Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Data Skills Test

Alcohol consumption lower in the Capital...

Londoners are consuming less alchohol, on average, than the rest of the country as alcohol consumption declines across Britain.


53% of people in London had a drink last week compared to 68% of people in the North West and South West of the country, although alcohol related crime was highest in the capital.

This lower rate could be due to alcohol prices in London with the city being the most expensive place to buy a pint, with prices 35% higher than in the North-East of England.

Only 17% of Londoners drank on five or more days last week, an average that is lower than in Yorkshire, East Midlands and the South and East of England. However, only 13% of people drank this regularly in the North East of England.

It is said that in the first half of this year, the amount we consume per head went down by more than 8% to 3.81 litres. This is the steepest drop in alcohol consumption since 1948 where it fell by 11% in a year according to the British Beer and Pub Association.

The Raw Data is available along with a link to a related website.
The Daily Mail related article is also useful.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Images Skills Test


Images Skills Test


Original Photo

I decided to photograph Preston North End's Deepdale stadium. I captured the front of the stadium as in shot you can see the club crest that clearly identifies the stadium and also encorporates the floodlight which helps to indicate that this is an image of a football stadium. For the skills test, I have cropped this image to three different sizes (pixels) using Adobe Photshop Elements 8.0.



100 x 100 Thumbnail
The first crop is a thumbnail picture. The image is almost exactly the same as the original image, only smaller. This is ideal for a small news story with the image adding extra depth at the head of the article.


400(wide) x 300(high)

The second crop captures the main feature of the image, being the club crest. It is similar to the original image but is slightly cropped to focus more on the central features.



200(wide) x 500(high)

The final crop focuses in on the club crest. Everything around it is cropped and it is clear from the image what we are looking at even without the rest of the image.



Monday, 1 November 2010

Map Skills Test - Lancashire Evening Post


View LEP News Map in a larger map

4 News articles from the Lancashire Evening Post along with links to other sites relating to the articles are embedded in this map as part of a University Skills Test.

The National Football Museum Moves to Manchester..

video

Student Lloyd Umpleby talks about the National Football Museum moving from Preston North End's Deepdale stadium to Manchester.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Hamburg impress as the Bundesliga is given a Ruud awakening..

A quick glance at the Bundesliga table in Germany and you would be forgiven for having to look twice at the current standings. It may be just two games into the new season but Hoffenheim are sitting pretty at the top of the table followed closely by newly promoted FC. Kaiserslautern. Champions League finalists Bayern Munich lie in twelfth place with Hamburger SV the only side of real recognition to have started with a 100% record.

Ex Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy leads the goal scoring table for Hamburg alongside VFL Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzecko, SC Freiburg’s’ Papiss Demba Cisse and FC. Kaiserslautern’s Srdjan Lakic with three goals. Dutchman Nistelrooy, who is still currently United’s tenth all-time scorer, has impressed since arriving at Hamburg and is showing ex-Madrid team-mate Raul how to perform in Germany’s elite league. ‘Superstar’ Raul has managed just one shot on target and 36 touches of the ball in 153 minutes on the pitch for Schalke and will hope to improve in the near future, starting with a tough away day in Hoffenheim.

It was no surprise that Nistelrooy adapted quickly to the German style of football, which is somewhat slower than the pace of the English Premier League and La Liga. The Dutchman terrorised defences in England and, despite not being as overly effective in Spain, still managed to hit the back of the net 46 times in 68 appearances. Spaniard, Raul, has been a top marksman throughout his career and it shouldn’t take long before the goals start to flow, however, with the end of his career approaching, perhaps this is the beginning of the end for the ex-Galactico.

From old to new and it’s time to introduce 21-year-old striker Marko Arnautovic. The young Austrian has signed a 4-year contract with Werder Bremen after spending a year on loan at Inter Milan under Jose Mourinho. Arnautovic had a frustrating season in Italy spending much of his time on the sidelines but after scoring two and assisting another in his first game for Bremen, the future is looking bright for the Austrian international. Signing from FC Twente, the winger come striker will be looking to curb his ‘dubious temperament’ and focus on his natural talent after being compared to Cristiano Ronaldo in German newspaper ‘Welt’. His new coach, Thomas Schaaf, has already described the youngster as ‘something special’ and Austria’s most capped player, Andreas Herzog, went as far as saying that Arnautovic is’ the best player Austria has produced in the past 30 years’.



