Man City Favoured to Top the EPL as 2014 Begins

 

Samir Nasri finds the net in a 3-0 City win over Swansea earlier this season.

Samir Nasri finds the net in a 3-0 City win over Swansea earlier this season.

The second half of the Premier League season kicks off this New Year’s Day with the clash of Swansea and Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium with the visitors knowing that they can go top of the league if they avoid defeat in this match. City would prefer to win this game to give themselves a two point gap over Arsenal, who face Cardiff in a 3pm kickoff, and give themselves the best chance at staying top should the Gunners slip up at The Emirates, but will they be able to do so having failed to win either of their two Premier League visits to the Liberty Stadium or even score a goal?

GR88.com certainly believe that the 2011/12 Premier League winners can win this match as they lean towards the away win in the opening match of 2014, but with City missing their injured top scorer Sergio Aguero and suspended David Silva for this game can they live up to their favourites billing and go to the summit of the league table?

Swansea v Man City Odds:

Home Victory – 5.00

Level at Full Time – 3.80

Away Win – 1.61

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Even though they are odds-on favourites to win this match I feel that City offer plenty of value in this Swansea v Man City game as they are in outstanding form both in general and away from home now that they have overcome their away day teething troubles under Manuel Pellegrini. They struggled at the start of the season away from the Etihad Stadium as they defeated only Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow in the Champions League as well as West Ham in the EPL in their first nine away games of the season. Since then though they have turned things around nicely and they have found the net on 14 occasions as they have won four and drawn one of their last five away games, including beating Champions League winners Bayern Munich in German. They only issue that I can see with City’s away form is that they are not tight enough defensively with eight conceded in their last five away trips and just one clean sheet in 11. Will their attacking abilities see them through this Swansea v Man City game though?

Swansea’s recent form does not make happy reading for fans of the Welsh club as they are without a victory in seven matches and at home they have claimed just five wins in 14 games, with three of those coming in the early stages of their Europa League campaign. In the Premier League they have defeated only Sunderland and Newcastle but on the other side of things they have lost just once in their last six Premier League games at the Liberty Stadium. The two wins against the Tyne and Wear derby combatants are joined by draws against West Ham, Stoke and Hull while their last home match saw them edged out by the impressive Everton.

Armed with this reasonable home record of late and two clean sheets in two matches against City in Premier League clashes at the Liberty Stadium can Swansea upset the odds in the first match of this new year and dent Man City’s chances at reclaiming their Premier League title? I am not convinced as this City side does not know how to stop scoring goals with an average of almost three goals a game this season in the league. I:see City outstripping this Swansea side in front of goal and cruising to an easy win as they begin 2014 in the same fashion that they ended 2013.

Back Man City to beat Swansea by at least two goals (Man City -0.75) and return to the top of the Premier League @ 1.77 in the GR88 Sportsbook!

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

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No rest of New Year‘s Day

The English Premier League title race promises to be the most exciting in years.

English Premier League title race promises to be the most exciting in years.

The English Premier League season moves into the New Year with fans across the globe rubbing their hands in glee at what promises to be the most exciting title race in years.  Going into the traditional full New Year’s Day programme on Wednesday, there are just six points separating current leaders Arsenal from fifth placed Liverpool and every title-chasing team will be anxious to get 2014 off to a flying start.

It is second placed Manchester City who get the ball rolling at mid-table Swansea knowing that a win would increase the pressure on their rivals. The Gunners are a hot favourite to pick up all three points against Cardiff at the Emirates, whilst London rivals Chelsea face a tough trip to the south coast to face Southampton. Liverpool, who have slipped behind their Merseyside rivals Everton after successive losses to Man City and Chelsea, entertain a Hull City side buoyant from a 6-0 thrashing of Fulham on Saturday. The heat is well and truly on coach Brendan Rodgers and his Reds, but Luis Suarez and co. should have the class to get back on track. Defending Premier League champions Manchester United may still be down in sixth in the table, but the Red Devils have won four EPL contests on the trot and cannot yet be counted out, especially if they get their 2014 rolling with another three-point haul at home to Tottenham!

