Saturday, December 26, 2015

Georgie's Premiership Predictions December 26 2015

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Focus this Boxing Day is on Manchester United's game at Stoke City. The Red Devils have lost their last three games and desperately need a win to ease the pressure on under-fire manager Louis van Gaal, who walked out of a press conference at Old Trafford earlier in the week when questioned about his future.

Chelsea face Watford at home with new interim manager Guus Hiddink now in charge after the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

Second place Arsenal take on Southampton after beating Manchester City 2-1 on Monday. Liverpool face leaders Leicester City at Anfield in what will be a stern test of the Foxes' title credentials.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Stoke 2 v Man Utd 1
Aston Villa 1 v West Ham 1
Bournemouth 2 v Crystal Palace 3
Chelsea 2 v Watford 0
Liverpool 2 v Leicester 2
Man City 2 v Sunderland 0
Swansea 2 v West Brom 1
Tottenham 2 v Norwich 1
Newcastle 1 v Everton 1
Southampton 0 v Arsenal 2

Lukaku 50/1 To Break Vardy Record

Romelu Lukaku, who has scored in all three starts in an Everton shirt against Newcastle, has bagged in seven consecutive Premier League games and is 50/1 to break the 11 match hot-streak of Jamie Vardy.
Midfield maestro Ross Barkley also scored in that trio of games with the pair helping themselves to seven of the nine goals and bet365 have a market on their combined tally on Boxing Day with three or more priced at 12/1.
2015/16 Romelu Lukaku Premier League Specials

To score in 11 or more consecutive PL games 25/1
To score in 12 or more consecutive PL games 50/1
(Currently on 7 - current run only)

Newcastle v Everton 26th Dec

Combined Lukaku/Barkley Goals v Newcastle (Both must start)
None 11/10 One 13/8 Two 9/2 Three+ 12/1
2015/16 Premier League – To Be Relegated
Yes No
Aston Villa 1/12 7/1
Sunderland 1/6 4/1
Newcastle 6/4 1/2
Norwich 9/4 1/3
Swansea 5/2 2/7
West Brom 11/2 1/9

Last time's predictions

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Barcelona Win 2015 Club World Cup

Barcelona beat River Plate 3-0 on Sunday to win the Club World Cup in Yokohama, Japan. Goals from Leo Messi and a brace from Luis Suarez were enough to see off a brave but limited River Plate side in front of 66,853 supporters at Yokohama International Stadium, the venue for the 2002 World Cup final.

Barcelona Win 2015 Club World Cup, Yokohama, Japan.


Despite constant and noisy support from an estimated 10,000 traveling plans this year's Libertadores winners River Plate from Argentina were never really in the match until a late spell of pressure after the game was all but over.

Messi took his place in the Barcelona lineup after recovering from a kidney complaint which caused him to miss the semi-final win over China's Evergrande and the Argentine opened the scoring in the 36th minute. Luis Suarez's goal in the 49th minute was the goal of the game after a superb ball over the top by Busquets. Suarez completed the scoring after a cross from Neymar in the 68th minute.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat ACL Champions Guangzhou Evergrande 2-1 in the warm up game to secure third place in the competition.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Independent Ethics Committee bans Joseph S. Blatter and Michel Platini

Independent Ethics Committee bans Joseph S. Blatter and Michel Platini.

The adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee chaired by Mr Hans‑Joachim Eckert has banned Mr Joseph S. Blatter, President of FIFA, for eight years and Mr Michel Platini, Vice-President and member of the Executive Committee of FIFA and President of UEFA, for eight years from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) on a national and international level. The bans come into force immediately.

The proceedings against Mr Blatter primarily related to a payment of CHF 2,000,000 transferred in February 2011 from FIFA to Mr Platini. Mr Blatter, in his position as President of FIFA, authorised the payment to Mr Platini which had no legal basis in the written agreement signed between both officials on 25 August 1999. Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment. His assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber.

The evidence available to the adjudicatory chamber in the present case was not sufficient to establish, to the extent required, that Mr Blatter sought the execution or omission of an official act from Mr Platini within the meaning of article 21 paragraph 1 of the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE) (Bribery and corruption). However, the conduct of Mr Blatter towards Mr Platini without a legal basis constituted a breach of article 20 paragraph 1 of the FCE (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits). Furthermore, Mr Blatter found himself in a situation of conflict of interest, despite which he continued to perform his related duties, failing to disclose said situation and the existence of personal interests linked to his prospective activities, thus violating article 19 paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the FCE (Conflicts of interest). By failing to place FIFA’s interests first and abstain from doing anything which could be contrary to FIFA’s interests, Mr Blatter violated his fiduciary duty to FIFA and breached article 15 of the FCE (Loyalty). Mr Blatter’s actions did not show commitment to an ethical attitude, failing to respect all applicable laws and regulations as well as FIFA’s regulatory framework to the extent applicable to him and demonstrating an abusive execution of his position as President of FIFA, hence violating article 13 of the FCE (General rules of conduct).

In consequence, Mr Blatter has been banned for eight years from all football‑related activities and fined CHF 50,000.

The investigation into the case of Mr Blatter was conducted by Mr Robert Torres, member of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee. The investigation resulted in a final report which was submitted to the adjudicatory chamber on 20 November 2015. The adjudicatory chamber opened formal proceedings on 23 November 2015, and the hearing of Mr Blatter took place in Zurich on 17 December 2015.

The proceedings against Mr Platini primarily related to a payment of CHF 2,000,000 that he received in February 2011 from FIFA. The payment to Mr Platini had no legal basis in the written agreement signed between both officials on 25 August 1999. Mr Platini’s assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber. The evidence available to the adjudicatory chamber in the present case was not sufficient to establish, to the extent required, that Mr Platini obtained the payment for the execution or omission of an official act within the meaning of article 21 paragraph 1 of the FCE (Bribery and corruption). Nevertheless, the conduct of Mr Platini without a legal basis constituted a breach of article 20 paragraph 1 of the FCE (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits). Furthermore, Mr Platini found himself in a situation of conflict of interest, despite which he continued to perform his related duties, failing to disclose said situation and the existence of personal interests linked to his prospective activities in violation of article 19 paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the FCE (Conflicts of interest). By failing to place FIFA’s interests first and abstain from doing anything which could be contrary to FIFA’s interests, Mr Platini also violated his fiduciary duty to FIFA and breached article 15 of the FCE (Loyalty). In addition, Mr Platini failed to act with complete credibility and integrity, showing unawareness of the importance of his duties and concomitant obligations and responsibilities. His actions did not show commitment to an ethical attitude, failing to respect all applicable laws and regulations as well as FIFA’s regulatory framework to the extent applicable to him and demonstrating an abusive execution of his position as Vice-President of FIFA and member of the FIFA Executive Committee, hence violating article 13 of the FCE (General rules of conduct).

In consequence, Mr Platini has been banned for eight years from all football‑related activities and fined CHF 80,000.

The investigation into the case of Mr Platini was conducted by Ms Vanessa Allard, member of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee. The investigation resulted in a final report which was submitted to the adjudicatory chamber on 20 November 2015. The adjudicatory chamber opened formal proceedings on 23 November 2015, and the hearing took place in Zurich on 18 December 2015 in the presence of Mr Platini’s lawyers.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

George's Premiership Predictions December 19 2015

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Chelsea's 2-1 loss to league leaders Leicester in the Monday night game meant the end for Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, as Chelsea's season went from bad to worse with last season's champions now only one point above the drop zone. Guus Hiddink looks set for his second term in charge as caretaker until the end of the season.

Chelsea face Sunderland at home in what is now looking like a six-pointer.

Second place Arsenal take on third place Manchester City at the Emirates, while fourth place Manchester United hope to get back to winning ways at Old Trafford against struggling Norwich. United lost 2-1 away at Bournemouth and were also knocked out of the Champions League at Wolfsburg in their last two games.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Chelsea 1 v Sunderland 0
Everton 2 v Leicester 1
Man Utd 1 v Norwich 0
Southampton 1 v Tottenham 1
Stoke 2 v Crystal Palace 1
West Brom 1 v Bournemouth 0
Newcastle 2 v Aston Villa 1

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Watford 1 v Liverpool 1
Swansea 2 v West Ham 0

Monday, 21 December 2015

Arsenal 1 v Manchester City 2

Pre-season Premier League favourites Chelsea were 1/2000 for a top half finish, but the beleaguered Blues have drifted to 1/5 for such a feat, just 10/3 for a bottom half finish and into 66/1 to be relegated after their ninth defeat of the season at Leicester with bet365.

