Category: Casino Reviews

Westwood & Poulter

Westwood and Poulter head English charge at St Andrews

It has been a long time since English golf has been in such a healthy state and as the United Kingdom searches for its first open winner since Paul Lawrie took advantage of Jean Van de Veld’s meltdown at Carnoustie in 1999, English golf fans have to go back even further, to 1992, when Sir Nick Faldo claimed the last of his three Open victories to bring the trophy to England.

For a country that claims such a rich heritage in the game, that is a somewhat damning statistic and one which may, hopefully for fans of English golf, change in 2010.
Leading the challenge from England for the title of Open Champion 2010 is Lee Westwood. The Worksop born professional has been the most consistent performer in the last three major championships, achieving a top three placing in each of the last three major championships. Of course, he will have another chance at a major Championship at Pebble Beach in June when he contests the US Open, but it is perhaps at St Andrews that Westwood stands the best chance of lifting a major title.
Ian Poulter will also reckon he is in with a strong chance. The current Accenture World Matchplay champion has had an outstanding season and finished 2nd in the 2008 Open Championship, though failed to follow that up in 2009 missing the cut. Having finished in a respectable 10th place in the Masters in April, the colourful Poulter will be confident of taking his fine form onto the course with him at St Andrews in July.

The English challenge however doesn’t end there. Luke Donald seems to have hit form by winning the Madrid Masters last week and he will surely feel his game is suited well to the challenge of the Old Course. Paul Casey is another Englishman who is in fine form lying in fifth place on the European tour money list, while Simon Khan, who surprisingly won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, cannot be overlooked, then there are the likes of Justin Rose and Chris Wood who cannot be completely overlooked.

There will be great competition for the English contingent from across the world South Africa with Goosen, Els and in the in form Charl Schwartzel will be formidable, as will the always powerful contingent from the US, led by Masters Champions Phil Mickelson and of course, the genius of Tiger Woods. There will also be a strong contingent from the Asian tour, led by current PGA title holder Y.E.Yang and K.J.Choi, not to mention the renaissance of older professionals, such as Tom Watson, who delighted the crowds at the Open Championship last year.

There will also be strong representation from Europe itself, with the likes of Padraig Harrington, a double winner of this Championship in 2007 and 2008, Martin Kaymer and Alvaro Queiros expected to perform well. There will even be strong competition from other UK based countries with Wales ace Rhys Davies and Northern Ireland’s Graham McDowell expected to feature.

All golfers in the field will face a familiar St Andrews with one exception: The notorious Road Hole has been lengthened by 35 yards to 490 yards in total, to provide golfers with a real test once again and it seems likely who can play this tough 17th the best late on Sunday afternoon, will stand the greatest chance of winning the ultimate prize. Many golf fans in England hope that one, or more, of Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and co, are amongst that elite group to end an eighteen year wait for an English winner.

Clay : The Surface Nemesis of the Williams Sisters?

The imoportance of the surface is greater than most people think

One of the most misunderstood aspects of tennis for many people, who don’t have an active interest in the sport, is the importance of the surface. To many, a good Tennis player is a good tennis player, be that on carpet, grass, hard court or clay.

Certainly as we enter the Clay season, the importance of the surface takes on an added dimension as clay, it seems, seems to be the great leveller in women’s tennis at the moment and if you are considering dabbling in tennis betting, it must be taken into consideration.

On the hard courts and grass, the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, have exercised a dominance over the women’s game in recent years that perhaps only Federer and Nadal in the men’s game can claim to emulate.

The sheer force of will, power and determination of both Williams sisters, particularly in the grand slam events of the Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon make them almost certain favourites for each event.

However, when we enter the clay court season, that changes slightly.

Of the two Williams sisters, Serena is arguably the better suited to bucking the trend and triumphing on clay. The shorter of the two sisters is also the most powerful and the best suited to the powerful, yet patient groundstroke game required to triumph on clay.

However the American has shown frailties at times and injury has kept her our since she lifted the Australian open title  in January. It is perhaps asking too much for her to make a winning return to Roland Garros after such a spell. If she can win, it would be her second French open, after her success in 2002.

Her sister Venus, who lost that 2002 final to her sister, has never enjoyed great success on clay. Her game is based purely on using her remarkable physical attributes, particularly her 6ft 1” frame, to generate a level of power that other women find hard to match on the quicker surfaces.

Clay however, reduces the speed of the ball markedly making it easier for other players to expose Venus’ weaker part of her game and while the American will be hoping for success on the clay this season, it would require a somewhat extraordinary turn of events for her to triumph on a surface that is not her favourite.

Henin and Clijsters like the clay…

Another problem facing the Williams sisters is that despite their dislike of clay, some of their greatest opponents enjoy playing on the surface. Justine Henin will be hoping she can return to her best form at the French Open in particular, a place where she has enjoyed success in the past.

