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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Deja vu - Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle (goal video)

As I said last weekend against Newcastle - there's nothing like a 3-0 win for Arsenal to make the world feel a better place eh Gooners?

(oh wait I've done that to death)

All right then - how about that second goal by Mathieu Flamini then? A jet powered strike from at least 25 metres out, probably closer 30m on the angle, and it gave poor old Shay Given no chance at all in the Newcastle goal.

That was a rocket-powered shot with turbo-thrust and after-burners combined. It was ... ah sod it .. just watch the video I found of it until it gets banned from YouTube.

Now that was something - I have no idea what the commentator was saying - but I whole-heartedly agreed with the sentiment ... WOW !

Monday, January 28, 2008

FA Cup 5th Round Draw : Man United v Arsenal

Arsenal will face Manchester United in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup.

Arsene Wenger's side were drawn against their Premier League title rivals when the draw was made at FA headquarters in Soho Square on Monday afternoon.

Arsenal eased into the last 16 with a 3-0 victory against Newcastle at Emirates Stadium. United beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The Fifth-Round ties will be played over the weekend of February 16 and 17.

Full FA Cup Fifth-Round draw
Bristol Rovers v Southampton
Cardiff City v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Sheffield United v Middlesbrough
Liverpool v Barnsley
Manchester United v Arsenal
Preston North End v Portsmouth
Coventry City v West Bromwich Albion
Chelsea v Huddersfield Town

Sunday, January 27, 2008

FA Cup : Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle

As I said last weekend against Fulham- there's nothing like a 3-0 win for Arsenal to make the world feel a better place.

The game went pretty much as predicted with Newcastle far more adventurous under Kevin Keegan than the departed Sam Allardyce but showing too many gaps at the back.

It took 60 minutes for Arsenal to make the breakthrough but a pair of goals from Emmanuel Adebayor helped The Gunners to see off Newcastle. The final shot tally was something like 17-4 - showing the general flow of the game.

The FA Cup picks on Saturday went 4-1 with only the woeful Derby preventing a clean set - while the spreadsheet also produced two likely winners in Serie A.

All-in-all a very satisfactory day at the office, and a profitable one too.
Enjoy the beers.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

FA Cup Fourth Round.

It's another FA cup weekend as the fourth round is played - decimating the Premir league fixture list to just one match.

And as I can't really find a good betting angle in the Aston Villa v Blackburn league match I'll have to take a quick look at the cup program here.

Arsenal v Newcastle
Take Arsenal. Obviously I like the chances of Arsenal here - and at 1.40 the price is worth including in an accumulator.

Coventry v Millwall
Take Coventry. Coventry beat Blackburn at Ewood Park in the last round, and also knocked an understrength Manchester United out of the Carling Cup - and so I like the look of the 1.75 price on Coventry beating Millwall who are struggling in League One.

Derby County v Preston North End
Yes - I'll be on Derby. I know that they're rock bottom of the Premier League - but that should actually help our bet here as County are surely doomed to relegation in the league and they may as well make their cup run a season highlight.

Preston are struggling two leagues down in League One - so the 1.91 on offer for the Rams winning at home seems a pretty good price to me.

Liverpool V Havant and Waterlooville
Obviously Liverpool should win comfortable but the price is useless. Perhaps you can play the -2.75 asian handicap at 1.60 or so?

Portsmouth v Plymouth
Take Portsmouth. Fratton Park isn't easy for Premier League sides to visit and Pompey should havew too much pace and class for Plymouth. Best price is 1.44.


So there we have it. Five sides that look likely to win on Saturday - at prices that seem ok too.

As far as a staking plan goes - well you could put them into a five-team accumulator - but that never really appeals to me as I like getting a payout each and every weekend rather than once a month.

So I recommend taking these five options along to your favourite online bookies and working out which site are offering the best prices. Then see if you can split the bets into two bets of a double and a treble to give you insurance against ONE upset.

That way if we get four out of five then we should be sitting on a nice little profit on Saturday evening. Good luck.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Superbowl tickets going cheap ...


But even at $500 off - these tickets are pretty pricey, going for around US $2,800 for a nose-bleed seat all the way upto $200,000+ for a 8 tickets to a luxury suite (fully catered) for the big game !!

