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The Observer Sports 24 December 2017

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| Sunday 24 December 2017 | www.observer.co.uk/sport
WEST HAM 2
NEWCASTLE 3
Benítez’s strugglers
edge thriller for first
win in 10 games P5
STOKE 3
WEST BROM 1
Potters eke out a nervy
but deserved win to
ease heat on Hughes P4
SWANSEA 1
PALACE 1
Swans are bottom
at Christmas despite
Ayew equaliser P6
EVERTON 0
CHELSEA 0
Allardyce’s unbeaten
start continues with
dogged draw P4
BRIGHTON 1
WATFORD 0
Hughton praises
Gross after German
ends winless run P6
■CLÁSICO ROUT MESSI PENALTY HELPS BARCELONA GO 14 POINTS CLEAR OF REAL MADRID P7
SPORT
PREMIER LEAGUE
BURNLEY 0
SPURS
3
HARRY
CHRISTMAS
Absent Stokes set for another lucrative IPL deal
*
1 2 A
Ben Stokes looks set to be given the green
light to put his name into next month’s
Indian Premier League auction while he
remains unavailable for England duty.
Stokes was the tournament’s highest paid overseas player when securing
a £1.7m deal at Pune in 2017 and having gone on to win the season’s Most
Valuable Player award could fetch an
even more attention-grabbing price on
27 and 28 January.
Though the all-rounder is out of the
international frame while waiting to
discover whether he will be charged for
the incident in Bristol on 25 September,
the England and Wales Cricket Board
signed off on a recent deal for him to play
for Canterbury in New Zealand, which
Globetrotter:
Ben Stokes looks
bound for India and
the Premier
League auction
having spent
December playing
in New Zealand
Pep Guardiola insisted he understood
why Sergio Agüero is unhappy at not
always being selected for Manchester
City’s biggest games, describing the
striker as a “legend” after he scored
twice in Manchester City’s 4-0 defeat of
Bournemouth, to reach 101 goals at the
Etihad Stadium.
Agüero took his season’s tally to 15 in
20 games and ensured City became the
first top-flight team to score 100 goals in
a calendar year since Liverpool in 1982.
It was also City’s 17th successive Premier
League win.
Agüero was dropped from the 2-1
derby win over Manchester United on
10 December, a decision that upset the
Argentinian. He appeared unhappy at
being taken off in the 4-1 victory over
Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
Asked about his striker’s obvious discontent, Guardiola said: “I was a player
and I understand the players [who]
are subbed, they are sad. Our job is to
try to search for something to make us
win. I try to have the best relations as
possible with players. We are together
and I understand when they are upset
but sometimes I think [Gabriel] Jesus
deserves to play, too.
“What is important is the respect
between each other. They have an amazing relationship between them, the
locker room – it’s a dream to go there.
That’s the most important thing.
“I understand the feelings but I respect
Sergio, what he has done, what he will do
in the future. He will decide everything
about his life, his future, I’m so happy to
have him here. He is a special player, a
legend and I am so happy when he plays
good and he is scoring goals. I know the
players who normally don’t play are
upset, but all the team deserve to play.”
Of City’s record winning sequence,
Guardiola added: “Of course, you have
doubts after a lot of games in a row if
mentally we will be ready. But every time
they are ready, that’s what impresses me
about these guys. Bournemouth play a
high line but we made a good first goal
and the second helped us a lot. In the last
few minutes they changed the system
and we found our tempo, our space and
we scored four beautiful goals.”
KANE CRACKER
Tottenham’s Harry
Kane celebrates
scoring his side’s
second goal
with Dele Alli.
Anthony Devlin/PA
ended yesterday when Stokes opted to
return to England for Christmas. Stokes
is now likely to see the ECB grant the noobjection certificate (NOC) for the IPL.
Asked if Stokes entering such a lucrative auction while suspended from
international duty would be awkward
for the sport, the ECB chief executive,
Tom Harrison, replied: “That is for Ben
to decide. Having given an NOC for New
Zealand, it will be difficult for us to say
we would not apply the same thinking to
other parts of the world.”
Jamie Jackson
Etihad Stadium
Upset: Sergio
Agüero has been
substituted in
some of City’s
recent big games
but he answered
with two goals
at the Etihad
Kane’s hat-trick equals Shearer’s record
of 36 Premier League goals in a calendar
year – and makes it 53 overall in 2017 P3
Ali Martin
Melbourne
Guardiola
lends his
sympathy to
‘sad’ Agüero
With the current 3-0 Ashes scoreline,
and the prospect of Joe Root’s side being
whitewashed, Harrison has insisted
Trevor Bayliss, the head coach, will be
judged across the three formats — he
has been hired to win the World Cup
in 2019 — and that no hasty decisions
would be made. “They are making huge
strides across the white-ball game, up to
a place where we’re winning 70% or so
of our white-ball matches [the number
is 63% since Bayliss took charge in
2015],” Harrison said. “The ODI side, in
particular, is making good progress. But,
in Tests, we’re finding it very difficult to
win overseas.”
England’s immediate challenge, however, is saving face in the final two Ashes
Tests, starting on Boxing Day, when the
MCG crowd is being tipped to break
the record of 91,092, set four years ago.
Jonny Bairstow, the wicketkeeper, said
the mentality is of a fresh two-match
series and that the players owed Root
and themselves a performance.
It appears to be between uncapped
Tom Curran and Mark Wood to replace
the injured Craig Overton in the
side, while Australia have all but ruled
out Mitchell Starc because of the leftarmer’s bruised heel. Tim Paine, the
wicketkeeper, will join the home squad
after a serious family illness.
Meanwhile, preparations are under
way for the London Stadium to become
viable for cricket. “At some point [in
2018] we will make a final decision on
the Olympic Stadium being a venue for
2019 World Cup matches,” said Harrison.
“We would very much like it to be, but
the cricket has to be right and that is the
fundamental point.”
Fourth Test previews, pages 12-13
ALTERNATIVE
REVIEW OF THE YEAR
‘It was great to see
the ballboy there –
he got an absolute
rib-crushing
from me’
Gaffes, gems,
sad exits
and much
merriment
and mirth
from a year
to remember P16-17
* 24.12.17
2 | SPORT | Football | Premier League
Heading for three points: Sergio
Agüero beats Asmir Begovic for his
second of the match and Manchester
City’s 100th league goal of 2017.
Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
Guardiola calls for more as Agüero
MANCHESTER CITY
4
BOURNEMOUTH
0
Agüero 27 79 Sterling 53 Danilo 85
Jamie Jackson
Etihad Stadium
It is not a stretch to say Manchester City
barely moved out of second gear and
were still a class above Bournemouth.
This was a record-extending 17th consecutive Premier League win and with
Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and
Watford to complete their festive programme, by 2 January the run may be 20.
This would beat the 19 on the spin
Guardiola recorded with Bayern Munich
and despite sport’s unpredictability you
do start to wonder how City will be
stopped.
When Sergio Agüero headed Bernardo Silva’s cross home on 79 minutes
for his second it completed 100 City
goals in the competition for the calendar
year and had the home faithful singing
“We’ve got Guardiola”, an apt tribute
to a manager whose magic is imbued
throughout this side. Ever the archperfectionist, the 46-year-old believes
City can improve.
“Attack more fluently, more chances,
it is not easy when the opponents stay
back,” Guardiola said of Bournemouth,
who defended with five. “We have to
learn to improve and attack this kind
of defence and I think that is going to
happen – our target is what we do to find
a solution.”
The hunt to extend the victorious
sequence began with an XI showing two
changes, Vincent Kompany and David
Silva coming in for Eliaquim Mangala
and Ilkay Gündogan. Bournemouth
brought in Callum Wilson, Dan Gosling,
Junior Stanislas, Steve Cook and Jack
Simpson, the latter making his Premier
League debut.
Almost immediately, City found their
rhythm. Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle
Walker combined before the former
swept in a ball that required Cook to
stoop and head away. After 11 minutes
the Cherries were disrupted when Stanislas appeared to suffer a leg injury and
was replaced by Marc Pugh.
So supreme have City been that the
Joy: Kyle Walker, left, celebrates Raheem
Sterling scoring City’s second.
Depoitre seals Terriers’ fightback to
leave Southampton out in the cold
SOUTHAMPTON
1
HUDDERSFIELD
1
Austin 24
Depoitre 64
Ben Fisher
St Mary’s Stadium
Southampton expected to be out of the
woods by now, and never in them altogether, but Mauricio Pellegrino’s side
continue to teeter above the relegation
zone after being roundly booed off following this frustrating draw. With trips
to Tottenham Hotspur and then Manchester United on the horizon, it looks
set to be a bleak winter as far as Saints,
three points above the bottom three, are
concerned.
As for Huddersfield, they remain out
of the top half only on goal difference
after Laurent Depoitre cancelled out
Charlie Austin’s opener on a day when
Virgil van Dijk’s omission from Southampton’s 18-man squad dominated
much of the discourse.
Asked if supporters had seen the last
of Van Dijk in a Saints shirt, with eight
days until the start of the January transfer window, Pellegrino said: “I don’t
know, we have to wait. Around him will
be a lot of speculation and we have to
wait to see what happens.”
As for Austin, who limped off with
a hamstring injury, he will probably
expectation is of a near-domination of
the ball and a medley of chances. Yet
while the first part proved true, the
second did not occur for a while due to
a surprising lack of quality in the final
pass.
In a flash, though, this changed.
Nicolás Otamendi strode upfield, flipped
the ball beyond Bournemouth , and in a
single movement Agüero controlled
and hit a shot over the advancing Asmir
Begovic – it was too high but a sure sign
City were livening up.
Next, Leroy Sané claimed a corner
along the left. David Silva delivered and
Fernandinho headed over. Later, came
a collector’s item: a long-distance shot
from a City player – Otamendi striking
the ball truly and causing Begovic to fling
himself to his right.
Now, finally, City scored. Against this
Guardiola team the last thing needed
is an unforced error. Yet this is what
occurred when Begovic fluffed a regulation clearance. Fernandinho beat a
dawdling Jordon Ibe to this and clipped
possession to David Silva.
Back came the ball and the Brazilian’s
superb left-foot cross found Agüero,
wake up to news of a three-match ban
for violent conduct should the Football
Association take retrospective action
over a first-half kick out at Jonas Lossl,
the Huddersfield goalkeeper, who
required four minutes of treatment to
a bloodied nose. “This should never
happen where an opponent hurts an
opponent on purpose,” David Wagner,
the Huddersfield manager said. “I was
a striker as well – not as good as those in
the Premier League – but I know what
you can and cannot do. This was nasty
and nothing I like to see. His wife will
not be happy with how he looks.”
For Southampton, it is now one win in
10 matches under Pellegrino and there
are few signs of progress at the halfway
stage of the season, with sections of
Saints supporters growing increasingly
who half-kneeled to head past the hapless goalkeeper. It was his 14th goal in 20
games and the 100th of a glittering City
career at this venue.
For the rest of the first half City
coasted. But at the break Guardiola’s
instruction to his players may have
sounded terse: be more ruthless.
If a listless start did not augur well
then what happened on 52 minutes
reversed the sense. This was a classic
Guardiola move as David Silva used De
Bruyne’s run as a decoy, rolling the ball
instead to Agüero. The No10’s instant
sand-wedge of a chip found Raheem
Sterling and he smashed in for his 16th
of a standout campaign.
From here the contest flatlined for
a time. Guardiola took off Sané and De
Bruyne for Bernardo Silva and Gündogan and now City doubled the scoreline. First came Agüero’s header, then
came Danilo’s debut goal, the substitute
hammering home from Sterling’s pass.
Eddie Howe’s side will spend Christmas Day in the relegation zone. “We’ve
had an incredibly difficult run but we are
through it and have to focus on the games
coming up. Every game is important, but
24.12.17
*
Premier League | Football | SPORT | 3
Kane’s hat-trick puts Spurs back
on track despite Alli’s unpopularity
BURNLEY
0
TOTTENHAM
3
Kane 7pen 69 79
Paul Wilson
Turf Moor
strikes
the next three take on huge importance
for us. We have so many injuries and it’s
not ideal at this time of year. We try to
approach every game looking to win,”
he said. “But they are a difficult team to
play against, if you get it wrong here they
have the players to expose it.
“We came with a gameplan to stay in
the game then maybe have a go. For long
periods we were good, the [opening] goal
came from our mistake which was disappointing but the rest of the half was OK.”
Despite City’s aura of invincibility
Howe believes they can be downed.
“Anyone is beatable, you can’t tell what
will happen,” he said. “We had moments
when we could have scored and it could
have been different.”
Yet this Guardiola team is making the
sport seem so simple.
MANCHESTER CITY Ederson; Walker, Kompany,
Otamendi, Delph (Danilo, 81); Fernandinho; Sterling,
De Bruyne (Gündogan, 74), D Silva, Sané (B Silva, 67);
Agüero Subs not used Bravo, Mangala, Jesus, Touré
BOURNEMOUTH Begovic; S Cook, Aké, Simpson
(Mousset, 72); Adam Smith■, Gosling, Surman, Fraser;
Stanislas (Pugh, 11) Wilson (Afobe, 72), Ibe
Subs not used Boruc, L Cook, Hyndman, Mahoney
Etihad Stadium 54,270
Game rating |||||||||| Referee Mike Jones
Saints’ sinner:
Charlie Austin’s
boot connects
with Jonas Lossl,
leaving the visiting
goalkeeper with a
nasty cut (inset)
Dele Alli is not going to win any popularity awards this Christmas. Fresh from his
ugly challenge on Kevin De Bruyne last
week he was booked after just four minutes of this game for going in studs up on
Charlie Taylor, and was arguably lucky
still to be on the pitch when he won the
penalty that put his side in front two
minutes later.
The Burnley fans felt so anyway,
though as Alli went to ground rather
easily for the penalty it was hard to
know which incident they were most
incensed over. The tackle on Taylor was
probably not deserving of a straight red
card, while the penalty award, as seems
to be the case so often at the moment was
infinitely more debatable.
Yet though Burnley will bear a sense
of grievance, the bottom line is that
Spurs were the better side, created more
chances, and thoroughly deserved to
climb above their hosts in the table. But
for some extremely poor finishing they
might have accomplished their task earlier or more emphatically; as it was goals
number 13, 14 and 15 in the league for
Harry Kane this season were enough to
secure the points.
If Kane had been on the end of some
of the openings Spurs had passed up
earlier he could easily have been closing
in on his 20th goal of the season by now,
he could certainly have beaten the top
flight record for goals in a calendar year
instead of just equalling it with 36.
After his foul on Taylor, Alli was
already being booed when he won a
penalty two minutes later following a
coming together with Kevin Long in the
box. There really did not appear to be
too much more than that, there was no
obvious foul and only minimal contact,
but Alli hit the deck and referee Michael
Oliver pointed to the spot.
While Kane had no trouble in putting
Spurs ahead from the spot the Burnley
fans were far from happy at the latest
example of a blight on the game. It is not
simulation that is the problem, it is exaggeration, and it appears at least in part to
be officially sanctioned.
Kane almost had a second goal a few
minutes later when he rolled a shot narrowly wide from an opening created by
Son Heung-min, but Moussa Sissoko was
guilty of squandering a glorious chance
to put Spurs further ahead midway
through the first half. Breaking quickly
from defending a Burnley corner, Christian Eriksen picked out Alli near halfway and his pass to put Sissoko into free
space behind the Burnley backline was
inspired. Unfortunately finishing is not
the Frenchman’s forte, and despite having plenty of time and only Nick Pope to
beat, all he could managed was a shot
against the goalkeeper’s legs.
The home side’s woes increased when
Chris Wood had to come off before the
interval, unable to shake off the effects
of a collision with Hugo Lloris on one of
the occasions Burnley came closest to
an equaliser. By the end of the first half
they were pushing Spurs back into their
own half, though without doing enough
in front of goal to pose Lloris any serious
problems.
disenchanted. Their match at home to
Crystal Palace two days into 2018 already
looks must-win. It was no surprise, then,
that St Mary’s was decidedly tetchy at
kick-off, while Pellegrino bore the body
language of a manager badly in need of
victory, slapping his thighs throughout
a worrying first 23 minutes.
Huddersfield would have taken the
lead through their captain, Christopher
Schindler – who, unmarked, headed
goalwards from Florent Hadergjonaj’s
sweeping cross – but for Fraser Forster
getting a steely left hand on his effort.
It looked as though the 1,581 travelling Huddersfield supporters were
destined for another happy away day,
after thumping Watford 4-1 last time
out. There was an early Christmas gift
awaiting those making the 460-mile
Record man: Clockwise from below, Harry Kane scores
his first goal from the penalty spot, slides in his second
and equals Alan Shearer’s 1995 record with his third.
David Klein/Reuters; Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
LEICESTER v
MAN UTD
Read Ed Aarons’s report from
last night’s late kick-off at
the King Power Stadium
theguardian.com/sport
round trip on arrival too, with Terriers
fans given a drinks voucher as they made
their way through the turnstiles on the
south coast, courtesy of the defender
Mathias Zanka – dubbed ‘Zanka Claus’
in west Yorkshire – as a small thank you
for their support this term. “Our supporters were so loud, I think they had the
beer during the game,” Wagner joked.
But, after an encouraging start, Huddersfield came unstuck when some
charitable defending allowed Austin,
restored to the starting lineup, to slam
home Wesley Hoedt’s flick-on from
James Ward-Prowse’s corner. For a
poacher with the killer instincts of Austin, this was as easy as it gets. He wheeled
away to celebrate his fifth goal in his last
five league starts, but soon afterwards he
was fortunate to stay on the field. After
Statistics show Burnley are not the best
at coming back from behind, and to take
anything from this game they needed to
create something more promising before
Spurs’ superior strike power took its toll.
Eriksen almost found Kane at the near
post right at the start of the second half,
then the Dane himself was presented
with a chance on the six-yard line by Son,
only to shoot tamely straight at Pope.
Spurs’ superior penetration was in evidence just before the hour when Kane
and Serge Aurier engineered a marvellous opening for Son, yet with the goal
at his mercy and no more than a welldirected tap-in appearing necessary the
Korean blasted the ball high over the bar.
By the time Kane overhit a pass to an
unmarked Eriksen in the area Spurs’
finishing prowess was actually in some
doubt and Burnley had had so many letoffs they could scarcely carry on complaining about the penalty affecting the
result. It could not continue, and when
the normally reliable Ben Mee coughed
up the ball to Sissoko in his own half the
failing to latch onto Jack Stephens’s
overcooked through ball, Austin struck
Lossl with a stray right boot, kicking the
Huddersfield goalkeeper in the face.
Austin came away unscathed, somehow
avoiding even a booking from the referee, Lee Probert.
Austin’s goal had given Southampton
a much-needed boost. He kickstarted a
superb team move inside his own half,
before Mario Lemina – after nutmegging
Aaron Mooy on the halfway line – slid in
Nathan Redmond to tee up Dusan Tadic.
Lossl, though, stood tall.
After the interval, Redmond unselfishly played in Austin with just the goalkeeper to beat, but he dragged the ball
wide. At that moment, Pellegrino surely
feared that chance would come back to
bite them – and so it did, when Depoi-
result was inevitable as soon as the midfielder knocked it into Kane’s path. Composure in front of goal is what Kane does,
and he duly slotted a low shot past Pope.
The hat-trick came 10 minutes later,
with another bottom corner finish from
Alli’s flick. All that remained was for the
home fans to get incensed all over again
when Ashley Barnes was penalised for
barging into Lloris before heading into
the net. It was not much of a push, to be
fair, and the goalkeeper probably needed
to be stronger, but even Burnley must
know it is not 1958 any more. If Sean
Dyche and his players intend to stay in
the top half a more legitimate goal threat
would not go amiss.
BURNLEY Pope; Bardsley, Long, Mee, Taylor;
Gudmundsson, Cork, Hendrick (Vokes 71), Defour■,
Arfield (Wells 86); Wood (Barnes 35) Subs not used
Lindegaard, Lowton, Westwood, Walters
TOTTENHAM Lloris; Aurier, Sánchez, Vertonghen,
Davies; Sissoko■, Dier (Lamela 83), Eriksen; Son
(Dembélé 78), Kane, Alli■ (Llorente 86) Subs not used
Vorm, Trippier, Rose, Foyth
Turf Moor
Game rating |||||||||| Referee Michael Oliver
tre rose between Stephens and Maya
Yoshida to head home his third goal in
as many games. Southampton sank into
their shells as Huddersfield upped the
ante, with Depoitre’s flailing feet within
inches of converting Collin Quaner’s low
cross. As the fourth official announced
four minutes of injury time, Yoshida
headed against the post – but, for struggling Saints, it was to be yet another disappointing day at the office.
SOUTHAMPTON Forster; Stephens, Hoedt■, Yoshida,
Targett; Lemina, Davis (Hojbjerg 73); Ward-Prowse,
Tadic (Boufal 73), Redmond■; Austin (Gabbiadini 78)
Subs not used McCarthy, Long, Romeu, McQueen
HUDDERSFIELD Lössl; Hadergjonaj (Smith 61), Zanka,
Schindler, Malone; Van La Parra (Lolley 61), Williams,
Mooy, Ince; Depoitre (Mounié 82), Quaner■
Subs not used Coleman, Whitehead, Cranie, Lowe
St Mary’s Stadium 29,675
Game rating |||||||||| Referee Lee Probert
* 24.12.17
4 | SPORT | Football | Premier League
AT A GLANCE
HOW THEY STAND
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
Manchester City
Manchester United
Chelsea
Liverpool
Tottenham
Arsenal
Burnley
Leicester
Everton
Watford
Huddersfield
Brighton
Southampton
Stoke
Newcastle
Crystal Palace
West Ham
Bournemouth
West Brom
Swansea
P
19
18
19
19
19
19
19
18
19
19
19
19
19
19
19
19
19
19
19
19
W
18
13
12
9
10
10
9
7
7
6
6
5
4
5
5
4
4
4
2
3
D
1
2
3
8
4
4
5
5
5
4
4
6
7
4
3
6
5
4
8
4
L
0
3
4
2
5
5
5
6
7
9
9
8
8
10
11
9
10
11
9
12
F
60
39
32
41
34
34
16
27
24
27
17
15
18
22
19
16
19
15
14
11
A
12
12
14
23
18
23
15
26
30
34
31
23
25
40
29
29
35
28
27
26
Pts
55
41
39
35
34
34
32
26
26
22
22
21
19
19
18
18
17
16
14
13
BOXING DAY AND BEYOND
Tottenham v Southampton
12.30pm SSPL
Bournemouth v West Ham
3pm
Chelsea v Brighton
3pm
Huddersfield v Stoke
3pm
Manchester United v Burnley
3pm
Watford v Leicester
3pm
West Brom v Everton
3pm
Liverpool v Swansea
5.30pm SSPL
Newcastle v Man City 7.45pm Wednesday SSPL
Crystal Palace v Arsenal
8pm Thursday SSPL
THE FACTS
■ Brighton scored a goal in open play for the first
time in seven league games. Opponents Watford
have scored just once in their last three on the road.
■ Man City’s latest glut means Bournemouth have
now conceded eight goals in their last two games –
as many as in their previous nine in the competition.
■ Chelsea had 25 shots at Everton: their most in a
league game without scoring since January 2014.
■ Huddersfield’s Laurent Depoitre has now scored
five goals from just eight shots on target in the league.
■ West Brom are now the first Premier League side to
go 17+ games without a win since Villa’s 19 in 2016.
■ Palace are now unbeaten in eight – their longest
run in the top flight since October 1990. Only Man
City (27) and Liverpool (10) are on longer runs.
■ Newcastle have won both league games
against West Ham in a season for the fourth time.
On three of those occasions they have been a
promoted side (1993-94, 2010-11 and 2017-18).
Sobhi ends Stoke’s edginess
and earns respite for Hughes
STOKE
3
WEST BROM
1
Allen 19 Choupo-Moting 45 Sobhi 90
Rondón 51
Paul Doyle
Bet365 Stadium
Mark Hughes received the preChristmas gift he wanted as his team
ended a run of three straight defeats
by eking out a nervy but deserved win.
First-half goals by Joe Allen and Eric
Choupo-Moting, and a late third by
Ramadan Sobhi, banished, temporarily
at least, the prospect of the sack for a
manager who hopes this timely result is
the start of a revival.
Hughes thanked his chairman, Peter
Coates, after the victory for not bowing
to pressure to fire him following a poor
run of form. Coates instead visited the
club’s training ground to encourage the
manager and staff before this critical
showdown.
“I didn’t really have any doubts about
it but I’m even more confident after this
week,” said Hughes. “I’m really proud
of everybody connected to Stoke: the
players, the staff within the club and the
ownership.
“The chairman has been absolutely
fantastic. He’s been in reassuring everybody, saying it’s business as usual. If they
think they have the right people, then
they back you. That’s what they’ve done
this week and it’s been really important
for everybody.
“I like to think we’ve repaid them to
some extent but it’s about the end of the
season and making sure we give them
what they want and deserve as owners
because they’re top drawer.”
Goodness knows, meanwhile, what
the owners of West Brom have made
of Alan Pardew’s first five matches
in charge. Albion were just above the
relegation zone when they sacked Tony
Pulis last month but have since sunk
deeper into trouble, second from bottom
of the league and winless since August.
Hughes had aired slightly dubious
grievances about recent results not being
an accurate reflection of his team’s performances but here the final score was
a fair indication of the play. The first
half was one of Stoke’s most coherent
displays of the season and vindication
for some bold decisions by the manager
after a spate of injuries, especially the
deployment of 18-year-old Tom Edwards
at right-back, which allowed Geoff
Cameron to serve as a midfield sentinel
protecting a defence that featured Kevin
Wimmer at left-back.
Allen was assigned an advanced midfield role and justified that decision by
opening the scoring in the 19th minute.
The goal came courtesy of a smidgin of
luck as a shot by Choupo-Moting took a
deflection off Ahmed Hegazi and fell into
the path of Peter Crouch, who smashed
the ball across the face of goal. Allen
darted in front of Allan Nyom to claim his
first Premier League goal for 10 months.
There was renewed pep to Stoke’s
play but they needed Jack Butland to
Long wait: Stoke’s Joe Allen scored his
first Premier League goal in 10 months
make a superb save in the 21st minute,
the goalkeeper flinging himself low to
his left to tip away a shot by Salomón
Rondón. That chance was created by
James McClean, who had a poor game
otherwise, subdued by Edwards before
being replaced at half time by Nacer
Chadli.
West Brom were two goals in arrears
by then with Allen playing a key role
in Stoke’s second. The Welshman outmuscled Gareth Barry with an ease
that embarrassed the veteran and then
nudged the ball on to Choupo-Moting,
who sidestepped Ben Foster and fired
into the net.
Stoke’s play was not free of scruffiness
but things looked rosy for them at the
interval, nonetheless. That changed
within six minutes as they suffered a
relapse into the form that has led to them
SATURDAY
SUNDAE
conceding more goals than any other topflight team this season.
West Brom halved the lead in a
damningly straightforward manner.
Chris Brunt clipped a pass over the
top from midfield and Rondón, having
escaped the attentions of Ryan Shawcross, ran on to it and finished smartly.
That remainder of their fragility and,
in fairness, West Brom’s improvement,
introduced edginess into the hosts’ play.
Stoke spent much of the second half on
the back foot but regained a measure of
defensive fortitude. West Brom were not
especially sharp opponents but Shawcross and Kurt Zouma did well to repel
several dangerous set-pieces and Butland
made a fine save from Jay Rodriguez.
Edwards produced a last-gasp tackle
to prevent Rodriguez from plundering
an equaliser in stoppage time but Sobhi
scored on the break to ensure the home
fans, and Hughes, left with festive cheer,
unlike West Brom.
“We have half a season left and,
realistically, we’ve got to find seven or
eight games where we’re going to find a
win,” said Pardew. “It needs to start soon
for us. Everton [on Boxing Day] will be a
key game.”
STOKE Butland; Edwards, Shawcross, Zouma, Wimmer;
Cameron, Fletcher (Diouf 67); Shaqiri (Sobhi 79■),
Allen, Choupo-Moting; Crouch Subs not used Grant,
Berahino, Afellay, Adam, Souttar
WEST BROM Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs
(Burke 81); Livermore, Barry, Brunt; Robson-Kanu,
Rondón, McClean (Chaldi h-t; Rodriguez 61) Subs not
used Myhill, Yacob, McCauley, Dawson
Bet365 Stadium 29,057
Game rating |||||||||| Referee N Swarbrick
Fancy footwork:
Stoke’s Eric
Choupo-Moting
rounds the West
Brom goalkeeper
Ben Foster to
score his side’s
second goal in a
much-needed
victory that
eased the
pressure on
manager Mark
Hughes (below).
Matt Bunn/BPI/
Rex/Shutterstock
MEN OF THE DAY
Brighton’s Connor Goldson – making a
winning top-flight debut nine months
after heart surgery – and Rochdale’s Joe
Thompson, on as a sub against Walsall having
recovered from cancer for a second time.
SAVE OF THE DAY
Real defender Dani Carvajal, picking up
a festive red card for his glorious
one-handed stop from a Paulinho header.
FACT OF THE DAY
Since Everton offered £10m for Marco Silva at
the end of November, Watford have picked
up one point. They’ve now lost four in a row.
IMPACT OF THE DAY
Sam Allardyce: settling in nicely at
Goodison. Everton went without a shot
on target in the league for the first time in
2,011 days: 4 December 2011 against Stoke.
STRIKER OF THE DAY
Will Grigg: on fire again after a hat-trick
for Wigan at Oxford made it seven goals in
six games. Oxford apologised to fans for
their 7-0 defeat. @OUFCOfficial: “Hope this
won’t affect your Christmas too badly.”
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Ian Holloway, on why referees need video
replays. “It’s like how we’re all in Brexit now
and none of us knew we had to pay however
many billions for it did we? They didn’t tell us
that. Referees need the information too.”
PA ANNOUNCER OF THE DAY
Brody Turner, aged four,
announcing the teams
pre-match at Molineux.
Wolves gave him
the honour after a
video of him naming the
squad from memory
went viral last week.
LOOKALIKE
OF THE DAY …
… was this Swansea
steward – filmed
shaking hands with
a doppelgänger
pre-match at the
Liberty Stadium.
FOOTBALL WEEKLY
Join Max Rushden, Barry
Glendenning and guests in
the pod tomorrow as they
dissect the weekend’s action
theguardian.com/footballweekly
Conte hunting sweet spot after
failure to break down Everton
EVERTON
0
CHELSEA
0
Andy Hunter
Goodison Park
Antonio Conte shared a joke with Lisa,
the dedicated host of the media room,
as he politely asked for some sweets.
That moment of brevity apart, the Chelsea manager was a model of frustration
as he digested two points dropped and
a performance that highlighted the
champions’ over-reliance on the magic
of Eden Hazard.
Another sign of progress for Everton under Sam Allardyce was another
afternoon of torment for the Chelsea
manager. His team dominated but
were stifled by a well-drilled Everton
defensive display with their two £30m
summer signings, Jordan Pickford and
Michael Keane, excelling.
When the visitors did find a way
through, a finishing touch deserted
them. Hazard was a mesmerising presence but Álvaro Morata’s one-match
suspension proved costly against a rearguard whose resilience and confidence
has been restored under their new,
unbeaten manager.
“When you dominate possession,
shoot 26 times, but only eight on target,
hit the crossbar and a defender clears
twice off the line, for sure you must be
disappointed,” said Conte. “We deserved
to win.
“I consider Everton to be the best
team in this league after the top six and
we played with great personality and
intensity, and with great concentration
because they defended very deep. But
if you want to win this game you must
score and you must be more clinical.”
His assessment brooked no argument
and he departed with a request for a few
more sweets.
There were echoes of the recent Merseyside derby draw as Allardyce’s team
were encamped deep in their own half
against a fluent attacking unit and reliant
on Dominic Calvert-Lewin turning
water into wine up front. As at Anfield,
they managed to frustrate the team
dominant in possession. Conte’s body
language also betrayed an annoyance
with the movement and final ball his
team. Hazard excepted.
The Belgian took the game to Everton, shouldering responsibility to lead
the Chelsea line, but the supporting cast
of Pedro and Willian struggled to exert
the same influence and were withdrawn.
Credit was due to a changed Everton
defence and improved performances
from Morgan Schneiderlin and Keane.
