Bobby’s Bets

Ribery to Break the Messi Monopoly…?
The betting for the 2013 Ballon d’Or

by Rob Shepherd.

The nominations for FIFA’s Ballon d O’r have been made and the shock early favourite is Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery.

Ribery may not have the glitz or the glamour of Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo, but the French man’s contribution to a brilliant Bayern team that won the Champions League – as well as the domestic double – has not been underestimated.

franck-ribery

Ribery embodies the team ethic at Bayern

It should also be remembered that the award is not entirely down to who the best player on the planet (or at least in European club football) is in terms of ability, but which player has made the biggest contribution to one of the best teams.

Mind you for the past four seasons Messi has won the award on whatever criterion you wish to use or whatever solar system he has been playing.

That said Cristiano Ronaldo, who won in 2008 but has narrowly missed out ever since, now believes there is a conspiracy against him from FIFA explaining why he has not been regarded as Numero Uno on Planet Football.

His case was strengthened when the ever strange and sometimes sinister FIFA president Sepp Blatter not only said he liked Messi better but then did a weird ‘mickey-take’ out of Ronaldo when speaking at the Oxford Union at the end of October.

Gareth Bale, Robin van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic despite being brilliant individuals are all considered to be rank outsiders.

79Keegan

Kevin Keegan receives the Ballon d’Or from France Football Editor-in-Chief Jacques Thibert, in May 1979.

There is not one English player in the long 23 man list.

The first winner of the award in 1956 though was English.

Stanley Matthews won the inaugural prize after the Ballon d’ Or was dreamt up by the French football magazine France Football.

Since then there have only been five more British winners.

Scot Denis Law in 1964, Bobby Charlton in 1966, Belfast’s George Best in 1968, (all when with Manchester United although Charlton’s was as much to do with his display at 1966 World Cup) Kevin Keegan in 1978 and 1979 while with SV Hamburg in Germany and Michael Owen for his Liverpool and England displays in 2001.

The only winner from the Premier League was Cristiano Ronaldo when at Manchester United in 2008.

Originally the award, which commonly used to be known as the European Player of the Year award, was just for Europeans.

That is the reason Diego Maradona never won it when at the height of his club career with Napoli.

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Ronaldo (the original one) was the first Brazilian to win the Balloon d O’r

After it was thrown “open” Liberian striker George Weah won it 1995 when with AC Milan and in 1997 the old Ronaldo was the first Brazilian to win when at Barcelona.

The award is voted for by a group of elite football writers and will be announced in January.

It appears there is groundswell to salute Bayern Munich in the form of French international Ribery. Indeed there are five other Bayern players nominated; Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

So the “Bayern” vote could be split, but there is a feeling there could be a lobby to single out Ribery, who embodies the German clubs’s ethos underpinning his individual ability with a fierce work ethic.

Then again Messi’s immense importance to Barca was displayed last season when they were without him, not least in the Champions League semi final defeat to Bayern.

Courtesy of Betway here are the odds for the winner of the Ballon D’Or 2013:

Franck Ribery                  9/10
Lionel Messi                      7/4
Cristiano Ronaldo             8/1
Zlatan Ibrahimovic            28/1
Arjen Robben                  40/1
Neymar                           40/1
Bastian Schweinsteiger    50/1
Andres Iniesta                  50/1
Thomas Muller                 50/1
Radamel Falcao               50/1
Robert Lewandowski        50/1
Gareth Bale                     50/1
Robin van Persie              66/1
Philipp Lahm                    66/1
Mesut Ozil                       80/1
Manuel Neuer                  80/1
Xavi Hernandez                80/1
Luis Suarez                     100/1
Edinson Cavani                100/1
Thiago Silva                     100/1
Yaya Toure                      125/1
Andrea Pirlo                    125/1
Eden Hazard                    200/1

Enter The Dragon! South Wales Derby Hits The Top Flight for the 1st Time

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Welsh legend John Toshack has connections to both Cardiff and Swansea City

by Rob Shepherd.

