Seagulls Slip Late On

A late goal from Leon Best saw Brighton & Hove Albion miss the chance to climb into the play-offs as they went down 1-0 to Sheffield Wednesday.

Albion travelled to Hillsborough looking to redeem themselves after Saturday’s home defeat to Ipswich Town whilst the Wednesday were also looking to bounce back after defeat to Doncaster at the weekend.

Oscar Garcia was left with a selection dilemma as the Seagulls top scorer Leonardo Ulloa was forced out with illness meaning David Rodriguez started upfront alongside Will Buckley and Jesse Lingard.

Prior to the game, Brighton had not won at Hillsborough in 13 attempts and it seemed vital that the club change that stat if they were to continue their push for the play-offs.

It was Brighton who came closest early on; Jake Forster-Caskey whipped the ball in to the box but the Spanish striker couldn’t find the net, his header hitting the bar and going behind.

Jeremy Helan then went close for the hosts, firing wide from outside the box, before Rodriguez missed another great headed opportunity.

On to the second half and two more brilliant chances went begging for Albion; first Will Buckley shot straight at Chris Kirkland after being one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Then Jesse Lingard also forced the former England stopper into a save from a dangerous position.

Brighton’s inability to convert chances would come back to bite them as Leon Best capped a great run into the box with a goal, just as the board to announce added time was going up.

The only positive for Albion is that their fellow play-off chasers – Reading and Nottingham Forest – also lost, but a late win for Ipswich leaves Albion ninth, still three points off of sixth with a game in hand.

The issue now is where the goals are going to come from. Brighton notched four in a week when playing QPR and Bolton but on the whole have a poor goal-scoring for a team pushing for promotion.

Middlesbrough on Saturday now becomes a vital game in Brighton are to keep in touch of the play-offs before their crucial game in hand against Blackburn Rovers.

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Silver Linings Playbook review

Okay I now I am incredibly late to the party but the other night I finally got the chance to see a film I had heard nothing but good things about – The Silver Linings Playbook.

I normally have a rule with films and TV shows which is that if it receives rave reviews and I haven’t seen it by the time it leaves the cinema, or the series finishes, then I won’t see it because I normally end up disappointed.

This rule changed on a Monday night when there was absolutely nothing else on TV and I thought, screw it let’s give it a go. So with that I got myself a cup of tea and sat in front of David O. Russel’s adaptation of the novel by Matthew Quick. And you know what? I loved it.

I’m not normally a Rom-com kind of person, I lean more towards the Sci-Fi, Action and Comedy genres. But I found myself enthralled by this film, the characters, and the story they play out in a way that is both humourous and undeniably heart-warming.

The plot focuses around Pat Solitano – played by the magnificent Bradley Cooper – who has just been released from a mental hospital, eight months after an attack and who shows clear bipolar characteristics, although we are not told if this is confirmed or not. His mission upon being released is to win back the heart of his ex-wife – Brea Bee. Now upon learning this was the plot I cringed a little awaiting the, what I thought would be, inevitable American Rom-com storyline.

But what I found is that this initial plot fades away as you get drawn in by the characters, and I mean that in both senses of the word, that Pat is surrounded by in his personal life, and that even those who appear ‘normal’ have their own mental health problems, no matter how tiny. Pat’s father, Pat Senior – portrayed by Robert De Niro – is the first to exhibit these small ticks. De Niro plays a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan who shows signs of OCD, superstition and a very clear gambling problem. Whilst Ronnie – John Ortiz – is one of those men that every man can relate to, whether first hand or though a friend, who is in marriage in which his wife wears the pants and gives him no control.

For me though, it is the unbelievably wonderful performance of Jennifer Lawrence that steals the show. The young starlet plays her role of the recently widowed Tiffany who befriends Pat on his return to his home. I initially thought that Lawrence’s character would be the sturdy, feet on the ground character who helps Cooper in a battle to overcome his illness, but boy was I wrong. Tiffany proves to be just as damaged as her male counterpart, having bedded every man in her office in an attempt to deal with her problems. It is the scenes that the pair share that are the most spine-tingling, as Tiffany dominates ever moment with her aggressive behaviour and manner of expression, the kind of woman who is hellbent on not letting anyone in to her life on too much of a personal level for fear of being hurt again. For want of a better comparison; she is like the woman who makes you feel completely insignificant and dejected but that you still can’t deny that you need her in your life.

