Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chargers look to bolster running options

There’s certainly no hiding the fact that the San Diego Chargers will be using this offseason as a chance to bolster a lacklustre running back division that has been a big part of why the franchise has failed to reach the play-offs since 2009.

The Chargers’ running game has been a clear weak area since Ryan Mathews’ arrival in 2010, something that certainly isn’t down to the 25-year old. Mathews’ tough first season was soon forgotten about after an impressive second year in the big leagues, but injury robbed San Diego of their main offensive runner for much of 2012, and it really showed.

In Mathews’ absence, there was a distinctive lack of running backs stepping up to the plate to replace him, and it has now become the Chargers’ main focus before next season gets underway.

One possible option for San Diego could be Miami Dolphins star Reggie Bush, who could well be set to join the free agency if no new deal can be put together to keep the 27-year old in Florida. Bush has made no secret of his desire to stay in Miami but there has been some real doubts that the Dolphins are going to use their option of resigning the running back, instead using the funds elsewhere.

Bush would be the ideal signing for the Chargers, if it became an option. The speedy, powerful runner would form a formidable looking partnership with Mathews, and one which could very realistically get this San Diego team back challenging for the play-offs.

At the moment, though, the Chargers will have to continue looking at alternative options should Bush remain with the Dolphins, which is still very much a possibility. Anything other than a big name arrival in that area could well result in another tough and disappointing season.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bell has Ashes in sight but must keep eye on own form

Ian Bell has revealed what many cricket fans in the betting world already feel ahead of England’s Test series with New Zealand in March, that victory is crucial to building momentum for the summer Ashes.

England face a tough challenge in New Zealand against a Kiwis side still hurting after their T20 and one-day series defeats to the tourists this February. They will push the tourists’ top order to the limit
over three matches and should keep give England’s fast bowlers a good workout.

“Looking ahead it would be nice, having won in India, to win this series and it would give us nice momentum going into a big summer for us at home,” Bell told BBC Sport.

“There are some world-class players in that New Zealand team and we are going to have to play some really good cricket to beat them.”

Indeed, maybe Bell more than most has to play well over this series if he is to cement his place in the team for the summer. For Bell, although rising through the England ranks last season, is in danger of losing his place should the team’s fresh faces continue to shine.

Joe Root has proved a superb international batsman over the past four months, and has been tipped by
former England captain Michael Vaughan over at to earn a regular place in the side. He knocked two half-centuries against New Zealand this month and making 93 over two innings on his Test debut in

If Root cannot push Bell out then maybe Jonny Bairstow can, the Yorkshireman blooded through the England squad last year in preparation for the Ashes.

Bell’s recent performances at the crease have been respectable, but in the Test whites he has only made one major contribution in his last six innings – a 116 against India in Nagpur – and only truly impressed against a weak West Indies attack last summer.

If Bell is to keep his place he must contribute runs against the Kiwis and make himself undroppable from the team. Competition is healthy in England’s order and no one’s place is guaranteed, especially a man who starts at five.

For more information on England cricket betting ahead of the NZ Test series head over to: 

Bruins to look for final pieces of jigsaw

The Boston Bruins have been heavily tipped to bring in some fresh faces before the April 3rd trade deadline, as general manager Peter Chiarelli looks to give the franchise their best hope of winning their fourth divisional title in five years and second Stanley Cup title in three years.

The Northeast Division leaders could certainly do with some additional options in a number of areas, but it remains to be seen whether Chiarelli brings in a big name player or just a number of smaller deals to strengthen the squad.

Chiarelli hasn’t revealed what his plans are in terms of bringing in new players before the deadline, but has admitted he is open to deals that would give the Bruins the best chance of going on to achieve their targets in this shortened season.  

"It doesn't mean we'll go out and get somebody now because we have cap space,” Chiarelli said to NHL betting news reporters.

"But if there are good deals that come early, you have to be in the ballgame. We're in the ballgame now. That was the proactive approach that we wanted to take here."

The Bruins' 28th ranked power play needs a boost, and acquiring a new forward with strong play-making and goal-scoring abilities would certainly help Boston when they have a man advantage.

There are options out there available to Chiarelli. Anaheim Ducks star Corey Perry and Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla could both be available, with the two wingers both in the final years of their contracts and possibly looking to move.

Without a new star forward,punters who bet on NHL think the Bruins look as though they are going to continue to struggle to be able to make the most of their powerplays.

That could well prove to be the difference between earning their chance to add another Stanley Cup title to their collection.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dimitrov and Tomic at the Crossroads

When people talk of the threat posed in men’s tennis by the next generation, they principally have Bernard Tomic and Grigor Dimitrov in mind. Child prodigies and double junior slam winners, their talent has been apparent for some time. Both have been earmarked as future major winners.

However, at the ages of 21 (Dimitrov) and 20 (Tomic), they are rapidly becoming the current generation. Steady progress on the senior tour needs to give way to a proper breakthrough this season, a task that will not be easy.

Winning slams in the current environment is more difficult than it ever has been, and whilst it is too much to expect this from them in 2013, it is worth noting that the current ‘big four’ were all firmly established in the top 10 of the rankings by the age of 21.

Comparisons with the game’s elite might be unfair, but Dimitrov – unluckily labelled ‘Baby Fed’ in some quarters - and Tomic should be aiming to become the best of the rest. Soon they will be of a similar age to Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, looking over their shoulders at the new breed that they themselves are currently seen as.

