Premier League Predictions

This could be the round of fixtures that sees Leicester City crowned Premier League Champions!! Quite an unbelievable scenario. It would be one of the greatest stories in sporting history…..but it’s not done and dusted just yet.

Here’s how I think the fixtures will turn out:

Saturday (3pm BST kickoffs unless stated)

Everton v AFC Bournemouth

Everton’s season is in danger of becoming a really poor one. The agonizing last minute defeat to Man Utd in last weeks FA Cup semi final will have taken a few days to get over. Everton only showed up for the 2nd half but then showed what a good side they can be. They have some very good players but it doesn’t look as if Martinez can get them all firing together. His time may already be up but I think they’ll win this one.

Bournemouth are safe and that is a great achievement. They will be hoping to pick up at least one win to finish the season off on a high.

Broady’s prediction: 2-0

 

Newcastle v Crystal Palace:

Newcastle are still in there with a chance to beat the drop. Benitez has them playing with more steel as was showed at Anfield last week when they came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2.

Palace had a great win at Wembley and now have the FA Cup Final to look forward to, but they haven’t yet guaranteed their Premier League status for next season so they can’t take their eye off the ball in this one.

I think Toon just edge this one.

Broady’s prediction: 2-1

 

Stoke v Sunderland:

Stoke are having a shocker! What could’ve proved to be their best Premier League finish could turn into a middle of the road season. They are leaking goals for fun but surely that has to stop as they are a good side.

Sunderland are starting to play well at the business end of the season. With last weeks draw at home to Arsenal they climbed out of the relegation zone which will have been a massive boost for them.

I see this being a tight game.

Broady’s prediction: 1-1

 

Watford v Aston Villa:

Watford are another club who’s season is freefall, but as long as they beat the drop they will be ecstatic. They have been good to watch and no one has really given them a pasting.

Villa will be just going through the motions now and the club will be planning for life in the Championship next season.

Broady’s prediction: 2-0

 

West Brom v West Ham:

Credit to Tony Pulis and West Brom at White Hart Lane on Monday. They gave 100% in that game even though the players could’ve been forgiven if they’d had their minds on the end of the season and their holidays but they didn’t and probably cost Spurs any chance of the title.

West Ham are still in the fight for the European places and so need to get a result. They are a very good side and I see them getting at least a draw here.

Broady’s prediction: 1-2

 

Arsenal v Norwich: (5.30pm BST )

Another season, probably another top 4 finish for the Gunners. Arsene Wenger would have you believe that this is success. For me for a club of Arsenal’s size, stature and finances I don’t think it’s good enough. They have some fantastic players but have no “edge” to their game which is why they don’t win titles. Wenger’s teams from 98-2005 had that edge but he went away from that template and they have looked lightweight for the past decade.

Norwich will be feeling the pressure of dropping into the bottom 3 and even though Arsenal are not in great form, this is tough game for the Canaries to get anything from.

I see a comfortable Arsenal win.

Broady’s prediction: 3-0

Sunday:

Swansea v Liverpool (12pm BST)

Swansea were appalling against Leicester last Sunday and quite probably handed the title to the Foxes. Their work rate in that game was none existent but they will be playing Premier League football next season so I suppose the club will be relatively happy.

Liverpool’s first half performance against Newcastle was superb and it looked like they were going to carry on the succession of wins but the 2nd half they were casual and paid for it which could cost them a top 6 place unless they step it up again starting at the Liberty stadium.

Prediction: 1-3

 

Man Utd v Leicester (2.05pm BST)

Will the dream become a reality at Old Trafford for little Leicester City? I really hope it does as it would be unbelievable to see a club of that size win the title at the home of the Premier Leagues most successful club. Leicester were ruthless against Swansea last week. Most pundits had them down to drop points in their first league game without Vardy but Ulloa proved his worth with another 2 crucial goals. Riyad Mahrez came to the party with a fantastic performance and credit must again go to the manager previously known as “the tinkerman” who brought in Schlupp for Albrighton knowing without Vardy the team needed some extra pace from midfield. Their squad is vastly underrated.

Man Utd are finishing the season in good form and the way in which they beat Everton at Wembley in the FA Cup Semi will have given them an extra lift. There is no way they will want Leicester winning the title on their patch.

