Pittsburgh @ San Diego preview – 13th October 2015

Bell and Vick to run Chargers into the ground

Bell and Vick to run Chargers into the ground

Monday Night Football sees the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers face off with the two teams sporting identical 2-2 records.

Both teams are also chasing 4-0 teams in their respective divisions – the Denver Broncos for the Chargers, the Cincinnati Bengals for the Steelers.

Despite it still being relatively early in the season, a loss here for either team would leave them with huge ground to make up heading into week six.

Pittsburgh lost a 23-20 overtime nail-biter in Baltimore in week 4, while San Diego won another thriller 30-27 over the Cleveland Browns. Charger rookie Josh Lambo kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired to clinch the win.

Despite the momentum and feel good factor gained with victory over the Browns, the Chargers come into Monday Night Football riddled with injuries, with 12 players unavailable. Wide receiver Stevie …

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Lithuania v England – Euro 2016 Qualifier – 12th October 2015

Young Lions to pounce on perfect 10 with narrow victory in Vilnius

Young Lions to pounce on perfect 10 with narrow victory in Vilnius 

England face Lithuania in Vilnius this evening and are looking to become only the sixth team to win every game in a European Championship qualifying campaign.

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott has been in good form domestically and he transferred that to the international stage last week. His cool finish put England ahead on the stroke of half-time before Raheem Sterling made the points safe in the 85th minute.

With England safely through to the finals as group winners, and Roy Hodgson hesitant to burn out any of his players, we are set to see a young and experimental side.

Joe Hart, Wayne Rooney, Gary Cahill, Michael Carrick and James Milner all didn’t travel and we could see Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli make his first international start after coming on in the dying minutes against Estonia.

Even with Everton defender Phil …

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Pakistan v England 1st Test preview

Tough times await England in boiling UAE

Tough times await England in boiling UAE

After a thrilling Ashes series win this summer, England cricket fans will be wondering if they can back up the impressive result with another series win in the UAE against an experienced Pakistan team.

England and Pakistan begin the first of a three-Test series on Tuesday at the Skiekh Zayed Stadium where temperatures can soar to a ferocious 38C. Combined with intense humidity, conditions unsurprisingly have been a major talking point ahead of the showdown.

Pakistan have hosted six teams in the UAE – none of whom have managed to depart victorious. Most recently, Australia, the current number two side in Test cricket, were thrashed by 351 and 226 runs respectively 12 months ago. The likes of Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Alastair Cook won’t have fond memories of returning to Abu Dhabi where they were whitewashed 3-0 back in 2012.

The challenge …

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England v Uruguay preview – 10th October 2015


England to cruise to victory in dead rubber

There has been a huge feeling of deflation since England’s comprehensive defeat to a ruthless Australian side last weekend. The Aussie are starting to look like they might be the biggest threat to the All Blacks lifting the famous Webb Ellis trophy on October 31st.

Rather than piling on the points and momentum ahead of a quarter-final match, England now have to run our against minnows Uruguay at Manchester City’s stadium on Saturday evening in a dead rubber.

Stuart Lancaster and Chris Robshaw have come in for particularly heavy criticism in the aftermath of last Saturday’s defeat but, ultimately, perhaps this side just wasn’t ready to make a genuine push for a second crown in 12 years. They have yet to win a Six Nations title and the England team aren’t exactly full of tried and tested veterans.

The 2019 …

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Super League Grand Final 2015 – Leeds v Wigan

Super League Grand Final 2015

Have a flutter on Peacock and Sinfield to sign off in style

Old Trafford, for a change, will have a raucous sell-out crowd on Saturday night as Leeds take on Wigan in the Super League Grand Final. These are undoubtedly the top two teams in the Northern Hemisphere and it should be an intriguing contest.

The Warriors’ pack will be absolutely ferocious but, at the same time, they cannot let it boil over. Their chances were hugely dented last year when prop Ben Flower punched his way to a red card after the first play of the ball.

Michael McIlorum and Flower, in particular, are two that will have to keep their heads for the big occasion. John Bateman is another feisty forward who’ll be revved up for the match and he’ll be looking to rip into the experienced Rhinos pack early on.

Those three, along with club hero and …

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RWC: Wales v Australia – 11th October 2015

Australia to edge Wales and top Pool A

Australia to edge Wales and top Pool A

Both Australia and Wales have bettered hosts England in the last two weeks. Wales produced a ‘brave backs-to-the-wall’ performance to come back from 10 points down to win 28-25 despite a succession of injuries both before and during the game.

Australia, meanwhile, totally outclassed Stuart Lancaster’s side 33-13 last Saturday; Bernard Foley scored 28 of his team’s points with a scintillating performance.

The two face off at Twickenham on Saturday evening in what should be an exciting and open game.

The Wallabies are without suspended openside Michael Hooper which is potentially a big plus for the Welsh after his destructive work at the breakdown last weekend. However, they still have a formidable looking side, particularly in attack, with a back line that ripped Stuart Lancaster’s side to shreds.

Wales move George North into the centres to form an explosive looking midfield alongside Jamie Roberts and …

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England v Estonia – Euro 2016 Qualifier – 9th October 2015

Back the Three Lions to run riot again Estonia

Back the Three Lions to run riot again Estonia

With the national rugby union side unceremoniously dumped out the World Cup last weekend, it’s over to the football team to restore some English pride. Roy Hodgson will be delighted with the qualification campaign so far and his side host Estonia on Friday with progression to the European Championships already safely secured.

After the excitement of Wayne Rooney breaking Bobby Charlton’s all-time England goal scoring record in the last game at Wembley, many are predicting this dead rubber to be a more low key affair.

However, with the European Championships in France next summer approaching rapidly, there are precious few opportunities for Hodgson to try new players and formations. Expect the Three Lions to take this game very seriously indeed.

Estonia have recorded three wins in their last four games but will almost certainly miss out on qualification. They have been atrocious …

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NHL 2015/16 Preview

NHL 2015/16 Preview

The Lightning to avenge their final loss in 2014/15

In the early hours of Thursday morning BST, 23-time Stanley Cup winners the Montreal Canadiens travel to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first game of another gruelling yet compelling NHL campaign. Each team in the National Hockey League will play a minimum of 82 regular season games, with the potential for upwards of 30 more in the playoffs.

Ice hockey is probably the least heralded of the big North American sports here in Britain, but it is fanatically popular the world over and those who haven’t yet caught the bug should think again. Speed, skill, passion and goals is what the NHL is all about – what’s not to like!

As with many sports from across the pond, the league is divided into conferences, Western and Eastern – although casual fans may want to remember that the teams aren’t split …

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RWC: South Africa v USA – 7th October 2015

RWC: South Africa v USA

South Africa set to ease into Quarter Finals after topping Pool B 

After losing their first RWC match to Japan, South Africa looked like they could have been a potential Pool B casualty. However, since that almighty upset in Brighton, head coach Heyneke Meyer has restored order back into the Bok’s camp.

South Africa, who currently top the pool by a point, have had back-to-back bonus point wins against Samoa and Scotland. The Boks haven’t yet secured a quarter-final birth, and will be eager to pile the points on an under-strengthened USA outfit at the Olympic Stadium.

