Tag Archives: epl

Weekend musing – Arsenal’s FA Cup, Wenger re-appointed, AFL, Dreamtime game controversy, Huddersfield Town promoted to Premier League

I was pleased to see that Arsene Wenger re-signed with Arsenal for another two years. While I understand there is a lot of discussion about him being moved on by Arsenal supporters, in the end he has still had a good year. The Gunners accumulated 75 points this year finishing fifth in the EPL. That would have got them into the top four on eight of the previous ten years and in two of those years they would have finished second. Arsenal also won the FA Cup last weekend with a great win over Premier League Champion’s, Chelsea. So the year, while frustrating, has not been a disaster. The key now is to ensure Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez remain at the Club on a long term basis. That is the biggest challenge facing Arsenal and Wenger at the moment.

The Dreamtime game between Essendon and Richmond produced a couple of controversial issues. Firstly the rushed behind resulting in an easy goal to Essendon and then Dustin Martin being named the best player on the ground. I thought the rushed behind decision was technically correct, but I certainly would not have been happy if my team was on the receiving end. A good question was raised during the week on the issue – would the Richmond player have rushed the ball through if the scores were level with little time left on the clock? I think the answer would be “no”, he would have tried to tap it to his team mate who was nearby at the time. As regards Martin being best on the ground, last year he clearly was the best on the ground, but this year I didn’t think there was a clear stand out player. In my opinion Brandon Ellis was Richmond’s best and Brendan Goddard was Essendon’s best. Martin got close to 30 touches, but his disposal efficiency was similar to the major Essendon ball winners. I was a bit surprised when Martin also got both coaches votes. I must be a poor judge!

Also great to see Aaron Mooy’s Huddersfield get into the EPL with him scoring in the penalty shoot out.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – AFL, sledging, EPL final week……

There have been instances of good sportsmanship and bad sportsmanship in the AFL last weekend.

On the good side it was pleasing to see Dyson Heppell and Joel Selwood chair James Kelly off after last weeks game to celebrate Kelly’s 300th game.

On the flip side, you had the sledging allegations levelled at St Kilda players for targetting Marc Murphy in the game against Carlton targeting. This is a difficult issue and hard to assess and monitor. By drawing attention to the sledging and the content of the sledging, it brought to light rumours that I and a lot of other footy fans who aren’t on social media sites were not aware of. Where do you draw the line when it does not involve issues that are currently in the code of conduct?

Another good story in the AFL this week is the appointment of the female umpire, Eleni Glouftsis for the Essendon v West Coast game this Sunday. By all reports she has got there on her merits and deserves the chance. Another way of getting females involved in the game of Australia Rules Football.

The EPL concludes this week with Chelsea and Tottenham wrapping up the top two spots before the weekend and Manchester City almost safe in third spot. That leaves Liverpool and Arsenal in the fight for fourth position and the all important Champions League qualification. Liverpool have the easier game, but the Gunners have come with a rush in the last month and are not without some chance of finishing fourth. With Manchester United playing off for the Europa Cup and possible qualification for the Champions League, more may need to play out before the final positions are known. I have had a look at the qualification criteria and it is by no means clear. My personal view is that it would not be a bad thing for the Gunners to miss out on Europe and only concentrate on the League next season. Chelsea and Leicester have won the League in the last two years without having to worry about the Champions League.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Moto GP, Jack Miller, AFL local derbies….

Chris Barwin HillsWith Leicester City being the surprise winner of the EPL this year it seems to have started a bit of a trend with some surprising results in sport of the last week. First you had Jack Miller winningjack miller the Dutch Moto Grand Prix at 500/1 and then Iceland beat England in the Euro Cup. Iceland was not as big a surprise as the team is currently ranked 34 in the world, but what an amazing effort for a country with a population similar to the City of Greater Geelong!

