Morning update from the Paddy Power Blog on all the latest betting moves in sport
– Chelsea last night took a commanding hold of the title race with just 36 and 9/10th rounds of matches remianing. The Blues moved three points clear at the top thanks to a 4-2 win over Reading at Stamford Bridge. It was an uncomfortable night for Roberto di Matteo’s side however, especially if your name is Petr Cech. The goalie was responsible for letting Danny Guthrie’s pea-roller squirm away from him to give the Royals a 2-1 lead, but inspired by Eden Hazard and some questionable referee’s-assistanting, Chelsea rallied to paper over the cracks with a seemingly comfortable victory. Chelsea are 4/1 to win the Premier League.
– In a brief transfer round-up, Martin O’Neill seems to have lost his mind and has agreed to pay Wolves £12 million for Steven Fletcher. Manchester City are said to be impressed by David Luiz’s hair are willing to give Chelsea £30 million to bring it to the El Etihad. After shipping out a whole range of players, Andre Villas-Boas is now on a Tottenham recruitment drive and he plans to sign Damiao from Internacional in Brazil for £20 million.
– The first festival of petty gamesmanship and occasional bursts of nice football takes place tonight as Barcelona and Real Madrid face off in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. It’s Barca’s first competitive game under Pep Guardiola’s replacement, Tito Vilanova and the hosts are 4/5 favourites to win at the Camp Nou. Our La Liga expert, Graham Hunter has run the rule over the game and his conclusion is “don’t miss it.”
– Ricky Hatton is reportedly on the verge of a comeback to boxing after it was confirmed there is enough fabric in the world to make him a new pair of glittery shorts. The former light welterweight and welterweight world champion has resumed training, lost weight and “almost given up alcohol” and as everyone knows, almost giving up alcohol is a key step on the path to sporting greatness. According to reports in the Daily Mail, Hatton is planning to shoot fish in a barrel against a journeyman fighter in a bout planned for Manchester next November or January. That will be the first part of a plan to remind the world he’s not as bad as his crushing defeat to Manny Pacquiao in 2009.
There may be trouble brewing in European club rugby as English and French clubs have thrown their toys out of the pram on account of the automatic qualification teams from the Rabo Direct Pro 12 receive for the Heineken Cup. Teams from the Aviva Premiership and France’s Top 14 have it tougher than their Celtic cousins according to Mark McCafferty, CEO of Premiership Rugby and they’re threatening to form their own continental copy
“Most of the Ireland squad will not be released for the Pro 12 until rounds three or four, something they could not do if they depended on their finishing position in the league for European qualification,” he boo-hooed, conveniently forgetting that the main barrier to English success in the competition is crap players and flogging those players to within in an inch of their lives.
If there is a bias towards the Celtic nations, it’s being well concealed by the Heineken Cup betting. Two of the top eight are from Ireland, with three clubs a piece coming from France and England. Leinster are the 10/3 favourites to record three Heineken Cup wins on the bounce.