Bobby’s Bets

A Change at the Top..?
Which Premier League Manager Will Be The Next To Go..?

by Rob Shepherd.

The international break is often a dangerous time for under pressure managers.

It is a period when given the breathing space club chairman take a step back and decide on the fate of their manager, especially in November.

A bad run of results has seen Pellegrini come under pressure

A bad run of results has seen Pellegrini come under pressure

As it stands William Hill think that Harry Redknapp at QPR is the most vulnerable. It is interesting to note how Manuel Pellegrini’s odds have been slashed to be the next boss to go but its unlikely a decision on his future will be made until the end of the season.

Are we about to see a change of management in the top tier..? Here are the odds for the next Premier League manager to go;

5/2   Redknapp
3/1   Paul Lambert
8/1   Manuel Pellegrini
11/1  Gus Poyet
12/1  Sean Dyche
14/1  Steve Bruce
16/1  Brendan Rodgers

 

Ronaldo to Win Race for Record?
…But Messi is better value and snapping at his heels!

by Rob Shepherd.

Cristiano Ronaldo could well break Raul’s Record of 71 Champions League goals against Liverpool in the Bernebau on Tuesday night.

Ronaldo currently stands on 70 and is 1/3 with Unibet to surpass Raul before his great contemporary rival Lionel Messi does so. Messi stands on 69 and Barcelona don’t play until Wednesday night when they face Ajax in Amsterdam.

It’s still possible of course which makes Messi’s price of 23/10 with Unibet (3.30) still worth a look.

But given the form of Real Madrid – and indeed Ronaldo – against that of Liverpool the stage is set for Ronaldo to fill his foots and bag the brace he needs.

RonaldovLiverpool

Liverpool couldn’t handle Ronaldo at Anfield

So far this season Ronaldo has a scored a staggering 22 goals in 15 all competition games.

Madrid crushed Liverpool 3-0 at Anfield and are 2/9 with William Hill and to win and that may well shorten further ahead of kick off. Liverpool are 12/1 outsiders.

Real limbered up with 4-0 with in Granada on Saturday. Messi’s Barca though lost to Celta Viga 1-0 at home with pressure mounting on new boss Luis Enrique.

It makes Barca’s fav status at 2/7 look rather tight even if they did beat Ajax 3-1 at Nou Camp two weeks ago.

Ajax need a win to stay in contention of qualifying and home turf 9-1 for them to beat Barca looks a decent bet.

@robshepherd5

Manchester Derby Preview
PLUS: The Magnificent Seven – Classic Matches Over The Years

By Rob Shepherd.

Di Maria is good value at 9/1 to score first

Di Maria is good value at 9/1 to score first

This Sunday’s Manchester derby at the Etihad stadium will be the 166th competitive meeting between City and United, and so far The Reds have secured 69 victories while The Blues have 46 and there have been 50 draws.

City are in desperate need of a win to keep on the shoulders of Chelsea, while a win for United would put them to within one point of City, making Louis Van Gaal’s boast they can still challenge for the Premier League not sound so fanciful.

It would certainly enhance United’s chances of securing a top four place at the end of the season thus achieving LVG’s major objective; regaining Champions League status.

United are 3/1 to with Corals who favour a City win which is 5/6.

The draw is 11/4. On that front Bobby’s Bets likes the look of a 2-2 draw at 11/1.

First goalscorer? Given his form Sergio Aguero has to be worth a punt even at favourite price of 7/2. United’s Angel di Maria is an attractive 9/1.

In these big game clashes, its often a centre-back from a set-piece who breaks the deadlock, so Vincent Kompany at 28-1 is worth a couple of quid perhaps.

For further inspiration here is a trawl back at seven magnificent encounters between the Manchester rivals over the years.

1. Manchester United 4 Manchester City 1, August 1957
Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, David Pegg, Liam Whelan, Duncan Edwards and Tommy Taylor would all feature for United – five months later all of them perished in the Munich air disaster. Goals from Edwards, Taylor, Johnny Berry and Dennis Viollet maintained United’s perfect start to the season in what was the last Manchester derby before the tragedy in Germany.

2. Manchester City 3-3 Manchester United, November 1971
Sheikh Mansour’s deep pockets have led to a return to the days of the early 70’s when the blues and the reds met as equals. United were top and City third when the latter came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down in front of over 63,000 and even won bragging rights at the end of the season, finishing four points ahead of the Old Trafford side (highlights below).

3. Manchester United 0-1 Manchester City, April 1974
If the 5-1 derby victory 15 years later was City’s zenith – until 2011, anyway – then this was United’s nadir. This result, after an ill-tempered affair, led to them to being ingloriously relegated at Old Trafford and their doom was confirmed when Denis Law – the former darling of the Stretford End – famously back-heeled them into the second tier. Law, utterly heartbroken at what he had done, was substituted immediately after and never kicked a ball in league football again.

