednesday 7th March when they take on Toronto FC in the first leg of their 2011-12 Champions League quarter-final.
They open the 2012 MLS season three days later when they host Real Salt Lake at The Home Depot Center.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
The former Manchester United defender was on loan with the Canadian side last season in which he played 23 times for TFC. He made his debut in the 1-1 draw with Columbus Crew on April 23 following the switch from the English club.
Although Eckersley is a right back by trade, he was used in the centre of defence on more than one occasion by coach Aron Winter last season following injuries in the squad.
Toronto’s Director of Player Development Paul Mariner helped persuade Eckersley to join the MLS side, who remain one of the favourites for the play-offs in the live soccer betting , as he was the 22-year old’s manager when the defender went on loan to Plymouth in 2010.
Eckersley signed for Burnley in 2009 after he rejected a new contract from United. The Turf Moor club offered him a four year deal when they were promoted to the Premier League after winning the Championship play-off final against Sheffield United at Wembley.
The Reds won the Canadian Championship last year for the third consecutive season and as a result have qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League, though the soccer betting tips are predicting they will struggle to make an impact in that competition. In the MLS they finished 16th overall after winning just six of their 34 games with just the New England Revolution and Vancouver Whitecaps FC behind them in the standings.
Toronto’s second capture this week is Ecuadorian Geovanny Caicedo who signs from LDU Quito. The 30-year old defender has played eight times for his country and was part of the Ecuador squad that took part in the 2011 Copa America. His last appearance for the national side was against the United States in October 2011.
Jean Beausejour looks set for a move to Wigan Athletic after the Lancashire club agreed a fee with Birmingham City.
The 27-year-old, who has been a standout performer in the Championship this season, will now open talks with the Premier League basement side.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has previously stated his desire to bring in quality to complement the players he already has at the club and boost his team's chances in the relegation betting stakes.
Speaking after his side’s 3-1 defeat at Queens Park Rangers, Martinez said: "We will use the transfer window to try to help the players we have at the club, but we already have belief and desire to do it."
The Chile international joined the Blues in August 2010 after impressive performances in the 2010 World Cup and has gone on to make 55 appearances for the club.
Beausejour has played a big role in Birmingham’s ascent up the Championship table and would be a big loss to Chris Hughton’s side.
It remains to be seen whether the Chilean makes the move from the Midlands. Birmingham currently occupy a play-off spot in the Championship, while Wigan are in real danger of losing their top-flight status.
Punters who bet on relegation will also take note transfer activity elsewhere among the strugglers.
Elsewhere at the bottom, Bolton’s survival hopes received a boost with news that American defender Tim Ream has been granted a work permit.
The 24-year-old will make the move across the Atlantic after impressing Owen Coyle while training with the club. Once the formalities are completed, Ream will complete his move from New York Bulls and could be a long-term replacement for Gary Cahill.
Mark Hughes will have to look elsewhere for firepower after Brazilian striker Henrique was denied a work permit. The QPR boss was hoping Henrique would go some way to solving the R’s problems in front of goal, but his work permit application was turned down.
Harrington is preparing for his first tournament of the season - this week's Volvo Golf Champions event in South Africa - where he hopes to erase the memory of a disappointing 2011, a year that saw him slip down to 89th in the world rankings. People searching online for free bets should remember this.
Despite his recent lack of success, the Dubliner, who won successive Open titles in 2007 and 2008, remains upbeat about his game and has plenty of confidence that he can compete for the big titles once again - hopefully this year.
"I didn't have a great year last year, but it doesn't worry me in the greater scheme of things because I know you just can't win them every year. You have to sit there and be patient and wait for your turn - and, like 2007 and 2008, they all come at once." Harrington said.
The Irishman certainly enjoyed a rich vein of form four years ago when he also triumphed in the US PGA Championship in 2008 to cap a dream 14-month spell but, since then, his game has slumped and he has struggled to be in contention for the majors in recent years while the likes of fellow countrymen Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and even veteran Darren Clarke taste glory.
Harrington admits coping with the expectation levels that follow once players finally make the major breakthrough is difficult but he is staying patient in his bid to recapture former glories.
He added: "People have this idea that just because you play well and you win one you should be doing that every year. That's the hardest thing. It definitely puts a big burden on anybody who wins a major, it really does. There's a lot of expectation that goes with it."
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Alexandra Palace, home of the PDC World Darts Championship, is staging snooker's blue chip invitation-only event for the first time but Murphy took to the famous old venue like a duck to water in a convincing 6-2 victory.