Premier League New Year’s football betting odds:

Arsenal                 1.2                                          Manchester United        1.65
Draw                     6.0                                          Draw                                     3.65
Cardiff City          12.0                                        Tottenham                         5.0

(Odds provided by Intertops Sportsbook are current of today, but subject to change)

 

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chrisives-50CHRIS I. (tipsterchris) is a European sports blogger who’s hooked on football — both NFL American football and European football.  Chris discusses betting tips and trends and includes betting odds in his regular posts at BI.

Luis Suarez to Bite Back at Stamford Bridge Today?

 

Luis Suarez levels the match on Liverpool's last visit to Stamford Bridge.

Luis Suarez levels the match on Liverpool’s last visit to Stamford Bridge.

The eyes of the world will be eagerly tuned on Stamford Bridge this afternoon as Liverpool, and Luis Suarez especially, return to the home of Chelsea Football Club for the first time since the infamous biting incident that saw Suarez banned for ten matches. That bite happened in the 2-2 draw at Anfield last season and was missed by the officials so Suarez stayed on the pitch to score a 90th minute equaliser for the home team and with these two sides sitting third and fourth in the Premier League table before kick off this match is sure to have a charged atmosphere as both teams look to build their title winning chances.

Despite Chelsea having failed to win at home to Liverpool since 2009 and are four games without victory against the Merseysiders at Stamford Bridge, they are favoured by GR88.com to take all three points today. They will be certainly motivated to do so after being on the receiving end of the poor decisions at Anfield in the last meeting of these two teams, but can they overcome the impressive Suarez to live up to their pre-match favourites billing?

Chelsea v Liverpool Match Odds:

Home Win – 2.12

Level at Full Time – 3.15

Away Win – 3.25

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Although Chelsea have not managed to defeat Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in more than four years, with, Liverpool taking three wins and a 1-1 draw last season in that time, they have been impressive in front of the home faithful this season as they have won eight and drawn one of their nine Premier League matches at home this season. They have played 12 matches at Stamford Bridge in all competitions and only Swiss side FC Basel have managed to win here and the hosts have taken ten wins in the other 11 games. However, despite this fine record on home soil they have just five clean sheets in these 12 games and just one in their last five games, so with Suarez having found the net on 19 occasions in 12 matches this season will Chelsea be able to keep the visitors out and claim all three points?

Suarez will believe not and as he was prevented from scoring at Manchester City on Boxing Day, as well as the fact that he will want to show that he can legitimately be a match winner against Chelsea, he will be highly motivated to score goals today. I am certainly confident that the Uruguayan will find the net today, but with Liverpool having beaten only Tottenham Hotspur in their last five away matches and missing both Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge for this game will they have the confidence as a side to win this match?

Losses at Arsenal, Hull and Man City as well as drawing 3-3 away at their big city rivals Everton in their last five away games would suggest not for Liverpool, but if Suarez hits the heights that he has done in games like against Norwich, where he scored four, and Tottenham, where he scored two and created another, then I certainly see Liverpool extending their unbeaten run away at Chelsea to five games. With the frustration of not scoring in the 2-1 loss to Man City on Thursday I feel that Suarez will bring his A game today and he will have more than enough to help Liverpool to at least a point against a combination of an aging and inexperienced defensive line.

Back Liverpool/Draw Double Chance @ 1.70 in this Chelsea v Liverpool match with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Rodgers back to bash the Bears

nfl-football-1

Will the return of Rodgers prove to be the decisive factor in what promises to be a thrilling finale to the regular season?

It was just like Christmas and birthday rolled into one for fans of the Green Bay Packers this week when the franchise announced that star quarterback Aaron Rodgers would be fit to lead his team in Sunday’s crucial NFL encounter at the Chicago Bears. The two deadly NFC North rivals go toe to toe at Soldier Field with the winner claiming the division crown and a place in the playoffs, whilst the loser is likely to be on the outside looking in on the postseason.

