Thursday, 31 May 2012

MLS: Mattocks shows plenty of raw talent

Darren Mattocks will have been happy yet frustrated following his first start of his Vancouver Whitecaps career. The Jamaican striker was a constant thorn in the Seattle Sounders’ side during their 2-2 draw against the Whitecaps. However, the youngster will have been left kicking himself after missing a hatful of clear cut chances.

Seattle head coach admitted his side were lucky Mattocks had misplaced his scoring boots, although, the Sounders defence will remember coming up against the lively frontman. While he may not have found the back of the net, Mattocks never stopped running and proved his striker’s instinct by getting himself into goal-scoring positions, albeit unsuccessfully.

"That's the life of a striker," Mattocks said. "I think I did really well but unfortunately, I was unlucky on a couple of those opportunities that I missed ... That's the way it goes sometimes. That's my first start of the season. Give me a couple of games and I'll be firing on all cylinders."

Punters who bet on soccer games expected the 21-year old to be a regular first-team player at the beginning of the season, only to suffer a freak cooking-related injury which ruled him out of action for eight weeks. Now back fully fit, Mattocks will be looking to prove he has been worth all the hype since his second overall pick at the pre-season MLS SuperDraft.

The lively striker’s 21 goals in 22 games for Akron University show the Jamaican knows how to put the ball in the back of the net. Most soccer betting tips now feel that with a regular run in the first team Mattocks will show he can be the man to score the goals that help the Whitecaps get higher up the table.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Carragher – Liverpool need to get into top four

The last few years have been real eye-openers for Liverpool fans and now even Jamie Carragher seems to admit the club need to look at getting back in the Premier League top four rather than challenge for the title.

The 2011/12 season may have been a success in cup competitions – with Carling Cup success complimented by an appearance in the FA Cup final – but they were poor in the Premier League and lost as many games as they won.

An eighth-place finish, behind arch-rivals Everton, signalled the end of Kenny Dalglish’s reign at Anfield with owners Fenway Sports Group giving him the chop and starting the search for a new man to take Liverpool forward.

Carragher, who is Liverpool through-and-through and can remember the times when Liverpool were all-conquering in the 1980s, reckons the cup triumphs made the last campaign “fantastic” but he is honest of what
should be the club’s targets under their new manager.

Liverpool fans will be dreaming of winning their first league title since 1990 but have to admit they are currently a long way behind Manchester City and Manchester United, and also lagging behind the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs.

The Premier League top four and Champions League qualification must be the prime target for the Reds next season as Carragher admits that tournament it “the place to be seen” for anyone who regards themselves as a top club.

“Liverpool fans probably don't want to hear it, but it is an achievement getting into the top four. It is different to what it was a long time ago,” said the Reds defender.

"At the moment I don't think the title is in everyone's mind, I think top four first.”

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel has come out and stated league performances need to take priority over everything else this season as they underachieved in 2011/12, and fans will have high hopes the new man at the helm can take them into that Premier League top four.

Ahead of this summer’s European Championships don’t forget to check out the new bet365 Ray Winston video  as well as all the other bet365 videos as seen on TV.

Monday, 28 May 2012

NHL: A Cup full of history

The entire focus of the NHL season and particularly of those who regularly bet on hockey is the Stanley Cup.

The LA Kings are just one game away from claiming a place in the Final, while it could take a little bit longer to separate the Rangers and the Devils, who are all-square in their series at 2-2.

The Cup has a rich and detailed history full of tradition and pageantry, but there are a few little things about the Cup that are not well known.

Here are a few such facts that you may not know about.

The current Trophy is surely one of the biggest in sport but it wasn’t always that way. The original Stanley Cup was only seven inches tall and is dwarfed by the current trophy stands a massive 35 inches tall and weighs in at a hefty 34 pounds. Lifting the Stanley Cup certainly takes some effort from the players.

The Stanley Cup has the distinction of being the oldest trophy competed for by professional sports teams in North America. Originally purchased in 1892, the cup was created for the championship hockey club of the Dominion of Canada. It wasn’t until 1927 that the NHL became the sole owner of the Cup. That year, the Ottawa Senators defeated the Boston Bruins.

Winning the Cup has always been tough, but one team heads the role of honour in terms of Cup wins. The Montreal Canadiens have celebrated victory in the Stanley Cup 24 times.

Of the current crop of NHL teams, 12 have never lifted the trophy and, with the Kings playing the Coyotes in one of the Conference Finals, one of those 12 will have a chance a lifting the trophy this season.