Since her return to the WTA tour Henin has failed to win a WTA event and although being ranked 23 is a decent achievement, it is not on a par with the level she can play at. Perhaps at Roland Garros she can put this right.

She’ll face tough competition from compatriot Kim Clijsters, who made a similar return to Tennis in spectacular fashion last September in lifting the US Open title in only her third tournament since her return.

Clijsters will be hoping the seasons second major offers her another chance at lifting a slam title. If I was given one of the myriad of free bets offers around, I’d be backing Clijsters for a strong run this year.

But for the Williams sisters, fighting injury and a surface that lessens the strongest aspects of their game, playing on clay may once again prove to be a greater obstacle to overcome, than any of their opponents.

Championa League Semi Final 2nd Leg Preview

I’m feeling somewhat smug after a nice little double last week on victories for Inter and Bayern Munich.

We can now turn our attention to the second leg of the Champions League Semi Finals and wonder what stories are set to be written as we postulate as to what may happen at the Stade Gerland, Lyon and the Nou Camp, Barcelona later this week.

Lyon seek revenge mission

On Tuesday night all eyes will focus on France as Lyon host Bayern Munich hoping to overturn a slender 1-0 deficit from thefirst leg in Munich.

Lyon have an exceptional record at home in the Champions League and this will not be an easy game for Bayern.

The first leg was much closer than many critics expected and had Jeremy Toulalan not got himself foolishly sent off in thesecond half, there is every chance Lyon would have snatched a point from the first leg.

As it is, they will remain confident of being able to defeat Bayern at the Stade Gerland. The problem Lyon have is that they need to defeat them by two clear goals to progress and that could well be the problem.

As much as I can see Lyon edging this game, I can see Bayern scoring at least an away goal. That may be the single crucial moment of the ninety minutes.

I can see a Lyon victory of 1-0 forcing extra time and maybe penalties, or a victory of 2-1 that means Bayern go through on away goals, but I cannot see the French side getting a 3-1 victory, even if Bayern are without Ribery.

For me, Lyon’s best chance comes from a 1-0 victory and then a penalties success. I think if Bayern score at any point during the 90 minutes (or extra time), then they will go through.

My tip for this though is a draw on the night. I think the game will initially be very tight and probably 0-0 at half time before a more open second half. Lyon will snatch the lead but Bayern would pull a goal back late on to take them through.

You can get on the draw at 3.4 with Bet365.

Can Barcelona reign in Inter?

Wednesday night sees the second leg of the Barcelona – Inter Milan clash after the first leg in Milan saw Inter emerge with a stunning 3-1 lead.

Pedro’s early goal seemed to put Barcelona in complete charge but Inter roared back to secure a fine win and a two goal advantage to take to the Nou Camp.

The bookmakers have Barcelona as the big favourites to win the game at odds around 1.4, but whether the Catalan’s can do enough on the night to make the final is more open to debate. Given their excellent home form recently, it is hard to make a convincing case for Barcelona to be beaten.

However, I wrote those words almost a month ago for the game between Chelsea and Inter at Stamford Bridge. On that night, Inter secured a memorable 1-0 victory against the odds to take their place in the quarter final.

Barcelona are a tough proposition, but Mourinho will have drawn up his plan to deal with Barca as effectively as Inter did in the first leg.

The key to the game in Milan was Inter’s tireless closing down of Barcelona, something Barcelona does very well to the opposition. The key in Wednesday night’s game will be exactly the same. It will be whichever team can deal with this the best that will emerge victorious.

The key for Barcelona is, quite simply, Lionel Messi. If the Catalans can get the Argentinean superstar more involved then they can easily win this game 2-0 to progress. If Inter keep him subdued then the Italians are in the box seat for a place in the final.

It’s a tough call to make but given their performance at Chelsea, I think Inter can cause something of a shock and not only progress to the final, but prevent Barcelona winning the game completely.

I fancy a draw, currently available at 5.27 with Betfair.

Two draws in two nights means an Inter Milan – Bayern Munich Champions League final. Now it is up to Claude Puel and Josep Guardiola and their men, to prove me wrong.

Gunners Face A Tough Task At Fortress E-Wood

Tonight’s Premier League clash between Arsenal and Blackburn at Ewood Park will be Arsene Wenger’s final game of the season on the road and Sam Allardyce’s men will prove stoic opposition at home, in a game which will more likely matter more to the fans, than have any relevance in the Premier league picture.

Arsene Wenger has often taken a dislike towards the tactics employed by Sam Allardyce’s teams in the past, often accusing Big Sam’s men of trying to kick the Gunners out of their usual free flowing game. This is an assertion that Sam Allardyce has refuted many a time, often stating that Wenger’s intolerance of the physical aspects of the English game is more to do with Wenger’s own football beliefs and, perhaps, a lack of ability on behalf of his players to deal with it, rather than any great effort by his teams to kick the Gunners into submission.