4. Manchester City 5-1 Manchester United, September 1989
This was the first time in three years the great foes had met, and newly promoted City’s fans were at boiling point. After an enforced break due to crowd trouble the hosts ran riot, with David Oldfield scoring a brace and further goals from Trevor Morley and Ian Bishop, and City fan Andy Hinchcliffe capping a day still spoken of in hushed tones with a lovely fifth (goals are in below link). Sir Alex Ferguson used the pain of this defeat to best their nearest rivals for the next decade and more. The Maine Road Massacre, as it came to be known, would be the last time in 13 years City managed to win against United (their next was in 2002 when Nicolas Anelka and a Shaun Goater double won the game 3-1). Later that season Fergie won his first trophy.

5. Manchester United 5-0 Manchester City, November 1994
In the 1990s City failed to chalk up a single win against United, and this thrashing perfectly illustrated the gulf in class between the pair. Andrei Kanchelskis and the magnificent Eric Cantona starred on this occasion, with the Frenchman opening the scoring and the Ukrainian winger delivering the coup de grâce by scoring a hat-trick, which he completed in the final minute. Mark Hughes, who would go on to manage City eight years later, also found the target.

 

"Sorry pal, are you OK..?"

“Sorry pal, are you OK..?”

6. Manchester United 1 Manchester City 1, April 2001
This game is remembered not for the goals but for the culmination of a long-standing feud between Roy Keane and Alf-Inge Haaland. It started in 1998 when the United captain suffered a cruciate ligament injury when chasing a through ball against Leeds, who the Norwegian Haaland was with at the time. Three years later Keane made an x-rated knee-high tackle on Haaland that would have made Graeme Souness blush. He was sent-off and later admitted in his autobiography that it was a premeditated attempt to injure. He eventually received a £150,000 fine and a five-match ban as punishment.

7. Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United, 2004
It was almost 1989 relived again as United were convincingly humbled once more. A struggling City side somehow lifted themselves to rout the old enemy. United were not at their best but City had Jon Macken, veterans Trevor Sinclair and Robbie Fowler and the erratic Shaun Wright-Phillips – all of whom found the net – meaning this is still one of the most unlikely derby results on record.

@robshepherd5

United v Chelsea Preview
PLUS: When Dixon ended Big Ron’s title hopes & Violett the hat-trick hero

by Karl Hofer.

For a club that has utterly dominated the domestic game in recent times, United’s home league record against Chelsea is not particularly impressive. In the modern Premier League era United have won eight, drawn eight and lost six against the Blues.

It’s fairly common knowledge that Chelsea have the best record of any other team in the Premier League against United, but this is seen as something of a modern phenomenon. It is not.

If you look at the results between the two clubs at Old Trafford, stretching back to the 1966-67 season, a quarter of a century before the Premier League era began, you’ll see something quite extraordinary;

United wins: one. Draws: eight. Chelsea wins: eight.

Kerry-Dixon-1

Dixon netted a brace to end United’s title hopes

Perhaps the most painful of those eight defeats for United – and bear in mind one of those was a 4-0 humping as the newly crowned European Champions in 1968 – was Chelsea’s 2-1 win in April of 1986. Despite Everton and Liverpool breaking away from the chasing pack, both clubs were still grimly hanging on in the title race but neither side were in any kind of form going into this meeting. Chelsea were squandering away the games they had in hand on the leaders, having just been slapped 4-0 at home by fellow contenders West Ham and (even more disastrously) 6-0 away to neighbours QPR.

United meanwhile were starting to resemble that depressed drunk guy at the end of a night out, now rambling to themselves in the corner with bottle in hand having initially arrived as the life and soul of the party. Having seen a 10 point lead at Christmas dissolve into nothing, Ron Atkinson’s side knew their long wait for the title would continue for sure unless they won this one. This was make or break for both clubs.

After a goalless first half, Kerry Dixon beat the offside trap to score his first goal for four months. United then equalised through a Jesper Olsen penalty, big Doug Rougvie doing what he did best; this time sending Hughes crashing to the floor in the area. But Dixon had the final say in the dying moments to knock United out of the title race and send the many thousands of travelling fans into delirium and the home fans into despair. The future looked bright momentarily for John Neal’s team but Chelsea would subsequently win only one of their last seven games to finish in sixth spot.

United’s poor form continued through the beginning of the following season, and with the club languishing at the foot of the table in November manager Ron Atkinson was dismissed – with Alex Ferguson and his assistant Archie Knox taking over that same day.

Without question the greatest match between the sides was an 11 goal thriller at Stamford Bridge back in October 1954. Ted Drake had taken over Chelsea in 1952 and had been busy trying to rid them of their image, one that saw them as the butt of many a comedian’s jokes in the music-halls up and down the land. Out went the nickname ‘The Pensioners’, replaced with the more respectable ‘Blues’. Also dispatched was the affable septuagenarian on the clubs crest. This was a new Chelsea, one that Drake was instilling with a winning mentality.