Illness swept through the home squad
before the game and sidelined Wayne
Rooney. Ashley Williams and Mason
24.12.17
*
Premier League | Football | SPORT | 5
Key moments: Christian Atsu scores what proved to be a decisive third goal for Newcastle against fellow strugglers West Ham while, inset, the visitors’
goalkeeper, Rob Elliot, dives low to his left to make a crucial save from André Ayew’s weak penalty. Tony O’Brien/Action Images via Reuters
Atsu and Newcastle rejoice
while Ayew is left rueful
WEST HAM
2
NEWCASTLE
3
Arnautovic 6 Ayew 69
Saivet 10 Diamé 53 Atsu 61
Jacob Steinberg
London Stadium
For a manager of Rafael Benítez’s pragmatism, it is unlikely that this chaotic game fitted into his vision of how
football should be played. Sometimes,
though, getting the job done matters
more than questions of philosophy
and even Benítez could put his obsession with control to one side after
Newcastle clambered out of the relegation zone thanks to their first victory in
10 matches.
The Spaniard could not allow the celebrations to last too long, though, even
after seeing his players ensure that the
team in the famous black and white
stripes would not spend Christmas Day
in the bottom three for the first time in
Premier League history. Ever the perfectionist – or, perhaps, ever the politician – Benítez made a point of stressing
that Mike Ashley still needs to reach for
his wallet when the transfer window
opens, saying that Newcastle’s survival
hopes remain dependent on bringing in
additional quality next month.
This gutsy performance was not
enough to convince Benítez that the
worst is over. Newcastle are only two
points above the bottom three and they
had to ride their luck at times, with Rob
Elliot’s save from André Ayew’s tame
penalty preventing West Ham from
making it 2-2 moments after Mohamed
Diamé had put visitors in front. Better
opponents might have punished their
sloppy defending.
On the balance of play, however, it
was difficult to argue that Newcastle were undeserving winners over
West Ham, whose revival under David
Moyes came to a messy end on a manic
afternoon. Marko Arnautovic’s early
opener counted for nothing in the end
as the home side tumbled to 17th after
Henri Saivet and Christian Atsu scored
either side of Diamé’s strike. “Totally
error-strewn game,” Moyes said. “We
should have capitalised. We didn’t
perform well enough.”
The madness began when Saivet,
making his first Premier League start
of the season, inexplicably sent a simple pass straight to Arnautovic in the
Air Jordan: Everton’s Jordan Pickford saves under pressure from Marcos Alonso on his
way to keeping a fourth clean sheet in his past six matches. Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images
Fresh faces: Rafael Benítez still wants to
add new players to his Newcastle squad
sixth minute. Arnautovic burst forward
from the halfway line, with Ciaran Clark
exposed, and the Austrian displayed his
new found confidence by swerving to
the centre-back’s right before clipping a
fine shot past Elliot.
Yet West Ham were unable to build on
Arnautovic’s third goal in his past four
games. Saivet, who was having an eventful start, equalised four minutes later.
Winston Reid caught Atsu and the Senegalese took advantage of a questionable
wall by whipping a low free-kick beyond
the cumbersome Adrián.
Holgate dropped to the bench as Allardyce
rotated with the festive schedule in mind.
The two defenders have epitomised Everton’s recent recovery but their absence
was not felt thanks to the contributions of
Keane and Phil Jagielka, who made two
goalline clearances in quick succession to
deny Tiémoué Bakayoko and Willian from
Chelsea’s first clear opening.
The visitors’ best chance of the first
half fell to Pedro when released by
Bakayoko but Pickford tipped his rising
drive over.
Allardyce made a double substitution
at the interval to match Chelsea’s
3-4-3 formation, Williams and Sandro
Ramírez replaced Tom Davies and Aaron
Lennon respectively. However, five
minutes into the new system, Everton
lost Idrissa Gueye to a hamstring injury.
Gueye had impressed in the battle of the
midfield shields with N’Golo Kanté and
his departure was a blow to Everton’s
resistance. Yet resist they did.
The chances kept coming. Michail
Antonio spurned two free headers, yet
West Ham stuttered in midfield without
Manuel Lanzini, who was serving the
last match of his retrospective ban for
diving, and Newcastle were aggrieved
not to be ahead at the interval.
DeAndre Yedlin’s combinations with
Matt Ritchie caused plenty of problems
down Newcastle’s right. Ritchie curling
shot from 20 yards struck a post and the
winger created two excellent opportunities for Dwight Gayle, who crashed
one against the bar before wastefully
scooping the other over.
Arnautovic came close to restoring
West Ham’s lead shortly after half-time,
whipping a shot inches wide. Yet Newcastle were playing with impressive
belief and the second goal they had been
threatening arrived in the 53rd minute.
Atsu skipped past Pablo Zabaleta, nutmegging the defender for good measure,
and his cutback found Diamé, whose finish against his former side was emphatic.
Then came a moment of controversy,
Antonio latched on to a loose ball and
Clark lunged to bring the forward down.
Lee Mason, the referee, initially awarded
a free-kick, only to point to the spot on
the advice of his assistant. “I was watchPickford enjoyed another impressive
afternoon. The keeper saved well from
Pedro, Hazard and Antonio Rüdiger as
the visitors pressed for a breakthrough.
When he was finally beaten it was by
his own player, Williams, who met
Victor Moses’s cross with a header that
NO WAY THROUGH
Chelsea had 25 goal attempts, with 11
players having a shot. Chelsea have now
had two goalless draws in the Premier
League this season – they didn’t have
a single one in Antonio Conte’s first
season in charge. Jordan Pickford
made saves from six different players.
Meanwhile, lacklustre Everton failed to
register a shot on target in a Premier
League home game for the first time
since a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City on
4 December 2011 , 2,211 days ago.
ing the replay and I think it is outside,”
Benítez said. “The referee was pointing
for a foul more than a penalty.”
However, Ayew stepped up in the
absence of the injured Mark Noble and
Elliot made a straightforward save from
his casual effort. “We’ve missed one at
Everton and here,” Moyes said. “It’s hard
enough to get the chances.”
That was the turning point. Newcastle broke from a West Ham corner, slicing through the home team’s wheezing
back three at will, Joselu teeing up Atsu
to beat Adrián from close range.
West Ham refused to lie down and
Ayew made up for his earlier profligacy
when he pounced after a corner caused
confusion in the Newcastle area in the
69th minute. The visitors would not be
denied, however, and the noisy travelling supporters finally had something of
substance to celebrate.
WEST HAM Adrián; Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Zabaleta,
Obiang, Kouyaté■, Masuaku; Antonio (Carroll 59),
Arnautovic, Ayew (Hernández 79) Subs not used Hart,
Collins, Rice, Quina, Sakho
NEWCASTLE Elliot; Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo;
Ritchie, Diamé, Saivet (Mbemba 84), Atsu■ (Murphy
90); Joselu; Gayle (Pérez 76) Subs not used Darlow,
Dummett, Haïdara, Aarons
London Stadium 56,955
Game rating |||||||||| Referee Lee Mason
Morata would have been proud of. Fortunately for the Wales captain, his effort
cannoned against the bar and clear.
Everton almost stole victory in the
90th minute when Keane rose highest
to meet Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner but his
header was a yard over.
“We scrapped it out, there is no
doubt about that,” Allardyce said. “The
changes I made to try and get up the
pitch more didn’t work as I would have
liked but defensively I can’t knock the
team in terms of the effort and commitment and organisation. Our defending is
outstanding compared to when I arrived.”
EVERTON Pickford; Kenny, Keane■, Jagielka, Martina■;
Gueye (Baningime 51), Schneiderlin; Lennon (Ramírez
ht), Davies (Williams ht), Sigurdsson; Calvert-Lewin
Subs not used Robles, Bolasie, Niasse, Holgate
CHELSEA Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rüdiger;
Moses (Zappacosta 81), Kanté, Bakayoko, Alonso;
Willian (Batshuayi 70), Hazard, Pedro (Fàbregas 63)
Subs not used Caballero, Drinkwater, Cahill, Hudson-Odoi
Goodison Park 39,191
Game rating |||||||||| Referee Bobby Madley
* 24.12.17
6 | SPORT | Football | Premier League
Ayew sparks hope for Swans
and puts Britton on the map
SWANSEA
1
CRYSTAL PALACE
1
Ayew 77
Milivojevic 59pen
Stuart James
Liberty Stadium
Swansea City remain anchored to the
foot of the Premier League, four points
adrift of a safe position and without a
manager, yet there was some comfort to
be taken from Leon Britton’s first game
in charge, as Jordan Ayew came off the
bench to score a terrific equaliser. It was
no more than Swansea deserved on the
balance of play but nothing like as much
as they had hoped for from a game that
needed to be won to give their survival
prospects a genuine lift.
Crystal Palace, who extended their
unbeaten run in the league to eight
matches, took the lead through Luka
Milivojevic’s second-half penalty and
at that point, given Swansea’s fragile
confidence, Roy Hodgson’s side could
have been forgiven for thinking they
would go on to win the game. Swansea,
after all, had come into this fixture having failed to pick up a point from any
match in which they had conceded a
goal this season.
That damning statistic was put to bed,
however, when Ayew scored 11 minutes
after coming off the bench to replace
Luciano Narsingh. It was the first substitution that Britton has ever made and
it could not have turned out much better for him, as Ayew sat Milivojevic on
his backside with a lovely dummy before
beating Julián Speroni with a superb
shot from 22 yards out that flashed past
the Palace keeper and just inside the
post. “It worked out OK, didn’t it?” said
Britton, smiling, as he reflected on that
substitution.
Britton, who has been given the job
in a caretaker capacity in the wake of
the decision to sack Paul Clement on
Wednesday night, admitted he enjoyed
being on the touchline, but insisted that
the experience had not altered his view
that he has no interest in becoming manager on a permanent basis at this stage of
his career.
The 35-year-old said he is none the
wiser when it comes to the club’s longerterm managerial plans but everything
points to him remaining in charge for
the Boxing Day match at Liverpool at
the very least. Swansea are believed to
be finalising a shortlist with a view to
interviewing candidates – a process that
BRIGHTON
1
WATFORD
0
Paul MacInnes
Amex Stadium
Sleigh bells were jingling and nerves
were jangling but Brighton clung on
to earn three precious points. Their
first win in eight games means they
are now in mid-table, five points clear
of the drop. It is a position that could
quickly change and, once again, the
narrow margin of victory did not allow
for a sense of comfort to spread over the
home supporters. But there were more
than enough positives for fans and club
alike to believe things are moving in the
right direction.
Pascal Gross scored the crucial goal,
his fourth in the Premier League this
season. The German has been invaluable
to the side since arriving from Ingolstadt
in the summer and he deserved the luck
when his effort from the edge of the box
eluded Heurelho Gomes at his righthand post.
“There a little bit of fortune with the
goal, but what you’ve got to do is get the
strike on target,” Hughton said. “Pascal
strikes a strong, hard ball with both feet
and arguably could score more goals.
We’re always telling him to get more
shots on target. If you don’t take those
opportunities, then you don’t put yourself in the position to score.”
No Van Dijk talks with
City, says Pellegrino
Southampton have not held talks with
Manchester City regarding the transfer
of their Dutch defender Virgil van
Dijk, according to Mauricio Pellegrino.
“I was with [the Southampton vicechairman] Les Reed talking about
that but nobody knows about that,”
the manager said. “I know Virgil is
an important player and around him
will be a lot of speculation like other
important players in the squad. I
cannot control this and I don’t want to
talk about it.”
Van Dijk, who has made 12 league
starts for Southampton this season,
was wanted by several Premier League
clubs, including Liverpool, who were
forced to make a public apology after
being accused of making an illegal
approach in the close season.
Pellegrino believes the intense
speculation surrounding Van Dijk’s
future is not likely to affect the player.
“When you hear something that
another club wants you it increases the
Reuters
confidence.”
Maradona record broken
Bench mark: Substitute Jordan Ayew fires in Swansea’s equaliser against Crystal Palace. Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters
Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, their
majority shareholders, will oversee –
after the Liverpool match and before the
trip to Vicarage Road on 30 December.
Palace have already been through the
hiring and firing process this season,
with Hodgson’s appointment, allied to
Wilfried Zaha’s return from injury, helping to turn around the club’s fortunes.
They remain only two places above the
relegation zone but Hodgson declared
Spot-on: Luka Milivojevic shows again
why he should take all Palace’s penalties
himself satisfied with four points from
back-to-back away games at Leicester
and Swansea, as well as the bigger picture. “We’re trying to chip away at that
first seven games when we had zero
points,” the Palace manager said. “It’s
an enormous handicap to give yourself.
We needed big performances to get on
an even keel and that’s what we’ve done
in the last two or three months.
“We’ve brought ourselves into a pack
of teams who have to look over their
shoulders and be worried that the spectre of relegation is not leaving them.
I expected it to take a lot longer to get
ourselves into contention.”
With Christian Benteke suspended,
Hodgson pushed Zaha and Andros
Townsend further forward and those
two always looked dangerous on the
counterattack for Palace. Lukasz Fabianski made an excellent save to turn
Townsend’s curling shot behind early
in the first half and Zaha gave Federico
Fernández the runaround for much of
the game.
It was Ruben Loftus-Cheek, however, who won Palace their penalty
after he was clumsily brought down by
Fernández. Milivojevic – with Benteke
not around to try to take the ball off of
him – confidently scored from the spot.
Swansea, in fairness, had played well
in spells up until then and dominated
possession for long periods, yet it was
the same old problem that afflicted them
whenever they attacked, as promising
positions turned to nothing.
Indeed, it was not until midway
through the second half that Swansea
registered an effort on target, when
Speroni saved at the near post from
Tammy Abraham.
Swansea, however, kept probing and
got their reward when Ayew beat Speroni with a splendid shot. “A wonderful
strike,” admitted Hodgson.
SWANSEA Fabianski; Naughton (Rangel 80), Mawson,
Fernández■, Olsson; Mesa■ (Fulton 89), Carroll;
Narsingh (Ayew 66), Clucas, Dyer; Abraham Subs not
used Nordfeldt, Van der Hoorn, Sanches, McBurnie
CRYSTAL PALACE Speroni; Kelly, Tomkins, Dann, Schlupp;
McArthur■, Cabaye (Sako 76), Milivojevic■, LoftusCheek; Zaha■, Townsend (Van Aanholt 85) Subs not used
Hennessey, Souaré, Fosu-Mensah, Puncheon, Riedewald
Liberty Stadium 20,354
Game rating |||||||||| Referee Craig Pawson
Gross turns into net profit for improving Brighton
Gross 64
IN BRIEF
Those remarks are typical of
Hughton’s pragmatic approach, but
there were signs that Brighton are
starting to build a better attacking
platform on their sturdy defensive
foundation. Anthony Knockaert was
the talismanic figure of last season and
interacted well with the intelligent
Gross.
The home side should really have
been out of sight by the half-hour with
Tomer Hemed, Davy Pröpper and
Connor Goldson spurning decent opportunities. For the defender Goldson it was
a special day, the 25-year-old making his
Premier League debut nine months after
he underwent heart surgery.
“We got the ball in the offensive third
a lot for a top-class match,” Hughton
said. “The only frustration was with the
final ball or the end product.”
Hughton defended his striker Hemed
but the Israeli should have had a hattrick, missing from six yards out when
presented with a chance to wrap the
game up in the 73rd minute. A new
striker surely remains a priority for
Brighton in January, but Hughton would
only say that the winter window is “very
difficult”.
For Watford, this was a fifth defeat
in six games. It was also a lacklustre
performance and their best scoring
opportunity came in a last-minute
scramble; Stefano Okaka, brought on
as a substitute for Andre Gray, only able
to poke wide after the Brighton goalkeeper, Mat Ryan, dropped a cross at
his feet.
The Watford manager, Marco
Silva, seemed in no mood to panic
however, finding consolation in
the same fine margins that had
frustrated Hughton. He also denied that
his team’s downturn in form had anything to do with the aborted attempts by
Everton last month to make him their
manager.
“It doesn’t make sense this
comparison,” he said. “Nothing has
changed in the work in the club. I stay
to find solutions. We had this one game
to play with three players banned, five
or six injured.
“We have big problems with the
starting XI and a lot of games in a row.
But it’s not an excuse. Our obligation as
a team is to keep together, only when you
are all together can you achieve good
results.”
BRIGHTON Ryan; Bruno, Dunk, Goldson, Suttner;
Stephens, Pröpper; March (Izquierdo 90), Gross
(Kayal 83), Knockaert; Hemed (Murray 87)
Subs not used Krul, Hüenemeier, Baldock, Schelotto
WATFORD Gomes; Janmaat, Prödl, Kabasele, Holebas;
Watson (Capoue 74), Cleverley; Pereyra (Sinclair 71),
Richarlison, Carrillo, Gray (Okaka 78)
Subs not used Bachmann, Mariappa, Wagué, Folivi
No sting in tail: Stefano Okaka had a late chance to equalise for Watford, but the Italian
striker put the ball wide of Mat Ryan’s goal. Matthew Childs/Action Images/Reuters
Amex Stadium 30,473
Game rating |||||||||| Referee Paul Tierney
Marek Hamsik surpassed Diego
Maradona’s long-standing goalscoring
record for Napoli as they ensured
they would top Serie A at Christmas
by beating Sampdoria 3-2 in a topsyturvy game in Naples. The Slovakia
midfielder, who scored the first of his
116 goals for Napoli in August 2007,
fired what proved to be the winner,
after Sampdoria had led twice,
Hot shot: Marek Hamsik celebrates
breaking Napoli’s goal-scoring record
through Gastón Ramírez and a Fabio
Quagliarella penalty. Allan and Lorenzo
Insigne scored Napoli’s equalisers.
Inter would have hoped to keep
in touch with Napoli by winning at
Sassuolo but instead they went down
1-0 thanks to a Diego Falcinelli goal
in the 34th minute. Mauro Icardi had
an opportunity to grab a point, but his
49th-minute penalty was saved by
Andrea Consigli and Inter remained
in third. Juventus have a chance to cut
Napoli’s lead back to one point by beating
Roma in Turin in the late game.
AP
Grigg and Wigan on fire
Will Grigg scored a hat-trick as Wigan
extended their winning run to five
matches with a resounding 7-0 victory
for the League One leaders over Oxford
at the Kassam Stadium. Grigg slotted
the opener into the bottom corner
before Nick Powell netted his third in
the past three games – and 10th of the
season – with a close-range header
following Lee Evans’s corner.
Grigg turned provider as Gavin
Massey added a third just before the
half-hour mark and the Northern
Ireland striker fired home a quickfire
double to complete his treble within
the opening 10 minutes of the second
half, while a double from Max Power
completed the triumph.
Shrewsbury remain four points off
the pace in second thanks to a 2-0
victory over Portsmouth, with Shaun
Whalley and Stefan Payne on target. PA
Luton increase gap at top
Luton extended their advantage over
Notts County at the top of League Two
with a 2-0 victory over Grimsby at
Kenilworth Road. The leaders took
advantage of County dropping points
as goals from Luke Berry and James
Collins in either half moved them four
clear. Jonathan Forte’s late equaliser
completed a fine comeback for County
as they rescued a 3-3 draw against a
Cambridge side who had not scored in
their past seven away matches.
PA
24.12.17
*
La Liga | Football | SPORT | 7
Messi and Suárez crush Real’s hopes
REAL MADRID
0
BARCELONA
3
L Suárez 54 Messi 64pen Vidal 90
MAGIC OF
MESSI
50
Sid Lowe
Bernabéu
At the beginning of the clásico, a huge
banner was unfurled at the south end
of the ground welcoming a “White
Christmas”. At the end, it was the handful of Barcelona fans high in the opposite stand who celebrated. Way below,
their players applauded back, marking
a victory whose consequences will be
profound: theirs will be happy holidays.
Their coach, Ernesto Valverde, insisted
that the league is not yet won and Real
Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane said the same,
but goals from Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi
and Aleix Vidal carried the Catalans 14
points ahead of their biggest rivals.
The last time these two teams met,
back in August, Gerard Piqué admitted
feeling inferior to Madrid. How quickly
things change. Twenty-five games have
passed since, Barcelona have lost none
and by the close here the superiority was
theirs, imposed almost by stealth, bit by
bit until it was complete.
“It’s a defeat that hurts,” Zidane said.
“They were sunk [in August], people
said; tomorrow, we’re the ones that are
‘sunk’. We accept that, that’s football.
We’re pissed off but Madrid never surrender, no matter what. People can think
the league is over but I don’t think so and
I don’t think the opposition coach thinks
so either.”
The game ended with the ball in
Real’s net; it had started with the ball in
Barcelona’s when Cristiano Ronaldo’s
header went in off the bar only for the
linesman’s flag to be raised for offside.
Then Ronaldo swung and missed by the
penalty spot. Ten minutes had gone and
with Mateo Kovacic a surprise inclusion
detailed to prevent Sergio Busquets from
bringing the ball out and Messi from
finding time or space the visitors had
barely had possession.
“We struggled to overcome that
pressure,” Valverde said, yet it also
appeared they were in no hurry. They
arrived with an 11-point lead over their
hosts, after all, and as Valverde had
warned: “It is when you think you’re on
top that Madrid hit you.”
Those fears were borne out: Thomas
Vermaelen brought down Luka Modric
as he broke through; Ronaldo shot
against Sergi Roberto and another
Ronaldo effort hit goalkeeper MarcAndré ter Stegen’s foot. Karim Benzema
then hit the post from Marcelo’s cross.
For Barcelona, Paulinho had two good
chances. Messi clipped a wonderful
Years in which
Lionel Messi has
scored 50 goals for
Barcelona:
50
2017
2016
51
2014
50
2012
79
2011
55
2010
58
15
The Argentinian
is the only player
to score more
than 15 goals in 10
consecutive La Liga
seasons.
17
Messi has scored
more goals against
Real Madrid than
any other player in
La Liga history.
Jumping for joy: Lionel Messi celebrates scoring Barcelona’s second goal with a penalty awarded for Dani Carvajal’s flying save (below). Denis Doyle/Getty Images
TOP OF LA LIGA
Barcelona
A Madrid
Valencia
R Madrid
Sevilla
P
17
17
17
16
17
W
14
10
10
9
9
D
3
6
4
4
2
L
0
1
3
3
6
F
45
25
36
30
20
A
7
8
17
14
22
Pts
45
36
34
31
29
Full results and tables, page 19
ball into the midfielder’s run and his
excellent shot was pushed over by
Keylor Navas after half an hour before
the goalkeeper saved a near-post header.
From the corner, Piqué’s header hit Dani
Carvajal and Messi’s 45th-minute freekick thudded against Ronaldo’s head.
As they departed at half time, he held
out a hand. When they reappeared, the
visitors asserted themselves.
Madrid appeared to take a step back,
symbolised by Kovacic’s shift from
Busquets to Messi, although Valverde sug-
gested that was more a consequence of
his side’s improvement than a
conscious decision. Andrés
Iniesta released Jordi
Alba, but Luis Suárez’s
shot was under-hit.
A minute later Busquets turned near his
own area. Stepping
away from Toni Kroos,
he found Ivan Rakitic.
The space opened up
in front of him, Kovacic
heading out of his path to
follow Messi, and Rakitic laid it
to Sergi, who crossed for Suárez to score.
Madrid were preparing a change,
Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio standing
at the side of the pitch, when Barcelona
doubled the lead. Messi put Suárez clear,
Navas saved the first shot but Messi collected the rebound and returned it to
Suárez, whose second effort came off
the post to Paulinho. From his header
Carvajal made a neat one-handed save.
Liverpool’s title race is run, says Klopp
Sachin Nakrani
Jürgen Klopp has conceded Liverpool
stand no chance of winning the Premier
League title this season after they threw
away a 2-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Arsenal
on Friday but insists his team are progressing and will continue to do so under
his management.
Liverpool’s defensive capabilities
have come under renewed criticism
following a chaotic encounter at the
Emirates Stadium . The visitors led
through goals from Philippe Coutinho
and Mohamed Salah either side of halftime and looked on course for a fourth
successive away victory. However, they
found themselves 3-2 down after Alexis
Sánchez, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Özil
hit back for the hosts in the space of five
frenzied minutes.
Roberto Firmino salvaged a point
for Liverpool but this was undoubtedly
a case of two points dropped for the
visitors, particularly given all the goals
they conceded were, to varying degrees,
down to individual errors, with the goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet, badly at fault
for Xhaka’s on 56 minutes.
Liverpool have now conceded three
or more goals five times this season
and, before Manchester City’s fixture
against Bournemouth yesterday, find
themselves 17 points behind the leaders having played one game more.
Klopp has joined Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and José Mourinho in
Major error: Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet
was at fault for Arsenal’s second goal
accepting his team will not be crowned
2017-18 champions but remains
wholeheartedly optimistic about their
long-term prospects.
“We are on our way and we have to
keep the team together and improve,”
he said. “That’s a job for the future – this
year, I don’t think anybody expect Man
City and maybe Man United can think
about winning the league. We have to
qualify for the Champions League. That
will be a fantastic situation. Not the
dream but a fantastic situation.”
Liverpool sit in fourth before their
Boxing Day encounter with Swansea
City at Anfield and having qualified
for the last-16 stage of the Champions
League this can be viewed as a positive
campaign for them. But there remains
frustration among the fans and
bafflement from outside observers
regarding Klopp’s faith in his defensive
players, with Gary Neville suggesting the
manager has to replace Mignolet, Ragnar
Klavan and Dejan Lovren if Liverpool
are to challenge for major honours.
“To avoid mistakes completely is
impossible – you to have learn from
them,” said Klopp having refused to
comment on a fresh move for Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk during next month’s
transfer window. “A lot of players in this
squad are young enough to learn and
that is what they will do, 100%.
“Ask any team how often they have
outplayed us – pass this, pass that, get in
the box and score; that doesn’t happen
against us. Set-piece goals happen but
even there we are better, and we score
more often than we concede. We are a
very good football team.”
Jordan Henderson will definitely
not face Swansea having suffered a suspected hamstring injury in the early
stages of Friday’s game. The captain was
replaced by James Milner who, like his
manager, believes Liverpool’s squad is
young enough to improve.
“It’s not about changing our style of
play, but for a few minutes we need to be
able to shut up shop,” said the 31-yearold. “We’ve got the hard bit – going out
and being good enough to pull teams
apart. The easy part is the bit that we’re
not doing well and it’s something we can
learn easily and quickly.”
Paulinho bundled the ball over the line,
but the referee blew, pulled out
a red card and pointed to the
spot, from where Messi
thumped in the penalty.
Carvajal walked, head
down and 10 minutes
later, Bale and Asensio
were introduced, a last
attempt to break Catalan
control. Messi drew
another save from Navas,
who also stopped Nélson
Semedo. Twice more Navas
denied Messi but Madrid had
not given up. Ter Stegen made a fantas-
tic save from Bale, then blocked a Sergio
Ramos effort. There was still time, but it
was Barcelona who used it. Messi evaded
Marcelo and crossed for Vidal to score. He
had been on the pitch less than a minute.
It was over. The clásico, and maybe the
league, too.
REAL MADRID Navas; Carvajal■, Ramos■, Varane,
Marcelo■; Modric, Casemiro (Bale 72); Kovacic (Asensio
72), Kroos; Benzema (Nacho 65), Ronaldo. Subs not
used Casilla, Nacho, Isco, Lucas, Hernández
BARCELONA Ter Stegen; Sergi (Vidal 90), Piqué,
Vermaelen■, Alba; Busquets■; Rakitic, Paulinho
(Gomes 83), Iniesta (Semedo, 77); Messi, L Suárez
Subs not used Cillissen, Mascherano, D Suárez, Digne
Bernabéu 80,264
Game rating |||||||||| Referee José Martínez
* 24.12.17
8 | SPORT | Football | Fifa trial
Evidence raises questions over Qatar vote
Pointing the way:
The Lusail Iconic
Stadium in Qatar,
one of the
venues for the
2022 World Cup.
Valery Sharifulin/
Tass
DAVID
ID
N
CONN
Allegations of bribery
in 2022 World Cup race
involve names of key
disgraced Fifa grandees
T
he most stunning and
tantalising revelations of
the Fifa trial in Brooklyn,
New York, had nothing
much to do with the two of
the three defendants finally hit with
guilty verdicts on Friday. They were
comparative small fry among football’s
financial feeding sharks.
Gripping as it turned out to have live,
lurid evidence presented of endemic
bribery on the sale of television rights
for South American tournaments,
that wretched, racketeering reality
had already been established from the
guilty pleas of 23 other football officials
from the Americas to a medley of
corruption charges.
Yet almost as an aside, one defendant
revealed in his evidence that key South
American Fifa barons received bribes
for voting to send the 2022 World Cup
to Qatar. These allegations have been
left hanging, prompting only further
questions, as the defendants José
Maria Marin and Juan Ángel Napout,
found guilty of bribe-taking on South
American TV deals, wait to receive
their sentences and the jury continues
to deliberate on the third defendant,
Manuel Burga.
The claim about Qatar was said
early in damning evidence given by
Alejandro Burzaco, one of the sports
rights company executives pinned
by the US justice authorities into
pleading guilty to bribing football
officials and informing on what they
did. The Argentinian’s evidence was
Burzaco said that
while he was doling
out the bribes in
2011, Grondona told
him he should have
another $1m
key to convicting Marin, the former
president of the Brazilian Football
Federation (CBF), and Napout, the
Paraguayan former president of the
South American football confederation,
Conmebol. They were found guilty of
bribe-taking when selling TV rights for
Copa América and Copa Libertadores
tournaments, plus, in Marin’s case, the
Copa do Brasil.
But Burzaco also testified that one
of the most powerful Fifa chiefs of
all, Julio Grondona, the Argentina
FA president from 1979 until his
death, while still in office, in 2014, was
prodigiously corrupt. Burzaco said that
while he was doling out the bribes in
2011 for the Copa América Grondona
had told him he should have another
$1m, which was heading for the then
CBF president, Ricardo Teixeira.
Grondona was a Fifa executive
committee member for 26 years and
effectively a deputy to Sepp Blatter
in his latter years as world football’s
president. According to Burzaco, the
Argentinian said that Teixeira “owed
him”. This was because “Grondona
voted for Qatar to host the 2022 World
Cup”.
Burzaco said he travelled to the
vote in Zurich in December 2010 with
Grondona, Teixeira and the Paraguayan
Nicolás Leoz, the Conmebol president
for 27 years, and it was “not a private
thing” that they were all voting for
Qatar. He testified that during the
early rounds of voting Grondona and
Teixeira had berated Leoz, saying:
“What the hell are you doing? Are you
the one not voting for Qatar?” Leoz
did then vote for Qatar, according to
Burzaco. He also said Grondona was
enraged by adverse media reports
and that he had seen his compatriot
demand that Qatari officials pay him
$80m or write a letter certifying that
they never paid him bribes.
The multibillion-dollar stadium
construction work mandated by
that 2010 vote continues in Qatar,
the tiny, mega-wealthy Gulf emirate
currently blockaded by its neighbours
in an almighty political confrontation.
Qatar’s official bid team have always
denied any bribery and none was found
in the investigations by the former Fifa
ethics committee chairman and US
prosecutor, Michael Garcia.
In Brooklyn, for all the visceral
testimony heard against the three in the
dock, their trial partly provided a daily
reminder of the ones who have got
away so far or declined to appear.
Marin was the CBF president for three
years, having taken over in March
2012 from Teixeira, who is charged
with much longer-prevailing and
mountainous bribe-taking. The former
son-in-law of João Havelange, the
corrupt Brazilian Fifa president from
1974-1998, Teixeira, who clung to the
gilded office of CBF president for a
much-resented 23 years, has always
denied wrongdoing and remains in his
country with no intention of facing US
justice.
Napout was the Conmebol president
for one year, from August 2014 until
his arrest in Zurich in December 2015.
He succeeded Eugenio Figueredo,
the Uruguayan who pleaded guilty
then, but the meatier target, even at
89, remains Leoz. He ruled into the
era of multiplying media millions for
televised football and is accused of
in effect pioneering this culture of
kickbacks for every rights sale.
A power-wielding member of the
Fifa executive committee alongside
Grondona and Teixeira throughout
Blatter’s years, Leoz also denies the
charges and is expected to appeal
against last month’s decision by a
Paraguayan court to grant extradition
to the US.
Burga, the former president of the
Peru FA about whom the Brooklyn
jury is taking longer to reach a verdict,
was never a major Fifa figure and
may forever now be known mostly
for his alleged throat-slicing gesture
to Burzaco in court, which his lawyer
claimed was just “itching his neck”.
The other big beast who remains
out of reach despite having his name
on the criminal indictment is Jack
Warner, president of the Confederation
of North, Central American and
Caribbean Football Associations
(Concacaf ) for 21 years until 2011.
Blatter, whose presidency fell
after the dawn raids in Zurich in
May 2015, has always raged at the US
investigation, rightly arguing that it
uncovered corruption largely in the US
and the Americas, yet labelled Fifa as
the criminal enterprise.
Warner is charged with one of the
few alleged crimes involving Fifa
business, that he took a $10m bribe to
vote for South Africa to host the 2010
World Cup. He denies that, as do the
South Africa bid team and government,
and he remains in Trinidad, fighting the
country’s extradition law.