Green Bay has gone a dismal 2-5-1 in the eight games that Rodgers has been sidelined since breaking his collarbone in the first meeting with the Bears on November 4th, but his return will mean a massive boost to the team that has dominated the division in recent years. The Bears, on the other hand, somehow need to put last week’s amazing 11-54 mauling at Philadelphia behind them and concentrate on the task at hand. Home field advantage is on their side, and a tie would also be enough – but will the return of Rodgers prove to be the decisive factor in what promises to be a thrilling finale to the regular season?

Betting Odds: Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears, December 29th

Packers 1.67

Bears 2.30

(Odds provided by Intertops Sportsbook are current as of today, but subject to change)

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chrisives-50CHRIS I. (tipsterchris) is a European sports blogger who’s hooked on football — both NFL American football and European football.  Chris discusses betting tips and trends and includes betting odds in his regular posts at BI.

Nadal and Djokovic Favoured to make the Final in Abu Dhabi

Djokovic on his way to his second Mubadala World Tennis Championship title.

Djokovic on his way to his second Mubadala World Tennis Championship title.

As things stand at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi we have four players remaining at the Semi Final stage after we bid goodbye to Stanislas Wawrinka, who was beaten in straight sets by David Ferrer, and Andy Murray, whose return from injury did not go according to plan as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga sent the Scot crashing out. Today’s Semi Final matches see Ferrer go head to head for the 27th time against fellow Spaniard and world number one Rafael Nadal, while Frenchman Tsonga faces two time reigning champion in Abu Dhabi Novak Djokovic for the second final berth.

GR88.com favour the world numbers one and two to win their Mubadala World Tennis Championship Semi Finals and see a 40th meeting of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic tomorrow. Their betting odds for the semi finals of this competition are as follows.

David Ferrer v Rafael Nadal:

Ferrer to win – 4.33

Nadal to win – 1.25

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Novak Djokovic:

Tsonga to win – 4.50

Djokovic to win – 1.25

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Both Nadal and Djokovic have a great record at this Mubadala World Tennis Championship tournament as they have claimed the title on two separate occasions, with Nadal winning back to back titles in 2010 and the start of 2011, while Djokovic matched Nadal with victory in the first two running’s of the competition in December 2011 and 2012.

Despite neither of them having played a competitive match since their meeting in the final match of the 2013 ATP season at London’s o2 Arena where Djokovic, who had been recently relegated to second in the world behind Nadal, claimed an impressive 6-3, 6-4 victory in the ATP World Tour Finals. He will be desperate to win a third straight tournament win in Abu Dhabi, especially against Nadal, while the Spaniard will be equally motivated to win but both of these players will have to overcome their Semi Final opponents today first.

Nadal has an excellent record against Ferrer with 21 wins in 26 meetings between himself and the world number three and, of the two final four stage matches, I feel that this will be the closer of the two Semi Final games. Ferrer did beat Nadal at the start of November at the Paris Masters and he easily passed Stanislas Wawrinka in the last round so he will be confident of victory against his fellow countryman. Despite this Ferrer is one of the many players that Nadal has an innate ability to defeat in almost every match and with the world number one starting the season well on most occasions I feel that Nadal is the deserving favourite for this match and I can see him taking the first final spot.

Djokovic too has a great record against his Semi Final partner, the world number ten in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, as he has 11 wins in 16 meetings between the two and he has lost just one meeting since the 2010 Australian Open, almost four years ago. That defeat came at the Paris Masters in 2011 when Djokovic was unable to play and with Tsonga sending 2009 Mubadala World Tennis Championship winner Andy Murray out in the Quarter Finals this year this match is likely to be closer than the odds suggest. However, Djokovic usually hits the ground running, unlike the Scottish Wimbledon champion, and I feel that Djokovic will defeat this familiar foe like in each match played in the last four years and I am too backing the Serbian world number two for victory today.

As a result of this, my best bet from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship action today is back Nadal and Djokovic to reach the final tomorrow in a double.