Having lost both of their opening two games, the Americans are still looking for their first win at this year’s tournament. They have scored 16 points in each match, whilst conceding an average of 32, it’s expected that they will be on the wrong side of the scoreline against the 2007 World …

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Arsenal v Man Utd Preview: 4th October 2015

Football Betting

Gunners to rid themselves of United demons

Many Arsenal fans will still be shaking with the anger at their team’s shambolic display in the Champions League on Tuesday night as they went down 3-2 at home to Olympiacos, leaving them rock bottom of their group – and in serious danger of missing out on the knockout stages.

Some of the defending against the Greek champions was atrocious, and David Ospina won’t want to watch his error that led to their second goal again as he palmed a corner over his own goal line.

The Gunners host Manchester United Sunday, who fared much better in midweek as they came back from a goal down to beat Wolfsburg 2-1 at Old Trafford thanks in large part to a wonderful display from midfield maestro Juan Mata.

The games between these two old rivals have cooled down considerably since the early days of Arsene …

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RWC: England v Australia – 3rd October 2015

England Rugby

England’s forwards win the match, backs to decide by how many

Win and you’re through – advice that can be given to both England and Australia when they square up on Saturday night at Twickenham for their crucial Pool A tie.

Most readers will need little reminding that England went down by three points to arch rivals Wales last weekend and anything but victory over the Wallabies this Saturday will spell an extremely embarrassing early exit for Stuart Lancaster’s men.

There’s a good chance that England will save the embarrassment of being dumped out of the tournament early on, though, and they are just about favourites for Saturday night’s showpiece.

Every rugby writer seems to have their own opinion on England centre Sam Burgess, but I won’t bore you with mine.

Jonathan Joseph is a good enough replacement and, although not quite as strong and powerful as the rugby league-convert, …

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Super League preview – 1st October 2015


Giants and Saints to find semis one step too far

Huddersfield Giants are turning into proper contenders for this year’s Super League title. They have a steely side to them which hasn’t been there in years gone past. I love the look of the pack and think they should get parity with Wigan in that part of the field when the two sides collide in Thursday night’s semi-final matchup.

Where the game is most interesting, is in the halves and out wide. You’ve got the Giants’ McGilveray vs Wigan’s Joe Burgess – both made this year’s Dream Team – as the most intriguing match-up. Burgess is off to the NRL to play for the Sydney Roosters and free-scoring McGilveray is pushing for an England spot ahead of November’s Baskerville shield.

I’m expecting both players to cross the whitewash tonight and, with McGilveray’s Try Minutes slightly more generously priced, at 23-26, than …

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Europa League Preview – 1st October 2015

Spurs can harness momentum to best Monaco

After the two Manchester teams restored a bit of British pride last night in the Champions League, it’s now over to Tottenham, Liverpool and Celtic to prove their worth in Europe.

Tottenham head to the Stade Louis II in Monaco off the back of a huge and very unexpected 4-1 win against early league front-runners Manchester City at White Hart Lane.

The confidence-boosting win saw Harry Kane score his first Premier League goal of the season, and Erik Lamela put in a performance that suggests he might finally be repaying his price tag.

While we’ll have to wait and see what sort of team Mauricio Pochettino puts out, the early signs are that the Spurs boss will put more emphasis on this competition than others have in recent years.

Spurs’ opponents Monaco are struggling in Ligue 1, sitting in ninth place, but have …

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WBA v Everton – 28th September 2015


Berahino may shine but points to be shared by Baggies and Blues

Everton head to The Hawthorns on Monday evening looking to continue their solid away form in the Premier League, having yet to lose away from Goodison Park this season.

Their good form on the road continued in the League Cup this week when Roberto Martinez’s men beat Reading at the Madejski thanks to second half goals from in-form Ross Barkley and Spaniard Gerard Deulofeu.

West Brom meanwhile lost heavily to Norwich City on Wednesday, going down 3-0 in a poor match at Carrow Road. I wouldn’t look too far into that result though as Baggies’ Boss Tony Pulis rung the changes, prioritising Premier League safety over a run in this season’s secondary domestic cup competition.

More relevant is their last game in the league, a well-deserved 1-0 win away to local rivals Aston Villa thanks to a 39…

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England v Wales preview – 27th September 2015

England to start tournament on positive note against dangerous Fiji

England to edge it in battle of the big hitters

England head into their second Pool A fixture under scrutiny after a below par start saw them come out 35-11 winners against Fiji.

Past internationals have accused head coach Stuart Lancaster of abandoning his attacking principles. He’s opted to replace the creativity of George Ford with the reliable goal kicking of Owen Farrell, while the muscle of Sam Burgess comes in for the injured Jonathan Joseph.

This weekend’s opponents, Wales, have had to deal with a number of injuries; Rhys Webb and Leigh Halfpenny are ruled out of the tournament, while scrum cornerstone Samson Lee hasn’t fully recovered from a tight calf, which he picked up during the bonus point win against Uruguay last time out. English-born tighthead Tomas Francis replaces Lee in the starting XV.

These two sides have had some titanic tussles in recent years and fans can …

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Scotland v Japan preview – 23rd September 2015

Flower of Scotland won’t wilt in the face of buoyant Japanese

Flower of Scotland won’t wilt in the face of buoyant Japanese

The Japanese cemented their claims to hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup after a shock win over the Springboks on Saturday and will now be buzzing with World Cup fever ahead of their clash against Scotland at Kingsholm on Wednesday afternoon.

Scotland and Japan last squared up in the 2003 World Cup, with the former on the right side of a 32-11 score line, and the Scots have improved since. Over the last decade, they’ve avoided a good few wooden spoons in the Six Nations at the expense of both Italy and France, and the side looks at its strongest for several years.

Full back Stuart Hogg has been their most impressive player over recent years and would challenge for a place in most team’s back three. The 23-year-old stepped up to the plate in the British and Irish …

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Aston Villa v Birmingham City – Capital One Cup preview – 22nd September 2015

Aston Villa to sneak past Birmingham City in ‘second-city’ grudge match

Aston Villa to sneak past Birmingham City in ‘second-city’ grudge match

Football fans have been waiting for this grudge match since the draw of the Capital One Cup was announced. In what is always a spicy derby, in-form Championship side Birmingham City travel across town to rivals Aston Villa for the first time in five years.

After reinvigorating Aston Villa at the end of last term, securing their top-flight status and orchestrating a run towards the FA Cup final, Villa boos Tim Sherwood now finds himself without a league win since the first day of the season – and the pressure is rapidly mounting.

Sherwood will be desperate for his team to kick start their campaign after a morale-sapping 1-0 loss at home to West Brom which sees the Villians just above the bottom three with four points from six games.

Birmingham are in good nick and secured a hard …

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Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal – Capital One Cup preview – 23rd September 2015

Spurs need silverware and will be taking League Cup tie seriously

Spurs need silverware and will be taking League Cup tie seriously

Having barely cooled off from Saturday’s highly charged tie with Chelsea, Arsenal travel to White Hart Lane on Wednesday night to face arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup.

It was a weekend to forget for Arsenal fans. Their side were reduced to nine men when suffering a fourth loss in a row at Stamford Bridge, and any hope they held of seeing their bitter North London rivals lose to cushion the blow was quashed when Spurs overcame high flying Crystal Palace to win 1-0 on Sunday.

