Newcastle United cannot claim Premier League relegation would be undeserved


If there’s any justice in the world’, crooned British neo-soul sensation Lemar in his 2004 chart smash, ‘Louis van Gaal would recognise that his greatness doesn’t deserve to prevail over John Carver’s atrociousness, accordingly throw Manchester United’s game against Hull, and thus condemn Newcastle to the most well earned relegation of the Premier League era.’


For once, the post-1993 qualifier is not so arbitrary. Newcastle’s current incarnation is as Premier League as Premier League can be, existing – just about – not to serve its city, its community, nor even its matchgoing fans. Newcastle’s current incarnation exists – just about – solely to serve the interests of the rapacious mega-capitalist who bought a club in 2008 and who owns a 50,000-seater Sports Direct billboard in 2015. Newcastle’s current incarnation is Michael James Wallace ‘Mike’ Ashley.

All of which explains the (not so) curious absence of, well, everything in the run-up to their final-day ‘decider’ with West Ham. Newcastle go into the match in need of something they won’t have achieved in 85 days, or more than 2,000 hours, by kick off on Sunday. They need a win. Don’t get it, and Hull take three points against the more or less settled in fourth Man United, and at least another year in the Championship beckons. Beyond a loss of prestige, however, Newcastle have little to lose by relegation: what difference, ultimately, between a top-tier and a second-tier season of dirge, without even a tilt at cup competitions? At least with the latter, some fans hopefully contend, their owner might be more tempted to cut and run.


Newcastle United v West Ham United Betting Odds:

Newcastle win 7/10

West Ham win 333/100

Draw 57/20

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


Carver will plead that Newcastle treat their ‘clash’ with West Ham like any other game. The reality is that it is just another game, part 38 (to be generous) of a black-and-white meander into mediocrity. There are no ‘high stakes’; there aren’t even stakes. A match isn’t ‘do or die’ if the home side already contains 11 zombies, 7 replacement zombies, a Geordie zombie in a ‘technical area’ whose name his very presence undermines, and HRH, The UK’s #1, King Zombie of Sports Retail and Zero-Hours Employment.

Newcastle’s relegation rivals, of course, have their own rapacious mega-capitalists to be dealing with. Assem Allam, the Labour Party donor who hates Ed Miliband’s ‘communism’ and is by his support for a Hull City-to-Hull ‘Tigers’ rebrand pledging to water down another great working class institution, will be hoping that Steve Bruce can end a 17-year hoodoo against his old club. This looks a tall order, not because it’s fated, not because of any off-field ‘revelations’ – but because Hull are proper, proper rubbish. Not quite Newcastle’s clogged, Shawshank-river-of-sh*t, unfiltered sewage, but rubbish all the same. And yet, should Ahmed Elmohamady continue to inexplicably do Good Things (or, as is more likely, should Van Gaal’s men just genuinely not give a toss with their end-of-season awards already been and gone), anything is possible.


Sunderland are predatory in their own way, their longstanding tradition of profiting from the unskilled labour of others time and again mischaracterised as ‘Great Escapes’. Thanks to a battling 0-0 draw with Arsenal and another few admittedly decent scalps, they’ve done it again this year. So too Aston Villa, who despite their tanking at Southampton are safe, and with the added consolation that Tim Sherwood is no longer the most laughable coach in the English top flight. That leaves a straight shootout between a team so bad that John Carver is in the dugout, and a team so bad that they were beaten by a team with John Carver in the dugout.


There are other mini-battles set to take place on Sunday. Liverpool, Tottenham, and Southampton will compete for a Europa League spot that none really want. Arsenal will be hoping to avoid an eight-goal swing that would see them drop out of third place. And Alan Pardew will look to consolidate Crystal Palace’s place in mid-table, mostly so he can look down on, and gleefully mock, his former employers. Best wishes to them.

All eyes, however, will be on that bottom three – and For Football’s Sake, it ought to be Newcastle joining Burnley and Queen’s Park Rangers at the season’s end. Come friendly MK Dons, and fall on Town; they aren’t even fit for Pulis now…


Betting Instinct tip Hull to beat Manchester United, putting the pressure on Carver’s side, is 43/20 with


Kieran avatar KIERAN DODDS  is a masters student and writer. He has written about sport, politics and current affairs for the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Africa is a Country, When Saturday Comes, IBWM and others. Follow Kieran on Twitter.


What We’ll Learn In The Transfer Window

Will Wilfried Bony to Man City be the biggest Premier League transfer this month?

Will Wilfried Bony to Man City be the biggest Premier League transfer this month?

A little change of pace this month, as we look ahead to what will happen during the transfer window. And as we all know transfers and the accompanying rumour mill with it’s glorious highs and crushing lows is far superior to the drudgery of actual football. Handily because nothing really happens until the last few weeks my tardiness isn’t that much of an issue.