Back Nadal and Djokovic to win in a double @ 1.56 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Chelsea v Liverpool: Five memorable matches

Chelsea must wish they had the likes of Didier Drogba still at the club

Players like Didier Drogba have lit up this fixture in the past

Liverpool’s title credentials will be placed under scrutiny over the Christmas period with quickfire trips to Manchester City and Chelsea.

In recent years the Reds have been involved in some memorable clashes with the latter of those two challengers in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

Here, Betting Expert has picked out five of the best meetings between the two sides at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea v Liverpool Betting Odds

Chelsea win – 2.00

Draw – 3.30

Liverpool win – 3.40

(All odds from GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Chelsea 4-2 Liverpool, January 1997

The Merseysiders were beaten FA Cup finalists during the previous year, so they would have been hoping to go one better this time around. It appeared that they would cruise into the fourth round when goals from Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore within the opening 21 minutes put them 2-0 up.

The introduction of Mark Hughes as a half-time substitute breathed life into Chelsea, though, as the former Manchester United frontman reduced the arrears five minutes after the restart. Italian Gianfranco Zola then drew the Londoners level, before his compatriot Gianluca Vialli sealed the victory for the hosts with a brace.

Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool, May 2003

Had Chelsea not won this game, their recent history could have been very different. It was a straight shootout on the final day of the Premier League season, with the winner snatching the final Champions League qualification berth. Dubbed ‘the £20 million pound match’, it was the away side that claimed an early lead through Finnish centre-back Sami Hyypia.

Chelsea’s response was instant, with Marcel Desailly heading in a Jesper Gronkjaer cross. The Danish winger then turned scorer in the 26th minute when he curled in from the edge of the area for what would be the winning goal. Later, as the game entered into stoppage time, Steven Gerrard was handed his marching orders for two bookable offences. Had Chelsea fallen short in the race for Europe’s elite tournament, many believe that Roman Abramovich would not have bid for the club.

Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool, April 2008

Having played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Anfield, the two teams reconvened at the Bridge to play for the right to take on Man United in the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow. Didier Drogba looked to have booked Chelsea’s place in the Russian capital with an early strike, but Fernando Torres forced extra-time.

The hosts regained their composure during the additional 30 minutes, with Frank Lampard restoring their lead from the penalty spot after Hyypia had felled Michael Ballack. Drogba then made it 3-1, before Liverpool’s Ryan Babel ensured a tense finish with a strike from distance. Ultimately, it would be no more than a consolation effort.

Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool, April 2009

Twelve months later the teams met in the same competition, albeit at the quarter-final stage. It seemed that Chelsea would ease into the final four, having returned from the opening leg on Merseyside with a 3-1 victory for their efforts. However, Liverpool had not read the script and goals from Fabio Aurelio and Xabi Alonso levelled up the scores on aggregate at half-time.

Chelsea rallied after the restart and actually took the lead courtesy of goals from Drogba, Alex and Lampard. In a match that had started to become more reminiscent of a basketball clash, Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt then scored in quick succession to put Liverpool 4-3 in front, before Lampard rounded off the scoring, sealing a 7-5 aggregate win for Chelsea in the process.

Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool, February 2011

Just a week earlier Chelsea had parted with £50 million to land the services of Torres from Liverpool. However, it would be no dream debut for the Spaniard, who was replaced by Salomon Kalou in the 66th minute following a lacklustre display. Just three minutes later, Liverpool midfielder Raul Meireles pounced on a mix-up between Petr Cech and Branislav Ivanovic to score the only goal of the game.

liam_avatarLIAM APICELLA (liamapicella88) has worked for a number of publications on a freelance basis, including Footy Matters, Football Italiano and the Ibiza Paper. He is currently the features editor and reporter for Sports Mole.

The Return of Andy Murray!