Fascinating to see all the options and seating plans though - click the banner above to see all the available tickets and prices.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Punter wins 57K after wife changes his picks

Just a quick one today - as this blog entry at BookieLabRat caught my eye while looking for betting information.

A punter made a clean sweep of the weekend's English Premier League schedule and picked up £57,000 - at Paddy Power but only after his wife made four changes to his picks.

Now that's what I call female intuition - and I might have to run my slip past "the other half" for this weekend's FA Cup games.

The Bookie Labrat Betting Blog
Paddy Power - Top rated Irish Bookmaker

Spurs heading to Wembley

Tottenham are off to Wembley for the Carling Cup final after hammering Arsenal 5-1 (6-2 on aggregate) in their semi-final.

Goals from Jermaine Jenas, Nicklas Bendtner (own goal), Robbie Keane, Aaron Lennon and Steed Malbranque earnt Spurs the victory with substitute Emmanuel Adebayor grabbing a consolation for the Gunners.

Betfred are facing a £500,000 payout after Spurs' victory.

"We were hoping that the Gunners would have blasted the Spurs defence apart." said Betfred spokesman Dave Metcalf.

"It was the worst result imaginable for us as we have laid Spurs heavily at 4-1 to win the competition outright, including one single bet of £50,000 to win £200,000. If Spurs go on to land the Carling Cup it will be us who are needing a few drinks to drown our sorrows!, " added Dave.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

EPL : Fulham 0-3 Arsenal

There's nothing like a 3-0 Arsenal win to make a Gooner feel better about life.

I particularly like the wins where we've effectively wrapped it up by halftime and even the opposing manager and fans have good things to say about the Arsenal performance.

And so it was at Craven Cottage yesterday when Emmanuel Adebayor scored twice before halftime for a comfortable lead and Tomas Rosicky sealed the win in the second half.

The Guardian even called Arsenal "elegant" while a Fulham fans admits Arsenal "were brilliant" - whach are both things we probably already thought but it's nice to hear other people saying this sort of stuff too.

(it's all a far cry from the Don Howe / George graham days eh?)

Over at the BEEB Sports section the reporting is far more functional but it's worth playing the video interview with Fulham manager Roy Hodgson who talks about Arsenal's skill on the ball and admits it was a comfortable win.


Nothing much changed in the league standings with ManYoo and Chelsea both scoring away wins (albeit both of them a little less comfortable than expected) while Liverpool and Man City play on Sunday.


King Kev's debut at St James's Park was a damp squib, a 0-0 draw against a very defensive Bolton in a horrible game - but the Geordie fans recognise that it's gonig to take time and were not booing at the final whistle.

I expect to see more improvement in Newcastle in future months - but as we play them soon in both the FA Cup and the Premier League I'm hoping that it imght take Mr Keegan a wee while to restructure his side.


Juande Ramos fielded a weakened Spurs side for their game against Sunderland, but still won 2-0 although it was a game that was surprising for the Sunderland effort in the second half.

I read a comment (somewhere) from a Sunderland fan saying that his side had mastered the art of snatching a defeat from a good performance - which I thought was a clever piece of gallows humour.

Spurs now host Arsenal kids in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg - and should rightly consider themselves favourites to progress - as I think that they've got the measure of the young Gooner side.

But still - that favourtism tag can hang heavy around teams - and stranger upsets have happened - so there is plenty to play for on Tuesday night.


OK let's see what Sunday brings - I'm surprised to see such big prices for both Aston Villa (6.25) and West Ham (4.00) to win on the road - and I reckon that we might see a surprise in either (or both) of these games.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

FA Cup : Liverpool to face Havant at Anfield

Blue Square Conference South club Havant and Waterlooville beat Swansea 4-2 to make sure of a dream trip to Anfield on January 26 in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Richard Paquette, Jamie Collins and Rocky Baptiste gave the Hampshire side a three-goal lead, before Guillem Bauza pulled a goal back for the League One leaders in the 39th minute.

Jason Scotland made it 3-2 - but Tom Jordan's 65th-minute goal made sure of victory for Havant and Waterlooville.


New Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan watched the Magpies beat Stoke 4-1 at St James' Park to set up a fourth-round trip to Arsenal.

Michael Owen and Claudio Cacapa gave the hosts a two-goal lead, with James Milner and Damien Duff finishing off the Coca-Cola Championship side in the second half.

However, former Sunderland striker Liam Lawrence had the last word, denying Shay Given a clean sheet with a goal a minute from time.


Manchester City will travel to Sheffield United in the fourth round after beating West Ham with a 73rd-minute goal from Brazilian midfielder Elano.


And Hereford set up a fourth-round tie at home to Cardiff with a 1-0 victory over Tranmere at Edgar Street, with Simon Johnson scoring in the 72nd minute.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Kevin Keegan back in charge of Newcastle

Kevin Keegan back in chrage at St James ParkKevin Keegan was sensationally re-appointed as Newcastle boss on Wednesday afternoon - and the bookmakers around Britian have been quick to post a series of special bets on his time in charge.

Boylesports were first up by offering Keegan at 25/1 to guide the Geordiesto a top six finish this season (they're 11th right now) while both they go 3/1 that 'King Kev' can bring major silverware to Newcastle for the first time since 1969.

Another option for pro-Keegan punters to consider is the 3/1 at Coral that he wins a manager of the month award during the remainder of the current season.

However, given Keegan's past history, plenty of bookies are betting on how long he'll last in the St James' hotseat.

Bet365 make Keegan only 9/2 to see out this season and spokesman Steve Freeth said: "The Geordies will be jumping for joy at his appointment, but King Kev has a reputation for throwing the towel in and we'd rather not offer a big price on it happening again."

Paddy Power are betting on how many wins Newcastle can manage in their next five Premier League matches - Bolton (h), Arsenal (a), Middlesbrough (h), Aston Villa (a), Man Utd (h).

They go:
7/2 No Wins,
6/4 Exactly 1 Win,
7/4 Exactly 2 Wins,
13/2 Exactly 3 Wins,
25/1 Exactly 4 Wins,
200/1 Exactly 5 Wins.

And Paddy Power also have odds for Keegan's first signing and make Manchester United defender Wes Brown the 6/4 favourite.

They also offer the following players :
9/4 J Defoe, 13/2 S Downing, 8/1 Fred, 12/1 Andy Cole, 12/1 D Berbatov, 16/1 Robbie Keane, 20/1 Deco, 25/1 Ronaldinho, 25/1 D Drogba, 33/1 Ronaldo (Brazil), 50/1 T Henry

Betfred are offering odds on how Michael Own fits into the picture : offering 1/2 that Michael Owen will still be at Newcastle on the first day of next season and 6/4 that he won't.

(click on all those links to go straight to the bookmaker sites to check out their latest odds)


The sudden appointment certainly came as a shock to the bookies despite a flood of money on Keegan in the hours up to Sky Sports breaking the news late on Wednesday afternoon.

Coral lost a five-figure sum despite the high-profile gambles on Harry Redknapp, Mark Hughes, Gerrard Houllier and Didier Deschamps and spokesman Simon Clare said: "These are notoriously difficult markets for bookmakers to win on, and once again it is the punters who are celebrating Keegan's appointment as enthusiastically as most Newcastle fans."

Paddy Power added: "Fair play to all the punters who backed Keegan for the job last week at tasty odds of 33/1.

"Earlier today he was our 4/1 favourite for the job and we saw a lot of support for him. At least we can take him out of our Next Ireland Manager betting now!"

In fact, the Irish layers were so bemused as to who would be installed that earlier in the day they'd started betting each-way on the next Newcastle boss market - allowing punters to not only try and guess the identity of the new man but also the one after that!

And finally..... Paddy Power go 50/1 that Keegan says the words "I'd love it if we beat them" in his first post-match televised interview as Newcastle manager.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Favre leads Packers to 42-20 playoff win

brett Favre celebrates another TouchdownBrett Favre and the Packers unexpectedly great season continues on to the NFC Championship game as the ageless QB lead his team back from an early 0-14 hole to beat Seattle.

Forum regulars will know that I'm a Green Bay Packers fan (partially due to some previous work I did with a Wisconsin based company) but mostly because of the truly unique ownership set-up that they have at Green Bay.

