Liverpool’s Luis Suarez was slapped on the wrists heavily by the English FA towards the end of April 2013, as he was handed a ten match ban for his bite on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. The incident happened in a Premier League meeting at Anfield between Liverpool and Chelsea, and in a tussle with the Serbian defender, TV cameras clearly captured the Uruguayan striker biting down on his opponents arms. The FA decided that the regular three match ban for ill discipline wasn’t enough in this case, and they took a tremendously hard line and hit the Liverpool forward with a ten match ban. Both Liverpool and the player, who did apologise for his actions were shocked at the ban, which will see him miss the end of the 2012/13 season and a good month of action at the start of the 2013/14. Suarez may not be eligible to play till October.
So the question remains about what will happen to the Uruguayan. He is tremendously talented and he has carried Liverpool forward, but does his big talent bring too much big trouble for his club? Just last season Suarez was hit with an eight match ban for using racially abusive language against Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. Back in 2010, Suarez received a seven match ban in the Dutch top flight after a bite on Otman Bakkal of PSV, while the Uruguayan was playing for Ajax. That was the last action that Suarez performed for the Dutch club as he was sold on to Liverpool. The question is, will history be repeating itself again?
Despite statements from Liverpool saying that Suarez still had a place at the club, how tempted would they be if another club came in for an offer over the summer? Liverpool look lightweight up front without Suarez, so there could be a reason to cash in on the troubled star, especially as he would be due to miss the first six Premier League matches of next season. The other part to the equation, is who would want to buy him? Who would want to take on the talent and temperament of Suarez? On his day, his pace, trickery and eye for goal is immense and there would probably be willing parties to take a risk on him, but at a cut price cost of course.
German side Bayern Munich are leading the options for Suarez’s club after the summer transfer window. The Bundesliga Champions, while favourites, probably don’t have any need or room for him. They already have undisputed world class talent in their ranks and Suarez would be a little but surplus to requirements there. It is unlikely too that another Premier League club would make a move for Suarez, but if it did happen, then Manchester City would be the most likely suitors, as they have the money and track record of capturing star players from rivals. Man City’s Argentinian star striker Sergio Aguero is being head-hunted by Real Madrid, so there could be a space opening up at the Etihad Stadium if he moves on.
Real Madrid themselves may make a continental escape for Suarez, and probably going abroad would make the most sense for him. It would be a chance for a fresh start. He would be a good fit for Madrid and would make a formidable forward partner for Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu. One other probable destination, were Liverpool to sell Suarez in the summer, would be Paris St Germain. They are trying to climb the European elite and would be boosted by having such a great talent in their side. They, like Manchester City, have very deep pockets too. But will Liverpool sell Suarez, or will he simply be at Anfield after the summer transfer window closes?
With the PFA announcing the final shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year Award in the Premier League, there looks to be a strong outright favourite to get their hands on the title. 2011 winner Gareth Bale is back in the picture, not only as the PFA Player of the Year, but as the PFA Young Player of the Year award as well. The last man to claim both in the same year, was Cristiano Ronaldo when he was at Manchester United. Will the Welsh Wonder follow in such highly regarded footsteps?
The Welsh winger has impressed so highly again for Tottenham Hotspur again this season. At the time that the shortlist was announced, Bale had netted 22 goals in 38 appearances for his club across the season. The major European clubs are sitting up and taking notice one of the best young talents in the Premier League. The 23 year old has at times, carried his club forward on both the domestic and European fronts. Some sparkling Europa League performances took Spurs to the quater finals where they lost on penalties to FC Basel, while his contribution up front in the Premier League has kept Spurs as a genuine top four contender. The big prize of that of course is a place in the Champions League next season. Bale has the ability to turn a game on its head with a piece of magic. Almost unstoppable when running at defenders with pace, the eye he has for goal as well, pretty much makes him the all round package. A worthy front runner for both of the PFA Awards this season, as voted for by his playing peers.