The flying Foxes are now incredibly into 16/1 to win the title, 15/8 for a top four finish and 1/6 to finish the campaign in front of Chelsea.

Jamie Vardy ended his one game drought on Monday with the hitman now 13/8 to land the Premier League top scorer crown and 5/2 to score 30 or more top flight goals during 2015/16.

2015/16 Premier League Outright E/W ¼ 1,2

Man City 5/4 Arsenal 7/4
Man Utd 9/1 Leicester 16/1
Liverpool 20/1 Chelsea 100/1
2015/16 Premier League – Top 4

Man Utd 1/3 Liverpool Evs
Tottenham 11/8 Leicester 15/8
Chelsea 12/1 Everton 14/1
2015/16 PL – Chelsea Finishing Position

Top Half 1/5 Bottom half 10/3
2015/16 PL – Where Will Chelsea Finish

1st 100/1 2nd 66/1 3rd 50/1 4th 16/1
5th 8/1 6th 11/2 7th+ 1/3

2015/16 PL Match Bet - Who Finishes Higher

Leicester 1/6 Chelsea 4/1

2015/16 PL – Where Will Leicester Finish

1st 16/1 2nd 12/1 3rd 10/1 4th 9/2
5th 4/1 6th 6/1 7th+ 7/4

Soccer - Martinez warns off Stone's suitors

‎Everton manager Roberto Martinez has issued a hands-off warning to any club thinking of making a bid for John Stones in January. The Toffees, who are 7/2 with bet365 for a top six finish this season, fought off interest in the England defender from Chelsea in the summer, turning down several offers from the Premier League champions. The Merseyside outfit also rejected a transfer request from Stones and their persistence has paid off, with the 21-year-old producing a series of fine displays in the heart of Everton's defence. Ahead of the transfer window re-opening, Martinez has reiterated the club's desire to keep hold of Stones until at least the summer. "It's very different (in January). When you are right in the middle of the season I think players understand you can't sell someone if you can't replace him," said Martinez. "We'll never lose anyone in January unless it is somebody who hasn't been playing and we need to find a solution."

Soccer - Fabregas points finger of blame at Chelsea squad

‎Cesc Fabregas believes the Chelsea players should take more responsibility for the club's terrible campaign. The Blues lost for the ninth time in the Premier League this season at Leicester on Monday and are now 100/1 with bet365 to retain their title. After the 2-1 defeat at the King Power Stadium, boss Jose Mourinho claimed he had been "betrayed" by some members of his squad with their performance against the Foxes. Fabregas has now come out in support of his ex-manager, admitting that it is the players who have let the club down this term. "We will all have to take responsibility. If you are a big player and paid like a big player, you must play like a big player and behave like a big player," the 28-year-old said. "I am not saying you can't have a bad season and bad games. We all have big players and small players, but the attitude must be spot on. We must always be at the top of our games, even when it's not and not the behaviour that we are seeing right now from every Chelsea player."

Last time's predictions

Friday, December 11, 2015

George's Premiership Predictions December 12 2015

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The Premier League will soon enter the busy Christmas period with Leicester City on top followed by Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs.

Leaders Leicester face Chelsea in the Monday night game, Arsenal take on bottom club Villa, Manchester City are at home to managerless Swansea while Manchester United travel to the south coast to play Bournemouth. Of the chasing pack, Liverpool play West Brom at Anfield, Spurs are at home to Newcastle and Crystal Palace face Southampton.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Norwich 1 v Everton 1
Crystal Palace 2 v Southampton 1
Man City 3 v Swansea 1
Sunderland 1 v Watford 0
West Ham 1 v Stoke 2
Bournemouth 1 v Man Utd 2

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Aston Villa 1 v Arsenal 2
Liverpool 2 v West Brom 1
Tottenham 2 v Newcastle 0

Monday, 14 December 2015

Leicester 1 v Chelsea 2

Man Utd 10/1 For Europa League & 2/5 To Finish Trophy-Less

Manchester United, who were 1/8 to progress to the Champions League knockout stages after beating CSKA Moscow last month, are 10/1 to win the Europa League after finishing third in Group B.

The Red Devils are 40/1 to meet Liverpool in the Europa League Final in Switzerland and 2/5 to end the campaign without any silverware. bet365 have also priced up their Premier League finishing position with 5th or lower quoted at 11/4.

2015/16 Europa League

Man Utd to win Europa League 10/1
Man Utd v Liverpool final 40/1
Man Utd To Win A Major Trophy During 2015/16

Yes 7/4 No 2/5

2015/16 Premier League – Man Utd Finishing Position
1st 5/1 2nd 10/3 3rd 11/4
4th 9/2 5th+ 11/4

Soccer - Klopp's methods impress Lovren

Croatia international Dejan Lovren is pleased with the progress Liverpool are making under Jurgen Klopp. The former Borussia Dortmund coach only replaced Brendan Rodgers at Anfield two months ago but since then Liverpool have reached the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup, qualified for the last-32 of the Europa League and showed improved form in the Premier League. Former Southampton defender Lovren said: "We have only been working with him a short time and we have already had some good results with him. "With time it will be better. With his methods and his way of working, I don't see how it cannot be better." Liverpool are 10/1 with bet365 to win the Europa League this season.

Soccer - City's progress pleases Pellegrini

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is thrilled that his side appears to be on the right track after they came from behind to beat Borussia Monchengladbach 4-2 in the Champions League. The result was enough for City to top their group as Juventus were beaten by Sevilla. City made life difficult for themselves though as, after David Silva had given them the lead, Borussia responded with goals by Julian Korb and Raffael. However, Raheem Sterling scored twice after the interval and Wilfried Bony also got on the scoresheet. Pellegrini said afterwards: "When we had the draw everyone said we had the death group. I said the group was not finished. "The most important thing is to qualify. To avoid the important teams is perfect. I think for Manchester City it is very important to grow every year." Manchester City, 14/1 with bet365 to win the Champions League this season, face Swansea City in the Premier League on Saturday and can be backed at 8/1 to beat the struggling Swansea side 3-0.

Soccer - Van Gaal points to improvements

Louis van Gaal insists Manchester United are moving in the right direction despite their early Champions League exit. United failed to qualify for the last-16 of the competition after losing 3-2 at Wolfsburg on Tuesday and will be playing in the Europa League in the new year. To add to United's woes Chris Smalling looks set to miss Saturday's Premier League game at Bournemouth after picking up a groin problem in the final ten minutes against the Bundesliga outfit. United, 5/1 with bet365 to win the Premier League title outright this season, are 13/2 to beat the Cherries 1-0. Van Gaal said: "The facts say we are better than last year. We went further in the Capital One Cup this season and qualified for the Champions League group. "We have played all these matches and are still in a very good position in the league."

Last time's predictions

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Naked Madeiran Emperor

The Naked Madeiran Emperor.
RONALDO'S LACK OF PERSONALITY STILL DULLS HIS SPARKLE

The world is yours, if you want it enough.

It's a simple idea which has sold a zillion self-help books, metamorphosed into a pseudo-science ('the law of attraction') and been used to justify free-market economics and vindicate the 'The American Way' which Superman defended.

It was also Tony Montana's neon-edged mantra in Scarface, a credo which led him to heaven and hell.

This banal philosophy of feeding desire ad infinitum could well sum up the life of Cristiano Ronaldo, about whom a new biography and documentary film have just been released. He followed his dream so closely and strove for success so hard that poverty on a provincial island proved no obstacle to his race to the top.

He is the king of the football world, smashing every scoring record as he goes. But like the American dream, beneath the façade, grey emptiness looms unerringly into view.

Discussion of Ronaldo's stature as a sporting great is timely as has turned 30 and has probably peaked as a player, although there is no evidence yet of waning powers.

There are persistent rumours Real will cash in on their star before his contract expires in 2018. For now the Madeiran magician still dazzles, but decline is of course inevitable and five years from now he will not be the player he is today. Years of working his body to the limit will take their toll before long.

