Championship so far: Brighton

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After emerging in the Championship last term, many were not sure what to expect from Brighton this year. While the Seagulls were very impressive last season, there was a worry that they could suffer from the dreaded second-season syndrome this time around.

Following the opening couple of months of the campaign, the jury is certainly still out on Gus Poyet’s men and as the team currently sit in 10th position, coincidentally the same place they finished last term, it remains to be seen if they will launch any sort of improvement over the next few months.

 

The Results

It would be fair to say that Brighton started the opening few games of the season in very indifferent fashion although it didn’t take long for the club to find their feet. They started an excellent run of form with a 5-1 win over Barnsley and proceeded to win their next five games which put them right up there with the top teams in the division.

Unfortunately, their form has drifted somewhat over the last few weeks and the Seagulls are currently on a winless run of six games.
While three of these results have been draws, it has still halted their playoff push significantly and supporters will be hoping for an upturn in fortunes in the very near future.

It has to be said that they are only three points adrift from 6th place but considering the competitive nature of the Championship this term, it could still take some very good form to re-establish themselves amongst the top cluster of sides again.

 

The Summer Buys

There’s no doubt that Brighton signed two exceptionally high-profile players in the summer in the form of Wayne Bridge and Tomasz Kuszczak.

In the case of the former, Bridge has performed admirably and not only has he been an ever-present in the Seagulls team, he has also managed a couple of goals which is something he has struggled to do throughout his career. Kuszczak has also played in every league game and is starting to show the form that caused Manchester United to sign him all those years ago.

Kuszczak…. impressive summer signing for the Seagulls.

However, while the above two may have performed well, others have struggled to break into Gus Poyet’s starting eleven – mainly due to form and fitness concerns. The likes of Andrea Orlandi, David Lopez, Stephen Dobbie and Andrew Crofts have all struggled to be regulars for various reasons so it’ll be interesting to see how their careers at the Falmer Stadium turn out.

Spanish defender Bruno has made a slightly better impact and after managing eleven appearances, the full back already looks to be a decent acquisition for Poyet.

 

The Verdict

In comparison with a lot of teams in the Championship, Brighton brought plenty of players to the club although at the time of writing, a lot of these men are still trying to acclimatize to life with the Seagulls. Nevertheless, Gus Poyet had a very good squad from last term and after starting the season so well, it’s clear their team has potential.

Therefore, we don’t think it will be long before the club shake off this string of poor form and start to make a serious push for the top six places.

 

Author Biography

Liam runs his own sports betting website which aims to publish betting bonuses from all of the bookmakers in the country. He also follows cricket, horse racing and tennis.

 

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Championship so far: Blackpool

Blackpool FC

Considering the fact that Blackpool were regarded as regular candidates for the drop in the Championship several years ago, it’s simply incredible to see how much progress the Seasiders have made over recent times.

However, having lost in the playoff final last term, there were some people who wondered just how the Bloomfield Road outfit would fare on the back of that disappointment.

Fortunately for them, they appear to have taken that setback in their stride and are once again challenging for top honours in the 2012/13 campaign.

 

The Results

Had this piece been written several weeks ago, it would have been very easy to highlight just how impressive the Seasiders looked. Many tipped them as definite candidates for promotion following their performances in the opening weeks, although since then their form has deteriorated somewhat.

Looking back at the start of the season, Holloway’s men looked unstoppable as they started proceedings with three straight victories over Millwall, Blackpool and Ipswich.

Moreover, after beating the Tractor Boys 6-0 and following that win up with a 4-1 thumping of Middlesbrough a couple of weeks later, it was clear that they still retained that attacking potency that made them so dangerous last term.

Unfortunately, they have become highly inconsistent through recent times. Since that victory over Boro, they have managed to collect just three points and have suffered defeats to Huddersfield, Cardiff and Charlton. Such events have led Holloway to turn on various sections of his supporters, who were criticising the team for their inconsistent ways.

 

The Summer Buys

Following their playoff final defeat last season, many people thought that Blackpool’s squad would fall apart. However, Holloway kept much of his team together and added several players to bolster the squad. Nevertheless, despite adding five new faces, only a couple have made a serious impact in the team. Tiago Gomes and Isaiah Osbourne have played in the majority of games for the club and many fans would agree that they have made a very positive impact at Bloomfield Road.

Tiago Gomes….. an excellent summer acquisition

Some would suggest that Nathan Delfouneso has also made an impression following his two goals, but the fact that he has largely appeared as a substitute shows that he is well down the pecking order in Holloway’s plans. Elsewhere, the likes of Kirk Broadfoot and Nathan Eccleston have barely played and have made just one start between them.

Bearing this in mind, Blackpool’s business hasn’t been a resounding success and following their inconsistent nature, we think Holloway might be tempted to dip into the market during the next transfer window.

 

The Verdict

With Blackpool currently outside the top six in 8th, it’s no surprise to see some fans slightly concerned. However, they sit just three points away from 3rd place and considering the attacking prowess the club have showed, we don’t think their supporters should be worried too much.