Cardiff v Swansea

So after 125 years of professional league football, Cardiff and Swansea finally meet in the top flight.

It might not have the kudos of El Classico but the South Wales Derby often features action akin to Bruce Lee movie …on and off the pitch.

The first meeting was back in 1912 and ended a 1-1 draw. Since then there have been many clashes in the lower divisions and in the Welsh Cup.

Down the years both clubs have obviously supplied many Welsh Internationals, two of the most famous being Cardiff’s John Toshack and Swansea’s Ivor Allchurch.

Tosh who made his fame as a player at Liverpool went on to manage The Swans when they tasted top flight football for the first time in the early eighties.

Allchurch became know as the Golden Boy of Welsh football in the Fifties and was a star at the 1958 World Cup finals.

Battle

At the height of hooliganism in the Eighties when the club’s met there were outrageous incidents off the pitch. A nadir was reached in 1993 when both sets of fans clashed at Cardiff’s old Ninian Park.

After the “Battle of Cardiff” away fans were banned for several years.

swansea_cardiff

Swansea and Cardiff fans do battle

Despite that, Swansea’s Leon Britton likes it when the two teams meet.

“It’s a very different game, it’s like a cup final. It’s not like a league game. Sometimes it’s crazy,” said Swans midfielder Britton, who was sent-off during a 2-2 draw in 2008.

“It can be hard to control the game as it is so fast and furious at times and you get sendings off from time to time.

“But they are great occasions to be involved in with great atmospheres.”

Mike Dean, who was hit by a coin when the two teams met four years ago, has been appointed as the referee.

The two teams both drew their last Premier League games. Those results left the Bluebirds 16th in the table, but only two points below the Swans who lie ninth.

THE ODDS

CARDIFF CITY  v  SWANSEA CITY  – Sunday November 3rd – 4pm KO

CARDIFF:   11/5   DRAW:   23/10   SWANSEA:   6/5

Peter+Odemwingie+Cardiff+City

Peter Odemwingie is good value to open the scoring at 8/1

Correct Score

Cardiff 0-2 Swansea:   17/2

Cardiff 1-1 Swansea:   9/2

Cardiff 2-1 Swansea:   17/2

First Goalscorer

Michu:   5/1

Wilfried Bony:   6/1

Alvaro Vazquez:   7/1

Frazier Campbell:   15/2

Peter Odemwingie:   8/1

Craig Bellamy:   9/1

 

For this one BOBBY is backing a 2-2 draw and two red cards.

Odds courtesy of BetWay.com

 

Foot-Note

Why can Welsh teams play in England..?

Every Welsh club in the English league (Swansea, Cardiff, Wrexham, Newport, Merthyr, Bae Colwyn) was formed at a time when there wasn’t a Welsh league, or indeed UEFA or FIFA .

The League of Wales was only formed in 1992, a long time after these clubs were formed. So these clubs have always been in the English league.

It was their choice whether or not they wanted to join the League of Wales. They decided to stay in the English league because they thought they could do better there (the League of Wales is mostly amateur and Cardiff and Swansea have a proud history of winning FA Cups and playing in the top division).

 

Gunners Get The Blues Wenger and Mourinho Look to Gain the Upper Hand

Morrow

Steve Morrow scored Arsenal’s winner in 1993. In this pic Tony Adams is just moments away from breaking his arm…

by Rob Shepherd.

There was a time when Arsene Wenger used the League Cup sponsored by Capital One as a test lab for his young players.

But no longer.

Without any silverware since 2005 Wenger has increasingly taken the competition more seriously.

But The Gunners have lost the two finals they have reached since, in 2011 to Birmingham and 2007, yes to Chelsea.

That was the season when Mourinho left and Avram Grant ‘took over’ as manager – although most of the time it seemed the senior players ran the show, like Didier Drogba who terrorised the Gunners and scored the winner in that final.

This clash between Arsenal and Chelsea at The Emirates is the plum tie of the Capital One Cup Fourth Round.

One suspects the winners of this game can win the cup. Both are priced at 7-1 so now is the time to get on one or the other.

