I thought I'd break this old chestnut out because Phil McNulty, who is never right, has tipped Liverpool for the league this year
I believe the smart money is still on Chelsea - and I still think they are the correct choice as favourites, but favourites don't necessarily have to win
As Chelsea showed at the weekend, they are capable of slip-ups, and they are not as complete as they were under Mourinho in my opinion, so it's up to United and Liverpool to keep the pressure up (I'm writing off Arsenal again - it's worked the past five times...)
So anyway, Liverpool - the loss of Alonso would seem to indicate that they are a weaker side, the appearance of a decent right-back doesn't replace his contribution adequately, and Aquilani is still yet to surface, and so I think when it comes to the big four they are unlikely to be able to repeat last year's doubles over United and Chelsea
But last year, despite beating the two top sides quite comprehensively, they still lost, while United won the league despite only beating Chelsea at home, and taking only five points out of a potential eighteen off the other top three, while Liverpool took fourteen
The answer is simple - we all know it, even though they only lost two games all season, Liverpool threw away points in draws - eleven compared to United's six
And these were not just decent draws with Everton at home or Aston Villa away - they were games like Stoke and Hull at home - last year they played Stoke early on, and drew 0-0 - this year they played them in the second week...and won 4-0, just under a year ago they played Hull at home and drew 2-2 - this season they won 6-1
It was commonly said that they lacked a cutting edge that prevented them finishing off visiting teams like Fulham, City and West Ham (whom they all beat away), as well as Stoke and Hull - that's ten points sent packing
Now with a bit more width thanks to Johnson, and a hopefully fully-fit Torres, they should have enough edge to secure those extra two points they kept dropping last year
I suppose the question now is whether they have the quality to beat the top sides again?
29 Sep 2009
I thought I'd break this old chestnut out because Phil McNulty, who is never right, has tipped Liverpool for the league this year
25 Sep 2009
As promised, my own predictions for Beat Viv
Liverpool 3-0 Hull
Stoke 1-1 Man U
Wigan 0-3 Chelsea
Fulham 1-2 Arsenal
I've done all the other games over at my blog - where you can also mock Mark Lawrenson
Edit: my multiplier for this weekend is a four-fold
Liverpool, Tottenham, Sunderland and City all to win @ 5/2
Ah, going into week 7 of the fantasy league season, and I am doing..mediocre, to say the least - unfortunate, but seasons are not won by Christmas as they say
As you can see, I'm languishing down in 5th - a whole 52 points off the pace, and beaten last week by everyone except Dan (heh) and Rich - although I must say, had the frigging website not reset my goalkeeper I would've got an extra 7 points - lesson learned: triple check your team! - I just wanted people to know that I do have some sense...just no computer skills it would seem
Meanwhile, Trench Town Rockers remain top - bloody Torres
So this week I thought I'd update you on my team - up front I am rather happy, Defoe with Burnley, Bolton, Pompey and Stoke to play next, and Bent is proving bloody good value, even if he has got United and Liverpool after Wolves this week
In midfield I have finally shipped Mr. Reliable, Phil Neville, for someone who might actually do something - Barry, he's not bad value at 7.9 and is getting many bonus points, hopefully strengthening my midfield - which has basically been Lampard and SWP, I am keeping faith in Cahill for now, Everton seem to be coming back into it
But at the back I'm looking rather dodge - my linchpin, Carragher, is doing nothing as Liverpool are shipping goals - they've already conceded a third of what they did last season, despite playing Villa, Bolton and West Ham - maybe they'll turn a corner, obviously with a home game against Hull this week I've decided to wait for now, but it's not good right now
Then I have too much interest placed in Fulham - they don't look as solid as last year and I really shouldn't have Hughes, this is further compounded by Bramble, my favourite bench-warmer, having a nasty few games coming up, and likewise Collins at Villa has pretty much the same problem
So yeah, that needs some work - obviously it's still very early, and consistency is far less important right now - it's all about the occasional assist or goal, but for an expensive defender Cole was the best choice in hindsight, Johnson I still think is overpriced and Vermaelen is riding on his three goals - Arsenal's defence is still pathetic, so he's useless across the season - while United have only offered up Evra as remotely useful, due to injury and few clean sheets
Amazingly, for consistency in defence we should be looking at Stoke's Faye Ab or Ryan Shawcross right now (although maybe not this week) and Roger Johnson at Birmingham, rather than the traditional Vidics and Lescotts, it'll probably settle down eventually - but for the mid-term it's looking good for the prudent investor
But then, why listen to me? There's a reason I'm in fifth...