Gameweek 3 Predictions
1899 Hoffenheim 1-1 Schalke 04
Borussia Dortmund 1-0 VFL Wolfsburg
Hamburger SV 2-0 1. FC Nurnberg
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
SC Freiburg 1-2 VfB Stuttgart
Hannover 96 1-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
FC Bayern Munchen 2-1 SV Werder Bremen
1. FSV Mainz 05 1-1 1. FC Kaiserslautern
1. FC Koln 3-0 FC St. Pauli

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

This One’s For Africa..


Qualification for the 2012 Cup of Nations begins in the Dark Continent.

See the champions, take the field now, you define us, make us feel proud.

Away from the mayhem of European Championship qualifying, the African stars of the 2010 World Cup were once again lining up for their national sides. The likes of Asamoah Gyan and Siphiwe Tshabalala appeared in the first set of competitive matches since the finals in South Africa.

The tournament, which is to be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, will be the 28th edition with the winner going on to compete in the 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup in Brazil.

There were comfortable wins for Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Ghana whilst Egypt were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw against Sierra Leone.

Other notable results were Botswana’s 1-0 win away at Tunisia and Sudan triumphing 2-0 against a strong Congo side.

World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana look to be one of the favourites early on along with Ivory Coast, a side looking to recover from a premature exit in South Africa this summer.

Author’s Favourites: Ivory Coast

Players to Watch : Asamoah Gyan (Ghana) Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)

Rising Star: Andre Ayew (Ghana)

Surprise Package: Sudan

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Au Revoir to 'Les Bleus'

World Cup 2006 Runners-up France have bowed out in South Africa after a 2-1 loss to the hosts at the Free State Stadium.

After a poor group stage showing, which produced just one goal for the French national side, the boys in Blue must travel home to a country which will not be welcoming them back with open arms.


It must be said that the French never looked likely to perform well this summer. After scraping through the qualifying stages and 'cheating' their way past the Republic of Ireland, the off-field scuffles, during the World Cup, managed to affect the French performances on a massive scale.

Florent Malouda was dropped for the first game against Uruguay after apparently being 'held back' from French coach Domenech during a team meeting. The French never looked dangerous against the South American side, and ended up lucky to finish with a 0-0 stalemate.

Malouda was back in for the next game against Mexico but the French side looked like a team with no confidence in their manager. They went down 2-0 and looked unlikely, from that stage, to qualify for the second round.

More drama was to come before their final game when Nicolas Anelka was sent home by the France National Team for 'abusive language' aimed at Domenech, the man central to this catastrophe. This led to a strike from the players who refused to train just days before the clash with South Africa. French Captain, Patrice Evra, was also filmed ranting at a French Coach. He was subsequently dropped and lost his captaincy for the final group game.

It is awful to see such talented players fall well below thier potentials however, in Mexico and Uruguay, we have two teams brimming full of quality, progressing to the second round. Also, with England's game against Slovenia tomorrow afternoon, it is time for the country to bring out the flags once more and cheer our boys to victory and a place in the knock-out stages...

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Chris Anderson Interview..


Progressing from Burnley FC’s Centre of Excellence, Chris Anderson would be rightfully dubbed as a ‘promising youngster’. He has the talent, desire and determination that helps create a successful professional sportsman.

Chris, who was born in Burnley on October 2 1990, worked his way up the Turf Moor chain and gained a two-year apprenticeship at the age of 16.

A professional contract with his lifelong club, signed at the age of eighteen, was due to his ‘maturing’ and aggressive’ play out on the pitch and I predict that it won’t be too long before his name is on the lips of Claret fans everywhere.

On the way to Turf Moor I can admit to dreading the interview. Would this perhaps be another arrogant youngster, thirsty for fame and no passion for his club? I’m glad to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When asked about the future, all that seemed to be on his mind was representing his home town. “Playing for Burnley would be the dream. My main aims are to work hard and hopefully break into the first team squad.”

Even as a youngster Chris stood out. “My parents said I had a clear knack for football. I was scouted at the age of 8 and was signed up a year later to be on the youth system at Turf Moor.”