To that end Drake drafted in solid defenders Peter Sillett and future England boss Ron Greenwood, plus striker Roy Bentley. As a consequence the team established itself in the top flight and were no longer involved in relegation battles, but nobody expected more than a safe mid-table position when the 1954-55 season came round.

The favourites for the title were reigning champions Wolverhampton Wanderers and Matt Busby’s upcoming Manchester United side.

DennisViolett

Dennis Violett was a hat-trick hero

The game on October 16th was a glowing confirmation of the emergence of the attacking prowess of the ‘Busby’s Babes’. The visitors went 1-0 up with Dennis Viollet opening the scoring but a pair of unknown amateurs making their debuts returned fire as Seamus O’Connell equalized before the Thermos-flask seller Jim Lewis put the home side 2-1 up. Tommy Taylor and then Viollet put United back in front 2-3, a lead they held at half-time.

The same pair in the same order, Taylor and then Viollet (completing his hat-trick) seemed to have put Matt Busby’s side out of sight at 2-5 but then Ken Armstrong pulled one back for Chelsea. Jackie Blanchflower looked to have sealed the points when he made it 3-6, but cattle-farmer O’Connell then scored twice to record a famous debut hat-trick and set up a grandstand finish, but United’s shaky defence clung on for an extraordinary 5-6 triumph.

Chelsea lost their next two games – completing a run of six games without a win – to end October in 12th place, Wolves having taken over from United at the top. But then Drake’s Ducklings got their act together losing only four more games all season as they stormed up the table and, beating Wolves home and away, shocked the nation to win the title. Their last defeat of the season was at Old Trafford – but by then, the title, Chelsea’s first trophy in their 50 year history, had been won.

The Busby Babes would have to wait to make their mark on English football’s roll of honour.

The Odds

If you fancy a repeat of that scoreline then you’ll no doubt be delighted to hear that William Hill are offering a handsome 500-1 on it. Realistically the game is set to be a much tighter affair, United (15/8) will be keen to stifle Chelsea (7/5) early on, wary of the attacking threat they pose, before imposing their own game on the blues.

There will be a lot of mutual respect, both managers know each other extremely well having worked together previously at Barcelona and neither will want to concede an inch to the other – So Bobby’s Bets recommends a draw at 23/10. A 2-2 final scoreline is 14/1.

Diego Costa is sure to return to Chelsea’s starting line-up and is 7/2 to open the scoring. You can also get 7/1 on the in-form Eden Hazard to score first whilst Oscar and Fabregas are both 9/1.

If you think one of the home team will strike first then Robin van Persie is the favourite at  5/1 with Radamel Falcao. But we feel the best value in the goalscorer markets is with Angel Di Maria who is 9/1 to be the first scorer. If you fancy Juan Mata to do a ‘Frank Lampard’ then you can get 13/5 for the Spaniard as anytime goalscorer against his old club.

Bobby’s Bet of the Day: 8/1 for Chelsea to come from behind and win.

Odds courtesy of William Hill.

@KGHof

Goals Aplenty Between Baggies & The Red Devils
West Brom’s 3-5 Win Remembered

by Rob Shepherd.

You only have to go back to the final day of the season before last for a memorable West Brom and Manchester United encounter when they played out one of the most memorable matches between the two clubs down the years and one of the more remarkable on the Premier League era.

It was the occasion of Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game and United, already crowned champions, were strolling home 5-2 only for Albion to storm back and draw 5-5.

Older Baggies fans though will still suggest that the their best ever display against United came at Old Trafford in 1978.

Albion stunned United with a tour de force of cavalier football, Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis leading the charge with some devastating play, brimming with panache and pace, as Albion won 5-3.

The mastermind was manager Ron Atkinson who would go on to manage United the following season and of course Albion’s midfield driving force that day was a certain Bryan Robson, who would follow Big Ron to Old Trafford.

Have a look at this;

……………………

THE ODDS

West Bromich Albion v Manchester United, Monday October 20th, 8pm KO.

For those who believe lightening can strike twice then Betfair offer 400/1 for a 5-5 draw between Albion and United on Monday night. Corals offer a rather conservative 150/1 for a 5-3 Man Utd win.

PaddyPower have the draw at 3/1 and for the first scorer offer Van Persie and Falcao both at 4/1 with Di Maria at 13/2. The Baggies Berahino is well priced at 8/1 to open the scoring.

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: I will have a little flutter on United winning 3-1 at 14/1.

 

England v San Marino
PLUS: When Platt Ignored My Advice and Missed Out on Record!

by Rob Shepherd.

England v San Marino, Euro 2016 Qualifier, Thursday 9th October, KO 7.45pm

It seems ridiculous that San Marino – which is a mountain top “state” in North East Italy – is allowed to compete in qualifying groups for the Euros and World Cup without going through a pre-qualifying group along with other UEFA minnows like Faroe Islands or Gibraltar.

