Wenger’s legacy to be tarnished?

Five years have passed since Arsenal last won a major trophy, and it’s just possible that in what seems increasingly likely to be Wenger’s last year with the Gunners, the Frenchman may be battling not only to win a trophy for the team, but also to secure his legacy as Arsenal’s greatest ever manager.

Had Wenger led the Gunners to their first Champions League success back in 2006, or successfully defended the Premier League trophy following any of his three successes, he could have walked away knowing that few Gooners or English Premier League betting pundits would be able to dispute his status as the Gunners’ greatest ever manager.

However, after five seasons that have represented a disappointing trophy drought, Wenger is under pressure to live up to the ‘in Arsene we trust’ belief held by Gooners. With this trust becoming more and more strained, Wenger knows that his ability to replace veteran defenders Sol Campbell and William Gallas with another Vermaelen rather than a Cygan, could decide his legacy.

With Wenger himself openly admitting to those who bet on football the need to bring in defensive reinforcements, and aware of the growing sense of frustration from fans who have failed to see the Gunners reach even a major final since 2008, this is the time to deliver success in any of the 4 major trophies.

With Wenger unlikely to change his strategy of using the Carling Cup as a training competition for youth players, the FA Cup is a competition that many Arsenal fans will be hoping he takes more seriously this season.

Following semi-final disappointment in 2009, with Arsenal fans bewildered by Wenger’s decision not to pick the in-form Andrei Arshavin, and a humiliating 3-1 defeat at Stoke last season, during which a vastly inexperienced Arsenal side came grossly unstuck at the Britannia stadium, Wenger may need to reconsider how he views one of the world’s greatest domestic competitions.

League Two opening day preview

The first day of the league season is an exciting time for all football fans. Ambitions vary, but most supporters start with optimism, aware that there is plenty of time for realism in the long slog of a 46-match league season.

Opening day defeats are therefore felt more keenly than others and this is particularly true for followers of recently relegated clubs. A loss on the first day of the season quickly dispels the belief that life will be easier in a lower division and that a quick return can be relied upon.

Two relegated teams meet at Roots Hall as Southend United take on Stockport County in a game that nPower League Two betting is finding tough to call. This is also battle between clubs mired in financial difficulty, but whilst there will be general concern at their team’s plight, supporters will be concentrating on on-field matters.

New Southend boss Paul Sturrock will not expect instant success from his team, as the squad has been overhauled in the summer. Much like those involved in nPower League one betting, the manager will want to see some promise from his new signings, led by captain Craig Easton, but County are perhaps even more in disarray and their new boss Paul Simpson will be happier with a point.

Wycombe Wanderers were also relegated last season and will get an instant idea of their promotion prospects. Morecambe filled the top play-off place last season but their season ended on a sour note as they were hammered 7-2 on aggregate in the semi finals by Dagenham and Redbridge.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

However, everything is in place for another promotion challenge under Sammy Mcllroy and a good start at Adams Park will help extinguish the memories of the Dagenham debacle. The permanent signing of Phil Jevons after an impressive season on loan last year provides an early boost and the Shrimps should be backed not to lose in this curtain-raiser.

Barton out to prove a point

And it’s a warm welcome back to the big time for Joey Barton. Everyone’s favourite cheeky Scouser is out to prove a point to his many Premier League betting critics.

Last season Newcastle managed to win the Championship without the midfielder. Barton only managed 15 appearances due to injury. His confidence is still there, stating this week he is as good as anyone in the country in his position. Barton added he was confident of getting back into the England squad and adding to his single international cap.

Despite his enfant terrible tag, the fact remains that Barton is a quality player. Before his various disciplinary troubles, many in England viewed him as one of the best central midfielders in the Premiership. Movie All Is Lost (2013)

His passing ability is up there with the best and his tough tackling style is essential to his team. His inability to channel that aggression has been Barton’s biggest fault so far in his career.

After spending 77 days in jail for assault, Barton pledged to turn his life around. He promised to repay Newcastle for sticking with him. It didn’t turn out like that though.

After returning from another injury lay-off, Barton was sent off against Liverpool, as Newcastle struggled to stave off relegation. In the dressing room afterwards, a reported bust up occurred between Barton and then manager Alan Shearer.

Barton was given an indefinite ban for his behaviour and against all pre-season Premier League betting odds, Newcastle were relegated.

The Liverpool born midfielder will be looking to remind everyone of his ability this season. After missing so much football over the last three years, Barton will be raring to go come the season opener against Blackburn on the 14th August.

Jol return a shrewd move by Fulham

I think Fulham have done a fantastic bit of business in luring Martin Jol away from Ajax and back to the Premier League.

Apart from a thoroughly likeable manager, they are getting someone with a decent track record and European experience – attributes many Cottagers probably thought they had seen the back of when Roy Hodgson left for Liverpool, indeed the football betting suggested they could be fighting for their top flight lives.

In Jol they have a coach he has a point to prove. I doubt he would say it out loud but he was very harshly treated at Tottenham.

A poor start to the 2006/07 season saw the board panic just three games into the season and the Dutchman was immediately under pressure. Juande Ramos was allegedly offered the job at the end of August while Jol was still in charge.

Who knows exactly what went on behind the scenes but it seems the writing was on the wall before he was drummed out three months into the season.

This was despite leading the club to consecutive fifth placed finishes and being a dodgy lasagne away from leading the club into the Champions League.

It should also be noted that some of the players he brought in – Gareth Bale Aaron Lennon, Michael Dawson, and Tom Huddlestone – formed a crucial part of last year’s fourth placed side. Dimitar Berbatov was sold on at a £20 million profit just two years after he signed and even two of his perceived failures, Kevin Prince Boetang and Younes Kaboul, have proven to be handy players.