Dimitrov reached a career high ranking of 40th in January, thanks largely to his first tour final at Brisbane. A straight sets defeat by Murray provided useful experience and the Bulgarian is probably in better spirits of the two.

Tomic has struggled since reaching his highest ranking of 27th in June last year, slipping back to 45th currently. He went one better than Dimitrov, winning in his first tour final, at January’s Apia International in Sydney.

Both men are therefore taking steps in the right direction, but it is doubtful if they can take the leap needed to become regular challengers at events. Dimitrov’s current weaknesses are physical; Tomic’s mental. If they have not overcome them this year, they might never do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Could Kolo be our Answer?

Arsenal’s defence was breached for the 28th time in 37 games this season against Blackburn on Saturday, as the Gunners back four was again torn apart from a simple counter attack.

It was another utterly frustrating performance, where the Emirates played host to a siege on the opposition box that we simply could not penetrate. At the other end, all Blackburn needed was one chance and our formless defence certainly helped their cause.

As usual one stinging ball cut the defence open and Blackburn’s Colin Kazin-Richards had so much time and space to tap into an empty net he even tried to miss the chance with a lucky spooned effort.

The holes at the back are a real concern for fans of online football betting; Arsene Wenger must sort out his defensive pairing over next summer. Laurent Koscielny just does not have the single-minded drive and concentration needed for the Premier League while Per Mertesacker switches off at vital moments.

We fans have been calling for an experienced voice at the back, and maybe there is one about to come on the market. For Kolo Toure revealed he will leave Manchester City in the summer, but wants to stay in England.

Now, we all know Kolo is past his best – we could see that during his final season in 2009 – but the defender does have the brain capacity to shore up a defence against lower opposition.

If Wenger continues to select inexperienced youngsters for cup games like these, he must have someone on the park orchestrating the whole thing, providing a bit of structure in a chaos of nervous excitement.

Although Kolo is not the answer to our league problems, Betfair football pundits have suggested that he could do a solid job as an instructor during domestic cup games.

Arsenal have fallen all too often over the years due to lapses in concentration, and, with Kolo on a free transfer, he could be just what Wenger needs to eradicate embarrassing results like Saturday’s.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Indians Sign Bourn

In the past, the Cleveland Indians have been heavily criticised by MLB betting news pundits, and probably rightly so, for their spend on free agents, but the times they are a changin’ in Cleveland. 

Earlier this week, the Indians splashed out on another star as they agreed terms with outfielder, Michael Bourn, on a four-year, $48 million contract. It's the second major deal this winter for the Indians, who signed free agent, Nick Swisher, to a four-year, $56 million contract in January.

Bourn still has to complete a medical later in the week to ratify the deal, but he was an All-Star player with Atlanta last season batting .274 with nine homers, 57 RBIs, and 42 steals. 

The 30 year-old Bourn has been on the market all winter and he will go straight into the Indians starting line-up. The Indians have been looking to boost their franchise and both Bourn and Swisher will provide that boost. 

The Mets were chasing Bourn's services as well, offering the same four-year, $48 million deal as Cleveland; however, it was thought that the Mets were unwilling to give up the 11th overall pick in the draft as a penalty for signing the free agent and Bourn has landed in Cleveland.

There is a small price to pay by Cleveland for the acquisition of Bourn in the form of picks in June’s amateur draft but the upside for the Indians will come in the likely form of a player who will help them score more runs, improve their attendance, and maybe close the gap on Detroit in the AL Central.

New Indians manager, Terry Francona, will enjoy starting Bourn and Swisher and it must also be remembered that Cleveland acquired center fielder, Drew Stubbs, in a trade with Cincinnati, giving Francona options and depth. It is possible Swisher could be moved to first or even be used as the club's designated hitter.

The Indians collapsed in the second half last season, a fall that cost manager Manny Acta his job and one that annoyed fans betting MLB World Series. Perhaps spending on some big free agent signings will reverse their fortunes and put them on the up again.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wales Must be Bold

Stand-in Wales captain, Ryan Jones, has issued a rallying call ahead of Saturday's do-or-die clash with France in Paris, stating his team must be bold as they aim to keep their Six Nations dream alive.

Wales dominated their European rivals last year on their way to a third Grand Slam in eight years. Jones played a role in all three triumphs and was part of the squad that cruelly missed a place in the 2011 World Cup final.

Wales were forced to play much of their semi-final against France with 14 men after influential skipper Sam Warburton was sent off. They battled gamely but ultimately fell to an agonising 9-8 defeat.

This weekend will see Wales meet rugby odds favourites, France, in a repeat of that dramatic World Cup match. They will once again have to do without Warburton, who was ruled out of the clash at the Stade de France with a shoulder injury.

Jones will captain his country for a record 30th time and has the task of lifting a side that has endured a horror run since winning the 2012 Six Nations.

Wales have lost their last eight Tests, the latest defeat coming at home to Ireland last Saturday. Their title bid is in danger ahead of their trip to France.

Jones is one of three survivors from Wales' last away win over Les Bleus in 2005. He will call on all of his experience as he bids to drive his team to glory.

"Paris is a wonderful place to go - it's a great rugby arena. There is nothing quite like playing France in Paris. It's loud, it's noisy," said the Ospreys flanker.

"Something we have tried to instil in the guys this week is to look forward to it, be bold and let's have a real good crack."

Fans betting Six Nations should be aware that Wales are 12/1 for the title in the betting Six Nations, compared to France at 7/1.