Friday, 30 March 2012

Barton warns team-mates

Queens Park Rangers skipper Joey Barton has warned his team-mates they are all playing for their futures ahead of the run-in.

QPR sit one point adrift of safety in 18th place in the Premier League, facing an uphill struggle to avoid the drop in their first season back in the top flight.
The Rs have eight games to rescue their season, starting with a clash against red-hot Arsenal at Loftus Road on Saturday.

Barton, who was dropped for the 3-1 defeat at Sunderland last time out after a poor performance against Liverpool, is well aware relegation from the Premier League at the first time of asking could see wholesale changes at the club. Anyone placing a Bet Victor bet will know they need to change their tunes.

"This is more than a game of football now. The next eight games govern our futures," Barton told the club's official website.

"There are lads here whose careers are on the line - all the lads need to realise that. If we don't, we'll be punished for it."

QPR have spent plenty of money since they travelled to Arsenal on New Year’s Eve but have failed to pull away from the relegation zone. In fact, they sit one place worse off than at the beginning of the January transfer window.

The Hoops fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat on that occasion and will arguably face a tougher challenge this time around against the league’s form side. Fans of Bet Victor betting need to bear this in mind.

Barton believes QPR can take heart from their display at Emirates Stadium.

"I feel when we went to the Emirates we acquitted ourselves really well. I think we deserved to get something out of the game," Barton added.

"The manner of that defeat was frustrating, because we gave a good account of ourselves."

Mark Hughes’ side will need to better that performance if they are to boost their survival hopes.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Benitez Perfect for Chelsea

After Andres Villas Boas was shown the door at Stamford Bridge a few weeks ago the usual speculation over who will become the next manager kicks in, and with Rafa Benitez out of work since he left Inter Milan, he was linked to the role, but insists that was not contacted by Chelsea.

It is surprising that Benitez is still out of work, but it seems that he is waiting for that right opportunity to come along, and from the looks of it, he wants that opportunity to be in England.

He had six good years at Liverpool where he lead them to two Champions League finals of course and that is why he may have been linked to Stamford Bridge, with Roman Abramovich's desire for European success. And although he didn't win the Premier League, he has enough experience of the English game to be successful and it should Chelsea not give Roberto Di Matteo the full time job, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Benitez come in. Those betting Premiership money will know he has linked himself with the job.

He is a manager who would get instant respect from the players, which is something that AVB ultimately failed to do during his time at the club. Benitez has spent a number of seasons at each club he has been at, growing the club behind the scenes while buying him time to do so with his success on the pitch, exactly what Chelsea need. People placing a football bet will be wondering if this will happen.

The only thing you could say negative about him is his failure to cope with the mind games of Sir Alex Ferguson. Roberto Mancini is on the verge of getting into a sticky battle with the United boss, and from history, not may managers come out better off. Benitez knows all too well after he went on a rant about United in a pre match press conference which ultimately saw his team lose the lead in the table as United went on to win the title.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Swansea will look to build

Neil Taylor believes that Swansea will be able to retain their key players as manager Brendan Rodgers is building something special in south Wales.

The Swans have exploded onto the Premier League scene after their promotion last season, sitting 10th in the top flight with 39 points. This is wildly higher than most people's expectations, the majority believing the Welsh outfit would be the whipping boys this season.

Wins over Arsenal and Manchester City based on a strong work ethic and no lack of creative talent have demonstrated that Rodgers has a side with good strength in depth. Unlike Blackpool a few seasons ago, the Swans have not suffered a blip during the second half of the campaign and are on track to finish in the top 10. Fans of football odds should remember this.

Such performances have led to speculation that some of their star names may be about to leave the Liberty Stadium. In January, Scott Sinclair was linked with Liverpool while Spurs have been reported to be after Joe Allen.

Despite this, Taylor is convinced that the team spirit which has already got them so far will help Swansea retain their key players for many seasons to come.

Describing the club as "special", Taylor has also stressed that the Swans players are playing for the shirt over money and that financial reward is unlikely to turn their heads over the busy summer transfer period.