If Jol had been able to continue his work at Spurs I feel he would have taken them into the Champions League earlier than Harry Redknapp has.

The Premier League 2010/11 betting had suggested Fulham could struggle, with Jol at the helm they should do well.

With that burning sense of injustice inside him, I think he will do a great job at Craven Cottage. He won’t have the same resources as he did at White Hart Lane but the alleged £20 million transfer kitty given to him by Mohammed Al Fayed is handy enough. And with a decent backbone already in place last season’s Europa League final could indeed be the start of an exacting new era rather than the end of one as most people have been predicting.

Blackburn playing a dangerous waiting game

Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce is being forced to play a dangerous waiting game as he bids to strengthen his attacking options at Ewood Park.

Football betting pundits note that Rovers are in desperate pursuit of a striker to bolster their threadbare attack, but Allardyce’s transfer strategy is dependent on the club’s potential takeover.

With a month to go to the start of the season Allardyce has yet to add to his squad and the Rovers boss, for the time being, is sitting tight.

Indian businessman Saurin Shah has made his interest in the Lancashire club public, but as yet no takeover has been sealed and Allardyce has been left in limbo.

It’s understood the club have drawn up two lists of targets – one with the aid of new investment and the other without. The current transfer budget for Allardyce is around £2.5million, but the boss is hoping to have those coffers and the team’s online betting odds of success boosted with Shah’s investment.

It’s a dangerous waiting game because Rovers’ forward line is thin with only senior strikers Jason Roberts, Nikola Kalinic, and El-Hadji Diouf on the books.

Maceo Rigters, who spent all of last season on loan at Barnsley, and David Hoilett are the only other options with any first-team experience.

Allardyce knows he needs to make at least one addition to his forward line, but the longer he waits for the cash the harder the search will become.

Rovers, who were 20 points clear of the relegation zone last season, can’t afford to start the campaign with a lightweight attack.

They only managed 41 goals in 38 games last season and with Everton, Arsenal and Manchester City to face in three of their opening four games they face a tough start to the campaign.

My top five moments of the World Cup

After 64 games spread across 31 days the World Cup is finally over and Spain have added the world title to their European crown won two years ago. It has been an eventful month in South Africa with plenty of memorable moments, but here are my top five.

1. Lampard’s goal that never was.

Perhaps an image that will change the game forever. Frank Lampard’s dipping shot landed at least a foot over the line but was not given by the linesman. A review into the use of video technology has been called for and changes will be made in the wake of an incident which would have brought England level at 2-2 against Germany. In the end, they lost 4-1.

2. Van Bronckhorst’s goal in the semi-final.

Many players struggled to get to grips with the fly-away Jubalini ball, but 35-year-old Van Bronckhorst tamed the beast with a cracking 25 yard strike into the top corner to help the Netherlands into the World Cup final.

3. The French going on strike.

The rumblings of discontent had been going on for a while in the French camp, but things exploded one morning at the training ground when, after a blistering argument between some of the players and the coaching staff, the squad decided to go on strike. It was no surprise to see them eliminated at the group stage.

4. Germany’s hammerings of England and Argentina.

Joachim Loew’s young team came into the tournament with low expectations, but this exciting group of players ripped England and then Argentina apart with some devastating counter-attacking football. It ended in a heartbreaking semi-final defeat to Spain but rest assured these players will be back in four years time. And Premier League odds watchers should expect a few of them to be turning up in England soon.

5. Asamoah Gyan’s penalty miss.

It was perhaps the second most controversial moment of the tournament. Luis Suarez’s handball in the last minute of extra time gave Ghana the chance to advance to the World Cup semi-finals. Suarez was inconsolable for a few moments as he trudged off the pitch only for the pain to turn to joy when Gyan blasted the penalty against the bar. It was a devastating blow for Ghana, and one that upset many football bets.

The final whistle went soon after and the Uruguayan’s advanced on penalty kicks with Suarez hailed a hero by his countrymen and public enemy number one by those in Africa.

It’s Germany – but not as we know them

Another tournament, another semi-final for Germany, some things never change.

But although their progress to the latter stages of yet another World Cup won’t have surprised many, the manner in which it has been achieved will surely have raised some eyebrows. Their World Cup 2010 odds made gave them a reasonable chance of doing well in the tournament, but their style of play as been entirely unexpected.

This isn’t the dour, efficient Germany of old, scraping through, often on penalties. No, this new Germany has united a myriad footballing styles from cultures as far away as Nigeria and Turkey to form a young, exciting side that can counter-attack with devastating effect.

Their destruction of Australia, England and Argentina has put them among esteemed company – not since the legendary Brazil side of 1970 has a team scored four or more goals on three separate occasions at a World Cup.

However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that blended into the fabric of this new look side is that one, famous, traditional German characteristic – efficiency.

Against both Argentina and England they happily conceded possession to their opponents, drawing them out of their defensive shells. Then, as quick as a mouse trap they pounced on the counter, exposing the gaps behind the defence and blowing the opposition away to put the game beyond their reach. They look like the most in-form team of the last three standing in South Africa.

It is interesting to note though that Germany have only fallen behind once in this tournament and they ended up losing that game against Serbia. If Spain nudge in front on Wednesday it will be a true test of this young German side’s resilience and adaptability. All of a sudden it will be they who are expected to make the running and force this issue. It will be interesting to see who the in play betting reacts to such an eventuality.

It has the makings of a tight and tense semi-final which is too close to call. Though if it goes to penalties you know there will be only one winner.

Some things never change!