The weekend’s result builds misery on the Gunners’ defeat to Dinamo Zagreb last Wednesday, while Tottenham’s home win against Palace was their third on the bounce. It would seem as though these two teams are going in an opposite direction at the moment but, with Wednesday’s game likely see both Arsenal …

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New York @ Indianapolis preview – 22nd September 2015

New York @ Indianapolis preview

Back the Colts’ Lucky general to jettison the hopes of ‘Gang Green’

The New York Jets are one of American Football’s nearly teams. Always competitive and with a rabid fan base, the Jets have tended to fall frustratingly short at the final hurdle – which is exactly what I think will happen when they take on the Indianapolis Colts in Monday Night Football.

A comprehensive victory over the Cleveland Browns last week has fans dreaming of a first playoff appearance since 2010, and perhaps even a division title, something the Jets haven’t won in more than a decade.

The Indianapolis Colts, on the other hand, have had more than their fair share of success in recent seasons, qualifying for the playoffs an incredible 12 out of the last 13 seasons and winning the Super Bowl in 2006.

A certain Peyton Manning was taking the snaps then but the Colts have …

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Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace 19th September 2015

Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace 19th September 2015

Hosting the Eagles will not be easy pickings for unreliable Spurs 

Tottenham remain unbeaten in the Premier League at home, but hosting Crystal Palace on Sunday puts that record in danger.

The Eagles are flying-high. Although a narrow defeat to league leaders Manchester City has knocked them off their second-place perch to sit fifth in the table, they’re in good form and boast a perfect away record.

Palace were most impressive when returning from Stamford Bridge with all three points and are only the second side that Chelsea have lost to in their last 100 home league ties.

That win maintained their exemplary form on the road, which started at Carrow Road on the opening day of the season, and three points doesn’t look unachievable at White Hart Lane.

Spurs, although unbeaten at White Hart Lane, have only managed draws against Everton and Stoke. The three points looked wrapped …

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Chelsea v Arsenal 19th September 2015

Chelsea v Arsenal 19th September 2015

Mourinho to continue his dominance over Wenger with win at the Bridge

The Saturday lunchtime kick off this weekend provides the next episode in the ongoing saga between Blues’ boss Jose Mourinho and Gunners’ manager Arsene Wenger. Chelsea come into this London derby in total disarray; it’s their worst start to a league season in 27 years.

After a start marred by both poor form and a bizarre controversy surrounding their medical team, Chelsea are desperate for a first home league win.

History tells us that Arsenal don’t beat Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, with just one win in 14 and none in competitive fixtures.

Mourinho may therefore see this as the perfect opportunity to put their domestic campaign back on track, especially after his side routed Maccabi Tel Aviv in mid-week at the same time as Arsenal went down feebly in Zagreb.

Despite their troubles, I think buying Chelsea’s win index …

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RWC England v Fiji Preview – 18th September 2015

England to start tournament on positive note against dangerous Fiji

England to start tournament on positive note against dangerous Fiji

After much anticipation and trepidation rugby fans are on the verge of consuming 48 fixtures in a six week period during the Rugby World Cup which starts on Friday.

England, who host the 8th version of the tournament, kick-start the global event when they take on Fiji at Twickenham.

Stuart Lancaster’s side are firm favourites to get off to a winning start against the Pacific Islanders. Their supremacy is currently priced at 24-27 which indicates that the final outcome should be relatively comfortable.

However, Fiji are known for their attacking style, with bullish forwards and skilful backs that could pose the Red Rose initial problems.

England have named an unchanged starting XV who beat Ireland 21-13 in their final warm up match less than two weeks ago. Saracen Brad Barritt and Bath man Jonathan Joseph team up for the …

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UEFA Europa League 2015/16 Preview

Europa League value may be closer to home than you think

Europa League value may be closer to home than you think

This year’s Europa League group stage is comprised of a frankly ludicrous 48 teams across 12 groups, the top two of which will progress to the next, um, group stage.

As ever, the second-tier competition offers the customary contrast of well-established household names combined with a host of little known minnows who will almost certainly command their 15 minutes of fame at some point over the course of the next few months.

Yet this competition is not without pedigree; Liverpool, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund and Celtic have all previously won the Champions League – or European Cup – while, at various points during the past decade, Monaco, Villarreal, Napoli and Sporting Lisbon have all enjoyed reasonable success at Europe’s top table.

The unknown quantities, Qabala, Midtjylland, Slovan Liberec, Skenderbeu Korce and Sion to name but a few, will undoubtedly be …

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UEFA Champions League 2015/16 Preview

UEFA Champions League 2015_16 Preview

While Spain entertain, Italian and German sides could suffer early exits

The blare of Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest’ will be music to the ears of millions of football fans when the UEFA Champions League returns for another year this Tuesday night.

It looks like it’s going to be a stellar campaign for the Spaniards who boast five teams in this year’s competition. With the class they have in their domestic league and strong record of CL performances over recent years, I couldn’t put anybody off making a small buy on both Real Madrid and Barcelona’s Outright Index at 47 and 54 respectively.

Italy are represented by last year’s bridesmaids Juventus and Serie A runners-up Roma. On last season’s performance you’d have to give Juve a chance but, seeing as they’ve departed with Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez, they might not make it much further than the group stages.…

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[Infographic] Rugby World Cup 2015

Rugby World Cup 2015

Who would have thought that when William Webb Ellis picked up a ball at Rugby School that, 150 years later, the trophy bearing his name would have become one of the most iconic pieces of silverware in world sport?

From the high-scoring try-fests to the match-winning individuals, Sporting Index has crunched the numbers on the teams and individuals who have made the Rugby World Cup an unforgettable piece of sporting theatre over the past 28 years.

Jonny Wilkinson’s record eighth drop goal for a tournament in 2003 was perhaps the most famous in rugby history (sorry Australia), but he still trails Grant Fox for the most points in a tournament. The All Black bagged 126 points as his side romped to victory in 1987, including 30 conversions, 21 penalties and a solitary drop goal.

As the sport becomes more competitive, the 162 points scored in the 1995 pool match between …

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Minnesota @ San Francisco preview – 15th September 2015

Minnesota @ San Francisco preview

Vikings to sail into San Francisco Bay and return with a win 

Adrian Peterson is back after a year away from football and of all the various previews and predictions you’ve no doubt read about this Minnesota vs San Francisco game, he is undoubtedly the key man to watch.

The Vikings weren’t up to much last season with just a 7-9 record, and a relatively sedate and disappointing year on the hole.

The NFC North team were just 14th in the NFL last season in rushing but Peterson has the ability to win games on his own, despite his age, and many in Minnesota will be hoping he can carry the team to the playoffs.

The hosts, San Francisco, missed the playoffs for the first time in four seasons last year and have been dogged by off-season retirements and legal issues. Added to those complications, the ever-present rushing …

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Philadelphia @ Atlanta preview – 15th September 2015

Philadelphia @ Atlanta preview

Eagles to soar higher than the Falcons in Atlanta

The NFL season is underway and after a plethora of enthralling games over the weekend, the eyes turn to the original Monday Night Football.

First up is a game full of intrigue that pits the Philadelphia Eagles against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome, where Philadelphia finds themselves a marginal three point favourite.