2009 Mubadala World Tennis Championship winner Andy Murray in action in Abu Dhabi

2009 Mubadala World Tennis Championship winner Andy Murray in action in Abu Dhabi

This Boxing Day sees the return of both the tennis season and Scottish world number four Andy Murray as Abu Dhabi hosts the curtain raising Mubadala World Tennis Championship where six of the top players in the world battle to claim the title. The winner will be crowned on Saturday and it is world number two Novak Djokovic that is looking to take his third straight victory in the Middle East this weekend.

The action kicks off tomorrow with two Quarter Final matches as David Ferrer takes on Stanislas Wawrinka for a place in the Semi Finals against world number one Rafael Nadal and the second Quarter Finals sees Andy Murray v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with the victor facing the reigning champion for a spot in the final.

GR88.com favour a winning return for the first British player to claim the men’s Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936 as Murray defeated Djokovic in three sets last summer. Although the Scot has not played in more than two months he is the big favourite to take his ninth win in ten matches against the French world number ten.

Andy Murray v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Betting Odds:

Andy Murray to win – 1.65

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win – 2.18

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Murray had a disrupted season this year as he suffered two serious injuries, with both back injuries, seeing him miss the French Open in May/June before he missed the end of the season as he required surgery to correct the long standing issue following a second flare up in October. This match is his first time back in a competitive game, but will the Scot take his time in getting back up to speed or will he hit the ground running and move into a match against the Serbian world number two in Djokovic?

Murray could not have a more favourable opponent to start his road to recovery as he has beaten the Frenchman who sits tenth in the ATP rankings in each of their last seven meetings since losing in the first round of the Australian Open in 2008 almost six years ago. Tsonga also comes into this match on the road to recovery after missing much of the third quarter of last season with a knee injury and he has played just five tournaments, reaching the Semi Finals in two and the final in another, since his return to action in September. He will hope to be fully fit for this match and will this fitness advantage give him the edge over a player he struggles against?

All of the UK will be cheering Murray on to a successful return to tennis action, but the Scot tends to have a slow return from injury and is not the best at the very start of seasons. However, with him missing much of the end of last season through injury Murray will be out to prove that he has hit the ground running for a 2014 run from fourth in the ATP rankings back towards the top two spot that he held for much of 2013. I feel that Murray is the better of these two players and I am in agreement with GR88.com that he is the favourite to win in Abu Dhabi and my Christmas money is going on a win for the Scot today.

Back Andy Murray to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship today @ 1.65 with GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Arsenal Favourites to Return to the Top of the EPL by Beating Chelsea Tonight

Theo Walcott celebrates his goal in Arsenal's 5-3 win over Chelsea in 2011

Theo Walcott celebrates his goal in Arsenal’s 5-3 win over Chelsea in 2011

The final Premier League match before Christmas sees a top of the table meeting between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates as the sides meet for the second time this season after Chelsea’s 2-0 win in North London at the end of October. That victory saw Chelsea progress in the Capital One Cup against a weakened Arsenal side, as Arséne Wenger tends to do in cup competitions, but this evening’s clash of these two sides at The Emirates is sure to be a much more difficult task for Jose Mourinho’s men.

GR88.com certain believe that Chelsea will fail to claim all three points at The Emirates Stadium this evening as they make the team in blue the outsiders for all three points this evening while favouring the home team. Having said that their Arsenal v Chelsea betting odds see the match being a difficult one for both teams and that we should see a close match tonight.

Arsenal v Chelsea Outright Odds:

Arsenal victory – 2.26

Draw – 3.15

Chelsea victory – 3.05

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Victories for Liverpool and Manchester City over the weekend as well as failure to win two games in a row for Arsenal have seen them slip to third position in the Premier League before kick off this evening, but since losing 2-0 to Chelsea at the end of October in the Capital One Cup they have been in excellent form in front of their own fans. They have won four and drawn one of their five matches, conceding just a single goal against Everton in a 1-1 draw, so they will be confident of this ground tonight. However, they have been beaten away at Napoli in the Champions League and at Man City last weekend in their last two games with eight goals conceded but which Arsenal side will we see emerge from the tunnels this evening?

