Friday, 29 June 2012

NHL: Calder Trophy candidates

The annual Calder Trophy award is given to the player who has had the most proficient first year in the NHL and is the de-facto award for the Rookie of the Year.

The Rookie of the Year trophy has been awarded 79 times since its creation for the 1936–37 NHL season. The voting is conducted by members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the conclusion of each regular season to determine the winner.

The 2012 daft class will be on display next season in the NHL and it could well be a thrilling battle for the Calder Trophy, as several NHL picks battle for recognition.

This season’s draft was heavily dominated by defencemen and it may well happen that a blueliner can win the award next year – although that has only happened on two occasions since the 1996-97 season.

Nail Yakupov would be among most people’s leading candidates for the Trophy and he has added to that chance by heading to Edmonton to play for the Oilers.

There he will have an outstanding chance of leading the rookie tables in scoring especially if he has Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Sam Gagner as his center, and he could easily top the 52 points that this year’s winner of the Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche scored on his way to scooping last year’s prize.

Yakupov has an uncanny knack of scoring and it has to be remembered that he will be part of a very dangerous Oilers offence next year.

Yakupov is sure to be pushed by a few others and those would include Ryan Murray and Teuvo Teravainen.

The former will hopefully figure on the Blue Jackets roster next season and we expect him to be an all-round force on defence. Whilst his offence isn’t a major part of his game, he remains leading candidate for the Calder.

Teravainen has the spectacular combination of elite-shooting skills and blazing speed, which will help him be effective at the NHL level. He could well thrive alongside the talented Blackhawks forwards in Chicago and he has the potential develop into a star.

Those who bet on hockey reckon he’s another who has a shot at picking up the Calder Trophy on the way.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Johnson hammers home message

The USA hammer team for Betfair London 2012 has been finalised following the culmination of the recent Olympic trials, which were held in the shadow of the Tiger Woods building at Nike headquarters.

The team will include Kibwe Johnson, who last year became the first American in 12 years to throw over 800 metres, and who qualified for London 2012 by throwing the hammer just one inch short of 246 feet.

He then showed how much Olympic inclusion meant to him by lying down on an image of the Olympic rings in the centre of the hammer field.

An added incentive to throw well was the fact that Johnson’s grandparents are regular visitors to the Olympic Games, having attended each one since Montreal 1976, and the thought of them seeing their grandson in action also spurred him on.

Unfortunately, Chris Cralle will not make it onto the plane for London despite finishing second in qualifying with a throw of over 243 feet, as he does not have the Olympic ‘A’ total of 255 feet, 11 inches on his card, so the second spot goes to A.G Kruger who was third in qualifying and who will contest his third Olympics, having turned out at both Athens and Beijing. His best place so far is 27th.

As for the women’s hammer team, Amber Campbell, Amanda Bingson and Jessica Cosby all earned a trip to London. Campbell threw a record 235 feet six inches to qualify in first place, Bingson was just short of that, while Cosby threw just over 232 feet to finish third.

Campbell also competed in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, as did Cosby, and both know they will need to improve again to defy the betfair betting odds and be among the medals, in a sport dominated in the main by eastern Europe.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Punters' Wimbledon guide - Agnieszka Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska has been the biggest recent mover at the top of the WTA rankings. The world number three has been on the edge of the elite group of players for some time – she ended 2008 ranked 10th - but she has broken through in the last few months and is now a serious challenger for majors.

The Pole’s win at San Diego last August was her first title for more than three years, but she has won five more since, including Premier Mandatory victories at Tokyo, Beijing and Miami. Whether she can transfer this form to majors is the big question that is asked of so many players who find the ingredient for consistently beating the best.

The answer should be yes. Radwanska has something special about the way she sets up opponents during rallies, a throwback to a bygone era when guile and use of angles were crucial. She is one of the best scramblers around but does not lack the power necessary nowadays. Her rapidly shrinking Betfair Tennis odds reflect her standing in the women’s game.

A double slam winner as a junior (including at Wimbledon), Radwanska looked set for a distinguished career at SW19. She reached the last 16 in her maiden slam appearance in 2006and followed up with quarter final runs in 2008 and 2009. A second round exit last year was a major disappointment, as she certainly has the game to prosper on grass.