Robin Van Persie
The Dutchman won the PFA Player of the Year Award last year thanks to his massive haul of 37 goals for Premier League side Arsenal. That was in his final season with Arsenal before his high profile move to Old Trafford to join up with Manchester United. The striker has pretty much carried on in the same goal scoring vein, even overshadowing Wayne Rooney, and putting the England striker’s position at the club in question. In his 43 games played when the shortlist for this year’s award was announced, Van Persie had netted 25 goals in 43 matches for the Red Devils. One of the best strikers in the world, he has found the back of the next every 127 minutes this season in the Premier League. Him being a Manchester United player could give him favouritism, with three United players winning the award in the last five years.
The sometimes controversial striker has been nominated for the award based on his footballing ability alone. He has really shone for Liverpool this season, increasing his strike rate immensely from last season. He is the sole reason up front that the Reds have started to grow in stature under boss Brendan Rodgers. He has the pace and trickery to fool defenders and is superb with the ball at his feet. He is at the heart of everything that Liverpool does as an attacking force, and without him, they would probably be nothing more than a mid table side. At the time of the shortlist announcement, the Uruguayan striker had netted 29 goals in 46 appearances for Liverpool across the season in all competitions.
Juan Mata, Michael Carrick and Eden Hazard
The two Chelsea players here, Mata and Hazard have had impressive seasons for the London club. Mata is the Premier League leader for assists and after a slow start following his high profile move, Eden Hazard has established himself as a world class talent and finisher. Two young players who have the world at their feet, seem to be in contrast to Manchester United’s Michael Carrick. The midfielder has played a lot of minutes for the Red Devils this season, often seen as doing a lot of understated work, but holding the midfield together with immense passing accuracy.
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One of the greatest rivalries in English football is the North London duel for supremacy between Arsenal and Tottenham. One popular market in football is Season Match Betting, where you pick one of two teams to finish higher than the other listed. With Spurs and Arsenal so evenly matched this season in the top flight, there is still some value floating around in the Tottenham v Arsenal Season Match Bet. This is the market for the bragging rights of being the top club in North London as well, and potentially the top side in London itself, with Chelsea so close to them in the picture. So with just five games in remaining in the season, just two points separated the bitter rivals. Who will win the day?
The Gunners took supremacy last season by a single point over Tottenham, and some superb form over the second half of the season by Arsenal has put them in line to finish above their bitter rivals again. Arsenal have been far more proficient in front of goal that Tottenham have been this season, and have had a tighter defence. So there is a bit of favouritism towards them as they held a two point lead over Spurs with five games to play. However, Spurs were holding a game in hand over their rivals. Arsenal’s run into the end of the season looked pretty handy though, with only really a testing task lined up at the Emirates Stadium against Manchester United to come at the end of April. With two of their last three games coming against heavily relegation threatened sides in QPR and Wigan, all culminating with a game against a struggling Newcastle too, the Gunners don’t look to be shy of opportunities to pick up big points with an end of season flourish. Will it be enough to take them to a finish above Spurs? Check out Arsenal Betting
Spurs have to play a bit of catch up to their North London rivals. There are perhaps a couple of issues for Spurs’ chances of finishing above Arsenal. Namely that they are often carried along by the immense talent of Gareth Bale. With the Welshman missing for some games through injury and Spurs hoping that he’ll get full fitness back for the end of the season, his appearances could make or break Tottenham’s chances. The fixture list for Tottenham’s run in didn’t give them the easiest finish to the season either, having to face out-going Premier League champions Man City and a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in early May. Surrounding those big tests though, the potential of points against three struggling sides near the bottom of the table, Wigan, Stoke and Sunderland was enough to keep the dream alive of being crowned the top side in North London at the end of the season. Certainly a fit Gareth Bale could carry them that far. Take a look here for Tottenham betting
Of course, along with finishing as the top side in North London, there is, more importantly the hunt for a place in next season’s Champions League for both sides. If Tottenham were to win all of their remaining games, there would be nothing that Arsenal can do about it. With Chelsea in the hunt for a third place finish, the loser of the Arsenal/Tottenham Season Match Bet could have to settle for a consolation place in the Europa League next season instead. The stakes couldn’t be higher.