While the movie, a big-budget bio-pic from the team who made Amy and Senna, pledges to delve deeper than ever into the psyche of the Portuguese superstar, the prolonged hymn to his greatness it sings leaves us feeling we know almost as little as we did before.

Beyond confirming that CR7 leads a hermetically sealed life far from the reaches of the press and is close to his mother, there are slim pickings for the interested observer.

His professional accomplishments are of course outstanding, but is that where the analysis should end? Some say it should and content themselves with worshipping the on-field deeds of their idol, unbothered by what makes them tick.

Ronaldo considers himself the best footballer in the world, as he has repeatedly announced, perhaps the greatest of all time, but the finest sportsmen are men like Muhammad Ali who transcend what they do for a living.

One could argue that private and public life are in the end inseparable and always seep into each other, as shown by troubled stars like George Best, Paul Gascoigne and Diego Maradona.

But frustratingly, for want of substance, we have to content ourselves with judging Ronaldo during the 90 minutes alone.

He won the FIFA Ballon D'Or last season with a colossal 61 goals across all competitions, netting more than one per game. He has scored 453 times in league action and 55 times for Portugal up until now.

Those are amazing tallies, although the top-heavy nature of La Primera probably skew his goalscoring stats. 

Interestingly, last season his right foot beat his left foot 46 goals to nine, which could be used as a mark against him being a complete player. His acceleration, control at speed and quick feet however remain supreme.

Comparisons with Lionel Messi are as inevitable as they are pointless: Real's No.7 and Barça's No.10 are different types of attackers who excel in contrasting formations.

Place them in each other's teams and they would flounder. The only conclusion you could probably draw is that when it comes to the two La Liga idols, Ronaldo is more perspiration to Messi's inspiration.

The Portuguese always looks clean-cut and lean while Messi has passed through podgy phases with lazy hair, while still playing brilliantly. 

Ronaldo's aces are his quick feet and rapid acceleration, where Messi has more creativity on tap every time he puts his head down and dribbles.

The record scorer for Real Madrid is also Portugal's all-time top gunner, but Ronaldo is popularly perceived to have failed at international level, an arena where Diego Maradona excelled.

This impression is unfair, as Portugal do not have a deep player pool and with Ronaldo they have reached the World Cup semi-final and the European Championship final.

Messi has to deal with the same brickbat, but neither would be the first great club player unable to haul an international team of lesser lights alongside them - George Best and George Weah spring to mind for instance.

Ronaldo's biggest minus point when assessing him is off-field. He appears so lacking in anything resembling a deep or engaging personality that one is led to question the intrinsic worth of sporting achievement without the accompanying humanity.

In his defence, using his impoverished childhood as a spur for success may have stripped him of an everyday emotional development. To that end it seems unfair to slate him for being so demonically driven when he has reached the top from much further down than where Messi started.

The Real Madrid star began life in genuine poverty on the island of Madeira, sleeping on the floor of a corrugated shack while his father drank himself into oblivion. 

Even his mother, with whom he now enjoys a genuinely strong bond, tried to forcibly miscarry while pregnant with the future legend.

While such natural handicaps curse many for good, they proved to be stimuli in Ronaldo's head, where a haunting fear of falling back into poverty, unlikely now given the riches he has amassed, has stayed stubbornly present in his consciousness, as it did for Brian Clough.

The apparent arrogance both those football men sprung naturally from their survival-of-the-fittest upbringings.

Ronaldo counting the luxury motors in his garage or asking his friends and ever-present agent Jorge Mendes to remind him he is the best player in the world serve are a means of self-validation.

They are proof for him of the advances he has made all the way from his rotting shack, as well as a testament to a nagging insecurity and a persistent inability to change his outlook.

His self-adoring tendencies in short seem to be a cry for attention from an unwanted child, season after season.

His head is so focused on winning that despite the persistent prodding of the press, he has no wish to stir things up with rivals, any more than he deigns to enlighten us as to the nature of his professional performances.

His most recent widely-reported soundbite, when he claimed that in his own head he was better than Messi, was of little illumination and no lasting importance.

Of course he thinks he is better than the Argentinian. He is the consummately professional sportsman, who always gives the clichéd 110%. Just look at that extraordinarily physique; Ronaldo is a man-machine.

The immaculate skin and accompanying body may well belong to an android, an awkward impression not dismissed by the player's robotic demeanour off-field.

He gives so little away to journalists in Spain that the cameras home in on the smallest facial expressions, usually shakes of the head or tutting as he trots off the pitch after a defeat, but they in themselves are so slight and inexpressive as to reveal next to nothing.

The elongated faux-outrage over the leaked photos from Ronaldo's 30th birthday celebrations in Madrid last year showed how desperate the hacks were for any nugget about his private life; the photos tweeted by the DJ showed nothing more than players singing and laughing over the odd drink and nothing like the sort of antics British players often get up to.

While at Manchester United police dropped rape charges against Ronaldo for lack of evidence after a hotel dalliance with a woman, and he has subsequently dated models, most notably the Russian Irina Shayk, but CR7 goes to such lengths to avoid the paparazzi they are left to invent stories, like the recent crazy one claiming he is dating a gay friend.

Is there anything new to learn about the Real superstar then? Maybe not. When Ronaldo himself says in the movie, "Winning - that is the most important to me. It's as simple as that", such a banal cliché seems to describe perfectly how he thinks: He is an open and shut case.

His aloof and mechanical demeanour might have kept the wolves from his door but the paying public has an understandable expectation of more from their idol than the bolted gate the Portuguese always shows them.

Click on his website and you won’t find him smiling for his millions of fans. Instead you get deathly serious faces in colour set against brooding black and white backgrounds. Ok, we get it, you are a great player.

There comes a point when confidence slips into arrogance and Ronaldo has clearly crossed the line. He was expelled from school aged 14 for throwing a chair at a teacher, an event a mature adult would regret and apologise for in later life. Instead, the millionaire remains unrepentant today from his lofty perch: "He disrespected me," remains his cold assessment.

Aside from his super-agent Mendes, the most important male in his life is his son, and these scenes in the film finally bring out some sorely-needed empathy.

His sole custody of 'Cristianinho', while refusing to name the mother ("I've never told anyone and I never will") remains curious for someone so attached to his own one, but again Ronaldo is not forthcoming, only insisting his boy "will understand 100%" when he comes to telling him why he only knows his father.

In the film he goes on to claim his narcissism is a natural accompaniment to his fame and fortune, which seems trite and inadequate as an excuse.

A shining example of discipline and hard work he surely is, but as a role model he falls short, appearing charmless and obsessed with professional rendition all of the time. Give me a John McEnroe over a Bjorn Borg or an Alex Higgins over a Steve Davis any day.

Perhaps his childhood poverty and alcoholic father, who boozed himself into the grave when Cristiano was 19, are to blame for his emotional isolation, but his entourage of yes-men, hero-worshippers and financial hangers-on now combine, in biographer Guillem Balague's words, "to create the narrative and keep him on his pedestal."

Footballers are rarely blessed with charm or wit of course and the combination of bypassing education while accruing immense wealth so young in life is not the best recipe for a well-rounded character.

The BBC's award of Sports Personality of the Year often seems inappropriate when handed to a person plainly lacking in what most of us understand as embodying that quality.

Footballers who do enlighten or amuse off-field are therefore to be applauded but are not as rare as you might think.

There is the boyishly manic Giovanni Trapattoni, the erudite Clarke Carlisle or the deeply political Brazilians Romario and the late Socrates for instance. 

Or how about spending time with the Gallic charm of David Ginola, the comic faux-arts of Eric Cantona, the ego of Zlatan Ibrahimovic or the mesmeric Brian Clough? It is clear our fan experiences have been that much richer for their colourful personalities.

Compare listening to those vibrant characters to having to sit through an audience with Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi for that matter. Even if a complex personality is too much to demand from a great player, one could at least be pleasant and affable like Gary Lineker.

There is an unwritten obligation if not to be a role model then at least to charm or entertain off-field too, and in this regard the world's best football player (in his own mind at least) manifestly fails to take the crown.

Will fans miss Ronaldo as fondly as they do the charming Pele, who fought his way to the top from an equally impoverished childhood? It is unlikely.

The reviews for the documentary, with which he closely participated, could hardly have been less auspicious:

"A grossly uncritical slice of hagiography," said The Times, "A vulgar vanity project," thought the Radio Times and The Guardian called it "carefully controlled and meticulously sanitised."