Wenger has indicated he will play a strong side. Chelsea may well rest John Terry and Frank Lampard. But with David Luiz and Juan Mata to come in it could be some game.

GrahamChelsea

George Graham won the League Cup as a manager with Arsenal and as a player with Chelsea

And Chelsea have a stronger heritage in the League Cup than the Gunners. The Blues have won it four times, only Manchester United and Aston Villa have won it more.

Arsenal have only won it twice, in ’87 and ’93 back in the George Graham era.

Interestingly Graham played for the Chelsea side that won the trophy for the first time in 1965 when they beat Leicester over two legs.

Bobby Tabling and Terry Venables scored for the Blues at the Bridge. But both times the goals were equalised until Eddie McCreadie went on a late dribble and beat Leicester’s keeper….Gordon Banks.

The second leg was a goal-less draw. The Chelsea manager ? Tommy Docherty.

Below are the highlights of Gianluca Vialli’s first game in charge of Chelsea, which was against Arsenal in the semi-final of the League Cup in 1998 – Watch out for a thunderbolt from Robbie Di Matteo.

 

Capital Stuff – Edinburgh Showpiece is now Scotland’s Biggest Derby Game

by Karl Hofer.

HIBERNIAN v HEART of MIDLOTHIAN, Scottish League Cup

Wednesday 30th October – Live on BBC Scotland, KO 7pm

With the Auld Firm game currently on hold until the new version of Rangers return to Scotland’s summit, Scotland’s biggest local derby is now the one from the nations capital – and the two rivals will meet again on Wednesday night in the League Cup.

Hearts currently hold the bragging rights after winning the first derby of the season 1-0 back in August with Callum Patersen’s header proving decisive in front of a crowd of over 16,000.

How times have changed. A few generations ago Hibs and Hearts would challenge for the league title on a regular basis and matches between the pair would attract crowds of equal or greater measure than the Auld Firm.

Indeed the largest attendance for the fixture was 65,860 on January 2nd 1950 – this is still the largest attendance for any fixture played outside of Glasgow.

These days nether side is sadly in a position to step into the hole created by the dissolution of Rangers. Hibs are stuck in mid-table mediocrity currently rebuilding with limited resources under Pat Fenlon, whilst across the way Hearts are facing an uphill season long battle against relegation having been docked 15 points for entering administration before a ball was kicked in anger.

robbo3

John Robertson netted 22 times in Edinburgh derbies

So perhaps it is fitting that the derby spotlight should fall on these two giants of the Scottish game now, because now more than ever they really need it.

Over the years the record scorer in Edinburgh derbies has been John Robertson, better known to Hearts supporters as ‘the hammer of Hibs’ for his prolific record in this match. ‘Robbo’ notched up 22 strikes against Hibs during his 12 years at Tynecastle, whilst Hibernian’s Gordon Smith rattled in 15 times to be top scorer for the green half of Edinburgh in derbies.

Classic games between the two have  been commonplace since they first met in the 19th century, below we’ve picked out two of the more remarkable Edinburgh derbies in living memory.

Hearts 0-7 Hibernian (January 1st 1973)

There are certainly better ways to begin a New Year then seeing your beloved team slapped at home by your biggest rivals. Conversely, the best possible start to the year for Hibs’ supporters was a record derby defeat inflicted on Hearts at Tynecastle. The goal-scoring heroes of this still-celebrated encounter were Jimmy O’Rourke, Alan Gordon, Arthur Duncan – twice – and Alex Cropley who afforded Hibernian a 5-0 lead by half-time. To make it even sweeter (if that’s possible) Eddie Turnbull’s Hibs side went to the top of the league after the rout.

The Scotsman’s match report read: “Only three excellent saves by goalkeeper Kenny Garland from Pat Stanton, Alan Gordon and Jimmy O’Rourke prevented this first match of the year from being a double-figure tale of woe.”