He closed with a sensational 139 total clearance to emerge as the early the front-runner for the £15,000 reward for the biggest break of the event and is now through to the last eight at Ally Pally to face Mark Selby or Stephen Lee.
Gould was also quickly into his stride, winning the first frame with breaks of 41 and 60, and was in the box seat to secure the second only for Murphy to win it on the colours in what proved a major turning point in the match. Those following the best snooker betting odds will have been surprised by the way Gould let it slip.
Breaks of 107, 59 and 82 then saw former World and UK Champion Murphy surge 4-1 ahead in north London.
Middlesex cue-man Gould, runner-up in the Player Tour Championship Grand Finals, rallied briefly but his joy was short-lived as Murphy rattled in 89 and 139 to clinch the result.
"I've been scoring well recently and I'm in good shape," he said. "It was a great atmosphere, a great crowd here. I've been here to watch the darts before and the atmosphere is electric in this place."
Gould added: "There aren't many players who have won the World Championship, even less have won the World and the UK, and there's a very small group of players who have won the three major championships. This is the only one that's eluded me. I've never got to the semi-finals so maybe new venue, new start."
In a veiled swipe at his opponent, the Antrim cue man pointed a finger at Robertson's playing style and added he "couldn't really be bothered" after the interval as the Australian rattled off four frames in a row to close out the win. Those placing a snooker bet online will have been disappointed by his attitude.
The Northern Irishman hit the headlines at the UK Championship last month when he called on World Snooker supremo Barry Hearn to quit.
"If Neil got on with it he would be a bit better to watch because at times I didn't want to watch him play," said the world number 10.
"Neil is the sort of player who can keep you out of the game for long periods and it was hard for me to keep my focus.
"He's very good at it and knows he can do that to players."
Allen added: "I let it get to me and hopefully I will learn from it and will not let it happen in the future."
The UK Championship runner-up suggested he was still on a high after his near-miss last month and intimated he had possibly not taken Robertson seriously.
He added: "I don't know what happened out there - I felt quite flat after the interval but still wanted to win the game.
"Maybe I was a bit over-confident and felt I just had to turn up, at 3-2 ahead, to win so I got what I deserved."
Former world champion Robertson, priced at 7/1 with Ladbrokes to win the tournment, will aim to make the semi-finals of the showpiece invitation-only event when he taken on Mark Williams on Friday at Alexandra Palace.
It is arguably the most eagerly anticipated fixture of the season as Real Madrid take on Barcelona in El Classico, and us football fans have been treated to a bonus edition of the fixture as the two Spanish giants meet each other in the Copa Del Ray tonight, with the game being a favourite with victor chandler free bets.
Although Barcelona finished the year as World and European champions, as well as winning Real in the league in December, they have struggled to match their usually high standards and have fallen 5 points behind Madrid in the league as bwin makes Jose Mourhinos men favourites to win the La Liga title.
After dropping points against Espanyol last week, Barcalona were troubled by Betis this weekend, which saw Pep Guardiola display his anger towards his teams performance.
As Barca lost a two goal lead at the weekend to be pulled back to 2-2. Guardiola was seen admonishing Xavi. A reaction that was down to Peps frustration at his players failing to stick to their principles of passing forward and sideways rather than being content to pass backwards and making wrong decisions as a team. Messi and co did eventually win the game 4-2 but the stumbling performance could be put down to the team being both physically and mentally tired after a gruelling few years of being at the very peak of World football week in week out.
You could say then, that this is a great time for Madrid and Jose Mourinho's men to get one over on their rivals who have dominated them in the past couple of years.
But while everybody thought that Mourinho would record his first victory over Barca as Real manager in December, Barca dominated the game and proved that Real were still some way off from having the ability and knowledge to win.
Barcelona will no doubt once again raise their game for this key clash, as they will be looking for revenge from the Copa Del Ray loss last season, as Ronaldo's extra time header won the cup for the galactico's.
It will certainly be a fantastic game in the the first leg at the Bernebuea tonight.
The nine-year-old was last seen when winning the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over the Christmas period, finishing ahead of favourite Quito De La Roque and fancied runner Rubi Light.
Trainer Jonjo O'Neill will be aiming to win his first Hennessy Gold Cup with Synchronised next month in a race that is served as a leading trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the festival in March.
