Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Bent Accepts England Omission

Darren Bent has accepted Roy Hodgson’s decision not to include him in England’s Euro 2012 squad, and is confident that the team can go on and impress in Ukraine and Poland.

The 28-year-old Aston Villa striker has already endured a three-month lay-off since he ruptured ligaments in his ankle in a challenge with Wigan Athletic defender, Antolin Alcaraz.

Bent, who has scored four goals in 13 appearances for England, had hoped to be included in Hodgson’s 23-man squad, but accepts that the former Liverpool and West Brom manager’s decision.

He said: “Roy rang me the day before and outlined the reasons he couldn’t pick me. He told me I had not played any games and he could not take the chance of taking me to a tournament.

“It was really positive. He was brilliant. As far as phone calls go, I have had three to tell me I have not made it to a major tournament; out of all of them, Roy’s was the best.”

Bent, who returned to training, earlier this month, believes that England’s recent victory against Norway augurs well for the tournament. He thinks that there is no reason why England cannot go all the way in Ukraine and Poland.

Bent started his career at Ipswich Town, and went on to play for Charlton Athletic, Spurs, and Sunderland before joining Villa, in January 2011, for £18million.

During his time at Villa Park, Bent has scored 18 goals in 38 Premier League appearances for the club.

He found the net ten times in the 2011-12 campaign, before suffering his untimely injury. He netted for England in the 2-2 draw against Montenegro in a Euro 2012 qualifier, in October 2011.

Of the other underdogs at Euro 2012, Russia are claiming much of the limelight, according to the Russia Euro 2012 odds.

Visit the Group B Euro 2012 odds, for more information on two of the favourites, namely, Germany and Holland.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Jelavic proves PL credentials

There are not too many strikers who make the transition from the Scottish Premier League to the top flight south of the border but there is no question Nikica Jelavic has taken to life in England like a duck to water.

The former Glasgow Rangers forward was snapped up by Everton boss David Moyes for just £5.5m, as he made one of the best signings of the January transfer window, alongside Papiss Cisse’s move to Newcastle United from SC Freiburg.

Jelavic helped his club secure some thrilling football scores, including a 4-4 draw with Manchester United during the latter stages of the season.

Although just over £5m is not a massive amount for some teams in the Premier League, it was a fair sum for the Toffees, who have had well documented financial troubles at Goodison Park over recent years.

However Jelavic has already proved himself to be a bargain, as he bagged 11 goals in 16 matches to help the club finish above their city rivals Liverpool in the table last season.

Now the 26-year-old is looking to build on his bright start and develop his game into next season, with the club desperate to end their long wait for silverware, which is yet to come in Moyes’ 10 years at Goodison Park.

His progress has been so quick that Jelavic could find himself among the top scorer betting selections when the countdown to the new Premier League season begins.

The Croatian told newspaper Sportske Novosti: "When I signed for Everton I was sure that I would have some problems with the English league as it is harder than the Scottish one.

"I didn't know what to expect. I was a little bit afraid that I might have some problems, but that was not the case.

"Everything is just great - my first season at Everton couldn't be better.”

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Who to put your Mortgage on

When a striker escapes a rigid defence and bears down on goal, this is his one chance for glory, but who would you put your proverbial mortgage on burying a one-on-one chance at the Euros?

He may have scored 71 goals this season, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s form for Portugal is far from record-breaking.

Seven goals saw Ronaldo placed joint-third in Euro 2012 qualifying, but his shot-to-goal ratio is staggeringly poor. 41 shots yielded seven goals, almost one in six efforts.

There are more clinical players than Ronaldo. Miroslav Klose’s nine goals from 12 shots on target is prolific, but he did squander wide a further 10 in qualifying. The same can be said of Robbie Keane, who finished seven of 28 chances.

The man to put your mortgage on is Jermain Defoe, with three in two games for England during qualifying. Although he may not start in Ukraine and Poland, you can rely on Defoe to come on and sneak home a crucial goal.

He was one of just three England players to score at the 2010 World Cup, and is the archetypal nippy striker that slips from his man at the opportune moment. Unfortunately, he has struggled to hold down a starting place at Spurs; his style not suited to the 4-5-1 of England.

Defoe’s role is a super sub. When Emile Heskey ran through on goal against the USA, two years ago, there was only hope that he would bury the chance rather than expectation.

Defoe carries expectation in front of goal, as much as Keane, Klose, or Huntelaar, and, like all three, he usually takes his chance.

And this is what England need. In a creatively restricted team against deep-defending opposition, Defoe, more than anyone, is the man to tuck away that single, golden opportunity, amongst a deluge of dross.

Defoe has a lot on his plate, if he hopes to change England’s reputation as a competition ‘also ran’. Check out the Euro 2012 odds, to see just how dismal England’s chances are, this summer.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Hodgson Explains Carrick Omission

Manchester United midfielder, Michael Carrick, did not want to be considered for next month’s European Championships, according to England boss, Roy Hodgson.

