Friday, September 04, 2009

Viduka On The Verge of Signing for The Hammers

Mark Viduka is reportedly close to signing for London Premier League outfit West Ham. The big Australian is currently on a free transfer after his contract with Newcastle United expired at the end of last season. Even though the transfer window is closed until January as Viduka is on a free transfer he is allowed to sign for the Hammers.
The 33 year old forward held talks with Fulham and Portsmouth recently but both Fulham and Portsmouth managers believed Viduka no longer had the motivation to cut it in the Premier League.
West Ham have been playing England international Carlton Cole as a lone forward so far this season and require cover in case Cole is injured or suspended. It looks like West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola believes Viduka would provide that cover or could be used in partnership with Cole to add some experience and potency to the young West Ham attack.
A club statement from West Ham indicated they had been tracking a free agent:
“Gianluca Nani (technical director) and Gianfranco Zola (manager) are now discussing the possibility of an out of contract striker joining the club who has been tracked in the past month.”
The news will be welcomed by Australian coach Pim Verbeek as Scott McDonald has so far not warranted a walk up start for the lone forward role in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Socceroos Climb to Highest Ever FIFA Ranking

Australia has moved two positions higher into 14th in the FIFA world rankings, which is the Socceroos highest ever ranking. The 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland helped Australia leapfrog Denmark and Switzerland.
The next best ranked Asian team is Japan in 40th position followed by Australia's opponents on Saturday, Korea Republic, which occupy the 49th position.
FIFA World Ranking September 2009

1 Brazil
2 Spain
3 Netherlands
4 Italy
4 Germany
6 Russia
7 England
8 Argentina
9 Croatia
10 France
11 USA
12 Greece
13 Serbia
14 Australia
15 Switzerland
16 Denmark
17 Portugal
18 Czech Republic
19 Bulgaria
20 Côte d'Ivoire

Friday, August 28, 2009

Punting Python Vol II

Ok so week 1 of the Punting Python has come and gone and we are still alive and kicking. Sunderland were true to us, saluting at home to Blackburn and United predictably put Wigan to the sword after a tough week, so there was money to be made last week. Had Carlton Cole not put Jermaine Defoe through on goal with what will no doubt end up being the "own goal through ball" of the year (incidentally after scoring what will end up being one of the goals of the year), and Arsenal did not stick to their "defenders only" scoring policy, we may have had much more in the bank.
Alas, we are in week 2 of the Punting Python unscathed but with our pockets only half lined and there are some mouth watering ties on the weekend. Man Utd at home to Arsenal is the standout match of the week and from a punting perspective I would leave this game alone and enjoy the spectacle. So with that being the case, here are the bets.
  • Everton have finally put the Joleon Lescott saga to rest and despite what they have shown so far this year, they are a quality outfit. Just like Man Utd last week, they will take out their frustrations on a descent Wigan outfit that seem to be unluckily finding teams with a point to prove. My bet of the week is Everton to win with IAS at $1.75 .
  • Sunderland were good to us last week and we are going to stick with them again away to the Potters. Take them at the Asian handicap (+0.5) on IAS at around the $1.60 mark. If they can take 3 points away from the Reebok, they can certainly go to Stoke and get at least a point. Money in the bank. Multi them up to win with Everton, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool for some leveraged action!
  • For this week’s flyer of the week lets go for a bit of value (sorry about last week, Arshavin to score at $2 was hardly value). Tottenham have a bit of a swagger about them in the early part of the season, and despite us picking against them last week (oh why Carlton Cole!!!!!), we are heading to White Hart Lane for our value bet this week. Luka Modric has had a great start to the season, pulling the strings from midfield for Spurs in their wins thus far, and has been unlucky not to be on the scoresheet. Recently he has been linked with a move to Old Trafford and whether this proves true or not, he will be keen to get on the scoresheet and get his name in lights. Get on Modric for first goal at $9.00.
  • On a non soccer related note, I have a bet for you in the AFL this week. In the AFL High/Low double the bet of the round is Melbourne into Carlton at $40. Melbourne have already put the cue in the rack for the year and will run into a St Kilda outfit who have been the best defensive team of the year, and will be keen to avenge losing two in a row. Carlton and Adelaide will be a high scoring affair. When Adelaide played Essendon at Etihad Stadium earlier in the year 244 points were scored between them and I envisage a similar scoreline here, as Carlton adopt a similar gameplan to the attacking Bombers.