All of which makes tonight’s clash at Ewood Park a rather tasty looking end of season encounter that is sure to be a spicy affair.


Arsenal will be without Denilson, Manuel Almunia, Andrey Arshavin, William Gallas, Cesc Fabregas, Aaron Ramsey and Thomas Vermaelen for the trip. Although the club will welcome the news that long term injury victims Johan Djourou and Kieran Gibbs are both back in training though it is doubtful whether Wenger would risk either player in what looks like being a bruising end of season encounter.

It will be interesting to see whether Wenger opts to include Robin Van Persie for the game. The Dutchman is back to fitness after his long term injury this season, but whether Wenger would risk him in what is, in effect, a meaningless game for the club, especially against a very physical defence that includes the likes of Ryan Nelsen and Christopher Samba, is open to conjecture. Certainly Nicklas Bendtner looks likely to start to add some physical presence in the attack.


Meanwhile at Blackburn, Sam Allardyce has called upon his Blackburn team to continue their excellent home form this season and send the Rovers faithful home in a positive frame of mind;

“It would be really nice to send the fans home with something to celebrate, because obviously we all suffered the disappointment in the last minute after a tremendous fight-back against Everton, which is something I am still pretty sick about.

“You always want to finish on a high at home when you are playing your last game of the season. You want to give a thank you to the fans and the best way to do that is finish with a win.”

Brett Emerton and Chris Samba are both back in contention after injury for the game with Arsenal, which is being shown live on ESPN at 5pm, though Allardyce was keeping tightlipped as to whether either would feature in a game that he felt would require a “huge amount of energy” from his team, trying to stop Arsenal’s passing game.


So who will win? Will Rovers take the spoils? Their home form is particularly impressive, though they have not yet beaten a big four side at Ewood Park this season. Arsenal, with little to play for, may be forgiven for taking it easy, but given the nature of the game and the opposition he faces, one would assume Arsene Wenger will have his players ready and willing to win this one.

For me, I think the outcome will be a hard fought, bruising and entertaining 2-2 draw.

Best odds on draw when publishing the article is Betfair

To find all the latest odds here.

Chasing the never ending dream – Premier League finances

Every season Championship teams begin the long and winding road towards the promised land of the Premier League.

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that is the top flight and all of its TV riches remains an attractive proposition for owners, but the financial mismanagement of many clubs who have enjoyed a taste of Premiership life is wrecking their long-term futures.

Only this week it has been revealed that the 2009/10 Premiership’s bottom club Portsmouth now find themselves £135M in debt after going into administration earlier this year.

While a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) remains in the offing to the creditors of the Fratton Park club, the future of the club looks bleak with minimal income and players on extortionate Premier League wages that are unsustainable in the Championship.

Remarkably, Portsmouth can still take something positive out of this season as they look forward to their impending FA Cup final with Premiership title winners Chelsea at Wembley Stadium.

Pompey boss, Avram Grant’s stock has risen this season, taking charge in adversity and creating a unity and strong team spirit that the supporters hope will continue into next season.

The situation for another relegated Premiership outfit, Hull City looks similarly bleak with the Tigers reportedly teetering on the brink of administration.

Despite turnover sky-rocketing from £15M to £52M in the top flight, the club find themselves £35M in debt with their wage bill a staggering £38.9M – 80 percent of their overall turnover.

It is scary yet understandable why teams gamble heavily on forking out big money on seasoned Premier League campaigners, as they can often prove the difference in the big games against the teams in and around the foot of the table.

Nevertheless, consider the financial position and long-term future of Burnley. The Lancashire outfit have spent a meagre amount this season, choosing to stick with the majority of the squad that earned them promotion via the playoffs last season.

Despite relegation the club find themselves in a healthy state off the field and with the increased parachute payments coming into play the Clarets will be in a position to maintain key players and add to their squad in readiness for an instant return to the top division.

It is a skill that West Bromwich Albion have been renowned for in recent years with the Baggies becoming the archetypal ‘yo-yo’ club between the first and second tiers.

The big question is – is it worth significant short-term outlays for potential long-term financial disaster? Ask Leeds United supporters and see how they felt about their club’s crippling debts dragging them down to the depths of League One. No matter how big the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, no club in the current financial climate should spend beyond its means in pursuit of glory. As we all know, football has evolved into big business, but only the successful few at the pinnacle of the sport can truly make a profit.!

Champions League Final Preview

Saturday night sees the biggest night in European soccer as the eyes of the football world will focus on the Bernebeu stadium in Madrid.

