START with cricket and the Ashes are back in Australian hands after England were smashed by an innings and 41 runs in the third Test Match in Perth.
Dismissed for 403 in their first innings, Joe Root’s team saw the Aussies pile up 662-9 declared with Steve Smith scoring a majestic 239 while Mitchell Marsh hit 181. Then, second time round, Root’s men collapsed to 218 all out.
England’s ‘Barmy Army’ of supporters hope they don’t witness another five-nil whitewash!
Onto football, and this weekend sees the 175th La Liga and the 270th El Clasico meeting overall between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Bernabeau with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi opposing each other once again. In fact, the two imperious marksmen have netted over 1,225 goals between them in almost 1,600 club and international matches since 2002.
Recent action in the Premiership saw record-breaking Manchester City make it 16 straight wins and remain 11 points clear at the top, with a 4-1 victory over Tottenham…. Arsenal edged past Newcastle 1-0…. Chelsea also pipped Southampton 1-0 … Crystal Palace scored their first away goals of the season in winning 3-0 at Leicester… West Ham won 3-0 at Stoke… Huddersfield clipped Watford 4-1… Liverpool eased to a 4-0 victory at Bournemouth… and Manchester United defeated lowly West Brom 2-1.
Wolves lead the Championship by four points after their latest win at Sheffield Wednesday while in Scotland, Celtic’s 69 domestic ended in devastating fashion when they were smashed 4-0 by Hearts at Tynecastle last Sunday.
Earlier this week the four quarter-final League Cup-ties featured Arsenal-West Ham and Leicester-Manchester City on Tuesday and Chelsea-Southampton and Bristol City-Manchester United on Wednesday.
The top PL matches coming up include Arsenal-Liverpool, Burnley-Spurs, Everton-Chelsea, Leicester-Manchester United and Manchester City-Bournemouth before Christmas, followed on Boxing Day by Chelsea-Brighton, Crystal Palace-Arsenal, Liverpool-Swansea, Manchester United-Burnley, Newcastle-Manchester City, Spurs-Southampton and WBA-Everton.
In the Championship over the festive season we have Aston Villa-Sheffield United, Bristol City-Reading, Cardiff-Fulham, Millwall-Wolves and Sunderland-Birmingham; it’s Wigan-Shrewsbury and Luton-Grimsby in Leagues 1 & 2 and Celtic-Aberdeen and Rangers-Motherwell in the SPL.
And these teams will seemingly end 2017 leading their respective Premier Leagues: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris St Germain, Porto, Sturm Graz and Young Boys (Berne).
The World Darts Championship continues at London’s Ally Pally where Phil
‘The Power’ Taylor is taking part for the last time before retirement.
There’s action in Rugby Union’s European Champions Cup, European Challenge Cup and British & Irish Cup with Bath, Leinster, Munster, Ospreys and Wasps hoping to repeat recent results.
As usual there are several horse race meetings taking place with Boxing Day’s King George VI Chase at Kempton Park the main event.
It’s been confirmed that Alpha Romeo will have a car competing in F1 next year – teaming up with Sauber and Ferrari. The last time Alpha Romeo started on the grid was in 1985.
And finally the BBC TV Sports Personality of the Year for 2017 is Sir Mo Farah who was presented with his award in Liverpool last Sunday. England’s women cricketers won the Team of the Year prize; Jessica Ennis Hill received a Lifetime Achievement Award and Manchester City footballer Phil Foden was named as the Young Sportsman of the Year.