They may be in a poor rut of form at the moment, but we fully expect them to return stronger after the international break and put in a strong push towards the promotion places.

 

Author Biography

Liam is an avid follower of Championship football and tries to publish lots of betting bonus offers in relation to the matter. He also covers horse racing, rugby and cricket through his blog.

 

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Championship so far: Blackburn

Blackburn Rovers

There is no doubt that there was plenty of attention focused on Blackburn last term, mostly for the wrong reasons. Protests were constantly made at Ewood Park for the removal of Steve Kean as manager and following the club’s relegation from the top flight, most people expected Rovers to finally remove Kean from his position.

As it turns out, they waited until they were sat in 3rd position in this division to make their decision – although officially Kean left by his own accord.

 

The Results

After starting the campaign with a dour 1-1 draw with Ipswich, Blackburn soon started to rack up the points and proceeded to win four of their next five games.

In fact, having drawn to Leeds in the middle of that run, Rovers soon established themselves as clear favourites for promotion and following that, many simply couldn’t believe the pressure that Kean started to come under following a 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough.

That was actually the club’s first loss of the season in the league although with the Ewood Park outfit fixed on fourteen points at this time, this was understood to be two fewer than a target set by the owners at the start of the season.

Following Kean’s exit, the club have proceeded to record draws against Charlton and Nottingham Forest and this means that they are now in 5th place at the time of writing.

 

The Summer Buys

Even though Blackburn’s owners have come in for plenty of criticism over recent months, few people can argue that they invested significant money in the transfer market over the summer.

Undoubtedly, the big purchase was Jordan Rhodes for a whopping £8m, although the former Huddersfield striker seems to be living up to his huge price tag having already scored three goals for his new club.

Jordan Rhodes (right)…. Blackburn’s big summer signing.

However, while that transfer has paid off, the acquisition of Leon Best certainly hasn’t, yet. Despite splashing out £3m on the Newcastle striker, Best has not played a single minute after suffering a serious knee injury in pre-season.

Players such as Dickson Etuhu and Danny Murphy have played a big part in Rovers’ midfield, while Nuno Gomes has perhaps raised a few eyebrows with his return of four goals, despite his advancing years.

Colin Kazim-Richards is another one who has certainly reaped the rewards in front of goal and he already looks like a warranted purchase following his two strikes.

 

The Verdict

There is no doubt that Blackburn hold a hugely talented squad for Championship level – perhaps the best in the division. Even though Steve Kean had his critics, few can argue that he made some impressive summer acquisitions and this has made Rovers into a very strong outfit.

However, how they perform depends entirely on the next appointment and while the likes of Alan Shearer and Tim Sherwood are both being suggested as potential candidates, whether or not these two possess the required experience for a promotion push would be debatable.

Therefore, this next appointment is absolutely massive for Blackburn Rovers.

 

Author Biography

Liam is a big fan of football and publishes a variety of betting offers to help fellow fans profit from the sport. As well as this, he also likes to watch horse racing, cricket and tennis.

 

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Championship so far: Birmingham City

Birmingham City

In the second installment of the “Championship so far series”, it is Midlands outfit Birmingham that will be looked at.

After managing to experience a hugely successful campaign last term which saw them finish in 4th place, the Blues missed out on the chance to return to the Premiership after suffering a defeat in the semi-final of the playoffs.

It would be fair to say there has been plenty of upheaval at St Andrews since then, with the popular Chris Hughton replaced by Lee Clark – a man who has yet to prove himself at Championship level.

 

The Results

As most people read this, they will probably be thinking of Birmingham’s most recent outing.

It would be fair to say that the Blues fared disastrously and despite playing against a Barnsley outfit who had recorded just one point out of the last thirteen away games, the club were hammered in 5-0 style. That defeat also put an end to a long unbeaten run at home and it will certainly be interesting to see just how the Blues fare in their game at the weekend.

Prior to that, their form had been average to say the least although they had at least managed to record successive home wins over Peterborough and Bolton. However, it is clear to see that there are big problems on the road for Clark’s men, with the club picking up just one point out of three Championship away games.

Clark…. struggling.

Now that the home record has been blasted to pieces, Clark certainly needs to reshuffle his outfit and sort out this form on the road.

 

The Summer Buys

It could be said that Birmingham’s major piece of business during the summer was bringing Clark in and at the time of writing, his position is certainly questionable. Nevertheless, we’ll now move onto players and the Blues certainly did manage to bring in several experienced heads during the summer months.

Darren Ambrose was arguably the most impressive purchase at the time although on current viewing he has struggled to replicate the form that saw him become such a hit at Crystal Palace and has chipped in with just the one goal.

It would be fair to say that most of Clark’s additions have struggled for game time, with the likes of Ben Gordon, Peter Lovenkrands, David Lucas and Ravel Morrison all struggling to establish themselves in the first team.

At this moment, Hayden Mullins seems to have been the most impressive purchase, with the former Portsmouth defender proving valuable with his versatile performances.

Mullins…. impressive addition for the Blues.

Recent signing Paul Caddis also made an immediate impact, although his career at St Andrews has stuttered somewhat in recent days after he was forced into surgery for a dislocated shoulder.

