Friday, 5 October 2018

Khabib Nurmagomedov v Conor McGregor: Bigmouth Strikes Again


Conor McGregor is clearly a very talented athlete and from humble beginnings what he's achieved is the stuff of Hollywood movies.  He is reported to have made $100 million from the Mayweather fight alone.

Much like boxing, the UFC is often full of bravado and it can be argued that's what helps contribute to the compelling match ups and rivalries that develop within combat sports. The Mayweather vs McGregor fight had more 'press tour' than fight and so it's clearly a tactic that pays off, even if it does come across as unsavoury at times. As it happens McGregor represented himself rather well in that fight, which wasn't really something many anticipated beforehand. He does often back up his own talk with results.

There are aspects of good fortune to all of this too. McGregor isn't undefeated, and so to have huge money fights fall into his lap and for the stars to align in such a way that there are these cross over events is partly down to luck rather than any kind of masterplan. From McGregor's own behaviour outside of the ring, we can see that thinking about his actions isn't always at the forefront of his mind.

He's carried his tried and tested braggadocious, confrontation persona into the Khabib fight too - trotting out the mind games that he feels will both boost his bank balance (and they will!) and allow him to get into the head of his opponent is the order of the day.

The potential downfall in this strategy may well be a combination of the fact that he doesn't really even need to be there, and being out of the ring for two years. Is the hunger still there? He may well gain a lot of confidence from his past successes and showman ways, but that's not of any use once he's in the Octagon. We've often seen what happens in boxing for instance when a fighter's ego is intact but ability is diminished after a break from the ring. Nurmagomedov's grappling game is second to none, he's undefeated and seems prepared to let his performance on the night do the talking. If McGeogor's trademark speed and power remains it could be lights out, but many believe that his opponent will try to take this to the ground fast, and go to work, making for a difficult night for McGregor.

This is a tough fight to call and the odds reflect that. Khabib is currently 5/8 on the exchanges and I'd be inclined to go for that if I was betting on the fight. The 17-1 for Khabib to win in round 4 is tempting too, considering he'll likely try to smoother and tire McGregor. Whatever happens, it's likely to be a very lively encounter!


Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Brighton vs West Ham United - 5th May


While it’s still very early in the season, it’s fair to say that Brighton and Hove Albion versus West Ham United has a very big ‘six pointer’ feel to it. Chris Hughton was widely praised at the beginning of the season for making Brighton look so solid, whilst West Ham’ manager, Manuel Pellegrini, was already being threatened with the sack.

With United on the up and Brighton struggling a touch more, though, will the narrative switch?

Brighton and Hove Albion News


Now below West Ham in the table, Brighton have not won in five games so far. With two losses on the spin, too, the problems are beginning to rack up: and it could cause some serious issues for the long-term confidence of the squad.

So far, Shane Duffy has probably been among their best performances, although two goals so far definitely helps to pad that out. Glenn Murray already has four, so goals aren’t a major issue. If the defence – already 13 conceded – don’t turn off the taps, though, that could change. A leaky defence always has a negative impact on the attack.

West Ham United News


For West Ham, the impressive performance of Marko Arnautovic and Felipe Anderson will have Hammers sighing with relief. The dynamic duo were expected to lead a rebuilt West Ham attack, and only now are beginning to look ready to take on that mantle. So, too, is ex-Dortmund man Andriy Yarmolenko.

The Ukraine international is hitting some good form at present, with two goals in the league so far. Anderson’ cheeky flick against United should boost his self-belief, too. For West Ham, there’s a chance to build some momentum with two win and a draw from their last three.

Verdict


We sense a score-draw here. Both sides can attack, but leak defences – 25 goals conceded already between them, only 16 scored – could see this produce a few goals. Expect this to be a fun and frantic match, with both teams probably happy to get a share of the points.


Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool (15th Sept)


As one of the flagship games on the Premier League calendar, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool meet for what should be a fantastic Saturday match. Kicking off the league weekend, Spurs will be returning to Wembley with their defeat at Watford ringing in the ears. The 4-1 battering of Liverpool last year at this very ground will be fresh in the memory: can the Reds finally put that crushing defeat to the back of their minds?

Tottenham Hotspur News


Not much to worry about for Spurs; the majority of their squad should be fit. Knowing that they could temporarily go top with a big win, Spurs will be keen to show Liverpool that their supposed new defensive solidity is a myth.

However, they’ll have worries themselves, with four goals conceded so far meaning that they can’t rely on keeping an electric Liverpool attack quiet. Expect Spurs to go with solidity and running power, hoping they can beat the frantic LFC press.

Liverpool News


The Reds are without Dejan Lovren for this one, meaning that Joe Gomez should get a chance to impress once again. The Reds will have most of their first team out there, though, and should feel very confident of getting something from their trip to London.

Despite their overall solidity, though, Liverpool are known to struggle against Harry Kane: he’s got a rich habit of banging in goals against the Reds. If they can keep him quiet, though, it’ll give the Liverpool attack ample space to run into.

Verdict


We can see this being a tight but very enjoyable match, with the result likely etched on who can counter the best. With Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino yet to start firing, this could be the ideal time to rediscover their form from last season. If we had to pick a winner, we’d suggest Liverpool have the greater confidence – though Spurs will feel they can easily get at a Liverpool defence that isn’t as solid as it’s looked early this season.