Hibernian 0-3 Hearts (September 15th 1990)

The Edinburgh derby is always a feisty occasion, this one probably tops the list though. This was the first derby after the highly controversial bid by the then Hearts chairman, Wallace Mercer, to take over Hibs in order to merge the rival entities into one. Mercer required a security guards at his home and did not attend the game on safety advice.

With tensions so high at Easter Road it was perhaps inevitable that bad sentiment spilled over, and after Hearts raced into a 3-0 lead before half-time the players were removed from the field for eight minutes after a pitch invasion and sporadic outbreaks of crowd trouble. Incredibly during the interval, police went into the Hearts dressing room to warn of the potential for further disorder should the lead be extended!

There was no more scoring, but more than 50 arrests and 17 fans taken to hospital with injuries.

Classic

Below is classic archive footage of a 2-2 draw at Tynecastle from September 1959.

The match features Jimmy Murray scoring an equaliser for Hearts after Joe Baker had put Hibs ahead. Ex-Hibs legend Gordon Smith is playing for Hearts in a team that would ultimately be crowned Champions, the last time a side from the capital would fly the Championship flag.

THE ODDS

HIBERNIAN:   4/5   DRAW:   23/10   HEART of MIDLOTHIAN:   11/4

JamesCollins

Hibernian’s James Collins is 9/2 to open the scoring

First Goalscorer:

R0wan Vine (Hibs) –  9/2

James Collins (Hibs) –   9/2

Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) –  15/2

Callum Patersen (Hearts) –  15/2

Liam Craig  (Hibs) – 6/1

Gary Oliver (Hearts) –  9/1

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY – Ryan Stevenson to score anytime & Hearts to win: 5/1

 

Odds courtesy of William Hill

 

 

European Bale Out? Will Gareth Get His Chance To Shine? + Remembering ‘ArchieGoals’

By Rob Shepherd.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REAL MADRID-MALAGA

Bale’s Madrid career has been a stop-start affair so far…

Gareth Bale is desperate to start his first El Classico when Real Madrid take on Barcelona in the Nou Camp Saturday evening.

But manager Carlo Ancelloti has yet to decide whether it is more prudent to keep Bale on the bench given the player has started just one match since his £86 million summer move from Tottenham.

After scoring on his debut in the opening day win over Villarreal, Bale has been dogged by niggling injuries but did get 27 minutes in Real’s 2-1 win over Juventus in the week.

Bale admits: “I am not too sure, I have had a few minutes this week and I have had a good week’s training as well so I think I am fit enough and it is up to the manager now whether I play from the start or am on the bench.”

The Welshman is understandably desperate to be involved and lay down some sort of marker.

Bale has already started to hear voices of doubt about the wisdom of his mega-money move from Spurs given how well Real “reject” Mesut Ozil has been playing for Arsenal.

Despite the bigger picture for these clubs – winning La Liga and The Champions League – El Classico still counts for so much, especially when it comes a new star signing winning hearts and minds.

In that respect just how Bale compares to Barca’s big summer signing Neymar will be a massive focus of attention in Spain on Saturday afternoon.

archibald1

Gareth Bale could do with taking a leaf out of Archibald’s book

It won’t look good on Bales if he sits it out.

Take the case of Scottish international Steve Archibald; Scoring on his El Classico debut was massive for Archibald back in September 1984. Archibald was Terry Venables first signing as manager of Barca back then.

To compound the shock to the Catalans of signing a relatively unknown Scot from Spurs for £1.5 million, it was on the back of Diego Maradona being sold to Napoli.

As if that was not enough pressure on Archibald he also donned Maradona’s number 10 shirt.

It seemed to many like madness yet in his first El Classico he scored a goal in a 3-0 Barca win in Madrid.

It didn’t matter that it was a tap in – all the scepticism about Archie disappeared. The fans named him “Archigoals” and he would help Barca go on and win the title that season.

Coming soon in BOBBYArchibald: The Barca Years.

