The transfer window is wide open and there’s more than a little draught coming through. First up Mario Balotelli and Roberto Mancini’s bust-up. There was plenty of handbags at City’s training ground yesterday after a naughty tackle from Balotelli on Scott Sinclair and it could result in Super Mario heading elsewhere. Despite his maverick behaviour, Zlatan Ibrahimovic thinks Mario is the only man who can win the title for City.
Elsewhere West Ham have signed Joe Cole from Liverpool and Chelsea have agreed a three-and-a-half year contract with Chelsea. As long as all the paperwork is completed by midday both players will be available for their respective FA Cup third round ties at the weekend. Chelsea face Southampton in an all-Premier League clash and West Ham host Manchester United at Upton Park on Sunday.
According to the morning reports Frank Lampard could leave Chelsea this month despite knocking in three goals in his last four games and appearing to have saved his Stamford Bridge career. Manchester United are rumoured to be in line for a sensational swoop for the England midfielder while America and China both look like equally possible opportunities.
Remember when the FA Cup was cool? It walked with that swagger and had its pick of any girl in all the coolest nightclubs. But somewhere along the line it started smelling a bit funny and wearing ill-fitting suits that were two sizes too big. The Champions League and the Premier League just stopped returning its calls. Well, ol’ jug ears is back in town this week with plenty of lower league clubs looking to upset the big boys.
Mansfield will host Liverpool, Aston Villa take on Ipswich and Brighton can take advantage of Newcastle’s troubles at the Falmer Stadium. There are plenty of room for cupsets and four all-top flight matches in a footballing feast of a weekend.
Andy Murray is in the semi-finals of the Brisbane International after he swept aside Denis Istomin in straight sets. The Scot faces Japanese superstar Kei Nishikori in the semi-final as he looks to retain his title. Murray has a 2-0 record over the 23-year-old and will be looking to build momentum before heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open in a few weeks.
Novak Djokovic is the best player in the world and the 5/4 favourite for the first Grand Slam of the season. But Murray broke his major duck last year winning the US Open and could prove to be a profitable bet at 11/5. The evergreen Roger Federer will always have his supporters at 4/1 but Rafael Nadal won’t be smashing any thunderous returns from the base-line in Australia because he has a nasty sounding virus.
Paddy Power went a bit bananas on New Year’s Day as he emptied his pockets to the tune of €150,000 as punters cashed in on our Money-Back ALl Losers campaign. He had the racing world buzzing on Tuesday as we refunded all losers in the 1.05 at Musselburgh and the 3.15 at Exeter. And with the New Year resolutions well out of the window Paddy is at it again this weekend.
Racing today comes from Lingfield, Musselburgh, Wolverhampton and Dundalk. Veloce in the 12.40pm at Musselburgh is the most napped horse in today’s Racing Post. The Donald McCain-trained five-year-old came second in a hot-looking maiden hurdle last time out and if that form holds out he has a great chance.