Both teams have had significant changes to their personnel in the off-season but it is Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly, rather than Falcons’ coach Dan Quinn, who will be feeling more confident.

Kelly is turning to injury-plagued Sam Bradford as his number one quarterback this season, following a brief flirtation with America’s darling Tim Tebow, but he’ll be relying on reigning rushing champion DeMarco Murray to pile up the yardage and keep the first down chains moving.

The Eagles put together a solid season last year, going 10-6, …

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Everton v Chelsea 12th September 2015


Three points a must for Mourinho and Martinez

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho’s first task in tomorrow’s match against Everton will be to secure a handshake from manager Roberto Martinez.

Martinez has dubbed Chelsea as ‘rule breakers’ after their relentless pursuit of Toffees centre-back John Stones and there’s sure to be some animosity on the Goodison Park touchline.

On the pitch there’s plenty to talk about too. Last season’s match was arguably the game of the season, with the visitors coming out the right side of a nine-goal bonanza.

This time around, both teams are struggling for early season form, having secured only one win each, and I can see the sides going hammer and tongs for maximum points once more.

Total Goals is a definite Buy at 2.7, not only due to the circumstances and history of this match, but both teams have been sloppy defensively in the 2015/16 campaign.…

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Atletico Madrid v Barcelona Preview – 12th September 2015

Irresistible Messi and Co. to triumph over Atletico once again

Irresistible Messi and Co. to triumph over Atletico once again

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Atletico Madrid must have a decent record in the past few seasons against Barcelona, what with the likes of the now-departed Diego Costa and Radamel Falcao and Sergio Aguero banging in goals left, right and centre.

Yet a quick skim of head to head results against Barcelona makes for grim reading. Atletico haven’t beaten the Catalans since 2006, although three of the last five meetings have been well fought draws.

No longer do Lionel Messi and Co. pitch up at the Vincente Calderon and put four, five and six goals past Atletico, as manager Diego Simeone has his side playing tight yet attacking football that resulted in a famous La Liga title in 2013-14 and European silverware to boot.

This season, Barcelona have won both of their opening league matches 1-0, but I suspect …

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US Open 2015 Men’s Semi-Finals Preview

Djokovic and Federer to set up dream US Open final

Djokovic and Federer to set up dream US Open final

Novak Djokovic is the number one seed at the US Open in Flushing Meadows for good reason. The Serb has been at his dominating best over the course of the last 12 months, but hasn’t had it all his way in this year’s tournament.

A tighter than expected fourth round match against 23rd seed Roberto Aqut of Spain  saw Djokovic book his passage to the quarterfinals, but not before four sets had been played. In the subsequent round, another tricky Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez, also took a set off the Serb and pushed the fourth set to a tie-break before bowing out of the tournament.

Today’s semi-final opponent, Marin Cilic, will take heart from a few small cracks appearing in the world number one’s game, but I don’t think the Croatian will have anywhere near enough to best his Balkan rival.…

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England v Australia 4th ODI preview – 11th September 2015

England v Australia 4th ODI preview

Winning momentum should take England to Grand Finale

England’s hopes of winning the five-game ODI series against old foe Australia remain well and truly on after they won the third fixture on Tuesday.

World Champions Australia triumphed in the first two outings, by respectable margins of 59 and 64 runs. However, England managed to revive their chances of doubling up on a Test series victory after their impressive 93-run win under the floodlights at Old Trafford.

Number three batsman James Taylor, who scored a maiden century, was the pick of the England performers with an impressive 101. Filling in for Joe Root is no easy task, but solid scores of 49 and 43 in the first two games has helped his side build scores in the early part of the innings. The Nottinghamshire right-hander now averages over 64 in this series and taking on his Player Performance at 39-44 is …

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Rugby World Cup 2015 Preview

Rugby World Cup 2015 Preview

New Zealand worthy favourites but Ireland look the value

The Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off with England v Fiji on the 18th September, and once again New Zealand look the team to beat.

The world’s best team land on these shores as the hot favourites – trading at 75-78, 20 points more than the next-placed team on Sporting Index’s 100 Outright Index (winner 100pts, runner-up 80pts, third 60pts, fourth 50pts, lose quarter-final 25pts, third in group stage 10pts, fourth in group stage 5pts, other 0pts).

Despite starting as market leaders for every World Cup since the competition was introduced in 1987, the All Blacks have only ever won two editions – the inaugural one and in 2011. Both times they were either co-hosts or hosts and France were the losing finalists on both occasions.

Before the narrow 8-7 victory over Les Bleus four years ago in Auckland, all …

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US Open 2015: Betting Update

Andy Murray looks vulnerable and Serena Williams is on course for history

Andy Murray looks vulnerable and Serena Williams is on course for history

Hopes were high for Andy Murray after winning the Montreal Masters – ending an eight-match losing run against world number one Novak Djokovic in the final – that the Scot could land his second US Open at Flushing Meadows this month.

Murray, who lost his first Grand Slam final on these courts in 2008, won his maiden major here four years later and has always spoken of his like for the tournament.

However, following a strong performance over Australian bad-boy Nick Kyrgios in his opening match, Murray survived a huge scare against Adrian Mannarino in the second round.

He’s admitted that the physical toll of coming back from two sets down could come back to haunt him in the latter stages and that’s a worry with Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer possibly lying in wait.

Thomaz Bellucci routed …

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San Marino v England – Euro 2016 Qualifer – 5th September 2015

England primed to rout San Marino once more

England primed to rout San Marino once more

England travel to San Marino tomorrow evening for a Euro 2016 qualifier that will be the latest chapter in a most one-sided rivalry.

The Three Lions have banged in 31 goals and have conceded just one in the five previous meetings. They have never failed to score at least five goals in a match over these opponents, who are widely regarded as the worst team in Europe, and the last two trips to this microstate have resulted in 8-0 and 7-1 victories.

While this game would normally warrant little attention, Wayne Rooney is on the cusp of breaking Bobby Charlton’s long-standing England goalscoring record and a brace tonight will see the Manchester United man hit the magic 50 mark and make history.

He has four goals in three previous appearances versus the Sammarinese and spread bettors can buy Rooney’s goal minutes at …

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Gibraltar v Republic of Ireland – Euro 2016 Qualifer – 4th September 2015

Ireland to put Gibraltar between a rock and hard place again

Ireland to put Gibraltar between a rock and hard place again

Those who argue that tiny nations should have to pre-qualify for major tournament qualifying groups will have had their argument strengthened by the maiden appearance of Gibraltar in Group D.

Gibraltar are quickly gaining a reputation as an even worse version of San Marino. The part-timers have lost all six games – three by a 7-0 scoreline – and have the worst goal difference (-33) of any side in qualifying.

They host Ireland tonight, although the game is actually being played in Portugal due to UEFA stadium regulations. The Irish won the reverse tie 7-0 but the wheels have slightly fallen off their challenge to reach France next summer, after two draws and a loss to Scotland.

Group D is the most competitive pool with Poland, Germany and the Scots all fighting it out for the two automatic qualifying …

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Faroe Islands v Northern Ireland – Euro 2016 Qualifer – 4th September 2015

Northern Ireland to keep pressure on Romania with win in the Faroe Islands

Northern Ireland to keep pressure on Romania with win in the Faroe Islands

Northern Ireland have impressed, against admittedly moderate opposition, to put themselves in a strong position to qualify from Group F of the European Championship pool, but must negotiate a tricky tie away to the Faroe Islands this evening.