Russel enhances the script he has penned by using camera angles that only serve to enhance every ounce of emotion that the characters go through, allowing us to go through it with them as if we are part of their lives. Whether it is from a POV shot or an extreme close-up, every direction made puts the viewer in a stronger position to appreciate the pain that each character goes through.

Whenever you make a film that deals with mental illness, especially when wanting to add comical themes, you take the risk of taking on a project that must toe the line between portraying mental illness as a joke and over-playing it to the point that both incarnations become offensive to the viewer. For this credit must be given to Russel who’s excellently penned script and casting choices make this film one that is an accurate view on mental illness without crossing the line and becoming offensive. Bradley Cooper plays his role perfectly, when his time comes to show the extent of Pat’s illness he brilliant makes the scene believable without taking it too far.

Of course the film ends with the ending we all see coming as Pat and Tiffany embrace each other and express their true feelings, but the journey that we have been taken on is so riveting that the ending is so much more beautiful and meaningful than the stereotypical Rom-com movie ending.

If you haven’t seen this film yet record it next time it’s on the movie channel because it is one of those that is so moving and so incredible that it deserves to be seen by all.

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My top three films to see in 2014

There are without doubt a huge amount of great movies expected to be released in this year and for this post I will be telling you the top three films I will be rushing out to see in 2014.

3) Captain America – The Winter Soldier

With this film set to be one of Marvel’s big set ups to Avengers 2: Age of Ultron – set for a 2015 release – it is one of two massive Marvel films set for release in 2014.

Already been confirmed that the truly awesome Scarlett Johansson will return is a big role as Black Widow whilst Robert Redford will be back as head of S.H.I.E.L.D as well as comebacks for Samuel L Jackson and Cobie Smulders.

This is one of those films that could either be a huge success or a massive flop. As far as movie directing goes, Joe and Anthony Russo aren’t blessed by having the not so stellar film ‘You, Me and Dupree’ on their CVs but this could be a chance at redemption. And let’s face it, despite the schtick their getting for Star Wars if, Disney know how to make a good Marvel film.

2) Muppets Most Wanted

To be fair when I first saw this was coming out I wasn’t too keen on seeing it. What else could The Muppets do that would be different or entertaining? That was my view…until I saw the trailer for the film.

Using a number of fake Twitter accounts, The Muppets use fake tweets sent by their made-up profiles as critical acclaim for their film. Much like any other movie would use real quotes from reviews. They do it humourously and blend it so well with film footage that it can’t help but make you giggle.

The story itself centres on our favourite hand puppets on a journey across Europe, whilst the movie’s evil villain (no spoilers) sets out a cunning plan to take over the world.

However, director James Bobin and the rest of the casting team seem to have made a fatal mistake – if you are to believe what the internet tells you – by casting Ricky Gervais as the sidekick to this mystery villain, making him the lead human role in the movie. This will obviously be a long way off the character portrayed by Jason Segal in the last Muppets movie, released in 2011. However viewers will have to wait until March to find out if Gervais was the right choice.

As well as the already amazing line-up of Muppets I am most looking forward to a cameo from Tina Fey who, in my opinion, is one of the funniest women on TV.

1) X-Men: Days of Future Past

I think that most X-Men fans will agree that, compared to the rest, X-Men: First Class wasn’t the best in the saga. But then Days of Future Past was announced and all those fans sat up and took notice again.

The film, set for a May release, will focus on Hugh Jackman’s brilliant Wolverine on a quest to help stop the mutant war by being sent into his past self to convince a young Professor X and Magneto to join forces.

With Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy both playing the prestigious professor and Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender both in for the roles of old and young Magneto, this is a battle of mutants that should not be missed.

It will also see the return of Halle Berry as Storm and the leading light in young female acting, Jennifer Lawrence, continue her role as Mystique and let’s face it if Jennifer Lawrence is in it then how can anyone say no.

Take this tip right now, even if you only like X-Men a little go and watch the rest of the saga and then prepare yourself for one epic movie. It is not to be missed.

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Why Star Wars Episode VII will be amazing!

Every time a new piece of Star Wars new is released the internet goes crazy about how Disney are going to ruin the franchise and release a movie that Star Wars fans will be ashamed to include in this most beloved series.

The latest news is that Episode VII will focus around the original three characters – Luke, Leia and Han – rather than on their offspring, which had been the original plan. That is the best news I heard all week, it is what the film needed! Focusing the follow up to Return of the Jedi by making three new characters the main focus would have been ridiculous. It is far smarter to make the main focus the characters that the audience are already familiar with and build their offspring into bigger roles for the two films that will follow.