If the J P McManus-owned gelding runs a strong race in Ireland, a shot at the blue riband event a month later could be a realistic option for their talented chaser. Those with online Grand National free bets should remember this.
However, the Grand National has always been a target for this horse this season. Synchronised has proven he is capable of staying over trips of four mile plus on more than one occasion. He won the Midlands Grand National over the trip of 4m2f in 2010, and went on to finish third in the same race 12 months later.
McManus' racing manager Frank Berry believes the horse is in good health and expects a strong run once against at Leopardstown next month.
“All going well he's going for the Irish Hennessy and he's picked up well after his run at Christmas,” he said. “Jonjo is very happy with him.
"We were delighted to see him handle the ground so well at Leopardstown last month. To be fair, he has looked a lot sharper this season than he has in the past.”
If Synchronised does go on to run in the Grand National, and wins the race, it will be O'Neill's second success in the famous steeplechase after Don't Push It broke his duck in 2010.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
The Blues have their League Cup ambitions hanging in the balance, as the find themselves a goal down against the Reds ahead of the return leg at Anfield later this month. Those following the Carling Cup betting will wonder if they can turn things around.
A first-half Steven Gerrard penalty was the difference between the two sides but Liverpool would have put the tie to bed were it not for some superb saves from City shot stopper Joe Hart.
Having been knocked out of the FA Cup by arch rivals Manchester United in their previous outing, City’s chances of winning a domestic cup competition now hang by a thread, with the Eastlands outfit needing to get a result on Merseyside to reach the final at Wembley.
Either Crystal Palace or Cardiff City from the Championship will be awaiting the Blues or the Reds in this year’s final at the home of football and Mancini has called his team to get back to winning ways following two consecutive defeats. People placing a Carling Cup bet should remember this.
The Italian tactician said: "I thought we played better in the second half, we were poor in the first half. In the end we didn't deserve to lose, but we were unlucky.
"This moment is very difficult, but it is important that we stay very confident. This moment is not a good moment. We have to continue to work and continue to believe in ourselves."
Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow was hyped up in the football betting before the game but it was Tom Brady who stole the show in the 45-10 playoff victory at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. The experienced quarterback threw for 509 yards and six touchdowns as he equalled the record for most touchdowns in a post-season game. Rob Gronkowski was the main beneficiary with three touchdown catches and 145 yards.
Five of Brady’s six touchdown passes came in the first half. He hit Wes Welker and Gronkowski for touchdowns in the first quarter to give the Patriots an early advantage.
The Broncos responded early in the second quarter through a Willis McGahee touchdown. However, Brady inspired three unanswered touchdowns before halftime – Gronkowski scoring his second and third of the game either side of Deion Branch's 61-yard effort. The Patriots went into the break with an unassailable 35-7 lead.
Aaron Hernandez scored in the third quarter as the New England threatened to run riot. The scoring was completed when Matt Prater and Stephen Gostkowski exchanged field goals.
It was a sobering experience for Tebow, who had been a revelation for the Broncos on their run to the play-offs and there was a flood of NFL bets hoping for a fairytale ending. However, Tebow gained just 136 yards to Brady's 509.
The Patriots take on the Ravens for the AFC title on January 22 and a place in the Super Bowl finale against either the New York Giants or San Francisco 49ers.
With Brady in this kind of form, you wouldn’t back against the Patriots lifting the Super Bowl for the first time since 2004.
Cooper is certainly not the most stylish jockey I've ever seen, but to most seasoned observers his winning ride on Elton Fox at Uttoxeter on New Year's Eve was in most aspects a good one, gathering his mount up to go after the leader on the run-in and driving him home to score by a length from Avenging Ace. There's no doubt that Cooper exceeded the new limit on using the whip, (he admits that), but the punishment was based on his horse not having been given time to respond, yet the gelding went from being two-lengths down after the last to a length in front at the line, so he must have been responding, mustn't he? Fans of victor chandler racing should think about this.
52 days is a massive ban for an amateur who has limited riding opportunities, but less than 24 hours after that news broke, Cooper rode another winner on board Mortimer's Cross at Fontwell - a horse who didn't need any persuasion and was only struck once during the closing stages - and in a show of bottled-up exasperation and obvious joy threw his whip away as he crossed the wining line. Anyone looking at the Stan James betting should bear this in mind.
