Friday, October 28, 2005

Jermaine Jenas for Spurs (v Manchester Utd), 22 October 2005

It's that time of the week again - live from Norwich, it's "Sale of the Century"!!!!.......

Birmingham 0-1 Everton
Charlton 1-1 Bolton
Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn
Liverpool 1-0 West Ham
Middlesborough 2-1 Man Utd
Sunderland 2-1 Portsmouth
Tottenham 2-0 Arsenal
Wigan 2-2 Fulham
West Brom 1-2 Newcastle
Man City 2-0 Aston Villa

and perchance the topical wildcard of

Kettering 2-0 Droylsden

and read Swiss' piece on the World Cup below. It is ace.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Luiz Nazario de Lima Ronaldo for Brazil (vs Germany), 30th June 2002

What with all the excitement of England's glorious qualification for the FIFA World Cup, it's been kind of easy to overlook the other nations that will be making up the numbers in Germany next summer. I thought it might be nice to have a look at them, and perhaps make an instant value judgement of their chances of making an impact:

African Zone:
Ivory Coast

This is where the big news is - all the qualifiers here will be competing in their first World Cup, and there will be no Nigeria, no Cameroon and no South Africa (the hosts of the 2010 tournament). But then again, it's easy for us to think of this as surprising - Senegal were one of the surprise packages of the 2002 World Cup, and famously beat the holders France in the opening game of the tournament - but followers of African football would have been able to tell you that they were a decent side. They had been runners up in the African Cup of Nations in that same year. Tunisia are the current holders of the African Cup of Nations. Didier Drogba plays for the Ivory Coast, but otherwise they are apparently half-decent....

Asian Zone:
South Korea
Saudi Arabia

Very much the usual suspects here. Co-hosts of the 2002 tournament Japan will be hoping to build on their 1/4 final appearance in 2002... but I think all eyes will be on Korea: surprise semi-finalists in 2002. Will they be able to reach those heights again?

European Zone:
Serbia & Montenegro

Yawn. Good to see Serbia & Montenegro in there, and it will be great to see Andre Shevchenko grace the biggest stage of all with the Ukraine. Otherwise it's a little hard to get excited.

North, Central American & Carribean Zone:
Costa Rica

Mexico are 5th in the FIFA World Rankings, The USA are 6th and Costa Rica are 23rd... so they should all be worth watching in Germany....

South American Zone:

No real surprises here: these 4 sides finished comfortably at the top of the South American qualificiation group (which was won by Argentina)

There are also a few play-offs to determine the final qualifiers

Norway v Czech Republic
Spain v Slovakia
Switzerland v Turkey
Trinidad & Tobago v Bahrain
Uruguay v Australia

A few big names in here: Spain (8th in the FIFA rankings) have never won the World Cup, and seem to have made a habit of performing even worse than England. The Czech Republic are ranked 4th in the FIFA rankings & should come through against Norway (36th). Turkey (12th) were of course semi-finalists last time around... It will also be interesting to see if Australia (60th) can beat Uruguay (18th) in a repeat of the play-off for the 2002 tournament....

Whatever happens next summer, you can guarantee a couple of things:
  • England will be ranked amongst the favourites - regardless of how poorly they have performed in qualification
  • The BBC coverage will piss all over ITV's
  • those stupid George cross flags will be flapping from white vans across the nation
  • the nation will apparently be utterly convinced that this time we can really do it
  • we'll be knocked out disappointingly, probably in the 1/4 finals, and most likely on penalties
  • we'll probably secretly enjoy the tournament more after England's elimination
  • We'll all be glued to our TVs throughout.
Personally, I love watching the obscure games the best... the ones that certainly don't involve England, and probably involve two teams I have never, ever watched before.... I'd have been quite content if England hadn't made it, although I will admit that nothing matches the nail-biting tension of a backs-against-the-wall performance from our boys to ensure a lucky escape from the group stages.

Can't wait.


Incidentally, I watched the last World Cup final on the big screens of the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival... just after Rolf Harris had finished his set. I was sloshed on cheap red wine drunk from a 500ml mineral water bottle, and because there was no commentary, my memories of Ronaldo's goals are of me dancing with my friends to the cheerful samba rhythms being piped through the PA.

