Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 5th 2014 Contents A48
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt January 5, 2014
If there is going to be an upset in
the FA Cup today, it could well come
in the lunchtime kick-off when Sky
Bet Championship promotion
hopefuls Nottingham Forest take
on Barclays Premier League strug-
glers West Ham.
Except, it wouldn t be much of an
upset. Not according to the bookies
With Forest unbeaten in seven and
West Ham without a win in the same
number of league fixtures, the layers
make the Championship side
favourites and generally as short as
5/4 at that.
Consequently, West Ham are avail-
able at 23/10 and despite their injuries
and poor recent results it s a price
that makes some appeal.
For a start, West Ham have had
an extremely tough run of fixtures.
They ve lost at Liverpool and Man-
chester United, won at Tottenham
in the League Cup and met with
defeat when table-toppers Arsenal
visited Upton Park.
In their last two games they drew
3-3 with West Brom at home before
going down 2-1 at Fulham, when
having to play the whole of the sec-
ond half with ten men thanks to
Kevin Nolan s moment of madness.
It s not a run of form that suggests
they should be outsiders against a
Championship club, even accounting
for possible apathy from the man-
agement with a transfer window and
a relegation battle to concentrate on.
Instead this fixture represents a
chance for the West Ham players to
stop the rot and they will feel frus-
trated and perhaps hard done by after
Not only did they have to play
Fulham a man down for 45 minutes,
that was the third time in as many
matches they had gone ahead and
failed to win.
Clearly, they are starting games
well and if they get their noses in
front against Forest, Billy Davies side
may lack the goals to get back in the
tie.Despite their good run, Forest have
averaged just a goal a game in their
last six and it s concerning their man-
ager, who underlined his intention
to bring in more firepower following
the 1-1 draw with Reading.
At 23/10, the Premier League club
are big enough to warrant a small
You won t get such a big price
about fourth-placed Liverpool when
they entertain Sky Bet League One
side Oldham later in the afternoon
In fact, the Reds are 1/10 generally
to exact their revenge on the Latics
following last season s 3-2 defeat at
Boundary Park at the same stage of
Brendan Rodgers side have been
ruthless at home this campaign, win-
ning nine out of ten Premier League
matches at Anfield and averaging
three goals a game for their victo-
Luis Suarez has scored 15 in his
seven home games this season, an
astonishing return, and one that sees
him chalked up as short as 2/11 to
With such prohibitive odds avail-
able I expected his hat-trick price to
be around the 4/1 mark, but William
Hill and 888sport go 7/1 about him
netting a treble and that seems fair.
Usually, 7/1 about Player X scoring
a hat-trick against Team Y would
be terrible value, but when you re
talking about a player with the home
strike-rate of Suarez against a team
that sits 19th in League One, it s too
tempting to ignore.
Even nursing a bruised foot he
could ve scored three against Hull
on New Year s Day, and, with Liv-
erpool s schedule a light one thanks
to an early League Cup exit and no
European football, it s very hard to
envisage Rodgers resting him, espe-
cially considering the lack of rein-
All in all, while my argument is
basically no more than Suarez scores
lots and Oldham aren t very good ,
at 7/1 it could pay to accept such
logic and I ll chance him to take the
match ball home.
Finally, while I wouldn t be trusting
Manchester United at 4/11 to get the
job done in 90 minutes against
Swansea, the 5/1 about Danny Wel-
beck scoring first is fair.
Swansea are a good, compact, side
away from home but they haven t
been creating much and while it
would go against the grain of many
matches at Old Trafford this season,
I fancy United to break the deadock.
David Moyes team will be hurting
by their New Year s Day defeat at
home to Spurs, but at least they get
the chance to make amends quickly
and I would expect them to come
out all guns blazing.
Welbeck is key for them in this
game mainly because his pace can
help United get in behind Swansea.
But he s also important due to the
continued absence of Robin van Per-
sie and the niggling groin injury that
Wayne Rooney is carrying.
Expect Rooney to sit deep in a
playmaker role once again, with Wel-
beck the chief beneficiary.
The in-form striker has been fin-
ishing well, as his neat dink over
Hugo Lloris exhibited, while his
record of five goals in his last six
games (three of them the first goal
in the match) further enhances his
Suarez, Welbeck to impress
After a journey of joy across
nine time zones and into space,
the Olympic torch relay is
approaching something the Win-
ter Games organisers and Rus-
sia s leaders didn t plan for and
certainly didn t want: A city in
The Russian city of Volgograd
is burying its dead this week---34
victims of twin suicide bombings
that went off just 400 miles (640
kilometers) from where the Sochi
Games will be held. And in less
than three weeks, the Olympic
torch reaches Volgograd, stop 117
on an epic route toward the
Olympics opening ceremony.
These Olympics are being
dubbed "Putin s Games." For Rus-
sia s top man, eager to impress the
world and show he can pull off a
major multinational event safely
and successfully, that moniker
could turn out to be a compliment
or a curse.
President Vladimir Putin s rep-
utation on the global stage has
already been battered in the run-
up to the Olympics by the denun-
ciation of Russia s new anti-gay
law, boycott calls, mounting costs
and environmental concerns.
But more than anything, par-
ticularly with the soccer World
Cup to come in 2018 across the
nation, Russia has to ensure Sochi
is remembered only for sporting
"Hardly anyone will perceive
the games as a festive occasion if
there are victims and devastation
elsewhere," said Georgy Satarov, a
former aide to President Boris
For some competitors, anxieties
about staying safe are already over-
riding podium ambitions and
thoughts of post-competition
"I m just going to stay in the
bubble," US speedskater Tucker
Fredricks said. "I m going to stay
in my room, and go to the oval,
and go back to my room. And
that s it."
Teammate Jilleanne Rookard said
Russia will want to avoid a
"national embarrassment" at all
cost, but she was still concerned
about the non-athletes who will
not be offered the same level of
protection as Olympians.
"We worry about our parents,
our family, our friends," Rookard
said. "They re going to be normal
tourists. I m scared for them."
This isn t how Putin wants the
world to be talking about his pet
Having aligned himself so closely
with the costliest-ever Olympics,
Putin s legacy could be defined by
this $50 billion-plus sporting
One party has already been can-
celed. Fireworks and festivities to
usher in the Olympic year were
called off in Volgograd after the
One suicide bomber blew herself
up at Volgograd s main railway sta-
tion last Sunday, and another on
a bus during Monday s rush hour.
After visiting the scene on
Wednesday and receiving assur-
ances that security was being
strengthened, Putin returned to
Sochi on Friday to show it was
business as usual, even taking to
the slopes with his skis.
Putin will be hoping to confound
widespread trepidation about the
first Olympics in Russia since the
1980 Summer Games, which were
overshadowed by a US boycott.
This time around, the Kremlin is
frustrated that US President Barack
Obama will not go to Sochi.
'Putin's Games' could still
be compliment or curse
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