Tag Archives: the-gunners

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!

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!

Weekend musing – Soccer, Leicester City, Arsenal……

Chris Barwin HillsThe English Premier League ladder has an unfamiliar name on the top at the moment in Leicester City. They have obviously surprised everyone and are this year’s Southampton and the next month may indicate if they drop out of the top four as Southampton eventually did last year. Their next four games are Chelsea (h), Everton (a), Liverpool (a) & Manchester City (h). If they can split the points in those fixtures they may hang onto their spot in the top four, but as Southampton found out last year it is hard to maintain that consistency over the course of the season.

Staying with that theme it was great to see Arsenal again move alexis-sanchez-arsenal-burnley_3223813through the group stage of the Champions League after an extremely shaky start to the campaign. The home win against Bayern Munich was obviously the key with the return wins against Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb sealing the continuation of their run which I think is 15-16 times in a row they have progressed past the group stage.

There was also some good news for the Australian fans of the Gunners with the team coming to Australia in 2017. The bad news for Victorian supporters is that the two games they are scheduled to play will be in Sydney.

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!

Friday musing – AFL, final eight, Arsenal, Champions League…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell with one round of the AFL season to go there is still a great deal of interest in the final positions in the final eight.

Should the results go as expected it will be a battle between Adelaide and West Coast on percentage for the final position, but Richmond have their fate in their own hands so it is the position you want to be in from a Richmond point of view. If the game was in Melbourne I would give them a genuine chance, but being in Sydney I think I will have to favour the home team. That being said, the Swans will know the equation necessary to hold top spot as Hawthorn play Collingwood tonight and a big win by Hawthorn and a loss to Sydney could see the Swans lose top spot.

Looking to the other games, Geelong should beat Brisbane at home, but if you cast your mind back to the corresponding game last year Brisbane lost by a kick in controversial circumstances. Geelong have won a lot of games this year by small margins and have not played out four quarters many times and if they lose and Fremantle win, Geelong could drop to fourth. Fremantle need to win to at least hold fourth spot as a loss to Port Adelaide will see Port take fourth spot.

North Melbourne looks to be the only team that cannot go up or down, they are a game and 16% below Port and a game and 10% ahead of Essendon, so they look like retaining sixth position with a home final. Essendon need to beat Carlton to retain seventh position to play North in Melbourne, or run the risk that a loss to Carlton and a win by Richmond could see them head interstate to play Freo or Port.

It is a great last round as so many positions could change, but I am predicting the status quo and games going with the favourites, so that will leave Adelaide and West Coast to fight out eighth position on percentage. My tip is Adelaide to just get there and play a home final against Port in the first week of the finals.

Also great to see the Gunners make it through to the Champions League again. They have drawn a reasonable group and should at least get through to the next round.

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 – 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 – Premier League, AFL, MLB……..

Chris Barwin HillsNot much has grabbed me this week on the sporting front although I must say that the Gunners have left me feeling a little flat after a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea and a draw at home with Swansea. With a game coming up against Manchester City I will just have to focus all my attention on the FA Cup.

One thing that has piqued my interest is how the AFL pundits are prepared to make prognostications about various teams seasons on the back of one performance. Some people had North Melbourne finishing in the top four and now they are gone, Carlton’s recruiting is all wrong and they are destined for mediocrity, the Bombers were in for a poor season, but they could finish in the top four. I think the reality is that you cannot make a judgement based on one performance. Essendon had a good win last week, but they get the reality check this week against Hawthorn. The Kangaroos played badly last week, but should bounce back this week against the Bulldogs. Carlton also played well last week and if they had kicked straight should have won the game with a number of their first picked players not available. One game does not define a season and you need to wait until at least half way before you can write someone off.

I didn’t get to watch any of the Major League baseball from Sydney last week, however, the ground looked amazing and as I understand it, the game was a success so it will be interesting to see if more Major League games come to Australia.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – the Ashes, Champions League, Arsenal……..

Chris Barwin HillsWith the result of the test in Adelaide and the results of the other tests recently it became very obvious that winning the toss goes a long way to winning a test match. This has always been the case, but it does seem more so now with the way pitches are prepared. Captains have always been preferred to bat first, but usually the pitch offered a fair bit of assistance to the quicks, particularly in the first session. The side batting second usually had the better of the conditions so you could still set up a win batting second.

It all seems to have changed with the “drop-in” pitches as they don’t seem to offer as much bounce early nor spin later. There has been some suggestion that there be a toss for the first test of a series and then it be rotated after that, but I would not agree with that suggestion. I think the better idea is for a return to the old style of pitch preparation which gives both sides an even chance.

Good to see the Gunners make it through to their 14th Champions League knock out phase in a row. Interesting how Napoli miss out with 12 points and yet St Petersburg get in with 6.

Have a great weekend!