THE ODDS

BARCELONA:  4/5    DRAW:   11/4   REAL MADRID:  3/1

Correct Score, Barcelona Win:

1-0:  17/2  2-0:  9/1   2-1: 7/1  3-0:  14/1  3-1:  11/1

Correct Score, Real Madrid Win

1-0:  16/1  2-0:  25/1   2-1: 12/1  3-0:  60/1  3-1:  25/1

Correct Score, Draw:

0-0: 14/1  1-1:  7/1  2-2: 10/1  3-3: 30/1

 

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower

 

 

Do or Die for Ajax & The Bhoys

Celtic will be without the instrumental Kris Commons for the visit of Dutch masters Ajax. Commons injured his hamstring during the 1-1 draw at Hibernian on Saturday, and his loss is a blow for boss Neil Lennon.

Derk-Boerrigter-2114150

Winger Boerrigter recently signed for Celtic from Ajax but will miss out due to injury

Celtic are already without the services of skipper Scott Brown who is suspended after his dismissal against Barcelona. Adam Matthews (shoulder) and former Ajax man Derk Boerrigter (ankle) are also ruled out, while there are doubts over Mikael Lustig (hip) and Emilio Izaguirre (illness).

“We don’t think it’s a tear, but if it is a strain it’s a couple of weeks, so it’s definitely not looking good for Tuesday. Losing Kris is a huge blow. He has been fantastic for us this season” Lennon said.

“He’s at the top of his game and in great physical condition, so if he is out it will be a big loss.”

With neither side registering a victory in Group H yet this is very much a must-win game for both sides if either is to realistically challenge for a place in the first knockout round. Indeed both teams will be looking to take six points off the other over the next two rounds of matches and then hope to get a win against either Milan or Barca to take them to nine points – which may still not be enough.

In effect this is Celtic’s easiest game in a group of no easy games.

“We can’t lose it, put it that way,” said Lennon.

“We are four points worse off in the group than we were at this stage last season. We have a bit of work to do.”

Frank De Boer’s side come into this game also on the back of a 1-1 away draw, having taken a point at FC Twente in the Eredivisie on Saturday. Niklas Moisander sat out that encounter but is expected to be fit to face the Bhoys.

If You Know Your History…

Ajax won the clubs’ first encounter in the 1970/71 European Cup quarter-finals en route to lifting the trophy for the first time. Johan Cruyff, Barrie Hulshoff and Piet Keizer scored in a 3-0 first-leg win in Amsterdam, with Jimmy Johnstone’s solitary goal in the return not enough for Celtic.

But Celtic got revenge a decade later by dumping Ajax out of the first round of the same competition after two memorable games, with Celtic current first-team coach Danny McGrain playing in both matches.

The first leg had a frenetic start with four goals in the first half an hour, the Danish duo of Jesper Olsen and Soren Lerby on target for the visitors, scoring either side of a Charlie Nicholas penalty kick. Frank McGarvey equalised for the home side on 29 minutes but that turned out to be the final goal of the first leg.

Sept 15th 1982, Celtic Park   CELTIC 2-2 AJAX

Goals: Olsen (5) 0-1, Nicholas (14, Pen) 1-1, Lerby (19) 1-2, McGarvey (29) 2-2.

Att: 56,299

ajax8283hCELTIC:

Pat Bonner – Thomas McAdam, Danny McGrain, David Moyes, Mark Reid – Tommy Burns, Murdo MacLeod, Paul McStay – Frank McGarvey, Charlie Nicholas, David Provan
Manager: Billy McNeill

AJAX:

Hans Galjé – Peter Boeve, Keje Molenaar, Edo Ophof, Gerald Vanenburg – Johan Cruyff, Sören Lerby, Jan Mölby, Jesper Olsen, Dick Schoenaker – Leo van Veen
Coach: Aad de Mos

Celtic went on to win 1-2 in Amsterdam a fortnight later to progress 4-3 on aggregate with George McCluskey scoring a last minute winner moments after Cruyff had gone off to a rapturous ovation. Charlie Nicholas had given Celtic the lead with a glorious chip in the first half before Vanenburg equalised after 65 minutes.

