Sunday, September 02, 2012

SUNDAY NOTES ...........

Here are my ( heavily edited) Sunday notes, sent to subscribers across two emails this morning, including a look at two tennis matches and three football fixtures, with four red type selections, the first of these Cardiff City have already won. If you want to read the others, you know what to do, full details on this LINK.

We can start the day with a few words about the US Open Tennis, the Laura Robson- Sam Stosur match is very interesting, as it pitches the defending champion, who hates playing lefties, against the up and coming left handed British player. Having lost only five games in her first two rounds, Stosur dropped eight to left handed Varvara Lepchenko in R3 and the first set tie break was very close. She has already suffered three big defeats to lefties this year, Iveta Benesova in Brisbane, a shock loss to Aranxta Rus at Wimbledon and then, in her first hardcourt tournament of the North American season, she fell to Lucie Safarova in Montreal three weeks ago. Rennae Stubbs, her former doubles partner, who knows Stosur's game as well as anyone said " left-handers are better placed to hit the ball to Stosur's backhand, which is her weaker wing" adding ''Sam's record against left-handers in the last few years is much better than it used to be, but she's always struggled with them throughout her career, more so than somebody who plays a similar game right-handed." ''Anybody who attacks the first shot and gets it to Sam's backhand is going to give her a few problems, so it's up to Sam to figure out how she can counter that and do a better job at keeping the ball more on her terms.''

The Aussies famous high kicking delivery wide to the backhand, is directed to the forehand of lefties, which takes away much of it's effect. Stosur does get nervous sometimes and she is the only one really with anything to lose today, this is all a bonus for Robson, who will get plenty more chances at this level over the next decade. This was taken from the Brit's post match interview after she beat Li Na.

Q.  Is it a question of now on trusting your talent?  This is got you the results, keep playing your shots and playing with freedom.
LAURA ROBSON:  Well, yeah.  You know, my game is based on being aggressive, and if I don't play that way then I probably wouldn't be doing very well.  So, you know, I just try to go for all my shots.  And even today my first serve percentage wasn't great, but I knew I had to keep going for it, because she was definitely taking advantage of my second serve.  So I had to keep going for it, and that's what I did.
Q.  You talked the other day about the loss to Sharapova at the Olympics.  I was wondering in the short term if you look back at that match as a turning point for you mentally where you felt like you were close to winning and then you were on the cusp of really, you know, beating some of the top players.
LAURA ROBSON:  Yeah, in that match I definitely felt like I should have won the first set.  It was extremely close, and then I just made a few silly mistakes and just didn't move my feet as much as I should have.  So what I have been working on since then is making sure that I do move my feet, and, you know, just continuously make one extra ball and make it a little bit harder for them, which, yeah, is what I did well against Clijsters and I seemed to do it quite well today.

Having already beaten two grand slam champions in Li Na and Clijsters, she shouldn't be too worried about a third and knows that she has to be aggressive. This is a very intriguing match up and at odds of 1.38- 3.55 on the exchanges, a solid start will see Robson's odds tumble and I could only really side with her at those quotes, given all the problems Stosur has had with lefties and her poor form coming into the event ( 4-5 since Roland Garros and no wins of note).

Elsewhere, the Marion Bartoli- Petra Kvitova is worth looking at. The Frenchwoman has had a very poor 5-6 months , basically since the end of the early season hard court events, she would have been looking forward to this "swing", but struggled through the five events in build up and has lost easily to any top ranked player she has faced. The worst of these was against Kvitova in Montreal last month, the Czech player won 1&1 and as those scores suggest, was barely troubled, she won 84% of first serve points, allowed only a couple of break points and coasted home , it is difficult not to see a similar, if maybe not quite so emphatic outcome today. That loss was huge for Bartoli as she needed to win it to stay in the top ten and to underperform so badly must have been crushing.

She has won three matches here, but the average ranking of players she has faced is 102 and Bartoli has never gone beyond R4 in New York, even though she plays mainly on hardcourts and has lost to some real journeywoman players here namely Mirza, Razzano, McHale, Dushevina and Bammer,more like a who's not than who's who of women's tennis !

Kvitova won Montreal and New Haven and is having far and away the best hard court season of her career, she is very much under the radar in the US unlike at Wimbledon and I think that suits her well, she is due to meet Sharapova in the quarters and that is a match up she really wants, the pair have met in three of the last five grand slams and having lost the last two ( although how she lost in Melbourne is still a mystery.... the stats were incredible !), she wants a little payback. Kvitova to win in two sets for me today, if the serve is working and it normally is, she should be able to cover the -5.5 game handicap too.




These two are battling for mid table superiority, that is a joke btw, neither has too much to play for. We discussed Cruzeiro on August 17 ahead of their 4-0 loss at Coritiba (see below in blue type) they are still without holding midfielder Willian Magrao ( 10-0-0) and right back Ceara ( 9-1-2) and striker Fabinho ( 11-0-0) are injured...... rest of the preview is restricted


We have discussed the hosts quite a bit recently and the last time was on Thursday when they found a very late equaliser at Vasco.

Now they have two home games in the next four days and sitting outside the drop zone only on goal difference , they desperately need a win and probably a minimum four points. The next game is against Gremio who still hold title aspirations and that will be more difficult than the visit of Cruzeiro who are hurtling towards mid table obscurity, after starting their season with a six match unbetaen run, they have lost six of their last eleven and are consistently inconsistent !

The hosts remain without Emerson and Sergio Manoel ( see below) and center back Pereira ( 10 starts and three goals) and defensive midfielder Willian ( important-unbeaten in his last five starts) are suspended. No Emerson and Pereira is big and they lost 3-2 at home to Sport Recife ( Sport's only road win all season) the only time both didn't start and missing the protection of Willian too, how on earth are they going to stop Cruz scoring a couple ?