In the AFL the local derbies seem to have a lot of traction with the local supporters. The AFL is trying to push the Queensland haw v northand NSW derbies, but what about Tasmania? Both Hawthorn and North Melbourne play in Tassie and yet there is no local derby. The rivalry between Hobart (North) and Launceston (Hawks) is as big a rivalry as any in Australia, but both games this year are in Melbourne. To me this short changes the Tasmanian connection for those two clubs and I think at least one game a year should be held in Tasmania with the venue alternating each year. Good for football and good for Tasmania!

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Muhammad Ali, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Tom Hawkins…..

Chris Barwin HillsThe biggest sports story this week was the passing of Muhammad Ali. Ali was a sporting icon and was voted in one publication as the athlete of the 20th century. He had not fought for 35 years and yet alimy 14 and 22 year old sons knew who he was, I think everyone knew who he was because he was not only a sporting icon, but also a champion of human rights. Ali was a wonderful promoter of the sport of boxing, but also with his 30 year battle with Parkinson’s Disease was also a testament to the dangers of boxing. When I was growing up boxing was a prominent global sport, however, the sport has now lost its way and unfortunately now lost its reatest son.

I read with interest during the week about the likely transfer of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United and Jamie Vardy to Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring for Paris Saint Germain against St Etienne.Arsenal. My feelings here were quite mixed. I thought it would be great to see Ibrahimovic in the EPL even if it is in the twilight of his career as he is still one of the best strikers in the world. However, going to Manchester United gives me no joy at all. With Vardy, I am happy he is considering a move to Arsenal, but equally I would like to see him stick with Leicester City to continue that Cinderella story.

Like most AFL fans I was a little shocked to see Tom Hawkins cop a suspension for his hit on Phil Davis. Yes he hit him in the head, but the degree of force was so minor that Davis threw his head back  tommore in surprise than due to the impact of the strike. If this is the standard of impact that is required for a report why wasn’t Matthew Pavlich reported for slapping Patrick Ambrose in the face on Saturday night! My guess is that Hawkins was carrying an injury and probably needed a week off otherwise they would have challenged the report.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – EPL, St Totteringham’s Day, AFL, Essendon faithful, Shot Clock, Jack Gunston

Chris Barwin HillsThe EPL season has now concluded and Leicester City won the crown by a whopping ten points. Arsenal, who by many measures had a disappointing season, sneaked into second spot. The Foxes arsenallost only three games for the season and two of those games were to Arsenal. It just shows that with Arsenal finishing second on the back of a disappointing season, how disappointing the seasons of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United were. Man U has the chance to at least secure some silverware this season in the FA Cup which may also save the job of Louis Van Gaal. One final comment on the EPL and that is Arsenal couldn’t have waited much longer to celebrate St Totteringham’s Day!

It was interesting to see the Bombers get cheered off after an honourable loss last week and a lot of people have suggested that this may have never happened before, however, I was at a game at Windy Hill in the late 1980s or early 1990s when they applauded the team from the ground. Essendon was playing West Coast and watsonsustained about five or more injuries during the game and I remember Michael Long having to go back on the field with a shoulder injury and he may have even had his arm inside his jumper to protect it. West Coast won by a couple of goals and the Bomber faithful were so impressed with the effort in the face of adversity that they were clapped from the ground. I still remember a couple of West Coast supporters jumping up and down when the siren went and then going quiet when the Essendon crowd started clapping their team. After this game Kevin Sheedy embarked on one of his quests to expand the interchange bench which was ultimately successful.

There has been a lot of discussion about the shot clock in the AFL and what they can do to avoid the situation that was faced a couple of weeks ago when Mason Wood iced the clock to ensure North’sfevola victory. The thirty seconds allowed to shoot for goal was introduced to try and force the likes of Brendan Fevola and Matthew Lloyd to not take up too much time preparing to have a shot for goal. I always thought this was a massive over reaction as the umpires have the right to call play on at their discretion anyway. My suggestion would be to do away with the thirty second rule and hand the discretion back to the umpire.