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Celtic’s David Moyes gets stuck in on Jesper Olsen of Ajax

It was the stuff of fairytales for McCluskey, which  was topped-off afterwards as he recalls here; “I remember going into their dressing room after the game trying to swap my jersey but every one of them had their heads down. They all said no, and told me to get out, but as I was going out Cruyff was lying having a massage on the table.

“He shouted on me, took his top off and said he would swap with me because I scored a great goal. I didn’t want any of the other tops after that, I got the main man’s…”

All in all it was a memorable night for Scottish football as all four clubs in Europe progressed; Rangers defeated Borussia Dortmund, Dundee United knocked out PSV Eindhoven and Aberdeen went through against Dinamo Tirana – Those were the days…

THE ODDS

0SiemDeJong

De Jong is a danger-man

CELTIC:  6/4   DRAW:  11/5   AJAX:  15/8

Selected Bets;

Correct Score:

Celtic 2-2 Ajax:  14/1

Celtic 1-0: 15/2

Come From Behind & Win:  Celtic – 17/2  Ajax  10/1

First Scorer:

Samaras – 7/1   De Jong- 15/2

 

Odds courtesy of William Hill

 

Aston Villa v Tottenham Preview: Spurs Look to Bounce Back

by Rob Shepherd

Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur,  Sunday October 20th  4pm

AndrosTownsend

Townsend inspired England in their crucial qualifying games

Having propelled England to the World Cup finals Andros Townsend is now charged with the task of re-booting Tottenham’s title challenge.

After such a convincing start to the season post-Bale Tottenham saw their title odds tumble from the 25-1 you could have got in July. But a fortnight ago came a wake-up call when Spurs were humbled 3-0 by West Ham at White Hart Lane.

It’s how pace setters bounce back from such set backs which separates them from being contenders or also-rans.

An away trip to Aston Villa, whose form thus far has been volatile, is a litmus test to see if Tottenham have the mettle. If his two game-breaking displays for England against Montenegro and Poland are anything to go by then Townsend is likely to be the key figures in Sunday’s clash at Villa Park.

After three years spent as a nomad having played for NINE clubs on loan it remains to be seen whether 22 year old Townsend has the stamina to sustain the early impact he has made in this his first senior for Spurs.

But one thing he has proved is that and old fashioned style out-and-out winger who wants to run and take on full-backs at pace, send over crosses, or cut inside and shoot still has a place in the modern game.

Indeed despite the decline of old style number 7’s or 11’s whose main brief is to attack – often many modern wide men get bogged down and worn out by having to “tracking back” – teams that win titles still tend to have a winger.

75 Cliff JonesCertainly when older fans of Spurs and Villa look back longingly at the last time their teams won the league then it “woz wingers wot won it”.

In 1960-61 when Tottenham last won the title (sorry to remind Spurs fans again) they had a brilliant all round team playing a very old fashioned 2-3-5 system but it was so often the wingers, Cliff Jones on the right and Terry Dyson on the left, who opened games up for them.

Both men remain revered even by many Spurs fans who didn’t even see them play. Their names have been handed down from father to son.

After England’s “wingless wonders” won the World Cup in 1966 many team refrained from using two wingers, some none at all.

During the Seventies a “lop sided” 4-3-3 system evolved whereby, one of the wide men would be a winger, the other would “tuck inside” on the other flank.
Aston Villa perfected this style in 1980-1 – the year the Midlands club last won the seventh of their titles.

1980 Panini Football 80 Tony MorleyGordon Cowans, Des Bremner and Dennis Mortimer provided a solid midfield three which allowed Tony Morley to run foot loose and fancy free down the left.

It was the thrilling, intelligent Morley who set up so many goals for Gary Shaw and Peter Withe that season and he scored several himself.

While this season Villa have plenty of pace upfront they perhaps lack the extra dimension an out-and-out winger offers.

In Townsend, though, Spurs have a wide boy who can make Tottenham title contenders.

