By Ayyaz Malik
With Liverpool to fly out to Qatar and contest in the Club World Cup very soon, title rivals Manchester City weren’t able to overcome rivals Manchester United in the Saturday evening derby. The Citizens, who won this fixture 3-1 and although not being at their fluent best, still would have fancied their chances against their illustrious neighbours.
Cross-city rivals United, who beat Tottenham Hotspur during the week, came into this one confident, especially after The Red Devils produced one of their best performances of the season by beating former manager Jose Mourinho’s Spurs 2-1.
Before the game started, many predicted that if Man United were to get anything from this game, then United would have to be brave and look to exploit City’s defence. The defence has clearly been their weakness this season, with shock defeats to Norwich and Wolves, arguably due to this reason (the loss of Aymeric Laporte).
As for the game itself, it couldn’t have panned out any better for visitors Manchester United. They, to their credit, came to The Etihad with a game plan, and to their immense credit stuck to it.
Goals from Marcus Rashford, who scored with a penalty and Anthony Martial, meant that Man United were 2-0 up inside 30 minutes. Although Man City did pull a goal back, they weren’t able to get back into the game.
As disappointing as the result was for the home side which now sees them trail Liverpool by 14 points, who beat Bournemouth 3-0, sadly for them and the football world, on the whole, another incident of racism was reported at the match. The alleged racist incident took place when Man United midfielder Fred took a corner with team-mate Jesse Lingard.
City said they will investigate the incident and will co-operate with Greater Manchester police, but the whole incident was unsavoury, to say the least.
On the pitch, 2nd placed Leicester City, who had a three-point lead before the start of Sunday’s games, comfortably beat Midlands rivals Aston Villa 4-1, to ensure that The Foxes have a six-point lead over champions City.
In the other games, Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham side beat Burnley 5-0 and Everton ensure that their caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson got his reign off to a win with a 3-1 victory of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. The West Londoners remain in fourth, but Manchester United closed the gap on their rivals to five points with their derby day win. Jose’s Tottenham are seventh.
Congratulations to Celtic, who have won the first piece of silverware in Scotland this season. The Hoops won the Scottish League Cup by beating Glasgow rivals Rangers 1-0. The win for the Scottish champions means that this is the 10th successive domestic trophy they have won since they lost to Rangers in the League Cup semi-finals in 2016.
After a week of high-quality snooker, it would Ding Junhui who come out on top 10-6 against Stephen Maguire in the UK Championship. Junhui win in snooker’s 2nd most prestigious title means he has now won this title three times, 10 years after his 2nd triumph.
The 32-year old Chinese player Ding has struggled for form in recent seasons and that lead to many doubts being raised by many pundits and ex-professional. With a new snooker tournament, however, there is fresh hope and optimism. For Ding, this week in York was just that as the Chinese player beat seven-time winner Ronnie O’Sullivan en route to the final.
His opponent Maguire, did achieve some impressive results of his own en route to the UK final. The 6-0 win of Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen, in just over an hour, saw the 38-year old produce some blistering mind-blowing snooker, which left last year’s beaten finalist with no chance here.
It was Mark Allen who ended the fairy tale run of veteran 54-year old Nigel Bond with a 6-5 thrilling deciding frame win. As for the final itself, unfortunately for Maguire, he wasn’t allowed to exert any kind of authority in the match.
His opponent Ding Junhui, ruthlessly took control of the final. Stephen Maguire did rattle off three-century brakes in four frames. The former two-time champion Ding scored two centuries of his own in what proved to be the last two frames of a classic contest.
In snooker, and in sport there has to be a loser sometimes and on the night it was Maguire who came out 2nd best. The next major snooker event is The Masters, which will be held on 13th January- 20th January.
Off the table, world snooker has been boosted by the news that there will be another tournament to be added to the snooker calendar. It’s been announced that Saudi Arabia will be hosting a tournament with the inaugural event to be held in October.
The reported prize money is £500,000 which is the same for the winner of the snooker World Championship.
Anthony Joshua, produced a boxing master class and defeated Mexican heavy-weight champion Andy Ruiz Jr, to reclaim his three world heavyweight titles with a unanimous points victory in Riyadh.
The 30-year old British fighter Joshua, who was a gold medalist in the 2012 Olympics, suffered one of the biggest shocks in the history of the sport as the 30-year old Ruiz produced a devastating performance to shake up the heavyweight division.
He’s not good enough, maybe he should retire, were just some of the whispers to come out of the boxing community. To the Watford man’s credit, Anthony Joshua on the night was able to produce a near boxing master class.
The critics branded it boring, a lot like the way Mayweather fights, but to AJ’s credit he worked out a strategy to beat his opponent Ruiz and executed it perfectly.
There has been talk of a third match between the two, whether that happens or not appears to be seen, but one thing the boxing world does know is Anthony Joshua, came, saw and most importantly of them all … conquered!
The week ahead
As exciting as this week has been, there’s a feast of football in the week ahead. In midweek, English sides, Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City are all in action in the Champions League.
Spurs and City are assured of their places in the last 16 of the tournament. Tottenham Hotspur travel to runaway group leaders Bayern, looking to avenge their 7-2 humiliation at home.
With qualification assured behind Bayern, Jose’s side will be looking for a good show on Wednesday night. In the other game where one of the English sides are in action on Wednesday sees Manchester City who have topped their group, travel to Dinamo Zagreb, with looking to right the wrongs of derby day.
Just like Tottenham, they won’t have much to play for, but Pep’s men will be really desperate to right the wrongs here. Before those round of fixtures, both Liverpool and Chelsea both need positive results to ensure qualification.
Liverpool travel to RB Salzburg, in a game which The Reds just have to win to be absolutely sure that they will top the group. Their task will be tricky and with talented striker Erling Braut-Haaland in their ranks, you can see why.
The Norwegian who at the tender age of just 19-years old has eight Champions League goals to his credit, so Liverpool’s defenders have been warned. Haaland did score against the holders at Anfield.
Premier League rivals Chelsea host Lille knowing that is the minimum requirement as Ajax who are top of the table have 10 points and Valencia have eight points just like they do. In theory, The Blues should come out on top here, especially since Lampard’s men won 2-1 in France.
It will be a nervy night in West London for sure and not to forget in Salzburg too. The final round of Champions League matches, promises to be action-packed. Our predictions, Liverpool win 2-1 on the night and qualify as group winners.
As for Chelsea, we see The Blues winning 2-0 on the night against Lille and qualifying for the round of 16 of the Champions League 2nd in the group behind Ajax.
In the cricket, Pakistan host Sri Lanka in the first of two-tests in Pakistan for the first time since 2009, the first test will be held in Rawalpindi. The game between the two-sides sees an immediate return for former coach Mickey Arthur, who now is the coach of Sri Lanka.
The South African was relieved of his duties as Pakistan coach after 1992 World Champions, failed to qualify for the semi-finals of this year’s World Cup. Our prediction for the game, we see Pakistan winning by defending a total they set their visitors. As for the series, we can’t see past a drawn series 1-1.
Arch-rivals India, conclude their T20 series against World Champions West Indies, the series is currently all square at 1-1. We see Virat’s men winning this series 2-1, the series has been a great advert for T20 cricket.
The other cricket match of note, sees Australia and New Zealand start their series on Thursday 12th December. We think it will be hard to see past Australia on home soil here. That’s your sports roundup, see you again next week!