He was interestingly given the name ‘Scorer’ at the age of ten when he hit five goals in one match. “There were two other Chris’ in the team and it was just a way of avoiding confusion. The name has stuck with me ever since, even though I don’t score as many goals now. Occasionally the lads change it to ‘Misser’ if I spoon a chance.”

Being basically the same age as Chris I was intrigued to find out how much being a professional footballer altered his life. “I still have the same bunch of mates I had at school and they all understand I can’t go out drinking with them as much anymore,” he said with a grin, “but that’s part of my life now”.

What is your daily routine? “I get up at 9am and head to Turf Moor for breakfast before heading to Gawthorpe for two hours training. Then it’s just back to Turf Moor for lunch. Easy life really.” Cue a cheeky smile. “I have an afternoon sleep, then it’s the computer or PS3 if I don’t have a game or a session at the gym with my mates.” What a life..

Being a professional footballer obviously has it’s perks. The glamour, the money, the pride. “I get paid for doing something I enjoy.“ However, things can turn nasty. Over-intrusive media can be a hassle and being noticed everywhere can’t be too pleasant. “I can still go out anywhere and lead a normal life as I’m not instantly recognisable by people who don’t actually know me. Eventually it could be a pain but I have to make the most of the opportunity I have now and try my utmost to keep my private life, private. Easier said than done,” he says again with the cheeky grin.

As mentioned before, Chris’ main aim is too pull on the claret and blue jersey in front of 20,000 Burnley fans at Turf Moor, but I had found a young man with his head firmly screwed on. “My short term aims are to keep injury free and impress in the reserves. The final aim would be to earn a further extension to my current contract.”

After the recent departure of Icelandic midfielder, Joey Guðjónsson, things are looking promising for Chris. A step down for Burnley to the Championship after a disappointing season in the top flight will be an ideal situation for the management staff to throw our man into the thick of the action.

Then I asked a question that really made him think. I’d heard that Sheffield United were interested in securing his services and wondered whether or not he would prefer first team football away from his beloved club, or if waiting for his chance at Burnley was a better option.

“Well, playing football regularly at a decent standard would be more satisfying than waiting in the wings. Hopefully I can do both a Burnley.”

And for some reason, I had utter belief in him.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Bank Holiday Weekend Review..

What a few days it has been..

Relegations and promotions are confirmed throughout football, United and Chelsea both win to set up a last day battle for the League title, Neil Robertson wins at the Crucible, Rory McIlroy gets back to form at Quail Hollow and the World 20twenty starts in the West Indies.

Scenes of mixed emotions were on show at Hillsborough as Sheffield Wednesday could only manage a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, inevitably sending them crashing out of the Championship to third-tier English football. The famous stadium was awash with tears come the full-time whistle, except of course in the away end. Palace, who had earlier on in the season been deducted 10 points for entering administration, had stayed up by the skin of their teeth. A draw on the last day was enough to keep the London side afloat in the Championship and the joy on their fans faces was held in stark contrast to the despair on the faces of the Wednesday fans.


Goals from Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard were enough to earn Chelsea a deserved three points against a lacklustre Liverpool side at Anfield. Chelsea attacked from the off, prompting mistakes from the Liverpool players, and Drogba put the Blues ahead after a brilliant through-ball from Steven Gerrard. Lampard made it two after the break, meaning Man United would have to win at the Stadium of Light to take the Premier League Title to a last-day decider. They did this courtesy of a 1-0 win, with Portugal's Luis Nani grabbing the goal. United will have to hope that Wigan can travel to Stamford Bridge and get a positive result joint with a home win over Stoke at Old Trafford.

Neil Robertson beat Graeme Dott 18-13 to become Australia's first World Snooker Champion. Robertson, who now rises to World Number 2, is the first player, from outside UK and Ireland, to win the championship at the crucible since Canadian Cliff Thorburn in 1980.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy won his first PGA Title at Quail Hollow after shooting a course record 62 round. The 20-year-old is the youngest winner on the tour since Tiger Woods in 1996, after beating second placed Phil Mickelson by four shots. "I'm delighted - I don't think I've ever played a better round in my life," McIlroy said afterwards.

