SportsNet - December 2012
The Boxing Day clash at Goodison Park brings Everton and Wigan Athletic to the halfway point of the Premier League season in very different states of affairs.
Everton find themselves in fifth place and more handily placed than most previous years to make a concerted and realistic push for a place in the top 4.
Conversely, Wigan are at the wrong end of the table in an all-to-familiar fight against the drop down to the Championship.
David Moyes brings his side into the first of back-to-back home games off the back of a well-earned victory at Upton Park over West ham United. Roberto Martinez saw his team go down to a penalty by former Toffees star Mikel Arteta in their home defeat by in-form Arsenal.
Saturday’s win for Everton got them right back into the forefront of the challenge for a Champions League qualification place. Despite some poor refereeing decisions for both teams during that encounter in London, Moyes’ men had too much quality for the Hammers.
Arsenal are on the hunt for a striker in the January transfer window and with many strikers linked with the club, Newcastle's Senegalese striker, Demba Ba is the first to actually respond and issue a "come and get me plea" to the Gunners.
Earlier this month, the forward - who has scored 11 league goals in 18 appearances this season - spoke to Canal + saying, “I have nothing to say about those speculations [with Arsenal]. Nothing has happened. The media know Arsenal need another striker and they know about my release clause. They need to make their own mind up about it. Arsenal are one of those teams who makes you dream.”
Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew added to the speculation by stating that he was unsure of Ba's future at the club. “It would be disappointing for Demba to leave in this window for this club and for his team-mates, but the decision will be his because that clause is there.”
The second installment of the Lakers’ Knicks nightmare is scheduled for 3:00 PM, Christmas day.
In their first meeting this season, Carmelo Anthony started the game off by pouring in bucket after bucket. Before the first quarter buzzer would sound, Anthony crossed into double digit points. At one point, he’d dropped 5 shots in a row, including an intimidating finish on Jordan Hill. That Anthony would have his way with the Lakers defense wasn’t altogether surprising. In fact, there weren’t very many shocking developments in their previous game. Raymond Felton contributed 19 points and 8 assists, albeit on 27 shots. Regardless of his shot count, the Lakers continued to display a long standing inadequacy at defending above average point guards.
In 2010, it was the Green Bay Packers. In 2011, it was the New York Giants.
Both of these teams got hot late in December and received labels as the most dangerous come playoff time, and wound up winning their Super Bowl despite lower seeding and 9-7 records. And as history is doomed to repeat itself, a team could be the very same in 2011. But the question is, which team holds that label?
Teams like the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons have proven themselves dangerous, as they have been hot for most of the season, and many expect them (at least the 49ers) to put up a good fight in the playoffs, as they did last season against the New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants. Many are simply waiting for the Falcons to get their playoff win, and won't give them more credit for their great season unless they do. But what teams should fans keep an eye on that could upset these top seeded teams?
What once was a pipe dream of every Manchester United fan has now become a reality. Cristiano Ronaldo is going to force a move back to his original club and his father figure and mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson. It will also mean that Sir Alex will put his retirement on hold for one more crack at the Champions League Trophy he so craves.
Ronaldo has not had one new contract offer from Real Madrid in all the time since he joined them in 2009. At the same time, Messi has had SIX new contract updates, with the latest earning him around £100m over the remainder of the latest contract. Add to that, the apparent indifference shown by Real Presidents and fans alike to support Ronaldo`s desire to be named EUFA footballer of the year or Ballon D`Or and you have the perfect recipe for discontent.
That discontent boiled over recently, when Ronaldo secretly told friends and past player colleagues from Manchester United that he wanted to return to the club. This instantly was leaked to the press with obvious results. However, usually in these types of events, there is an instant denial. There was NO denial from Ronaldo.