Joey Barton has been banned from football for 18 months

The Burnley midfielder has been fined £30,000 and banned from football for 18 months after admitting to The FA that he has been involved in a huge amount of football bets. Joey Barton is said to have made 1,260 bets on football matches between 26 March 2006 and 13 May 2016, something that is a seriously forbidden act for players.

Barton has stressed that “this is not match fixing”  and that he has a gambling problem, claiming “I have fought addiction to gambling and provided the FA with a medical report about my problem – I’m disappointed it wasn’t taken into proper consideration”.

The player also admitted to placing bets against teams that he played for between 2004 and 2011 but insisted that they were on matches that he was not taking part in and therefore could not influence. One bet that Joey Barton placed was a £3 stake on a Premier League game in April 2006 where he bet that he would be the first goalscorer for Manchester City against Fulham, however it was his team mate Richard Dunne who scored the first goal in that game.

 


Roberto Mancini is favourite to take over after Leicester City sack Claudio Ranieri

Less than nine months on from overcoming odds of 5000-1 to win the Premier League. Claudio Ranieri has been ruthlessly sacked by Leicester City.

The Italian guided Leicester to an unprecedented title win back in May, and has guided them into the knockout stages of this seasons Champions League. They are languishing in 17th place in the League, and seemingly the players weren’t happy with his management this season.

This news has shown that not all fairytales have a happy ending, and the dreaded vote of confidence Ranieri received from the board just over two weeks ago now seems like it was pointless.

Maybe winning the title last season got to some of Leicester’s big players and made them too big for their boots. They sure as hell haven’t shown anywhere near the effort of performance than they did last season, it shows how big a loss N’golo Kante really was!

Fellow Italian, and Premier League winner with Manchester City, and former Leicester player, Roberto Mancini is the bookies favourite to take the reigns at The King Power. However it seems like a return for Nigel Pearson is what the players want as the rumours are that Mancini is not interested in the job.

Premier League 2016/17 Mid Season Review

So we’re exactly halfway through the 2016/17 Premier League season – 19 games played and 19 to go. A good time to review the campaign so far then – who’s overachieved, who’s underachieved and who finds themselves somewhere in between?

The Overachievers

Where better to start than at the top. With the arrivals of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola in the summer, the appointment of Antonio Conte at Chelsea was perhaps a little quieter than it otherwise would have been. And when September saw defeats to Liverpool and Arsenal follow a draw against Swansea, Chelsea’s fans weren’t making much noise either. Their team’s response, however, has been emphatic. A run of 12 league wins has been achieved by combining a tight defence (the cliche of an Italian manager) and the form, in particular, of their two best attacking players – Eden Hazard and the rejuvenated Diego Costa. With no European fixtures to contend with and a healthy 6 point lead, they’ve got themselves into a very strong position going into the second half of the season.

It was a different story with Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp – many predicted they would push on in their second season under the charismatic German’s leadership. However, there were question marks over whether they could perform consistently and tighten up at the back. They still seem prone to the occasional shaky defensive display (see the last 20 minutes at Bournemouth) but the system and style of play they have settled into has been largely effective and undeniably entertaining. Sadio Mane has turned out to be a fantastic signing and despite spells on the sidelines for a number of key players, they have delivered a level of consistency that sees them deservedly sitting 2nd in the table.

A special mention to West Brom and Bournemouth who have earned themselves a place in the top half of the table. ‘The Baggies‘ have managed to consistently pick up points home and away, occasional breaking free from the Tony Pulis defensive mould we’ve got so used too, while ‘The Cherries‘ have picked up good results while continuing to deliver Eddie Howe’s brand of entertaining football.

The Underachievers

It’s easy to say with hindsight but Leicester were always going to have a tough time following up the fairytale of last season. The loss of N’Golo Kante has been massive and they’ve struggled to match the solidarity in defence that their title success was built on and their potency in attack, with the form of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez disappointing.

If an award was to be given for the worst season so far it would have to go to Swansea. Lying bottom of the table and having sacked two managers,’The Swans are really struggling. Their new manager (when appointed) will have little time to make an impact if they are to survive relegation.

Another team to have changed manager is Crystal Palace after a very disappointing calendar year of results under Alan Pardew. It would take a brave man, however, to bet on them being relegated with ‘Big Sam‘ now in charge, his first job in football again since his dramatic exist as England manager last year.

The Rest

The top 6 have pulled away to create their own mini league. In a year of surprises (Leicester City, ‘Brexit‘ and Donald Trump) Arsenal appear to again be just short of a genuine title challenge, sitting 3rd in the table. Admittedly, a few weeks ago things were looking a lot better and there is still time for it to swing back in their favour.

Tottenham (4th), Man City (5th) and Man Utd (6th) may all like to be a position or two higher but they will all feel that is still achievable. The two Manchester clubs have been a little patchy under their new big name managers but we can expect them to push on in the new year. Tottenham have particularly impressed me, although it’s perhaps unsurprising with the lack of activity in the summer that their well drilled and settled team have produced such consistent performances week in week out.

Outside the top 6, the table is extremely tight with just 11 points separating 7th to 17th. This means positions are likely to change quickly and often over the coming weeks and months. The positions of the remaining teams (I’ve not mentioned) do not surprise me at this stage – some will hope to cement a top half or mid table finish, while others will be happy as long as they remain in the division come the end of May:

Southampton (9th), Burnley (11th), West Ham (12th), Stoke (14th), Middlesbrough (16th), Sunderland (18th), Hull (19th).

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UEFA Champions League draw results

It’s that time of year again where we all jump the gun and try and logistically work out each round of the Champions League, from the dream match ups to the easier draws for our favourite teams. This year the biggest name for us here in the UK is seeing little old Leicester City up there with the big boys of European club football. The Premier League champions have been seeded into Group G where their toughest challenge looks to come from Porto, which for the neutral is quite exciting to see if the dream can continue for Leicester and perhaps lead them to a big match against the likes of Barcelona, something fans could not have imagined this time last year but is not very possible.

Other worthy group news is Arsenal seeding into Group A with French big boys PSG. Will Arsene’s team make it through to the knockout stages for the 17th consecutive year? Rebellious Noise’s own Dan recently wrote in his Premier League predictions article that he felt that this year may be Wenger’s last, which if correct will mean this is the managers last attempt at European glory, something he so narrowly missed out on 10 years ago in Paris.

2015 champions Barcelona have been paired with possibly the strongest of all the 2nd tier teams, Manchester City. Guardiola’s Sky Blue men will face off against his Catalonian first love in what is sure to be a match up to remember. Last year’s champions Real Madrid have drawn 2013’s runners up Borussia Dortmund whilst the winners from that year, Bayern Munich have ended up in Group D with last years finalists Atletico Madrid.

Check out the full result of the draw below:

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