This week the issue will not be if England will win but by how many they will win by, because not only will San Marino’s part-timers double park the bus, their squad will have bus drivers in it!

No doubt though in the build up we will be reminded of the moment San Marino shook the world, albeit briefly, when David Gualitieri scored the fastest goal in World Cup history at 8.3 seconds by latching onto to Stuart Pearce’s poor pass-back to tuck the ball beyond David Seaman.

England went on to win 7-1 in Bologna with Ian Wright scoring four but it was not enough to lift England above Holland or Norway in the World Cup qualifying group and Graham Taylor’s side were eliminated from the 1994 finals.

San Marino’s first meeting with England was at Wembley in the February of that year which was won 6-0 by the hosts. It should have been seven…

David Platt had already hit four goals when England got a penalty, and with it Platt was poised to equal Malcolm MacDonald’s record of five goals in one match for England (against Cyprus in 1975, highlights below).

But it was saved by the diving Pierluigi Bendettini.

A strange personal twist; A few days earlier I had challenged Benettini to face five penalties from myself at a training session. I bagged three out of five.

On the eve of the game I told Platt which way the San Marino keeper, who yes was a bus driver and a postman, preferred to dive.

I never tire of telling Platty when I seem him that by ignoring my advice it cost him equaling SuperMacs record!

A sad poignant memory of that night; that match was attended by a very ill England legend, a certain Bobby Moore, who was working for Capital Radio. It would be Bobby’s last Wembley appearance. He passed away a few days later of bowel cancer.

bobbymoorefund.cancerresearchuk.org/

@robshepherd5

Selected Odds

Correct score: England win

4-0: 6/1, 5-0: 5/1, 6-0: 11/2, 7-0: 6/1

First Scorer:

Rooney 2/1, Welbeck 5/2, Sterling 9/2, Baines 10/1, Cahill 16/1

No Goalscorer: 100/1

To Score a Hat-trick:

Rooney 11/5, Welbeck 31/10, Sterling 17/2

(Odds courtesy of Ladbrokes)

 

 

Chelsea v Arsenal Preview
PLUS: Fantastic Four – Classic Encounters From The Past

Wenger Has Done Well to Reach the 18th, But Will Arsenal Miss The Cut Yet Again..?

by Karl Hofer.

Chelsea  v  Arsenal, Stamford Bridge, Sunday October 5th  2014 – Live on Sky Sports, kickoff: 2.05pm

As Autumn sets in and Arsene Wenger celebrates his 18th year at the helm of Arsenal we’re all set for the first real test of the Gunners mettle in terms of challenging for the title this season. Wenger’s team was still in the mix at the top of the table before totally unraveling in a six-nil hammering at Stamford Bridge back in March. The question now must be: how far have they come since then..?

Whilst Chelsea seem to have addressed the weak points of their game from last season by bringing in a serious goal-scoring threat in Diego Costa and a midfielder who can unlock doors in former Gooner Cesc Fabregas, questions remain over Arsenal’s soft centre in defence and midfield.

In the summer Arsenal brought in former Barca play-maker Alexis Sanchez at great expense to add to a pool of creative talent that includes Ozil, Wilshere and Cazorla to name but three.  They did add young defender Calum Chambers, also at great expense, but bid farewell to Barca-bound Thomas Vermaelen, thereby swapping experience for potential.

No doubt they are both fine players, but you can’t help think that perhaps a pursuit of a defensive midfielder – like Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira for example – might have been a far more prudent way to spend the transfer kitty at the Emirates.

Wenger

Wenger has been celebrating more milestones than trophies of late

Remember; that humbling defeat back in March wasn’t the first time that Arsenal were overwhelmed by one of the big boys, similar things happened at the Etihad and at Anfield, and Arsenal’s inability to stem the tide was in evidence again in match week one of the Champions League when they escaped Dortmund with a rather flattering two-nil defeat that could have been a lot worse.

Wenger’s insistence on sending his full-backs deep into opposition territory with gay abandon, regardless of who they are playing and where they are playing, has bit him on his derrière too many times now. His persistence in doing so is not a case of him sticking to his footballing principles, it is downright pigheadedness and it is costing the team dearly.

Arsenals’ only recognised defensive midfielder is Mathieu Flamini who was brought back into the fold after being released on a free transfer by AC Milan and was recently caught napping in the North London derby for Tottenham’s opening goal.

He may not be the greatest protector of a back-four, but he’s essentially all Arsenal have for that role. That was proved beyond a shadow of doubt when Wenger chose to start Arteta instead of him last time out against Chelsea. Flamini was, somewhat inexplicably, keeping the bench warm whilst Nemanja Matic and David Luiz (in an all too rare outing in midfield) totally dominated proceedings. Chelsea’s midfield effectively tore Arsenal a new one in Wenger’s 1,000 game in charge, winning the game in the first 17 minutes as the Blues roared into a 3-0 lead with Matic in particular looking imperious.