As a result that dreadful allegation
remains unresolved, as does this new
accusation, that Leoz, Teixeira and
Grondona were paid bribes, from
somebody, to vote for Qatar.
The key question is whether
this evidence, offered up almost in
passing, has any solid basis or is just an
unprovable secondhand anecdote about
a Fifa baron no longer alive. And whether
the FBI, which has now notched up two
criminal convictions to add to 23 guilty
pleas, continues to investigate.
Daniel Taylor returns next week
SKY BET CHAMPIONSHIP
“
Madine inspires lowly Bolton to
victory over high-flying Cardiff
BOLTON
2
CARDIFF
0
Madine 75pen Vela 88
Every time
I see Oliver
since then,
I embrace
him
François
Doumen
talks to Chris
Cook about
the chance
chat that led
to him taking
five King
George VI
Chases,
page 20
Gary Madine scored one goal and made
a second as Bolton stunned Cardiff at
the Macron Stadium. Madine, linked to
a possible move in the January transfer
window, fired Phil Parkinson’s side in
front with a 75th-minute penalty.
With two minutes remaining the
former Sheffield Wednesday forward
unselfishly set up Josh Vela for the midfielder’s first goal of the season to seal a
vital three points for Wanderers.
Cardiff disputed the penalty and Neil
Warnock’s side also felt a first-half Junior Hoilett goal had been wrongly disallowed for offside. But Bolton, beaten at
home by fellow strugglers Burton a week
ago, were good value for victory in a contest low on quality.
The visitors kicked off four points
behind the Championship leaders
Wolves and a whopping 31 ahead of their
hosts but for long periods there was little to choose between the sides. A first
half of 15 free-kicks told its own story
with neither side capable of stringing
together any kind of telling move.
Joe Ralls had a shot from the edge of
the box blocked by the defender Mark
Beevers while Mark Little, restored to
the starting line-up after injury, fired
wide after Sol Bamba’s loose clearance.
Hoilett did get the ball in Bolton’s net
after 28 minutes and momentarily the
away fans were celebrating. Eventually,
though, the referee Darren Bond signalled offside as Hoilett was almost on
the goalline when he collected a loose
ball near an upright before tapping into
an empty net.
Five minutes from half-time the former Swansea favourite Darren Pratley
Late show: Josh Vela scores Bolton’s second goal two minutes from the end to secure
an unlikely victory against Cardiff. Andrew Kearns/CameraSport via Getty Images
was booked after one of the many clumsy
first-half challenges.
The start of the second half was
equally dour, and free-kicks were still
being conceded at an alarming rate.
Loïc Damour was cautioned for a foul
on Pratley while Karl Henry was also
booked.
Eventually on the hour Parkinson had
seen enough and replaced the ineffective Will Buckley with the former Cardiff player Craig Noone who received a
decent reception from the 1,010 opposition fans.
David Wheater brought the home
supporters to life with a thunderous
right-foot drive from long range and Cardiff made a first change of their own after
66 minutes with Omar Bogle replaced by
Kenneth Zohore.
But it was Bolton who made the
breakthrough 15 minutes from time,
albeit in debatable circumstances.
Bamba was adjudged to have handled
Beevers’ header, though the Cardiff
skipper claimed he had been pushed
by Beevers. Madine stepped up and
calmly slotted the penalty beyond Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge to give
the home side a shock lead and register
his seventh goal of the campaign.
Lee Peltier and Bruno EcueleManga were booked as Cardiff ’s frustrations grew.
Lee Tomlin came on as a late substitute and was then bizarrely replaced in
stoppage time as the visitors struggled
to make any impact, and Vela’s goal
meant the home fans could celebrate
PA
an unlikely success.
24.12.17
*
Special report | Football | SPORT | 9
No more freezing against Iceland: how
England are hot on fortifying the mind
The coaching blueprint
for five– to 11-year-olds
being implemented by
the FA’s Pete Sturgess
includes ways of
stopping internationals
of the future from
crumbling in the face of
psychological pressure,
writes Paul MacInnes
‘D
o you know what?” says
Pete Sturgess. “One of the
things we were able to put
to bed this summer was the
horrible statement, and it
was embarrassing, that English players
aren’t technical enough. I think that has
changed now. I see them here, right from
the under-nines. We’ve got a generation
of players who are technically on a par
with anything.”
In the first instance, it seems fair to
take Sturgess at his word. If anyone is in
a position to appraise the next generation of English footballers (and the one
after that), it’s him. He is the Football
Association’s national lead on the foundation phase, charged with creating and
rolling out a coaching blueprint that will
affect every child who wants to play the
game. His plan for five- to 11-year-olds is
implemented in schools and grassroots
clubs and in conjunction with professional academies. It is also a first and
vital step in creating what the FA means
by the England DNA.
All too frequently mocked since it
was coined three years ago, the England
DNA is no longer a phrase that dare not
speak its name. After a summer of success across the age groups (and sexes),
staff at the FA clearly believe it’s an idea
bearing fruit. The words fall frequently
from Sturgess’s lips. More important, it’s
the inflection point for everything he
does. A long-term, systemic approach
to developing England players, coaches
and teams looks as if it is here to stay.
Sturgess watched the Under-17 World
Cup final in October – Phil Foden, Rhian
Brewster et al – with his colleagues
at the National Football Centre at St
George’s Park in Staffordshire. “It was
just incredible,” he says, indulging in
the memory only briefly. “For our DNA
work, though, it was not: ‘Everything
is nice in the garden.’ We were just
scratching the surface of what the DNA
could bring to football in this country.
It was more: ‘If this is how we feel now,
we’ve got to work even harder, we’ve got
to communicate it even better.’”
The England DNA is applied across
three age groups; foundation (ages five
to 11), youth development (12-16) and
professional development (17-21). It has
five principles, none of which strike you
at first reading as uniquely English. The
concept of “who we are”, for example,
comprises pride, integrity, excellence and
collaboration. “How we play”, is defined
by the ambition to “dominate play intelligently”. (The set is completed by “the
future England player”, “how we coach”
and “how we support”.) As the titles suggest, it’s a model that allows for flexibility
but certain points are unambiguous.
“We have stated we want to dominate
possession more than we might have
done in the past,” Sturgess says. “I’m not
sure as a nation we’ve really valued possession and used it as a weapon. I think
we’ve used our physicality. So what we
have to change the most would be in possession, because it requires our players
to have a much better technique, much
better movement and a much better
tactical understanding.”
Physicality and combativeness, aspects
of play recognisable as traditionally English, do still have a place according to Sturgess. “Out of possession I think we ask for
what we’ve always brought to the table,”
he says. “That is to say, that we are warriors. We want our players to be warriors.
But we don’t want to go on to the pitch
thinking being a warrior is all we’ve got.
You need to be a real fighter and a real
Man with a plan:
Pete Sturgess, the
FA’s national lead
on the foundation
phase, at
St George’s Park;
and the message is
written on the
walls (right), one
of the ways the
England DNA is
transmitted.
Tom Jenkins for
the Observer
competitor, but if you’re going out there
with fantastic technical ability and tactical understanding, then you’re dangerous.
“In the past, if the under-17s had gone
2-0 down in the final [as happened in the
5-2 win against Spain], that game might
have been over. Or we’d have started
going long ball, stick it in the mixer, all
of those cliches. But these boys had a
real belief in what the DNA was asking
them to do; maintain possession with a
purpose, and eventually you’ll pull your
way back into the game. I think that was
a perfect example of never giving up,
that bulldog spirit, but having the next
bit added on as well.”
We are talking in the heart of St George’s
Park. Specifically, we are sitting outside
the Starbucks concession, overlooking
the lobby of the Hilton hotel that serves
as the entrance to the facility. There
are sponsors’ logos everywhere you go
in the National Football Centre, from
the conference rooms to the Wembleysized training pitch. It’s an awkward
combination, also inevitable (without
corporate funding, St George’s Park
would not have been built) and probably
quite modern, too.
Sturgess’s approach to the game is
equally of the times. He has worked for the
FA since 2005 but from 2008-2015 was the
coach of the England futsal team, a sport
whose technical and tactical demands
influence a lot of his thinking on player
development. He uses a lot of buzzwords,
he knows the message and he sticks to it.
But he convinces, coming across as someone who believes in what he is saying and
who subscribes to the importance of the
FA’s role as guardians of the game.
In describing his work with children
aged five to 11, he talks of stemming
the rush towards the 11-a-side game, of
encouraging development as broadly as
possible for as long as possible, of moving away from judging the potential of
a child by the tasks they can perform.
Most important of all, he says, each child
who engages with the game should get
the most they can from it.
“The environment we want to create
for the young children is exciting, memorable and one that makes them want to
keep coming back,” Sturgess says. “We
ask all coaches to see them as children
first, rather than kids who might be
pretty good at football. If we look at the
child first then we can look at their holistic development we can make sure there
is always value added in any time they
spend with us.”
This means all children are coached
not only to improve their technical and
physical ability but also their psychological and social skills. Sturgess calls
these the “four corners” of the foundation approach but, like everything in the
DNA, they are applicable at other stages
too. The psychological and social elements stand out. In a sport that makes
contact with hundreds of thousands of
children a year, at least 99% of whom
will never play the game professionally,
these skills are surely the most important that can be transferred. As a happy
bonus, it may stop the England team of
tomorrow from freezing against Iceland.
“I saw the match and as a fan you’ve
obviously got an opinion,” Sturgess says
with a sigh of the Euro 2016 exit. “But
what I can say quite categorically is that if
[psychological strength] was missing then
we’re trying to put in place lots and lots of
strategies to help deal with that better. And
I know that was a very political answer.
“I’ve seen talented boys who’ve gone
into an academy and technically they
might be a year, two years ahead of the
curve. But put them in situations that
they can’t deal with either emotionally
or psychologically and they just crumble.
They’ve almost got a gift that they can’t
use. So we want to support the child to
cope with those challenging situations,
to cope with disappointment.”
Holistic support for any child playing
football is an admirable aspiration and
it is a principle clearly written into the
YOUNG LIONS’ SUMMER TO REMEMBER
U20 WORLD CUP winners
Paul Simpson’s side enter
the history books on 11 June
by beating Venezuela 1-0 in a
frenetic final in South Korea.
Freddie Woodman makes a
superb 74th-minute penalty
save to preserve a lead provided
by Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
EUROPEAN U21 semi-finalists
Later in June, Aidy Boothroyd’s
team win their group in Poland
and against Germany in the
semis, Demarai Gray and Tammy
Abraham put England 2-1 up.
Germany force a shootout,
though, and win when Nathan
Redmond’s penalty is saved.
EUROPEAN U19 winners
In Georgia, Keith Downing’s
squad win all three group
games then Lukas Nmecha’s
93rd-minute goal beats the
Czech Republic 1-0. On 15 July
in the final Nmecha strikes
another winner as Portugal are
beaten 2-1.
U17 WORLD CUP winners
In India, Steve Cooper’s side win
their group then see off Japan
on penalties, before thumping
the USA 4-1 and Brazil 3-1. Spain
go 2-0 up in the 28 October
final but Rhian Brewster starts
a fightback and Phil Foden hits
two in what ends as a 5-2 romp.
DNA. It’s not the kind of support that
was offered to Eni Aluko during her dispute with the FA, however. For all that
the garden has been rosy on the field
for the FA this year, the problems off it
have been serious too. Does the FA have
a problem with diversity?
“If you look at our teams absolutely
not,” he says. “If you look at the mix
of coaches that come on our coaching
courses, no. We have a BAME [black,
Asian and minority ethnic] unit that is
mentoring coaches – four graduated last
year and four this. If the game is closing
doors, as a governing body we are try-
‘The U17s’ final was
the perfect example
of never giving up,
that bulldog spirit,
but having the next
bit added on as well’
ing to really fast-track them through
that so if any jobs come up they can say:
‘I am presenting myself in the best way
possible.’ So I think that’s just a myth.”
The only question Sturgess does not
answer is what we as a nation should
expect of Gareth Southgate’s team. He
does believe the England coach to be the
best possible person for implementing
the DNA; it is something he has been
involved in since the start, something he
intrinsically understands. But the DNA
is about a process and a set of values. It
is obvious Sturgess does not want that
judged by whether we manage to beat
Germany on penalties at the World Cup.
“I think in the past there’s been so much
disappointment because we just haven’t
brought our A game,” he says. “My expectations would be we go to major tournaments and come back saying that was
exactly the best we can do. If that wins
you the cup, brilliant. If it doesn’t, we’re
not disappointed because we’ve got a plan
for the next one and the one after that.”
The idea of any plan lasting longer
than the short term may be alien to those
who follow England, but wouldn’t it be
nice if one day that had to change?
* 24.12.17
10 | SPORT | Football | Premier League
2017-18
THE BEST XI
TOP PERFORMERS SO FAR
Harry Kane – 12
1
goals this season
seasso
son
for Spurs from
m 37
3
shots on target.
targe
ett.
He scores, on
average, every
y
124 minutes
The story so far
Key players, stats and surprises as halfway point approaches
oa
aches
MOST RUTHLESS
MARKS FOR TRYING
Shots on target
MOST PENALISED
Shots without scoring
Fouls conceded
de
ed
Harry Kane Tottenham
37
Tom Ince Huddersfield (right)
43
Jordan Ayew Swansea
35
3
Mohamed Salah Liverpool
34
Granit Xhaka Arsenal
36
Dominic Calvert-Lewin Everton
31
3
Romelu Lukaku Manchester United
28
Matt Ritchie Newcastle
36
Wilfred Ndidi Leicester (right)
31
3
Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City
23
Andros Townsend Crystal Palace
30
Glenn Murray Brighton
30
3
Alexis Sánchez Arsenal (right)
21
Nathan Redmond Southampton
29
Granit Xhaka Arsenal
30
3
Gabriel Jesus Manchester City
21
Johann Berg Gudmundsson Burnley
27
Oriol Romeu Southampton
29
2
Sergio Agüero Manchester City
21
Yohan Cabaye Crystal Palace
23
Tom Cleverley Watford
29
2
Álvaro Morata Chelsea
21
Jonjo Shelvey Newcastle
22
Tiémoué Bakayoko Chelsea
29
2
9
Alexandre Lacazette Arsenal
21
Wilfred Ndidi Leicester
22
Erik Pieters Stoke
29
2
Christian Eriksen Tottenham
19
Héctor Bellerín Arsenal
19
Jay Rodriguez West Brom
27
2
MOST ROBUST
THE CREATIVES
Tackles completed
77
Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City
Idrissa Gueye Everton (right)
66
Pablo Zabaleta West Ham
55
César Azpilicueta
Chelsea
MOST PRECISE
Chances created (including assists)
Wilfred Ndidi Leicester
David d
Manchest
M
James Tarkowski
Burnley
Nemanj
M
Manchest
Successful passes
se
es
56
Nicolás Otamendi Manchester City
33
30
1,330
Mesut Özil Arsenal
54
Fernandinho Manchester City
31
13
1,313
Cesc Fàbregas Chelsea
49
Granit Xhaka Arsenal
28
87
1,287
Aaron Mooy Huddersfield
52
Alexis Sánchez Arsenal
42
David Silva Manchester City
22
22
1,222
N’Golo Kanté Chelsea
51
Christian Eriksen Tottenham
40
Nacho Monreal Arsenal
17
79
1,179
Dale Stephens Brighton
51
Xherdan Shaqiri Stoke
39
Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City
14
40
1,140
Mikel Merino Newcastle
50
David Silva Manchester City
37
Jan Vertonghen Tottenham
09
99
1,099
Christopher Schindler Huddersfield
50
Andros Townsend Crystal Palace (right)
33
César Azpilicueta Chelsea
09
92
1,092
Joe Allen Stoke
48
Pascal Gross Brighton
33
Eric Dier Tottenham (right)
04
47
1,047
Kyle Naughton Swansea
48
Mohamed Salah Liverpool
31
Nemanja Matic Manchester United
03
38
1,038
Mohamed Salah –
an instant hit since
his summer move
to Liverpool,
with 34 shots
on target so far
Mohame
Mohamed
hamed Sala
Salah
ah
Liverpool
L
Kevin
Kev
vin De
e Bruyne
Manchester
City
Ma
anches
Harry
Totte
All statistics correct after 18 games played
HALF-TIME VERDICT FANS ON THE STARS, THE FLOPS AND THE YEAR’S MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS
ARSENAL
BERNARD AZULAY
@GoonerN5 goonersdiary.co.uk
6
RATING
Once again, we’ve flattered to deceive. The two
high points so far have been the way we’ve put our
deluded neighbours back in their “also ran” box,
and the release of the film 89 – a reminder of how
much more beautiful the game was back when
players didn’t have to put on a pretence to reassure
us it really mattered. Otherwise there’s not much
to say. Given that our gameplan has been to bore
opponents into submission, it’s remarkable we’re
still in touching distance of the top four..
Stars and flops: Our two new arrivals
have both proved a big hit. Lacazette
(right) has shown he could develop
into a prolific goal machine – if his
team-mates start picking out his runs
and Wenger ever affords him a full 90 minutes. And
Kolasinac secured his place as a firm favourite the
moment he barrelled into the box to score on his
Community Shield debut. As for letdowns: I doubt
there’d have been quite so much anxiety about
Alexis Sánchez leaving if we’d known he’d spend
the first half of the season relentlessly conceding
possession; Mesut Özil, who almost singlehandedly besieged Manchester United, remains a
beguiling enigma; and if Petr Cech is past his sell-by
date, then Per Mertesacker must be positively
mouldy. The complacent Héctor Bellerín requires a
swift kick up the backside, too.
Happy with the manager? What is there left to say
about a man who’s left looking like Methuselah in
an age of revolving-door managers? 6/10
Moment of 2017: Looking back, it’s hard to top the
smug sense of satisfaction that came from beating
Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final, then
ruining Chelsea’s Double aspirations when Aaron
Ramsey stooped to conquer in the final.
MANCHESTER CITY
LLOYD SCRAGG
@lloyd_scragg ninetythreetwenty.com
10
RATING
It’s been amazing. Flying in the league, and near
faultless form in the Champions League too, with
five wins from five before a meaningless dead
rubber, including a crucial win away in Naples
against one of Europe’s finest sides. We’ve broken
countless records already and I’m sure there are
more to come. What a time it is to be a City fan.
Stars and flops: Kevin De Bruyne and
David Silva (right) have been on a
completely different level to anyone
else in the league. It’s been great
to see Silva finally get the praise
he deserves after six stellar seasons.
The way the pair have dominated games (most
notably at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge) is
testament not only to their ability, but to their
mentality. They’re players of the highest quality,
and at this stage, De Bruyne is surely a shoo-in
for footballer of the year. Ederson deserves a
mention too: he’s completely transformed the
way we’re able to play. He’s everything we hoped
Bravo would be, and more. Fernandinho and
Otamendi have been excellent, flying under most
people’s radars. As for the flops, there hasn’t been
one. Even Eliaquim Mangala has been better in
recent weeks.
Happy with the manager? The talk of Pep signing
a new contract is music to my ears. We could be
set for a Fergusonesque period over the next few
years, playing some of the best football the league
has ever seen. And Martí Perarnau, who wrote
Pep Confidential, reckons this City team are still
operating at only 80% of their full potential. 10/10
Moment of 2017: Besides all those City
moments, Lionel Messi’s last-minute goal
against Real Madrid.
BOURNEMOUTH
PETER BELL
@CherryChimes afcbchimes.blogspot.co.uk
k
5
RATING
I can’t say everything has gone smoothly.
hly. There
have been positive moments but we’re only just
doing enough. The defence was starting to look
more solid until they came up against Liverpool,
while we’ve disappointed going forward. We have to
find some more fluency, quickly.
Stars and flops: Nathan Aké (pictured))
has been a key component of the
defence and has generally been very
assured and comfortable on the ball
– while, despite some of the results,
Asmir Begovic in goal has been excellent
ent
after a difficult start. He keeps improving.
On the negative side, Simon Francis is
getting slower and is mistiming tackles,
Jordon Ibe has been a costly mistake in the
transfer market and is nowhere near as good as
Matt Ritchie was for us. I can’t believe that
West Ham are interested in Harry Arter either, as
he has had an appalling season so far.
Happy with the manager? There were some
dissenting voices when we were in the bottom
three but most fans have no interest in the club
becoming as hasty as some rivals when it comes to
replacing managers. Eddie is still learning and trying
to get the best from his players. 6/10
Moment of 2017: Has to be our 1-0 win at
Newcastle in November. Just when we were feeling
content to settle for a point, Marc Pugh cut inside
in the 90th minute and fired a shot which beat Rob
Elliot – but not a defender or the post. Everyone
was still reeling from the near miss when Steve
Cook rose to meet the resulting corner and
scored our winner. There’s no ecstasy in football
like an added-time winner. We also enjoyed asking
Ritchie what the score was.
MANCHESTER UNITED
D
SHAUN O’DONNELL
Observer reader
7
RATING
We’re a better side than last season but
ut there’s
no escaping the gulf between us and City. José is
slowly turning it round but there’s a huge amount
still to do and the next two transfer windows are
massive in terms of what we can achieve. The
more optimistic Reds say this season’s title race
isn’t over yet, but it would take a Devon Loch-style
collapse for us to peg it back. As we’re in the
knockout stages of the Champions League I’d
expect us to concentrate on that more than on
chipping away at City.
Stars and flops: There’s no doubt
Paul Pogba (right) creates the
tempo in this team. When
he’s not available we lack the
creativity and the drive he
delivers. De Gea, meanwhile,
remains at the very top of his game – some off hi
his
saves defy gravity. As for flops: Herrera still looks
really limited to me – like a boy trying to play in a
men’s team.
Happy with the manager? Against West Brom
we started with seven players from the Sir Alex
era, despite having spent over £600m since his
farewell. There’s only so long we can say we are still
in transition. I’m confident José will get it right. He
has successfully repaired the spine of the side – a
process that has delayed the surgery needed
elsewhere. We need a huge clearout at the end of
the season. 7/10
Moment of 2017: Two moments: the Europa
League win that put us back in the Champions
League and the League Cup final. Challenging
for trophies is what it’s all about: the fact we
got to two finals and won both meant two great
days out.
BRIGHTON
STEPH FINCHAM
Observer reader
9
RATING
We started out with all the intelligence and brawn
that got us promoted. In our first game – at home
to Manchester City – we were a bit like rabbits
in the headlights but even then lost only 2-0,
and quickly got into our stride. Our magnificent
home win against West Brom and the 3-0 away
thumping of West Ham were the highlights. We’ve
been on a bit of a rough run recently but have to
take heart from performances such as the one at
Old Trafford when we were confident, lively and
almost rock solid. We need to improve at home but
we definitely rediscovered our mojo in the 0-0 draw
with Burnley.
Stars and flops: Our German
midfielder Pascal Gross (right), surely
the buy of the season, has been
outstanding with three goals and
five assists before the Watford game.
Maty Ryan has saved us a good few points in goal,
Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy have been monsters
in defence, as we knew they would be, while Davy
Propper quickly formed a good understanding with
Dale Stephens in midfield and Solly March always
creates excitement. Flops? You have to be joking.
Happy with the manager? Chris Hughton is a
legend. He was a genius in the Championship,
took us up and should be given as much
support as possible. He really is the nicest man
in football and has done an excellent job despite
our failure to land another striker in the summer
transfer window. 9.5/10
Moment of 2017: Invading the pitch when we got
promoted and seeing Tony Bloom leaping about
and twirling his scarf like a kid with all the players in
the West Stand. Also the day the Premier League
fixtures were published – marvellous!
NEWCASTLE
RICHARD & DAVID HOLMES
Observer readers
3
RATING
The chickens have come home to roost.
t. Mike
Ashley’s failure to back Rafa in the summer looks
as if it’s going to have disastrous consequences,
unless there are major changes next month. The
solid start to the season, where organisation and
determination saw us through, has proved to
be a false dawn. We have a team built to win the
Championship, not to survive in the top division,
and, while you can’t fault our players for their spirit
and work rate, there isn’t enough finesse, pace or
guile to get back into games once we’ve conceded.
The tragedy is that with just two or three quality
additions pre-season, it could have been very
different, as our early form suggested.
Stars and flops: The team look stronger
with Jamaal Lascelles (right) at their
heart: he’s improved under Benítez and
is a worthy captain. Young Mikel Merino
has adapted quickly but too many of
our players lack the class to flourish in this
his
division. Mo Diamé in particular looks out of his
depth. We’ve also been let down by the ill-discipline
of Jonjo Shelvey and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Happy with the manager? He’s dignified, intelligent
and dedicated to the club and the community it
serves. He’s still loved here but has to take some
responsibility for our dreadful run. That said, he
can’t be blamed for the lack of signings. Like many
before him, he must be bewildered by Ashley’s
willingness to gamble with the club’s future. 6/10
Moment of 2017: Seeing Isaac Hayden helping
out at Newcastle West End food bank: his actions
are typical of a team who have embraced and
connected with the community. Rafa seems to
have instilled this ethos throughout the club and
it’s a welcome change.
BURNLEY
TONY SCHOLES
@utcdotcom uptheclarets.com
10
RATING
Am I pleased? I don’t think “pleased” really
eally covers
it. To find Burnley challenging the top five at the
halfway point is incredible – way beyond what any
Burnley supporter could have dreamed of a few
months back. Who knows what the second half of
the season has in store – but, right now, like every
Claret, I’m ecstatic.
Stars and flops: We haven’t had any flops: the
only players who haven’t impressed have been
those unable to do so because of injuries holding
them back. As for the stars – it’s always about
the team at Burnley but I have to say the midfield
pairing of Steven Defour and Jack Cork has
helped take us to another level. Special mentions,
too, for goalkeeper Nick Pope and defender
James Tarkowski. Both of them lack Premier
League experience but they’ve
been superb.
Happy with the manager?
My belief is we have the best
manager in English football. Sean
Dyche (right) has been with us forr
over five years now, he’s got things
gs
just as he wants them and has taken us from
a bottom-half Championship club to a top-six
Premier League club. We fear the worst every
time a perceived bigger job becomes vacant but
so far we’ve managed to keep him. The longer he
stays the better. 10/10
Moment of 2017: For me it was just after 3:45pm
on Saturday 12 August – the opening day of
this season, sitting in the away end at Stamford
Bridge. I remember looking up at the screen at
the far end as the players walked off for
half-time and staring at the words “CHELSEA 0
BURNLEY 3”. What a start!
SOUTHAMPTON
STEVE GRANT
@SteveGrant1983 saintsweb.co.uk
2
RATING
Failing to beat a pathetic Swansea side on the
opening day rather set the tone. The problems
from the end of last season have continued, with
the added reduction in the number of chances that
we’re creating (and missing). A dismal cup defeat
to Wolves at the first hurdle ensured Mauricio
Pellegrino’s honeymoon period was pretty short.
Stars and flops: Sofiane Boufal (right)
is finally starting to add some end
product to his undoubted talent and
Pellegrino would do well to build the
attack around him. So, of course,
expect him to be on the bench for the next
ext
game. Mario Lemina hit the ground running, but
g
has lately been troubled by an ankle injury. Fraser
h
Forster has gone in the opposite direction, having
F
been a complete liability for a year, he’s been more
b
rreliable in the last six weeks. Some work to do on
lilining up defensive walls, though. Shane Long hasn’t
sscored since around 2013.
Happy with the manager? I was very much on
Team Puel last season, so I wanted to be convinced
that making a quickfire change in the summer
was definitely going to improve us. Appointing a
manager whose team were low scorers in La Liga
didn’t seem to fit the bill to me and it’s proving that
way. We’ve been scoring less than a goal per game
while the defence – so strong for the past four or
five years – has looked creaky to say the least, with
the clearly-not-arsed Virgil van Dijk’s situation not
helping matters. 3/10
Moment of 2017: For fans of schadenfreude,
Everton’s sacking of Ronald Koeman was sweet. It
was genuinely impressive how he managed to spend
£150m and make the team worse. Still, I’m sure he’ll
be expecting that call from Barcelona any day now.
CHELSEA
TRIZIA FIORELLINO
chelseasupportersgroup.net
7
RATING
I’m generally happy - but the spectre off
inconsistency does seem to be making a nuisance
of himself at the most inopportune moments.
Given that Manchester City are now apparently the
Greatest Team in the History of the World Ever, we
can’t really complain about being third – but those
losses to Palace and West Ham, especially, are as
annoying as they are inexplicable.
Stars and flops: Hazard (pictured)
and Kanté continue to be our
best and most important
players respectively. We
suffer terribly when either is
unavailable and they would be
ridiculously difficult to replace – a
situation we fear every season with Eden,
as Real Madrid knock louder year on year.
Meanwhile, Álvaro Morata is scoring goals, which
is what we bought him for. As for flops, perhaps
not a popular view but Victor Moses just isn’t
good enough: negative, wasteful and definitely
the weak link.
Happy with the manager? Conte isn’t the man of
last season, which is a real shame. I’d imagine that
the usual behind-the-scenes shenanigans have
blunted that enthusiasm that was a joy to witness
in the last campaign. It’s impossible to know what
has gone on exactly, but one could guess the Diego
Costa episode, the falling-out with David Luiz and
the club’s failure to match the manager’s ambitions
in the transfer market have all taken their toll. The
majority of the fans are happy with him, though,
and just hope that the issues can be addressed
so that we can have a period of stability in that
department. First time for everything, eh? 8/10
Moment of 2017: Enjoying Spurs’ title challenge.
STOKE
ROB HOLLOWAY
3
RATING
I was quietly confident in the summer. I thought
2017-18 couldn’t be as bad as a lot of fans were
predicting. Sadly, all that optimism was misplaced.
At the moment it feels like a relegation season.
Even in games where we’re performing to a better
than expected level we’re still dropping points
and the relationship between the manager and
the fans is at breaking point. The chairman seems
fairly unmoved by it all, though. Unless things
change our 10-season stay at the top
table will be coming to a sad end.
Stars and flops: Our main man has
been Xherdan Shaqiri (right), in his
third season with the club. We’re now
seeing more frequently the world-class
ss
player he is. But there have been far more flops
than stars, with none bigger than joint-record
signing Kevin Wimmer – truly awful. I’ve also been
disappointed by Ramadan Sobhi.
Happy with the manager? “Sparky” has done
a good job in his time here but ever since the
League Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool in
January we just haven’t looked the same team.
The problems have stacked up: his persistence
with Diouf at right wing-back earlier in the
season; hanging young Tom Edwards out to
dry; his mismanagement of Saido Berahino; the
numerous heavy defeats; the poor signings. All in
all, the Spark has well and truly gone. We should
be looking for a new manager now. 1/10
Moment of 2017: Waking up to hear Lionel
Messi had scored a hat-trick to fire Argentina to
the World Cup – it’s the kind of thing that only
happens on a computer game. You want the best
teams and best players to be taking part in the
World Cup and they don’t come better than him.
24.12.17
*
Premier League | Football | SPORT | 11
ESSENTIAL TRIVIA
Leroy Sané – six goals
and eight assists as part of
Manchester City’s
formidable forward line
All statistics correct after 17 games playedAll statistics correct after 17 games playedAll statistics correct after 17 games
All statistics correct after 18 games
■ Sergio Agüero is now the top-scoring
■ It took Kevin De Bruyne 76 league
n
non-European player since the Premier
Le
League began in 1992, with 132 goals.
M
Manchester City’s Argentina striker
ov
overtook Dwight Yorke’s final total of 123
in September.
appearances to reach 50 goal
involvements (16 goals, 34 assists) – the
quickest by any out-and-out midfielder
since the Premier League began.
■ Gareth Barry has overtaken
Ryan Giggs (632) to become the highest
appearance maker in the division –
currently on 643 appearances.
■ City set an outright record of
co
consecutive wins in the English top flight
w
when
they beat Swansea (15). That also
re
represented
an outright record within the
to four tiers of English league football
top
(1 at 22 December).
(16
■ United’s run of 40 home games
unbeaten in all competitions ended in
December - they had never had a longer
run on their own ground before.
■ Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford
(below) has now scored on his Premier
(b
Le
League debut, his Europa League debut,
his Champions League debut and his
h
E
EFL Cup debut. And his England debut.
■ Olivier Giroud (above) became
the 12th fastest player to reach 100
goals for Arsenal; one game faster
than Robin van Persie.
■ Crystal Palace ended a run of
640 minutes without scoring
from the start of the season
when they found the net against
Chelsea (below). In Football League
history only Halifax Town in the old Fourth
Division in 1990-91 (730 minutes) had a
longer wait to score.
■ Arsène Wenger has now beaten 46
de Gea
ter United
different opponents in the Premier
League – more than any other manager.
Sir Alex Ferguson finished on 44.