I've never enjoyed a game more.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Chris Riggott for West Ham (v Middlesbrough), 23 October 2005


All predictions up to date (blows fanfare).

Charby leads overall but Ben now in front for October. It remains to see whether he'll follow his beloved Newcastle and piss this up the wall at the eleventh hour just as it looks as if he may win something, but I am sure he would "love it, just love it" to beat everyone else.

*points angrily at interviewer*

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Robert Pires for Arsenal (v Man City), 22 October 2005

*LB is weeping with uncontrollable laughter*

"I didn't expect his leg to go numb" says a bent-over-laughing Thierry Henry.

Robert Pires dances over the football, grazes it with his studs and City clear despite Thierry Henry ambling towards the penalty area....

cut to Match of the Day showing Gary Lineker's ridiculously lame penalty against Brazil to Motty yelling "He's totally fluffed it...."

At least Arsene Wenger saw it. His eyesight must be improving.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Collins John for Fulham (v Charlton), 17 October 2005

Predictions time again (though why any of us are bothering with Charby still involved I am not sure...)

Arsenal 2-0 Man City
Aston Villa 2-0 Wigan
Blackburn 1-0 Birmingham
Bolton 2-1 WBA
Fulham 1-2 Liverpool
Man Utd 1-1 Spurs
Portsmouth 2-1 Charlton
Everton 0-2 Chelsea
Newcastle 2-1 Sunderland
West Ham 0-1 Boro

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Djibril Cisse for France (v Switzerland), 8 October 2005

If any of you are short of a bob or two, I would suggest taking whatever money you do have, checking Charby's predictions, and placing your cash on whatever she suggests.

It's eerily right, eerily often.

Predictions updated to include the international fixtures (Charby got seven of the results exactly spot on) but not the most recent Premiership games. Will do them in due course.

*pants out of breath at trying to work all this out*

Hope this is OK.


Carol Vorderman

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Kevin Little for Berwick Rangers (v Montrose), 1 October 2005

Ok, final predictions table for September is as follows:

1. Charby - 44 points
2. Rufus Fan - 41 points
3. El Tel - 40 points
4. Weenie - 39 points
5. Swiss Toni - 36 points
6. Mike - 34 points
7. Alex - 31 points
8. Lord B - 29 points
9. Dom - 27 points
10. Ben - 23 points
11. Tricky - 23 points
12. Flash - 21 points (this was your idea, mate!)

Congratulations to Charby who also leads the "cumulative" race. When I have twenty four hours free, I'll have a bash at those international fixtures...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Lee Sharpe for Manchester Utd (v Arsenal), 28 November 1990

(not forgetting that night also:

Lee Sharpe for Manchester Utd (v Arsenal), 28 November 1990
Lee Sharpe for Manchester Utd (v Arsenal), 28 November 1990
Clayton Blackmore for Manchester Utd (v Arsenal), 28 November 1990
Mark Hughes for Manchester Utd (v Arsenal), 28 November 1990
Danny Wallace for Manchester Utd (v Arsenal), 28 November 1990)

Those were the days....

I will update the predictions tables soon, I promise. As some of you may know I have been on holiday (it is worth looking at that link if you want a quick peek at the largest bag of cheese based snacks you have ever seen) and since I got back I haven't had much time to have a look. And there's three weeks to do including the most ludicrous set of international fixtures so it will take me ages...

please bear with me!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Freddy Eastwood for Southend (vs Nottingham Forest), 9th October 2005

For some reason I thought there wouldn't be any Premiership fixtures this weekend, but apparently there are... so the predictions league rumbles on. I know we haven't had an update on the scores for a little while, but Lord B is back this weekend, and he can get it sorted. Could be some big changes though, eh?