Happy punting!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Punting Python Vol I

Welcome to the Punting Pythons' column for season 2009/10. If the Football Flogs' rants get a bit rich for you, then you will get more love from here. I will be your punting guide on all things sport, but for the purposes of this blog, the focus will be on the EPL and football in general. Firstly, I must apologise for missing the first week of tips due to the site being under maintenance, as the Python has been on fire, picking 12 correct results from the first week of games (Burnley over Man Utd anyone?). As such I am up a cartload of Arthur Ashe, have retired from my day job and now have ample time to find the best bets for you good folk over the course of the season.
Ok, enough of the chest beating, lets get down to business for this weeks games.

  • Sunderland is a vastly improved unit and although it may take time for Steve Bruce to get his new parts to gel, they should be too tough a proposition for Rovers at the Stadium of Light. The $2.06 on offer looks the pick of the week.
  • Wigan had a shocker during the week, losing to newly promoted Wolves and will run into the defending champions, keen to avenge their shock midweek loss at Burnley. $1.51 is money in the bank. Load up!
  • West Ham / Tottenham at Upton Park is an interesting proposition. 'Arrys lads have hit the ground running and are deserved favorites in this one but Upton Park is a tough place to go and the Yids do have a nasty habit of getting ahead of themselves when they get on a roll. Take the Hammers at the Asian Handicap with a goal head start at around the even money mark.
  • And finally my flyer of the week is for Arshavin to score at the Emirates in the Gunners home opener versus Pompey. Should get around $2 for this. The Russian ace gave us a small taste of his sublime skills last last season (just ask Liverpool) and will be played forward in Wengers new 4-3-3 formation. Get on him to open his season account this weekend.

Best of luck on the punt and may the punting gods smile on you like the lucky Paddy Power punters who took the short odds on Tiggggger and got payed out before Y.E.Yang (Who?!) crashed the party and took home the last golf major of the year. Incidentally Yang has now risen to be the second best golfer on the Korea peninsula. Unfortunately there is bloke north of the border by the name of Kim Jong Il who has an uncanny knack for hole in ones.
Happy Punting!

Man Who?

The football flog is back and he’s taking aim at the football club formerly known as Manchester United. A lukewarm start is a nice way to put it but I put it to the Mancs that Round 2 has brought nothing but a sense of loss that rhymes with ‘Nick Faldo’. And here’s a clue – it isn’t Gary Neville, that guy is amazingly shirt. Unfortunately, Man Who has resorted to being all flash and no carry, the famous number 7 is gone and it looks like Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF) has missed the opportunity to fill the larder before winter.
Take a look at the Man Who list and the signs are worrying – with Scholes and Giggs more interested in when Meals on Wheels is coming and Fergie forgetting where he left his last Werthers, the Red Devils are looking more limp than the English first XI.
But don’t take my word for it, let’s break down the the issues as they stand:
  1. The midfield are old – reaaallly old. This will come into play when Grandpa Giggs and Auntie Scholes have to decide whether to bake scones or woo birds at Champions league.
  2. Fergie’s faith in Michael Owen is a poor substitute for Pope John VI’s Michaelangelo – one was born to paint divine murals in a fine manner, the other was Michael Owen. Enough said.
  3. If any team in Europe think they can replace Ronaldo with Antonio Valencia they are kidding themselves. It is akin to trading in a Ferrari Testarossa for a reliable Ford Falcon. Even if Valencia proves more successful than in his Wigan spell, he will still be well short of the immense production of Ronaldo. No matter how much SAF spins the effectiveness of Valencia over the course of the year, it is no doubt going to be nowhere near that of the superhuman feats of Ronaldo over the last two years. Get used to mediocrity in midfield Manc fans – and don’t get me started on Michael Carrick.
  4. Gary Neville – One colostomy bag please!!!!!
I may be seen as unusually harsh on Man Who however these opportunities come along very rarely. They are a great club and they should be judged accordingly – I invite your opinion however I believe that Man Who is on the downer, and it rests with Fergie to right the ship – but NOT WITH F****** NEVILLE!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Socceroos Smash Luckless Irish 3-0