Sunday, 9 September 2018

Celebrity Big Brother 2018 Winner - Ryan Thomas

Once again Celebrity Big Brother demonstrates that it's much more watchable than its non celebrity counterpart. There's just something about the contrast between how famous people present themselves in a professional capacity, and the inevitable peep behind that veneer we see during their stint in the Big Brother house that sparks intrigue. Who can forget that famous Leo Sayer meltdown, or George Galloway's  "Would you like me to be the cat?"strangeness.

This year hasn't really had any such iconic aspects, though Jermaine Pennant's inability to remember that he's actually married and Roxanne Pallet's 'Punchgate' certainly ensured that there were somewhat borderline bizarre elements in this series. The latter incident has very likely also put ex Coronation Street star Ryan Thomas in the frame to win the series, in a year where there has been no real fixed narrative to follow as such or 'Us vs Them' teams splintering off. For the most part this bunch have taken it easy on the alcohol (I had to laugh at Nicks's comment about Sarah Harding in a previous Celebrity Big Brother season: "She was bollocksed every night. Proper bollocksed") and have followed a more sensible approach to proceedings. The series was in fact thrown a curve ball before it had even got started on account that Stormy Daniels was a no show.

Early doors, one potential hand grenade, Natalie Nunn, was taken out by another,  Hardeep, in the very first nomination. That possibly changed the dynamic of the series. Hardeep became known as 'The Destroyer' for his ability to knock out whoever he was up against. This ended though when he was voted out by the public in the final public vote prior to the final, while up against Sally 'I've got a gift' Morgan. Very few housemates have actually been up for the public vote this year due to the Hardeep vs X dynamic, so that has made evaluating their popularity somewhat tricky.

So again, being that the only remaining housemate with an 'event' occurring in the house to define their stay is Ryan, this has seemingly elevated his chance of winning quite considerably. He transformed from 'Mr Laugh at Anything' to a serious contender overnight. Bookmakers currently have him at 4/9 favourite to win CBB 2018.

Beyond that it comes down to character and again some of this bunch blend into the mix a bit too well.  Ben Jardine had a lot of character to him, and he was unlucky to bow out the way that he did. Of those remaining, characters like Gaby Allen have kept a super low profile, there's 'Nice Nick' too and so on. Aside from Ryan though, the only other housemate to have made an impression and appear more down to earth than her outside status, an admirable trait, is Kirstie Alley. She's 2-1 with bookmakers.

Winners of Celebrity Big Brother are often unpredictable. Sure there have been years where a younger guy has won people over, but with previous winners like Gary Busey, Coleen Nolan, Jim Davidson and Alex Reid it's clearly not only teenage girls watching! I do feel that if Kirstie Alley had maybe been a little less guarded she might have walked this, because she has lot of winning aspects to her character, she's funny, friendly and has some great Hollywood anecdotes. That being said, Ryan brings the fun factor in spades and has come back from being wronged in a pretty low way. On top of that, winning would mean an awful lot to him and his career prospects. He has the biggest potential story arc. I think all of these things will factor in as people cast their votes in the final, and therefore I can see him being the 2018 Celebrity Big Brother champion.

It's possibly bad form to already announce Ryan Thomas as the winner of Celebrity Big Brother 2018 in the post title, but yesterday Psychic Sally alerted Ryan that she'd had a vision of him winning the show. I mean, with her track record (losing the housemates letters! Oops!) who could disagree? 'She's got a gift' don't you know! :-D.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

UEFA Nations League - England vs Spain

The UEFA Nations League competition has the distinction of being so brand spanking new that I only just realised that England are even playing tonight! That's partly on occupational hazard when these events are shuffled quietly away onto Sky Sports. If we do well maybe we'll have the treat of a pay per view final. I jest!

Of all of the opponents England could face in their opening game, Spain will surely be a tricky prospect, but buoyed from their World Cup success, England will be looking to keep the positive momentum going. With that in mind the team hasn't dramatically changed with an 'if it ain't broke' thought likely in Gareth Southgate's mind.

Still, there are some changes. Players such as Luke Shaw, Joe Gomez (sadly ruled out of the World Cup due to injury) and goalkeeper Jack Butland will be looking to make an impact, and Marcus Rashford, who perhaps deserved more time in this year's World Cup, has yet another opportunity to shine and stake a claim to a more permanent starting place in the England team. Kane will be present of course and hoping to impress. Gareth Southgate will clearly be watching the game with one eye on the future big competitions, and how best to move forward with this youthful team.

We want to test ourselves against the very best," said Southgate.

Spain don't currently hold this same consistency After going through three coaches in three months, they will be looking to steady themselves and get on an even keel. With the likes of  David Silva, Andrés Iniesta and Gerard Piqué now out of the picture, the old faces are few and far between (Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets) and so Spain will be looking for new blood to forge a successful path going forward. - Marcos Alonso, Alvaro Morata, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Cesar Azpilicueta will all play a role.

This sets the stage for an interesting matchup. Historically England's record against Spain is poor, but the easy ride England had in the World Cup doesn't take away from the fact that the team has gelled well of late when compared to Spain's fortunes. But then are the very top teams ever more than a few games from finding their way again? The odds reflect the uncertainty with England at 17/10 to win and Spain 19/10. The draw is 11/5. My head says Spain will find a way, but my heart says England. The curse of the patriot, and I'm sure I wouldn't be the first to have a patriotic punt either! That said on this occasion, I think I'll just sit out placing a bet and enjoy the game!

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