And finally, in cricket, the World 20twenty competition has got off to an entertaining start at its St Lucia, Barbados and Guyana venues. England posted a mammoth score of 191-5 off 20 overs but the rain affected game was won by the West Indies who finished on 60-2 off 5.5 overs due to the Duckworth-Lewis method. This disappointing loss has brought the D/L Method into question as for its suitabilty in the shorter style of cricket.

I've got no problems with it in the 50-over form but I know it's made us very frustrated - it certainly has to be revised for this form of the game." said England captain, Paul Collingwood.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Stage is Set...

I was at Old Trafford this weekend to see United turn up the heat on title challengers Chelsea with a 3-1 win over Tottenham.

Two well taken penalties from veteran Ryan Giggs and an elegant chip from Nani ensured the Red Devils took all three points and continue to press for the historic fourth title in a row.

The atmosphere at the Theatre of Dreams was subdued and nervous for major chunks in the game, with United looking unimpressive and far from creative in the first half.

Evra won a penalty after half-time which Giggs dispatched past Gomes for his first goal from the spot for United in the league and the win looked likely to come easily until Ledley King equalised soon after with a towering header beating Carrick in the air.

Cue Luis Nani to take hold of the game. Macheda slipped the ball through and with Nani's pace there was only one outcome. A beautifully manufactured chip and Old Trafford erupted.

Another late goal for United proving that hard-work pays dividends. Macheda was looking dangerous for United but it was Nani again causing problems with his pace. The protugese winger was hauled down in the area with just a few minutes to go and Giggs stepped up to finish the game. Relief.

70,000 United fans were on their feet showing their appreciation for a performance against a side who had beaten both Arsenal and Chelsea in recent weeks.

Leaving the North stand I could sense the buzz amongst the fans. Could United steal the title right from under Chelsea's nose after seeming to lose it many weeks ago? Football is a beautiful game and anything is possible. Except Liverpool winning the Premier League perhaps..

The Blues emphatic 7-0 win today against Stoke showed that they aren't feeling the nerves that could affect their performance and it's now up to Liverpool to do United a favour and get a result next week at Anfield against the London side. Will it happen, Wont it happen?

Liverpool seem to still be pushing for the fourth spot and Champions League football, however, by beating or drawing on Sunday they could be handing United the title on a Golden plate, which would see the side from Manchester taking their collection of Top flight trophies to one above Liverpool.

With Torres out for the rest of the season, the red side of Manchester will be urging Gerrard and Co. to halt Chelsea in their tracks, however, will the likes of Lucas, N'Gog and Kyriakos be good enough to even compete after a poor season?Football fans across the World will be waiting in anticipation for this Weekend's games and I'm sure the seasoned entertainers will add another twist in the tale...

Monday, 12 April 2010

Weekend Overview..

As the curtain comes down on a memorable weekend for sport, I take a look back at some of the action.

'El Clasico' brought together two of the World's best club sides, Barcelona and Real Madrid, at the magnificent Bernabeu stadium. Goals from Lionel Messi, who continued his impressive scoring record, and Pedro helped ensure Barcelona took three points back to the Nou Camp and the Catalan side now hold the edge in the Spanish title race.

Also, in football, Portsmouth and Chelsea are into the FA Cup Final after winning their respective semi-finals at Wembley. Chelsea disposed of Aston Villa on saturday with three goals late in the game and Portsmouth left it even later against Spurs, scoring twice in extra time to set up an interesting final which will see the Premier League's top club play already relegated Pompy.


In golf, Phil Mickelson claimed his third green jacket after triumphing at the Masters in Augusta. Mickelson finished on 16 Under Par after four rounds with two eagles on day three helping him push towards the title. The return of Tiger Woods was another major talking point which added to the splendour of the Masters, with the World Number One finishing in joint fourth place. Mid-way leader Lee Westwood, of England, finished second. This was his highest placed finish in a major golfing tournament and he is confident that a major prize will be his with a determined attitude in the future.

Finally, Tony Mccoy raced to Grand National victory with horse 'Don't Push It' on his fifteenth attempt at winning the famous steeplechase at Aintree. The pair were 10-1 joint favourites and pipped Black Apalachi to the post by five lengths. Don't Push it jumped with Black Apalachi at the last hurdle but pulled away to give trainer Jonjo O'Neill and owner JP McManus their first wins.