Utd could possibly have the highest possession percentage ever seen in this game! Leicester will let them have the ball and then look to hit them hard. I also see the 2 nightclub bouncers, Huth and Morgan doing their best to “rough up” the 2 young Utd forwards. Utd have been coming in from the flanks with great success recently but with Simpson and Fuchs as Leicester’s brilliantly disciplined full backs they might not get the same joy from those areas.

Broady’s prediction: 1-1

 

Southampton v Man City (4.30pm BST)

Saints had a good win at Villa last week and are a tough side to beat at St Mary’s. This team has the potential to be a regular top 6 or 7 fixture in the Premier League but will Ronald Koeman be their to oversee that? I have my doubts.

City are another side that are finishing the season relatively strongly and will have gained confidence from the battling 0-0 champions League semi final draw at the Eitiad on Wednesday night.

I think this will be a decent game to watch.

Broady’s prediction: 1-2

 

Chelsea v Tottenham (8pm BST)

What a game this is!!! Obviously Chelsea have no silverware to play for but with the incentive of stopping Spurs winning the title, I see them playing their best game of the season in this one. Eden Hazard finally came out of hiding in the Bournemouth game last week and could play a major role in this one. I have been very impressed with Pedro in the 2nd half of the season and see him being a big time player for the Blues next season.

Spurs started great against West Brom on Monday and to be fair created enough chances to win the game convincingly but the pressure of the title played a part in allowing West Brom back in it and that Dawson goal has more than likely ended the title challenge… but you never know

This will be a cracker.

Broady’s prediction: 2-1

 

So if my predictions come true we will see Leicester City crowned champions on Monday night! I think most of football would celebrate with them.

 

 

 

 

 

What is going wrong at Barca?

Having been eliminated from the Champions League following their 2-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid, Barcelona lost their 3rd straight league game at the weekend, the first time that has happened in 13 years. After going 35 games unbeaten in all competitions earlier in the season what has gone wrong for the Catalan giants?

Messi stopped scoring:

Regardless of how brilliant Neymar and Suarez are, Lionel Messi is still the main man and when his boots stop firing then whole team suffers. Barca’s poor run coincides with Messi’s worst goal drought for nearly 6 years although he did break that drought with a goal against Valencia in the 2-1 defeat. They will be hoping the little magician can now get back to business as usual.

Catalan Doubt:

It’s well known that while Catalonians are passionately tribal they are also of a fragile mindset and doubt is known to creep in after initial setbacks. While most of the players are not native Catalonians the club as whole will have started to question themselves following the 2-1 home defeat to Real Madrid which started the rot. Since then they have only won 1 game and that was a tight 2-1 win against 10 man Atletico. They need to regain their belief if they are to finish the season on a high.

Defensive issues:

The attacking trident of Neymar, Messi and Suarez has been hailed as been as good an attacking force as the game has ever seen and while that may well be the case, that trident has maybe been masking some real defensive issues within this Barca side. When you have 3 of the top 5 players in the world playing up front for you, you might have the tendency to not worry too much about what is going on behind them. Barca will feel that no matter how many the opposition score, with those 3 up front we’ll score more, but this mindset comes unstuck when the front 3 have a loss of form all at the same time which is what has happened. This situation has exposed Barca’s defence as being vulnerable and teams are going at them. As an attacking force, Dani Alves and Jordi Alba are wonderful wing backs but defensively they can be got at. Gerard Pique is a world class defender and in my opinion has carried Javier Mascherano for a while. Mascherano was a wonderful defensive midfielder for Liverpool and Argentina but as a center half I think he’s there for the taking and when Pique has a loss of form it highlights Mascherano’s deficiencies at center half.

Great XI but no squad:

Manager Luis Enrique didn’t use a substitute during the 2-1 defeat at the Nou Camp on Sunday which tells me he doesn’t think the guys on the bench have much to offer even when the team is losing at home. The first choice XI on their day are a wonderful side but when one or 2 run into a loss of from have they got any other options to be able to change things to stop the rot? It doesn’t appear so. Following Sunday’s defeat to Valencia Luis Enrique reacted angrily during the post match press conference to suggestions that he has a squad with no depth.