With Romania a point clear at the top of the pool and facing a difficult game at Hungary, this is a huge opportunity for Northern Ireland to pile on the pressure.

Faroe Islands aren’t the total shambles they used to be and with two wins over Greece they have already surpassed expectations. Northern Ireland have famously drawn 1-1 with these foes twice before in European Championship qualifying, leading to criticism from fans and the media.

That was when tonight’s hosts were a lot worse than they are now, so there will be many who think they could spring a …

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Georgia v Scotland – Euro 2016 Qualifer – 4th September 2015

Scotland can remain in Euro 2016 hunt by seeing off Georgia

Scotland can remain in Euro 2016 hunt by seeing off Georgia

Group D has been the most exciting European Championship qualifying pool so far with Poland, Germany, Scotland and Republic of Ireland all still in with a fighting chance of going through.

Aside from a courageous 2-1 reverse to Germany on opening round day, Scotland have been in fine form, winning three and drawing two of their next five matches under Gordon Strachan.

Although they have yet to record a victory on the road, his men have a great chance to remain in the hunt for a first tournament finals appearances since the 1998 World Cup when they take on Georgia in Tiblisi tonight.

Georgia have lost all but one of their fixtures so far, and that was an unimpressive 3-0 win over whipping boys Gibraltar – that team’s best result in the group.

Scotland do like to make things …

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Cyprus v Wales – Euro 2016 Qualifer – 3rd September 2015

Top-ten Wales can march on to Euro 2016 with win in Cyprus

Top-ten Wales can march on to Euro 2016 with win in Cyprus

Perhaps Wales are flattered by their new position as the ninth best team in the world, according to the FIFA rankings. But there’s no doubt the side have maintained incredible progress under Chris Coleman as they close in on a place at Euro 2016. That would be the country’s first appearance at a major finals since 1958.

With Gareth Bale leading the team, Wales are unbeaten in their six qualifiers ahead of tomorrow’s clash away to Cyprus. Considering they have already taken four points off Belgium, the second-ranked team in the FIFA standings, and are five points clear of third-placed Israel, it will take a collapse of monumental proportions not to qualify.

Cyprus aren’t the European whipping boys they once were, though. They are up to, a still rather admittedly low, 82, but from a position of 132 …

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Swansea City v Manchester Utd 30th August 2015

Swansea City v Manchester Utd 30th August 2015

Swansea set to continue fine start against Manchester Utd

Manchester United fans can console themselves with the fact they have taken seven points from their opening three games, a fine improvement on last year’s miserable start.

However, Louis van Gaal’s side have started off much the way they did back then – struggling for balance in the team and goals.

Lacklustre starts from Arsenal and Chelsea, combined with the fact they have notched three consecutive clean sheets, have deflected much of the attention away from their inadequacies.

But with tricky ties ahead against Swansea on Sunday, then Liverpool, Southampton and Arsenal, there will be nowhere to hide should they fail to improve.

Swansea followed up an impressive opening day 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge with an easy win over Newcastle. They brushed aside York City 3-0 in the League Cup on Tuesday night and look in fine shape ahead of …

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Tottenham Hotspur v Everton 29th August 2015

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton 29th August 2015

Spurs’ Kane will give visiting Toffees a beating

Both Tottenham and Everton are involved in protracted transfer battles ahead of their showdown at White Hart Lane tomorrow.

On the evidence so far winless Spurs are in need of another striker to support Harry Kane but it looks like West Brom’s Saido Berahino will be staying in the Midlands.

While that player’s club seem inclined to let the hitman move on, Everton’s hierarchy are desperate to keep young defender John Stones from Chelsea’s clutches. That Stones has now handed in a transfer request means Roberto Martinez’s preparation for this game will be severely interrupted and Spurs must fancy their chances of making it four wins on the bounce over these rivals.

Everton thrashed an out-of-sorts Southampton for a first win of the season a fortnight ago but were ultimately put in their place at home to title favourites Manchester City last Sunday.…

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Newcastle Utd v Arsenal 29th August 2015

Newcastle Utd v Arsenal 29th August 2015

Arsenal can grind out victory up at Newcastle

Different season, similar story for Arsenal fans. A slow start already sees Arsene Wenger’s men five points off pacesetters Manchester City at the top of the Premier League after only three games, but the team have an excellent chance to claim their second victory of the campaign up at Newcastle tomorrow.

Amazingly, Newcastle haven’t beaten Arsenal at home since December 2005 and have lost the last seven meetings against the Gunners, conceding 20 goals. In fact, the Magpies have only won three of the last 28 league matches versus the north Londoners and each time their opponents finished the game with 10-men.

There was optimism that Newcastle could improve significantly on a terrible last season with Steve McLaren at the helm and big money signings made. But like 2014/15, the team are winless after three games and have won just one of …

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2015 Challenge Cup Final

2015 Challenge Cup Final

Rhinos face Rovers in what could be a Wembley walkover

On Saturday afternoon, Wembley will be opening its roof for this year’s Challenge Cup final between Hull KR and Leeds Rhinos.

With the Capital’s top team, London Broncos, now playing in rugby league’s second tier, trips to London are a rarity for the sport’s big clubs. But, for Leeds, this is their fifth Challenge Cup final (at Wembley) in six years.

Compare that with their opponents Hull KR who are competing in their first cup final for 35 years and it might start to put the size of their task into perspective. Leeds, in that same period of time, have played in 10 finals.

Any chance of a close match between these two looked to be quashed when KR’s two key halves, Terry Campese and the fiery Albert Kelly, were ruled out through injury. However, fast-recovering Kelly could still take …

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Club Brugge v Manchester Utd Champions League Qualifier, 2nd Leg – 26th August 2015

Club Brugge v Manchester Utd Champions League Qualifier

United look too strong and could oust Brugge with a battering

On Wednesday, Manchester United visit Club Brugge for the second leg of their Champions League qualifier and will be expecting to progress to the group stages with relative ease.

United carry a two goal advantage to the Jan Breydel Stadium after beating the Belgians 3-1 at Old Trafford and look all but home and dry. Ok, it’s not a huge margin and Brugge do have a valuable away goal, but the Belgian side look no match for the Red Devils.

Class shined through in the first leg as Memphis Depay mesmerised the Brugge defence to score two beautifully executed goals and gift Marouane Fellaini a last minute header. The English side dominated play with 69% of the possession and looked dangerous firing off a total of seven shots to the Belgian’s one.

Louis van Gaal’s side didn’t win solely …

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Arsenal v Liverpool 24th August 2015

Arsenal v Liverpool 24th August 2015

Gunners won’t keep powder dry against Reds in soggy Emirates clash

I’m not a big one for looking too closely at historical records when sizing up football teams, but Liverpool’s record at Arsenal has been atrocious of late and, despite their unblemished start to the 2015/16 Premier League season, I can’t see the Reds winning tonight. 

Some might attribute Liverpool’s solitary win at Arsenal in the past 15 years as nothing more than normal evidence of the rising and falling nature of two club’s fortunes, but Liverpool have had some cracking sides in the past decade and half and should have a much better record than that.

Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger saw his side suffer a shocking start to their campaign, losing at home to London rivals West Ham, but they were much improved when dispatching of Crystal Palace at their notoriously boisterous ground, Selhurst Park.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers …

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WBA v Chelsea 23rd August 2015

WBA v Chelsea 23rd August 2015

Doggish Diego Costa can finally fetch three points for Chelsea

A bottom of the table clash between West Brom and Chelsea at The Hawthorns looks an appetising affair on Sunday with both sides desperate to get three points on the board.

Not many would have predicted that champions Chelsea would be wallowing in 16th after their first two games, while I’m sure Tony Pulis has higher aspirations than his side’s current standing of 18th.

Jose Mourinho hasn’t made too many friends over the last fortnight. Having been denied a handshake from Arsene Wenger, hit out at his physio staff, and substituted his captain against title contenders Man City, it’s been a far from ideal start to the season.

However, one man he will get a warm welcome from is West Brom boss Pulis. Mourinho hailed the Baggies manager as the perfect boss for any English side.

Sweet …

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Manchester Utd v Newcastle Utd 22nd August 2015

Manchester Utd v Newcastle Utd

Red Devils to swat Magpies aside

Manchester United, transfer sagas aside, have had a fine start to the season. Two wins from two in the league, and a comfortable victory against Club Brugge in the Champions League, will be exactly the return manager Louis van Gaal would have wanted. 

Yes, the wins in the Premier League have left a little bit to be desired in terms of goals and attacking play, but with new players in key positions the team was always going to take time to gel.

The mid-week win against their Belgian opponents showed United back to their attacking best at times and their opponents on Saturday lunchtime, Newcastle United, will be full of trepidation about going to Old Trafford.

Memphis Depay bagged a brace against Club Brugge and many could be forgiven for buying the on-form Dutchman’s goal minutes, but I think Wayne Rooney’s time has come.…

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Everton v Manchester City 23rd August 2015

Everton v Manchester City 23rd August 2015

Toffees to keep it tight and starve Sergio and Co. of goals

Sunday’s second instalment of Premier League football sees league leaders Manchester City travel to the blue half of Merseyside to face an unbeaten Everton.

Although the Toffees are yet to face defeat, they were subject to an early scare on the opening day of the season when going behind twice to newly promoted Watford.

Roberto Martinez’s men saved a point on the day and then improved drastically to trounce Southampton away from home by a tidy and impressive 3-0 margin.

A repeat of that scoreline against City is unlikely but, looking at the history books, Goodison Park hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for the Sky Blues. They’ve only recorded two victories in the last 17 ties on Everton’s patch and, despite having already played champions Chelsea, this looks their toughest game of the young season yet.

Everton …

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England v Australia Ashes 2015 5th Test preview

England v Australia Ashes 2015 5th Test preview

Determined England to finish the Aussies off in style

England cricket fans have been on a roller-coaster journey since early July and, after their side secured the Ashes in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge; home support will be in full voice to try and help them achieve a historic 4-1 series triumph.

Alastair Cook leads his troops out at the Oval for the final Test tomorrow knowing that his side have completed the main objective of regaining the urn. However, this hungry side will be desperate to bang the final nail into the Aussie coffin.

Stuart Broad, who led England’s bowling attack in the absence of Jimmy Anderson at Trent Bridge, picked up record-breaking figures of 8-15 as the hosts ripped into the Aussies. They were bowled out for a disastrous 60 runs, which summed up both England’s ability to play the conditions better, as well as Australia’s distinct …

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Manchester Utd v Club Brugge, Champions League Qualifier, 1st Leg – 18th August 2015

United to secure healthy first leg lead against injury-hit Brugge

United to secure healthy first leg lead against injury-hit Brugge

In both European and Domestic competitions Club Brugge are struggling on the road, and a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in tonight’s Champions League third round qualifier looks their stiffest task yet.

The Belgian side have lost three of their last four games away from home and they arrive at a ground that has played host to only one home defeat in six Champions League ties.

United have got off to a very professional start in the Premier League, with back to back one-nil victories and, under Louis van Gaal, they are expected to protect that record in Europe too.

The United manager’s record in Europe is strong, having won 58% of all Champions League contests, and his medal haul is full of European honours; Super Cup (2), UEFA Cup and Champions League.

The Dutchman’s opponents have …

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Liverpool v Bournemouth 17th August 2015

Liverpool v Bournemouth

Liverpool to top the Cherries

Bournemouth embark on their first away trip in the Premier League as the Cherries arrive at Anfield to take on Liverpool in Monday night’s fixture. 

While the faithful supporters of the south coast side will harbour hope of a another exciting season after winning the Championship last season, survival in the top league will be the first and only order of business for boss Eddie Howe.

The task before them was laid bare in their home opener last weekend. After spending long periods of the game on top and with chance after chance unconverted, the Cherries lost 1-0 to a Rudy Gestede inspired Aston Villa side.

Howe will know that to get anything from this game, his side will need to take their chances. Last season Bournemouth had the best away record in the Championship, but the Premier League is a different kettle of fish …

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Manchester City v Chelsea 16th August 2015

Mourinho to mastermind another masterpiece at the Etihad

Mourinho to mastermind another masterpiece at the Etihad

When the Premier League fixtures were announced many will have circled Sunday’s fixture between title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea in bold red ink. 

The match is an opportunity for City to pile on early season pressure on holders Chelsea, but caution should be taken before reading too much into the result.

Chelsea went to Manchester United early in the 2013/14 season and came away with a point that was regarded as proof United could win the league under David Moyes.

The Blues went on to finish 18 points ahead of the Red Devils and Moyes was shown the door.

Despite this summer’s spending spree undertaken by Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham, Manchester City are most people’s choice to really challenge Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea this season – if not reclaim the title outright.

City were mightily impressive in their 3-0 victory …

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Aston Villa v Manchester Utd 14th August 2015

Aston Villa v Manchester Utd

Bank on Friday night fireworks, but don’t expect a Villa victory

The much touted ‘39th’ game has yet to garner enough support to be implemented, but Friday night Premier League football will become a mainstay of England’s top division from next season. 

It marks a remarkable evolution for the sport, as not too long ago football was played only at 3pm on a Saturday and TV viewers would be able to watch a solitary match – if they were lucky.

The lucrative TV contracts that have pumped untold millions into English football means the TV executives now call the shots, rightly or wrongly. In just a few short decades, we will have moved from two hours of football per week, to Premier League football available to watch four days a week.

Although Friday night’s fixture between Manchester United and their perennial whipping boys Aston Villa is the first of its kind for …

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Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors Preview – 14th August 2015

Leeds Rhinos v Wigan Warriors Preview

Rhinos’ attacking backline look set for a rampage in the Headingly sun

Things are warming up ahead of Friday night’s Super 8’s clash between and Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors, and come 8pm at Headingly the action will be hot both on and off the pitch.

These two giants of the game have 29 league titles between them and are this year’s two best sides.

Leeds have just demolished Warrington, dispatched Saints in the cup and have winger Tom Briscoe back. They are the best team in the competition, with by far the best set of backs.

Most of Ryan Hall, Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Zak Hardaker and Briscoe would go well in the NRL Down Under and you can’t say the same for most Super League backs.