Increased confidence has been a key factor in Radwanska’s improvement over the past year and a big win over a main rival will be the last piece in the jigsaw. Punters who bet on Wimbledon will note that she has won just five of her meetings against Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. The last four of Wimbledon would be the best place to improve that record.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

NFL: Green poised for big second year

The second season in the NFL can be a difficult one, but Cincinnati Bengals wide-receiver A.J. Green should be able to overcome that and become an integral part of a developing Bengals offence.

Green is primed to take that next step and join the elite wide receivers in this league especially as his rookie season numbers are better than already elite receivers like Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.

There is no doubt that he is moving forward with his game and he has plenty of desire and dedication - two admirable qualities that will help him go a long way in the league - and he has all of the other attributes that you want in a playmaking wide receiver. He’s quick, aggressive and hard-working.

Green's debut was extremely impressive. The fourth overall pick of the 2011 draft led all NFL rookies with 65 catches for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns. His 11 catches of 35 yards or more were the most in the league and the most by an NFL rookie since Minnesota’s Randy Moss made 14 in 1998.

As a result, Green became the first rookie wide receiver to make the Pro Bowl since Anquan Boldin in 2003. If he can follow that up in his second season then that would impressive, although he could quickly find himself a marked man.

Two of the men that Green looks up to - Johnson and Fitzgerald - both had second seasons which produced great numbers. Fitzgerald caught 103 passes for 1,409 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Johnson produced 79 receptions for 1,331 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those are realistic targets for Green in 2012.

Green has already become the clear leader of a wide receiver group that averages 2.2 years of experience and that has been noticed by members of the football betting community and gained him that extra bit of respect.

Although that doesn’t mean that he has stopped his development or learning. The emphasis of this off-season has been to grow as a player. He needs to become more patient with his route running, but that will come in time, and he is also learning all three wide receiver spots (split end, flanker and slot), which will help him elude markers.

A.J. Green has already made a mark in the NFL and we have a feeling he’s going to defy the NFL bets and odds and make an even bigger one in the second year of his career.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Fallon Remains on Krypton in Diamond Jubilee Stakes

Nobody knows the smart Dubai-based sprinter, Krypton Factor, better than former British champion jockey, Keiren Fallon, so it comes as no great surprise to learn that trainer, Fawzi Nass, has turned to the enigmatic Irishman to partner his star horse in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, on June 23, writes Elliot Slater.

The four-year-old will return to Britain for the first time since leaving the care of Sir Mark Prescott at the end of a very successful two-year-old career that saw him win five times. He ended the campaign running a close third in the valuable listed Totepool Two-Year-Old trophy at Redcar, beaten just a length-an-a-half by Ladies Are Forever.

The son of Kyllachy ran well under Fallon on a number of occasions, during his first term in Dubai, without managing to get his head in front, (including when third over a mile in the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas in February 2011).

It was not until this winter in the desert kingdom that Krypton Factor really came into his own, when dropping back to six furlongs. 

After winning at that trip, in a good handicap off a mark of 100, he failed by just a short-head to peg back the useful Hitchens off a 9lb higher mark, then turned the form around with David Barrons’ charge, a few weeks later, beating him comfortably to land the Group 3 Mahaab al Shimaal by two-and-a-half-lengths.

Raised to a career high rating of 117, Krypton Factor then brought the house down on World Cup night at Meydan, defeating the star sprinter, Rocket Man, to land the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen, and with it, the massive £774,000 first prize. 

A subsequent trip to Singapore failed to pay dividends, after the horse reportedly travelled poorly on the journey to the East, but he has settled in well back at Newmarket, and the current best-priced 25/1 shot (Betfair horse racing odds) could represent good each-way value against the long odds-on Black Caviar in the big Ascot event.

Visit for more information on Royal Ascot and the upcoming race calendar.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Strong Start for Tiger

Tiger Woods continued his impressive recent form as he produced a solid opening round of 69 on day one of the US Open in San Francisco, three shots behind leader, Michael Thompson.

The world number four looked in great shape, going into the tournament, following his recent victory at Memorial, and he continued to prove that he is back to his best with a promising opening round.

While playing partners, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, both struggled on their opening rounds, Woods looked in control of every area of his game and is very capable of going all the way this weekend.

The 36-year old is looking to win his first Major since his US Open victory of 2008, knowing a win this weekend would take his tally to 15, just three short of Jack Nicklaus’ record.

