Tag Archives: premier-league

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!

3 things to contemplate on a Friday – Arsenal, NRL, Tiger Woods

Feb 20 2011 0061. Being an Arsenal fan is a tough gig. Having risen to third place in the Premier League, the Gunners had the ‘user friendly’ Monaco as their last sixteen opponent in the Champions League yesterday and a home ground advantage. The unexpected 1-3 result now leaves Arsene Wenger’s team the task of winning by at least 3-0 away to make the final eight.

Coach Wenger described the team’s play as ‘It looks like we lost our nerve and rationality’.

Arsenal are the true Jekyll and Hyde team if you compare this performance with the stunning win away against title contenders Manchester City several weeks ago.

Life is certainly a roller coaster for the fans.

2. NRL boss Dave Smith is kidding himself if he believes his recent mantra ‘Let’s keep it in perspective’, regarding the drug woes of five of the Gold Coast Titan’s players, is how we should see the issue. Five players make up 16% of the list and two of those players in Greg Bird and David Taylor are State of Origin representatives. In addition, the issue precipitated the NRL taking over the Club.

With the press indicating that there may be further names revealed by the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission including implications for League players across the border in NSW, I think we have enough of the perspective to know this is not a small matter!

3. Tiger Woods has completed his first golf course design – that is good news for the former World number one. With his golf game struggling (he hit a career high 82 two weeks ago) and his physical health in question (a back injury prevented him finishing a recent tournament at Torrey Pines), it seems like time for Tiger to take on less onerous pursuits that don’t require swinging a club to make a living.

As predicted on Sportsman Radio several years ago, Jack Nicklaus’ career majors win total is in no danger at all!

Friday musing – Soccer & penalties

Chris Barwin HillsThis week there has been a bit of controversy around penalties in soccer. First there was the Seb Ryall penalty in the Melbourne Victory v Sydney game on the weekend and then the Wayne Rooney penalty in the FA Cup match between Manchester United and Preston during the week.

There have been calls for a video review of penalties and I must say that I support this call. Penalties are often the difference between winning and losing and seem to usually favour the home side.

When a penalty is given there should be absolutely no doubt that it was justified. I know I have been against the DRS in cricket because it often creates as many questions as it answers, but in soccer the video review is usually pretty clear and when in doubt it would simply revert to the referee’s decision.  

Some pundits suggest it may hold up the game, but there are plenty of stoppages in the game anyway so shy not spend a little extra time and get it right.

What are your thoughts?

Have a great weekend!

Professor’s Tuesday rant – EPL managers on the hot seat

man utdWho will be the first manager sacked in the Premier League this season? Louis van Gaal, head man at Manchester United must be a short priced favourite and we are only a few weeks into the campaign. After a 5-3 loss at Leicester City on the weekend (after Man U led 3-1) and sitting mid table with five points from five games, it is only a matter of time if results continue to go badly. How long before the Board bring back Sir Alex ?

Also on the hot seat must be Alan Pardew at Newcastle Steve-Bruce-and-Alan-PardewUnited. Lamenting at the foot of the table, things will need to change really quickly at St James’ Park for Pardew to hold his job! Hull City manager, Steve Bruce has already been tipped to slip into the Newcastle job with Alan Shearer as his off sider.

Whilst I think Van Gaal has the hotter seat given the expectations at Old Trafford, that Newcastle sources today said “the manager’s job was completely safe” must have Pardew feeling very uneasy.

Friday musing – World Cup, Suarez, AFL & more

Chris Barwin HillsWell the biggest sporting event in the world continues to throw up great games, great drama and now teeth grating! Well we all like a little Italian, being one of the world’s great cuisines, but Luis Suarez clearly likes his Italian fresh. What is it that makes him want to bite opponents? In a sporting sense the only comparisons I can remember are Peter Filandia biting an opponent in the nether regions and My Brown Jug biting Manikato when he realised he was going to get beaten by the champ one day at Sandown. The Suarez suspension has now been handed down and in some ways given he is a repeat offender, is quite lenient.

Continuing the World Cup theme it is interesting to note that England, Spain and Italy who represent three of the four biggest leagues in the world have all been eliminated. Is this just bad luck or is it a symptom of the leagues not promoting local talent in deference to established players from other countries? I would certainly think that is the case with the EPL, but I am not familiar enough with the Italian and Spanish leagues to know if the same problem exists. Germany has made it through and my feeling is that the Bundesliga retains a high German content, but again that is speculation not based on facts. English cricket suffered a similar fate to the EPL and County Cricket reduced the number of overseas players eligible for each team to improve their national team. Is it time for the EPL to place a restriction on the number of eligible overseas players?

