Swansea have taken a huge step towards Wembley after Branislav Ivanovic had a night to forget at Stamford Bridge. Two mistakes by the centre-back gifted Michu and Danny Graham goals in the Capital One Cup as Swansea ran out 2-0 winners. It’s a huge advantage going into the second leg at the Liberty Stadium and has potentially teed up a Swansea v Bradford final. Unsurprisingly Rafa Benitez got a truckload of abuse from the Chelsea faithful but incredibly said he was ‘happy’ with his team’s performance.
Swansea are now the 11/10 favourites to lift the cup with Chelsea at 5/2 in the betting. Aston Villa have it all to do in the second leg but are 7/2 to lift the cup in March with Bradford the outsiders at 13/2.
And here’s some wonderful transfer gossip to brighten up your Thursday…
- Manchester United are rumoured to be closing in on Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha. The deal is reported to be worth about £12 million and Sir Alex Ferguson has battled off interest from Spurs and Arsenal.
- Andrea Pirlo is one of The Paddy Power Blog’s biggest man-crushes and the Juventus midfielder has said in an interview that Frank Lampard should join the Italian side and that he’d be welcomed ‘with open arms’. Ahhhhh.
- Phil Jagielka and Seamus Coleman have already agreed new deals at Everton and it looks like Sylvain Distin is going to join them. The 35-year-old is set to sign a 12-month extension taking his contract up to the end of the 2013/14 season.
Dustin Johnson is coming off a successful Hyundai Tournament of Champions and into the Sony Open in Hawaii. The world number 12 is the 9/1 favourite to make it two tournament wins from two.
Local boy Branden Grace is back to defend his Volvo Golf Champions title in Durban after last season’s first-hole play-off win over former Major winner Retief Goosen and reigning Open champion Ernie Els.
Grace – the first four-time winner on the European Tour last season – ended a stunning season when finishing third to World No 1 Rory McIlroy in the Race to Dubai standings. The 24-year-old has drifted to 14/1 in the betting behind 9/2 favourite and 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen to retain his title.
If your selection finishes second to a South African golfer in the Volvo Golf Champions, Paddy Power will refund your losing stake. (T&C’s apply)
Today’s racing comes from Catterick, Kempton, Lingfield and Wolverhampton.
Jockey Adam Kirby can do little wrong at the moment as he blazes a trail around Britain’s all-weather tracks. Three trebles in the last 11 days and a winner yesterday aboard David Evans’ Temuco sets him up nicely for four rides at Lingfield this afternoon. He rides two for Evans and this pair have a 70 per cent plus strike at the moment when they team up. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Paddy has also got in early and priced up every single race at the Cheltenham Festival. If you have an ante-post favourite and want to get on early doors, Paddy can take care of it.
Paddy refunded €235,000 last Saturday and punters cashed in as the sirens went off for the MBS in the 1.35pm at Chepstow and the 2.40pm at Wincanton.
Just four days after refunding a whopping €150,000 to 14,000 punters on New Year’s Day Paddy made it one hell of a start to 2013 for punters. An he’s not done yet. This Saturday and every Saturday in January Paddy will laugh deliriously at the bean-counters and spit in the eye of the company share price with his Money-Back Special All Losers.