Horse racing is about winning races, and if a horse can be persuaded to try harder when in with a realistic chance of improving its finishing position without being abused then the whip should be used. Abuse of the whip should be punished, but 52 days for a good winning ride? The BHA ,(who banned senior jockey Robert Winston for 22 days just a day later for a similar breach), have got this wrong and need to quickly review their guidelines before we are left without enough jockeys to partner the intended runners at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival!
Kobe Bryant scored 26 points and Andrew Bynum 15 points and 15 rebounds as the Lakers -heavily fancied in the pre-game NBA betting tips - struggled to see off the challenge of the injury-hit Grizzlies.
The Lakers committed a season-high 27 turnovers and the giveaways led to 26 points for the visitors. Rudy Gay led five players in double figures for Memphis with 19 points, but it wasn’t enough for the Grizzlies as they fell to their second successive loss.
The Lakers raced into a nine-point lead in the first quarter and stretched that lead out to 14 points in the second, with Bryant and Pau Gasol to the fore.
Trailing 78-68 after three quarters, the Grizzlies scored six unanswered points to make it 78-74 with just over nine minutes left on the clock. That proved to be the closest Memphis got as Barnes reaffirmed the Lakers’ position of superiority with back-to-back buckets.
From a personal point of view, it was a disappointing outing for Lakers star man Bryant, who has heavily fancied to top score by the NBA online experts. However, Bryant scored just four points in the fourth quarter, failing to hit 30 points for the first time in four games.
The Lakers have now won six of eight after losing their first two games and haven’t lost at Staples Center since their season opener at Christmas. Memphis were left to count the cost of injuries as they failed to build on an impressive recent record against Los Angeles. The Grizzlies stormed to victory last time out at Staples – winning the contest by a 19-point margin.
It wasn’t to be this time around, though. The Lakers had just enough to get over the line.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Russell Westbrook was also amongst the points as the Thunder – the hot favourite among NBA betting tips - made it seven wins in a row and consigned the Celtics to their fifth straights loss. Westbrook scored 26 points, including two vital three-pointers late on to secure the victory for Oklahoma.
Thabo Sefolosha scored 12 points in the fourth quarter for the Thunder and Kendrick Perkins had seven points and five rebounds on his return to Boston. Paul Pierce scored 24 points and Kevin Garnett had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Celtics.
The Thunder started the game in confident mood and led 25-17 after the first quarter. They stretched that lead out to ten points in the second and held a 46-39 advantage at halftime.
Pierce hit a purple patch either side of the break and threatened to haul the Celtics back into the contest. He scored Boston’s last six points in the second quarter and three more quick baskets early in the third.
Back-to-back-layups by Jermaine O’Neal tied the score at 57 each with five minutes to play in the third, but the Thunder went on to score the last seven points of the quarter to make it a ten-point game.
Boston hit back in the final quarter and cut the deficit to 83-80 with 2:25 to play. However, the Thunder raised their game in the closing stages with Sefolosha and Westbrook to the fore.
Punters who bet on basketball expect Oklahoma to continue their impressive form against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, while the Celtics will look to get their season back on track when they play Toronto Raptors.
Fisher was recently appointed the head coach of Missouri franchise and has understandably been quick to appoint his own staff as he prepares for next season and his new team's assault on the play-offs.
The 53-year-old was appointed to the post on Friday after a season out of the game following the end of his tenure as the head coach of Tennessee. He is expected to bring some much needed stability to the team after he previously spent 16 years with the Titans and will be once again looking to build a dynasty. Those following the best Super Bowl betting should bear this in mind.
Schottenheimer recently left the New York Jets after six years in the BIG Apple, saying he was looking for a new challenge within the game. The 38-year-old has been with the Jets since 2006 but had come in for criticism in recent years after his offence went from one of the best in the league to one of the worst.
His former side have already moved to name former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano as his replacement and it now looks as he's going to make an almost instant return to the NFL.
Despite interest from the University of Alabama , it now looks almost certain that Schottenheimer will be back in the NFL and it will be intriguing to see whether or not he can turn the Rams offence around.
A horse with a tremendous amount of ability who it would be fair to say hasn't really achieved as much as many people anticipated, there is little doubt that the nine-year-old goes best at Cheltenham having recorded three of his four victories at the undulating Prestbury Park circuit from a total of 27 career starts. People who have read a Stan James review need to bear this in mind.