Uniquely among British critics, The Independent's Anthony Wonke gave it four out of five stars, calling it "revealing and often surprising" - was he watching the same film?

While Ronaldo's relationship with his son is genuinely touching, that with his father would have been interesting to probe given he still displays a photo of him on his wall, but again the CR7 brand eschews any insight.

It is a shame he did not take this opportunity to reveal the deeper self and unknown sides to his character instead of embarking on a grand PR promo.

'They do their talking on the pitch' remains the usually proffered and lame excuse for a lack of introspection in sport stars. What a pity so many fail to carry on that magic when they leave the field.

Ronaldo remains a fabulously skilful goal machine, paid unimaginable riches as the market demands of its most valuable income stream, and with a flawless body to match.

His gargantuan wealth (an estimated $300 million) and aloofness embody the bloated stardom of modern soccer; a package that earns hundreds of points, millions of replica shirts and billions on the balance sheet, but which is worth far more in price than in value, cursed with an inner poverty no money can cure.

(c) Sean O´Conor & Soccerphile

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fifa World Rankings December 2015

FIFA World Fifa Rankings
Fifa's World Rankings for December 2015 were published on Thursday December 3, at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland.

The Fifa World Rankings are now published on Thursday and not Wednesday as before.

Belgium are still top, followed by losing Copa America and 2014 World Cup finalists Argentina, Spain and 2014 world champions Germany.

The full top ten is Belgium, Argentina, Spain, Germany, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, England and Austria.

Côte d'Ivoire are the top African team in 19th place.

1 Belgium
2 Argentina
3 Spain
4 Germany Portugal
5 Chile
6 Brazil
7 Portugal
8 Colombia
9 England
10 Austria
11 Uruguay
12 Switzerland
13 Ecuador
14 The Netherlands
15 Italy
16 Romania
17 Wales
18 Croatia
19 Côte d'Ivoire
20 Hungary

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Nominees for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015

The contenders for this year's FIFA Ballon d'Or Award for the best player of 2015 and for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2015 Award have been announced.

Leo Messi, one of the nominees for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015.


Cristiano Ronaldo.
The nominees for the FIFA Ballon d'Or are: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid), Lionel Messi (Argentina/FC Barcelona) and Neymar (Brazil/FC Barcelona). Meanwhile, Carli Lloyd (USA/Houston Dash), Aya Miyama (Japan/Okayama Yunogo Belle), and Célia Šašić (Germany/1. FFC Frankfurt) are the contenders for the women’s award.

Cristiano Ronaldo won the award last year, though Messi is considered the favorite this year.

The candidates for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men's Football and FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football awards have also been announced. They are: Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Bayern Munich), Luis Enrique Martínez (Spain/FC Barcelona), Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina/Chilean national team) for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award; and Jill Ellis (USA/USA national team), Mark Sampson (Wales/English national team) and Norio Sasaki (Japan/Japanese national team) for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women's Football award.

The three nominees for the FIFA Puskás Award for the "most beautiful goal of the year" were also announced. The three final goals are: Alessandro Florenzi – 16.09.2015, AS Roma – FC Barcelona, UEFA Champions League / Wendell Lira – 11.03.2015, Atletico-GO – Goianesia, Campeonato Goiano (Brazil) / Lionel Messi – 30.05.2015, Athletic Bilbao - FC Barcelona, Copa del Rey (Spain).

All of the awards will be presented at the FIFA Ballon d’Or award ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on 11 January 2016 during a televised show to be streamed live on FIFA.com and FIFA on YouTube.

For more information about the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015, including a list of previous winners, please visit www.fifa.com/ballon-dor and www.francefootball.fr.

Friday, November 27, 2015

George's Premiership Predictions November 28 2015

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The Premiership is about a third of the way in and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this season's title race. Things could get a bit clearer after this weekend's round of fixtures.

Second place Manchester United are away at leaders Leicester with Jamie Vardy hoping to beat Ruud van Nistelrooy's Premier League record by scoring in his 11th consecutive game. The league's meanest defence with Chris "Mike" Smalling is excellent form will be out to stop him. Elsewhere Spurs face Chelsea in an important London derby as Tottenham push for a top four spot and Chelsea hope to get their season back on track.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Aston Villa 1 v Watford 0
Bournemouth 1 v Everton 3
Crystal Palace 2 v Newcastle 1
Man City 2 v Southampton 1
Sunderland 1 v Stoke 1
Leicester 0 v Man Utd 2

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Tottenham 2 v Chelsea 0
West Ham 1 v West Brom 1
Liverpool 2 v Swansea 1
Norwich 1 v Arsenal 2

Brummie Deeney 11/2 To Give The Holte End The Blues

Birmingham City fan Troy Deeney is 11/2 to score in front of the Holte End on Saturday as Watford visit bottom of the table Aston Villa.

The striker is also 13/2 to outscore Villa by himself, 100/1 to bag a hat-trick, 40/1 to score another own goal and 33/1 to see red at Villa Park this weekend.

The Lions, who currently sit bottom of the Premier League with 5 points, are bet365’s 2/7 favourites to be relegated with Watford quoted at 10/1.

Aston Villa v Watford 28th Nov

90 Minutes Betting

Aston Villa 17/10 Draw 21/10 Watford 9/5

Troy Deeney Specials v Aston Villa

Score 13/5
Score in front of Holte End 11/2
Score 2+ 18/1
Hat-Trick 100/1
Score an Own Goal 40/1
Booked 3/1
Sent Off 33/1

90 Minute Goals Match Bet – Who Will Score More Goals
Aston Villa 8/15 Tie 9/4 Troy Deeney 13/2
(Deeney must start)

Troy Deeney To Make England Euro 2016 Squad 16/1

2015/16 Premier League - To Be Relegated

Yes No
Aston Villa 2/7 5/2
Sunderland 2/5 7/4
Bournemouth 8/11 Evs
Newcastle 5/4 4/7
Norwich 2/1 4/11
Swansea 8/1 1/14
Watford 10/1 1/20

Soccer - Baines return on Martinez's mind

‎ Manager Roberto Martinez is considering handing fit-again England left-back Leighton Baines a first Everton appearance of the season at Bournemouth. Baines has been sidelined by an ankle injury sustained on the eve of the new campaign, but he is back to the sort of fitness needed to feature for the Toffees, who travel to the South Coast on Saturday. However, Martinez remains cautious about the reintroduction of Baines, fearing that another setback could see his player's season ended prematurely. He told reporters: "Physically he is fine from a medical point of view. Now it's about giving him the right sort of introduction. "It's about giving him exactly what he needs, not rushing him back and losing him for the rest of the campaign." Everton currently lie in seventh place in the Premier League table, having taken seven points from a possible nine in their last three games, with striker Romelu Lukaku netting four goals in those three matches. The Belgium international can be backed at 13/10 with bet365 to score at any time against the Cherries on Saturday.

Soccer - City duo unlikely to feature

‎Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini expects to be without both Vincent Kompany and David Silva for the visit of Southampton this weekend. The pair missed the 1-0 midweek Champions League defeat at Juventus and Pellegrini believes that the clash with the Saints at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday will come too soon for both players. He said after the loss to Juve: "Vincent doesn't have any chance to play this week because he's not started running already, so he has two weeks more. "David improved a little bit more the last two days. He's working with the physio in Manchester. "We will see. We don't have many days until Saturday, but when we arrive in Manchester we will have a look." Pellegrini also has Pablo Zabaleta, Wilfried Bony, Samir Nasri and Eliaquim Mangala out of action, while goalkeeper Joe Hart suffered a hamstring problem during the loss in Turin, leaving the Citizens 5/4 with bet365 to keep a clean sheet on Saturday.

Soccer - United boss expects to progress

‎Louis van Gaal remains confident that Manchester United will qualify for the Champions League knockout stages, with the Red Devils 8/11 with bet365 to progress from Group B. A goalless draw at home to PSV Eindhoven left United in second place in their group with one round of fixtures left to play, with United heading to Germany to take on leaders Wolfsburg. PSV, who are just a point behind the men from Manchester, host CSKA Moscow, meaning that United must win in Germany to ensure they progress. However, a typically bullish Van Gaal has backed his players to get the job done, referencing the 2-1 home win over Wolfsburg earlier on in the group stage. He told reporters: "Going out to Germany is always tough, but we have to believe in ourselves and have the confidence in ourselves to do that. "It's not the way we wanted it to be, but that's the way it is and we believe we're good enough to go out there and get the three points. We won our home game against them, so why can we not win away?"

