Saturday, December 03, 2011



Very pleasing day yesterday, on the football front, our "suggestion" Olympique Marseille won 2-1 and both red type selections eased home, Racing Club Lens taking the lead inside the first minute and eventually winning 3-0 and the Bastia- Sedan game producing four goals.

The golf continues to go well, Lee Westwood is in a tie for second in the Nedbank Challenge and in a group of seven players who are "getting away" from the other five, he is now trading much lower for a top three place, but it is Tiger Woods who is
the icing on this week's cake at the moment, he leads the Chevron World Challenge by three strokes from KJ Choi and Matt Kuchar after taming the Sherwood course yesterday and is now trading at circa 1.57. The potential seven point payout here is huge as it equates to circa 6 or 7 standard winners and the option to trade out for a huge profit ( at around 1.61) on the exchanges is there, if you wish. Both original previews are reproduced below.

Four football selections in this email one each from the EPL, Ligue 1, Championship and FA Cup and I will also be looking at three ,maybe four of QPR- WBA, Wigan- Arsenal, Blackpool-Reading or West Ham United- Burnley "in running " today, starting with the "pre match notes" at 14.15 UK time and followed by the half time update at 15.50.

OK, straight into the action and I will start with in the EPL and the match up between struggling Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City. The pressure continues to mount on home boss Steve Kean, there will be further protests aimed at both him and also the owners today and after putting all his eggs into this particular basket, by resting several of his "stars" for the Carling Cup quarter final at Cardiff City in midweek, a 2-0 loss in that game, means surely that is last chance time for him today. I do feel that if Rovers are going to win a match, it will have to be today, they travel to Sunderland next, for what will be Martin O 'Neill's home debut after taking charge this week of the North East club and then go to both Liverpool and Manchester United over the holiday, so it looks a case of now or never. They are helped in this cause by the visitors being without defender Angel Rangel and almost certainly striker Danny Graham, with Leroy Lita waiting in the wings to replace him. Kean is also set to be boosted by a few more options today, with the return of Samba, Salgado and Olsson, those along with the players rested in midweek are at least going to freshen up a team which is scoring quite freely and certainly has goals in them, but one which is incapable of keeping a clean sheet. They have not managed one in 17 competitive starts this season and with a severe lack of pace wide at the back, the speedy Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair have the potential to make it another long afternoon for the Rovers backline and in midfield they will miss the suspended N'Zonzi. I feel Rovers might do enough to win, but hard to see them doing so without conceding and with Swansea adopting a far more open approach against teams of a similar standing and intent recently( 2-2 A Wolves, 3-1 H Bolton, 1-3 A Norwich and 3-0 H WBA), I have to go with the "over" 2.5 goal option at 2.04 asian handicap.

I appear to have "lost" my notes for the next three games, so am typing these on the "hoof", so please bear with me. In the FA Cup, Gateshead, who did us a big favour in the last round, entertain fellow Conference side Tamworth, in the wide open spaces of the International Stadium. The Tynsiders are looking to reach the 3rd round of the competition for the first time in over 50 years and are very motivated to do so, as you might expect, they have turned into a real cup team in recent seasons and get really up for these fixtures. Locally they have been "bigging" the match up as huge, for not just the club, but the town and they have "massive" support from the local community.

These two clubs met here two months ago and played out a 1-1 draw, but that doesn't tell the full story, Gateshead were totally dominant and leading 1-0 when they lost not one, but both central defenders inside 15 minutes, with one of the replacements giving away the penalty which allowed the visitors to equalise. Home boss Ian Bogie said afterwards "we were so far ahead in terms of ability in the first half that it was like a practice game and we should have been two or three up ".

