Posted on | April 18, 2013 | No Comments
Manchester City just about got the better of Wigan in the FA Cup final dress rehearsal but, judging by how close the contest was, we could be set for a tense Wembley showdown next month, regardless of what the FA Cup final betting says.
City will be big favourites to win their second cup in three years on May 11 and Wigan, rightly, will be viewed as huge underdogs for what will be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, game in the Latics’ history.
The Etihad clash may not have given us too many clues as to how the final will pan out as Roberto Mancini’s side looked every inch a side stuck in second gear, knowing they have very little to play for other than holding onto second place in the league games that remain.
Carlos Tevez’s stunning late strike was ill-befitting of a performance that lacked spark, drive and desire as the home side were often outpassed, outfought and out-thought by an impressive Wigan.
The Latics had wasted the best chances before the unpredictable Argentinian struck and were fully deserving of at least a point out of the game.
Of course, the visitors had plenty of reason to go for the win, such is there predicament in the relegation places once again as the campaign reaches its conclusion, but the way they went about their business was admirable against one of the best sides in the country – albeit one that was clearly having an off-day.
City showed against local rivals, Manchester United, and in the semi-final win over Chelsea recently that, when they are up for it, they are a superb outfit, brimming with world-class talent but when the likes of Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, and Sergio Aguero don’t turn up they are vulnerable.
It will surely be the City most have come to fear over the past few years that shows up at Wembley, but if Wigan can match the level they showed in this narrow defeat, it could be a much closer final than most are anticipating.
Posted on | April 18, 2013 | No Comments
Jonny Wilkinson has confirmed he will remain at French club side Toulon for another year after signing a contract extension to banish speculation he is retiring this summer.
Rumours over the former England fly-half’s future have rumbled on for weeks as he remained tight lipped over whether or not he would retire or maybe return to the Premiership at the end of the season.
Fans of the Heineken Cup betting were speculating the possibility of Wilkinson reuniting with Newcastle but he is unlikely to follow that career path after this new deal.
In fact, the new contract could inspire some rejuvenation in Wilkinson’s game after a tough couple of years in the sport. Since departing the Falcons for French shores in 2009, the fly has had a rollercoaster few of seasons blighted by injuries.
He fell out of favour of the international side soon after joining Toulon but in his four seasons at the club have helped them to two European Challenge Cup finals and second place in last season’s Championship.
Currently first in the Top 14 by two points, Toulon are on course for their most successful season in a generation and Wilkinson is a central figure to that team after kicking six penalties against Leicester to send them into the Heineken Cup semis a fortnight back.
His value during the game was evident for all betting fans to see and although he does suffer bad injuries now and again is still an important points scorer on his day.
Toulon face Saracens in the Heineken Cup semis at Twickenham later this month and although outsiders on Betfair (http://betting.betfair.com/rugby/) to win the tie have a good chance of progressing to May’s showdown with Wilkinson at fly.
Twickenham has staged some of the 33-year-old’s greatest ever moments and given the chance to prove himself against England’s best club side he will prove why he deserves another contract.
Posted on | April 17, 2013 | No Comments
Interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has hailed Juan Mata, saying his performances have been superb this campaign and that he feels as though he is the key man in the squad right now.
The Spain international has been in excellent form for the Blues this term and showed that he is one of the best players not just at Chelsea, but in the Premier League.
Mata has scored goals, as well as providing a number of assists and Benitez has praised his fellow countryman.
“Juan Mata is scoring goals and giving assists,” said Benitez.
He added: “When you have a second striker scoring 18 goals and giving 29 assists, it’s like a striker.
“If you analyse his performance in the whole season, he could be one of the players of the year, for sure.
“When you play in a team that plays one game a week, you can be good, but Juan has played two games a week for months and he’s doing really well.
“He’s a very good professional and his numbers are fantastic.”
Luis Suarez, Robin van Persie and Gareth Bale have grabbed a lot of the headlines this campaign, but you have to say that goals and assists Mata has to his name mean he might have been slightly overlooked.
He has been the best player for Chelsea over the last few months and although he has played a lot of games, he doesn’t seem to be at all fatigued.
If you like free bets, then you can see that Mata is being offered at 5/2 to be the European Champions’ leading scorer in the Premier League this season, but he has to overhaul Frank Lampard, who is at 2/5.
There is no doubt that Mata’s season deserves some silverware and he will be disappointed that Chelsea are only involved in the Europa League at this stage, but you can be sure he will be desperate to win the trophy.
Posted on | April 16, 2013 | No Comments
The season may be all but over for Chelsea – bar a negligible Europa League semi with Basel – but Blues fans should not be too disheartened as they face a summer of managerial uncertainty and squad reshuffling.
Despite dropping out of the title race early and exiting the FA Cup this weekend, there are reasons for Premier League betting fans to be optimistic about the future, for the team showed a group determination at Wembley that should see them good for next campaign.
On Sunday, interim boss, Rafael Benitez, fielded a side playing its 59th game of the season in one of eight competitions they have played in since August. The first half a careening Manchester City looking to add some sparkle to a humbling season themselves and probably quite rightly found themselves two goals down as City overran them.
They looked beat at the break and ready for a rest: jaded, uncommunicative and desperate at the back.
Yet a superb resurgence in the second half proved just how steeled the core of this Chelsea team is and fans should not despair of another failed season next term if the squad stays together this summer.
Something ticked when Demba Ba flicked his magnificent volley into the back of the net on 66 minutes and with Fernando Torres alongside, he we looked a real threat. Oscar, Juan Mata, and Ramires again instigated the competent, fluid attacking force we have become accustomed to this season and waltzed through City’s wearying midfield with ease.
Mata forced a good save from the City keeper while Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero were lucky to escape punishment on respective fouls.
We had City on the ropes and very nearly beat them through sheer bloody mindedness and a will to win.
Granted, we lost the battle at Wembley but our performance proves that next season, with this set of players and an inspirational manager at the helm, we have a real chance of claiming back the title.