It will be interesting to see how Wenger approaches the game on the back of that heavy defeat. Flamini must surely be in the starting line up this time but he cannot protect Arsenal’s defence all on his own, it will need to be a collective effort if they are to stand a chance of taking anything from the game.

It is well documented that Wenger has yet to taste success against Mourinho in any of their past encounters and it’s hard to see that changing this weekend as his side still look ill equipped to handle the more physical teams and Chelsea in particular.

Mourinho’s signing of Matic looks more and more like the soundest bit of business of the last 12 months. He is exactly the player Arsenal and United so desperately need, yet they both went for big name attackers like Sanchez and Di Maria instead – and whilst they have probably sold thousands more shirts as a result it is Mourinho and Chelsea who look best placed to cash-in in the hunt for silverware.

It’s not as if Wenger doesn’t know the value of having a powerful midfielder in his ranks, the first half of his Arsenal career was notable for the midfield presence of Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit –  both key components of ‘The Invincibles’. Surely it’s no coincidence that the first 9 years of Wenger’s time at Arsenal brought unheralded success, whilst the last 9 years have yielded only a solitary FA Cup triumph.

Will it signal the autumn of Wenger’s tenure at the Emirates if Arsenal fail to be competitive in yet another key fixture..? Perhaps, certainly an increasing number of supporters are voicing their discontent with his seemingly stubborn ways and another one-sided defeat will add fuel to those flames.

Wenger can go a long way towards appeasing those doubters if he can demonstrate an ability to learn from past mistakes and put together a game plan that brings Arsenal something from this derby.

One piece of good news for Wenger is that Chelsea’s perennial tormentor of all things Arsenal, Didier Drogba, will miss out through injury. However, in Diego Costa the Blues have a striker who is capable of giving Arsenal’s defenders a whole new set of nightmares with the kind of physical play that’s been their undoing in the past.

Selected Odds

CHELSEA  4/6   DRAW   14/5   ARSENAL   4/1

First Goalscorer: Costa 10/3, Hazard 6/1, Fabregas 7/1, Welbeck 15/2, Sanchez 8/1

Correct Score: Che 1-0 Ars: 13/2, Che 6-0 Ars: 150/1, Che 1-1 Ars: 7/1, Che 1-2 Ars: 14/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Reverse Wincast – Welbeck to score anytime & Chelsea to win at 11/1

odds courtesy of William Hill.

 

FANTASTIC FOUR – CLASSIC CHELSEA v ARSENAL PAST ENCOUNTERS

Arsenal 2-4 Chelsea – March 1964

There was turmoil at The Bridge when Tommy Docherty took charge of Chelsea after Ted Drake was dismissed following a series of mid-table finishes and a woeful start to the 61-62 campaign, but he was unable to turn things around and at the end of the season Chelsea were relegated. But they bounced straight back with a side built around Peter Bonetti, Ron Harris, Terry Venables, and their young captain Bobby Tambling.

Their first season back with the big guns was magnificent for such a young team – the standout result being a 4-2 win at Highbury.

The Arsenal team was built around the attacking talents of George Eastham, Joe Baker and George Armstrong, and they still held faint hopes of maintaining a title challenge. But they were found wanting as Bobby Tambling scored all four Chelsea goals on a mudbath, capitalising on three mistakes by Ian Ure, the other a delightful lob.

Chelsea finished in fifth, three places ahead of Arsenal. Docherty’s side were anointed as one of the teams of the decade and went on to capture the League Cup a year later. Arsenal on the other hand descended into a dark period under Billy Wright, not only losing their way but also their white sleeves in the process.

Highbury1964

Bobby Tambling scored all four for Chelsea at a very muddy Highbury

 

Arsenal 5-2 Chelsea – April 1979

stapleton

Stapleton netted twice to help relegate the Blues

Both teams began the 70’s in fine style; Arsenal won the league and Cup Double in 1971, only to drift. Chelsea followed up their 1970 FA Cup win with the Cup Winners’ Cup a year later – and then decided to expand Stamford Bridge with a massive East Stand. Up went the stand, and down went Chelsea.

One of their stars of the 1960s Eddie McCreadie led Chelsea back up with a team built around Ray Wilkins. Boardroom unrest meant McCreadie was replaced by another star of the previous decade, Ken Shellito, before Danny Blanchflower was tasked with keeping the Blues in the top flight.

But in 1978-79, Chelsea won only five league games all season, the knockout blow being landed with a spectacular flourish by Arsenal. David O’Leary, Frank Stapleton (2), Alan Sunderland and David Price sent Chelsea down – with the west Londoners’ only relief coming from terrace favourites Clive Walker and Tommy Langley.

 

Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal – February 1991

KDixon

Dixon scored the winner

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal went unbeaten in their title triumph of 2003/04 of course. But that achievement could have been old news had Chelsea not beaten George Graham’s Gunners in February of 1991, 23 years earlier, which proved to be their only league defeat of the season as they clinched the title by seven points.

