Remember, more likely than not, these are now jinxed!
Birmingham 2 - 1 Wigan
Bolton 2 - 1 Wolves
Burnley 2 - 1 Portsmouth
Leicester 1 - 1 Nottingham Forest
Watford 1 - 2 Newcastle
West Brom 3 - 1 Derby
27 Feb 2010
Remember, more likely than not, these are now jinxed!
25 Feb 2010
Wayne Bridge today declared that he is ruling himself out of contention for the World Cup. In a short statement this morning the Manchester City defender claimed that his presence within the England squad was potentially divisive and as such, he did not wish to be selected.
It would seem that Bridge has done some soul-searching and decided that it is an impossible situation for him to play alongside his former friend and ex-captain. Fabio Capello was questioned earlier today on his return to England from South Africa and refused to make a comment.
The decision also means that Capello is without his first and second choice left-backs for the Egypt friendly and attention will turn to Stephen Warnock and Leighton Baines, both of whom should get some minutes on the pitch now.
Bridge's decision vindicates Capello's decision to strip Terry of his Captaincy over the affair. The situation of Bridge potentially being available for selection but ruling himself out because of his captains actions warrant that Terry cannot be captain if his own actions damage the strength of selection available to the manager.
Here is the statement:
"I have thought long and hard about my position in the England football team in the light of the reporting and events over the last few weeks,
"It has always been an honour to play for England. However, after careful thought I believe my position in the squad is now untenable and potentially divisive.
"Sadly therefore I feel for the sake of the team and in order to avoid what will be inevitable distractions, I have decided not to put myself forward for selection.
"I have today informed the management of this decision. I wish the team all the very best in South Africa."
24 Feb 2010
Ashley Cole just got caught doing 104mph in a 50mph zone. When questioned by police to why he was speeding he said I've just heard John Terry is parked outside my house!
20 Feb 2010
Here's my Super 6 Prediction...
Arsenal 3 - 0 Sunderland
West Ham 2 - 1 Hull City
Wolves 0 - 2 Chelsea
Newcastle 3 - 0 Preston
Nottingham Forest 2 - 1 Middlesbrough
Sheffield Wednesday 2 - 1 Ipswich
No Grab5Grand today.
19 Feb 2010
Ok, this has got to be the most subjective application of a rule I've seen - Wolves have been fined £25,000 for:
'Not fielding a full-strength team' - how on earth do you decide that? I know this one got done to death a few months back, but it really does defy common sense when all teams rest players
the team fielded in their league fixture against Manchester United on 15 December 2009 was not full strength and therefore in breach of Rule E20.
"The board also deemed that the club had failed to fulfil its obligations to the league and other clubs in the utmost good faith and was therefore in breach of Rule B13.
I did this myself, and as I pointed out then, while the media may report 'ten changes' - at least four of those ten were perfectly acceptable first-team players, so he was almost swapping first and second stringers across two games
If you take that view into account then how can you not question when Liverpool play a defensive midfield and go on to lose to Portsmouth? I had this argument with Robbo - his point was that when Arsenal/United etc rest players in the cup, or before a big European game, they are still aiming to win...right
Even though they don't..., as we've seen three of the big four knocked out of the FA cup, Liverpool crash in the league and Champions' League and so forth - why is this any different? These are managerial decisions that result in defeat being more likely, unless we are saying that McCarthy actually set out to lose, which would be match-fixing, then all we are doing is passing judgement on his team
Only one member of that team was a débutante, about half were regular players (such as Mancienne, Zubar, Foley, and David Jones, who have all played the last five matches) the rest were usually subs - take an example: before Robinho went, City had five major strikers in their squad - if they don't play the ones we decide are the best, then surely they should be fined too?
What we're saying is that Wolves' bench-warmers aren't good enough to play, but teams like Chelsea have a good enough team in reserve...even if they subsequently lose
I'm making no comment of the quality of the Wolves side that went out, simply that it stinks of a subjective, opinionated decision to fine a small team for something that big teams get away with all the time because some people have decided that these players aren't worthy, personally I don't think it's a fair application of the 'law', it's arbitrary and the rule is probably not even workable short of sending out a team of 12-year olds (the Carling Cup presumably doesn't have these rules...)
I presume from now on the Premier League will be informing all managers, especially teams like Hull, West Ham, Burnley etc who they must field each week
14 Feb 2010
I was at the Oxford United v Histon game yesterday and it was quite an experience. The game managed to bring (from memory) 5,360 into attendance, though Histons contribution seemed from where I was sat to number only 33. There may have been a few more in the directors box, and I am told Teddy Sheringham was also there to watch his son who came on in the second half for Histon.
Despite the cold stadium, the fans gave a fantastically warm welcome and are vocal and passionate. Despite not living locally (any longer) I shall be going back because it was a great day.
The reason for writing this was the shockingly poor linesman at the game. I mean shocking. He probably came up with the away fans, because he was either on the take or of exceptionally poor eye sight. In the first half, he gave Oxford offside when the there were two Histon players a full 10 yards ahead of the play… this was not one of those slow motion jobbies we see on Sky Sports where there is a cigarette paper in it; you could have parked a couple of cars in that space. A few minutes later, gave the very worst offside decision ever given in a game of football anywhere in the world in the history of time. Oxford were given offside, when not only not being in an advance position of a number of defenders, but also whilst not having a single player past the halfway line in the opponents half. There were at least three more offside’s given when there were one or more Histon players keeping Oxford’s advances onside, again not by a small margin.