Premier League Outright Betting Odds:

Chelsea 3/5

Manchester City 3/2

Manchester United 18/1

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


One thing (at the time of writing) that might possible already have happened/be in the process of happening is the transfer of Wilfried Bony to Manchester City. A devastatingly direct attacker with a deft first touch and a fierce strike, he can’t be anything other than great. His on-pitch time will be dependent on Sergio Aguero and his hamstrings but they’re made of rubber bands so Bony should get plenty of chances to impress.

On the other side of the city Louis van Gaal will do whatever he damn well likes. However he should probably look into sorting a defence that is, well it has, I mean…….it’s a bit crap really. He’s already brought in Victor Valdes, and might follow that up by buying his countryman Ron Vlaar who once got a 2! (out of 10!) for me on Football Manager. Make of that what you will (as I type this he’s just been ruled out for 4 weeks but I have a word count to hit so he’s staying in the article)


Arsenal will do what Arsenal do, there will be opinion pieces, banners and possibly some booing. At the end of it Arsenal will finish fourth and every single one of us will be ever so slightly closer to the blessed release of death.

Chelsea have completed the ‘transfers’ level of football so unless they fancy trying to beat their own high score we can ignore them during January.


Tottenham will sign a midfielder. He’ll pretend to be good for a bit, then it’ll turn out he’s rubbish. Aaron Lennon might leave, possibly for QPR where………..

*insert your own ‘dawwnn to the bare bones’ Harry Redknapp joke here*


Aston Villa are obviously far too boring for any of us to care about. Even if they do sign someone mildly interesting that poor soul will be subsumed by the overwhelming force of mediocrity that resides at Villa Park.

Nobody knows who is in charge of transfers at West Ham but let’s hope it’s the new fun loving version of Big Sam and he brings in Jay Jay Okocha, you know just for old times sake. Oh and they’ll sell Winston Reid to someone, maybe Arsenal.


The Anfield transfer committee will gather round the table, amalgamate their thoughts, you know some real blue sky thinking ‘there’s no such thing as a bad idea here, this is a safe space where we reshape the rules and turn dreams into reality’ and decide to spend twenty million quid on a center back who somehow manages to make their defence worse. Liverpool might try and punt Mario, but he’s performing so admirably in the role of scapegoat that that would surely be a grave error.


Southampton will sell someone who isn’t as good as people think he is for more money than he’s worth and will replace him with a better player from the Netherlands, their youth team or Celtic.

The only Leicester player I know is Esteban Cambiasso so it’s very hard for me to take much of a guess at their transfer activity. I’ll save any embarrassment by not bothering.


Stoke might sell Peter Crouch to West Brom now that Tony Pulis is in charge. I might make veggie burgers for tea tomorrow.

Now that he’s swapped Newcastle for Palace Alan Pardew will celebrate not being forced to exclusively sign French players with high sell on value by signing someone quintessentially English with no sell on value. Possibly the Queen, or some sort of Duke.


All I’ve got to say about Sunderland is that my mate met Gus Poyet once, I forgot to ask what he was like. I bet he’s a dick.

Everton should sign a defensive coach but they’ll probably sign someone from Wigan, Shaun Maloney maybe.


Burnley will continue their attempt to prove that a Championship team full of Championship players can survive in the Premier League by signing a Championship player.

Going to level with you here – I’m writing this on a train and my stop is coming up. So if I’ve forgotten your team then I’m sorry but you’re just not important enough (sorry Hull fans – ed.).


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Betting Instinct tip – with few transfers likely to go through before this weekend’s games, back a London treble: Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham all to win is 3.59 with


Ally avatarALLY MONCRIEFF is a freelance football writer and editor of All or Nothing magazine. Sometimes even he can’t tell if he’s being serious or not. Follow Ally on Twitter and maybe he’ll be your friend.

Is Arsenal vs. Hull City the end of civilisation as we know it?

Can Arsenal win their first final at 'New Wembley'?

Can Arsenal win their first final at ‘New Wembley’?

The West Antarctic ice sheet is melting! Soon all will perish amid sea level rises too big for even Bruce Willis to stop, seemingly rendering the result of Arsenal’s crunch Community Shield qualifier against Hull City irrelevant on the grand scale of things.

This is of course false. Had the world paid more attention to football in the first place, none of this would have happened. Mankind’s greatest error was to put their faith in hockey stick graphs rather than transfer gossip columns about the landmark transfers of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, or something. Heat maps could have saved us all if only we’d listened.

Still, there is some hope that a few emaciated survivors may be able to scrape together an existence during the coming Armageddon out somehow. The FA Cup stands as a testament to humanity’s ability to cling on within a post-apocalyptic landscape.