But wait, Cruzeiro are without suspended holding midfielders Charles ( 13-0-0) , Everton (11-1-1) and cetral defender Leo (15-1-2), Charles is important, they have lost 3 from 13 when he plays, 3 from 4 without him. That seems bad enough, but a third holding midfielder Willian Magrao ( 10-0-0) is also out along with striker Borges( 11-5-2, 22-7-4 in all competitions and four goals in his last four starts).

Offensively the hosts look OK and their need is much greater, neither can keep a cleansheet with these line ups. Cruz have scored in their last nine visits here, Coritiba in their last six trips to the reverse fixture, 11 of the last 15 h2h have gone "over" and both scored in 13 of 16.

Two bets for me 1.5 units Coritiba -0.5 ball 2.02 + there is some 2.05 around  and 1.5 units "over" 2.75 goals 2.11 asian line.


A big game for both who will be really looking to kick start promotions pushes this weekend. However, we now have to view City as a buying club and Wolves as a seller, they allowed Steven Fletcher to go to Sunderland and  Matt Jarvis to join West Ham and that has cooled expectations for this season, albeit with another £26m in the bank. New boss Stale Solbakken has brought a lot of new players in and is looking to change much at the club, they are going through a major overhaul and have to be regarded as a club in transition.

We spoke about Cardiff ahead of their opener with Huddersfield ( below in blue type), they edged that 1-0, then kept a cleansheet at Brighton, before something of a horror show performance at local rivals Bristol City ( 2-4). They have had a clear eight days to reflect on that and boss Malky Mackay tried to brush it off as a bad day at the office, he gave the players a day off, made them watch the video upon their return, discussed what went wrong and then forgot about it, at this stage of the season, you can view that as a blip and I think he has taken the right approach, sometimes you can make too much of a loss and it gets inside the players head's . Two years ago they lost 3-0 at Bristol City, beat Leeds a few days later and went on a seven match unbeaten run, so you can feed off ,as well as stew uponn these kind of losses.

Anyway, they will have South Korea international midfielder Kim Bo-Kyung available today as his work permit has finally come through, they also signed Brighton winger Craig Noone this week, Mackay tried to sign him in January, but the deal fell through, he has trained twice with the squad already , looking good according to his new boss and goes straight into the squad. They also spent close to £3m on striker Nicky Maynard from WHU, he has 80 goals in around 180 appearances at FL level , he is a clinical finisher and VERY quick. City should also have Ben Turner back in central defence, he missed out at Bristol City, but trained Friday and Saturday and would be a big addition as the Connolly / Hudson pairing looked lost, but that was hardly surprising as Conolly has only just signed and these centre of the backline positions always need a little time to gel, either way, they should be much more solid again at the back today. Wolves remain without star keeper Wayne Hennessey, who is out for another two months and the work rate of Jamie O'Hara in midfield. They played at Northampton on Thursday night, so a quick turnaround, albeit with a much changed line up, that is not much time and limits preparation. I have to favour the hosts, expectation levels are huge in South Wales and they will not want to go into the mini international break on the back of a second poor showing. 1.5 units Cardiff City -0.5 ball 2.13 asian line.

CARDIFF CITY - HUDDERSFIELD TOWN ( Written and sent Tuesday August 14th)
City have finished top seven in the Championship in each of the last four seasons, losing out in the playoffs in the last three. They have shown terrific bouncebackability each time and are unbeaten on the opening day in each of those campaigns. They have certainly found some form in pre season scoring twelve goals in winning their last four, including a 4-1 thumping of Newcastle United, that was a wonderful performance and the Bluebirds look a much stronger outfit this season, with coach Malky Mackay making seven new signings....Filip Kiss (Slovan Bratislava), Jordan Mutch (Birmingham City), Etien Velikonja (NK Maribor), Kim Bo-Kyung (Cerezo Osaka), Heidar Helguson (Queens Park Rangers), Joe Lewis (Peterborough United) and Craig Bellamy (Liverpool). In Aron Gunnarson they have a young holding midfieder improving with every performance, Peter Whittingham, Mutch,  Bellamy and Bo-Kyung ( who looks an inspired signing) give them a real touch of class, Lewis offers competition for the starting goalkeeping spot and Helguson a real aerial threat, in short, City look the real deal and full of goals, this might well be the season they make it to the promised land of Premier league football. Newcastle boss Alan Pardew said: “They have some very good young players and Bellamy will be a great signing for them. They have a big chance of promotion. The manager is great and I could see them finishing in the top two of the Championship.”

Town have just come up after nine years in League 1 exile, they have strengthened in the summer adding Anthony Gerrard (Cardiff City), Sean Scannell (Crystal Palace), Oliver Norwood (Manchester United), Adam Clayton (Leeds United), Keith Southern (Blackpool), Paul Dixon (Dundee United) and Joel Lynch (Nottingham Forest) , they all look solid business, but biggest news is that they have so far been able to refuse all offers for star striker Jordan Rhodes  (72 goals and 12 assists in 129 League 1 starts ). Boss Simon Grayson was brought in as replacement for Lee Clark in February, with a clear remit to get the Terriers up through the playoffs and it is job well done so far, but I am certain the target has been raised beyond mere survival this season, he has plenty of experience at this level from his time with Leeds United and I am sure that Town will have a good season, but a Friday night trip to South Wales might not be the best place to start their campaign. Cardiff have a very strong record under floodlights at the City Stadium, winning six and losing just one of their last nine and visiting coach Grayson has a terrible record against the hosts not beating them in seven previous meetings whilst with Leeds United and Blackpool. Cardiff to win.1.25 units Cardiff City -0.5 ball 1.92 asian line

Good Luck.

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