I am with GR88.com in thinking that we’ll see the Arsenal side that has gone unbeaten in almost two months on home soil, and with Chelsea having had a poor run of results away from home since winning at The Emirates two months ago. They have won just two of their six away games since sending Arséne Wenger’s charges out of the Capital One and these came against two of the bottom four of the Premier League in West Ham and Sunderland. The other four games in this time have seen losses to Newcastle, Stoke and FC Basel in the Champions League while they were held at Sunderland in the League Cup last week too. That game saw Chelsea spurn plenty of chances before the hosts levelled in the 88th minute before seeing Mourinho’s men off in extra time to reach the last four of the competition. They’ll need to bounce back this evening against a much better side than Sunderland, but can Chelsea manage this?

Although Chelsea have the better recent head-to-head against Arsenal with wins in each of their last three matches against their fellow Londoners and are unbeaten in four, but Arsenal are much more fearsome this season than in many a year. They are missing Jack Wilshere after his crude gesture to the Man City fans, but will be boosted by the return of Lukas Podolski up front and with Chelsea making headlines with Jose Mourinho’s dropping of former Arsenal left back Ashley Cole for Cesar Azpilicueta the hosts are sure to be more settled for tonight’s match.. As a result of this I feel that Arsenal will be the side that makes all the running tonight and returns to the top of the league with all three points at The Emirates tonight.

Back Arsenal to beat Chelsea this evening and return to the top of the Premier League table @ 2.26 with GR88.com!

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

A brief history of Vincent Tan’s crazy Cardiff City reign

Vincent Tan has repeatedly confounded Cardiff supporters

Vincent Tan has repeatedly confounded Cardiff supporters

As you’ve probably read by now, Bond villain Vincent Tan is set to out-crazy himself once more as he flies into London to sack Malky Makay.

It’s a devastating turn of events for Cardiff fans. Malky Mackay has been the only sane, rational voice coming from the club, and it seems that his time is running out.

Cardiff City chairman Mehmet Dalman has convinced Tan to hold fire (terribly sorry for that pun), and is apparently seeking to persuade the Malaysian to keep Mackay in charge. Cardiff fans, however, aren’t holding their breath. It seems that the young Scot’s days are numbered.

Liverpool v Cardiff Betting Odds:

Liverpool win – 1.19

Draw – 7.00

Cardiff win 15.00

(All odds provided by GEObet.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Malky’s record so far

Malky Mackay took over a depleted Cardiff City side in the summer of 2011. With just 10 senior players at his disposal, he quickly moved to swell the ranks, bringing in a number of players on a limited budget.

The following season was an important – though admittedly uninspiring – period of consolidation, with Cardiff ending the season in the playoffs.

The 2012/13 season, however, saw Cardiff take the Championship with ease. Cardiff reached the summit in November and, though there were stutters along the way, held onto the top spot for the remainder of the season.

The Welsh club then went on to break their record transfer fee three times over the summer, bringing in striker Andreas Cornelius, defender Steven Caulker and midfielder Gary Medel. This appears to be an issue for Tan as he claims that, with add-ons, they went over budget. Other sources at the club however suggest that Tan was more than happy with the add-ons at the time.

It’s hard to argue that this season has been anything other than a success so far. Cardiff currently sit in 15th, with a 4 point cushion from the bottom three, and only 3 points off the top ten. They haven’t played great football, however no sane man would demand tiki-taka football from a newly promoted team. Enter stage right: Vincent Tan.

The loveable* Vincent Tan

Vincent Tan’s reign has been far more controversial. He took over in 2011, and was initially hailed as a saviour of the club. His popularity plummeted however when he hinted that he might change the club’s kit to red. An uproar followed, forcing Tan to backtrack on the kit change.

He reversed his backtrack several months later (fronttracking?), changing the club’s kit to red. He also got someone to knock together a new logo on MS Paint, copying and pasting the dragon from the Welsh flag in the process.

Tan then went on to sack head of recruitment Iain Moody in a move we now know was due to a supposed overspend.