Can they turn it around?

With both Madrid clubs taking maximum points during Barca’s poor run in the league, the pressure is mounting on the Catalonians especially following the Champions League exit. Ironically the Champions League situation might work in their favor in the race for the La Liga title. Barca can now put more emphasis on La Liga, although they are still involved in the Copa Del Rey and have a tough tie against Sevilla but the Copa Del Rey doesn’t bring the pressure and intensity that the 2 Madrid clubs will face in the Champions League semi finals.

At some point all 3 of their superstar forwards will start scoring again but will the games have run out by then? We shall see.

 

 

 

Interesting?…..Without a doubt

Steve Davis announced his retirement from professional snooker last week, bringing to an end his 28 year career. The 58 year old, 6 time World Champion decided to call it a day after failing to qualify for this years World Championships.

Affectionately known as “Interesting” due to his supposedly dull persona, Davis was the first real superstar of snooker and one of the main reasons the game became so popular during the 80’s when he ruled the green baize.

As a kid I was a big Davis fan, I actually enjoyed watching him play as I thought he was a mix of all the other great players of his heyday.

He had the safety play of Thorburn and Griffiths but could also pot balls like Alex Higgins and Jimmy White, maybe not with flair of those two showmen but Davis was a very good long potter. He would grind his opponents down with his tactics of playing a patient game before finishing them off with awesome positioning  and great potting. He was the complete player. Higgins and White might have had more natural talent but Davis was the more rounded player and his domination of the 1980’s reflected that.

For all his world titles Davis will probably always be best known for his part in the 1985 world final against Dennis Taylor. Davis led that final 8-0 at one point and surprisingly took his foot off the gas and allowed Taylor back in. At 17-17 the game went into the deciding frame. For a world final to then end on a sudden death black ball was incredible. The match became iconic with 18.5 million people tuning in on TV to see the finale. I for one was shocked to see Davis lose the mental battle with Taylor as we had been so used to seeing him close out games on a regular basis but I guess the pressure of winning a World title affects even the very best.

To get over that devastating loss to Taylor and win 3 more world titles showed how resilient a player Davis was.

Surprisingly “nugget” never reached a world final during the 1990’s. Stephen Hendry came on the scene and it was as if Davis had trouble dealing with the fact that there was a new kid on the block with a similar all round game but who was more attacking. I think all snooker fans wanted Davis to step it up so that we would see a great rivalry emerge but it never happened.

In between playing, Davis became part of the BBC commentary team and this is when the general public became more aware that Steve Davis actually was “interesting”. His quick wit and dry sense of humor made him a popular personality and I for one enjoyed listening to him.

The question will now be asked…..”Who is the best ever? Davis, Hendry or O’sullivan?”

Hendry has the most world crowns and was virtually unbeatable in the 90’s but was the overall competition as strong during the 90’s as it had been in the 80’s when snooker was at it’s peak with regards to popularity?

O’Sullivan is perhaps the most naturally talented player the world has ever seen but has mental flaws that surface from time to time which has probably stopped him already overtaking Hendry’s world title haul. He still has time to win the 3 titles it would take to do that but being on the wrong side of 40 it will get harder every year.

Even though Davis himself admits his lack of “firepower” might give Hendry and O’Sullivan the edge in the debate, I think he might have been too cagey for the other 2 great champions. For all their greatness, Hendry and O’Sullivan did take risks and against a prime Davis I think those risks might have been their undoing. I think Davis’ tactics would’ve driven Ronnie to distraction so I would put Davis at the top of the pile.

Thanks for the memories Steve, you were most certainly “interesting”.

 

 

 

 

A career ended but a life saved

It’s always sad to see a professional athlete’s career being cut short by injury or illness.

This week it was announced that James Taylor, the England batsman, was to retire immediately from all forms of professional cricket after being diagnosed with a very serious heart condition. By all accounts there were no previous symptoms and it was discovered during routine checks after he felt ill during a county match for Nottinghamshire last week.