The Packers are an institution, owned by the fans, playing for the fans, and that should mean that the lack of finances hamstrings this team - but somehow Green Bay finds a way to compete.

Of course it helps if you have someone like Brett Favre making the calls on offense, and Favre is absolutely having a miracle season - could it end in a Super Bowl ring?

Instead of re-telling the story of this game - I recommend watching this 7 minute highlights section from Fox Sports on the NFL site.
(click play when you get there).

It was a magic day for the PACKERS and their very loyal fans.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Le Sulk heads for Les Bleus

Anelka moves to Chelsea
Nicolas Anelka's move to Chelsea provides the perfect stage for the gifted but enigmatic French striker to make his football career mean something.

Arsene Wenger unearthed the french starlet as an 18 year-old from Paris St Germain, for the meagre price of £500,000 and got some brilliant performances during an all-too-brief stay at Highbury.

He earned the tag of "Le Sulk", during his stay in North London, as he listened to the deluded ramlbings of his brother agents - and despite his talent there was great relief and merriment in my household when he left Arsenal in August 1999 to join Real Madrid in a £23m deal.

Anelka has never lived up to his undoubted talent, never really looked likely to fulfill his potential as while he was blessed with physical prowess - he's also been cursed with mental shortcomings and a readiness to believe his sycophant followers.

Anelka showed at Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Fenerbahce and Bolton that he has (had?) the skills to succeed at the top level, but for all his talents - he has too much baggage to be relied upon by top flight sides.

After a domestic double with Arsenal in 1998 and a Champions League win with Real Madrid in 2000, his career has been a series of ill-fated transfers where the biggest headlines are written the day he signs the contract - and little more thereafter.

Chelsea have bought a flawed talent, although in the short term Anelka might be able to help Chelsea to strive towards their trophy challenges this season.

But it will be beyond Avram Grant (or any manager) to keep Anelka playing to his ability for more than 30-40 matches. Anelka changes clubs like other players change their cars - playing for ten teams in scarcely more than ten years.

Despite the 4 1/2 years on the contract the fact remains that Anelka has never seen a contract through - and it's most likely that Stamford Bridge will be no more than a pit stop as "le Sulk" continues his footballing journey through most of Europe's clubs.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Best Bookmakers for 2008

With the start of 2008 it seemed a good time to do the full review of our ratings and rankings of the bookmakers out there - and let you know the best places to play.

Here are the four major award winners of our MEGA start of year review.


Bet365 retains the #1 overall best bookmaker ranking for the 15th straight month.

With good bonuses, special offers, reasonable odds, and a hell of a lot of users from the site (with very few issues) - it all means that this UK bookmaker remains our recommended place to play.

---------------------------------------------------------- keeps #1 US resident sportsbook ranking for 3rd month in a row. (Sportsbooks that accept US players)

This site has plenty of action on ALL US sports plus a reasonable amount of World Football mean that this bookmaker is competitive in the international market. Being challenged by Bodog - but still has the edge IMO.

Non-US players can also play there of course.


Centrebet rates #1 for high betting limits on major sports and events - saying that they'll take at least $5,000 US of anyones money on any event - and usually a lot more on popular games.

I've got a contact at Centrebet who has told me that if one of our players gets knocked back on a bet they want then I should get in touch with him - and they'll sort it out so it will not happen again.


And the big news was that Canbet moves to #1 ranking for Asian handicap betting style - knocking PinnacleSports off the top.

Canbet have made a major effort to squeeze their margins to match Pinnacle, and with a better website, better football coverage, and three different bonus offers this UK/Aussie company has moved into the #1 spot.

Visit the Full Bookmaker Review for an overview and links to all the sports betting ratings.

Or see our Bookmaker Shootout for more details of the four best sportsbook category winners.

Bet365 website website
Centrebet website
Canbet website

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sam Allardyce fired by Newcastle United

Sam Allardyce's managerial career at Newcastle United was terminated after just eight months.

The club, currently 11th in the Premier League, said the decision had been reached "by mutual agreement".

Allardyce, who was in charge for 24 games, said: "I'm disappointed but I wish them all the best for the future. It was a shock, I didn't expect it."