This may sound like a fair enough reason, until you realise he was replaced with 23 year old – and friend of family – Alisher Apsalyamov, a man whose only experience in football was a short work stint at Cardiff City painting the fences. Yup, this guy.

Don’t worry though, he’s no longer in charge due to a Home Office investigation.

Throughout Mackay’s rein, Tan has also looked to influence tactics, selection and even substitutions. He’s signed at least one player without Mackay’s knowledge and once told the manager that his team should shoot more often. ‘If you ask 10 girls to go out with you,’ he proudly claimed, ‘no matter how ugly you are, I bet that one will say “Yes”

‘I believe the increase in goal attempts is in line with the law of averages. So, if we had 20 goal attempts, at least two will go in!’

And that, ladies and gentleman, is the man calling the shots at our club. Oh, for the days of Hammam and Ridsdale.

*Wait, that’s the wrong word. Let’s go with ‘confusing’, just to be on the safe side

AntonyPAUL STOLLERY (paulstollery) is a Cardiff City fan and Ron Swanson enthusiast. He writes about football and rugby for Betting Instinct

Liverpool favourites to top the Premier League today!

Luis Suarez tops the goal scorer charts with 17 goals this season.

Luis Suarez tops the goal scorer charts with 17 goals this season.

With Premier League leaders Arsenal not in action until Monday as they host Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium second placed Liverpool have the chance to go top of the Premier League with victory at Anfield over newly promoted Cardiff City in the opening match of the weekend in England’s top tier. Should Arsenal and Chelsea end level or see an away win in the final match before Christmas then it will be Brendan Rodger’s men who will sit as the highest ranked side in the country for Christmas Day this year.

The team from the red half of the Merseyside will need to win this afternoon’s clash with Cardiff City, who they defeated in the Carling Cup Final of 2012 in a penalty shootout to take the title, to go top and should they it today it will the first time since the fourth round of games this season that they have occupied top spot in the league and they will be desperate to get back to the summit today.

GR88.com believe that burning desire to ascend to the top of the Premier League and survey all those that follow them will add to an excellent record at Anfield this season and see a comfortable Liverpool victory in the opening match of the 17th round of Premier League football.

Liverpool v Cardiff Betting Odds:

Liverpool to win – 1.20

Draw – 6.80

Cardiff to win – 14.50

Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.

The run up to this match has been dominated by news coming from both of these clubs and the noises emanating from Anfield have beautiful to the ears of the Liverpool faithful while, only months after sealing promotion to the Premier League, Cardiff City fans must be wondering what is going on behind the scenes at their club.

The good news for the home side is that Premier League top scorer with 17 goals in Luis Suarez (he scored 23 last season and we’re not even halfway yet!) has committed to a new long term contract that will make him the highest paid player in the club’s history. He will surely be out to celebrate this new contract with another bagful of goals this weekend to claim all three points for his team and with his rampant form so far this season I am surprised that Liverpool are not even shorter to beat Cardiff this weekend.

While it is celebrations and festive cheer at Anfield right now, the same cannot be said for the news reports coming from the Cardiff City Stadium. After removing head of recruitment at the club Iain Moody with a friend of his son, owner Vincent Tan has not endear himself with the fans or the football community at large by contacting boss Malky Mackay to resign as manager of the club or be fired. The pre-match press conference yesterday descended into farce as the assistant manager was sent out instead of Mackay, fuelling rumours that the Scotsman has already been given his marching orders at the club and that former Liverpool, Man City and Wales striker Craig Bellamy will be given the reins shortly.

This shambles of a situation is not going to help Cardiff City prepare for this match and as they have an away record of just one win in eight away Premier League games this season against a side that has won seven of eight at Anfield so far this match could see Cardiff ripped apart. The Welsh side have no goals in their last four away games, while Liverpool have scored 20 in their last five at home and I can see this Liverpool v Cardiff match being more of the same for both teams.

Back Liverpool to top the Premier League by beating Cardiff by at least three goals (Liverpool -2) this afternoon @ 1.88 in the GR88 Sportsbook! 

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.