In a tight match, Chelsea seized control in the second half thanks to Graham Stuart’s header into an almost unguarded net after Winterburn’s mistake, and late on the Arsenal defence was in tatters as Kerry Dixon tapped in after being set up by Damien Matthew to send The Shed into raptures.

Alan Smith’s smart finish pulled one back, but it came so late the away fans could barely muster a cheer. Invincibility would have to wait…

 

Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal – October 1999

Nwankwo Kanu is a curious character, the embodiment of unfulfilled possibilities some would say. Despite his frustrating, languid style and unspectacular goal scoring record he is a cult figure to Arsenal fans everywhere – thanks largely to this game.

Chelsea seemed to have the game all sewn up shortly after half time when Dan Petrescu added to Tore Andre Flo’s 39th minute strike. But Arsenal’s lanky Nigerian striker had other ideas, scoring an exquisite 15 minute hat-trick. His first two goals were all about his control and delicate touch, but it’s his 90th-minute winner that will really live long in the memory.

It looked like the chance had gone after he’d chased down Albert Ferrer’s stray clearance, but dribbling past a stranded Ed de Goey, Kanu whipped the ball over an array of Chelsea defenders into the far top corner from an impossible angle, sending Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler into a fits, screeching the famous line: “Can you believe it?!”

KanuHT

@KGHof

Arsenal v Spurs Preview
PLUS: Three Classic North London Derby Matches Remembered

Arsenal  v  Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League, Saturday September 27th, 5.30pm

Pochettino faces a tactical test against Arsene Wenger.

Pochettino faces a tactical test against Arsene Wenger.

by Karl Hofer.

It may be early days, but Spurs are going to have to roll their sleeves up and halt a run of derby-day disappointments if they want to divert their season away from an inexorable slide.

Arsenal overcame their bitter rivals on both occasions in the league last season, winning 1-0 both times to condemn former managers Andre Villa-Boas and Tim Sherwood to a loss each in the most important match on their fixture list.

A win would catapult Spurs ahead of Wenger’s men, but ominously the last time they claimed the spoils at Arsenal was in 2010 when they came from behind to win 3-2, which was their first away-day victory in the North London derby in 17 years.

For his part Pochettino is playing down the importance of the game to the Lillywhites season, saying: “We are in a good way. When I arrived here, I knew the situation – I knew that maybe there would be some ups and downs at the start of a new period. It’s always different when you arrive at a new club with different players and you need time to get to know each other. I’m not worrying about the situation. I believe at the moment we need to have more points to reflect the table. It’s the beginning of the season, it’s not how we start it’s how we finish.”

That may be true, but if Spurs were able to upset the odds it could prove to be the catalyst to their season.

To do so they will surely have to draw Arsenal on to them and counter behind their advanced full-backs, the way Dortmund did so effectively in the Champions League last week, proving that last years flaws still remain for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.

But inviting players like former Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez and the inspired Jack Wilshere to attack you has its obvious dangers, and the Spurs defence will need to perform better than it has thus far if they are to have a sporting chance.

Pochettino won’t be too worried about the club’s recent record on derby day, he’ll be keen to make some history all of his own. However the Argentine will hope his charges have learnt valuable lessons from what must have been a morale-sapping defeat to bottom of the table West Brom on Sunday, whilst confidence must be high with the Gunners after impressively sweeping aside what was a high-flying Aston Villa side 0-3.

 

SELECTED ODDS

ARSENAL:  3/4   DRAW:  27/10   TOTTENHAM:  10/3

Half-Time/Full-Time;

Draw/Arsenal: 7/2   Tottenham/Draw: 13/1   Arsenal/Draw: 13/1

Correct Score;

Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham: 7/1,  Arsenal 2-1 Tottenham: 7/1,  Arsenal 3-0 Tottenham: 14/1

Arsenal 0-0 Tottenham: 10/1, Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham: 13/2, Arsenal 2-2 Tottenham: 12/1

Arsenal 0-1 Tottenham: 14/1, Arsenal 1-2 Tottenham: 14/1, Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham: 35/1

First Goalscorer;

Sanchez  5/1,  Welbeck  5/1, Ramsey  6/1, Adebayor  13/2, Eriksen  10/1, Lamela  11/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Arsenal to come from behind to win: 8/1

(Odds courtesy of PaddyPower)

 

FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Few derbies deliver the goods like the North London derby has a tendency to do. Over the years we’ve had some classic, high-scoring affairs with breath-taking goals aplenty.

Here BOBBY has searched back through the archives to deliver you three of the best;

Tottenham 3-1 Arsenal, FA Cup Semi-Final, April 14th 1991

The first FA Cup semi-final played at Wembley is one never to be forgotten by Spurs fans. In a season fraught with poor league form on the pitch and financial difficulties off it, Tottenham managed to turn the form book on its head to record a famous victory in the derby.