It didn't suprise the bookmakers though who had Allardyce as the short priced favourite to get the sack as reported last week.

Sam Allardyce is a red-hot 8/13 (1.61) favourite with VC Bet to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post after his side's third consecutive defeat at home to Manchester City on Wednesday night.

Neal Wilkins from VC Bet commented: "Allardyce was not Mike Ashley's appointment and Newcastle's current dire form must be huge pressure on his position."

Former captain Alan Shearer has ruled himself out of the running and chairman Chris Mort said: "A new manager has not yet been appointed."

First-team coach Nigel Pearson will take charge of the team for Saturday's Premier League meeting with Manchester United.

Chelsea take first step towards Carling Cup final

Chelsea have the upper hand over Everton after the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final thanks to a 2-1 success.

The Toffees looked to have forced a draw at Stamford Bridge but a late header from Shaun Wright-Phillips went in off Everton defender Joleon Lescott to give Chelsea the advantage.

The bookmakers now make Chelsea 1.33 to progress to the final and 2.10 (Ladbrokes) to lift the trophy while Everton are 9/4 to turn things around and 8.00 (Bet365) to win the competition outright.

Wednesday night sees Arsenal and Tottenham in action in their last-four first leg with the Gunners 3.75 second favourites (BetFred) for the silverware and Spurs 4.50 (Eurobet).

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Football betting Prediction spreadsheets

The league betting spreadsheets have been processed and the outputs for the weekend of Jan 12th/13th are now up and online.

GOONERS NUMB3RS - EPL spreadsheet picks
A whole host of likely home winners (6 !!) are tipped in England and one away winner too. Can you pick who that might be (before taking a look) ?

GOONERS NUMB3RS - ISA Spreadsheet picks
It's much tighter in Italy - with one home win at a good price and one away win at a poor price.

The Italian DV-Draw system also has one pick too. It's gone 3-2 over the last five picks and is on a +33% yield over the course of this season - so it's well worth checking out.

There seem to be plenty of picks this weekend worth a shot - good luck with your bets - I hope that the statistical view helps you narrow down some good choices.

Monday, January 07, 2008

FA Cup 3rd Round : Favourites fail to win - almost everywhere!

You'd have been better off picking teams at random !It was a tough weekend for favourites backers in the FA Cup this weekend with a mix of upset wins and draws meaning that only 7 of 22 teams that started as odds-on favourites actually managed to win.

You'd have been better off picking cup winners at random over the weekend!

Although there were no total shocks in the FA Cup on Sunday we still saw Liverpool, Newcastle, Derby and Fulham were all held by lower league opposition.

Liverpool are now 7.00 (6/1) (BetFred) for the trophy, while Newcastle are 29.00 (28/1) with Bet365 for Wembley glory.

At least my team Arsenal obliged with a good result as they beat Burnley 2-0 and covered the asian handicap bet too. The Gooners are now a 5.00 (4/1) chance at Ladbrokes to lift the cup.

On Saturday Manchester United beat Aston Villa 2-0 to book their place in the last 32. They are now 4.33 (10/3) favourites at BoyleSports to win the FA Cup.

Chelsea were also among the winners - they beat QPR 1-0 - and Avram Grant's side are now joint-second favourites to lift the trophy in May, as they are 4/1 with BoyleSports.

Why no FA Cup previews Gooner ?

Why no English FA Cup previews Gooner ? - that was the question that I received nearly a hundred times this weekend when I didn't offer any personal cup picks on the main site.

I think that you've now seen the answer as a barrage of "upset" results hit most tipsters picks during the 3rd round.

In Europe, the domestic Cup is treated quite lightly, offering no more than a midweek diversion from the serious bread n butter of league football.

In England, it IS a little bit different, due to the age and history of the FA Cup competition as modern football's longest surviving trophy dating all the way back to 1872.

But the allure of the cup has definately changed in the last twenty years, with prize money, congested fixture lists, and a surfeit of football on TV all playing their part in lessening the status of the FA Cup.

Back when I was a lad, the FA Cup was likely to be the ONLY live game that you would see on TV during the season. So reaching the final and worldwide exposure was a big thing.