Last time's predictions

Friday, November 20, 2015

George's Premiership Predictions November 21 2015

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The Premiership resumes after the break for Euro 2016 play-off matches, World Cup 2018 qualifying matches and international friendlies.

The French national anthem will be played before all Premier League games this weekend in remembrance of the events in Paris on Friday 13th, when over a 120 people were killed in an Islamist terrorist attack.

Manchester United are away at Watford without strikers Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial, while Manchester City face Liverpool at the Etihad in the weekend's big game. Chelsea will be desperate for a win at home to Norwich and should get it. Arsenal are away at West Brom, while Newcastle are at home to this season's surprise package Leicester City. The cold weather is here in earnest this weekend and the strong winds and rain in some parts of the country could hamper the goal scoring.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Watford 0 v Man Utd 2
Chelsea 1 v Norwich 0
Everton 1 v Aston Villa 1
Newcastle 1 v Leicester 0
Southampton 2 v Stoke 1
Swansea 2 v Bournemouth 0
West Brom 1 v Arsenal 1
Manchester City 1 v Liverpool 1

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Tottenham 2 v West Ham 0

Monday, 23 November 2015

Crystal Palace 2 v Sunderland 1

Real Madrid v Barcelona - Primera Liga match

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Alli 100/1 To Be The Greatest At Euro 2016

Dele Alli was 10/1 to make the England Euro 2016 squad after making his first Premier League start for Spurs against Sunderland two months ago, but after a whirlwind few weeks the midfielder is now odds-on to remain in Roy Hodgson’s thoughts until next summer.

So impressive was his midweek performance at Wembley that bet365 are 5/2 for him to start England’s group opener in France and 100/1 about him being the player of the tournament.

bet365 are also betting on how many of the starting eleven against France kick-off England’s Euro 2016 campaign next summer with the firm quoting Evens about 7 or more and 100/1 for Hodgson to go with exactly the same team.

Euro 2016 – England Specials
Number Of England Starting 11 v France To Start 1st Euro 2016 Group Game
7 or more Evs 6 or less 8/11
Starting 11 v France To All Start 1st Euro 2016 Group Game 100/1
(Hart, Clyne, Stones, Cahill, Gibbs, Alli, Dier, Sterling, Barkley, Rooney, Kane)

Dele Alli Euro 2016 Specials

Dele Alli to Start England's 1st Euro 2016 game

Yes 5/2 No 2/7

Dele Alli to make England Euro 2016 squad 8/15
Dele Alli to be UEFA Player of the Tournament 100/1
England Euro 2016 Squad – Selected Prices

Jamie Vardy 2/5 Jack Wilshere 4/6
Kieran Gibbs 8/11 Fabian Delph 5/6
Jonjo Shelvey 11/8 Kyle Walker 6/4
Eric Dier 6/4 Jesse Lingard 5/1
Saido Berahino 7/1 Ryan Mason 8/1

Last time's predictions

Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff Results

Euro 2016 Qualifying Playoff Results.
In a week overshadowed by the tragic events in Paris, the final four teams to take part in Euro 2016 in France next summer were confirmed after the two legged play-off matches.

Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Ukraine will join hosts France and Albania, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and Wales in the competition.

Sweden, who finished third in Group G came through against Scandinavian rivals Denmark, who were third in Group I. The Swedes were grateful yet again to PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored three goals over the two legs.

Hungary, who finished third in Group F came through against Norway, third in Group H, behind Italy and Croatia.

The Republic of Ireland, third in Group D behind Germany and Poland, beat Bosnia & Herzegovina, third in Group B.

Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine, third in Group C,  advanced against Slovenia, who finished third in Group E.

Friday, November 13

Norway 0 v Hungary 1

Saturday, November 14

Bosnia & Herzegovina 1 v Ireland 1

Sunday, November 15

Ukraine 2 v Slovenia 0
Sweden 2 v Denmark 1

Monday, November 16

Hungary 2 v Norway 1

Tuesday, November 16

Ireland 2 v Bosnia & Herzegovina 0

Wednesday, November 17

Denmark 2 v Sweden 2
Slovenia 1 v Ukraine 1

The draw for the final groups will be made in December.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

George's Premiership Predictions November 7 2015

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Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is banned from the stadium as his side, buoyed by a midweek Champions League win against Kiev, take on Stoke City.

Leaders Manchester City are away against strugglers Aston Villa who play their first game under new manager Remi (or is that Remy?) Garde. It's difficult to see any other result than an away win.

Manchester United are at home to West Brom and will be hoping to placate their increasingly restless supporters with a few goals to celebrate.

Elsewhere Newcastle visit Bournemouth, Norwich host Swansea and on Sunday, the North London Derby.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Leicester 2 v Watford 1
Man Utd 2 v West Brom 0
Norwich 1 v Swansea 1
Sunderland 0 v Southampton 2
West Ham 2 v Everton 2
Stoke 1 v Chelsea 1

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Aston Villa 1 v Man City 3
Arsenal 1 v Tottenham 1
Liverpool 2 v Crystal Palace 0

Arsenal 1/3 To Be Playing Europa League – 12/1 To Win It

Arsenal are 7/2 to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League and 1/3 to be competing in the Europa League after their heavy defeat against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

bet365's Steve Freeth “A 5-1 humbling in Munich had Arsenal fans searching for their calculators as well as their diaries with Thursday night football now looking a real possibility.”

2015/16 Champions League – Group F

Arsenal Finishing Position

2nd 7/2 3rd 1/3 4th 7/1

To Qualify

Olympiakos 1/5 Arsenal 7/2
Dinamo Zagreb 80/1
Arsenal to win 2015/16 Europa League 12/1
(All in – qualify or not)
2015/16 Champions League Outright E/W ½ 1,2

Bayern Munich 11/4 Barcelona 3/1
Real Madrid 9/2 PSG 12/1
Man City 12/1 Atletico Madrid 20/1
Chelsea 20/1 Man Utd 25/1
Juventus 25/1 Arsenal 50/1
Others on request
Nationality Of Winner

Spain 10/11 Germany 11/4
England 5/1 France 12/1
Italy 25/1 Any Other Nation 25/1

Soccer - Mourinho praises Chelsea efforts

Jose Mourinho believes Chelsea will take plenty of confidence from a hard-fought 2-1 Champions League win at home to Dynamo Kiev. The Blues looked like being held to a draw when they conceded an equaliser 13 minutes from time at Stamford Bridge, but a superb Willian free-kick six minutes later was enough to secure a valuable three points. And Mourinho was delighted with the final outcome, which moved his side closer to ensuring a place in the knockout stages of the competition, with the Blues now 1/8 with bet365 to progress. He told reporters: "We didn't need to win to qualify, so it was not a drama at 1-1. "We knew that with a draw we would finish second in the group if we won our next two matches, but from a mental point of view it was important to react to a negative moment. "This was perfect because we conceded a goal with 15 minutes or so left and the team emerged. They knew 1-1 would be acceptable, but they wanted to win and it will give them confidence."

Soccer - Minimum chance warns Wenger

Arsene Wenger accepts Arsenal have only a 'minimum' chance of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League following a 5-1 mauling at Bayern Munich. The thrashing in the Allianz Arena leaves the Gunners needing to beat Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos to have any hope of qualifying for the last-16, with Wenger and co. also needing Bayern to do them a favour by seeing off Olympiakos. And, while Wenger retains a little hope of progressing, he accepts that the odds are now firmly against his side, with Arsenal 7/2 with bet365 to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition. The Frenchman admitted: "There is still a chance to qualify, Olympiakos have to lose here, we have to beat Zagreb and then beat Olympiakos - there is a small chance but it is a real one. "We have to realise with the kind of performance we had that our chance is at a minimum."

Last time's predictions

FIFA Puskás Award: Ten best goals of the year

FIFA Puskás Award: Ten best goals of the year
FIFA Puskás Award: Ten best goals of the year announced

The race to determine the winner of the FIFA Puskás Award for the "best goal of the year" has started on FIFA.com and francefootball.fr. Fans from across the world will decide which of the ten goals chosen by FIFA and selected Football Committee members will be the winner of this award.