Histons gameplan was clearly to kick and scrap their way through the tie, and were not afraid to get a little over physical. There was the cross-throat-drag-down in the box, that went unnoticed only by the ref and his comically unaware linesman as well as a number of other challenges that would not look out of place in a MMA arena. Histon did get one red card, and several yellow cards – but should count themselves fortunate not to have been reduced to 7 men and under police investigation for assault.
The officials got the brunt of the fan’s fury, and rightly so. But if the officiating is typical of the Conference level and below the FA really need to get these guys to start watching a video of their mistakes and their decisions. They should start with this game, which could provide a big contribution to any refereeing bloopers Christmas DVD.
12 Feb 2010
I have a few issues, and, as always at the moment, am short on time
Firstly, the most pressing issue is the Ashley Cole injury - I know it's a fairytale (or some sort of fictional account) that Wayne Bridge could be called up to play alongside Terry (his arch-nemesis!!!) but can we be serious for a minute here? A week ago most commentators didn't even expect Bridge to make the squad...now he's first choice? This is a man who's played about 2 hours in over 2 months, and has struggled with form all season - Fabio picks on form, not potential, and the fact that Bridge is now a contender shows how weak we are at left-back currently
Bridge is a shoe-in if Cole isn't fit because our only other proper left-backs are Leighton Baines and Stephen Warnock, personally I'd want Baines with Cole, but it shows an incredible frailty within the squad, although Cole is easily one of the best left-backs in the world, so maybe we have too-high standards
Next I have some issues with the media - number 1 - 'innocent-party' Bridge has not said a word - does he even care?? I bloody don't...
2) Terry was not dropped on 'moral' grounds, and it's not about English sensibilities - it's about our media and the fact that Capello is a wise man and didn't want his figurehead plagued by a media scrum during the tournament, the English press, unlike their European cousins, are bloodthirsty and love a good sex scandal, nobody is offended that he cheated (except his missus of course)
Ok, that's off my chest, moving on to this weekend...
Chelsea are considered red-hot favourites (BBC) now that the other big four teams are gone and it's only the fifth round, but the way I see it, there are still 16 teams and that gives quite good odds of Chelsea going out to a 'cupset' - normally we'd have another 2 or 3 of the big boys left, one upset is to be expected, so I just see Chelsea as the last pin standing - so I don't expect a waltz to the trophy from here, and although they only face a weakened Cardiff without Terry and Cole, they've been pretty patchy lately, a tricky away tie in the next two stages could give us an interesting result
So the big question is...who will win? Surely Villa, Spurs and City are the only serious contenders, and if not them it'd be an amazing result...Bolton for the cup?
Personally I think it's Villa's time
edit: and also - in response to the Euro 2012 qualifiers - is it just me or is it somewhat easier than the world cup draw, despite using the same system? There's only one extra spot to be won, but I don't really see any bad groups, England's hardest ask is mighty Switzerland, while Portugal only have to deal with Denmark...oh wait
Seriously though, I just can't see any really tasty groups, aside from the odd local derby few decent teams face a threat - although looking at it I think it's solely down to there not being three good sides in our group and Croatia effectively moving to the ridiculous group 2, maybe it's just a bit more even this time, but I'm sure France can cock up Bosnia and Romania...again
So in conclusion - 24 teams is going to be a joke...but Scotland will at least get a play-off
7 Feb 2010
Republic of Ireland
Bye to finals (hosts)
6 Feb 2010
Ladbrokes Grab5Grand is on again this week, here's my predictions:
Man Utd 3 - 0 Portsmouth
Burnley 2 - 1 West Ham
Bolton 1 - 2 Fulham
Ipswich 2 - 1 Middlesbro
Notts Forrest 3 - 1 Sheff Wed
Here is my regular Super 6 entry.
Bolton 2 - 1 Fulham
Burnley 2 - 1 West Ham
Hull City 0 - 2 Man City
Man Utd 3 - 0 Portsmouth
Stoke 2 - 1 Blackburn
Sunderland 2 - 0 Wigan
Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I have reversed the Bolton v Fulham score, basically this is just because I think it could go either way and my general rule when predicting Fulham scores is to bet 2-1 as most of their games in the Premier League have, over a period of time, tended to end up that way.
Good luck everyone!
5 Feb 2010
It seems that Fabio had already made his mind up and todays meeting lasted just 12 minutes. I think it probably is the right decision, mostly because of his actions having an effect on an England team mate in Wayne Bridge.
Congratulations to Rio, who I suspected would be an England and Man Utd captain one day, and I also suspect he will want to quickly make people forget how he became Captain by putting in some strong performances.
Hopefully we can all focus on the World Cup now!
3 Feb 2010
Me again, and I have more from Dan at Wikio.
There is a new function that is a fantastic enhancement to the existing Wikio Ranking System. Those in the know will be aware of the broad categories upon which the various Wikio rankings are compiled, such as Sports, Politics, Technology etc…
However, Wikio have now about to take the ranking system a step further, and have developed a new sub-ranking system. So, in future, the categories that you are familiar with will also be available split into sub-rankings.
For example. .. Here, as a sneak peek is the sub-rankings for the football blogs, as a sub-ranking to the UK Sports blog list I published a few minutes ago…
Ranking by Wikio
It’s a brave new world people.
Dan has been good enough to provide me with the sneak peek for the Top 30 Sports Blogs this month, as per the Wikio ranking system.
Ranking by Wikio
If you want to look in a little more depth to some of the trends and who is linking to whom, then check out Wikio Labs