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Bench: Nick Pope (Burnley); Jan
Vertonghen, Kieran Trippier (both
Tottenham); Ben Mee (Burnley);
Raheem Sterling (Man City); Wilfried
Zaha (Palace); Álvaro Morata (Chelsea)
John Stones
Manchester City
■ Everton’s Wayne Rooney set a
top-flight record for the longest
gap between goals for the same team
(4,869 days).
Marcos Alonso
Chelsea
M
MOST GOT AT
ja Matic
ter United
David Silva
Manchester City
Leroy Sané
Manchester City
y Kane
enham
CRYSTAL PALACE
CHRIS WATERS
@Clapham_Grand palacetrust.org.uk
6
RATING
After seven games with no points and no goals,
it looked terminal. But just three months later,
we’ve seen Palace’s longest unbeaten top-flight
run since 1990. It’s virtually impossible to reconcile
how poor we were at the start with how well we’ve
played at times since – so I don’t think anyone has
an idea of how this will pan out. The rollercoaster
ride is nothing if not entertaining, though.
Stars and flops: The team just
wasn’t suited to Frank de Boer’s
style, as was obvious by the way
everyone floundered in August
and September. But Christian
Benteke is at last beginning to
find some form, while Wilfried Zaha
ha
has been absolutely magnificent all season,
with his decision-making and shooting improving
massively. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (above) has
shown his international class, and James Tomkins
has been impressive when fit. As for flops, Jason
Puncheon continues to be a shadow of his former
self and Wayne Hennessey’s errors saw him lose
his place in goal to fans’ favourite Julián Speroni.
Happy with the manager? Huge credit should
go to Roy Hodgson and Ray Lewington for
the job they’ve done. To turn round an utterly
desperate situation in such a short space of time
is remarkable. In addition Roy’s genuine love for
Palace and his gentlemanly conduct means he is
hugely popular at Selhurst Park. 8/10
Moment of 2017: Bradley Lowery and Juan Mata’s
Common Goal initiative showed football has a soul.
From a Palace perspective, the 3-0 destruction of
Arsenal will live long in the memory, as will James
McArthur’s injury-time winner against Watford,
which felt like a pivotal moment in our season.
SWANSEA
KEVIN ELPHICK
swansea.vitalfootball.co.uk
1
RATING
I didn’t think we could do much worse than
han last
season when Bob Bradley was here but we
have – far worse. But what do you expect under
owners whose focus since last year has been on
selling their shares to an American consortium
while excluding the Trust from negotiations, selling
our two best players and failing to reinvest in the
squad? The state of things can simply be summed
up by the fact a new group has been set up – the
Swansea City Supporters’ Alliance – to try to
remove chairman Huw Jenkins.
Stars and flops: Keeper Fabianski is our only star
for keeping the scores respectable. We’ve not really
had a properly embarrassing scoreline yet. Our
flops? Seriously, how long have you got?
Happy with the manager?
Clement’s sacking was the right
decision, although it should
have happened sooner, after we
lost against Brighton at home.
Since then we’ve lost another
five games and you wonder now iff
it’s too late. He was given a really poor squad to
work with but he has to take a fair share of the
blame. His approach was just far too negative and
conservative. He’s a manager whose instinct was
to focus on defence, leaving us clueless in attack.
He seemed unwilling to accept any responsibility
for our lacklustre form, was full of excuses and
was completely void of ideas of how to change
things. Whoever we bring in now needs to be far
more positive and ambitious – even if it means
taking a long view and preparing a squad for the
Championship next season. 3/10
Moment of 2017: Winning at home at the end of
last season while Hull lost, confirming our safety.
EVERTON
STEVE JONES
@bluekippercom
6
RATING
A few months ago it felt like the chancess of a great
season were sky high, with lots of new signings and
Koeman in charge. It hasn’t exactly gone to plan.
That said, while we’re not where I thought we’d be,
to be sitting mid-table at this stage is pretty good
considering he was sacked when we were flirting
with relegation.
Stars and flops: Pickford (right) in
goal has been outstanding. By far
the best signing. Elsewhere, Rooney
– although he tends to play just 75
minutes before being subbed – has
scored some important goals; Gueye,
Kenny, Calvert-Lewin and Vlasic have done well,
and, after a really slow start, Sigurdsson has begun
to show his class. On the negative side, big money
signings Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen and
Sandro Ramírez haven’t really delivered – while
Kevin Mirallas has spat his dummy out too many
times for me.
Happy with the manager? Koeman only gets 2/10.
His team ended up a shambles. As for Allardyce – I
didn’t want him here but so far he can’t really be
faulted and has picked up important points to
restore some respectability. It’ll be interesting to
see what he does in the window. We desperately
need a striker. 7/10
Moment of 2017: I’ve got two. One was Rooney’s
wonder goal against West Ham at Goodison. The
other was listening to Jürgen Klopp papering over
his own team’s inadequacies in the derby by having
a go at us. After their next game against West Brom
he was still going on about it, saying: “West Brom did
well. It was completely different to Everton. They had
their moments. They deserved a close result and in
the end it’s 0-0.” Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!
TOTTENHAM
JONNY HOLMES
Observer reader
6
RATING
It’s been extremely frustrating. I was fullll of hope
in the summer but it’s now hard to look at the rest
of the season with an ounce of excitement (apart
from the Champions League). For me, there’s still
a lack of depth in the squad – we have no quality
options from the bench. The big games have
been a nonevent for us – the players just haven’t
turned up. Then there’s the fact we’re drawing too
many matches. This happens every year and every
year it costs us.
Stars and flops: The stars for
me have been Son and Sánchez
(right). Sánchez has slotted into
the back seamlessly, plays with the
confidence of an established centreback and has a great career ahead. Son has been
brilliant, too – he deserves more of a chance. His
pace is what differentiates him from the other
attacking options in the squad. As for the flops:
Sissoko. Need I say more? I hate being negative
about Spurs players but what does that man do
all week? It’s painful to watch. And Dele Alli hasn’t
been firing on all cylinders either, which is a real
shame. We’re missing his goals and assists.
Happy with the manager? I really like Poch: he’s
transformed the club. I think he leaves it too
late to make a tactical decision in games when
we are struggling but in the grand scheme of
things we have an extremely exciting future
with him at the helm. We can’t keep saying that
year in, year out, though. This coming transfer
window will be interesting: we need a few new
options. 7/10
Moment of 2017: 1 November: Tottenham
Hotspur Football Club schooling Real Madrid.
At Wembley. And I was there. Magical.
JOBS FOR THE BOYS
MOST TINKERED WITH
Fouls won
Starting XI average age
Ric
Richarlison Watford (right)
58
Newcastle (Mikel Merino, 21, right) 25y 275d
Watford (Marco Silva, right)
26
De
Dele Alli Tottenham
48
Tottenham
25y 345d
Crystal Palace
25
Jor
Jordan Ayew Swansea
44
Huddersfield
26y 300d
Liverpool
24
Ale
Alexis Sánchez Arsenal
39
Manchester City
26y 306d
Everton
23
Ru
Ruben Loftus-Cheek Crystal Palace
36
Chelsea
26y 307d
Huddersfield
23
Ed
Eden Hazard Chelsea
35
Liverpool
26y 56d
Manchester United
23
Jav
Javier Hernández West Ham
34
Manchester United
Stoke
23
Idr
Idrissa Gueye Everton
33
Arsenal
27y 234d
Swansea
23
Ra
Raheem Sterling Manchester City
33
Crystal Palace
27y 252d
Tottenham
23
Wi
Wilfried Zaha Crystal Palace
32
Burnley
27y 275d
West Brom
23
HUDDERSFIELD
ALEX TAYLOR
@AlexJT27
8
RATING
It’s hard to have too many complaints, given our
Premier League status in itself is a minor miracle.
We’ve had some setbacks along the way, which
you’d expect with a promoted side, but on the
whole have continued to confound the pundits.
Mid-table at the halfway stage of the season? We’ll
take that.
Stars and flops: Belgian forward
Laurent Depoitre (right) was our
find of the summer – £3.5m from
Porto, which was, for a little while at
least, our record signing. Aaron Mooy
and Christopher Schindler continue to
o
impress, too, and look right at home in the top
flight. Given how everything is going and our
expectations, it’s hard to label anyone as flops,
but Tom Ince’s struggles in front of goal are
frustrating – both for him and for us. He clearly
has quality and he’s not shy about shooting – it
just hasn’t been happening for him.
Happy with the manager? How can you be
unhappy with the man who made all this possible?
There have been games when Wagner’s tactical
decisions have been questionable but, like last
year, he seems to learn from each mistake. His
stock continues to rise. 8/10
Moment of 2017: No contest. 29 May 2017. Beating
Reading on penalties
at Wembley (right),
returning to the top
division after 45 years
– quite an experience.
That said, beating
Manchester United
at home in October
comes close.
WATFORD
MATT ROWSON
@mattrowson bhappy.wordpress.com
8
RATING
While last season was never as close a call with
relegation as the table suggested it wasn’t a
whole lot of fun for the most part. But “fun”
just about sums it up so far this time around.
The summer surgery to the squad brought in
younger players and an awful lot of speed; the
new coach has adopted a style of play that’s been
invigorating. We’ve not lost often and only against
the extraordinary Manchester City have we been
unable to compete. Our recent slump is perhaps
cause for concern, reflecting the inability of squad
and tactics to accommodate fatigue and injuries,
but that shouldn’t distort the season as a whole.
Stars and flops: Richarlison has been tremendous:
20 years old, playing away from Brazil for the
first time and not speaking the language … it’s
outrageous how well he’s done. He’s quick and
clever, yes, but tough as old boots and good in
the air too. Other stars have included Doucouré,
Cleverley, Femenía and Kabasele, whilst Chalobah’s
bizarre injury was heartbreaking. Get well soon,
Nate. Meanwhile, the hope had been that increased
competition would provoke more reliable brilliance
from Capoue. The reverse has been true, sadly.
Happy with the manager? Very much so. Slightly
less enchanted by the way certain other clubs have
tried to poach him. But Silva’s done well despite
distractions. He’ll move on to bigger jobs than ours
(or Everton’s) but hopefully not just yet. 8/10
Moment of 2017: Not a happy one
but the coming together of the
club and town following the
death of Graham Taylor was
the most significant event of
Watford’s footballing year. A very
special man.
Players used
27y 0d
LEICESTER
CHRIS WHITING
@ChrisRWhiting
7
RATING
I think we can be pretty pleased with the
he season
so far. After a concerning start, we find ourselves
where we should have been last season, and had
a cup quarter-final to boot. If it wasn’t for Claudio
Bravo and his ability to save penalties, we could
have had more from that game, too. As it was,
not a bad performance against the season’s
outstanding side.
Stars and flops: Shinji Okazaki
is quietly having a storming
season and continues to be
vastly underrated by those
inside and outside the Leicester
camp. Danny Simpson (right) is
another who is consistent if not eye-catching at
right-back. Elsewhere, the rest of the squad’s
performances have been characterised by
peaks and troughs. When they all click at once,
we’ve still got it.
Happy with the manager? Just like when Ranieri
was appointed, Claude Puel’s arrival hardly got
us salivating but it appears to have been an
astute call. He’s championing youth, energy and
a very vibrant attacking brand that’s somewhat
reminiscent of our recent glory days. Hopefully
he’ll spend wisely next month: we need some
defensive options – we’re still having issues with
defending set pieces – and another option on the
wings. 8/10
Moment of 2017: We’ve managed to build up
some enmity with Spurs over the last few years,
so watching their faces drop when Vardy volleyed
us ahead moments after they aimed puerile
chants at him about his wife’s appearance on
I’m a Celebrity … was an enjoyable moment.
Who came third in a two-horse race?
WEST BROM
RICHARD JEFFERSON
@richbaggie wbaunoffi cial.org.uk/forum
2
RATING
August was good results-wise – the rest
est has been
a bit of a shocker. The many pragmatists among
the Albion support always felt the Pulis way was
acceptable as long as it got results. That stopped
happening last March. There’s only so many times
that a bunch of professional footballers can be
drilled the same way day in day out without them
getting jaded and bored. He lost the players and
the fans, and, in hindsight, the change should have
happened in May.
Stars and flops: Stars are hard to find but
Kieran Gibbs has been a good buy and has been
consistent. Hegazi has found his feet in the English
game and has looked good at times,
while Sam Field has been excellent
when given a chance. He’s a future
England player. Flops are plentiful.
The biggest, purely based on
reputation and value for money,
has to be Grzegorz Krychowiak
(right). He started averagely and hass
only got worse. It seems West Bromwich is a bit of
a struggle for him after living in Paris and Seville for
the past few years.
Happy with the manager? The much-needed
sugar rush we thought Pardew would provide
hasn’t materialised. But the damage done by
Pulis’s negative tactics can’t be erased overnight.
It hasn’t helped that our flair players have all been
injured. Time is ticking but I think it’s only fair to
judge Pardew once he has our better players
available. He hasn’t licked himself on camera yet, so
that’s a bonus. 6/10
Moment of 2017: Seeing the headline on the WBA
site that Tony Pulis had parted company with the
club. It felt like a footballing enema.
LIVERPOOL
STEPH JONES
Observer reader
7
RATING
There have been some great matchess but
some shockers, too – and not just the two
heavy defeats to City and Spurs. Losing the
lead away to Sevilla for one, and the draws. The
inconsistency is hard to stomach but the good
times and great games far outweigh the rest
and we’ve really been brilliant in bursts. We’re
up there in the mix, and I can’t ask much more
than that.
Stars and flops: Mo Salah has been our man of
the season. He got off to a great start, scoring
on day one, and has been getting better all the
time. It’s good to have a player again
g
who you feel is going to score
every time he plays. Of our
front four, Roberto Firmino
(pictured) probably gets
fewer headlines than the
others but he’s a class act and
a real team player, who runs the
e
entire 90 minutes and never hides. As for
the downside – I’m like a broken record about
our defence and goalkeeper and their mistakes.
It does feel like it won’t change anytime soon.
Happy with the manager? Mostly yes. Obviously
it’s frustrating when you see the same errors
happening in games and wonder why he’s not
changing but it’s still early days with him. It is
madness to talk of replacing him – I just hope he is
given the time. 7/10
Moment of 2017: Spirit of Shankly, the
Liverpool supporters union, working
with other clubs’ trusts to make TV companies
and the Premier League come to their senses and
sack the idea of Christmas Eve games. Oh, and
Salah’s goal against Everton at Anfield.
WEST HAM
PETE MAY
Author of Goodbye to Boleyn
4
RATING
It was a poor start: three away games and three
defeats. Then came a brief recovery, and after
that a terrible home defeat to Brighton. The usual
injury list, stupid sending-offs for Arnautovic and
Carroll, letting the points slip in the 97th minute at
Palace and conceding from our own corner against
Liverpool spelt the end for Slaven Bilic, though he
wasn’t helped by the chairman’s public utterances.
But suddenly we are looking much more resilient
and fitter under David Moyes.
Stars and flops: Zabaleta (right)
has always given everything and,
although slowing a little, is the sort of
player the fans love. Arnautovic has
p
ttransitioned from flop to star recently,
and could now become a cult (I think that’s what the
a
Stoke fans were calling him.) Arthur Masuaku has
S
looked excellent going forward and Rice is a great
lo
prospect. Joe Hart, meanwhile, has mixed great
p
ssaves with errors and his confidence looks shot.
Cresswell started poorly, while Obiang and Kouyaté
C
struggled in midfield until the arrival of Moyes.
Happy with the manager? Bilic will always be
remembered for what he did in the final season at
the Boleyn. He got the West Ham Way but by the
end he looked exhausted. Despite the initial derision
Moyes has been impressive. Playing Masuaku on
the left and making Cresswell a third centre-back
has looked inspired, and Arnautovic has started
working really hard and scoring. The fans won’t
tolerate defensive football for ever but have really
got behind the team recently as they can see
the effort. 7/10
Moment of 2017: Bakary Sako winning the Crystal
Palace September goal of the month competition
with their only goal of the month.
* 24.12.17
12 | SPORT | Cricket | Fourth Ashes Test, starts 11.30pm Christmas Day, BTS1
Gambling on O
Crane would
be a giant
leap of faith
Unlike on other Ashes tours this England side
should stay competitive despite senior players
underperforming, writes Vic Marks in Melbourne
n tour in Australia I once
asked the England manager,
Doug Insole, a very naive
question: “Will anybody
bother to turn up at the
MCG or Sydney if the series is already
decided?” He looked at me aghast before
responding: “They will be there in their
thousands. They just love watching
the Poms being beaten.” In the past
week I have met Australians genuinely
lamenting the series is over before the
start of the fourth Test. But they are in
the minority.
On Boxing Day there is technically
a dead rubber Test going on here but it
won’t feel like that. Around 90,000 will
file into cricket’s largest amphitheatre
and even though most of the critical
blows have been delivered in this series
it will still feel like the Colosseum for
England’s cricketers. An Ashes Test here
has its own momentum.
The Australian thinktank may take a
slightly different view. They now have
scope to look ahead. They hope that by
being more relaxed, with their primary
goal achieved, their players may become
even more potent. And with the Ashes
secured they will not take any risks
in selection. Mitchell Starc, the leading wicket-taker in the series with
19 victims, has been suffering with a
bruised heel and, even though he has
played only one Boxing Day Test, it is
highly unlikely that he will appear this
week. Australia have a big series on the
horizon in South Africa.
Jackson Bird is in the squad and ready
to play and his presence is likely to
reduce the number of bouncers bowled
by Australia by around 33%. Bird is not
a conscientious objector – like Gubby
Allen; it’s just that he is not as quick
as the others. Whether Tim Paine
will continue his impressive return to
international cricket depends on his
personal circumstances as his father-inlaw has recently suffered a stroke.
For the England players the final
two Tests are highly significant. In two
of the past three tours the side has disintegrated in Melbourne and Sydney,
prompting an overhaul of personnel in
the team and the coaching staff. It feels
Big call:
Mason Crane
could make his
Test debut for
England on Boxing
Day with Craig
Overton ruled out
by a rib injury
different on this trip, when England have
been emphatically beaten but not disgraced. The impression is that the squad
is still determined to improve. Everyone
is hanging on to the end.
The focus is sharpest upon the experienced players, of whom only Jimmy
Anderson has performed to his usual
standard. Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad
and Moeen Ali are struggling but the
expectation is that England will stick
with most, maybe all, of their senior men
here.
Given the outcome of the first three
matches it is an oddity that England have
used only 12 men in the series, with Craig
Overton replacing Jake Ball after the Brisbane Test, but it is still hard to envisage
sweeping changes. For Gary Ballance
(he’s still here) there is no obvious route
into the team; the same applies to Ben
Foakes. As ever any changes are more
likely in the bowling department.
Faith will, correctly, be shown in
Cook. We know he has been practising hard, which is not surprising and
mostly reassuring. His response to
his dearth of runs has been more nets
on his days off. Graham Gooch would
approve. However, the constant extra
work he is putting in betrays his concerns about his batting.
ENGLAND SHELLACKINGS ROB SMYTH EXAMINES HOW AUSTRALIA HAVE TURNED THE SCREW ON THE TOURISTS IN EVERY RECENT SERIES BAR 2010-11
DAVID ASHDOWN/SILVERHUB/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK; JACK ATLEY/FAIRFAX MEDIA VIA GETTY; DAVID MUNDEN/POPPERFOTO/GETTY; CHRIS HYDE/GETTY; TOM SHAW/GETTY; DAVID GRAY/REUTERS
1990-91
AUSTRALIA 3 ENGLAND 0
1998-99
AUS 3 ENG 1
1994-95
AUSTRALIA 3 ENGLAND 1
Days to secure the Ashes: 13
(fifth day of the third Test)
England were competitive
in every game but suffered
a series of absurd collapses,
including six wickets for three
runs at Melbourne. The captain,
Graham Gooch – who fell to Craig
McDermott (pictured) at the
Waca – said the series was “a fart
competing with thunder”.
Days to win the Ashes: 13
(fifth day of the third Test)
Warne was injured for the first
four Tests but his replacement,
Stuart MacGill, and Glenn McGrath
oversaw the usual England
collapses. Though the Ashes
were gone, England might have
drawn the series 2-2 but for a
dodgy third-umpiring decision to
reprieve Michael Slater at Sydney.
Days to win the Ashes: 15
(fifth day of the third Test)
Shane Warne (pictured) lorded
over his first home Ashes series,
taking 11 wickets in the first Test
and a hat-trick in the second to
put Australia 2-0 up. A number
of England players went home
injured, including the brilliant
Darren Gough. Even the physio
broke a finger.
2013-14
AUS 5 ENG 0
Days to win the Ashes: 14
(fifth day of the third Test)
England were so traumatised
by Mitchell Johnson’s bowling
on the second day of the first
Test that they never came close
to recovering. Australia didn’t
just retain the Ashes; they
finished a handful of outstanding
international careers.
MCG classics: Tyson to Warne
via McCosker’s bandages
Melbourne has hosted
some of the greatest
Test performances.
By Simon Burnton
England have won 36.1% of their 61
matches at Trent Bridge and 36.4% of
their 77 Tests at Old Trafford; they have
played 55 times at the MCG and won
36.4% of those. If it does not feel quite as
homely as Nottingham or Manchester,
Melbourne has been the site of many
great English moments – as well as,
inevitably, a few grisly nightmares.
Perhaps the greatest of those 55 Tests,
and surely the most thrilling, came
in 1982, with England 2-0 down after
three matches but the destination of the
urn still undecided. It was, the England
spinner Geoff Miller said, “the best and
most exciting Test match I played in”.
Australia’s final pair, Allan Border
and Jeff Thomson, needed 74 runs
to win the match and with it the
Ashes. England’s tactic was simple:
offer Border easy singles and wait for
Thomson to get himself out.
“There was no pressure on me,”
Thomson would later tell Cricinfo.
“Everyone expected me to play a stupid
shot and get out. But it didn’t happen
that way. I can still picture the England
side’s growing anxiety. They had stupid
fields, bowled badly and everything was
in the batsmen’s favour.”
England took the new ball with
Australia 33 runs from victory, but
still the wicket they needed would not
come. Eventually, Australia needed four
more runs to claim victory. Thomson
was on strike, and Ian Botham bowling.
“I thought I would get a single, so AB
could hit the winning runs,” Thomson
said. “It was a half-tracker and a bit of
an away swinger. A bad ball really. I just
tried to push it out for a single rather
than smash it.”
It caught his edge and flew to Chris
Tavaré at second slip. He could not hold
it but the ball popped up behind and
Miller caught it at first slip. “I couldn’t
talk about it for years,” Thomson
said. “It was one of the all-time low
moments in my life.”
That match sits joint-third on the list
of closest Test finishes, of which nine
of the top 15 came in Ashes contests.
The 1998 MCG Test is at No13, another
slender England victory – by 13 runs –
memorable for Alec Stewart’s first Ashes
century, Mike Atherton’s first Test pair
and a last-innings collapse by Australia.
Set an eminently achievable target of 175
the home side fell from 130 for three to
140 for seven and 162 all out with Dean
Headley achieving career-best figures of
six for 60, his only Test five-for.
The finest English bowling
performance in Melbourne came in
1954-55 when Frank Tyson, described
by Don Bradman as “the fastest bowler I
have ever seen”, finished the match with
a spell of six for 16 to tilt the series in
England’s favour. The Guardian’s Denys
Rowbotham wrote that this was a victory
“so violent and unexpected … that three
hours after its accomplishment the mind
and senses have not quite recovered
from the shock of it”.
Brian Statham took five wickets in
the first innings and Rowbotham noted:
“The speed of both bowlers was simply
too much for the Australian batsmen’s
techniques,” a now unlikely sounding
occurrence that they have avenged
many times since.
In March 1977, the MCG hosted a
special one-off match to celebrate the
centenary of the first ever Test. The
victors, Australia, were the same in
each match. Much more remarkably,
England’s margin of defeat in both
games was 45 runs. There was some
drama along the way, though: Australia
were skittled out for 138 on the first
day, with the opener Rick McCosker’s
24.12.17
*
Unlike Cook, Moeen began the series
looking sprightly with the bat, timing the
ball well in Brisbane, where he scored
78 runs in the match. Now that hairline
stumping decision in the second innings
there, albeit on a white line that would
not look out of place in the middle of a
road, feels like a turning point. A major
innings in the first Test and Moeen’s tour
might have taken off. Instead there has
been a steady decline. At the crease he
has been tormented by Nathan Lyon and
comprehensively out-bowled by him as
well. England might stick with him for
one more game.
Broad’s situation is different, but
almost as troubling. He has five wickets
in the series – though he was unlucky
not to take more when conditions were
favourable in Adelaide. The problem
for him is that he has not been bowling
badly but still the wickets have not been
forthcoming. He has been accurate and
persistent but neutered by the absence
of movement and in these conditions he
lacks that extra yard of pace to disturb
the best batsmen. Melbourne might suit
him better, perhaps, but despite his wellearned reputation for combativeness, his
confidence is low.
There will be at least one change
as Overton’s damaged ribcage will
Fourth Ashes Test | Cricket | SPORT | 13
MCG DETAILS
OVERALL RECORD
Australia
P109 W63 L30 D16
England
P55 W20 L28 D7
AVERAGES
1st inn score since 2000
351
Score over 90 overs
268-7
RECORDS
Individual highest score
307
RM Cowper v England, 1956
Best Test innings figures
9-86
Safraz Nawaz v Australia, 1979
THE TOSS
Bat first on winning the toss
72%
Toss winners go on to secure Test 45%
surely rule him out. The options to
replace him are Ball, Mark Wood, Tom
Curran and Mason Crane. The last two
are the most likely participants. Curran
would be the like-for-like replacement,
who could also bolster the lower-order
batting. Crane would be the most
cavalier of options. His selection would
represent an extreme case of strawclutching – bear in mind that Australia
in the post-Warne era have settled
for rock-solid finger spin rather than
wrist spin.
I have outlined my reservations about
playing Crane so early in his career
before, as well as my amazement that
hardened old pros such as Trevor Bayliss
and his selectors can become so dewyeyed about anyone who flicks the ball out
of the back of the hand. His selection for
this tour makes dear old Christopher
Martin-Jenkins’s championing of Ian
Salisbury back in the 90s seem positively
pragmatic.
Crane is clearly a sparky, gifted
cricketer, even if he is not a regular for
Hampshire (in part due to a crazy Championship schedule), and he deserves the
very best of luck if he gets picked here.
It would be enormously exciting for him
and for those of us looking on safely from
a distance.
The romantics will be thrilled by
this prospect and no doubt there will
be many references to Shane Warne’s
modest record and experience before
his first Test appearance, as well as
his one for 150 on debut 25 years ago
against India.
Warne was a genius. It is wishful
thinking to put the irrepressible Crane
in the same bracket. Whichever way
the selectors go, England are likely to
play at least one wide-eyed debutant at
the MCG.
2006-07
AUSTRALIA 5 ENGLAND 0
Days to win the Ashes: 15
(fifth day of the third Test)
Australia exacted merciless
revenge for their defeat in 2005.
The miracle of Adelaide, when
Warne tormented England with
demons that didn’t exist, killed the
series at a stroke and set up the
first whitewash since 1920-21.
2002-03
AUSTRALIA 4 ENGLAND 1
2017-18
AUSTRALIA 3 ENGLAND 0
Days to win the Ashes: 11
(third day of the third Test)
Nasser Hussain infamously chose
to bowl in Brisbane and over the
next three Tests his team were
pulverised. But Michael Vaughan
batted like a god, the genesis of
England’s 2005 victory, and the
tourists won the last match when
McGrath and Warne were absent.
dismissal particularly unusual: he
mistimed a hook and was hit in the face
by a Bob Willis bouncer, which not only
broke his jaw but the ball also dropped
on to his stumps.
Richie Benaud opined: “There has
never been a more disastrous day for
Australian cricket in the 100 years
the game has been fought between
the two countries,” but the following
Melbourne roar:
A Mexican wave
circulates through
the crowd during
the fourth Ashes
Test at the MCG in
2006. Ian Waldie/
Getty Images
Days to win the Ashes: 15
(fifth day of the third Test)
England had their moments
in all three Tests but could not
overcome batting collapses, an
inadequate killer instinct and
a painful lack of genuine pace
bowling.
morning Dennis Lillee took six wickets
as England were bowled out for 95. In
the second innings three Australians
scored fifties and Rod Marsh hit
an unbeaten 110, while McCosker,
swathed in bandages, unexpectedly
returned at No10 to hit a doughty 25.
England’s target was 463 – 60 more
than the record successful chase at the
time in Tests. Derek Randall made 174, in
terms of balls faced the longest England
innings in Melbourne, and at 346 for
four the improbable was suddenly
possible. Randall’s innings proved in
vain but was unforgettable (though
for sheer endurance Bob Cowper’s
12-and-a-half-hour triple century in a
draw in 1966 puts it to shame).
The MCG was Shane Warne’s home
ground and it was where he took his
150th, 350th and 700th Test wickets.
The last of these was a particularly
emotional moment, coming in
December 2006 soon after he had
announced his retirement from
international cricket. “There are some
special days that happen in your life
and some special things that happen
and that is definitely one of them,”
he said. “The birth of your children,
getting married, playing your first
Test, they’re pretty special. From an
individual point of view that’s got to be
one of the best days I’ve ever had.”
Another came at the same ground 12
years previously when Warne claimed
his only Test hat-trick as England,
chasing an unlikely target of 388, were
bowled out for 92. It was the MCG’s
fifth Test hat-trick, all taken in pursuit
of the Ashes, but the first for more than
90 years.
The one Englishman on that list is
Willie Bates, another spinner, whose
performance in 1883 must rank among
the finest in Melbourne: coming in at
No8 in the first innings he scored 55,
the second-best score of the match,
and he then took seven wickets in both
Australia innings, including a hat-trick
in their first knock.
On another tour of Australia five
years later, Bates was struck in the face
during a nets session, the injury leaving
him with vision so badly affected that
he never played first-class cricket
again. He died, aged 44, 12 years later.
Starc rated
50-50 but the
Aussie quicks
keep on rolling
Home side hoping
three-pronged pace
attack remains intact
despite injury worries,
writes Geoff Lemon
Y
ou would have to chloroform
Mitchell Starc to stop him
playing in the Boxing Day Test.
Admittedly, when you look
into the eyes of the Cricket
Australia fixer Pat Howard, you can see
him pulling off a Breaking Bad move with
a metal post and a bike lock. Whatever
it takes. But as long as Starc doesn’t find
himself confined to a cellar, he will be
at the MCG unless his foot is falling off.
Whether he plays is another matter, after
his pace partner Pat Cummins described
the left-armer as only “50-50” to be fit in
time, adding: “He’s been on crutches the
last few days to try to take some weight
off the heel. He’s absolutely itching to get
out there and play, but [we’ve] got to make
sure he’s right.”
Starc, bear in mind, played the Test
before Boxing Day as his career started
in 2011, then again in 2012, and was left
out for the next match both times. The
latter was a tactical ploy to give Mitchell
Johnson a Test run – Johnson bowled
scary-fast, broke a couple of Sri Lankan
arms and took the first step in a rehabilitation that ended with the next year’s
Ashes whitewash.
Starc, though, did not get another shot
at the biggest date in Australian cricket’s
calendar until last year. Even then he
growled over it in the lead-up like a dog
with a pig’s ear: “Try to take this off me
and I’ll bite.” He made pointed comments about playing all six matches and
he realised his aim. He took the same
approach after this season’s Brisbane
Test, when there was talk about Cummins being rested. “I expect it to be the
same squad and hopefully the same
lineup going into Adelaide,” he fired off
in the general direction of selectors.
Yes, team management is looking at the
future. The Ashes are won and there’s the
series in South Africa in March. But the
fast bowler’s existence is a tenuous one
and that of bowling cartels even more so.
Like butterflies, the most brilliant appear
before you for mere days or weeks before
disappearing from this earth. The pioneers of the fast opening pair, Jack Gregory and Ted McDonald, played 11 Tests
together in 1921. England’s quartet of
2005 never reunited. Injuries strike, form
shifts, conditions and opponents change.
Moments lost in time, tears in rain.
Keeping this group together is the
way to keep England on the back foot.
Of course pace alone does not work: find
any footage of Sachin Tendulkar calmly
deflecting Shoaib Akhtar into the crowd
at the 2003 World Cup. Faster arrival can
eparture. But pace plus
just mean faster departure.
accuracy is what Starc, Cummins and Josh Hazlewood
have brought. It’s the relentlessness that gets you.
n cope with
Elite players can
a delivery north of 90mph,
nues all day,
but when it continues
each ball requiring a fasterr
reaction speed than
ing,
against most bowling,
kes
eventually mistakes
will be made. You
hen
saw it in Perth when
Jonny Bairstow was
well set on 119 but
Starc was still able to rip
hrough
a curving yorker through
him in a shower off Zing
bails. You saw it in
Adelaide when Dawid
rough
Malan battled through
Leading man: Mitchell
hell
Starc has taken 19
Ashes wickets but is
njury
plagued by a heel injury
the night session up until the six-pronged
shadow of stumps, only for one late Cummins delivery to spear in from wide of the
crease and through his forward defence.
