FOOTBALL: The Manchester City bandwagon continues to roll on, and after the festive season results, their chances of claiming four major trophies in the 2017-18 is quite and simply definitely on. Pep Guardiola’s goal-happy team currently leads arch-rivals Manchester United by a mile. Indeed, no team has ever had such a massive points advantage at this stage of a League season (1888-2017).
City have been terrific; they’ve already scored over 100 top-flight goals in 2017 and the last time this happened was back in 1982 when Liverpool bagged a century. And star striker Sergio Aguero netted his 100th Etihad Stadium goal for City just before Christmas.
In the recent Everton-Chelsea 0-0 PL draw at Goodison Park, the reigning champions failed to get a single shot on target – the first time this had happened for six years.
Bristol City, who sensationally knocked the holders Manchester United out of the League Cup, now face favourites Manchester City in the semi-final, while the other ‘semi’ showdown features an all-London clash between Arsenal and Chelsea.
Barcelona’s recent 3-0 El Clasico win over out-of-sorts Real Madrid, was their third successive La Liga victory at the Bernabeau.
Harry Kane has already scored 56 goals in 2017, including a record 39 in the Premiership alone – beating Alan Shearer’s tally of 36 in a calendar year. He’s also netted eight hat-tricks in 2017 and, in fact, the Spurs’ striker is the top-marksman in all European top-flight Divisions this year, bagging more goals than Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski.
The team who is sitting at the bottom of the Premiership on Christmas Day usually goes down! This year it was Swansea City, who sacked manager Paul Clement a few days earlier, the sixth PL boss to lose his job in 2017. WBA are next to bottom and their ex-boss Tony Pulis is now in charge at Middlesbrough.
Leicester City’s Daniel Amartey was sent-off in his first Premiership game of 2017-18 in the 2-2 draw Manchester United.
Newcastle United ended a run of eight games without a win with a 3-2 victory over West Ham at the London Stadium.
CRICKET: At the time of going to print, England were heading for victory in the fourth Test against the Aussies in Melbourne. Having been battered in the first three fixtures, losing the Ashes in the process, Joe Root’s team have responded superbly, thanks mainly to Alastair Cook’s 244 not out after day three. They dismissed Australia for 327 and replied with 491-9 before stumps.
HORSE RACING: The annual King George VI Steeple chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day was won by 6-4 favourite Might Bite and it was hearty congratulations to one lucky punter who placed £10,000 bet on the winner.
DIARY of EVENTS: All of Rugby Union’s AVIV Premiership teams will be in action over the next three days, with these fixtures to look out for – Bath-Wasps (tonight), Gloucester-Sale Sharks, second-placed Saracens-Worcester and Harlequins-Northampton Saints (tomorrow), and in-form and current leaders Exeter Chiefs against Leicester Tigers (Sunday).
Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor (playing in his final major tournament), Michael van Gerwen and Gerry Anderson were all going well in the annual WDC end-of-year Darts tournament at London’s Ally Pally which is nearing its climax.
The World Junior ice hockey championships are taking place (until 5 January)… there are ATP/WTA tennis tournaments starting this weekend in Brisbane (Australia), Doha (Qatar), India, New Zealand and Shenzhen in China… the women’s U18 World ice hockey championships, Group 1 and qualification matches, are underway (ending in early February)… Poland’s Kamil Stoch is attempting to retain his Four Hills Ski jumping title in Oberstdorf, Germany (which runs until 6 January)… and the forthcoming top football matches include Chelsea-Stoke City, Liverpool-Leicester City and Manchester United-Southampton, Celtic-Rangers and Bristol City-Wolves (Saturday), followed by Crystal Palace-Manchester City and WBA-Arsenal (Sunday) and virtually a full programme of Premiership fixtures early in the New Year, including Burnley-Liverpool, Everton-Manchester United and Stoke City-Newcastle United (on the 1st January), Manchester City-Watford, Southampton-Crystal Palace, Swansea City-Spurs and West Ham United-WBA (on the 2nd) and Arsenal-Chelsea (on the 3rd). And after that we have 32 third round FA Cup-ties to look forward to.
And with that, I wish everyone a very happy and prosperous New Year.