There was some surprise that the 30-year-old former West Ham United and Tottenham midfielder was not included in England’s 23-man squad for the action in Ukraine and Poland, but Hodgson has revealed that Carrick was not interested in representing his country, this summer.

"I wouldn't dream of putting Michael Carrick on a standby list, after he's made it clear, in the past, he doesn't want to be involved like that”, said former Liverpool and West Brom manager, Hodgson.

"I'd have to be convinced he was better than the four central midfielders I've selected, and that he'd be happy to come out of retirement."

Spurs’ Scott Parker, who is currently struggling to recover from an Achilles injury, Manchester City’s Gareth Barry, Steven Gerrard of Liverpool and Chelsea’a Frank Lampard are the four central midfielders Hodgson has chosen for the tournament.

Carrick made his England debut against Mexico, in May 2001, but he has not represented his country since the pre-World Cup 2010 friendly international against the Mexicans.

He played in England’s second-round victory against Ecuador, at World Cup 2006, but he has only won 22 caps.

That is a surprisingly small number of international appearances for a player than has featured in almost 200 Premier League matches for Manchester United, in the last six years.

Carrick has been a regular in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side since moving to Old Trafford from Tottenham in an £18.6million deal, in July 2006.

Hodgson’s Three Lions are currently the fifth-favourites for the win in the England Euro 2012 odds, behind France.

Visit the Betfair Euro 2012 website for more information on the upcoming tournament in Poland and the Ukraine.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Premier League relegation woes

Those that bet on sport agree, relegation from the Premier League is one of the harshest, most cruel punishments to occur in world football.

The amount of money lost after enduring a demotion is quite staggering, and the loss of any star player can do even greater damage.

Contract clauses and wage demands are the primary cause for transfers heading away from their relegated clubs, and, in most cases, it’s the manager’s job to rebuild his squad and fill in the missing gaps in an attempt to regain promotion into the top-tier of English football.

After West Ham were relegated in the 2010-11 season, they lost a couple of high-profile players including the likes of Demba Ba to Newcastle United on a free transfer and Scott Parker to Tottenham Hotspur for a fee thought to be in and around the region of £5 million.

In a sense, the Hammers were rather unlucky not to have survived their 2010-11 Premiership campaign; especially so when considering the fact that their team contained some excellent footballing talent.

If Ba could have found form with the Hammers, of the like he has shown with Newcastle, then the north London club may well have survived their treacherous season.

Now that Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers have been relegated from the Premier League, the promoted Championship outfits, along with the established Premiership sides, will be raiding these clubs for any gems.

Out of the three relegated clubs, the team that is most likely to sell its star individuals will be the once formidable, Blackburn Rovers.

The current owners are clearly sucking the life out of the one-time Premier League title holders, with sport news networks often broadcasting images of supporter protest at Rovers matches this season.

Players like Canadian international Junior Hoilett, former England international Paul Robinson and their powerful French midfielder Steven N’Zonzi are likely to leave the Lancashire club in the imminent summer transfer window.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Is Terry a Risk for England?

The decision by new England head coach Roy Hodgson to include John Terry in his Euro 2012 squad raises questions about whether the dynamic of the squad could be damaged.

The Chelsea defender's inclusion, at the expense of Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand, cannot be disputed on footballing grounds.

Terry’s red-mist moment at Camp Nou against Barcelona, in the semi-finals of the Champions League, risked his team's eventual progression to the final, which takes place on May 19, against Bayern Munich, while Terry paid the ultimate personal price, and will not feature at the Allianz Arena.

The 31-year-old also turned in one of his worst performances in a Chelsea shirt against Liverpool, in the Premier League, but a line could be drawn through this, given that it came just days after the west Londoners won the FA Cup against the same opposition.

That aside, he performed stoically in the heart of the Stamford Bridge rearguard, much to the delight of fans indulging in some live in-play betting, in an impressive end to the season under the stewardship of interim manager, Roberto di Matteo.

His fitness, too, has not been called into question, whereas Sir Alex Ferguson was uncomfortable with the prospect of Ferdinand playing four games in such a short period of time in Poland and Ukraine, next month.

The risk here is that Terry is due in court on July 9, eight days after the final of Euro 2012, to answer charges of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother, Anton, during the defeat at Queen's Park Rangers, last October, which he denies.

"The trial is obviously very unfortunate for him, but he is innocent until proven guilty", Hodgson said. "I realised when I selected him there would be people who would raise their eyebrows."

Dressing rooms can be cold and unforgiving, and it safe to suggest Ferdinand will still have his supporters among those chosen to represent their country. It is hoped, for Hodgson and Terry, that this does not impact on performances on the field.

England will meet up in Manchester on Wednesday, before flying to Norway on Friday for their friendly in Oslo, on May 26. Seven days later, they face Belgium at Wembley.