THE ODDS

Aston Villa:  11/4   Draw:  5/2   Tottenham:  Evens

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY – Correct Score 2-2: 12/1

Selected Other Bets:

Both Teams to Score –  Yes:  4/6   No:  11/10

To Come From Behind & Win –  Aston Villa:  16/1   Tottenham:  9/1

Correct Score –  1-1: 11/2    2-1:  10/1    1-2:  15/2

Scorecast – Benteke to score first and 2-2:   50/1

First Scorer;

Soldado:  5/1

Benteke:  6/1

Weimann:  9/1

Townsend:  10/1

 

Odds courtesy of PaddyPower

 

England in Pole Position – But They’ve Been Here Before…

A final World Cup qualifier at home to Poland has an especially gut wrenching feel to those of us of a certain generation.

Even if England have fared well over the Poles in decisive qualifiers over the last couple of decades, the events of October 17th 1973 still haunt…

Tomaszweski_2845199

Jan shows off the hands that defied England to photographers outside a Kensington hotel.

England needed to beat Poland at Wembley to secure World Cup qualification and having thrashed Austria 7-0 in a friendly a few weeks earlier it seemed a formality.

But despite battering Poland with 35 shots the game ended 1-1 and England were eliminated – bringing an end to the Alf Ramsey era.

As Barry Davies, who was the BBC’s commentator that night, recalls: “For England not to qualify it was unthinkable.”

While Norman Hunter, who had taken over from Bobby Moore in defence but would make a costly error, says: “I remember thinking going into the game we were never going to lose it.”

It was a game when Poland’s goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, who had been labelled a clown by Brian Clough, got the last laugh after producing a stunning (if occasionally fortuitous) display despite a hand injury.

This time it is a Polish centre forward, Robert Lewandowski, who could be England’s tormentor.

And while the current Poland side is not as strong as the class of ’73 (who would go to finish third at the 1974 finals) they a still pose a big threat. They were only narrowly beaten 1-0 by Ukraine in dogged game on Friday night.

And even though they can no longer qualify some of their players – under no pressure – will see the game as a shop window.

For those of those who can’t bear to be reminded about 1973 turn away now…

The all time record between England & Poland makes for more positive reading:

England have won 10, drawn 7 and lost only 1.

The Odds

England:  1/4   Draw:  4/1   Poland:  10/1

Selected Bets:

Correct Score: 1-1 is 10/1, England to win 3-1 is 11/1 and Poland to win 1-0 is 22/1.

Double Result: Draw/England is 16/5

Come From Behind & Win: England are 7/1

 

 

Monte’s Python a Danger as England Chase Holy Grail

england 1987

England’s lineup against Yugoslavia 26 years ago

By Rob Shepherd.

There is not much history between England and Montenegro. The country only gained independence from Serbia five years ago having previously been part of Yugoslavia.

That said in the three matches this small nation has played against England they remain unbeaten.

Montenegro held England to two draws in both matches of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. And last March it was another draw, 1-1 in Podgorica.

Wayne Rooney had given England an early lead but Roy Hodgson’s team fell away in the second half and Dejan Damjanovic equalised.

England will need to be wary of players of the quality of Man City’s Stevan Jovetic – who could well be Montenegro’s ‘python’ if you will – if they are to avoid slipping up.

A draw which would seriously damage England’s hopes of World Cup qualification is a distinct and disturbing possibility, although I fancy the stakes will inspire England and they can win comfortably 2 or even 3-0 ahead of next Tuesday’s final game against Poland.

And it would be wonderful if England repeated a display from a European Championship qualifier in 1987 against Montenegro’s parent nation; the former Yugoslavia.

England went to Belgrade needing a point in the final game to qualify for the finals.

yugoslavai+england+1987+photo+4

Lineker battles in Belgrade

No mean task given that England had never beaten Yugoslavia on home soil.
It didn’t help that England’s form had been erratic (no change there then) and the knives were out for manager Bobby Robson. No change there either with the pressure mounting on Hodgson…

Yet within the 24 minutes England had blown Yugoslavia apart having taken a four goal lead.

Peter Beardsley, who was brilliant that afternoon, scored after four minutes and was the catalyst of superbly fluid display. John Barnes also had a stormer netting the second and Skipper Bryan Robson added the third before a very young Tony Adams rounded things off with the fourth on 24 minutes (his first ever for his country). England didn’t even need Gary Lineker to score!