Now there are literally 20-30 games on the box each week - all the rounds are covered - and frankly the FA Cup final is just one more telvised game and certainly not the major aim for the biggest clubs.

So in the fans eyes - the Cup is no longer the be-all and end-all and this is shown in the dwindling attendances in cup games right around the country.

Whether it's prize money or just TV appearance money for playing in the English Premier League and/or Champions League - there is little doubt that the FA Cup is a distant 3rd priority for teams with European commitments.

Arsenal's football budget is based around the TV money payments from the Premier League and Champions League, and the couple of million quid on offer for the FA Cup probably is now less than the gate receipts from a single league game at the Emirates Stadium with 60,000 attending.

Winning the silverware is nice - but it's only a consolation prize - "at least we won the cup".

The Cup Final is probably not even the most valuable domestic match either - as I've heard it said that the playoff match for the teams that finished 3rd - 6th in the lower English Championship is considered to be worth GBP 30m (in Premier League TV money).

IF the Football Association REALLY want the FA Cup to regain it's allure - then there are a lot of POUNDS, EUROS or DOLLARS to be found in order to make the Cup a major target.

Club motivation has to be examined when making a punt - and typically the only clubs that are fully motivated are those that are not challenging for a league title AND are not likely to be troubled by relegation either.

OK - I'm less sure about this arguement - because I remember teasm in the 1980's playing 70+ games in a season with a squad of just 14 or 15 players.

However, the game has changed, and perhaps because its faster, or perhaps because players are more pampered, it seems that squad rotation and fielding weaker sides in the cup is de-rigeur.

This makes picking results much harder as you have to guess at the mangers selection policy, especially amoung the big clubs who may be playing every four days at various stages of the cup.

You also have to factor in that teams will often settle for a replay with a few minutes left - instead of pressing on for the winner - meaning that the number of draws does tend to go up - and few people like to bet on the draws.


So Why no English FA Cup previews Gooner ? simply because there are too many moderating influences and artificial events going on to make picking two line-ups easy - let alone forecasting a result.

So this wekeend I left it to guys who were pretty close to the action of several clubs - and even then they had plenty of problems in foreseeing what eventually happened.

We will see how the fourth round draw pans out - as their may be a tie or two worth a punt.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Xmas In the Relegation Zone? Some hope exists !

Christmas has been and gone and we all know the oft-quoted statistic that being bottom of the Premier League on Dec 25th is a recipe for disaster ... but how likely is it - and what about the other two teams?

West Brom are the only team to escape relegation after being bottom of the Premiership at Christmas (in 2004-05). So 14 of 15 last placed teams have taken the drop.

It looks like almost certain relegation for Derby County then - but you probably didn't need these stats to decide that.

But second-from-bottom sides have only been relegated seven times in 15 seasons (Leicester 1994-95, Watford 1999-00, Leicester 2001-02, Leeds 2003-04, Southampton 2004-05, Birmingham 2005-06 and Charlton 2006-07).

Unfortunately, that is also the last four seasons in a row.

While third-from-bottom teams have gone down only six times out of 15 (Middlesbrough 1996-97, Blackburn 1998-99, Coventry 2000-01, Derby 2001-02, West Brom 2002-03, Crystal Palace 2004-05).

Of course West Ham were the most recent example of an 18th placed side coming good in the second half of the season - including a 1-0 win at Old Trafford.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

FA Cup 3rd Round : Upsets galore

Scottish midfielder Gary McDonald's first-half strike gave League One Oldham a famous 1-0 FA Cup third-round triumph against mighty Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.

The League One side, over 50 places below the Merseysiders, fully deserved their victory after a battling performance.

Everton fielded a much-changed side, and McDonald's 25-yard cracker on the stroke of half-time was enough to beat them.


Michael Mifsud scored twice as Coca-Cola Championship club Coventry booked their place in the fourth round with a memorable 4-1 win over Blackburn at Ewood Park.

The Sky Blues, who dumped Manchester United out of the Carling Cup earlier this season with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford, were in good form against Premier League opposition and never looked in danger of losing the lead given to them through Mifsud's crisp volley after 34 minutes.