With only six winners registered during the 2010/11 season during what was a very difficult period for Knight after her partner, former champion jumps jockey and living legend Terry Biddlecombe suffered a stroke, things have started to look up this term and Calgary Bay's length-and-a-quarter success over Hector's Choice put the yard back in the spotlight following on from stable star Somersby's decent effort in finishing fourth behind Kauto Star in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. People looking at a Bwin review should remember this.
Decent ground and a strong pace are essential ingredients to bring out the best in Calgary Bay who as a young novice chaser had appeared to be destined for great things after landing the Grade 2 Dipper Novices Chase, but whilst he has run a number of decent races over the last three years invariably the son of Taipan has failed to deliver and run to his full potential. All roads will once again lead back to the home of National Hunt racing with Knight planning an assault on one of the big handicaps at Cheltenham in March, after which she would like to have another crack at the John Smith's Grand National, a race in which Calgary Bay only got as far as the fourth fence last year where he took a heavy fall.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Initially considered a more likely type for middle distances and in particular the Epsom and/or Irish Derby, the three-year-old colt, a winner of two of his five starts last term most notably the Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes on the Rowley Mile in October, showed enough speed to win the race that Frankel took the previous year before going on to success in the mile classic, and while the Bolger's son of Teofilio is not considered within hailing distance of the world's highest rated racehorse, he is now considered far more versatile in trip than had originally been thought. Those following the latest online horse racing betting odds will be keeping an eye on his progress.
A 20/1 shot when getting the better of fellow Irish raider Power by half-a-length at HQ, jockey Kevin Manning has reportedly been instrumental in persuading Bolger that Parish Hall has the required pace to be a genuine contender for the 2000 Guineas as well as the stamina to make a bold show in the Derby. Bolger has now stated publicly that his charge will be trained for both races, bookmakers having included his horse amongst a posse priced up at 20/1 co-second favourites behind the outstanding Aidan O'Brien-trained favourite Camelot, generally on offer at just 3/1.
Prior to his Newmarket win it is fair to say that Parish Hall hadn't really looked a horse out of the very top drawer and many pundits have questioned the value of the Dewhurst form with the first five home having been covered by little more than length.
The huge volume of bets matched at up to 28/1 in-running was eventually voided by the leading betting exchange who apologised for the error that was blamed on a freak series of technical faults. That story grabbed all the headlines and rather took the attention away from what had been a fine effort from the daughter of King's Theatre who confirmed her superiority over the runner-up for the second time in four weeks and in the process proved that she stays three-miles well, giving connections plenty of food for thought as to which Cheltenham Festival target, if any, they should go for. People looking at the Stan James betting should remember this.
Last season Voler La Vedette was not sent over to Cheltenham to take on Quevega in the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle, a race in which she had finished a highly respectable third to the great Willie Mullins-trained mare in 2010. Owner/breeder Margaret Brophy has made no secret of the fact that she doesn't really like her horses competing at the Cheltenham Festival so trainer Colm Murphy has a task on his hands in trying to persuade Mrs Brophy that her star performer should either have another crack at the Quevega in the 'David Nicholson', or should try her luck against the mighty Big Buck's in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle. Fans of Bwin should bear this in mind.
Bookmakers currently rate Voler La Vedette a 4/1 second favourite for the mares event whilst offering around 10/1 about her preventing Big Buck's completing a four-timer in the staying hurdles championship.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
New Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes is determined to grasp the opportunity with both hands after joining the club on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
The former Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City boss took over the reins at Loftus Road just 48 hours after the sacking of Neil Warnock and is excited by the challenge ahead of him.
Hughes said: "I'm fully aware of the challenge in the short and long term and I am genuinely excited about the ambition of the owners. The immediate priority is to consolidate our place in the Premier League. The future is very bright."
The 48-year-old left Fulham in June and was runaway favourite in the soccer betting to take over from Gerard Houllier as manager of Aston Villa. That never materialised and Hughes had been without a club since.
He takes over a QPR side 17th in the table and without a win in since they beat Stoke City 3-2 on November 19. An eight-game winless run has seen them drop eight places in that time and are now among the favourites in the relegation betting. QPR chairman Tony Fernandes believes Hughes is the man to arrest that slump.
"He has a great passion to achieve as a manager and has already been hugely successful in his career. His ambitions match those of the board and we are delighted to have him at the helm," Fernandes said.
Hughes will have money to spend during the transfer window and has already been linked with an audacious bid for out-of-favour Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez.
