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Friday, March 18, 2011

Qatari Bin Hammam confirms election bid for Fifa presidency

AFC head Mohamed Bin Hammam has announced that he will stand for the role of FIFA president against incumbent Sepp Blatter later this year.

"After careful consideration I have decided to stand in the FIFA presidential elections on June 1 at the FIFA congress, " Bin Hammam announced to reporters.

"The AFC executive committee have encouraged me.  Change is necessary and needed in FIFA," Bin Hammam said.

Bin Hammam, who was sworn in unopposed for a third and final four-year term as AFC head in January, is hoping to become the ninth president of FIFA and the first from Asia


Frankly, it's a relief that SOMEONE has finally had the fortitude to stand against the idiot Sepp Blatter who has demonstrated erratic behaviour that is either senile or corrupt, and certainly not in touch with the grassroots of football.

Blatter cannot see the damage his technophobic resistance to TV replays and luddite approach to football at the top level is doing to the game. He cannot willingly remove his snout from the trough of FIFA largesse, or bare to relinquish the reins of power.

Blatter is 75 now, and despite promising that each previous presidency would be his last, he is now seeking a fourth term as the head of FIFA - and it had appeared that his hold on power was so absolute that no-one would stand against him for fear of retaliation.

Now that there will be election, the FIFA membership needs to take this opportunity to speak with one vocie and overwhelmingly vote out the parasite that is Sepp Blatter.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Manchester City and Liverpool both dumped out of Europa League

Liverpool are out of the Europa League as they fail to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit as Braga hold them to a goalless draw at Anfield.

Striker Andy Carroll made his first start for the club since signing from Newcastle and carried his side's greatest threat - twice heading wide.

But the Reds struggled for a breakthrough. Invention and inspiration were missing for the Merseysiders and the man who usually provides it, captain Steven Gerrard, had to watch agonisingly from the stands as he recovers from a groin injury.

The prospect of failing to qualify for European competition next season is now also a stark reality for Liverpool.


Ten-man Manchester City were knocked out of the Europa League despite earning a 1-0 second-leg win over Dynamo Kiev.

City dominated the first half but Mario Balotelli scooped over from three yards and missed with a header from 12 yards. Striker Balotelli was then sent off for a foul on Goran Popov before the break, giving City a tough task to overcome their two-goal first-leg deficit.

Aleksandar Kolarov fired in low from 20 yards before halftime to give Manchester City hope but failed to trouble Kiev in the second half.
Manchester City's only realistic hopes of winning their first piece of major silverware since 1976 now rest with the FA Cup.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Arsenal look to INVINCIBLE keeper to solve injury crisis

BBC Sport are reporting that Arsenal are close to signing 41-year-old Jens Lehmann for the rest of the season to provide vital cover for a depleted squad.

Injuries to goalkeepers Wojciech Szczesny, Lukasz Fabianski and Vito Mannone have left Manuel Almunia as the only fit keeper.

The German keeper was part of Arsenal's "Invincibles" - the team that went unbeaten during the 2003-2004 season - helping the Gunners win the Premier League, while he played a key role in their FA Cup final penalty shoot-out win over Manchester United in 2005.

Lehmann has been a free agent since retiring in 2010 after two years with Stuttgart.
Personally, I'll be pleased to see "Mad Jens" back in the squad - and hopefully his link back to the successful invincible side will also rub off on his young team mates.

It's time for something to change at Arsenal ...

Fourty-one years now. That's how long I've been following THE Arsenal.

Sometimes it's been great, the fantastic double winning seasons of 1971, 1998, 2002 for example. OR the "Invincibles" of 2004. Sometimes it's been exceedingly boring or absolutely painful - like most of the 1970's and 1980's.

But right now it's just very, very frustrating.

Arsenal, on their day, with a full strength side, a tail wind, and playing at home at the Emirates Stadium are a match for any side on the planet. The problem is that despite this potential, these days ONLY ever come around a handful of times a season - and there lies the problem.

Arsenal are almost a great side, ALMOST. But the talent is spread too thinly, The Gunners do not have depth within the squad to withstand injuries to key players - nor do they have enough experience within the squad to get battling competitive hard-nosed performances out of players twhen things start to go wrong.