Yugoslavia pulled a late goal back but it still ranked as one of England’s best all time displays away from home. You can see the goals in the link below:

Despite impressing in qualification, England would flop miserably at the 1988 finals the following summer failing to make it out of their group.

The Odds

England Win:

1-0:  6/1

SturridgeEngland

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY:
Sturridge to score first at 4/1

2-0:  5/1

2-1:  8/1

3-0:  8/1

3-1:  12/1

3-2:  33/1

4-0:  16/1

4-1:  22/1

Draw:

0-0: 14/1

1-1:  17/2

2-2:  22/1

3-3:  100/1

Montenegro Win:

1-0: 22/1

2-0: 60/1

2-1: 28/1

3-0: 150/1

3-1: 100/1

3-2: 90/1

First Scorer:

Rooney:  7/2,  Sturridge:  4/1,  Lambert:  5/1,  Lampard: 13/2,  Gerrard:  8/1

Wilshere:  14/1,  Baines:  14/1

Odds courtesy of Coral

 

Spurs v West Ham Preview + Who Scored All Four for The Hammers in ’81 Romp at The Lane?

Hammers to Fall…?

by Rob Shepherd

Back in July, before the Gareth Bale saga neared its conclusion, most bookies were offering 25-1 for Tottenham to win the title.

The odds barely moved when all the new signings started to be made ahead of Bale’s £86 million departure.

BalevWestHam

Bale broke West Ham hearts with a late winner back in February

A stronger squad on paper perhaps, but could Spurs do without the Bale magic..? Statistical evidence from last season showed Bale’s equaling or winning goals were worth 24 points for Tottenham.

One of Bale’s “three pointer” strikes was a stunning long range last minute shot at Upton Park in the spring when Spurs won 3-2.

According to the stat men without Bale, Spurs – who finished fifth – would have finished tenth. That said if the contribution of the top goal scorers of their rivals were taken out of the equation then Spurs would have finished third.

But thus far, as Bale finds his feet at Real Madrid, Spurs have hit the ground running and are one of the pacesetters in the title race.

Carroll

Carroll is a big loss for West Ham

For the first time since the mid-eighties – when teams managed by Peter Shreeves then David Pleat went close – Spurs are in a position where they could make a real and sustained challenge for a prize that has eluded them since The Double season of 1961.

Their best finish since (third again) was under Terry Venables in 1989 but that Tottenham team was never part of that famous run in when Arsenal pipped Liverpool with the last kick.

Now with Manchester United and City stumbling Tottenham’s odds have been slashed.

And Spurs must expect to maintain their momentum with a win at The Lane against a West Ham side who have slumped towards the foot of the table.

Instead of moving on from their solid 10th placed finish last season the priority now for The Hammers is averting a relegation battle.

West Ham’s big problem is a lack of goals. The prolonged absence of injury prone Andy Carroll is painfully obvious.

When Carroll did play last season West Ham were a vastly superior team. If he wasn’t that prolific himself it was the chaos he caused in the opposition’s box and chances he set up for team mates.

And for those who don’t think a “Big Centre forward” like Carroll has ever been part of the West Ham way then they should look back to this clip of when David Cross – aka Psycho- tortured Tottenham at The Lane in 1981 when he scored FOUR times in a 4-0 win.

There’s a good chance the score line will be the other way around this time…

THE ODDS

Spurs: 4/9   Draw: 10/3   West Ham: 13/2

BOBBY’S BET OF THE DAY:  First Goalscorer – Sigurdsson: 11/2

Selected other bets:

Correct Score – Spurs 0-4 West Ham: 500/1

Correct Score – Spurs 4-0 West Ham: 17/1

Scorecast – Paulinho to score first & Spurs to win 3-0: 45/1

First goal to be an own goal: 22/1

Spurs to win title: 15/2

West Ham to go down: 11/2

Odds courtesy of Paddy Power