Taylor will be devastated, his career shot down in it’s prime in the blink of an eye. At the age of 26 it will be difficult for him to process the fact that he won’t ever play professional cricket again. On the positive side, a potentially deadly condition has been spotted and he can now receive the treatment required to live a long life. If the condition had not been discovered we could have seen a terrible tragedy on the field of play so while his family will obviously be sad for James that his career is over they will be overcome with relief that he can now receive the medical treatment he needs to be healthy and be around for them.

It’s easy for us on the outside to say that he should be happy he got diagnosed and his career being over is just a consequence of having a serious medical condition, but to Taylor it will be so much more devastating and hard to come to terms with.

His career ends virtually on the spot, how does he process that? All the guy has ever done is play Cricket, it’s probably all he knows and it will be tough despite the relief he is alive.

I can in some ways relate to Taylor’s situation. My own cricket career was end by the dreaded “yips” but rather than it coming to an abrupt end like Taylor’s, mine was a slow demise but just as devastating. You wonder what you are going to do with your life, you question yourself, you question others, you beat yourself up asking yourself if you could have done anything different so that this situation never occurred. While my career ended due to a mental issue, Taylor’s has ended due to a physical condition which may in some ways make it slightly easier for him to accept. And he did achieve the ultimate in playing Test Match cricket for his country and no one can ever take that away from him.

Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club is a fantastic club. I spent 2 seasons there during the “yips” period and they did all they could to help me so I’m sure they will be there for Taylor during this time. Back in my day and from my own experience the Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) weren’t that great when it came to emotional support for any pro or ex pro going through hard times but from what I’ve seen and heard the PCA are now absolutely fantastic at supporting their members and I’m sure they will give Taylor any help and support required to get his life back on track after dealing with such devastating news.

I hope Taylor keeps his love for the game and that he stays involved in it in some capacity but it’s hard to say if that will happen as being around the game you love but can no longer play can be upsetting but with the correct support system I’m sure we will see him again, maybe in a coaching capacity. He appears to be a bubbly, upbeat character and that will hold him in good stead for the journey ahead.

All the best James!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

De Bruyne the key for City

Man City v PSG (Tues 7.45pm GMT)

Crunch time for City today. The club have been building up to this game for 8 years. They have a real chance of progressing to the Champions League Semi Finals for the first in their history.

And the competition could be opening up nicely for them! Real Madrid are in real trouble (pardon the pun!) in their tie against Wolfsburg, Barcelona conceded an away goal last week in their 2-1 win against Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich take a slender 1 goal lead to the Stadium of Light in Lisbon when they face a very useful Benfica outfit.

We could realistically have a semi final line up of Man City, Wolfsburg, Atletico Madrid and Benfica.

I doubt it though as I’m pretty sure at least one of the big 3, Real, Barca or Bayern will progress.

PSG were disappointing at the Park de Princes last week. City were awful defensively with the Fernando error as bad as you will see, it reminded me of watching a local league game in Barnsley!! Going forward they looked dangerous with Kevin De Bruyne being the main man. Had he been fit all season I think City would’ve been a lot closer to Premier League leaders Leicester in the race for the title. He looks world class and you have to shake your head as to why Chelsea ever let him leave!

If City can defend better and get De Bruyne in the game I see them winning this game……just.

In the other Tuesday tie we see Real Madrid trying to claw back a 2 goal deficit against German side Wolfsburg. I have a friend who is a keen Real fan and he said the game in Germany was as bad as he’s ever seen Real play. I think they were too confident, took Wolfsburg lightly and paid the price. We should see a different Real today but I wouldn’t count Wolfsburg out completely as with Julien Draxler they have the ideal foil to hit Real on the break and get a priceless away goal.

Predictions:

Man City 2-1 PSG

Real Madrid 3-1 Wolfsburg (Wolfsburg to go through on away goal)

What do you reckon?

AJ the Destroyer

Anthony Joshua became the IBF World Heavyweight Champion on Saturday night at the O2 arena in London after dethroning American Charles Martin in ruthless fashion.

Joshua stopped Martin in the second round of the title fight to justify the hype surrounding the 26 year old from London.

Joshua took the opening round by landing a couple of big shots, the Champion Martin was reluctant to come forward and thus not really getting in range to land anything.