The new boss will begin his tenure with a trip to Tyneside to face Newcastle United on Sunday, before hosting MK Dons in the FA Cup third round replay just two days later.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Quarterback Tebow found Demaryius Thomas with an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime to give the underdogs a dramatic victory that defied the NFL bets before the game - Denver's first playoff win in six years. The play was the quickest ending to an overtime in NFL history at 11 seconds.
The Steelers (12-5), missing top tackler Ryan Clark, lost the contest despite Ben Roethlisberger inspiring a late comeback. The injury-depleted Pittsburgh overcame a two-touchdown halftime deficit to score ten points in the final ten minutes and take the game into overtime.
In the end, Tebow was just too good for the Steelers as their season came to an end. He completed 10 of 21 passes, with Thomas the recipient of four of them for 204 yards after Eric Decker left the field with a left knee injury in the second quarter. Tebow threw for a total of 316 yards and also ran 10 times for 50 yards.
His crowning moment came at the end when he found Thomas and the wide receiver evaded Ryan Mundy on his way to the end zone. The touchdown sparked wild celebrations and led to a victory lap from the Broncos. Tebow and 20 unanswered points in the second quarter proved to be the difference between the two teams.
The Broncos (9-8) will face the top-seeded New England Patriots (13-3) on Saturday night, with last month’s 41-23 defeat at the hands of the same opposition fresh on their minds. Those who bet on NFL games with know they will need all of Tebow’s magic to overcome Tom Brady and the Patriots this time around.
The John Hales-owned grey had shown smart form the previous calendar year in running second to Cue Card in the Cheltenham Festival Bumper and finishing third to Backspin in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle, but went from strength-to-strength in 2011 with a series of fine performances highlighted by his two-length victory over Spirit Son in the Supreme Novices Hurdle. Those placing an online Cheltenham bet should bear this in mind.
Beginning the current campaign with the new challenge of making up into a novice chaser the seven-year-old certainly wasn’t given an easy option for his first public outing over fences when asked to compete in the Grade 2 Independent Newspaper Novices Chase at Cheltenham in November, but he did everything right and jumped like an old hand in dishing out a seven-length eating to the decent Astracad.
Immediately stepped up by the champion trainer to Grade 1 company, Al Ferof then showed talent as well as plenty of guts in repelling the tough For Non Stop to land the Henry VII Novices Chase at Sandown in early-December, toughing it out in the closing stages as the runner-up came hard at him on the run from the final fence, eventually holding on by a neck.
That effort convinced many observers that Al Ferof has what it takes to run a massive race in the Arkle Chase and he is currently quoted at odds of up to 7/1 to land the two-mile novice chasing crown. First though he will have to continue his education over the larger obstacles and Nicholls is very seriously considering throwing him in at the deep end once again by asking the talented performer to take on more experience horses in the Grade 1 Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot on January 21.
With Boston Celtics fans left shocked not so long ago when news emerged that Jeff Green had been diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm and would need surgery as a matter of priority, a ray of light has been cast over basketball in the city of Boston today with the news that the player has had an operation and all, thankfully, went well. The Celtics coach Doc Rivers released a statement revealing that the thoughts and prayers of the club are with the family and friends of Green, along with the player himself who now faces an uncertain future on the court.
This game matters so much to the millions queuing up at games, tuning on TV or watching NBA online but at times like this, clearly basketball and other sport is placed firmly in perspective - a fact that the Celtics surely realise.
Rivers has been stating that his dream is to see Jeff Green play again, perhaps next season, even if it isn't for Boston, but questions over his future will no doubt come up time and again as the weeks and months pass by this season.
Green won't play again this season as he recovers from surgery, but doctors have told the Celtics there is no reason why he shouldn't make it an ambition to turn out for NBA action during the 2012/2013 season. Fans who love to watch play and bet on basketball will certainly hope so.
The question, therefore, lies over where the player will be should he indeed make this return to the court. If he does return, it'll be as an unrestricted free agent, which means that any team is now able to sign Green, even when he's not fully fit.
The Celtics have been praised for the way in which they've handled the situation and shown their support to Green with a gesture regarding his contract, but that certainly doesn't mean it'll be Boston that becomes the player's home as next season approaches...
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
The Espoo-born driver abandoned F1 at the end of 2009, after a disappointing season in the cockpit. He was replaced in the Ferrari team by Spanish driver, Fernando Alonso. However, rumours of Raikkonen's imminent return to the sport began to circulate almost immediately after his departure. Those following the best F1 betting online will be keeping an eye on his return.