Photos By: BBC Sport

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt

Two headed goals, either side of half time, were enough to give the home side the three points on a mild evening at Borussia Park.

Marco Reus put Gladbach ahead after just six minutes before Dante sealed the tie early in the second half.

48,500 fans created an electric atmosphere before and throughout the game showing a German passion for football similar to that shown at every other game of the season.

Heading to the 'Fanhaus' two hours before kick-off for a pre-match drink, you could feel the atmosphere brewing as the German fans washed down Bratwurst sausage with copious amounts of beer. It was going to be a memorable night..

You could sense the Gladbach faithful were confident of a win against a side ten points ahead of them in the table, and thankfully for them, the Frankfurt side failed to turn up.

Goalkeeper, Logan Bailly, was hardly troubled all game as the away side failed to capitalise on any of their possession. I was sat behind a Frankfurt fan who didn't seem at all bothered about the result but was more interested in finding out which English team we all supported. In fact, this is a general theme i have found with German fans who seem more interested in the atmosphere than the game itself.

At just 25 Euros you can't go wrong with top tier German football. Borussia Park is a magnificent stadium and the atmosphere created is something special.

British football is, no doubt, at a higher standard than that of German at this level, except perhaps Bayern Munich, however, that is no reason for the crazy prices that English fans have to pay to see their home team week in, week out.
>
I would definately recommend a visit to Borussia Park or in fact any Bundesliga stadium purely for the experience, the atmosphere, the food and of course, the beer.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Heartbreak for Red Devils...


Wayne Rooney's appearance on the teamsheet gave Old Trafford a massive boost and obviously the players as United raced to a three nil lead against German giants, Bayern.

However, Olic's cheeky goal before half-time and Rafael's silly red card left United with an uphill battle to contain the side from Munich and Arjen Robben's beautifully struck volley sent the Reds crashing out of Europe at the Quarter Finals stage.

Old Trafford was stunned to silence and, with ten men, United never looked capable of the goal that would send them through to face Lyon in the semi-final, especially with Berbatov still looking like a lost puppy in the red shirt.

The loss has left United fans shocked after two successive Champions League final appearances and, with a three goal lead before the half time whistle, the defeat hurts that little bit more with dreams of the Bernabeau already emerging...

To add insult to injury, Wayne Rooney looked to have left the pitch with a recurrence of the ankle problem that lead to him leaving Germany last week on crutches. Wayne will be instrumental for the end of season run-in if United still believe they can beat Chelsea to the title.

Positives, however, can be taken from this early exit. No more midweek games will leave a fresher squad for weekend Premier League matches, starting away at Blackburn on Sunday. Also, Rafael will learn from his mistake and should grow into a more experienced player, learning from his childish error that resulted in the red card.

Squad morale will be low at the moment but if anyone can rally the troops to go on to win a record breaking number of titles, it's Sir Alex. A win away at Ewood Park this weekend could spark the revival that will see a fresher more confident team heading to Eastlands to face an in form Manchester City side.

The future addition of 21-year-old Javier Hernandez to the squad helps give United great ambition for the coming years as the young Mexican striker looks to prosper in his footballing career. Exciting times for United...

Friday, 26 March 2010

Tour of Old Trafford


Old Trafford is a magnificent stadium drenched in history. The home of Manchester United and the occasional England friendly this 76,000 all-seater is the pride of Manchester.

Nicknamed the 'Theatre of Dreams' by United fans, this ground has had players like Best, Charlton, Busby, Beckham and Ronaldo all calling its turf 'home'.

I was excited for the tour, however, this excitement didn't compare to the amount i'd had the week before travelling on the same train to the game against City in the Carling Cup semi-final.

I expected the tour to be a basic walk around a stadium I have visited many times in my nineteen years, but it turned out to be different...

The tour guide was extremely enthusiastic about the club and had every fact locked in his brain to release whenever a question was fired at him.

We were taken around the stands and bombarded with information, before being lead to the player's lounge and changing rooms. Here was a section of Old Trafford i had never seen before and it felt unbelievable to be sat in the same seat that Rooney sits in before walking out in front of the Manchester faithful.