What could have been a tight run chase
instead folded the next day.
Starc is Australia’s pace talisman since
his withering 2015 spell to Ross Taylor
that touched 100mph on a Perth track
deader than the Babylonian empire. But
Hazlewood in this Ashes has bowled the
fastest of his career, while his accuracy
and ability to have balls leap from a fuller
length have made his bouncers the hardest to handle. Cummins has chimed in
with key wickets at key times, including
the England captain thrice.
On the Guardian’s Ashes podcast this
week Vic Marks spoke about facing the
world’s fastest bowlers in 1980s county
cricket. “There were more around, but
there weren’t, like the Englishmen have
to face here, there weren’t three. They’ve
talked about that a lot in this series,
because there’s no respite,” he said. “The
Aussies have had three genuinely quick
bowlers. The only parallel is that West
Indies side of the late 70s, early 80s.”
Starc was in and out of the team 11 times
before his 15th Test, so you can tell why
he is sensitive about keeping the good
times rolling. The spectre of injury
has hung around him like the ghosts
PACE MAKERS
Australia’s pace attack this Ashes series:
Overs Mdn Runs Wkts Ave
M Starc
125.3 22 400 19
21.05
J Hazlewood 120.4 34 348 15
23.20
P Cummins 126.3 33 331 11
30.09
of Christmas – he left this year’s India
series halfway through with a busted foot
and missed the subsequent Bangladesh
tour. Those absences created space for
Cummins to prove his own fitness, as
well as his worth in difficult conditions.
No wonder he came back to home soil
confident. But for Cummins, too – man
of the match aged 18 on debut, then man
of the bench for six injury-blighted years
– there must be a compulsion to make
the most of every day of fitness.
Partly, as with Starc’s bruised heel, it
has to be down to whether the bowler
thinks he can get through a match and
how badly he wants to. On a previous
Guardian podcast Jason Gillespie said:
“After my mid-20s I stopped getting my
back scanned. I just didn’t want to know.
It’d light up like a Christmas tree. It
sounds very simple but it’s about knowing your own body, knowing what you can
and can’t do. Get the advice from sports
science and physio, but at the end of the
day it’s your career. You have to take that
ownership. Fast bowling’s bloody hard
work. That’s the brutal reality.”
The feeling seems to be that once you
acknowledge mino
minor injury, you allow it a
chance to swarm yyou. Part of the magic
wh
of the 2013-14 whitewash
was a bowlt
ing attack kept together
throughout.
H
Johnson, Ryan Harris
and Peter Siddle played all five Tests, then went on
to South Africa.
The current group wants to keep
its run going
goi to South Africa as
well, then tune up through
the next Australian summe
mer, and on to England
to disrupt the homesid
side hegemony that the
Ash
Ashes have become.
As far as the alchemy
of att
attacks goes, this one,
at only three Tests old, has
turned lead
l
to gold. Caution
might sugg
suggest that Starc should
rest but m
momentum – whether
regarded as inexact science or
superstition – has him dessuperst
perate to
t play. For Starc to sit
out Me
Melbourne something
would actually have to be
breakin bad.
breaking,
* 24.12.17
14 | SPORT | Rugby union | Aviva Premiership
LEICESTER v SARACENS
Eastmond’s impact gives
McCall hungry to win
battle of the fall guys Wasps some late cheer
European champions
head to Welford Road
eager to end losing
run, writes Paul Rees
Saracens were awarded the freedom
of the borough of Barnet last week but
there will be no civic reception for
them in Leicester today when they
meet a team whose thirst for victory is
almost as great.
Saracens this decade supplanted
Leicester as England’s most successful
club but a graph that has largely been
an upward curve since 2009, apart
from a few blips, has fallen sharply in
the last seven weeks and the European
champions travel to Welford Road on a
run of seven defeats in all competitions.
Their last victory was against
London Irish in October, leaving Mark
McCall dealing with his first lingering
bout of adversity since he took over
as the club’s director of rugby in the
middle of the 2010-11 campaign. Yet
he treats a bad run no differently
to a winning one, never one to get
overtaken by emotion.
“We all know we are going to get
through this patch,” he says, “whether
that is at Leicester or against Worcester
at Allianz Park the week after. We’ll
get through this little period and our
aim is to get ourselves into a qualifying
position for the Champions Cup and
finish in the Premiership top four.”
Saracens’ slump started with two
bonus-point defeats to Harlequins
and Sale in the Anglo-Welsh Cup –
international call-ups and injuries
testing even their resources. They then
threw away winning positions to lose by
six points or fewer to Gloucester, Exeter
and Harlequins before being thumped
at home by Clermont Auvergne.
They recovered to lose to a late
penalty in France six days later, but it
is the 46-14 home defeat to Clermont
that stands out in the run. Saracens,,
who pride themselvess on their
x tries and
defence, conceded six
looked like a team thatt had
met in the car park an hour
before kick-off. There
were extenuating
circumstances: the
match had been
hastily rearranged
after being called
off the day before,
and fewer than 3,000
spectators turned up.
“We were written off
by many people but we
defended much betterr in
Clermont and played some
good rugby,” McCall says.
“We were much moree like
ourselves but we did not win
re to come.
and there is much more
ach other
The players backed each
Hard talk: George Kruiss says Saracens
have been ‘honest with
h each other’
3pm BT Sport 1
on the field and we have to make that
happen again at Welford Road.”
The Tigers are also looking to arrest
a slump having lost their last four
matches, against Worcester and Wasps
in the Premiership and to Munster
home and way in the Champions
Cup. It is a league fixture that over
the years has tended to be one-sided:
from the beginning of 2001 until
May 2010, Saracens won only three
times, but Leicester have triumphed
in only four of the sides’ last 17
league meetings.
Their recent home record against
Saracens, though, is one defeat in
four and that was at the start of the
year in what turned out to be Richard
Cockerill’s final match as the Tigers’
director of rugby. They started the
latest round of matches, which marks
the halfway point in the regular season,
in sixth, three points and three places
behind Saracens having won and lost
the same number of matches.
Saracens’ four league defeats have
been uncharacteristic in that they
SUFFERING SARRIES
Saracens have now lost seven times in a row
in all competitions:
L 17 Dec Clermont Champs Cup (a) 21-24
L 11 Dec Clermont Champs Cup (h) 14-46
L 3 Dec Harlequins Premiership (a) 19-20
L 26 Nov Exeter
Premiership (h) 18-20
L 17 Nov Gloucester Premiership (a) 17-23
L 10 Nov Sale
Anglo-Welsh (a) 22-29
L 5 Nov Harlequins Anglo-Welsh (h) 29-30
have surrendered second-half leads
each time. There is usually no side
harder to play catch-up against than
McCall’s team but they not only blew
a lead at Bath in September with four
minutes to go but left without a bonus
point and they were ahead going into
the final quarter at Gloucester. They
led Exeter at Allianz Park with eight
minutes to go and conceded a try to
Harleq
Harlequins two minutes from time to
lose by a point.
“Par
“Part of being a successful team is
that you
yo have ups and downs,” says
Georg
George Kruis, the England and Lions
seco
second-row.
“We are fortunate at
Sara
Saracens
in that we are able to be
hon with each other and there
honest
hav been plenty of conversations.
have
We showed in the second match
again Clermont just what playing
against
for the clubs means to us. We said in the
dressin room after that we still have so
dressing
m
much more
to give.”
It w
was against Leicester that
Sarace confirmed their transition
Saracens
E
from English
rugby’s most inconsistent
team to a major force. They beat
them in the 2011 Premiership final at
Twi
Twickenham,
a year after losing to
the Tigers late on in the showpiece,
an even on Christmas Eve,
and,
W
Welford
Road will be crammed as
tw of the game’s drawcards look
two
t correct their stumble.
to
WASPS
49
GLOUCESTER
24
Paul Rees
Ricoh Arena
The giddy heights of second gave
Gloucester vertigo. Their first league
defeat for three months was a reminder
that there are times when it pays to play
with your head rather than eyes. In the
season of goodwill, they lavished their
hosts with gifts and resembled discarded
wrapping paper by the end as Wasps
overtook them in the table.
Even when they were 17-15 ahead at
half-time, Gloucester did not look convincing. Their three visits to the Wasps
22 had resulted in tries, with the home
side initially as charitable in defence,
too often standing off and being knocked
back in contact. Overall, though, the
visitors played too often from deep and
being heavily penalised in the scrum and
lacking in the lineout they lacked any
foundation.
Gloucester had not been beaten in the
Premiership since the end of September
and had already equalled the number
of victories they recorded last season,
seven. Their line speed in defence
has been a factor in their revival, but
they suffered a defensive malfunction
after 11 minutes, when Willie le Roux
wandered across the pitch looking for
an opening, and it set the tone for what
was to follow.
Gloucester had not recovered from
losing the ball in their 22 after trying to work their way upfield from the
kick-off and were hemmed in after
being penalised in three scrums, yet
their first attack resulted in a try when
Wales will announce Warren Gatland’s
successor in the summer – more than a
year before the new head coach takes up
the position.
The Welsh Rugby Union has drawn
up a shortlist of three candidates to take
over from the 54-year-old, who has been
in place for 10 years and will help choose
his successor. The early announcement is designed to ensure the union’s
preferred candidate is not tempted by
other offers.
“We are targeting the summer to make
the appointment,” said the WRU chief
executive, Martyn Phillips. “The game
tends to work in cycles between World
Cups, which means people will be available in the summer of 2019. If I was the
new coach, I would want to sit down
with Warren and find out what things
are like.”
The shortlist is believed to consist
of three of Gatland’s New Zealander
compatriots: Glasgow’s Dave Rennie, the
Scarlets’ Wayne Pivac and Chris Boyd,
who won a Super Rugby title with the
Hurricanes. Only Pivac, who was part
of Fiji’s management team when they
beat Wales in the 2007 World Cup, has
international experience.
“That is not one of the top criteria,”
Phillips said. “Having watched Warren
Long reign:
Warren Gatland
has been the
Wales head coach
since 2007 and
will stand down
after the 2019
World Cup
Exeter
Wasps
Gloucester
Saracens
Bath
Leicester
Newcastle
Sale
Harlequins
Northampton
Worcester
London Irish
P W D L
11 9 0 2
11 7 0 4
11 7 0 4
10 6 0 4
11 6 0 5
10 6 0 4
11 6 0 5
11 5 0 6
11 5 0 6
11 4 0 7
11 3 0 8
11 1 0 10
F
315
316
255
307
269
254
206
280
275
252
196
189
A
188
257
282
173
251
232
263
246
298
293
287
344
B
9
6
5
7
6
4
4
8
5
6
6
4
Pts
45
34
33
31
30
28
28
28
25
22
18
8
Willi Heinz shrugged off Kyle Eastmond’s challenge.
Defence is a reason Eastmond’s England career has stalled, but, other than
missing Heinz, he made an impact
here, quick to move up and overtly
physical, once penalised for dumping
Tom Marshall on his back. It was
Eastmond’s presence that turned the
match eight minutes into the second
half after Gloucester indulged in a
multiphase move.
Eastmond picked up a loose ball on his
22 and fed Le Roux, who immediately
released Thomas Young. The flanker
had 75 metres to go to the line and was
surrounded by backs, but he dummied
his way into space and then beat a centre,
Martin Atkinson, for pace. The try
meant the lead changed hands for the
fourth and final time with Gloucester’s
challenge quickly unravelling.
It took Wasps until 13 minutes from
the end to secure the bonus-point try
that ensured they would move above
Gloucester in the table. Guy Thompson
forced his way over after two Danny
Cipriani penalties had given the home
side a cushion, to spark a madcap finish
with three tries scored in the final five
minutes. Wasps at that stage were
reduced to 14 men when Josh Bassett
suffered a leg injury after all his side’s
replacements were on the pitch.
Gloucester scored the first try
through Freddie Clark to secure a try
bonus point, but then gave away two to
Dan Robson and Christian Wade,
through an intercept and an improvised
kick-off respectively – which summed
up a game that had contained some light
on a dull day in the opening period of
play.
Gloucester led 12-5 at one point when
Ollie Thorley’s break resulted in an
Atkinson try, but they surrendered the
lead to Cipriani’s first penalty and a try
by Wade, who had earlier been denied
by Thorley and Ruan Ackermann after
crossing the line, only to regain it two
minutes from the interval when Tom
Marshall profited from some suspect
tackling.
Gloucester had their best period of the
match at the start of the second half, but
after squandering an attacking lineout,
they were then turned over for Young’s
try and overrun.
It was less a reality check for a
team that, in recent seasons, has been
anchored in the bottom half of the
table than confirmation that decisions
decide matches.
WASPS Le Roux (Miller 69); Wade, De Jongh, Eastmond
(Lovobalavu 68), Bassett; Cipriani, Simpson (Robson 49);
McIntyre (Harris 68), Cruse (Johnson 49), Moore
(Cooper-Woolley 49), Launchbury (capt), Gaskell
(Myall 62), Willis (Thompson 57), Young, Carr
Tries Le Roux, Wade 2, Young, Thompson, Robson
Cons Cipriani 5 Pens Cipriani 3
GLOUCESTER Marshall; Sharples, Twelvetrees, Atkinson
(Williams 70), Thorley (Trinder 68); Burns, Heinz
(capt; Vellacott 62); McAllister (Hohneck 17), Hanson
(Hibbard 63), Afoa, Savage, Slater (Thrush 63), Polledri
(Clark 63), Ludlow, Ackermann
Tries Heinz, Atkinson, Marshall, Clark Cons Twelvetrees 2
Ricoh Arena 22,296
Game rating |||||||||| Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys
Tidal Wade:
Christian Wade
goes over for one
of his two tries
as Wasps proved
too strong for
Gloucester at the
Ricoh Arena.
Henry Browne/
Getty Images
Wales want to name post-World Cup
successor for Gatland in the summer
Paul Rees
HOW THEY STAND
on the Lions tour to New Zealand we
want someone who can make really
tough calls in selection. We do not have
a thing that he needs to be Welsh.”
The WRU chairman, Gareth Davies,
said: “We have met a dozen guys over
the last 12 months, having fireside chats
to find out what they are like as people as
well as the rugby element, and have got to
the position where three tick the boxes.
“The chief criterion is someone who is
successful and has won something. He will
have to work closely with our four regions
and all three have bought into that: if any
of them had said they saw themselves only
as the head coach of the national side they
would not have made the shortlist.
“Warren understands the modern
requirements of a coach. Whether the
new coach will have a role in the 2019
World Cup will be considered but it would
be down to Warren.”
Falcons deny Brown’s boys
NEWCASTLE
11
HARLEQUINS
10
Newcastle held off Harlequins in a
low-scoring game to edge home at a
packed Kingston Park, a result that
lifted the Falcons up to seventh, while
their opponents dropped to ninth.
The Falcons were under the cosh for
most of the second half after leading
11-0 at half-time with a Vereniki Goneva
try and two Tane Takulua penalties.
After Mike Brown scored early in
the second half and Marcus Smith
converted, the momentum was all with
Quins and Smith set up a pulsating
finish when he landed a 67th-minute
penalty to make it 11-10. Somehow,
Newcastle managed to hang on and
sent most of the 9,128 crowd home for
Christmas happy with a narrow victory.
Newcastle dominated the opening
20 minutes and the 11-point half-time
advantage seemed scant reward. When
Will Witty looked to have an early try
the TMO judged the big lock had been
held just short but a penalty for offside
followed and Takulua took the points. A
try looked inevitable and it came in the
16th minute with Toby Flood finding
Sinoti Sinoti coming off his wing on the
loop and he broke the Quins line and
floated the ball out to Goneva, who shot
over for the score. Takulua missed the
conversion but kicked a 25th-minute
penalty after Quins strayed offside again.
Newcastle’s lead was reduced within
four minutes of the restart, with James
Chisholm and Alofa Alofa smashing
through before the ball was swiftly
moved out to Brown for a simple try
converted by Smith to make it 11-7.
It was all Quins now, as it had been
all Newcastle in the first half, and
Smith kicked a 67th-minute penalty
to make it 11-10. The closing quarter
saw Quins constantly on the attack but
Newcastle’s defence was exemplary. PA
24.12.17
*
Aviva Premiership | Rugby union | SPORT | 15
Magic moment: Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Will Chudley crosses the line to score an outstanding individual try following a scrum in the victory against Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens. Paul Harding/PA
Chudley capitalises on
Northampton’s slump
NORTHAMPTON
12
EXETER
35
Michael Aylwin
Franklin’s Gardens
If Northampton hope that sending their
director of rugby westward might spur
them into the typical improvement of
the chastened outfit, they do so in vain.
Just as when Alex King left last season,
the dispiriting performances continue.
There is something very wrong at Franklin’s Gardens, and it runs deep. Bonuspoint defeats in their own backyard are
a dime a dozen these days, and the Saints
continue to plummet southwards.
Exeter came here after a sobering pair
of defeats of their own in Europe but they
were far too good for Northampton and
extend their lead at the top of the Premiership table to 11 points. Jack Yeandle’s
try at the death earned them the extra
pleasure of a bonus point. They cared not
a jot about Northampton’s travails.
The Saints’ state of mind, not to
mention body, was tested from the off,
exposed to trial by keep-ball, the sort
of torture Exeter have made their own.
From kick-off to the first break in play
was five-and-a-half minutes of unbroken possession from the visitors, during
which they steadily worked their way
to Northampton’s 22, where the Saints
finally put a foot wrong to concede the
game’s first points, which Gareth Steenson harvested with his boot. However,
Northampton’s defence looked robust at
that point, Jamal Ford-Robinson enjoying the collisions in particular.
Three points was fewer than many
would have conceded under such an
assault, but that the Saints are scratching round for such consolations on their
own turf is statement enough on their
position. And that worsened again when
they conceded the first try only five minutes later. A big Exeter scrum could not
control the ball but Will Chudley gathered to dummy Courtney Lawes and
chip over Ben Foden for a brilliant solo
score. Franklin’s Gardens’ sigh was painful to hear.
They had something to cheer at the
end of the first quarter, when they hit a
sweet note in attack. Harry Mallinder
looks liberated already by his move to
full-back from fly-half, if not necessarily
by his father’s departure as director of
rugby. He cut Exeter open himself early
on, then provided the second pivot from
a lineout to release Foden and Rob Horne,
who set up Ahsee Tuala to score.
There followed further lessons,
though, most notably in the art of collecting points. An attacking line yielded
Exeter three more but when Northampton, twice, had opportunities to
move the scoreboard, they went for the
corner – and their lineout was unpicked
by Exeter on both occasions. Period of
pressure, no points is the mark of a team
still not at ease with itself.
SAINTS IN HELL
Defeat by Exeter was rudderless
Northampton’s 11th in 12 games in all
competitions:
L 23 Dec Exeter
L 17 Dec Ospreys
L 9 Dec Ospreys
L 1 Dec Newcastle
L 25 Nov Sale
L 18 Nov Worcester
W 11 Nov Dragons
L 4 Nov Exeter
L 28 Oct Wasps
L 21 Oct Clermont
L 15 Oct Saracens
L 7 Oct Gloucester
Premiership
Champs Cup
Champs Cup
Premiership
Premiership
Premiership
Anglo-Welsh
Anglo-Welsh
Premiership
Champs Cup
Champs Cup
Premiership
12-35
15-32
32-43
22-24
15-18
15-30
41-7
28-43
38-22
7-24
13-57
24-29
And so Northampton started to fall
apart all over again as the second half
unwound. Steenson collected another
penalty and the Saints butchered
another lineout. The game was disintegrating with the hosts, but Sam Hill refocused it when he broke through. Foden
was slow to roll away amid the carnage,
and Northampton were down to 14 for
10 minutes.
This time Exeter went for the corner
themselves – and they tend not to miss
these. At the third attempt, after two
further Northampton infringements,
Sam Simmonds steered the maul home
to open up a 14-point lead on the hour.
Exeter only tightened their grip. They
drove over again from a lineout but the
TMO could not detect a touchdown amid
the bodies, so Exeter proceeded to demonstrate their dominance at scrum time,
too. Penalty after penalty, and another
yellow card – for Francois van Wyk – with
10 minutes to go. With Campese Ma’afu
back on, Northampton’s scrum seemed to
hold up better. No matter, Exeter resorted
to their famed pick-and-go game, which
yielded an umpteenth try for Thomas
Waldrom all too easily. Northampton
were buried once more.
As so often, with the game gone, they
found a way through, Cobus Reinach
picking his way to the posts where he
celebrated shamelessly, as if Northampton were not staring at a 10th consecutive defeat in major competitions at all.
The “celebrations” were short-lived. In
the last minute Exeter sent another penalty to the corner, and Yeandle barged his
way through the fringes of it to the line.
NORTHAMPTON Mallinder (Pisi 74); Tuala, Horne, Burrell
(Stephenson 74), Foden; Francis, Groom (Reinach 62);
Ma’afu (Van Wyk 66), Hartley (capt; Haywood 58), FordRobinson (Hill 58), Paterson (Wood 58), Ratuniyarawa
(Ribbans 66), Lawes, Gibson, Harrison Sin-bin Foden,
Van Wyk Tries Tuala, Reinach Cons Francis 2
EXETER Slade; Nowell, Whitten (Short 62), Hill,
Woodburn; Steenson (capt), Chudley (Townsend
61); Moon (Rimmer 64), Cowan-Dickie (Yeandle 62),
Williams (Holmes 64), Skinner, Hill, Ewers (Lees 61),
Armand, Simmonds (Waldrom 66) Tries Chudley,
Simmonds, Waldrom, Yeandle Cons Steenson 2,
Simmonds Pens Steenson 3
Franklin’s Gardens 15,120
Game rating |||||||||| Referee Tom Foley
Strauss plays the tune to establish Sale’s renewed ambition
SALE
32
BATH
9
Ross Heppenstall
AJ Bell Stadium
It might be stretching it to say this
exhilarating bonus-point win was a
throwback to the days of old at Sale, but
it would not be too far wide of the mark.
Steve Diamond’s side, overflowing
with a collective desire, energy and no
little skill either, reduced Bath to rubble
during a ludicrously one-sided second
half. “Can we play you every week?” sang
the merry home supporters in scenes of
mounting euphoria during the closing
stages as mist descended.
After a try-less opening 40 minutes,
Sale ran riot with four second-half scores
from their No8 Josh Strauss, the Scotland
winger Byron McGuigan, their Australian marquee signing James O’Connor
and the replacement scrum-half, Will
Cliff. That did for Bath, who were a pale
shadow of the side who so gloriously toppled Toulon in Europe last Saturday.
The margin of victory was no more
than Sale deserved and marked a result
that could well determine their season.
Not much has gone right for the Sharks
since Philippe Saint-Andre led a starstudded side to their solitary Premiership title success over Leicester at
Twickenham in 2006. But a change of
ownership this year has led to some eyecatching signings and a renewed sense
of ambition. Close-season captures such
as the South African scrum-half Faf de
Klerk and O’Connor have encouraged
hopes that Sale can finally re-emerge as
serious contenders. Certainly this was a
victory that will make teams take notice.
Simon Orange, the club’s co-owner
and brother of former Take That member
Jason Orange, used his programme
notes to underline the importance of
the match. “A positive outcome against
Bath would, in my opinion, leave us looking in good shape going into the second
half of the Premiership campaign, just
outside of the top six, and making headway towards where we aspire to be as
a club,” he wrote. “Alternatively, a bad
result today would mean that despite
progress being made as a squad we are
not achieving what we need to.” The
message was heeded.
Clinging on: James Wilson tackles one of
Sale’s try scorers, James O’Connor
A tight first half ended 9-6 in Bath’s
favour after three penalties from Rhys
Priestland and two from Sale’s fly-half,
AJ MacGinty. The visitors fashioned the
two best chances when Freddie Burns
and Matt Banahan were held up over
the line in quick succession shortly after
the half-hour.
However, the shift in Sale’s favour
during the second half was quite
staggering. Bath, missing the rested
Jonathan Joseph, were forced back
inside their 22 after the interval as De
Klerk, who beavered frenziedly throughout, exerted an increasing influence on
proceedings.
In the 44th minute, he provided the
pass to send Strauss bustling over from
close range after a period of pressure that
covered several phases. Four minutes
later, De Klerk found O’Connor inside
the left channel and his pass sent McGuigan scampering clear in the left corner.
O’Connor then ended an intricate
passing move to score Sale’s third try
before Cliff went over to secure a bonus
point for the home side.
The AJ Bell Stadium, situated beside
the M60 motorway, has never truly felt
like home to Sale since they moved there
in 2012, but the atmosphere in a healthy
crowd was a throwback to the days of
old at Edgeley Park. Orange, who has
attempted to buy the ground, said: “We
are still looking at potential alternatives to
the AJ Bell Stadium as we seek to identify
a stadium that will serve as the best location for the club in the long term and that
work will continue as we head into 2018.”
SALE O’Connor (Haley 71); Solomona (Charnley 71),
James, Van Rensburg, McGuigan; MacGinty, De Klerk
(Cliff 66); Harrison (Flynn 71), Webber (Jones 63), John
(Aulika 65), Evans (Nott 71), Ostrikov, Ross (capt),
Curry (Neild 66), Strauss Tries Strauss, McGuigan,
O’Connor, Cliff Cons MacGinty 3 Pens MacGinty 2
BATH Watson; Wilson, Banahan (Wilson 63),
Priestland, Brew; Burns, Fotuali’i (Cook 69); Noguera
(Auterac 49), Van Vuuren (Charles 49), Thomas (Lahiff
49), Ewels, Stooke (Phillips 59), Garvey (capt), Louw
(Douglas 66), Grant (Mercer 49) Pens Priestland 3
AJ Bell Stadium 6,426
Game rating |||||||||| Referee Ian Tempest
* 24.12.17
16 | SPORT | The best of 2017
Memes, medals and milk: the
Behind the scores and stats, 2017 was
another big year of sporting soap opera.
David Hills on the quotes, the gaffes and the
storms that made the past 12 months special
Personality of the year
Neatest slapdown
José Mourinho: keeping
Serena Williams, reflecting online
after Maria Sharapova’s 2017 memoir
mentioned her 100 times and referenced
her “thick arms and thick legs”:
“I’ve been called man because I appear
outwardly strong. It has
been said that that I use
drugs. (No, I have always
had far too much integrity
to behave dishonestly
in order to gain an
advantage.) It’s been said
I don’t belong in women’s
sports – that I belong in
men’s – because I look
stronger than many other women do
do.
(No, I just work hard and I was born with
this badass body and proud of it.)
We don’t all look the same. We are
curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small,
just to name a few, and all the same:
we are women and proud.”
press conferences
interesting since 2004.
His 2017 highlights:
■ Bemoaning United’s injuries
ies in
April: “At the moment, we cannot walk
from the bed to the toilet.” ■ Mocking
Antonio Conte for bemoaning injuries in
October: “I never speak about injuries.
Other managers, they cry, they cry, they
cry when a player is injured. I don’t cry.
If I wanted to cry like the others, I can
cry. But I don’t.” ■ Pledging in July not
to be brought down to Conte’s level:
“Listen, I’m not going to lose my
hair to speak about Antonio Conte.”
■ Previewing the Manchester derby by
calling City players fakers (“a little bit
of wind and they fall”), and ending it
doused in milk. ■ Walking out of a press
conference after 11 seconds in May.
■ And explaining why he wouldn’t
discuss snubbing a Mark Hughes
handshake in September: “I don’t
speak about stupid things. Stupid
things are for stupid people.”
Quote of the year
Fifa’s Gianni Infantino – adopting a
proven model for his presidency in May:
terminating the ethics team investigating
him and attacking “fake news and
alte
alternative facts”: “Fifa
bas
bashing has become a
spo
sport in some countries.
Bu
But we’re transparent.
We’re a deeply honest
We
org
organisation.”
2017’s b
2017’
bestt Fif
Fifa moments
a) Ex-Peru FA head Manuel Burga, on
trial for racketeering in New York,
censured for making cut-throat
gestures at a key witness in November.
His attorney told the court Burga was
simply “scratching a skin complaint”.
b) Infantino reacting to the IOC
banning Russia 2018 head Vitaly
Mutko for life over the country’s
“unprecedented attack on the integrity
of sport” by declaring the ruling had
“no impact” on Mutko’s fitness to
deliver a credible World Cup.
And c) Philip Chiyangwa – Zimbabwe’s FA
head, Fifa power-broker and millionaire
YouTuber – launching his own fashion
label in August with an open video
message to God: “This morning, God,
I only ask for abundancy … The power
to make money, more of it … Money,
more money, God, make it come my
way. Thank you very much. Good
morning to you everybody. Good
morning to you God.”
Worst attempted PR save
his 100m win over Usain Bolt in the
London Stadium. “People in the crowd
should get to know an athlete, read the
details rather than the headlines – know
who you’re booing.” Four months later,
new details emerged: allegations that
his coach Dennis Mitchell offered to
supply an undercover reporter with
performance enhancing drugs. Gatlin
said he was “shocked and surprised …
I am not using and have not used PEDs.
I fired him as soon as I found out.”
Throwback of the year
Ilie Nastase – banned for three years
in April after Britain’s defeat to
Romania in the Fed Cup in Constanta,
having repeatedly asked for Anne
Keothavong’s room number, reduced
Johanna Konta to tears, abused a
journalist, and said about
Serena Williams’s thenunborn baby: “Let’s
see what colour it
has. Chocolate with
milk?” Nastase said his
remarks were “intended
as a joke”, and had been
d and
d
“misinterpreted” via “biased
exaggerated media coverage”.
Proudest mismanagement
Also struggling with unfair media
coverage this year: FA head Martin
Glenn – sorry for “the inappropriate
banter” aimed at Eni Aluko by coach
Mark Sampson, but happy with the FA’s
17-month effort to sort it out. “I believe
we handled this with decency and
openness,” he said in October. “The
spirit in which we approached Eni’s
concerns has been good.”
Lewis Hamilton, looking to regain
some goodwill in November, 10 days
after the Paradise Papers showed him
avoiding tax on his £16.5m private jet,
supplementing his other tax savings
from being contracted to Mercedes via a
company in Guernsey, holding a Maltese
company for his image rights, and living
as a tax exile since 2007.
@LewisHamilton: “Guys,
to support kids living in
poverty I’ve donated a
pair of my PUMA shoes
to @SmallStepsDocs,
and signed them.”
Referee of the year
Romain Poite: delivering melodrama
in July – rescinding the late penalty he
awarded the All Blacks against the Lions,
resulting in a drawn series. Stuff.co.nz
called it a “French farce” and a “massive
late clanger”; the New Zealand Herald
wrote: “Not even in the under-11s does
a referee change his mind like that.
Here we are [again] talking about idiots
in white.” Warren Gatland called the
decision “swings and roundabouts”.
Most misunderstood
Double drug-ban veteran Justin Gatlin
– upset in August after fans booed
Most predictable Ashes moment
England’s Ben Duckett, taking a relaxed
view about advice not to
cause scenes in bars. Trevor
Bayliss: “It’s boys being
boys I guess, but I’m
disappointed. With what
we’ve had to go through
already,
it’s not acceptable.”
a
Best annual tradition
B
A John Inverdale #everydaysexism storm.
This
T year’s effort: March’s observation
about
the Duke and Duchess of
a
Cambridge
watching Wales versus
C
France
in the Six Nations: “I don’t know
F
exactly how au fait with the rules Kate
is, but I assume she must have been
struggling a bit in the last 20 minutes.”
BBC spokesperson: “John was saying
that many would have been bemused
by the protracted end of the match.”
Most extended metaphor
Anthony Joshua, explaining his “get fit,
you fat f***” tweet sent to Tyson Fury
in November: “Sometimes if a dog
barks at you so many times, the other
dog needs to bite back and make sure
the other dog puts his tail between his
legs. I always address a situation before
Saddest exits
Most uplifting
Most symbolic
Bristol City manager
Lee Johnson on last
week’s ballboy-based
goal celebration after
their winner against
Manchester United:
“When the ball went
in I didn’t know what
to do, no one knew
what to do. I wanted
to run on the pitch but
realised I couldn’t, so
I just ran down the
line. It was great to
see the ballboy there.
He got an absolute
rib-crushing from me.”
Theresa May –
sitting next to
Emmanuel
Macron in the
posh seats at
June’s France
versus England
match in Paris –
joining in with
the Mexican
wave seconds
after everyone
else had
sat down.