The ten goals are (in alphabetical order of the scorer’s names):

David Ball - 29.03.2015, Fleetwood Town - Preston North End, League 1 (England)
Gonzalo Castro – 12.04.2015, Real Sociedad - Deportivo de la Coruña, Primera Division (Spain)
Alessandro Florenzi – 16.09.2015, AS Roma – FC Barcelona, UEFA Champions League
Wendell Lira – 11.03.2015, Atletico-GO – Goianesia, Campeonato Goiano (Brazil)
Carli Lloyd – 05.07.2015, USA – Japan, FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™
Lionel Messi – 30.05.2015, Athletic Bilbao - FC Barcelona, Copa del Rey (Spain)
Philippe Mexes – 25.07.2015, AC Milan – Inter Milan, Friendly Match
Marcel Ndjeng – 13.07.2015, SC Paderborn – Bolton Wanderers, Friendly Match
Esteban Ramirez – 02.11.2014, Herediano - Deportivo Saprissa, Primera Division (Costa Rica)
Carlos Tevez – 09.11.2014, Juventus – Parma Calcio, Serie A (Italy)

Videos of the ten goals, as well as the list of scorers and the voting tool, can be found here: http://www.fifa.com/ballon-dor/puskas-award/index.html and on FIFA on Youtube Users of FIFA.com and francefootball.fr will be able to choose from the ten goals until 30 November, when the three goals with the most votes will be disclosed.

Immediately after the announcement on 30 November, FIFA.com and francefootball.fr users will be able to vote again for their favorite from the three remaining goals. The winner will be revealed on the day of the FIFA Ballon d'Or on 11 January 2016. Voting will close during the show.

The FIFA Puskás Award, created in honor and in memory of Ferenc Puskás, the captain and star of the Hungarian national team during the 1950's, will be presented for the seventh year in a row at the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2015, which will be held at the Kongresshaus in Zurich.

During a televised show, the winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or for the best player of 2015 as well as the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2015 will also be revealed. Meanwhile, the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award and the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football award will be presented for the sixth time. For more information on the FIFA Ballon d’Or, please visit: http://www.fifa.com/ballondor/index.html

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Fifa World Rankings November 2015

FIFA World Fifa Rankings
Fifa's World Rankings for November 2015 were published on Thursday at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland.

The Fifa World Rankings are now published on Thursday and not Wednesday as before.

Belgium are now top followed by 2014 world champions Germany and losing Copa America and 2014 World Cup finalists Argentina. 2010 World Cup winners Spain remain in 6th place.

The full top ten is Belgium, Germany, Argentina, Portugal, 2015 Copa America winners Chile, Spain, Colombia, Brazil, England, unbeaten in Euro 2016 qualifying, and Austria.

Ivory Coast are the top African team in 22nd place.

Asian Cup winners Australia are in 58th place; beaten quarter-finalists Japan are in 50th. Near neighbors South Korea are in 48th place after making the final of the Asian Cup, where they lost narrowly to the hosts, Australia.

The USA are in 33rd. Wales are 15th. Scotland are in 44th position. The Republic of Ireland are in 54th place, Northern Ireland are in 42nd position.

1 Belgium
2 Germany
3 Argentina
4 Portugal
5 Chile
6 Spain
7 Colombia
8 Brazil
9 England
10 Austria
11 Switzerland
12 Uruguay
13 Italy
14 Romania
15 Wales
16 The Netherlands
17 Czech Republic
18 Turkey
19 Croatia
20 Bosnia-Herzegovina

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

George's Premiership Predictions October 31 2015

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Under fire Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho takes on Jurgen Klopp in the Premiership's big match.

Leaders Manchester City are at home against Norwich who have begun to ship goals of late. It's difficult to see any other result than a home win. Manchester United travel to Selhurst Park and a tricky fixture with Crystal Palace, who themselves took a hammering in the League Cup from City. Manchester United also lost in midweek going out on penalties to Middlesbrough after a 0-0 draw. A difficult one to call with the visitors so underwhelming but we take United to win.

Elsewhere Newcastle are at home to Stoke and Arsenal travel to Swanswea with something of an injury crisis. Watford are at home to high flying West Ham, while Everton host Sunderland, who had their first win under new manager Sam Allardyce in the Tyne Wear derby last weekend,

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Chelsea 1 v Liverpool 1
Crystal Palace 1 v Man Utd 2
Man City 4 v Norwich 1
Newcastle 2 v Stoke 0
Swansea 1 v Arsenal 2
Watford 2 v West Ham 1
West Brom 1 v Leicester 2

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Everton 2 v Sunderland 1
Southampton 2 v Bournemouth 0

Monday, 2 November 2015

Tottenham 3 v Aston Villa 0

Chelsea Odds-On To Finish Outside Top 4 - 8/11 To Lose 10+ Games

Chelsea’s season is going from bad to worse and bet365 now make the Blues 4/6 to finish fifth or lower and 8/11 to lose ten or more Premier League games this season.

Chelsea, who are unbeaten in their last eight games against Liverpool, are 16/1 to be the top scorers in the Premier League this weekend with Klopp’s side quoted at 13/8 to finish above the Stamford Bridge side come May.

2015/16 Premier League – Chelsea Finishing Position

1st 33/1 2nd 20/1 3rd 7/1 4th 5/2
5th or Lower 4/6

2015/16 Total Chelsea Premier League Losses

Over 9.5 8/11 Under 9.5 Evs

2015/16 Premier League Match Bet – Who Finishes Higher

Chelsea 4/9 Liverpool 13/8

Weekend Premier League Specials (31st Oct – 2nd Nov)

Highest Scoring Team E/W ¼ 1,2,3
Man City 10/3 Tottenham 6/1
Everton 7/1 Southampton 8/1
Arsenal 9/1 Man Utd 16/1
Chelsea 16/1 Watford 22/1
Leicester 25/1 Newcastle 25/1
West Ham 28/1 West Brom 28/1
Liverpool 33/1 Stoke 33/1
Crystal Palace 50/1 Swansea 50/1
Bournemouth 66/1 Sunderland 66/1
Aston Villa 80/1 Norwich 100/1

Total Goals

Over 24.5 1/3 Under 24.5 9/4
Over 27.5 5/6 Over 27.5 5/6
Over 30.5 9/4 Under 30.5 1/3

Colback blow hurts Newcastle

Newcastle United look set to be without the services of the former Sunderland midfielder Jack Colback until mid-December. Magpies boss Steve McClaren is already without Steven Taylor, Tim Krul and Curtis Good, but Colback has now been ruled out for six weeks after sustaining a knee injury in the Wear-Tyne derby last weekend. The 26-year-old picked up the problem when he was challenged by Lee Cattermole and had to leave the Stadium of Light on crutches wearing a protective knee brace. McClaren said: "Sadly we won't have Jack Colback in our line-up this weekend after the results of a further scan on his right knee. "Unfortunately this injury, which was sustained at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, will see him out for up to six weeks and we all wish Jack the very best in his recovery." Newcastle entertain Stoke City on Saturday and are 7/5 with bet365 to claim a much-needed victory.

Last time's predictions

Saturday, October 24, 2015

George's Premiership Predictions October 24 2015

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The Premiership rolls on after midweek games in Europe for the top teams.

In the Premiership Jurgen Klopp will be hoping to secure his first win at Liverpool in his first home league match at Anfield after a 1-1 draw in the Europa League in midweek. Liverpool should just win this one against Saints but it won't be easy.

There are two local derbies on Sunday as Manchester United face Manchester City at home without David Silva and Sergio Aguero. We predict a high scoring draw.

Sam Allardyce's Sunderland are at home in the Tyne Wear derby and are desperate for points. We think they will collect the three on offer at the Stadium of Light.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Aston Villa 1 v Swansea 1
Leicester 2 v Crystal Palace 1
Norwich 0 v West Brom 1
Stoke 2 v Watford 1
West Ham 2 v Chelsea 3
Arsenal 2 v Everton 1

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Sunderland 2 v Newcastle 1
Bournemouth 1 v Tottenham 3
Man Utd 2 v Man City 2
Liverpool 1 v Southampton 0

Birthday Boy Rooney To Have His Cake & Eat It?

