Saturday, August 27, 2011



Next email will be my "pre match notes" at around 14.15 UK time Saturday for the games we are following in the first half tomorrow, with an half time update to follow. The matches covered will be Chelsea- Norwich City, Portsmouth- Cardiff City, Ipswich Town - Leeds United and Brentford - Tranmere Rovers.

Going to start in the Championship and the Middlesbrough- Coventry City match up. We discussed Boro last week ahead of their home game with Birmingham City ( notes reproduced at the foot of this email), they were a goal down at the break, which came against the run of play, but were strong in the second half and led by a commanding performance by Faris Haroun who came on at the half, they ran in three unanswered goals. Tony Mowbray was keen to keep the momentum up and took a strong squad to highflying and high scoring Peterborough United in a midweek Carling Cup tie and will have been delighted with a 2-0 win, not least by the cleansheet. It also meant that classy Julio Arca who recently re-signed got another 30 minutes under his belt and should be approaching full fitness.

I really like these players Arca, Haroun, Bennett, Emnes all have a real touch of class and Mowbray has instilled a sense of belief in the whole squad, this is personified by being the only league team to twice come back from a goal down this season. They are on a very long unbeaten run and with this their last home start for 28 days ( international break and two really tough road games coming up), they will be desperate for the three points this afternoon. City arrive without a win in five games in all competitions and just a single league point, which came in a 0-0 home draw with another winless team Watford, with the Hornets having far more chances, including 11 shots on target. Money is very tight at the Ricoh Arena and takeover bids for the club have been going on for months, they lost their three classiest players in the summer and replaced them with two lower league "cheap" signings, they desperately need some investment and until it comes, anyone with top six aspirations should be looking to beat City. Boro are averaging 4.75 attempts per game on target more than City which is huge. 1.5 units Middlesbrough -0.75 goals 1.90 asian line.

In Division 1 the Bury- Charlton Athletic fixture features two teams who like to play the correct way and should be attractive to watch. Charlton were very busy in the summer with "new" boss Chris Powell bringing in virtually an entire new squad, this looks to have worked out well, as they have hit the ground running and won their first three starts, before sharing the spoils with Scunthorpe United last week, after leading 2-0 with just 17 minutes left to play. I have just watched extended highlights of that and to be honest, it would have been unjust if Scunny hadn't got something from a game they dominated for significant periods and in which, created the greater number of chances. United boss Alan Knill has got his team playing some nice stuff and very similar to how Bury played under him, which could be key this afternoon. I got very good reports about the slick quick passing football Bury played at Wycombe last week and coach Richie Barker who took over from Knill has been making full use of his contacts in the game and has signed some quality youngsters on loan, including Mark Cullen ( Hull City), Ashley Eastham ( Blackpool) and Kudus Oyenuga ( Tottenham). Cullen, Oyenuga along with the prolic Andy Bishop and Ryan Lowe ( who is on fire atm !) give them a real offensive threat. Athletic will face a similar side to the one that troubled them so much last week and a point here would probably be seen as a good result by Powell. Hosts go to Sheffield United next week, infact, three of their next four starts are on the road and their next home game is the "massive" local derby with Rochdale ( no love lost there), so as tough as this might look on paper, it is about as easy as it will get in the next month. I have to take the home team with the draw no bet option. Bury draw no bet 2.05 + ..... up to 2.10 in a place or two.

Stepping down a division ............the rest of my notes are unavailable....

Good Luck.

written August 21st

I like Tony Mowbray as a manager , he plays very nice football and knows this Championship and more importantly what is required to get out of it, as well as anyone. Money is very tight at Boro, but he has got a talented team together on a shoestring, unearthed a few gems like Marvin Emnes who has scored in every games this season and new signing Belgian international Faris Haroun, who is that most prized of assets, namely a midfielder who can score goals and got them playing a similar style to his wildly successful WBA promotion teams of recent seasons. Middlesbrough use the full width of the pitch and young full back Joe Bennett, who plays in a similar style to Ashley Cole and gets forward at every opportunity plays more like a winger in this very offensive team, he already has an England U21 call up this year and before Mowbray arrived, wanted to go out on loan to get a game, which is some indication of the effect TM has had. Birmingham lost a lot of talent in the summer and this small squad are stretched after a gruelling week travel wise, they were in Madeira late on Thursday and travelled all the way up to the North East yesterday, so a very strange and disruptive week with limited prep time for this tough game. They remain without Jerome, Zigic, King, Mutch and Gomis and are bound to be distracted by their upcoming Europa League match, their first at St Andrews in almost 50 years. Blues have been a little more adventurous on the road under Chris Hughton, which should suit Boro and it is the home win for me. Middlesbrough -0.5 2.05 + .... there is still some 2.10 around in places.


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