Arsenal v Hull City Betting Odds:

Arsenal – 1.24 

Arsenal to win in 90 minutes – 1.44

Hull City – 4.00

Hull to win in 90 minutes – 6.80

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


Having once been the jewel of the English football calendar, cup final day has slipped into becoming a desperate struggle for recognition in the arid wastes between the Premier League finale and the Champions League final. Manchester United used to be the great Satan, who fatally undermined this institution with a transcontinental lust for silverware, but with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona’s La Liga decider currently threatening to steal away viewing figures, the problem seems bigger than a fixture clash.

Similar to the rules of the Thunderdome from Mad Max 3, at Wembley two teams will enter, but only one shall leave. In contrast to the movie’s blood sport however, it’s the loser that gets to walk away, with the victors instead set to be called back for a sound beating at the hands of Manchester City some August.


Even the supposed grand prize of a shot at the Europa League feels like a demoted consolation offering. Steve Bruce’s side have already been informed that they’ll be heading off to face the likes of FC Luch-Energiya Vladivostok (wow – turns out that’s actually a real team – ed.) whatever the result against Arsenal thanks to the Gunners’ Champions League qualification via the top four. In that respect, the FA Cup final is left looking more like a passing out ceremony for this season’s press ganged, sacrificial offering to UEFA’s secondary tier, rather than a prestigious bounty. A season scrabbling across Europe to take part in the competition formerly known as the UEFA Cup could even send Hull out of the Premier League next year. If you thought Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was a terrifying and depressing read, don’t spend to long mulling over the death by glory inflicted upon clubs forced into competitions they have neither the squad nor resources to properly fight.

Then again, while the heat death of the FA Cup may be stretching out the public’s attention spans and will-to-watch, as if expiring through the footballing entropy of the game’s own laws of thermodynamics, perhaps this year might be different?


For once, it’s not just the plucky minnows who are striving for an unlikely trophy win. Arsenal would do well to check that Patrick Vieira didn’t thrown down a Bela Guttmann-esque curse on the club  when he left in 2005. Arsene Wenger’s team haven’t won a proper pot or title since.

With their status as this year’s Liverpool, before Liverpool too—having let slip a commanding lead in the title race rather than a cataclysmic and very literal one for Demba Ba to shatter their dreams—the likes of Aaron Ramsey will be keen to ensure something tangible comes through from a season that promised so much However, Hull need only look back to Birmingham City’s League Cup win over the Gunners to see how their last appearance in a final that was billed as a relative formality turned out.


Unfortunately for Bruce’s challengers, his two star strikers—Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic—are cup-tied for the final, but as any fan of disaster cinema will tell you, being outnumbered and outgunned is all a protagonist needs to escape the rapture. Even John Cusack did as much in that one where the Buddhist monk climbed to the top of Everest only to be swept away by a giant tidal wave. It had planes taking off in earthquakes and a big aircraft carrier thing he had to throw his kids onto at the end. High Fidelity was it? Who knows.

Regardless, the fate of the FA Cup could well depend on who can discover their inner Cusack. Sone Aluko or Olivier Giroud. It’s got to be Arsenal, right? Right?


Betting Instinct tip – Arsenal to win 2-1 after a spirited Hull performance is 7.60 with


Greg avatar GREG JOHNSON (gregianjohnson) is a freelance football writer based in London and contributor to  FourFourTwo, Squawka, Drowned In Sound and Mirror Football. He also co-edits The False Nine football  blog and podcast. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.


It’s FA Cup Semi Final Weekend!

We're down to four teams, but who'll make the FA Cup Final this weekend?

We’re down to four teams, but who’ll make the FA Cup Final this weekend?

The home of English football, Wembley Stadium, hosts the two FA Cup Semi Finals playing this weekend and all four teams will be desperate to return and fight to lift the trophy. Whoever progresses this weekend and reaches the final on May 16th will be impressive in their own right. Arsenal have failed to win a trophy in nine years, Wigan were relegated from the Premier League after lifting the trophy last season, Hull City have never reached the FA Cup Final and this Semi Final is their first in 84 years while the final side, Sheffield United, are mid-table in League One.

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

Wigan v Arsenal Odds:

Wigan – 6.20

Draw – 4.00

Arsenal – 1.46

Arsenal may come into this match as the favourites to progress to the final, but there will be masses of pressure, both internal and external, on the side to win this match. Their last trophy came in this competition in 2005 and with them having collapsed in the league from top spot at the start of the year to fighting for fourth place winning this match, and then the final, will be the only way that Arsenal can lift a trophy this season. There is pressure from the fans too as they are unhappy at the state of affairs at The Emirates, but will victory soothe the baying horde?