Raikkonen, 32, was apparently possessed of a wanderlust; he was briefly linked to Renault, Toyota F1, and Mercedes GP in 2009 and 2010, despite enjoying moderate success in the World Rally Championships. Then, in 2011, he made his debut at the popular stock car racing event, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
The Finn will race with Lotus F1, in 2012. "I don't think I've lost any speed", Raikkonen told his new employer. The driver noted that "getting on top of the tyres" will be the biggest challenge of the upcoming season, a comment that hints at Lotus' decision to switch tyre supplier from Bridgestone to Pirelli, last year.
Whether Raikkonen will be able to rediscover the form that saw him become world champion in 2007 is debatable, given that he hasn't driven a F1 car since 2009, but the Finn insists that he is "not worried".
Raikkonen's decision to return to his old stamping ground has not been universally applauded, with some fans taking umbrage with the driver's lack of allegiance to F1 – or indeed, to any sport that he has participated in, over the last few years. The driver says that he is not concerned by critics: "I do my own thing, and, as long as I'm happy with it, then that's the main thing for me".
Monday, January 9, 2012
Frank Lampard is a man who clearly feels like he has the talent, drive, and determination to warrant a place in Chelsea's starting line-up week in, week out, in all competitions domestic and European.
This season, though, Andre Villas-Boas appears to have felt otherwise, favouring the likes of Raul Meireles over the England star despite Lampard excelling in a number of goalscoring cameo sub appearances and in particular lighting up Chelsea's away win at Bolton earlier this season in a rare start.
With Lampard making a few less than respectful comments in the press regarding the decision from the Chelsea manager not to start with him in the middle of the park on a regular basis, some soccer betting tips had begun to speculate that his future may lie on foreign shores, with a rumoured big money move to the riches of the MLS hitting the back pages just last week.
Now, though, the Chelsea star, who this week scored his 179th goal for the club against Wolves, has revealed that he desperately wants to stay with the Blues as he bids to help the Chelsea old guard prove themselves not to be a fading force in the English Premier League. Lampard revealed: "We need our big players with John Terry, who was magnificent at the back [against Wolves]. The spine of the team is what has made us what we are in the last seven years. I think it's important".
With the Chelsea midfielder continuing to state that he is "very committed" but the live soccer betting suggesting he may leave, the fact remains that Andre Villas-Boas will need to ensure that the current rumours of unrest in the club's dressing room remain just that: rumours rather than facts, or else risk seeing that Champions League qualification become a distant dream.
The ladies singles championship at this year’s Australian Open looks set to be one of the most open for years with injuries and loss of form likely to affect the outcome.
Defending champion, Kim Clijsters, has only just returned to the game after injury kept her out of the game for the latter half of 2011. However, she cannot claim to be 100% fit even now after she forced to withdraw from the recent Brisbane International semi final with a hip injury. By all accounts, it is only a minor setback and she will be lining up for the first round of the Open on Sunday but caution must be exercised about her chances of a repeat success.
Injury too has upset the preparations for five time champion Serena Williams, who twisted an ankle in the Brisbane event but she too claims she will be fit enough to play in Melbourne. The 30 year old in fact has been made the second favourite to win the tournament with odds of 4/1, whilst Clijsters is third in the betting at 8/1.
The 3/1 favourite to win in fact is Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova who has started 2012 in great form, producing some great tennis to help her country the Czech Republic defeat France in the final of the Hopman Cup. The 21 year old certainly made 2011 her breakthrough year winning a number of tournaments including Wimbledon and the prestigious end of season tour title in Istanbul in October. Her scintillating form earned her number two in the women's rankings at the end of last year and she has started this year as she means to go on. In the Hopman Cup she not only defeated world number three, Victoria Azarenka in the final but also world number one Carline Wozniacki in the semi final, underlining the fact that she is the one to beat in Melbourne and she is the one in top form ahead of the tournament.
Australian fans of course will be rooting for their Samantha Stosur, who helped put Australian tennis back on the map in 2011 with her victory in the final of the US Open where she beat Serena Williams. It was a wholly unexpected win although the plucky 27 year old has been ‘knocking on the door’ of the Grand Slam events in recent years. Indeed she reached the final of the French Open in 2010 only to lose to Italian Francesca Schiavone and has twice been into the 4th round in Melbourne.