They doubled their advantage after 64 minutes when Zurab Khizanishvili was adjudged to have fouled Leon Best in the penalty area and defender Elliott Ward coolly stepped up to fire past Brad Friedel.

Dele Adebola added a third from 18 yards before David Bentley scored a consolation five minutes from time for Mark Hughes' beleaguered side.

Mifsud added a fourth in the dying stages as Iain Dowie's side celebrated a memorable day.


Chris Brandon scored nine minutes from time to secure another cup shock as League One Huddersfield beat Premier League Birmingham 2-1.

Luke Beckett handed the Terriers a dream start as he poked home from close range after just four minutes but Garry O'Connor levelled for Blues 15 minutes later.

Huddersfield never looked out of place against their more illustrious opponents and Brandon slotted home from close range late on to book their place in the next round.


Holders Chelsea were made to work hard for their 1-0 victory over neighbours QPR at Stamford Bridge.

They scored the only goal of the game after 39 minutes in fortuitous circumstances as Claudio Pizarro's shot cannoned off the post before rebounding into the net off the back of Rangers goalkeeper Lee Camp.


In other games :

Manchester United progressed as goals in the last 10 minutes from Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney saw off Aston Villa 2-0 in the evening kick-off.

Bolton left out a string of first-team players, including Chelsea target Nicolas Anelka, and were made to pay as David Carney's solitary strike put Sheffield United through.

Dave Nugent's third goal for Portsmouth secured a 1-0 win over Ipswich, who had Liam Trotter dismissed in the first half.

Paul Scharner's first-half header, Paul McShane's own goal and a neat strike from David Cotterill helped Wigan cruise past Sunderland 3-0 at the Stadium of Light.

David Wheater's second-half goal ensured there was no upset at Ashton Gate as Middlesbrough came from behind to see off Bristol City 2-1.

Two replays required :

Stephen Hunt matched Dimitar Berbatov's brace as Reading secured a 2-2 draw with Tottenham, who had Tom Huddlestone dismissed for violent conduct.

Manchester City and West Ham will meet again after a dour goalless draw at Upton Park.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Big Sam next manager for the sack ?

Sam Allardyce is a red-hot 8/13 (1.61) favourite with VC Bet to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post after his side's third consecutive defeat at home to Manchester City on Wednesday night.

Neal Wilkins from VC Bet commented: "Allardyce was not Mike Ashley's appointment and Newcastle's current dire form must be huge pressure on his position."

Liverpool's Rafa Benitez is next like to get the sack at 5/1 (6.00) with the firm after their 1-1 draw at Anfield while Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate is 3rd at an 8/1 (9.00) chance.

The firm then go 16/1 for anyone else beating them out - which is probably the value play given the much changing nature of football clubs.

Check out the market at VCBet now.

Liverpool held while Newcastle dont even get a point.

Liverpool's Barclays Premier League title hopes were dealt another heavy blow as Wigan claimed an unlikely 1-1 draw at Anfield.

Rafael Benitez's side finally broke the deadlock four minutes into the second period as Fernando Torres slid home to finish Steve Finnan's inviting cross for his 16th goal of the season.

Liverpool were made to pay for their inability to kill off the game, though, as Titus Bramble fired home a loose ball from the edge of the penalty area after 79 minutes.


The pressure on Sam Allardyce looks set to intensify after Newcastle slipped to a sorry 2-0 home defeat against Manchester City.

Elano added to his already burgeoning reputation with a goal of genuine class seven minutes before the break to put the visitors ahead.

The Brazilian started the move on the edge of Newcastle's penalty area with a deft backheel before latching onto Darius Vassell's lay-off to steer the ball past Shay Given into the bottom left corner.

Michael Owen made his long-awaited return from injury at the break and saw an effort diverted around the post by Joe Hart with his first touch.

City netted their second with 14 minutes remaining when Gelson Fernandes lashed home from just inside the area after Kelvin Etuhu's neat lay-off.


Stelios Giannakopoulos scored the only goal of the game in stoppage time for Bolton at the Reebok Stadium to claim three vital points for the home side and ensure that Derby remain rooted to the bottom of the table and 10 points away from safety


Other results :

Blackburn Rovers 1-0 Sunderland