Paul Gascoigne had single handily dragged Spurs through the competition with some virtuoso performances and it was fitting that he should open the scoring with a scintillating free-kick; the finest in the history of the FA Cup according to boss Terry Venables (you can see it below).

Tottenham had saved their best form for the FA Cup that year and this match against the eventual league champions was no different. A mixture of slack defending and poor goalkeeping led to Gary Lineker scoring Spurs’ other two goals either side of an Alan Smith header for the Gunners, as Spurs denied their rivals the double.

Spurs went on to lift the Cup, although Gascoigne’s second famous kick of the competition, at Forest’s Gary Charles, landed the England star on a stretcher and denied him the opportunity of climbing the Wembley steps.

 

Tottenham 1-2 Arsenal, League Cup semi-final replay, March 4th 1987

It took 270 minutes of League Cup semi-final football before, against the odds, Arsenal emerged triumphant in a season when Spurs – third in the league and beaten by Coventry in the FA Cup final – came quite close to winning everything but actually won nothing.

Tottenham won the first leg at Highbury 1-0 and looked Wembley bound when they led the second leg by the same scoreline at the half – when, as legend has it, ticket details for the final were announced to home fans. But two goals in 15 minutes from Viv Anderson and Niall Quinn brought the scores level on aggregate and, with extra time unable to separate the sides and no provision for a penalty shootout, the tie went to a replay three days later.

The venue for the third encounter was decided on a toss of a coin, and that was almost a draw, too: Spurs manager David Pleat said that when the coin fell to the ground it got stuck, almost upright, in the mud, but the referee adjudged it was leaning Spurs’ way so the decider would be at White Hart Lane.

Clive Allen put Spurs a goal up for the third successive game, but the game turned after the introduction of unlikely hero Ian Allinson for the adored but injured Charlie Nicholas. In the 82nd minute Allinson struck a shot that zipped through the legs of Richard Gough and past Ray Clemence to level things, and then in stoppage-time another Allinson shot deflected into the path of David Rocastle, who promptly swept Arsenal into the final to the jubilation of the away end. Uniquely, Arsenal beat Spurs three times at White Hart Lane that season.

Allinson’s gallant intervention was repaid in strange style by George Graham; he wasn’t in the squad for the victory over Liverpool in the final and in fact never started another game for Arsenal before being released at the end of the season.

rocastle_tottenham_1987

Rocastle sends Arsenal through to Wembley

Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham, Division One, 15th October 1963

 67,857 crammed into Highbury stadium for the derby in 1963, filling it to capacity – and they weren’t to be disappointed.

An incredible first half saw Jimmy Greaves open the scoring as Spurs stormed into a 4-2 lead at the interval with further goals from Bobby Smith (2) and Dave Mackay – George Eastham twice pulling the Gunners within two in response.

With only five minutes remaining Tottenham still held the two goal lead acquired in the first half but Arsenal pulled one back on 85 through Joe Baker and then equalised with a Geoff Strong header from a corner with only twenty seconds of injury time remaining. For the third time in five years the North London derby had ended 4-4.

In the end the point was sufficient to take Tottenham to the top of the First Division, but after that finish it was Arsenal who felt like the victors on the night.

Soccer - League Division One - Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - Highbury

Jimmy Greaves walks away after helping to tend to a fan who fainted before kick-off at the Arsenal v Tottenham match at Highbury in 1963.

 @KGHof

The Oil Firm Derby Preview
PLUS: Stunning Colin Bell Volley Earns Draw at The Bridge in 1970

gallery-colin-bell

Colin Bell

Manchester City v Chelsea, Premier League, Sunday 21st September, 4pm

Sunday’s clash between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad certainly feels like the Big Title Showdown Game of the campaign so far.

City, not quite the goal machine of last term, have got the job done for the most part so far. They are a team with an effortless grace about them which stems from the demeanour of manager Manuel Pelligrini.

Chelsea have evolved into a team Jose Mourinho now believes can go all the way. Last season’s mantra of steely concentration with the bite of cobras has made way for demolition with artistic licence.

Even if City have an owner even richer than Chelsea’s and consequently a bigger wage bill, Chelsea have spent prudently in this transfer window and have made a clear statement with their play that they won’t be blown out of water by anyone.

Money can’t buy success, eh? Oligarch Abramovich and Oil monarch Mansour have reshaped the football landscape with their billions.

It’s far from a two horse race yet… but these two clubs are now setting down a new power base.

Things can still go in cycles but the sheer sums of money would seem to protect these clubs from spiraling into decay rather like, well, Manchester City and Chelsea did by the end of the Seventies.

At the start of that decade the two clubs seemed poised to dominate for some time.

When Man City visited Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in October 1970, City were holders of the European Cup winner’s Cup and Chelsea had just won the FA Cup, both hugely glamorous trophies back then for two very glamorous teams.