That script change is just one reason the new film will kick butt. Another is the fact that the man who is now co-writing the script, Lawrence Kasdan, already has a broad knowledge of the force; having co-written ‘Empire…’ and ‘…Jedi’, both of which were incredible in terms of storyline. No matter what the cast, I am expecting great things from the plot for this film, especially with two talents like Kasdan and J.J. Abrams at the helm.

As for the cast itself, come on, we all know that as long as Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford reprise their old roles then this film will be epic. Add Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels to that and of course this line-up is classic Star Wars. Then you look at the new names that have been linked with roles in the films like Inglorious Bastards star Michael Fassbender and the man who is making Sherlock a success, Benedict Cumberbatch, and you’re really talking about a stellar cast.

There is plenty of other things I could speculate about but for now let’s end this post by stating pure and simple. The new Star Wars film will be amazing because IT’S STAR WARS! Of course it’s going to be good. It’s part of the greatest movie franchise of all time. And come on, it can’t be any worse than Phantom Menace.

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The Football League – Championship

The big game of the weekend sees Watford face yet another match against a side who are ahead of them in the table. On Saturday they visit Blackpool who have enjoyed a terrific start to the season. With just two points separating the sides a win will take the Hornets above the Tangerines. This is sure to be an absolutely cracking game which will surely see one of the two sides subjected to their first loss of the campaign.
My Prediction: Blackpool 1-2 Watford

Two other sides who are yet to lose a game in the four they have already played are Leeds United and QPR. On Saturday they face each other in a match that sees two of the pre-season favourites for promotion battle it out at Elland Road. QPR will have the slight advantage due to their strength in numbers but with the start Leeds have had to the season don’t rule out McDermott’s men turning Elland Road into a fortress.
My prediction: Leeds United 3-2 QPR

Nottingham Forest will also want to continue their storming start to the season when they travel to the DW Stadium to play Wigan Athletic. Forest look strong this season and don’t look to be slowing down their pace any time soon. With the Latics yet to start their ventures into Europe now is the time for them to start picking up points before the number of games they will face becomes too much for them.
My prediction: Wigan Athletic 0-1 Nottingham Forest

After their match last week was abandoned Charlton Athletic will hope that the ground staff have recovered enough of the waterlogged pitch for the Addicks to host Leicester City. The Foxes are one of six sides yet to lose a match this season whilst Charlton have had a slow start to the season with three loses and just one point to their name.
My Prediction: Charlton Athletic 0-2 Leicester City

Eighth plays ninth on Saturday as Derby County face Burnley at Pride Park. The Rams are looking to challenge for the play-off spots this campaign and if they keep playing the way they are a top six finish may not be too far off. Burnley will be without Tom Heaton who was sent off in last week’s defeat to Brighton.
My Prediction: Derby County 2-1 Burnley

Speaking of the Seagulls; Brighton & Hove Albion are back at the Amex this weekend to host Millwall who need to change their season around drastically if they want to avoid being involved in the end of season relegation scrap. Brighton seen to be getting their season back on track after a poor start but it is unlikely they will challenge the top six this campaign.
My Prediction: Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 Millwall

One side who I expected to start the season better were Reading , who despite having only lost game have not performed the way they are capable of. This weekend they play Yeovil Town who are struggling to get to grips with the power and strength found in the Championship and are yet to pick up a point since their opening day win. This is a match that Reading need to win if they really want to be promotion contenders this season.
My Prediction: Yeovil Town 0-3 Reading

One side who can’t seem to decide whether they prefer winning or losing is Bournemouth, who have had two of each since their promotion. They face a Doncaster Rovers side who will still be feeling the pain of having been 3-1 up against Charlton before the match was abandoned. Last season this was a League One fixture, it will be interesting to see how it is adapted to fit the Championship.
My Prediction: Doncaster 1-1 Bournemouth

Ipswich Town and Birmingham City have been in identical form coming in to this weekend’s fixture and both will want to be higher up the table come May. Mick McCarthy has already said that Ipswich have done their transfer business for the summer but it still looks like they could do with a few more player before the end of the window. Birmingham look a million miles away from the side that were relegated from the Prem two years ago and I can’t see them returning to the top flight this season.
My Prediction: Birmingham City 0-1 Ipswich Town

After two loses on the trot Sheffield Wednesday finally have some points to their name but that late equaliser from Millwall last weekend may have dented their confidence. They’ll be hoping they can hold on to a win this weekend at the Riverside where they face Middlesbrough, who haven’t lost since the opening day and will want to keep it that way this weekend.
My Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday

The surprise so far this season is Bolton Wanderers who ended last season strongly but are yet to win a game this campaign. That is a stat they will want to change when they face Blackburn  Rovers who picked up their first win of the season last week and will want to build on that so as to avoid the relegation scrap they found themselves in last season.
My Prediction: Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Blackburn Rovers

The final game this weekend sees Barnsley host Huddersfield Town, with both sides at opposite ends of the table. The Tykes are rock bottom without a win to their name, whilst the Terriers have got seven points from their last three games after an opening day loss. If Barnsley don’t pick up their form another relegation battle will surely be on the cards this season.
My Prediction: Barnsley 1-2 Huddersfield Town

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The Football League – League One preview

It is with great surprise that I get to write about how Leyton Orient still have their 100% record for the season in tact but face a tough test in holding on to that record this weekend, when they face Colchester United. The U’s have made an impressive start to the campaign and, like Orient, are yet to lose a match, but with the way Orient are playing I have a feeling that run will come to an end this weekend.
My Prediction: Colchester United 1-3 Leyton Orient

Peterborough United are the only other club in League One who are yet to lose a game and if they are to keep that record they will have to inflict a third straight defeat on Crawley Town, who visit London Road this weekend. Town have had a tough start to the campaign and their hopes of promotion could be over just as they begin. ‘Borough on the other hand look like a team determined to yo-yo themselves back into the Championship at the first attempt.
My Prediction: Peterborough United 1-0 Crawley Town

Like Peterborough, Wolverhampton Wanderers will also be trying their best to gain promotion to the Championship, after being relegated this season. After a shaky draw to open the season they have three wins on the bounce and could make it four against Port Vale on Saturday. However Micky Adam’s side are a side that I still can’t seem to figure out. They are very up and down with their performances but if they play at their best they could easily pull of a surprise win.
My Prediction: Port Vale 2-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Along with the rest of the top five Brentford have yet to lose a match, posing a tough test to their visitors this weekend Carlisle United, who at the opposite end of the spectrum are yet to win a game this season. This should be a routine win for the Bees but Carlisle need to pick up their performances if they are to edge away from the bottom four.
My Prediction: Brentford 3-0 Carlisle United

During pre-season many would have picked Stevenage Borough to be challenging for promotion, however they only managed to pick up their first win of the campaign last weekend. Meanwhile Bradford City have two League One wins to their name already and lie sixth. The type of football that saw them reach the League Cup final last season could easily see them gain a double promotion in this campaign.
My Prediction: Stevenage Borough 1-1 Bradford City

Walsall will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season last week against a Preston North End side who are yet to lose a match, but are also yet to win one. Four straight draws for Preston leaves them wondering when that first win will come, whilst Walsall are aware of how it feels to win this season and another victory would be the perfect tonic for that first loss. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if Preston made it a fifth draw.
My Prediction: Walsall 0-0 Preston North End

Despite not yet registering a positive point on the board Coventry City have already cut their 10 point deduction to just three points, a good start for a team who face many off-field problems. Shrewsbury Town look like a typically mid-table side who probably won’t challenge for promotion but play decent football and will have a good enough season.
My Prediction: Shrewsbury Town 1-2 Coventry City

Sheffield United haven’t gotten off to the start they were hoping for, with two losses on the board already, unless they can sort out their defending they may not even make the top six this season. This weekend they face MK Dons, who are one of three sides outside the top five yet to lose a game, and will have to keep that stat going as long as they can if they are to finally end their wait to escape from League One.
My Prediction: Sheffield United 1-1 MK Dons

19th play 20th this weekend as Bristol City make the trip to Priestfield the face Gillingham. Both sides have had surprisingly weak starts to the season, something both will want to change as the season progresses. City should finish higher than the Kent side they face on Saturday but you can’t take anything for granted in League One and this should be one interesting contest.
My Prediction: Gillingham 2-3 Bristol City

Two sides on four points face each other this weekend as Crewe Alexandra travel to Swindon Town. Both sides will want to be closer to the top of the table come May and with the style of football they both play that could be a very real possibility. Especially in the case of Swindon, who can expect a promising season if they play to their full potential.
My Prediction: Swindon Town `1-0 Crewe Alexandra

Rotherham United are another side who are still unbeaten this campaign, with one win and three draws, and face a Notts County side who have already lost three games this season and look like a side that are lacking in a couple of vital areas, mainly defensively. This could be an issue considering Rotherham have already scored seven goals this campaign.
My Prediction: Notts County 0-2 Rotherham United