As far as the Rhinos’ pack is concerned, Jamie Peacock is playing like a man desperate to finish his illustrious career with …

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PGA Championship 2015 Preview

PGA Championship 2015 Preview

PGA Championship 2015 Preview

Anyone’s game but Lowry’s at the PGA Championship 

When observers predicted that an Irish golfer would be entering this week’s PGA Championship in a rich vein of form and off the back of a stunning tournament win, the name Shane Lowry was not the moniker on most lips.

Rory McIlroy’s long-time friend and playing partner emerged from the shadow of his compatriot last week, taking the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to claim his first ever PGA tour title. It was an impressive performance, holding off Bubba Watson and Justin Rose to become the first non-PGA Tour member to win a WGC event since Martin Kaymer in 2011. But can he back that up this weekend at Whistling Straits?

The wise money would be no. He can be bought on the Leaderboard Index at 6, but while Lowry has enjoyed his moment in the sun and is now in the …

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WBA v Manchester City 10th August 2015

WBA v Manchester City 10th August 2015

West Brom to remind City that there’s no easy game in the Premier League

The Hawthorns is the first destination for Manchester City’s star studded squad in the 2015/16 Premier League as they take on West Brom in the season’s opening Monday night matchup. 

A number of critics have been quick to play down the certainty of Man City’s chances this season, arguing that their two-horse race with champions Chelsea is now a battle between four or five, while West Brom are expected by many to build marginally on last season’s 13th place finish.

The Baggies are out to break a run of seven consecutive defeats to the Sky Blues which stretches back to a time, April 2012, when Manuel Pellegrini was managing Malaga and Tony Pulis calling the shots at Stoke.

With Pulis at the helm, West Brom fans can be confident of staying up. The manager has …

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Arsenal v West Ham 9th August 2015

Arsenal v West Ham 9th August 2015

Gunners should shoot down slow starting Hammers in season opener

Sunday’s all London affair between Arsenal and West Ham is one of the highlights of the weekend’s opening Premier League games. 

While plenty of pundits have expressed Arsenal’s title chances in glowing terms of late, they head in to their first fixture with a slightly depleted side.

The Gunners’ star player Alexis Sanchez isn’t quite match fit after a well-earned break following international duties and the injury prone Jack Wiltshire is back on the physio table as well. Neither Danny Welbeck nor Tomas Rosicky are available for this Sunday’s game either.

However, in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, The Walcott, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla, Arsenal look to have enough strength in depth to spare Wenger of a headache.

Hammer’s boss Slavan Bilic’s main problem is in attack with his top striker Enner Valencia still restricted to walking on crutches.

While the Croatian …

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Chelsea v Swansea City 8th August 2015

Chelsea v Swansea City

Swans won’t be able to keep champions Chelsea penned in

SW6 is the first stop for Swansea fans as they travel to Stamford Bridge on the opening day of the season to watch their side take on Chelsea.

Last season’s champions finished 31 points clear of their visitors in the 2014/15 campaign and have not lost to Swansea in the League since 1981.

However, with the Blues misfiring in pre-season, Gary Monk will know there’s a chance of ending that drought – the Swans pulled a similar trick to open last season by beating heavily favoured Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Mourinho’s men looked undercooked when losing 1-0 against Arsenal in the Community Shield last Sunday. Loic Remy was a cropper to the offside rule on too many occasions, Willian looked off the pace and when Kurt Zouma was thrown on to play down the left wing you could feel …

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Manchester Utd v Tottenham Hotspur 8th August 2015

Tottenham can defy expectations to share the points at Old Trafford

Tottenham can defy expectations to share the points at Old Trafford

To say Tottenham had a rough decade against the all-conquering Manchester United sides put out by Sir Alex Ferguson in the noughties would be an understatement. 

Spurs went an incredible 26 straight matches – from May 2001 to September 2012 – without taking all three points.

Much has changed in the six games these two premier league stalwarts have played since then, and Spurs surprisingly have a winning record against the Red Devils – P6 W2 D3 L1.

Both of those wins came at Old Trafford, but few are giving the North London side much chance of repeating the trick in the opening game of the 2015/16 Premier League on Saturday lunchtime.

Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal has spent a good chunk of change on his side this summer but still hasn’t addressed the back four, which is …

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England v Australia Ashes 2015 4th Test preview

England v Australia Ashes 2015 4th Test preview

Jimmy Anderson absence to play a major role in Australia levelling the series

An England victory in the fourth Test against Australia at Trent Bridge would give the host’s an unassailable 3-1 lead, but they’ll have to do it without star bowler Jimmy Anderson.

For Alastair Cook and Co. to regain the Ashes they will have to get past an Australian side who will be revved up after their embarrassing performance last time out.

Aussie supporters won’t need reminding that the third Test at Edgbaston was wrapped up in just two and a half days, with only Chris Rodgers’ score of 52 offering any sort of batting resistance in the first innings.

Although the wicket was prepared in a way to understandably assist the English swing bowlers, the Aussies fell cheaply. Jimmy Anderson claimed impressive figures of 6-47 on the first day to help skittle the visitors out for just …

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Chelsea v Fiorentina- Pre-Season Friendly – 5th August 2015

Chelsea search for goals in final warmup against Fiorentina

It goes without saying that Sunday’s Community Shield wasn’t the day out that Jose Mourinho and his Chelsea side had in mind.

After conceding an early goal to Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chelsea huffed and puffed but couldn’t find the equaliser – leaving new signing Petr Cech to celebrate his first clean sheet for his new club.

Shorn of the services of the rested Diego Costa, Mourinho’s men looked alarmingly impotent at times and have supporters worried that goals may be at a premium this season.

Arsenal supporters will joyous to see their team winning trophies on a regular basis, but should be wary of overconfidence – David Moyes lifted the Community Shield with Manchester United and we all remember how that turned out.

A London derby in the shape of West Ham United awaits Arsenal to open the season on Sunday, …

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Leeds Rhinos v St Helens Preview – 31 July 2015

Kevin Sinfield

Captain Kevin can keep his Rhino’s calm and triumph over Saints

Befitting of the final, tonight’s Challenge Cup semi between Leeds Rhinos and St Helens is the marquee matchup of the year and probably the tip for the Grand Final in October as well.

The Rhinos, who sit top of the Super League after all 23 rounds, charge into tonight’s game after a rampaging win over Catalan Dragons and look to be hitting top form at the business end of the season.

They’re playing expansive, creative rugby league, scoring tries for fun and have the most potent attacking arsenal of any side in the UK.

The quartet of Kallum Watkins, Zac Hardaker, Joel Moon and Ryan Hall is as good as it gets and Saints are in for a rough ride in the wider channels if Leeds are able to play the game they’d like to.

The key, of course, …

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Community Shield Preview – 2nd August 2015


Wenger to trip over Hazard once again

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho don’t enjoy the friendliest of relationships.

Barbs, insults and accusations have flown in both directions since the Portugese first entered English football and cast Arsenal into a supporting, rather than leading, role in the Premier League.

Call it mind games if you will, but the manager of the West London side clearly knows what he is doing – Wenger has never beaten Mourinho and Arsenal have now gone eight hours without scoring against Chelsea.