While the current version of the Stanley Cup is much larger than the original version, it is still too small to contain the entire list of champions. There are five rings on the cup and each ring can hold 13 winners.

Once the bottom ring gets filled, they remove the oldest rings and start a new ring. Rings that have been removed are sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

So there you have it - some things you may know about the Cup and some you may not.

What everyone knows, however, is that we are going to see a fierce battle to lift the Stanley Cup once again in 2012.

Why not check out the live hockey online and join the excitement?

Friday, 25 May 2012

Ramdin wants Windies to keep Fighting

West Indies wicketkeeper, Denesh Ramdin, insists the tourists are still in the series and will continue to fight hard in the second Test at Trent Bridge. 

The Windies overcame a poor start to give England a real scare on their way to a five-wicket victory at Lord’s. 

Despite showing signs of improvement with both bat and ball, they go into Friday’s Nottingham Test facing the prospect of losing the series.

Ramdin, who spent almost two years out of the side, before the first Test, feels the West Indies can take plenty of encouragement from their display at the home of cricket.

"Many people felt that we would have lost inside four days, but the guys showed character and fight", said Ramdin. 

"If we had batted a bit better in the first innings, you never know what could have happened on the last day."

The 27-year-old added beating the best side in the world with such an inexperienced team would be 'fantastic', but admitted it would take a near perfect performance to do it.

"We are in England’s backyard, and it’s tough to beat them here, but they are beatable, once we bowl in the right areas, get wickets, and our batters put runs on the board", added Ramdin, who has 43 Test caps.

The weather in the Midlands should be in the West Indies’ favour, with bright sunshine and warm temperatures forecast at Trent Bridge. The Betfair cricket odds indicate that England will win, however.      

"The weather looks fine up this side, so, hopefully, the conditions would also favour our bowlers, and they can take pattern from England’s bowlers, bowl the right areas, challenge England’s batsmen, and put up a better fight here, and we try to force a win", said Ramdin. 

The Betfair Michael Vaughan page has great tips and comments from the mind of the former Yorkshire and England player.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Stosur wary of Serena threat

World number six Samantha  admits a focused Serena Williams presents a formidable obstacle at the French Open.

Williams is unbeaten on clay this year, having lost just two sets in 17 matches since winning her first clay-court title in four years in North Carolina last month.

It has been a remarkable run of form on the American’s least favoured surface. Williams has won 13 Grand Slam titles but only once at Roland Garros, 10 years ago.

The 30-year-old moved back into the world’s top five with victory at the Madrid Open and the Women’s French Open Betting  has her as one of the frontrunners here.

When quizzed on potential winners at Roland Garros Stosur was in no doubt as to Williams’ abilities.

"She didn't do so much through January and at the Aussie Open - I know she sprained her ankle and disappeared again - but then since Charleston she's been almost unstoppable," Stosur said.

"I don't know what it is - she's the only one who can answer that - but she seems super dedicated at the moment, maybe more so than in recent years.

"She's obviously very focused on her own goals that she's trying to achieve and the matches I've played against her, and the ones I've seen her play, she's playing very, very well."

Williams lost to Stosur in last year’s US Open final but warned the Australian she is a different proposition now she is back to full fitness.

"I'm feeling better on clay than I did at the US Open. I have a better ranking and my fitness is better," said Williams.

"I just feel better this time around. I feel I can play on any surface and that's the right attitude for me. I'm enjoying my tennis. This is where I belong and what I do best."

Stosur will be among the favourites when the event gets underway on Sunday with French open tennis odds of around 10/1.

McCall happy with Sarries progress

Saracens chief Mark McCall has insisted he is happy with how the club is progressing despite finishing the season without any silverware. The Londoners suffered a disappointing semi-final defeat to Leicester last month, condemning the defending Premiership champions to a trophy-less season.

Big-spending owner Nigel Wray had made no secret of his desire for the club to make it back-to-back Premiership titles, however, things haven’t gone to plan and the team were often found wanting in the high-pressure matches.

The negative backlash following the Leicester defeat will have hurt the team – especially following their impressive displays in the Heineken Cup - however, director of rugby McCall has made it clear there is still plenty of optimism within the club and a real focus on the team achieving their targets for next season.

While Saracens’ results may not have gone according to plan towards the end of the season, there have been some successes this year in other areas. Youngsters Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt have both established themselves in Stuart Lancaster’s England plans, highlighting the work being done at the club in their development of fresh talent.