It is interesting to note that the Bookies appear to have no faith in Wozniacki at all, despite her number one ranking in the world. This is because the Dane simply crumbles in the "Grand Slam" events and has only ever made one final which came at the US Open in 2009. She did make the semi final here last year and would certainly have the game to at least repeat that feat this time around, but winning a first ever ‘Grand Slam’ still looks a little beyond her.
Respect has to be shown to the likes of China’s Li Na, who was runner up 12 months ago before going on to win a first Grand Slam at the French Open in May. However, her form dipped alarmingly after that victory and she has shown only few signs that she is getting her act back together.
2008 winner, Maria Sharapova will also be playing in Melbourne and has to be among the genuine contenders to lift the crown. She showed throughout the 2011 season that she has re-discovered the zest to return to the top of the ladies game. She was a semi finalist at Roland Garros as well as runner up to Kvitova at Wimbledon and she is a decent looking bet at 14/1 to win the 2012 Australian Open.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Following his illegal helmet-to-facemask hit for the Pittsburgh Steelers against Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy a week ago, Harrison has now been hit with a one game suspension by the league’s disciplinary panel – a move which sees him make his mark on the history of the sport for all the wrong reasons by becoming the first ever player to receive such a punishment following the NFL’s revamped policy on such collisions. Anyone placing online bets should remember this.
Harrison has appealed against the decision according to a press release from his agent, and the case will be heard before this weekend by either Arthur Shell or Ted Cottrell who have both been appointed as respected experts by both the league and the players’ association.
The grounds of this appeal seem to hinge on whether or not McCoy was in part responsible for the illegal hit – Harrison insists that the quarterback “chucked and ducked” – and whilst he was happy to concede the 15-yard penalty for the infringement, but views the ban as unduly harsh. Those looking at the live in-play betting should remember this.
However, the NFL’s Executive Vice President Ray Anderson has publicly disagreed with this, claiming that the hit on McCoy in the fourth quarter of the Steelers’ 14-3 win was the fifth illegal tackle on opposition quarterbacks by Harrison over the course of the last three seasons
If the appeal is unsuccessful, Harrison would not be available for the Steelers until Christmas Eve when they play the St. Louis Rams.
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are all preparing for the Australian Open which gets underway next month from Melbourne Park in what is the first Grand Slam of 2012.
The trio of players at top of the world rankings will be joined by David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils in the Gulf for the Mubadala World Tennis Championship at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex in Zayed Sports City.
Djokovic and Nadal shared the Grand Slam titles last season with the Spaniard continuing his dominance in the French Open, whilst the Serbian captured the other three titles in a dominant season for the world number one. Those following the latest online tennis betting odds should remember this.
Although there were no Slams for Federer in 2011, he did win the end of season World Tour Finals at the 02 Arena in London, with success also coming in Doha, Paris and Basle. The Swiss star is the in-form player going into the new campaign with a 17-match winning run without defeat.
The next 12 months will be a busy schedule for the world’s top players with the Olympics scheduled on the calendar from London. Nadal will be defending the gold medal he won in 2008 in Beijing where he defeated Fernando Gonzalez in the final.
Nadal’s last competitive action was in the Davis Cup where he helped Spain to their second trophy in three years, beating Argentina in the final in Seville. Nadal was responsible for winning the decisive rubber against Juan Martin Del Potro.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
One thing of surprise yesterday was the team selection of Sir Alex Ferguson who didn't include Wayne Rooney or Johnny Evans in the squad despite being short of central defenders.
Ferguson explained to the media that Rooney was suffering from a few strains which is why he wasn't involved in the game, but has today been reported that Rooney, Evans and Darren Gibson were all left out of the squad as punishment for breaking a club curfew after they went out for a meal with their wives and girlfriends after their Boxing Day win against Wigan.
According to Sky Sports reports, the three were made to do extra training by Sir Alex who was not best pleased with them going out against his will and 5 days later he left them out of his team.
Had Manchester United have won the game then now questions would have been asked, but as they lost the game 2-3 to bottom of the table Blackburn Rovers, and missed the chance to 3 points clear in the table, perhaps it wasn't such a wise move to leave out a key defender and the clubs talisman for what seems like a minor mistake that was made.
The three were not at a bar or even drinking, and simply had a sit down meal with their families, to be left out of such a crucial game seems a little harsh, and this harshness could come back to haunt Sir Alex at the end of the season.
It will be interesting to see if Sir Alex comments any further to bring clarity to the situation although I'm pretty sure that he will deny the reports, and of course the great man wont admit that he might just have got this one wrong!