Who can look forward to the Champions League next season?

With Manchester United’s firm grip on the Premier League title looking impossible to break, the race for Champions League qualification is arguably proving to be the more exciting conclusion to the 2012-13 season. Tottenham are flying high with Gareth Bale’s imperious displays and pundits are highlighting the realistic chance of Spurs finishing above Manchester City in the table.

Their victory over Arsenal last weekend was a major blow for their north London rivals, whose manager seems to be under real threat from supporters. In West London, Chelsea are the club constantly in the spotlight and are surrounded by negativity following the signing of interim coach Rafa Benitez.

Liverpool and Everton are not technically out of the race, but I think that the three London clubs are the most likely to take the remaining Champions League positions. Although, both of the clubs from Merseyside may play a crucial role in deciding which London clubs will finish in the coveted fourth spot.

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A little prediction… part 2

Last year, I laid my cards on the line and predicted who I thought would be victorious in the 2012 tennis Grand Slams (click here to read the post). It turns out that most of those predictions ran true, and, had I placed a bet at the time of writing I probably would have received a substantial amount in return.

Now, with just over two days before the 2013 Australian Open begins I’ve decided to hedge my bets once again. To start with, I’m going to predict who will win in Melbourne and then attempt to choose the other Grand Slam winners in future posts. Continue reading

Play with Flair’s Sports Personality of the Year

Last night’s Sports Personality of the Year awards showed why 2012 has been a year that will long live in the memory. The huge success of Team GB at the Olympics and Paralympics rightly took centre stage as it was a summer that the British public will never forget.

It was a remarkable show, in stark contrast to the controversial ceremony that took place last year. The whole event was completely inspirational, especially as Martine Wright, who survived the London 7/7 bombings to play sitting volleyball at the Paralympics, told of her struggle to compete as she won the Helen Rollason award.

Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Sports Personality of the Year. Source: alittlebitofstone.com

Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Sports Personality of the Year.
Source: alittlebitofstone.com

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Oscar thrills in the Champions League… again

Oscar's 40-yard strike helped the Blues to their 3-2 win.
Source: theaustralian.com.au

Last night in the Champions League, it was time for two of the British teams in the competition to show Europe how both talent and desire can help you win. Chelsea’s late 3-2 victory against Shakhtar Donetsk Chelsea was arguably overshadowed by Celtic’s remarkable … Continue reading

OPINION: Looking forward to the Ryder Cup

With a matter of minutes until the first foursome match kicks off in Chicago, I wanted to explain why I’m more excited than usual to watch the battle between USA and Europe rekindled once again (and yes it may have something to do with the rather long spell since my last post). The truth is that since the high emotions and superhuman efforts of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes, it has been difficult to find that same level of sporting drama and entertainment.

Of course, when I say this to other sports fans they stare in some disbelief, as if I’m not aware that the new football season is well under way. This is true and, so far, both the English Premier League and Champions League have started from where they left off, with plenty of goals and unexpected comebacks already. Real Madrid’s dramatic 3-2 victory in the Bernabeu has been one of the highlights.  Continue reading

T20 finals: Scott Styris

Today, Twenty20 fans will be ready for a full day of entertainment as the Friends Life T20 finals are played out. The two semi-finals will be swiftly followed by what is set to be a thrilling final showdown this evening.

There are four talented teams looking to lift the trophy; Hampshire, Somerset, Sussex and Yorkshire are all vying to become champions tonight.

Yet, with all of the talent on display there must be a favourite and Sussex are the standout team.

The Sharks have one of the best attacking line-ups with the likes of Chris Nash and Matt Prior poised to score plenty of runs. They also have the star man of this year’s competition, Scott Styris.

He put on one of the best individual batting displays of 2012 in the quarter-final against Gloucestershire. For the fans that attended, it was a golden ticket, as they admired the flair of Styris who hit a century from just 37 balls.

On his way to the joint third-fastest T20 century in history, the New Zealander scored 38 runs in an over. It was nonstop entertainment.

Personally, I will admit that before this display from Scott Styris, county cricket in Britain had never appealed to me. It just hasn’t had the same impact as the big-money Indian Premier League, which fans in the UK can also follow.

However, one moment of brilliance on a July afternoon helped to capture the imagination. Hopefully, this Saturday evening the level of entertainment will reach the same heights. Who knows? Either way, I would suggest that tonight’s final is one to keep an interested eye on.