The Increasing Popularity of Sports Betting

While sports betting has always been popular in the UK at least – with many of the established bookmaking firms having been around on high streets here since the 1960s or earlier – there is no doubt that it has greatly increased in popularity during the internet era. These days it is a truly global business, and one which brings in billions of pounds every year, taking it well beyond its standing prior to the internet. So what are the reasons for it?

PUSHED OUT

Aston Villa have been struggling in the Premier league throughout the season primarily due to the lack of experience within the squad, which contains several youngsters. The likes of the Darren Bent and Stephen Ireland are amongst the few experienced members within the squad, but Lambert has been forcing them out of his first-team in recent weeks.

The former Sunderland and Tottenham striker Darren Bent has not been in the squad for the long time, while Ireland is the latest one to be forced out. Ireland was brought to Aston Villa in an £ 8 million deal from Manchester City several years ago.
Ireland has had several problems with his attitude and relationship with the managers in the past.

However, the action taken by Lambert has come out of the blue and as a surprise to the fans. The 26-year-old has made just 16 appearances in all competitions for the club this season. He has not been included in the squad that will be taking on Arsenal, which has put his Villa future in major doubt. Aston Villa come into the encounter against Arsenal on the back of a decent run of form, which has seen them score in the last three matches and also take a victory against West Ham.

“I have to pick a squad that I think will benefit the football club. He has featured up until recently. It is my decision. Stephen’s got a contract. I’ve had chats with him and we get on well,” said the Aston Villa manager for Lambert when asked about the omission of Ireland from the squad. Ireland is one of the high earners at the club, as his contract is worth around £ 55,000 per week. Villa have been struggling with finances for the last couple of seasons following the departure of Martin O'Neill.

CONFIDENCE TRICK

Aston Villa manager Lambert has said that his team will be going into the weekend's match against Chelsea with a lot of confidence, which will hopefully help them maintain their unbeaten run in the Premier league.

After a difficult start to the new life under Lambert, Aston Villa are slowly showing signs of recovery. Even though they still remain closer to the relegation zone, they have at least made an unbeaten run in recent weeks. Since the 0-0 draw with Arsenal, Aston Villa have been unbeaten in the Premier league. Hence, there will be going into the weekend's match against Chelsea with a lot of belief according to Lambert.

Paul Lambert will also have the luxury of being able to take the former Manchester city midfielder Stephen Ireland, who is now fit again after a spell on the sidelines. Taking on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge will not be an easy prospect according to Lambert. Chelsea will be coming into the match on the back of the 5-1 thumping of Leeds in the Capital one cup. However, they have suffered disappointments in the form of the 1-0 defeat against Corinthians in the Club World Cup, while they have also travelled around the world in the last two weeks.

"You know the players. You know the personnel they have got and the way they are playing. They have played in the final of the World Club Championship and they've just beaten Leeds United so you know what's coming. But we will relish it. We'll do as well as we can. We will go down with a lot of belief. We will have to play like we did against Liverpool but we will go into the game with a lot of confidence," said Lambert ahead of the match with Chelsea during the weekend.

LAMBERT BACKS IRELAND

The Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has said that he is confident that he can unlock the potential of the star midfielder Stephen Ireland, who has been hit and miss since his move from Manchester City a few seasons ago.

The midfielder playmaker has the capability of playing in a variety of roles, but his attitude has been one of the main reasons for not hitting the nail during his time at Aston Villa. The manager Paul Lambert reckons that Stephen Ireland could be one of the best players in England provided he manages to change his attitude for the better.

Ireland has been picked on a more regular basis since the arrival of Paul Lambert. He has utilised him in the central part of the attacking trio behind the lone striker. This is paid a lot of dividends even though the team is yet to get points on the board on a regular basis. Stephen Ireland was one of the best players for Aston Villa in the recent 3-2 defeat against Manchester United. He helped the team get a two-goal advantage in the match through his defensive and attacking abilities. The 26-year-old can become a lethal weapon for the team according to the manager.