McCall pointed to the emergence of the talented youngster at the club as one of the success stories from the season, insisting there were plenty of positives to take from this year despite the doom and gloom story being reported by some parts of the media.

"It hasn't been a bad season," McCall said. "This year alone we came third in the regular season, two points behind the leaders."

"We got through to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup, which is the first time we've done that."

"We've got some new players who are playing for England, so there are a lot of good things happening at the club.”

For more rugby previews, tips, news and the latest Betfair Aviva Premiership Odds , head over to .

Monday, 21 May 2012

Sharapova Retains Italian Crown

Maria Sharapova defied the Rome rain and a fierce challenge from Li Na to retain her Italian Open crown, on Sunday.

The Russian lost the first set, and was 4-0 in the second, before she hit back in stunning style. Sharapova clinched consecutive games to change the complexion of the match.

The world number two then raced into a 4-1 lead in the deciding set, only for Li to mount a comeback of her own. The Chinese player showed plenty of spirit to force a third-set tiebreak.

That is when the rain intervened. The match was interrupted for more than two hours. When the players did return, it was Sharapova who held her nerve to clinch the victory 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-5), and seal her 26th career title.

Sharapova now heads to the French Open at Roland Garros searching for the title that would complete a career Grand Slam. The Italian Open triumph was her second clay court title of the season, following victory in Stuttgart, in April.

"It was a crazy match. Either one of us could have won it. There really is no loser," said Sharapova.

Li, the reigning French Open champion, admitted Sharapova was the "tougher player", after the players emerged from the rain break, a lull in play she was left to rue.

"The match was a joke – it was like playing a football match in the rain. Even when we were sent off court, you had to still concentrate for every second; it was tiring for both players", said Li.

"But I take some positives away. It is getting close to the Roland Garros, and I think I hit the ball well. I also moved her around the court well."

The French Open begins on May 27. Serina Williams is the favourite to win the title, according to the odds on

For more information on the upcoming tennis calendar, including gambling tips for the French Open and Wimbledon, visit

Friday, 18 May 2012

Revitalised Li Na ready to Defend Title

Last year’s surprise French Open champion, Li Na, has admitted that she contemplated retiring from the game, in the aftermath of her victory at Roland Garros.

The 30-year-old Chinese player, who is currently ranked nine in the world, and who was beaten in the final of last year’s Australian Open by Kim Clijsters, edged past defending champion, Francesca Schiavone, in the Paris final 12 months ago.

Li Na, who was seeded sixth for last year’s tournament, beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Silvia Soler Espinosa, Sorana Cirstea, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka, and Maria Sharapova, on her way to the final.

She has slipped down the rankings in 2012, after reaching a peak of four in the world, and admits she has found it tough to adapt to being a Grand Slam champion. However, tennis fans interested in French Open 2012 betting would be wise to keep an eye on the Chinese star. 

She said: "After Roland Garros, my life was totally shaken up. I experienced so many things that had never happened to me before […] I was up to my neck in requests. I even thought at one point that maybe I should just retire. I just couldn't focus out on court."

After struggling at Wimbledon, the US Open and in Beijing, Li Na took a break from the game but she insists that she is now refreshed and ready to defend her French Open title, when the tournament gets underway on Sunday 27th May.

Despite being seeded three at Wimbledon in 2011, Li Na was knocked out in the second round by Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, and fell at the first hurdle at Flushing Meadows, when she was beaten by Simona Halep, of Romania.

Li Na is an 18/1 pick for a victory at the French Open, according to the best tennis betting tips. Serena Williams is the current favourite.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Is Donald Driver Holding Back Packers' Youth?

The Green Bay Packers have been known as having a pass-orientated offence for a number of years, and, in fact, they have almost overdone the passing game, as they have thrown teams into submission.

To do that, you have to have an elite quarterback, and they certainly have one of those in Aaron Rodgers, and a stellar set of receivers. At the heart of that attack has been Donald Driver and, whilst many players were criticised for their part in the Packers season-ending game against the Giants, Driver was not one of them.

Despite that game, the question has been asked – how much longer can Driver go on and produce the goods? There's an old adage in the game of football, one that Packers general manager, Ted Thompson, has adhered to steadfastly in his time as Packers GM: ‘It's better to let a player go one year early, rather than one year too late’.

We are sure that letting Driver go in 2012 would be one season too early, but the Packers have plenty of young talent that they need to get on the field, probably sooner, rather than later. The receiver position is so important to the Packers, simply because Mike McCarthy's offense uses so many of them.