In the second Martin again struggled to cut the distance down to land any meaningful shots. The first time he did try to come forward he was countered with a beautiful short right hand from Joshua which put the Champion on the canvas. Martin got to his feet with the count at 8 but was again caught with the same shot shortly after, the referee then stopping the fight.

It was a brilliant near punch perfect performance from Joshua who was tipped to struggle against the unbeaten south paw Martin. The calmness and efficiency Joshua showed in his first big title fight was very impressive and he could be the next global heavyweight superstar.

I personally thought Martin, 29,  looked a very limited champion. He was unbeaten coming into the fight but did not appear to have the skills to be in the same ring as the Londoner.

Joshua becomes only the fourth man to hold both the Olympic title and World Heavyweight crown at the same time joining Floyd Patterson, Leon Spinks and Muhammad Ali in the select group.

Only Spinks had fewer fights before capturing a world heavyweight crown.

Joshua is a magnificent physical specimen. Tyson Fury thinks Joshua is to bulky for a boxer but the athleticism he showed to land the right hands that put an end to the fight was beautiful to watch. Those were short and technically perfect right hands. Tyson Fury can tweet what he likes, he knows that going in with Joshua could be a world of hurt for him. He must know, like the rest of us, that Joshua is something special.

The Heavyweight division has burst into life, with the British fighters leading the way. Whatever you or I may think about Fury and his ability he is still the guy holding the main belts. With Joshua now joining him with a title and David Haye returning to the scene, British Heavyweight boxing is on cloud nine.

I really hope those 3 fighters don’t take 5 years to get it on though. They must strike while the iron is hot and put the fights together over the next 18 months. Klitschko could put a spanner in the works by beating Fury in July. Even in Fury is defeated and dethroned he will still be a lucrative opponent for Joshua. David Haye is still a very dangerous puncher but I get the feeling that Joshua will be a champion that wants to fight the best so I see that fight happening.

Lennox Lewis was the last great British Heavyweight Champion, on Saturday Anthony Joshua showed that he could well be the next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let flair flourish through playing

Following the death of the great Johan Cruyff I decided to go online and read about his football philosophy.

His philosophy was based on the fact that the most talented individuals should be the focal point of the team and a teams training session should be built around them.

That got me thinking about kids football and how they are being coached.

From what I’ve seen the majority of coaches are teaching young kids to be “functional” even at a very young age. I see training sessions based on positioning and passing which might well create successful “teams” but will also produce a million and one clones who all play the same. I’d bet my bottom dollar you won’t see many 8-10 years being drilled to pass and hold their positions in Brazil. I read that up until 12 years of age a local Brazillian coach will hardly say a word at training sessions and the session will be predominantly based on the kids just playing, no drills. This type of coaching will allow those kids to try things and work out what works and doesn’t work for themselves. Glenn Hoddle has said that he doesn’t believe in coaching 8 year olds with drills as they should be allowed to become at one with the ball so that by the age of 10 they feel the ball is just an extension of themselves. I for one as an England fan wishes Hoddle was still involved with the national team. I believe if he hadn’t been sacked by the FA the England team would’ve gone close to winning a major tournament.

Of course there needs to be strong tackling defenders and midfielders in football but by allowing kids to try things at a young age you will get strong tackling defenders and midfielders who can also play and are extremely comfortable on the ball.

I’m of the thinking that if Johan Cruyff had been born in Accrington instead of Amsterdam he wouldn’t have got anywhere near the level he did. He would’ve been drilled to be like all the other lads and would probably have become disillusioned with the game.

Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle were 2 of the most gifted individuals England have ever produced yet Ray Wilkins got more caps! They both had to move abroad to get the recognition they deserved.

Waddle says that when he moved to Marseille it was like being released from prison. The manager told him to stay in the opponents half and he needn’t defend, on Marseille losing possession he had to just focus on getting his energy back ready for when they regained possession. In England he would’ve been told to run like a madman to get the ball back.

We all love watching football but if we are being honest, apart from the select bunch of world class players there is a real much of a muchness around especially in England. I think until we see kids coaches allowing flair to flourish over functionality we’ll see more and more clones coming off the conveyor belt.

Less drills and more skills, just allow the kids to play!

 

 

Premier League Predictions

It’s the business end of the season and for the majority of clubs draws are no longer any good, only wins will do which should make for an exciting round of fixtures.