Wayne Rooney hits 30 this weekend with the birthday boy priced at 7/1 to score the opener in the Manchester derby, 80/1 to notch a hat-trick and 11/4 to outscore Raheem Sterling on Sunday.
bet365 are going 2/1 about a red card being brandished at Old Trafford with LVG’s side quoted at 11/4 to finish the season above City.
bet365 are once again offering their risk free In-Play offer on the clash at Old Trafford.
Place a pre-match bet on the Man Utd v Man City game and we’ll give you a risk free In-Play bet to the same stake on the big match (max refund £50 or currency equivalent).

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Manchester United v Manchester City 25th Oct

90 Minutes
Man Utd 8/5 Draw 5/2 Man City 9/5
90 Minute Goal Match Bet – Who Will Score Most Goals (Both must start)
Wayne Rooney 11/4 Tie 8/11 Raheem Sterling 10/3
A Red Card In Match
Yes 2/1 No 4/11
2015/16 Premier League Match Bet – Who Finishes Higher
Man Utd 11/4 Man City 1/4
Soccer - Lallana calls for patience

Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana has warned the Anfield faithful that they will have to show patience as new head coach Jurgen Klopp tries to change things around at the club. Klopp has seen his new charges draw both of their first two games since he took over at the club, with Lallana confident that success will eventually come for the Merseysiders. Ahead of a Sunday league clash with former club Southampton, Lallana told the Echo: "It was never going to just change overnight. Maybe the reaction to him coming in was a bit over the top, but he's a great manager who has had great success. "He's asking people to do different things to what they were used to, so it will take a bit of time. "It's not going to happen overnight, but I'm very confident we're going to succeed under him." Lallana is 15/4 with bet365 to score at any time against the Saints, with Liverpool 21/20 to claim a first victory under former Borussia Dortmund tactician Klopp.

Soccer - Vardy challenged by Ranieri

Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri has challenged striker Jamie Vardy to continue his fine goalscoring form for the rest of the season. The 28-year-old England international has nine Premier League goals to his name already this season and is currently 8/1 with bet365 to finish the campaign as the top scorer in the English top-flight. And Ranieri has challenged Vardy to maintain his high standards and prove himself as one of the top forwards in the game. He told reporters ahead of a clash with Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium: "I hope he can continue, but football is strange. "It is not important to think about goal or no goal, but it is important for him to think about how he plays for the team. "It is the first year he has shown what he can do in the Premier League. He scored 16 in the Championship and now he starts to learn again and I hope he can improve again."

Last time's predictions

Saturday, October 17, 2015

George's Premiership Predictions October 17 2015

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The Premiership continues on after the final week of regular Euro 2016 qualification games.

In the Premiership Jurgen Klopp will be in charge of Liverpool in his first match away at Spurs. Brendan Rogers was sacked before the international break which is so often the case for managers on the edge. How will his German replacement fare in the Premier League?

Manchester City are at home to newcomers Bournemouth and even without David Silva and Sergio Aguero should be too strong at home. Manchester United travel to Goodison after a poor game away to Arsenal, Chelsea face a disappointing Aston Villa while high-flying Palace are at home to fellow Londoners West Ham.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Tottenham 1 v Liverpool 3
Chelsea 2 v Aston Villa 0
Crystal Palace 2 v West Ham 1
Everton 2 v v Man Utd 1
Watford 1 v Arsenal 2
Man City 3 v Bournemouth 1
Southampton 2 v Leicester 0
West Brom 0 Sunderland 1

Sunday, 19 October 2015

Newcastle 1 v Norwich 2

Monday, 20 October 2015

Swansea 1 v Stoke 0

Klopp To Top Last Season’s Sixth Spot?

Jurgen Klopp takes his new side to White Hart Lane this weekend with bet365 betting on Liverpool’s finishing position this season.
England Euro 2016 hopefuls Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge will be going head-to-head in north London with the Spurs man quoted at 5/2 to outscore his Liverpool counterpart.

2015/16 Premier League - Where Will Liverpool Finish
1st 33/1 2nd 20/1 3rd 12/1 4th 5/1
5th 7/2 6th 11/2 7th+ 11/8
90 Minutes Betting
Tottenham 6/4 Draw 5/2 Liverpool 2/1
Tottenham v Liverpool – 90 Minute Goals Match Bet 17th Oct
Harry Kane 5/2 Tie 4/5 Daniel Sturridge 3/1
(Both must start)

Soccer - Ranieri reveals Saints talks

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has said that he held talks with Southampton last year about becoming Saints boss before he took charge of Greece. The former Chelsea and Valencia manager endured a dreadful time with the Greeks, who have failed to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals. Ranieri lost his job after only four months in charge of the Euro 2004 winners before being named as the new Foxes boss this summer. "I was interested, but after that there was also the Greece job - and I made a mistake," admitted the Italian. Southampton face Leicester this weekend and Saints are 1/2 with bet365 to be the first team to score in the St Mary's clash and 6/4 to keep a clean sheet in the game.

Soccer - Mourinho confident Chelsea's fortunes will change

Chelsea head coach Jose Mourinho has predicted that his side will soon start climbing the table. Last season's Premier League champions have made a dismal start to the defence of their title, losing four of their first eight matches, and are 16th in the table ahead of this weekend's game against Aston Villa. However, Mourinho is certain that his side will soon start to put some wins on the board. He said: "Every game is a must-win game and, when we don't win, it's always a frustration, but we cannot run away from the reality of the situation. "We need to win matches, for us, for the Chelsea supporters. We are not going to be relegated - in a couple of months we will be in a position we want to be in." Chelsea are 5/6 with bet365 to keep a clean sheet against Villa and 21/10 to be leading 1-0 at half-time at Stamford Bridge.

Last time's predictions

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Cracks appear in the Camp Nou

Barcelona have made a stumbling start to their title defence in Spain.


A clean sweep of domestic and European trophies last season could not have been better for Barcelona and their new manager Luis Enrique, but after seven games and two defeats, the 2015/16 season has shown there are hairline cracks beneath the façade. 

Fourth position in La Liga just will not do for the club's expectant mountain of fans and even more demanding hierarchy, although the faults in the architecture started to show in pre-season as Barça crashed shockingly 4-0 to Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.

A limp effort at clawing back the deficit at the Camp Nou ended in a 1-1 draw and an embarrassing aggregate score overall.

The defence of their title began slowly adequately with 1-0 wins over Athletic Bilbao and Malaga before their first real test away to Atletico Madrid.

Lionel Messi was strangely dropped from the starting lineup for the visit to the Manzanares, a first hint perhaps of waning powers, but the magician returned in the second half and cast his old spells to help the Blaugrana k.o. one of their closest rivals. So far so good, winning while playing badly, the hallmark of champions.

That crucial away win seemed to spell another season of Catalan conquest, an impression Real added to by drawing at home to Gijon and away to Malaga.

A 4-1 win over Levante followed before a result no-one foresaw, a 4-1 thrashing at Celta Vigo.
The Galicians tore their visitors apart and left Gerard Pique and colleagues looking slow and lacking appetite.

Then Messi succumbed to injury and Barcelona lost 2-1 at Sevilla to slip into fourth. The Europa League winners are no slouches it must be said, and Celta have been a revelation too so far, riding as high as second behind league leaders Villareal.

In the Champions League, Barça have been scarcely more impressive. They were held 1-1 away to Roma before two late goals saved their bacon at home to Bayer Leverkusen.

So what has changed this season at Barça?

Injuries to Andres Iniesta and Messi, and the first full season without Xavi, who has gone to pastures, or perhaps sand dunes, new in Qatar have removed the holy trinity from the midfield.

Selling the highly talented but consistently underused Pedro to Chelsea left a gap in attacking options while big money signings Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal cannot pull on the blaugrana until 2016 when their club's transfer ban expires.

Keeping the ball at will is no longer a given for the side, and replacements Marc Bartra, Munir and Sandro are not of the same calibre as the missing stars.

This means Barça have been on the back foot more than usual, coping with unfamiliar territory. Enrique too has been less keen to use substitutes than he was last season, implying his squad is not as deep as it should be. Barcelona B's pathetic relegation from the second flight last season confirmed there is not much to chew on after the first layer is exhausted.

It seems Barça are trying to haul themselves over the finish line of the Christmas break, after which they can unleash new blood in the form of Turan, Vidal and any new players they can pluck from the January transfer window.

