Magnificent Spurs

Another magnificent performance from Spurs has put them in pole position for the 4th champions league spot and has reopened the championship title race.

Their 2-1 win over Chelsea, coupled with Man City’s 1-0 defeat to Man Utd has seen Spurs go 4th with a 2 point gap to nearest rivals, Man City.

It also puts Man Utd just a point behind Chelsea and in with a chance of putting pressure on their title rivals, Alex Ferguson owes his old mate Harry Redknapp a drink or two for this one.

On these showings, if Spurs get 4th place, you’d have to say that they have well and truely earned it. After last weekend’s results when Man City thrashed Birmingham 5-1, Spurs were 4 points behind City (with a game in hand) with fixtures against Arsenal and Chelsea looming, their prospects didn’t look good.

Spurs have now proved to everyone that they are capable of mixing it with the big teams, and Saturday’s results has nicely set up the Man City V Spurs game from Eastlands on 5th May as potentially the decider for 4th place.

Chelsea are still favourites for the title at a best price of 8/11 with Sky Bet. Manchester United can be backed at 11/8 with Sky Bet, William Hill, Totesport and Bet365.

Spurs are now 8/11 for 4th with William Hill, Man City are 6/5 with the same firm.

Fergie Fuming, and I don’t blame him

I’m quick enough to condemn managers, and especially Alex Ferguson, for what I believe to be harsh criticism of referees and their assistants (or linesman, as I would call them), when they are looking for a scapegoat for a bad performance or for picking the wrong team, etc.

On this occasion I am totally with Fergie. I watched the game and I can’t see any reason whatsoever why the assistant referee missed the clear off-side for Drogba’s winning goal.

Sometimes a run is that well timed it catches the assistant out as well as the defence, or the decision is influenced by the colour of the first shirt the assistant sees, in short, sometimes you can understand why a mistake has been made.

Not this time, I can’t see any reason for this, it is just purely and simply an incompetent decision. And it could have decided the league title.

With regard to the incident of Martin Olsson’s dive last Sunday, and the subsequent comments in the week after, it was no surprise to see referee Mike Dean turn down a couple of strong penalty claims today, from both sides.

When I heard about Olsson’s comments and that Dean was doing the Man Utd V Chelsea game, I had a feeling it would have to be a stone wall penalty for Dean to give one today, and so it seemed.

With Alex Ferguson still on a two match suspended sentence over the Alan Wiley insults earlier in the season, I wonder if the FA will let Fergie’s remarks go this time.

Chelsea the big losers

As a result of Sunday’s 1-1 draw away at Blackburn, Chelsea now find themselves 3rd favourites in the Premier League Betting at a best price of 11/4. Manchester United are Even money favourites, followed by Arsenal who are 5/2.

Chelsea’s plight is still in their own hands, but only just. When they win their game in hand (away at Portsmouth on Wedensday) they will be 1 point behing United on the same amount of games played (Man Utd currently have played 31), they then visit Old Trafford on 3rd April, Arsenal are home to Wolves that day and will be looking to capitalize on their two rivals clashing.

For a side looking to win the league Chelsea didn’t really convince me against Blackburn today, I thought at times they lacked urgency and also didn’t ever look like scoring after Rovers equalised in the 70th minute. They huffed and puffed a lot, but never created a clear cut chance.

If I were a Chelsea fan, which I’m not, I wouldn’t be too convinced after that showing.

Manchester United looked more the part against Liverpool, and with Arsenal looking more solid at last, you would have to think it is more between these two at the moment.

United have the know how to finish the job from here, this is the time of the season when they have historically put their foot down and pulled away.

I can’t see them pulling away this season though, as it looks like going down to the wire. The big concern for them though, is an injury to Rooney as they don’t have the squad cover they had this time last year.

Arsenal have impressed me a lot lately, they have a more steely look to them. They are picking up the neccesary points without looking at their best, thats the impressive part, that they are finally grinding out results.

On paper Arsenal’s last four results look routine. But if you look at them more closely they struggled to finish off West Ham and Burnley at home, needing late goals in both games to finally finish the matches off.

They were awful at Hull, playing against 10 men for the whole of the 2nd half, they needed an injury time winner from Bendtner to complete a lucky 2-1 win.

The result which might have gave them the most belief must have been the 3-1 win over Stoke, again with two 90 mins plus goals. With the injury to Aaron Ramsey occcuring in this game, Arsenal really had to dig deep to finish it off, and I believe if they go on to win the title they will look back at this game and say that is where we turned it in our favour.

Chelsea slip up again

Chelsea will have to wait at least another year if they are to win the Champions League and bury the ghost of John Terry’s slip in the penalty shoot out of 2008.

As much as I hate to admit it, Jose Mourinho and his Inter Milan team deserved their victory at Stamford Bridge tonight.

The visitors played well throughout and had chances to score the all important away goal, long before Samuel Eto’o finished the tie with his 79th minute strike. Chelsea’s only real period of domination came in the final 10 minutes of the 1st half.

That was about it for Chelsea though, all in all they didn’t do enough for me, Anelka was non existent, Drogba didn’t have much to work with, Ballack and Lampard were kept quiet, while Malouda showed flashes at times coupled with poor delivery from corners.

From an Italian perspective I would be thinking it was a job well done, they didn’t ever really look in much trouble, and when called into action Inter defended well, throwing their bodies in the way of everything Chelsea could muster.

One thing I did notice was the continued holding and shirt pulling at set pieces, a coulple of blatent ones in particular which the Italian’s did well to get away with. Then again Italians always have done!

Add to that the stone-wall penalty Chelsea had turned down in the 1st Leg and they can feel slightly aggrieved to be out of the competition tonight.

One thing that never changes with Italian sides though, is their ability to close a game out. They took every opportunity after the goal to waste time and kill the game, rolling around looking for treatment, debating amongst themselves who should take a free kick, all the tricks of the trade.

Jose Mourinho himself, has plenty of previous in the art of time wasting and gamesmanship as well, just ask the Celtic fans.

In the Champions League outright winner betting, Inter are now 9/2 with Coral, Blue Square, 888 Sport, Boylesport and Paddy Power. They are 4/1 with the majority of the rest, and as short as 7/2 with Skybet.

Premier League Winner Betting

The Premier League winner online betting market was blown open with results at the weekend, and it would appear that the bookies now have it down to a two horse race.

Chelsea won 2-1 away at Burnley and find themselves cut from 5/6 into a best price of 8/13 with most online bookmakers including William Hill, Paddy Power, Blue Square and 888Sport.

After their remarkable win over Arsenal at Emirates Stadium, Manchester United find themselves cut from 11/4 to 11/5 with Paddy Power, Sky Bet and Stan James. While Arsenal have drifted out to a massive 12/1 with VC Bet and Betfred. Odds this long could represent a football trading opportunity on a betting exchange.

For the time being I am going to keep Manchester City in the betting, they are 40/1 with Bet365, VC Bet and Betfred after their regulation home win over Portsmouth.

Tuesday Match Betting – Hull V Chelsea, 7.45pm

Chelsea have the chance to put further daylight between themselves and the chasing pack on Tuesday night when they travel to Hull City.

Chelsea can be backed at a short 2/7 with Bet365, 888Sport, Betfred, Blue Square, Boylesports, Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Sky Bet and Totesport.
The Draw is 9/2 with VC Bet and Hull are 14/1 with VC Bet and Stan James.