Football players are sought after commodities to promote products gunstonin the media, particularly at this time of the year. Some are cut out for it and some are completely hopeless. Jack Gunston from Hawthorn does a number of radio advertisements and I would suggest he falls into the latter category. His ads are that lame I often turn the radio off so I don’t have to listen to him. Stick to what you are good at Jack.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Chautauqua best sprinter in the world, Leicester City champions and more

Chris Barwin HillsGreat to see Chautauqua salute in Hong Kong last weekend. The horse relies on a powerful finishing burst which can leave him chautauquavulnerable as we found out in the Newmarket Handicap, but there is no doubt that he is the best sprinter in the world at the moment. It is a bit of a shame that he didn’t pull up well enough to go to England to race at Ascot, but I fully appreciate the reasoning behind the decision not to race there.

With Leicester City being crowned the champions of the EPL I was trying to think of similar sporting success stories, but it is hard to come up with anything that comes close to this. Collingwood won the foxeswooden spoon in 1976 and then lost the Grand Final the following year in the replay, but even a win such as that may not have been as monumental. Leicester City faced relegation last year and overcame the odds to win this year and the EPL very much favours the wealthy clubs. What has been lost a bit in the celebrations is that Tottenham were the only side left to put pressure on the Foxes and they are certainly not fixtures in the top four of the EPL. If Leicester City was 5,000-1 to win the League, what price was the quinella?

I have noticed that a number of print journalists are now featured in barrettdifferent AFL football shows, both radio and television and at times I
think that they believe they are the story! One who I think takes himself a bit too seriously and produces a lot of non-stories is Damien Barrett, but he is not alone by any means.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Premier League, NAB challenge, NRL

Chris Barwin HillsWith the EPL results this week it would appear that the title race and the race for the top four positions are still up for grabs with seemingly no side in contention performing to expectations. Leicester are still inspurs front and have stretched their lead by a point with a draw and Tottenham and Arsenal wasted great opportunities to make up the ground. We now see Manchester United and West Ham United with a real chance to get the coveted fourth position with Manchester City losing again. The title is there is be taken by the side that gets into a bit of form. The result of this week’s London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal could be crucial in the end result. From a purely unbiased perspective….’Go Gunners’.

I have heard a lot of AFL commentators criticise the teams that have been selected for the NAB Challenge and the standard of the games. What must be remembered is that nothing really hinges on these GCSgames. They are purely practice matches and sides will play how they wish and who they wish. I can appreciate that the media wants more and the AFL always likes to promote the games as being serious, but when it all boils down, it is the pre-season and the expectation that teams will treat them as any more than ‘practice’ is misguided.

The NRL season kicked off last night and it is great to see action on eelsthe field replace all the off field insanity.  For the record books, the Brisbane Broncos knocked off the Parramatta Eels. The Broncos seem like they have picked up where they left off in 2015 and the Eels look like they are in for a long season.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Premier League, Essendon FC…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell Leicester City just keep rolling on and defeating Manchester City at home 3-1 is no mean feat. Their demise has been anticipated for some time, but with two thirds of the season over they have defied the odds and the pundits and are five points clear of their alexis-sanchez-arsenal-burnley_3223813nearest rivals. This weekend the top four sides play each other and should Leicester beat Arsenal and Tottenham go down to Manchester City, you would have to think that it would have to be something catastrophic to prevent Leicester from taking out the title. Other than the big four of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United, they would be the first team since Blackburn Rovers in 1995 to take out the Premier League title. As much as I want Arsenal to win the title, if the Gunners cannot do it, I think it would be great for the competition for Leicester City to win.

I know I was not going to comment further on the Essendon saga, but I would like to make a comment on the related issue of top up players. I must say I find it quite annoying that the other clubs who have had imagesplayers suspended have come out saying how unfair it is. They were saying it was unfair that the Bombers were losing key players on the back of the saga and they have been happy to pick them up. The only team that has any right to complain would be Port Adelaide who picked up Angus Monfries before the story broke. In addition, what also must be remembered is that Essendon have been given access to ten top up players and upgrading two rookies and the other teams can upgrade rookies. There is a parity there and when you consider also that the players being picked up were unwanted in the recent drafts, it is hardly a panacea to success.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – AFL, Premier League…..