@James_Dart:
“The lady’s
not for timing.”
Among 2017’s most affecting moves:
And 2017’s strongest
votes of confidence:
■ January: Hull sacking Mike Phelan in the
■ 7 Feb, @lcfc: “CLUB
same week they sacked youth coach Peter
Ndlovu. @eddo75: “You’ve lost Ndlovu and
Phelan, whooah Ndlovu and Phelan.”
■ March: Petersfield manager John Robson
g
going home at half-time of their 4-2 loss to
Kidlington in March. Chairman Graeme Moir:
K
““He told the players in the dressing room:
‘that’s it’, and then drove off … It’s been a
‘t
ffrustrating time for everyone.”
■ April: Gillingham’s kitman Bob Lewin
“leaving
the club” after forgetting to take
“
the
t players’ shirts to their away match at
MK Dons. Manager Ady Pennock: “I would
like to thank Bob for everything he’s done
in his time here.”
■ October: Bert Ehm, 70, coach of German
fifth-tier Teutonia 05, sacked after ending
a tense press conference with the
phrase “Sieg Heil”: “It was a giant error on
my part … I’m no National Socialist. Those
words just kind of tumbled out of me.”
STATEMENT. #lcfc would
like to make absolutely
clear its unwavering support for Claudio
Ranieri.” 23 Feb, @lcfc: “Club statement:
#lcfc and Claudio Ranieri part company.”
■ 23 Oct: Sunderland chief executive
Martin Bain tells fans to stop having a go at
Simon Grayson: “I look at my calendar and
I see it’s only October. We’re in October,
there’s a long way to go.” 31 Oct: Sacks him.
■ 20 Oct: Brazil’s Santos president
Modesto Roma Júnior attacks “made up”
reports about his plan to sack coach Levir
Culpi and draws an analogy. “Here in this
bacon omelette of ours, everyone is pork,
and nobody is chicken. In a bacon omelette,
the chicken may be in there, but the pork is
essential. At Santos, everyone is essential.
People should know I only ever do what
is best for the club, not what I can do to
please public opinion.” 29 Oct: Sacks him.
putting it into the back of my mind. I’m
not one of these dogs that stays in the
garden barking for hours.”
Least lamented exit
Carlo Tavecchio – reflecting on his
record in November after a “media
witch hunt” forced him out as Italy’s FA
president. Tavecchio said press were
unfairly focusing on his four financial
crime convictions, his six-month
racism ban and his censuring for
homophobia, antisemitism and
sexism at the expense of his “record of
success … All [the press] ever wanted
was Tavecchio on the cross.”
Best intentions
Lower league Italian side Quiliano,
staging a “zero tolerance to racism”
demonstration in March by blacking-up
aand posing for selfies. League officials
c
called
the move, intended to support a
t
team-mate
targeted by racist fans,
“ real gesture of honour”.
“a
Worst new trend
W
As reported by Essex police,
A
@EPControlRoom on 20 November:
“Ringing 999 because West Ham have
lost again and you aren’t sure what to do
is not acceptable. It is a complete waste
of our time.” See also @cheshirepolice on
17 December: “Calling 101 to complain
that the person you voted for in Sports
Personality of the Year didn’t
win is not an appropriate use
of the service.”
Best flashback
Adam Peaty, delivering
another uplifting
Sonny Bill Williams
2015 moment –
giving away his
European Swimming
Championships gold
to a wide-eyed nipper
in December. “Thankfully
I’ve
l ffor me I’
got a few of them already,” he said. “But
for her that’s hopefully going to change
her world, and inspire her for years.”
Most celebrated legal ruling
Was November’s judgment against
Blackpool owner Karl Oyston – found to
have “illegitimately stripped” the club
of £26.77m, 10 months after he called
24.12.17
*
SPORT | 17
alternative sports awards
later: “I was thinking: ‘Are we really
going through this again?’ And I got over
it. It took a crazy drop to get me going.”
Most exacting
Young Sergio García
fan Alex Windebank,
writing to his hero in
October. “I saw you
win the Masters and
when you won it I saw
that you were happy. I want
ant
you to win 24 Majors, 90 PGA Tours
at the end of your career. Majors:
10 British Opens, 3 Masters, 5 PGA
Championships, 6 US Opens. Practice
everyday at different golf courses.
I’ll be watching you on TV.”
Best knowing your audience
Aston Villa owner @Dr_TonyXia:
a) Talking to Villa fans on Twitter
Image of the year
Jacksonville Jaguars
players taking a knee
before September’s
game against
Baltimore Ravens
at Wembley –
hours after
@realdonaldtrump
said players should be
“fired or suspended”
for their protests
against racial injustice.
Ravens owner
Steve Bisciotti:
“We respect their
demonstration and
support them 100%.”
Best rethink
Speed-skater Elise
Christie – who
came close to
retiring after being
penalised at all
three events at
Sochi 2014 and
receiving death
threats from South
Koreans (“skating
almost ruined me,
ruined my life”) –
becoming a triple
world champion
in March. Still not
enough for Spoty’s
voters, though.
fans protesting about asset-stripping “a
busted flush … I’m sure they’ll get bored
in time. You can only go on so long
trotting out the same tired rhetoric.
They’re naive, child-like … I pity them.”
Most principled legal stand
Australian tennis player Thanasi
Kokkinakis, fighting Kellogg’s for the
rights to use his nickname, Special K.
Kellogg’s: “Special K is obviously an
iconic brand and a favourite breakfast
cereal of Australia.” The case continues.
Most versatile
M
Mo
Semi-retired Ronaldinho
Sem
– signing
s
up to play in
November’s
Match for Peace
No
in M
Mexico to promote “dignity,
coexiste
coexistence and tolerance”, a month
after
up to play alongside
f he
h signed
i
Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov
in a match to mark Vladimir Putin’s
birthday. Kadyrov told local media:
“Ronaldinho was very grateful to be
invited. He spoke enthusiastically about
the benevolent atmosphere in Grozny.”
Best tactic
Jordan Spieth – realising
he could weaponise
the flashbacks from his
2016 Masters meltdown
to end his July 2017
Open meltdown. Spieth, who started
his final round with three bogeys in four
holes then took a drop 70 yards back on
the 13th before recovering to win, said
in March: “#We are a team.
#Fight through …. I didn’t buy
Villa 4 business purpose. I never
expected making money from it.”
b) Talking to Bloomberg in Beijing
about how he nearly bought
Southampton instead. “We talked to
a lot of clubs. We will leverage this
opportunity and use it to further our
business in the sports industry.”
Most reliable entertainment
The EFL and its
Carabao Cup draws:
First round: “The EFL would
like to apologise for thirdparty technical issues. The
draw was not compromised
The
in any way.” Second round: “Th
e
i d”
draw was in no way compromised.”
Fifth round: “The EFL would like to
apologise for third party technical issues.
The draw was in no way compromised.”
Their most upbeat draw: the 4.15am
third round event in China, which took
53 minutes to complete: “This was the
culmination of a really positive and
successful few days for the EFL in Asia.”
Saddest ending
Ebbsfleet defender Yado Mambo –
famous in November after Lou Bega
fans launched a campaign to get his
No18 shirt replaced with the No5 –
forced to retire last week due to injury,
aged 26. “Heartbroken doesn’t even
come close to how I feel. I’m gutted my
journey couldn’t continue. But as they
say, one door closes, another opens.”
Pat of the year
Ospreys hooker Scott Baldwin: needing
four operations and missing three
games after trying to pat a lion during a
pre-match visit to a Bloemfontein game
park in September. “Sometimes you do
things you regret. It’s something I can
learn from.” Saracens fans sang In the
Jungle at him on his comeback.
Social media awards
Best solo performer
■ Best political satire:
Botswana athlete Isaac Makwala, doing
press-ups on the London Stadium
trac then running
track
his 200m world
cha
championships
hea solo in
heat
Aug
August.
Makwala,
ban
banned
from his
40
400m
final by
the IAAF due
to a norovirus
ou
outbreak
at his
ho said: “I put
hotel,
eve
everything
on
Go after what
God
h
d I am still
till running with my
happened.
heart broken – I wish I had run the 400
– but this crowd is so amazing.”
@andy_murray, 24 Nov: “BBC just
called to say I was PROBABLY going to be
named sports personality of the year but
I would have to agree to an interview and
a major photo shoot. I said probably is no
good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!”
■ Most versatile live tweeting:
@baldocktownfc, 21 August, apologising
for a shortage of in-play tweets:
“Sorry for the lack of updates during
the last 10 mins yesterday. Our Twitter
correspondent had to go on as sub.”
@nedkelly56: “How did he rate his
performance?” @baldocktownfc: “He
was very good. Should have started.”
■ Most surprising turn of events:
Harry Redknapp – who told a court in
2012 how “I write like a two-year-old and
I can’t spell ... I can’t work a computer, I
don’t know what an email is, I’ve never
sent a text, ask anyone, I couldn’t even fill
a team sheet in” – tweeting
g
on 12 October: “Proper
excited about Mobile
Cryptocurrency! I’m in,
get involved!”
■ And most exasperated:
Twitter’s @TheRealMikeDean
an
– US hip-hop producer and K
Kanye W
Westt
collaborator – facing down his haters
in January: “i’m not a reff”; “wrong mike
dean”; “soccer is wack”; and
“I AM NOT A SOCCER REFF U LIMEY F***.
DO YOUR RESEARCH.”
Best ‘Agüerrroooo’ moment
Georgia’s top-flight football title race:
decided by a 96th-minute penalty in
November. Dinamo Tbilisi captain
Otar Kiteishvili stepped up to take it,
knowing that a goal would win the title
for his side, and a miss would mean
opponents Torpedo Kutaisi would be
crowned champions. He missed.
Excuse of the year
Eoin Morgan, blaming the
pitch after England’s
Champions Trophy
semi-final defeat to
Pakistan by eight
wickets in Cardiff in
Biggest attention seekers
Headlining 12 months of
viral animal cameos:
■ Argentina’s San Lorenzo
v Arsenal de Sarandí held
up in September after a
sausage dog invaded the pitch
h
then chewed a microphone in postmatch interviews. Groundsman Julio
J li Duarte
D t
adopted it to join 10 others he uses to keep
pigeons off his grass seed. “I’m keeping her.
We need what she’s got.”
■ Baltimore Raven’s TV game against
Miami Dolphins held up by a cat in October.
M&T Bank Stadium worker Yogi told local
media later he’d taken it home to replace
his recently deceased 17-year-old tabby
Mrs Prissypants. “I just call it fate. She’s so
loving. She’s going to be a perfect fit.”
■ Footage of Kerridge Cricket Club’s game
against Mossley in July spreads online
after players and umpires were charged by
June. “Knowing we were going to play
on a used wicket potentially brought
Pakistan’s game closer to their
home conditions. It was too much
of an ask for us to adjust really.”
@MichaelVaughan’s analysis: “Well,
that’s what you call a good dicking.”
Best PR strategy
LaVar Ball, father of a UCLA
basketball
player detained for
ba
sh
shoplifting
in Shanghai, agitating
@realDonaldTrump in November by
@
failing
to give him credit for securing
fa
his
h son’s release. Early morning Trump
tweets
called him an “ungrateful fool”
tw
and
an “a poor man’s Don King”: “It wasn’t
father
LaVar’s so-called people on
f
the ground in China that got his son
out – IT WAS ME.” Ball kept it going
by goading Trump on TV – with the
resulting publicity worth an estimated
$13.2m in ad value to his fashion label.
Worst PR strategy
Standing out in a big category: the
ATP’s draw ceremony for the Next Gen
ATP Finals in Milan in November –
involving male players being asked to
pick from a group of female models
who all had the letters A or B hidden on
their bodies. Each model then revealed
their letter – with one player asked to
pull off a model’s glove with his teeth.
The ATP said it was meant to be a nod
to Milan’s fashion heritage. “However,
our execution was in poor taste. There
will be no repeat in the future.”
Best local news
From the Sydney Morning
Herald, January: “Former
Australian prime minister
Bob Hawke has once again
y
skolled a beer at the Sydney
i k d outt b
Cricket Ground. Hawke was picked
by
the cameras on day two of the second
Test between Australia and Pakistan
- and to the delight of the crowd, the
87-year-old pulled out his party trick,
downing a frothie with aplomb. The
former PM was re-enacting his feat from
the 2012 SCG Test against India when
a spectator handed him a plastic cup
of beer and said: ‘One for the country,
Robert.’ Without hesitation, the then82-year-old downed the beer in one go,
taking about 11 seconds. That is the same
time he is said to have taken to drink 2½
pints when he set a world speed drinking
record during his time as a student at
University College, Oxford in 1955.”
Best newcomer
a loose bull. Kerridge captain Adam Banks:
The video’s even been shared in India and
“Th
Au
Australia.
It’s great because it’s put us on
th world map.”
the
■ Jaguares de Chiapas v Pachuca in
M
Mexico held up twice in January – once
to remove a dog that chased the players,
th
then to remove a cat that “sat down and
t
stared
them out”. Chiapas coach Sergio
Bueno alleged “premeditated acts”, saying:
“They timed the release of the dog and cat
to destroy our rhythm.” Pachuca denied it.
“We were as surprised as they were.”
■ And this squirrel – an instant meme
after striking a
pose while being
carried off the
pitch by a Man City
groundsman
in October.
Press dubbed it
“Squirrel Regis”.
Best unveiling
Diego Maradona – meeting the press in
February, 24 hours after being named
as a Fifa goodwill ambassador. His
key message: denying he hit a reporter
who asked him a question: “I obviously
didn’t hit. If I hit you, you wouldn’t have
a nose left. One on one, I’d destroy you.”
Suit of the year
Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir
– asked in August why he bought Inter
Milan in 2013, mistakenly reminiscing
about Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit
and Marco van Basten, who joined AC
Milan in the 1980s: “I’ve been an Inter
fan ever since they bought the Dutch
trio. Buying a club isn’t just a matter of
business – you have to love that team.”
Most persecuted
Argentina’s U20 coach Gerardo Salorio,
57, suspended in February for trying
to climb perimeter fencing to fight
fans. “People call me old, a drunk, but
I just climbed the fence to look for the
haters. I’ve said a thousand sorries, but
I’m feeling like Jesus to be honest –
everyone at me for no reason.”
Oversight of the year
Thailand’s Satri Angthong keeper
Akkaradet Jangporn, 17 – not worried
about going viral in October after he
ran off his line to celebrate a shootout
victory while the ball was spinning
back into his net. “I forgot to look at
the ball. But it’s just a life lesson. All the
insults are my motivation. I just have to
prove
I’ll get better.”
p
Most in love
M
B
Belgium
: Mechelen
d
defender Uros Vitas,
ffeeling “resilient” in
February after his
F
ttorso tattoo of his
wife’s face went viral. “Itt iis easy tto
mock, but Snezane is everything in
the world to me. It turned out how it
turned out. There are no regrets
Most instantly famous
South Africa’s Free State Stars striker
Mohammed Anas, explaining what he
meant in a post-game interview in
Marc
March when he thanked
“m fans, my wife and
“my
my girlfriend … I mean
my wife.” Anas: “I don’t
hav
have a girlfriend. I call
my d
daughter my girlfriend.
That’s what I was talking about.”
Best clarification
Serie A Palermo’s new president Paul
Baccaglini – TV personality, nude model
and founder of a 2009 joke political
party based on lemons (slogan “Yes,
We Lemon”) – reassuring fans over his
credibility in March while stripping
off to reveal his club chest tattoo.
Predecessor Maurizio Zamparini
called him “a serious president, a very
intelligent person”. The takeover
collapsed four months later.
Australian sauce firm
MasterFoods, reacting
after their BBQ Sauce
bottle mascot made
“one-finger gestures”
at Newcastle Jets
fans who taunted
him in October. “The
behaviour of the
BBQ Sauce bottle is
not reflective of the family ffriendly
i dl
MasterFoods way.”
Training routine of the year
Plus: best attitude
This from Tony Adams – filmed
demonstrating
his
d
training
ground defensive
t
moves
at Granada in
m
April.
He left a month
A
l
later,
after seven straight
d
defeats
and relegation.
Romanian Liga IV Venus Bucharest’s
kee
keeper Emil Constantinescu, reflecting
on their 26-1 defeat to Academia Rapid
in November. “If they didn’t score the
first
rs 10 goals, I think we could have
wo it. But we take some positives. We
won
ge our heads up, and we go again.”
get
* 24.12.17
18 | SPORT | Athletics
UK Athletics stunned after
sprinter Levine fails drug test
IN BRIEF
DARTS
Cross on target as the
big screens shut down
Rob Cross advanced to the last 16 of the
World Darts Championship following a
high-quality 4-3 victory over 13th seed
Michael Smith at Alexandra Palace.
The duo combined for 29 maximums
during the match as both men averaged
more than 100, while Smith will rue
missing two match-winning darts in
the sixth set. Smith stormed into a
1-0 lead after rattling off the first four
legs but a checkout of 164 from Cross
galvanised the 20th seed to level the
match at 1-1. A 15-minute delay after the
screens in the arena broke down did
not stop Cross from taking the lead for
the first time by claiming the third set.
Smith won the next six legs to go 3-2
up in sets and with the scores level at
2-2 in the sixth set, he missed two darts
at doubles and Cross hit back to take
out double 14 and move into a deciding
set. The momentum was clearly in
Martha Kelner
The British sprinter Nigel Levine has
failed a drug test after the banned
substance clenbuterol was found in a
urine sample he produced. The double
European gold medallist and three-times
world medallist has requested that his B
sample be opened but the news of a failed
test has come as a shock to officials at UK
Athletics, the sport’s governing body.
Levine, 28, suffered career threatening injuries when he was
involved in a motorbike accident with his
Great Britain team-mate James Ellington while on a training camp in Tenerife
in January. But he has since returned to
running, dividing his time between an
elite squad at Loughborough University
and a group trained by Linford Christie,
although the former British champion is
no longer his primary coach.
Levine is thought to be represented
by the Austrian athletics agent Robert
Wagner, who is currently under
investigation after a newspaper sting
recorded him allegedly telling a team
of undercover reporters he was able
to supply the performance-enhancing
drugs human growth hormone and
testosterone for £220,000.
Clenbuterol is an asthma drug but has
a history of abuse in sport because of its
performance-enhancing qualities. It is
known to help burn fat, build muscle,
and improve athletic performance.
One of the most famous clenbuterol
drug bans was meted out to the
Happier times: Nigel Levine celebrates winning 400m gold at the British indoor
championships in Sheffield in 2016. Tom Shaw/British Athletics via Getty Images
road cyclist Alberto Contador, who
was suspended from professional
competition for two years after testing
positive at the 2010 Tour de France.
The Spaniard claimed it was caused by
a contaminated food supplement but
he was stripped of the Tour title as well
as his victory in the 2011 Giro d’Italia.
In athletics, the former German sprint
champion Katrin Krabbe received a
two-year ban for taking clenbuterol
and – after a legal dispute with the IAAF
– missed the 1992 Olympics, which
effectively ended her track career.
Levine has been battling back to
fitness after his accident in Tenerife,
where he was driving and collided
with an oncoming car. Born in Trinidad
and Tobago, Levine suffered multiple
fractures to his pelvis and missed the
world championships in London this
summer.
A month after the accident, Levine
said: “I’ve got to deal with it now. I’m still
smiling and getting on with life. I’m just
happy just to be alive and mobile, still got
all my limbs and have a great team.’
A UKA spokeswoman said the
governing body’s policy was not to
comment on ongoing cases.
RUGBY UNION
Aviva Premiership
Zebre
11
3
0
8 235 307
4
16
Ospreys
10
2
0
8 151 278
3
11
Conference B
Scarlets
P
10
W
8
D
0
L F A
2 306 183
B
8
Pts
40
Leinster
Ulster
10
10
8
7
0
1
2 306 164
2 289 228
5
5
37
35
Edinburgh
favour of Cross and a break in the third
leg was enough as he held his throw
in the next to book his place in the
following round. Steve West will take
on 2017 finalist and two-time winner
Gary Anderson in the third round
after winning 4-1 against Jermaine
Wattimena, while Keegan Brown
dispatched Zoran Lerchbacher with a
PA
4-2 success earlier to progress.
RUGBY LEAGUE
Leeds great dies at 71
Former Leeds winger John Atkinson
has died aged 71. The former Great
Britain and England international
was renowned as one of the greatest
players in the club’s history after
making more than 500 appearances
in the 1960s and 70s. He won three
Challenge Cups, two Premierships,
two Championships and a Regal
Trophy among other titles during his
time at Headingley. Leeds will wear
black armbands on Boxing Day at
PA
Wakefield as a mark of respect.
Christmas cheer:
A man dressed as
Santa stands
among masked
police officers
during the French
Top 14 match
between
Bordeaux-Bègles
and La Rochelle in
Bordeaux.
Nicolas Tucat/
Getty
RESULTS
FOOTBALL
Press & Journal Highland League
Deveronvale 2 Cove Rangers 3
Formartine United 3 Turriff United 0
Forres Mechanics 3 Brora 2
Fort William 3 Lossiemouth 4
Fraserburgh 7 Huntly 0
Inverurie Loco Works 5 Strathspey Thistle 0
Keith 0 Clachnacuddin 3
Rothes 0 Buckie Thistle 4
Wick Academy 1 Nairn County 1
Ferrari Packaging Lowland League
Civil Service Strollers 1 Cumbernauld Colts 1
East Kilbride 4 Selkirk 1
Gretna 2008 1 East Stirling 4
Hawick Royal Albert 3 Dalbeattie Star 2
Spartans 2 Gala Fairydean 0
Stirling University 1 BSC Glasgow 2
Vale Of Leithen 3 Whitehill Welfare 4
Danske Bank Premiership
Ards 2 Ballinamallard Utd 1
Carrick 1 Glentoran 1
Dungannon Swifts 0 Glenavon 3
Linfield 2 Cliftonville 0
JD Welsh League
Premier Division:Barry Town 4 Prestatyn Town 0;
Carmarthen 0 Bangor City 0
Division One: Afan Lido 3 Port Talbot 3; Briton Ferry 3
Goytre 1; Cambrian & Clydach Vale 1 Llanelli 3;
Ton Pentre 1 Undy Athletic 5
Exeter
P
11
W
9
D
0
L
2
F A
315 188
B
9
Pts
45
Wasps
Gloucester
11
11
7
7
0
0
4
4
316 257
255 282
6
5
34
33
Saracens
Bath
10
11
6
6
0
0
4
5
307 173
269 251
7
6
31
30
Leicester
Newcastle
10
11
6
6
0
0
4
5
254 232
206 263
4
4
28
28
Sale
Harlequins
11
11
5
5
0
0
6
6
280 246
275 298
8
5
28
25
Northampton
11
4
0
7
252 293
6
22
Worcester
London Irish
11
11
3
1
0 8
0 10
196 287
189 344
6
4
18
8
11
7
0
4 249 206
4
32
Benetton Treviso 10
NG Dragons
11
4
2
0
1
7 185 235
7 200 353
4
3
20
13
Southern Kings
0
0
10 163 391
4
4
10
(not including last night’s match)
Benetton Treviso 27 Zebre 14; Edinburgh 18 Glasgow 17;
Connacht L Ulster L
Greene King IPA Championship
Newcastle 11 Harlequins 10; Northampton 12 Exeter 35;
Sale 32 Bath 9; Wasps 49 Gloucester 24
P
W
D
L
F
A
Bristol
12
12
0
0
526
235
59
Guinness Pro14
Ealing Trailfinders 12
Bedford
12
10
6
0
2
2
4
455
385
241
324
51
38
Yorkshire Carnegie 12
Nottingham
12
7
6
1
1
4
5
289
321
305
322
35
32
Doncaster
Cornish Pirates
12
12
5
5
1
0
6
7
309
357
320
350
32
30
Richmond
Jersey
12
12
6
5
0
1
6
6
257
227
336
245
28
25
London Scottish
Hartpury RFC
12
12
3
3
1
1
8
8
299
223
400
292
23
22
Rotherham Titans 12
0
0
12
210
488
3
Conference A
Glasgow
P
11
W
10
D
0
L
F A
1 350 172
B
9
Pts
49
Munster
10
7
0
3 309 168
8
36
Cheetahs
Cardiff Blues
10
10
6
4
0
0
4 299 285
6 220 268
5
3
29
19
Connacht
10
3
0
7 185 209
6
18
Pts
Rotherham 19 Doncaster 36; Ealing 4 Richmond 24;
London Scottish 52 Bedford 52; Yorkshire Carnegie 12
Nottingham 10
National League Division One
Moseley 17 Coventry 41; Bishop’s Stortford 34
Old Elthamians 20; Blackheath 17 Rosslyn Park 17;
Darlington 26 Hull Ionians 0; Esher 29 Plymouth Albion 33;
Fylde 9 Caldy 34; Loughborough 21 Cambridge 28;
Old Albanians 35 Ampthill & District 35
Principality Premiership
West Bridgend 10 RGC 27; Llandovery 29 Carmarthen Quins
14; Swansea 38 Llanelli 7. East Ebbw Vale 33 Bedwas 17;
Merthyr 19 Bargoed 23; Pontypridd 20 Cardiff RFC 18
TODAY
Aviva Premiership: Leicester v Saracens (3pm)
BOXING DAY
Guinness Pro14
Munster v Leinster (3.15pm); Newport Gwent Dragons v
Cardiff Blues (2pm); Scarlets v Ospreys (5.35pm)
FRIDAY (7.45pm unless stated)
Aviva Premiership: Bath v Wasps
Greene King IPA: Doncaster v Yorkshire Carnegie;
Nottingham v London Scottish
SATURDAY (3pm unless stated)
Aviva Premiership: Gloucester v Sale; Harlequins v
Northampton (4pm); London Irish v Newcastle;
Saracens v Worcester
Guinness Pro14 Glasgow v Edinburgh (3.15pm); Zebre v
Benetton Treviso (2pm)
Greene King IPA Championship Bedford v Ealing Trailfinders;
Hartpury v Rotherham (2.30pm); Richmond v Bristol
SUNDAY (3pm unless stated)
Aviva Premiership: Exeter v Leicester (3pm)
Guinness PRO14: Cardiff v Scarlets (3.15pm);
Newport Gwent Dragons (5.35pm)
RUGBY LEAGUE
BOXING DAY
Friendly matches
Castleford v Featherstone (1pm); Wakefield v Leeds (11.30);
Dewsbury v Batley (noon); Bradford v Halifax (3pm)
FRIDAY
Friendly match
Widnes v Warrington (8pm)
CRICKET
Christchurch: Second One-Day International
New Zealand beat West Indies by 204 runs
NEW ZEALAND
GH Worker c Powell b Beaton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58
C Munro c J Mohammed b Cottrell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
NT Broom c Holder b Cottrell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
LRP Taylor c SD Hope b Holder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57
TWM Latham c SD Hope b Holder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20
HM Nicholls not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83
TD Astle b Cottrell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49
DAJ Bracewell not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Extras (lb3, w14). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17
Total (for 6, 50 overs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .325
Fall: 1-50 2-66 3-124 4-169 5-186 6-316
Did not bat: MJ Henry, LH Ferguson, TA Boult.
Bowling: Cottrell 10-0-62-3; Holder 10-0-52-2; Beaton 8-060-1; Gabriel 10-0-75-0; Nurse 10-0-45-0; Powell 2-0-28-0.
WEST INDIES
E Lewis c DAJ Bracewell b Boult . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
KA Hope b Boult . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
SD Hope c Latham b Boult . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23
SO Hetmyer c Worker b Boult . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
J Mohammed c & b Ferguson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18
JO Holder c Munro b Ferguson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
R Powell b Ferguson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
AR Nurse c Worker b Boult . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
SS Cottrell c Latham b Boult . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
RR Beaton not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
ST Gabriel b Boult . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
Extras (w2, nb1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Total (28 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .121
Fall: 1-10 2-15 3-21 4-52 5-70 6-70 7-86 8-100 9-121
Bowling: Henry 7-0-36-0; Boult 10-3-35-7; DAJ Bracewell
5-0-19-0; Ferguson 4-0-17-3; Astle 2-0-14-0.
BOXING DAY
Fourth Test
Melbourne: Australia v England (11.30pm)
One-Off Test Match (first day of four)
Port Elizabeth: South Africa v Zimbabwe (11.30am)
Third One-Day International
Christchurch: New Zealand v West Indies (10pm)
FRIDAY
First T20 International:
Nelson: New Zealand v West Indies (2am)
DARTS
PDC World Darts Championships (London)
Second round: K Brown (Eng) bt Z Lerchbacher (Aut) 4-2;
R Cross (Eng) bt M Smith (Eng) 4-3; S West (Eng) bt
J Wattimena (Ned) 4-1.
HORSE RACING
ASCOT
12.40: 1, One Of Us, Lizzie Kelly (13-2); 2= Comely (5-1);
2= Forgetthesmalltalk (7-2 Fav) (Nick Williams). 14 ran.
NR: Here Comes Molly.
1.15: 1, Coney Island, B Geraghty (11-8); 2, Adrien Du Pont
(11-10 Fav); 3, More Of That (6-1) (E P Harty). 3 ran.
1.50: 1, Mr Medic, J Best (10-1); 2, Rock On Rocky (10-1);
3, Dream Bolt (11-1) (R Walford). 11 ran. NR: Grey Gold.
2.25: 1, Sam Spinner, Joe Colliver (9-2); 2, L’ami Serge (5-1);
3, Unowhatimeanharry (6-4 Fav) (Jedd O’Keeffe). 8 ran.
NR: Agrapart.
3.00: 1, Gold Present, Nico de Boinville (17-2); 2, Frodon (8-1);
3, Walk In The Mill (9-1) (N Henderson). 14 ran.
3.35: 1, Hunters Call, J W Kennedy (9-1); 2, Silver Streak
(8-1); 3, Verdana Blue (5-1 Fav); 4, Bleu Et Rouge (7-1) (Olly
Murphy). 17 ran.
HAYDOCK
11.50: 1, Eminent Poet, H F Nugent (9-1); 2, Southfield Royale
(11-2); 3, De Vous A Moi (16-1) (Miss V Williams). 7 ran.
12.25: 1, Testify, W T Kennedy (5-2); 2, Clyne (5-4 Fav);
3, Born Survivor (2-1) (D McCain Jr). 3 ran. NR: Presenting
Rose.
1.00: 1, Cap Soleil, P J Brennan (11-10 Fav); 2, Angels Antics
(13-2); 3, Court Artist (7-2) (F O’Brien). 5 ran.
1.35: 1, Ubaltique, W T Kennedy (4-1); 2, Uno Valoroso (8-1);
3, Eamon An Cnoic (2-1 Fav) (D McCain Jr). 6 ran.
2.10: 1, Limited Reserve, James Bowen (8-13 Fav); 2,
Zalvados (9-1); 3, Kk Lexion (4-1) (Christian Williams). 5 ran.
2.45: 1, Captain Redbeard, Sam Coltherd (14-1); 2, Catamaran
Du Seuil (10-1); 3, Lake View Lad (11-2) (W Coltherd). 9 ran.
NR: Earthmoves.
3.20: 1, Chti Balko, W T Kennedy (11-4); 2, Sleepy Haven
(12-1); 3, Cap Du Nord (2-1 Fav) (D McCain Jr). 6 ran.
NEWCASTLE
11.45: 1, The Great Getaway, B Hughes (9-1); 2, Silva Eclipse
(6-4 Fav); 3, Snapdragon Fire (10-3) (D McCain Jr). 15 ran.
NR: Hooligan Jack.
12.15: 1, Kauto Riko, B Hughes (9-4); 2, Applaus (7-1);
3, Where’s Tiger (12-1) (T Gretton). 5 ran.
12.50: 1, Beyondtemptation, Thomas Dowson (14-1);
2, Conquer Gold (3-1); 3, Miss Tiggy (7-1) (J Haynes). 8 ran.
1.25: 1, Very First Time, B Hughes (5-2); 2, Teddy Tee (9-2);
3, Central Flame (28-1) (T D Easterby). 7 ran.
2.00: 1, Morning With Ivan, James Corbett (9-2); 2, Baby
Ticker (33-1); 3, The Lady Rules (25-1) (S Corbett). 15 ran.
2.35: 1, Saints And Sinners, H Bannister (17-2); 2, Chidswell
(4-1); 3, Dubai Angel (6-5 Fav) (M W Easterby). 8 ran.
3.10: 1, Star Of Lanka, Nathan Moscrop (14-1); 2, Five Bar
Brian (20-1); 3, He’s A Goer (5-2 Jt Fav) (Sally Haynes).
10 ran. NR: Gold Fields.
LINGFIELD
12.00: 1, Lawn Ranger, K Fox (20-1); 2, Demons And Wizards
(8-13 Fav); 3, Winged Spur (11-4) (M J Attwater). 9 ran.