Oldham Athletic make up the last game of the weekend; so far they have two wins and two losses this season. They face Tranmere Rovers who, like Notts County, have lost three games and just the one draw this campaign, they look like a team that are out of sorts and in desperate need of a boost, but I can’t see it coming this weekend.
My Prediction: Oldham Athletic 2-0 Tranmere Rovers

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The Football League – League Two preview

As we enter week five of the 2013/14 season three teams in League Two remain without a loss to their names;

The first are league leaders Oxford United who only lost their 100% record last week after drawing. On Saturday they play Rochdale who have not won since the opening day of the season. The home side have looked impressive so far and it will take a very good performance from the visitors if they are to give Oxford their first defeat of the season.
My Prediction: Oxford United 2-0 Rochdale

Chesterfield are behind Oxford only on goal difference and are also unbeaten thus far. They travel to Portsmouth this week, with the Hampshire club now seemingly settled in to life in League Two and looking to climb back up the leagues. Meanwhile Chesterfield have started strong and are showing no signs of letting up on their promotion challenge.
My Prediction: Portsmouth 1-1 Chesterfield

The third side yet to be subjected to defeat are Burton Albion who lie fourth in the table. On Saturday they face Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground as the host go in search of their first win of the campaign. They are currently bottom of the table with just a point and have lost two in a row. Burton should walk away with a win if they turn up, I can’t see it being any different.
My Prediction: Accrington Stanley 0-3 Burton Albion

League Two new-boys Newport County have started life in the Football League strongly but their fixture on Saturday will be a real test of whether they belong in the division. They face Scunthorpe United who are hoping to get back into League One after being relegated last season. This will be a tough contest for both sides but I think Scunthorpe may just out-muscle their visitors.
My Prediction: Scunthorpe United 2-1 Newport County

After an opening day loss Mansfield Town have also found their feet in League Two and are more than capable of achieving their goal of staying in the Football League this season. That journey continues on Saturday when they host Dagenham & Redbridge who share the same amount of points as their opponents for this weekend. Despite this I still believe that both will be around the relegation zone come May.
My Prediction: Mansfield Town 1-0 Dagenham & Redbridge 

After two wins on the bounce Plymouth Argyle might just be showing the type of form that could see them avoid the battle at the bottom this season. The Green Army could make it three wins on the bounce if they can overcome Morecambe, who picked up their first win of the campaign last season and will want to improve upon that result.
My Prediction: Morecambe 1-2 Plymouth Argyle

Exeter City have enjoyed a strong start to the campaign and have shown the type of football that could well see them challenge for promotion this season. York City will be hoping to challenge their credentials as they try to prove their point; that this season will not see them near the foot of the table. Sadly, though, I think that point may be rejected as this fixture has home win written all over it.
My Prediction: Exeter City 3-1 York City

One slip is all Fleetwood Town have to their name in the negativity department as three wins out of four sees them third. They face a AFC Wimbledon side, this weekend, who have also started positively and are only outside the play-offs on goal difference. This will be an interesting contest as one would expect these two sides to be at opposite ends of the table come May.
My Prediction: AFC Wimbledon 0-2 Fleetwood Town

Phil Brown has given Southend United exactly the start to the season they will have wanted, last week’s loss aside, and will be hoping to get back to winning ways on Saturday when his side make the trip to Wycombe Wanderers who have had an average start to the season, suitable for an average side who will not threaten or be threatened this season.
My Prediction: Wycombe Wanderers 0-1 Southend United

Last season’s play-off final losers Northampton Town haven’t started the season in a way that suggests they will be back in the play-offs this season; they lie in 22nd with just one win from four games. This weekend they face Bristol Rovers who also only have the one win but do have a draw to go alongside it. This is a must win for both sides if they are to prove early on that they can challenge the top seven.
My Prediction: Bristol Rovers 1-1 Northampton Town

Bury host Cheltenham Town on Saturday, with both sides on four points from their four games. The Robins will have wanted to be higher in the table, even at this early stage, and need to pick up the pace in they want to challenge for promotion this season. Bury shouldn’t finish any higher than mid-table this campaign but that does not mean a win won’t be any less important to them.
My Prediction: Bury 0-2 Cheltenham Town

This weekend’s final game sees Hartlepool United travel to Torquay United in search of their first win of the campaign. Their hosts for this weekend won their first game of the season last week and will be hoping to push on from there. If Hartlepool can’t change their form round soon they could be in yet another relegation battle this season.
My Prediction: Torquay United 0-0 Hartlepool United

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