I was a little disappointed with the Aussies last game against Spain. It probably went to script and the Socceroos without Cahill and Bresciano were undermanned, but a 1-0 or a 2-0 result would have been a little more satisfying given the performances earlier in the tournament.

The Bombers face the Cats tonight and the Cats are coming off their fourth loss of the season from their fourth interstate trip. Not only have they been beaten interstate, they have been comfortably beaten. That being said, they have not lost a game in Victoria and as a result I will be going against my team and picking the Cats, but barracking hard for the Bombers.

On the never ending supplements saga, it was interesting to hear Tim Watson make a comment on Talking Footy on Monday night. Given his position he has been very circumspect with his comments regarding the whole affair. In a obvious support for his son he finally made a comment about the use of AOD9604 and the lack of retraction or apology from the accusers, which was obviously directed at the time to Jobe.

I was interested to see Daniel Giansiracusa get 2 weeks for his late bump on Polec over the weekend and I ask the question, what was the difference between that bump and Adam Goodes bump on Joel Selwood? Not much, the ball had just left the area, he jumped in the air and hit him high and dazed him. I am not saying that Giansiracusa should have got off, but why wasn’t Goodes charged?

I omitted to make a comment last week about the State of Origin game. What a contrast with the first game which was one of the best rugby league games I have seen. Last Wednesday’s game was probably one of the most boring I have ever watched. The only constant was Queensland’s handling errors which again cost them the game.

Speaking of boring games, what about the Tigers and the Swans last Friday night! I think that is the stye of game that Mick Malthouse was referring to when he commented on the state of the game yesterday. That was the modern game at its worst and contrast that with the Bombers and Crows on Saturday night which was one of the best games I have watched all year.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – EPL, Champions League, Cricket, AFL……

Chris Barwin HillsWell we’re back to Fridays after two consecutive Thursday Musings.

The big interest this week was the state of the EPL. With two games still to go everything is still up for grabs. No team has sewn up the title, no team has been definitely relegated and while the Gunners looked to have solidified fourth position, the last Champions League position has also yet to be decided. That is what you want in a competition. Hopefully everything is still up for grabs on the last day of competition when they all play at the same time.

It must also be said that with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both qualifying for the Champions League final and Valencia and Sevilla vying for a position in the final of the Europa League, that Spanish soccer is in a lot better shape than the Spanish economy!

I was somewhat bemused to hear that the Australian Cricket team had gone back to the top of the world Test rankings. While they did well against England in Australia and beat South Africa away, the two previous series they went down to England 3-0 and lost to India 4-0, both away. You have got to question a table or a rankings system in which you can turn things around so quickly or does beating the rankings leader on their home turf carry that much weight? It does confirm that bowlers win test matches and with Australia’s fast bowling stocks looking healthy going into the future, perhaps we are in for another period of success.

The recently completed horse racing “championships” in Sydney also require some comment. They have tried to emulate the Melbourne Spring Carnival by drastically increasing the prize money. Well judging from afar, I think the standard of horse racing was right up there, however, the crowds must have been a disappointment to the administrators. Yes, they had problems with the weather, but I am sure they would have gotten similar crowds without the increase in prize money. The big advantages the Melbourne Spring Carnival has over Sydney is first the tradition and secondly, the timing. The Spring Carnival does not have to compete with the football codes.

In the AFL all the games look quite straightforward this week, but rest assured there will be a couple of upsets and it is a matter of trying to pick which ones. I think Essendon will be vulnerable to the Western Bulldogs and I think Richmond will put in an improved performance against Geelong. That being said I am picking the favourites.

Thursday musing – EPL, Moyes, Man Utd, Stawell Gift……

Chris Barwin HillsWell the big, but perhaps not surprising news this week, was the sacking of David Moyes at Manchester United. I usually would not feel sorry for anyone associated with that club, however, Moyes seems to have been on a hiding to nothing taking on the position after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. He was cursed with injuries to key players like Van Persie and he did not have the opportunity to make any significant player purchases. Ferguson’s support for him seems to have not translated to any form of assistance within the club. Having said that, by all reports, he has not assisted his position by making changes to the coaching staff which appear to have been unpopular with the players and it would also appear he hasn’t engaged the players on an interpersonal level. It is ironic that his demise followed a second loss to his old side Everton, who, with largely the team he established, are pushing for a Champions League position. It will be interesting to see if he gets another major position as a manager. I think based on his time at Everton he at least deserves another chance.