An undermanned Australia outplayed the Republic of Ireland to beat them 3-0 in Limerick this morning.
The banner “Superman wears Tim Cahill pyjamas” doesn’t look so outlandish now after the Australian dynamo lashed home another brace for the Socceroos in the first half. It was a dominating display by the Australians and the game was well and truly sealed with a David Carney peach from his very top drawer.
Australia lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Wilkshire and Jedinak protecting the back four. The attacking trio of Kewell, Cahill and Bresciano provided support for the lone forward McDonald. The Socceroos were without their captain Lucas Neill at the back, believed to be completing a transfer move to a new club.
Unlike Australia, Ireland have yet to qualify for the World Cup and were using this friendly as an important warm up to the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Cyprus. Under Italian boss Giovanni Trapattoni Ireland have been defensively sound with world champions Italy only managing a 1-1 draw at home against them.
This was all about Australia though and how far they can go when they get to South Africa next year. After competing against Asians teams for the past 3 years it was a good chance to see how Australia would perform against a combative European team. Pim Verbeek has spoken of Australia not having the best individual players in the world and so creating a world class team unit is important. Australia certainly played as a tight knit unit against Ireland and not one player let the Dutch coach down. As we’ve come to expect from Pim he doesn’t get too excited and downplayed the result as usual.
"It was a good test, I'm very pleased with the result, but I think 3-0 was too much," he said.
"The third goal was a fantastic goal but Ireland created some chances, especially Robbie Keane, who was a handful.
"But we created chances in the first half and scored goals and we were in control in the second half."
Ireland’s coach Trapattoni agreed that Australia was the better team however a wry smile at the end when Carney scored may suggest he thought the scoreline flattered the performance.
"This was a lesson - Australia deserved their win, they were the better team. We played better in the second half and we had opportunities to score that we did not take. I would have been happy had we taken just one."
Wilkshire and Jedinak controlled the play in the middle distributing well to Kewell, Cahill and Bresciano. You could have been mistaken for thinking the duo had partnered each other in the heart of Australia’s midfield for years however this was their first time playing the defensive midfield role together.
Without captain Lucas Neill at the back Patrick Kisnorbo took control and looked very comfortable leading the line. He dealt with everything that came his way in the air and almost scored from a corner in the first half forcing Given to make a good save. His partner in the middle Jade North had a shaky start but settled in well and had a terrific second half before going off with an injured cheekbone. Before David Carney scored his bullet in the last minute he was excellent at left back limiting the impact of the dangerous Damien Duff.
Without doubt the heart and soul of this Australian team is Tim Cahill. We used to look to Kewell as the game breaker but now the Everton superstar is most definitely the man to turn to. The most pleasing aspect and most daunting for opposition is he scores goals in quick succession which can turn a game on its head. Against Ireland he broke the deadlock with a cool left foot finish into the bottom corner after some neat play by McDonald. Then six minutes later he was in the right place at the right time (as he always is) when Shay Given parried Rhys Williams fierce shot into Cahill’s lethal direction.
Possibly the best news story of the game was the performance of Rhys Williams at right back. He was solid defensively and was threatening when he bombed forward. The Middlesbrough youngster turned his back on Wales earlier this year after he made 10 appearances for the Wales' Under 21 side and featured in the senior squad on a number of occasions. As he had yet to make a senior appearance the Perth born prodigy was free to turn his back on Wales. Their loss is most definitely Australia’s gain.
With Grella, Neill and possibly Viduka still to fit into this side Australia can certainly start getting excited about what this team could achieve.

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The Soccer Squirrel Is Back Online

I am happy to say that from today the expert bloggings of all the Soccer Squirrel team have recommenced.
We will be covering all the Socceroo games leading up to the World Cup in South Africa plus progress updates on each Australian player in contention for the squad. We will also have opinion pieces on topical events about the World Game.
We will start today by looking at Australia's impressive victory over the Republic of Ireland. It's good to be back.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Golden Paw Advertising

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Kristian Sarkies to trial at Leeds United

Melbourne Victory midfielder Kristian Sarkies looks set to accept an offer to trial with English Championship club Leeds United after completing his Olyroo qualifying duties.

Sarkies, 20, was only a bit part player in Victory's championship winning side even though he impressed each time he was called upon. The creative midfielder made only 18 appearances, starting just 7, but scored 3 goals one of which was a peach of a goal with just his second touch in Melbourne's 6-0 Grand Final victory.

Sarkies is currently on international duty with Australia's Olympic qualifying team which plays Jordan on Wednesday night at Hindmarsh Stadium. The out-of-contract midfielder appears to be keeping his options open even though he denies his trial is confirmed.

"I have heard the talk about it but I can't say I have spoken to anyone," said Sarkies of the rumours he was angling for a move to the relegation threatened English outfit. "It would be awesome but I can't say it is true at this stage."

The Leeds United Chief Executive Officer, Shaun Harvey, contradicted the young Aussie star by stating that, "Sarkies is coming to Leeds for a period once he has taken part in the Olympic trials."

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick would be doing everything in his power to convince the Socceroo to re-sign the 3 year contract that is on the table after Fred, the Brazlian star midfielder, jumped on a plane to the USA last week to sign a lucrative contract with DC United.