12.35: 1, Zest, D Muscutt (4-7 Fav); 2, Singyoursong (11-4);
3, Summer Icon (7-1) (J Fanshawe). 4 ran.
1.10: 1, Crystal Deauville, M Dwyer (3-1); 2, Red Snapper
(10-1); 3, Tonkolili (5-2) (Miss Gay Kelleway). 5 ran.
1.45: 1, Petite Jack, L Morris (7-2); 2, Mia Tesoro (16-1);
3, Utmost (4-1) (Archie Watson). 8 ran. NR: Red Label.
2.20: 1, Roundabout Magic, N Mackay (5-1); 2, Shackled N
Drawn (10-1); 3, Temple Road (9-2) (S Dow). 10 ran.
2.55: 1, Hajaam, S Donohoe (13-2); 2, Primero (6-4 Fav);
3, Abareeq (5-1) (C Fellowes). 8 ran.
3.30: 1, Sanches, Hollie Doyle (66-1); 2, Widnes (3-1 Fav);
3, Hi There Silver (25-1) (Dr J Naylor). 11 ran.
FOOTBALL FIXTURES
BOXING DAY (3pm unless stated)
Premier League
Bournemouth v West Ham; Chelsea v Brighton;
Huddersfield v Stoke; Liverpool v Swansea (Sky
Sports Premier League, 5.30pm); Manchester Utd v
Burnley; Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton (Sky
Sports Premier League, 12.30pm); Watford v
Leicester; West Brom v Everton
Sky Bet Championship
Barnsley v Preston; Birmingham v Norwich;
Brentford v Aston Villa (Sky Sports Football,
7.30pm); Bristol City v Reading; Burton Albion v
Leeds Sky Sports Football; Cardiff v Fulham; Hull v
Derby; Ipswich v QPR; Middlesbrough v Bolton;
Millwall v Wolves (1pm); Nottingham Forest v
Sheffield Wed; Sheffield Utd v Sunderland
Sky Bet League One
Blackburn v Rochdale; Blackpool v Scunthorpe;
Bradford v Peterborough; Bury v Rotherham;
Doncaster v Northampton; Gillingham v Oxford Utd
(1pm); MK Dons v Plymouth; Oldham v Fleetwood
Town; Portsmouth v AFC Wimbledon; Southend v
Charlton (1pm); Walsall v Bristol Rovers; Wigan v
Shrewsbury
Sky Bet League Two
Cambridge Utd v Barnet; Carlisle v Accrington Stanley;
Cheltenham v Yeovil; Chesterfield v Crewe;
Crawley Town v Colchester; Exeter v Forest Green;
Grimsby v Mansfield (1pm); Lincoln City v Stevenage;
Morecambe v Notts County; Port Vale v Coventry;
Swindon v Luton; Wycombe v Newport County
Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
Dundee v Celtic (BT Sport 1, 12.30pm)
Ladbrokes Scottish Championship
Dumbarton v Livingston (2pm)
WEDNESDAY (7.45pm unless stated)
Premier League
Newcastle Utd v Manchester City (Sky Sports
Premier League)
Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
Aberdeen v Partick; Hamilton v Kilmarnock;
Hearts v Hibernian (Sky Sports Football);
Rangers v Motherwell; Ross County v St Johnstone
THURSDAY
Premier League
Crystal Palace v Arsenal (Sky Sports Premier
League, 8pm)
FRIDAY (7.45pm unless stated)
Sky Bet Championship
Cardiff v Preston (Sky Sports Football);
Millwall v QPR
Sky Bet League One
Doncaster v Rochdale; Wigan v Charlton
Sky Bet League Two
Morecambe v Yeovil
Ladbrokes Scottish Championship
St Mirren v Dundee Utd (BT Sport 2)
SATURDAY (3pm unless stated)
Premier League
Bournemouth v Everton; Chelsea v Stoke City;
Huddersfield v Burnley; Liverpool v Leicester City;
Manchester Utd v Southampton (BT Sport 1,
5.30pm); Newcastle v Brighton; Watford v Swansea
Sky Bet Championship
Barnsley v Reading; Birmingham v Leeds; Brentford
v Sheffield Wed; Bristol City v Wolves (Sky Sports
Football, 5.30pm); Burton Albion v Norwich; Hull v
Fulham; Ipswich v Derby; Middlesbrough v
Aston Villa; Nottingham Forest v Sunderland;
Sheffield Utd v Bolton
Sky Bet League One
Blackburn v Scunthorpe; Blackpool v Plymouth;
Bradford v Oxford Utd; Bury v Fleetwood Town;
Gillingham v AFC Wimbledon; MK Dons v
Peterborough; Oldham v Bristol Rovers; Portsmouth
v Northampton; Southend v Shrewsbury Town;
Walsall v Rotherham
Sky Bet League Two
Cambridge Utd v Crewe; Carlisle v Coventry;
Cheltenham v Newport County; Chesterfield v
Colchester; Crawley Town v Stevenage; Exeter v
Barnet; Grimsby v Accrington Stanley; Lincoln City v
Forest Green; Port Vale v Luton; Swindon v Notts
County; Wycombe v Mansfield
Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
Aberdeen v Hearts; Celtic v Rangers (Sky Sports
Football, noon); Hibernian v Kilmarnock;
Motherwell v Hamilton; Partick v Ross County;
St Johnstone v Dundee
Ladbrokes Scottish Championship
Brechin v Inverness CT; Dumbarton v Morton; Falkirk
v Queen of the South; Livingston v Dunfermline
Ladbrokes Scottish League One
Airdrieonians v Alloa; Arbroath v East Fife; Ayr v
Forfar; Queen’s Park v Albion; Raith v Stranraer
Ladbrokes Scottish League Two
Berwick v Stenhousemuir; Edinburgh City v Clyde;
Elgin v Stirling; Montrose v Peterhead
NEW YEAR’S EVE
Premier League
Crystal Palace v Manchester City (BT Sport 1, noon);
West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal (Sky Sports
Premier League, 4.30pm)
24.12.17
*
Football results | SPORT | 19
CHAMPIONSHIP
PREMIER LEAGUE
HOME
P
W
HOME
AWAY
D
L
F
A
W
D
L
F
A
19
9 1 0 36
7
9 0 0 24
5 48 55
Man Utd
18
8 0 1 22
3
5 2 2 17
9 27 41
Chelsea
19
6 1 2 14
7
6 2 2 18
7 18 39
Liverpool
19
4 5 0 14
3
5 3 2 27 20 18 35
Tottenham
19
5 3 1 16
6
5 1 4 18 12 16 34
Arsenal
19
8 1 1 25 10
2 3 4
9 13 11 34
Burnley
19
5 2 3
4 3 2
9
9
1 32
Leicester City 18
4 1 4 11 12
3 4 2 16 14
1 26
Everton
19
6 1 3 17 13
1 4 4
7 17
-6 26
Watford
19
2 3 4 11 20
4 1 5 16 14
-7 22
Huddersfield
19
4 2 3
9 11
2 2 6
8 20 -14 22
Brighton
7
6
19
3 5 2 10 12
2 1 6
5 11
-8 21
Southampton 19
3 4 4 13 15
1 3 4
5 10
-7 19
Stoke City
4 2 4 13 19
1 2 6
9 21 -18 19
2 2 6 10 17 -10 18
19
Newcastle Utd 19
3 1 5
Crystal Palace 19
3 3 3 12 15
1 3 6
4 14 -13 18
West Ham Utd 19
3 2 4 10 14
1 3 6
9 21 -16 17
Bournemouth 19
2 2 5
9 13
2 2 6
6 15 -13 16
West Brom
19
1 5 3
9 14
1 3 6
5 13 -13 14
Swansea City 19
2 2 6
6 15
1 2 6
5 11 -15 13
9 12
P
W
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
9
8
8
6
6
6
7
5
6
7
4
3
7
3
4
3
6
5
4
3
2
1
4
4
GD Pts
Man City
Wolves
Cardiff
Derby County
Bristol City
Leeds
Aston Villa
Sheffield Utd
Preston
Middlesbrough
Ipswich
Fulham
Brentford
Nottm Forest
Reading
Sheffield Wed
Norwich
Millwall
QPR
Hull
Barnsley
Burton
Sunderland
Bolton
Birmingham
ASTON VILLA
BRIGHTON
(0) 1
Gross 64
SOUTHAMPTON
(1) 1
Austin 24
WATFORD
(0) 0
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
(0) 1
Depoitre 64
Att 30,473 Ref Paul Tierney
Att 29,675 Ref Lee Probert
BURNLEY
(0) 0
STOKE CITY
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
(1) 3
WEST BROMWICH ALBION
(2) 3
Allen 19; Choupo-Moting 45; Sobhi 90
Kane 7 pen, 69, 79
(0) 1
Rondón 51
Att 29,057 Ref Neil Swarbrick
Ref Michael Oliver
EVERTON
(0) 0
SWANSEA CITY
CHELSEA
(0) 0
CRYSTAL PALACE
(0) 1
Ayew 77
(0) 1
Milivojevic 59 pen
Att 39,191 Ref Robert Madley
Att 20,354 Ref Craig Pawson
LEICESTER CITY
(-) L
WEST HAM UNITED
MANCHESTER UNITED
(-) L
NEWCASTLE UNITED
(1) 2
Saivet 10; Diamé 53; Atsu 61
MANCHESTER CITY
(1) 4
Agüero 27, 79; Sterling 53; Danilo 85
BOURNEMOUTH
■ Lineups with match reports, p2-6
(0) 0
Att 54,270 Ref Mike Jones
A
10
5
8
11
9
10
12
9
9
12
12
14
13
15
15
13
12
15
21
16
25
20
19
11
W
8
6
5
6
6
4
5
4
4
4
4
4
3
4
2
4
0
1
1
2
3
2
0
0
D
L
F
1
2
4
5
0
3
1
4
3
1
2
3
1
2
4
1
6
4
5
4
4
5
5
3
2
4
2
1
5
4
6
3
5
7
5
5
8
5
5
6
6
6
6
6
5
4
6
9
18
13
17
20
18
14
16
14
17
15
16
17
16
15
9
10
5
9
9
14
6
15
8
5
(2) 2
QPR
(2) 2
BRISTOL CITY
A
7
13
13
13
17
12
17
14
14
21
17
17
25
15
14
17
13
19
20
20
16
19
22
22
GD
Pts
P
W
26
15
17
13
9
9
7
4
7
4
0
4
-5
-1
-2
-8
-1
-8
-4
-11
-25
-11
-18
-21
54
47
44
44
39
38
38
36
35
35
32
31
31
27
27
27
26
26
22
21
20
19
19
17
Wigan
22
Shrewsbury
22
Blackburn
22
Scunthorpe
23
Bradford
23
Charlton
22
Peterborough 23
Portsmouth
23
Rotherham
23
Oxford Utd
23
Walsall
22
Blackpool
23
Southend
23
Doncaster
23
Fleetwood
23
Oldham
23
Bristol Rovers 23
Gillingham
23
MK Dons
23
Plymouth
23
AFC Wimbledon 22
Northampton 23
Rochdale
22
Bury
22
8
9
6
6
5
6
7
7
7
4
4
5
5
3
4
5
7
2
3
4
3
4
4
4
(1) 1
AFC WIMBLEDON
(0) 1
BRADFORD CITY
Flint 37 og
Donaldson 12, 26
BURTON
(1) 2
Flanagan 40; Naylor 81
Bolton Alnwick, Little, Wheater, Beevers,
Andrew Taylor, Pratley■, Henry■,
Ameobi, Vela, Buckley (Noone 60),
Madine■ (Wilbraham 90). Subs not used
Robinson, Cullen, Armstrong, Burke,
Turner
Reading Mannone, Bacuna, McShane,
Moore, Gunter, Edwards (Swift 61), van
den Berg, Kelly (Bodvarsson 82), Aluko,
Kermorgant, Barrow. Subs not used
McCleary, Tiago Ilori, Clement, Blackett,
Jaakkola
Cardiff Etheridge, Peltier■, Ecuele
Manga■, Bamba, Bennett, Halford■,
Mendez-Laing, Damour■ (Tomlin 78),
Ralls, Hoilett, Bogle (Zohore 66), Tomlin
(Feeney 90). Subs not used Pilkington,
Connolly, Paterson, Murphy.
Att 15,344 Ref Robert Jones
Burton Bywater, Akins, Brayford, Buxton,
Turner, Flanagan, Miller (Allen 69), Naylor,
Murphy■ (McFadzean 89), Dyer, Sordell
(Scannell 84).
Subs not used Palmer, Akpan, Campbell,
Sbarra.
Att 21,771 Ref John Brooks
DERBY COUNTY
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY
(3) 3
(1) 1
Wallace 30
(0) 0
MIDDLESBROUGH
(0) 2
Howson 71; Shotton 83
Derby County Carson, Baird, Keogh,
Davies, Forsyth, Huddlestone, Ledley,
Weimann (Thorne 82), Vydra (Russell 71),
Johnson, Nugent (Winnall 72). Subs not
used Martin, Lawrence, Wisdom, Mitchell
Sheff Wed Wildsmith, Palmer■, Venancio,
Van Aken■, Pudil (Joao 81), Wallace
(Butterfield 65), Hutchinson, Jones, Reach,
Hooper, Nuhiu (Rhodes 84). Subs not used
Matias, Baker, Abdi, Dawson
Millwall Archer, Romeo, Hutchinson,
Cooper■, Meredith, Wallace (Williams
66), Tunnicliffe, Saville, O’Brien
(Onyedinma 66), Morison, Gregory (Elliott
65). Subs not used McLaughlin, Craig,
Thompson, Martin.
Att 25,813 Ref Darren England
Middlesbrough Randolph, Christie, Shotton,
Gibson, Da Silva, Howson■, Leadbitter,
Downing (Tavernier 90), Bamford
(Gestede 83), Braithwaite (Johnson
64), Assombalonga. Subs not used
Konstantopoulos, Friend, Ayala, Fletcher.
Att 27,471 Ref Peter Bankes
FULHAM
SUNDERLAND
(0) 2
Ayite 54; Ojo 72
BARNSLEY
ITALY
TOP 15
P W
17 14
17 10
17 10
16 9
17 9
17 7
17 7
17 6
17 6
17 6
17 6
17 5
16 6
17 6
17 5
D
3
6
4
4
2
3
3
5
5
5
3
6
3
3
5
L F
0 45
1 25
2 36
3 30
6 20
6 23
7 22
6 22
6 31
6 21
8 30
6 18
7 12
8 25
7 14
A Pts
7 45
8 36
16 34
14 31
22 29
20 27
29 24
16 23
29 23
26 23
25 21
19 21
14 21
31 21
21 20
Deportivo 1 Celta Vigo 3
Real Madrid 0 Barcelona 3
Valencia L Villarreal L
NETHERLANDS
TOP SEVEN
PSV Eindhoven
Ajax
AZ Alkmaar
PEC Zwolle
Feyenoord
Utrecht
ADO Den Haag
P W
17 14
17 12
17 11
18 9
16 8
17 8
18 8
(0) 1
Bradshaw 68
SPAIN
Barcelona
Atlético Madrid
Valencia
Real Madrid
Sevilla
Villarreal
Eibar
Getafe
Real Sociedad
Girona
Celta Vigo
Athletic Bilbao
Leganés
Real Betis
Espanyol
TOP 10
Napoli
Juventus
Internazionale
Roma
Lazio
Sampdoria
Atalanta
Fiorentina
Udinese
Torino
P W
18 14
17 13
18 12
16 12
17 11
17 8
18 7
18 7
17 8
18 5
D
3
2
4
2
3
3
6
5
0
9
L
1
2
2
2
3
6
5
6
9
4
F
41
44
34
28
43
32
28
27
30
25
A Pts
13 45
14 41
14 40
10 38
22 36
26 27
23 27
19 26
25 24
27 24
BELGIUM
D
1
2
2
6
5
4
2
L F
2 47
3 51
4 31
3 26
3 32
5 27
8 25
A Pts
20 43
16 38
18 35
21 33
15 29
28 28
28 26
AZ Alkmaar L Heerenveen L
Excelsior L Twente L
NAC Breda 3 Utrecht 1
PSV Eindhoven L Vitesse L
TODAY
Ajax v Willem II (1.30pm); Feyenoord
v Roda JC (3.45pm); Groningen v
Sparta Rotterdam (11.30am);
VVV-Venlo v Heracles (1.30pm)
TOP 13
Club Brugge
Charleroi
Anderlecht
Gent
Antwerp
St Truidense
RE Mouscron
W’land-Beveren
Standard Liège
Genk
Oostende
Lokeren
Zulte Waregem
P W
20 16
20 11
20 11
20 9
20 8
19 7
20 7
20 7
19 6
19 5
20 6
20 5
20 6
D L F
2 2 49
6 3 33
4 5 30
5 6 27
7 5 27
7 5 23
5 8 27
4 9 37
7 6 19
9 5 25
4 10 25
6 9 22
2 12 31
A Pts
17 50
20 39
26 37
17 32
24 31
25 28
32 26
36 25
22 25
24 24
26 22
31 21
36 20
Genk L Kortrijk L
RE Mouscron 2 Zulte Waregem 1
Standard Liège L St Truidense L
BIRMINGHAM CITY
(1) 1
Gallagher 16
P W D L F
A GD Pts
Celtic
20 14 5 1 46 15 31 47
20 12 3 5 32 24 8 39
Rangers
20 11 3 6 39 25 14 36
Hibernian
20
9 6 5 30 26 4 33
Hearts
20
7 7 6 21 19 2 28
Kilmarnock 20
6 7 7 24 27 -3 25
St Johnstone 19
7 4 8 20 27 -7 25
Motherwell 19
7 3 9 25 27 -2 24
Hamilton
20
5 5 10 27 33 -6 20
Dundee
20
5 4 11 21 30 -9 19
Partick
20
4 5 11 17 36-19 17
Ross County 20
4 4 12 20 33-13 16
HIBERNIAN
(1) 2
(1) 1
Curran 14
ABERDEEN
(0) 0
P
W
23
23
23
23
23
23
22
23
23
22
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
23
9
8
8
7
6
5
6
6
6
3
4
4
2
6
5
6
3
3
5
5
4
3
4
3
(2) 4
(0) 1
Gerrard 56
D
1
4
0
2
3
4
2
4
5
2
5
4
5
2
5
2
2
1
4
2
2
3
2
2
ACCRINGTON STANLEY
AWAY
L
2
0
3
3
2
2
3
2
1
6
2
3
4
3
2
3
6
7
3
6
5
6
5
7
D
L
F
5
4
3
3
4
3
2
2
4
0
3
2
2
4
1
4
4
3
2
0
5
2
3
3
1
3
5
4
4
4
4
5
4
3
4
5
4
6
7
6
4
5
8
8
6
7
8
6
16
14
15
11
17
13
15
12
12
22
17
14
17
13
9
7
12
13
12
7
10
14
12
10
(1) 2
MANSFIELD TOWN
(3) 3
MORECAMBE
A
8
14
19
10
16
11
15
17
14
9
16
17
18
19
19
20
16
15
29
17
18
20
27
21
GD
Pts
34
15
3
9
9
9
7
6
6
7
6
-3
1
0
-2
-9
-6
-9
-11
-14
-10
-10
-18
-20
48
44
39
38
37
37
37
36
36
35
35
33
31
30
30
30
27
25
24
23
22
20
20
20
(1) 2
Hemmings 8; Rose 88
Clark 9 og; Boldewijn 10, 41
(0) 1
Lang 50
Mansfield Logan, White■, Diamond,
Bennett, Benning, Digby (Atkinson 70),
MacDonald, Hamilton■, Butcher (Mellis
54), Hemmings (Anderson 54), Rose■.
Subs not used Pearce, Angol, Olejnik,
Spencer
Plymouth Roos, Threlkeld, Edwards,
Bradley, Sawyer, Songo’o, Lameiras (Jervis
71), Fox (Sangster 89), Diagouraga, Carey
(Grant 77), Taylor. Subs not used Miller,
Ainsworth, Wylde, Cooper
Accrington Chapman, Donacien, Rawson
(Richards-Everton 46), Hughes, Johnson,
Clark (Sousa 85), Conneely (Wilks 46),
Brown, McConville, Jackson, Kee.
Subs not used Nolan, Sykes, Stryjek, Ogle
Bradford Sattelmaier, McMahon,
Thompson, Kilgallon, Robinson, Gilliead,
Vincelot, Reeves (Dieng 71), Law
(McCartan 78), Taylor, Wyke. Subs not used
Field, Hanson, Hendrie, Raeder, Patrick.
Att 4,215 Ref Graham Horwood
Oldham Placide, Dummigan, Gerrard,
Brian Wilson■, McLaughlin (Holloway
46), Gardner, Fane (Hunt■ 46),
Nepomuceno (Obadeyi 66), Jack Byrne■,
Davies, Flynn. Subs not used Ben Wilson,
Clarke, Green.
Att 10,017 Ref Lee Collins
Crawley Morris, Young, Connolly,
Yorwerth■, Evina■, Bulman, Payne,
Randall■ (Clifford■ 69), Boldewijn■,
Lelan, Meite■.
Subs not used Doherty, Mersin, Tajbakhsh,
Verheijdt, Lewis, Sanoh.
Att 1,295 Ref Scott Oldham
BRISTOL ROVERS
(0) 0
ROCHDALE
(0) 1
BARNET
(0) 0
NEWPORT COUNTY
(0) 0
DONCASTER ROVERS
(1) 1
WALSALL
(0) 1
CHELTENHAM
(2) 2
LINCOLN CITY
(0) 0
Morecambe Roche■, Muller, Old, Lavelle,
McGowan, Rose, Kenyon, Campbell
(Thompson 81), Conlan, Oliver (Ellison■
73), Lang (McGurk 72). Subs not used
Fleming, Nizic, Lund, Osborne.
Att 3,058 Ref Ross Joyce
Andrew 63
Mason 33 pen
Kouhyar 90
Dawson 32; Winchester 38
Bristol Rovers Smith, Leadbitter
(Telford 87), Lockyer, Sweeney, Brown,
Sercombe■, Partington■, Sinclair (Lines
67), Bodin, Gaffney (Nichols 73), Harrison.
Subs not used Slocombe, Ollie Clarke,
Broadbent, Bola
Rochdale Lillis, Rafferty, McGahey,
Daniels■, Bunney■, Rathbone, Camps,
Jordan Williams (Thompson 72), Done
(Inman 46), Henderson, Andrew.
Subs not used McNulty, Keane, Moore,
Kitching, Gillam
Doncaster Lawlor, Baudry, Butler,
Wright■, Mason, Kongolo (Whiteman
72), Houghton■, Rowe, Garrett, Beestin
(May 75), Marquis. Subs not used Alcock,
Marosi, Mandeville, Longbottom, Ben
Khemis.
Att 8,300 Ref Dean Whitestone
Walsall Gillespie, Edwards (Flanagan 87),
Guthrie■, Kory Roberts, Leahy, Chambers,
Devlin, Ismail (Kouhyar 80), Oztumer,
Morris (Jackson 71), Agyei.
Subs not used Kinsella, Donnellan,
Candlin, Ganley.
Att 2,702 Ref Andy Haines
CHARLTON ATHLETIC
(1) 1
ROTHERHAM UNITED
(0) 1
MILTON KEYNES DONS
Aribo 15
Gnanduillet 90
Lincoln City Vickers, Eardley, Waterfall■,
Raggett■, Habergham, Anderson,
Woodyard, Bostwick■, Arnold (Knott
75), Green, Rhead■ (Palmer 69). Subs
not used Farman, Long, Whitehouse,
Ginnelly, Dickie.
Att 3,514 Ref Brett Huxtable
(2) 2
COLCHESTER UNITED
(1) 1
NOTTS COUNTY
(1) 1
PORT VALE
(0) 1
CAMBRIDGE UNITED
Szmodics 32
Aneke 9
Rotherham Rodak, Emmanuel, Ajayi■,
Vaulks, Mattock, Forde, Frecklington■,
Towell, Williams (Newell 71), Yates (ClarkeHarris 89), Ball (Ihiekwe 90). Subs not used
O’Donnell, Purrington, Cummings, Wiles
Blackpool Williams, Mellor, Robertson,
Tilt, Taylor (Quigley 81), Cooke (Longstaff
62), Ryan, D’Almeida, Daniel, Gnanduillet,
Philliskirk (Solomon-Otabor 62). Subs
not used Anderton, Allsop, Delfouneso,
Spearing.
Att 10,172 Ref John Busby
MK Dons Nicholls, B Williams, EbanksLandell■, Wootton (Thomas-Asante 90),
Walsh, McGrandles■, Upson (Gilbey 58),
Agard, Aneke■, Pawlett, Sow (Ariyibi
66). Subs not used Cisse, Sietsma, Seager,
Muirhead.
Att 8,333 Ref Darren Drysdale
NORTHAMPTON TOWN
(1) 1
SCUNTHORPE UNITED
(0) 1
SOUTHEND UNITED
Pierre 21
(1) 3
Dack 48
Demetriou 25
(1) 3
Ikpeazu 40; Brown 49, 68
Colchester Walker, Jackson, Eastman,
Kent, Vincent-Young, Lapslie, Comley■,
Drey Wright (Murray 76), Szmodics
(Hanlan 89), Reid (James 67), Mandron.
Subs not used Slater, Odelusi, Guthrie,
Gilmartin
Notts County Fitzsimons, Tootle,
Duffy, Brisley■, Dickinson (Jones 61),
Hawkridge (Alessandra 61), Yates, Hewitt,
Grant, Stead (Forte 74), Ameobi.
Subs not used Pindroch, Smith, Hunt,
Milsom
Port Vale Boot, Davis■, Smith, Gunning,
Pugh, Kay, Worrall, Whitfield (Denton 75),
Harness, Montano (Barnett 46), Pope.
Subs not used Lainton, Forrester, Turner,
Kelly, Tonge.
Att 3,485 Ref Nicholas Kinsley
Cambridge Forde■, Halliday, Legge, Taft,
Carroll■, Elito, Brown■, Taylor, Maris
(Osadebe 84), Ikpeazu■, Azeez.
Subs not used Mingoia, Mitov, Amoo,
Davies, Knowles.
Att 6,102 Ref Anthony Backhouse
CREWE ALEXANDRA
(0) 0
STEVENAGE Newton 13;
SWINDON TOWN
(3) 3
CHESTERFIELD
van Veen 32; Townsend 63; Turner 86 og
(1) 1
(0) 3
Alessandra 74; Brisley 87; Forte 90
Harness 75
Charlton Amos, Dijksteel, Sarr■, Konsa,
Dasilva, Aribo, Jackson, Marshall (Kashi
83), Reeves (Lapslie 74), Best (AhearneGrant 63), Magennis■. Subs not used
Phillips, Dodoo, Lennon, Hackett-Fairchild
BLACKBURN ROVERS
Newport Co Day, White, O’Brien■,
Demetriou, Pipe, Tozer (Bennett 8),
Labadie■, Dolan, Butler, McCoulsky
(Amond 71), Nouble. Subs not used
Willmott, Reynolds, Owen-Evans, Touray,
Bittner
Cheltenham Flinders, Moore■, Grimes,
Boyle, Winchester, Dawson, Pell■ (Storer
83), Atangana, Morrell, Hinds (Wright 87),
Eisa. Subs not used Page, Bower, Graham,
Lovett, Dawes.
Att 1,487 Ref Trevor Kettle
Ajayi 21; Vaulks 29
BLACKPOOL
Barnet Stephens, Clough (Akinola 46),
Nelson■, Santos, Brindley (Vilhete 82),
Watson■, Jack Taylor■, Blackman,
Campbell-Ryce, Akinde, Coulthirst
(Nicholls 79).
Subs not used Tutonda, Fonguck, Ross,
Sweeney
(3) 5
Gorman 28; Rowley 44 og; Godden 50, 72
Woolery 8; Linganzi 17; Norris 20 pen
(1) 1
Dennis 42
Chesterfield Eastwood, Wiseman, Hird■,
Evatt (Dimaio 32), Binnom-Williams,
Rowley, McCourt, Reed, Kellett (De
Girolamo 73), O’Grady, Dennis.
Subs not used Mitchell, Wakefield,
German, Parkin, Ofoegbu.
Att 2,403 Ref Craig Hicks
LEEDS UNITED
(1) 1
WOLVES
(1) 1
OXFORD UNITED
(0) 0
SHREWSBURY TOWN
(0) 2
FOREST GREEN
(0) 0
YEOVIL
(0) 0
IPSWICH TOWN
(0) 0
WIGAN Grigg 11, 52, 54;
(3) 7
PORTSMOUTH
(0) 0
CARLISLE UNITED
(1) 1
EXETER CITY
Hernández 29
HULL CITY
Ivan Cavaleiro 40
Whalley 59; Payne 81
Hull McGregor, Tomori, Dawson■, Mazuch
(Stewart 31), Aina, Larsson, Hector■,
Toral (Bowen 73), Irvine, Grosicki, Dicko
(Henriksen 81). Subs not used Marshall,
Diomande, Clark, Clackstone.
Att 35,156 Ref Stephen Martin
PRESTON
(0) 1
Huntington 75
NOTTINGHAM FOREST
Ipswich Bialkowski, Spence, Chambers,
Webster■, Kenlock, Connolly■,
Bru (Bishop 66), Ward, Waghorn■
(McGoldrick 72), Celina, Garner (Sears 78).
Subs not used Smith, Crowe, Webber,
McDonnell.
Att 30,218 Ref David Coote
TOP SCORERS
Brereton 58
Preston Maxwell, Clarke, Huntington,
Davies, O’Connor, Pearson■, Gallagher■,
Barkhuizen, Browne (Harrop 62), Robinson
(Horgan 59), Hugill.
Subs not used Rudd, Andrew Boyle,
Johnson, Welsh, Mavididi
Nottm Forest Smith, Lichaj, Worrall,
Mancienne, Osborn■, Bridcutt■,
Vaughan■ (Bouchalakis 84), Brereton■
(Ward 62), Dowell, Carayol (Cash 63),
Murphy. Subs not used Traore, McKay,
Clough, Henderson.
Att 13,481 Ref Scott Duncan
Bennett 28
Shrewsbury Henderson, Bolton, Sadler,
Nsiala, Beckles, Bryn Morris■, Whalley,
Ogogo, Nolan■, Rodman (Godfrey 87),
Carlton Morris (Payne 75).
Subs not used Riley, Dodds, Gnahoua,
John-Lewis, MacGillivray
Forest Green Bradley Collins, Fitzwater,
Lee Collins, Laird■, Bennett (Roberts■
71), Charlie Cooper, Osbourne, Wishart,
Traore (Stevens■ 56), Marsh-Brown
(Bugiel 56), Doidge. Subs not used
Simpson, Evans, Pickering, James
Wigan Walton, Byrne, Dunkley, Burn,
James, Morsy, Lee Evans, Massey, Powell
(Power 56), Jacobs (Gary Roberts 79),
Grigg (Toney 65). Subs not used Elder,
Bruce, Colclough, Sarkic.
Att 7,957 Ref Rob Lewis
Portsmouth McGee, Thompson, Clarke■,
Burgess, Haunstrup■, Close, Rose,
Lowe■ (Hawkins 60), Evans, Kennedy
(Bennett 60), Pitman (Chaplin 77).
Subs not used Main, Donohue, May, Bass.
Att 7,429 Ref Darren Handley
Carlisle Bonham, Parkes, Hill, Liddle,
Brown (Tom Miller■ 83), Devitt, Jones,
Lambe, Grainger■, Bennett (Shaun Miller
65), Hope (Etuhu 85). Subs not used
Cosgrove, Ellis, O’Sullivan, Rigg.
Att 2,489 Ref Kevin Johnson
PETERBOROUGH UTD
TOP SCORERS
LUTON TOWN
(1) 3
League
Clarke Sheff Utd
14
Vydra Derby
13
Bonatini Wolves
12
Grabban Sunderland
12
Adomah Aston Villa
11
Reid Bristol City
11
Assombalonga M’brough 11
Hooper Sheff Wed
10
Bowen Hull
10
Waghorn Ipswich
10
Jota Wolves
9
Total
14
14
12
12
12
12
11
11
10
10
9
BURY
(0) 0
Peterborough Bond, Penny, Tafazolli,
Taylor, Hughes, Doughty (Da Silva Lopes
64), Anderson (Forrester 46), Grant (Kanu
80), Maddison■, Marriott, Lloyd.
Subs not used Shephard, Morias, O’Malley,
Freestone
Bury Fasan, Edwards, O’Connell■,
Cameron, Leigh, Ince (Dawson 69),
Laurent, Mayor (Bunn 69), Maguire,
O’Shea, Ajose.