As long as they employ the multiple wide out sets, Thompson and company will need to develop young receivers. Another year of Driver on the roster may pay dividends on the field - or, equally, it may not. Take a chance on Driver with football betting online.

Donald Driver is an all-time Packers great; nothing will ever change that. However, as Thompson showed in his dealing with Brett Favre, no player should be given special consideration for what he has done in the past.
Thompson's job is to look forward and constantly improve the Packers as a football team.

Bringing back Driver for the 2012 season, starts to work against that ethic, especially with so much young talent at the receiver position for the Packers.

It would be a brave step for the Packers to make, but it would not be that surprising, given the way they have dealt with similar situations in the past. There is certainly something to ponder at Lambeau, over the next couple of months.

Take a punt on football with live in-play betting from Bet365.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Wellingham Denies Quit Reports

Sharrod Wellingham insists he is happy at Collingwood and has no intention of returning to his native Western Australia.

The midfielder is one of a number of players out of contract at the end of the season, though vice-captain Scott Pendlebury and defender Heath Shaw have already committed to play Live Aussie Rules for the Magpies next year. Pendlebury signed a four-year extension in March, while Shaw penned a three-year deal in April.

Amid reports he was keen to return to the west of the country Wellingham confirmed talks between the club and his manager had begun and reiterated his desire to stay at Collingwood.

"My manager has started negotiations but we'll just wait and see how that pans out over the next couple of weeks," Wellingham said.

"I'm certainly not (looking for a change). I'm very happy at the moment."

Dale Thomas, Chris Dawes, Nick Maxwell and Alan Didak are among those contracted until 2013.

However, the Magpies are still waiting for deals to be agreed with the likes Travis Cloke, Harry O'Brien, Dayne Beams, Steele Sidebottom and Ben Reid.

Meanwhile, Wellingham admitted revenge will be on the cards when Collingwood takes on Geelong in a Grand Final rematch on Friday night.

The Cats, who go into the game as favourites in the AFL betting odds won their third Premiership in five years last October with a 119-81 victory in front of a crowd of 99,537 people at the MCG.

The final brought the curtain down on Mick Malthouse’s illustrious coaching career.

"We're certainly not angry by any stretch of the imagination. I think you can't really go around trying to play football like that," Wellingham added.

"But I think all the boys who played in last year's loss will certainly have a bit more emotion towards the game. I don't know how you explain it but there will certainly be something there. (We'll) want to get a bit of retribution, I suppose."

Monday, 14 May 2012

Hodgson now needs to focus firmly on the Euros

Roy Hodgson may well have enjoyed a relatively successful season by West Brom's modest standards, but the pressure is now firmly on for the new England manager to prove himself capable of being the individual to bring England out of the doldrums and into the glory days of having a successful international tournament after so many years of failure and misery for England fans.

With the media already doing their best to turn against the new manager of the national team after their choice (yes, the media's choice; not the fans' choice) Harry Redknapp was denied the opportunity to take charge, the pressure is on Hodgson to show that he can motivate players who have previously publicly backed other managers for the England position and who are yet to openly embrace Roy as the new head coach.

If Hodgson doesn't make an impact at the European Championships, few would be surprised, given  the Betfair England Euro 2012 Odds has the Three Lions as outsiders, with qualification from the group seen as an achievement.

But it shouldn't be forgotten that this is a man who has been brought into the role at least partially in order to provide a new approach to the way the backroom staff and FA is organised, in order to ensure that Jack Wilshere is not the only youngster brought through in future who is perceived as being truly world class.

With this in mind, the most difficult aspect of the job for the FA short-term may be to convey to the media that Roy is not going to be a man for the short term, but is instead an individual brought in to make sure that when we kick off the 2018 World Cup (2014 has already been quietly written off due to the climate and the fact that Brazil will be massive favourites to win on home soil), we're well placed to push on towards the latter stages.

Whatever happens this summer, though, the pressure is now on Roy, big time.
Looking elsewhere, the Betfair Spain Euro 2012 Odds put them as joint favourites for the trophy with an ever-improving Germany.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Afoa backs Ulster appointment

Ulster tight-head John Afoa is backing fellow countryman Mark Anscombe to make a success of his coaching tenure at the club when arrives in the province next year.

The Heineken Cup finalists have appointed Ansombe as the successor to current coach Brian McLaughlin, who will switch his attentions to Academy and schools rugby from next season.

