Luxury Soul Weekender – One Week Away

As 2012 comes to an end thoughts turn to the standout Modern Soul event of the year as the next installment of the Luxury Soul Weekender series takes place at the Blackpool Hilton over the first weekend of the New Year and features an exclusive live performance from 80′s Soul legends Atlantic Starr.

Original lead singer Sharon Bryant reunites with Atlantic Starr for their first performance together in nearly 30 years. Add to that four rooms of the best in New and Classic Modern Soul and Blackpool is once again shaping up to be the place to be this new year. The schedule for the weekend has now been announced and as usual features the cream of Modern Soul across four rooms.

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Accommodation packages at The Hilton are completely sold out whilst a limited number of all weekend passes and accommodation packages remain. To book an all weekend pass go to: Ticket Line

Frustration

Frustration reached boiling point for Wigan Athletic on Saturday afternoon at a Sodden DW Stadium, frustration that spread from all sections. It came from the crowd to the players to the coaching staff to the usually calm and assured Roberto Martinez.

Frustration that had been building up for the last few weeks, the frustration reached boiling point after the ridiculous events orchestrated by referee Jon Moss. A penalty was handed to Arsenal after a theatrical fall from Theo Walcott, this was further compounded a few minutes later as Franco Di Santo was ordered from the pitch for a total of four minutes and 30 seconds due to a non-existent ear ring.

The boos and anger rained down on the laughable Moss at that point, if the referee thought he had angered the Wigan support the reaction to the events with Di Santo were nothing compared to the reaction towards the referee when he turned down not one but two clear penalties for handball in the dying moments of the game.

Soft, soft penalty

Soft, soft penalty

The frustration needs to be harnessed tomorrow as the Latics travel the short distance to Liverpool on Boxing Day for another of those must win games that are quickly making up the whole of December. What can Latics do differently to what they did against Arsenal? The answer is actually not that much, Wigan dominated a very decent Arsenal side for long spells on Saturday and the midfield dominated possession, whilst David Jones had possibly his best game in a Wigan shirt. The amount of chances created by the team were also a positive a negative is the lack of form shown by the forward line and primarily Arouna Kone who spurned two gilt edged chances in the first half.

Wigan need to match their performance against Arsenal whilst staying composed in front of goal, at a hostile Goodison Park where Everton are so far unbeaten this season that’s easier said than done. Latics should be boosted with the return of fitness of at least one of Gary Caldwell and Ivan Ramis who have been sorely missed over recent weeks.

Latics need to harness the anger that rose to the fore on Saturday and use that to get a result at Goodison if we can do that it will be a wonderful late Christmas present for all Wigan Athletic fans.

Turning Point?

It’s been a nightmare few weeks for Wigan Athletic, the fantastic win over Spurs at the start of November was followed by back to back defeats against West Brom and Liverpool and the beginning of a series of injuries to senior players which could have a serious impact on the rest of Latics season.

At one time or another this season Latics have been without Ryo Miyachi, Albert Crusat, Ben Watson,  Shaun Maloney, Antolin Alcaraz, Franco Disanto, Gary Caldwell, Ivan Ramis, James McArthur, Jean Beausejour and also had suspensions for Maynor Figuorea and Gary Caldwell to contend with. Add to that a serious injury to Adrian Lopez and James McCarthy following last weekend’s defeat at Norwich and the Latics are really down to the bare bones.

After falling in to the bottom three last week Wigan face an Arsenal side who seem to have overcome their mini crisis by beating Reading 5-2 on Monday night. There is no doubt Wigan need a result this weekend, performances bar a handful of games have been largely decent this season and injuries to key players have prevented Roberto Martinez from naming a settled side throughout the season. Those who have deputised have done well and although from an attacking perspective we always look likely to score its defensively where we are suffering the most, Roberto’s Thursday press conference revealed that we could welcome back any of the injured trio of Ramis, Caldwell and Alcaraz on Saturday.

To have one of three back on Saturday would be a boost to have all three available again would be a miracle, the Latics defence has looked decidedly shaky since the Spurs game and it’s no irony that our worst period of the season has coincided with the series of injuries inflicted on us.

This has also gone hand in hand with a run of form for Ali Al Habsi that can only be described as patchy, high profile errors in the games against Reading, Manchester City and Newcastle where uncharacteristic in their nature but as the Omani number one gets set to make his 100th appearance for Wigan Athletic this weekend the hope will be that he has recovered from that period.

Jordi Gomez celebrates after scoring against Arsenal at The Emirates

Jordi Gomez celebrates after scoring against Arsenal at The Emirates

Arsenal looked lethal in attack on Monday night but were easily exposed by Reading at the back, the key to getting anything out of Saturday’s game is a clean sheet and the hope has to be that our three senior centre back’s will be ready to return to action again.

Looking further ahead to January Roberto has revealed he will be making signings in January due to the injuries at the club “We are having a few difficulties, especially with injuries. So we have to find a solution. We need to make it difficult to get into our starting 11. So we want to do some business in January. I think it’s important that every transfer window works in your favour and you finish with a stronger squad.”

Honduran international Roger Espinoza has joined from Kansas City after being tracked by the club, he was arguably Honduras best player of The Olympics and should bring some much needed steel and energy to the side, other targets will no doubt include defensive cover and a new striker to complement Franco Di Santo and Mauro Boselli whilst Aurona Kone is at the African Nations Cup.

There’s a lot of doom and gloom around at the minute and rightly so as not many people would have expected us to be back in the bottom three after the end to last season and indeed the start to this season, but injuries and poor form have transpired against us. We need to begin picking up points throughout a difficult festive period if we can emerge from the next four games with six points we will have done extremely well and look in a much healthier state than we do currently. I don’t mind how we get them the key is that we do get them.

Anybody for another Jordi Gomez inspired win?

FC Barcelona – What Next?

Barcelona were riding on the crest of a wave earlier this week, they had opened up a nine point lead over closest challengers Atheltico Madrid in La Liga after Sunday night’s 4-1 victory. Three of the side’s biggest stars Carlos Puyol, Xavi and Lionel Messi had signed new long term contracts and Real Madrid had slipped further behind in the league.

Barca’s earth was shattered on Wednesday afternoon when a pre-planned media day was cancelled, nothing sinister about that you may think until it was leaked that Tito Villanova had suffered a relapse in his battle against cancer.

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Not much was known of Tito Villanova when he took over from his long term friend and colleague Pep Guardiola apart from he had spent six months of last season away from the Camp Nou and his role as Pep’s assistant due to treatment for throat cancer. He had a tumour removed from his parotid gland and returned to work towards the back end of last season.

Tito had seemingly beat the disease and accepted the clubs offer to take over from Guardiola in the summer as the legendary manager left Catalonia for pastures new. Tito had over seen the club’s most successful start to a season, unbeaten in the league with fifteen wins out of sixteen and only once have the club dropped points against Real Madrid in El Clasico during October. Since then Barca have broken records left right and whilst the mercurial Lionel Messi has managed to hit 90 goals in a calendar year.

So what now for Barca? After a press conference with club president Sandro Rosell it was announced that Tito’s assistant Jordi Roura would take over on a short term basis. Whether Barcelona continue with Jordi in the hope of Tito returning soon is as yet unknown, numerous outlets have reported that Pep Guardiola had been approached for a return to the Camp Nou, a return that would rank amongst the most unexpected of recent football history. But that now seems wide of the mark, with initial medical reports proving positive and offering the prospect that Tito could return to work in the new year whilst under going a course of Chemotherapy, if he can’t return to work and the club decide they want a more permanent solution they may well turn to Pep for that unlikely return.