Blog Archives

In defence of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez

Let me just prefix this by saying that ordinarily I’m fully on-board the ‘Luis Suarez is a horrible little cheat’ bandwagon. However…

Jerome Thomas’ challenge on Suarez was a foul, end of story. Of course you expect a home crowd to be highly-partisan, but it’s been a bit disappointing that in retrospect Suarez is still being tarnished with the accusation of cheating – especially given that he was quite brilliant throughout the game.

“I think the 25,000 people watching, even the Liverpool supporters, will probably agree with me that it looked like a very, very harsh decision and there was certainly no intention to foul the player or give away a penalty.”

That was from Roy Hodgson’s post-match interview, and I completely disagree. Realistically, no player has the ‘intention’ of fouling a player – or at least, rarely. That’s not what a penalty is given for, Lee Mason – through his linesman – pointed to the spot because Jerome Thomas impeded Suarez and brought him down. Penalty. That’s not the result of intention, it’s the produce of a winger finding himself in his own box and having poor tackling technique.

Really, it wasn’t a harsh decision – it was unfortunate. There is a difference too, because harsh would insinuate that it was incorrect, which it wasn’t.

Of course you expect the player who has been fouled to then being booed for the rest of the game – it’s an irritating but accepted part of our game – but there was absolutely no suggestion that Suarez played for that penalty. In fact, if you watch the replay of the incident he bounces back to his feet almost immediately – no mock-agony, no rolling around.

I’m getting bored of the ‘we were cheated by the ref’ brigade, sometimes you have to just accept that your side was badly outplayed.

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West Brom vs Liverpool: Preview

Saturday 5.30pm, The Hawthorns

West Brom 14/5 Draw 12/5 Liverpool Evens

Strange fixture this one, Liverpool are favourites but I don’t think anybody would be surprised if West Brom took the points.

I suspect most non-Liverpool fans would quite enjoy seeing Roy Hodgson getting one over on Kenny Dalglish, given the events at Anfield just under a year ago. Still, let’s keep head over heart.

I’m not convinced by this Liverpool team, and I’m concerned by the strength of team that Kenny Dalglish played in the League Cup on Wednesday night. Less than three days rest before a Premier League away game? Hmmm. That aside though, while they’re clearly an attacking force, this is a side that will always concede goals – and not necessarily in the face of a lot of pressure. Furthermore, when things don’t go well for this side, you can almost see the belief drain out of them.

You know what you’re going to get with a Roy Hodgson side; hard-working and organised. West Brom are now unbeaten in the last four games – and they were actually extremely resilient at Villa Park last week. Yes Villa were down to ten for most of it, but still.

If you fancy getting creative here, take Liverpool to lead at half-time and the draw at 90 minutes at a massive 13/1. Do like that.

Two goals, split equally – score draw.

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Aston Villa vs West Brom: Preview

Villa Park, Saturday 3pm.

Aston Villa 21/20 Draw 9/4 West Brom 11/4

Time to bounce back for Villa, whose unbeaten start to the season came to an end at Etihad Stadium last weekend – and West Brom will be looking to make it two wins on the bounce against local rivals after their win against Wolves.

No new injury worries for either team, James Collins is fit to take his place at the heart of the home defence, but Jermaine Jenas and Nathan Delfouneso are both still unavailable. Zoltan Gera returns to the squad for West Brom, and Peter Odemwingie should be fit to start.

I was a bit disappointed with Villa last week, they should have done a better job of frustrating Man City. They’ve been unexpectedly resilient this season under Alex McLeish, and the nature of the goals that they conceded last week would not have pleased him. The white flag was out fairly early on. Expect more from them today though, and expect Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent to be far more prominent at Villa Park.

The danger areas are the same for both teams – how well are they going to deal with pace upfront. With Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long upfront, you know that West Brom are not going to be slinging the ball into the box, so it’s going to fall on Stilian Petrov’s shoulders to break-up the artistry in front of his back four. Those two forwards are amongst the most underrated in the league, so limiting their chances in front of goal is vital.

You know what you’re going to get with Villa, they’ll break quickly and down the flanks, and they’ll look to get Charles N’Zogbia and Agbonlahor isolated against their full-backs at every opportunity. For Long and Odemwingie, read the same for Darren Bent – he can’t be afforded opportunities in the opposition box. It’s a day that calls for concentration and organisation for the away team – with that in mind, and given how structured a Roy Hodgson team usually is, have a look at the under 2.5 goals market.

This will be tight, and probably won by a single goal – which I think Villa will get.

West Brom 1 – 2 Manchester United [Goals]

Just in case you can’t wait for Match of the Day, here’s Javier Hernandez’s winner from the lunchtime kick-off…

http://www.footytube.com/v/NjkwOTU=

Premier League Betting: Aston Villa Vs West Brom

Ashley Young returns to the Villa team after suspension, and will hopefully bring with him a greater sense of purpose that they displayed on Monday night against Liverpool. Emile Heskey is also available again after injury, so expect him to start up front to add a light weight to the underwhelming Villa forward line.

West Brom are likely to be unchanged from the team that overcame Newcastle 3-1, although doubts persist over the fitness of Peter Odemwingie and Chris Brunt.

Given Aston Villa’s stature within the league, and the players in their squad, you would think that it’s only a matter of time before their season turns around. However, nothing in the abysmal capitulation at Anfield suggested that the light at the end of the tunnel is burning particularly brightly.

The draw is available at 23/10, and the game producing less than 2.5 goals is priced at 10/11.