24 Sep 2009
Regarding Dan's earlier post about how great we are, I find the best way to keep people onside is to provide them with the opportunity of free money
Beat Victor is back this week - the third of the season I believe, except it is now Beat Viv Anderson...but the game remains the same
So far I've only taken a fiver off it this season, but still - a free fiver is a free fiver (which I have now converted into real money)
So basically, predict 4 scores - you do better than Viv, you get money, for free
Here are Viv's predictions:
Liverpool 3-0 Hull
Stoke 0-2 Man United
Wigan 1-2 Chelsea
Fulham 1-3 Arsenal
I will do my own preds later today or tomorrow, post yours down below if you wish
Now, off you go to bankrupt VCbet!
23 Sep 2009
Since Tarquin joined Football Banter I think the site has improved greatly, and I am very grateful for his continuing contributions. I had previously considered taking the site down, as I was concerned that on my own I was unable to post frequently and consistently and the site was going to go nowhere. Tarquin has been the big reason for this site's recent improvements.
I wanted to extend an initiation again to any other bloggers who might also like to take a role on the site, as I think there is scope for more contributors and a wider remit. We are not running a news blog; it is all about opinions and commenting.
So, if you already have a blog, [it does not have to be a sports blog] and might like to post here, as frequently or occasionally as would suit you; drop me an email at email@example.com and I will see about getting you set up. If you are as yet unpublished, try writing a post, and see how it feels; if you want a go send us an example.
Since Tarquin joined, we have moved up to 8th in the Wikio UK sports rankings (as per Septembers rankings), and if you care to go look as some of the bigger boys we are competing against I think you will appreciate that there is real potential here. Traffic is still relatively low, but has doubled and is more consistent now. Tarquins contribution has also allowed us to post more frequently postings between us, and this has helped drive traffic in the right direction. We both have other commitments that come first and Football Banter fits around our lives as and when we are able to post.
There is room for more commentators, and if you would prefer to keep your postings on a narrower theme that is just as fine as if you wanted to write about football from all over the world. It is a beautiful game and reaches the whole world, so there is no reason why we would limit ourselves to English and European football. Sports blogs, as with blogs in general in the UK are still in the embryo phase, more and more people are looking to the internet for opinion pieces, and the trends are growing away from established news sites to newer and more independent sites. Why not get in on the get on board now?
If you are interested, do not delay... email us now!
21 Sep 2009
We all know the accusations of playing until United score at Old Trafford, but when they play to 97 minutes you've got to admit it looks like a fair comment...
Owen scored at 95 mins 28 secs
I think Sparky is right to feel a bit miffed when the fourth official indicated four mins, even if they did count goal celebrations..
And do you think Fergie would've felt it was the best derby ever if he hadn't got the win?
19 Sep 2009
Arsenal 3 - 0 Wigan
Aston Villa 2 - 1 Portsmouth
Bolton 2 - 1 Stoke
Hull City 2 - 1 Birmingham
Cardiff 3 - 2 QPR
Middlesbrough 1 - 0 WBA
17 Sep 2009
"The fourth official has indicated two minutes added time to the first half. In association with Specsavers."
Stadium announcer at Hillsborough during Forest game after a poor refereeing display. (Adam, Nottingham).
BBC quotes of the week
16 Sep 2009
As per Chelsea's own website.