I imagined Fergie shouting at me for being lazy and missing that sitter in the first half and i felt like one of the players, a childhood dream!

After this was the part i was most excited about...Walking out of the tunnel. We were arranged into two teams and were lead out by two little lads who couldn't believe their luck. It was breathtaking. It was hard to imagine the ground full of fans shouting my name as i came out of the tunnel, but i tried thinking about it nonetheless.
video
To enter into this battlefield every weekend for these players must be such an amazing feeling, one i don't quite get walking out of a dingy changing room on Preston's sunday league circuit...


The museum tour followed and chance to bask in the rich history of my club. Memories of the treble still give me shivers and i can watch Ole's goal over and over again without getting bored..'United have reached the promised land' WOW!

I left with a huge smile on my face and an empty stomach...Meat/Potato pie and chips? Done Deal!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Liverpool v United - Preview



Always touted as one of the biggest games of the season, this clash between the two red Lancashire giants has more at stake than the usual derby.

Liverpool, who have had a torrid season so far, are looking to claw back fourth place but a loss at Old Trafford would have a disastrous effect with close rivals Aston Villa, who have a couple of games in hand, looking to get a maximum six points from two home games in the next week.

Having already been knocked out of the FA Cup, Carling Cup and Champions League prematurely, Liverpool must up their performances dramatically to even stand a chance of finishing in the top five. With off-field distractions such as transfer speculation and player/manager fall-outs 'The Reds' must knuckle down for the business part of the season to ensure that the prestigous reputation of the club stays in tact.

United, on the other hand, have had another brilliant season and are looking to retain the Premiership for a record fourth year in succession along with another possible trip to the Champions League Final. This of course on top on the Carling Cup Final win against Aston Villa.

A win against Liverpool at Old Trafford will erase recent memories of the 4-1 defeat suffered last season to the same opponents and will no doubt put Chelsea under pressure to hold onto their slender lead at the summit of the league table.

With Vidic and Ferdinand reunited, The Red Devils look like a much stronger side capable of clean sheets once again, and on top of that, there seems to be no way to stop Wayne Rooney. Good news for England fans!

Liverpool will turn up confident of a victory with Torres and Gerrard looking to cause Vidic a headache once more and with the last result still fresh in their minds. Rafa will no doubt attempt to enter a war of the mind against Ferguson but will most probably end up looking like the fool as usual.

Sunday is the day, and the match promises to be a brilliant spectacle..!

Photo By: http://img.skysports.com/09/03/218x298/Manchester-United-Liverpool-Premier-League-Pr_1998483.jpg

The Rise of African Football?


I'm not personally a fan of African football as i find that many of the international teams rely on just a few players of worldwide recognition to get the result.

Also, it seems like the 'big' African countries don't seem to put in the effort against the 'lesser' ones resulting in teams like Egypt not reaching the World Cup Finals.

However, after constant bombardment of information by a close friend, i have had to learn to take African football more seriously.

The African Cup of Nations threw up some entertaining games with the opening match coughing up eight goals in a memorable comeback which ended 4-4.

With dwindling crowds, the players showed the commitment and stamina for which African football is well-known and a strong Egyptian side came out on top with Zidan impressing.

As for the World Cup, i am still unsure of whether the African sides can out-perform some of the top World teams, but Senegal and Ghana has proved that is is possible in recent competitions, so we will have to wait and see on that one.

Although individual African teams may struggle, its fair to say that an African XI would be good enough to challenge any team the rest of the world could put together with the likes of Drogba, Adebayor and Eto'o leading the line...


The future is bright for African football with many of its young talents still yet to peak and with up and coming countries, who are ploughing more money into football and the community around it.

Photo By: http://www.pdnonline.com/photodistrictnews/photos/2006/07/africangame6.jpg

Friday, 12 March 2010

Captain Cook and Pietersen Impress in Chittagong


Alistair Cook became only the fifth player to score a century on his debut as captain for England, on day one of the first test in Bangladesh.

He finished the day on 158 not out and will hope to push on for the double ton, putting England fully in control.

But not to get over-excited, Bangladesh (no disrespect) are not the greatest test side in the world and on a flat pitch it was maybe expected that big scores would be recorded.

Nevertheless, for such a young player to take the captaincy and all the pressure that comes with it, it was a great innings.