Expand your football horizons with a bet on Socceroos at Bet365.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Defensive Headache for Hodgson

New England Manager Roy Hodgson has revealed that he will name his provisional squad for the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine on May 16.

With only a matter of weeks between his appointment and England’s first appearance at the Euros in eight years the 64-year old will no doubt be depending on his more experienced players to help him make the step back up to international management as smooth as possible.

Unfortunately for Hodgson two of his most capped players, John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, are currently in the midst of an ongoing feud and it remains to be seen whether or not the two can play together, and the resolution of the situation could have a major impact on the football betting arena.

The feud centres around an allegation that Terry racially abused Ferdinand’s younger brother, Anton, during Chelsea’s away game at QPR in October. Terry is due to stand trial for the alleged abuse in July.

Terry and Ferdinand, both former national captains, have represented the Three Lions over 150 times between them and have formed a formidable central defensive partnership in past major tournaments. Hodgson knows that England’s hopes in the tournament rest on forming a strong team spirit and in his first press conference as manager he made clear his desire to work with the players to resolve the feud.

“I’ll have to get in touch with John and Rio to speak with them, hopefully face to face, and find out where they are in this situation,” he said.

With both Terry, 31, and Ferdinand, 33, nearing the twilight of their international careers, both players, who have achieved so much at club level, will surely agree on one thing - it’s about time that England performed on the big stage.

Betfair football punters will surely be keeping their fingers crossed that the experienced players can concentrate on footballing matters and put their differences to one side until after the tournament. If they can, then success might just be a possibility for England.

Gunners hold RVP hope

Arsenal have largely relied on goals from their star striker Robin Van Persie this season but the Dutchman's future at the Emirates still hangs in the balance.

With 30 goals in the Premier League this term and some fine displays in the Champions League to boast as well, it's unsurprising that the former Feyenoord forward has been attracting interest from across Europe.

The 28-year-old has been linked with Barcelona in the past few months and now more recently Italian champions Juventus, who are keen to add to their attacking firepower for next season.

And there are few who can match Van Persie’s achievements this term.

The likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo may have scored more goals, but they are playing for Barca and Real Madrid respectively, who have between them dominated La Liga betting selections once again this term.

Arsenal, on the other hand, have endured a difficult campaign in the Premier League and have had to battle to the final day of the season in the hope of qualifying for the Champions League next season.

Yet Van Persie looks set to win the golden boot ahead of the stars of the league's frontrunners Manchester City and Manchester United, despite most of the Premiership top scorer betting before the season began favouring the likes of United’s Wayne Rooney and City’s Sergio Aguero.

Gunners chairman Peter Hill-Wood is desperate for the Netherlands star to pen a new deal, as they hope to end the seven-year wait for silverware next season.

He told the Daily Star: "We haven't talked to Robin yet, but I spoke to Arsene (Wenger) recently.

"He is very confident he will stay and I very much hope he will.

"He has had a wonderful season with us.

"We have had no official approaches from any other club, as far as I am aware."

And Hill-Wood will undoubtedly be keen to avoid any official approaches for his reliable Robin between now and the end of the summer.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Terry Facing England Exit?

John Terry, the babe of former England managers, Fabio Capello, Steve McClaren, and Sven-Goran Eriksson, could be facing the end of his career in a white shirt, after a number of bookies slashed the odds on a Terry-less European Championship to just 4/9.

Terry’s lack of favour with the bookmakers stems from his lacklustre form, in recent weeks, coupled with the knowledge that one-half of the Ferdinand brothers, Anton, could be called up to Roy Hodgson’s squad for Euro 2012. 

As most football fans will be aware, Ferdinand and Terry cannot co-exist in the same side, leaving Hodgson with an unenviable ‘one or the other’ decision to make before the first ball is kicked in Poland, on June 8.

 Terry is alleged to have insulted his opposite in the QPR team at the end of October, last year, an accusation that he has denied. The case will head to court on July 9, with Terry potentially facing a charge of racially aggravated abuse.

Chelsea’s Premier League match against Liverpool, last night, served as a microcosm of Terry’s problems on the pitch, in recent weeks. He was booked, outrun by the Reds’ forwards, and caught wandering out of position.  

One need only look at the scoreline from yesterday’s match – 4-1, in Liverpool’s favour – to realise that Chelsea had serious problems at the back, an area of the pitch that falls squarely within Terry’s jurisdiction.

All eyes will be on Roy Hodgson, as the European Championships approach. It remains to be seen whether the former West Brom chief will stick with England’s staples, such as Gerrard, Rooney, and Lampard, or plump for a younger, less experienced side.

England are currently the fourth favourite to win in Poland and the Ukraine with Euro 2012 betting with Bet Victor.

Hodgson will announce his first squad list on May 16. England will then play Norway and Belgium, both friendly games, on May 26 and June 2, respectively, before the side take on France, on June 11, in their first group match of Euro 2012.

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