After admitting that he was pleased with his round of 69, Woods revealed the playing conditions had proven very different to how the players had expected them to be.

“I played well - I felt like I had control of my game all day and stuck to my game plan. I was very pleased with every facet of my game and I stayed very patient.

“We knew it was going to be quick, but we didn't think it was going to happen overnight. I was really, really surprised how much it changed – the whole place changed and you had to make adjustments.”

This opening round from Tiger will only go further to convince many that the former world number one is on his way back to the top of the sport.

There is still plenty of golf to be played at Olympic, this weekend, however, and Tiger will have to really produce the goods to play himself into contention, come Sunday.

Woods has long been the favourite to triumph in San Francisco, according to the US Open 2012 odds on Betfair.

Visit for more information on the golf calendar, including the next Major on the schedule – the Open Championship.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

NFL: Browns look to rookies

If there is one side whose draft picks are going to come under more scrutiny than any other team then it is the Cleveland Browns. With three picks in the first 37 in the draft you can expect them to be relying heavily on their rookies this season.

Fast forward to Week 1 of the upcoming regular season and many who bet on NFL will are anticipating a scenario where there could be as many as six rookie players in the Browns’ starting 22.

The obvious starters for the Browns are the overall number three pick Trent Richardson, who is destined to be the starting running-back in Cleveland, and it looks like that their other first-round pick quarterback, Brandon Weedon will start, despite denials from GM Tom Heckert and team president Mike Holmgren.

Of their top three picks, that just leaves Mitchell Schwartz and, although he’s going to have to adjust to the power and pace of the pro game, he looks as though he could well adapt.

There is no doubt that the Browns are rebuilding - they have had to - but whilst it will be a challenge to win with these rookies from the start of the season, the Bengals proved last season that you can win with rookie-led teams and make the post-season.

The other rookies that could make the Browns starting line-up didn’t figure so highly in the draft, but remember that there are often some hidden gems way down the list, and the other three that could start are certainly not lacking in talent.

Third-round pick John Hughes looks a versatile sort. and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that fourth-rounder Travis Benjamin could see some action at wide-receiver - a position the Browns hardly have strength in depth in.

Fellow fourth-rounder Michael Johnson could well complete the sextet of rookie starters in place of the likely-to-be-suspended outside linebacker Scott Fujita.

The Browns are 13 years into the re-birth of their franchise and much of the responsibility of leading this year’s regeneration programme, and defying NFL betting odds, will fall on the shoulders of the rookie class of 2012.

Norwich promise Hughton funds

Norwich chief executive David McNally has confirmed the club’s new management have been promised enough financial assistance in order to maintain their place in the Premier League. New manager Chris Hughton replaced the Aston Villa-bound Paul Lambert, and has now been promised funds with which to stamp his mark over his new squad.

The former Newcastle and Birmingham manager has arrived at the club with the backing of the majority of Norwich fans, who were keen to move on from the shock exit of Lambert. The Scot lead the club to back-to-back promotions into the Premier League, and his departure has left a bitter taste in many Norwich fans’ mouths.

While Hughton will have a tough job to fill the sizable shoes left by Lambert, although, the new manager will be able to spend money in assembling a squad cable of maintaining top-flight football for the Canaries.

"In Norwich City terms there's more financial freedom for the manager than there's ever been," chief executive David McNally confirmed.

“If we can create spare cash flows, the manager gets that. He's got a decent payroll budget and transfer budget.”

"Chris has got our commitment that if any player leaves the club for money, he will get that additionally," added McNally.

Many a club has struggled to live up to first-season success in the Premier League, but there has been plenty of support from inside the game to back Hughton as the right man to lead the club to where they want to be. His record in the game is certainly encouraging, and on paper the match looks to be a perfect one.

If you are a punter who likes to bet on soccer games don’t forget to head over to Bet365 for all the latest news, advice, expert opinion and  Soccer betting tips

Sunday, 10 June 2012

More of the same needed for Denmark

Denmark’s entry into Euro 2012 was a startling display of teamwork over individual responsibility. By shocking the Bet Euro 2012 community and beating the Netherlands 1-0, the Danes now have a realistic chance of escaping the ‘Group of Death’ and head to Lviv for their clash with the Portuguese no doubt in optimistic mood.