“Maybe he now has that belief to go and use his ability to the best he can. Stephen thrives off a bit of freedom to make things happen. At this level if you have players like him it can help you can punish teams. He is a really clever player and a really talented footballer. He is one of the most naturally talented footballers that I’ve seen in a long while. Some of the football he played against Sunderland in behind the strikers was superb," said Lambert prior to the match against Manchester United.

LAMBERT PRAISES IRELAND

The manager of Aston Villa, Paul Lambert, has praised the experienced midfielder Stephen Ireland for his performance against Tranmere Rovers at Villa Park. Lambert said that Ireland was at his best against Tranmere, even going so far as to compare him to Cristiano Ronaldo, and the team is looking for the same kind of performance from him in the further matches as well.

Ireland was not a part of Villa’s first XI against Everton a few days ago. Villa was defeated in that match. But, in the match against Tranmere, Lambert gave Ireland the opportunity to start the match and the Irish midfielder stood up to the expectations of the coach. He performed exquisitely against Tranmere.

Aston Villa defeated Tranmere by 3-0 in the match. The Tranmere players kept struggling in the entire match. The stadium was jam packed and the home team didn’t let the supporters down. It was a thoroughly professional performance by the Villa players. Ireland assisted in the first two goals and was declared man of the match for his brilliant performance.

Fabian Delph took Villa ahead in the match by capitalizing on Ireland’s cross in the 38th minute of the match. That was the only goal to be scored in the first half. In the earlier part of the second half, the Villa players looked a bit rusty, but, they got going after a few minutes. Chris Herd doubled the lead of Villa when he beat the diving Tranmere goal keeper with a well placed shot. Ireland had passed the ball to Herd just near the penalty area and the Australian midfielder latched on the opportunity.

Tranmere got deeper into trouble when Darren Bent scored the third goal for Villa with a powerful shot in the 81st minute of the match. The Tranmere players didn’t manage to find the net even a single time and lost the match. Aston Villa will play its next match against Newcastle United.

VLAAR SIGNS FOR VILLA

Aston Villa has signed Ron Vlaar on a contract of three years. But, the deal would get finalized after the medical test of Vlaar next week. On 15th July, Vlaar had a meeting with Paul Lambart, the manager of Aston Villa, in Birmingham. After the meeting, Vlaar had said that he would not sign for Aston Villa and would remain in Feyenoord. But, surprisingly on 27th July, the authorities of Feyenoord said that the Dutch defender is going to leave the club.

Vlaar is the fourth player to be signed by Aston Villa this summer. The other three players who have been signed by the club this summer are Karim El Ahmadi, Matthew Lowton and Brett Holman. Vlaar had been with Feyenoord since the last six years. He played more than 100 matches for Feyenoord. After signing for Aston Villa, Vlaar said that he is very sad to leave Feyenoord. But, at the same time, he also said that he always dreamt of playing in the Premier League and eventually a Premier League team has signed him. So, he is quite excited.

As per Vlaar, playing for Feyenoord had been a wonderful experience. He got immense support from the fans. The players were also quite supportive there. He learnt quite a lot while playing for Feyenoord. But, he had to make a move in his career at some point of time and he thought it was the right time to make a move.

A few days back, Vlaar was very angry with Paul Lambart when he went to USA without giving any update to him or Feyenoord management. The authorities of Feyenoord were also upset with that. Martin Van Geel, the technical director of Feyenoord, had said that Lambart should have made everything clear before going to America. But, after signing the contract, Vlaar said that Lambart apologized for whatever happened and everything is all right now.

BENT BACKS IRELAND

Aston Villa striker Darren Bent has claimed that Stephen Ireland is an extraordinary footballer, who should be given the playmaker role within the team next season. Aston Villa recently appointed former Norwich city manager Paul Lambert as a replacement for Alex McLeish, who was sacked after the end of the disappointing season for the Midlands club.