Wigan will be confident coming into the game following their progression to Wembley at the expense of Manchester City, whom they defeated for a second year running, and their recent revival under Uwe Rösler that has move into the Championship playoffs as they look for an immediate return to the Premier League. City put six past Arsenal on home soil, yet Wigan managed a 2-1 win there and have a 2-0 record at Wembley over the last 12 months so will they be able to upset the odds today?

I certainly feel that with the panic that Arsenal are feeling about their lack of trophies that they will be highly motivated for this match, yet, despite the division difference in the sides, Wigan are in the better form of the two teams and have shown they can mix it with the best sides in the Premier League. I see a close game between these two teams with plenty of goals to be scored by both sides.

Back both sides to score in this Wigan v Arsenal FA Cup Semi Finals match @ 1.80 with

Hull v Sheffield United Odds:

Hull – 1.67

Draw – 3.25

Sheffield United – 5.00

Although two divisions separate these two teams, the betting odds for this match leave the teams closer than the first FA Cup Semi Final between Wigan and Arsenal. Both sides are sat mid-table in their respective leagues with Hull having a solid season on their return to the Premier League, while Sheffield United’s season has improved vastly of late following an awful start that left them mired in relegation trouble for the first half of the season.

The outsiders to make the final have already beaten Aston Villa and Fulham from the Premier League on their march to Wembley and their excellent form has belied their position in the third tier of English football. They have lost just two of their last 17 games before this game and they will know that whatever happens this weekend they have nothing to lose, so they have the freedom to play naturally and this may payoff for them.

Hull have been at their best in this competition this season with them having kept three clean sheets in their five matches, as only Brighton found the net against them. They know that victory today will all but assure them of a place in Europe next season, and with their Premier League safety all but assured too they will give their all to this match on the hallowed turf of Wembley.

I see this being an open and exciting game of football, but I can see the Premier League side edging victory over their League One opposition this weekend.

Back Hull to win this match by at least two goals (Hull -0.75) @ 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

Who’ll fill the final two FA Cup Quarter Final places?

Yannick Sagbo fires in a late equaliser to force a Hull v Brighton replay.

Yannick Sagbo fires in a late equaliser to force a Hull v Brighton replay.

Two of the four FA Cup Quarter Final ties have already been filled to completion as Arsenal take on Everton at The Emirates in the opening of the four matches and the last game sees a replay of last year’s final as Manchester City host Wigan Athletic looking for revenge in this competition after losing 1-0 at Wembley last May.

However, Premier League side Sunderland are still waiting to find out who they will be travelling to for a place at Wembley for a second time this season after the Capital One Cup Final next weekend. They will travel to the winner of the 5th round replay between Hull and Brighton who will battle to completion this Monday evening at the KC Stadium.

The other last eight stage sees League One Sheffield United face the winner of the Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton and a home win will set up a Steel City derby between the two Sheffield sides in a match that make it the standout tie of the Quarter Finals. My take on the these Monday Night FA Cup games are as follows.

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

Hull v Brighton 5th Round FA Cup Replay:

Hull – 1.73

Draw – 3.20

Brighton – 4.50

The first meeting of these two sides a week ago saw a 1-1 draw with Brighton looking as if they were going to progress over the Premier League side at the Amex. However, an 85th minute leveller from Yannick Sagbo saw Hull force a replay at the KC Stadium tonight and become favourites to meet Sunderland in the Quarter Finals. This match should be a close one still as that 1-1 draw contained half of the goals scored in the last five matches between the sides since a 2-1 win for Brighton in 2005.

Hull are struggling at the KC Stadium so far this season with just one win, a 6-0 thumping of Fulham in December, in their last six home matches. They have lost two of their last three and have failed to find the net in half of these six home matches. Brighton have lost three of their last six away games and have failed to score in three of their last four on the road. As a result of this poor form and the closeness of their previous matches in recent times I foresee another close match between these sides, with few goals to be scored.

Back -2.5 goals in the Hull v Brighton match @ 1.64.

Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton FA Cup 5th Round:

Sheffield Wednesday – 1.90

Draw – 3.10

Charlton – 3.80

The first playing of this match on February 15th was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Hillsborough, but the sides will meet for the second time this season this Monday evening as they look to reach the final eight stage and face Sheffield United for a place in the Semi Finals.

The sides, both of whom are in the lower reaches of the Championship shared the spoils 1-1 at The Valley earlier this season and things are even between the two teams at Hillsborough as they both have won two and drawn two of the last six Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton games.

Wednesday have won four of their last six at home, although both losses came against Wigan and Derby in their last two home games, while Charlton have won just two, against Oxford and Huddersfield in the FA Cup, in their last ten away games. I feel that the odds on this match are correct with Wednesday being favoured and I’m backing them to progress to the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup to setup a Steel City derby for a place in the final four.

Back Sheffield Wednesday to beat Charlton @ 1.90.

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