The Danes weren’t intimidated by Holland’s prestigious line-up, happy to play progressive football from the back. William Kvist and Niki Zimling have done this for their respective club sides for years, although dictating the middle of the park so successfully against Portugal’s Miguel Veloso and Raul Meireles may be a problem.

While the team effort was clear, brilliant individual performances stood out within the ranks. Left-back Simon Poulsen was magnificent, preventing Arjen Robben from his usual ‘cut inside and fire’ routine. Going forward the 27-year-old offered great promise, bombing past Michael Krohn-Dehli to challenge a weak Dutch defence.

This attacking confidence was found throughout a back four comfortable with the ball. However, there are still problems for Morten Olsen to address. Nicklas Bendtner looked utterly disinterested with and without the ball.

In a side that relies so much on the counter attack, his inability to run off the shoulder of defenders means play rarely moved forward against a high Dutch line. And it’s unlikely that the performance narrowed his Betfair Euro 2102 top goalscorer odds.

Meanwhile young starlet Christian Eriksen was never given freedom to show off his talents. He will face a similarly robust test against Portugal in Lviv, and will need wingers Dennis Rommedahl and Krohn-Dehli to offer him better supply.

Yet the stand-out man was Krohn-Dehli, who sold three orange shirts a dummy before scoring the winning goal. The Brøndby midfielder was as calm in his defensive duties as he was with the ball, and his clinical finish sets a standard the Danes must upkeep on Wednesday.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Mata – Spain won’t be fatigued

Spain are undoubtedly a leading team heading to Euro 2012 but there have are those who have questioned whether many of their stars will suffer from fatigue given their long and grueling domestic campaigns.

There are a number of players in the Spain squad who have endured jam-packed and demanding seasons, but there is no questions regarding their talents as the squad boasts 40 winners medals from their respective clubs over the season just gone.

It shows the level the reigning world and European champions are competing at but that success could come at a cost, and without a break from football it could mean the Spanish players struggle come Euro 2012.

One man who doubts this is Chelsea star Juan Mata, who endured a herculean effort with the Blues over the closing months of their campaign, and he could be the one chosen to fill the gap left by David Villa.

He claims there are goal scorers throughout the squad who can compensate for the loss of Barca star Villa, but he is confident Spain are not going to be affected by their players having long and successful seasons.

The 25-year-old said: "It's been a really demanding season for many of us, with loads of minutes in a variety of different competitions.

"But we are all prepared to hit our maximum form. The simple fact is that pride and hunger to win are a greater force than physical tiredness. That won't be our problem."

Mata pin-pinpointed Fernando Torres Álvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente as those capable of stepping up and filling Villa’s boots when it comes to scoring goals, in particularly highlighting his Chelsea team-mate Torres as a man who will be a “vital component” for Spain at Euro 2012.

Need some help with your Euro 2012 bets? Then why not read the latest Harry Redknapp Euro Tips blog? Betfair have signed up the Spurs manager for this summer’s festival of football so make sure you log-on now for the latest Harry Redknapp Tips ahead of England’s first game against France on Monday.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Zabaleta – Argentineans happy at City

Pablo Zabaleta has insisted he and his Argentine comrades Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez are happy to continue playing for Manchester City and in no rush to leave. The versatile defender has been quick to make clear the fact that all three are settled and happy in Manchester despite rumours Aguero and Tevez could be set to leave the club this summer.

Aguero starred in his debut season in the Barclays Premier League, grabbing 23 goals, including the critical winning goal against QPR to secure City the league title in thrilling fashion.

Real Madrid have been linked with the attacker, however, with plenty of activity in betting markets backing such a move.

City will be loath to lose their top scorer and should be able to fend off any interest.

Tevez’ career at City looked to be all but over six months ago, only for the striker to return to Manchester and play a crucial role in the club clinching the title ahead of rivals United. Some still believe the forward will still be looking to leave the club this summer, although, Zabaletta has claimed neither Tevez nor Aguero are looking to leave the Premier League champions anytime soon.

"The three of us spend a lot of time together, Sergio lives five minutes away.”

"It's great for Carlos, for Sergio, for me. We play together for the national team and I played with them in the youth teams.”

"The opportunity we have in England is making a big impact in our lives. The culture is different, the football is different, we are really enjoying it here. Manchester is one of the best places in the UK,” Zabaletta insisted.