Football – Last weekend ‘record’ attendances were set at three Premiership grounds.
A full-house of 30,600 at the Amex Stadium saw Brighton walloped 4-0 by Chelsea for whom Eden Hazard netted his 100th career League goal.
There were 29,785 fans at The Bet365 Stadium to see Paul Lambert celebrate his first victory as Stoke manager, 2-0 over Huddersfield, and 21,841 fans inside the redeveloped Turf Moor, saw Burnley beaten 1-0 by Manchester United.
Everton boss Sam Allardyce’s 1,000th career PL game in charge ended in a 1-1 draw with WBA.
Sadly, Toffee’s midfielder James McCarthy suffered a double fracture of his right leg in this match.
Twenty four hours after losing 2-0 at Leicester, Watford sacked their manager Marco Silva, replacing him with Spaniard Javi Gracia.
Manchester City (3-1 winners over Newcastle) still lead the Premiership by 12 points from rivals United who defeated Burnley 1-0.
Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal are in the chasing pack.
Championship leaders Wolves surprisingly lost 2-0 at home to Nottingham Forest; Wigan have increased their lead at the top of FL1; likewise Luton in FL2 FC Fylde hammered National League leaders 6-0 and Aberdeen, Ayr, non-League Brora Rangers, Celtic, Dundee United, Hearts, Kilmarnock, Morton, Motherwell, Partick and Rangers have all reached the Scottish Cup 5th round.
Starting tonight (Friday) we have the first two of 16 fourth round FAC ties when Sheffield Wednesday face Reading and Yeovil play Manchester United.
Tomorrow it’s Huddersfield v Birmingham, Hull v Nottingham Forest, Liverpool v WBA, MK Dons v Coventry, Middlesbrough v Brighton (a 620-mile round trip for the Gulls), Millwall v Rochdale, Newport v Tottenham, Notts County v Swansea, Peterborough v Leicester, Sheffield United v Preston, Southampton v Watford and Wigan v West Ham, and on Sunday Cardiff meet favourites Manchester City and Chelsea play Newcastle.
Last weekend Barcelona and Real Madrid scored a total of 12 goals by beating Real Betis 5-0 and Deportivo La Coruna 7-1 respectively.
Barcelona now lead Atletico Madrid by eleven points at the top of La Liga, while their other Madrid rivals lie fourth, 19 points behind.
Earlier this week, the second legs of the Carabao LC semi-finals took place between Chelsea and Arsenal (0-0) and Bristol City v. Manchester City (1-2) while there has also been quarter-final action in the Checkatrade Trophy.
The transfer window closes next Wednesday, so we can expect a few big-named players to find new clubs following the swap deal involving Alex Sanchez (Arsenal) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United). And Manchester United was, as far as I know, the only PL team not to wear black armbands last weekend in respect of Cyrille Regis. Miserable lot.
Cricket – England have gained ‘sweet revenge’ by beating Australia in the ODI series. They won the first three games out of five; the fourth was today and the fifth is on Sunday. So I say ‘boo hoo’ and welcome to our world, Aussie captain Smith … you need to remember that a few controversial decisions went your way in the Test series, but not in the one-dayers! Since losing the Ashes, England have been superb. Batsmen Jason Roy smashed a brilliant 180, Joe Root got into the 90s and Jos Buttler bagged a terrific 100, while white ball bowlers Chris
Woakes and Advil Raschid were inspirational… so let’s go on now and make it a ODI white-wash!
Tennis – The finals of the first Grand Slam tournament of 2018 take place tomorrow and Sunday in Australia, and at the time of going to print, females Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber (who demolished Maria Sharapova), Celise Mertens, Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, Elina Svitolina and top seed Simona Halep, and their male counterparts Kyle Edmund, Rafael Nadal, Marin Cilic, Grigor Dimitrov, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were all looking strong and in-form in Melbourne, despite the 40+ degrees heat.
In fact, Edmund who was set to play Dimnitrov in the quarter-finals, is the first Brit to reach this stage of the Aussie tournament since John Lloyd in 1995. Snooker– Mark Allen became the first Northern Irishman in 31 years, since Dennis Taylor in 1987, to win the Masters Championship at London’s Ally Pally.
Allen beat Welshman Kyren Wilson 10-7 in the final, having dumped out reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-1 at the quarter-final stage. Golf– England’s Tommy Fleetwood duly retained his Abu Dhabi championship title while Spaniard Sergia Garcia won the Singapore Open.
Currently underway are the Dubai and Bahamas LPGA classics and the USA Torrey Pines Open.
* The funeral takes place on Tuesday of the former WBA, Aston Villa, Wolves, Coventry, Wycombe, Chester and England footballer Cyrille Regis, who died recently, aged 59. Top man, a pioneer for black players, he was my hero, loved by many and will be sadly missed. R.I.P. top man.