Chris Barwin HillsThere has been a lot of discussion about the substitution rule in AFL recently and I am a bit bemused by some of the comments coming from coaches and ex-players who would have been familiar with the operation of the old 19th & 20th man which existed until 1978. I can see the merit in the current rule, but having spent time on the bench as a 19th or 20th man, I think reverting to the old interchange rule is best for all concerned. I would also cap the number of interchanges to twenty a quarter. If the number of interchanges allowable was higher perhaps you restrict the number of times an individual player could be interchanged in any one quarter.

Sticking with the AFL, I was very surprised to see the Gold Coast player Stephen May suspended for his bump with Tom Rockliff.It looked like both players were going for the ball and May did not line up Rockliff to hit or bump him, but they came together in a jostle for the ball. I didn’t see the front on vision or any slow motion footage, but on vision shown to explain the decision I did not see a problem and clearly neither did the umpire as no free kick was paid.

Well Chelsea have secured the EPL crown with three weeks to go and while I find Jose Mourinho annoying, you cannot doubt his quality as a manager. He has now led Chelsea to the title three times and also did the same with Inter Milan, Real Madrid and FC Porto. You also cannot doubt Chelsea is a justified title holder given they have the most miserly defence and are second behind Manchester City for goals scored. The race is now on for second and fingers crossed the Gunners can get there and then secure their second FA Cup in a row which would be a good stepping stone to the next Premier League season.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – ICC World Cup, Sheffield Shield, EPL, Golden Slipper….

Chris Barwin HillsWell after six long drawn out weeks we are down to the last two teams in the ICC World Cup and it involves the two co-hosts. The only host team to win on their home turf was India in the previous World Cup. Sri Lanka won as a co-host in 1996, but the final was played in Pakistan. I think Australia should start favourite entering their 7th final, whereas New Zealand are playing their first game outside New Zealand in this tournament, in their first final.

Australia are also playing on the MCG and the Kiwis have not played there for quite some time, so the visitors will be out of their comfort zone. If it is a close game, I think New Zealand could come out on top as they have found a way to win the close ones, but if one side wins comfortably that is more likely to be Australia. I will be at the game on Sunday, so I would like to see a close game with Australia winning!

Turning to domestic cricket it was great to see the Vics get up in the Sheffield Shield during the week, but you have to question the tactics adopted by Western Australia. The WA team had to win the game, however, not only did they not declare towards the end of the fourth day and have thirty minutes at Victoria, they also continued to bat and knock up a further forty to fifty runs on the last day. They had the upper hand and didn’t push their advantage. They had to bowl Victoria out to win the Shield, but did not give themselves every chance to do so. All in all the Bushrangers were a worthy winner.

alexis-sanchez-arsenal-burnley_3223813Looking at the EPL, with Manchester United beating Liverpool during the week, the top four is almost set with eight games remaining. In the next round Arsenal play Liverpool at home and should Liverpool lose that would put them almost out of contention despite their very good form since the new year. Go the Gunners!

On the international stage, I didn’t see the game, but it was great to see Australia draw 2-2 with Germany in the friendly the other night. Maybe they are starting to turn the corner and be in a position to replicate their 2006 results at the next World Cup. Fingers crossed.

Finally, I watched the Golden Slipper last week and without any luck in the running and an average ride from the jockey, Vancouver proved that he was the best 2yo in Australia being able to draw away from the field in the final 50-100m. It was not an easy run and if I 6338076-3x2-700x467was one of the connections I would not be in a hurry to risk him in the Sires Produce Stakes next week. He is a magnificent looking animal and would have breeders licking their lips, so I would be putting him away until the spring.

Have a great weekend!