Stephen Ireland has been one of the players linked with a move away from the club after failing in many disciplinary areas under Alex McLeish. However, striker Darren Bent has said that Stephen Ireland is one of the best players at the club and he should be played behind the main striker in order to get the best out of him.

The former Manchester City midfielder won the Aston Villa player of the year award that was given by the supporters. Yet, he has been linked with a move to the MLS to play alongside former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry at New York Red Bulls. Darren Bent has said that the abilities of Stephen Ireland is not utilised to the full potential if he is played in the right-wing or left-wing position. He is also not the player to be used as a box to box midfielder, but as a full playmaker.

"There's no point playing Stevie Ireland one game and then moving him to the right and then taking him out of the team. You've got to play Stevie Ireland four or five games in that position and go from there. For me, he's the best footballer in the squad, and if you want to see the best Stephen Ireland and get the best out of him you need to be playing him," said Darren Bent. The striker is hoping to return to full fitness prior to the start of the season after missing the Euro 2012.

PLAYING THROUGH THE PAIN-BARRIER

Aston Villa midfielder Stephen Ireland has said that he will play through the pain barrier in the match against Tottenham hoping that it will help his team get at least three points in the home match. Aston Villa are currently in a relegation battle along with the likes of QPR and Bolton.

Even though it is still a long shot that they might be relegated to the Championship, the fact that Alex McLeish has been part of a relegated side in the last couple of seasons has Aston Villa in the major pressure. Stephen Ireland recently revealed that he has been injured, but will play through the pain barrier against Tottenham.

Stephen Ireland has been criticised a lot by former Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier and calm manager Alex McLeish. However, it is extremely great to see him giving his all to help Aston Villa stay in the Premier league. The midfielder is currently suffering from his injury, which would have normally kept him out of the team for the remaining two matches. The former Manchester City midfielder also received a call up for the Euro 2012 in the Republic of Ireland squad, and he has said that helping Aston Villa stay in the division is the most important priority right now.

“I will play with injuries and I will try my hardest for him. I’m grateful for the opportunity he’s given me. We have two very important games left. A lot of players would (declare themselves unfit), but we know how hard it is. We have to make sure we get out of this and kick on. We should be nowhere near the bottom of the table. We have underachieved, everyone knows that,” said Stephen Ireland ahead of the match with Tottenham. Tottenham are fighting to stay in touch with Arsenal in the top four.

IRELAND DROPPED BY MCLEISH

Stephen Ireland was dropped for the match against Swansea by Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish, but the Scotsman has said that Stephen Ireland does have a future at Aston Villa, but he needs to be patient.

Stephen Ireland arrived from Manchester City in a swap deal involving James Milner, and has been touch and go during his short career with the Midland club. Alex McLeish arrived the Aston Villa manager in the summer and he has been making some changes to the team.

One among them was dropping Stephen Ireland for the match against Swansea, as he believed that the midfielder was lacking fitness. Alex McLeish confirmed that it was a decision taken based upon the fitness and not the form of the player. He also said that Ireland needs to be patient, as he has a great future at Aston Villa. There have been many speculations that Stephen Ireland could be sold in the January transfer window or at least loan to other clubs. However, Alex McLeish dismissed such baseless rumours by saying that Stephen Ireland continues to be a part of his plans.

"He’s here. At the end of the day, in terms of wanting him to go, I don’t need anybody to leave this club because we are kind of thin on numbers anyway. Don’t think I’m criticising Stevie but I’m still looking for the players to give me that wee bit extra. I can’t really loan anybody else out. I’ve still got hopes for Stevie,” Alex McLeish said when asked about Stephen Ireland's future at Aston Villa. Ireland has been limited to few and far appearances in this season. So far, he has made only five appearances in the league and cup. He still has almost 3 years left on his current contract signed in August 2010.

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