12 Sep 2009
Blackburn 2 - 0 Wolves
Liverpool 2 - 2 Burnley
Manchester City 3 - 2 Arsenal
Portsmouth 1 - 1 Bolton
Stoke 1 - 4 Chelsea
Sunderland 2 - 1 Hull
9 Sep 2009
Well that was fun
England whooped Croatia 5-1 - meaning we finally sealed qualification, and have now scored a ridiculous 31 goals in 8 games, leaving the Croats sweating on Ukraine's performance against us in Kiev
Scotland failed and went out in predictable style - Norway are through to the second round on GD
However I have some good news for the Scots - it seems that Norway are probably boned anyway - they are the only team to have finished playing and lie second from bottom in 'round two', Sweden need two points from a line up that includes Albania at home, so neither they or Portugal will likely finish below them
Ireland need a point (off Montenegro), Greece need a point off Latvia, and should Latvia win then they'll finish second and be ahead anyway, and the only other team they can rely on is Bosnia to lose 6 goals and not get a point off Spain or Estonia - So yeah, not good prospects and Scotland would have faced this rather nasty scenario themselves due to their equally mediocre results - so it was all their own fault anyway really
In other news, Spain finally qualified with an eight point cushion after a 3-0 drubbing of Estonia
Unfortunately Portugal won in Hungary - while Denmark drew in Albania, meaning they are still a point away from the victory, but Sweden did defeat Malta to keep their two point lead and keep it in their own hands - even if they probably will need something in Denmark
Northern Ireland also lost, effectively meaning they won't be making the play-offs, while Germany and Russia are now guaranteed their top two spots (like we didn't know that already) - that whole group is hanging on, and has always hung on, one game - the game in Russia on 10th October - if Russia win they qualify, anything else and Germany take the top spot
Over in South America and Ecuador did the business over Bolivia, Argentina are just kicking off and really need a win in Paraguay
Ah, finally world cup qualification begins to get interesting - we all know if England win later they're in, and a draw would realistically do it, but what of the other lot
I must mention Portugal here - my dreams have nearly come true: fourth in the group with three left - they have no chance of winning the group - should Denmark beat Albania they will be out of reach, or else two points off Hungary and Sweden at home will do it
Nope, they must be aiming for the play-offs - currently Hungary occupy that position but unfortunately they face Portugal twice and finish against leaders Denmark so let's be realistic here - we're cheering on Sweden in third - who have to go to Malta, then Denmark and then finish with Albania at home - surely six points in the bag, meaning that should Portugal not win one of their games against Hungary, they won't even be in the play-offs!!
Our best bet is to root for a draw in Hungary tonight, if that fails - let's hope Denmark give their Scandinavian cousins a hand in a month's time (sound familiar?)
In home nation news - Northern Ireland really need to get three points off leaders Slovakia tonight to stand any chance of being in the play-offs and need to hope results go in their favour (Slovenia and Poland drawing, for example) - and then they'll probably still need a result in the Czech Republic next month
France are going to mighty Serbia - a home win would see them clinch the group and relegate France to play-off contenders - unfortunately despite France's poor performances I don't see any other team challenging them, unless they hand points to Austria later on
If Italy can beat draw specialists Bulgaria then that effectively seals their group as Italy - Ireland, who will just need to beat little battlers Montenegro to secure second
|Republic of Ireland||8||4||4||0||10||6||+4||16|
And then of course there's the final games in group 9 - which will decide Scotland's fate - they just need a point off those minnows the Dutch - if however they lose to the team with a 100% record and better players, they need Norway to falter - but should the Norwegians beat Macedonia then they will go out on goal difference - ah, that brings back memories...
Meanwhile I should bring your attention to South America briefly - I have heard much talk of Argentina not making it - currently fourth and only with a two point cushion with three games left - well they have to beat Peru at home, not too tough, and just Paraguay and Uruguay away - that'll be ok, right?
Except Argentina haven't won away since October 2007...
It's in the balance - they cock up then they give ground to Colombia and Ecuador, but that said, they'd have to do pretty well themselves to do that - I think there's a slim chance that the Argies could be pushed into the play-off by Ecuador, but it's slim - watch out for Paraguay v Argentina tonight/tomorrow, and victories for Ecuador or Colombia in Bolivia and Uruguay respectively might make them sweat
But regardless they'll probably make the play-offs, in a sort of reverse-Scotland situation - then they'll have to play the US or Costa Rica most likely - isn't Diego lucky qualification is so forgiving in the Americas?
So in short - will England win? Will Portugal cock it up? Will NI, Scotland and Argentina make it? Please feel free to tell me just how wrong I am
Now, where's that Hungarian flag...
edit: Forgot that if Macedonia win in Norway and Scotland lose they will also go through on a much sicker GD - so no holds barred action in Norway tonight!
7 Sep 2009
I am a bit behind the news here it would seem, but I am happy to spread the word none-the-less. The massively popular Championship Manager PC game, which traditionally launches in the Autumn is available online and you can choose to pay what you like for the game, plus a £2.50 transaction fee.
So, instead of going to the shop and paying the usual £25 or £30 for it, you can go and pre-order now, and download on the release date of 11th September 2009 for as little as £2.51. You can of course pay more if you can afford to and wish to.
The link with details of the download is HERE.
Also, if you are a Twitterrer, follow Roy Meredith the General Manager of Championship Manager HERE.