Yet a new season dawns with Sunday’s traditional season opener, the Community Shield, at Wembley where these bitter rivals will renew acquaintances.

Many Arsenal supporters in the past few seaons have bemoaned their lack of a world class goalkeeper as the only piece of the puzzle missing. They have now got their wish as Arsenal poached Chelsea legend Petr Cech …

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Manchester United v PSG – Pre-Season Friendly – 30th July 2015

United set to sign-off US Tour with clean-sweep of victories

United set to sign-off US Tour with clean-sweep of victories

Stat: Manchester United and Paris St-Germain have never previously met

The 2015 International Champions Cup draws to a close this week as most of the Premier League club’s pre-season tours wind down. Patient fans only have to wait until 8th August for the Premier League to restart, but Manchester United supporters will be looking to sign off their United States tour on a positive note.

Louis van Gaal has stated he needs a Galatico to deliver the title this year, but his current crop of players seems to be gelling well.

United have won all three of their US pre-season fixtures with the highlight coming against Barcalona in a 3-1 win. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin, Memphis Depay and Matteo Darmian have all slotted in well and will only improve the longer they are with the squad.

Their opponents in …

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England v Australia Ashes 2015 3rd Test preview

England v Australia Ashes 2015 3rd Test preview

Joe Root’s form won’t be enough to overcome powerful Aussies

Australia’s resounding 405-run winning margin at Lord’s ensures the third Ashes Test is evenly poised after England ran away with the opening contest in Cardiff.

World number one batsman Steve Smith’s double hundred alongside Chris Rogers’ 173 contributed to the visitor’s first innings total of 566 at The Home of Cricket.  Although Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes applied resistance while their fellow comrades fell cheaply around them, the Aussie bowling unit, which showed real pace and aggressive fluidity, proved far too much.

As a result of England’s poor top-order batting performance, Gary Ballance has paid the heaviest price having been replaced by the in-form Jonny Bairstow. The former number three might feel hard done by after scoring 48 more runs than Adam Lyth and 25 more than the under-pressure Ian Bell in the series.

Yorkshire’s Bairstow has notched up five …

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Chelsea v Barcelona – Pre-Season Friendly – 29th July 2015

Barcelona to beat Chelsea in potential late stage Champions League preview

Barcelona to beat Chelsea in potential late stage Champions League preview

One of the most recurring statements in the press, and down the pubs, at this time of year is that many ‘can’t believe football is starting again so soon’.

In truth, there isn’t a real off-season anymore. Clubs of all shapes and sizes regularly embark on post-season and pre-season tours leaving some players, especially those who played in the Copa America, with just two weeks without football. 

Chelsea, who take on Barcelona in Washington D.C. tonight, had just 51 days between the final fixture of last season and the first pre-season game of 2015/16 – no rest for the weary.

Manager Jose Mourinho, however, is astute at involving younger players in pre-season and rotating the squad to ensure everyone gets minutes on the pitch and is fresh for the long campaign ahead.

Mourinho will be mindful of Sunday’s date …

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Argentina v Australia Rugby Preview – Saturday 25th July

Argentina v Australia

Argentina v Australia

Argentina will look to bring a jubilant Australia outfit back down to earth after Tevita Kuridrani’s late try secured a memorable 24-20 win for the Wallabies over South Africa in round one of the Rugby Championship.

The Pumas, who host Michael Cheika’s Aussie team at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza tomorrow, will look to right a variety of wrongs after they were convincingly beaten 39-18 in the opening fixture of this year’s tournament in Christchurch.

Although Argentina conceded five tries last time out, they can take heart from scoring two of their own. Captain Agustin Creevy touched down twice, with both scores created from strong driving line-outs. It was the Kiwis’ 37th successive home win, but the South Americans will feel they can be more competitive facing the Australians on their home patch.

The Wallabies, who lost to this weekend’s host 21-17 last year, have …

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Weekend Pre-Season Football Friendlies

United and Arsenal to continue strong preseason form

United and Arsenal to continue strong preseason form

The Emirates Stadium hosts the eighth edition of the Emirates Cup pre-season tournament over the weekend with two games each day. Arsenal’s opponents this year are another strong grouping including Lyon, Wolfsburg and Villarreal. Spanish giants Valencia lifted the trophy last year but the Gunners kick-off versus Lyon looking to secure a fourth trophy.

These two clubs have met only twice before and that came over a decade ago in the 2000/01 Champions League campaign. Thierry Henry’s lone strike in France gave them the all-important away goal in a 1-0 win that was proceeded with a 1-1 draw in London.

Arsene Wenger will be pleased with his side’s pre-season efforts to date following wins over Singapore Select XI in the Barclays Asia Trophy and a 3-1 win over Everton. Seven goals in two games will have given the hosts a great deal …

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South Africa v New Zealand Rugby Preview – Saturday 25th July

South Africa v New Zealand Rugby Preview

South Africa v New Zealand

Having suffered an agonising defeat 24-20 against Australia in the first round of the Rugby Championship last weekend, South Africa will be desperate to return to winning ways on Saturday when they host New Zealand at Ellis Park.

The All Blacks, who are attempting to win a fourth consecutive title, picked up a bonus point in their comprehensive 39-18 victory over an always-competitive Argentinian outfit on their home patch. Although captain Richie McCaw scored one of his team’s five tries and fly-half maestro Dan Carter kicked 14 points, there are areas which the world champions will need to tighten up if they are to overcome the Springboks.

The Pumas touched down twice through their massed lineout drives in Christchurch and there is a good chance that Saturday’s hosts will look to exploit this technical failure in a New Zealand pack which boasts over 495 caps …

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Rugby League: Hull v Wigan, Thursday 23rd July

Rugby League

Wigan can win on the road at expense of inexperienced Hull

As the top two tiers of Rugby League in Britain prepare to split into three divisions of eight, Thursday night’s clash is between two teams who have secured a place in the Super 8 – Hull FC and Wigan Warriors.

Despite both their places being confirmed for the play-offs, Wigan are still in the frame for a table-topping season which should hand them an easier set of contests in the Super 8 schedule.

They look to have every chance of extending their win streak to three, not least thanks to the return of Cook Islander Anthony Gelling who is likely to continue ripping up every Super League defence he faces.

Captain-fantastic Sean O’Loughlin looks as good as ever,  providing his comrades with plenty of inspiration and examples to follow, he can do it all; he kicks, passes, carries, tackles …

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Tour de France 2015 – Preview of final stages

Froome and Team Sky well set for glory despite controversy and crashes

Froome and Team Sky well set for glory despite controversy and crashes

Part of the charm of the Tour de France in recent years is the incredulity of the French press that British riders, and a British team, are now dominating proceedings.

The clinical approach implemented by Team Sky supremo Sir Dave Brailsford has certainly changed cycling forever and has resulted in first Bradley Wiggins, and now Chris Froome, ruling France’s most patriotic sporting event.

As the remaining 169 riders of this year’s Tour enjoy their second and final rest day, Chris Froome is still in the yellow jersey he retook from the unfortunately injured Tony Martin on stage seven. With just the final five of 21 stages left to run, you’d be a brave punter to bet against the Kenyan-born Britain celebrating in Paris.

The next four stages cover 371 miles in the Alps, including a grandstand finish on …

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