The appointment came as a shock to many rugby observers from within the community, but Afoa says he’s delighted with the appointment.

“He coached me for a year when I left school and then I had him on and off for three years at Auckland,” he explained.

“I think he’s a great coach. Everyone talks about Brian being such a loss, but I think Mark coming in can maybe take things on by doing some things a little bit different.

“Mark’s going to come in and hopefully add a few things that are going to improve our game, improve our forwards and help us go even better come next year.”

Though Ulster have already started to plan for next season, the team still has a huge Heineken Cup date on this year’s calendar.

The Irish outfit qualified for the final of the prestigious competition thanks to victory over Edinburgh on April 28, and they will now face Leinster for the right to call themselves European champions.

It promises to be a close encounter between the two rivals, as reflected by the tight Heineken Cup odds offered by most bookmakers.

And success in the Heineken Cup would be an excellent way for Ulster to end the season, says Afoa, following a slightly disappointing RaboDirect Pro12 campaign.

“We didn’t get to where we wanted to be in the league, and that’s disappointing,” said the New Zealander.

“But we have an opportunity now to create a very positive memory of this season. All of the players are striving to turn the campaign into a positive.”

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Trott Backs Strauss to Get Runs this Summer

England’s batsman struggled over their disappointing winter tour of the sub-continent, and much of the media focus was on captain, Andrew Strauss, but Jonathan Trott has backed him to rediscover his form.

The top four of Strauss, Trott, Alistair Cook, and Kevin Pietersen all failed to impress with the bat – bar the one last game of the series – as they were beaten comprehensively by Pakistan and then humbled by Sri Lanka.

All eyes will be back on England, who still top the ICC Test rankings, as they face the West Indies and South Africa in a home Test series, before heading back over to the sub-continent to take on India, at the back end of the year.

In the Test with the West Indies, England will triumph, according to the betting with Bet Victor.

Strauss has returned to play for Middlesex, as he searches to rediscover some batting form, while Pietersen has been excelling in the Indian Premier League. 

The barmy army faithful will be praying England’s top stars can excel yet again with the bat and Trott has backed his skipper, claiming the whole squad are behind him.

Trott told the BBC that the media criticism “comes with the territory” of leading England, but he thinks that Strauss, who has only topped 50 twice in nine Test innings, in 2012, will come good yet again.

He added: “We saw what happened with Alastair Cook. He had a bad run and went on to become Test batsman of the year. I'm not saying Strauss is going to do that, but he might go on to score even more.”

Pietersen has returned to England after his IPL experience and he is set to play for Surrey in the County Championship; that one game will be his only preparation in English conditions, ahead of the first Test with the West Indies.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Starscope shines with fine Guineas effort

Whilst all eyes were understandably on the Ballydoyle stable of Aidan O’Brien, after he sent out the winner and third, Homecoming Queen and Maybe, in Sunday’s thrilling Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, the fine achievement of John Gosden in saddling the runner-up, Starscope, and the fourth-placed, The Fugue, should not be overlooked, writes Elliot Slater.

The Fugue ran on well from a long way back to grab fourth place on only her second racecourse appearance, a performance that strongly hinted that she might prove even better when faced with more of a stamina test, and the Investec Oaks entry looks one to keep very much on the right side for middle-distance contests, throughout this season. 

Starscope, owned and bred by the Cheveley Park Stud, and running with the aid of a hood, found only the runaway winner too good for her; she must have delighted connections, in grabbing second place, and hinting that she could be very smart, as the term progresses. Find out if she is already a fixture of the horse racing betting tips, online.

The daughter of Moon Goddess, a half-sister to the outstanding miler, Medicean, had only one outing as a juvenile, when winning a Newmarket maiden over a mile, last October. 

After running a respectable race on her seasonal reappearance back at HQ, to be beaten by just a length into fourth place, in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes, the Selkirk filly had clearly improved for the outing, and stayed on strongly in the final quarter mile, to come home best of the rest behind the breathtaking winner.

Clearly coping well with the testing ground, and running as though she will be equally capable at eight or ten furlongs, Gosden appears to have plenty of options with the still unexposed Starscope.

With an entry in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, it seems natural that the stiff mile at the Berkshire might play to the strengths of a horse who could well get much closer to her Newmarket conqueror next time, Homecoming Queen being unlikely to be given quite so much rope in future contests.

For more information on gambling and horseracing in the UK, visit the best horse racing betting news website.