Also, a great innings from Kevin Pietersen who has struggled for form recently after returning from injury and has had trouble answering his critics. England's iconic number 4 hit 99 runs from just 135 balls before being cleaned bowled one short of his century..disaster. He hit 15 fours and one six, showing his explosive style is still there, great news for England.

BBC Sport Quote: "The innings made a mockery of his recent struggles, with a renewed confidence against left-arm spin no doubt the most pleasing aspect for England team director Andy Flower."

It was a puzzling decision by Bangladesh to put England into bat first after winning the toss on such a good batting wicket, but England will have to work hard to finish the innings in a strong manner before putting in a shift in the field.

The hosts' record of never having won a Test at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium could well be set to continue after a disappointing day for them.

Photo By: BBC Sport

Friday, 5 March 2010

Goal-Line Technology...


The incident at Fratton Park is a classic example of why football needs to introduce technology to aid referees in making football a fairer sport.

Cricket and rugby have sucessfully incorporated technology into the game with decisions regulary going to a third official to make the correct call, after careful viewing of replay footage.

Liam Ridgewell's 'Goal' would have changed the FA Cup semi-final completely and on Birmingham's form this season they would probably have produced a comeback, however, with the officials struggling to see the ball crossing the line Portsmouth went on to win the game comfortably.

It was tough on The Blues who deserve more out of their season than they have already got and, even though Portsmouth have had off-field problems, i would have prefered to see the Midlanders on their way to Wembley.

Opposers to Technology in football say the game would be too stop-start and it would ruin the pace of the British game, however, its not likely that the referee will refer to a distant official for a dodgy throw-in decision, instead it should just be major incidents that could turn the match.

FIFA have decided not to go ahead with plans to introduce the technology but i don't think it will be long before plans to properly bring in an all-seeing official especially if a major mistake is made in the World Cup in Africa...

Photo By: http://www.conita.com/files.php?file=aaa_488827925.jpg

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Crouch Rescues Below Par England...


A double brace from substitute Peter Crouch saved England's blushes as they ran out 3-1 winners over a dogged Egyptian side at Wembley.

Egypt took the lead with a brilliantly taken goal by Zidan after Matthew Upson slipped leaving a route to goal free for the egyptian striker, but two goals for Crouch and one for Wright-Phillips wrapped up the victory for England who, no doubt, must improve to even compete in the upcoming World Cup.

John Terry recieved a hot reception from the England fans when his name was read out before the game and for each early touch of the ball. It's fair to say Terry has done wrong and the banter he receives at club level is perfectly fine, but to jeer a player who is representing his country and is struggling with confidence doesn't make too much sense, especially with all the expectation of the summer World Cup.

Gerrard and Lampard, yet again, showed that they are miles better for club than country and Capello showed that he is not scared to replace the England 'stars' for more hard-working players like Milner and Carrick, who have earnt their appearances after recent club form.

Capello's decision to replace Defoe with Crouch at half-time bemused many but nobody was complaining after the big robot added to his impressive goalscoring record for his country and continued to stake a claim for a seat on the plane to South Africa.

With Cole, Johnson and Ferdinand missing at the back England looked a bit wobbly but i'm sure the return of these key players will boost confidence in the squad and will hopefully lead to better performances in the future.

With all the negatives came another win under Capello and the Three Lions should look to push on from this victory against a side highly rated in the World Rankings.

Photo By: http://www.sinnacle.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Peter-Crouch-England.jpg

Monday, 1 March 2010

'The Pharaohs' make their way to Wembley...


England v Egpyt

Another pointless friendly right in the thick of the season, but nonetheless a great game in prospect.

A game which most people expect England to win comfortably en route to the World Cup finals in South Africa, however, taking a quick glance at the World Rankings shows you that Egypt are just one place behind England, where they lie tenth.

Capello supposedly chose Egypt for this game with the idea that they provide a similar challenge to which his England side will face against Algeria in the World Cup group stage.

Looking at the Egyptians, it's very very difficult to understand how they didn't qualify from the African World Cup qualifying group, especially with the best record in the African cup of nations out of any team and recently setting a new record for 19 consecutive unbeaten African Cup of Nations matches.