That particular game ended 1-1 and was most notable for a stunning long range volley by Colin Bell that is a reminder that those boys knew a thing or two about technique back then too.

THE ODDS

Would this new more audacious Chelsea settle for a similar result..? Quite possibly.

Man City go into their clash with Chelsea as favourites with Coral at 7/5. The draw is 5/2 with a Chelsea win 15/8.

Despite the goalscoring talent on display a 0-0 at 11/1 would not surprise – City are 17/2 to win 1-0; Chelsea 10/1 to repeat the 0-1 scoreline from last season.

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: A draw this early in the season suits both teams, lump on at 5/2.

 Odds courtesy of William Hill.

Hodgson’s Plastic Generation
PLUS: Switzerland v England History & Odds

by Rob Shepherd.

Frank Lampard’s retirement from international football saw much debate about why England’s so called ‘golden generation’ ended up with the wooden spoon. Time and again.

Bad management by the ridiculous Sven Goran Eriksson in particular as well as out-of-his-depth Steve McClaren and antique collector Fabio Capello are obvious reasons.

Predecessor to that trio Kevin Keegan was pilloried, but I have a suspicion he would have got more out of the talented wave of players that emerged at the turn of the millennium.

Hoddle at the World Cup in 1998 (Shaun Botterill /Allsport).

Hoddle at the World Cup in 1998 (Shaun Botterill /Allsport).

I am convinced Glenn Hoddle would have, had he not been rushed out of office.

A few months ago I was in Hoddle’s company and we touched on what might have been post France 98.

He felt the future was bright given the players he had under his belt and those on the horizon and in general would have adopted a 3-5-2 system.

A team like this could then have emerged by 2002: David James, Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes, Ashley Cole, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen.

With a young and sharp Wayne Rooney to emerge and the likes of Gary Neville, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe around to bolster the above team then by 2004 or 2006 the so-called ‘golden generation’ could have lifted big silverware.

And the future now under an increasingly hapless Roy Hodgson? As it stands it would seem more like a Plastic Generation.

@robshepherd5

Switzerland v England – Selected Bets

Switzerland:  17/10  Draw:  19/10  England: 19/10

Double Result: Switzerland/Draw  14/1

Correct Score: Switzerland 1-0 England 11/2, Switzerland 1-2 England 11/1

First Goalscorer: Sturridge 5/1, Rooney 11/2, Drmic 13/2, Sterling 8/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY: Raheem Sterling To Score & England To Win: 5/1

Odds courtesy of William Hill.

If You Know Your History…

The nations first met back in 1933 when England ran riot 4-0 in a friendly in Berne, with Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin bagging two of the goals.

The Swiss struck back with friendly victories in Zurich in 1938 (2-1) and 1947 (1-0) but England hit back with a 6-0 hammering in 1948 at Highbury.

That was the first of a sequence of six consecutive victories for the Three Lions, including a 2-0 win over the hosts in the group stages of the 1954 World Cup.

Unquestionably the most remarkable of these wins was at St. Jakob Park, Basle in 1963, when Bobby Charlton netted a hat-trick in a huge 8-1 England win.

The sides later met in the qualification stages for the 1972 European Championships with England getting the points in Basle with a 3-2 win before the sides drew 1-1 at Wembley, as England qualified for the championships in Belgium ahead of Switzerland.

Goals from Kevin Keegan and Mick Channon gave England a narrow 2-1 win in 1975 in another friendly in Basle.

England’s 34 year unbeaten run against the Swiss came to an abrupt end in 1981 as Switzerland prevailed 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Basle, although in the end it was not enough for them to join England in qualifying for the finals in Spain.

A 1995 friendly was notable as Terry Venables’ England side beat Roy Hodgson’s Swiss side 3-1 at Wembley.

Rooney is congratulated by Beckham and Lampard at Euro 2004

Rooney is congratulated by Beckham and Lampard at Euro 2004

Fast forward a year and the teams locked horns in a competitive fixture as Wembley hosted the opening match of Euro ’96. This time the Swiss claimed a well-earnt draw with Turkyilmaz converting a late penalty after Alan Shearer had opened the scoring for the home side.

Tottenham’s Ramon Vega scored for the hosts before Paul Merson equalised for England in a 1-1 friendly draw in Berne in 1998.

In the group stages at Euro 2004 England won convincingly 3-0 in Coimbra with a brace from Wayne Rooney and one from Steven Gerrard.

The very first game of Fabio Capello’s reign as England manager was against the Swiss in February 2008, and the Italian got off to a winning start with a 2-1 triumph with goals from Jermaine Jenas and Shaun Wright-Phillips at Wembley.

The 1981 match in Basle remains Switzerland’s last win over England.

England also played in Basle twice in the 1954 World Cup, drawing a group game 4-4 with Belgium and losing in the quarter-finals 4-2 to Uruguay.