But these failings are not new. Arsenal have gone six seasons since winning a trophy, and EIGHT seasons since the sublime invincibles of 2003-04 ran through the entire league campaign without LOSING once. That's a feat that had not been done in a century of top-flight football in England.

That season was a joy to watch - but after the final game when we beat Coventry 4-3 at Highbury it was also tinged with sadness. I had a feeling that something this good could not continue. It was an obvious zenith - a performance high that would probably never be seen again - during my lifetime at least.

At the time I dismissed it as being a miserable Gooner git. But as the seasons march on - and Arsenal sides seem to get younger and younger, and more and more brittle, it's clear that the current squad mix is definately lacking SOMETHING required to win trophies.

Experience? Definately. Depth? Sure. Bottle? A crude word - but accurate.

I do NOT think that manager Arsene Wenger is the fault - indeed he has created an Arsenal style of play that far exceeds ANYTHING I watched at Highbury during the 1970's, 1980's or 1990's. This Gooner team are fantastic to watch - most of the time. But they need to be able to compete for a 60 game season - not just 30-40 games. Over the course of a season injuries will happen. A football squad needs to be able to cover those injuries. Mr Wenger needs to realise that his expectation of a problem free season IS NOT accurate.

Are you watching Mr Wenger? Are you REALLY watching the failures and identifying the root cause that pops up again and again and again as the last SEVEN seasons have gone on? Because I have been. And I was not surprised at the results at either the Nou Camp or Old Trafford in the last week.

I acknowledge that Barcelona and Manchester United are giant clubs. They are the best of the best, and Arsenal have to try and match them. These two clubs have to be the yardstick with which the Arsenal club, the players AND the manager measures itself.

Mr Wenger DOES need to acknowledge the clear and obvious differences between the sides that he managed between 2000-2004 and the current model. You need steel to go with style. You need to blend youth and experience. And sometimes in order to get that you do need to pay the money to get an established star.

It's time for something to change at Arsenal ... because this side are so close to achieve Wenger's aim of winning with style.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Surging Lakers Take On Struggling Heat in Potential NBA Finals Preview

The Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers will meet this Thursday in a clash of NBA contenders not seen since, well, the Christmas Day match up between the same two squads.

Bet on Lakers vs. Heat with Bodog’s online sportsbook.

For the duration of the 2010-11 season there has never really been any doubt as to which two franchises bear the brunt of expectations as the final playoff stretch fast approaches - until now.

Heading into the week of their big clash, the Heat have struggled, dropping four consecutive games between Feb. 27 and Mar. 6. It is little consolation for Miami that all four games have come against top tier competition.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company know that in order to reach the heights many thought they would, they’ll have to get through the top teams in either conference anyway.

Though the Heat prevailed in their December game against the Lakers - quite convincingly in fact (96-80) - the Lakers have flourished of late while Miami looks desperate to pick up the pieces of a scrambled season.

The Los Angeles Lakers are winners of seven straight games at the end of February and into early March, and the Lakers are closing in on the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks for the top spot in the Western Conference.

According to Bodog’s online sportsbook, the Lakers have league-best 3/1 odds of winning the NBA championship.

Though there are a number of worthwhile title candidates in San Antonio (5/1), Dallas (12/1) and even Boston (9/2) and Chicago (9/1), the only real test for the Lakers, in the eyes of oddsmakers, is Miami, also with 3/1 odds.

We’ve seen the Heat go through rough spells on a number of occasions already this year, but they consistently seem to find ways to iron out their problems. Is the rest of the league finally figuring out how to stop their three-headed monster?

Get all your NBA odds at Bodog.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

FA Cup Replay : Arsenal 5-0 Leyton Orient - see video coverage

Nicklas Bendtner fired a hat-trick as Arsenal brushed aside Leyton Orient to set up a FA Cup Quarter-Final tie with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

A Bendtner brace and Marouane Chamakh's first goal since November put the home side in control in the first half.

The Dane completed the second treble of his Arsenal career from the penalty spot on the hour. Then, 15 minutes from time, Gael Clichy fired home only his second goal in 255 games for the Club.

It was nothing more than we expected but, all the same, it was welcome catharsis after Sunday

See video coverage on the official website.