 

The Verdict

With Birmingham currently positioned in 19th, Lee Clark certainly hasn’t experienced the start that he would have hoped for at his new club.

Moreover, the fact they were humiliated in 5-0 fashion in their most recent clash is unlikely to have endeared him to his own supporters and for this reason, we have major concerns about the Blues.

They looked absolutely dreadful in the game against Barnsley and now the home record has been broken, it remains to be seen how much pressure will be on their shoulders in their away fixtures.

 

Author Biography

Liam is a huge follower of football and writes his views in his own bonus sports blog. As well as covering football, he likes to watch tennis, golf and rugby league.

 

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Championship so far: Barnsley

Barnsley FC

In the first of the “Championship so far” series, South Yorkshire outfit Barnsley will be analysed. It would be fair to say that most people regarded the Tykes as definite candidates for the drop at the start of the season, yet Keith Hill’s men have started rather successfully by their own standards and currently sit in 13th place in the table.

 

The Results

Having played a total of five games, the Tykes have managed to accumulate seven points. While this is undoubtedly a fantastic record considering their reputation in the division, one has to question if they do rely on their form at Oakwell too much.

At the moment, Hill’s side have yet to record a point on the road, with all of their points arising following results at home. Victories over Middlesbrough and Bristol City as well as a draw to Blackpool have been the catalyst for their position and first and foremost, a return of seven points against sides such as these is certainly impressive.

However, having lost 3-1 and 5-1 to Wolves and Brighton respectively, it’s clear that they are a completely different outfit on the road.

Over the past few campaigns this has always been the case and it remains to be seen if Hill can manage to change things in this regard, or if Barnsley are going to simply rely on their home form throughout the season.

If it is the latter, it’s certainly a huge ask and might put too much pressure on them as the season progresses.

 

The Summer Buys

Barnsley started the summer with a bang after bringing in Egyptian striker Mido, although the former Tottenham ace has not even started for the club after sustaining an injury in pre-season. Considering the fact that the 29-year-old is probably one of the most seasoned strikers in the division, it will certainly be interesting to see how the club fare once he returns to full fitness.

 

Elsewhere, former Chelsea midfielder Jacob Mellis has undoubtedly made a huge difference following his switch and many supporters claim that he has filled the big hole left by ex-captain Jacob Butterfield.

Elsewhere, after managing to regain his place in the team following a shock red card in the League Cup, Ben Alnwick appears to be a decent buy and has performed well in recent encounters between the sticks.

However, most supporters will state that Tomasz Cywka is the most impressive summer purchase, with the former Derby man putting in several eye-catching displays that have contributed heavily to Barnsley’s success.

 

The Verdict

All in all, Barnsley’s campaign can be described as a resounding success so far. However, even though they are in a comfortable position now, the next few weeks are of huge significance for Keith Hill and his men with successive away games on the horizon.

Following their clear struggles on the road, Hill will be hoping that his team can at least net a point to relive some pressure off their shoulders for their next home game in a couple of weeks’ time.

 

Author Biography

Liam is an avid follower of English football and voices his opinion on the sport through his bonus sports blog. As well as football, he also classes rugby league, golf and tennis amongst his favourite sports.

 

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The Premier League’s Most Exciting Prospects: James Ward-Prowse

James Ward-Prowse

O-Posts will be hosting a series titled “The Premier League’s Most Exciting Prospects” written by our very own Henry Francis. Our first will be on Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse. We hope it’s up to your satisfaction and enjoyment. 

At 17, Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse is extremely young to be plying his trade in the Premier League, never mind as a starter. Delivering accomplished performances in his first three league games, Ward-Prowse has developed a reputation as one of the brightest young talents in England.

Coming from an excellent academy at Southampton, who have developed the likes of Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ward-Prowse was initially a Portsmouth season ticket holder and even went to their FA Cup Final at Wembley in 2008. However, due to Southampton’s incredible track record of producing great talent, Ward-Prowse chose their academy.

Now the decision is delivering dividends for Ward-Prowse. Appearing in all 3 of Southampton’s Premier-League games this season. Nigel Adkins – Southampton’s Manager – is showing a lot of faith in the 17 year old. Against Yaya Toure, the Premier League’s best midfielder, Ward-Prowse didn’t look out of place, and was one of Southampton’s best players.

Against Manchester United, Ward-Prowse more than matched the efforts of Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and later Paul Scholes and put in an impressive shift against last season’s Premier League runners up.

This shows a lot about Ward-Prowse as a character and himself.

A lot of Premier League football is played psychologicially and the mind has become an important part of preperation and football in general. Ward-Prowse according to Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has an impressive mentality.

This amongst young players is important in their development and like Raheem Sterling at Liverpool (who is creating all sorts of media attention with his exciting displays), Ward-Prowse shows no fear when coming up against the likes of Yaya Toure and Paul Scholes.

Throughout the next few seasons look out for Ward-Prowse. Like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Bridge and Walcott before him, expect Ward-Prowse to feature for England and play for one of England’s “top” sides such as Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal or Man United in the future.

 

Written by Henry Francis

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