The big issue in the AFL at the moment seems to be the congestion prevalent in games and the game suffering as a spectacle as a result. Well I went to the Essendon -v- St Kilda game last Saturday night and it was not necessarily the congestion that was the problem, it was the pointless kicking backwards and sideways by both clubs, particularly Essendon. This led to what I felt was one of the most boring games of football I have ever attended where the scores were relatively close. I didn’t check the stats, but in the first half there would have been around twenty tackles between the two sides. It was like watching circle work at training or like soccer getting a team on the break. The second half was a bit of an improvement, but not by much. I think if coaches serve up too many games like that then the game will lose spectators and the TV audience. Having said all of that, I watched the latest instalment in the Hawthorn v Geelong rivalry on Monday and while there was some congestion in that game, what a great game in a long line of great games between these two clubs.

Lastly, it is worth mentioning the Stawell Gift. Has there ever been a closer Gift? I doubt it, all of the participants going over the line within two tenths of a second, amazing!

Have a great long weekend!

Thursday musing – AFL, Arsenal, FA Cup, Premier League…..

Chris Barwin HillsDue to coming public holidays this is the first in a series of two Thursday musings!

With Good Friday tomorrow, the attention turns to the AFL and the “will they/won’t they” sanction a game for next year. I must say that I used to be against it on the basis that the day was always sport free. However, now that other sports are cashing in on the day, I would be happy to be able to sit down on Good Friday night and watch a game of football. Having said that, I would prefer that my team was not playing.

Sticking to football, this one is slightly out of left field. Since Dale “Daisy” Thomas cut off his hair he has hardly played a good game having previously been one of the better players in the AFL. My solution is that he grows his hair back. ou take away someone’s trademark and they are not the player they used to be. I also cite the historical reference to Stephen “strawbs” O’Dwyer who used to play for Melbourne, he had very prominent ears, but as soon as he had his ears pinned back he hardly played a good game. I am sure there other ones as well, like Keith Greig’s ankle bandages, although I doubt he ever removed them.

Better news for the Arsenal fans over the last couple of days. They scraped into the FA Cup final and then in the Premier League they beat West Ham and Everton lose to Crystal Palace to allow the Gunners to reclaim the all important 4th position. They now have their destiny in their own hands and it would be a great finish to the year to take out the first bit of silver wear for 9 years and qualify again for the Champions League. It also looks like Liverpool are favourite to now take out the League title with Man City only getting a draw against Sunderland. What an amazing turnaround from last year when I think they finished 7th.

Have a great Easter!

Friday musing – US Masters, Adam Scott, Arsenal, Patrick Vieira…..

Chris Barwin HillsWith the US Masters now started, I thought it was worth remarking about those two fantastic shots from Matt Jones to qualify him for the Masters. First he drained a 45ft putt to make the play off and then he wins it by chipping in from off the green. Two miracle shots. My original selection for the Masters was Jason Day as I have selected him to win a major this year, however, his first round would indicate that he may not have recovered from his thumb injury so I will have to revert to the reigning champion, Adam Scott.

On a different note, I was thinking about the way Bomber Thompson is coaching at the moment and it brought to mind the change in the Australian Cricket team performance once Darren Lehman took over. Both men take a relaxed approach to their coaching which appears to bring about the best in their teams. One thing I have noticed about the Essendon team this year is that their disposal efficiency has improved immeasurably from previous years. Maintaining that efficiency throughout the season will be the big test as, like my EPL team, Arsenal, they have fallen away at the end of the season recently.

While on the football it is worth commenting on “the bump”. I think everyone who has seen the Nathan Fyffe bump and the Daniel Merrett forearm cannot believe they have been graded the same. Fyffe’s bump was an accidental clash of heads which resulted in a charge under the new AFL rules, whereas Merrett’s was an old fashioned whack which should have gotten four weeks. I think if there are many more incidents akin to the Fyffe suspension, the AFL will need to amend the rules, because in a contact game you cannot or at least should not be suspended for something which was accidental. Australian Rules football is a contact sport and accidents will still happen.

A very disappointing result for Arsenal in the EPL last week losing 3-0 to Everton and now jeopardising their Champions League position. Should they lose the fourth position to Everton and not win the FA Cup, there is every chance that Arsene Wenger will not be asked to continue with the team which would be a shame in my opinion. The owners are finally loosening the purse strings and he may miss out on building the team up again. I also read an interesting article in The Age during the week about Patrick Vieira the last Arsenal captain to raise a trophy. He is working with the Manchester City Under 21 team and enjoying the role. I am not suggesting he is a manager in waiting as it would seem he is a long way off that, but worth keeping an eye on his progress.

Have a great weekend!