Saturday:

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West Ham v Arsenal (12.45)

This should be a cracking game. Both sides need the 3 points to push for the Champions League and the Premier League title respectively.

West Ham have been helped by the rescinded red card of Cheik Kouyate and should be at full strength. Dimitri Payet will again be the main man for the Hammers, what a season he’s had, what a player he is. He’s brought a new dimension to this West Ham side and his individual brilliance could again prove to be the difference.

Arsenal are looking good again, albeit when the pressure has eased somewhat. They are still in the title race for the moment but will probably have to win every game from now until the end of the season, which I don’t think they will.

Broady’s prediction: 1-1

 

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Aston Villa v Bournemouth (3.00)

Villa are already doomed and the club appear to be in turmoil. The owner wants to sell but can’t find a buyer and the team can’t buy a win.

Bournemouth’s performance levels have dropped a little after all but securing their top flight status for next season so this could well end in a draw.

Broady’s prediction: 1-1

 

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Crystal Palace v Norwich (3.00)

Palace are surely due a win, they are a decent side but things haven’t gone in their favor since the turn of the year. They have a few players back so might finish the season positively.

I watched Norwich beat Toon last week and they showed a lot of desire in that game and that quality might keep them up but I think Palace will finally get a 2016 win.

Broady’s prediction: 2-0

 

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Southampton v Newcastle (3.00)

Saints were unlucky not to get a point against Leicester last weekend. A few calls went against them but they are a good side.

Newcastle are in real trouble, they have some good players but don’t play as a team and maybe Benitez doesn’t have enough time to change that.

Broady’s prediction: 2-1

 

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Swansea v Chelsea (3.00)

Swansea probably need one more win to ensure safety which I’m sure they will get in the remaining games but not in this game.

Chelsea are on a long unbeaten run in the league under Gus Hiddink and I think they will continue that run with a win.

Broady’s prediction: 1-2

 

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Watford v Everton (3.00)

These 2 sides are safe and in mid table mediocrity which for Evertonians that must be very disappointing. They will both have one eye on their upcoming respective FA Cup Semi finals so I see this being a low key affair.

Broady’s predication: 1-1

 

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Man City v West Brom (17.30)

With Kevin De Bruyne back City suddenly look a different proposition. He is a fantastic player and is the first City signing since 2012 to really change the team, with him back I see them finishing the season strongly.

West Brom are West Brom, pretty dull but relatively solid, a typical Tony Pulis team.

Broady’s prediction: 3-0

 

Sunday:

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Sunderland v Leicester (Sunday 13.30)

What a game this is! If Leicester win this game then I think they win the title. They have been doing just enough lately which is what Champions do towards the end of the season, another 1-0 would do very nicely but I think they might do better than that this week.

Sunderland also have to win. They are a decent side and this is a difficult game for the foxes.

I think Leicester might go for it a bit more this weekend and flex their muscles to make sure they get what I believe will be a defining 3 points.

Broady’s prediction: 0-2

 

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Liverpool v Stoke: (Sunday 16.00)

Liverpool got a fantastic result in Germany on Thursday against a brilliant Dortmund side. Dejan Lovren is starting to look like a top line center half and his partnership with Sahko could flourish under Klopp.

Liverpool are starting to show some consistency and I believe with some additional summer signings they will be a very very dangerous outsider next season.

Stoke have had a good season and are pleasing on the eye under Mark Hughes but I think Liverpool at Anfield might be a bit too much for them.

Broady’s prediction: 2-1

 

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Tottenham v Man Utd (16.00)

This is another must win game for both teams. If Leicester win in the earlier game at Sunderland I think the title race is over but Spurs won’t think that and so they will go all out for the 3 points at White Hart Lane. They played well in the 2nd half at Anfield last week despite Dele Alli having a very quiet game. Harry Kane is on fire and his turn and finish was world class. Spurs are a very very good side.

Utd players should have all left the field with a swag bag after the Everton game as they robbed the Toffees of 3 points. They didn’t play well at OT but Anthony Martial is a special talent and proved the match winner. They are still in the mix for 4th place but I don’t think they’ll get anything from this game.