With talent such as Zaki and Zidan, Egypt should have had no problems qualifying, however, they have only previously qualified for the World Cup twice, going out in the first round on both occasions.

England have no doubt named the strongest squad available with a few new faces filling in the gaps. The likes of Hart, Shawcross and Cole will look to impress if they get the oppurtunity and it will be interesting to see how the England fans react to Shawcross and Terry throughout the game. I'm sure every England fan will hope to see Rooney starting after the pantomime regarding his injured knee and apparent flu, and i'm sure this will happen. Wayne is always eager to play and impress and will look to add more goals to his recent impressive form.

The game will not be as one-sided as many people think it will be but a good, strong performance from the three lions should ensure a victory which will start the World Cup preparation positively and hopefully lead England to glory in Africa.

Photo By: http://www.brandsoftheworld.com/brands/0006/5984/brand.gif

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Shawcross on Ramsey



Firstly, i've got to wish Aaron Ramsey good luck with his recovery. No-one likes to see such a young talent with a shocking injury like that. I'm sure he will come back with similar help to which Eduardo received behind the scenes at the Emirates.

Now onto the challenge itself. There was no malice, and you could see that from Shawcross's reaction to the injury. He was distraught. You see worse challenges week in week out in most of the english leagues but luckily very few of them result in this sort of disaster. Without the leak break, the tackle would have, at worst, received a yellow card. His studs wern't raised, and it wasn't two footed. I say good luck to him in the England squad...

Arsene Wenger needs to keep himself quiet. Too many times does Wenger complain that teams 'kick' Arsenal to beat them. They play amazing football at times and i admire Fabregas greatly but without that strength element they will get nowhere in this league or champions league. Vieira was a massive loss all those years back, and Wenger's excuses are getting boring now.

Im sure everyone wishes Ramsey a speedy recovery.

Photo By: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2010/03/01/article-1254594-087F9931000005DC-943_468x286.jpg

Friday, 26 February 2010

United v Villa..Carling Cup Final


Manchester United and Aston Villa head to Wembley on Sunday to contest the Carling Cup Final.

The Carling Cup has never really done 'it' for me, with the Premiership, Champions League and FA Cup taking more of a centre stage but in recent years this has changed. We have seen stronger starting line-ups by the bigger sides and spirited displays from the 'minnows' of english football. Also, no-one likes to lose in a final do they?

Both teams are breathtaking on the break with pace to burn. I'm guessing United will look to control the game in midfield as much as possible and look to get Rooney into the match from the off, however, if Villa manage to swing in their dangerous crosses, there could be a repeat of their 1-0 win at Old Trafford earlier this season.

All eyes are on Sir Alex's team selection. Will he stick with the United youth who got us to the final of this competition with the likes of Gibson and Da Silva or will experience be the key against a pacey Villa side? I say a mixture. Rafael must start ahead of Neville to be able to deal with Villa's pacey wingers, with Evra occupying the left flank. Gibson has been brilliant all season when he has played and deserves a place in the starting eleven alongside Paul Scholes, United legend. There is surely no doubt who will be leading the line for United at Wembley but uncertainty lies between the sticks...Tomasz Kuszczak is the man likely to get the call with a selection of Vidic, Evans or Brown playing in front of him.

Villa are a team i admire greatly to the dismay of my Bluenosed best mate, simply for the fact that they are English and play good football. The likes of Milner, Young and Agbonglahor are such exciting players to watch and will no doubt be causing our defence no end of trouble this weekend.

Game On!

Journalism's big problems..

As a journalism student I shouldn't perhaps be writing this but there are a few grey areas in my chosen career path which worry me.

Job Prospects - With Print journalism heading the same way as Portsmouth, down and out, and unemployment among journalists at a high, there seems to be little hope for graduating students of the year 2012. Hopefully BBC Salford can rescue me..

Competition - As i'm writing this blog there are 15 others writing the same thing next to me, which brings its own problems...

Poor Image - When most people think of a journalist, they think invading, intrusive liars who will write anything to get their stories published. This is obviously not the case for the majority but rising above the sterotype and aquiring useful contacts will be a difficult step in becoming a decent journalist.

Feeling slightly depressed now, so on to some blogs that interest me...Welcome to 'The Last Word'!