Reading all this reminded me that I had watched extended highlights of their match here last season which The Heed won 3-1. The hosts ran Tamworth ragged for 90 minutes and made full use of the strange ( by Conference standards) big pitch and surroundings, they scored three, it could have been eight, the visitors had terrible trouble defending crosses as they were getting so stretched by the hosts out wide. The recent match sounds very similar and given the desire for Gateshead to progress and their current form ( they are unbeaten in seven) and dominance in recent h2h meetings, I have to go with the home win. Gateshead -0.5 ball 2.07 asian line.

In the Championship, we have discussed ...... the rest of the email is restricted to subscribers to the daily service, please contact me for details ...

Good Luck.

BACK AT 14.15

written December 1st
The very prestigeous Nedbank Golf Challenge takes place at the Gary Player Country Club in Sun City and has seemingly attracted the usual quality 12 man field ,including three of the world's top four players, but half the field are without a win this year and/or lack experience, with only defending champion Lee Westwood and Anders Hansen returning from last year . Westwood coasted home by a stunning eight strokes in 2010, with Hansen 15 strokes adrift in a share of 9th place.

Key here is keep the ball in play off the tee and putt well, or at least avoid three putts, so a little course knowledge goes a very long way.

Westwood obviously has a great chance to repeat and his biggest rivals at first glance look to be world number one Luke Donald, number four Martin Kaymer and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.

Donald's wife has just had their second child, he has not played golf for five weeks and his father died earlier this month, that is a roller coaster of a month, in addition to becoming world number one and winning both Money List's ! The only time he really undeperformed this year has been upon his return following a break and given all that and his decidely average record on the course, I have to let him pass.

Schwartzel is the only local golfer in the event and as such, will have massive support from the galleries, but is coming here following a very disappointing final day in the Omega Mission Hills World Cup, where he and partner Louis Oosthuizen, had a truly terrible sunday, when both played like amateurs and he has previously underperformed here, so, not for me.

Kaymer has very few peers in world golf on a going day and signalled a major return to form with a mindblowing final round of 63 to spreadeagle a world class field including seven of this week's rivals at the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai in early November and alongside partner Alex Cejka, tied for second in the World Cup on Sunday . However, he has never played here before and I have to feel that lack of experience might cost him this week and two trips to China inside a month, before arriving here, might also take their toll.

That leaves us with Westwood ,he hit 75% of greens and shot 21 birdies last year ,far and away the best in the field as you might imagine, he said that he likes his chances this week and proved his well being with a win in China last month, albeit against a weak field.

It is hard to see him out of contention and I will take him to finish in the top 25% of this 12 man line up. 1.5 units Lee Westwood top 3 finish 1.84 + on the exchanges, up to 1.87 offered.

This week Tiger Woods is hosting his own charitable event the Chevron World Challenge, from the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California.

The event always attracts a high class field , but there is an argument this year that it is a little weaker than in 2010, with Luke Donald ,Rory McIlroy and several others, opting out. As you might expect, Tiger has a fine record here, winning four times, including three in four years between 2004-2007, he did not play in 08 or 09 , returning last year when he was in much worse shape than he currently appears and he lost out in a playoff to Graeme McDowell, the pair in turn four strokes clear of the field, under the circumstances, that was an incredible performance, even though he blew a big lead on the final day.

I very much doubt that we will ever see Woods dominate the game again, he is no longer feared by the other golfers and the younger players have only ever seen him struggle on the golf course, so that unbeatable "air" will never return, however, that doesn't mean that he cannot still win plenty of tournaments and you can argue that he is five strokes better here than anywhere else and I doubt any of this field can give him five shots on this golf course. His confidence is returning, he led the Australian Open late in the tournament and eventually finished third and played well tee to green all week in the Presidents Cup, also getting the putter going in the singles, where he took Aaron Baddeley to the cleaners ! He has only ever finished outside the top two here once in nine starts and the 1.88 for a top four finish on the exchanges looks very solid and I would not put anyone off going down that route, but I will be a little braver and take him to win..... 2 units Tiger Woods 4.50 exchanges/ 4.38 Pinnacle Sports.

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