Posted by Daniel1979 at 13:55:00
4 Sep 2009
Here's my predictions for this weeks Super 6
Bristol Rovers 2 - 1 Millwall
Carlisle 2 - 0 Tranmere Rovers
Leeds 3 - 1 Stockport
MK Dons 2 - 1 Huddersfield
Norwich 2 - 1 Walsall
Southampton 1 - 0 Colchester
2 Sep 2009
Gareth Barry, Villa to Man City £12m - A solid performer who will become integral to the spine of a title challenging team.
Thomas Vermaelen, Ajax to Arsenal £10m – Looks like he has been playing in the Premier League for years already. Not the big commanding centre-half that Arsenal fans have been after, but already looks a good buy at £10m.
Sol Campbell, Portsmouth to Notts County £0 – Sven won’t be lonely at night or go thirsty in Nottingham after swinging this one.
Tal Ben-Haim, Man City to Portsmouth £1m – A good deal on transfer deadline day who was solid at Bolton but has failed to impress at Chelsea & City. If he stays fit and in the first team his performances will be key to whether Portsmouth can stay up this year.
Stewart Downing, Middlesbrough to Villa £12m – Downing is a good player and if he stops for a few seasons Villa will definitely get their money’s worth. However, though Downing should fit in well, I am not convinced his arrival takes the Villa first team forward.
Joleon Lescott, Everton to Man City £24m – City had to pay top price for him, but he is good enough to lend credibility and stability to a defence that last season was not good enough for a team aiming for at least a Champions League Spot. He might even chip in a few goals if his Everton form carries over.
Emmanuel Adebayor, Arsenal to Man City £25m – There are question marks over him still but he has been a good performer for Arsenal and has started with 3 goals in 3 games for City. Will get City the goals they need when they need them for this season at least. Seemed to raise his game in the big matches for Arsenal so only time will tell if he can maintain a high level of performance over several seasons, but Hughes can rotate in quality so will need to depend on him less than the Gunners did.
Damien Duff, Middlesbrough to Fulham £2.5m – Title winner with Chelsea and should bring an added dimension to Fulham’s forward play.
Not Yet Proven / To Be Proven
Michael Owen, Newcastle to Man Utd £0 – May have been no fee, but Owen commands a decent salary and represents a gamble of being the only tested striker available to Sir Alex when he wishes to rest either Rooney or Berbatov. Come May this deal may be lauded as another stroke of genius or an easily predicted failure.
Luis Antonio Valencia, Wigan to Man Utd £15.25m – United fans seem unsure if he was worth the price tag, but Sir Alex has faith. No player in the world has bigger boots to fill in the coming months.
Habib Beye, Newcastle to Aston Villa £3m – Won over the crestfallen Geordies, but was a part of a leaky defence. Should get plenty of opportunities in the first team to show if he is worth the money.
Yuri Zhirkov, CSKA Moscow to Chelsea £18m – A great debut, but the “Russian Ronaldinho” is in a team full of stars, and has to show that he is better than Joe Cole and Florent Malouda if he wants regular football.
Alberto Aquilani, Roma to Liverpool £18m – Good passer of the ball but has not played a whole lot of football in the last 18 months. I doubt he will prove to be as good as the departed Alonso and I am not sure how if his advanced role in Midfield will see him as an occassional back up to Gerrard or consistent partner.
Fabian Delph, Leeds to Villa £6.5m – Good prospect in the long term, but is unlikely to fill the void left by the departure of Gareth Barry. O’Neil is good at bringing young players and taking them up a step as proven with Young and Agbonlahor.
Roque Santa Cruz, Blackburn to Man City £18m – You could probably argue that he is worth the money; however, he hasn’t played yet and is in a dressing room that contains Adebayor, Tevez, Robinho, Bellamy, Benjani and SWP he may prove to be the league cups most impressive and expensive player.
Glen Johnson, Portsmouth to Liverpool £18.5m - Johnson is a good Premiership player and seems to have started well. However, the phone in shows have been besieged with irate Liverpool fans claiming Rafa has no money to spend. What is £18.5m if not money to spend? Could have got Roque Santa Cruz as back up or partner to Torres for 500k less which would have probably made the restless Kop a little happier.
Roger Johnson, Cardiff to Birmingham £5m – I do not know anything about Roger Johnson, but £5m for a good Championship defender seems a high price; especially if we look at other defenders who have moved at around the same price such as Richard Dunne & Robert Huth.