Luckily for them, Luis Suarez is still wearing his scoring boots and Real Madrid have fluffed their lines and failed to hit top spot, hampered as they have been by injuries to Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez.

It is much too early to talk of a Catalan crisis but that never stopped the media hitting their familiar response button when Barcelona or Real Madrid fail to win any match impressively.

Barça are only one point off the lead it must be stressed, but the narrative of an empire beginning to creak at the seams is an unavoidable one.

A large chunk of Enrique's team are employed elsewhere in the international break before the rest of October hands them a welcome opportunity to catch Villareal up with home games against lowly Rayo Vallecano and Eibar as well as two clashes with Bate Borisov in the Champions League. Life could be worse.

From mid-November things hot up with the visit of early league-leaders Villareal, the first clásico
at the Bernabeu and the Roma in the Champions League at the Camp Nou. In reality, any game where less than three points are accrued sharpens the knife for Enrique.

The Asturian knows his job is one of the most demanding in world football and nothing less than perfection is required. 

Like Rafael Benitez, he signed up for an impossible job. Yet in his maiden season he handled the media attacks with acumen and shut up his critics with a full house of cups. 

Should Barça stumble in the Champions League this campaign however, as looks increasingly likely, or maintain their wins to losses ratio domestically, the cava of last season will lose its fizz all too quickly.

For the neutral, this title race is already much more interesting than last season's.

Friday, October 2, 2015

George's Premiership Predictions October 3 2015

bet365
The Premiership rolls on after a week of mixed fortunes for English clubs in Europe. The Manchester clubs both had narrow 2-1 wins against German opposition but London's Arsenal and Chelsea both lost.

In the Europa League there were 1-1 draws for both Liverpool and Spurs.

In the Premiership this weekend Manchester United travel to face Arsenal where a defeat for the hosts could heap more pressure on Arsene Wenger. Manchester United won this fixture last season and have a good record away at Arsenal.

Chelsea need to halt their slide at home to Southampton who will be difficult opponents. We are backing another slight upset for Mourinho's struggling Blues, a draw.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers says Liverpool are bigger than city rivals Everton. All the form points to Everton having the bragging rights after this weekend's encounter but the draw remains the favourite.

Manchester City should be too good for Newcastle, but the Magpies got a point the last time they were in Manchester in August at Old Trafford. That was in a scoreless draw. We think City will score and win 1-0.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Crystal Palace 2 v West Brom 0
Aston Villa 1 v Stoke 1
Bournemouth 1 v Watford 1
Man City 1 v Newcastle 0
Norwich 2 v Leicester 1
Sunderland 1 v West Ham 1
Chelsea 2 v Southampton 2

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Everton 2 v Liverpool 1
Arsenal 1 v Man Utd 2

Swansea 1 v Tottenham 1

Rooney 7/1 To Outscore Arsenal As bet365 In-Play Offer Returns

Wayne Rooney broke his Premier League duck versus Sunderland last weekend, and the striker, who scored his 1st Premier League goal, 1st Man Utd league goal and 100th top flight career goal against Arsenal, is 7/1 to outscore the Gunners on his own on Sunday.

Arsenal v Man Utd Sun 4th Oct
Who Will Score More Goals (Rooney must start)
Arsenal 2/5 Tie 3/1 Wayne Rooney 7/1
90 Minutes Betting
Arsenal Evs Draw 14/5 Man Utd 14/5

bet365 will also be running their risk free In-Play bet offer on the clash at the Emirates.
Place a pre-match bet on the Arsenal v Man Utd game and we'll give you a risk free In-Play bet to the same stake on the big match.

To qualify for your risk free In-Play bet, simply place a bet before kick-off then, once the game starts, place another bet on any In-Play market. If your FIRST In-Play bet loses we will refund this stake, up to the same value as your largest pre-match bet (max refund £50*). *or currency equivalent – full terms & conditions http://www.bet365.com

Soccer - Barcelona reeling from Iniesta injury

Andres Iniesta will not travel with Barcelona to the Sanchez Pizjuan to face Sevilla in La Liga on Saturday because of a hamstring injury. Barca coach Luis Enrique described early reports suggesting the decorated Spain playmaker could be out for two months as "terrible news" and the veteran midfielder will now join Argentina superstar Lionel Messi on the sidelines. Rafinha, Claudio Bravo, Adriano and Thomas Vermaelen are also expected to miss Saturday's return to La Liga. Last season's Treble winners were subjected to boos from a section of Camp Nou supporters on Tuesday when Kyriakos Papadopoulos gave Bayer Leverkusen a shock lead before the Catalans sealed a 2-1 win in the Champions League, and Enrique felt the reaction was unfair. "These are thorns in our side we have to shake off," Enrique told reporters. "My players deserve a huge amount of credit for turning around a very difficult situation. It was a tough night - the second game without our best player [Messi] and our second win." Sevilla are currently priced 3/1 by bet365 in the match betting and the draw outcome is quoted 13/5. Barcelona are available to back in the 90 minutes market at 10/11.

Soccer - Rodgers won't go looking for sympathy

Brendan Rodgers has said there should be some "perspective" about Liverpool's start to the new season and insisted he will be not be seeking assurances over his future from the club's owners. An underwhelming start to the Premier League, which has yielded three wins from the opening seven games, was compounded by a second successive draw in the Europa League on Thursday against Sion. Now the attention turns to Sunday's Merseyside derby and the chance to upset in-form hosts Everton, while Rodgers stressed his players are only five points adrift of leaders Manchester United. "It's about perspective. It's still very early. We're a couple of points off where we want to be, five points off the top with a lot of improvement left to come," he told reporters at his press conference on Friday. "Everton have done well. They are a point ahead of us. They've had a good start and we've had a disaster!" Rodgers said he did not need an arm around the shoulder from the club's owners and vowed to stick to his brief of trying to improve his players. "I don't seek reassurances. I love the club, I enjoy being here and the challenge of improving and developing," he said. Everton are currently priced 9/1 to finish in the top four in the Premier League, with Liverpool 11/4 with bet365.

Soccer - Martinez ramps up derby scrutiny

Roberto Martinez has attempted to diffuse some of the heat on his Everton players by suggesting the pressure of Sunday's Merseyside derby is on local rivals Liverpool. Everton are four places but only one point better off than Brendan Rodgers' side and Martinez does not subscribe to the opinion a six-match unbeaten run in all competitions about his team makes the result a formality. Liverpool's spending since the arrival of Rodgers from Swansea in 2012 is estimated to be close to £300 milliom and Martinez says that level of outlay only increases the burden on the visitors. "If you're looking at ... the amount of money that Liverpool have spent in the last three seasons, clearly they need to be the favourites," Martinez told his pre-match conference on Friday. Everton have not lost in the Premier League in four games since a 2-0 defeat by leaders Manchester City and Martinez has demanded his players make home advantage count. "It's about how good we can be," he said. "How well we can start the game. How consistent we can be throughout the 90 minutes. And how much we can use playing at home [to] our advantage." Everton are priced 17/10 by bet365

Last time's predictions

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fifa World Rankings October 2015

FIFA World Fifa Rankings
Fifa's World Rankings for October 2015 were published on Thursday at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland.

The Fifa World Rankings are now published on Thursday and not Wednesday as before.

Losing Copa America finalists Argentina are top followed by Germany, Belgium, Colombia, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Wales, Copa America winners Chile and England.

Wales are remain of neighbors England for the second time since the rankings began as both teams seem odds-on to qualify for Euro 2016. Wales face Andorra at home in their next qualifying match.

Algeria are the top African team in 19th place.

Asian Cup winners Australia are in 58th place; beaten quarter-finalists Japan are in 56th. Near neighbors South Korea are in 53rd place after making the final of the Asian Cup, where they lost narrowly to the hosts, Australia.

The USA are in 29th. Scotland are in 40th position. The Republic of Ireland are in 54th place, Northern Ireland are in 35th position.

1 Argentina
2 Germany
3 Belgium
4 Portugal
5 Colombia
6 Spain
7 Brazil
8 Wales
9 Chile
10 England
11 Austria
12 Switzerland
13 Romania
14 The Netherlands
15 Czech Republic
16 Croatia
17 Italy
18 Slovakia
19 Algeria
20 Uruguay

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