The Premiership

What a great set of results. Liverpool win yet again (following good results against Arsenal and PSV); Arsenal continue to struggle, with some commentators suggesting they may miss out on a top four place – although in a couple of years time they will be demolishing the rest of the premiership with all their youngsters; West Ham beat Arsenal to finally get some points, and with Sheffield United losing they are now within two points of Sheffield United (18th) and Charlton (17th), and as I write this Manchester United are 1-0 down to Portsmouth.

Football and more football

England were again shocking tonight. The result (3-0) against Andorra isn’t a disaster but no one seems to be feeling positive at the moment. The fans seem to have had enough and were giving some real abuse to Steve McLaren in the first half, which seemed a bit over the top.
Things do need to change: firstly our expectations need to lower, we haven’t made it to a semi-final in a major tournament in ages, so let’s not expect to get there; secondly, we have some incredibly good players who are consistenly thought to be some of the best in Europe and yet they just don’t quite gel and pul it off.
In other news though Wales have finally got their second win of the qualifying period with a 3-0 win; Scotland went down 2-0 to Italy but still seem to be very positive and have a great chance of qualifying after many years of being no where near doing so; Republic of Ireland got a 1-0 result against Slovakia.
The result of the night has to be Northern Ireland beating Sweden 2-1. Dennis Wise the Leeds manager went to watch David Healey, and he must be gutted as whenever he plays for Norther Ireland he seems to score (5 goals in the last 2 games, something like 29 goals in 56 matches) and yet he can’t hit the target for Leeds. A great night for Lawrie Sanchez who is doing an awesome job as the Northern Ireland manager.

Cricket World Cup

As I mentioned in a previous post South Africa’s Herchelle Gibbs created world cup cricket history by striking six stunning sixes off a hapless Netherlands bowler Dan van Bunge in the Cricket world cup 2007! Even in a small ground it was still incredible batting.

Other highlights/lowlights include

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer has died after being found unconscious in his hotel room in Jamaica. It all seems very unclear as to what happened. Let’s hope that it wasn’t too linked with the poor six months he has had. Pakistan were eliminated from the World Cup on Saturday after losing by three wickets to Ireland.

Following the infamous forfeited Test against England at The Oval last summer, two of their leading fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif, were suspended after failing doping tests.

The pair later saw those bans rescinded but missed the World Cup because of injury, something Woolmer admitted had hindered the team.

Andrew Flintoff’s off the wall behaviour has landed him in trouble, being dropped for the match against Canada, and being fired as Vice-Captain. It is sad when a star of his magnitude doesn’t seem to take seriously representing your country, something that so many young people would love to do.

Their have been some great matches for the smaller teams. With Ireland beating Pakistan, and Bangladesh (my new team, after Phil, Hannah’s brother came back for Bangladesh and gave me a their cricket shirt as a present!) beating India the World Cup isn’t looking quite as straightforward.

Another sporting weekend

Another great sporting weekend. One of the highlights has to be Paul Robinson’s goal against Watford on Saturday. That was his second goal in his career, and his first for Spurs.

The Rugby was disappointing. England were never likely to win the RBS Six Nations title given that they needed to win by a clear 57 points. But even so it was frustrating to lose to Wales. The consistency is still missing.

On a better note Lewis Hamilton made the podium in his debut in Formula 1, in the Australian Grand Prix. He certainly looks a good talent, and is in a good team, unlike Jenson Button who has already had to write off the start of his season because the car isn’t performing. Let’s just hope he can keep it up.

The Cricket World cup is proving to be eventful but I will post a separate post on that.

Great sporting weekend

This last weekend was a great weekend for watching sport. England had a great game against France in the rugby. They are still a long way off being able to properly defend their World Cup title, but they did manage to get a good win without Johnny Wilkinson playing. This looks to be even more important now that he is unavailable for the match against Wales this weekend.
Football wise there were some great games. Middlesborough nearly beat Manchester United – let’s just hope there can be a repeat of the game at the replay. Spurs should have beaten Chelsea in a cracker of a game which ended up 3-3 and Alan Hansen saying it will probably be the best match of the season. Watford beat Plymouth in their ridiculous game – the FA has no scheduling sense – why they made Watford fans play their game last on the weekend and have to travel all the way back instead of the London derby?
The draw looks to have been a bit of a fix keeping Chelsea and Manchester United apart:
Blackburn v Chelsea or Tottenham
Watford v Middlesbrough or Manchester United
And by some miracle it seems like the FA Cup Final will finally be back at Wembley having been away from there since 2001. Although the FA’s website then crashed with lots of people trying to buy tickets for the first game: the U-21s playing Italy U-21. Hopefully they might get it sorted – let’s just hope these type of problems don’t happen with the Olympics.

Hammers are going down

How gutting – to be 2-0 up, then 3-2 up against Tottenham Hotspur and then to end up losing 4-3. Unfortunately that really seems to be it for West Ham. The Hammers are now 10 points from safety, with nine games to go, and are facing a run-in that includes fixtures against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. If we’re honest they don’t really stand a chance. It is especially sad for Alan Curbishley who is such a great manager, but seems to have really struggled to get them sorted out in the last few months.

Henrik Larsson

Henrik Larsson has to be one of the best signings of the season. Alex Ferguson has shown he still has what it takes to get the best talent. But it is interesting that Larsson is not interested in extending the contract. Partly it seems he is keen to get back to playing in Sweden and honouring his commitment to his club there, and partly he hasn’t settled fully in the UK and has been commuting from Sweden. But it is refreshing to hear a footballer turn down, what I am sure, would have been a much better deal than he has got in Sweden.

Mike Newell’s dodgy comments

Mike Newell is certainly courting controversy at the moment. On Saturday he managed to make some pretty stupid comments – criticising Amy Rayner, the assistant referee, and his chairman. He had now been asked to meet the Luton board and it looks like he has some explaining to do.

It is sad that he made these comments – there is no need. You can criticise a match official without having to bring their gender into it – that is completely irrelevant. She has earned the right to officiate at that level by doing all the qualifications.

A couple of years ago Ron Atkinson was forced to resign after making racist comments in the wake of Chelsea’s Champions League game against Monaco in April 2004. While I am not keen on people being sacked I do think that we should treat sexism in a similar way to racism.

Who’d be a goalkeeper?

After the Reading v Chelsea game who’d want to be a goalkeeper. Both the Chelsea keepers took quite big hits – with both ending up having to come off Chelsea finished the game with John Terry in goal! Check out BBC Sport’s report on the game.

What is interesting is listening to the comments afterwards with Jose Mourinho wanting the FA to investigate the challenges and then Steve Coppell and goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson saying there was no intent shown by Hunt and Sonko in their challenges.

What is fair to expect off a goalkeeper?