Right. This weekend:

Chelsea 2-0 Bolton
Liverpool 2-1 Blackburn
Middlesbrough 1-0 Portsmouth
Sunderland 0-2 Man Utd
Tottenham 2-0 Everton
West Brom 0-2 Arsenal
Wigan 1-1 Newcastle
Birmingham 0-0 Aston Villa
Man City 1-1 West Ham
Charlton 3-0 Fulham

and this week's wildcard:

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Hartlepool

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Jan Domarski for Poland (vs England), 17 October 1973

There's nothing better than the anticipation one feels on the morning of a big international fixture. The excitement starts to build over breakfast, and will reach fever pitch shortly before kick off, as the players come out for the national anthem. Never fails to bring a tear to my eye as I watch our brave boys puff their chests out and try to remember the words.

This evening England take on the mighty Poland for the sixteenth time. They have something of a reputation as being our nemesis in World Cup qualification campaigns - thanks to Tomaszewski 'The Clown' in 1973 - but in fact they have only managed to beat England on one occasion. Both sides have of course already qualified for the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany, but I'm sure the game won't be sterile and toothless.

Oh no.

There's professional pride at stake, after all. International fixtures like these hold a special place in the hearts of the players. They can forget about their humdrum day job in the Premiership and play their hardest to impress the manager and for a chance to strut their stuff on the biggest stage of all in the Summer. Expect lung-busting box-to-box running, full-blooded tackling and heart-on-sleeve committment. Expect despairing dives, goal-line clearances and spectacular goals. The Manager will expect nothing less. The nation expects nothing less. This is our national side.

It's unmissable.

But just in case you disagree. On BBC2 there's "How to Rescue a House" followed by "Rick Stein's French Odyssey". ITV has "Coronation Street" and "The Bill" followed by Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in "The Runaway Bride". On Channel 4 it's "How Clean is Your House", "You Are What You Eat" and "Supernanny" and on 5 we have "Rattlesnake!" followed by Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in "Ghost".

Or you can just read a book. Or go to the dentist. Or watch paint dry....

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Frank Lampard for England (vs Austria), 7th October 2005

OK. So I didn't get to see a single kick of the game, and yet already I'm thinking this may have been 90 minutes of my life better spent.

How was it for you? Anyone care to give me the lowdown?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Kenny Miller for Scotland (vs Norway), 7th September 2005

I don't know if Lord B is going to be able to find a few moments to interrupt his Canadian trip to update the predictions league.... but frankly, the show must go on regardless. We get a break from the tedium of the premiership this week and get to have a go at the tedium of international football instead......... just be sure to break out the FIFA world rankings to help you make your predictions - they're a foolproof guide and no mistake!

There's a lot of fixtures here, so we could see some real movers and shakers in the table....

Belgium 1-1 Spain
Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-0 San Marino
Bulgaria 0-0 Hungary
Croatia 0-1 Sweden
Cyprus 1-2 Rep of Ireland
Czech Republic 1-2 Holland
Denmark 1-0 Greece
England 2-0 Austria
Finland 1-1 Romania
Georgia 3-1 Kazakhstan
Israel 2-0 Faroe Islands
Italy 2-0 Slovenia
Lithuania 0-2 Serbia & Montenegro
Northern Ireland 1-1 Wales
Norway 2-0 Moldova
Portugal 3-0 Liechtenstein
Russia 4-0 Luxembourg
Scotland 2-1 Belarus
Slovakia 2-1 Estonia
Switzerland 1-2 France
Ukraine 2-1 Albania

I discovered last week that I had accidentally booked an appointment at the opticians at the same time as England kick off against Austria.

Oh well. What can you do?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Geremi for Chelsea (vs Liverpool), 2nd October 2005

As a non-premiership supporter, I'm quite tickled to watch Man utd, Arsenal, et al floundering around in Chelsea's wake (& Charlton's).

Jose was on telly at the weekend saying his team deserves more respect from the media & the general public. Alright they've got pots of dosh but for how long have Man Utd had more money than everyone else?

So are they unbeatable?
Surely not?
Who is going to beat them then?
Here's their next 10 premiership fixtures...

Bolton (H)
Everton (A)
Blackburn (H)
Man Utd (A)
Newcastle (H)
Porstmouth (A)
Middlesborough (H)
Wigan (H)
Arsenal (A)
Fulham (H)

Ok, so there's tricky trips to Old Trafford & Highbury in there, but can even they beat them?
If they can't who can?