Put simply, critics were wrong about Swansea last summer and they will be proven wrong again. People betting on football need to bear this in mind.

Looking at Swansea's remaining eight fixtures, you wouldn't back against them finishing inside the top 10, and potentially higher. They are only three points off seventh-placed Liverpool and aside from a visit to Old Trafford on 6 May, their remaining games look winnable. Consequently, the battle for seventh could come down to the final day home clash against the Reds.

They start this assault at White Hart Lane on Sunday against a Tottenham outfit who have wobbled recently. Then it's on to Newcastle before games against four of the five sides battling against the drop.

It has already been a stellar season for Swansea but finishing in the top seven would put the icing on the cake. And judging by the spirit in the camp and the style in which they play, don't put it past them to achieve just that.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur preview

This crucial London derby takes place against a backdrop of managerial change. Chelsea have benefitted since they changed their coach, whilst Tottenham have slumped since talk of Harry Redknapp's departure to the England coach's job exploded into life.

In truth the effect of these managerial reshuffles, past and future, has been overplayed. Spurs have not been at their best for some time and did not pick up the points they deserved against Manchester United and Everton; before Christmas their staccato performance against Stoke City would probably have yielded three points, as people following the football betting odds will know.

Chelsea began life under Roberto Di Matteo with a 2-0 FA Cup replay win at Birmingham City with a performance that was very much out of the Andre Villas Boas vintage and their league displays since do not represent a marked improvement: a scratchy 1-0 win over Stoke and an offensively bereft effort in defeat at Manchester City were all too familiar to Blues fans.

They will nonetheless be the more confident team on Saturday lunchtime, due largely to their recent home record against Spurs (15 wins and six draws from their last 21 league matches at Stamford Bridge). They have a habit of beating Spurs when being outplayed, as they did last season with the help of two goals that the officials should not have allowed to stand and fans of Bet Victor may want to bear this in mind.

This is a massive test of Spurs' resolve after their recent dip in form allowed Arsenal to overtake them in third place, but they travel west knowing that a win would send them eight points clear of their only other challengers for a top four place.

A win could be a decisive blow for either team in the race towards that European Holy Grail and it is easy to envisage the teams cancelling each other out. The Blues have an eye on Tuesday's trip to Benfica, but they know this match is in many ways more important. Acagey affair could ensue, with 1-1 the scoreline to follow.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A riposte to the new manager effect

The five-way relegation battle at the foot of the Premier League is being fought by clubs with two distinct approaches to the situation. Queens Park Rangers and Wolverhampton Wanderers made swift decisions to change manager, whilst Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic have stuck with their men.

Wigan might be bottom, but it currently seems that the decision to stick or twist is favouring those who are holding their nerve in the poker game that is sack the manager. Wolves and QPR continue to flounder, although in truth it is only the Londoners who have really gone in search of the new manager effect.

Mark Hughes replaced Neil Warnock with all the ingredients of recovery seemingly in place. A successful topflight manager, money well-spent in the January transfer window and the faith of a board that was desperate to enforce change must have left Rangers fans expecting their club would pull away from trouble as Martin O'Neill's Sunderland have.

Instead they have managed to further lose form and with the toughest run-in of all look nearly as vulnerable as Wolves – who hoped for the new manager effect without planning properly for who it would be and have been mocked for replacing Mick McCarthy with his right-hand man, Terry Connor.

Owen Coyle and Roberto Martinez have benefitted from the faith of chairman who have done their sums for life in the Championship and believe their current managers to be the best long-term options, regardless of the outcome to this season. Those placing a Victor Chandler Bet need to bear this in mind.

Steve Kean represents a strange mix of blind faith and knee-jerk opposition and as his stewardship continues, Blackburn's owners and fans have little option but to further entrench themselves in the respective positions they took up so prematurely.

It seems the board and Kean might have the last laugh, as Warnock and McCarthy might if their old clubs continue to slide towards the Premier League trapdoor. The honeymoon period of having a new manager for a relegation fight can be short or even non-existent.