Subs not used Jordan Williams, Reilly,
Aldred, Smith, Maloney.
Att 4,640 Ref Andy Woolmer
(1) 2
Berry 40; Collins 61
League
Marriott Peterborough 15
Doyle Oldham
13
Moore Rotherham
13
Pitman Portsmouth
12
Oztumer Walsall
10
Powell Wigan
10
Bodin Bristol Rovers
8
Cole Fleetwood
8
Grigg Wigan
7
Dack Blackburn
9
Davies Oldham
8
Total
18
13
13
12
12
10
10
10
10
9
9
MOTHERWELL
(0) 1
ST JOHNSTONE
(0) 0
DUNDEE
(0) 1
HEARTS
(0) 0
PARTICK THISTLE
(1) 1
Keown 26
HAMILTON ACADEMICAL
(0) 0
Partick Cerny, Keown■, Barton, Devine,
McGinn, Edwards, Woods (McCarthy 79),
Lawless, Spittal, Doolan (Sammon 86),
Erskine (Storey■ 65).
Subs not used Nitriansky, Scully, Nisbet
Hamilton Woods, Sarris, Tomas,
McMann, Docherty, Redmond■
(Crawford 63), MacKinnon, Imrie,
Lyon (Gogic 84), Rojano (Bingham 63),
Templeton.
Subs not used Gillespie, Fulton, Donati,
Cunningham.
Att 2,912 Ref Bobby Madden
St Mirren
P W
D
L F
A GD Pts
LEAGUE ONE
P W
D
L F
A GD Pts
Ayr
17 13 2 2 50 20 30 41
Raith
15 10 3 2 32 12 20 33
Stranraer
16
7 4 5 29 25 4 25
Alloa
16
7 3 6 25 21 4 24
Arbroath
15
7 2 6 34 25 9 23
East Fife
17
7 1 9 26 32 -6 22
Airdrieonians 17
5 5 7 24 34-10 20
Albion
15
5 2 8 33 36 -3 17
Forfar
17
3 3 11 15 39-24 12
Queens Park 17
3 3 11 14 38-24 12
Airdrieonians 2 Ayr United 0
Albion Rovers 3 East Fife 2
Alloa 1 Stranraer 0
Arbroath 1 Raith 2
Forfar Athletic 0 Queen’s Park 3
LEAGUE TWO P W
D
L F
A GD Pts
18 12 2 4 35 22 13 38
Montrose
17 11 4 2 25 13 12 37
Dundee Utd 17 11 3 3 25 14 11 36
Peterhead
15 10 1 4 32 17 15 31
Dunfermline 18
7 5 6 34 24 10 26
Stenhsmr
17
8 5 4 29 20 9 29
Morton
17
7 5 5 25 18 7 26
Stirling Alb 16
8 3 5 31 20 11 27
Queen of Sth 17
7 5 5 30 24 6 26
Annan Ath
18
7 6 5 23 16 7 27
Livingston
16
7 5 4 24 21 3 26
Elgin
17
7 3 7 30 28 2 24
Inverness CT 17
5 5 7 18 19 -1 20
Berwick
16
6 3 7 14 26-12 21
4 7 6 14 21 -7 19
Clyde
15
2 7 6 19 27 -8 13
Falkirk
16
1 8 7
Edinburgh C 17
2 3 12 10 30-20 9
Brechin
Dumbarton 17
17
0 3 14 12 38-26 3
Cowdnbth
1 5 10
9 25-16 11
Dumbarton 0 Falkirk 0
Dunfermline Ath 2 Brechin City 1
Dundee United 3 Livingston 0
Queen of the South 2 St Mirren 3
Morton 1 Inverness CT 0
16
9 25-16 8
Clyde 0 Berwick Rangers 0
Stenhousemuir 4 Elgin 1
Stirling Alb 0 Montrose 1
Annan Ath 2 Edinburgh City 1
Peterhead 3 Cowdenbeath 2
NATIONAL LEAGUE
P W D L F
GRIMSBY TOWN
(0) 0
Luton Stech, Justin, Mullins, Sheehan,
Potts, Olly Lee, Rea, Berry, Shinnie■
(Cornick 72), Hylton (D’Ath 90), Collins
(Elliot Lee 83).
Subs not used Ruddock, Gambin, Shea,
Famewo
Grimsby McKeown■, Mills, Clarke■,
Collins, Ben Davies, Jaiyesimi (Hooper
66), Summerfield, Mitchell Rose, Dembele
(Woolford 83), Jones, Matt (Vernon 75).
Subs not used Dixon, Berrett, Osborne,
Killip.
Att 9,102 Ref Christopher Sarginson
Macclesfield 25
Wrexham
25
Dover
25
Sutton Utd 25
Aldershot
25
Dagenham 24
Boreham W 24
Bromley
25
Tranmere
24
Ebbsfleet
24
Maidenhead 25
Maidstone 23
Woking
23
FC Halifax 25
Hartlepool 25
Gateshead 23
AFC Fylde 22
Eastleigh
25
Barrow
25
L Orient
25
Chester
24
Torquay
25
Guiseley
23
Solihull M 25
13
12
11
12
11
11
10
10
10
8
8
9
10
8
8
7
7
6
7
7
4
4
3
4
6
7
9
6
8
7
9
8
7
11
10
7
3
8
7
9
8
11
7
6
9
7
9
5
6
6
5
7
6
6
5
7
7
5
7
7
10
9
10
7
7
8
11
12
11
14
11
16
31
23
33
35
38
39
34
40
31
34
34
25
30
29
25
28
33
33
30
33
22
22
20
21
24 7 45
18 5 43
17 16 42
32 3 42
26 12 41
27 12 40
22 12 39
32 8 38
19 12 37
25 9 35
35 -1 34
29 -4 34
32 -2 33
32 -3 32
30 -5 31
23 5 30
29 4 29
37 -4 29
36 -6 28
41 -8 27
40-18 21
41-19 19
41-21 18
42-21 17
AFC Fylde 1 Ebbsfleet 1; Bromley 1
Macclesfield 1; Dagenham & Redbridge
1 Eastleigh 2; FC Halifax 4 Chester City
0; Guiseley 1 Aldershot 1; Hartlepool
Utd 1 Maidenhead 2; Maidstone 0 Leyton Orient 2; Solihull Moors 0 Boreham
Wood 0; Sutton Utd 1 Tranmere 3;
Torquay Utd P Gateshead P; Woking 1
Barrow 2; Wrexham 0 Dover Athletic 0
P W D L F
A GD Pts
Salford City 21 16 2 3 36 17 19 50
Harrogate
21 13 5 3 53 26 27 44
Brackley
22 12 7 3 40 19 21 43
B Spartans 21 13 0 8 49 36 13 39
Bradford PA 22 10 5 7 37 27 10 35
Spennymoor 21 10 5 6 41 34 7 35
Kidderminster21 9 7 5 39 28 11 34
Chorley
20
9 6 5 26 18 8 33
Brackley 1 AFC Telford 1; Gainsborough
3 Darlington 1; K’minster 3 Nuneaton 0;
Southport 0 Bradford PA 4; Spennymoor
4 FC Utd 4; Tamworth 0 Leamington 3;
York 2 B Spartans 3; Alfreton 2 Boston
3; C Ashton 1 Stockport 1; Harrogate 3
N Ferriby 0; Salford 0 Chorley 3
SOUTH TOP EIGHT
P W D L F
Yeovil Krysiak, James, Sowunmi, Nathan
Smith, Dickson, Gray■, Worthington■,
Bailey, Khan (Green 84), Zoko■, Surridge.
Subs not used Mugabi, Davies, Connor
Smith, Maddison, Olomola, Santos
Exeter Pym■, Sweeney, Moore-Taylor,
Archibald-Henville, Woodman■, Taylor,
James (Holmes 70), Boateng, Harley
(Edwards 60), Stockley, McAlinden
(Reid 56). Subs not used Tillson, Hamon,
Seaborne, Moxey.
Att 4,834 Ref Lee Swabey
TOP SCORERS
League
Doidge Forest Green
11
Hylton Luton
13
Grant Notts County
11
Dennis Chester
12
Kee Accrington
11
Rose Mansfield
10
Godden Stevenage
8
Stockley Exeter
7
Akinfenwa Wycombe
10
Pope Port Vale
9
Collins Luton
9
Total
16
14
14
13
12
12
12
12
11
11
10
OTHER GAMES
NORTH TOP EIGHT
A GD Pts
(0) 1
Stockley 85
Oxford Utd Eastwood, Tiendalli,
Mousinho■, Williamson, Ricardinho,
Ruffels (Ledson 62), Fernandez Codina■
(Rothwell 46), Henry, Payne (Obika 46),
Mowatt, Thomas. Subs not used Martin,
Shearer, Carroll, Van Kessel
Lloyd 3, 71; Marriott 63
(0) 1
(1) 3
Gray 41; Zoko 47; Surridge 88 pen
Powell 18; Massey 29; Power 62, 77
Wolves Ruddy, Bennett, Coady, Boly,
Doherty, Saiss, Neves■, Douglas, Cavaleiro
(Enobakhare 66), Bonatini (Helder Costa
78), Jota (N’Diaye 88). Subs not used
Batth, White, Ruben Vinagre, Norris
Hearts McLaughlin, Randall, Souttar,
Berra, Michael Smith (Grzelak 90),
Buaben, Cowie■, McDonald (Walker
74), Cochrane■, Milinkovic, Lafferty
(Goncalves 86). Subs not used Hughes,
Hamilton, Stockton, Brandon.
Att 4,975 Ref Kevin Clancy
Rangers Foderingham, Tavernier■,
Bates, Danny Wilson, Hodson (Herrera
83), Candeias, McCrorie, Holt, John■,
Morelos, Windass. Subs not used Fabio
Cardoso, Kranjcar, Pena, Hardie, Kelly,
Barjonas.
Att 11,490 Ref William Collum
5
4
4
4
4
5
5
4
3
8
5
5
6
2
3
2
4
4
1
2
1
2
1
2
Swindon Vigouroux, Purkiss■, Lancashire,
Preston, Taylor■, Mullin (Goddard 90),
Dunne, Linganzi, Anderson, Woolery■
(Iandolo 84), Norris■ (Gordon 70).
Subs not used Robertson, McDermott,
Charles-Cook, Knoyle.
Att 3,736 Ref Eddie Ilderton
Dundee Parish, Kerr■, Hendry, Meekings,
Aurtenetxe, O’Hara, Kamara, McGowan,
El Bakhtaoui (Allan 66), Leitch-Smith,
Moussa■.
Subs not used Ferie, Holt, O’Dea, Curran,
Haber.
Att 4,173 Ref Don Robertson
Kilmarnock MacDonald, O’Donnell, Scott
Boyd, Broadfoot, Taylor, Power, Dicker■,
Mulumbu, Kris Boyd■ (Erwin 87), Brophy
(Findlay 85), Jones (Burke 90).
Subs not used Bell, Waters, McKenzie,
Frizzell
W
Southend Oxley (Bishop 46), White,
Ferdinand, Turner, Coker, Demetriou,
Wright, Wordsworth■, McLaughlin,
Fortune, Cox (Pitoula-Wabo 87).
Subs not used Hendrie, Ba, Yearwood,
McGlashan, Kyprianou.
Att 4,040 Ref Martin Coy
Ross County Fox, Naismith, Davies,
Fraser, van der Weg, Chow■
(O’Brien 84), Routis■, Draper
(Lindsay 60), Eagles (Keillor-Dunn
77), McKay, Curran■. Subs not used
Mikkelsen, Dow, Schalk, McCarey
(1) 1
A
11
10
10
7
16
8
12
10
12
19
10
11
14
12
15
10
12
18
12
21
11
14
17
22
Blackburn Raya, Nyambe, Downing■,
Ward■, Williams, Smallwood,
Whittingham (Tomlinson 64), Conway,
Dack, Antonsson, Graham (Nuttall 63).
Subs not used Harper, Hart, Leutwiler,
Caddis, Wharton.
Att 6,541 Ref Gavin Ward
St Johnstone Clark, Foster, Shaughnessy,
Anderson, Tanser, Alston, Millar
(O’Halloran 74), Paton■, Craig (MacLean
81), Scougall (Wotherspoon 63),
Johnstone. Subs not used Mannus,
McClean, Gordon, Cummins
(0) 2
F
37
25
17
15
24
15
19
21
20
13
15
11
16
18
23
14
10
11
18
17
9
10
14
13
Birmingham City Stockdale, Colin,
Morrison, Dean■, Grounds■, Gardner,
Kieftenbeld■, Jota (Davis 80), N’Doye
(Jutkiewicz 86), Boga (Maghoma 79),
Gallagher■. Subs not used Nsue, Bramall,
Trueman, Gleeson.
Att 29,312 Ref Oliver Langford
John 39
Aberdeen Lewis, Ball■, O’Connor,
Arnason■, Considine, Reynolds, Stewart
(Frank Ross 84), McLean■, Shinnie■,
Mackay-Steven (Harvie 89), Rooney
(Maynard 67). Subs not used Wright,
McKenna, Rogers, Campbell
Att 58,975 Ref Craig Thomson
Luton
Notts County
Exeter
Coventry
Wycombe
Lincoln City
Accrington
Colchester
Mansfield
Swindon
Newport Co
Grimsby
Carlisle
Cheltenham
Stevenage
Cambridge
Crawley
Port Vale
Yeovil
Crewe
Morecambe
Barnet
Chesterfield
Forest Green
Barnsley Davies, McCarthy, Pinnock,
Lindsay, Yiadom■, Moncur (Hammill 61),
Gardner■, Williams, Barnes (Ugbo 78),
Thiam (Isgrove 61), Bradshaw. Subs not
used Fryers, Cavare, Townsend, Bird.
Att 17,308 Ref James Linington
Motherwell Carson, Kipre, Hartley, Dunne,
Cadden (Rose■ 54), Grimshaw (Newell
51), McHugh, Bigirimana■, Tait, Tanner,
Bowman (Frear 52).
Subs not used Petravicius, Hammell,
Xenodochof, Campbell
RANGERS
Pts
51
47
44
42
42
36
35
35
33
31
29
28
28
27
27
27
27
26
26
24
23
23
22
17
Stevenage Fryer■, Henry, Vancooten,
King (Franks 79), Martin, McKee, Jonathan
Smith, Gorman, Samuel (Kennedy 67),
Godden (Gray 74), Newton.
Subs not used Whelpdale, Beautyman,
Pett, Day
McGowan 47
K Boyd 77, 80
Celtic Gordon, Lustig■, Boyata, Ajer,
Tierney, Brown, Ntcham, Hayes (McGregor
76), Armstrong, Sinclair (Forrest 70),
Dembele (Edouard 81).
Subs not used Simunovic, Bitton,
Griffiths, De Vries
GD
37
16
20
13
8
3
5
1
5
1
-1
-3
-11
-4
-6
-7
-8
-3
-8
-10
-10
-20
-5
-13
Crewe Garratt, Ng, Raynes, Nolan,
Bakayogo, Ainley (Grant 59), Lowery,
Pickering■, Cooper (Kirk 55), Bowery
(Porter 59), Dagnall.
Subs not used Walker, Richards, Reilly,
Stubbs
Hibernian Marciano, Ambrose, McGregor,
Hanlon■, Stevenson, Boyle, McGeouch,
McGinn■, Barker (Bartley 89), Stokes■,
Shaw.
Subs not used Swanson, Gray, Slivka,
Simon Murray, Porteous, Dabrowski
KILMARNOCK
8
10
11
9
14
14
17
20
17
12
17
15
28
13
19
26
24
13
19
11
10
20
20
21
Scunthorpe Gilks, Goode, Burgess,
Wallace, Townsend, Holmes, Ojo, Morris,
Adelakun (Lewis 90), van Veen (Church
88), Hopper.
Subs not used Madden, Redmond, Sutton,
Watson, Butroid
CHAMP
(1) 3
Lustig 40; Hayes 69; Ntcham 76
A
Northampton Cornell, Moloney, Taylor, Pierre
(Poole 34), Buchanan, Grimes, McGugan
(Shaun McWilliams 88), Foley, O’Toole■,
Smith (Hoskins 71), Long.
Subs not used Waters, Richards, Hanley,
Coddington
Tanner 61 pen
Att 16,228 Ref Nick Walsh
CELTIC
28
13
22
15
22
13
20
11
11
14
13
12
12
9
13
17
12
10
12
8
6
10
12
9
VANARAMA NATIONAL
Stokes 21; Shaw 75
ROSS COUNTY
F
2
2
2
3
2
4
3
7
6
4
5
5
8
7
6
5
9
5
7
5
5
6
6
8
Kee 45; Richards-Everton 53
SCOTTISH PREMIERSHIP
Aberdeen
L
1
4
3
2
2
2
5
1
2
3
3
5
2
1
2
5
0
3
2
4
2
3
5
4
Sunderland Ruiter, Love, Browning,
O’Shea, Wilson, Matthews, Gooch, Gibson
(Ndong 74), Honeyman, Grabban (Maja
74), Vaughan (Asoro 75). Subs not used
Steele, Oviedo, McManaman, McGeady
Fulham Bettinelli, Fredericks, Kalas, Ream,
Ryan Sessegnon, Johansen, McDonald,
Cairney, Ojo■ (Norwood 87), Kamara (Rui
Fonte 81), Ayite (Kebano 70).
Subs not used Piazon, Djalo, Button, De
La Torre
Leeds Wiedwald, Ayling, Jansson, Cooper,
Berardi, Phillips (O’Kane 46), Vieira,
Cibicki, Hernandez (Pennington 90),
Alioski, Roofe (Lasogga 76).
Subs not used Lonergan, Anita, Grot,
Shaughnessy
Genoa 1 Benevento 0
Juventus L Roma L
Lazio 4 Crotone 0
Milan 0 Atalanta 2
Napoli 3 Sampdoria 2
Sassuolo 1 Internazionale 0
Spal 2 Torino 2
Udinese 4 Verona 0
(1) 1
Grabban 21
HOME
D
CRAWLEY TOWN
READING
(0) 0
8
5
7
6
8
4
3
4
3
4
3
2
2
4
3
2
2
4
3
2
3
2
0
0
Diagouraga 3; Carey 6; Edwards 59; Jervis 72
BOLTON WANDERERS
(0) 1
W
OLDHAM ATHLETIC
Taylor 47
Barrow 76
4
4
9
9
14
13
17
6
16
22
14
16
9
14
18
18
17
12
15
21
17
19
9
11
PLYMOUTH
Bristol City Fielding, Wright, Flint■,
Baker, Kelly (Magnusson 64), Leko■ (Pack
63), Smith, Brownhill, Bryan■, Taylor
(Woodrow 72), Reid.
Subs not used Steele, Eliasson, Vyner,
Andrews
Ref Andrew Madley
(0) 2
A
(0) 1
Sheffield Utd Moore, Stearman, CarterVickers, O’Connell■, Baldock, Lundstram,
Basham■, Stevens, Duffy (Carruthers
73), Clarke, Donaldson■ (Sharp 74).
Subs not used Wright, Lavery, Heneghan,
Lafferty, Blackman
Att 35,210 Ref Simon Hooper
Madine 75 pen; Vela 88
F
21
17
18
16
14
17
19
16
27
21
17
16
14
14
18
20
21
12
14
14
11
9
12
10
(1) 2
Wimbledon Long■, Fuller, Oshilaja,
Charles, Meades, Abdou■ (Francomb 79),
Trotter, Soares■, McDonald, Taylor■
(Kaja 88), Barcham (Nightingale 90).
Subs not used Kennedy, McDonnell,
Hartigan, Egan
MILLWALL
EUROPE
L
1
1
2
2
5
2
5
3
4
4
2
4
1
3
4
5
5
4
2
6
6
6
2
5
McDonald 7; Taylor 70
Reid 81 pen
Nugent 23, 28; Vydra 25
Blue Christmas: Bruno will be on Santa’s nice list after the
Brighton captain gave supporters a clean sheet and victory
AWAY
D
2
1
2
4
1
4
0
1
1
4
5
2
5
5
4
1
0
5
6
2
3
2
5
1
QPR Smithies, Baptiste, Onuoha,
Robinson, Wszolek, Luongo, Scowen,
Freeman (Hall 79), Bidwell■, Sylla (Smith
68), Samuel (Washington 64).
Subs not used Cousins, Lumley, Wheeler,
Oteh
(1) 3
Att 56,955 Ref Lee Mason
Ref Jonathan Moss
F
25
20
21
17
17
17
20
13
13
22
13
18
17
14
18
12
19
17
28
11
10
13
15
7
Aston Villa Johnstone, Elmohamady
(Hogan 73), Chester, Jedinak, Neil
Taylor, Snodgrass (De Laet 59), Whelan,
Hourihane, Adomah, Grealish, Davis
(Abonlahor 73). Subs not used Steer,
Bjarnason, Hutton, Elphick
CARDIFF CITY
Arnautovic 6; Ayew 69
L
1
0
3
2
3
1
3
2
3
3
2
1
4
5
3
4
3
3
5
6
8
6
6
5
Adomah 4 pen, Jedinak 9
SHEFFIELD UNITED
HOME
AWAY
D
2
3
1
3
3
5
1
5
2
1
6
7
0
4
5
5
2
4
2
2
1
5
2
2
LEAGUE TWO
LEAGUE ONE
A GD Pts
Dartford
22 11 6 5 44 24 20 39
Havant
21 11 6 4 37 19 18 39
BOSTIK PREMIER
Burgess Hill Town 3 Billericay 4
Dulwich 3 Leiston 0
Enfield Town 1 Tooting & Mitcham 1
Hendon 4 Brightlingsea Regent 2
Leatherhead 2 Kingstonian 0
Lowestoft Town 0 Harlow 3
Margate 3 Wingate & Finchley 1
Merstham P Met Police P
Needham Market 2 Folkestone Invicta 2
Staines Town 0 Dorking Wanderers 2
Worthing 1 Thurrock 2
Tonbridge Angels 2 Harrow Borough 1
EVO-STIK NORTHERN PREMIER
Altrincham 3 Matlock Town 0
Barwell 0 Marine 4
Buxton 1 Stafford Rangers 1
Farsley Celtic P Halesowen P
Grantham 1 Ashton Utd 1
Hednesford 1 Shaw Lane 3
Mickleover Sports 0 Lancaster City 1
Stalybridge 1 Rushall Olympic 2
Stourbridge 1 Whitby 1
Sutton Coldfield Tn 2 Witton Albion 6
Warrington Town 1 Coalville Town 3
Workington 2 Nantwich Town 1
Chelmsford 21 11 6 4 33 17 16 39
Braintree Tn 22 11 6 5 43 30 13 39
Hampton
22 10 9 3 31 19 12 39
Hemel H
21 10 6 5 35 24 11 36
Truro City
22 10 6 6 38 29 9 36
St Albans
22 10 6 6 35 27 8 36
Chelmsford 4 Welling 1; Chippenham
0 Bath 3; Eastbourne 1 Havant 4; E
Thurrock 4 Whitehawk 2; Oxford City 0
Hampton 0; Weston-SM 2 Hungerford
1; B Regis 1 Poole 1; Dartford 1 Braintree 1; Hemel H 1 Concord 1; Truro 1
Gloucester 1; Wealdstone 1 St Albans 3
EVO-STIK SOUTHERN PREMIER
Basingstoke 0 Royston Town 0
Biggleswade Town 1 Banbury 0
Bishop’s Stortford 1 Dorchester 0
Chesham 1 Hereford FC 2
Frome Town P Hitchin P
Kettering 6 Dunstable 0
Merthyr Town 0 Kings Lynn Town 1
Slough 1 Stratford Town 1
St Ives Town 1 Gosport Borough 0
St Neots Town 3 Kings Langley 2
Tiverton 2 Farnborough 0
Weymouth 5 Redditch 0
Other minor football, page 18
20 | SPORT | Racing | King George VI Chase, Boxing Day 3.05pm, ITV
* 24.12.17
Doumen gloomy over future of King George
the wane. “Last time I went, the
atmosphere was not at all any more the
same. All I knew was Kempton Park,
the royal box and the Queen Mother
and that enormous buzz that was there
for Boxing Day, and the last time I went
it was just so-so, it was not at all the
same, they were not the same people
running the place and I didn’t find it as
exciting.”
The Jockey Club made itself
unpopular in January when
announcing it would seek planning
permission to build on the site.
Sherwood calls it a “diabolical”
idea and “a PR disaster” to close the
track that hosted so many cherished
Christmas victories achieved by Arkle,
Desert Orchid, Kauto Star and others.
Unsurprisingly, the Club now drops
the deadest of bats on media inquiries,
saying nothing has changed and that
it has been “in listening mode” while
awaiting the outcome of the planning
French trainer who five
times won the famous
race synonymous
with Kempton Park
is bewildered by plans
to close the track,
he tells Chris Cook
H
ow much poorer would be
the recent history of British
jump racing without the
contribution of François
Doumen, the effortlessly
charming trainer who used to come
over several times each winter and
carry some of our best prizes back
across La Manche. Had it not been for
the particular qualities of Kempton
Park, now under threat of development
as it prepares to stage the latest
running of the King George VI Chase
on Boxing Day, he might never have
had a runner in this country.
Thirty years ago, Doumen was
feeling a little frustrated about the
prospect of having to keep his star
steeplechaser, Nupsala, in his box
through the winter months, when
the ground at the main French jumps
tracks was certain to be far too
soggy for a horse who liked decent
ground. But he had an enlightening
conversation with the British trainer
Oliver Sherwood, who had finally
given up on trying to buy Nupsala.
“I told him that, nine times out of
10, Kempton has pretty decent ground,
unless it rains on the day,” Sherwood
recalls. “It certainly doesn’t get heavy
like Newbury or Chepstow.”
“It was, I would say, good luck,”
says Doumen, his effervescent good
humour travelling easily down the
phone from his home north-west of
Paris. “I didn’t have a clue about racing
in England at that stage. I told Oliver:
‘The problem in France is that, after
October, Auteuil is such a bog that I
don’t have anything to do with that
horse.’ He said: ‘Why don’t you go to
Kempton Park?’”
Doumen ended up winning the
King George five times in the next 13
years, matching what was then the
trainer’s record for the race, set by the
great Fulke Walwyn. He won other
banner events at the free-draining,
gravel-based track, such as the
Feltham, the Adonis, the Rendlesham
and the Racing Post Chase.
He won elsewhere in Britain and
even bagged a Cheltenham Gold Cup
but Kempton held its special place in
‘All I knew was
Kempton Park, the
royal box, the Queen
Mother and that
enormous buzz
there for Boxing Day’
Grandstanding: Paddy Brennan waves to the Boxing Day crowd at Kempton after Cue Card won the 2015 King George. Getty Images
CHRISTMAS KINGS
ARKLE 1965
Still generally accepted as the best
chaser to have looked through a bridle,
Arkle won the 1965 King George but
sustained a career-ending hoof injury in
the following year’s race.
WAYWARD LAD 1982, 83, 85
Famously unable to win a Cheltenham
Gold Cup, the classy Wayward Lad had
a much better record in the midwinter
championship.
DESERT ORCHID 1986, 88, 89, 90
Supposedly a two-miler who would
never stay, Desert Orchid stunned
punters in 1986 and beat the record for
King George wins.
KAUTO STAR 2006, 07, 08, 09, 11
Perhaps the most
durable of the
greatest
steeplechasers,
Kauto Star
turned the
tables on Long
Run for a last
hurrah at the age
of 11.
his affections and he even named a
dog after the Sunbury course. “Every
time I see Oliver since then, I embrace
him,” says Doumen, reflecting on what
flowed from that one conversation. “I
just don’t know what to do with him.
That was lucky. If it had been raining, I
would maybe never have been there, we
would never have won the King George
and I might never have gone back.”
Doubtless there are trainers in
Lambourn and the West Country who
would have been perfectly delighted
had Doumen never set foot in this
country but racegoers in the 90s would
have been much less entertained and
a good few of them would have missed
out on some major paydays from the
likes of The Fellow, Algan, Val D’Alene
and Baracouda.
Doumen had a pretty big
payday from Nupsala, thanks to an
English-based owner who owed him
money. The Frenchman asked for the
sum to be staked on his horse two days
before the 1987 King George, when
50-1 was apparently available.
“Believe me, I never dared to bring
this money back to France because I
was not such a successful trainer and
I thought the tax people would get on
Sam Spinner aids Colliver’s redemption
Greg Wood
Ascot
Two years after a drunken car crash in
the early hours of Boxing Day that led to
a prison sentence and threatened to end
his riding career, Joe Colliver starred in
a story of continuing redemption here
yesterday as his first ride at the course
yielded his first Grade One victory,
aboard Sam Spinner in the Long Walk
Hurdle.
Colliver was jailed for perverting
the course of justice after offering a
friend £2,500 to claim that he crashed
Colliver’s pick-up truck into a wall, when
it was Colliver, who had twice the legal
limit of alcohol in his bloodstream, who
was behind the wheel. He was released
in October last year after serving two
months of his 10-month sentence, saying
he intended to “rebuild my life and my
career if I’m given the chance”.
With the support of Micky Hammond
and Jedd O’Keeffe, Colliver has worked
his way back onto the northern circuit.
Sam Spinner, who was also O’Keeffe’s
first winner at the highest level over
jumps, now offers both jockey and
trainer a chance to compete at the
pinnacle of the sport, as he is now
the clear favourite with most bookmakers for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the
Cheltenham Festival.
Sam Spinner ran away with a handicap
hurdle at Haydock Park in November,
and took the step up to this company in
Top man: Sam Spinner is favourite with
most bookmakers for the Stayers’ Hurdle
his stride. A habitual front-runner, he
was going easily on the lead from the off
and one by one and Colliver had more
than enough in reserve to kick on again
approaching the final flight on the way
to a two-and-three-quarter length
success.
Colliver said that he was in a daze after
the race and the trophy presentation was
delayed for several minutes as the word
went out to recall him from the weighing
room.
“I was just about in the shower,
which is why I’ve not got the colours
on,” Colliver said. “He raced a bit lazily
and waited for something to come to
him, and every time something did, he
kept kicking on. I rode him first time in
a bumper at Catterick and look where
we are now. Each time I ride him he gets
better and better.
“I regret everything that happened
and the day I went to court I thought that
was me as a jockey over and done with.
I’d almost mentally prepared myself for
that. I was lucky enough that my boss
Micky Hammond stood by me and the
staff and other trainers in Middleham.
“This is just a dream, to win a Grade
One on my first trip down to Ascot, but
the jockey can only do so much and you
can’t do it without the horses.”
Lizzie Kelly, who will ride the 20-1
chance Tea For Two in the King George
on Boxing Day, also rode her first winner
here as One Of Us made all the running
in the opening handicap hurdle.
Her next ride will be in the showpiece
of the Christmas programme, aboard a
horse that finished within four lengths
of Thistlecrack in last year’s King George
and took the Kauto Star Novice Chase
over the same course and distance in
December 2015.
“We’re pleased with him at home, he
seems well and happy, and we’re going
with a pretty live chance,” Kelly said.
“I know he’s long in the betting, but he
always is.
“Some of his best form is at Kempton.
We’re up against really smart superstars,
the front-page horses, but we’ve won
there before and there’s no reason why
he can’t win again.”
Nicky Henderson, whose Might Bite
is expected to start favourite for the
King George, also went into the brief
Christmas break in winning form after
Gold Present took the Lavazza Silver
Cup Handicap Chase.
me. So, as I was going to Miami [for
another horse race], I had the money
transferred to a bank in Miami like a
bloody drug dealer. And I used that
money for holidays only, for 10 years.”
The great man, who announced his
retirement in August, sounds baffled
by the idea that the Jockey Club might
be about to close Kempton and use it
to build homes. “For English racing,
I’m very, very surprised,” he says. “I
suppose we have so many economic
problems in France and I guess these
things can happen in England as well.
We already lost Enghien. And you
never know, there are talks about some
big tracks maybe going.”
There is a sting in the tail for those
who are determined to keep Kempton
open because Doumen senses that
the track’s popularity has been on
process, which could drag on for years.
All that listening does not seem to have
led to a change of mind, however.
Campaigners have been heartened
by a recent review of the green belt,
which concluded that Kempton fits
all the relevant purposes of green belt
land. “This is a new confirmation,
they can’t say it’s out of date and our
QC thinks the methodology is robust,”
says Alan Doyle, the driving force
behind Keep Kempton Green. “We’ve
got a pretty good chance of stopping
development. It’s 50-50, which means
it’s all to play for. The arguments are all
on our side.
“We’re going to fight this and fight
this as much as we can. The Jockey
Club thought they’d be finished
developing by now. This all started
about four or five years ago. And we
haven’t lost yet. But it’s going to be
tough because they will also have some
highly paid lawyers.”
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