The intriguing Champions League final will be between two sides, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, that are both going for the treble of league title success, domestic cup success and Champions League victory.

Both clubs enjoy domestic success

Never in the history of the competition has the final been contested by two sides who have won so much in one season. Inter completed the Italian league and cup double at the weekend, a 1-0 win at Siena giving them their fifth successive Serie A title.

Also, earlier this month, they travelled to the Stadio Olympico to face Roma on their own ground in the Coppa Italian final and came away with a hugely impressive 1-0 victory thanks to Diego Milito’s strike.

Bayern Munich recovered from a somewhat disappointing start to the Bundesliga season to really hit their stride at the turn of the year.

Since then Louis Van Gaal’s men have been imperious in German football and lost only four times all season long to claim the Bundesliga title by five points.

In the German Cup, the DFB Pokal, they strolled to a 4-0 victory over Werder Bremen to confirm themselves clearly as the best side in Germany.

And now both sides will fight it out on Saturday to decide which of them is the best team in Europe.

Sneijder to bet fit, but Ribery’s appeal fails

Jose Mourinho should have a fully fit squad to pick from for the final, though Thiago Motta will miss the game as a direct result of his sending off in the semi final against Barcelona.

Wesley Sneijder should recover from the injury which saw him worryingly limp off after just five minutes of the Coppa Italia final and his presence in the team will be a big boost to the Italians.

Bayern however will be hit by the news that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld the 3 match ban handed to Franck Ribery for his dismal tackle on Lyon striker Lisandro Lopez in the semi final.

The resulting red card (pictured) and three match ban means that Bayern will start the game without their energetic Frenchman.

It caps a miserable season for Ribery who began the season with tendonitis in his knee and ends it being banned from the final of European football’s biggest competition and accused of sleeping with an underage French prostitute.

Probable teams

Inter : Cesar, Maicon, Zanetti, Samuel, Lucio, Cambiasso, Sneijder, Stankovic, Eto’o, Pandev, Milito

Bayern Munich : Butt, Lahm, Badstuber, Demichelis, Van Buyten, Van Bommel, Schweinsteiger, Muller, Robben, Olic, Altintop

So such a huge game demands a great tip for the final but this is too close to call for me with any great conviction.

Both sides have often been the underdogs at times during their Champions League campaign, Bayern against Manchester United and Inter against Chelsea and Barcelona and both have come through each test, which made the bookmakers happy.

Inter start the final as slight favourites but there is little between the sides.

A tempting bet for me would be to back Arjen Robben to score a goal for Bayern.

The Dutchman has been in superb form throughout the latter stages of the Champions League and a goal on his former home ground looks a nice bet to me. Currently he is 2.9 with William Hill.

As for the outright winner, it is a tough one to call.

I just feel Bayern will miss Ribery more than Inter will Motta and for that reason alone, I am edging towards the Italians who are currently 2.3 with William Hill for the win, though more tempting for me would be a 2-1 Inter victory which is currently 9.0.

Whatever the result, it looks like being an intriguing final this coming Saturday

The Premier League’s Biggest Fairytale: Ian Holloway & Blackpool

Last Saturday saw the completion of one of the finest footballing fairytales of the modern day era.

Ian Holloway and his Blackpool side secured promotion into the Premier League, prevailing in the Wembley play-off final, 3-2 versus much-fancied Cardiff City.

It was all the Tangerines deserved for their terrific attitude and application to force their way into the top six against all odds and now the Lancashire side have rightfully earned a place in the game’s richest league.

Key to the success: Ian Holloway

Much of that success has to be attributed to the work of boss, Ian Holloway, who has rebuilt his reputation by re-energising the Bloomfield Road club, giving them a self-belief and confidence in their own ability.

Part of Holloway’s charm is that he has always been able to get the best out of mediocre players, but it would be unfair on many of the Blackpool squad to label them as mediocre.

The likes of Charlie Adam, David Vaughan, DJ Campbell and Keith Southern have flourished this season, with Adam in particular notching 16 league goals from midfield.

Will Blackpool survive in the Premier League?

Blackpool are now in the enviable position of being able to afford to cherry pick talent from the Championship for their assault on the Premier League but chairman, Karl Oyston has already intimated that the club will not gamble on survival, instead modelling themselves on ‘yo-yo club’ West Bromwich Albion.

The bookmakers will not be offering many favourable betting tips on Blackpool next season, but their compact Bloomfield Road stadium is more than likely to ruffle a few feathers over the course of the campaign.

With three stands complete and one temporary stand erected for visiting supporters, top flight teams and fans alike will not relish a trip to the North West coast.

Bookmakers are currently offering odds of 5/2 for the Tangerines to avoid the drop and if Holloway can add quality to his squad whilst maintaining the much-famed team spirit which has got them this far, then that could become a bet for the smart money.