Broady’s prediction: 2-0

 

The Dying Art of Express Pace

pacebowlers“You are living in the past mate, sport moves on and they get bigger and faster”.

 

 

That’s what I’ve heard many a time when someone questions if sport really has got better as time moves on.

But Cricket has an art that I believe isn’t getting faster…….bowling.

There’s pace and then there’s express pace, the kind that gets the crowd off their seats, the kind that makes you think about wife and kids when at the crease.

We are talking Jeff Thompson, Shoaib Ahktar, Brett Lee, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Allan Donald, Frank Tyson, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait quick. Notice that there are hardly any names in there of current bowlers. I believe express pace bowling is a dying art and I have a hunch why.

tysonModern day bowlers are being “programmed” to bowl in a certain way so as to minimize injuries. Side on actions are few and far between at the top level and my only conclusion is that the young quick bowlers are being encouraged to bowl a certain way. With all the “hanger onners” you see within a professional outfit you end up with the biomechanic experts or coaches who learned from a book drawing up templates on how a bowler should bowl to maximize results but minimize injuries. While this is very useful info for someone who wants to enjoy a long career bowling fast-medium I believe it’s resulting in fewer and fewer express pace bowlers at the higher levels of the game.

thompsonJeff Thompson, Shoaib Ahktar and Shaun Tait are the fastest bowlers of all time and all had side on actions. They were “slingers” which appears to be the best method to bowl faster than anybody else. They had almost javelin throwing actions, you might not become the best bowler with a slinging, side on action but you are going to be fast! I remember playing for Yorkshire 2nd XI against Kent in 1993. They had an Aussie born guy called Duncan Spencer playing. Goodness me that bloke was lightening quick, fastest I’ve ever seen or played against and again had a side on, slingy action. Andre Van Troost was another notoriously quick bowler on the scene who had a side on slingy action. There’s a trend there.

Going back to when I was just starting out at Yorkshire, some of us trained under a javelin coach, Wilf Paish, for 10 weeks and it was amazing the results we got, not necessarily changing our actions but he trained us the way he trained Mick Hill and Steve Backley and I personally put on a good yard and a half of pace after that in a short space of time so good old Wilf was right I think when he said Javelin throwing and fast bowling were very similar.

I wonder how a county/Provincial coach would manage a young kid with a side on slingy action these days? I’d tell him to keep doing it and bowl as fast as he could, bowling quick is a gift that few are given so youngsters should be encouraged to bowl as fast as they can regardless of accuracy. Accuracy will come later, for lads with the natural tools to bowl express pace, speed should be the priority.

It’s great to have everyone bowling with an injury proof action for 20 years at fast-medium, some would choose that route, personally I’d rather have 8 years bowling rapid!

Interesting debate though, let me know your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

Torres Red?

torresred

 

 

 

 

Barcelona will take a 2-1 advantage to the Vicente calderon for the 2nd leg of the Champions League Quarter Final next week but did they get a helping hand from the ref or was Fernando Torres’ 2nd yellow card justified?

After seeing it a few times I think Torres was slightly reckless, especially being on a yellow and in the Nou Camp, Barca do tend to get any borderline decision go in their favor there, but there’s the other argument that these days any foul seems to be deemed a yellow card which in my opinion is spoiling games.

The Torres red card had a massive bearing on the outcome of the game as Atletico then had no outlet to aim for after parking the bus from the first min to the last. With Torres on they would have soaked up the pressure and then aimed for him on the break as they did for the goal which el nino took like the Torres of old.

Luis Suarez again showed that he, along with Aguero, has a valid case to be hailed as the worlds best out and out center forward. His 2nd goal tonight was a sensational header. The power he generated was incredible and he is heading towards 50 goals for the season. The 75m he cost Barca looks a bargain. Suarez was a lucky boy though and should have probably seen red during the first half but again Barca get those calls at home.

Messi and Neymar were again ok but not at their best. 2 games now without a goal for Lionel, it could spark a major inquest! To be fair it’s not easy when a team of Atletico’s quality parks the bus for the whole game. Simeone is a very good tactical coach but he could eventually get football stopped!

Should be an intriguing return leg. I’d go for another 2-1 win for Barca.